Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The End of the Nation State and Democracy - TTIP

I don’t read newspapers any more and I don’t watch TV unless it’s football. I take the view that if it’s important someone will tell me, usually via my RSS feeds, Twitter or Facebook or in the pub. However, our Chair reads Tory newspapers and it appears that the establishment press are not reporting on TTIP as he was completely unaware of this when it was mentioned recently in the Fairlop Oak. It stands for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and it is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States and Canada, in SECRET. Except that it is not that secret as the Multi-National Corporate Lobbies are not only being allowed in but are integral partners in the shaping of the agreement and no doubt an agreement that will be in their interests.

The most recent development has been for the EU to rule out an attempt to make this process, and the agreement, democratic by including us, the citizens of the European Union. John Hilary, director of War on Want and member of the Stop TTIP campaign said:
"This is an outrageous decision by the European Commission. These trade deals are already facing unprecedented opposition for their secrecy and unaccountability, but now we are denied even the right to petition our own EU leaders. An unelected executive, facing growing vocal opposition, has put his hands over its ears. “
The big idea is to remove trade barriers, which in itself is not a bad thing, but it also seeks to remove regulations and red tape. You know, those things that protect us as consumers or workers like hygiene standards and Health & Safety plus those things that protect our environment, our living conditions, air quality and so forth. And here’s the biggy. It will allow Corporations (who are renowned for avoiding taxes) to sue governments (who don’t actually have any money themselves, it’s our tax£s) if they pass legislation that restricts a corporation's ability to make a profit or adversely affects their bottom line.

We already have an example of this with the Pacific Deal where the Asian arm of the cigarette company Philip Morris used the treaty to sue the Federal Australian government for introducing legislation to enforce plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco products.

And as a portent of things to come Syngenta is currently petitioning the US government to increase the legal limit for its bee-killing pesticides, in one case by over 400 times. Back in April 2013 they threatened to sue individual European Union officials involved in publishing a report that found the pesticides posed an unacceptable risk to bees before the EU imposed a 2 year ban. They are now suing the EU.

Meanwhile, here in the United Kingdom (while it lasts) all four Tory Parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and UKIP) support TTIP. This is quite ironic for UKIP for while they are all for free trade, free market and less regulation, they actually support giving away our sovereignty to the Corporations while wanting to regain it from the EU. They [UKIP] frequently cite Agenda 21 as a “global government conspiracy” but are blind to the real threat as it fits in with their own flawed ideology. And the Labour Party is not much better. They say they will exempt the NHS from the deal (if elected), but we must ask why they are not doing so for the rest of our public services, not to mention the rights gained for workers and consumers that their predecessors fought so hard for.

Oh, The Green Party of England & Wales (and I think the completely Independent one in Scotland) are, as far as I can tell, the only UK political parties campaigning against TTIP. For an explanation just consider who funds political parties ….

Further Reading:

TTIP: the biggest threat to democracy you've never heard of (New Statesman)

The TTIP deal hands British sovereignty to multinationals (The Guardian)

Trade talks 'must include healthcare' (BBC)

How will the new EU team line up on GMOs, TTIP and energy? (The Ecologist)

London Greens say no to secret TTIP trade deal (London Greens)

The price of trade (Ruscombe Green)

Monday, September 15, 2014

People’s Climate March

This is an invitation to change everything.

On September 21st, the eve of a historic summit on climate change, people across the world will take to the streets in their hundreds and thousands to inspire the world’s most powerful leaders to take ambitious action on the climate crisis.

With our future on the line and the world watching, we have the opportunity to meet this moment with unprecedented mobilisations in cities across the globe.

Together, we’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet. A world safe from the ravages of climate change. A world with good jobs, clean air, and healthy communities for everyone.

There is only one ingredient required: to change everything, we need everyone. Join us. - Sept 21st, 12.30pm Temple Place.

