Saturday, September 25, 2010
09/17/2010 Forced-out Roma: 'we have nothing'

'We had little in France, but we have nothing in Romania', say Gypsy families forced from their adopted home

On the approach to Barbulesti the highway dissolves into gravel and dust. For Romica Raducanu the village in which he was born and brought up feels like the end of the world. His hopes of a new life are for now a distant dream and he is stuck here. Only his T-shirt gives away the place he considers home: emblazoned over stripes red, white and blue is one word â€" France.

Until three weeks ago Raducanu was living on the outskirts of Montpellier in southern France, eking out a living for his wife and children by collecting scrap metal and selling it on for seven centimes (6p) a kilo. Then, after a summer of growing unease, the crackdown ordered by President Nicolas Sarkozy hit home. Friends were ordered to leave, and the pictures he was seeing in the newspapers became too much. Raducanu was scared.

If you do not take the money available to him as part of "Voluntary Repatriation" scheme - it Didn 'I understand the work, he says, so he Didn' t sign them - 35-year-old and his wife packed their family in the car and went along with the other departing Roma to travel over 1000 miles in Romania.

A day later he heard that the police had come to clear away his former home. Now, in the dilapidated surrounds of his new one, he is bitter and depressed.

Vichy comparison

Extreme commentary in the same spirit provoked anger this week at the Elysee Palace, where French President fumed over the comparisons made by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, between the onset of summer and the persecution of Jews during the Second World War.

But, incendiary as these remarks may be, the vehemence of Raducanu's anger is perhaps understandable. For, he says, while he had little in France, he has nothing in Barbulesti.

Since the end of July, when Sarkozy made a speech in Grenoble outlining his tough new approach on crime and immigration â€"the two themes, he implied, were inextricably linked â€" about 1,000 foreign Roma have left France, mostly for Romania and mostly under a scheme offering €300 (£250) for each adult and €100 for each child returning to their native country.

About 200 non-authorised Roma camps have been cleared, as well as hundreds of traveller sites occupied mostly by French citizens. However, a leaked circular, since amended to avoid singling out an ethnicity, stated that the Roma were the chief targets of the evacuations.

For many French and other Western Europeans, who have seen the poverty in which many Roma live in the cities of Marseille to Milan to Madrid, and their desire to remain unknown.

Yet most of the 7,500 Roma in Barbulesti, a predominantly Gypsy village 50 miles north-east of Bucharest, say that a life in the wealthy west offers chances unimaginable in their native Romania, where the vast majority are trapped in a cycle of discrimination, unemployment and poverty.

And, as long as this remains the case, they say, they have no intention of staying put. Ever a nomadic people, they will be on the move again soon.

Raducanu, an EU citizen entirely conscious of his right to free movement within the bloc, is already planning his return. "I can't wait to get back, to work. There is nothing to do here. Hunger. No work. I will go back," he says. Later, in a flourish of the language he had learned to love, he adds: "C'est très dur, la vie." Life is very hard.


At first sight, it is difficult to understand why Raducanu and his fellow villagers feel this way. With its large, villa-like houses in bright shades of reds, oranges and greens, Barbulesti looks from far off like a Disneyesque hamlet rising from the acres of flat, drab Romanian scrubland. Children wander, rucksacks on their backs, home from school; many roofs have satellite dishes and expensive cars are parked in driveways.

Compared with some of the squats Roma in France, these houses appear healthful.

Appearances, however, can be deceptive. In one house in the centre of the village carved lion heads sit proudly atop wrought-iron gates and the back garden is shaded from the sun by trellises threaded with vines.

But, inside, the reality of living standards becomes clear. The villa is clean and tidy- but its four rooms are home to four families. "Seven people live in here," says Stylian, a 34-year-old man who did not want his surname to be published. "And six in here."

Throughout the house, open wires run precariously over ceilings and walls, and the cheer of paint in electric pink and lime green cannot mask the fact that the mud walls and wattle-and-daub roofs are badly in need of repair. The kitchen, used to feed more than 20 people, is open to the stony ground, and the fridge is virtually bare.

A decades-old well brings up water, and the single toilet is a hole in the ground in an outhouse. "We wash it, we keep it clean," says Stylian. As he speaks, children play on the rusting hulk of a climbing frame next to a pig sty. The pigs are long gone.

But he insists that his lack of success was not due to lack of effort: he had tried his utmost to work legally, he says, but to no avail.

One of the features, like an apple-picker have been particularly successful. "The documents were left in the prefecture, the apples remain on the tree, and we left" he jokes.

When asked about the trigger for his return a fortnight ago, however, Stylian's smile vanishes and his voice begins to boom around the driveway. "I don't agree with these [forced or voluntary] returns. It's racism," he says, describing how, frightened by the political climate and police threats of expulsion, he eventually left of his own accord.

Before Sarkozy, he says, there was less prejudice against the Roma in France than in Romania. "But now they're both the same." Were it not for the fact that, at home, "you can work all day and not make enough to eat", he says, there would be no reason to go anywhere else. "Nobody would leave then. Who wants to leave their home?"

In a statement earlier this year, human rights group Amnesty International issued an urgent appeal, warning that the government should stop them "forced evictions" Roma "to immediately move the" living in the " hazardous conditions "to the margins of society.

After a summer in which the plight of France's estimated foreign Roma, estimated to number between 15,000 and 20,000, came under the spotlight as never before, those words are all-too familiar.

Nevertheless, the statement was not directed at Paris, but in Bucharest and living conditions have not been described those aliens in a foreign country, but the Romanian citizens in Romania.

\\ "Throughout the country, Romani families evicted from their homes against their will. When this happens, they are Don 'T just lose their homes. They are losing their property, their social contacts, their access to jobs and public services, "Galya said Gowan, Amnesty 'in Europe and Central Asia Program Director, introduced in January.

With unofficial estimates pinning the number of Roma in Romania at 2.2 million, the minority makes up about 10% of the country's total population. Yet, say human rights groups, the Roma are routinely ignored and pushed out of the mainstream, their needs not met and their voice not heard.

According to Amnesty, endemic prejudice leads to discrimination from the authorities as well as society at large, while the statistics speak for themselves: 75% of Roma live in poverty, compared with 24% of Romanians and 20% of ethnic Hungarians. Unemployment is far higher than the norm, and life expectancy is significantly lower.

For all these reasons â€" not to mention the economic ties that have deepened since EU accession in 2007 â€" the Romanian government has been careful in its reaction to the Sarkozy crackdown. As the French have repeatedly pointed out, Bucharest is in no position to judge: if it weren't for its failure to integrate the Roma, they argue, the "problem" would not be so acute elsewhere in Europe.

Mild rebuke

However, the relatively mild diplomatic rebuke issued by President Traian Basescu, who, although he said the French "understands" its position, insists that Romanians have a right "to travel without restrictions within the European Union "there is considerable anger.

"It's obviously a discriminatory position. It is not normal to expel people collectively," says Ilie Dinca, head of the National Agency for the Roma (ANR), a government body set up to try to secure funding for Roma-related projects. He is impressed, he says, with the "belated but good" line taken by Reding this week. The commissioner has since apologised for the delay.

And, in a reflection of the confusion expressed by many people in Barbulesti, he adds that he has "a big question mark over the paperwork" returning Roma had been asked to sign in France relating to the "voluntary repatriation" schemes. "Because they weren't given a copy of what they signed," Dinca says.

The ANR is at the forefront of government efforts to solve the Roma problem. In the past decade a number of projects designed to facilitate integration and boost living standards have emerged, from the appointment of special health and education "mediators" designed to communicate on behalf of the Roma, to positive discrimination measures in Romanian high schools.

On top of the €22m received from the state, Dinca says, €90m comes from Brussels to go towards various NGOs and Roma-related institutions.

And yet no one â€" in Bucharest, Brussels, or least of all Barbulesti â€" believes it is making a lot of difference.

For Viorel-Vivari Banescu, a teacher at a mainstream Romanian school near Barbulesti, the one thing that could change things is education. The most important thing the state can do, he says, is provide retraining opportunities for adult Roma and classes for their children. "They have a tendency to self-victimise, to say 'I don't have a job because I'm a Gypsy,'" he says. "But that's not true. He doesn't have a job because he doesn't have any training."

Pacing the ground in the town, Banescu tries to recruit 14-year-old Posirca Marian, who has been skipping class, a common problem in the local school, which has the county's biggest number of pupils on paper but in practice sees high absenteeism.

Parents receive €10 from the state for every child they have in school, but often say they still can't afford the kit required for attendance. "I want to make him my champion and get him through the 7th and 8th grade," says the teacher.

Over in the Raducanu family's backyard, lines of tiny socks and vests hang out to dry in the sun, and indoors Romica's wife, Simona-Mariana, struggles with the couple's restless brood of toddlers. They are a family of nine living in a two-room house with no proper kitchen.

As he strides up to the paint-chipped door, the village's vice-mayor, Lita Vasile, snatches a pear out of the mouth of five-year-old Jacob. It is half-rotten. "This is what we're eating," he exclaims, brandishing the fruit in his hand. "Sarkozy should think about the basic rights. His [Raducanu's] kids have nothing to eat today."

