At this point, October 16 2004, it was decided that the INBOX should be divided into two in future:On the left emails and news about country and animal health issues; political parallels on the right.
October 16/17 2004 ~ An emailer writes to complain that the "Welsh Assembly is riding rough-shod over everything." and sends this extract from the Western Mail:
WIND FARM PROTEST AT SURGERY"Why have a planning inquiry at all? Carwyn Jones is Minister for Planning also, and has obviously chosen to ignore the findings of the inquiry and also the views of the people of that area. It is altogether disgraceful."
Families opposing plans for a sea wind farm off Porthcawl protested outside Assembly Environment Minister Carwyn Jones' monthly surgery yesterday........ The plans by Warrington-based United Utilities to establish the £200m turbine plant three miles off Porthcawl were rejected following a planning inquiry. But a four-person Assembly planning committee has over-ruled the inspector.'
October 16/17 2004 ~ Lord Whitty announced yesterday the creation of a new £3.5 million scheme offering grants to help harvest, store, process and supply a range of energy crops to fuel a new breed of biomass power stations. ( Ben Gill is to "head a Government-appointed taskforce") Devon people, already fighting giant turbines, are not too happy about any of this. Peninsula Power Ltd has submitted a planning application to build a 23 megawatt biomass station, costing £40 million, on a 36-acre airfield next to the village of Winkleigh. Campaigners there say that the site would emit "dangerous fumes and create unsustainable volumes of traffic as the crops were transported in." WMN reports
October 16/17 2004 ~ US soldiers were under arrest in Iraq last night after refusing to carry out a dangerous mission for which they say they were inadequately equipped. Scotsman
October 16/17 2004 ~ Independent letter "Sir: Charles Kennedy is the latest senior politician to describe the Iraq War as the greatest foreign policy disaster since Suez (14 October).
The Suez campaign saw fewer than 1,000 casualties (almost none of them civilian) and merely caused embarrassment to two former colonial powers (Britain and France) who were firmly put into their place in the new world order by the USA.
Contrast Iraq, with a minimum of 10,000 civilian casualties, instabilities is the region that will last for decades and a vastly increased risk to British citizens, both at home and abroad.
Suez didn't come close. But the prime minister did have the decency to resign."
October 16/17 2004 ~ "If Mr Blair could apologise for the Irish potato famine, why not now apologise to the Kurds for turning a "blind eye" to Hatra? Instead he continues to inflict similar death and destruction on Iraqi civilians..." Simon Jenkins Don't say sorry if you aren't
October 16/17 2004 ~ "Blair under new pressure over Iraq war: did he ignore advice of officials that it was unlawful?...."secret papers, including a highly confidential memo from Mr Straw to Mr Blair, which have been seen by The Independent, show that as long ago as March 2002 members of the Cabinet had been warned that invading Iraq could be fraught with legal problems. The full extent of the doubts in Whitehall is revealed in the astonishing series of confidential documents written at the highest levels of government a year before Mr Blair agreed that Britain should join the invasion..." Independent - or read in full here
October 16/17 2004 ~ "Our local Copeland Borough Council are advertising for Officers who will be fully qualified to run the Council when it becomes a 'Regional Assembly'. They are asking existing administrator Chiefs to re-apply for their own jobs. They need staff that can run 'Regional Assemblies..' Frustration and anger in this email.
October 16/17 2004 ~ vCJD " the department of health is stressing that risk of being infected are minimal and people should not be unduly worried by receiving the letter. Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said: "Throughout our handling of the issue of vCJD we have adopted a highly precautionary approach...."
October 16/17 2004 ~ The residents of the heavily-populated Fallujah now face a massive US onslaught.....more than 1,000 US and Iraqi ground troops are advancing towards Fallujah after weeks of almost daily air strikes...
As Juan Cole wrote (see below) "Collective punishment is an ugly tactic, famously practised by the Nazis in Europe to keep their conquered populations in line. It is forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.. Iraq page
October 15 2004 ~ "The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a gimmick from Florida-based Applied Digital Solutions to chip people with RFID implants - previously confined to tracking animals - thereby making it easy to access their medical records, even when they cannot, or would rather not, cooperate..." (The Register)
I did not find credible a science fiction story about this - and here we are in 2004. Blunkett's biometrics are but a small step behind. See democracy page.
October 15 2004 ~ A three part new TV documentary The making of the terror myth starts next Wednesday. See Guardian "...During the three years in which the "war on terror" has been waged, high-profile challenges to its assumptions have been rare.."
October 15 2004 ~ The dog owner who appealed against the order to have his dog Dino destroyed, has won. The German Shepherd had bitten a woman who unwisely intervened in a dog fight. It cost the owner many thousands of pounds and three years to get the sentence lifted.
October 15 2004 ~ The Ambassador in Tashkent, Craig Murray, was suspended by the Foreign Office this week. He leaked his own highly critical memo accusing officials of turning a blind eye to torture in Uzbekistan by accepting intelligence that the CIA obtained via the regime's torture chambers.
October 15 2004 ~"We also need to bring forward the use of the Gamma Interferon test for TB in cattle. It is more accurate than the existing test and would reduce the number of cattle being slaughtered..." James Paice, quoted in the WMN (But see front page for comment)
October 15 2004 ~ A new initiative in India's Kerala state insisting that every cow is vaccinated against FMD is likely to be extended to other Indian States. See Economic Times. India
October 15 2004 ~ Key lessons from the seminar this week, hosted by the CLA (13 Oct), about the unique contribution that land management can make to combating climate change.
October 15 2004 ~ "....he said of Blair that he was our first elected monarch .... and how diminished and debased our democratic system had become.... looked like balloons who had been pricked - really he (Dr David Starkey) was saying 'Why are you sitting here, spouting a load of hot air - and getting personal payment for it - when, if you're an elected politician you should be getting on with the job of making parliament and democracy work?'
Faced with such incontrovertible honesty they were completely floored.
Went to bed invigorated - it was such a gale of fresh air blasting into the stale and tawdry state of politics today." An email about last night's This Week.
October 15 2004 ~ A Colorado congresswoman is seeking a congressional investigation into allegations that Iraqi war veterans near the end of their enlistments were given a choice between re-enlisting or being sent back to Iraq. AP
British troops are to support American forces in Fallujah and Baghdad - the troops would also be under American control. http://www.channel4.com/news/2004/10/week_3/15_iraq.html
October 15 2004 ~ "....the Attorney General owes it to himself, never mind the rest of us, to state what would have been his opinion on the legality of the war if he had been given the true facts. It may be prudent on his part to prepare a revised opinion, as now it can only be a matter of time before the legality of the war is challenged in the British or international courts. .." Robin Cook in the Guardian.
See warmwell pages on Lord Goldsmith
October 15 2004 ~ Poll reveals world anger at Bush. Guardian "....George Bush has squandered a wealth of sympathy around the world towards America since September 11 with public opinion in 10 leading countries - including some of its closest allies - growing more hostile to the United States while he has been in office. According to a survey, voters in eight out of the 10 countries, including Britain, want to see the Democrat challenger, John Kerry, defeat President Bush in next month's US presidential election. "
October 15 2004 ~ Sue writes, "A well run Sanctuary was recently inspected by Defra and Trading Standards and they were told that one of their sheep should be put to sleep as it was too fat and this was ' not conducive to a long life'. The sheep was 14 years old. ..."
Sue adds, "The world has indeed gone mad and it is so sad. I had a meeting in South Wales a week or so ago and the stories that I heard about the RSPCA were appalling. They must not be allowed to get these new powers under the Animal Welfare Bill - if they do, those of us in the UK may as well hand our animals over now and give up.
Pleased you liked Janet' s book ...and the introduction! It amazes me that she had the guts and the dogged determination to carry on against all odds."
October 15 2004 ~ " US forces launch fresh air attacks on the rebel-held Iraqi city of Falluja after the collapse of peace talks" BBC - but let us be under no illusions about what this means. "...when you bomb a city repeatedly to get at a guerrilla group hiding out there, you are implicitly punishing the civilian population for the actions of the militants. Collective punishment is an ugly tactic, famously practiced by the Nazis in Europe to keep their conquered populations in line. It is forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949....When a five hundred pound bomb hits a building, it turns the building itself into shrapnel. Glass, stone and adobe fragments fly out, into eyes and into hearts, killing and maiming for hundreds of feet around. Iraqis are organized in clans, and are fiercely protective of their kin. Each innocent Iraqi death produced by an American bomb creates another clan feud with the U.S." Juan Cole opinion
October 14 2004 ~ "Speeding care" ... If you thought that biometric compulsory ID cards were sinister in the massive grasp of present or future governments, here is the US Food and Drug Administration today, approving an implantable computer chip that can "pass a patient's medical details to doctors, speeding care" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6237364/
October 14 2004 ~ Mr Blunkett has not thought it necessary to wait for the response to the "consultation" on ID cards nor get an actual bill passed. The ad for the ID Head of Spin has already gone out. (Closing date tomorrow, actually.) Of Mark Oaten's plaintive cry of foul play, the Register's John Lettice comments, "it's nice to see MPs starting to notice that the Home Office regards them as a tiresome formality"
October 14 2004 ~ We're living in a land of honeyed words from all sides. Channel 4 news update says that former pensions minister, honourable John Denham, says that no parties are now being honest about the terrible pensions truth.
October 14 2004 ~ "For those of us who care about the way this country is run, and have a duty to hold the government to account, it's necessary to keep pursuing the truth .." Charles Kennedy
October 14 2004 ~ "...Scarlett should go - perhaps being kicked upstairs to the House of Lords, in time-dishonoured fashion, as Lord Scarlett of Epsom-cum-Dossier, there to give us the benefit of his wisdom at 45 minutes' notice." Today's article in the Guardian about this "whole tawdry affair" by Timothy Garton Ash.
See also warmwell pages on John Scarlett
"It turns out the buck does not stop with Blair or John Scarlett or Richard Dearlove or anybody. In government, it seems, there is no buck. .." (Jonathan Freedland in July)
October 14 2004 ~ A senior figure on the Butler inquiry into the intelligence failings over Iraq told The Independent that Lord Goldsmith "should consider his position" after the withdrawal of the intelligence claims that Saddam could ready weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes..." Lord Goldsmith had been reassured by the Prime Minister, but MPs last night said those grounds had been blown apart by the withdrawal of the 45-minute claim. It was also disclosed yesterday that two senior Foreign Office legal advisers, in addition to its deputy legal adviser, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, went to Lord Goldsmith warning him of their fears that the war would be illegal, and subsequently resigned from the civil service.."
October 14 2004 ~ Mr Blair still refuses to answer, apologise for, or even it seems to understand, the real criticism - the misuse of false intelligence. Yesterday in Parliament he was still angrily defending the war because without the invasion "Saddam Hussein and his sons would still be running Iraq..." It was left to a nervous sounding Bob Waring (Liverpool Lab ) to ask"....how does the Prime Minister explain his statement to this House on 25 February 2003, in which he said:
"even now, today, we are offering Saddam the prospect of voluntary disarmament through the UN. I detest his regime . . . but even now, he could save it by complying with the UN's demand."—[Official Report, 25 February 2003; Vol. 400, c. 124.]?Hansard The Prime Minister spluttered that his position was consistent.
See also Independent.
October 14 2004 ~Work has started at Bradworthy for Devon’s first giant wind turbines WMN ""If this can happen in Bradworthy against the determined protests of the local community, then no fields or cherished vistas in the Westcountry are safe or sacrosanct" .......Wildlife will be scattered as 70 metres of hedgerows are torn up. Ancient country lanes that are scarcely wide enough for a horse and car to pass will be widened. The heavy lorries and diggers will muscle down these thoroughfares......." See windfarms page
October 14 2004 ~ British Wind Energy Workshop for the South West is a "charm offensive"
"Planners and councillors should be aware that this is a blatant charm offensive. It's pure propaganda and a kind of special pleading by the industry. They have refused to enter into any public debate with us. They have declined every opportunity to consider an impartial and realistic view of all the concerns about wind turbines. "All their opinion polls are the ones that they have conducted. Don't be taken in by this." Dr Caroline Jackson urges a boycott and demonstration. Windfarms page
October 14 2004 ~ "...he juggled the demands of farming, writing and celebrity with indomitable energy. Not the least remarkable of his writings was his last book, a little-noticed novel, Retrieved from the Future, which anticipated another English civil war after the collapse of oil supplies and the pricking of the global economic bubble. .." From the Times Obituary Column today for the late, great John Seymour. We had not realised that he was so prescient...
October 14 2004 ~ "a patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government" Read Seymour Hersh, Warmwell Iraq page
October 14 2004 ~ Part of an email from "a member of the public who is extremely concerned by the behaviour of the Prime Minister.....To be told by a laughing Labour party official in an extremely mocking tone on the telephone that Blair has been cleared by four separate independent Inquiries is a lie in itself, and has made me extremely angry. I feel so strongly that something has to be done, even though it will rock the boat in the Westminster village. The electorate deserve some honesty, and if impeachment is the only way, then so be it..."
October 13/14 2004 ~ Being PM means never being able to say you're sorry....Channel 4 news update " ....Mr Blair did say he 'apologised' for relaying duff information (whilst key purveyors of it go on to be decorated and promoted in the "intelligence" services). But somehow the 's' word eludes him - just when the rest of the cabinet are spraying it around with utter abandon on the duff-intelligence issue. Is he being advised to do this? Does being PM mean never being able to say you're sorry?" (PM: I did not mislead on Iraq Blair apologises for wrong evidence but refuses to accept he had acted dishonestly or that war in Iraq was wrong.)
October 13/14 2004 ~ Fishy business on a little dishy...three Government Ministers breaching the referendum's purdah period to make the Yes boat come in ... North East Referendum.
Neil Herron: ".. We were also told that if we, as a permitted participant, breached any of the rules, you would come down on us, "like a tonne of bricks (whether metric or imperial wasn't specified but we got the message).
...eg Gordon Brown :"I believe that a `yes' vote in this referendum would be good for the people and the businesses in the North-East - moving us forward from an old Britain weakened by centuries of centralisation towards a new Britain strengthened by local centres of initiative, energy and dynamism."....." .....
October 12 2004 ~NE Referendum - " a forced referendum by easily corruptible postal ballot on a non-issue which leaves ordinary people cold (unless they're whipped up into knee-jerk them-and-us regional "patriotism" or anti-Toryism by people who play on their emotions)What on earth has all this got to do with "democracy" ?" Gill writes about the second burglary at the NO headquarters See also democracy page
October 12 2004 ~ "... because the giant US oil corporations are seen as the very embodiment of US power, anything to do with oil - pipelines, wells, refineries, loading platforms - is seen by insurgents as a legitimate and attractive target for attack ....(President) Carter's principle of using force to protect the flow of oil was later cited by president George H W Bush to justify US intervention in the Gulf War of 1990-91, and it provided the underlying strategic rationale for America's recent invasion of Iraq..." Read The oil that drives the US military Michael T Klare in the Asia Times
October 12 2004 ~ Massive amounts of equipment and even buildings relating to Saddam's nuclear . .er..er...intentions have gone missing. Guardian
October 12 2004 ~ Oil now $54...see peak oil news page
October 12 2004 ~Surge in greenhouse gases "...A background fear is that extra human emissions, by cars, factories and power plants, may be blunting the planet's ability to absorb CO2. In the worst case, that could lead to a runaway warming.." .IOL
October 12 2004 ~ "...Now that we know that Labour's infamous September dossier was full of careless holes and conscious omissions, shouldn't Andrew Gilligan and Greg Dyke be reinstated at the BBC, for it is now clear that the dossier was, as Andrew Gilligan first implied, "sexed up"..." From one of the stream of letters in the Independent that show the population is not at all prepared to move on just yet.
October 12 2004 ~ Mr Blair ducks parliamentary questions asking about the lack of "substantive mention of GCHQ" in the Butler Report, whether signals intelligence relevant to the Iraq crisis was received and why such intelligence was not included in the report. Another PQ, asking if he will "instruct the Attorney-General to evaluate Kofi Annan's statement about Iraq" was similarly shrugged off. A very angry emailer sends this extract from Hansard, adding "Blair just makes a mockery of the PQ procedure"
October 12 2004 ~ An impecunious maths expert has a brief word to say the impending UK pensions crisis...
October 12 2004 ~ "Our betrayals and broken promises have created a kind of irreversible disease that cannot be forgiven... journalists can scarcely travel in Iraq any more, there is no longer any independent witness to this awful war. What is going on in Ramadi and Hilla and all the other cities where US forces carry out their brutal raids?" Read Robert Fisk. Iraq page
October 12 2004 ~ A new IT system for the NHS (its £90million pound new email system crashed yesterday) will cost up to £31 billion pounds - three to five times the declared figure - in order for example that "..patients should also be able to book appointments and operations using an electronic booking system" (BBC) Is no journalist going to make the obvious remark about this? At least the fiasco of spiralling costs will be examined by the Public Accounts Committee. It all reminds us of what the Guardian's Paul Lashmar (September 25, 2004) calls "... the delicate balance between the freedom of the individual and intrusion into our daily lives by the state.." an article that should be read in full - although it unwisely assumes that government t IT systems actually work. See also democracy page
October 11 2004 ~ Channel 4 news update: "Tony Blair thinks Britain is still keen for grandiose visions. In a speech today he attacked the "minimalist" policies of the Tories, saying people in this country expect better. He now wants to move from a welfare state to an "opportunity society", whatever that means. He will not rest, he claims, until Britain is a land of opportunity for all. All very well, except he didn't say anything about what that actually involves, what it means for policy or what it will cost the taxpayer..."
October 11 2004 ~ "Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth about Iraq." Quotation from Mr Kerry. See New York Times on the redefining of "Pre-emption".
October 11 2004 ~It is "such a well organised illegal enterprise that I would be surprised if some of you have not eaten that meat. After arms and narcotics, the trade in illegal meat is considered to be the third biggest illegal trade - estimated to be worth up to £1billion a year. .." Dirty meat page
October 11 2004 ~ "A dilemma lies at the heart of U.S. attempts to tame the Middle East—the more it intervenes, the more it antagonizes the people of the region. Then, faced with widespread opposition to its policies—in some cases full-scale rebellion—the U.S., along with Israel and the hated Arab regimes, cracks down, citing a threat to its security or to its national interests as the reason. This, in turn, provokes yet more hostility and the vicious cycle continues..." Useful history lesson from Mathaba.net Oil and Empire in the Middle East
October 10/11 2004 ~ We are simply staggered by the news that Mr Blair intends to reward with Honours the already knighted Sir David Omand the Cabinet Office permanent secretary, and others involved in intelligence for dossiers. Has he forgotten one apology that actually was made? Are we expected to forget the tragic fallout from that fiasco? The death of Dr Kelly? Remember how John Morrison was sacked, and how Air Marshall Sir John Walker referred to "... the whole dossier effect, the politicisation of the JIC, the decapitation of the BBC and the way this whole matter has been handled.."? You cannot fool all of the people all of the time
October 10/11 2004 ~ Organised crime in the meat trade is on the increase, flourishing in the UK, and very nasty indeed. Methods of importing illegal food into the UK are becoming increasingly sophisticated. High risk meat from certain UK abattoirs or secret barbaric killing sheds is trimmed and repackaged to make it appear fit for sale. Local authorities are failing to let the FSA know exactly how bad things are. Appropriate penalties do not exist. The FSA is reluctant to push for a new offence or recommend increased sentences, saying that to amend the Food Safety Act is not possible because of EU regulations. The criminals featured in Channel 4's Dispatches are still in business. See Dirty Meat pages.
October 10/11 2004 ~ Rumsfeld's optimism silenced by bombing. Independent "Bombs in Baghdad killed 18 people as the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, declared during a visit to Iraq that America was winning the war against insurgency.."
October 10 2004 ~ " ..animals, with characteristics of both gorillas and chimpanzees, have been sighted in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to local villagers, the apes are ferocious.... ... New Scientist is to publish its report about the mysterious creatures next week." BBC - (This description could, of course, fit homo sapiens )
October 10 2004 ~ "Farmers tell me they are shooting and snaring an abnormal number of foxes in recent days...... A van in a motorway car park was found by acquaintances of ours to be full of urban foxes...Nothing is more upsetting that seeing sheep bleeding to death after being savaged by these imported foxes" The BBC reports on the fact that farmers in Snowdonia have shot and snared as many as 118 foxes in three months. Snared and poisoned foxes suffer great distress before death.
October 10 2004 ~ "Tony Blair offered to stand down as Prime Minister before the next election if Gordon Brown agreed to abandon the pound for the euro, according to extracts from Clare Short's diary..." Telegraph An Honourable Deception?: New Labour, Iraq, and the Misuse of Power, to be published on November 1 by Free Press. (Clare Short herself famously accused Blair of perpetrating an “honourable deception” in presenting the case for war.)
