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Latest News (first) ARCHIVE

~ For Latest National News in the Media click here~ For earlier archive pre April 15 2002 click here.

Aug 10 ~"The man-giant arrives in Earthsummitland and finds 60,000 people talking and nobody listening

(Telegraph yesterday). Many business cards will be exchanged, but little will probably be agreed, let alone done. Tony Blair will arrive and give a 10-minute speech - just like all the other heads of state. How many of the other 99 will be listening? He may then go to an African village to be photographed with a pump producing clean water and some grateful inhabitants beaming with happiness. Then he will fly home.
There are lower hopes for this conference than there were for that in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. But even Rio failed in its own terms. Development aid from rich countries, for example, instead of rising as promised, has since fallen from 0.35 per cent of national income to 0.22 per cent. Many of the ambitions of those involved - whether right or misguided - are many miles from being met. The area covered by tropical forests, for example, is said to be declining by four Switzerlands a year.
The new conference is going to cover many diverse subjects, from bird conservation to globalisation. ...... If the leaders of the world genuinely thought that something vital was at stake with the environment and that something must urgently be done, a similar series of calls would be made. They would not have a conference. And nobody would pretend that the presence of Mr Meacher will make a scrap of difference."

Aug 10 ~ "Beyond the rejigging of personnel, the reordering of lines of command and authority, rebranding, relaunching and the renaming of everything in sight,

we now also have blue-skies thinkers, vision statements, mission statements, big-picture artists, charters, "aims and objects", targets, pledges, aspirations, goals, task forces, inquiries, "tsars", thinkers of the unthinkable and joiners-up of government. In one corner, and in the name of joined-up government, bureaucrats toil at stitching together the activities of differing arms of the executive; in another corner, and in the name of devolution, another band of bureaucrats are unstitching just as fast. Collectively they add up to a kind of perpetual fidget. The Freudian term is displacement activity. ..."
(Matthew Parris at his wisest today in the Times)

Aug 9 ~ Elliott Morley airbrushes out the horrors of FMD.

An email today says, "...have received a letter from Morley consisting of him waffling and lying again. He says: In his own writing he says we have been misled and our mistrust is caused by silly myths."
If only they were! If only the horrors were not true and were indeed silly myths - but does Mr Morley really imagine that so many people would still be working so tirelessly to expose the truth about the FMD policies, with no hope of any kind of gain, if there were no basis for their deep concern?

Aug 9 ~Buenos Aires, a city once compared to Paris, has become the dominion of scavengers and thieves at night.

. Newly impoverished homeless people emerge from abandoned buildings and railroad cars, rummaging through trash in declining middle- and upper-class neighborhoods. .
People from the disappearing middle class, such as Vicente Pitasi, 60 and jobless, have turned to pawn shops to sell their wedding rings. .
"I have seen a lot happen in Argentina in my day, but I never lost hope until now," Pitasi said. "There is nothing left here, not even our pride." .
............Economists and politicians differ on the causes of the brutal crisis. Some experts blame globalization and faulty policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund. ...................You have to wonder: Is all this really happening? Are our politicians so corrupt? Are we now really so poor? Have the banks really stolen our money? And the answers are yes, yes, yes and yes
(The reason to cry for Argentina - Washington Post August 6th)

Aug 9 ~ David Kennard's sheepdog film to go on national release

Sales of a sheepdog video made by on his north Devon farm to raise money for his flagging business have been so successful it will go on national release. He hoped to sell about 3,000 copies - enough to recoup the £15,000 costs raised from his overdraft and a loan. But in 18 months The Year of the Working Sheepdog sold more than 20,000 copies in the South West alone. (Ananova has some wonderful stills from the video)

Aug 9 ~ Mr Meacher is going to the Earth Summit after all

Mike Childs, Earth Summit co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth said: "We are delighted that Mr Meacher will be going to the Earth Summit. It was absurd to consider leaving him at home. His knowledge and commitment could prove to be essential.

Aug 8 ~ A MAFF official involved in killing thousands of animals during the foot-and-mouth crisis fiddled his hotel expenses and spent the extra cash on alcohol

His defence was that he found the work "distressing". (See Telegraph) The Western Morning News commented: "Originally involved in bovine TB trials in Cornwall, Thomlinson was seconded to Exeter to help slaughter thousands of healthy animals to stop the spread of foot and mouth.
Defence solicitor William Tate said Thomlinson had found the experience traumatic. He said: "On some occasions the team he was with were slaughtering something like 4,000 sheep a day, sometimes with little lambs. He found it distressing. They were under substantial pressure to meet targets"

Aug 8 ~ Either we are FMD free or we are not

Re the 20 day rule, an emailer writes, "There is ongoing trouble about this absurd 20 day rule of Defra (and because of the length of elastic which joins them together, Seerad). It will hog-tie livestock farmers, further cripple auction marts. Either we are FMD free or we are not. If we are and we did not lie to Europe and the world at large, then they cannot use the FMD legislation against us, can they?
On what grounds are they basing its retention, apart, that is, from further grinding us into the dust ?"

Aug 7 ~ Tony Blair Booed at Commonwealth Games

Letter from Andrew C Robson of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, in today's 'Daily Mail':
"Dear Sir,
The most striking moment of the closing ceremony [of the Commonwealth Games] was the booing of Tony Blair. Strangely enough, this was not mentioned in the TV coverage".
We're not living in a Soviet-style system with a state broadcasting service...are we?"

Aug 7 ~ Still no movement on the animal farm quarantine decision..will it take 20 days?

"GOVERNMENT ministers are still locked in talks with livestock industry officials in an attempt to thrash out a deal over the 20-day standstill rule.
An announcement on the rule, which bans producers from moving stock for 20 days after bringing an animal on to their farm, had been expected on Tuesday afternoon (6 August). But a Defra spokesman has confirmed that meetings are ongoing and an announcement on Tuesday is unlikely.
Although he added: "We want to make an announcement by the end of the week." (FWi)

Aug 7 ~ Margaret Beckett was unwise to call the FMD policy a "howling success"

M Seamus Conlan of Guernsey reminded Telegraph readers this morning that whenever a senior officer calls an exercise a "great success" alarm bells ring out.
"Re: No great success
Date: 7 August 2002
Sir - I served as a captain with 4th Regt Royal Artillery, whose guns deployed to the exercise in Oman last year (report, Aug. 1). A main reason for the failure of the guns to perform well was the refusal of Ministry of Defence officials to recognise that Oman was going to be hot. 4RA requested the "desert fit" to all of its vehicles. This was refused. The reason given was that the temperature in Oman would not get above 33C. While this is true of the coast, it is much warmer above the Jebel.
Also, whenever a senior officer calls an exercise a "great success", everyone from major down recognises that it was an unmitigated disaster."

Aug 6 ~ "The FSA has tried to and failed for years to link natural casings to mad cow disease and scrapie in sheep. It's an obsession."

Under the headline Bangers Facing The Chop the "This is Bristol" website writes, The good old British banger could soon be for the chop after the European Union announced fears about its safety.
...NSCA chairman Tim Weschenfelder said: "This is not just a battle to save European jobs, but for common sense.
"We have better hygiene and traceability standards than outside Europe.
"The FSA has tried to and failed for years to link natural casings to mad cow disease and scrapie in sheep. It's an obsession." ...A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency said: "The issue will be discussed on September 12. "The ban would apply to all countries that have ever had any potential risk of BSE."

Aug 6 ~ "I can't wait to get to Canada," Theresa said. "It's wide and open and regulation-free."You can trade there without all the interference and form-filling that happens here"

"A farmer who lost all her cattle during last year's foot and mouth crisis and found herself unable to fight stifling bureaucracy has decided to swap the rolling pastures of the Westcountry for the prairies of Saskatchewan in the Canadian Midwest."
See newspaper page for this story from Cornwall. That so many farmers are leaving farming - and even the country - in droves is entirely due to government policies in recent years. It is a tragedy for the country and for the countryside and is based on nothing more than political arrogance, ignorance and a refusal to listen. The spin against farmers in recent months has added to the heartbreak. But the country will be in a dire state when the penny finally drops that cheap food imports do not stay cheap for long once the country can no longer support itself.

Aug 5 ~ "....Spain is now playing on the vanities of Tony Blair.

Having failed in his original intention of wooing France and Germany, the Prime Minister is attempting to build an alternative based on a Spanish-British alliance. To win the support of Spain, he is prepared to sacrifice our historic sovereignty over Gibraltar, callously abandoning its people.
While luring Mr Blair on to an irrevocable course of concessions over Gibraltar, Spain has simultaneously reacted with brutal determination to Morocco's attempts to regain Spanish outposts on the Moroccan coast.
Spain has run rings around the British Government, playing on Mr Blair's quest for allies for his prospective bid for a new European Presidency. The reinvigoration of Spain, acting with centuries-old guile and determination, would have made King Philip II proud. (Letter in the Telegraph today from Jacques Arnold, West Malling, Kent )

Aug 4 ~ "the problem is far worse than the frauds at Enron and WorldCom because it is nearly impossible to track EU transactions."

(yesterday's Times story by Dan McGrory) Marta Andreasen, former chief accountant at the EU, "alleges that anyone can change numbers on the computer system without leaving an electronic trace, and says that the problem is far worse than the frauds at Enron and WorldCom because it is nearly impossible to track EU transactions.
She also says that Mr Kinnock was more concerned about trying to silence her than listening to her concerns. "I was not granted the freedom to address these shortcomings and, worse, actively discouraged from alerting others," she said.
"Even more seriously, I was asked blatantly to contradict financial regulations by signing off accounts, despite knowing them to be untrue."
Ms Andreasen was moved to a new job in May with few responsibilities and she now faces losing her E:125,000 salary after her public outburst. A Commission spokesman said that a disciplinary investigation was under way.

Aug 4 ~ "Our political leaders complain endlessly that we do not trust them.

