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 1 
 on: Today at 08:07 AM 
Started by Skywalker - Last post by Maya
Why was , at the end of his life with the witness of Jehova?

Maya

 2 
 on: Today at 06:13 AM 
Started by Skywalker - Last post by Rad
Hi Skywalker,

"Was Prince born as a hermaphrodite in the past as he had a very strong desire to express himself, including his sexuality, without restrictions and to the maximum of his abilities? I´m looking at Pluto at the very end of Leo and at the MC."

*************

Yes, and his Soul has created many lives through which Prince, in various ways, used himself as a symbol to confront all the prejudices and persecutions projected onto ANYONE who was 'different' as measured against the conditioning patterns of consensus societies far and wide. Within this he desired to help motivate, teach, and help anyone who felt restrained, repressed, inhibited, afraid to simply be who their naturally were/ are. He desired to use his own Soul as a symbol through which ANYONE could actualize their own unique natures through the vehicle of self empowerment and self determination no matter what. In one of his past lives that is linked to this his Soul had been spontaneously healed through the Soul and hands of Jesus. From that point on he became a champion of the 'downtrodden'.

**************

"Also where does one see hermaphroditism in general? In his case I´m looking at Jupiter in the 12th House in Libra and Venus conjunct the South Node in the Sixth House in Taurus. Plus his South Node of Venus is in Gemini in the Seventh House and Mercury which rules the South Node of Venus is also in Gemini in the Seventh House inconjunct the North Node of the Moon. It seems like he wanted to be able to relate universally."

*************

The archetype for hermaphroditus  correlates to Libra, the 7th House, and Venus. It is so clear in his chart isn't it ?

God Bless, Rad

 3 
 on: Today at 06:01 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Where the streets have no men: the Nepalese town where women hold sway

Years of migration by men taking up jobs abroad have drained Bhramarpura of working-age men, leaving women to take the reins

Sune Engel Rasmussen in Bhramarpura
AFP
Tuesday 3 May 2016 07.00 BST

At first glance, Bhramarpura’s dusty, sun-seared streets look like many others in southern Nepal. But there is a conspicuous difference. Nearly everyone making the wheels of this small town turn – selling groceries, carrying grain or pumping water – is female. There is hardly a young man in sight.

Years of migration, fuelled by hope of providing a better life for their families, have drained Bhramarpura of working-age fathers, brothers and sons. Practically every household has at least one male family member working overseas, leaving boys and elderly men as the few remaining males in a town run by women.

In a male-dominated country where women are largely confined to household chores, or certain tasks in the fields, Bhramarpura is a notable exception, with women assuming duties usually reserved for men. They are the backbone of the community, and its public representatives.

The outflow of men and the influx of remittances have given Bhramarpura a local reputation for wealth, relatively speaking. But while poverty here may be less severe than in neighbouring villages, privilege comes at a cost.

Taradevi Sah, 36, has seen her husband only twice in six years since he left for Kuwait.

“It’s painful,” she says, sitting on a rug on a porch among a dozen other women, and an equal number of children. “But it’s less painful than poverty. Him sending money takes some of the pain away.”

The women of Bhramarpura are used to paying for that money with loneliness.

“It is a cause of sorrow that newly wedded husbands have to leave their wives,” says Madhu Thakur, a community health worker. “There are problems. But problems would be bigger if there were no money here.”

Nepal is among the latest countries in south Asia to be transformed by mass migration of low-skilled workers, mainly to countries in the Gulf. The country’s south is leading the trend. Mahottari district, in which Bhramarpura lies, is the second-largest source of migrants, according to the government.

An estimated 1,500 Nepalese leave the country daily, not counting those who go to India, who are not registered because a long-standing bilateral agreement between the governments of India and Nepal means they do not need work permits. The remittances they send home make up almost one-third of Nepal’s gross domestic product. Since 2006, about 2.6 million Nepalese have gone abroad to work – one in 10 of the entire population.

In Bhramarpura, nearly one in four people migrate. Out of 13,000 inhabitants, about 3,000 are working abroad, according to the town secretary, Ram Paradath Thakur.

The visible gender bias has fed another reputation, one locals say is unfair: that Bhramarpura is promiscuous. The rumour has been reinforced by the plethora of children in the town, despite most husbands living overseas.

Binod Kumar Sah, a health worker who moved here recently, relayed an acerbic saying among neighbouring villages that: “In Bhramarpura, a child is conceived over the phone.”

