[alternet-l] THE ALTERNET NEWS - ISSUE # 101

Joanne Doyle joanne at gn.apc.org
Thu Nov 6 15:24:06 GMT 2003


This issue:


The AlterNet News is the GreenNet e-newsletter that carries brief news 
items, campaign updates, a diary of key forthcoming events and 
announcements. News comes from our contacts all over the web, but most of 
the AlterNet News will come from the GreenNet community. Please don't send 
news to the AlterNet address. Send items for inclusion, including a web 
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Back issues are on-line at:
--> www.gn.apc.org/news/alternet/index.html



Issues for active environmental and social justice campaigners:

--> http://ecotort.gn.apc.org/



Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is an organisation of some 600
UK scientists concerned by the use and misuse of science and technology,
and we would like to comment on some of the points made by the 114
biotechnology scientists in their letter to Tony Blair ("Scientists
complain GM debate was mishandled", 1st November), with which we disagree.

Genetic modification of crops was introduced by multinational companies as
an initiative for making potentially huge profits, leading ultimately to
the control of the food chain.  It has been seized upon by the Government
as a significant contributor to the British economy.  Unfortunately, the
products were developed and then sold to American farmers and put upon the
plates of the American public without making clear the nature of the
technology that had been used.  By the time these companies were ready to
repeat their marketing operations in Europe, many of the scientists and the
general public in Europe were already informed about the technology.  They
had also gathered information about the uncertainty, unreliability and the
many failures of the modification process itself and of the performance of
genetically-modified crops in the field.  Europeans said 'No' to allowing
such crops to be grown here.  Free-marketeers might ask why a new kind of
food should be inflicted on a population if some 90% does not want to buy it.

Scientists who have spent the last several years pointing out the dangers
of genetic engineering, only to have their warnings dismissed by Government
advisory bodies, will be surprised that the signatories to the letter feel
that the Government has not been doing enough to support them. The
Government has, in fact, been keen to promote genetic modification, even
appointing a Science Minister who has made great contributions to the
industry and who has himself a large vested interest (in a blind trust) in
its success.  Advisory and regulatory bodies are weighted with pro-GM
members with close connections to the GM industry and, as recently seen
with the GM Science Review Panel, members sympathetic to arguments against
GM crops may be subjected to harassment.

Science has reached a point where the imagination and technical
capabilities of scientists are running ahead faster than society can
evaluate and control the outcome of their achievements.  The perception of
many scientists is that all that can be done in science should be done -
and if we do not do it, a competitor will.  But their theoretical models of
the natural world do not encompass the complexities of the real natural
world.  Nature works in profoundly subtle, intricately balanced and
interconnected ways that the human race does not yet fully appreciate.  It
is for this reason that independent scientists urge caution before we
release into the environment and into our own bodies, crops and foods that
have been developed by crossing not only dissimilar species but even
kingdoms. The long-term consequences cannot be predicted.

Read the full response here:

Contact the SGR team:
Email: EvaN at sgr.org.uk; StuartP at sgr.org.uk; PhilW at sgr.org.uk

Pro GM letter:
--> http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/environment/story.jsp?story=459027



Friends of the Earth is campaigning to prevent the import of these ships. 
They believe they shouldn't be dismantled in the UK because:

  - The US has the capabilities to dispose of the ships. It shouldn't 
export it's waste problems.

  - The ships' waste will threaten a top UK wildlife site

  - Teesside has a long history being a dumping ground for dirty 
industries. Government should be working to develop a cleaner greener 
industrial future.

Join their online campaign:

The BBC has produced a Q & A feature about the disposal of the ships which 
interestingly reports:
"According to Earthjustice, the legal group working for the 
environmentialists in the US opposing the movement of the "ghost fleet", 
the technology to recycle the ships does exist in Virginia."

Browse other Q & As here:
--> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/3245429.stm



The first confirmed UK case of a disease already affecting native American 
oak trees on the west coast of the USA has been found on a single Southern 
red oak tree in Sussex.

The tree was confirmed as being infected by Phytophthora ramorum, a 
fungus-like organism which causes a disease which until now had not been 
witnessed in the UK on established trees, but had been found mainly on 
rhododendron and viburnum. The tree was growing in an area
where P. ramorum had earlier been confirmed causing disease on rhododendrons.

The alarm was first raised in America where oaks have been dying in their 
thousands in the last two years. In California, Oregon and other states 
cankers develop on trees and they appear to bleed to death as sap spills 
from them turning red and running down the trunk. Infected trees die in 

The Head of the Forestry Commission's Plant Health Service said: "While we 
are concerned that this disease has now been found on oak, this 
confirmation is an isolated case and we hope it stays this way”.

Full details:

The Dragon Network have compiled background information here:



CND Reports:

BNFL's 1999 acquisition, Westinghouse, is taking them down a very slippery, 
dangerous path.  A Westinghouse subsidiary, Westinghouse Savannah River 
Company, is lobbying the US government hard to get its hands on the 
lucrative contract to make parts for new so-called "low yield" nuclear weapons.