They have a point. But trust is a two-way street. Why should we trust them when they clearly don't trust us? And if they do trust us, how come they keep so much secret from us?"
See John Humphreys on UK secrecy in today's Sunday Times

Aug 4 ~ Monti blights inner cities

(Booker's Notebook) Last week a committee of MPs described as "a disaster" the consequences of a ruling by European Commissioner Mario Monti that billions of pounds-worth of inner-city regeneration schemes carried out in Britain under the Private Investment Partnership programme were illegal under EU "state-aid" rules.
As I reported in May, Mr Monti's decision has destroyed arguably the most successful single government initiative of recent years, one that in the past decade has saved huge areas of Britain's cities from dereliction, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The MPs say that they are "appalled" to discover that the commission has such arbitrary power (one council alone, Stoke-on-Trent, told them in evidence that Monti's ruling has halted £100 million-worth of investment in the city).
No one, however, seems to have questioned how Mr Monti can get away with this, when one of the four criteria necessary to define illegal state-aid is that it must relate to an activity "tradable between member states".
Just how does building 500 low-cost homes on a disused mill-site in Bradford constitute an activity "tradable between member states"?
It seems that the British Government has meekly accepted a decision that it admits is socially catastrophic without pointing out that it is actually Mr Monti who appears to be acting illegally.

Aug 4 ~ The persecution of the Bushmen was, he said, the worst case of neo-colonial oppression Survival had investigated. ..but Mrs Kinnock sees nothing and hands over the EU money

See Booker today in democracy watch page "When Stephen Corry, Survival's director, wrote to Mrs Kinnock asking whether she had been fairly reported, she replied that she had seen no evidence of physical force being used and that Survival should accept the Botswanan government's invitation to visit the settlement for themselves.
A disbelieving Mr Corry responded by pointing out that over the past five years he and four other Survival staffers have made innumerable visits to every part of the Kalahari, recording hundreds of hours of interviews with scores of Bushmen. He then listed some of the forcible measures the Botswanan government has recently used to evict the Bushmen, ranging from emptying their water tanks to threatening that, unless they agree to leave, they would be shut up in their huts and burnt. The persecution of the Bushmen was, he said, the worst case of neo-colonial oppression Survival had investigated. Last week Survival's Miriam Ross returned from the Kalahari with a further stack of interviews describing how Mrs Kinnock's visit looked to the Bushmen. They were astonished how easily she had been hoodwinked. As Roy Sesana put it: "She wasted money coming from London. I am crying when she says these things. She should pay the money back."

Aug 3 ~ " while the government has sworn to abandon spin, behind the scenes it has been developing ever more sophisticated ways of getting its message across.

(See today's Guardian on Democracy Watch) The system's creators now want to extend it to enable Downing Street to tighten its grip over Whitehall by ensuring that civil servants "get a broader feel of wider departmental and government policies, rather than simply their own area or department". ....
the ambition is to use the newly developed secure government intranet to "manage new and existing policies in conjunction with key stakeholders in the wider public, private and voluntary sectors". The system was used in the foot and mouth crisis to ensure that the views of ministers and their advisers were shared with local officials..."

Aug 2 ~ GM corn cobs to Zimbabwe

"A report on the BBC World Service this morning [about 5.00 am BST] described how American food aid is presenting problems to Southern Africa." writes Lawrence. "The maize being sent to Zimbabwe is GM maize. It is being sent in the form of whole cobs - so that if distributed, some will certainly be planted or allowed to grow. It will introduce uncontrolled GM pollution of the subsequent local maize crops [remember the reports on this happening in S. America?].
The solution would be for the maize to be milled before it is sent. The US government finds the cost [about $20 per ton] too high for them. To put the cost into perspective an American University professor cited the cost of a single bomb dropped on Afghanistan as a comparison. The same professor commented that America, the source of the greatest volume of food aid, was using the food aid to further its own interests..."

Aug 2 ~ control of the food supply is total POWER over the people.

"Recently Mrs Beckett, head of DEFRA is reported to have said in a bid for the moral highground, that trade liberalisation would be worth billions of pounds to developing countries."
Joyce comments, "Worth billions of pound to US in the so called developed countries....reason why we can afford to burn our food supply on mass pyres and chuck it away in vast pits...then steal from those countries that desperately need all they can produce for their own people....on the pretext of giving them AID or rather AIDS, testing drugs on them etc etc....the abuse is endless......"

Aug 2 ~ José Bové is free

From the Las Vegas Sun. VILLENEUVE-LES-MAGUELONE, France- Activist farmer Jose Bove emerged from a French prison Thursday, thinner but smiling under his trademark mustache, after serving 40 days for ransacking a McDonald's restaurant."
Read on warmwell Why French Farmers destroyed GM Maize ..a moving account of why the French Farmers from Confederation Paysanne destroyed GM maize. It is written by José Bové

Aug 2 ~ "Identify the systemic dysfunction" is something that needs to be applied to the whole of this government and poor old DEFRA in particular.

But who is the umpire?
A free country by Simon Davies in today's Telegraph looks for example at C&E.
"No ordinary vocabulary would be colourful enough to describe the resentment festering within HM Customs and Excise. This week's High Court decision to curtail its excesses has produced a nest of irate hornets. All freedom-loving citizens should rejoice in the judgment. But they should also remember that resentment is a dangerous state of mind. Customs and Excise is a threatening enough outfit, even in its most placid moments. But when fuelled by bitterness, driven by artificial management targets and bolstered by a field force acting as though pumped up with amphetamines, its executives may invent a new generation of excesses.
Consider the bizarre culture within the agency. An established mindset of control and a relentless programme of employee "motivation" sessions have produced an environment of suspended reality. To the ordinary Customs officer, it seems reasonable to herd travellers into holding pens to await interrogation. And it appears to them quite acceptable to seize arbitrarily and auction the vehicles of tax-paying citizens living in a modern Europe. The agency has lost its ethical compass, if it ever had one.
This week's court judgment demands that HM Customs should cease search and interrogation "unless it has reasonable cause". But rather than holding up its hands and admitting to a systematic violation of human rights, it is likely that the agency will greatly increase surveillance over travellers to provide it with a defence in law.
No mere court judgment will break the unthinking zeal that pervades Customs and Excise. The operational tactics used on heroin smugglers were superimposed on to booze-runs. The real task now is to identify the systemic dysfunction within HM Customs. Until that problem has been resolved, no traveller is safe."

Aug 1/2 ~ Protest at 20 day standstill is planned for August 12

Lord Whitty was given a hard time at the Central England sheep show yesterday when he protested that the 20-day rule was "as a result of scientific advice" ("Yeah, like beef on the bone!" shouted someone) - and a leaflet was circulated encouraging farmers to form groups on August 12 to do what they could to bring the country's movement of goods and people to a standstill. The leaflet said: "It may mean 20 or so farmers and vehicles driving around roundabouts to slow down movements of traffic; it may mean interrupting the business of major multiples."
Farmers - who are at their wits' end, working 7 days a week to feed an ungrateful nation and constantly battling against more and more apparently mad centralising regulations brought in by a government with no understanding of the country and intent on importing more and more from abroad - may well feel that they are now angry enough to join the protest in force.

Aug 1 ~ ......a conversation with a hill farmer. She was talking about how the "hardy gene" was not doing well in scrapie genotyping

namely Black faces, whilst the Suffolks were. (see email) "They (Suffolks) can't even lamb themselves - what use is a flock of sheep like that!" The farmers can't see the point of this genotype based on this non-commonsense approach and yet they feel powerless to resist this. We have to have them tested or we will not be able to sell them!
Note well the Blackface champion at the Royal Highland Show Edinburgh, according to National Scrapie Pan would be killed as it is not the type of the sheep (type 5) that they want to breed from. It is merely an animal that has proven abilities to survive in its terrain.
Who would say that this was undesirable?

Aug 1 ~ an unnamed location...but 'The popular Wasdale Head Inn, at Wastwater, may have been ruled out by aides because it holds the annual World's Biggest Liar' competition.

The Cumbria News and Star can tell us little about Mr Blair's movements among the people to whom he hopes to give such a boost. "....Mr Blair is expected to hold talks before watching a livestock auction at an unnamed location. Mitchell's in Cockermouth is holding sales today and Harrison & Hetherington in Penrith on Friday.
The News & Star has also learned that Mr Blair is likely to be present at a ceremony at a major North Cumbrian factory.
The Prime Minister's family are expected to base their holiday in West Cumbria, described by The Times newspaper today as "the fastest growing tourist location in England".
Top hotels in the area include the Ennerdale Country Hotel at Cleator and the Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Underscar Manor, both near Keswick.
The popular Wasdale Head Inn, at Wastwater, may have been ruled out by aides because it holds the annual World's Biggest Liar competition.
Senior members of the farming and tourist industries in Cumbria - plus the police and local government sources - claimed to be in the dark about the visit today. "

Aug 1 ~ We are signing up people who for a good reason can't march

to our 'Marching in Spirit' register and their numbers will be added to the actual marchers on the day. See email from CLA

July 31 ~ EU-wide harmonisation based upon Napoleonic law.

Letter in today's Guardian
" SIR Coverage of plans for "reform" of the criminal justice system (Report, July 29) omits their provenance. The intergovernmental conference at Tampere, Finland in 1999 included proposals for a pan-European penal code, first mooted in the European commission document Corpus Juris in 1995. Blunkett's attack on trial by jury, habeas corpus, double jeopardy, non-revelation of past convictions, and ID cards is consistent with the desire for an EU-wide harmonisation based upon Napoleonic law. " David Barnby
Witney, Oxon

July 31 ~ Blairs' Lakeland break to boost rural morale

We read in the Times.....TONY BLAIR and his family are to begin a long weekend in Cumbria tomorrow, a year after foot-and-mouth disease ravaged the county and wrecked its tourism industry, which lost £400 million.
They are to stay in west Cumbria, where their friend and Labour champion, Lord Bragg, the arts broadcaster has a home that he refers to as "the shed", near Wigton.
Goodness, what a boost for Cumbria.

July 31 ~ a cornerstone of the English legal system is the way we discriminate against foreign nationals says the Home Office (sic)

The Home Office appears to be furious that Mr Blunkett's emergency powers have been declared unlawful. See Democracy Watch today "... In a damaging blow for Mr Blunkett's post-11 September policy, three judges in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission said that the detention of the nine was "not only discriminatory and so unlawful ... but also it is disproportionate".
Using the European Convention on Human Rights, they argued that Mr Blunkett cannot detain a Briton without trial, and therefore should not be allowed to imprison anyone else. "

July 29 ~ The Blair government will defy Lord Puttnam's Committee and our media will lose the last vestiges of independence.

