Daily archives: September 26, 2006

Heavensent 11.5

Note Two updates today because I forgot to post yesterday’s.

An hour out, the hulk said hello. YoungLady detected vibration in the rubbish accreted on its surface, dislodging dust and rocks. Then lights began blinking on and off. So many had been incapacitated over the years that it took some moments to discern the pattern- a ripple of light converging on a point where a section of the hull was sliding open slowly.

“I think it wants to invite us in.” JonPaul commented.

“Should we? It could be a trap.”

“GirlChild, we’re not returning to the Rock unless there’s something in there worth returning with. If we don’t go in we’re doomed. If we do, who knows?”

The ship only had the most rudimentary of automatic navigation aids. It pulled them up a set distance from the huge vessel, close enough that it more than filled the forward view, and JonPaul had to edge it along and into the bay opened for them. The youngsters shut up whilst he nudged the control stick and reoriented the craft.

“What’s that?” GirlChild asked, pointing out of a side window.

“It’s…… Not random.” YoungLady asserted, twisting around to view it from another angle. “I think it’s markings. A name or affiliation.”

“It’s in Old.” BoyChild said, “One of the dialects of Old. I was best in my class at Old.”

“Can you read it?”


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The day I shot Tony Blair

The incident’s a few years old, dating back to August 2003 (original post), but deserves reposting-

What’s a boy to do.
Courtesy of the nice ladies on the Friends of the Earth stall and PocketPM. I had a little Tony Blair hanging on to my bag.

But I was bored, so we headed over to the funfair, where there was one of those air rifle stalls. “If I pay for the pellets, can I shoot the Prime Minister?” I asked, holding up Tony.
“Errrr. Yeah. Of course you can.”
So Tony went into the little place holder for the paper targets, and I lined up my shots.

Click the thumbnail for the full picture

One just below the heart (well he is a politician, it’s a very small target) and one through the tie. “Shoot him in the nether regions.” the stall holder suggested, great minds thinking alike.
Then I started aiming for the grin, but it magically deflected the pellets and the next three shots went through his left eye.

The pocketPM people want you to send in pictures of your Tony, but I think this one would just get them in trouble.
And the Armed Response Range Rover seemed to be following us around after that as well……..
Marillion, Assassing

I went into town today to photograph stuff going on around the conference. However, my camera was having battery issues again, so I could only get shots on my camera phone. I traced the security perimeter, occasionally stopping to snatch a shot and all the time hoping I didn’t look too suspicious.

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Heavensent 11.4

The object was almost as large as the Rock. BoyChild had seen something in the shape that didn’t seem normal. It wasn’t until they were five hours out that his suspicion was justified. “That’s a ship, under all that.” GirlChild announced.

“I thought it was another Rock, an abandoned habitat, maybe.” BoyChild crowded into the monitor. She pushed him away a distance. Recent intimacy was no reason to hog her space. “I’m going to tell JonPaul.”

“I’m on open circuit. I can hear you. Tell me more.”

“It’s like a big…. thing.” A dark look from GirlChild shut BoyChild up.

“It’s about twenty measures shorter than the Rock. There’s asteroid accretion on the surface but you can see a metal skin below it. We haven’t managed to get any indications if it’s hollow or where there might be locks or entrances.”

“Have you tried messaging?”

“Well, erm, no.”

“Try it. I’ve heard of long dead hulks lighting up at a simple ‘hello’.”

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MPs' Green press releases- energy review edition

It’s been a while since the last one of these, so something of a bumper crop. The press releases have been reproduced in full, with most of the spelling and punctuation mistakes left in (I think I deleted one of a pair of full stops). Some of them are out of date as they refer to the Lib-Dem conference last week. None, it appears,mention this week’s Labour Party conference here in Manchester.


Conwy MP Betty Williams is supporting the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s campaign to save endangered species from the deadly trinket trade – by pledging not to buy wildlife souvenirs when travelling abroad.

Every year, Customs agents seize thousands of illegal wildlife items, many of them tourist souvenirs made from endangered or threatened species, which are protected by international law.

A YouGov survey carried out for IFAW and published recently reveals that, alarmingly, as many as 600,000 people have returned to the UK from holidays abroad with wildlife souvenirs, including elephant ivory, in the past five years.

In South Africa, IFAW researchers discovered a thriving trade in wildlife souvenirs, including ivory carvings, porcupine quills and sharks’ teeth, many of which are being sold illegally to British and other foreign tourists. IFAW warns that the wildlife souvenir trade is having a devastating impact on animal welfare as well as the conservation of endangered species.