October 10 2004 ~ Comment in the Independent on Sunday: Scott Ritter and Hans Blix - compare "if you had seen what I have seen..." (New window)
October 10 2004 ~ Contaminated Chiron vaccine factory in California. Who knew what, when? See New York Times "What remains unclear is when the British regulators became concerned enough about the situation to order contingency supplies of vaccines for use in Britain. Flu vaccines, which are grown in chicken eggs, take at least three months, and sometimes as long as six months, to produce." (see email comment)
October 10 2004 ~ "Every time I hear the President speak, I get an anxiety attack that’s a lot more complicated than merely disagreeing with him. I become desperate for oxygen. ... What GOP heavies do at street level — keep anyone who might harbor unscripted thoughts out of the arenas and assembly halls where their leader is scheduled to talk — White House speechwriters do with far more efficiency at podium level. .... terrorism begins with murdered language. What’s intolerable about listening to Bush is the airtightness of the lie he constructs out of the shredded language of human hope." An eloquent opinion column from the New Hampshire Sunday News
October 10 2004 ~ Blix accuses Blair as Labour MPs turn up heat over WMD Independent on Sunday See Iraq page
October 10 2004 ~ Booker's Notebook "....he wrote about his plight to his MP; to ministers such as the Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, and the ministry's spokesman in the Lords, Lord Whitty; to the shadow agriculture spokesman, Tim Yeo; and to several others.
Most did not reply...."
( a common problem in one's dealings with public servants.)
October 10 2004 ~ "I may have been a little hasty when I mentioned the word 'bribe' that was used by the group wishing to build Wind Turbines in Cumbria.
My wife says..'threat' is a better word.." Jan writes
October 10 2004 ~ More on "organic" chicken from Lawrence. "..When it comes to ‘organic’ chicken production there is the opposite of gold plating of the directive – and – who benefits? Supermarkets and ‘global’ food businesses, of course. It is time to wake up to the corruption at the heart of our food production."
October 9/10 2004 ~ Independent web news censored by the US. US Authorities Seize IMC Servers in UK
The widely admired Indymedia - due to participate in the European Forum on Communications Rights about electronic civil liberties - have had their servers seized by the US government, with the collusion, apparently, of the Home Office. "It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside the US jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities." Democracy page
October 9 2004 ~ Hector Christie - a name known to some readers - was the owner of the voice shouting "How can you sleep at night with so much blood on your hands," and "Shame on you Mr Blair, Shame on you." at the Labour Party conference. The North Devon Journal reports - with some amusement and no condemnation at all.
October 9 2004 ~ Jonathan Freedland says in the Guardian "Sorry, someone has to be the man in the egg-stained tie; The ISG report should prompt fury about the war, not yawns."
October 9 2004 ~ Scott Ritter, noting that "Duelfer has provided the ideal cover for the justification of the war" writes in the Guardian: "Far from showing the intent of Saddam Hussein to keep WMD, I believe a full review of all material relevant to the ISG's report will instead portray a dictator whose only desire was to retain his hold on power in the face of a US government which intended to do anything, including violate international law, to prevent this. The US Congress and British parliament should insist on a full declassification of the ISG report, as well as the sources used to compile it. During this critical time in both our nations' histories, with the war in Iraq playing such a central role in the selection of America's next president as well as the political future of Britain's prime minister, the American and British people deserve to know the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, about the casus belli that collectively got us into the ongoing quagmire that is Iraq today."
October 9 2004 ~ Professor David King - is his advocacy of nuclear energy based on an understanding of energy depletion or concern about global warming? :" ... I do think five years or less is when we've got to make a decision." windfarm page latest and the Country Life article.
October 8/9 2004 ~ "With its North Sea oil and gas beginning to dwindle, its nuclear power generation due to be scaled back and its commitment to reducing greenhouse gases propelling a hunt for renewable energy sources - like tides, waves or wind - Britain is facing hard decisions that those in authority seem reluctant to make.... After two decades of self-sufficiency, according to official statistics, Britain now imports more oil than it exports. . That has underscored the urgency of the current debate, leading some analysts to speculate that future supplies could be held ransom to developments beyond Britain's control. . ..." International Herald Tribune. See peak oil news
October 8/9 2004 ~ An international team of scientists led by Dr Richard Gibbs, from Bayl or College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston, Texas, US.have released a first draft of the bovine genome. All the information from the $53m project is being deposited into free public databases for use by biomedical and agricultural researchers around the globe. See BBC
October 9 2004 ~ Comment from a local paper on the ISG report. The Berkshire Eagle. ".. this war was never about Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction. What is puzzling is that the presidential debate continues to focus on the pretext, rather than on the war itself, and on the political process in Iraq, rather than its implications for the region. .."
October 8/9 2004 ~ The Associated Press "In a statement, Mr Bigley's brothers said they had managed to shield their mother from the "painful and graphic" details of his ordeal. She has only recently returned home from hospital after collapsing under the stress after her son's kidnapping. "The bereavement of a child, no matter how old, is hard enough without this additional anguish," they said in the statement. "To those who have prayed for Ken and our family, from all religious backgrounds, we thank you. We will always remember Ken for his love, compassion and, above all, his 'Liverpool' sense of humour. He was a truly wonderful father, husband, brother and son. The loss to our family ... is immeasurable."
October 8/9 2004 ~ "....The basic human instinct toward cooperation has been all but forgotten in the mad rush to push everyone else aside. Our society has become atomized; the village green has been replaced by the shopping mall. Open debate and the free communication of ideas and news can now only be found in cyberspace.
Yet, at the same time, true individuality and originality has become suspect. People are encouraged to conform. Cultural distinctions are being lost in the homogenization of the cultures of the globe - what Benjamin Barber called "McWorld."..." an article by Dale Allen Pfeiffer which may interest many readers of this website
October 8/9 2004 ~ " I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance," said Kenya's Wangari Maathai. She became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She has been empowering women and fighting corruption in Africa for almost 30 years. Her Green Belt Movement (GBM) has planted more than 30 million trees across Africa to slow deforestation. She is now 64.
October 8/9 2004 ~Windfarms "We have won a small victory locally..." writes Jan. See windfarms page
October 8/9 2004 ~ " I am once again shocked and horrified at DEFRA's callousness and in particular Margaret Beckett's refusal to ban the export of live ponies from the UK..." an email about the plight of too many Dartmoor ponies
October 8 2004 ~ Reuters reports that Kenneth Bigley has been killed. Ordinary people like us, who shared his family's desperate hope, can now glimpse the reality of the daily horrors for so many in Iraq - about which the politicians can speak so glibly behind grave facial expressions.
October 8 2004 ~ Last night's Question Time - only very blandly reported in the press - showed this emailer just how far out of touch Patricia Hewitt has become. "Patricia Hewitt was completely shaken at the vehemence of the audience." Read 2 emails
Brian Jones in July this year, implied that Government Ministers consider themselves and their actions so superior to mortals less exalted that they cannot occupy the same space (let alone answer letters or emails) "...Dr David Kelly was upset by the suggestion...that Jack Straw complained at such a junior official being assigned to accompany him to an interrogation by the Foreign Affairs Committee on Iraq...... ....in Mr Blair's Whitehall, seniority equates to knowledge and wisdom..."
October 8 2004 ~ Brian Jones again - in the Independent today : Tony Blair "... cannot bring himself to use the important qualifier "potential". He reiterates that a mass of starkly clear intelligence misled him into believing the threat was actual, here and now.... I don't recall that Lord Butler's review uncovered masses of clear-cut evidence indicating the existence of a current WMD threat to anyone, let alone Britain..."
October 8 2004 ~ Blessed sanity from Simon Jenkins: ".. There are plainly grown men drawing public salaries who sincerely believe that unless conkers are banned children will collapse in playgrounds across the land, clutching their throats, their heads bruised and faces lacerated from retaliatory goggle strikes. Bureaucracy has brought us close to madness. .."
October 8 2004 ~ Jill writes about the "organic" chicken news.
October 7/8 2004 ~ Juan Cole: "The most menacing they can paint Saddam is that he would kind of have liked to, you know, have some weapons of mass destruction, sometime in the future. This is not a threat, it is a daydream. So why in the world did Saddam not just announce the fact to avoid being invaded by the US?
Well, of course, he did announce the fact, in the materials submitted to the UN in fall of 2002. But the paperwork did not explain how exactly all the chemical weapons were destroyed, and actually fueled the Bush administration attack rather than forestalling it..."
October 7 2004 ~ An email to warmwell has been forwarded to Michael Moore "..could you just say that for those of who have no vote in the US elections - and no way of reining in the lunacy of Bush, although so much of what he does directly affects us - what Michael Moore is doing carries so much hope for those of us who feel totally impotent in the face of the Republican mantras..."
October 7 2004 ~ re BBC coverage of the ISG Report. Dave writes, "...BBC radio has been very defensive about Iraq all day - not an ill word about the US, even in jest. And on TV, Gavin Essler (neocon sympathiser anyway?) was really pushing Hans Blix this evening for a soundbite he could use about Saddam and WMD - but Blix was unflappable and in the end Essler shut him off without even saying goodbye..."
October 7 2004 ~ WMD: the final verdict says the Telegraph.
For those literally millions of us who inched along the streets of Central London on February 15th 2003, today's inevitable headlines can be of no consolation at all. The "No weapons, no programmes: nothing to justify the invasion" says the Independent.
The Times insists that Saddam 'saw weapons as a means to advance his political ambitions' but it all adds up to the same sad story: Iraq had no banned weapons. Iraq was not a threat. The invasion was bloody, deceitful and illegal. More of today's newspaper coverage
October 7 2004 ~ We are still somewhat reeling after Michael Moore's latest email with its news that the Republican Party really want to see the back of him - for inspiring young Americans to vote. (apologies for missing link yesterday)
".....I thought I'd seen it all this year -- Disney refusing to distribute the film they paid for, right-wingers harassing theater owners who showed "Fahrenheit 9/11," conservative action groups trying to get the FEC to kick our film ads off the air, the unnecessary restrictive R-rating ....
Now, after enduring all this, with no tricks left in their bag, they've just decided, "Let's toss his sorry ass behind bars -- him and his noodles and his gift of clean underwear!"..." Read
October 6/7 2004 ~ "Saddam did not have chemical and biological stockpiles when the war began and his nuclear capabilities were deteriorating, not advancing, according Mr Duelfer, the head of the Iraq Survey Group."IOL
October 6/7 2004 ~ "growing belief that all the normal checks and balances have broken down and the country's leadership seems unaccountable and uncontrollable. .." Michael Meacher in the Guardian
October 6/7 2004 ~ "... Blair's mastery of politics. The trouble is, that's not the same as an ability to govern. There, a different picture emerges. After seven and a half years in power, even Blair's admirers talk of his almost desperate search for a legacy..." Jonathan Freedland on A peerless act of betrayal
October 6/7 2004 ~ The Republican Party has demanded that Michael Moore be sent to jail for trying to "bribe" students to vote. Read Mr Moore's latest ( "Fahrenheit 9/11" reached #1 on Amazon on its first day.)
October 6/7 2004 ~ ".. Marcus Rand, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association: “ In less than 24 hours we have seen the approval of over 300 megawatts of new wind power all building on the base of strong public support." Scotsman
Mr Rand determinedly ignores the strength of feeling in the West Country and elsewhere. See windfarms page. Bradworthy Lobby Opposing Turbines "carried out its own survey and about 60 per cent of people opposed them.."
Professor Ian Fells, chairman of the New and Renewable Energy Centre: “There is no doubt that we need all the electricity we can get that doesn’t create carbon dioxide, but predicating this almost entirely on wind when there are other, less obtrusive technologies seems simplistic, stubborn and perverse.....”
October 6 2004 ~ Mr Ben Bradshaw's desire to "keep us in line" with the EU will allow 12 laying birds to be cooped up together in a square metre, to allow 12,000 of them in a single building - and to call that "organic". See FWi.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who mentions 'organic' chicken with favour in his recent article on chicken production, certainly does not have these conditions in mind. As he says, ".. consumers do have teeth. It's time to sharpen them again, urgently, by chewing on chicken that has lived a half decent life."
October 6 2004 ~ On 28 April, 2003 Tony Blair said, "Before people crow about the absence of weapons of mass destruction, I suggest they wait a bit." We now have Mr Straw saying, "the threat from Saddam Hussein in terms of his intentions" was "even starker than we have seen before". Saddam Hussein would have built up his WMDs had he been left in power, Mr Straw added. BBC
But a reminder of what Bush, Blair and Cheney and all were saying before the invasion makes Mr Straw's comment sound even more Orwellian
October 6 2004 ~ The total number of avian influenza A (H5N1) virus cases in East Asia is now 43. 30 of them have died. More than 100 million chickens and poultry have died or been culled this year. See ProMed for updates. Status of vaccines - extract from WHO
October 6 2004 ~ The Irish government has issued a passport to Ken Bigley in the hope that the country's long history of conflict with Britain might sway those holding him. He is entitled to Irish citizenship because his mother, Elizabeth, was born in Ireland. See Guardian
October 6 2004 ~Channel 4 News last night showed a 30 second clip of "some remarkable and ghastly footage" of a US pilot viewed from his own cockpit killing a group of people in a street in Fallujah.
"...At no point during the exchange between the pilot and controllers does anyone ask whether the Iraqis are armed or posing a threat," comments the Independent today
October 6 2004 ~ UKIP has found a new donor in the Kent businessman, Alan Bown, who says he'll make good "any shortfall" caused by millionaire Paul Sykes' withdrawal. "Mr Sykes said the Tories now seemed to be "waking up to the fact that it is not a bad idea to make our own laws in our own Parliament by our own people, rather than importing them from unelected Brussels". .." BBC
October 6 2004 ~ "The Iraq Survey Group is expected to report today that it has found no evidence of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in post-war Iraq..Charles Duelfer, the chief UN arms inspector ....is expected to conclude that Iraq had neither weapons of mass destruction, nor significant WMD production programmes at the time of the invasion. However, he will assert that Saddam Hussein had plans to produce weapons once UN sanctions were lifted..." . Independent
October 5 2004 ~ Donald Rumsfeld: "weakens a pillar of war" says the BBC
October 5 2004 ~ Alastair Campbell - like Zorro - is to return as an adviser to the Labour party during the election campaign.
( Geoffrey Goodman's verdict on New Labour is well worth hearing. He spent a lifetime as a socialist.)
October 5 2004 ~ Oil prices today: U.S. light crude rose $1 to $50.91 a barrel, 44 cents above last week's record. See peak oil news
October 5 2004 ~ "...There are civilian contractors crawling all over this country. Blackwater, Kellogg Brown & Root, Halliburton, on and on. These contractors are doing everything you can think of from security to catering lunch! .... very few of the projects are going to the Iraqi people. Someone's back is getting scratched here, and it ain't the Iraqis'! ...."
"....Soldiers are calling their families urging them to support John Kerry. If this is happening elsewhere, it looks as if the overseas military vote that Bush is used to won't be there this time around. .." The Guardian has published letters from US soldiers in Iraq
October 5 2004 ~ Darlington and Stockton Times "Region must reject this meaningless charade" The editor comments: "the draft Regional Assemblies Bill .....is a sickening document.... undermine still further people's faith in our democratic institutions..."
October 5 2004 ~ Gill Swanson writes to report the reply received to her letters to the Electoral Commission. "... It spends a lot of time telling me how the whole thing works (which I knew already) but doesn't go into the evidence on which they based their decision... "
October 5 2004 ~ A Kuwaiti newspaper editor has claimed British hostage Ken Bigley could be freed from his captors within ten days. The same al-Rai al-Aam newspaper predicted the release of two Italian hostages for a large ransom. The women were subsequently freed and returned to Italy. ITV.com
October 5 2004 ~ 'We say in a democracy it is unacceptable to lock up potentially innocent people without trial or without any indication when, if ever, they are going to be released' Ben Emmerson QC, barrister for seven detainees
Independent report on the beginning of the Law Lords case into the legality of holding foreign suspects without trial at Britain's maximum security jails. As the Channel 4 news update yesterday said, "... It centres on the use of evidence extracted by torture , and is at the heart of David Blunkett's anti-terror strategy. The Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith will appear in court to represent the government. Much at stake.." Democracy page
October 5 2004 ~ North East Assembly. Neil Herron said yesterday, " ... it will be the Assembly members that decide the salary structures of Assembly members.......the spectre of council tax rises to pay for the part-time great and good in their new political playground.... "
October 5 2004 ~ Bovine TB. A "Strategy Core Stakeholder Group" has met for the first time, and also a "Pre-Movement Testing Sub-Group" is being set up (icWales) " to develop a detailed proposal to implement pre-movement testing of cattle on the basis that farmers would pay for the tests and will be subject to a short consultation."
October 5 2004 ~ Donald Rumsfeld was asked about connections between Saddam and Osama Bin Laden. "To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two," he said. Iraq page and today's Independent
October 5 2004 ~ The "Voluntary Initiative on pesticides" has been welcomed by Baroness Young. What effect this will have remains to be seen. See also warmwell pesticides page
October 5 2004 ~ A glimpse of the strong family ties in sheep, sent by Ron. He adds the quotation from William Penn, "The country life is to be preferred, for there we see the works of God, but in cities little else but the works of men."
October 3 2004 ~Dame Pauline Neville-Jones. We noted on September 8th that this BBC governor, so instrumental in Greg Dyke's departure, was the chairman of the Qinetiq group plc ( UK privatised military research/services company) and a member of the Bilderberg group. We are interested to see that questions are now being asked about her links with Qinetiq. Read in full
October 3 2004 ~ A special panel of nine Law Lords will meet tomorrow to decide whether indefinite detention is acceptable under British and international law. See democracy page
October 3 2004 ~ Prisoner interrogations at Guantánamo Bay have not prevented a single terrorist attack, according to Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Christino, who retired last June after 20 years in military intelligence. He says that President George W Bush and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have 'wildly exaggerated' their intelligence value. Observer
October 3 2004 ~ Mount St Helens in Washington State may blow its crater in the next 24 hours.
October 3 2004 ~ Strong words yesterday from an almost "papal" force in the old Labour Party, Geoffrey Goodman: "Tony Blair has destroyed the Labour Party and we are now in a completely different political wilderness ... No. I wouldn't be happy to work for the Blair government ...." More
October 3 2004 ~ Booker's Notebook: "... many people would like to know how the Electoral Commission came to give taxpayers' money to an organisation so inept that it offers John Prescott his only hope of winning the November 4 referendum - and so obscure that even the commission has difficulty in finding it." See Democracy Page. See also the letters written to the Electoral Commission by a warmwell reader. Neil Herron's recent massages.
October 3 2004 ~ Anyone who thought that political correctness could sink no further into imbecility may read in Booker's Notebook, that "staff of the Welsh Development Agency have been told not to use the words "nitpicking" and "brainstorming", because these are offensive to minorities..."
October 2 2004 ~A shipment of plutonium – enough to make 40 nuclear bombs – is being transported from the US to France where it will be converted into nuclear reactor fuel rods. The US Government yesterday promised it was a “one-off” shipment. But campaigners dismissed the claim, insisting it could be the start of a trade in nuclear material. See WMN
October 2 2004 ~ Pace Farms is Australia's largest egg producer. The RSPCA has been asked to cut ties with the company because it maintains battery hens. Australia's RSPCA national president Hugh Wirth was splashed with red paint at a gala dinner on Friday night. Story in The Age.com links with the article on chicken production in the Observer and an email yesterday unhappy about the RSPCA in the UK.
October 2 2004 ~ "In the 1970s...billions of people in the developing world had never driven -- let alone aspired to own -- a car. One can only hope they enjoy the motoring life while they can, for they may well be joining the oil age at its twilight." Canada's National Post and warmwell's peak oil news page
October 2 2004 ~ What are we to make of the raid by "armed intelligence officers" on the Amsterdam home of Ken Bigley's brother? They seized Mr Bigley's computer and interrogated him. One emailer writes, "Heavy handed tactics to scare and silence him? I find this action (i.e. the raid) deplorable, but am not surprised by it." The Independent has the story. See also what Farnaz Fassihi had to say about kidnappings - a view that is not reported in the media.
October 2 2004 ~ "One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle."
Extracts from a letter by Wall Street Journal correspondent Farnaz Fassihi are on the Iraq page
October 2 2004 ~ "Plainly our Prime Minister - whose conference speech on Tuesday included phrases such as “stressed out” and “don’t go there” - has taken to drawing his idiom from American sitcoms. We should do likewise. To the remark “If I am elected I would serve a full third term”, the appropriate response is “Yeah, right.” Mathew Parris Lies, damned lies and Blair's brand of pure showmanship
October 2 2004 ~ The BBC continues to call them "insurgents" Juan Cole says ...they appear just to be angry young men from the city would reject the new American-dominated status quo." Iraq page
October 2 2004 ~ Public protest pays off. Two West Highland hospitals had been earmarked for downgrading to day hospitals - but... Scotsman " Some 2,500 residents, a fifth of the local population, attended a meeting in Fort William, while letters of opposition came from 5,900 people, three quarters of the households in the area. Hundreds also attended a meeting in Oban " and it now looks as though both hospitals - thanks to people power and the West Highland Health Services Solutions Group, led by Baroness Michie - will find a solution that is "clinically viable, sustainable and affordable".