(See Telegraph article in Democracy Watch) The joint committee set up to study the Government's Draft Communications Bill .... will criticise the plan to give major figures such as the naturalised American Rupert Murdoch a chance to increase his hold on broadcasting in Britain. ......
Last night the Government made clear it was not prepared to compromise. ..... "The provisions on media ownership were not tentative proposals, they were decisions," "....the Government believes the broadcast industry and the public will benefit enormously from the foreign investment that would flow from the recommendations."

Here is one stakeholder's view :" Oh really, Tessa Jowell? The public "benefits enormously" by having news filtered and massaged by a powerful monopoly working hand in glove with a grateful government, does it? And does the public also benefit from a government that makes undemocratic decisions, ignoring the recommendations of a democratic committee when it doesn't like its findings?"

July 29 ~ EU-funded damage is not exclusive to western Europe.

The European transport network for accession countries funds big road-building projects in eastern Europe. In north-eastern Poland, environmentalists are campaigning against the siting of the Via Baltica through the stunning Biebrza marshes. This road is one link in the EU dream of uninterrupted motorways from Cork to Helsinki. It doesn't have to pass through the marshes, but local commercial interests want it there. This is a landscape teeming with rare species. It is a Polish national park and a potential Natura 2000 site. But the EU has not protested; instead it has invested millions in the Lithuanian and Latvian sections, declaring these to be "without significant environmental impact". I tried to discuss this with MEPs, but most knew nothing about it - unsurprising given the poor attendance of MEPs at EU parliamentary debates. ...The EU may be a daunting subject, but there's every reason for people to wise up. It has good conservation legislation in its directives on birds, habitats and water. All could be crucially important for eastern Europe, where there is so much to protect. But there are huge conflicts between these directives and other policies. We need to call MEPs to account for the environmental damage that results from such contradictory policies. The EU uses our taxes and if we think we are paying for environmental protection, it's time we had it. (See Ros Coward in today's Guardian)

July 28 ~ No words

VICTORIA (CP) - A teary-eyed crowd heckled food inspection officials who removed 14 water buffaloes on Saturday from a Vancouver Island farm over fears of mad cow disease. "There are no words in the human language to explain how I feel," said Darrel Archer, whose family has fought to keep the animals from being slaughtered
http://www.canada.com/victoria/story.asp?id=%7B52E8B649-B048-444A-B6B4-D3706047B34F%7D
That governments can do this - with no scientific or veterinary evidence - is a sign of the times. With the Animal Health Bill about to pass into law it is also - tragically for those of us who give a damn - a sign of the future.

July 28 ~ Gibraltar situation - an insult to democracy

"Many fellow-Britons suddenly turned upon their government, elbowing their way on to the Today programme to vent their ire at Mr Hain. The anger came from Right and Left alike: Bill Morris, the leader of the TGWU, called the Foreign Office's rejection of the referendum "an insult to democracy" and announced that he personally would travel there "to campaign for a No vote".
A number of Labour back-benchers - including Lindsay Hoyle, the Labour chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Gibraltar - also fiercely attacked the negotiations with Spain.
Yet Spain, at least, has been eminently frank in the pursuit of its popular interests: our government has not. The fact that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Office so grossly miscalculated the national response is very telling, for there is a blind spot in New Labour: a streak which masquerades as anti-colonialism, but is in fact brutally colonialist in its thinking....." (see Democracy Watch for this article in the Telegraph)

July 28 ~ "Please educate the consumers" says Bryn

The reply he received from James Provan MEP is encouraging.

July 27 ~" While 'Naming and Shaming', can we also suggest some heroes?"

asks Sue today. "Mine is the Vet who saved the Lloyds sheep at Bronllys."
Warmwell welcomes this idea. Contact us via email (apologies. Link repaired).

July 27 ~ The report concluded that the importation of sheep from the Longtown Market in Carlisle introduced the disease to Northern Ireland causing the first outbreak at Meigh in Co Armagh on March 1

says the Telegraph
Pat comments today: "The most important part of this story is actually missing. Prosecutions have already taken place (last January) in Eire and a man gaoled.
What beats me is that we have melt-down this side of the water and apart from silly old Waugh - absolutely nothing is done. I draw the obvious conclusion - the government dare not prosecute, because of what will come out. Criminal offences, including serious fraud, have taken place on a massive scale and have led to an equally massive cover-up."
(Last year warmwell posted this article from the Irish Times: "The problem of smuggled animals surfaced during the thousands of checks on stock carried out by Department officials during the foot-and-mouth crisis. Well over 100 smuggled animals were abandoned on roads in the mid-west region in the space of one month in 2001." )

July 27 ~ Cumbria FMD Report

Nick tells us.."The next meeting of the Cumbrian Rural task Force is 6th August 2002. It is here that members of the Task Force will be briefed on the findings made by Professor Thomas and his team. I will be attending." (more)

July 27 ~ Start Listening

Earlier this month an unnamed Government Minister told a number of national newspapers [1] that a decision to allow GM crops to be commercially grown in the UK had already been taken (don't be in any doubt, the decision is already taken). The Minister also described the forthcoming public debate on GM crops as a PR offensive
Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: This debate will be pretty pointless unless the Government makes it clear that they will not allow GM crops to be grown in the UK if the public opposes their commercial development. People have already rejected GM food. That's why food companies have all gone GM-free. We don't need discussion, we need action. The Government must start listening. (See FoE Press release)

July 27 ~ Gibraltar is fighting back

(Telegraph) The decision by Peter Caruana, its Chief Minister, to hold a referendum on the colony's future in October has wrongfooted Tony Blair and his ministers. Spain has never had any interest in the Gibraltarians' right to self-determination. The Government has at least paid lip service to their being consulted on shared sovereignty with Madrid, but on its own terms; it would not recognise the result of any unilateral exercise.
If the proposed referendum takes place, and produces the expected confirmation of a near-unanimous wish to remain wholly British, Mr Blair will rightly be cast as an enemy of democracy. As Prime Minister, he has sought to compensate for his timidity over the euro by devising other means of raising Britain's profile in the EU.
In 1998 he launched with France the European rapid reaction force. Last year he began secret negotiations on shared sovereignty in the hope of forming an Anglo-Spanish axis to counterbalance Franco-German predominance within the Union. Practical considerations (the failure of European countries to spend enough to make the rapid reaction force effective) or local sentiment (Gibraltar's vehement support of the status quo) are not allowed to stand in the way of these designs....

July 27 ~ Blair halts asteroid

(Telegraph)......"Let's face it," said Bruce. "When was the last time any of us faced down an unstoppable force hundreds of years old hurtling toward us at breakneck speed?"
"I did," said boyish charmer Tony Blair (Tom Hanks) from the back of the ship. "Rose Addis coming at me on a trolley down the corridor of the Whittington. Okay, guys. Stand back. This is our last chance." He punched a series of numbers in the control panel and instantly, amazingly, the asteroid came to a complete halt and just sat there.
Bruce wiped the sweat from his brow. "How the hell did you do that?"
"Simple," said Tony. "I transferred operating responsibility for this section of the galaxy to Railtrack."
From somewhere outside the ship came a tinny announcement: "Due to engineering works in the Bushey area, the 2019 asteroid will not now be arriving until 2274."
"Phew," said Bruce, and radioed back to earth. "Euston, we don't have a problem."

July 26 ~ BRUSSELS - Europe's latest food scare gathered alarming new momentum

yesterday when around 2000 more pig farms in the Netherlands discovered they may have used animal feed tainted with a hormone used in the production of the contraceptive pill. Within the space of a month, the contamination - first discovered on three Dutch pig farms - has grown to such an extent that it now affects a large majority of producers in the world's third-biggest pork-exporting nation. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=2197181&thesection=news&thesubsection=world

July 26 ~ the Government treats with contempt the wish of Gibraltar to remain wholly British.

Telegraph Opinion The Minister for Europe cloaked his appeasement of Spain with a dash of bravado, reminding Madrid that Britain did have sticking-points and warning it against losing a historic opportunity to reach agreement. Yet the general tone of the interview was supplicatory, an attempt to soften the edges of discord by querying the definition of permanence, by somehow altering the status of the base and by indefinitely delaying any referendum. Noting the Government's eagerness to conclude a deal, Spain might well decide to hold out for more. It could hardly be blamed for that. Tony Blair, Jack Straw, his Foreign Secretary, and Mr Hain are hell-bent on sacrificing Gibraltar to the dubious prize of an Anglo-Spanish axis within the European Union.

July 26 ~ Anderson praises Western Morning News

Unlike Elliot Morley and other government apologists, who have had some very self-righteous and bitter words to say about this excellent West Country Independent newspaper, the Anderson Inquiry acknowledged "the valuable role the WMN played in highlighting the local agenda in what was seen as a "London-imposed" line often taken by the national media.
It also quoted from a WMN editorial of April 22 this year, which said: The contiguous cull was the single most controversial policy initiative of the entire battle against foot and mouth disease "It was crude, mediaeval and extremely brutal."

July 26 ~ Where is the Cumbria report?

See BBC news

July 26 ~ The Office of the Information Commissioner, the official responsible for the protection of information privacy has come out in favour of finger printing all school children

See democracy watch. "Last week, Privacy International received a disquieting complaint from the mother of an 11-year-old child attending a London primary school. She claimed all children in the school had been electronically fingerprinted for a new library system without the consent of parents. Some parents were angry, saying the use of such systems softens children up for such initiatives as ID cards and DNA testing. This fingerprinting system has been sold to 1,000 schools, or as many as 300,000 children from the age of seven. It is being used to replace library cards and to increase efficiency of library management. Each child places a thumb on an electronic scanner, and the identity of the print is then stored in a computer. That thousands of children are being fingerprinted for school administration is worrying enough. But the most bizarre twist is that the Office of the Information Commissioner, the official responsible for the protection of information privacy in Britain, has come out in support of the practice. " (Telegraph)
Chris writes, "Now we have Ofwat, Ofgen and Ofcom do we need a new Quango called Ofgov to oversee the excesses of this government"

July 25 ~ Re: Spinning asteroid

Letter in the Telegraph
Sir - I see that an asteroid is to hit Earth in 2019.
Is this a ploy by Alastair Campbell to dispel our fears about the crisis facing the pensions industry?
From: Julian Hales, Saffron Walden, Essex

July 25 ~ Both the Americans and the Russians have developed capabilities to manipulate the World's climate.

