Friday, May 28, 2010

Caroline Lucas | My maiden speech in Parliament

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Caroline Lucas My maiden speech in Parliament

Thingloop: share more, consume less, save money

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Just heard about the Bristol-based web startup, thingloop, aimed at enhancing community/shared life by enabling people to share their stuff more easily within their social network. Its based on the belief that by sharing our possessions we could significantly reduce the amount of unnecessary consumption of goods, and save ourselves money in the process.

It's a free service, and readers might be interested in thingloop, as an aid in reducing their environmental impacts. If you are interested but still unsure why not look over their website or contact thingloop and ask them any questions you may have.

You can follow/support thingloop on Facebook and/or on Twitter.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Synthia: life, dont talk to me about life

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I've been following the reporting on Synthia, the so-called 'synthetic lifeform' or 'synthetic cell'. There's a lot of hype surrounding it, its creators, its promises and its dangers. Its very early days with this science and even earlier days in terms of applying the science ie technological uses - time for us to fully assess what it is and how we best employ it I hope.

Some impressive science is involved but its not really fully 'life made in the lab' because a naturally-occurring microbe, minus its genome, is used as the host and though the genome then inserted is synthetic it needed both yeast and E.coli to be used as part of the production of longer DNA sequences.

The term 'life' has been applied with little or no reference the fact that there is huge debate about what life is. There is still a challenge for scientists and philosophers to define life in unequivocal terms. Defining life is difficult —in part— because life is a process, not a pure substance. Any definition must be sufficiently broad to encompass all life with which we are familiar, and it should be sufficiently general that, with it, scientists would not miss life that may be fundamentally different from earthly life...(more).

There's been talk of a 'new industrial revolution', bringing together together biology and engineering, using 'synthetic life' to clean up oil pollution and nuclear waste, taking climate changing human carbon emissions from the air, producing biofuels and new vaccines - and even human body parts! Interesting choice of problems caused by industrial revolution(s) that will be 'solved' by purely technical means due to another industrial revolution. Purely technical 'solutions' are all too often no solution at all - remember the technical promise of an 'unsinkable' Titanic, nuclear electricity 'too cheap to meter', freedom of movement via cars tempered by congestion and pollution, nuclear weapons that would deter still ever-present wars.

Technology certainly has a role to play in solving problems - we need it but it should meet the definition of being the practical means to live decently. We should be asking ourselves what proposed technologies are and undertake a rounded assessment of technical capabilities and limitations, cost-effectiveness and impact on working lives and various systems and environments now and on into the future. We need to question technical developments at the earliest possible opportunity as opposed to regarding them as unstoppable drivers of 'progress'. Unconditional surrender to inventions and novelties would mean we had no regard for any possible social, economic and environmental consequences. We need to consider - in a systemic and systematic way - how scientific and technical change can be best harnessed for individual, community, social and environmental good - but we are currently very poor indeed at this task!




Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gender equality policy vs practice on Bristol City Council

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…a striptease by burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese…celebrity stripper performed a 10-minute routine…ended with her wearing nipple tassels and a thong at the Bristol Art Gallery and Museum…with her white skin, large breasts and tiny waist, she conforms to the mainstream stereotype of the sexual woman, the dominant cultural image that leaves ordinary women with low self esteem and anxiety, reaching for the cosmetic surgeon’s knife…

The city council has said it “carefully considered the nature of this private launch party” and is “satisfied” that it was appropriate for this event. Julie Finch, director of the council’s museums and archives, and council chief executive Jan Ormondroyd, were both at last night’s event.
http://pocketvenus.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/burlesque-show-upsets-feminists/
_______________________________________________

‘In order to contextualise the promotion of equality between women and men, we plan to deepen and broaden awareness of gender stereotyping and gender equality and develop understanding of the historical basis of discrimination against women.’

‘We will do this by running a seminar series for our employees.’

Bristol City Council, Gender Equality Scheme And Action Plan, 2007 – 2010, page 19

So, should we expect to see several very senior council employees along with senior councillors in Bristol's Cabinet attending a seminar or two on gender stereotyping? Or alternatively will they be abandoning their Gender Equality Scheme and Action Plan?

