Tory ‘cabal’ lies to constituents, fights FOI to push through expensive deal

As a veteran of Norfolk County Council’s attempt to foist an unwanted incinerator on King’s Lynn (failed – we kicked up sufficiently much of a fuss about it that the dishonourable Mr Pickles, then the minister responsible for such things, felt obliged to intervene on our behalf) I offer both solidarity and encouragement – these scum can be beaten. We fought against the plan to build an incinerator on the edge of King’s Lynn not as NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard), but as NOMPs (Not On My Planet)…

The SKWAWKBOX

Information has reached the SKWAWKBOX that had slipped beneath the radar until now. It’s of particular interest because everyone knows that Tories will screw over Labour areas without a second thought, but the usual assumption is that they will protect their ‘heartlands’, if only out of self-interest – for example, the ‘Surrey sweetheart deal‘.

But this case shows that they will screw over their own areas just as eagerly as soon as it suits them – as long as they think they can get away with it.

Even if it means lying to do so.

javelin park.pngIllustration of GCC’s planned Javelin Park incinerator

The case involves Tory-controlled Gloucestershire County Council (GCC), which has been involved for some years in negotiations for a planned waste incinerator – or rather, a cabal or subset of its Tory councillors have, as until a few weeks ago even most GCC councillors were unaware of…

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Super Sharing Saturday – Transport and the Environment

Some links relating to transport and the environment and some pictures.

 INTRODUCTION

As my first post of today indicated I have a lot of stuff to share, and I am breaking it into sections. In this post I deal with stuff that relates to transport and the environment (linked by the fact that how one handles the former can have huge effects on the latter). 

TRANSPORT

I start this subsection with two links from the…

CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER TRANSPORT 

The first of these links, to a piece titled “What is the chancellor’s plan for transport” provides some detail on what the recent spring budget offered in terms of transport. Please click on the Campaign for Better transport logo below to read this piece in full.

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The second piece from the Campaign for Better Transport is titled “show the love to transport”, which gives some detail about both the actual and potential threat posed to Britain’s transport system by climate change. Please click on the image below, which shows those London Underground stations under threat from flooding to read the article full. 

Image of tube map with green hearts to show stations at risk of flooding

To finish off the section, a link to the TFL “report it to stop it”page about unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport, which I have already posted about on my London transport themed website.

THE ENVIRONMENT

Three pieces in this little section as well, starting one from Sian Berry titled “Mayors Guidance Won’t Stop Estate Demolitions”. To read this excellent piece in full please click the image below:

Sian Berry with residents at Central Hill Estate

Next comes a piece from livescience.com titled “Carbon Dioxide is Warming the Planet (Here’s How)” which includes a short video, as well as the excellent text and the image below which I am using as the link.

My final piece in this section comes from the Guardian on how climate change battles are increasingly being fought and won in court. To read it click on the image below…

Campaigners outside South Africa’s Pretoria high court during the country’s first climate change lawsuit

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some pictures to finish…

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This is lot 1251 in our March auction (27th, 28th and 29th).
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Lot 975, same auction (two images)

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Lot 967, same auction
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Hanse House as viewed from the riverside.
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The explanatory plaque.
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A pied wagtail neatly framed by yellow painted lines.
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The moon in an early evening sky (taken on Thursday).

 

Mainly Science

Links to a selection of interesting and/ or important pieces I have found in the last day or so and some of today’s photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I will be sharing various links I have found in the last day or so in this post. I also have some photographs from this afternoon.

THE GREAT BUS RIP OFF

This is my most recent find, courtesy of campaign group We Own It. They have a piece in The Mirror today which you can access here. Below is an infographic map showing the amount of money from British bus services that goes directly into the pockets of shareholders:

As a postscript to the above, the only reason the figure for East Anglia (my region) is so low is because being largely rural and hence fairly sparsely populated it does not have many bus services.

POLITICAL IDIOCY  – TORIES GO AFTER SCHOOLS WITH SOLAR PANELS

Instead of sensibly rewarding those who try do their bit by using solar panels to generate some of their energy this government is hitting some of them with extra bills. Private Schools (i.e. fee-paying schools, and the sort of school to which MPs, especially Tory MPs, send their children) will not feel the effects of this because in a spectacular misuse of the English language they are classed as “charities”. State schools (those that ordinary folk attend, as a few eons ago, I did) pay business rates which means that those state schools with solar panels will be paying a combined £1.8 million in extra rates for having them.

To charge anywhere more money because they have solar panels seems utterly boneheaded to me, but to charge schools, who should be setting positive examples to their students, for having solar panels takes the stupidity to level unanticipated even by Einstein when he said “only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe”. 

To read the full article that inspired this section, courtesy of The Guardian, please click on the image below:

Business rate changes are a big setback for solar projects in state schools, critics say.

