Monthly Archives: May 2012

Interesting blog stats – viewed from around the world

Just stumbled across this data for views of this blog in the last 10 weeks:

Top Views by Country:

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Attitudes to homosexuality in our local Roman Catholic Secondary School – an open letter

My Original letter:29/04/12
Dear Rev Dr Mangan,I have a few simple questions for you regarding things that must have caught your attention at some point in recent weeks.
Simple Yes or No answers will be fine, as I appreciate that you are a busy man, but I would welcome more detailed responses if you can spare the time.

  1. The Catholic Education Service, which I understand acts for Catholic bishops in England and Wales, is reported to have contacted 385 Catholic secondary schools to highlight a letter read in parish churches last month, entitled A letter on Marriage. Was your school one of these 385 contacted by the CES regarding this letter?
  2. If YES, has this letter been highlighted with pupils, as requested by the CES.
  3. The CES also asked schools to draw pupils attention to the petition being organised by the Coalition for Marriage, a Christian campaign which has attracted more than 466,000 signatures to date. Has this petition been drawn to the attention of any pupils in your school?
  4. Have you sanctioned, or is there any possibility of you sanctioning, the promotion of this petition with any pupils in your school?
  5. To the best of your knowledge, are there any copies of the pamphlet entitled “Pure Manhood: How to become the man God wants you to be” in your school?
  6. Have you sanctioned, or is there any possibility of you sanctioning, the use of this pamphlet with any pupils in your school, as it has been in some parts of England?
  7. Finally, just a number rather than a yes/no, what percentage of your current roll is deemed to belong to the Roman Catholic Church?

Many thanks in anticipation of your response,

Yours sincerely,

Andy Chyba

THE RESPONSE:

I have received a response from the Headteacher – Rev Dr Mangan.
It has a confidentiality clause on it that makes me hesitate about copying it in full, but you should know it was written after Dr Mangan consulted with Chair of Governors, Fr W Isaac.
It is short and to the point. It does not remotely address any of the seven questions I put to him, but simply states that the treatment of the issue of marriage that has taken place within the school has been fully in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church and with which he feels they have a moral and legal duty to promulgate.
My response to this was:

Dear Dr Mangan

My sincere apologies – your original email was caught by my junk filter and I failed to spot it.Thank you for your response. You have chosen not to answer any of my questions. That is your prerogative.

As for your moral and legal duties, the former is a little rich from a representative of the Catholic Church and the latter may well be examined by the legal system quite soon.

Thank you for the invitation to meet with you and the Chair of Governors. I will give this careful consideration and get back to you.

Rev Dr Mangan and Fr Isaac either do not know the answers to my questions or have chosen not to answer them. Either way, I am sure I am not alone at finding this highly unsatisafactory at best – and worrying and disgraceful at worst.
I would urge all that share a genuine concern for moral and legal duties, to pursue this matter directly with Messrs Mangan and Isaac and their elected representatives.
Andy Chyba

List of Bans and Moratoriums of Fracking

(as of 08/05/12 )

By Johnny Linehan in Fracking Hell (UK)

Countries with a ban or moratorium: France, Bulgaria, South AfricaGermany and the Czech Republic seriously considering it.

Major cities with moratoria or bans: Quebec, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Morganstown, Buffalo. (Pittsburgh is finding it difficult to enact the ban because of ‘variances’ overruling their decisions)

The Northern Ireland Assembly voted 49-30 for a moratorium, but the Minister still has not endorsed it.

Ireland: ROSCOMMON COUNTY COUNCIL unanimously support a BAN ON FRACKING

LEITRIM COUNTY COUNCIL voted for a MORATORIUM ON FRACKING

CLARE COUNTY COUNCIL unanimously support a BAN ON FRACKING and unanimously voted to amend the county development plan

DONEGAL and SLIGO: BAN ON FRACKING ( 16-01-2012) SLIGO BOROUGH COUNCIL supports the proposal from Clare County Council and Sligo County Council calling on the Government and the Minister for Communications, Energy and natural Resources to BAN the practice of fracking/hydraulic fracturing.