Nuclear power: in a nutshell guide

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This is a great film project (http://www.tennerfilms.com/) . Tenner Films is an interactive film and online project which looks at the human stories and the issues surrounding nuclear power. Thirteen short films to entertain and encourage debate have been made (the example above is my favourite so far). Eight have now been completed - check them and the rest of the project out and give the makers some feedback!

You can feedback on-line or by emailing abby@tennerfilms.com. If you would like to hear more about the project as it develops you can also join an email list. You can also join the Facebook group and follow Tenner films on Twitter!

Please pass details of this project to anyone who you think may be interested.
http://www.tennerfilms.com/

More on nuclear power:

http://vowlesthegreen.blogspot.com/2008/01/why-am-i-against-nuclear-power.html

http://vowlesthegreen.blogspot.com/2009/11/new-hinkley-nuclear-plant-likely-to-be.html

http://vowlesthegreen.blogspot.com/2009/03/nuclear-power-too-slow-to-help-solve.html

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

BBC News - Nick Clegg pledges biggest political reforms since 1832

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BBC News - Nick Clegg pledges biggest political reforms since 1832

"The biggest shake up of our democracy since 1832, when the Great Reform Act redrew the boundaries of British democracy, for the first time extending the franchise beyond the landed classes." said Clegg

Well, lets hope so because we certainly need change on this scale. However, Nick Clegg does have a very strong tendency to overstate and exaggerate at times, so we shall have to see what happens in practice.

Bristol Eco Veggie Fayre - The UK's Best Veggie Fayre's - the biggest vegan veggie eco friendly family day out in the UK

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Bristol Eco Veggie Fayre - The UK's Best Veggie Fayre's - the biggest vegan veggie eco friendly family day out in the UK

Very interesting and well worth a visit - especially given that the brief now includes wider sustainable living issues.

May 29th and 30th 2010
Show opens Saturday May 29th 11am and closes at 11pm
Sunday May 30th 11am - 9pm

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Elections and coalition government

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I’d just like to put on public record my thanks to the many hundreds of people who supported my views and campaigning for economic wellbeing, social justice and environmental protection by voting for me as the Green candidate for Bristol East in the general election and for Knowle in the local elections. I’m finding the coalition government election outcome a fascinating one to see developing and unfolding. I have mixed feelings about the coalition because whilst I support the principle and practice of cooperation and consensus decision making between all parties it is very clear that the Liberal-Conservative Government is far from progressive and modern: it is planning both huge cuts in public services and large tax rises; the AV voting system we are to have a referendum on is no more fair and proportional than the current system and just tends to reinforce the status quo power of centre-ground politics; the new Cabinet does not fairly reflect our population eg 83% are male and 65% went to either Oxford or Cambridge; it has no more idea on how to reconcile our economy and society with the environment to build a fair, green and sustainable future than the Blair or Brown Governments.

Bristol's Happiness Lectures tonight

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Now in its fifth year, The Bristol Happiness Lectures have established a reputation for being enjoyable, interesting events with leading speakers from positive psychology and the science of wellbeing. Initially developed by Chris Johnstone as part of his positive psychology education programme at Bristol University, past contributors have included Oliver James (2008), Ilona Boniwell (2007) and Raj Persaud (2006).

THE BRISTOL HAPPINESS LECTURES 2010 http://www.chrisjohnstone.info/happiness_lectures.htm
This year’s theme: Positive Psychology Responses to Depression natural ways to improve your mood

Tuesday 18th May 2010 7pm - 10pm

With.... Positive Psychologist Miriam Akhtar, (website: http://www.miriamakhtar.co.uk)
GP/Broadcaster Dr Phil Hammond(website: http://drphilhammond.com/)
and Self-help Author Dr Chris Johnstone(website: http://www.chrisjohnstone.info).
At St George’s Hall, Great George Street, Bristol BS1 5RR Price: £10 / £8 concs

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Adrian Ramsay :: Deputy Leader :: MP candidate for Norwich South | Lib Dems Have Betrayed Their Voters