TWO STORIES OF STELLAR DEATH

The first of these stories is a commemoration of…

SUPERNOVA 1987-A

As the second part of its name suggests it is now 30 years since the explosion of this star was witnessed on Earth, and to commemorate that anniversary some new observations have been made of the stellar remnant by the Hubble Space Telescope. To read the story in full, which comes from ibtimes.com, please click on the image below:

Supernova 1987a

My second piece in this section comes from NASA’s official website and concerns…

THE DISCOVERY OF THE
UNIVERSE’S BRIGHTEST PULSARS

When a supernova collapses, if the remnant weighs more than 1.4 solar masses it continues to contract beyond the white dwarf stage to form a neutron star, which is stable between 1.4 and 3 solar masses (beyond 3 solar masses the crushing continues until all that is left is a black hole). A spinning neutron star is known as a pulsar. To read about the discovery of the new record holding pulsar please click on the image below.

NGC 5907 ULX is the brightest pulsar ever observed

DOWNLOAD A FREE POSTER
FROM THE NEW SCIENTIST

New Scientist are at the moment offering everyone who creates an account on their site (it is free, and very easy, to so) a free download of a You Are Here poster showing us our place in the Milky Way. If interested, click on the edited version of my poster below, which I have reduced for this specific purpose, while making sure I still have the original.

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ROCK SOLID EVIDENCE THAT WE ARE NOW LIVING IN THE ANTHROPOCENE

This is the first fruit of my creating an account for myself on New Scientist. The article, which I have linked to by way of the image below (I have also included the explanation of the image from the site) is about the 208 minerals that humans have created during their tenure on the planet (yes, the primary evidence on which the article is based is quite literally rock solid).

Simonkolleite found in a copper mine in Arizona

Mines are a good place to find minerals like this Simonkolleite – evidence of the impact humans are having on the planet

PHOTOGRAPHS

To finish this post here are some photographs I took while out walking this afternoon:

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Monday Mixture

My 1,000th post on aspiblog, a typically eclectic mix of stuff – read, enjoy and please share!

INTRODUCTION

As the title suggests this post contains a variety of different elements. There is another reason for choosing this title which will be revealed later.

MUMBAI MASSACRE

With two scheduled days to go the 4th India vs England Test Match in Mumbai seemed to be headed for a high-scoring draw, but two things happened thereafter – India got right away, pushing their first innings total up to 631, and then England fell in a heap in their second innings – all out 195, beaten by an innings and 36.

THE NAS WEST NORFOLK COMMITTEE CHRISTMAS MEAL

This took place on Thursday at Frankie and Benny’s on the Hardwick Industrial Estate. Here are some pictures…

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My chosen meal
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Rachelf (sic!) showing true Christmas spirit.
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Karan (branch chair) hold aloft her Poldark colouring book.
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Santa reveals a little secret.
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A chicken puppet – she owns some real chickens, currently confined to their run because of an avian flu alert.

THE DUKE’S HEAD HOTEL

Those familiar with my 2017 wall mounted calendars will recall that the Duke’s Head Hotel frontage featured as the April picture. Well, since then it has been done up – here are a couple of pictures…

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The calendar picture
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The Duke’s Head frontage as it looks today after being redone.

THE PUZZLE IN THE INTRODUCTION

My title for this post “Monday Mixture” is apt given its nature, but I also chose this particular title because both parts thereof begin with the letter M, the Roman numeral for 1,000, and this is my 1,000th post on aspiblog.

LINKS AND CLOSING PICS

My first link is to a petition on avaaz protesting against an Australian plan to put a toxic coal complex next to the Great Barrier Reef. Please click on the image below to sign and share the petition.

My next link, also contained within a picture is to a piece on whyevolutionistrue titled A Photobook of Biological Marvels and My Own Take on Them.

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Rachael Swindon’s new blog continues to impress and amuse. Her target in this post, struck in the bullseye as usual for her, is hard right Tory MP for Witham, Priti Patel.

I started this links section with an environment related piece and I end it with another, courtesy of the Guardian, which provides this report of a study detailing how wind power is key to curbing greenhouse emissions – click the image below to read more…

Whitelee windfarm on Eaglesham Moor in Scotland is the UK’s largest onshore windfarm.

I end this post with some more of my own pictures…

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Hydrogen Powered Buses and Clean Air for London

Some environmental news and some pictures – enjoy.

INTRODUCTION

Having recently shared the latest of Anna’s posts about her campaign to prevent a big new road from being built through an area of outstanding natural beauty I thought a couple of stories showing a more sensible approach were appropriate (and I have some new pictures to share and was looking for something else to put in the post).

HYDROGEN BUSES AND A CLEAN AIR PLAN FOR LONDON

Hydrogen buses are already a feature of the streets of the city of Aberdeen, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan intends them to be in service in the capital by 2020. Buses are less damagaing than cars anyway because they carry more people, but hydrogen buses have an extra plus point – zero emissions. To read an excellent article on this theme click the picture below:

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A hydrogen powered bus.