Canada:

British Columbia, Canada:

First Nations people in NW British Columbia enacted a four year moratorium against drilling for natural gas by Royal Dutch Shell in the Sacred Headwaters. Members of the Tahltan First Nation are blockading Shells coal bed methane project in the Sacred Headwaters, the birthplace of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers.

Nova Scotia, Canada:

Nova Scotia citizens call for ban on Nova Scotia fracking. Graham Hutchinson says the province should impose a moratorium on the controversial practice. The group recently presented a petition to Energy Minister Charlie Parker calling for a ban.

The USA

New York State:

Two legislative bills on hydrofrack drilling were considered by the legislature. The Assembly passed an extension of the current moratorium through June of 2012. The Senate did not act on a parallel bill and the issue is closed for the present.

NYS Executive Order calling for a drilling moratorium by former Governor Paterson has been affirmed by Governor Cuomo.

Yates County resolution unanimously passed calls for similar protection treatment of their watershed as that in NYC and Syracuse watersheds.

The Town of Jerusalem (Yates) enacted a moratorium ordinance for their entire township. The one-year moratorium begins when the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) relating to the extraction of natural gas by the process of high-volume hydraulic fracturing now under review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is finalized.

The Town of Milo is drawing up a moratorium statement for board action.

Dewitt, Tully, Marcellus and Skaneateles have enacted moratoria laws.

Highland, (Sullivan Co) is developing a moratorium statement.

Buffalo has banned hydrofrack drilling and wastewater disposal in their city.

Sullivan County is the first county in New York State to enact a moratorium.

Lumberland (Sullivan Co) is considering a moratorium statement.

Town of Ulysses is establishing industrial zones attempting to restrict the negative impact of drilling in their water supply.

Tompkins County has enacted a ban on fracking on county land.

Broome County: Ban on hydrofracking on county lands. Waste restrictions for fracking cuttings and flow back water established.

Ontario, Sullivan and Onondaga Counties have enacted bans on fracking on county owned land.

Ulster County has banned hydrofrack drilling on county owned lands.

Gorham in Ontario County enacted a moratorium ordinance.

The towns that ring Cooperstown’s reservoir, Otsego Lake — Middlefield, Otsego, Butternuts, and Cherry Valley — are moving to ban or restrict natural gas drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

Springfield has adopted local laws prohibiting heavy industry, including gas drilling.

The Medical Society of the State of New York has gone on record supporting a moratorium on gas drilling using high volume hydraulic fracturing.

Cooperstowns Chamber of Commerce has issued a position statement supporting a total ban on fracking due to the impact it will make on their watershed, farming and tourism.

A group of residents have launched a petition drive designed to ban the use of high-volume, slick water hydraulic fracturing in the Town of Caroline, Tompkins County.

The Village of Penn Yan will not accept any hydrofracking wastewater for processing at the village wastewater treatment plant.

New York City has called on the US Congress to remove hydrofrack drillings exemption from the Safe Water Drinking Act.

The Skaneateles Town Board has initiated plans for a ban in their township.

The Otsego County Planning Board approved changes to Middlefield’s master plan and zoning law that would specifically prohibit heavy industry, including gas and oil drilling.

The Board of Trustees of Bassett Medical Center, based in Cooperstown, New York, views the issue of hydrofracking as a public health issue of the highest priorityand resolves that the hydrofracking method of gas drilling constitutes an unacceptable threat to the health of patients, and should be prohibited until such time as it is proven to be safe.

A consortium of interested citizens is planning for a unified moratorium and eventual ban of hydrofrack drilling in the entire Keuka Lake watershed region. To date the towns of Barrington, Milo and Jerusalem have adopted ordinances on a moratorium. Wayne has prepared a resolution for consideration.

Lebanon town board members adopted a memorializing resolution that calls on the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo to repeal and reform compulsory integration laws in the State of New York that currently govern natural gas development.