Unlike many of his more bombastic, heavyset friends, Raducanu is a slight young man who speaks quietly, in both French and Romanian, of the "great" people of Montpellier, of the "respectful" French police, and his life there, where, in the embodiment of Sarkozy's work ethic, he "got up early and even worked Sundays".

It can provide more for his family than here, "he says, as squeals come through the bedroom window. What are his hopes for the future? "That I will return to France to give them something."

Lizzy Davies News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content in accordance with our terms and conditions | More Feeds

Greeny NEWS
09/22/2010 Liberal Democrat conference: Vince Cable speech in full

Business secretary addresses delegates to discuss economic growth, university funding, banking and new investment

Speaking at a conference in the autumn the Liberal Democrats today, Liberal Democrat business secretary, Vince Cable said:

I have come to account to you, conference, for the work I have been carrying out in the coalition government.

I managed to anger the authorities of the bank, purchase a fatwa from the Revolutionary Guards trades union movement, to frighten Daily Telegraph progressive payment graduates and upset the very rich people who try to avoid British taxes. I must be doing something right.

But I am told that I look miserable. I'm sorry, conference, this is my happy face. 'Aren't you having fun?' people ask. It isn't much fun but it's necessary: necessary for our country that our parties work together at a time of financial crisis. And it is an opportunity for the party to demonstrate that we have the political maturity to make difficult decisions and wield power, with principle.

As for real fun, I am introducing dancing classes into the coalition. Unfortunately, I keep treading on Theresa May's toes and my partners think I have two left feet.

But what is it like being in bed with the Tories? First, it's exhausting; it's exhausting because you have to fight to keep the duvet. But to hold our own we need to maintain our party's identity and our authentic voice. We had to go through a merger to found our party ... we'll never merge again.

We will fight the next general election as an independent force with our choices. Just as in 2010. But a coalition of future policy. It's good for the government and good for Britain. We need to make sure it's good for the Liberal Democrats as well.

Labour and the economic crisis

What brought this coalition together is the need to clean up the inherited economic mess: the aftermath of the banking collapse; the largest fiscal deficit in the G20.

This is bound to hurt. Strong disinfectant stings. The public is, broadly, sympathetic to the coalition. But we are faced with an aggressive Labour opposition which has chosen the easy option of deficit denial. Deficit; what deficit? Nothing to do with us, guv.

It has everything to do with them.

There was, of course, a global financial crisis. But our Labour predecessors left Britain exceptionally vulnerable and damaged: more personal debt than any other major economy; a dangerously inflated property bubble; and a bloated banking sector behaving as masters, not the servants of the people. Their economic model combined the financial lunacies of Ireland and Iceland. They built a house on sand and thought that they were ushering in a new, progressive work of architecture. It has collapsed. They lacked foresight; now they even lack hindsight.

In an emergency it was right to accept large scale deficit financing. But the deficit must now be corrected. Public spending was ramped up using tax windfalls which have gone. We are a poorer country than two years ago and the budget must reflect what we can afford.

We know that if elected Labour planned to raise VAT. They attack this government's cuts but say not a peep about the £23bn of fiscal tightening Alistair Darling had already introduced. They planned to chop my department's budget by 20 to 25%, but now they oppose every cut, ranting with synthetic rage, and refuse, point blank, to set out their alternatives. They demand a plan B but don't have a plan A. The only tough choice they will face is which Miliband.

Proper discussion impossible with people who start with infantile suggestions that ISN 'is a problem, but simply failed to return to the world "business as usual'.

The Lib Dem response

But our party will emerge with credit from this crisis. We were the first, by far, to warn of the crisis to come. And last year, Nick Clegg and I warned of future cuts. This inconvenient truth wasn't popular but you heard it here first.

Then, we established in government the need to combine firmness and fairness. Yes, there has to be a freeze on public sector pay, to save jobs and services, but the lowest paid should be protected. Yes, there will be higher taxes overall. But the broadest backs should carry the biggest burden.

But I am also optimistic about the party's future because I know there is stamina and determination born of years of real life experience in local government. Those of you who took power from Labour in Newcastle, Hull, Oldham, Bristol, Sheffield and here in Liverpool had to take unpopular decisions to correct budgets which didn't add up. Nationally we have the same problem on a grander scale and want to learn from your experience.

Growth and recovery

But the real debate is not 'cuts versus no cuts' â€" an absurd parody of the policy choices â€" but how we balance cuts with economic recovery and job creation.

Growth is essential. Recovery is not possible without sorting out the public finances; but the public finances cannot be sorted out without the revenue from economic growth. Moreover the growth has to be balanced and sustainable, not based on another bubble.

The banks

But economic recovery will not happen automatically, by magic. Government has a key role. It has to sustain demand. That is basic Keynes. Liberal economics also requires us to remove obstacles to growth led by private enterprise. Among them is the threat to recovery from a credit squeeze by banks on small businesses.

On the banks, I do not apologize for spivs and attack players who have done more harm to the British economy than Bob Crow can achieve in his wildest fantasies Trotskyist, giving themselves outrageous bonuses are guaranteed by the taxpayer. There is great public anger over the banks, and it deserves to be.

But I'm not looking for retribution. We are pressing practical problems: the shortage of capital for the sound, not the property business. Many firms say they have crippled banks 'charges and restrictions.

The Chancellor and I have set out a range of sticks and carrots to get banks to support the real economy. Tough interventions will be needed if capital which could be used to support business lending is frittered away in bonuses and dividends.

The Coalition Agreement was crystal clear, too, that the structure of banking must be reformed to prevent future disasters and promote competition. Our agenda can be summed in seven words: make them safe and make them lend. I agree with Mervyn. We just can't risk having banks that are too big to fail.

New investment

Beyond the banks, there are vast amounts of institutional capital â€" in pension funds and the like â€" looking for productive outlets. The Government is proposing to establish a Green Investment Bank to support environmentally valuable projects and infrastructure alongside these private investors: making the rhetoric of the Green New Deal real.

And looking further ahead, my colleague Ed Davey is doing valuable work promoting mutual ownership and also â€" as in the Royal Mail â€" spreading worker ownership alongside private capital.

I want to announce today that Royal Mail workers will benefit from the largest employee share scheme of any privatization for 25 years. The Liberal Democrats were the first and the only party to call for the employee card, and we are currently implementing it in government.

The Post Office is not for sale. There will be no programme of closures as there were under Labour.

Knowledge Economy

But the big long-term question is: how does the country earn a living in future? Natural resources? The oil money was squandered. Metal bashing? Mostly gone to Asia. Banking? Been there, done that. What is left? Actually quite a lot. People. Skilled and educated people. High tech manufacturing of which we already have a great deal. Creative industries, IT and science based industries and professional services. In my job I meet many outstanding, world class, British based companies. But we need more companies and more jobs in the companies we have.

It is my job as Business Secretary to support business growth. And this knowledge based economy requires more high quality people from FE, HE and vocational training. Here, we have a problem. Businesses cannot grow because of a shortage of trained workers while our schools churn out young people regarded by companies as virtually unemployable. The pool of unemployed graduates is growing while there is a chronic shortage of science graduates and especially engineers.

Paying for universities

But what do we do when there is less public money?

I realise that there are people in the hall who believe that education at all levels must be free and the taxpayer should pay up, regardless of the bill. In reality the only way to maintain high quality higher education with less government money is for the graduate beneficiaries to make a bigger contribution from the extra earnings they enjoy later in life.

I am doing everything I can to ensure that graduate contributions are linked to earnings. Why should low paid graduates - nurses, youth workers or science researchers - pay the same as corporate lawyers and investment bankers? We have to balance higher contributions with basic fairness.

Fairness and tax

The biggest test of our party's contribution to the coalition is whether we can ensure fairness more widely. You'll remember our Conservative colleagues campaigned in the General Election to lift the inheritance tax burden on double millionaires.

But they have dropped that commitment. They have gone halfway to accepting our case for equalising income tax and capital gains tax rates. They have accepted in the Coalition Agreement that the priority for cutting income tax is for low earners not top earners.

Ironically, we may be able to make more progress on a fairness agenda with the Conservatives than New Labour was willing to do. Labour was constantly on its knees trying to prove that it was a friend of the super rich.

It will be said that in a world of internationally mobile capital and people it is counterproductive to tax personal income and corporate profit to uncompetitive levels. That is right. But a progressive alternative is to shift the tax base to property and land which cannot run away and represent, in Britain, an extreme concentration of wealth. I personally regret that mansion tax did not make it into the Coalition Agreement but in a coalition we have to compromise. But we can and should maintain our distinctive and progressive tax policies for the future.

I started by saying that I am reporting back to you conference. I want to conclude by saying that your role is crucial. In government we are trying to put Lib Dem ideas into action; your job is to keep us honest. We have punched above our weight in government because we have a democratic party which has clear principles and policies. In a few short months we have showed how we can advance our party's policies and principles while serving the wider national interest. But we need to sell this message. The Tories will not do that for us. We have to do it ourselves. That means focus leaflets and doorsteps. That means you. We need you. All of you. ? Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Greeny NEWS
Sunday, September 19, 2010
09/18/2010 Stoke City v West Ham - live!