Councillor and London Assembly member Caroline Russell has produced a very detailed plan for making London’s streets healthier, backed up with evidence of a successful scheme in Walthanstow. To read the whole document click on the infographic giving details of the Walthamstow success that appears below:

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PICTURES

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A Brunel £2 received in change
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Next to uncirculated coin.
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The next four pictures show ice on the surface of the lower Purfleet (yes folks, here in the north of the world it is winter)

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Environmental Matters

The Richmond byelection and a thunderclap.

INTRODUCTION

I have no pictures to share currently, but several important links which seem to me to be related.

A THUNDERCLAP AND A BYELECTION

Starting with the second, the result of the Richmond Park Byelection is in, and Sarah Olney of the Liberal Democrats has beaten the nominally ‘Independent’ but actually Tory Zac Goldsmith. The Tories in their arrogant certainty that Goldsmith would retain the seat and could then be persuaded to retake the Tory whip did not field a candidate against him. UKIP also declined to stand against Mr Goldsmith. On the other side the Green party did not field a candidate, while although Labour did have a candidate (transport expert Christian Wolmar) they ran a very low key campaign.

Since none of the candidates standing in this election supported the expansion of Heathrow Airport (the issue that triggered Mr Goldsmith’s resignation) this election was not about that. Nor in a constituency where over 70% of people voted to remain was it about Brexit.

This vote has come about because many Tory voters were not enthused by the prospect of voting for an ‘Independent’ Zac Goldsmith, and by way of being a backdated punishment for the appalling campaign Mr Goldsmith ran in the London mayoral election.

I have two links for you to get more detail about this byelection:

THE THUNDERCLAP

I have signed up to support the 24 Hours of Reality thunderclap the message of which is “We have a climate agreement – now it is time for bold action“. To be part of a thunderclap yopu need to have an account with at least one out of facebook, twitter and/ or tumblr. The thunderclap brings together all the connections of everyone who takes part. I would urge everyone who can to support this thunderclap.

The Anthropocene

A post created from my experiences at the Marxism and Nature day school which took place at Student Central, Malet Street, London on Saturday.

INTRODUCTION

This post is based on a day school organised by the International Socialism Journal titled Marxism and Nature which took place on Saturday. To set the scene, here is the timetable for the day:

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THE TRAVEL

The travel should have been straightforward, since Malet Street is walkable from King’s Cross, but engineering works intervened. The first effect of the engineering works was that I had to get the 6:54AM rather than 7:54AM train from Lynn. After getting the replacement bus service from Ely to Cambridge the next train to London turned out to be a stopper, so reckoning on saving a bit of time overall, I alighted at Finsbury Park and took the Piccadilly line line to Russell Square. Having a little time to spare, I avoided the most crowded route, opting for a slightly circuitous walk which had the bonus of taking in this splendid commemorative plate:

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This post will be followed by several on http://www.londontu.be focussing specifically on the public transport elements of the day.

THE EVENT: PHOTOGRAPHIC OVERVIEW

Here before getting to the real meat of the post are some photos taken at the event. The event took place at Student Central, formerly known as the University of London Union (ULU). The opening and closing plenaries were in the Upper Hall, which when I first visited the building was known as the Badminton Court (although these are both beaten in the changeability stakes by The Venue, which was Manning Hall when i first visited, and then became Room 101).

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THE ANTHROPOCENE IN SLIDES

The pictures produced below come from all across the day…

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These slides are not presented in the order in which they were shown – the first 14 are from Ian Angus’ talk in the closing plenary, before we have some the workshop session I attended during the early afternoon and then back to Ian Angus’ talk.
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The derivation of the word Anthropocene.

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These six slides, starting with this comparison between the instability of the Pleistocene and the stability of the Holocene and ending with the indicators that prove to all who will see (remember, there are none so blind as those who will not see).

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THE WORKSHOP SESSION

I have included some of Ian Rappel’s slides above, so this section will focus mainly on the other speaker at the workshop, Sarah Ensor, who is researching the history of class struggle in Iceland and whose blog can be found here.

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MORE ON THE CLOSING PLENARY

The closing plenary featured Ian Angus, many of whose slides I have already shown, and Camilla Royle, deputy editor of International Socialism Journal, who had played a key role in organising the event. The event ended with a show of solidarity with antu-fracking campaigner Tina Rothery.

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Sally Campbell introduces the closing plenary.
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Ian Angus, who travelled all the way from Canada to speak here.

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Camilla Royle following Ian Angus.

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HOMEWARD BOUND

Knowing that a non-stop train to Cambridge would be leaving Kings Cross at 17:44 I headed that way in no great hurry, and was comfortably aboard the train. Here are some final photographs…

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The southbound London Underground routes from Finsbury Park.

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Excellent combined route map of these three lines, Kings Cross.

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