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Adrian Ramsay :: Deputy Leader :: MP candidate for Norwich South Lib Dems Have Betrayed Their Voters

Adrian Ramsay commented: "There are real risks to cutting back on public spending while the economy is still recovering from recession - which is presumably why the LibDems didn't support making cut backs this year in their manifesto. I'm very concerned that the LibDems have signed up to the Conservative cuts and about what this may mean for crucial local services such as Sure Start nurseries and day care centres.
"The Green Party's General Election manifesto showed that there are ways of dealing with the deficit whilst protecting public services. The way forward should have been through green investment to stabilise the economy, not through public service cuts.


"I fear that the new alliance between the Conservatives and LibDems will take us in the wrong direction. I don't think these cuts are what people in Norwich voted for last week. The Green Party will strongly oppose cuts to crucial services.

"Nick Clegg has also failed to use this situation to secure a fair voting system where every vote counts equally. LibDems have been campaigning for this for decades and this was their chance to make it happen. I think many LibDem activists and voters will be feeling betrayed that Nick Clegg has not made more of this opportunity and will be considering their political home for the future."

Exhibitions about the regeneration of Knowle West, Inns Court, part of Bedminster and Knowle

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Copy of a news release received today: Local residents planning for the future of their area

The Knowle West Residents Planning Group (KWRPG) will be running exhibitions about the regeneration of the wider area, including Knowle West, Inns Court and part of Bedminster and Knowle, at local community centres on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in the last two weeks of May.

KWRPG is a group of local people who are developing a residents’ draft plan for Knowle West, which includes community buildings, shops, facilities, transport, green spaces, schools and more. This plan is NOT set in stone. The group would like other local people to come along to see the ideas they have come up with so far and want to find out what their community thinks about it.

The dates and times are:

1. Eagle House, Newquay Road 18th May, 7-8.30pm
2. Filwood Community Centre, Barnstaple Road 20th May, 7-8.30pm
3. Novers Social Club, Novers Park Road 25th May, 7-8.30pm
4. The Mede Centre (by Inns Court shops) 27th May, 7-8.30pm
5. City of Bristol College, Marksbury Road 3rd June, 7-8.30pm

Alister Palmer, chair of the KWRPG said:
"We are very pleased that Bristol City Council have now made a firm commitment to working with the Residents Planning Group. KWRPG have been meeting every week for 15 months, and meeting with the Project Board and consultants Urban Initiatives at key stages throughout the process. Last month the Project Board and Urban Initiatives came to Knowle West to hear our ideas so far and we await their plan, but in the meantime come and see ours."


"We want all the local people to have their say on what happens with the regeneration in the area, but we realize not everyone can give as much time as the current group members do, so we decided to run the exhibitions. We have timed it so we can feed back local opinion on our ideas to the consultants when they come back in to do more consultation."

For more information about the Knowle West Residents Planning Group and how to get involved call Anita Pearce at Community in Partnership Knowle West 0117 908 4248, or email Iris Eiting at Re:store on Filwood Broadway iris@reworkltd.org.uk

For regular updates or a catch up on what’s happened so far go to www.knowlewest.co.uk and see ‘Regeneration’.

-ends-


Media queries

Anita Pearce, Community in Partnership: 0117 908 4248

Iris Eiting, Re:store: iris@reworkltd.org.uk

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Councillor Green: Green Councillor!

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As well as winning our first MP in Brighton the Greens also won in Southville, retaining the seat with an increased number of votes and increased majority (click image to enlarge and see the full result). Very well done and many congratulations to Tess Green. Councillor Green - Green Councillor!

Two great wins, one local, one national - both under this ridiculous and unfair first past the post electoral system!

The 'thoroughly unpleasant and really creepy' Nick Griffin

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The BNPs Nick Griffin...extra-ordinarily racist, thoroughly unpleasant, really creepy, a nazi, wicked, viscious, misguided, repulsive, a twit.

Friday, May 07, 2010

First Green MP elected to the Westminster Parliament!!

