Monthly Archives: March 2012

Yesterday Japan started executing people again

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50 Years. Amnesty International.

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Dear Andrew,Yesterday, Thursday 29 March, Japan carried out its first executions in nearly two years.

Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa authorised the hanging of three men on death row, saying it was part of his duty as a minister. Neither of his predecessors had signed any execution warrants. As far as were concerned, a leaders responsibility is to address crime without resorting to this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Ask Japans Justice Minister not to sign any more execution warrants

By resuming executions, Japan has taken a massive step backwards.

2011 was the first year in 19 that Japan didnt execute – a development we welcomed just three days ago in our annual report on the use of capital punishment around the world.

Japan appeared to have joined the global trend towards abolition by taking steps to move away from the use of capital punishment. Today, 57 countries around the world retain capital punishment, and in 2011 just 20 of those used the death penalty. Japan has now placed itself back in the minority of countries that use this cruel inhuman and degrading punishment.

The men hanged this week were:

  • Tomoyuki Furusawa, 46, executed in Tokyo
  • Yasutoshi Matsuda, 44, executed in Fukuoka
  • Yasuaki Uwabe, 48, executed in Hiroshima. His lawyer had raised concerns about his poor mental health before his trial.

There mustnt be any others. Please call on Japans justice minister to stop signing execution warrants and protect the lives of the 130 people sitting on Japans death row.

Stop executions in Japan – send your message now

Thank you,

Kim Manning-Cooper signature

Kim Manning-Cooper
Death Penalty Campaign Manager

sct or +44 (0)20 7033 1777Amnesty International UK is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England no 01735872 Registered office address.

How fracking is ‘Jam Tomorrow’

This is a well edited video of one of the workshops from the Anti Fracking Network launch meeting in Manchester a couple of weeks ago.
I missed this at the time as I was presenting another workshop at the same time.

Paul Mobbs knows his stuff well and has kept a close eye on what has been happening around the country, including around here.
He references the Vale Says No! and No Fracking UK websites in the closing credits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Hdy_8yRfFhk

Eureka – renewable energy stored and on tap!

What’s the key to using alternative energy, like solar and wind? Storage — so we can have power on tap even when the sun’s not out and the wind’s not blowing. In this accessible, inspiring talk, Donald Sadoway takes to the blackboard to show us the future of large-scale batteries that store renewable energy. As he says: “We need to think about the problem differently. We need to think big. We need to think cheap.”

Donald Sadoway is working on a battery miracle — an inexpensive, incredibly efficient, three-layered battery using liquid metal.”

Why you should listen to him:

The problem at the heart of many sustainable-energy systems: How to store power so it can be delivered to the grid all the time, day and night, even when the wind’s not blowing and the sun’s not shining? At MIT, Donald Sadoway has been working on a grid-size battery system that stores energy using a three-layer liquid-metal core. With help from fans like Bill Gates, Sadoway and two of his students have spun off the Liquid Metals Battery Corporation (LMBC) to bring the battery to market.

“How do we attack important problems? Pose the right question.” Donald Sadoway

http://www.ted.com/talks/donald_sadoway_the_missing_link_to_renewable_energy.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2012-03-28&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

Fracking planning Inquiry boost from unexpected source!

Thank you Greg Clarke (Planning Minister): “It [the planning system] has become so complicated that it is actually increasingly a matter for specialists. It is very hard for people in communities to engage with the planning system; to protect the places they want to see protected. So the reason we are making these reforms is that e are transferring the power from the distant unelected bodies to local communities” (Transcript of Radio 2 news bulletin at 8am this morning). This could be tantamount to a match point in the Vale of Glamorgan Public Inquiry!

How can they dismiss the overwhelming will of the community of the Vale now?

Vote for policies

With elections coming up again, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the http://voteforpolicies.org.uk/ website and see how the British public would vote if they actually voted on the basis of stated policies rather than for personalities, tactically or out of habit.

The sample size is now a very impressive 300,000 (almost) and it shows that on the basis of policy alone the Green party would actually be the biggest party with 23.67% of the vote overall.

