Government backs away from forest sell-off, like we told them to

February 17, 2011

3 days ago (14 Feb) I wrote about the government’s plans to sell off England’s forests. And today (17 Feb) they made a U-turn on the despicable plot. The Guardian tell us that forestry minister Caroline Spelman made what looked like a heart-felt apology on the matter, “a real, full-on mea culpa”, and that she even sounded tearful at times! Not a standard politician’s apology at all.

Of course, the proposed sell-off was a filthy plan, and I’m glad has been called off. But we also have to stay on our guard. It was not a sudden change of heart that caused this U-turn – rather, it was the strength and passion of the calls in opposition that made the government back off. Remember, even though they won’t do it any time soon, the government want to sell the nation’s forests. If they think they’ll be able to get away with it, these plans will quickly be back on the table again. Don’t ever forget that.

If you’re interested, a transcript of the speech is on the DEFRA website.

As you might have guessed, there’s a lot of back-slapping going on amongst the organizations that opposed the plans. If you like to witness or indulge in self-congratulation, you can get a hit of the good stuff at the 38 Degrees site; or, if you’re a Facebooker, you can check out their page.

If you doubt that petitions and activism don’t usually amount to much (like me), maybe this’ll make you a little less cynical. I must confess, this news has lessened my general hatred for the general population. And if you’re one of the logging corporation head honchos who thought they’d struck gold by jumping into bed with Cameron and opting to sleep on the wet patch… HA HA HA!

Unfortunately, going by what has happened before, the government will at some stage table a watered-down proposal that will in essence amount to much the same thing. We need to keep an eye on the slippery rats – they don’t cover themselves from head to toe with vaseline every morning just for the fun of it.

But enough of the doom and gloom! Round One to the People. Come on, Cameron, bring it on. You’re a loser who thinks that being born with a silver dildo up your ass makes you Superman. But you’re not as invulnerable as you think – I’ve got a chunk of kryptonite with your name on it. Wanna come have a look?

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Don’t let the UK government sell our forests

February 14, 2011

Today I got an email from the activist group 38 Degrees. The email asked me to sign their petition against the UK governments to sell our national forests to the highest bidder.

Our forests are priceless treasures; they are habitat for countless flora and fauna, and they are beautiful locations to visit and to work in. And they are national forests – they belong to us, not the government.

Nevertheless, the government plan to sell the forests. One of the country’s most valuable assets stands to be auctioned off to private companies. And of course, these companies will expect to make money from the deal, which means that the forests will become just a source of lumber. The majestic trees will become pine floorboards and oak furniture. And when the trees are all chopped down, the forests’ owners will sell the land for residential and industrial development.

I don’t know if petitions really have any effect on government policy. But when I’m asked to sign a petition about an issue that I consider really important, I’ll sign. And I want you to sign too: go to http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/save-our-forests and sign the online petition. If enough of us sign it, maybe the government will have to halt the sell-off. Maybe. But it’s worth the few minutes to sign. Please sign it.

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Check out the IFJ’s Survival Guide for Journalists.

February 9, 2011

After my recent post on “How to survive a riot”, I have discovered the International Federation of Journalists’ Survival Guide for Journalists.

The IFJ guide is not riot-specific – it covers a variety of dicey situations, such as “war zones and conflict areas”, “riots and civil disorder” and “abductions, hostage taking and targeting journalists”. It also has chapters on emergency first aid and post-traumatic stress disorder”.

I haven’t read the Guide yet – Goddess, I only just found the thing! – but its blurb makes it sound pretty useful, lots of advice in one handy volume. And what’s even cooler, you can download it for free in pdf format from here

So check it out. Who knows – maybe one day it’ll save your life.

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Assange extradition hearing day 1: can he get a fair trial in Sweden

February 7, 2011

Today, 7 Feb 2011, Wikileaks founder and spokesman Julian Assange attended Belmarsh magistrates court, London, for the first day of his extradition hearing. Prosecutors in Sweden want to put him on trial for “molestation” – an odd law, perhaps found only in Sweden, which can classify consensual sex as some sort of crime.

Assange’s lawyer believes that all the negative publicity attracted to case makes a fair trial in Sweden impossible. But of course, what Assange really believes that Sweden will in turn extradite him to the USA, where various commentators and politicians have declared him guilty of treason(?) and espionage and are calling for the death penalty. A bizarre situation, as it wasn’t Assange that illegally obtained the American cables at the centre of this palaver – he merely published them, as did the New York Times, the Guardian and the Spiegel.

I’m very concerned that this mad chain of events will result with Assange in a US jail cell. Maybe on Death Row, if some idiots get their way. And for what: publishing a bunch of diplomatic cables, some of which are embarrassing to various people and organizations, but none of the revelations has put anyone in danger. It’s all a re-run of the Gary McKinnon affair, where another American administration was embarrassed and tried to strike back. Let’s hope that the USA will see sense and withdraw their ridiculous allegations. And that Britain will grow enough balls to tell the USA to STFU.

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