The Washington Post reports the far-reaching environmental effects of trying to quench the U.S. thirst for oil. It is happening in Alberta where effects of opening up mines and shifting earth is drining rivers and polluting them at a rate that had not been expected. The report says:
“The digging — into an area the size of Maryland and Virginia combined — has proliferated at gold-rush speed, spurred by high oil prices, new technology and an unquenched U.S. thirst for the fuel. The expansion has presented ecological problems that experts thought they would have decades to resolve.”
Huge tracts of forest – an antidote to global warming have gone creating a moonscape, and members of communities living by the polluted river are experiencing rare forms of cancer.
The huge operation makes money for Canada and produces a synthetic oil for the U.S., but for the inhabitants of Alberta it is having a devastating effect although consequences will be felt much further afield. Gases emitted will contibute to global warming.
We were delighted to welcome George Rishmawi from Palestine to Birmingham last week, and organised a gathering in the local Racabessa Restaurant on Soho Road in Handsworth. Local friends in the fight for equality and justice joined those of us who visited Palestine in 2004 when George was our congenial host. He then worked for the Holy Land Trust, but he has recently joined another group working for international understanding, Siraj which is a Christian organisation. As they point out the exitence of the Christians is forgotten about. In a talk which George gave in Toronto he describes his native village as being 80% Christian, 20% Muslim.
Phill Murphy, Mick Rice, Susannah McCorry and I were joined by a number of people active in Birmingham in a solidarity campaign for Palestine. Chris Khamis comes from Nazareth himself and is active in the local movement. Stan Butler and Tari Atwal run stalls in Birmingham City Centre regularly. Raghib Ahsan who recently stood as a Respect candidate having been hounded out of Labour joined us. Maxi Hales and Alton Burnett were among those who gave words of welcome to George who replied with an update of the present situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Fiona Williams, Shah Jehan and Ansar Ali Khan who went on the trip to Palestine couldn’t be with us but sent their greetings.
We presented George with an inscribed tankard decorated with a Celtic pattern. It said “To George Rishmawi from your work for peace in Palestine from your friends in Birmingham”
Three Asian men have been charged with the murder of a young African Caribbean IT specialist who worked for Birmingham CIty Council. The incident took place in the Lozells area of Birmingham last October. Isaiah Young-Sam was with his brother and friends trying to escape the trouble which was going on in the area at the time. A car chased them and hooded men got out producing knives and weapons. Isaiah was stabbed in the heart. The tension and unrest was felt in other parts of the area, including the Rookery Road area of Handsworth where a gang of youths roamed the area causing injury and damage to property. Again there was an underlying racial dimension.
Part of the problem appears to be underlying beliefs that sections of the community benefit more than others from grants and benefits available from the local authorities. Certainly the SRB6 funding has benefitted a group who were allowed to infiltrate the board claimimg that they had hitherto been denied their rightful share of funding available. One group has taken power politically in the area showing little awareness or concern about what had been taking place locally in recent months. Regrettably this is more likely to fuel suspicion and feelings of injustice rather than address it.
Following my descriptions of the way the Labour Party in Birmingham has been hi-jacked by a group who have never previously had much to do with it, I get barmy comments posted saying I’m working with the Tories. Arjan Singh (alias Parmjit) was selected by the group two years back. Because of his track record the Regional Office stopped him standing again, so he immediately walked across to the Tories. Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, welcomed him with open arms. He stood against me and now I’m supposed to be working with him. I didn’t bring him in, but the group who did have now supplied another candidate. Are we supposed to believe she will be any better? She had been a member of the Labour Party for a full seven months when selected. And the guy who was outside the door ensuring attendance of their supporters was the same who brought forward Parmjit Arjan. Have they no shame? It’s going to be interesting though because mark 1 and mark 2 are up against each other!
Far from working with the Tories I have been Labour agent for Stewart Stacey, formerly Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council in Kings Norton. This was until I had to enter hospital for an operation.
My track record as Councillor has been on the left of the party – old rather than new Labour I’m afraid. It shows that this new bunch know precious little about socialism. They know little about conducting an election campaign either judging by the appearance of their posters on any old road sign and outside the ward boundary.