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Caroline Lucas has been elected MP for Brighton Pavillion - the first Green to be elected to the Westminster Parliament! The full - and historic - result is below:

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bristol East Constituency Results - Vote for Policies - Vote for policies, not personalities!

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Constituency Results - Vote for Policies - Vote for policies, not personalities!

22% of people in Bristol East think Green Party policies are best (202 people in the online survey sample).

Why vote Green? Part Nine

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Greens work to maximise efficiency, whether energy, water, transport use or other resources. Its why we would insulate all homes free of charge (warming your homes, saving you money, efficiently and rapidly cutting fuel use and carbon emissions, creating thousands of local jobs). Its why we drew up the Home Energy Conservation Act. Its why we want more effective and wide-ranging door-to-door recycling systems. Its why we would cut excessive mileage allowances paid by some councils and Govt departments. Reducing waste makes sense at all sorts of levels: giving value for money; making effective use of resources; reducing pressures on communities and on the environment. Given the results of this online survey http://voteforpolicies.org.uk/, which over a quarter of a million people have completed, the chances are that you agree that the Greens policies are best - we are in first place with over 24% of the vote (click to enlarge image top left for details).

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Making Bristol an even better place: pass on the video

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If you could change Bristol what would you change? See the Bristol Greens video on making Bristol an even better place below - and pass on details to your friends and family http://tinyurl.com/betterbristol .

Tackling the triple crises: recession; climate change; rising inequality

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Tackling climate change has long been a key campaigning issue for the Green Party. I have received tens of emails on it during this election campaign (see below). I've been working on this issue, both politically and through my employment, since 1982/3! I will be debating this and other related matters with other candidates at the hustings organised by Greenpeace tonight at the City Academy, Russell Town Avenue, 7.30pm.

My party is committed to a set of economic, social and environmental policies designed to cut carbon emissions by 10% per year (eg insulating all homes free of charge, massive investment in public transport and renewable energy...). We have a £44 billion investment package - the Green New Deal - designed to tackle the triple crises: recession; climate change; rising inequality. I have been working to illustrate the quality of life, wellbeing and food, job and energy security benefits of green policies that tackle climate change for many years. http://www.onlygreen.org.uk/

I will continue to work, as I have for decades before this election, for the establishment of a fair and sustainable society ie one that has health and wellbeing as the measure of progress in place of ‘growth’ and which reconciles the economic and social with our environment such that we can
all lead decent lives now and on into the future.

____________________________________________________

>Dear Mr Vowles,
>
>I live in your constituency, and I am writing to let you know that my
>vote will be strongly influenced by which candidates speak up publicly on
>climate change.
>
>MPs elected at this general election will have the responsibility to
>drive the low carbon economic recovery that Britain needs. With proper
>political leadership, Britain can upgrade its outdated energy and
>transport infrastructure and housing stock, keep consumer bills down and
>create tens of thousands of sustainable jobs.
>
>So, I plan to vote for action on climate change, so that I get an MP who
>will champion the opportunities presented by a transformation to a low
>carbon economy.
>
>As a supporter of Greenpeace, I'm aware that tens of thousands of people,
>many of whom are supporters of RSPB, WWF, Oxfam and Christian Aid and
>other organisations, want to see candidates show commitment to action on
>climate change during their election campaign. As a result I will be
>paying close attention to which candidates speak up on this issue.
>
>Every constituency can benefit from action on climate change, and can
>achieve energy efficient homes and businesses, a growth in jobs and
>skills and a more competitive local economy. Many constituencies can
>benefit from the growing offshore wind power industry as competition
>mounts to secure long term supply chain jobs in different parts of the
>country.
>
>All the major political party leaders have said they support action on
>climate change and a more efficient low carbon economy. Do you plan to
>outline how you aim reap the benefits of a low carbon recovery this
>constituency? Will you make a public statement about your commitment to
>tackling climate change?
>
>Please let me know how you plan to ensure that at least 15% of all energy
>comes from renewable sources by 2020, and how you will ensure that our
>constituency benefits from a transition to a low carbon economy.
>
>Yours sincerely,