IFAW campaigner Nikki Kelly said: “Tourists need to remember that if they don’t buy, animals won’t die. IFAW is encouraging people travelling abroad to spend their money wisely by buying alternative holiday mementos that benefit local people directly, such as handicrafts, instead of items that harm the wildlife people are coming to see.”

Betty Williams MP said: “I am proud to support IFAW’s campaign by pledging not to buy wildlife souvenirs when I visit other countries and urge others to do the same. While some souvenirs may appear harmless often they belie a bloody trade. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in our homes. I hope future generations will be lucky enough to experience the thrill of seeing wildlife in its natural habitat and not through history books.”

IFAW’s ‘Think Twice’ campaign is also being supported by the influential Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) with celebrities David Jason, Steve Leonard, Chris Tarrant, Twiggy and Shauna Lowry also signing the pledge not to buy wildlife souvenirs.

People wishing to sign IFAW’s pledge, and advice for people wishing to have a wildlife-friendly holiday in South Africa or in other parts of the world is available at www.ifaw.org/uk/thinktwice.



The question I am offering to be ‘discussed’ would be:

How to get energy that is secure and affordable, and without destroying the planet.

The importance of climate change is shown in greater focus with every month. This week alone we hear of threats to the Essex coast from the highest tide so far this century, the abandonment of some homes in Suffolk to coastal erosion and the enormously damaging thaw of Russia’s permafrost which is accelerating global warming by releasing massive amounts of methane.

Climate change is particularly important for the people of Essex who live in low lying areas.

We need to ask how we can balance energy policy to protect our environment and yet avoid insecurity of supply leading to lights out, and still provide affordable energy to vulnerable people on small fixed incomes.

For instance, should we have a new generation of nuclear power and which alternative forms of sustainable energy should we invest in. And how can we encourage the rest of the world to cut carbon emissions, with China and India sitting on so much available and relatively very cheap coal?

These are key questions that we must address.


I am offering to chair a discussion on these key issues and answer questions in each of our local secondary schools and college during the coming months. It is important to ensure our teenagers understand what is happening to their environment and to encourage them to take an interest in science.

I anticipate the discussion could take between 1 and 2 hours, would be on a Friday as I have to be in Westminster other days, and could be a large or small group of older pupils who could prepare statements and/or questions. I really am open to your suggestions on format, which could support students completing both the GCSE Citizenship and A-Level General Studies courses. Please could you consider this offer and if you are able to take it up and feel it might be worthwhile, let me have a contact person and details and I will telephone to arrange a mutually convenient programme, date and time.

Best wishes and thanks


Some interesting facts on Energy:

The lights went out in areas of Europe and the USA last winter. More than just a nuisance of course!

Each Chinese person ‘uses’ 2 barrels of oil (equivalent energy) each year, (USA 26 barrels, UK 12 barrels); there are approx 1.4 billion Chinese, 1.1 billion Indian people.

China and India have massive coal supplies which would release CO2 and swamp anything ‘we’ can do. Therefore, is carbon capture and storage, CCS, one of the answers? Of course, China’s demand patterns are quite different to ours.

There is more to energy than power; travel is also a key issue. USA 800 cars per 1000 people, EU 600 and China 15. But the Chinese and Indian people now have the aspiration to get a car at almost any cost! India is now developing a £1200 new car which will not be environmentally friendly.

The world has plenty of oil, more is discovered than extracted each year, but it is a finite resource and are there better uses than burning it! In any case, the world is not at the moment investing sufficient in oil extraction.

What about Calor and Canvey where the plan is to import 5% of the total UK energy needs as LNG. Is the dash for Gas dangerous? Does it expose the UK to insecure sources and possible lights out and uncontrolled prices?

We will be 70% reliant on imported gas very soon unless Government changes its policy.

I am pushing the Government to promote bio ethanol crops and conversion plants, particularly in the eastern region and this makes sense in countryside management, agricultural, environmental and financial terms. There is, of course, much more…

Perhaps these rough notes, and the Leader I wrote for the Science In Parliament journal, attached, could be given to the youngsters (our future scientists and citizens) to provoke responses?

Green Man to visit Bath

Don Foster and Bath Liberal Democrats are pleased to announce that Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, Chris Huhne MP, will be visiting Bath on 28th September.