October 2 2004 ~ Michael Moore's latest message to his fellow Americans is all about people power ."...If you can't get signs or leaflets, make your own! Don't wait for someone to do it, otherwise it won't get done. Send me pictures of your own renegade Elect Kerry/Dump Bush HQ and I will put them up on my site..."
October 2 2004 ~Mr Gorbachev on his opposition to the Iraq war and his concern that Mr Putin and other leaders are using the threat of terrorism to justify restrictions on liberty and democracy
October 2 2004 ~ Moazzam Begg said yesterday in a hand-written letter to his parents ghat he has been subjected to "vindictive" torture and death threats by the US authorities at Guantánamo Bay. See Scotsman .
October 1 2004 ~ "Sir: Blair feels that he cannot honestly apologise for removing Hussein from power. Well that's convenient for him then - currently the nation isn't asking him to. We're asking him to apologise for allowing his underlings to remove caveats from intelligence assessments (or encouraging their "mates" at the JIC to do so), then using the subsequent propaganda to deceive Parliament into supporting a spurious and premeditated war of aggression at the behest of Washington..." More letters from the Independent
October 1 2004 ~ "The World Health Organization downplayed fears (on Tuesday) over the spread of avian flu from one human to another, suggesting an apparent case in Thailand was likely a "dead-end" transmission that scientists have seen before.." Associated Press
October 1 2004 ~ An emailer writes with this comment about Thailand and the current fear of zoonoses.
October 1 2004 ~ Avian Influenza vaccine (for humans) "....If a pandemic were to occur ... 2.5-3 billion doses would be needed. Earlier this week, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said bird flu was a permanent threat to animal and human health... They too urged governments to take more action." BBC See also FAO/OIE advice about vaccination of birds
October 1 2004 ~ "Labour has hung on to the traditional heartland seat of Hartlepool with an embarrassingly slashed majority. .." ITV com
October 1 2004 ~ CBS News "..Uncommitted voters who watched Thursday night’s presidential debate said John Kerry won the debate against President Bush, and most of those voters improved their opinion about the Democratic candidate because of the debate.."
October 1 2004 ~"....Towards the end of this decade, therefore, we may see grey-painted ships, bearing the blue flag with a ring of stars, manned by EU inspectors, patrolling our seas, guided by an Agency in Spain using EU satellites to direct operations. It is by no means fanciful, either, to suggest that the Agency will operate its own surveillance aircraft – as does the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency – and some will see in these developments an embryonic EU navy and air force." A great deal more on the EUreferendum Blogspot
Sept 30 2004 ~North East Referendum. Gill writes to tell us that she has not yet had the courtesy of a reply to her letter ten days ago to the Electoral Commission. Mr Herron has apparently been told that he " didn't stand a chance of getting any funding because he didn't belong to the "Establishment"
As Gill says, "it just makes me weep. Give me the aristocracy any day, compared with this lot!"
Here is her follow up letter to Mr Younger asking if he could be a little less vague about the reasons and procedures that led to the award of £100,000 funding to NESNO in the North East referendum campaign. See democracy page
Sept 30 2004 ~ "....Regime change was not the cause for it, the cause for it was that... (pause) What I did was take the view after September 11th that we had to take a totally new approach and what that meant is that in respect of regimes developing WMD instead of taking a reactive approach we had to take an active approach and that therefore the place to start was Iraq because there was a string of UN resolutions, a long history of UN inspections not working and so we went back to the UN, got a fresh resolution which said he had to comply fully with the UN inspection regime. Now in the end he didn't, so that was the legal basis for the war. Um. The regime, as I think I said , actually even before the war began, the regime was not irrelevant because obviously the possibility of WMD in the hands of a malign regime is different from that if they are in the hands of a benign regime..." If you missed the answers Mr Blair gave to John Humphrys in yesterday's Today Programme, here is warmwell's transcript - interruptions, strange syntax, the use of September 11th as justification - and all. But for the revealing tones of voice, listen to the BBC recording.
Sept 30 2004 ~ Meanwhile, at the Labour Party Confernece, as Jon Snow's newsletter puts it, " ...The conference organisers had delegates vote on a motion so undeliverable - more or less immediate withdrawal of all UK troops - that even those against the war found themselves voting against it. How to run a democratic party, the Iraqis would be impressed!"
Sept 30 2004 ~ Ireland - SDLP Assembly member for South Down, Mr PJ Bradley "urged both governments to set a joint target date of December 31 2007 for the complete eradication of brucellosis and bovine TB throughout Ireland. Without such a commitment and target for veterinary departments on both sides of the border, he warned the livestock industry would suffer." UTV
Sept 30 2004 ~The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev Michael Langrish, said yesterday: "Set against the massive changes that are going on in their real everyday lives, farmers now find that the people who have control appear not to want to listen, not to want to understand and, sadly, often not even to want to care." WMN
Sept 30 2004 ~ "The ethics of Mr Blair are not the real problem, but the laxity of a system of government in which an error of this calibre can pass without anyone ever being answerable. .." Letters in the Guardian
Sept 30 2004 ~ A website by the expert on pigs, Lyall Watson, has been recommended via this email. Mr Watson "was asked what he thought of pigs being reared for meat, to which he replied that he had no problem with that so long as they are respected for what they are and reared and killed in an humane way. His website is small but interesting..."
Sept 30 2004 ~ "It's a simple thing to eat local food. If we don't, we let down all those wonderful people who make it." Read what Barrie Williams, editor of the Western Morning News, has to say about agriculture, Westminster, supermarkets and the truth about young people coming into farming.
Sept 30 2004 ~ Research by scientists at the Department of Pharmacy at King's College London suggests that non conventional remedies can indeed be effective. The Herald reports that "Debate over the effectiveness of homoeopathic medicine has become particularly heated in the west of Scotland, where a proposal to close a unit at Glasgow's Homoeopathic Hospital is being examined by health managers." We are reminded that Anne Young (see below) kept all her animals free of disease in spite of being surrounded on three sides by cattle and sheep infected with foot and mouth. She chose to use "Virkon S" rather than homeopathic Borax chosen by others. "Virkon S" is an approved disinfectant against FMD also widely used as a water steriliser. In her opinion, "surviving the cull was all about attitude, being informed and determined, taking control of situations and conversations" However, had the Animal Health Act of 2002 been passed a year earlier she would have been defeated and her animals destroyed. (See also Alan Beat's newsetter from August 2001)
Sept 30 2004 ~ The Herald reports that "Shackled and caged, Ken Bigley wept last night as he begged Tony Blair to help save his life, in a new video issued by his kidnappers in Iraq..." Meanwhile listeners to the Today Programme heard a jokey report from Brighton about the "fudge" that has relieved New Labour from taking seriously the debate on troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Sept 30 2004 ~The result of the Hartlepool by-election is expected to be announced at about midnight on Thursday.
Sept 30 2004 ~ The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is now saying that the global economy is likely to slide in 2005 as a result of higher oil prices and other factors. See peak oil news page
Sept 29 2004 ~ The Iraq conflict today continued to cast a long shadow over Labour's annual conference despite Prime Minister Tony Blair's best efforts to put the controversy behind him. Scotsman
Sept 29 2004 ~ Letters in the Independent echo our thoughts - extract: "The Blair people insult hard-working Labour supporters by assuming we will forget the enormity of Iraq if promised goodies on the home front. A colossal insult to our intelligence and the reason why we will not vote Labour again until there is a regime change."
Sept 29 2004 ~ Mark Purdey is sounding more and more sure of his ground - and the scrapie regulations more and more a scapegoat for something more alarming.
Sept 29 2004 ~ Max Hastings in the Daily Mail - we are sent these extracts
Sept 29 2004 ~ www.lakeland-alpacas.co.uk Hilary Peters has sent the latest part of her real food diary with its links and thoughtful commentary. Extract: "...Ann Young’s animals have flourished. She heroically defied the slaughter policy during Foot and Mouth and saved all her animals at enormous cost, both financial and emotional. She takes in alpacas at livery, treating them with total devotion and nursing them through the traumas of import. All Ann’s animals are sane and settled. Even her sheep follow her, not for food, but just because they don’t live in fear. Ann is the living proof that, although people jeer at this sort of devotion, there is a market for it."
Sept 29 2004 ~" The Argentine government has publicly rejected a plan by Monsanto to collect more royalties on the use of its genetically modified soybean seeds. In a press conference, Agriculture Secretary Miguel Campos said Monsanto's plan was unacceptable because it would set an "incalculably negative" precedent for the future of Argentina's agriculture sector...Campos said Monsanto has benefited enormously from the government's willingness to approve the use of genetically modified seeds at a time when their use was still controversial in most countries. .... "http://www.usagnet.com
Sept 29 2004 ~ A link to a down to earth article in the Observer on Sept with my cockerels what I feel best about is not so much the way they die as the way they live. They scamper about in a grassy field, strutting their stuff and pecking the living daylights out of the grass, bugs and slugs, along with the corn and maize mix we scatter for them. In other words, they spend all day doing properly chickeny stuff. As a result, they taste properly chickeny at the end of it all.... 98 per cent of all the chicken meat we eat in this country. ......when it comes to the way our food is being produced, consumers do have teeth. It's time to sharpen them again, urgently, by chewing on chicken that has lived a half decent life." Read in full
Sept 28 2004 ~ Dartmoor Ponies - along with so much else typically English that we hold so dear - may soon be just a memory "... auctioneers and pony organisations fear that the number of ponies on the moor may decline rapidly if new rules, requiring every equine to have an official "passport", documenting its age, ownership and other details, is applied to the moor's semi-feral ponies..." WMN
Sept 28 2004 ~ "Have you got blood on your hands?" is a question that Mr Blair was asked again today as a heckler interrupted his speech in Brighton. He was also asked this question, at a press conference in Japan, about the death of Dr David Kelly (Scotland on Sunday, July 2003). A letter in the Guardian today makes it clear that doubts about the supposed suicide remain in the minds of medical specialists. " If he did not die by any of the means offered to date, this would suggest that he was killed by an as yet undiscovered agent.... With the Hutton suicide ruling now called into serious question by experts from across the medical spectrum, there must now be a cast-iron case for resuming a full inquest into Dr Kelly's death." (read letter)
Sept 28 2004 ~
Mr Blair 02/06/2003 "... stand absolutely 100% behind the evidence, based on intelligence, that we presented to people....Every single piece of intelligence that we presented was cleared very properly by the Joint Intelligence Committee... I have no doubt at all, as I said to you earlier, that the assessments that were made by the British intelligence services will turn out to be correct."
Mr Blair 28/09/2004 "... The evidence about Saddam having actual biological and chemical weapons, as opposed to the capability to develop them, has turned out to be wrong......"
Sept 28 2004 ~ "...The author of a recent biography on Blair warned that he could not discount the Iraq factor just yet. "His political future and therefore what happens to the Labour Party will be decided not in Brighton or London but in a country 2,000 miles away," Anthony Seldon said. "If Iraq disappears off the screens for the next six months then I'd expect Blair to still be prime minister and to romp home with a majority of 120. But if it continues to be in the morning papers day after day after day, he will not survive."..." Reuters report on Mr Blair's speech today.
Sept 28 2004 ~ Are you a U.S. citizen, or do you know any Americans that might need overseas voter registration information? You can get all the information you need and even fill out absentee ballot forms online by visiting: http://www.overseasvote2004.com
(This information, courtesy of MoveOn.org)
Sept 28 2004 ~ More concern is being expressed about the new powers conferred on the RSPCA - who by the terms of the new Animal Welfare Bill become the "prosecutors". An emailer writes, "consider that the Bill allows the Court NOT to hear the owner's side if the Court decides it is not reasonably practicable to do so and the owner/farmer, etc. will be responsible for all costs even if found not guilty. Section 16 (6) makes it an offence to obstruct a prosecutor or a person authorised by him..." Read in full
Sept 28 2004 ~ "...the whole cabinet is tainted by Iraq, and they all should go." An email from a watcher of the Labour Party Conference.
Sept 28 2004 ~ Behind closed doors, decisions seem to be being made to rid certain independent EU nations of their small farms by any means necessary. As an emailer has written: "So grim is the situation in the Polish countryside after a harvest even worse than ours that desperate farmers appealed to the government for an advance on their EU subsidies (due in December). Warsaw said 'fine', but sent out application forms so complicated that they obviously hoped the peasant farmers would be unable to fill them in. The Peasants Party hired a team of UK consultants (experts in the ways of EU bureaucracy) to fly over to help. To the astonishment of the government, the farmers completed their forms on time - only for them now to be told there is no money available after all. Talk is of riots in southern Poland any day now. Not a word of all this in the media (Polish or otherwise)."
Just as in the UK when gold plated EU rules forced (and are forcing) small local slaughterhouses to close, meat slaughter and processing plants in Poland must now fulfill the new EU standards or else face closure. The small farmers' fears about joining the EU (See Guardian April 2000) were fully justified. Smithfield is now about to take over huge sections of the meat industry. Low wages and high unemployment belie rosy reports of growth in Poland. Such reports could have come straight from Animal Farm
Sept 28 2004 ~ King Abdullah of Jordan said yesterday that it will be impossible to hold elections in Iraq in its current state of chaos. See Iraq page
Sept 28 2004 ~ The BBC has noticed that "Crude oil prices hit new highs in both New York and London with US light crude poised to hit the $50 a barrel mark." Global recession, however, is only hinted at in a very few places (including the Independent). Oil prices so far this year have increased 50%.
Sept 28 2004 ~ The FSA is to produce guidelines on labelling - but they are useless if supermarkets are not forced to comply. Telegraph article on the loophole that allows fatty products to be sold as low fat. The FSA's statement that it "wants" the industry to behave responsibly sounds woefully toothless for an expensively kept watchdog.
Sept 27 2004 ~ Poland - "the last bastion of traditional farming in Europe; tens of millions of acres of productive land still tilled without chemicals" - is under threat from multinationals, banks and corrupt bureaucrats. The article about Smithfield from organic food.co.uk bodes very ill indeed for all small farmers.
Sept 27 2004 ~ "Many poultry farmers in Thailand -- certainly the small-holders whose livelihood is threatened to be ruined by HPAI -- wish their stock to be vaccinated.." Avian Influenza
Sept 27 2004 ~ The Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health (DCPAH), a new laboratory located at Michigan State University represents a $58 million cooperative project ".... an integral part of the state of Michigan’s attempts to diagnose and stop the spread of diseases such as bovine tuberculosis, West Nile virus, and rabies, as well as ...as chronic wasting disease and foot-and-mouth disease." http://www.newsroom.msu.edu
Sept 27 2004 ~ Concerns about oil prices are finally getting into the mainstream media. Peak Oil News
Sept 27 2004 ~ WMN "....Mrs Beckett found time to defend the Government's controversial ban on hunting with dogs, but did not address any of the problems besetting the farming industry - let alone offer solutions.." ....Andrew George: "I am surprised and disappointed that the Secretary of State has decided to stand by and let the supermarkets bully dairy farmers in the way they have been."
Sept 27 2004 ~ Brent crude futures soared to a record $46 (325) a barrel, the highest price in the history of the International Petroleum Exchange. Peak Oil news page
Sept 27 2004 ~ "....Not for many years has there been such a gap - in America as well as Britain - between the people and the government they elected." Robert Fisk - see Iraq page
Sept 27 2004 ~ Iraq: "...attacks on oil infrastructure have produced losses of up to $1 billion this year, slashing the funds available for reconstruction..." See peak oil news
Sept 27 2004 ~ "...The Prime Minister, who was swept to power on a wave of optimism about the new politics he would introduce, was brought down to earth by the hostage crisis surrounding Kenneth Bigley, the assassination of a Palestinian Hamas leader in Syria, death and suicide bombs in Iraq and a rebel vote by delegates to force Iraq on to the agenda for the conference..." Independent See also Robert Fisk's latest article on the Iraq page
Sept 26 2004 ~ An urgent matter of sovereignty is not being reported by the major media. We are being quietly led into the Super State, complete with its own prosecutor, border guards and police force, by our unwitting noses - and by a largely ignorant parliament. See democracy page
Sept 26 2004 ~ 570 vets (mostly practising), 5 Veterinary Professors and 6 Fellows of the Royal College of Pathologists are spearheading a new organisation - The Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management.
An emailer writes, "We think it is important that vets and farmers, ecologists and animal lovers appreciate that 'managing' a population does not mean its extermination. It means keeping it in harmony with its surroundings and space, and primarily keeping it healthy within those boundaries" See also FWi
Sept 26 2004 ~ An emailer writes, "....for some time could not see a clear link with other issues on the website - but I see now that government bungling, arrogance and callousness is the link. I have nothing but horrified compassion for Ken Bigley and his family and friends. But his kidnapping has - I hate even to write this - done some good to the country. People who turn off whenever Iraq is mentioned - the people Mr Blair depends on to reelect him - cannot turn their backs on the plight of Mr Bigley. ."
Sept 26 2004 ~ Independent on Sunday ".The Government does not mind at all when the war is off the agenda of so many papers. ... the last thing they wanted was Iraq dominating the media, all the media, in the run-up to their party conference. But horrifying events have so ordained. The kidnappers, showing a sophisticated understanding of media manipulation, have taken Iraq back to the top of the agenda in Britain, and focused it on the Prime Minister himself... the centrality of the media to modern terrorism grows all the time. .... The medium is the modern message of terrorism, and the sophistication of the terrorists in using the media advances constantly. It is far mightier than the gun. That puts a huge responsibility on the media.....who cannot claim that they are not participants, however reluctant, in events."
Sept 26 2004 ~ The immense military implications of the EU's proposed Galileo satellite system ( the Government line is that it is only "a civil project"), the utterly bizarre story of a VAT demand - using an EU Directive rather than common sense for justification - for back-payments of £60,000 because of a charitable offer, the injunctions served on both the Electoral Commission and John Prescott for the misleading information in the leaflet sent to to North East voters that claims that elections to the new assembly will only be by proportional representation...and cheering news about the preferred site for a new "EU capital" - see Booker's Notebook this week.
Sept 26 2004 ~ "Just when investors thought the oil crisis was over, crude gushed to a record $48.88 a barrel last week, spewing red ink over Wall Street. ..." Peak Oil News
Sept 25 2004 ~ "Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry and obtained exclusively by Knight Ridder. .."
Sept 25 2004 ~ Peter Hain says that Iraq is a "fringe issue" for the Labour Conference. http://www.channel4.com/news
Simon Jenkins' view is somewhat different. "..Mr Blair’s first Iraq war may have been a mistake, but that is not for now. It is his second war that matters. .... new war can only be one of extraction, of discreet withdrawal. It is an exercise somehow to save Mr Blair’s premiership. It is a War of Blair’s Bacon. The attempt to portray it as a crusade against global terror is dishonest, contemptible for those who die as a result. Its shambolic outcome was always certain. The brave recourse now is to realism, to admit that a war which cannot be won should soonest be abandoned. Britain should leave Iraq in January, whatever a new American President decides." Read in full
"Some delegates at the Labour Conference certainly want to focus on Iraq, with party managers under pressure to accept for debate emergency resolutions condemning the Government’s handling of the crisis. The conference will vote tomorrow on whether those resolutions should be heard." Scotsman
Sept 25 2004 ~ A map has now been drawn up showing the locations in North Devon of 22 turbines - each at least 360ft high - which would spread over six miles and be visible from the Welsh coast... the fact that the decision rests with the DTI has sparked fears among local people that their objections will go unheard..." See windfarm page
Sept 25 2004 ~ Michael Moore might just be the man to save the world. Here is his latest inspiriting email: ".... I want everyone in their teens and twenties who exist from one packet of Ramen noodles to the next bag of Tostitos to take your fully-justified cynicism and toss it like a Molotov right into the middle of this election. As "non-voters" you have been written off. But if only a few thousand of you vote, it could make all the difference. You literally hold all the power in your hands..."
Sept 25 2004 ~ 12.05 p.m. Reuters carries a rumour that Mr Bigley has been killed.
Sept 25 2004 ~ Alex Salmond, new leader of the Scottish National Party, was cheered yesterday when he declared: "I believe that this Prime Minister now operates outside the currency of debate, beyond the pale of decency. I don’t challenge his policies - I challenge his morality." ...
Sept 25 2004 ~ "there is little real chance of cheap oil returning" Andrew McKillop - former expert-policy and programming, Division A-Policy, DG XVII-Energy, European Commission. See peak oil news page
Sept 24 2004 ~ "...In Iraq no one has laid any charges, let along secured convictions, against the two women for whose continued imprisonment Mr Blair and Mr Straw are ready to sacrifice Mr Bigley....Mr Bigley’s family can surely plead that where anarchy prevails they might at least be spared Mr Blair’s principles. And Mr Finucane’s family can surely plead that where order prevails they might be spared his pragmatism. ...The trouble is that when politicians plead principle common decency vanishes. It fades like the cat on the branch of the tree, until all that is left is a cynic’s smile." Simon Jenkins in the Times
Sept 24 2004 ~ "Perhaps we who have opposed this stupendous blunder should come out of the closet and proclaim ourselves proud to have been crude. As Lord Melbourne once lamented: “What all the wise men said would happen has not happened, and what all the damn fools predicted has occurred.” And so it has come to pass in Iraq..." Matthew Parris in the Times.