Bijay Shah, 25, worked in Saudi Arabia for five years before marrying. He continued to work abroad but decided to return home five years later because he worried his wife might have an affair, he says.

There is some male presence in Bhramarpura. Groups of young men lounge in the shade around the main square, but almost all were on leave from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, where they work in construction or the services industry.

Nepalese migrants are often exploited by overseas employers, as well as recruitment agencies in Nepal, which deceive them about wages and conditions. Still, in a country where unemployment is unemployment as high as 46%, remittances help families pay for healthcare and education, and invest in land.

But new money often feeds new lifestyles, says Madhu Thakur. Many of the migrants, she says, return with alcohol or drug addictions, while at home, older boys who refuse to obey their mothers sometimes spend their fathers’ wages on alcohol or pills.

Large-scale migration not only profoundly changes the social fabric of communities, it can also undermine long-term development.

“Migration has deepened the consumption-driven economy in Nepal, where goods are not produced but consumed, and where jobs are not created,” says Jeevan Sharma, a Nepalese migration expert at the University of Edinburgh.

“Agriculture has suffered, as there is less labour available, and there has been a tendency to leave the land barren,” he says.

Like their husbands abroad, women left behind are vulnerable to exploitation, too. Sunaina Devi, an elderly woman with a granddaughter on her lap, recalls how a man from a different village had tried to “dishonour” her before a male neighbour had intervened.

“I didn’t know what to do. If my husband had been here, he would have known what to do,” she says.

She and other women in Bhramarpura accuse corrupt officials of taking advantage of them, and banks of demanding bribes before releasing remittances from their husbands.

“We can’t protest like men can,” Devi says.

“I was very aware [of the corruption]. It made me angry,” says Madhu Thakur’s husband, Bhadesh. In Saudi Arabia, he says, he earned only 600 riyals (£110) a month, working 12 hours a day, six days a week. “But how can we oppose? I worked, my whole family ate.”

Now, he and Madhu are among the few couples who have concluded that a life together is worth more than a migrant’s income.

After three years in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Bhadesh decided his salary – part of which he spent on sending his 11-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter to school – was not enough incentive to be separated from them.

“I make less money now, but at least I’m with my family,” Bhadesh says, serving energy drinks from a fridge in the small convenience store he bought when he returned last year.

“We have decided to celebrate with what we earn,” Madhu says. “I would have done anything to stop him from going again.”

    Additional reporting by Arpan Shrestha

 4 
 on: Today at 05:57 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Paraguay battles over land rights in the courts and across the airwaves

As soya companies appropriate land in Paraguay, many small-scale campesino farmers are forced out to cities. For those who stay to fight for their land, the conflict can turn bloody

Toby Stirling Hill in Curuguaty
AFP
Tuesday 3 May 2016 12.27 BST 

For 14 years, Juan Aveiro broadcast Radio Mandu’arã to a cluster of communities in a remote corner of eastern Paraguay. He and his team of volunteer journalists worked from a makeshift studio painted with a mural depicting Paraguayan farmers, or campesinos, with their fists in the air, beneath a banner proclaiming “peace and justice!”

Then, in November, police raided Mandu’arã’s studio. “They took everything,” Aveiro says.

His experience is part of a pattern of suppression across Paraguay, says Francisco Benítez from Codehupy, an umbrella organisation of human rights groups.

“This government is driving a process aimed at eradicating alternative voices of protest,” he says, referring to the administration of President Horacio Cartes, who came to power in 2013 at the head of the Colorado party.

Carlos Goncalvez, director of the media pressure group DemInfo, explains why community radio stations are being targeted (pdf): http://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/Paraguay_background.pdf

Disappearing world: Paraguay's Ayoreo people fight devastating land sales..Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/jan/25/paraguay-ayoreo-people-chaco-fighting-back-land-sales

“Cartes wants to shackle organisations that fight for the rural poor,” he says. “Community radios give marginalised rural citizens a voice. They inform them about their rights and the struggle for agrarian reform.”

This struggle centres on land ownership: according to a 2008 farming census, 80% of Paraguay is controlled by 1.6% of the population. A third of the rural population live in extreme poverty (pdf).

Such inequity is a legacy of the 35-year dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner. Stroessner forged a close alliance with the Colorado party while dividing public land among the military and political elite. Roughly 10m hectares (25m acres) – 25% of fertile land in Paraguay – were given away or sold at negligible prices.

Stroessner was ousted in 1989 but the expansion of international agribusiness has suffocated subsequent attempts to reclaim land.