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90 mins + 3: It's headed away and that's it. Lee Mason blows for full-time and it's a point apiece, which is probably the right result.

90 min + 2: Rory Delap has just dropped the ball on to the edge of the West Ham box with a throw-in from the halfway line. West Ham make their second change, Luis Boa Morte replacing live Obinna. It 'one more shot at Delap, though ...

90 min: When will West Ham learn? This time Gabbidon runs the ball out for a throw-in when he could have simply cleared the ball. Delap's throw-in is cleared. Parker's attempt to counterattack is halted, and the ball comes to Etherington, whose misdirected cross nearly catches out Green, who palms the ball over the bar for a corner. Shawcross heads over.

89 min: It's starting to look like a point apiece here...

87 min: Now this is weird. Delap's throw-in was easily collected by Green, who looked to immediately set West Ham on the attack with a swift kick up field. Unfortunately the ball, hit pretty hard, flew into the back of the unsuspecting Shawcross's head and rebounded back towards West Ham's area. Luckily they escape, while Shawcross has been floored, probably from the surprise. Glenn Whelan has replaced the injured Pennant.

85 min: Interestingly Victor Obinna seems to be two-footed. For West Ham's goal, his free-kick was taken with his left foot, but now he uses his right to get the ball in the box. The ball dropped just outside the box, and there was a sharp intake of breath as Parker closed in on it, but his shot was wild and flew well wide. One of those that looked, just for a moment, as if it was going into the top corner, but in reality was always destined for the stands.

83 min: Parker, who has given another rambunctious display is down after a heavy tackle by Collins, who is booked. And, to his credit, acknowledges his misdeed.

81 min:

79 min: More careful, precise passing by West Ham nearly leads to an opportunity for Parker, but Obinna's lay-off to him is far too hard, rebounding into the midfielder's hand, and a free-kick to Stoke is given. Not that it would have mattered, as Parker blazed the ball well over anyway.

76 min: That was criminally wasteful by Obinna. After an ill-judged flick from Delap, West Ham broke dangerously and at pace. With options left and right, he made the wrong choice, sending a comically awful left-footed shot well wide from thirty yards out. Choices, choices.

74 min: On a couple of occasions West Ham have been utterly careless with their distribution, giving Stoke throw-ins in attacking positions. Now Parker's volleyed pass is far too heavily hit for Gabbidon to reach. Luckily Piquionne heads Delap's humdinger away.

73 min: You hate to see this happen. Eidur Gudjohnsen has been waiting to come on for the past few minutes, but there hasn't been a stoppage of play. Finally, however, play is stopped, and Gudjohnsen comes on for Jones, who can be satisfied with his work for the afternoon. Now, this is an entirely different proposition for West Ham to counter.

70 min: Finally West Ham come into it. They've taken their time. Neat interplay by Cole and Piquionne nearly leads to an opening but Shawcross gets in the way. The ball squirted away to Obinna, whose bouncing right foot volley was pushed aside for a corner by Sorensen. West Ham worked it short and Noble's cross to the far post was headed towards the near post by Da Costa, but again Sorensen prevented the visitors from regaining their lead, diving to push the divert the ball away.

68 min: Lovely play by Jermaine Pennant. He won the race with Noble to reach the free ball before deceiving Parker, as he continued to shoot. Instead, he shuffled inside before chipping a delightful pass to Jones, whose header beat Green and clunked on the bar. Fortunately for West Ham, Jones was offside.

67 min: With Fuller on, West Ham might consider making a change of their own. Their front three have been anonymous in the second half, with Carlton Cole particularly dismal, slow in mind and body, as he has been all season.

66 min: Ricardo Fuller is on, Jon Walters is off.

64 min: West Ham dominated the midfield in the first half but since Stoke's goal, they have been thoroughly second best. Their passing is sloppy and they cannot afford to do that against Stoke, who are snapping into challenges with considerably intensity.

63 min:Ricardo Fuller is preparing to come over Stoke, a signal of his intention. He scored the winning goal for Stoke at Upton Park last season.

59 min: Green isn't the only West Ham player who's bringing his World Cup form into the equation. Matthew Upson's defending is putrid here. Chasing a long ball with Jones, he appeared to have the situation under control, calming the danger. Instead he was bustled off the ball by Jones, who cut into the area and hammered a shot that Green tipped on to the post. Great play by Jones, dismal by Upson.

57 min: Sometimes footballers are so foolish. Parker was in a tricky situation facing his own goal, and seemingly with no option but to put the ball out for a corner. As he turned away, Walters tripped him, which is precisely what Parker wanted him to do and West Ham get a free-kick when they could have been defending a corner.

56 min: As you'd expect Stoke are all over West Ham now, the visitors unable to hold on to the ball for more than a few passes. Pennant finds space to cross again, but it was too high for Walters.

52 min: Behrami seems to have injured his knee ligaments and his mixed bag of an afternoon appears to be over. The clunking midfielder Radoslav Kovac replaces him, a retrograde step for West Ham.

51 min: West Ham are down to ten for the corner, Behrami limping off for more treatment after going down again. The corner drifts away harmlessly.

49 min: Suddenly rampant, Stoke are on the attack again and Etherington's shot is deflected over by Jacobsen.

GOAL! Stoke 1-1 West Ham (Jones, 48 min) Well that didn't last long, and it was more iffy goalkeeping by Green. Pennant was released by Walters on the right, and, with Gabbidon absent, dug out a decent cross to the far post. It was a fine delivery, but surely not enough to deceive Green who, in any case, flapped at the ball, and there was Jones at the far post to equalise with a simple header from a yard out. Precisely the start to the second half West Ham didn't want.

47 min:What 's throw-in account? Stoke started as they mean to go on, but Parker cleans with Delap 'roll. with West Ham attempted to stop the gap in the Hat 's foul on Behrami, who, with' stayed down, clutching his left leg. It 's probably good.

46 min: We're back. Can West Ham hold on? Or will Stoke pull off a repeat of their second half comeback against Aston Villa on Monday? I bet you can't wait to find out.

"West Ham had five men in the six yard box when they scored," says Gary Naylor. "I'm not sure I have ever seen so many attacking players so close to the opponent's goal. Why didn't Stoke just clear out? The dodgy keeper is at the other end." They've both been dodgier than the feed I'll be using to watch this afternoon's games on (without success). Sorensen has been extremely tentative today. Asmir Begovic is wanted by Chelsea, yet sits on the bench for Stoke. That's mysterious.

"If you look at this West Ham team, they shouldn't be anywhere near the relegation places come the end of the season," says Sam Zakowski. "Upson had an extremely bad World Cup, but so did John Terry, and he'll captain of the champions at the end of the season. A midfield that contains Parker and Behrami is surely not the 18th best midfield in the league? Comfortably mid-table in that department. Carlton Cole, for all his faults and injuries, is also very useful up front. People have written off West Ham after only three games. Maybe a tad early, don't you think?" West Ham have been written off early for each of the last three seasons, but they always seem to avoid the drop eventually. That said, they should have gone down last season. My word, they were dreadful.

Half-time and West Ham hold a deserved lead. "Do you think the charming directors at West Ham would have appointed someone else as manager had they known that Uncle Avram couldn't be on the bench today shouting "Track back!" at Mark Noble every five minutes?" says Gary Naylor. "Of course they wouldn't have appointed (say) Alan Pardew - because Uncle Avram was the best man for the job. I like him - he knows his football, conducts himself well and shows just enough fire to reveal the steel behind the avuncular exterior."

46 min+ 2: The home crowd have been baying for free-kicks with increasing frequency when Upson and Da Costa have challenged Jones and Walters. Mason has mostly ignored the cries, but this time awards the free-kick. Etherington curls it in, there's a bit of head tennis, and then Da Costa nearly takes Huth's head off with a overhead clearance. Technically you could argue that should be a penalty.

45 min: Dean Whitehead is booked for a late tackle on Parker. There will be no less than 2 minutes of added things.

44 min: Late pressure from Stoke, but Jacobsen does well to stop Walters to get his head on the Pennant with 'dinked cross. The ball is put back into the area of West Ham, but Lee Mason blows for a foul on Jones Upson.

42 min: That was nearly delightful from Mark Noble. West Ham were allowed to play the ball around just outside Stoke's area. Piquionne came inside before playing the ball to Noble, who deftly slipped away from Whitehead before attempting to release the ball for Obinna. The execution was just too hard, otherwise Obinna would have had an excellent chance of doubling West Ham's lead.

40 min: If you're not watching this game, you might find this hard to believe - Robert Green has just caught For a long punt up field. It 's really caught one. Held it too. Return to.

39 min: "Just noticed in your preamble a reference to Stoke's difficult opening fixtures - have you checked who West Ham have played in their opening four games," asks Matt. "Villa, Chelsea, Man Utd... Alright, losing at home to Bolton wasn't clever but they weren't exactly favourites to be top of the table after four games, eh?" You are, of course, correct. Anyway back to the action, Noble's bender was easily held by Sorensen before Cole becomes the latest player to be booked for a foul on Collins.