Sept 24 2004 ~ "....The Bigley tragedy has illuminated to the world that it is indeed the Americans who are calling the shots in Iraq. The terrorists have got a message out to the world despite the authorities best efforts - so who do you think is ahead in this "war on terror"? The poignancy of the Bigley tragedy is that is focuses all our attention on the plight of some individuals we get to know through the media. This makes it difficult for Iraq to disappear as a remote and confusing problem that isn't relevant to our everyday concerns - which is what Blair and Bush were surely hoping." Independent
Sept 24 2004 ~If Jonathan Steele in the Guardian today is right and the "US authorities cannot let Dr Germ go - she knows too much" then the confusion about her possible release in exchange for Kenneth Bigley takes on an even nastier aspect. See Iraq page
50,000 leaflets carrying a personal appeal for help from Ken Bigley's family have been distributed in Baghdad by the british Embassy. (Independent)
Sept 24 2004 ~ Horse passports. The Western Morning News points out that DEFRA is having to extend the deadline yet again - but, says WMN: "... If Defra introduced a British ban on the export of horses for slaughter, many more owners might feel encouraged to sign up for the passport scheme in the knowledge that all horses, pony and donkeys in Britain - whatever their value - would be protected from a nightmare journey in the back of a lorry en route to a continental slaughterhouse..."
Sept 24 2004 ~ "....Mr Armstrong ... said: “Why couldn’t we have stayed at Great Orton? “What have they got to hide on that site? Why do they have security there 24 hours a day? There’s something untoward going on.”.." is the interesting ending of this article about the compensation, finally wrested from Defra, by the Carlisle and District clay pigeon shooting club who, before FMD 2001, practised their sport at Great Orton. Cumberland News (who also today cover Nick Honhold's research under the headline: The FULL Story... FMD mass cull "not necessary" )
Sept 24 2004 ~ A very worrying email received today concerns the arrest of the owner of a reputable horse sanctuary "for rescuing a neglected horse and having it on their land in a 'state' ..." This would appear to give credance to those worried about the drastically reinforced powers of the Animal Welfare bill
Sept 24 2004 ~ An article in the Cumberland News today about Peter Greenhill's Lakeland Livestock Centre in Cockermouth which, the paper says " has done its utmost to preserve one of our cherished native sheep breeds" and whose success in last year’s Countryside Awards are described as "one of the most poignant events in the recovery from foot and mouth disease."
Sept 24 2004 ~ "....."We have to be convincing that the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for..." An extract from Richard Norton Taylor's article in Wednesday's Guardian quotes what Peter Ricketts, political director at the Foreign Office, told Jack Straw. He described the US as "scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaida", a link that was "so far frankly unconvincing" and told Jack Straw: "We have to be convincing that the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for. Regime change does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge match between Bush and Saddam."
Sept 24 2004 ~ ".. It is clear that nothing short of retirement will ever drive Mr Blair to admit that he has been party to one of the great errors of modern statesmanship. His dwindling band of admirers have retreated into mental dysfunction...." Simon Jenkins. See Iraq page
Sept 24 2004 ~ " Blair remains in office, refusing any examination of his conduct. ... if he gets away with it, a new constitutional precedent will have been established, namely that misleading the country is acceptable.. " Guardian comment
Sept 24 2004 ~ "Large areas of the country are in rebel hands, American forces are attacked every day and Ken Bigley is facing imminent execution, but for George Bush and Iyad Allawi yesterday these were but minor obstacles on Iraq's certain path to freedom and democracy... Mr Allawi..... almost his every utterance could have been delivered by the President. Yesterday showed how closely the two men's fortunes are bound together..." Independent
Sept 24 2004 ~ US election: Reuters ".....many voters who had registered recently in swing states were likely to find their names would not be on the rolls when they showed up on Election Day. "There is very widespread delay in the swing states because there have been massive registration drives among minorities and those applications are not being processed quickly enough,"
Sept 24 2004 ~ Michael Moore asks Mr Bush and his family "...... you have all changed your minds so many times, I am out of breath just trying to keep up with you! Which of these 10 positions that you, your family and your cabinet have taken over the years represents your CURRENT thinking:" Read in full
Sept 23 2004 ~ On Channel 4 News this evening Mikhail Gorbachev declares that the concept of the 'war on terror' exaggerates the scale of the threat and he damns the entire war on Iraq.
Sept 23 2004 ~"...Decision-making in the Labour Party today is a closed loop. The Prime Minister appoints the party chairman, who then ensures that the party supports the Prime Minister. The National Policy Forum recycles Downing Street's ideas through a bogus consultation process ..... All this might be tolerable if the conference was remotely entertaining..." See Democracy page
Sept 23 2004 ~ Mikhail Gorbachev on Channel 4 news this evening declares that the concept of the 'war on terror' exaggerates the scale of the threat and he damns the entire war on Iraq.
Sept 23 2004 ~ Read the latest email from splendid Michael Moore. No wonder the powers of darkness try to smear him at every turn. Here, he writes about opinion polls and other timely matters - and routs the feelings of gloom and doom.
".... "The polls are wrong. They are all over the map like diarrhea. On Friday, one poll had Bush 13 points ahead -- and another poll had them both tied. There are three reasons why the polls are b.s.: One, they are polling "likely voters." "Likely" means those who have consistently voted in the past few elections. So that cuts out young people who are voting for the first time and a ton of non-voters who are definitely going to vote in THIS election. Second, they are not polling people who use their cell phone as their primary phone. Again, that means they are not talking to young people. Finally, most of the polls are weighted with too many Republicans, as pollster John Zogby revealed last week. You are being snookered if you believe any of these polls." Read in full
Sept 23 2004 ~ David Blunkett is planning to lift the blanket ban on the use of covertly obtained intelligence as evidence in court Guardian
Sept 23 2004 ~ The brother of British hostage Kenneth Bigley has accused the American government of "sabotaging" moves to free him. icWales
Sept 22 2004 ~ George W Bush received only weak applause from an audience of "mostly stony-faced foreign leaders" when he delivered his fourth annual speech to the United Nations in New York today, attempting to assure the world that Iraq would ".. conquer terrorism and emerge as a thriving democracy that "poses no threat to others"..." See The Age.com (and especially the photograph by Reuters.) Kofi Annan began the proceedings by ringing the "peace bell" and said:
"Today the rule of law is at risk around the world. Again and again we see laws shamelessly disregarded. In Iraq we see civilians massacred in cold blood, at the same time we have seen Iraqi prisoners disgracefully abused. At times even the necessary fight against terrorism is allowed to encroach unnecessarily on civil liberties...."
Sept 22 2004 ~ Would an elected regional assembly benefit Sunderland and East Durham? The Sunderland Echo is running an online poll. http://www.sunderlandtoday.co.uk/ (At 6.40 pm it was as follows:)
5% Yes 91% No 4% Don't care
Sept 22 2004 ~ The Birmingham Post seems to have the only follow-up to the Channel 4 Dispatches Dirty Meat programme. Money is powerful. Dirty Meat criminals have the knack of intimidation. Even so, given that a lot more than was shown in the programme is widely known, we are astonished and concerned.
Sept 22 2004 ~ Meat scandals. Just a week after the government launched a £4 million pound campaign to "combat excessive salt consumption", Tesco, the Co-op, Sainsbury's and Asda are still stocking watered-down, sodium added pork. See this report from the Guardian
Tesco's "Finest" fresh pork chops were discovered in July to be 89% pork - the rest is added water, dried glucose syrup, polyphosphates to hold the water in, preservative and "partially deodorised rosemary extract".
In January 2002 Tesco was "quietly prosecuted" for selling "Tesco tender select pork leg" without declaring added water, glucose syrup and salt on the outer label. It was fined £2,800. (Tesco's first half profits have just been reported to be £822million ) The FSA is "negotiating" with supermarkets for much more prominent labelling. But, as David Walker, a spokesman for the Trading Standards Institute, says, " Once individual companies adopt a marketing practice of this sort, it spreads very quickly. The potential for malpractice and fraud is also enormous."
Sept 22 2004 ~ "Terrorists boasted last night that they had killed a second American hostage in Iraq just hours after George Bush tried to persuade a sceptical United Nations the country was making progress "on the path to democracy and freedom"...." Scotsman
Sept 22 2004 ~ Transcript. Farming Today. Dr Roger Breeze and Professor Sheila Crispin
Sept 22 2004 ~ "Poor Mr Baradei, His mission is a parody: He tells the states (with some aplomb) They can and cannot have the bomb .... Both the US and the UK have abandoned their own obligations to disarm, and appear to be contemplating a new generation of nuclear weapons. Both governments have also suggested that they would be prepared to use them pre-emptively...." George Monbiot "Proliferation treaty" in the Guardian yesterday.
Sept 22 2004 ~ Pollen from a genetically modified grass can travel up to 21km away from its experimental planting site. BBC
Sept 22 2004 ~ The irresponsibility of scentists who cannot see beyond the test tube. The 1918 flu virus - that killed tens of millions of people worldwide is being used on unfortunate monkeys in order to try to develop a vaccine - but without level 3 security... "University of Washington scientists plan to infect monkeys with a killer flu virus grown from tissue exhumed from victims of the 1918 epidemic...
..."But this organism, the 1918 virus, is something else," Hammond said. "It's very dangerous and easily spread." He contended that the 1918 virus deserves one of the highest levels of laboratory containment systems, known as Biosafety Level 3 Ag .." http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/health/191418_flu18.html
Sept 21/22 2004 ~ Farming Today tomorrow - Wednesday. This should, we hope, present a different story about both vaccination and rapid diagnosis from the Anderson flummery.
Sept 21/22 2004 ~"an ignorant, dictatorial, uncaring, urban Government." The WMN quotes Anthony Gibson, who proved himself to be such a tower of strength during the FMD crisis.
Sept 21/22 2004 ~ Roger writes with a link to the Tesco surge in profits - (See also warmwell's supermarket page "Supermarkets have destroyed our local supply system and killed off smaller food producers. According to their industry thinking, smaller players are inefficient....") and he sends too this heartfelt comment about the Dispatches programme on Dirty Meat trading.
Another emailer, Anne, wrote: ...I closed my eyes, covered my ears, and ran out of the room at the start of the worst bit in the programme. I felt physically sick, and so angry."
Sept 21/22 2004 ~ "....Dr Harry's findings have been supported by extensive research by G P Van den Berg, a physicist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. His research is likely to intensify the debate over the impact of turbines on people living close by." Windfarms page
Sept 21/22 2004 ~ Martin Kettle in the Guardian writes that "There is a real fear that Iraq could scupper the party's re-election chances ...Tony Blair has never appeared more adrift from public opinion on Iraq than he does at this moment.... there appears to be a shared fear at the top of the Labour party that the government's Iraq policy and its re-election chances could after all be on a collision course.."
Sept 21/22 2004 ~ The end of cheap oil "....political pressure for the investment in the re-engineering of our cities and infrastructure... isn't there yet. People don't riot for austerity; they riot because they want more, not less. We have to riot for less." See peak oil news
Sept 21/22 2004 ~ The North East No Campaign has lodged an official complaint with the Audit Commission, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Electoral Commission over the misleading 'Your Say' Government Information Leaflet.Press release - and brief correspondence between Neil Herron and warmwell
Sept 21 2004 ~ Farming Today did not broadcast the refutation of Professor Anderson's remarks.
Here are some links about what was technically available to the authorities in 2001 and how very successfully vaccination and rapid diagnosis were used elsewhere in 2001.
Sept 21 2004 ~ "With only a thin cushion of stocks and global production running almost flat out, traders worry that any hiccup in the supply chain could lead to a major disruption. .." Warmwell's peak oil news
Sept 21 2004 ~ Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, at the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth: "Our reputation and respect have been diluted and dissipated, and all because of Iraq. ....Before the war, it was claimed that to attack Iraq was necessary because it was a threat. Now we are told the war was justified because Saddam was a tyrant. A justification of doubtful legality has been replaced by one of no legality whatsoever." Mr Campbell said the British people looked "in vain" for contrition from the government. Mr Campbell added: "I am angry, not because I was deceived over Iraq, but because we were right." The Herald Britain's ambassador to Italy, Sir Ivor Roberts, said yesterday that Mr Bush was the best recruiting officer for Al Qaeda "If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual re-election of Bush it is Al Qaeda." An overwhelming majority of voters want Tony Blair to start preparing British troops to pull out from Iraq, according to a new opinion poll See also Analysis from the Herald"An exercise in rebranding".
Sept 21 2004 ~ Bryn writes, "I hope the FSA watched Channel 4 (Dispatches) about the dirty meat industry. The FSA cannot even be good coppers and catch these crooks; it takes people outside their doors to do their work!"
(Bryn has every right to speak as one of the unsung heroes "outside their doors". We know too that the FSA were contacted about the very problems covered by the "Dirty Meat" programme a long time ago. Beyond the briefest of acknowledgements, they failed to respond. )
Sept 21 2004 ~ "Asked whether the Prime Minister should resign over revelations that he was warned about the aftermath of the war, Mr Kennedy said Mr Blair must answer "the extremely serious catalogue of charges that are mounting against him".." Independent
Sept 21 2004 ~ No more checks to government power in third term. "A House of Lords (Reform) Bill to be introduced after the election would remove the 92 remaining hereditary peers from the second chamber... it would also clip the wings of the Lords by limiting its traditional power to delay proposed laws supported by the House of Commons... the Labour blueprint would extend the use of the Parliament Act...allowing it to be used for all government bills." Independent
Sept 21 2004 ~ EU Member States rejected yesterday a proposal by the European Commission to import a variety of Monsanto-produced GM maize - the eighth time that states (but not the UK) have voiced concern about GM. The Commission can make a decision on its own, however. It does not actually require the backing of Ministers. See GM page
Sept 21 2004 ~ Re"Little Red Tractor is a fudge" See article An emailer writes, " I can't help joining in this discussion yet again, having written letters to Farmers Weekly and speaking at various meetings. The Little Red Tractor could never indicate British produce. Under Single Market rules we cannot use country of origin as promotion. ...the Little Red Tractor was always something of a con or a fudge and can be nothing else until we acknowledge that we are not in charge of the rules and legislation to do with agriculture and food production in this country. "
(Gary in Kansas has noted the connection between the little red tractor logo, the NFU and AGCO and does not like what he sees.)
Sept 21 2004 ~ Gill writes, "I'm actually much more worried about the Civil Contingencies Bill, which is getting more publicity from you than anywhere else. Is the hunting ban being brought in to give them a practice run?
We are being manipulated into a regional assembly up here. Have just sent off the letters attached, with copies to you and a few regional papers, just so that the Electoral Commission can't dispose of them in the happy awareness that nobody else has read them."
Sept 21 2004 ~ Gill's letters show that a Yes vote is to be secured at all costs ".... To hand financial control of the No Campaign to a group led by Conservative supporters and backed by the Conservative Party at once reduces debate in this overwhelmingly Labour part of the country from the rational to the emotive level, and significantly increases the chance of a Yes vote.." Read in full
See also 'The Rigging of a Referendum' by Christopher Booker in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph... "Mr Herron and his supporters are fighting on as a "people's campaign"..."
For breaking news and information www.neilherron.blogspot.com and for the campaign and the arguments please visit www.northeastnocampaign.co.uk
Sept 21 2004 ~ FARM says "...the trend towards fewer, more intensive dairy units is harming rural communities, animal welfare and wildlife – which makes the loss of family dairy farms a concern for us all. ...the average retail price for a litre of milk has risen from 41 to 48 pence. But in the same period, the price the farmer gets has fallen from 24 to 18 pence.... Britain is losing over 2,000 dairy farms a year – about 40 a week. While supermarkets carry on making a huge profit, farmers go out of business."
See also power of the supermarkets (Terry Leahy was on Radio 4 this morning saying that farmers' incomes have risen by 30%. He was not challenged.)
Sept 20 2004 ~ EFSA, the European "Food Standards Agency" said this week that in the long term an accurate live animal test for BSE might offer the possibility to reduce the number of culled animals after the detection of one positive animal. ... It is hard to understand why the approval process for live tests, (such as that developed by Dr Chris Pomfrett at Manchester,) is so slow.
Sept 20 2004 ~ Jon Snow's Channel 4 comment on Monday night "Been down to Downing Street to see Mr Blair and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. Blair very much on his new tack of telling us "never mind how we got into this mess in Iraq, we now have to line up. Democracy or terrorism. Black and white", he says, and so "you have to be on our side".
Mr Singh, charmingly, indicated he was not entirely persuaded, seemed to view the war as illegal and pledged never to send troops but instead to train Iraqis in 'humanitarian' matters. ..."
Sept 20 2004 ~ " a distinguished meat industry figure willing to issue essential food handling qualifications to people who have never been trained to do so; the same man, a leading industry consultant, advising clients to defraud Government agencies set up to modernise the food trade ...." Don't miss Dispatches on Monday, Channel 4. The Guardian had this to say
Sept 20 2004 ~ Tony Blair has re-labelled what is going on in Iraq. The Guardian reports that he " insisted every "sensible and decent person" should move on and recognise that the terrorists and insurgents were opposed to "every single one of the values we in countries like this hold dear"..."
Iraq slides into misery and violence as a result of an illegal invasion - Mr Blair and Mr Allawi talk of "the forces of evil" or a "crucible" of global terrorism - while, at the same time, they try to present what the Independent calls,".. a determinedly upbeat picture of everyday life in Iraq"
"...Some left-wing MPs said it was "offensive" for the Prime Minister to host talks with Mr Allawi, who had CIA links and was chosen by the Bush administration..."
See also Iraq page
Sept 20 2004 ~ As for the behaviour of some members of the Metropolitan police last Wednesday, an account by Edmund Marriage of British Wildlife Management and a letter to the Telegraph from an elderly couple caught up in the violence are likely to shock many - whatever their views on hunting itself.
Sept 20 2004 ~ An interesting article by Matthew Fort on the Hunting Bill is in yesterday's Observer. " ... Fox hunting seems to elicit a degree of sanctimony, humbug and sophistry unparalleled in modern politics. Even the most committed anti-hunting commentators admit that, in terms of animal cruelty, fox hunting rates low on the list of atrocities we allow to be routinely inflicted on various animal, bird and piscine species.....as an urban society, we no longer care about the provenance of our food, as long as it comes in sufficient quantities and at low enough prices... Except in carefully defined areas, city life is defined by the absence of freedoms, independence and responsibility. This underlying principle is now being foisted on rural Britain."
Sept 20 2004 ~ The power of the supermarkets. Carefully compiled evidence here should be printed out (it opens in a new window) and read carefully by all who understand that supermarkets are damaging communities, putting local shops out of business and threatening the livelihoods of many UK farmers.
Sept 18/19 2004 ~ NE Regional Assembly. "... the ODPM's leaflet (which was not submitted for vetting to the Electoral Commission) ... claims that the assembly will be wholly independent of central government, when the Bill makes clear that in crucial respects it will be subject to Government control. .... £100,000 of taxpayers' money - went to a campaign run by a party now so weak in the North-East region that it has only one MP..." Booker's Notebook
Sept 18/19 2004 ~ An emailer writes, "We`ve had enough. So have all my friends, relatives and customers. I am saddened however that this monstrous row is taking place over the fox. Why were these very same people not leaping around during FMD? It was all taking place in their patch and there was, by comparison, very little protest. Sad."
Sept 18/19 2004 ~ The deliberate misrepresentation of what was technically available to the authorities in 2001 (see here) will be challenged in Farming Today on Tuesday.
Sept 18/19 2004 ~ Tony Blair was facing a new Iraq crisis last night after explosive evidence emerged from within his own government that he was warned the country would be plunged into chaos after the fall of Saddam. Scotsman
Sept 18/19 2004 ~ Singapore is worried about a tropical disease that has killed 23 people this year: Melioidosis. See ProMed The death rate from the disease between January and July 2004 was 3 times that of SARS. But in spite of bio-terrorism fears "... it was not caused intentionally: different patients were seen to have different strains of the bacterium."
Sept 18/19 2004 ~ ".....Andrew Marr said events had shown that in the end power lay with the MP's in the House of Commons. This may be the view of the political classes in London, but out here in the real world we know that ultimately power lies with ordinary people, it's just that most of the time they don't choose to exercise it." Editorial from the Ledbury Reporter
Sept 18/19 2004 ~ £431m new Scottish parliament fiasco "... The investigation will be carried out behind closed doors and the last such inquiry was into the handling of the foot and mouth disease outbreak - a probe which resulted in promises that lessons had been learnt but no blood on the well-maintained carpets at St Andrews House or Whitehall." Scotsman
Sept 18/19 2004 ~ On Thursday, Mr Yeo asked Margaret Beckett " what the evidential basis was for the conclusion in the report, Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease Epidemic in 2001, that the February 2001 UK outbreak and the September 2000 South African outbreak had a common origin rather than the South African outbreak being the origin of the UK outbreak.." Hansard One wonders how far Mrs Beckett understood the text with which she replied.