Activists say the biggest culprit is soya. During the past decade, both the land covered by the crop and exports have doubled. Paraguay is now the fourth largest exporter of soya beans; its biggest market (pdf) is the EU.

Approximately half of this land was previously occupied by smallholder farmers and indigenous groups. In the last decade, 900,000 people have migrated from the country to the city.

Arantxa Guerena, author of an Oxfam study (pdf) on soya in Paraguay, says displaced people live in extreme poverty.

“It’s a process of expulsion,” she explains. “Small farming communities are surrounded by soya plantations. Agrotoxins [toxic herbicides used in large-scale agriculture] destroy their crops and damage residents’ health.”

Compounding the issue is the lack of state support for small-scale farmers.

“They’re left destitute,” says Guerena. “It’s a political decision, driven by pressure from agribusiness to take control of the land.”

Others defend the benefits brought by soya. Luis Cubilla, an economist with the soy traders’ association Capeco, argues that it “brings enormous flows of wealth into the countryside”.

As yet unconvinced by these economic benefits, some rural Paraguayans are determined to stay and resist. Filling the vacuum left by the state is a farmworkers’ union, the national federation of campesinos (FNC). The general secretary, Marcial Gomez, says they’ve reclaimed 270,000 hectares through occupations and mobilisations since 1989.

But this land has come at a cost: 129 campesino leaders have been assassinated, and thousands of farmers imprisoned.

The most violent clash occurred in 2012, and triggered the impeachment of a president. Fernando Lugo had been elected in 2008, leading a left-leaning coalition called Frente Guasu. It seemed a watershed moment for Paraguayan democracy: the first non-Colorado government in 61 years.

But a dispute unfolded over land in the eastern district of Curuguaty. The area had been designated for redistribution to the region’s landless farmers in 2004. But the firm Campus Morumbi claimed ownership.

With redistribution held up in the courts, a group of 60 campesinos occupied the land. On 15 June 2012, police officers arrived to evict them. What happened next is the subject of tremendous controversy; 11 campesinos and six police were killed.

A week later, the senate voted to impeach Lugo. Neighbouring countries condemned the process as a coup.

The clashes cast a long legacy: in the capital, Asuncion, 14 campesinos are on trial for attempted murder. They face jail sentences of up to 30 years. No one has been indicted for the deaths of the occupiers. Human rights groups say there are discrepancies in the official version of events.

Within a year of the occupation, the Colorado party was back in power. The new government implemented a state of emergency in the north of Paraguay. The rationale was to eliminate an armed guerrilla group. But failure to subdue the guerrillas has raised suspicions about the government’s true priorities.

“It’s been converted into a state instrument to repress any process of organisation by campesinos,” says Codehupy’s Benítez. “It’s produced torture, maltreatment and violence.”

The national mechanism for the prevention of torture has expressed concern over abuses against campesinos. In his sermons, the vicar general of Concepción, Pablo Cáceres, has condemned “horrendous crimes committed against innocent campesinos”.

For the FNC’s Gomez, the surge in violence is a response to the progress made by his campesinos movement under Lugo.

“They’re seeding terror in our communities,” he says. “When Lugo was in power, the necessity for agrarian reform was discussed in parliament and acknowledged in mainstream politics. Now Cartes wants to kill this discussion.”

Meanwhile, as President Cartes buys up media organisations, Radio Mandu’arã remains off the air.

“For the humble people here, our radio provided the only information they had,” says Aveiro, leaning on the mural outside his empty studio. “And now they’ve shut us down.”

 5 
 on: Today at 05:53 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Eight years for falling asleep in a parked car: welcome to Angola's penal system

Prisoners detained for years on minor charges accuse the police of using violence to extract false confessions. Maka Angola reports

Rafael Marques de Morais
AFP
Friday 29 April 2016 09.00 BST

One Friday night in Angola’s capital 24-year-old Domingos Manuel Filipe Catete had had a few too many drinks and passed out in a stranger’s minivan. When the owner discovered him, he was taken to the local police station and arrested.

Catete had come to Luanda in search of work, but now aged 32 he is still being held in the city’s central prison after eight years without trial under a “preventive detention” order.

Though Angola’s punitive justice system came under intense scrutiny since popular rapper Luaty Beirao was jailed along with 16 other young activists last month for “plotting a rebellion” against president José Eduardo dos Santos, little is known about the men and women held indefinitely without charge.