A petition drive has resulted in the Dryden Town Board unanimously passing a resolution to move forward with an ordinance to ban fracking.

The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Inc. has sued the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New York State Supreme Court to declare High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State Forests contrary to the New York State Constitution and applicable environmental laws.

The Otsego Town Board clarified a long-standing prohibition against heavy industry, including fracking for natural gas, in the town’s land use law. By this vote the town, which includes most of the Village of Cooperstown, reaffirmed its home rule right to prohibit drilling through local ordinance. They also approved revisions to its land-use law that strengthen a ban on gas drilling and hydrofracking within the town. The law now specifies that while the removal of gravel, rock, stone, sand, fill, topsoil or “unconsolidated” minerals has been allowed, extraction of natural gas and petroleum is not permitted.

The Common Council of Oneonta voted to ban all forms of natural gas drilling in city limits.

The Town of Wales adopted a community rights ordinance that bans fracking. The ordinance establishes a Bill of Rights for Wales residents and recognizes and secures certain civil and political rights of the residents to govern themselves and protect themselves from harm to their persons, property and environment.

The exploration of land for natural gas by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is prohibited in the Town of Camillus.

Brighton became the first municipality in Monroe County to take a position on hydrofrack drilling calling for a state-wide moratorium.

Kirkland has adopted a one-year moratorium on hydrofracking.

New Hartford has adopted a six-month moratorium on hydrofrack drilling for natural gas.

Pennsylvania:

Pittsburgh adopts the first-in-the-nation community rights ordinance which elevates the right of the community to decide, and the rights of nature over the rights associated with corporate personhood. The City Council unanimously adopted this ordinance banning corporations from conducting natural gas drilling in the city.

Luzerne County Lehman Township, ordinance calling for home rule and a ban on drilling within their surrounding township area.

The Board of Supervisors for Licking Township, Clarion County, PA, voted unanimously on Wednesday to adopt an ordinance banning corporations from dumping fracking wastewater in the township. The Licking Township Community Water Rights and Self-Government Ordinance is the first ordinance of its kind adopted in Pennsylvania to confront the threat of Marcellus Shale drilling.

Cresson has enacted legislation banning fracking.

Washington Township has banned fracking.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania City Council unanimously passed the pro-moratorium Resolution on Marcellus Shale Drilling Environmental and Economic Impacts.

The Borough Council of West Homestead, Pennsylvania, unanimously adopted an ordinance that enacts a Local Bill of Rights, along with a prohibition on natural gas extraction to protect those rights. The bill, titled West Homestead Boroughs Community Protection from Natural Gas Extraction Ordinance; establishes specific rights of West Homestead residents, including the Right to Water, the Rights of Natural Communities, the Right to a Sustainable Energy Future, and the Right to Community Self-Government.

Philadelphia refuses to purchase Marcellus Shale gas as the dumping of flow back waters is polluting their water supply.

Collier Township upgraded its natural gas drilling ordinance to enhance their Marcellus Shale ordinance that would push drillers farther away from schools and provide baseline measurements for noise levels at drilling sites.

United Methodists representing 950 churches across central and Northeast Pennsylvania passed a resolution calling for a temporary halt in gas well drilling in the Marcellus Shale as well as an impact tax on those places where drilling already has taken hold.

Religious groups such as the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia have advocated against fracking and in April, 2011, America, the national magazine of the Jesuits editorialized very critically about the process.

Baldwin Borough Council adopted a community rights ordinance that bans the corporate extraction of natural gas.

Arkansas:

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against companies that drill for natural gas in central Arkansas. The suit is asking for millions of dollars in relation to the earthquakes associated with the fracking process the companies use. The damages enumerated in the suit are property damage, loss of fair market value in real estate, emotional distress, and damages related to the purchase of earthquake insurance.

Maryland:

The first community in Maryland, Mountain Lake Park, adopted an ordinance banning corporations from natural gas drilling.