Sept 18/19 2004 ~ An emailer writes, "Cullompton's traffic warden can no longer use the bicycle provided for him by the Community Safety partnership in 2002. He has been using it since then - but is now told he must leave it at home because - according to Health and Safety rules - he has not been "trained" to ride it. North Devon Gazette has the story and I have to go for a lie-down." See North Devons Gazette
Sept 18 2004 ~ Cumberland News "this Labour Government cynically uses the foxhunting issue (about which it knows little and cares even less) as a wild card to be played whenever its real political ambitions are in danger of being thwarted. In the present instance, apart from possibly saving them from a revolt over pensions, it is being used to distract attention from the passage of the Civil Contingencies Bill, possibly the most Draconian piece of legislation ever to have been laid before a British Parliament.
All of us who were involved in the foot and mouth disaster will remember instances of both Government ministers and civil servants who exceeded their legal authority and were subsequently successfully challenged in the courts. However, under the powers conferred by this new act, once a state of emergency (which may be either national or local and can be either general or specific to some particular situation) has been declared by any one of a number of authorised ministers, all normal legal rights can be suspended, without any prospect of subsequent compensation or redress. .." Read in full
Sept 18 2004 ~ Christopher Booker's Foreward to Janet Hughes' book, the Killing Pens, is now in the public domain.
Sept 18 2004 ~ Many emails are arriving - some too outspoken about Professor Anderson's remarks yesterday (see transcript) to print here. Others, more measured, may be read here. Responses to Professor Roy Anderson
Sept 18 2004 ~ See Iraq page today for the final word on Iraq's supposed WMD and the news that Mr Blair received warning that the chaos we are seeing in Iraq was an inevitable consequence if he agreed to war. The documents further also show that Mr Blair was told that he would have manufacture an excuse for war.
Sept 17 2004 ~ For those who did not hear Professor Roy Anderson on Farming Today, you really do need to catch the "Listen Again" version to note the tone of voice. The Emperor's New Clothes technique is a useful one, it seems. The transcript cannot possibly do it justice. He was NOT pulled up on the following incomprehensible sentence : "...You're trying to follow individual chains of transmission to see how much quick removal of the index premise and then subsequently the removal of the surrounding premises if it was done quickly enough help to restrict further cases in that local spatial area.." See transcript
Sept 17 2004 ~ The prize bull slaughtered under the Government's bovine TB policy did not have TB. WMN "a post-mortem examination found no sign of the disease.. ."
Sept 17 2004 ~ Many unsung heroes of the House of Lords did their best with the Civil Contingencies Bill on Wednesday
Baroness Buscombe: "During the Summer Recess, I have been inundated with letters, e-mails and phone calls from concerned members of the public about the Bill.....However, the Government have been treating it as though it is not a controversial matter...I also want briefly to express my thanks to all those who have been in touch with me over the past weeks. There have been far too many to reply to. But there are people out there who genuinely feel that we in your Lordships' House must do all that we can to strike that very difficult balance between ensuring that the government of the day can react quickly and responsibly in the time of an emergency and the need to protect our democracy, our civil liberties and our freedoms. " Debate
Sept 17 2004 ~ Public protests outside the Westminster parliament will be banned by security chiefs. Scotsman
Sept 17 2004 ~ " a distinguished meat industry figure willing to issue essential food handling qualifications to people who have never been trained to do so; the same man, a leading industry consultant, advising clients to defraud Government agencies set up to modernise the food trade ...." Don't miss Dispatches on Monday, Channel 4
Sept 17 2004 ~ "Whatever happened to the pride the British used to take in their famously phlegmatic character? Just when did it evaporate in the heat of our brave new security world with its fears, its panics and its timidity?" asks Robin Cook. Unfortunately, he asks it on a pay to view portfolio article of the Independent so the rest of what he says cannot be reproduced here.
Sept 17 2004 ~ Muckspreader on the West Country dolphins now doomed by pair trawlers: "...so long as one marine mammal is left alive – the ‘Single European Dolphin’ – Brussels refuses to act. So the slaughter must continue. And visitors to the coves and beaches of Cornwall must learn to live with the stinking consequences."
Sept 17 2004 ~ "Duelfer's report is expected to be similar to findings reported by his predecessor, David Kay, who presented an interim report to Congress in October. Kay left the post in January, saying, "We were almost all wrong" about Saddam's weapons programs." Washington Post
(The Senate Intelligence Committee said in July the CIA kept key information from its own and other agencies' analysts, engaged in "group think" by failing to challenge the assumption that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and allowed President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to make false statements. More than a thousand civilian and military weapons specialists, translators and other experts have been trying to find Saddam's weapons and better understand his prohibited programs during the past year.)
Sept 17 2004 ~Kerry says "..as president I will reverse the four years of environmental neglect by the Bush administration. I have been a leader in the fight to strengthen our economy and protect our environment, fighting to clean up toxic waste sites and to keep our air and water clean." (Discovery Channel head to head on science between Mr Bush and Mr Kerry)
Sept 16 2004 ~ Avian flu ......... Dr Maria Zambon, Director of the Influenza laboratory at the Health Protection Agency: "We have a rapid test, called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which is capable of identifying the virus and therefore showing us if a person is infected with a strain of avian flu in a matter of hours." (Read in full)
Sept 16 2004 ~ Kofi Annan has declared the Iraq war illegal and warns of election credibility. The Washington Times "Kofi Annan, in an interview yesterday with BBC World Service Radio, said the U.S. decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 was "illegal." "I'm one of those who believe that there should have been a second resolution" from the U.N. Security Council to green-light the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, Mr. Annan said. He added: "I've indicated that it was not in conformity with the U.N. charter from our point of view, and from the charter point of view, it was illegal."
The Independent report today says that Mr Annan's remarks are "certain to provoke demands by anti-war Labour MPs at Westminster today for a statement by the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith" It is sceptical of US military justification for the rocket attack on Sunday. Read in full
Sept 16 2004 ~ The civil contingencies bill's committee stage, debated in the House of Lords yesterday, is not apparently considered to be important enough to receive notice in today's press. Meanwhile, "Ministers were last night considering a ban on demonstrations in Parliament Square ..."
Sept 16 2004 ~ "Reducing the turban issue to a “freedom of expression” or “freedom of religion” issue is just like reducing the “fox hunt ban” in England to an “animal welfare” matter. It is just a wrong translation...."
- an interesting view from Turkey, in an article on the issue of criminalizing adultery, relieved that Turkey has "wisely backtracked" News Analysis by Ugur Akinci, Ph.D.
Sept 16 2004 ~ The Countryside Alliance is " intent on taking legal action against the government on the grounds that use of the Parliament Act to fast-track legislation breaches the European convention on human rights..." Guardian report
Yet another row is brewing with the BBC because they were apparently told about a dry-run of yesterday's invasion of the House of Commons and did not let on.
Sept 16 2004 ~ "Many Labour MPs are convinced that Mr Blair at least hinted to Mr Brown that he would stand down when John Prescott held a "peace dinner" for the two men last November. Allies of the Chancellor believe Mr Blair gave a firm promise to leave Downing Street if Mr Brown promised to support him through the next year...."Independent John Reid has denied that Tony Blair " told colleagues" he would stand down. But this looks like a row that is not going to be smoothed over so easily.
Sept 16 2004 ~ "inexperienced and unprofessional civil servants failed to keep politicians informed of the rising costs, withheld vital information and took decisions that should have been passed to others. .... Scotsman on the Holyrood fiasco. For once in a report following a fiasco, even individuals do not escape censure.
Sept 15 2004 ~ "... One can only surmise what the real Blair would make of Cheney's dismissal of the play's British prime minister, in language that cannot be repeated here. .."Stuff Happens" does have a tragic hero, in the person of Colin Powell..."What is this?" he cries, lashing out at "a bunch of right-wing nutcases in the White House." But ultimately even Powell, too, is silenced by the sheer weight of stuff happening in a play where, Hare suggests, we are all doomed." International Herald Tribune's review of David Hare's Stuff Happens For the Guardian reviews - click here (new window)
Sept 16 2004 ~ Public safety fears and high costs would have to be overcome before there was any chance of building any new nuclear power stations, the prime minister said yesterday. On the question of "food miles" Mr Blair admitted that he had no idea what his government was doing to combat the problem Andrew Turner, Conservative, told him the UK was one of Britain's prime tomato producers, adding: "It is hard to find island tomatoes in local supermarkets but I can buy mange tout from Sierra Leone."
Sept 15 2004 ~ An emailer informs us:
"People outside Parliament demonstrating about the fox hunting ban = 10,000Comment from Channel 4 news email on the Hunting Bill ". .... a complex matter of priorities too, given there are some argue there are many far more repellent acts of violence against animals, such as battery hen-rearing and pig-rearing. And then is class any element of it?..."
People outside Parliament demonstrating about the Civil Contingencies Bill = nil."
Sept 15 2004 ~ Owen writes, "..... I even start to wonder if they cooked up Hurricane Ivan to make sure that the Civil Contingencies matter was relegated to page 27 of the domestic news - if it makes it to print at all."
Sept 15 2004 ~ Iraq. Colin Freeman of the Scotsman gives his assessment of what a farce the "turn-over of sovereignty" has come to be. "....as yesterday’s carnage and that of recent weeks shows, the real post-hand-over violence is only truly under way now. The fact remains that this is now the second time, after April’s initial insurrection, that Iraq has listed towards total anarchy. .." Mr Blair has, of course, "moved on" from Iraq.
Sept 15 2004 ~ Hunting Bill. Words fail really. Alun Michael told a spluttering John Humphrys that the use of the Parliament Act was "a measured response". He didn't appear to understand the query about why, if the bill was really about cruelty could the government seriously propose a two year delay. An internal New Labour Party wrangle is evident. But use of the Parliament Act - designed for use purely in an emergency - underlines why the other debate today in the House of Lords is of more far reaching importance. Today's hunting question is deemed by the government to be an "emergency". The Civil Contingencies Bill will allow similar "emergencies" to trigger the suspension of the democratic process: to suspend parliament and ban all rights to assembly.
Sept 15 2004 ~ The Animal Health and Welfare Strategy similarly will have some curiously draconian implications. There are no safeguards in place to protect civil or legal rights. There is no right of appeal if the court orders an animal to be killed - in the Bill's extraordinary surreal phrase "in the interests of the welfare of the animal." See email Is the writer perhaps unduly cynical when so many would argue that the bill contains measures that appear to protect animals? Maybe - but many others would agree: "we remember 2001 when healthy animals and pets were unnecessarily killed. Bureaucrats ignored owners' anguish and vowed to put a stop to further legal challenges to slaughter."
Sept 15 2004 ~ At least one discussion paper in government circles talks about the need for 45 new nuclear power stations. As the Channel 4 email says, "A tall order indeed since we've little clue about how to clear up the mess left by existing ones". See also http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1261215,00.html
Sept 14 2004 ~ A US citizen resident in the UK emailer is irritated - and in fact made thoroughly angry - by George Monbiot's article below "... I find Monbiot's article dangerous and irresponsible. His cynical and simple-minded criticism of Kerry takes no account of Kerry's courage to admit that the complexity of some issues often means that there is no black and white interpretation or simple answer...I don't think it helps the international situation to encourage people on both sides of the Atlantic to vote for Nader, especially when the vote may be so close." Read in full
Sept 14 2004 ~ In response to the email above, we offer another view. Consider the Alternative from the Austin Chronicle: "...Chomsky offers a lesson in all this for independent activists, far beyond the outcome of this particular election. "These may not look like huge differences, but they translate into quite big effects for the lives of people," he concludes.."
Sept 14 2004 ~ "...Any president who seeks to change this system requires tremendous political courage. He needs to take on the corporations that have bought the elections, and challenge the newspapers and television stations that set the limits of political debate......Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic are asking American voters to sacrifice liberty for security, and democracy for expediency. The voters should ignore them." George Monbiot on the US Presidential Election.
Sept 13 2004 ~ Could somebody in the BBC please inform the PM reporter outside Buckingham Palace that we are NOT "at a time of heightened terrorism" as he has just told the nation?
A recent US State Department report into patterns of global terrorism found that terrorist attacks are at their lowest ebb for years.
What we do have - as Robin Cook pointed out the other day - is a "staggering" rise in numbers of anti-terrorist raids by police. The Batman-costumed demonstrator trying to get publicity for fathers who desperately want access to their children knows that this important issue will not get the attention of the media. His stunt will. (Yes. There it is at the very top of Google News UK this evening.)
Sept 13 2004 ~ Tesco last year made profits of £1.7 billion - more than half the total income of British agriculture. WMN
Sept 13 2004 ~ The chair of the "New Countryside Agency", Margaret Beckett's integrated management body for our natural heritage, is to be Revd Dr Stuart Burgess, a former President of the Methodist Conference. While he may be very sound on social issues, a Google search today with his name and the word "rural" produced only 5 - irrelevant - results.
Sept 13 2004 ~ The Times "...Mr Redwood is to table questions in Parliament to Mrs Beckett about the issue (i.e. that calves be registered with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) within 27 days of birth) today. Once again the Government commits an outrage against our animals and our farmers by being far stricter with an EU rule than our sensible friends on the Continent. Why is there a death warrant on our cattle when not even the EU has demanded that?”
Richard Haddock, the chairman of the National Farmers Union livestock board, said: “This rule is crazy, and is causing major problems for farmers with thousands of calves being dispatched to the bin.” This news has been immediately picked up in Australia http://feeds.bignewsnetwork.com/?rid=6d24bd894ef66f48&cat=b8de8e630faf3631
Sept 13 2004 ~ The Civil Contingencies Bill - to be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday - seen through the eyes of George Monbiot (See warmwell's Civil Contingencies Bill page) "....legal protest will be confined to writing letters to your MP. Or perhaps, even that could be deemed to cause "concern or needless anxiety" to the honourable member.
When Caroline Flint, the Home Office minister, introduced these proposals to a grateful nation recently, she promised that 'we are not talking about denying people the right to protest" We have every reason to. disbelieve her. The same promise was made with the introduction of the 1986 Public Order Act, the 1992 Trade Union Act and the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, and immediately broken."
Sept 13 2004 ~ " a demand from the Public Health minister, Melanie Johnson, for food retailers to update their salt reduction plans by the end of the week has been met with a resounding raspberry. Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Asda and Iceland have all ignored the request and are continuing to work on the less rigorous salt reduction strategies they formed at the start of this year.." Independent See also the salt test...Sea salt v. Table salt ... sent to warmwell from Norm in Australia.
Sept 13 2004 ~ 250,000 tonnes of frozen poultry meat for Russian fighting jets.. A surreal development from the bird flu epidemic. The Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, "hatched a peculiar bilateral trade scheme. His chicken-for-arms deal proposed exchanging 250,000 tonnes of frozen poultry meat, unsold because of consumer worries about catching bird flu through food, for Russian fighting jets ...." Independent
Sept 12/13 2004 ~ A U.S. helicopter gunship has fired at a crowd of Iraqis, including children, "swarming round a burning U.S. vehicle in a Baghdad street and witnesses and officials say 13 people have been killed and 61 wounded in violence in the area. ...In Ramadi, a rebel-held town west of Baghdad, U.S. troops clashed with insurgents, killing a man and a child and wounding seven other people.." Reuters
Sept 12/13 2004 ~ Members of South Cambridgeshire district council, for instance, have recently been told by their "monitoring officer", Chris Taylor, that they may be disqualified from discussing the siting of a mobile phone mast if they themselves use a mobile phone. Neither may they pronounce on a park-and-ride scheme if they drive a car; nor speak out against a proposed wind farm if they have previously made known their doubts about wind power...." Booker's Notebook on democracy page. (See also windfarm page on the plans for turbines in Wales)
Sept 12/13 2004 ~The Government proposes to replace 49 existing Emergency Fire Control centres by 9 regional call centres. "..The existing 49 control centres possess abundant local knowledge. Regional call centres will not. Computers are but an aid and do crash. When call centres become too busy the overspill calls will be picked up elsewhere. An emergency in say the south east could be picked up by Scotland." See message
Sept 12/13 2004 ~ "It goes into all the details, the shouting matches, the way Blair defers to Brown, the way the Treasury keeps Downing Street in the dark, phone calls not being returned, that kind of thing. It details their fight for territory over the economy and Europe and the way they played off each other. Some parts are juicy, some are hilarious..." From a Telegraph article last June, revealing that Sir Andrew Turnball was trying to censor "Off Whitehall", the book by Derek Scott, serialised in the Sunday Times and to be published on September 16. "..Friends of Scott suggest that his book may well have given an unwelcome prominence to Mr Blair's breathtaking economic illiteracy, and unhelpfully highlight his chronic lack of guts when dealing with his out-of-control Chancellor...The only logical explanation of Mr Brown's good humour after last November's settlement is that Mr Blair indeed promised to quit before an election - most likely this summer. It is also the best explanation of his bad humour last week: he fears that he will be the victim of yet another Blair betrayal. But he should not plunge into despair. It remains just possible that Mr Blair will break the habit of a lifetime, keep his word, and quit in time for this autumn's Labour Party conference." Telegraph
Sept 12 2004 ~ "Margaret Beckett.... vulnerable to a cull ..." Gaby Hinscliff's view of the Blair/Brown troubles. Observer
Sept 11 2004 ~ From Michael Moore's Dude, Where's my Country? ( now available in paperback.)
Sept 11 2004 ~ "Despite widespread support across America, the US law barring semi-automatic assault weapons from being sold is set to expire on Monday, opening the way for gun manufacturers to resume marketing rifles and handguns that have been banned for 10 years.. a poll released last week by the National Annenberg Election Survey said 68 per cent of Americans support renewing the ban. "How did we get in this Alice-in-Wonderland situation of repealing a law that everyone agrees has been so successful?" asked Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York..." Independent
Sept 11 2004 ~ Robert Fisk wrote on Sept 11 2002 "They have a blood debt to us" is a remark as frightening as it is infantile; it suggests that what the United States is embarking upon, far from being a titanic battle of good vs evil, is a series of revenge attacks. One wonders what Tony Blair thinks of all this. Does he, too, have a blood debt owed to him? And what – a question that is never asked – do Muslims make of this nonsense?.." See Iraq page
Sept 11 2004 ~ "Since 2001, Australia has recruited more than 1000 extra staff for border operations, and increased the number of detector dog teams by 50 per cent, from 33 to 48. The number of x-ray machines used for quarantine screening has doubled to 28. Almost $70 million (£28 million) is being used to redevelop international airports and mail centres to facilitate better quarantine protection...Arrivals from high-risk countries, such as countries with outbreaks of FMD, are a priority for screening. A further ten million dollars was allocated in the 2002 Federal Budget to for disease preparedness measures. .." http://www.fuw.org.uk/english/eng_bushmeatcamp.htm
Sept 11 2004 ~ Today is the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Centre site, has announced plans to sue Saudi Arabia on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary. In addition, "... Last week the bond brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald - which lost more than 650 employees in the attacks, more than any other firm - sued Saudi Arabia, saying it had aided the attackers. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals." BBC
Sept 11 2004 ~ Simon Jenkins in the Times ".. . At this very moment the Cambrian mountains are being raped by the Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, with giant bulldozers carving roads and quarries for her wind turbines... .Petrarch would have been appalled at the offence to Nature...." (Read in full)
Sept 10 2004 ~ The Association for the Study of Peak Oil says that the UK Government's own figures showed North Sea oil output, which began in 1975, would be "more or less over" by 2020. The ASPO newsletter for September : "...Britain, with its new consumeristic society, is particularly vulnerable having allowing its coal and nuclear industry to decay. The roast beef of old England may soon fade into history as cooking costs soar." (See also Warmwell's peak oil news)
Sept 10 2004 ~ Snowmail tonight on hurricane Ivan: "Guantanamo is in the hurricane's path. What divine intervention that could prove! I can see the headlines now: 'God takes dim view of wholesale denial of human rights in Gantanamo!' More at: http://www.channel4.com/news/2004/09/week_2/10_storm.html
If you'd like to help the aid effort, click here: http://www.redcross.org.uk/CampaignSection.asp?id=3431&cachefixer=cf163154963210931
Sept 10 2004 ~ Michael Howard tells the Farmers' Club "... In 2001, you were hit by the catastrophic outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The total cost to the UK economy was up to £20 billion. The effects are still being felt today. Yet the Government refused to hold a public enquiry, we have not learnt from the mistakes that were made, and I fear that we are still doing far too little to prevent any future outbreak. ... we will ensure that we put in place a proper strategy to deal with any future FMD outbreak, fast, effectively and coherently." We wonder what the Conservatives' proper strategy would entail - and hope to be enlightened about this.