Deprose Muchena, director of Amnesty International, has said the Angolan authorities increasingly “use the criminal justice system to silence dissenting views”, while Human Rights Watch has accused local police of using harassment, intimidation and pervasive surveillance to keep citizens in check.

Catete’s story is a common one for those held under the detention order: almost all have been detained for more than six years without charge, and are usually from out of town.

“I was drunk and there was a car with an open door parked in front of me... so I got in and went to sleep,” he explains. The next morning, the owner “drove me straight to the police station where he accused me of stealing a CD case full of music.”

Hungover, Catete protested: “How could I have stolen anything from the car when I was still fast asleep?”

Catete then claims that officers attached to the bureau of criminal investigation beat him until he confessed. “To this day, I bear the scars across my forehead and right arm.”

He was then put in a cell and says he was only formally questioned five years later in 2013. It took another two years until he was questioned by another prosecutor.

“He asked me to explain what had happened. I did, and I’ve heard nothing since,” he says.
17 Angolans activists were accused of preparing acts of rebellion in Luanda.

“Preventive detention, even with extensions, should last no more than 210 days and be reserved for crimes against state security,” explains Godinho Cristóvão, a spokesman for national human rights group the Association for Justice, Peace and Democracy (AJPD).

“By that time, if there is insufficient evidence to prosecute the charge, the suspect should be released.”

Detention without charge lasting six, seven or even eight years is illegal, he adds, “and an extraordinary abuse of process. It’s actually scandalous. Horrifying.”

Even if a prisoner is legitimately found guilty of damage to property or trespass, the maximum punishment should not exceed a two-year prison term according to national law.

But this has not been the case for men like Catete. Many men held in detention speak of experiencing physical abuse at the hands of police and criminal investigation officers, often to extract false confessions.

João Domingos da Rocha, a 26-year-old who spent seven years in preventive detention on suspicion of having stolen second-hand clothing, says he was attacked to produce a confession, while Justino Longia, accused of a similar crime, spent five years in jail and was also forced to falsely confess. Both were set free, but only after their cases made national headlines.

Nelson de Assunção Manuel, 26, has been held for four years and eight months in preventive detention. He too claims that the police used violence to extract his confession.

Manuel, who is still incarcerated, explained what happened: “It was 8am and we were preparing the materials for a house we were building in [the] Kapolo neighbourhood, when suddenly a small boy appeared with a police unit. He pointed at us and said we were thieves.”

Manuel was with six other workers who were all taken into custody. “We were set up on by several policemen who beat us with hosepipes and iron bars and forced us to say that we [had been] armed,” he explains.

“They broke my left arm with an iron bar and to this day I have difficulties because I never received any medical treatment.”

According to Manuel, who also has no relatives in Luanda, the group was only questioned for the first time in 2013, then again last year in 2015. There have been no further development in their cases.

Physical abuse and torture are prohibited under the terms of the Angolan constitution and “in cases where the law is clearly being breached – because the term of preventive detention has exceeded the limit, or because of the use of violence to extract a confession – the law has a provision for the public prosecution to free the detainees,” says Rui Verde, a legal analyst.

“Failure to do so is a failure to comply with the law, and a violation of fundamental human rights,” he adds.

A police spokesperson said they would look into both of the ongoing cases but declined to give an official comment.

According to Verde, a public prosecutor who holds suspects in preventive detention beyond the limit could also face prosecution in both the criminal and civil courts for damages.

With regard to allegations about police violence, Verde explained that the “ultimate responsibility lies with the Interior Minister who should be called upon to resign if nothing is done to put an end to such abuse.”

“The law must be observed, and must be seen to be observed, by all.”

 6 
 on: Today at 05:50 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Climate protesters invade UK's largest opencast coalmine

Hundreds of activists take control of vast site and bring operations to a halt as part of a coordinated global direct action against fossil fuel companies

Steven Morris
AFP
Tuesday 3 May 2016 11.11 BST

Hundreds of environmental activists have invaded the UK’s largest opencast coalmine and claim they have halted operations across the vast site.

Dressed in red boiler suits, groups of protesters stepped across barbed wire fences to gain access to Ffos-y-fran mine near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales. Some chained themselves to machinery, others lay across access roads.

    — Global Justice Now (@GlobalJusticeUK)
    May 3, 2016

    Amazing work by @reclaimthepower activists, currently occupying & shutting down the UK's largest opencast coal mine pic.twitter.com/JO2XVbzZA2

Dozens of protesters, joined by local people, blockaded the entrance to the mine’s headquarters.