So BNFL will be directly responsible for helping the US break its treaty 
obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  All signatories 
vowed to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to take genuine 
steps towards nuclear disarmament.

How can making new nuclear weapons be anything but another example of the 
US (and UK) policy of "Do as I say, not as I do"?

Our government and that of the US are hiding their nuclear hypocrisy under 
the cloak of loud denunciations of possible nuclear proliferation plans by 
Iran or North Korea.   They hope no-one will notice our own huge nuclear 
arsenal - the Trident nuclear weapons system.

CND Chair Kate Hudson said: 'Just because they pin the label "low yield" to 
their newest illegal nukes (which would be called WMDs in anyone else's 
hands) does not mean that these weapons are somehow target friendly.  The 
term is a marketing ploy to make their actual use more palatable.'

No British owned company should be involved in producing a weapon that 
would kill thousands

immediately and whose radioactive legacy would poison generations to 
come.  No British owned company should be allowed to wreck the NPT and put 
the whole world at risk of nuclear warfare.

CND calls on the British government:

1. To instruct BNFL to divest itself of the Westinghouse Savannah River 

2. To declare that it will have no part in plans to develop, produce and 
test so-called "low yield" nuclear weapons here or in the USA.

3. To begin to honour its treaty commitment to nuclear disarmament before 
its unsavoury alliance with George Bush drags this country into another 
war, this time a nuclear one, after which the survivors would envy the dead.

Vist the CND website for more information:

--> www.cnduk.org/



Reporters Without Borders call for the release of Chinese cyber dissedents. 
Judgement has been reserved against the five alleged dissidents whilst the 
courts finally agreed to examine the police evidence against them. 
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said "we hope the 
court will acknowledge that their arrest was unjustified and will quash 
their convictions."

Full story:

--> www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=8453

In addition to jailing Internet dissidents, China has created a special 
Internet police force, blocked some foreign sites and shut down domestic 
sites posting politically incorrect fare.

Related story:
--> www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,61046,00.html/wn_ascii



A new not-for profit organisation, MySociety, is looking to turn ideas, 
such as Napster, into working projects that help people get involved with 
their community or make a contribution to civil society.

The organisation will recruit computer programmers to ensure that the ideas 
get tested in the real world and plan to have chosen the first two ideas to 
back by

You can get involved:

MySociety is looking for good ideas, programmers willing to work on the 
ideas and funders who can provide cash backing.

Sample ideas might be a system that sends text messages to people the
night before recycled goods are collected in their area or a way to
match locals concerned about the same issue or with time to commit to
a community project.

Though only two days old, Mr Steinberg said already more than 50 ideas
had been submitted and several hundred people have expressed an
interest in helping.

The basic criteria for ideas are that:
  - They must be internet based
  - They must have a real world impact
  - They must serve many people for the same cost as they serve a few

Ideas are welcomed from anyone that had an idea of how technology
could help people engage with civil life but did not have the skill to
get the project up and running.

You can submit your ideas and read about MySociety here:
--> www.mysociety.org/



Join the call for greater transparency and diversity at the next European 
Social Forum (ESF) in London:

"We, the undersigned, in principle welcome the idea of a European Social 
Forum being held in the UK. As part of the World Social Forum movement, the 
ESF unites people from a wide range of political and social backgrounds. It 
brings together NGOs, trade unionists, anti-capitalists, anarchists, 
community activists, environmentalists, concerned citizens, ordinary 
workers and many others in a forum to debate ideas and organise against 
capitalism and the forces of neo-liberalism. It is not simply a movement 
that opposes  global injustice - it also builds practical alternatives and 
solutions. It is a movement that embraces our differences and acknowledges 
our strengths.

In this spirit of diversity and pluralism, we feel that the current moves 
to bring the ESF to London in 2004 are in need of a radical overhaul. The 
proposal so far lacks transparency and, crucially, the possibility for all 
interested organisations and individuals to fully participate in its planning.

We believe that the process must be started from scratch again if it is to 
be successful in making the ESF the property of all the different strands 
of the progressive and social justice movement in the UK. In our opinion, 
this cannot realistically be achieved in time to bring the ESF to the UK in 
2004. Therefore, we suggest the ESF be held in 2005 in a yet to be 
determined city in the UK. However, we want to stress that in our opinion 
the ESF should take place annually and therefore suggest that Athens should 
host the ESF in 2004 - members of the Greek Social Forum have already 
indicated at various meetings that this would be possible."

Send responses to:
--> ukesf2005 at yahoo.com



The APC announces the winners of the 2003 Betinho Prize:

The Betinho Prize winners in 2003 are:
-ICTs as Tools of Sustainable Development in the Cotahuasi Basin, Peru
-Indigenous Information Network (Red de Información Indígena), México
-Tiflolibros - First Electronic Library for the Visually Impaired
Spanish-Speakers, Argentina
Each receives a prize of $2,500 USD.