Via Avaaz:

The delicate balance of the planet's biosphere is tipping -- threatening all life on earth. It’s our "holy shit" climate moment according to a NASA scientist and we need a holy shit response to change the future. World leaders meet at the UN next week -- we can push them to act by greeting them with the largest march against climate change in history, joining from right here in London:

One agreement with common sense steps to end dirty energy can save us. That's why the UN has called an urgent climate meeting with all major world leaders — if we greet them on September 21st with the largest ever global climate mobilisation in history, we can break through the walls of mega coal, oil, and business that prevent even the best politicians from doing what is right.

Whether it's the 'arctic methane bomb', the rapid acidification of our oceans, or apocalyptic flooding, climate change is the biggest threat humanity is facing.

100% clean energy is a realistic goal. Already, 20% of the world's electricity comes from clean energy, and solar power is cheaper than coal in many countries! We just need to get our leaders to agree to put their foot on the accelerator.

Further reading:

Global warming: it's a point of noreturn in West Antarctica. What happens next? (The Guardian)

Mini ice age took hold of Europe inmonths (New Scientist)

Climate scientist drops the F-bomb (Salon)

The most influential climate changepaper today remains unknown to most people (Inside Climate News)

IPCC climate change report:averting catastrophe is eminently affordable (The Guardian)

Renewable energy capacity grows atfastest ever pace (The Guardian)

Solar price parity arrives early (MSN)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Intermediate Care in Redbridge
- Save Wanstead Hospital

Update from the Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents' Alliance [WASRA] on Redbridge CCG’s plans for intermediate care [rehabilitation] beds and Wanstead Hospital. Previous post here and the reply from RCCG in the comments here.

See details below for public meeting

Our local NHS is seeking to close the 48 rehabilitation [now called intermediate care] beds in the last two surviving wards at Wanstead Hospital – Galleon and Heronwood.

This proposal is part of a plan to reduce the current 104 beds to 40 permanent beds, with the ability to add a further 21 beds if needed: all the beds would be at King George Hospital, Goodmayes. 40 beds would serve the populations of the three London boroughs of Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham and Havering – 700,000 people.

As you may know, our local health services are now run by our GPs, in an organisation called the Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group [RCCG]. They say that we have too many beds: we say that if the National Audit of Intermediate Care figure of 26.3 intermediate care beds per 100,000 population was used, we should have 184 beds, 80 [eighty] LESS than we currently have!

The RCCG tells us that this reduction can be made due to the introduction of two new community treatment teams, who treat patients at home to avoid hospitalisation or allow earlier discharge from hospital. This is a good development but the work of the two teams cannot make up for such a dramatic reduction in beds. Our view is that both services are needed to meet the increasing demand, especially as the ‘baby boomer’ generation is reaching 65. Also, many elderly patients need 24 hour care and the teams only work from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Urgent action is needed if we’re to prevent the loss of the vital services provided at Wanstead Hospital. Here’s how you can make your opposition known:
  • Speak to your GP about this.
  • Sign the petition which is available on the High Street at times and the Wanstead Pharmacy.
  • Attend a public meeting on this on Wednesday 17 September upstairs at the George Public House Wanstead, starting at 7:30 pm. Our MP John Cryer, the Redbridge Cabinet Member for Health Cllr Wes Streeting and all our local councillors will be there. There will be copies available of the questionnaire which the RCCG has compiled to obtain the public’s views. [The only question which we agree with is the first one, but only if this means that the two teams do not replace the service provided by the 56 missing beds but are in addition to the existing 104 beds.]
  • Obtain the consultation booklet from Wanstead Library foyer or your GP surgery or ring 0203 688 1089. There is a questionnaire in the back which will be used to measure the public’s views.
  • Write in your views either by email to haveyoursay@onel.nhs.uk or address a letter to FREEPOST 1Y426 ILFORD IG1 2BR.
The deadline for the consultation is Wednesday 1 October