Clicking on the ‘Parties & Policies’ tab reveals that the Green party scores the highest of all on Crime, Education and Environment (three issues that should resonate in Bridgend in the forthcoming local elections). We also come second highest on Democracy, Economy, Health/NHS and Welfare, meaning we score first or second in 7 out of 9 policy areas. (Labour manages 6 out of 9 top two ratings, Lib Dems 3, Tories 2)

Locally, looking at the Bridgend and Ogmore constituencies that make up Bridgend CBC, we come second to Labour in both – about 3 points behind.

I would encourage all to take the survey and vote out of conviction for the policies parties represent.

For those people who feel that Plaid Cymru should not be ignored, you can visit this alternative site: http://www.whoshouldyouvotefor.com/wales.php
The data I have seen would suggest that they would take more from Labour than they would from the Green Party, but their nationalist aspects would also pinch a few from parties like UKIP and the BNP, thereby not having much impact on the overall patterns shown.

Food for thought!

Bridgend Greens set for first serious tilt at local elections

It is with a degree of pride and pleasure that I can report that Bridgend Greens will be standing eight candidates for the County Borough Council elections in May, and also standing five candidates for Community/Town Councils.

It is anyone’s guess how successful we will be, but success need not be measured purely in terms of seats won. We can already claim a degree of success as there has never been more than one Green Party candidate at previous local elections in Bridgend.

This will be an opportunity to gauge our base level support around the County and a valuable way of raising awareness that the people of Bridgend now have a new, progressive, eco-socialist option to consider.

It is clear that our time is coming. The Green Party currently has 130 councillors across 43 Councils in England & Wales; 10 on three Councils in Scotland and three in Northern Ireland. Just like our MP, MEPs, Scottish MSPs and Irish MLAs and London AMs, wherever Green councillors are elected, they are acknowledged as making a real difference.

All Greens share certain core values. These include:

  1. The Earth’s physical resources are finite. We threaten our future if we try to live beyond those means, so we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term future.
  2. Every person, in this and future generations, should be entitled to basic material security as of right.
  3. Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species, and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of theirs.
  4. A healthy society is based on voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice.
  5. We emphasise democratic participation and accountability by ensuring that decisions are taken at the closest practical level to those affected by them.
  6. The success of a society cannot be measured by narrow economic indicators, but should take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfillment.
  7. Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods to help effect change, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.

These values are not about short term political goals, but about the long term future we bequeath to our children and grandchildren. The values that the major parties have been living by have created the world, the country, the county and the town we live in today. Do not tell me they could not be so much better.

In standing for elected office we are taking the first steps in presenting a route to a more positive, more hopeful and more sustainable future.

We will flesh out more details of how we would achieve these goals as this and future campaigns unfold.

(National policies are available for all to see and scrutinise here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ )

The Anti Fracking Network is launched

The National Fracking Gathering, that I helped co-ordinate along with Phil Thornhill of the Campaign Against Climate Change took place in Manchester, on Saturday from 10.00am to 6pm. There were around 70 delegates there from all parts of the UK and Ireland, along with BBC cameras, and independent film maker and numerous journalists, including the Guardian’s Fiona Harvey (who chaired meeting Louise and I attended in Westminster).

The main outcome was that we have established what is to be known as the Anti Fracking Network.

The idea I that small local groups like The Vale Says NO! can claim affiliation to this national network as a way of boosting credibility and gaining weight to their activities. It is hoped that this will be particularly useful in our efforts to push for a national moratorium/ban that we all recognise as the main goal.
It is also hoped that the AFN will be a way of connecting groups and sharing experience and resources.
We hope to run regular conference calls for delegates of each group; develop online tools and resources; and issue press releases.

There was a lot of awareness and interest in our experiences here in South Wales, such that the workshops I hosted were very well attended. I co-hosted these sessions with Laura Gyte, who is Friends of the Earth’s in-house solicitor. At about 4’10” we made quite a double act, and she is very keen to help and advise on the Public Inquiry. Tony Bosworth, who is FoE’s chief energy and climate change campaigner, is also following the case with interest and is encouraging Laura’s involvement. It was very encouraging to talk with them. Laura seems to think we still have plenty of scope to develop the case and prevail at the Public Inquiry.

Watch this space!
Andy