See http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/chuss/haarp2.htm "...In the US, the technology is being perfected under the High-frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP) as part of the ("Star Wars") Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI). Recent scientific evidence suggests that HAARP is fully operational and has the ability of potentially triggering floods, droughts, hurricanes and earthquakes. From a military standpoint, HAARP is a weapon of mass destruction. Potentially, it constitutes an instrument of conquest capable of selectively destabilising agricultural and ecological systems of entire regions.
While there is no evidence that this deadly technology has been used, surely the United Nations should be addressing the issue of "environmental warfare" alongside the debate on the climatic impacts of greenhouse gases... "

July 25 ~ "One of the suspicions people have here is that the government won't act fairly because it is too closely allied to the biotechnology industry.

If it is to be trusted, the government has to demonstrate its intention to act in the public interest." says Sue Mayer, from GeneWatch UK in this article in the Guardian entitled New Zealand's PM could lose the election over GM scandal

July 25 ~"Most Organisations have fallen in line with the remarks of Mrs. Beckett and her 20-20 hindsight excuses.

Her silly school-child reaction to warranted criticism ("a bit like saying flood defences were inadequate after a tidal wave came along") is the trade mark of the professional incompetent - they always blame their tools." Bryn blasts off here in characteristic vein - but with - as usual - facts to back up the robustly expressed opinion.

July 24 ~ "Food is power. We use it to change behavior. Some may call that bribery. We do not apologize" Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the World Food Program

We read today that Zimbabwe could suffer from a famine by September if the government continues to refuse food aid containing genetically-modified organisms (GMO), according to a senior United States aid official. See BBC report

July 24 ~ RURAL BROADBAND - IF YOU DON'T ASK, YOU WON'T GET SAYS CLA

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is urging businesses and residents in rural areas to register their interest in receiving ADSL broadband - the affordable way of getting fast Internet access. The CLA stresses that people must register their interest with an Internet Services Provider, who will then pass on the figures to BT. Full information on how to do this is available on the BT web site www.bt.com/openworld
ADSL is only obtainable through BT and yet 4,400 out of 5,500 exchanges are unable to offer broadband. BT will enable these exchanges only when sufficient demand has been proven. ..1) Before you register, you need to find out if your local exchange is enabled. You can do this by visiting www.bt.com/openworld and checking your telephone number.
But the CLA believes that the demand already exists and that it is not apathy on the part of the UK public, rather the mechanism for recording the demand that is at fault. (more)

July 24 ~ the RSPCA should be doing the job it was set up to do

(Telegraph) "The society sold its old headquarters in the centre of Horsham for £5.2 million and has spent £16 million on a shed. We didn't need it.
"The amount of staff we have is ridiculous. It's because they like to run it on a military basis with chains of command. You could take three layers out of the bureaucracy and it would still work."
......Members who criticise the society's activities claim to have been ostracised. Paranoia and an obsession with secrecy afflict both the organisation and its critics. Private detectives have even been used to investigate the society's opponents. Last year, the society spent £40,000 pursuing an inquiry into the activities of David Mawson, a vegetarian chef and member of the council. The cost of the failed attempt to suspend him from the council is reported to have included £3,560 to track his e-mails.
There was also anger earlier this year when The Telegraph disclosed that the society was planning to spend tens of thousands of pounds on an investigation into which member of its council spoke to the BBC.
.......... Owen Perks, who was a council member and treasurer of the society, resigned last year and returned his Queen Victoria Medal in protest at the way he believed the hierarchy had lost touch with supporters.
"I believe the RSPCA should be doing the job it was set up to do and that's preventing cruelty to animals," he said. "It's become a campaigning body." Fears over repercussions mean that many critics within the organisation are willing to speak only anonymously. ...."

July 24 ~ North Dakota Considers Banning Modified Wheat

Progressive Farmer | July 22, 2002 Lawmakers in North Dakota are considering a motion to ban the planting of genetically modified wheat in the state. Officials from the American Corn Growers Association argue that the reluctance of other countries to buy the genetically altered wheat will cause the grain to become feed, competing with already suffering corn prices.

July 22 ~ An emailer's verdict

"Did you see and hear Margaret Beckett's speech....winding up all the time to why the SI843 is necessary? Same old guff re vaccination and food. Same spin re the unidentified pig....my that was a convenient one, wasn't it? Same biosecurity for farmers but not for the public wandering over farmland.
Lessons Learned? Don't make me sick!
" Joyce

July 21 ~ GM DNA in Human Gut Underestimated

UK's Food Standards Agency dismissed its new research findings that GM DNA in food has transferred to bacteria in the human gut. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho reveals how the experiment was designed to bias against positive findings, so the actual transfer of GM DNA could be much more extensive. There should now be a comprehensive ban on all GM crops, she says. If you wish to see the complete document with references click here. Extract: "Despite the severe limitations placed on detecting GM DNA, and an experimental design both biased towards negative results, irrefutable positive evidence was nevertheless obtained. That means the transfer of GM DNA in the human gut could be much more extensive than the data indicate. This makes it all the more astonishing for the FSA to have reportedly claimed that "the findings had been assessed by several Government experts who had ruled that humans were not at risk". Those experts should now be named and made to defend their ruling.
In a statement on its website, the FSA said that the study had concluded it is "extremely unlikely" that GM genes can end up in the gut of people who eat them. This statement is highly misleading and very likely to be false...."
Joyce comments: "I wonder why they dismiss this bit of research but, on the flimsiest of evidence of toxins being present, close down the cockle business in Wales - see Countryfile today?"

July 21~ Officials were ordered to brief No 10 about "The Countryside" and list "places of interest"

"Downing Street last week enlisted the aid of Defra - the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - in suggesting an itinerary for the September trip. Officials were ordered to brief No 10 about "The Countryside" and list "places of interest"...." This article in the Telegraph helpfully suggests exactly where Mr Blair can go.

July 20 ~"Much of the criticism directed at ministers following last year's foot-and-mouth outbreak benefits from "20-20 hindsight", Margaret Beckett, environment secretary, said yesterday."

So...when warmwell.com and many others were saying at the time of the memo from Paul Kitching, then still at Pirbright (April 20th 2001) exactly what was wrong and what ought to have been done - including the use of the Rapid Diagnosis PCR - what was that? 20-20 fortune-telling?
The Financial Times article adds that " She is also trying to drive through internal reforms in the way her department is run. Defra's administration came under fire from a Commons inquiry earlier this week, with MPs questioning the competence of its management. An extra £140m has been allocated in the spending review for investment in the department. Mrs Beckett yesterday acknowledged the need to "improve our capacity to manage the department"...."
So , there we are, we at warmwell will be watching with interest the use to which the £500 million treasury money is put and see much of it disappearing into DEFRA's overheads, improving "our capacity to manage the department". .

July 20 ~ "Will someone please explain very slowly to Mr Gill that two wrongs don't make a right?"

writes Pat this morning. "His views, and his way of expressing them, damage Britain and damage farming. He is an offensive hypocritical oaf who uses every distraction technique in the book to protect his own back."
Pat is referring to the Yahoo news article about French abattoirs finding spinal cord in meat - in which the egregious president of the NFU says, "This astounding level of hypocrisy is staggering even by French standards " and "The arrogance of the French authorities in continuing to ban British beef on completely spurious grounds while at the same time failing to ensure its own beef meets health standards is appalling," NFU President Ben Gill said on Friday.
Pat adds: "At least, the French have had the integrity to publish the report even though they must have known the embarrassment it would cause them. We hide up our problems as everyone reading this knows....and we are still doing it." Yes indeed.

July 20 ~"If the UK had the guts to regain its sovereignty by repealing the 1972 European Communities Act,

we would, once again, be in a position to decide for ourselves how much farm aid we would like to give to our competitors. It is a nonsense to say we would lose trade because WTO has largely broken down trade barriers, and in any event, the trade we have with the EU is detrimental to the UK because we import more than we export." David's letter is, as always, well worth reading.

July 20 ~ "Caravanning is cool" says the survivor

Our attention is drawn to some ducking, weaving and spinning in coils in the pages of the Telegraph today, by that "survivor" Margaret Beckett who just happens to be giving an interview to Rachel Sylvester.
Our emailer writes, "...Yet another premptive strike before Monday?
Many farmers, though, are struggling to make ends meet after the foot and mouth outbreak. Next week, the results of the official inquiry into the handling of the crisis will be published. Does Mrs Beckett think mistakes were made? "There must have been mistakes - that's life. But it's not fair to say it was a total disaster. People did their best in very difficult circumstances. (Thats life.. try telling that to the farmers who have taken their own.. Total disaster is putting it mildly....Difficult circumstances of their own making with an election coming up in May/June)
"It's a bit like being overwhelmed by a tidal wave, then saying you therefore didn't have any flood defences. You may have had perfectly good flood defences, but there are no adequate defences against a tidal wave."
Especially when the " tidal wave" was caused by MAFF itself.... Last Paragraphs..... WATCH OUT! - theres a minister about. Can't be bothered to support the devastated British tourist industry...."
Mrs Beckett, we see when reading the article for ourselves, says: "Too much has been said about spin, most of it by people who are spinning"...Mrs Beckett, we couldn't agree more.