37 min: Some comical defending by Da Costa, who trapped the ball further than I can kick it, gifting Stoke a throw-in. And we know what that means - Delap's throw is right into the middle of the goal, and Jones should score with a free header from no more than three yards out. Instead he heads the ball miles over the bar.

34 min: And that was so nearly two! The goal has lifted West Ham's approach immeasurably, and Piquionne cut inside from the left, before curling a delightful effort towards the top corner. Sorensen needn't have gone for it, but the ball smacked off the frame of the bar.

GOAL! Stoke 0-1 West Ham (Parker 32 min): It was going to take a set-piece for the breakthrough to come and it's arrived in slightly farcical circumstances. Behrami won a free-kick on the right touchline. Obinna curled in a dangerous ball into Stoke six-yard box, allowing Cole and Upson to cause havoc for the home side. The ball dropped towards the line, but Delap was on hand to hack clear - only for his attempted clearance to smack Shawcross in the face and rebound down for Parker to smash the ball into the net.

30 min: West Ham are containing Stoke with relative ease. And vice versa. Nothing's really happening. A lot of huff and puff. West Ham are doing well until they get the ball into Stoke's half. Stoke are getting little out of West Ham's two centre-backs, and Etherington and Pennant have been unable to find Jones with their crosses.

28 min:Left Piquionne shows the power and skill to blast past Hoot, which brings down the striker. It 's kind of good to play West Ham demands but noble' s grim kick, right on the first man, is not.

26 min: Neither side seems able to aim with the game so far. It 'is going to take a number of parts for their separation. West Ham had 57% possession, but did little with it. They re 'lack of ideas, as soon as they receive in-a-half Stoke'.

24 min: This is a scrappy, niggly game, and Behrami is involved in most of the tedious little skirmishes. This time he's on the end of some of the rough stuff, and Delap is booked.

23 min: Cole's turn and shot from just outside the area is, again, straight down the throat of Sorensen.

22 min:And from a free-kick, he 's another chance for Stoke - and, one might say, ill miss Jones. Pennant had a free-kick, this time trying to go for goal. His low effort is arranged through the wall and fell to Jones, 12 yards out. On the rebound, a left-footed shot goes high and wide. He should have got it on target at least.

21 min:West Ham are rocking a little here, and Behrami is booked for his third foul on so many minutes, this time Pennant.

19 min: And Green nearly gifts Stoke the opener! He really is a bag of nerves at the moment, making mistake after costly mistake. Pennant's free-kick was whipped in with pace and Shawcross's run in front of Green seemed to put the goalkeeper off - what should have been a regulation catch was fumbled to his left, and Huth, sliding in smacked the ball against the post. Green needs to sort himself out.

18 min: Walters is down getting treatment after being chopped down by Behrami - in fact, he's limping off for more of the magic sponge. Anyway, it's a free-kick to Stoke, to be taken by Pennant.

16 min: On second viewing, Obinna's volley was deflected by Shawcross's outstretched hand. That could well have been a penalty for West Ham, and Stoke can count themselves a little bit lucky.

14 min: Sorensen looks nervy today. A long clearance from Robert Green should be dealt with by either Shawcross or Sorensen, the defender eventually taking evasive action as his goalkeeper shows yet more indecision and the ball slices away for another corner. Eventually Obinna's decent left-footed volley from the edge of the area is deflected straight into the arms of Sorensen.

13 min: Yup, Delap's throw is headed away. Throw. Head. Throw. Head. Throw. Head. This is sophisticated stuff.

12 min: ... which is delayed after some fun and games between Robert Huth and Valon Behrami. After a brief wait, the corner is headed away by Cole at the near post. For another throw...

11 min: Another throw for Delap, which West Ham defended well, only to see the ball roll out for a corner, this time on the left...

10 min: The first shot in anger comes from West Ham, as Cole barges his way through a couple of challenges, before screwing a lamentable left-footed effort well wide from 25 yards out. Immediately Stoke attack, Pennant running at Gabbidon again, this time winning a corner. Matthew Etherington's inswinger causes disquiet, but Piquionne heads away.

8 min: A nervous moment for Thomas Sorensen in the Stoke goal, who came to collect Mark Noble's corner, gained after Pennant put Behrami's cross behind. Sorensen was nowhere near it though, and was grateful to see Shawcross head the ball away before West Ham could take advantage. For some reason, he decides to bawl out Shawcross, who surely took appropriate action.

6 min: Jones is a handful and is so far winning the aerial duel with Upson and Da Costa. He dominates Da Costa here, before spraying the ball to the right for Pennant, but Gabbidon blocked his cross, giving Delap the first chance to wind up one of those fearsome throws. Nothing doing though, despite Faye getting his head on the ball.

4 min: The game is settling into a pattern that you might have expected, West Ham comfortable in possession in midfield but so far incapable of finding a killer pass when they need to take the ball forward. Stoke seem happy to let them stroke the ball around in harmless areas, but they are very tough to break down. West Ham haven't won an away game since the first game of last season. A win here would do nicely.

2 min: West Ham are playing a front three today of Carlton Cole, Frederic Piquionne and Victor Obinna, who was very impressive against Chelsea last week, if a little wayward with his finishing. The Nigerian moved to the left, teasing Robert Huth before crossing, but Faye hooked the ball away.

Peep! We're off, Stoke getting us underway and kicking from right to left. There's a typically boisterous atmosphere as you'd expect. Jermaine Pennant tries to get Jonathan Walters in behind the West Ham defence, but the ball's too long and runs out for a goal-kick.

Sky have pointed out that West Ham have been to the Britannia Stadium twice. I'll point out that they've only been there twice in the Premier League, but actually went there twice in the Championship. The state of it.

Alan Pardew is in the Sky studio today. It's good to see him doing media work again.

The relevant e-mail on matters of faith: "I wonder how many of the people slating Avram for his non-attendance will be volunteering to work on Christmas day this year?" points out Tom Cuell. "Having said that, I am a Stoke fan, so I'm very opposed to Ben Haim's decision to sit this one out." Well?

Anyway this should neatly explain Avram's stance: he doesn't roll on Shabbos.

West Ham will be managed by Paul Groves and Kevin Keen today by the way. Grant has travelled but will spend the day in prayer. Did he walk?

Even this early in the season, this might have been billed as a relegation six-pointer, but for Stoke's victory over Aston Villa on Monday. Until then they were matching West Ham stride for stride, in the manner of the fat kids at school forced to wheeze their way through the cross-country, on zero points. It must be pointed out, however, that before their comeback against Villa two of their three games had been against Chelsea and Tottenham, and the other was away to a tough Wolves side. They look set for another decent season, probably a mid-table finish.

Stoke are good at what they do. They're not great to watch, but they're superbly organised, tough, physical and exceedingly dangerous from set-pieces. That said, if Kenwyne Jones retains his focus, they will start to be far more menacing in open play, perhaps even more so if Eidur Gudjohnsen fancies turning up. On the face of it, he doesn't appear to be a player who can fit seamlessly into Stoke's side, but perhaps he will provide them with a little more variety and intelligence, even if I do think Tony Pulis has signed him because the only worthwile thing he did in a Tottenham shirt last season was against Stoke.

a lotcrosses.

Modern football is jiggered, part XIV: You'll notice a distinct lack of Kieron Dyer in the West Ham line-up. He reportedly refused to travel to Stoke after being named on the bench again, telling Grant that if he's fit enough to be a sub, he's fit enough to start. You'd have some sympathy for him if he'd managed to feature for the full 90 minutes in any game since 2007.

Teams? Teams:

Stoke: Sorensen; Huth, Shawcross, Faye, Collins; Pennant, Delap, Whitehead, Etherington; Walters, Jones. Warnings: Begovic, Higginbotham, Whelan, Gudjohnsen, Fuller, Wilson, Wilkinson.

West Ham: Green; Jacobsen, Da Costa, Upson, Gabbidon; Behrami,
Parker, Noble; Obinna, Piquionne, Cole. Subs: Stech, Tomkins, Barrera, Boa Morte, Kovac, McCarthy, Faubert.

Referee:Lee Mason (Lancashire)

In the red and white corner: Javelin refugee Rory Delap.

In the claret and blue corner:Britain 's Robert Green.

We all know how this one's going to end up, don't we?

Hello: You don't need to be Alanis Morissette - in fact, you never need to be Alanis Morissette - to appreciate the potential irony on offer today. Rain on your wedding day, you presume? No. Ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife? Wrong, that's not ironic. West Ham, after four defeats in their first four games, winning their first points of the season when Avram Grant is off atoning and fasting and gallivanting on Yom Kippur? Bingo!