    — steven morris (@stevenmorris20)
    May 3, 2016

    Protest at Ffos-y-fran opencast mine in South Wales. https://t.co/5pUixRqhRI

The action in Wales marks the start of a global wave of direct action coordinated by the group Reclaim the Power supporting a transition away from fossil fuels in 13 countries including Germany, South Africa, Indonesia and North America over the next two weeks.

Following a weekend of planning, protesters entered the site shortly after dawn on Tuesday. They had widely publicised their action and there was a large police presence including thesouth Wales force’s mounted section but no attempt was made to stop the demonstrators.

Within hours Reclaim the Power was claiming it had brought operations at the mine to a standstill. Nine people, including an 80-year-old from Penarth and members of Christian Climate Action, were locked to each other, blocking road access to the mine. The Green Party also said work had stopped at the site.

    — Reclaim The Power (@reclaimthepower)
    May 3, 2016

    #EndCoal stopping that machinery from going. pic.twitter.com/qNnOVjgm8d

Hannah Smith, on site at the action said: “Today we’ve shut down the UK’s largest coalmine because we must keep fossil fuels in the ground to stop catastrophic climate change.”

Explaining the significance of the vivid red clothing the protesters wore, she said: “Continuing to dig up coal is a red line for the climate that we won’t allow governments and corporations to cross. We are taking action in solidarity with the local community who have been battling Ffos-y-fran for nearly a decade, and now face the threat of a new mine next door.

    — steven morris (@stevenmorris20)
    May 3, 2016

    Ffos-y-fran mine protest pic.twitter.com/YhM6affsa5

“Wales deserves a transition away from dirty coal, and the creation of sustainable employment in an economy that respects our planet and its inhabitants, now and in the future.”

The demonstration comes days before the Welsh assembly elections. Smith added: “With Wales going to the polls this Thursday and the climate crisis more urgent than ever, our action sends a bold signal that we must end coal now.”

Among the activists outside the HQ of mine operator Miller Argent was Coralie Datta, from Leeds, who said the idea was to stop traffic going in and out. “We’re not setting out to be arrested – we’re just going to have a party here.”

    — steven morris (@stevenmorris20)
    May 3, 2016

    Protestor Coralie Datta on why she has joined the demo at Ffos-y-fran mine. https://t.co/Z6TQZvkQkI

Andrew Dey and Maya Williams, from London, were there with their six-month-old son Robin. Williams said: “We’re showing solidarity with the local community, who have to live with this mine.” Dey said: “It’s amazing to be here on a Welsh mountain but involved in a world-wide movement.”

    — steven morris (@stevenmorris20)
    May 3, 2016

    Ffos-y-fran mine protest - young and old trying to halt work there today. pic.twitter.com/dGnJ5EDK2v

Retired coalminer Phil Duggan, who lives in the nearest village, Fochriw, said Ffos-y-Fan blighted the local community and plans to create another mine nearby had to be resisted. “This mine is killing the local area,” he said.

    — steven morris (@stevenmorris20)
    May 3, 2016

    Ffos-y-fran mine protest - ex deep coal miner Phil Duggan joins the demonstrators. pic.twitter.com/lIFNVyJCep

Green Party leaders joined the protest. Alice Hooker-Stroud, leader of the Wales Green Party said: “We are here to support the local community who are fighting against the devastating impacts of open cast mining in their local area. Fossil fuels must stay in the ground if we’re to act responsibly on climate change. There is huge potential for renewables in Wales, creating a clean energy economy fit for the future.

    — Wales Green Party (@WalesGreenParty)
    May 3, 2016

    awesome action taking place in ffos-y-fran to #endcoalnow with @natalieben @AliceGreenParty @Amelia_Womack pic.twitter.com/wNhP32WsN4

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales said: “If we are to meet commitments made in Paris to keep temperature rise below 1.5C we need to end fossil fuel extraction now. The UK government is failing to act to cut our carbon emissions, instead it is decimating the renewables industry, pursuing fracking and continuing the operation of opencast mines; the UK’s climate change and energy policies are in crisis.”

There was no immediate comment from Miller Argent.

It was given planning permission to mine the site in 2005 and has so far extracted more than 5m tonnes. It aims to extract up to 11m tonnes in all . It says it has created “high quality jobs” for more than 200 people – 85% of whom live within 10 miles of the site. It has put forward plans to open a second mine nearby at Nant Llesg. Caerphilly county council rejected the application for the new mine but Miller Argent is seeking to overturn this decision.