Sept 10 2004 ~ " The Chief Constable of Humberside Police, David Westwood, is to return to duty on Monday. ..A spokesman for the home secretary, David Blunkett, said the decision with Humberside was not a climb-down. ...Mr Westwood was due to retire in March 2006, so he is stepping down a year early..July's suspension was the first time the home secretary had used new powers to order a chief constable to step aside in this way. .." BBC
Sept 10 2004 ~ "We need much more straightforward political analysis. Public service broadcasting can and must make an important contribution to the democratic process. It can do so only if not cowed by those in power." John Humphrys - who has, to our disgust, been "censured" for his interview with Hazel Blears after Mr Blunkett's decision to seek the removal of the chief constable of Humberside. See warmwell's democracy page
Sept 10 2004 ~ "Tony Blair will be confronted with a fresh challenge over Iraq within the next two weeks when the long-awaited final report of the Iraq Survey Group concludes there were no weapons of mass destruction in the country at the time of the US-UK invasion. ." Guardian
Sept 10 2004 ~ A US judge threw out terrorism charges last Thursday against two Moroccan immigrants convicted in what US authorities now admit was a botched terror trial. " In its best light, the record would show that the prosecution committed a pattern of mistakes and oversights that deprived the defendants of discoverable evidence..." See http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=11156
Sept 10 2004 ~ News on the npa website that the infamous pig farming conglomerate, Smithfield, is continuing to look hungrily at the cheap labour, land and grain of the new Eastern bloc EU, we are reminded of Robert Kennedy Jnr's exposé in the Ecologist. "Smithfield uses its wealth to buy politicians, paralyse regulatory agencies and break health and environmental laws with impunity.." Michael Moore's Dude where's my Country quotes Kenneth Eisold, president of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations: "..Because of a willingness to ignore ethical issues during the economic boom of the 1990s ..we got the CEOs we deserved."
Sept 10 2004 ~ James Paice has been appointed Shadow food and farming minister replacing John Whittingdale. Mr Paice was an opposition spokesman for agriculture from 1997-2001 and Private Parliamentary Secretary for John Gummer from 1990-1993.
Sept 10 2004 ~ The reshuffle has got rid of the last Brown supporter in the Cabinet, leaving only Blairites. The leader of the Transport and General Workers' Union today launches an attack on "politicians squabbling like ferrets in a sack" and warns that a fragile truce between government and unions would be shattered if manifesto promises are broken.
Sept 10 2004 ~ The Smart Cycler, rejected by the UK for use in the rapid detection of FMD virus, is being used in the US to save the lives of unborn babies whose mothers may have the bacterium Group B Strep Abc7News reports: " The Smart Cycler device is located within the hospital, adding more ease for quick results." See warmwell page about the rapid diagnosis test
Sept 10 2004 ~ "The Lancet's findings attempt to draw a line under the claim that protection from killer diseases could cause another disorder. But the damage to parents' faith has been done." Scotsman
Sept 8 2004 ~ " Mr Putin has today reserved the right to go bombing whomsoever and wheresoever he pleases. Joining America's pre-emptive concept of the War against terrorism with a vengeance.." Snowmail More at: http://www.channel4.com/news/2004/09/week_2/08_beslan.html
Sept 8 2004 ~ PQs can now be avoided by Ministers who don't fancy answering. "MPs who fail to get an answer to their questions before the end of the annual session in October will be told they have to resubmit the same question or it will dumped. If this had happened a year ago, more than 1,500 questions would have been binned." Democracy page
Sept 8 2004 ~ In the Independent today Director General Mark Hudson ".. is phlegmatic about the increasingly active role played by the BBC governors and is reconciled to the fact that there may be "bumps" along the way..." Warmwell's Democracy page
Sept 8 2004 ~ "A former army instructor at Deepcut barracks admitted yesterday that he had repeatedly sexually abused young soldiers under his authority...." Independent
The Panorama transcript "Bullied to Death" from December 2002 in which Lord Ashley said "It really requires a full public inquiry, nothing less will do. After the police investigations have been concluded a full public inquiry of the MoD and of the army..."
Sept 8 2004 ~ 14 more US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, bringing the number of US troops killed to over 1,000. See Guardian Meanwhile, while unbelievably the polls appear to show a lead for President Bush, John Kerry has called the Iraq war the "most catastrophic" of George W. Bush's many wrong choices (Independent)
Sept 8 2004 ~ "Quarrying firms' old rights threaten national parks ..The Council for National Parks, which has co-published the report with the Friends of the Peak District, warns that 33 "dormant" quarrying permissions are "ticking time-bombs". These include Grassington Moor, the site of a scheduled monument within the Yorkshire Dales, and a 630-acre area around Bridford and Christow in Dartmoor's Teign Valley..." Independent
Sept 7 2004 ~ Parliament returns today. The Civil Contingencies Bill will be discussed in the House of Lords on Sept 15th. Please do read about this Bill, particularly Section 21 "Scope of Emergency Regulations" which sets out the powers it will give to a tiny group of ministers and "regional co-ordinators" in the event of an emergency being declared. If you too are sceptical about the government's motives in wanting to rush it through please pick up the phone or a pen - or send letters. Even emails to the peers - which take very little effort - are better than nothing. Let no one pretend that this bill is "for our safety", it is for the convenience of what HL Mencken called " the ruling quacks". As Sir Simon Jenkins wrote over a year ago: "What threatens the British way of life at present is not terrorism but the public response to it"
Sept 7 2004 ~ Anyone who has seen Fahrenheit 9/11 will remember that 55 of the 56 members of the United States Congress passed the Patriot Act, on which our own Civil Contingencies Bill appears to be modelled, without having read it. The excessive length of modern legislation is deliberate. Bills are designed not to be scrutinised. Michael Moore convincingly demonstrates that most people have been made fearful enough by a bombardment of spurious terrror threats to hand over their hard-won liberties without protest. See also John Reid and Putin's methods to bring in tighter controls
Sept 7 2004 ~ "One false step, and our enemies would be upon us" ....The animals were thoroughly frightened. It seemed to them as though Snowball were some kind of invisible influence, pervading the air about them and menacing them with all kinds of dangers. In the evening Squealer called them together, and with an alarmed expression on his face told them that he had some serious news to report. 'Comrades!' cried Squealer, making little nervous skips, 'a most terrible thing has been discovered. . ..."
Animal Farm George Orwell's warnings have never been more timely.
Sept 7 2004 ~ Pesticides and other environmental pollution may affect unborn children - and play a role in the rising rates of childhood leukaemia.... Scotsman
Sept 7 2004 ~ "Wallets Marts have won a three-year legal battle for foot-and-mouth valuation payments yesterday when the Scottish Executive dropped an appeal against a sheriff court ruling. ..In his 40-page judgment issued in May Sheriff James Smith criticised some of the Executive’s evidence and directed it to pay Wallets the sum sued for. " Scotsman
Sept 7 2004 ~ " After years of ridicule, the greens' jeremiads about declining oil production are now spilling from other people's mouths..... Politicians are once more revving up the debate that only nuclear power can save the planet ... " George Monbiot in the Guardian See also Warmwell's peak oil news page
Sept 6 2004 ~ It is reported that Mr Bush is "steaming ahead" in the polls. How can this be? " the war will not be much of an issue for Mr Blair either, save at his party conference later this month, when it will burn a hole in the conscience of the faithful." says Jon Snow in his Channel 4 update. We see that Mr Blair is preparing to force a hunting ban through before the end of October. FWi A useful smokescreen. The only bleakly cheering item today is that even the hardest bitten journalists in Beslan are too overwhelmed by the experience of seeing so much utter grief to intrude on it.
Sept 6 2004 ~ "Because of a report of cases of bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), which is difficult to distinguish clinically from foot-&-mouth disease (FMD), 250 000 cattle in the townships of Sete Quedas, Paranhos, Coronel Sapucaia and Aral Moreira, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, are being vaccinated against FMD...." ProMed mail
Sept 6 2004 ~ Family farms disappear under Bush administration (Agriworld) "The Bush administration is creating two rural America's by diverting the major part of agricultural funding to the huge industrial farms."
Sept 6 2004 ~ "If you're going to have 300 gigawatts of nuclear power in China - 50 times what we have today - you can't afford a Three Mile Island or Chernobyl," Wang says. "You need a new kind of reactor." .... China's nuclear renaissance could feed the hydrogen revolution, enabling the country to leapfrog the fossil-fueled West into a new age of clean energy. Article from Wired.com about China's new nuclear power facility that promises to be a better way to harness the atom - and produce hydrogen: a pebble-bed reactor.
Sept 6 2004 ~ FMD virus type A is in Colombia. 2 pigs 0.5 km from the original outbreak in cattle have been affected and human movement is thought to be the cause. 5006 cattle out of the 5240 cattle present have been vaccinated.
New waves of avian influenza in Thailand seem widespread and thousands more chickens are being killed.
In China, 1.1 million samples including 4447 from pigs have been collected and analysed between April and August 2004 from 10 provinces including Fujian, and no infection from H5N1 has been detected in pigs. See ProMed mail.org
Sept 6 2004 ~ ".... fresh speculation that the Prime Minister is now determined to sack Mr Straw after the election, underline Mr Blair's determination to secure his legacy in a third term... Mr Milburn would become the "front man" for the Government on the media..." This is London on the reshufffle.
Alan Milburn recently said that life was "a million times better" since leaving the Cabinet. Jack Straw seems likely to be out because of his strengthening links to Gordon Brown and the fact that he is suspected of leaking the U turn on the EU constitution referendum.
Sept 6 2004 ~ Diane sends this update on the UK dog and cat fur trade. " MEPs finally voted by an overwhelming margin to ban the sale and production of domestic cat and dog fur and skin within the EU.... As a result, the Declaration has now been adopted as the official position of the European Parliament – thus requiring the European Commission to take action." We wonder if any EU watcher has any further information?
Sept 5 2004 ~ "We have no other leaders," said Liliya Shevtsova, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Centre and the author of Putin's Russia. "We have no other alternatives. We are at a dead end."
Her words could be echoed in many other countries. It was George Monbiot who recently remarked, "But in almost every nation, a new contract has now been struck between the main political parties: they have chosen to agree on almost all significant areas of policy. This leaves the people disenfranchised: they can vote out the monkeys but not the organ-grinder."
Sept 5 2004 ~ Putin blames "international terrorism"... Channel 4 news update tells us tht the Russian people are not buying this nonsense. "The untransmitable footage of 27 kidnappers' bodies certainly shows no black people and nobody of obviously Arab descent. It matters. Pinning this attack on the so-called international "war against terror", rather than domestic territorial issues - Chechnya, or even Ingushetia - was the essence of President Putin's TV address last night. More at: http://www.channel4.com/news/2004/09/week_1/05_beslan.html"
Sept 5 2004 ~ "Although America, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Greece and Australia have banned all cat and dog fur imports, there are no such restrictions in Britain." Diane has sent an email in which she deplores the ignorance and cruelty of the trade in dog and cat fur, especially after she thought the fight she had fought so hard had been won at EU level.
Sept 5 2004 ~ Sounding uncannily like George W Bush, John Reid has told Sky on Sunday "...."Let us understand that there are forces in the world who hate what we stand for."..." Reuters
(To whom is Mr Reid referring by the word "we"? And what exactly does Mr Reid "stand for"?)
Sept 5 2004 ~ So far, 29 dogs in SW France have been destroyed because they came into contact with the puppy illegally imported from Morocco that died of rabies on August 21. Any dogs or cats in the region not "validly" vaccinated against rabies now have to be kept confined and tethered. See OIE site Deep concern among pet owners in the region.
Sept 5 2004 ~ "this list is further evidence that the US invaded Iraq to install in power a coalition of Communists, Islamists and ex-Baathist nationalists. If you had said such a thing 3 years ago you would have been laughed at." Juan Cole today on the news that delegates of the Iraqi transitional assembly have elected four vice chairmen of the National Council - amid the noise of mortar rounds landing near the building. See Iraq page
Sept 5 2004 ~ " Iraqi and U.S. forces have arrested a man believed to be the most-wanted Saddam Hussein aide still on the run in a bloody raid in which 70 of his supporters have been killed and 80 captured, the government says.." Reuters
Sept 5 2004 ~ Warmwell has said little about GM crops lately. A reminder, from March this year, of the research which shows that two-thirds of US conventional crops are contaminated with modified genes.
Sept 5 2004 ~ " it is vital our MEPs listen to people's concerns on this issue, & not bow to heavy lobbying by the chemical industry.." An email alerts us to the EU Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010 "...As individuals we can make certain choices about our lifestyles which affect our health, but we cannot select the quality of air we breathe or always protect ourselves from exposure to pollutants that may build up in our bodies – sometimes even before we are born. The proposed Action Plan is a significant step forward.‘’
Sept 5 2004 ~ Parliament returns on Tuesday. Now is the time for those of us who are deeply concerned by the "emergency" powers of the Civil Contingencies Bill to do something more than wring our hands. See also Democracy page today - and George Monbiot recently "The Civil Contingencies Bill, which permits the government to suspend parliament and ban all rights to assembly whenever it decides that it is confronting an emergency, passed its second reading in the Lords last month. It could become law later this year."
Sept 5 2004 ~"Patients exposed to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) through contaminated blood products are arranging for independent tests to be carried out ...after they die..." Sunday Herald report
Their readers are likely to be frightened by speculation following the discovery of vCJD in a patient with a different genetic make-up from all previous victims - hat the Sunday Herald calls "a hidden time bomb... instead of 21.8 million potential carriers in the UK, there are more than 51 million...."
The only thing certain in all this is that no one yet fully understands the biology of "vCJD prions". ProMed mail said last week, in connection with the blood transfusion-related case, "No further speculative comment will be posted.."
Sept 5 2004 ~ ".... The Nye Committee, named after the senator from North Dakota who chaired it, probed deep into the shadow world of arms dealers and munitions corporations. Is there any less urgent need to call today for congressional hearings into the oil industry's comprehensive corruption of US foreign policy? " From The View from Hubbert's Peak by Mike Davis
Sept 5 2004 ~ "Thousands of diseased fish smuggled into Britain from eastern Europe have killed up to a million British carp and are threatening to wipe out native stocks.." Sunday Telegraph
Sept 4 2004 ~ " I saw one cleric angrily denouncing the Allawi government for permitting foreigners to bomb its own citizens. It struck me that the speakers at this demonstration and their sentiments are not being seen on US television news, and it is a shame...My perception is that we almost never see dissidents or opposition figures speaking freely on US cable news, and seldom on the networks." Juan Cole's Informed Comment today
Sept 4 2004 ~ More detail about the Dutch research to see whether cats can be infected by and spread H5N1 is at http://www.cidrap.umn.edu "Cats may form an opportunity for this avian virus to adapt to mammals, thereby increasing the risk of a human influenza pandemic."
An emailer writes: "There is an expectation among those officials and scientists - who are perhaps feeling nervous that they may be held responsible for not being ready - that a flu pandemic is around the corner. They realise that the need to ensure adequate supplies of pandemic vaccines poses problems - not least because of the liability issue. However, I very much hope that this "research" (deliberately spraying virus from a Vietnamese victim into the throats of cats and standing back to see what happens) will not result in yet more ignorant mass slaughter of creatures who cannot object, let alone sue for negligence. As Dr Lai says in the National Geographic article you posted yesterday (see below) "If the transmission occurred easily we should have seen widespread flu infection in cats in the avian flu epidemic areas in the past few years. This did not happen."
Sept 4 2004 ~ It is interesting that both Geoffrey Lean and Private Eye's Muckspreader should give, independently, such a timely warning about our need to be able to feed ourselves. The UK government's attitude to farmers suggests that its members simply have not made the connection between the need for non-imported food and the coming crisis. Dairy farmers in particular are being driven to the wall. FWi reports that they are warning they will target retailers if dairy companies announce milk price cuts. The NFU and the FFA are united here.
Sept 4 2004 ~ Hundreds of dead and emaciated guillemots are being washed up along the north-west coast of Scotland. "The RSPB estimates that thousands of guillemots have died, mostly by drowning, but is baffled as to why no other species of auk, such as puffins, has been affected." See Scotsman The article does not mention that in Orkney and Shetland, sandeel stocks have been decreasing so disastrously that few birds have raised any chicks at all. The temperature in the North Sea has risen by 2C in the past 20 years. The whole ecosystem is thought to be undergoing a "regime shift". The recent massive deaths have been only among guillemots it seems. The whole situation is worrying.
Sept 4 2004 ~ Bryn is depressed by the emergence of yet another talk shop for consultation: its title is the Advisory Group on the Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health. This will, apparently, consist of 45 people talking together twice a year ".. to facilitate consultation and dialogue between the European Commission and European organisations on food safety policy."
Sept 4 2004 ~ We were particularly struck by this sentence from Professor Juan Cole's site "...Real understanding requires that an analyst be unafraid to go wherever the evidence leads, be unafraid to step on toes or offend. Risking being perceived as "shrill" on occasion, in other words, is essential to the enterprise." (We do not find the calm, knowledgeable comments of Professor Cole in the slightest degree "shrill".)
Sept 3 2004 ~ Russian hostages: "this awful standoff has turned into everyone's worst nightmare ... there are at least a hundred dead bodies in the ruins - most of them will be children. .." from the Channel 4 news update email
Sept 3 2004 ~ Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins, (in 2003, of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish, who memorably said that "... men who killed unnecessarily would have "the mark of Cain" on them forever") writing in the Guardian about David Hare's new play " If you were to judge the validity of the casus belli by examining American plans for nation-building, then this chilling lack of concern for the people we sought to liberate actually exposes a flagrant disregard for them. " Max Hastings : "The play reminded me of all the reasons why I have been apologising to Robin Cook for two years, for doubting his dismissal of WMD."
Sept 3 2004 ~ 12.30: Dozens of children today escaped amid a fierce firefight at the school seized by militants in southern Russia as troops entered the compound. See Guardian
Sept 3 2004 ~ "There is little proof that the government's remedies for controlling the spread of the MRSA superbug actually work, researchers warned today." Guardian
Sept 3 2004 ~ At least 17 Iraqis, including children, have been killed in the latest US air strike on Falluja. See Iraq page. Meanwhile, Mr Bush says "We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer." Outside the Republican Convention were thousands of demonstrators who do not feel very safe and object to such leadership. Literally hundreds of them have been arrested, including one woman who heckled Mr Bush's speech from inside. See also today's Independent "Bush by Numbers: Four years of double standards " (Extraordinary)
Sept 3 2004 ~ Michael Moore, who has been reporting on the Republican Convention from inside, helpfully sends Mr Bush some advice on new ads to use on TV. Example: "Mr. Kerry's biggest supporter, Sen. Max Cleland, claims to have lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam. But he still has one arm! How did that happen? One word: Cowardice. When duty called, he was unwilling to give his last limb. Is that the type of selfishness you want hanging out in the White House? We think not. Vote for the man who would be willing to give America his right frontal lobe. Vote Bush."
Sept 3 2004 ~ "....new research suggests that domestic cats are at risk of disease or death from the avian virus. The cats can also play a role in the transmission of the virus, scientists say... . Some scientists downplay the threat of the new findings. ......If the transmission occurred easily, Lai said, we should have seen widespread flu infection in cats in the avian flu epidemic areas in the past few years. This did not happen. ......" National Geographic News
Sept 3 2004 ~ For those who continue to feel uneasy about investigations into the 9/11 attacks comes a new book, Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, investigating the key suspects and persons of interest - finding some of them in the highest echelons of American government.
Sept 3 2004 ~ Very alarming is the news that Israeli forces have demolished two apartment blocks in raids on Gaza, "while warning of a possible attack on Syria" The Israel/Palestine misery is out of warmwell's scope at present. See BBC
Sept 3 2004 ~ Jon Snow's Channel 4 News update "Stalin could've told Putin that endless iron-first just doesn't cut it with the Chechens. Instead, Putin's finding out the hard way that his officially-sanctioned brutality begets Chechen brutality in return. The downward spiral is now so low that children are considered fair game. And politics? Well it's nowhere insight, mired in the oblivion of rigged elections from one side, suicide bombings from the other. .." (More)
Sept 3 2004 ~ Tehran's crackdown on dress has now also targeted shop-window mannequins who must now wear the veil. See Reuters UK (Our Victorian ancestors clothed piano legs, it may be remembered.)