Whilst in Bath, Chris will raise awareness of local environmental issues and, as part of a national programme, launch the Liberal Democrats’ ‘Green Tax Switch’ campaign. Central to which is the pledge to cut income tax by introducing green taxes.

Environmental issues and the Green Tax Switch will be the key focus of the Lib Dem party conference in Brighton lat
er this month.

Chris will be touring Bath and North East Somerset, visiting a number of Environmental projects including the ECT Recycling plant in Keynsham and the Cleveland Baths in Bath. Chris will also be taking part in a question and answer session with local residents, environmental campaigners and green groups from B&NES.

Commenting, Don said:

“I’m really pleased to welcome the Lib Dem’s very own Green Man, Chris Huhne, to Bath and I’m looking forward to his visit.

“The Liberal Democrats are firmly committed to ensuring environmental considerations play a central part in all our policy decisions.”

Government must tackle climate change – Foster

Ahead of the annual Liberal Democrat Party Conference, Don Foster has written to the Prime Minister urging him to include a Bill on climate change in the Queens Speech.

Environmental issues and the green tax switch will be the key focus of next week’s conference.

Don has signed EDM 178 which calls for a Bill to be introduced to deal with climate change. This EDM has been supported by Friends of the Earth.

Commenting, Don said:

“Climate change is an issue which must be tackled sooner rather than later. I have written to Tony Blair asking for a Bill on climate change to be included in the Queens Speech as proof that the Government is taking this matter seriously.

“I have received numerous letters about climate change from Bath residents, including many who are members of Bath Friends of the Earth, and I am happy to support them in this matter.”

4×4 sales fall as green coalition tightens its grip

The tough stance taken by a green coalition including Emily Thornberry’s House of Commons Environment Committee and the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has been recognised by Greenpeace as the number of 4X4s sold in Britain fell this year for the first time ever.

Sales of 4x4s have doubled in the last 10 years, with last year alone seeing an increase in sales of over 12%. However, figures for 2006 show a fall in the number of 4x4s sold, following aggressive green policies from Emily’s Environment Committee and the Mayor of London.

Greenpeace has drawn attention to the Environment Committee’s recent recommendation to raise road tax on the worst gas-guzzlers to £1,800, along with the Mayor of London’s threat of a £25 congestion charge on ‘Chelsea Tractors’. Greenpeace say these actions appear to have slowed the trend for polluting vehicles.

Emily said:

“I am determined to get 4x4s off Islington’s roads. I’ve been using every means possible to send 4×4 drivers the message that they’re ruining the environment and killing pedestrians. I am glad we’ve started to buck the trend, but I’ll keep up the pressure to make sure this continues”

Greenpeace campaigner Emily Armistead said:

“Tony Blair should enact proposals from backbench MPs to tax these polluting vehicles more heavily so they are driven off our roads completely”.

Figures from the Department for Transport show that the number of polluting cars in Britain is falling across the board, as drivers switch to public transport, bikes, or green-fuel cars. Sales of Hybrid Cars like the Toyota Prius more than doubled last year, whilst sales of 4x4s fell for the first time ever between 2005 and 2006.

How do we stop climate change?

Emily Thornberry is inviting her constituents to come and tell her their views on climate change. She will be asking constituents what they think individuals, the government and business can do to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change.

She will also be setting out what she has been doing, as a member of Parliament’s Environment Select Committee, to push for policies to reduce climate change. If not stopped, Climate Change will cause rising sea levels, droughts, heat-waves, flooding and violent storms.

Emily said:

“We have to work together to tackle climate change. I’d like to know what people think.”

Emily will be joined at the event by Cllr Catherine West, Leader of Islington Labour Group and Mary Taylor, Climate Campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

The event will be from 7pm on Thursday 21st September at the Italian Trade Union Centre, 124 Canonbury Road. Islington South & Finsbury constituents are welcome to attend.

Spink Calls for local Council to take action on Climate Change

Bob Spink says:

As a member of the Climate Change Group, I support this welcome initiative and urge Castle Point Council to sign up to it.

I suspect that Irene Willis, a consistent doughty campaigner on these issues, will be committing the emerging Canvey Council to back this.

Of all councils, Castle Point should be at the forfront in fighting climate change and I urge the council to give us their support immediately.

I know many good councillors already back this move.

Against the backdrop of Canvey’s history and geography, and the expected high tides this autumn, I hope the council leadership will give immediate personal support and put this on the next possible agenda for the council to formally sign up to it.

Click Here for Decleration

Click Here for Declaration Postcard

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