Saturday, September 26, 2009

London news round-up

Fascists target pro-Palestinian marchers

MEMBERS of the English Defence League – a loose structured group of former squaddies, football hooligans with neo-Nazi views – last weekend tried to attack a London protest march in support of Gaza.
Police made no arrests and succeeded in keeping the fascists and the marchers apart. But there were several brief confrontations as EDL activists chanted "We hate Muslims" and "Muslim bombers off our streets".
The pro-Palestinian protesters held up banners with slogans including “Justice for the murdered children of Gaza”, “We are all Palestinians”, “Boycott Israel” and “Judaism rejects the Zionist state”.
People from a number of organisations and groups throughout the country, both Muslim and non-Muslim, joined the demonstration, held during Ramadan every year.
The demonstration's organiser, Raza Kazim, from the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "It's in aid of the oppressed people of Palestine in particular, but the idea of al-Quds is more general than that. It's for people who have been oppressed.”
Commenting on the EDL, he said that supporters of Israel usually protested but with them, he said, were "the BNP, the EDL, the racists, the extremists – all of this unholy alliance have got together" to say oppression should continue.
“We are going to say: 'No, that this is not going to happen'. That is why we are here – to raise our voices against that," he added.

Debt stress costs NHS millions

THE LONDON Health Forum last week reported that treating stress-related ill health in the capital costs the NHS £450 million a year.
Around 250,000 Londoners suffer from mental health problems as a result of debt, job cuts and money worries, resulting in 350,000 London GP appointments a year.
Stress-related illnesses which could cause high blood pressure and heart attacks are also on the rise, it said.
The forum urged councils and primary care trusts to "prescribe early debt advice" to Londoners.
The forum's report, London Capital of Debt, said primary care trusts in London are currently spending £1.8bn a year treating patients with mental health issues, which is 26 per cent more than the national average.
About one million Londoners suffer from mental health problems, a quarter of whom are worried about debt, the report said.
The forum said on average these people make 3.5 visits to GPs, which works out as 350,000 GP appointments sought in London a year.
John Murray, director of the forum, said: "The latest figures from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service show a 40 per cent increase in calls from Londoners to its helpline compared to a year ago.
"The NHS therefore needs to go onto a preventive footing by getting people to debt advice sooner, using the extensive channels of communication at its disposal."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Problems of Leninism

J. Stalin

Good condition
Hbk, 803 pp
Foreign Languages Publishing House
Moscow 1953

£20.00 including p&p (UK only)
orders to: NCP Lit, PO Box 73, London SW11 2PQ

all proceeds to the New Worker fighting fund

Friday, September 11, 2009

A gala of poetry in London

Poets and singers gave the media a taste of things to come last Friday at the launch of the Poetry Olympics Enlightenment festival that will revolve around shows at the 100 Club in Oxford Street and venues in Kensington and Chelsea. The Poetry Olympics began in 1980 as an artistic response to the philistine stance of the Tory Thatcher government, This year’s gala is being held to mark the 50th anniversary of the poetry magazine, New Departures, to give Londoners the opportunity to hear avant-garde progressive poetry and music from some of the giants of the genre. Kensington & Chelsea mayor Timothy Coleridge and local Labour councillor Mushtaq Lasharie of Third World Solidarity welcomed poets Michael Horovitz, Mahmood Jamal and Molly Parkin along with singer-song-writer Alexander D Great at the launch of the festival which begins with a show at Chelsea Town Hall, King’s Road, on 11th September. More details in the diary column or from the POE website:

Pic: Mayor Coleridge and Councillor Lasharie and Michael Horovitz discussing the POE programme.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Climate Emergency -- Sink or Swim!

by Daphne Liddle

HUNDREDS of climate change protesters, including indigenous people from Alberta in Canada, last week targeted the London headquarters of oil giant BP and the Royal Bank of Scotland over the excavation of thousands of acres of tar sands in order to extract usable oil.
The protest was just one of a week-long series of well publicised actions on environmental issues initiated from the climate camp on Blackheath in south London.
These included the occupation of the lobby and main entrance of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Four protesters walked into the reception, two in suits and two wearing goggles and flippers, and wedged a kayak in the main entrance.
They occupied the lobby in a peaceful sit-down while their comrades unfurled a banner that said “Climate Emergency: Sink or Swim” and proceeded to hand out goggles to passers-by.
One activist said: “We want no more false solutions to climate change and an end to carbon trading, the DECC’s current policies do not go far enough.”
On Tuesday activists occupied the head office of the RBS - currently owned by taxpayers.
Dressed as construction workers, they used stepladders, locks and superglue to form a blockade at the RBS building in the City of London, unfurling banners which read “RBS: under new ownership” and “Ethical renovation in progress”.

dirtiest oil

And they carried banners protesting at RBS investing in BP’s extraction of oil from Albertan tar sands. “Tar sands oil is blood oil,” said one banner; “Tar sands oil = dirtiest oil on Earth” said another.
They also took this protest to the BP headquarters in St James Square. Here Clayton Thomas-Muller from Alberta opened proceedings with a traditional Sun-dance ceremony and song.
He called on his 200-strong audience of protesters and passers by: “When I say ‘BP’, you say ‘criminal’,” and they duly obliged.
His comrade, George Poitras of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, added: “We have buried over 100 people since 2000 - our community is in a state of constant mourning.”
Their campaign concerns the digging of bitumen from an area they compare to the size of England, in Alberta, Canada.
It is big business in the region, with output expected to triple by 2020 with oil firms turning to it as stocks decline elsewhere.
In 2007, BP entered a joint venture with Canada’s Husky Energy aimed at producing 60,000 barrels a day from 2014, rising to 200,000 barrels over time.
The Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign says the process produces three to five times the volume of carbon dioxide per barrel as conventional oil production.


Separating the tar from sand uses the same volume of natural gas per day as heating 3.2m Canadian homes for a year, the group says, and that is before it is converted to oil.
Some forms of extraction also create huge tailings ponds - stores for toxic waste made up of water, clay, sand, residual bitumen and heavy metals.
George Poitras claims leaks from these ponds - along with legal effluent release - have a serious environmental impact.
“We’re about 250km downstream from tar sands activities, on Lake Athabasca,” he said.
“Our traditional hunters and trappers have noticed that water levels have receded and fish are diseased and have blisters or mutations. The taste of animals is different and their flesh is discoloured.”
Poitras says his people are increasingly afflicted with cancers. “In a community of 1,200 people, we have buried over 100 since 2000. This is not exaggeration. Our community is in a state of constant mourning.”
Last Tuesday BP announced a “giant” new oil discovery in its fields in the Gulf of Mexico. BP is the largest producer of oil and gas in that area, with net production equivalent to more than 400,000 barrels of oil a day.
Meanwhile the climate camp broke up on Wednesday and participants went away with plans for a mass invasion of the E.on power station at Ratcliffe in Nottinghamshire.
Campaigners are hoping to force the station to close down for a couple of days on 17th and 18th October.
“We are doing this because it’s time to imagine a world without coal,” said Charlotte Johnson, protest organiser.

A day in the sun!

The New Communist Party's Metropolitan cell's annual garden party in Charlton was a success again, with plenty of food, drink and informal debate and general conversation in very pleasant surroundings. A collection raised £77 for the New Worker.