This is a no-win situation for Grant, but then he's already managed Portsmouth. He's used to that. The Israeli strikes me as an unlucky manager, one who's difficult to pin down conclusively. You can judge his time at Chelsea in one of two ways: either he was mightily unfortunate not to win the league and the Champions League, or he was a shambling chancer who blew their title hopes, allowing the senior players to run the team. Unless you were on the training ground every day, it's difficult to choose (but those who were tend to report the latter). And then at Portsmouth, he had to deal with a points deduction and the boardroom shenanigans at Fratton Park, but his side still finished bottom. And just how much can you read into an FA Cup run these days?

So if West Ham lose today, he will be derided and criticised for a supposed dereliction of duty. If they win (which they won't) then questions will be raised over his influence, particularly if they were to lose to Tottenham next week when he does return. As my name might suggest, I'm slightly biased when it comes to this subject. No, Grant doesn't observe the Sabbath every week, but Yom Kippur is the holiest of holy days for Jews. It's a 25-hour fast - no food, no drink - and you're not meant to do anything but go to synagogue and atone for your 'sins' over the past year. Grant has said that he's doing this partly out of respect for his parents, who are Holocaust survivors, and it's also important to factor in his reputation in Israel, where there were calls for Deportivo's Israeli goalkeeper, Dudu Aouate, to be banned when he played on Yom Kippur. What's more important - your faith, your country, your principles, your family ... or Stoke away? If it meant more to me, I know which I'd choose.

James Steinberg ? Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Greeny NEWS

[[[Preserve Large Cutting Board, Green]]]

Discription : When Preserve set out to design a cutting board, we wanted to address common frustrations with existing plastic boards. First, we textured the surface to provide better gripping. The texture also hides knife marks so the board looks good for years. Then, we added a curved handle to keep the board stable during chopping and to aid in transferring your food from board to bowl. Like the entire Preserve Kitchen collection, these cutting boards have incredible staying power. They are durable enough to last generations, and functional enough to be everyday essentials. And because they are recyclable, they can live on even after they no longer suit your purposes. The large board measures 14x11 inches. Preserve has been putting big ideas into small packages and finding smarter ways to make everyday products since 1996. Preserve recycles and makes all of our products in the USA. With a "Powered by Leftovers" philosophy, Preserve turns yogurt cups into toothbrushes and take-out containers into cutting boards. All Preserve products for the kitchen, table and bathroom are performance-driven, stylish and made from 100% recycled materials. Whether short-order or gourmet, good cooking depends on good tools. Preserve Kitchen offers beautifully designed items that make a statement in any kitchen. Cooks like them because they are dishwasher safe and stand up to everyday use, and the earth loves them because they're made from 100% recycled BPA-free plastic and post-consumer recycled paper.

More review coming soon.

After reading the reviews, and striving to "go green" and purchase items only made in America, I ordered this in red. Wow! I have used it several times, and am thrilled with it. Yes, I can see that some say it slips a little, but it is not a huge problem. I would buy this product again. It would also make a great gift!

I bought a set, small and large, at a local store. I liked the recycled material and made in USA aspects. But neither is perfectly flat, they are slightly bowed so they spin on the counter. So, good material, nice color, heavy, but otherwise almost unusable.

This is a nice chunk of polypropylene. It's supportive, easy to grip, won't dull your knife, and ecologically friendly. On the downside, polypropylene isn't known for its stickiness, so this board moves a lot while you're cutting on it. I would go for a heavier board or one with something sticky on it.

Buy Here (for discount) Preserve Large Cutting Board, Green

Saturday, September 18, 2010

[[[Green Toys Recycle Truck]]]

Discription : 12 months & up. Tough and durable, this recycling truck is 100% made from recycled milk cartons. The eco design features a workable dumper and no metal axles to rust. 12 1/2"L x 7 1/4"H.

More review coming soon.

This is the first time I have seen a recycle truck made for children. I see lots of dump trucks and cars but this was a first for me. I think it is a great way to teach our children the value of recycling in a way that they can understand. Very unique idea! This truck is sturdy...big tires and easy to grasp design will make it easy for little ones to push this all over the yard or house. The back tilts up and there is a door that opens so they can store and dump their treasures easily. And the best thing about this for the parents? No twisty ties holding it in place! Just a 100% recyclable cardboard package with no plastic ties to drive us nuts!

Disclaimer: As required by the FTC, I received a product sample in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.

my son is almost one and loves this truck. we taught him to put his hands up closer to the cab when he pushs it along, to avoid the truck's back-end dumping. he loves that the back opens and he can put his blocks in there. i love that it's NOT made in china, eco-friendly, and the colors aren't as harsh as most kid toys.

This is a very nice recycling truck. It's much bigger than we expected. Well built and durable. Our 4 year old loves it.

Buy Here (for discount) Green Toys Recycle Truck

[[[Green Building & Remodeling For Dummies]]]

Description: Want to build responsibly, reduce waste, and help preserve the environment? Green Building & Remodeling For Dummies is your friendly, step-by-step guide to every facet of this Earth-friendly method of construction. Building a home—even a green home—uses plenty of resources and energy. This practical, hands-on book shows you how to build or remodel conscientiously, whether your dream home is a simple remodel or a brand-new multimillion-dollar mansion.

You'll start by identifying green materials and sizing up potential systems and construction sites. You'll weigh the pros and cons of popular green building methods and identify opportunities for saving money in the long run. Need to find some green professionals to assist you in your venture? We'll help you do that, too. This book will also help you discover how to:

  • Understand the lifecycle of building materials
  • Choose the right system for your green building project
  • Put together a green team
  • Work within your budget
  • Use green building methods and sustainable systems
  • Speed construction and reduce energy use and waste
  • Refinish old fixtures and materials
  • Beware of asbestos and lead-paint hazards
  • Avoid costly mistakes

Complete lists of ten green things to do on every project and ten things you can do right now in your home in order to go green, Green Building & Remodeling For Dummies is your one-stop guide to planning and building the home you've always wanted.

More review coming soon.

This was bought as a gift for my boyfriend and he read the whole book and said it was very good, great detail and easy to understand language.

We are planning to build a house sometime in the next 2 years and we just wantedto get a little info on how we could "green it up" a little. Well this book was full of valuable info! There were so many things that were listed in this book that we had no clue about. Before we thought that we would just try to do a few easy little things to help the enivironment, but now we are thinkng of building a almost completely Green home. We found out from reading this book that it will save us lots of $$$$ in the future and that a lot of things aren't too expensive. Plus saving the earth is at the top of the list. If you just want to get some basic ideas about how to get started then this is the book for you. If you already know about the basics and you want more detailed info on how to do things like solar pannels and such, then you should go for the "dummies" books on each individual subject. That will help you a lot more. Go Green and save the earth!

A great book to have in your library if you are interested in sustainable building. Excellent overview of all of the different aspects to consider. It did leave out any discussion of log construction.

Buy Here (for discount) Green Building & Remodeling For Dummies

06/13/2010 Gulf oil spill: Barack Obama and David Cameron move to end rift over BP

A telephone call to David Cameron eases tension amid fears that stock markets will dump oil giant's shares tomorrow

President Barack Obama moved to defuse a growing political row over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill yesterday by assuring the prime minister that he was not trying to blame Britain for the catastrophe.

In a 30-minute phone call, the US president took the extraordinary step of insisting he had not been trying to undermine the value of BP when criticising the company. He had reacted furiously to delays by BP in capping the leak, which has been described as the worst environmental disaster in US history.

Obama, who has been criticised for calling BP "British Petroleum" despite the fact the company dropped the name more than a decade ago, insisted his anger had nothing to do with national identity. In a revealing statement, Downing Street said: "President Obama said to the prime minister that his unequivocal view was that BP was a multinational global company and that frustrations about the oil spill had nothing to do with national identity. The prime minister stressed the economic importance of BP to the UK, US and other countries. The president made clear that he had no interest in undermining BP's value.

"The president and prime minister reaffirmed their confidence in the unique strength of the US-UK relationship." Government officials insisted the discussion had been amicable and the two men had even bet each other a beer over the result of the England-US World Cup encounter.

The prime minister has been under intense pressure from senior figures in his own party and parts of the press to stand up for his country and defend the British-based company. Boris Johnson, the London mayor, was among those who complained that the tone of the attacks on BP were "anti-British".

Cameron had resisted calls to respond to the attacks, instead saying he understood Obama's anger and was "frustrated and concerned about the environmental damage caused by the leak". One Tory backbencher, Douglas Carswell, said there had been an act of "environmental vandalism" and now was not the time to "wrap ourselves in the flag".

Eleven men were killed following an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Scientists have said the amount of oil gushing out of the well is far higher than previously estimated. The US Geological Survey has calculated that as many as 40,000 barrels a day could have been escaping before containment efforts were put in place. Obama, also under political pressure, reacted furiously and insisted he would have fired BP's chief executive had he employed him. Tony Hayward was criticised for saying the leak was "relatively tiny" compared to the size of the ocean.

BP shares have fallen by 40% since the explosion and could be hit again if the company decides to suspend its quarterly dividend payout. The company is the biggest dividend-payer in the UK and has been expected to pay more than £7bn over the year. Private companies, councils and public bodies have invested hundreds of billions of pounds of their pension funds into the company because it is normally considered a safe bet.