 7 
 on: Today at 05:48 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Activists launch fresh court challenge over Carmichael coalmine

Australian Conservation Foundation argues emissions from coal mined from Adani’s project will put the Great Barrier Reef at risk by exacerbating climate change

Michael Slezak
AFP
Tuesday 3 May 2016 00.48 BST

A landmark case pitting the Great Barrier Reef against Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine begins in the federal court on Tuesday.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is arguing that environment minister Greg Hunt unlawfully approved the mine in central Queensland, which would be the largest in Australia. They will argue the emissions released when the coal from the mine is burned will put the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef at risk by exacerbating climate change.

The case begins in Brisbane amid the worst bleaching event the Great Barrier Reef has ever experienced, with 93% of the reefs seeing damage – something directly caused by climate change. Scientists warned last week that the bleaching event was made 175 times more likely because of climate change, and the conditions that caused it would be commonplace in less than 20 years, putting the continued existence of the reef in doubt.

When the minister approves a project under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, he must act consistently with Australia’s obligations under the world heritage convention. That requires Australia do everything it can to protect the “outstanding universal values” of world heritage areas, including the Great Barrier Reef.

“If the Carmichael mine is allowed to proceed its coal will produce 128.4m tonnes of CO2 per year at peak production, contributing to the world’s climate problem,” said ACF’s chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy out the front of the court in Queensland.

Environmental approvals of mines usually consider the emissions caused in the production of the coal – from the fuel burned by trucks and the electricity used by the equipment. But in the past they have not considered the impact of the greenhouse gasses released when the coal itself is burned.

The ACF’s case will test the section of the federal environment law that requires the minister to act consistently with Australia’s obligations under the world heritage convention.

If successful, the case will have ramifications beyond the Carmichael mine or even the Great Barrier Reef. It could have implications for any fossil fuel development, and require the minister to consider the effect of the burned fuel on any world heritage area – like the forests in Tasmania, for example.

“This is the first case of its kind to be heard in Australia,” said O’Shanassy. “The court will be asked to examine a section of Australia’s national environment law that has never before been tested in court. If this case is successful it will strengthen climate change considerations and world heritage protection in Australian law.”

The hearing at the federal court in Brisbane is expected to go for two days. Hunt and Adani will be represented.

 8 
 on: Today at 05:47 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
EU is central to tackling climate change, says Ed Miliband

Former Labour leader joins environment secretary Liz Truss and Green MP Caroline Lucas in supporting remain campaign

Rajeev Syal
AFP
Monday 2 May 2016 00.01 BST
 
Ed Miliband has joined a cross-party attempt to persuade voters that leaving the EU would damage the environment.

The former Labour leader has signed a joint declaration with environment secretary Liz Truss, former energy secretary Ed Davey and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas in what pro-EU campaigners called an unprecedented partnership.

They claim that those campaigning for Brexit are climate change deniers who are ignorant of the potential impact.

“Collective action is the only solution to rising seas and rising temperatures. The European Union is central to both these challenges,” they say in a pamphlet setting out the arguments.

EU membership supported domestic action to improve air quality, protect nature and wildlife and invest in renewable energy, they say, and Brussels is “a leader in the battle to secure binding agreements” internationally.

“Those campaigning for Britain to leave Europe cannot be trusted on the environment,” they say.

“They have opposed vital green measures and denounced climate change as ‘mumbo jumbo’. They demonstrate a cavalier ignorance about climate matters which embodies the extreme and out-dated outlook of those who want to leave.

“If Britain leaves Europe, our environment, our wildlife and our global habitat will be starved of investment, bereft of protections and denied the leadership it needs,” the declaration says.

But environment minister George Eustice – who supports Vote Leave – said the EU had “systematically undermined the UK’s place on international wildlife conventions”.

“We have already been stripped of our voting rights on regional fisheries management organisations and, extraordinarily, it is now unlawful for the UK to speak at wildlife conventions like Cites (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) without first getting permission for what we want to say from the European commission.

“If we vote to leave and take control, the UK would regain its own seat and its voice in vital international wildlife conventions and everything from promoting shark conservation to ending whaling would become much easier.”

In a further development, Tory grandee Michael Heseltine has criticised MPs backing Brexit for turning on the government during the debate. The former cabinet minister said some Tory MPs owe their jobs and the party’s surprise general election victory to David Cameron.