July 19 ~ "to innovate is not to reform" (Edmund Burke)

" The Home Secretary is making the judicial system a scapegoat for the failure to police the streets. What deters criminals is the fear of detection and conviction. Murders are rare partly because the vast majority of murderers are caught. Declining clear-up rates for lesser crimes - now as low as 14 per cent in London - mean that criminals calculate that they will get away with these crimes.
Mr Blunkett, however, prefers to spread the responsibility for his debacle across the entire criminal justice system. His White Paper eschews the solemn idiom of the law in favour of shrill populism: "The public are sick and tired of a sentencing system that does not make sense." This lack of gravitas reflects a cavalier attitude to justice. "This White Paper aims to rebalance the system in favour of victims, witnesses and communities." In Justice for All, however, not the individual, but the state, is paramount.
If justice were the aim, Mr Blunkett would not tamper with the prohibition on double jeopardy, which prevents the state from ordering retrials until it gets the result it wants. A government that really cared about the community would cherish the right to jury trial, rather than restricting it by judicial fiat. A government that took witnesses seriously would not allow "hearsay" evidence to be admitted, thereby dispensing with the duty to appear in court under oath. And a government that had the individual at heart would not allow previous convictions and even acquittals to be revealed to juries.
Mr Blunkett and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine (who should know better), boast of their "root and branch reform". But, as Burke said, "to innovate is not to reform". By tipping the scales in favour of the prosecution, the latter's incentive to prepare the best possible case would be weakened...." Today's Telegraph

July 18 ~ The Animal Health Bill Lord Whitty will make a statement today about the clauses from the old AHB that are to be debated next week.

The Lords website says in its Future Business section: The Lord Whitty - To move, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to whom the Animal Health Bill has been committed that they consider the bill in the following order: Clause 5 ~ Schedule 2 ~ Clause 14 ~ Clauses 1 to 3
Schedule 1 ~ Clause 4 ~ Clauses 6 to 13 ~ Clauses 15 to 18.
These are the "scrapie" clauses. We consider it shabby practice that Lord Moran (at least at the time of writing this) has not been separately and courteously informed.

July 18 ~ "a crucial part of democracy at a time when the government has such a large majority in the House of Commons.....The internet has also played a role..."

Lawyers claim that emails and online documentation allow them to keep in touch with and gain the views of hundreds of different clients so decisions can be made quickly. ...An article in today's Guardian (link now corrected, thank you Chris..) features the Class Action lawyer, Stephen Alexander
"Mr Alexander says class actions have a wider role than preventing abuse of corporate power. They have become a crucial part of democracy at a time when the government has such a large majority in the House of Commons that the executive has control of the legislature and there is no effective parliamentary influence.
He likes to tell how then transport secretary Stephen Byers failed to turn up for an appearance on the BBC's Question Time programme for fear of facing Mr Alexander, the champion of Railtrack shareholders.
Mr Alexander is developing a taste for the political life after addressing meetings in rural Wales about legal action against the government over the impact on local businesses of the foot and mouth epidemic.
"They said they would vote for me if I stood for election. It was the same after Question Time; people said I was statesmanlike whereas the politicians were just trying to score points off each other."

July 18 ~ A plague on both their houses

To whom are we to turn? Who can help us protect our hard-won civil liberties? An excellent article in the Guardian today points out a simple fact: "The rule that determined the balance of the judicial system hitherto was this: it was worse for an innocent person to be convicted than for a guilty person to go free. Now that has been reversed. What drives the Blunkett white paper is a demand for more convictions, no matter what collateral damage may be done to people who are not guilty. "
".... It turns out that the entire weight of libertarian trust in Labour rests on the performance of one man, Roy Jenkins, whose record was epic in many of these fields, but who is now a Liberal Democrat - as is almost every politician now prepared to take risks for civil liberties.
The Blair government is, in this respect, old, old Labour. With one exception, it has run away from every libertarian challenge. It is profoundly illiberal. As home secretary, Jack Straw always wanted to make clear early in the conversation that he was not a liberal. Nor is Tony Blair. Liberal is a word that crosses Blair's lips as infrequently as socialist. The third way he seeks between these terms is the only one available: reliably and fiercely conservative. "

July 18 ~ Aujeszky's : Defra's backfiring blunderbuss

- all six farms are clear. But it has taken 18 days to confirm this. According to the NPA website, "producers are now reluctant to report suspicious-looking cases because they are in fear of triggering an expensive shut down.
"The producer who has just been cleared is no stranger to the brutal fortunes of movement restrictions. In 2000 he was locked up for two months because of swine fever and last year he was caught in the foot and mouth restrictions because he had a lorry at Cheales when the first foot and mouth pigs were discovered.
Nevertheless he has continued to behave with the utmost responsibility by sending a few pigs every three or four months to his nearest Veterinary Investigation Centre. It was this which proved his downfall this month. His pigs went in at 3pm and at 6pm he was bluntly informed that he, his family, his machinery and his animals were under restriction. After four years of crisis, pig producers are trading on cashflow rather than profit so any loss of income from sending pigs to slaughter (in his case over £20,000 a week) is calamitous. He is by no means sure he will continue to send animals to his VI centre.
There is now a growing fear in the pig industry that swine fever could get a grip in this country again because of the difficulty distinguishing it from PDNS, even during post mortem...."
After last year's FMD fiasco, all livestock farmers, not just pig producers will be feeling the same grave doubts. Stuart Royston, NPA Chief Executive says "Defra's disease detection blunderbuss" is in serious danger of backfiring. Responsible producers and their vets will think carefully before raising the alarm because the response is so draconian.

July 18 ~ MPs back right to pick and choose herbal medicines

(Telegraph) The Government was yesterday told to abandon the European directive on the purchase of traditional herbal medicines. The Tories said there should be freedom to "pick and choose" while a Labour MP said European bureaucrats should not meddle in matters concerning British consumers.
Simon Burns, a Tory health spokesman, said users of such products "cannot see any justification for an interference in them exercising their decision and freedom to pick and choose."
The Government should abandon the Food Supplements Directive rather than "persist in something that is unwanted and very unpopular with those people most affected by their actions".
Mr Burns was speaking during health questions, after the issue was raised by Sir Nicholas Winterton (C, Macclesfield).
From the Labour benches, Michael Connarty, (Falkirk East), wanted to know why Europe should be involved in a matter that should rightly concern British consumers and health authorities.
Hazel Blears, a junior health minister, said: "We're talking here not just about herbal products but herbal medicines which have a physiological effect and therefore fall within a regulatory framework."
Sir Nicholas said the herbal directive threatened availability of 70 per cent of safe herbal products in Britain.

July 17 ~ Labour Rural Conference "open to all"...but to register, you have to pay £176.25 over the phone..

The 19 - 21 July 2002: Labour Rural Conference at the Harper Adams University College, Newport, Shropshire ( theme of the conference will be "Labour working for rural communities") was said to be "of interest to members in rural and semi-rural constituencies, but will be open to all party members with an interest in rural issues as well as visitors from outside the Labour Party"
However, before you plan your journey, it is as well to realise that "visitors that come are only allowed in the exhibition side, unless you register as a commercial visitor." To register, you have to pay £176.25 over the phone...
For more information email lesley_scott@new.labour.org.uk or call 0191 238 0223.
The cost for NON LABOUR PARTY MEMBERS is £30 for all or any day. Visitors are just that . They may attend any of the sessions but only as an observer - in other words "visitors" are not allowed to speak...

July 17 ~ GM genes found in human gut

Today's Guardian "British scientific researchers have demonstrated for the first time that genetically modified DNA material from crops is finding its way into human gut bacteria, raising potentially serious health questions.
Although the genetically modified material in most GM foods poses no health problems, many of the controversial crops have antibiotic-resistant marker genes inserted into them at an early stage in development.
If genetic material from these marker genes can also find its way into the human stomach, as experiments at Newcastle university suggest is likely, then people's resistance to widely used antibiotics could be compromised.
The research, commissioned by the food standards agency, is the world's first known trial of GM foods on human volunteers. It was last night described as "insignificant" by the agency but as "dynamite" by Friends of the Earth..."
Extract from Daily Mail, September 21, 2001, Page 44 by SEAN POULTER
"Some experts say the FSA appears to have accepted the view of the the biotech industry and food firms that GM derivatives are chemically the same as the derivatives from non-modified crops. They argue, however, that that does not take account of the fact that consumers may wish to exercise their choice not to support GM technology and farming. Many consumers believe insufficient work has been done to assess the health and environmental impact of GM crops on humans, wildlife and the countryside.
Secrecy surrounding the use of GM ingredients in food products, which arrived on supermarket shelves without any debate, was one of the primary causes of the public backlash against the technology."

July 16/7 ~ To be heard in Europe we need one strong voice

European Livestock Alliance writes, " We'd like to thank you very much again for your support, it is so good to know there are some decent and likeminded people left in the world ! We are working to get ELA going which is, taking into account the different nationalities involved, (all EUROPEANS! ) a very encouraging experience. "
warmwell replies, "We do so agree that this needs to be a Europe wide cooperative of sensible and ordinary people - and the internet can be the democratic link that was missing before. We hope many people from everywhere in Europe choose to join ELA"

July 16 ~ RSE".. errors had been made in trying to contain the outbreak and that there was a "general lack of preparedness in many quarters".

... "There are available vaccines of high potency that will induce immunity within three to four days." ..... (Times)

July 16 ~ On the day that the RES report was published, the DEFRA Minister Elliot Morley

for whom the adjectives "animal loving" are hardly adequate to meet the case, was loudly proclaiming his support for a live export ban. As Valerie Elliot (who else?) helpfully put it in the Times today; " THE Government is seeking to outlaw the export trade in live animals to the Continent, preferring farmers to use local abattoirs and export meat rather than livestock. "
However, the article more quietly concludes, "The minister admitted that the Government would much prefer the export of meat, rather than live animals, but he conceded that there was nothing he could do to prevent the shipment. He said: "This trade is allowed under EU rules and I am unable to do any more than apply the rules, including those on journey and rest times, with vigour."

July 16 ~ Not much hope for the Curry proposals

DEFRA is going to get £421 million a year ore, raising its budget to £2,944 million by 2005-06 - but officials could not confirm how much of that would be used to fund the Government-appointed policy commission's recommendations. Some £150 million has been allocated to spending on flood and coastal defences - the minimum the insurance industry had demanded - and funds are also needed for waste management and recycling initiatives. (old refrigerators etc, as forced upon us by Brussels directives) When the Future of Farming commission reported, Sir Don Curry said £500 million was needed to rescue farming from economic and environmental collapse."
With Defra using the available money for its own schemes, this looks less and less likely.

July 15 ~ Still no word from the white-coated Ministry men at Puddington?