The company reiterated yesterday that no decision had been made on the dividend. Various options will be discussed at a board meeting tomorrow. Ed Miliband, the Labour leadership candidate and shadow climate change secretary, said the lesson was that the world had to be serious about weaning itself off a chronic dependence on oil. The environmental group Greenpeace had called on local authorities to reconsider the heavy reliance of their pension funds on BP in the months leading up the accident. They argued it was wrong to invest public money in the company because of its involvement in risky projects.

One of the councils that had invested most in the company was West Yorkshire, which had ploughed in 3.35%, or £197m, of its pension fund.

Charlie Kronick, senior climate advisor for Greenpeace, said the lessons of the Gulf spill were that "chasing the last drops of oil" carried huge risks and the likelihood of accidents and unreliable dividends was likely to rise.

But Ros Altmann, an expert on pensions policy, noted that all investments are fraught with danger. "If you do not 't want your pension will be at risk of BP-style or the style of the bank's disaster, buy a pig. You have to take some risks to make some returns," she said.

Anushka Asthana
Julia Kollewe
Toby Helm ? Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions| More Feeds

Greeny NEWS

[[[Premium Silicone Case Soft Rubber Cover for Verizon LG VX9100 ENV2 (Choose black, transparent, blue, purple, green, red, orange, pink) (Open)]]]

Discription : LG ENV2 Silicone Case provides excellent protection for your phone. Use your phone normally and provides openings for basic phone functionality.

More review coming soon.

Buy here (at discount) Premium Silicone Case Soft Rubber Cover for Verizon LG VX9100 ENV2 (Select black, transparent, blue, purple, green, red, orange, pink) (Clear)

Friday, September 17, 2010

[[[Lg Vx9900 Env Green Battery Lglp-agom]]]

Discription :

More review coming soon.

I was hoping that the charge of the battery will last longer than the battery that was replaced, but now, after using for a month, I believe that ISN 't better. Both new and old batteries have only one day, then they must be replenished.

It could be that this battery, while advertised as being new, has sat for a year or so. So while it may not have ever been used before, and technically a new battery, it was still old

Amazon's service was superb.

Buy here (at discount) Lg Vx9900 Env Green Battery Lglp-agom

06/13/2010 Gulf oil spill: Barack Obama and David Cameron move to end rift over BP

A telephone call to David Cameron eases tension amid fears that stock markets will dump oil giant's shares tomorrow

President Barack Obama moved to defuse a growing political row over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill yesterday by assuring the prime minister that he was not trying to blame Britain for the catastrophe.

In a 30-minute phone call, the US president took the extraordinary step of insisting he had not been trying to undermine the value of BP when criticising the company. He had reacted furiously to delays by BP in capping the leak, which has been described as the worst environmental disaster in US history.

Obama, who has been criticised for calling BP "British Petroleum" despite the fact the company dropped the name more than a decade ago, insisted his anger had nothing to do with national identity. In a revealing statement, Downing Street said: "President Obama said to the prime minister that his unequivocal view was that BP was a multinational global company and that frustrations about the oil spill had nothing to do with national identity. The prime minister stressed the economic importance of BP to the UK, US and other countries. The president made clear that he had no interest in undermining BP's value.

"The president and prime minister reaffirmed their confidence in the unique strength of the US-UK relationship." Government officials insisted the discussion had been amicable and the two men had even bet each other a beer over the result of the England-US World Cup encounter.

The prime minister has been under intense pressure from senior figures in his own party and parts of the press to stand up for his country and defend the British-based company. Boris Johnson, the London mayor, was among those who complained that the tone of the attacks on BP were "anti-British".

Cameron had resisted calls to respond to the attacks, instead saying he understood Obama's anger and was "frustrated and concerned about the environmental damage caused by the leak". One Tory backbencher, Douglas Carswell, said there had been an act of "environmental vandalism" and now was not the time to "wrap ourselves in the flag".

Eleven men were killed following an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Scientists have said the amount of oil gushing out of the well is far higher than previously estimated. The US Geological Survey has calculated that as many as 40,000 barrels a day could have been escaping before containment efforts were put in place. Obama, also under political pressure, reacted furiously and insisted he would have fired BP's chief executive had he employed him. Tony Hayward was criticised for saying the leak was "relatively tiny" compared to the size of the ocean.

BP shares have fallen by 40% since the explosion and could be hit again if the company decides to suspend its quarterly dividend payout. The company is the biggest dividend-payer in the UK and has been expected to pay more than £7bn over the year. Private companies, councils and public bodies have invested hundreds of billions of pounds of their pension funds into the company because it is normally considered a safe bet.

One of the councils that have invested most in the company of West Yorkshire, who plowed with 3,35%, or £ 197m, its pension fund.

Charlie Kronick, Senior Advisor Climate Greenpeace, said that lessons spill the Persian Gulf that "in pursuit of the last drops of oil 'carried enormous risks and the likelihood of accidents and unsafe dividends are likely to increase.

But Ros Altmann, an expert on pensions policy, noted that all investments are fraught with danger. "If you do not 't want your pension will be at risk of BP-style or the style of the bank crash, buy gilts. You should go for some risk to make some returns," she said.

Anushka Asthana
Julia Kollewe
Toby Helm ? Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions| More Feeds

Greeny NEWS

09/16/2010 Deposit scheme could boost recycling

Campaign to Protect Rural England says initiative to recycle more tins, bottles and plastic containers using deposits would be largely self-funding and could achieve 90% return rate

Making consumers pay a refundable deposit for plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans would increase recycling rates and reduce litter, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said today.

Under its proposed deposit refund scheme, anyone buying a container smaller than 500ml would pay a 15p deposit, or 30p for larger capacity items, which would be refunded when the container is returned to a shop or collection point. Such a scheme could achieve 90% return rates, the campaigners claim.

Environmental and anti-litter charity calls for a new scheme that part of his campaign stop Drop against litter and fly-tipping, arguing that it would help the government work towards its "zero waste" economy, encourage councils to pay people to recycle and work to reduce littering.

Bill Bryson, CPRE president, said: "These findings throw rational and informed light on an issue that is nonsensically contentious in the UK. What sensible nation would not want to capture and recycle its precious and finite resources? What discerning people would not want to enjoy a litter-free environment? "

David Cameron, asked yesterday in parliament what he thought of introducing such a scheme, said: "Bill Bryson has made this suggestion to me as well because of the success schemes like this have had in other countries." He said he would ask environment secretary Caroline Spelman and climate secretary Chris Huhne to "look at this issue and see if we can take it forward."

The report, entitled Have we got the bottle? Implementing a deposit refund scheme in the UK, also suggests revenues would go a long way to covering the scheme's costs. While the initiative would cost £84m to create, the CPRE said, it could save local authorities £160m per year in waste management costs.

The running costs of the scheme are projected to be about £700m per year. At a return rate of 24bn containers, in line with the 90% level achieved by some European schemes, there would remain £491m in unclaimed deposits to support the running costs. The outstanding £212m would be met by drinks manufacturers, which might in turn pass the cost on to consumers.

Bottle deposits were common in the UK 20 years ago but fell out of favour when plastic bottles and cans became cheap to make and discard. However, deposit schemes still exist elsewhere in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Israel, and they provided the basis for some of the research by Eunomia Research & Consulting, which was commissioned by the CPRE.

Samantha Harding, the CPRE's Stop the Drop campaign manager, said: "The UK has a serious litter problem and the year-on-year increase in the cost of clearing it up has become unsustainable. We need to look at new ways of tackling litter and changing behaviours. Our research shows that a deposit refund scheme would reduce litter and increase rates of recycling, while at the same time reducing public sector spending on waste."

Drinks manufacturers generally oppose the idea - mainly on cost
grounds - although the debate knew going in that
could lead to regional trials. The British Retail Consortium (BRC)said the revival of old-style schemes actually undermine existing recycling threat to achieving economy of local collections of kerbside. Bob Gordon, the British Retail Consortium Head of Environment, said: "This is the pink eyes of nostalgia for the days when you got
Penny back on the pop bottle will not solve the problem. Customize the whole
The new infrastructure will be expensive because the waste bottle and
cans are not the issue. The next big target for raising recycling
rates is rigid plastics - tubs, pots and trays."

The British Soft Drinks Association said in a statement: "The CPRE
report bears out our view that a deposit scheme would be an extremely
expensive way to try to cope with the problem of garbage and
recycling. More than 70 per cent of soft drinks packaging is disposed
of at home, so the best thing to do is to collect materials for
recycling from kerbside. Figures from the return on show that last year,
the amount of plastic bottles collected through kerbside collection
increased by 27 percent. "

Defra said it welcomed the report and would consider the idea as part of its ongoing waste review.

Rebecca Smithers ? Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Greeny NEWS
Thursday, September 16, 2010
09/16/2010 Society daily: 16.09.10

Clegg defends drastic benefit cuts, public sector inefficiency and Clone Town Britain

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Today's top Society Guardian stories

All today's Society Guardian stories

Clegg defends radical reductions in benefits

Cameron backs simplified welfare proposals

Private cosmetic clinincs "exploiting" patients, says report

Obesity crisis "cannot be solved by exercise alone"

Home office to deport Jamaican mother after 10 years in UK

Public inquiries "not worth the money" says Soham chair

Colin Shek: Now you have to pay, you still swim?

