Monday, September 25, 2006

Putin vs. Shell...

...and Exxon. It's not just the Royal Society that's criticising Big Oil. Now Putin has joined the fray by withdrawing Shell's permit to develop the $20bn (£10bn) Sakhalin-2 energy project, because of environmental degredation. Greig Aitken, of Bankwatch, said: "Russian and international environmental organisations have, for several years, documented the same pattern of violations cited by the Russian government, as well as a range of others that all have a grim bearing on an island that depends on fishing for one third of its economy.
"If there is talk of Russia asset-grabbing as it carries out its right to, belatedly, defend its environment, it should not overshadow the asset-grabbing Shell is attempting in the form of billions of dollars of international taxpayers' money for a project it has been unable to get right for the last three years."
That the Russians are showing awareness of the environment is to be welcomed. The search for natural resources needs to take account of the consequences for the natural world, in this case among other issues the future of the Pacific Grey Whale is at stake. We also need to seriously invest in alternatives to oil. That should mean other companies than Big Oil taking the lead in the renewable energy industry. Business as usual is not an option.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 source anonymous web browser...

...Based on Firefox, Torpark is a free web browser that allows you to surf the net anonymously. "Plug it into any internet terminal whether at home, school, or public. Run Torpark.exe and it will launch a Tor circuit connection, which creates an encrypted tunnel from your computer indirectly to a Tor exit computer, allowing you to surf the internet anonymously. How much does Torpark cost? IT'S FREE." "The Torpark tool has been created by Hacktivismo - an international coalition of hackers, human rights workers, lawyers and artists.

Torpark uses the Tor network of internet routers set up by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that already has tens of thousands of regular users.
Whenever any computer connects to the net it freely shares information about the address it is using. This is so any data it requests is sent back to the right place.
The Tor network tries to stop this information being shared in two ways. First, it encrypts traffic between a computer and the Tor network of routers - this makes it much harder to spy on the traffic and pinpoint who is doing what.
Second, the Tor network regularly changes the net address that someone appears to be browsing from - again this frustrates any attempt to pin a particular browsing session on any individual." BBC

Exxon vs. The Royal Society...

...Sonia has found out that Exxon the US oil company is being challenged by the Royal Society in London to "stop funding groups that attempt to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change.
In an unprecedented step, the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific academy, has written to the oil giant to demand that the company withdraws support for dozens of groups that have "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".
"The scientists also strongly criticise the company's public statements on global warming, which they describe as "inaccurate and misleading". This is the first time that the Royal Society has gone so far as to write to a company and it represents the extent of the consensus of the scientific community with regard to global warming. The Society's action should be a wake-up call for those still in any doubts about the dangers of climate change denial. Those in power , both in business and in politics, have a responsibility to take heed of the scientific consensus and take the action required to ensure the future of generations to come. Does the CEO of Exxon have any children? If he does he should be worried.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Exxon and the climate change denial industry...

...They made $10 billion in three months and are major funders of skeptical research into climate change. The world's largest company by revenue seems to take little interest in the future of life on this planet. At a time when there is a growing consensus on the reality of climate change Exxon is still in the denial business. Every day something new is reported on this issue, today the BBC says that the temperature of England is rising because of human activities. George Monbiot has written a new book, "Heat," exposing the antics of Exxon.
"Among the organisations that have been funded by Exxon are such well-known websites and lobby groups as TechCentralStation, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Some of those on the list have names that make them look like grassroots citizens' organisations or academic bodies: the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, for example. One or two of them, such as the Congress of Racial Equality, are citizens' organisations or academic bodies, but the line they take on climate change is very much like that of the other sponsored groups. While all these groups are based in America, their publications are read and cited, and their staff are interviewed and quoted, all over the world.
By funding a large number of organisations, Exxon helps to create the impression that doubt about climate change is widespread. For those who do not understand that scientific findings cannot be trusted if they have not appeared in peer-reviewed journals, the names of these institutes help to suggest that serious researchers are challenging the consensus." says Monbiot. There also seems to be an unholy alliance between Big Oil and Big Tobacco on this issue as the same methods and organisations are being used to run the denial campaign. At a critical time in the past few years when urgent action was needed to mobilise public opinion and governments to accept the facts of climate change Exxon seems to have been doing its best to obstruct and decieve. That's the power of too much money in too few hands.

Friday, September 15, 2006

34 degrees...

...It was first developed in Canada. Having found out that people who fall into cold water or frozen lakes can survive longer the Canadians pioneered a new branch of intensive care medicine. I saw it in action today visiting a friend whose body is being kept at 34 degrees in an intensive care unit in Amsterdam to minimise the brain damage by slowing her metabolic rate. My professional ethics do not allow me to say much more except that her chances of survival are not very good. I wish her well.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Arctic ice shrinking fast...