Pat writes today, "Well this is the week when history gets starts being rewritten and memories become confused.
"I don't recall saying that" or "I think that's taken out of context."
Collective amnesia is due. Did anyone, apart from me, trouble to read the Phillips evidence? We have all been here before. And had Phillips conclusions been less kind and considerate we would not be here now.
Meantime, Aujeszky's has been forgotten by the press, but not I suspect by Maff-Defra or the pig industry.
The silence from MAFF-Defra over what is clearly yet another botched cover-up is ominous. Nothing they have said or done makes any sense. I think we can assume that the tests were positive for something nasty and they are too petrified to admit it and esculate to the statutary slaughter.
MAFF -Defra have a long history of faking tests; condoned and perhaps even ordered by senior officials. A fact to which my wife and I would be delighted to swear to in any Court. We would not need to, the corrspondance exchanged with Scudamore in 2000/2001speaks volumes.
The need for scientific proof can obscure what is obvious. The common denominator in all recent animal health problems is pigs.
It is indisputable that Britain's pigs were sick before FMD, they are sick after FMD. ...and MAFF-Defra do not want us to know how sick and what is wrong."

July 15 ~The chemical giant Monsanto has written to more than a thousand Australian farmers

asking them to lobby the Federal Government in support of its genetically modified canola crops. (see report) "Monsanto has two applications before the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator for field trials of GM canola in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. It also applied three weeks ago for the first Australian commercial licence to grow GM canola. NSW Greens Senator Kerry Nettle criticised the Monsanto letter. "Multinational biotechnology firms like Monsanto are well aware that, should the public get the chance to hear the concerns about GE [genetically engineered] crops, they will reject this economically irresponsible and environmentally reckless technology," she said..."

July 15 ~".. they are afraid of retribution"

An Australian site speaks out today about the way small farmers are being put out of business. The language pulls no punches. It will have a horrible familiar ring to many in the UK. "...... Much of the corporate profit and sharemarket rises in Australia have come not from innovation, efficiency or executive brilliance, but off the backs of struggling farmers and small businesses," says De-Anne Kelly, the first woman ever elected to federal parliament for the National Party. "What we've seen is just wealth transfer on a massive scale, from small communities to big corporations.
"The farmers are terrified to speak out. It is extremely difficult to get them to come forward ... because they are afraid of retribution."

July 14/5 ~Labour working for rural communities?

On 19-21st July at the Harper Adams University College, Newport, Shropshire. The theme of the conference will be "Labour working for rural communities" and will be of interest to members in rural and semi-rural constituencies, but will be open to all party members with an interest in rural issues as well as visitors from outside the Labour Party. For more information email lesley_scott@new.labour.org.uk or call 0191 238 0223.

July 14/5 ~ ITV programme change

We hear that there is to be a program change this Wednesday 17th July at 10.50pm called Lessons Learned in advance of the release of the Lessons Learned Inquiry.

July 14 ~ "Having a sense that power was being removed from their hands, then gradually becoming more informed..."

An interesting article in today's Observer Extract:".......economic globalisation led by multinational corporations chanting their mantra of free trade, freedom of investment and free movement of capital. All those 'frees' should make you suspicious, say the protesters. Someone has to pay.
While the corporations present themselves as heralds of a gleaming global future for all, with a Nike sweatshirt on every back, a Starbucks moccha frappuccino in every hand and a Nissan Sentra in every garage, to the movement they are a modern Mongol horde, Genghis Khans in Armani suits, ravaging the world in general, and the Third World in particular, in pursuit of power and profit.
'I think the great majority of people who have joined this movement started off with a vague sense that something was wrong and not necessarily being able to put their finger on what it was,' (George) Monbiot said. 'Having a sense that power was being removed from their hands, then gradually becoming more informed, often in very specific areas because what you find in our community of activism is some people who are very concerned about farming, those who are very interested in the environment, or labour standards, or privatisation of public services, or Third World debt. These interests tie together and the place they all meet is this issue of corporate power.'

July 13 ~ Fuel protest leader Brynle Williams yesterday accused Carwyn Jones of being "spineless"

following his claims he was the target of a hate campaign during the foot-andmouth crisis. ..... "crying to the press for sympathy".
Mr Williams' outburst was prompted by yesterday's Daily Post in which Mr Jones revealed he had been "hounded by extremists" during the outbreak. Mr Williams accused the new Minister for Open Government and Business of more Labour spin, saying his comments were a desperate attempt to recover credibility after his slur against farmers last week.
"I'm a bit fed up. We have got Carwyn Jones whingeing about his personal safety and all this business. "He was in the public eye and emotions were running very very high because people's livelihoods were being ruined. "They were burying animals, digging them up, moving them around. "It was very hard for a lot of people and now he's whingeing about what happened to him. "He should grow up and face the real world. It happens to public people." ...... "But you don't go crying to the press for sympathy."
"I met him several times during the crisis and I had the utmost respect for Carwyn Jones but for his recent comments and this cheap political trick I'm sorry to say that I have lost all respect for him. "He is no different from any other politician and all he is concerned with is controlling people and spin. "As far as I am concerned Carwyn Jones is a very astute man and I think he is doing damage limitation because he didn't realise the backlash he would get from his comments a couple of weeks ago." (See whole article)

July 13 ~ The GM Supremo John Krebs launches an FSA investigation into organic food "safety".......

And this letter appears in today's Telegraph
Re: Question of priorities Date: 13 July 2002
SIR - The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to launch an investigation into the safety of organic food, but it is unclear why there is such a need.
Organic food, at worst, is no more dangerous than non-organic food, and therefore poses no greater risk to consumers than the kind of food endorsed by the FSA itself. For that to be the case, man-made chemicals, hormones, food irradiation and routine antibiotics would have to be harmless, contrary to almost all independent scientific evidence.
So what is the point of the inquiry? Why does the FSA not channel equal energy into determining the safety of biotechnology or food that has been irradiated? Does the FSA know something we don't know?
Scientists the world over, both from within the scientific establishment and beyond, have acknowledged that these are unknown technologies whose effects could be catastrophic. Organic farming has been tried and tested over centuries. Biotechnology, food irradiation and some of the other excesses of intensive agriculture have not. It seems bizarre that an agency charged with protecting consumer health should studiously avoid looking into the same technologies that consumers by the millions are rejecting, while lavishing resources on a campaign to discredit the popular organic movement. How valuable will be the verdict of an organisation with such obviously poor priorities?
From: Zac Goldsmith, Editor, The Ecologist Magazine, London SW10

July 12 ~ Farmers for Action send a press release

"SUCCESSFUL DAIRY BLOCKADES
FFA were delighted at the turnout of farmers from Cornwall to Manchester last night, Thursday 11 July. We successfully blockaded the following sites belonging to Dairy Crest and Robert Wiseman Dairies:-
Chard, Droitwich, Davidstow, Manchester & Hamworth in London
Last night's demonstration was to send a message to both these processors to return the money they stole from British dairy farmers on July 1st. These protests will start to escalate over the coming weeks until the said companies act in a responsible manner. We have uncovered their untruths in relation to the supermarkets; they owe us money from the Pound v Euro and strengthening commodity prices. All they have got to do to prevent any further disruption is return what is rightfully ours.
It was encouraging to see at the protests around the country last night, a number of NFU officials who were prepared to show their face on camera. Lets hopes this sends a strong message to Shaftesbury Avenue i.e that there are some who think the present FFA format is working and doing some good for our industry. But we do issue them a very strong warning, don't try and hijack the hard work put in by a number of FFA individuals because there is every possibility that Shaftesbury Avenue will be paid a visit.

July 12 ~ Carwyn Jones writes to the Liverpool Daily Post

"LAST week, I was reported as saying that the group "Unity" had denied that foot-and-mouth disease had existed in this country
On reflection, this was rather harsh on this group, members of which I have had a good relationship with in the past, although we have, of course, disagreed.
It would have been more accurate to say that they have questioned the extent and spread of the disease, and have denied that the measures used to deal with it were necessary
I also need to make it clear that my comments on the political background of some witnesses who gave evidence to the European investigation were in response to questions, and were not aimed at all farmers, nor indeed all those who gave evidence.
I have been grateful for the support I have received from the farming community over the past two years and wish to thank people for the warm letters that I have had from them over the past two weeks.
I am glad of the opportunity to clarify the situation."
Carwyn Jones, AM

July 11 ~ Gibraltar - sold down the river and in our name...

"Tony Blair's strategy was to counter Franco-German dominance of the European Union by forging alliances with other countries, especially Spain. Gibraltar stood in the way of this plan, so would have to be sacrificed by Britain's agreeing to share sovereignty over the colony with Madrid" See Democracy Watch.

July 11 ~ "The BSE debacle represents the mere tip of the iceberg of Establishment ineptitude and socio-eco-irresponsibility"

writes Mark Purdey. "It represents a clear cut example of the far reaching extent to which the 'talons' of multinational monopolies can stretch to protect their global master plan on the fast expanding 'Health and Food chain Industry'. Can we afford to allow this insidious mode of food chain control to continue unregulated and unabated ?
There is an increasing groundswell of public unease concerning the unknown effects that are polluted environment is exerting on our health and long term survival. Public suspicion is mounting towards the transparent array of so called independent scientific experts and medical spin doctors who are called to advise governments and address the public on all aspects of the impact of chemical pollutants on our food chain
This website returns us to the lessons that can be learnt from the intuitive wisdoms of the people on the "ground" .
On Mark's site you can read the solicitor's letter DEFRA are not answering. Mark can only conclude that they will wait until after July 22rd which will take them past the one year mark since publication of the Horne report; thus exempting them from any libel action.

July 10/11 ~ Interim Animal Movements Regime 2002

Orders made today will simplify the current rules on livestock movements from 31 July. Camelids (including llamas) and zoo animals will no longer require movement licences or be subject to biosecurity requirements for livestock shows and sales. In addition, sheep dipping, tagging and scanning will no longer require a licence. The rules for multiple pick-ups and multiple drop-offs of livestock will also be simplified.
More details will appear on the DEFRA website later this month.