Letters: time for a rethink on Special Educational Needs

More news

• Roads, water supplies, the power grid and other infrastructure must be urgently overhauled and green spaces in cities preserved if the UK is to avoid the damaging effects of climate change, according to a government advisory body, the Financial Times reports.

• Neighbourhood police officers in Manchester are to be given Blackberry mobile phones so they can tweet messages about crimes to residentsto fix them, reports Daily Mail.

On my radar ...

• Excellent piece by blogger Flip Chart Fairy Tales on inefficiency in the public sector:

"There are some excellent examples of efficient and highly effective organisations in the public sector. At their best, they are more efficient than many private sector organisations. The overall picture, though, is not good. The public sector is overstaffed and inefficient. It is in desperate need of reform. That would be the case even if the country were not grappling with a huge public debt."

• Blogger Carrie Bish on Big society and the "Guardian-reader's dilemma."

• This unnanounced inspection report of Haringey children's services by Ofsted. Not much detail or comparative data, and no assessment of how much extra money has been invested in the past 18 months, but it suggests child protection services are improving in the borough.

• A strong blog riposte to Lord Nat Wei's criticism of "charities who become reliant on government funding" by Acevo boss Stephen Bubb.

"Let's make no mistake, the Government needs the sector if it is going to achieve its Big Society vision. We're not an optional extra. To suggest that we are some sort of bit player to Big Society, as opposed top being at its heart, is not simply wrong but divisive and unhelpful."

• My colleague Roy Greenslade on a report which suggests changes aimed at making the family courts more open to press and public scrutiny have failed dismally, and now have the opposite effect, making many legal cases "virtually unreportable."

• New Economic Foundation's latest Clone Town study, which finds that Britain's high streets are beoming increasingly dominated by chainstores. Cambridge, apparently is the worst offender

• Guardian of Leeds, who lined up Leeds Council chief executive Tom Riordan for online chat to discuss public spending cuts. Email in your questions please.

• Blogger Rich W / 'comments about how the government loves that, and another when it comes to "inflammatory statements" on Social Policy


Driving efficiencies in public sector ICT, September 30, London: The one-day conference for senior IT professionals to review their work, reduce costs and deliver vital efficiency savings.

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09/14/2010 Montford land some solid punches in a review 'Climategate' queries | Fred Pearce

Andrew Montford's report for Lord Lawson's sceptic thinktank raises some valid criticisms but will most likely be ignored for its brazen hypocrisy

• 'Climategate' inquiries were 'highly defective', report rules

Oh, for an end to the climate wars. Lord Lawson's sceptic thinktank has offered its take on whether the inquiries into the University of East Anglia (UEA) emails did their job adequately. But for all its sharp â€" and in many cases justified â€" rejoinders to the official inquiries, its report is likely to be ignored in some quarters for its brazen hypocrisy.

Here is the problem. Critics of the official inquiries have remorselessly attacked the fact that no out-and-out climate sceptics were on the inquiry teams. Now they have produced their own review of the reviews. But guess what. The author is a man whose views about "climategate" were well-known in advance. And none of the team put up by his sponsors, Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), to review Andrew Montford's review of the reviews could be described as an outsider, let alone a sympathiser with the UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The £3,000 fee for the review came from GWPF's coffers, but the secretive organisation refuses to reveal who its backers are.

Of course GWPF has the right to do what he likes. But the background leaves his conclusion that "is not enough attention was taken with the choice of team members to ensure balance and independence" ringing a bit hollow.

The three inquiries conducted into the "climategate" affair were all badly flawed. One, by MPs, Was taken to make it up to general elections. None of the other two How to order UEA itself directly to the scientific understanding of the e-mail to climatologists at the center of attention. Otherwise, it could hardly be better designed to ensure that no one was in stock.

Whenever the inquiries turned up, evidence that CRU director, Phil Jones, or his colleagues might have abused their positions as peer reviewers of scientific papers criticising their own work, or papered over some cracks while drafting chapters for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the inquirers concluded that it was a matter of scientific judgment. And thus either outside their terms of reference, or something where the scientists themselves were entitled to the last word. Montford dissects this systemic failure well.

The Muir Russell inquiry said it found no evidence that the CRU scientists had done this. Observers were incredulous. The chronology seemed straightforward. British sceptic David Holland submitted an FoI request to the university asking for emails in which CRU scientists discussed their work for the IPCC. Two days later, Jones sent an email to colleagues asking them to delete emails relating to the behind-the-scenes work for IPCC. That email, as Montford points out, carried Holland's FoI number as its subject line.

How did Sir Muir miss this? In a development not covered by Montford, the university has since admitted, in correspondence with blogger Steve McIntyre, that it omitted the email from its list of FoI requests sent to Sir Muir. So Sir Muir seems to have been about the only person studying the affair not to have known about it.

This is all, we may hope, cock-up rather than conspiracy. But the university did itself no favours in its own response to Sir Muir last week, when it expressed its satisfaction that he had found no evidence of such culpable deletions. Advice to UEA: when in a hole, stop digging.

None of the inquiries have cleared the air. Maybe the scientists themselves can achieve it.

At several recent conferences discussing "climategate", I have heard a genuine responsiveness to the criticisms: a realisation that "groupthink" had led some scientists to become blind to the uncertainties inherent in their work; an understanding that they will have to share their data more swiftly, even with non-scientists; and a realisation that public trust in climate science will require a change of tone and a touch more humility on their part.

Anyone who doubts how far we have come should see this month's report of the InterAcademy Council into the workings of the IPCC. This breaks strongly with the old mantra that "one bad paragraph" should not undermine 3,000 pages. It too attacks groupthink. And it notes, for instance, how the IPCC has tended to "emphasise the negative impacts of climate change", many of which were "not supported sufficiently in the literature, not put into perspective or not expressed clearly".

I have no problem with Montford. His Bishop Hill site is not to everyone's taste, but he has landed some good blows here. Mainstream climate scientists need acerbic critics to keep them honest. And there are real signs of progress.

• Fred Pearce is an environment writer and author of The Last Generation: How nature will take her revenge for climate change

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09/15/2010 Village Democracy: What happened next?

Despite Boris Johnson's best efforts, a small army of protesters are still camped outside Westminster. So are they a symbol of Britain's healthy democracy â€" or just a pointless nuisance?

Since May, Kate has been living in the square in a small tent without a flysheet. "When it rained yesterday I had a little bit of a leak," she says. Kate is 27, thin and pale, despite these months of camping in one of the capital's most shadeless corners. Her tent sits directly on the pavement. But she seems surprisingly content. Until May she was just one of London's drifting homeless; now she has a purpose.

Behind her tent and along the square's eastern pavement, directly facing the houses of parliament, are large hand-painted banners: "End Afghanistan Corporate War", "Bring Our Soldiers Home Alive", "Don't Attack Iran/Syria", "Democracy Village: ON STRIKE for Peace", "24 Hour Ongoing Frontline Picket". Slogans of this sort have been a fixture in the square for almost a decade, ever since the anti-war protester Brian Haw set up camp here in 2001. Haw is in the square still, a few yards away, often sitting as still as a statue, well on his way to becoming a national institution â€" or even an international one: the subject of a Japanese documentary, the Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2007 according to Channel 4, the subject of a Turner prize-winning work by the artist Mark Wallinger.

Yet the protest that Kate belongs to is not so revered. During its four-and-a-half months of existence, Democracy Village has been called "nauseating" by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson; "squalid" by the leader of Westminster council, Colin Barrow; "a malignant infection" by the Labour MP Tom Harris; a "threat to public health" and an opportunistic piece of "free camping" by the Times; and both an exercise in "self-regard" and "self-righteousness" and "a wino's Glastonbury" by the columnist Tom Sutcliffe in the usually liberal â€" and anti-war â€" Independent.

Even Haw has condemned Democracy Village. "All their activities have been deliberately unreasonable, even depraved and outrageous," he wrote on his website in July. "Drink, drugs, threats, avarice, violence, disgusting behaviour, are the hallmarks of Democracy Village." The protest, he went on, was led by an "alleged agent provocateur", with the unspoken implication that it had been created by the British government in order to discredit him.

Eight weeks ago, after a protracted legal struggle that went all the way to the high court, Johnson had the then few dozen Democracy Village activists evicted from the grassy central portion of the square. Fifty bailiffs and 80 policemen were involved in the operation, which took place at 1am, and the protesters, caught slightly cold, put up limited resistance: a few locked themselves to the rickety metal structures they had erected, but were quickly pulled off and manhandled away. A truckload of metal fencing was erected around the grass, which over the summer, to much outrage from politicians and the press, had in patches been completely worn away. Round-the-clock security guards were installed behind this barrier to prevent any re-occupation of the land. Barrow commented that he was "relieved this dreadful blight of Parliament Square has finally come to an end".