Two Brazilian networks received honourable mentions:
-Cyberela Network - Digital Inclusion of Women
-Rede Jovem de Cidadania (Young Citizenship Network)

This was the first time that the prize was offered exclusively in Latin
America and the Caribbean and over 140 projects applied. The stories
from the twelve winners and finalists have been translated into Spanish,
Portuguese and English so that more people can find out about these
outstanding ICT initiatives.

Find out more about the winners:
--> www.apc.org/english/betinho/

or contact --> khiggs at apc.org



IDRC Gender Unit Annual Research Competition 2003-2004: Decentralisation 
and Women's Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa:

Increasingly in Sub-Saharan Africa, the context within which women's human 
rights are to be protected and realised is one of decentralised or 
decentralising states. Contemporary decentralisation is changing the 
relationship between citizens and the state, and is having an impact on the 
entitlement of citizens to certain rights: in this case, on women's 
entitlement, as citizens, to the protection and realisation of their 
rights, as set out in international and national legislation. The Gender 
Unit is launching a competitive call for proposals for research 
investigating whether and how contemporary decentralisation reforms, in 
practice, contribute to or on the contrary hinder the realisation and 
protection of women's and girls' civil, political, social, economic and/or 
cultural rights.

All principal researchers and co-researchers must be citizens of developing 
countries. Up to five grants will be awarded, each with a value of up to 
$100,000 CAD (Canadian dollars), for projects of 18 months to 2 years. The 
deadline for submission of applications is December 5, 2003. For more 
information and to download a complete application kit, please to:
--> www.idrc.ca/gender
or email to: gsd at idrc.ca



GreenNet has developed our Jobs page on the GN site using ActionApps. This 
allows you to easily update the page with new job and volunteer 
opportunities yourself. You can view opportunites posted by our users and 
easily search by job type.

Please note that when you are filling in the website address of your 
organisation, you need to include the full url e.g. http://www.gn.apc.org
You do not need any knowledge of html, just copy in the advert in plain 
text and submit.

If you have any difficulties, please email joanne at gn.apc.org

--> www.gn.apc.org/jobs.shtml



'Life is mostly froth and bubble
Two things stand like stone
Kindness in another's trouble
Courage in your own.'
- Adam Lindsay Gordon




Sunday, 9th
International Day for the Fall of the Wall & the End of the Israeli Occupation
11.30 am ­ Camden Town (meet at Chalk Farm Station)
1.30 pm ­ Covent Garden (meet at corner of Long Acre & St Martin’s Lane)
3.00 pm Trafalgar Square
4.00pm Watch the wall come down in Trafalgar Square!

Produced jointly by the International Solidarity Movement; Just Peace UK;
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
For further information e-mail:
--> jfjusticefp at yahoo.co.uk

Sunday, 16th
Bare Witness protest, London - NO GM AMBUSH
--> www.barewitness.org/bare4bush.html

Tuesday, 18th
Assemble 6 pm at Lincoln's Inn Fields (Holborn Tube) to march via the 
ExxonMobil ("Esso") offices, Aldwych, through central London to the US embassy.

Wednesday, 19th
Learning and Skills for Sustainable Development: Developing a South-West 
A key objective of the conference will be to raise and record the future
needs of all stakeholders, with regard to planning educational provision
across sectors. Create Centre, Clifton, Bristol BS1 6XN.

For further information and a booking form contact Gurjit Kaur on Tel: 0116
204 2833 E-mail: gurjit.kaur at niace.org.uk

Or visit their website:
--> www.niace.org.uk/Conferences/Sustainable.htm

Thursday 20th
President Bush to visit London 19 -21st November - DEMONSTRATE!
More information:
--> www.cnduk.org/

Tuesday, 25th
“Personal Wonderlands”
An unforgettable evening celebrating childhood imagination: Special guest 
speakers Harold Pinter, Doris Lessing, Jung Chang, Antonia Fraser, Bonnie 
Greer, Michael Morpurgo, Alexei Sayle, Jacqueline Wilson and Louisa Young 
will share memories of and read passages from books that fired their 
imaginations as children.
Bloomberg, City Gate House, 39-45 Finsbury Square, (nr. Moorgate Tube) 
London, EC2A 1PQ
7pm-10pm, Suggested donations of £50.

To reserve places contact Jo Paterson on 020 7713 0023 or e-mail
--> jo at englishpen.org

Fill in the online application:
--> www.englishpen.org/events/penevents/personalwonderlands/


More Diary Dates on GreenNet:
--> www.gn.apc.org/calendar/calindex.shtml

Please add your events to the calendar here:
--> www.gn.apc.org/calendar/add.shtml


The AlterNet News is edited by Joanne Doyle for GreenNet:
---> www.gn.apc.org

Please note that opinions expressed in AlterNet are those of the
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