July 10 ~ the culture of intervention and control

See today's Democracy Watchdog for this clear-headed article in the Telegraph's Opinion pages:
"....if he(Mr Blunkett) seriously wants to reduce crime, then he is heading the wrong way, placing too much emphasis on the narrow performance indicators - so loved by Labour ministers - that have had a baleful influence on policing in recent years. They mean more red tape and less long-term planning, and are inimical to the one thing that is likely to cut crime: the presence of more police on the streets, since the one "performance" that cannot be scientifically measured is the deterrent nature of the patrol officer.
No doubt Mr Blunkett will feel his concession is being uncharitably received should the Lords continue to resist his blandishments. But the Upper House should not lose sight of the grand design that is taking shape under Mr Blunkett's stewardship of the Home Office. He wanted to take control of the courts, but was beaten back by the Lord Chancellor; he desired to extend throughout the public sector the power of the state to pry into the lives of ordinary people, but retreated when it blew up in his face; he wants everyone to possess an identity card and register with a central population agency. Notwithstanding the occasional enforced detour, Mr Blunkett's path is clearly marked out and is consistent with the culture of intervention and control that pervades many of the policies of this Government. The line must be drawn before he gets his foot into the door of the chief constable's office."

July 10 ~ The GM noose tightens around the UK...and who is paying?

The US government and the bio-tech industries, along with the UK government were doubtless alarmed at the voting in favour of full traceability and labelling of foods derived from GM crops by the European Parliament on July 4th British MEPs had been ordered by Tony Blair and John Krebs and co. to block these European proposals forcing all products containing more than 0.5 per cent of GM organisms (GMOs) to be labelled. The briefing note urging them to vote against it argued that the issue was "low on the list of consumer priorities" and said that British shoppers were unconcerned about genetic modification "GM is very far down the list of consumer considerations with regard to food. "It is a tiny feature on mental maps of food issues, and does not figure at all for some," they astonishingly maintained.
Friends of the Earth says: "Earlier this year Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, said "the Government considers that there should be a full and informed debate. The Government will later need to take decisions on the possible commercialisation of GM crops" [1]. But it appears that the Government has already made up its mind. An unnamed Minister is today reported as saying "don't be in any doubt, the decision is already taken" [2].Pete Riley, GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth said:
"The damning comments from this Government Minister confirms our fears. The Government's public consultation exercise on GM crops is nothing more than a PR sham. Despite the fact that the public have clearly said that they don't want GM food on their plates or GM crops in their fields, the Government seems determined to push the interests of the biotech industry. People should be very wary: the 'official' GM debate is likely to be very one-sided."

July 9 ~ "Don't be in any doubt - the decision is already taken."

Tony Blair is to head the GM campaign to win public opinion over to the idea that genetically modified crops should be grown commercially in Britain. According to today's Telegraph, it will " run in parallel with the last of a three-year series of trials of GM crops. The last 18 experimental sites were announced yesterday. Officially, the exercise is described as a public debate. However, one minister said: "Don't be in any doubt - the decision is already taken." The results from trials with GM crops are to be published next summer. But ministers fear that public opinion is so hostile that allowing GM crops to be grown commercially will provoke political uproar, whatever the scientific findings. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is planning what a minister called a "three-pronged PR offensive" to increase public awareness of the advantages of GM foods. The campaign will include television, radio, posters, supermarket leaflets and public meetings." DEFRA apparently is saying "there are a lot of myths out there..." With DEFRA behind the campaign, Blair at the front and GM supremo John Krebs at the FSA there is little hope of any genuine debate on this issue.

July 8/9 ~ A Front Line Defence? Or a Front?

The new Defra website about its Illegal Imports Action Plan ... "Millions of holiday makers travelling outside the European Union (EU) this summer are today being recruited by Lord Whitty, the Food & Farming Minister to be a front line defence in a campaign to reduce the risk of importing diseases like foot and mouth into the country. In a hard-hitting campaign "Don't Bring Back More than You Bargained For" the message from Chef Antony Worrall-Thompson, the face and voice of the campaign is check the UK's import rules before you go and if in doubt, leave it out. ..." (as indeed DEFRA leaves out some surely important punctuation in that extremely odd sentence. )
Will many people be inclined to question the implication that FMD must have come from an "illegal import" after all this song and dance? Yet no one knows (or at least no one is saying) how the virus entered the UK.

July 8/9 ~ DEFRA ACTION PLAN 2002-2003 proudly announces such progress as

The plan was published on 28 March ~ We want to have in place proportionate and appropriate measures ~ Veterinary Laboratories Agency is making good progress with this work, in close collaboration with stakeholders ~ Data gathering on seizures and disease incidence in 3rd countries is at an advanced stage ~ some additional targeted checks are being under taken ~ DEFRA is working with the enforcement agencies to upgrade the database to allow electronic capture of information ~ The powers of enforcement officers to search commercial and personal baggage were extended in May 2002 ~ Working Group established to review and produce practical guidelines on the use of the powers ~ Discussing prosecutions policy ~ looking at the scope for on-the-spot fines ~ includes leaflets, campaign posters, a video and radio filler. ....
Readers will have spotted, hidden among the waffling non-progress of all that, the important bit: DEFRA gives itself new powers of seizing and snooping through your holiday baggage.
And then the section on "Specific Measures" And here we can read about the two sniffer dogs, the pilot scheme for an X-ray machine and...."Amnesty Bins"
The real smugglers will be laughing their heads off - and the rest of us, meanwhile, will be unable to bring home any camembert on pain of a huge fine.

July 8/9 ~ Where DID E-coli O157 come from?

"According to Prof. Hugh Pennington: E. coli infections kill 1,000 people per year and in 1999 24 deaths were attributed to infection acquired on farms in the United Kingdom (UK) It was Prof. Pennington (bacteriologist at Aberdeen University) who investigated the notorious E. coli 0157 outbreak in Scotland in 1996, which led to the deaths of 21 people. In the USA, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 73,000 cases of infection and 61 deaths in the United States can be attributed to E. coli O157:H7 annually. Most infections have been from consumption of contaminated juice, meat and other foods." See pighealth.com

July 8 ~ Chicken tonight? The FSA "tips off" the Irish authorities but fails to act in Britain.

" Vast quantities of frozen chicken adulterated with beef protein powder, which the authorities admit could present a risk of BSE, are being consumed in Britain, a Guardian investigation has revealed. ...The Irish food safety authority found the beef protein in Dutch chicken. They had been tipped off by the UK food standards agency (FSA) that there were concerns about chicken breast fillets imported from the Netherlands ....The Irish FSA report names brands by the Dutch companies Lelie, Vrieskoop, and de Kippenhof as containing bovine DNA. The Lelie brands also contained pork DNA. All were chicken imported from Thailand and Brazil through the Netherlands where they had been "tumbled" with water and additives containing hydrolysed proteins. These are proteins extracted either chemically or at high temperatures from old animals or parts of animals not normally used for human food such as hide, bones, feathers, skin and ligaments and then injected with water into the chicken. .....Andrew Reilly, deputy chief executive of the Irish FSA said: "This amounts to blatant fraud. You can't call these products chicken fillets. We have no idea where this bovine material is coming from."..... The Irish authorities have now impounded the meat, but the UK FSA has not acted to remove the same brands from sale in this country. Peter Smith, chairman of SEAC, the government's advisory committee which monitors BSE risks, confirmed that the FSA had formally alerted him to the Irish findings. "
We find this story very strange. We can only urge people to think about the processing and provenance of this "chicken" and never touch the meat from these poor creatures.

July 8 ~ The dirty dogs

Several emailers have written in great anxiety at what may be behind the publicity given to Professor Pennington's research into "campylobacter, a potent bug that has bewildered scientists" as the Times puts it. One valued reader of warmwell writes, "An interview with Professor Pennington on Radio 4 this morning......campylobacter that menace of the human gut can be caught from the family pet dog.....by stroking the dirty animal and then putting your fingers in your mouth.... What a pity no-one has asked him if E-coli 0157 came to life because of Monsanto's genetic dabblings."
Schools are already hedged around with so many restrictions that about animals that school pets or farm animal studies will soon be a distant memory. The Times report is enough to alarm all the dog owners of Britain. "Victims of campylobacter suffer symptoms ranging from severe stomach upsets to paralysis. Infection has surged in recent years, overtaking salmonella and listeria as the biggest source of food poisoning in Britain, but scientists have been unable to explain why. They had assumed that poultry was the main source of infection (see also the chicken story above). ... half of pet dogs are infected with it, perhaps by picking it up in the wild at certain times of year, and that puts them in the frame for causing the disease in humans"
To add to the urban terror we read: "In rare cases it can trigger Guillain-Barri syndrome, a condition that results in creeping paralysis, starting in the hands and feet then moving slowly towards the neck..."
So there we are - dogs are now "put in the frame" - and anything in this particular frame had better watch out. The Animal Health Bill returns quietly to the House of Lords in less than a fortnight and after the Commons have departed for the Summer. Although it purports to refer only to scrapie, the word "susceptible", linked to legalised killing, is the thin end of a very alarming wedge.

July 8 ~ "This is Al Capone's technique: "We're not here to rob you," the Chicago gangsters would say. "Pay up and we'll prevent you from being robbed - or else."

It is the old protection racket. Mr Livingstone does it with a blunt instrument and Mr Blunkett with a sophisticated programme, but the result is the same: give the state more power and they will see to it that gridlock and terrorists won't get us -or else. The entitlement card isn't exactly compulsory, but without one, you will be disentitled. ..... No matter what we invent - eye scans, fingerprints - there will be some way of breaking the security. There always has been. ....
The card will not contain "intrusive personal data" such as tax or medical records without our "consent", promises Mr Blunkett. No doubt he means it. But every time we give information to the Government - or indeed to private sources - we are guaranteed confidentiality and these promises have invariably been broken. It may have been because the courts decided that some need was more important.
Whatever, if there is one thing we know it is this: information we share with the government will be available to other branches of the government or other people. Those of us who have worked in investigative journalism know, too, that once data is collected there are any number of people who through bribery or malice will share it. Private detectives have long since stopped "gumshoe" techniques. Now, they simply have their operatives in every key area where data is kept....."
...Meanwhile, look out. There's a whiff of the Soviet model of the all-powerful Interior Ministry hovering about the Home Office as it proposes central control of selected chief constables and tries to acclimatise us to the notion of a de facto identity card. "(Telegraph Opinion today)

July 7 ~Convicted of the massacre

In an article in the Times Sat July 6th, "Court frees Nazi 'Butcher of Genoa' " Allan Hall reports that at the trial of Friedrich Engel, a former major in the SS, concerning the massacre of Italian prisoners of war,
"Engel was attentive but unmoved at his trial, at which he offered the classic defence that he had only been obeying orders.."
The court, however, went on to convict him of the massacre.