Except that it hasn't. Immediately after the eviction, many of the Democracy Village activists melted away, but a minority, Kate among them, simply moved a few yards from the grass to the pavement and set themselves up next to Haw. And there they have stayed, studiously ignored or glared at by him, but gradually building up a new encampment until, by yesterday, there were 15 or 16 tents in a ragged line all along the eastern side of the square and curling round to the south. There are also two tall, walk-in wooden cabinets, almost like scoreboxes on a rural cricket ground, where the Democracy Village protesters lock their valuables; a padded office chair for them to rest in when not handing out leaflets and talking to passersby; and wooden pallets, liberated from builders' skips, to keep most of the tents off the damp ground.

"Boris Johnson's made himself look like an idiot," says Luke, one of the protesters. "He's moved us about two inches." Luke is 22, tanned and lanky and pretty sure of himself. He has a mattress in his tent, and his possessions all neatly tucked away on either side. "Before I was here, I was homeless for seven years, just wasting away in a hostel with alcoholics and crackheads." He sits comfortably cross-legged on the pavement, smoking a roll-up, as if he were at some idyllic rural pop festival, while the traffic shoots by just behind his back. "The only downside of being here," he goes on, "is the carbon monoxide."

The mayor's press office describes the current encampment delicately as "an ongoing situation". Some MPs are more robust. "It is a total farce," an unnamed former Labour minister told the London Evening Standard recently. "It [the protest] is as big an eyesore as it ever was." The Conservative MP Malcolm Rifkind told the paper that the coalition government should draw up legislation to remove it. In July 2009, even before Democracy Village appeared in the square alongside Haw, David Cameron told Sky News: "I am all in favour of free speech . . . But I think there are moments when our Parliament Square does look a pretty poor place, with shanty town tents and the rest of it . . . My argument is: 'Enough is enough'."

Yet turning such rhetoric into action may continue to prove difficult. The square, which was created in 1868 from a graveyard and a patchwork of demolished buildings, is a small maze of jurisdictions. Its core of grass, paving and beleaguered old plane trees, strictly called Parliament Square Garden, is part of the royal parks, but managed by the Greater London Authority (GLA), which consists of the mayor and the London Assembly. The garden is covered by an array of fussy bylaws: "No person shall . . . wash or dry any piece of clothing or fabric" or "use any kite or model aircraft"; "written permission is required" to "exhibit any notice", "camp, or erect . . . any structure", or "give a public speech". Well before Democracy Village, some of these bylaws had been broken or tested to the limit by protesters from Haw to Tamil nationalists to an ex-soldier, James Matthews, who was sentenced to 30 days in prison in 2000 for adding a green mohican made of turf to the square's statue of Winston Churchill during an anti-capitalist march.

The square's pavements, meanwhile, are another matter. Along the south and east side, where the Democracy Villagers are now gathered, they are the responsibility of Westminster council. The council does not currently have "the necessary powers", says Barrow, to remove the demonstrators. And nor does the Metropolitan police: "Officers," says a spokesman, cannot "remove tents or any similar structures from [this] public highway". So few passersby use this part of the square, put off by the traffic and the lack of pedestrian crossings, that it is hard to accuse protesters of obstructing it.

You might think that security concerns offer the authorities a better excuse for moving them on. Over recent decades, Westminster has become a near-fortress of blocked-off roads, 20ft fences, anti-truck bomb barriers, CCTV and armed police officers. In 2005, the Blair government's infamously draconian Serious Organised Crime and Police Act included sections to tightly regulate protests within a mile-wide "designated area" around the Palace of Westminster, including Parliament Square. "A person seeking authorisation for a demonstration," the act says, "must give written notice" to the police; and protesters must not cause "a security risk" or "disruption to the life of the community". Haw had to fight a long legal battle against the act in order to continue his anti-war vigil. Other Westminster demonstrators have been convicted under the legislation: for reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq, even for holding a tea party on the Parliament Square lawn.

However, the sheer complexity of overlapping laws and power means that protesters can continue to chance their arms and hope to find a loophole. So it was in May of this year's Day, when the founders of democracy village separated from the day 'S traditional left celebrations in the capital and occupied the Parliament Square.

At first, there were just a dozen scattered tents and a plan to stay for the six days until the general election. The national media initially ignored the camp. On election night, as taxis full of journalists and politicians raced round the square heading for interviews and parties, I found a few protesters sitting, ignored, round a brazier on the cold grass. But they stayed, and grew in numbers and ambition: banners went up about Afghanistan and the Greek crisis, about climate change and the consequences of the banking meltdown. The campers set up a kitchen and compost toilets, and planted a "Peace Garden", an oak tree and strawberry plants. Once the fever of the hung parliament had passed, reporters came to visit in numbers. Suitably dramatic quotes were provided: "We've got two governments now, their one and our one," Chris Knight, one of the leading lights of Democracy Village, told the Times. "This is genuinely the beginning of a revolution."

The villagers jeered the Queen as she arrived for the state opening of parliament. They climbed scaffolding on Westminster Abbey, on the other side of the square, to unfurl an anti-war banner. They staged a sit-down outside Downing Street. They set up a website; declared their support for the British Airways strikers; had militant letters published in newspapers.

The intolerance towards the village from Conservative politicians in particular sits ill with the coalition's loud talk of restoring civil liberties after Labour's supposedly authoritarian rule. In 2006 Boris Johnson, then a loose-tongued Tory MP rather than mayor of London, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that protests in Parliament Square such as Haw's, while they "spoiled the look of the place", also reminded people "across the world [that] Britain still stands for a certain idea of liberty".

Then again, Democracy Village's openness and unruliness did have their disadvantages. Gradually, says Maria Gallastegui, a veteran peace campaigner, "we were overrun by homeless people. Democracy Village became a place to come for shelter, for food. It became like an old sanctuary ground." For the original, politically committed residents, the camp became, she says, "unmanageable". The communal cooking utensils were stolen, and the kitchen had to be shut down. Drinkers settled in. "It degenerated into a Mad Max environment," says Quentin Cross, a slight, softly spoken Irishman and another longstanding resident. "I was beaten up several times. People were being ripped off."

Yet Gallastegui and the other remaining villagers insist that many of the negative press stories about the camp were exaggerated and politically motivated. In fact, they say, the protest's genuine activists regularly moved their tents to minimise harm to the grass, carefully collected and removed their rubbish, and quickly stopped using the smelly compost toilets in favour of nearby public lavatories. As for Haw's allegation that Gallastegui is an agent provocateur â€" she and her comrades roll their eyes. Until last year, she was part of his protest, before, as he puts it on his website, "she withdrew . . . by mutual consent".

On a mild autumn evening, Gallastegui has just got back from one of the protesters' daily "food runs" with a carrier bag of sandwiches and a thermos of hot water donated by a friendly cafe. Central London is a relatively easy place for a savvy protester to live on the street: the villagers also know which nearby council day centres for the homeless offer the chance of a shower and the use of a computer. And camping in Parliament Square, for all the noise and pollution, has its compensations; looking up from her tent at the golden, floodlit spikes and towers of the Palace of Westminster across the road, Kate says, "For all the bureaucracy that goes on in there, it's a beautiful building".

But hostility towards the protest regularly re-asserts itself. Sometimes, passing drivers throw abuse and bottles. At pub closing time, people come to argue with the villagers, and sometimes to kick and upend their tents. Tonight, a posh-looking young man holding a half-empty pint of lager comes over to tell the campers that their actions are "illegal". The campers tell him that they have police permission while his public drinking does not. He wanders off. And then there is the traffic, which never properly quietens: the villagers say they have learned to sleep through most of it, but never the sirens.

After a few hours out here, even on a warmish night, a chill begins to seep through your clothes. Most of the protesters wear fleeces and hiking boots, but cocky young Luke is in a long-sleeved T-shirt. "My brother would probably be laughing at me, living in a tent out here," he says. Then he suddenly turns sober. "My brother was killed in Afghanistan: 1st Para. When I hit 15."

I ask him if he thinks the protest is having a political effect. "I'm so out of touch with radio and TV, I don't really know." Gallastegui is more upbeat. The camp's anti-war message, she says, is increasingly in tune with public opinion as the Afghan situation worsens. But then she too turns downbeat: "I've been here for four years, and I need to move on. Well, I'm in two minds . . . this takes all your time. Away from here, I could be doing more writing, more networking."

Yet even if Democracy Village soon disappears from Parliament Square, whether because of its activists' exhaustion or shifting priorities, or the coming of winter, or some cunning initiative by the authorities, a precedent has been established. The square has become a kind of new Speaker's Corner, not like the old one, tucked away and basically toothless on the edge of Hyde Park, with an audience of tourists and shoppers, but right at the centre of British power.

Already, beside Haw and Democracy Village, other protests, currently about the alleged world dominance of the freemasons and the rights of fathers, are beginning to establish small encampments and jostle for space on the pavement. All these demonstrators may get an opportunity to spread out further. Thanks to the recent wet weather, the Parliament Square grass has quickly grown back, thick and lush. The security fence around it, the GLA acknowledges, is ugly and excludes the public. It will soon have to come down.

Some names have been changed

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