Sept 2 2004 ~ The majority of the public does not want genetically modified foods in spite of "education" campaigns. More than six out of 10 people (61%) surveyed by Which? Meanwhile, a government "consultation process" is underway to draw up rules for any future biotech crop sowings. See Reuters
Sept 2 2004 ~ "Geelong scientists are developing a (rapid) diagnostic test for foot and mouth disease that would work like a pregnancy test, changing colour in the presence of the virus....The team also hope to develop a related test for overseas use, which would look for antibodies in the animal's blood and indicate whether the animal had been infected or vaccinated. "The first priority is for Australia to be ready for FMD outbreaks, but it's also the number one disease for animals overseas,'' Dr Wang said. ``If we can get the price right, the market is much bigger overseas than Australia.'' " Geelonginfo.com.au
Sept 2 2004 ~ "An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that was discovered last week in Zambia's Southern Province has spread to various parts of the country." http://www.mg.co.za
Sept 2 2004 ~ "We have already lost more American soldiers (488) in Iraq in 239 days of this year than we did in 287 days last year (482), when there was a war on and before our mission was accomplished." http://wvgazette.com
Sept 2 2004 ~ September 11 2001 flight 93 - "The U. S. government hasn’t given a full explanation to people--to the world--what happened on September 11th, nor why. They also haven’t made a thorough investigation. That’s why we believe it is important that we, ourselves, begin an investigation—a people’s investigation, if you will .... the most unusual crash site of flight history. No burnt wreckage, no burnt bodies, nothing. Just a hole, into which a huge Boeing 757 and its passengers disappeared. How is that possible? .. howcould the largest intelligence apparatus in the world not have noticed any preparations of these terrorists, but then,within hours afterwards, have announced a complete name list of these terrorists? ...." http://home.t-online.de/home/willy.brunner/911transcript.html See also "I know of two people -- I will not mention names -- that heard a missile" http://ourworld.compuserve.com/Homepages/G_Wisnewski/anhang.htm
Sept 1 2004 ~ Sixteen hundred arrested so far in New York as protestors clog the streets nightly around the Republican Convention. "Thank you, John McCain," Moore told The Daily News in New York. "The film's doing $120 million right now. When McCain mentions it, I have a chance to do $150 million." http://www.portervillerecorder.com/
Sept 1 2004 ~ Genvec Co has entered into a Specific Cooperative Agreement with the USDA to "conduct research to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease". Under the terms of the 12-month, $300,000 agreement, funded in part by the Dept of Homeland Security, GenVec "will utilize its proprietary adenovector technology to deliver antiviral compounds previously shown by ARS to stimulate the immune system in livestock and protect the animals against FMD." Washington Biz
Sept 1 2004 ~ An emailer writes, "The fact that "nearly 5,000 die every year from hospital acquired infections", puts the BSE risks compared with control measures in perspective, doesn't it? (BBC news)"
It does indeed. A recent message from Mark Purdey shows just how "Emperor's New Clothes" the current BSE/vCJD orthodoxy is. From Mark Purdey "Because no meat and bone meal had been fed to these antelope... - and this was embarrassing to the official theory - the authors had launched into a ridiculously far fetched ramble ... trying to suggest that in the history of the zoo, some cow incubating BSE might have actually walked across the paddock where the kudu were kept and deposited prions on the pasture in their dung. .. I could not believe such stupidity..."
Sept 1 2004 ~ "...the European Commission will refuse to stop the bass pair trawlers that are responsible for killing hundreds, perhaps thousands of dolphins every winter. .... the data presented by the UK "does not justify an immediate ban". Andrew George : "... I think the issue now is not further gathering of evidence, although that would without doubt help, but putting political pressure on the French and the commission." WMN
Sept 1 2004 ~ " I apologise that the information is disturbing.... There is a lot of preparing to do, so don’t fret too much, get busy!" Robert Atack of http://www.oilcrash.com/ and see warmwell's peak oil news page
Aug 30 2004 ~Seattle Times: "Four years ago, this page endorsed George W. Bush for president. We cannot do so again - because of an ill-conceived war and its aftermath, undisciplined spending, a shrinkage of constitutional rights and an intrusive social agenda ..." and, the New York Times on the largest demonstration ever at a political convention "... At the height of the march, it took more than an hour to move one block .."
Aug 30 2004 ~ Murkier and murkier... The linking of the Pentagon spy case with the outing of Valerie Plame and the forged documents on Niger and uranium about which the UK government has never changed its stance See Iraq page
Aug 30 2004 ~ Hotmail has recently been putting many emails addressed to "maryatwarmwell" in a junk folder and then deleting them after 5 days. This has only just come to our notice. Please accept our apologies if your email has not received a reply. We shall now check the junk folder daily. Warmwell will not appear tomorrow but should be back on line by Wednesday evening.
Aug 30 2004 ~ " This single maverick movie is often reflectively slow and is not afraid of silence. It appeals to people to think for themselves and make connections. And it identifies with, and pleads for, those who are normally unlistened to. Making a strong case is not the same thing as saturating with propaganda. Fox TV does the latter; Michael Moore the former...." Michael Moore's latest email quotes the John Berger article in the Guardian
Aug 30 2004 ~ "Since the so-called handover of sovereignty on June 28, 118 US troops have died. Instead of US casualties going down, as some news organizations including the New York Times had inaccurately suggested, the monthly rate of US fatalities in Iraq has actually risen from the June toll of 42 killed. In addition, nearly 6,500 US soldiers have been wounded since the invasion, thousands of them gravely, with many sustaining permanent, debilitating, life-altering injuries." http://americanmuckraker.blogspot.com/
Aug 30 2004 ~ Jill is another farmer who takes issue with Lord Haskins "... This is the same man that told us to become 'efficient' and that small could not be and we had to learn to trade globally..."
Aug 30 2004 ~The Home Office wants to vet a book by a sacked civil servant that attacks immigration policy BBC
Aug 29 2004 ~ Peak Oil news page " if the U.S. continues with current policies, the next decades will be marked by war, economic collapse, and environmental catastrophe."
Aug 29 2004 ~ "Practically every livestock farmer was stopped from trading during the foot and mouth fiasco – the equivalent of the arable farmer losing his harvest. None were compensated for this." Lawrence takes issue with Lord Haskins but also with those who say that farmers received "compensation" when it was compulsory purchase. Email
Aug 29 2004 ~ Greg Dyke and Andrew Gilligan in today's press - A sample Greg Dyke believes Blair reneged on a deal not to call for 'heads to roll' at the BBC, that Alastair Campbell was forced out by Blair for being 'out of control' and that six still-serving BBC governors should resign over their part in the affair. "We were all duped. What is really frightening is that Blair still doesn't believe or understand that what he did was fundamentally wrong."
Aug 29 2004 ~ John Humphrys writing about UK television in yesterday's Guardian (we were astonished by the Observer Leader comment on this piece) John Humphrys: "...The first principle of the Hippocratic oath, which doctors have been swearing for 2,500 years, is "Do no harm". It's not a bad principle for broadcasters. The good television of today is better than the best television of the old days. The bad television is worse. It is not only bad, it is damaging. Meretricious. Seedy. Cynical. ..."
Aug 29 2004 ~ The Sunday Herald has thought fit to warn that "thousands may be infected with vCJD" after a study of appendix samples suggested that it was possible that almost 4000 people "could be harbouring vCJD" Each is to be "notified by letter" for some unfathomable reason. This sort of article is keeping vCJD in the news at a time when the number of deaths in the UK so far this year is 4 and the total "definitely or probably caused by vCJD" is 142 (not 147 as the Sunday Herald has it). ProMed mail says that "the vCJD epidemic in the U.K. may have passed its peak" but also, in connection with the blood transfusion-related case, acknowledges "gaps in our knowledge of the biology of vCJD prions" and says "No further speculative comment will be posted.." See ProMed mail page.
Aug 29 2004 ~ "Senior Shia clerics in Iraq reject armed resistance as a way of protesting at the presence of US-led forces" BBC
Aug 28 2004 ~ " more embarrassment for the Bush Administration, as the FBI announces it has uncovered a spy working for the Israelis in the heart of Donald Rumsfeld's Defence Department. Should we be surprised? And was the mole responsible for planting claims of links between Baghdad and al-Qaeda in the run-up to the Iraq war? " asks the Snowmail update
Aug 28 2004 ~ "The pact brokered by Sistani makes Najaf and Kufa, like Fallouja, in effect a no-go zone for U.S. troops. Key elements of Sistani's deal include the requirements that Najaf and Kufa become weapons-free zones and that armed groups there leave and never return." Iraq page
Aug 28 2004 ~ Scotsman "Dr Mike Carver, managing director of The Arable Group, a not-for-profit research and advice body, said this year’s arable harvest was the worst in memory.“There will be a lot of farmers who will not be able to withstand the financial implications of this bad harvest. That is a fact. This will be the last straw for some of them...." He said it was vital that the beleaguered arable industry was helped through its current period of hardship. “It is a different type of problem to foot-and-mouth and many would argue that nothing could compare to that.
We must keep these people in production because we do need the countryside. The reason we have such beautiful country is because it is farmed well and we have got to protect that environment.”
Aug 28 2004 ~ BBC "Australian engineers have created an electricity generator fuelled by decomposing bananas, and hope to build a full size fruit-fired power station.. If all goes according to plan, a banana-fuelled power plant capable of powering 500 homes could be built..a great source of renewable energy..."
Aug 27 2004 ~ the keys of the Imam Ali Shrine have been handed over to representatives of Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani. (friday afternoon) See Independent
Aug 27 2004 ~ The Civil Contingencies Bill has a worrying parallel. On March 23, 1933, the newly elected members of the the Reichstag met to consider passing Hitler's Enabling Act. It was officially called the 'Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich.' It was to mark the end of democracy in Germany and establish the legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. See warmwell's page on the Civil Contingencies Bill and - for those who may feel that hand-wringing is not an adequate response - Bryn Wayt's detailed email or the message from Mike Stagman of the Concerned Citizens Information Network (CCIN)
Aug 27 2004 ~ The Electoral Commission says all-postal ballots should not be used - but North East Region referendum will be 100% postal "because it is too late to make changes" Democracy page
Aug 27 2004 ~ Dr Abigail Woods: "It is the thoughts and actions of humans that have ‘manufactured’ FMD into the particular political, economic, social and psychological problem that it is today." Abigail Woods sends us this email about her new book: A Manufactured Plague
Aug 27 2004 ~ Washington Post on the Abu Ghraib report "...the government was not supervising the sensitive work of private firms. "It's the military contracting officer's responsibility to make sure that they are trained properly," said Paul C. Forage, a national security expert at Florida Atlantic University. "When these guys showed up to do their interrogating and to do their translating, the person they were reporting to was another contractor."
Aug 27 2004 ~ The Iraqi government has accepted a peace deal brokered by Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani to end weeks of standoff in Najaf although violence continued in the city and the area around. Iraq page
Aug 27 2004 ~ Numerous reports have claimed that the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, favours building up nuclear power stations to avert an impending energy crisis which could lead to power blackouts. At the same time the UK nuclear industry is drawing up plans to push for more reactors from 2006. WMN
Aug 27 2004 ~ Pinochet yesterday lost what could be the final round in his tortuous struggle to avoid prosecution for human rights abuses. Guardian
Aug 27 2004 ~ Bank Holiday in the UK ..the Independent warns travellers of "... some 42 congestion "hot-spots" on the roads, squally showers and the 12 directors of British Airways patrolling Heathrow to "help and consult" customers after a week of cancelled flights and long queues...Those seeking to swap the roads for the train will gain little respite, with engineering works scheduled to shut 26 parts of the rail network, including the entire Great Western main line between Slough and Reading, for the weekend, and the West Coast main line at two separate points for a week."
Aug 26 ~ Thousands of Iraqis have been marching on Najaf today hoping to end three weeks of bloody conflict. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has been leading the convoy. Around 95 people have been killed in Kufa and Najaf during the past 24 hours Iraq page
Aug 26 ~ Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price announced last night that he will impeach Prime Minister Tony Blair for taking Britain into the Iraq war. See Western Mail report : ".... Mr Price said, "I urge everyone to read the report, which I believe provides a compelling case that the Prime Minister engaged in deliberate deception to make a case for war. I defy anyone who reads it to conclude there is no case to answer."
Aug 26 ~ Mr Edmonds said last night that ministers were rattled by widening opposition to windfarms WMN See also latest postings on Warmwell's windfarms page
Aug 26 ~ "The Government seems to be happy to cull cattle and deer, but they don't seem to be happy to sort out wherever the problem is coming from." Mr Haddock said that farmers were becoming increasingly frustrated at the Government's pronouncements that it was waiting for the outcome of the Krebs trials before deciding on action needed to deal with bovine TB" WMN
Aug 26 ~ Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has rushed back from London to "save Najaf" after United States forces smashed militia defences to trap hundreds of supporters of rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the city's shrine. See ABC.net and warmwell's Iraq page
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Bloomberg "U.S. Army investigators looking into abuse of Iraqi prisoners implicated 27 military intelligence personnel in a report released today, a day after a separate probe concluded that responsibility for the mistreatment extended to the Pentagon."
The Scotsman reports that John Kerry called today (Wed) for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation “It’s not just the little person at the bottom who ought to pay the price of responsibility,” Kerry said at a Philadelphia union hall. “The buck doesn’t stop at the Pentagon.”
Aug 23 - 29 ~ The Oil and Gas Journal says" An Aug. 24 SEC statement alleged Shell overstated proved reserves reported in its 2002 Form 20-F by 23%, equaling about 4.47 billion boe... overstated its future cash flows in the same filing by $6.6 billion. .Shell settled without admitting or denying SEC's or FSA's findings and conclusions. ..Regulators also suggested that Shell was warned several times by government officials that its reserve estimates were overly optimistic, but the company ignored them. "
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "...Mr Smallwood immediately requested a similar test for the calf. Four months later, he has just heard that it will go ahead in the next few days.
"When I spoke to the State Veterinary Service they said the delay was caused by a lack of resources," he said. "When I asked about the exact date the herd the calf came from had been identified as having the disease, they refused to tell me, saying it was contrary to the Data Protection Act."
Defra would not comment." Western Morning News
Aug 23 - 29 ~ In 1981, the Swiss Animal Protection Act came into effect, making Switzerland the first country in the world to ban battery cages. Swiss poultry farmers faced up to this challenge and have now successfully mastered it. There is no logical reason why poultry farmers in other countries should not be at least as successful in the same situation In the UK, despite 78% of the British Public wanting a ban on battery cages, they're still the source of around 80% of the eggs used in our food industry. To date more than 50,000 people have signed the RSPCA's petition calling for a ban on battery cages. This petition will be presented to Ben Bradshaw in October. See also CIWF page
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "...the arrest (of Mark Thatcher) was part of a probe into what officials say was a plot to topple President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa's third largest oil producer..." Reuters
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Wednesday - H5N1 Bird flu may be in Asia to stay, officials fear (Reuters) ""If the avian influenza virus is doing the same in pigs, then we have a much higher chance that these two viruses are going to meet in one unlucky pig and then reassort and cause a pandemic," Stohr said in a telephone interview. But China said it had tested more than 11 million pigs and found no evidence any were carrying H5N1. .."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ UK Hansard "....both the Chancellor and Prime Minister have said that in August we will look at what progress has been made in dealing with this period of high and unsustainable oil prices. We will then be able to reach a judgment on our own fuel duty change, based on an assessment of all the factors, including the level and trend of oil prices at that point. Until that time, the focus of all responsible Governments should be on OPEC and other oil producers, and on their responsibilities to meet their own targets for sustainable oil prices."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ From New Zealand's "Hansard"
Jeanette Fitzsimons: What does the Minister understand by the term “peak oil”, and when does he expect it to occur?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have to confess that, for once, the member has floored me; I do not understand what is meant by the term “peak oil”.
(He then goes on to dismiss the idea. However, see today's peak oil news. "...Output from 18 significant oil-producing countries, almost 29 percent of total world production, declined by 1.14 million barrels a day in 2003. The annual rate of decline also appears to be accelerating..." )
Aug 23 - 29 ~ The pharmaceutical companies reap the harvest of our crazy diet and lifestyle. High blood pressure comes with stress, excess weight, a diet crammed with salt, sugar and carbohydates, lack of exercise and too many addictions. Now the National Institute of Clinical Excellence - "Nice" - is calling for "mass" drug intervention.
See Independent for its unworried reporting of this.
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Mr Blair has dropped plans to invite Iyad Allawi to address the Labour Party conference.
Another concession in hopes of party unity will be the fox-hunting bill, rushed through the Commons next month and then sent to the House of Lords in October. The Independent quotes John McDonnell, chairman of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, (link) on the subject of Mr Blair's sweeteners : "There are signs within the trade unions, and even within the party's declining membership, of a grim determination to fight back."
Aug 23 - 29 ~"Crops rotting in the fields, prices collapsing... the wettest August on record has had a catastrophic effect on British agriculture." Independent report
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "One hundred and fifty years after he published Walden, Henry David Thoreau is alive and well in Somerset. Needless to say, an army of bureaucrats has been deployed to murder him. Peasant farming, the settlers have found, is effectively illegal in the UK. ..." George Monbiot on the future without cheap oil - and how even the bravest, cleverest experiments in alternatives are prey to interference from the usual suspects.
Aug 23 - 29 ~ H5N1 strain - BBC "The WHO said it was seeking clarification of the situation, and urged the Chinese Agriculture Ministry to discuss the matter in an open manner."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Andrew George reported in the Independent "Supermarkets are now so powerful they can dictate market conditions for British farmers. It is clear the Government can no longer sit on its hands while the supermarkets squeeze the lifeblood from our countryside. Food supply chain relationships need rebalancing, the Supermarket Code must be strengthened and the OFT must get tough with the bully-boy tactics of the big boys." See also warmwell.com/feb18supermarketcc.html
Aug 23 - 29 ~ About 3,500 cattle have been slaughtered in Devon and Cornwall More than 1,000 farms in Devon and Cornwall have had TB in cattle in the first six months of the year. BBC
Aug 23 - 29 ~ H5N1 " .... Confirmation of H5N1 infection in pigs would add complexity to the epidemiology of this disease, but needs to be viewed in perspective..." Home Page
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Tuesday: Robin Cook is "deeply troubled" by the large number of raids carried out against people to tackle the threat of terrorist attacks in Britain. Democracy page
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Tuesday: US forces have resumed raids on Moqtada al Sadr's followers in Najaf. Reuters reports on the latest situation, and comments: "The fighting in Najaf has killed hundreds, driven oil prices to record highs and touched off clashes in seven other southern and central Iraqi cities."
720 US troops have now been killed in action.
The number of UK soldiers killed since "hostilities ended" ( not a happy expression) is 31 so far. Their names are recorded in the Independent.
Aug 23 - 29 ~ We are informed that asplendid 128-ton steam locomotive called "warmwell" is making tracks for the annual Great Dorset Steam Fair at Swanage Railway. No relation, alas.
Aug 23 - 29 ~ The article by Dr Paul Kitching and co, UK foot and mouth disease outbreak — The Aftermath, referred to on warmwell's front page is well worth reading, so for those who do not subscribe to Nature Reviews - Microbiology here is a warmwell commentary on the article.
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "a vaccine that that seems to reverse many of the bad side-effects of previous vaccines - a vaccine that effectively presses the reset button of the immune system" A short article by Professor John Stanford, University College London, on the NPA site suggests that the root cause of the rise in PMWS in pigs "must be the disregulation of the immune system which allows the pig to fall victim to a virus to which it was previously immune...Support for this theory comes from analogies with human medicine, notably with the vast increase in childhood asthma over the last few decades. It can be hypothesized that superimposed on the stresses associated with intensive pig production a new element has appeared in the pig farming world.."
Aug 22 ~ Horse Passports ~ a "significant number" of owners had still not applied in time for the 1 July 2004 deadline. A horse without a passport will not be able to take part in a gymkhana, hunter trial, a race or any sort of competitive event. BBC and see warmwell horse passport page
Aug 22 ~ correspondence with the Kansas DVM overseeing High Plains Guardian
Aug 22 ~ US forces have launched fresh airstrikes in Najaf. Reuters
Aug 22 ~ Anyone listening to the Today Programme who is also a reader of this website will have echoed our groans when that usually excellent programme chose to suggest yesterday that the ruining of the UK abattoir business by EU Directive, duly gold-plated by the UK government, was "a myth". (Listen Again) Christopher Booker puts the record straight but even his exasperation is more apparent than usual. " At least get your facts right" (Abattoirs - One size fits all - the slaughter of the slaughtermen - an extract from The Great Deception )
Aug 22 ~ "International observers in Venezuela say an audit of the referendum results which confirmed President Hugo Chavez's mandate in office has revealed no evidence of fraud." RTE
Aug 22 ~ "Mr Prescott's bluff is finally being called. This proposal to undermine our fire service will be a central issue in the North-East referendum campaign, because it brings home just how Mr Prescott's plans will affect everyone in the country - even to the point where lives could be endangered." Booker's Notebook
Aug 22 ~ " ... unless a miracle happens and nuclear energy plus new currently undreamed-of renewables can close the energy gap very soon, the present Century will see a reduction of world population from a peak of 7 or 8 billion to less than one billion. I cannot believe that this will happen peacefully..." William Stanton, author of Rapid Growth of Human Populations. See Peak Oil News - ( a further indication that the seemingly arbitary content of this website is in fact deeply interconnected.)