He told Sky News: “The facts are that he won this election for the Conservatives, and now to see people who, frankly, many of them would not have their seats and certainly many of them wouldn’t be in government if David Cameron hadn’t won that election for the Conservatives.

“And to see them now turning on the policies that some of them have been sitting in the government implementing, I just find mind-blowing.”

It comes after senior figures insisted the Conservatives could unify after what has been a fractious EU referendum campaign. On the Andrew Marr show, Ukip leader Nigel Farage claimed Cameron would not continue as prime minister if the UK voted to leave the EU.

 9 
 on: Today at 05:45 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Google and eBay refuse to ban ads offering to remove car pollution filters

Internet giants say removing diesel particulate filters which reduce toxic emissions is not illegal, although driving without them is

Damian Carrington
AFP
Monday 2 May 2016 07.00 BST   

Google, Gumtree and eBay have refused to ban adverts for a service which removes crucial pollution filters from the exhausts of diesel cars, sending toxic emissions soaring.

Over a thousand diesel car owners have already been caught after removing the filter, though experts warn the problem may be far more widespread.

Campaigners are now complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that such adverts break its code, which bans motoring “practices that condone or encourage anti-social behaviour”. The service exploits a loophole in the law which means that driving a diesel car without a filter is an offence, but the act of removing it is not.

Air pollution is a “public health emergency”, MPs said this week and particulate pollution causes 40,000 to 50,000 early deaths every year in the UK. But garages across the country are offering to remove diesel particulate filters (DPF), a practice ministers have labelled “unacceptable” and “clearly detrimental to people’s health”.

DPF filters can become clogged, especially for diesels driven mostly in cities, and replacement can be expensive, leading garages to offer to remove the filters completely. Google and Gumtree say they accept the adverts for the service because removal itself is not illegal.

Since 2014, cars missing DPF filters automatically fail the MOT test and, earlier this month, the Guardian revealed that 1,188 vehicles had been caught so far. But some garages boast on their websites that they can beat the visual MOT check.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) is now complaining to the ASA over adverts for DPF removal services. Oliver Hayes, at FoE said: “Air pollution is a public health crisis of breath-taking proportions. We’re asking the ASA to clamp down on those advertising these dubious practices and help prevent more deadly pollution hitting our children’s lungs.”

“But we’re also calling on the government to make it illegal to remove these pollution filters in the first place,” he said. “Unless they do, the absurd loophole remains.”

The House of Commons environment audit committee is currently investigating diesel emissions and air quality and its chair, Mary Creagh MP, said: “The removal of DPF filters by rogue garages is another diesel test dodge which cheats the public out of clean air. The Department of Transport did the right thing in introducing visual checks into MOTs. But it should now look at tightening up MOTs and outlawing the removal of pollution filters altogether.”

“Our changes to the MOT test are helping cut harmful emissions and are taking hundreds of polluting vehicles out of circulation,” said a spokesman for the Department for Transport. “We are also investigating the latest technology so garages can carry out tougher, smarter tests that will act as a deterrent and keep these cars off the road.”

Google said it did not comment on individual cases and declined to take down DPF removal adverts. A spokeswoman said: “Our policies require advertisers to comply with all applicable laws and local regulations. If we discover sites or services that are in violation of this policy we take appropriate action.”

Hannah Wilson, from Gumtree, said: “Our policy for posting adverts on Gumtree is based on compliance with English law. As there are sometimes legitimate reasons for the removal of diesel particulate filters, and the removal of the DPF is not an offence, then these services can be offered by advertisers via Gumtree. If the practice of removing DPFs was outlawed, then we would immediately ban and remove these listings from the site.” Repeated requests for comment from eBay received no reply.

DPFs can be removed, cleaned and replaced, and there are many advertisements for this legitimate service, but other garages advertising “DPF removal” services make clear the filter is not replaced.

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 on: Today at 05:43 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
David Attenborough unveils UK's newest nature reserve in east London

Britain’s threatened birds including kingfishers, bitterns and Cetti warblers find a refuge in Woodberry Wetlands, once a barren wasteland

Alison Benjamin
AFP
Tuesday 3 May 2016 12.23 BST   

The UK’s newest nature reserve was opened in east London over the weekend by Sir David Attenborough. Overshadowed by council tower blocks and swanky high rise developments, the 11 hectare (27 acres) site which includes a reservoir that supplies water to millions of Londoners, has become home to some of Britain’s more threatened birds including kingfishers, bitterns and Cetti warblers.