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has sent a letter to Chesapeake Energy Corporation and its affiliates, notifying the companies of the State of Maryland’s intent to sue for violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Governor Martin O’Malleyhas signed an executive order for a three year moratorium on drilling in MD while studies continue.

New Jersey:

The New Jersey Assembly voted to ban hydraulic fracturing in NJ in a bipartisan overwhelming vote (58 to 11, 8 abstained), following the landslide vote 32-1 earlier in the day by the NJ Senate. New Jersey is the first state legislature to ban fracking.

Ohio:

Wellsburg City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting natural gas drilling in or within one mile of the city as concerns mounted about the city’s water being contaminated by procedures in hydrofrack drilling. A reservoir serving the city is beside property that Chesapeake Energy is leasing for drilling.

Virginia:

George Washington National Forest has disallowed horizontal drilling for natural gas within its 1.1 million acres of territory while opening up segments of the forest to the potential for wind energy construction.

Texas:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed a bill requiring drillers to publicly disclose the chemicals they use when extracting oil and gas from dense rock formations, the first state to pass such a law.

West Virginia:

Wellsville has banned fracking.

Lewisburg has banned fracking within their city limits.

Morgantown banned fracking in the city and within one mile of the city limits as well.

The Highlight of 3rd May Local Elections – THIRD place in London Mayoral Election for Jenny Jones

A wonderful night at City Hall for Jenny Jones and London Green Party.

Coming third behind Boris and Ken is a phenomenal achievement.
Watch her entertaining speech here:

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

(It is a long time since I felt proud to be a Londoner! – Andy)

This result was re-enforced by third place in the London Assembly elections:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-17811895

Greens celebrate some stunning wins across UK.

The Green Party is celebrating some excellent results in parts of the UK including West Midlands and West Yorkshire. All seats were held in Norwich with an increased vote in all.

REVISED FINAL SCORE

GAIN 8

HOLD 18

LOSS 4

NET +3

GAINS FROM:

Con 5

Lab 2

LD 1

This positive set of results for the Greens is a clear sign that our party is growing in confidence and steadily building support. Weve made some superb gains in the West Midlands and Yorkshire, as well as holding firm in key battlegrounds such as Norwich, where the Greens remain the official Council opposition. I want to congratulate all of our candidates up and down the country on their hard work, great ideas and strong commitment in this elections campaign, and to thank all of those who voted for a greener, fairer future at the ballot box. Caroline Lucas, Green Party Leader and MP.

“All across Britain people felt that the gap between the rich and the poor was too scandalous to ignore and the drastic cuts to the benefit system coupled with the rising threat of NHS privatisation helped people to realise that this government is fundamentally uninterested in protecting the well-being of its citizens.”

“People have grown tired of the lack of difference between the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats and have voted accordingly. The Green Party’s vision is of a fair society which values social justice as well as environmental well-being. We take their trust very seriously and will continue to work on councils across the country and nationally to promote Green Party policies and create a fairer society.”

The Scottish Green Party also celebrate having 6 new councillors taking the total up to 14.

“This demonstrates that we are the third party and the only alternative to Labour and SNP.” Patrick Harvie MSP

Encouraging results in local elections for Bridgend Green Party.

First of all a little context:
We did not exist as a discreet local party 18 months ago. We have no resources worthy of the name.
We have no army of members or supporters (yet) to call on to canvass and distribute leaflets for us.

In this context we can be very proud of achieving the following at the first attempt (*see below):