Aug 22 ~"....as with the EU driving licence and the EU passport, the real purpose of this health card is simply to make us all feel even more pleased and grateful to be citizens of the EU. Except that, curiously, it is also to be issued to citizens of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, none of which are (yet) in the EU." Booker's notebook today
Aug 21 ~ "the Paris-based International Energy Agency has estimated that oil demand is already within a whisker of outstripping global production, which is why any further supply problems could send the oil price through the roof." See peak oil news page
Aug 21 ~ An email following Roger's..." I didn't think FMD and what we all went through could still make me cry... then I read Roger's e-mail... he is right, so many people still do not realise the horror we were subjected to. I still find myself talking to people who had no idea, but there does seem to be a greater willingness to listen and understand now that Blair has been exposed ... through the Iraq debacle."
Aug 21 ~ "I am so sorry. I didn't know what was going on... we thought that you'd gone mad." When asked why we continue to "bang on about" foot and mouth 2001, I suggest directing the questionner to Roger's email here.
Aug 21 ~
Aug 21 ~ "...Tony Blair notoriously descended from the moral high ground to fight his political battle in the marshy flat-lands of spin, disinformation and ill-founded public panic-mongering...." Joyce Macmillan of the Scotsman, commenting on Maxine Gentle’s open letter to the Prime Minister about the loss of her soldier brother Gordon -
Aug 21 ~ Letters from the Times. Sir Menzies Campbell: "If I am to be branded as anti-American because of my attitude towards military action in Iraq, what does Mr Pollard make of the 27 US senators who voted against President Bush's decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein? ..."
Aug 20 ~ "I really don't believe any news anymore," says a father of eight in Najaf. See warmwell's Iraq page on the latest confused situation.
Aug 20 ~ Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani has agreed to take control of the Imam Ali shrine, which al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia turned into a stronghold and refuge during their fight with U.S. forces. The militia has repeatedly threatened to target Iraq's vulnerable oil infrastructure, especially the Gulf state's pipeline network.See Warmwell's Peak Oil news
Aug 20 ~ As oil creeps towards $50 a barrel, a former OPEC president says that lack of investment means that OPEC production capacity has not increased for 30 years and "...even though reserves of oil are available (they are ) in regions which are not stable and where investment is not carried out in the right way" See Warmwell's Peak Oil news
Aug 20 ~ An emailer writes wondering why "on earth did 44 vets have to be trained to vaccinate at £400 per head? I know that most of the government ones don't know sheep from cattle.... but simply did not realise that the private ones could not vaccinate..." and sends the FWi report saying that "Genus has run a series of two-day courses for its own staff and private-practice vets to help ensure a vaccinate-to-live policy can be implemented if needed...total 44 vets and 112 Genus staff attended the courses, which have cost £400/head... " We recall that in Uruguay 2001, where vaccine was provided to the farmers free by the authorities, the farmers themselves vaccinated their cattle. No handling problems there and no costly training.
Aug 20 ~ China says it has found pigs infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza. Reuters quotes Dick Thompson, the WHO spokesman in Geneva: "In the past, we have seen avian influenza move into pigs and then move into humans. ...It could produce a pandemic strain."
A rerun of the Sars panic seems likely - and even more animal mass slaughter. Food production is now a juggernaut so huge that animals and humanity are dwarfed. Movement is global and so, of course, are infections. Globalisation has advantages that make most of us in the West comfortable and lazy - until a real pandemic killer arrives.
Aug 20 ~ From FWi " ..The website poll, conducted by campaign organisation Farm, asked: "Do you think the supermarket code of conduct is a waste of time without legislation to enforce it?" Almost immediately, the poll was holding steady at 96% in agreement, but the "no" vote suddenly increased dramatically to 38%. Smelling a rat, Farm asked its website provider to look into the issue, and it turned out that 30 "no" votes came from DEFRA's Central Science Laboratory in York...."
Aug 20 ~ "In her letter, Maxine told the Prime Minister: "My big brother died at the age of 19, and what for? A war over oil and money, that's what I think the war is all about. There was no such thing as weapons of 'mass destruction'..." Independent
Aug 20 ~ Najaf - The "Valley of Peace" cemetery....
Reuters ".....Helicopter gunships pounded targets near the Iman Ali mosque overnight, and orange flashes and white sparks lit the night sky. Explosions shook houses throughout the southern city. Near the mosque complex, heavy machinegun fire echoed from the ancient Wadi al-Salam (Valley of Peace) cemetery."
Aug 20 ~ Another email about Cefn Croes "....I do not see how any 'environmentalist' in the green groups can look at the Cefn Croes photos and defend wind farms. If they really were going to make a substantial contribution to emissions reduction(rather than a negligible one at huge economic, social and environmental cost), then perhaps we would be prepared to sacrifice our landscapes and quality of life. As it is, their contribution is marginal and comes at a huge economic, social and environmental cost - mainly to benefit the developers..."
Aug 20 ~ "....the cost of wind power does not come down as the size of the generating unit is increased with further development" A letters in the Times, commenting on the article by Matthew Parris There is an alternative to rule by the bean-counters In one of the letters, Professor Ian Fells, the Chairman of the New and Renewable Energy Centre, says of energy supplies: "... a government economist told me recently .... “As the price goes up you engineers will find more.” This approach cuts little ice with my board who are all engineers except for the finance director. We have not been taken over by bean counters, as Matthew Parris fears. ..."
Aug 20 ~ The medical community is calling for an investigation into the role of US medical staff in the prisoner abuse that took place in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, according to two new journal articles and appeals from physicians' groups. See New Scientist
Aug 20 ~ British politicians overseeing legislation from Brussels are "asleep on the job," says head of the CBI. BBC
Aug 20 ~ "With the development of GM crops, dairy companies are seeking assurances as to the GM status of stock feeds so they can then confirm the GM status of milk. Customers want to know whether cows have been fed GM stock feeds and dairy companies want the freedom to choose GM or non GM feedstuffs, hence the need for credible differentiated supply chains that can deliver." Australian article on food safety
Aug 19 ~ Najaf. We watch helplessly as the threatened raid on the Imam Ali Shrine, where Muqtada is holed up with about 1000 men, looks more and more likely. Juan Cole explains today what Muqtada al Sadr says he wants.
Aug 19 ~ An emailer writes, "Cefn Croes windfarm - This is a huge wind turbine development in Wales. Construction is under way with horrifying effect: vast access roads smashing thro' the peat bogs, forest and countryside, with aggregate being quarried on site - the quarries being called 'borrow pits'. A series of photographs have been taken and can be seen and downloaded from the Cefn Croes Windfarm website. The photographs are truly dreadful and shock everyone who sees them." We agree. A link is now on Warmwell's windfarm page together with the text.
(left - the logo of the campaign)
The campaign asks: "...Has our MP Simon Thomas taken the trouble to see what is happening as "the largest UK consented wind power station" is being built? Has our Euro MP? This is industrialisation of Ceredigion on a massive scale .... "
Aug 19 ~ Windfarms. The website http://www.wind-farm.org "an exchange of information, news and ideas regarding the current proliferation of windfarms particularly in some of the most beautiful parts of Britain - Wales, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands.."
Aug 19 ~ Brucellosis scare in Wales has proved negative after a four week wait for results. Outdated testing methods are under fire. As for bovine TB, Welsh farmers have reacted angrily to suggestions that they should pick up the bill for ridding the country of bovine TB .N Wales Daily Post reports, "AMs want routine herd testing every two years in clean parishes, the use of gamma interferon testing on infected farms and testing of cattle on all farms within a 2km radius. If cattle transmission was found not to be the cause, AMs propose wildlife culls - but only as a last resort."
Aug 19 ~ The Iraqi government today told the radical Shia cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, to stand down his militia and accept a peace offer in the next few hours or face a military assault on Najaf's holiest shrine. Reuters says, "Any assault could provoke outrage among Iraq's majority Shi'ite community, especially if U.S. forces are involved."
Aug 19 ~ The impact of the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic on Cumbrian farming life is the subject of two exhibitions at The Beacon, Whitehaven until September 22. FMD: Fragments, Movies and Documents is a series of films made with farming families to record their experience of the epidemic and their progress towards agricultural and emotional recovery ’Till The Cows Come Home is a reflective photographic essay following developments since the end of the epidemic and concluding with images of prize-winning stock from the agricultural shows of 2003. See Whitehaven News
Aug 19 ~ "Massive waves created by violent storms off Britain and Ireland are ripping off chunks of cliff and hurling them inland over distances scientists did not think possible..." News24
Aug 18 ~ “Legal theory” is the sort of phrase Mr Blunkett uses against any who oppose his authoritarianism. I am surprised he did not call it “bleeding-heart legal theory” Sir Simon Jenkins in today's Times. See Warmwell's democracy page
Aug 18 ~ "Brussels has given the green light for the UK to introduce a pay-as-you-go national fallen stock collection scheme" FWi Warmwell's page National Fallen Stock Scheme -- "a bit of a shambles"
Aug 18 ~ An emailer from Cornwall writes, " On the evening of August 16th the village of Canworthy Water in North Cornwall was flooded to a depth of six feet ..Sheep were swept away and drowned - tractors and farm machinery destroyed...AFTER the flooding the Environment Agency put out a flood warning for the River Ottery. They also said that Launceston and Bude were going to flood. ...Just like FMD 2001 - no forward planning, followed by uncoordinated mass panicking with incorrect info being given out." Read email in full
Aug 18 ~ The latest death - the soldier killed in Basra yesterday in clashes with supporters of Muqtada al Sadr, brings the total loss of British servicemen's lives in Iraq to 65.
Aug 18 ~ The anti-terror police have now charged the eight men arrested on August 3 with "conspiracy to murder and plotting to use toxic materials or explosives" See the Independent report. " All eight will appear in custody at Bow Street magistrates' court, which will be sitting at Belmarsh high-security court in south-east London today.... Under new law in the Terrorism Act 2000, suspects can be held for a maximum of two weeks from the time of arrest. The nine suspects were held for the full 14 days and were charged after time allowed to question them without charge ran out." See Juan Cole's comments Iraq page for the unfortunate background to all these arrests. "al-Qaeda members on hearing the details Ridge revealed to the American public would know that a real insider had been busted."
Aug 18 ~ In spite of the confirmation of International observers that President Chavez won his referendum correctly, the BBC reports that "Venezuela is to take an audit of the vote which has kept President Chavez in office, after charges of fraud"
Aug 17 ~ Moqtada al-Sadr has refused to meet a delegation of Iraqi political and religious leaders seeking to end a rebellion in the holy city of Najaf and other parts of the country. Reuters
Aug 17 ~ "Tony Blair was warned by a member of Labour's ruling national executive he would face a walkout protest if he goes ahead with plans to invite Iyad Allawi, the leader of the iterim Iraqi government, to the Labour Party conference." Independent See Also Iraq page
Aug 17 ~ José Bové and 500 of his supporters came to blows with a new group describing itself as "volunteer farmers and researchers in favour of GMO tests" The "volunteer farmers and researchers in favour of GMOs'' are led by Pierre Pagesse, a farmer and the managing director of the French biotechnology firm Biogemma. " See Warmwell's GM page
Aug 17 ~ The Royal Society is launching a scientific investigation into the rising acidity of the Earth's oceans. "...Increasing acidity reduces the availability of calcium carbonate from the water - which the creatures rely on to produce their hard skeletons Acidification may also directly affect the growth and reproduction rates of fish, as well as affecting the plankton populations which they rely on for food .. nutrient concentrations in surface waters of high-latitude regions are likely to fall, subsurface waters become less oxygenated, and phytoplankton will experience increased exposure to sunlight. .."
Aug 17 ~ "...the end is in sight for the consumerist American way of life." See Peak Oil page today and every day. The article featured today from "Media Monitors" may be thought excessively pessimistic for its mention of the installation of a "surveillance apparatus" and suggestion that in " the intermediate future, American citizens will not only be unable to exercise a real ability to question their government and petition it for redress of grievances, but.. will likely find themselves living in a techno-oriented police state in which they are in heavy debt, with all their assets and incomes monitored and even controlled by the central government." But see also warmwell's page on the Civil Contingencies Bill here in the UK
Aug 17 ~ "Only the people will hold the government to account" wrote George Monbiot. The number of "ordinary" people who think they have the right to telephone the Houses of Parliament is low. The House of Commons Switchboard - 0207 219 3000, Lords - 0207-219-5353. Once done however, one realises that this is what our hard won democracy is for. And phoning is both easy and more effective than emailing or even faxing. Those at the other end are invariably charming - and sympathetic if one is nervous. You may leave messages for individual MPs or Peers. Urgently needed are messages about the Civil Contingencies Bill. "... the Government have asked for more power from Parliament than any other government in modern history"
Aug 17 ~ International observers have confirmed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's victory despite opposition claims of fraud. BBC
Aug 16 ~ It's encouraging to see that Britain's Information Commissioner has warned - as we too have been warning for many months now - that the country risks “sleepwalking into a surveillance society” because of government plans for identity cards and a population register. (The office of the Information Commissioner is an independent body created by statute and answerable to Parliament.) See Democracy Page
Aug 16 ~ Oil prices look as though they are heading for 47 dollars a barrel. The idea of "peak oil" is beginning to get into the daily papers. See Scotsman - and Warmwell's daily Peak oil pages
Aug 16 ~ Thousands of protesters have now joined Al-Sadr in the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf, promising to act as human shields. The conference convened to select a national assembly to oversee Ayad Allawi's interim government until elections take place in January is showing deep divisions over Najaf, with many delegates upset that US forces are fighting so close to such a holy site. Read Warmwell's Iraq pages . Juan Cole says, "The American public has no idea how bad it is in Iraq because it gets lots of contradictory reports and has no way of wading through or evaluating them." Ditto the UK.
Aug 16 ~ Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, appears to have won the referendum - although opposition leaders have claimed the same margin of victory as Chavez, saying the official results were a fraud engineered through the use of electronic voting machines. Chavez has diverted wealth from oil sales to housing, food and medical care for the poor majority. Venezuela is the 5th largest oil exporter. Chavez blamed George W. Bush for backing the coup against him two years ago. (He returned when the poor majority flooded central Caracas and loyal troops backed him.) However, he has been careful to guarantee oil supplies to the United States. See Reuters
Aug 15 ~ "November's vote should be viewed not just as a local issue but as an event of national significance" Booker's Notebook and see also Neil Herron's plea for help in preparation for 4th November, 2004 when the North East referendum takes place. "..we do need support to achieve the victory."
Aug 15 ~ The remarkable (and independent) Sunday Herald has eyewitness accounts from Iraq ".... From a vantage point on top of a nearby hospital, we can see the crowd stretching the entire two-kilometre route back to the bridge. Another avenue leading to northern Baghdad is also swollen with marchers. A young police officer beams at the marchers, clearly moved by the display. “We’ve come here to protect them, not stop them,” he says.." See Iraq page. "Najaf could now become the site of “a massacre”...."
Aug 15 ~ "... In the days after the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, when US air traffic was tightly restricted, 140 Saudis, many immediate relatives of Osama bin Laden, were permitted to leave the country without being questioned by US intelligence. From locations around the US, the Saudis were collected and flown across the Atlantic to London, Europe and beyond..." The Sunday Herald article on the source for much of Fahrenheit 9/11. House Of Bush House Of Saud by respected American journalist Craig Unger is now being published in the UK by Gibson Square Publishing - in spite of the fear of other publishers to "take the risk" (Amazon declined to put it on their UK website)
Aug 15 ~ Sunday Herald article shows that "Iraqi Shiites look to Moqtada al-Sadr, not the interim government, for leadership"
Aug 15 ~ "We can never have any objection to sensible measures which are just a way of making it simpler to obtain health care, but we fear that what the Government will do is use it as a way of preparing public opinion for their much wider ID proposal." Liberty spokesman
Independent on Sunday "... Another problem, which neither the Home Office nor the Health Department has yet solved, is that there are many foreign residents in Britain who would not be entitled to an ID card, even though they do qualify for free health care."
Aug 14/15 ~"..doesn't anyone besides me mind our military bombing a country that we occupy? How is that not a contravention of the Geneva Convention?" asks Juan Cole. See Iraq page
Aug 14 ~ The one-day truce in Najaf has collapsed. And, even the council of tribal chieftains in the Middle Euphrates, a previously pro-American group, has issued a statement condemning the "barbaric massacres perpetrated by the United States in Najaf.." See Iraq page
Aug 14 ~ Matthew Parris "...Modern politicians babble ceaselessly about “vision”, but a Cabinet minister with real vision would sweep the spreadsheets from his desk and look out of his window at what he does know..." See Peak Oil news
Aug 14 ~ New Zealand - "PowerLess NZ" is a group of scientists, energy analysts and concerned citizens who have formed themselves into a growing pressure group to alert both their Government and the general public to the looming energy crisis. See Peak Oil page
Aug 14 ~ An American request for a British terrorist suspect to be handcuffed in a central London court was dismissed by a judge hearing the extradition case yesterday. Guardian
Aug 14 ~ The British reporter from the Sunday Telegraph has been handed over to UK officials after being freed by his kidnappers in southern Iraq. BBC
Aug 14 ~ In the first rulings, US military review panels have decided that four Guantanamo Bay detainees are "properly held". BBC
Aug 14 ~ A temporary truce is holding in the Iraqi city of Najaf as Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr sets out his demands, including an amnesty for all fighters..BBC
Aug 14 ~ "As long as the Home Secretary does not inquire into how the information was obtained he can use it in any way he wishes. This would surely make Britain complicit in international acts of torture." See democracy page on the (to us) extraordinary two-to-one ruling of the Court of Appeal on Wednesday that evidence gained by torture should be allowed by British judges.
Aug 14 ~ In the light of the controversy surrounding the exemption given to "outstanding" large houses from the ban on building in areas of unpoilt countryside (see Guardian article on the rural policy document) it is interesting to note that Signor Berlusconi's extravagent villa too is exempt from new building laws in Sardinia. (Tony and Cherie Blair will be there on Monday) Why is one so constantly reminded of the gradual usurpation of all power and privilege by the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm? There too, although the animals could not bring themselves to suspect the truth of what was happening, they felt a deep unease.
Aug 14 ~ The Hutton leak enquiry is "yet another whitewash" See Independent today.
Aug 13 ~"David Blunkett has, two days after a speech from Michael Howard, decided to unveil another pot-pourri of ideas in the never-ending "battle" against crime. ... When blank cheques replace carefully proscribed powers, the problem is not so much the badly trained officer, but the badly framed legislation. ..." Guardian Comment by John Kampfer
Aug 13 ~ " Iraq's interim government says Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is negotiating to leave a shrine in Najaf as thousands of protesters across southern Iraq condemned a US offensive in the holy city..." Reuters
Aug 13 ~ For those who have not yet looked at Mark Purdey's website, here is an extract:
"Public suspicion is mounting towards... so called independent scientific experts and medical spin doctors who are called to advise governments and address the public on all aspects of the impact of chemical pollutants on our food chain. This website returns us to the lessons that can be learnt from the intuitive wisdoms of the people on the "ground"..(and)....the woeful degree of administrative complacency over issues which, in most cases, are matters of life and death for normal people. "Aug 13 ~" Angry after struggling to survive the mad cow crisis for 15 months, a small group of Canadian producers is launching a multimillion-dollar claim against the US." Wisconsin Ag
Aug 13 ~ 2.30 BST "Gunmen holding a British journalist hostage in Iraq will release the captive imminently following mediation from the office of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, according to a videotape" Reuters
Aug 13 ~ USDA has approved Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ".. as a laboratory certified to conduct genotyping services to determine the susceptibility of sheep to Scrapie. The Company began processing samples under a contract that the USDA subsequently awarded to Genaissance as part of the National Scrapie Eradication Program." (economic report by Yahoo ) Will future generations (assuming there are any) look back on the mountains of regulations and huge amounts of money generated merely by the theoretical and unproven connection between scrapie and vCJD with head shaking disbelief?
Aug 13 ~ the former Shell director at the centre of the storm over the oil group's overstated oil reserves, is to get a £2.5m pay-off. Guardian
Aug 13 ~ Peter Mandelson will wield more clout than many cabinet ministers in his new post as Trade Commisioner, one of the EU's senior political figures, according to Leon Brittan . The Guardian comments, "While his Labour enemies will happily wave farewell to Mr Mandelson when he takes the Eurostar to Brussels, they may find that his influence on British politics remains as strong as ever."
Aug 13 ~ US Marines have completely surrounded Najaf and cut off all the roads leading into the shrine of Imam Ali (Shiite Islam's St. Peter). There are reports this morning that Muqtada al-Sadr has been wounded. There will be big demonstrations in Iran today against the US siege of Najaf, which is holy to Iran's Shiites. Another British soldier was killed yesterday and one more seriously wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in Basra.
Aug 13 ~ Plans to introduce identity cards have been backed by the CBI in spite of the fact they are known to be seriously flawed. BBC reports.
Aug 12 ~" US forces have stormed the home of rebel Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the holy city of Najaf, witnesses say"Reuters
Aug 12 ~ "...Bit by bit, the intellectual foundations of this war are crumbling to dust. No WMD; no outright end to human rights abuses; no democratic breakthrough..." Jonathan Freedland yesterday.
Aug 12 ~ "President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has accused Western nations of interfering in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region to try to exploit the country's gold and oil resources. .." Reuters
Archive April 2004 - mid August 2004