London Wildlife Trust has transformed the once barren wasteland into Woodberry Wetlands, with teams of dedicated volunteers planting dense reedbeds, hedgerows and wildflower meadows to attract birds, bees, butterflies and other insects.

Attenborough, who celebrates his 90th birthday later this week, officially opened the free-to-visit nature reserve, which has been closed to the public for 200 years. “Being in contact with the natural world is the most precious inheritance that human beings can have. If you lose that contact, you are losing your birth right.

“Being able to see beautiful birds, some of them coming here all the way from Africa, is a great pleasure everyone in cities should be able to enjoy,” he said as chiffchaffs, among the first migrant songbirds to arrive in the spring from western Africa, sang noisily from the treetops above.

“I’ve spent the last 60 or 70 years hearing about this disaster or that disaster – and ‘how can we stop this further catastrophe happening?’ and ‘we’re losing this species, we’re losing much that is so precious’... So it’s marvellous to be here seeing the reverse – seeing things getting better,” he told a crowd of volunteers and supporters.

Originally built in 1833 to store drinking water for the capital, the reservoir was pumped full of chlorine and sodium phosphate gas between 1955 and 1980, to disinfect the water, preventing almost all wildlife from living there.

LWT began work to create a public nature reserve six years ago as part of the regeneration of the Woodberry estate in Hackney. The £1m project was funded by the heritage lottery fund with support from the reservoir’s landlord, Thames Water, private housing developer, Berkley Homes, Hackney council and Veolia Environmental Trust.

Gordon Scorer, LWT’s chief executive, said: “Access to nature is incredibly important for people’s wellbeing, especially in built-up cities. Bringing nature within reach of a huge urban audience, demonstrates that nature and all its benefits can be successfully weaved into the fabric of London and other cities as they develop and grow.”

Millie Williams, 18, is one of the youngest of the 70 local volunteers who gives up their weekends to pick litter, scythe reed beds, make fences and plant trees and flowers on the site.

She said: “Volunteering here is the highlight of my week. I love it. It’s rare to find a place in the city where you can have a quiet walk and hear the birds. There’s a lot of pressure on young people with exams at school. Here you physically feel less stressed and anxious.” Asked why there aren’t more young volunteers, Millie said: “It’s not seen as a cool thing for young people to do.”

Jonathan Law, 56, and partner Geraldine, moved to their flat in Lincoln court overlooking the reservoir three years ago because of the bird-spotting potential. This winter Jonathan says he saw a bittern – one of the UK’s most threatened birds which is dependent on reedbeds to nest. Jonathan and Geraldine have volunteered as litter pickers. “It’s on our doorstep and we wanted to help clean it up for everyone to enjoy,” says Jonathan.

David Mooney, Woodberry Weltand project manager, promises that anyone who comes on the wetlands’ dawn chorus walks will catch a glimpse of a brightly-coloured kingfisher, described by Attenborough as “one of the most wonderful sights that Britain has to offer”. The site also attracts shovelers, tufted ducks, wades and terns. It is Hackney’s first breeding ground for Cetti’s warbler.

On the day of the opening, elegant great crested grebes glided by, which were once hunted almost to extinction in the UK for their ornate head plumes, while a gull was repeatedly dive bombing a couple of nesting Canadian geese in a scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an Attenborough wildlife programme. The naturalist said the great crested grebe’s breathtaking courtship ritual was as beautiful as any bird of paradise. “It’s a sight which , put on television, people say it’s fantastic ... but it’s out there [on the wetlands].”

The urban nature reserve also provides foraging and roosting for bats, and habitat for frogs, toads and newts and a wide range of insects including the rare red-eyed damselfly and moths. The reedbeds were created with channels of water to protect the birdlife from more unwelcome city visitors such as cats and foxes. Alongside the conservation work, a Grade II-listed coal store has been resorted and turned into a visitor centre and café, and on the far side is a classroom and learning area with pond dipping and bee hives.

Berkley Homes provided support for a boardwalk from the entrance to the café and a bridge to connect the wetlands to its new homes, which are being sold from £425,000 up to £1.24m for a penthouse.

Asked if it housing developers should be obliged to do more to improve the natural environment for local residents, David Mooney said “Yes, it should be more incumbent on every developer to participate in projects like this.”

Attenborough said Woodberry Wetlands was a “win, win situation.”

Forty-seven separate wildlife trusts manage 2,300 nature reserves across the UK. Woodberry Wetlands is the 42nd nature reserve in London.

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