  • Kathy Lewis not only secured a commendable 15% of voters support in the strongly contested Bryntirion, Llaeston & Merthyr Mawr ward, but also has become our first Community Councillor on Laleston Community Council – with about 55% of voters support and fourth place out of 7 candidates, fighting for 5 seats.
  • Gareth Harris secured a fantastic 24% of the vote against the current mayor and Labour stalwart in Bettws.
  • Neil Rogers secured an excellent 19% of the vote in the Tory stronghold of St Brides Major (over the border in VoGCBC)
  • Laurie Brophy secured a highly commendable 15% of the voters support in Hendre – Pencoed.
  • Trish Evans managed about 8.5% in the very difficult and hotly contested Morfa (town centre) ward.
  • Every candidate surpassed the minimum goal of 5% of the votes in the County Council elections (needed to secure deposits back in bigger elections).
  • Gareth Harris and Delyth Miller pushed the Labour incumbents hard in the Garw Valley Community Council battle in Bettws and took nearly a third of the votes.
  • Andy Chyba pushed the high profile Plaid Cymru candidate into last place for Brackla Community Council and came within 90 votes of a seat with 500 votes (and was within 20 votes of second place in Coity).
  • The unsung hero has to be John Evans, who as our Election Agent has the appreciation of all of us for a job impeccably well done, but has also been recognised for his great work by the Elections Officers at the Council Offices – and still managed to pull out commendable results in Ynysawdre (County Council) and Morfa (Town Council).

There is, of course, plenty to ponder on and learn from, but overall, we can all hold up heads up high. The political scene in Bridgend now knows that we are here to stay and will look to hold them to account and continue to raise the awareness of the people of Bridgend that we are here to offer genuine alternatives to the stale diet of centre right politics offered by the more established parties.

The really bad news from these elections is largely two-fold:

Firstly, the abysmal turnout (unconfirmed – but predicted to be low 30s %) emphasises just how disengaged the general public is with our politics. There is very little trust or faith in politicians in general. This cannot be our fault in the Green Party, but it is our challenge to show that we really are a fresh and trustworthy alternative that are worthy of being elected.

Secondly, given the appalling mess that the economy and so many other policy areas (education, health, foreign policy, etc) are currently in, it was ripe for a swing to the left. We could reasonably have hoped that this would translate itself into big swings to the Greens and Plaid Cymru. After all, who still perceives the Labour Party as a left wing party? It seems that many people in Bridgend still have not caught up with the political realities of ‘New Labour’. And where is the logic in turning away from the coalition parties that are screwing up every attempt to tackle our problems, and turning back to the party that largely created the problems by, in turn, politically aligning themselves to the capitalists and social nihilists of their predecessors – Thatcher’s Tories superceded by Blair’s New Labour.

I repeat my sincere respect for the numerous socialists hanging on in there in the local Labour Party, but I cannot help but worry about the consequences of an influx of new generation New Labour people into the council chamber. In addition, the overwhelming majority now held by Labour in Bridgend is a recipe for complacency and inertia. But this is where we will endeavour to make a contribution – by scrutinising their actions and holding them to account wherever we can, and constructively encouraging and supporting them to do the right things when we can.

These elections mark the end of the beginning for Bridgend Green Party. We will now look to build on this and ensure that there we can provide a legacy that we can be proud to leave to the next generations, rather than the unsustainable mess we are living through right now. If the future is to be bright – it simply has to be Green!

Upwards and onwards.

Andy Chyba
Chair of Bridgend Green Party.

*All % figures subject to official ratification of the number of voting papers.

Amory Lovins: A 50-year plan for energy

We are not the only ones advocating and looking forward to weaning ourselves off fossil fuels. This very accessible talk shows us the way forward – but a way forward you will only see soon by voting Green. The cost of delay will haunt us all and be to the detriment of future generations.

Watch and learn!

http://www.ted.com/talks/amory_lovins_a_50_year_plan_for_energy.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2012-05-02&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

In this intimate talk filmed at TED’s offices, energy theorist Amory Lovins lays out the steps we must take to end the world’s dependence on oil (before we run out). Some changes are already happening — like lighter-weight cars and smarter trucks — but some require a bigger vision.

His new book and site, Reinventing Fire, offers actionable solutions for four energy-intensive sectors of the economy: transportation, buildings, industry and electricity. Lovins has always focused on solutions that conserve natural resources while also promoting economic growth.

Top quote: Fire made us human, fossil fuels made us modern, but now we need a new fire that makes us safe, secure, healthy and durable.