...according to NASA satellite pictures. "The extent of "perennial" ice - thick ice which remains all year round - declined by 14%, losing an area the size of Pakistan or Turkey. The last few decades have seen summer ice shrink by about 0.7% per year."
The research is reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. As ice reflects heat back into space a planet with less ice gets warmer. Once more evidence of global warming from a reliable source should be making this issue a top priority. Yet the debate goes on as Global Warming Watch points out. Why do humans have such a hard time recognising the obvious when it is in conflict with their own selfish interests?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

We interrupt this empire... a San Francisco Bay Indymedia production about the protests in the financial distict after the invasion of Iraq. "A collaborative work by many of the Bay Area's independent video activists which documents the direct actions that shut down the financial district of San Francisco in the weeks following the United States' invasion of Iraq. With the audio backdrop including the live broadcasts of SF Indymedia's Enemy Combatant Radio and the SFPD's tactical communications that were picked up by police scanners, the documentary takes a look at the diverse show of resistance from the streets of San Francisco as well as providing a critique of the coporate media coverage of the war and exploring such issues as the Military Industrial Complex, attacks on civil liberties, and the United States' current imperialist drive."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Water...the universal solvent...

...was one of our topics on the radio today. Is it a human right, a common good or a commodity? I know that I drink too little of it, tending to try to survive on coffee. We live on a water planet. Global warming and climate change will probably mean that some parts of the planet will have far more of it than they bargained for, while others will have less. It is a precious resource. We should respect this ubiquitous molecule. Water Aid

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11...I missed the first one... I was staying with a friend and we did not have access to the news. I remember being in Bochum a few days later and asking my girlfriend if I'd missed anything, surrounded as I was by lots of strange images on TV. She suggested I read the newspaper. I did and had a brief but rather strange feeling I had been transported to a paralell universe. My private life in the years since has often given me the impression that it is so. So here I am in this strange topsy-turvy world having fallen down the rabbit hole into the post 9/11 universe where values are distorted and the image of death has become our mantra. Like many I yearn for the age of innocence when moderation was the key to a civilised life. Did it ever exist or is it just a fiction of my memory? After 9/11 came Madrid then 7/7 and we entered these strange Orwellian times in which there seems so little to hold on to. Yet each one of us in her way is finding a voice. We talk, we blog, we question and together we write our own history. We yearn for peace and truth. We hope. We despair. We are alive. That is our reality.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tony Blair persona non grata... Palestine after his summer holiday antics while Lebanon was burning. Seems the Palestinians have no interest in his designer swimwear. I wonder why?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ani Di Franco...

...independent media in a time of war which features Ani.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fair trade down on the farm...

...It's part of modern living, the expectation that you can shop till you drop 24/7. Retail therapy as a substitute for community. The Blog of Hope has done a piece on Tesco and the effect that supermarkets have on local communities.

"Supermarkets are also contributing to global deforestation and biodiversity loss by their reliance on using cheaply produced palm oil in thousands of their products. Palm oil plantations are now the major cause of rainforest clearance in Indonesia and Malaysia, threatening some of the world's richest wildlife forests and endangering native species including the orang-utan.

The criticisms are stacking up against the big supermarkets; their influence extends beyond the homogenisation of the high street and the ruination of local economies through to the detriment of animal welfare, to environmental damage, to the suppression of foreign economies and the exploitation of workers throughout the world. Their impact is truly global."

Only a recognition by the global community that it is in all our interests to support fair trade and local products can help to turn the tide of this disturbing trend. One of the ideas discussed at Ecotopia was the concept of anti-consumer education and the need to focus on quality of life rather than quantity. Humanity runs the risk of destroying itself in a consumer orgy of diminishing returns.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Miki Gonzales...

...a song about the coca leaf, the natural medicine of the Incas of Peru. Minka Wasi will be developing these themes in the coming weeks as we look into the traditions and culture of these fascinating people.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Rachel protests for free speech...

in Parliament Square along wth many other activists and people concerned about many of the draconian laws passed by the Blair junta. Maya Evans was also a victim of this stupid law. Rachel says, "New Labour wanted a Big Conversation, once. Engagement with Voters. Feedback. Dialogue between People and Government.
Well, if anyone of them, Blair's MPs, Blair's Cabinet, who were only a few hundred yards away, behind security guards and concrete bollards and bombproof glass had stepped outside, he or she could have had their dialogue, in the gentle evening sunshine, on as diverse an array of subjects as you could have desired. Cameras would have recorded it for posterity. Police would have protected them. They would have come to no harm, for we meant none.

And I'm sure there would even have been a pint for them at the Red Lion afterwards."