July 7 ~ Ah well....We still have Parris

Yesterday's Times brought us a piece of vintage Matthew Parris on the subject of New LabourSpeak. Here, for example is Beverley Hughes talking to John Humphrys on Radio 4 on Wednesday morning and failing to say anything about the proposed ID card at all. Pure balderdash.
"I think an entitlement card could offer some important contributions both to the challenges we face and also to some important new concepts that we're trying to introduce to this issue around entitlement and also around citizenship, but the most important thing is that we actually stimulate, er, debate, a widespread debate, among ordinary people, and I think, I hope, that because we have actually genuinely tried to bring a really fresh look and some creative thinking to the debate, that I hope people will be, I hope, pleasantly surprised by the document; it's very comprehensive, it looks at all the issues for and against, and the most important thing as I say (is) that we want to hear the views of ordinary people...." (Read the article The nonsensical world of New Labourspeak)
Students of the "accurate words" of Margaret Beckett will have noticed the same tendency. As Matthew Parris says, we have now a "generation of politicians flailing around in the shallows and afraid of the deep will betray their inadequacy as tellingly in the English they use as in what it conveys." See also Spin Alert for Mr Blunkett's Squealer-esque words to Scotland..

July 7 ~ John Humphrys on organic farming

The Sunday Times "........enemies there are. They exist largely in the agrochemical and biotech industries and a few academics who rely on those industries for their research grants. They fear the power of organisations such as the Soil Association to influence public opinion against intensive farming and especially against genetic modification. They can be pretty ruthless."

July 7 ~ The ID card is the fraudster's friend

"If Mr Blunkett does try to introduce an ID card system, he will discover its fallibility. And when he finally does so, he will be able to announce yet another one of his crackdowns - on ID card fraud." Today's Telegraph

July 7 ~ Jonathan Miller's Mean Fields

Sunday Times " As I have previously noted, the RSPCA is mad and bad - unaccountable, riddled with conflicting interests, self-righteous beyond belief and staffed with bullies. They are activists and maintain the law with their own private enforcement agency, of which there are many complaints. The RSPCA audits itself.
I could go on about the RSPCA but will note that the organisation's spin doctors have complained to this newspaper that I am seriously damaging their efforts. Good. Write them out of your will."

July 6 ~ Re: This is a free country, isn't it?

Letter in today's Telegraph
SIR - Simon Hughes received a very strange comment in the reply from the Home Secretary in the House on July 3: "Those who travel abroad and own and run a car, which is well over 40 million people, will automatically pick up the card, because they will need it to show that they are able and have permission to drive a car or are free to travel abroad."
There is more in that short statement than a home secretary in a free country should have said.
From: Alan Gloak, Liberal Democrat County Councillor

July 5 ~ The people of Gibraltar feel angry and very concerned

"We hope that we will be able to rely on your continuing support whatever "spin" and "disinformation" is now circulated about Gibraltar precisely to dent and diminish support for us in Parliament and in public opinion...The people of Gibraltar feel angry and very concerned about the possibility of an agreement between the UK and Spain affecting our sovereignty and political rights. Morale amongst Gibraltarians has received a tremendous, and much needed boost from the overwhelming and inspiring response from the UK public to our appeal for help and support. I know that every Gibraltarian joins me in saying - thank you.
We have set up an Internet support page <http://support.gibraltar.gov.uk> which we invite you to visit and forward to family, friends and colleagues who may wish to support us."

July 5 ~ Emotion is not enough says Mr Gordon Adam

This letter is in today's Newcastle Journal (5 July).

Readers may care to reply to this. The address to send replies to is ~ jnl.letters@ncjmedia.co.uk

July 5 ~ it is our intention to remove all restrictions on camelid movements,

"Veterinary advice has now been revised reflecting the passage of time since the end of the lambing season with no re-emergence of FMD and it is our intention to remove all restrictions on camelid movements, including llama trekking, assuming there is no change to the current disease situation."
Behind the scenes scientific argument and tactful persuasion, together with the good sense of certain DEFRA personnel - who must not all be tarred with the same brush - has at last led to some small steps in the right direction at least for camelid owners. We take off all our hats to those we know are responsible. (See Daily Record)

July 5 ~ FOR all the cosmetic changes in Kabul, the capital, women still dare not go unveiled

" Shooting at shadows, and the occasional tribesman, blowing up mounds of dirt and displaying "captured" arms for the media, all have been part of the Marines' humiliating role in Afghanistan - a role foisted upon them by the Blair government, whose deference to and collusion with the Bush gang has become a parody of the imperial courtier. Gang is not an exaggeration. The word, in my dictionary, means "a group of people working together for criminal, disreputable ends". That describes accurately George W Bush and those who write his speeches and make his decisions and who, since their rise to power, have undermined the very basis of international law. In Afghanistan, their record is beyond question. The killing on Monday of some 40 guests at a wedding was not a "blunder" but the direct result of a policy of shoot and bomb first and find out later, as announced by George W Bush in the weeks following September 11. ....The Taliban used to hang the victim's body in public for four days," quipped the new American-installed regime's Minister of Justice. "We will only hang the body for a short time, say fifteen minutes, after a public execution."
Describing this as a "triumph of good over evil", as Bush has said, with an echo from Blair, is like lauding the superiority of the German war machine in 1940 as a vindication of Nazism.
Not only the Marines but the British public ought to feel duped. (John Pilger reminding us yesterday of the outrages taking place in Afghanistan in our name)

July 5 ~ "What are we supposed to do in the case of an emergency where the patient doesn't have an ID card?

Today's Guardian : Doctors' leaders warned yesterday that Home Office plans for a national identity card could cause a serious risk to public health. They told the British Medical Association conference in Harrogate that David Blunkett, home secretary, wanted the card to be used to check who was and who was not entitled to NHS care. Michael Wilks, chairman of the association's medical ethics committee, asked for an urgent meeting with ministers to clarify unanswered questions. "What are we supposed to do in the case of an emergency where the patient doesn't have a card? "What are the public health implications if people with infectious diseases, but without cards, avoid getting treatment?" Dr Wilks said the BMA did not want the NHS used fraudulently, but it was concerned that doctors should not become "embroiled in the bureaucracy of checking who is entitled to the NHS and who is not". Doctors should not be used as agents of the Home Office to check the status of people requesting care. Nor should they be put in the position of turning away someone with a communicable disease. Vivienne Nathanson, the association's head of science and ethics, said the BMA would be asking the Home Office to explain whether doctors would be expected to check the "entitlement cards" against the proposed national electronic register before giving care.

July 4 ~ Having read on warmwell that Chinese tinned meat is on sale in supermarkets, Mrs Diane Irwin writes to Mr Charles Kennedy MP..

Dear Mr Kennedy
Forgive me for disturbing you again but, please could you be so kind as to try and help? And also ask Richard Younger Ross MP to take up most urgently the matter of disposal of the illegal meat trade at the Viridor landfill site?
2000 we had Swine Fever, 2001 we had Foot & Mouth, are we now awaiting Ebola! For God's sake stop the insanity of the illegal meat trade. We are appalled to read this below. I have just read this (i.e. this) on the Warmwell web site today 4-7-02
Our lives are still being threatened by the reoccurrence of FMV, and nobody cares.
We await your reply
Yours sincerely
John & Diane Irwin

July 4 ~ not an Orwellian nightmare

apparently, but an opportunity for "positive engagement with citizenship". Mr Blunkett's " voluminous consultation paper is supposed to inaugurate a national debate, in which the Government will be "neutral" - though Mr Blunkett admits: "I am not going to disguise my own enthusiasm for an entitlement card system."
See today's democracy watch for more madness from the centralisers. Winston Churchill - a highly non-PC figure these days, alas - will be turning in his grave. "Although it would not be compulsory to carry, the card would be a legal requirement to register with the population database. Failure to produce the cards would mean exclusion from a range of unspecified public services...." It is also likely to cost about £ 70.... Can anyone do the sum? How much will this bring in in revenues? We make it £4,200,000,000 or four thousand, two hundred million pounds. That would at least go some way towards paying for the foot and mouth fiasco.

July 4 ~" a monstrous slur on our fellow citizens who give of their time voluntarily to help their communities"

The Prime Minister said yesterday that he had no intention of dropping strict new rules forcing parish councillors to register their interests, even though many of them were resigning in protest.
During Prime Minister's Questions, David Heathcoat-Amory (C, Wells) asked Tony Blair: "How do you reconcile your professed belief in devolution with what the Government is doing to local parish and town councils by imposing a highly bureaucratic and intrusive code of conduct and register of interests on these councils, which are voluntary?
"In my own constituency alone, this has caused the resignation of two entire councils and many individual councillors."
.................. Earlier in the Commons, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (C, Cotswold) attacked the new codes of conduct and register of interests as a slur on people giving their time in public service. "[They are] a monstrous slur on our fellow citizens who give of their time voluntarily to help their communities," he said. He urged the Government to exempt parish councils with a precept of under £5,000 from the "overburdensome proposals".
See Yesterday in Parliament (Telegraph)
Our Prime Minister aparently said: "I understand there were extensive consultations before these proposals were introduced. We believe in greater openness and transparency in parish and local councils." Utterly blithering.

July 3 ~ suppose that those statistics have been compiled for party political reasons. Then the well is poisoned.

Charles Moore, editor of The Daily Telegraph, argued that one of the key problems was that a political appointee was now in charge of government information. He said: "It is very important for newspapers and the public that the well of government information is not poisoned. There are any number of statistics that come out of government all the time, and suppose that those statistics have been compiled for party political reasons. Then the well is poisoned." Civil Service codes are to be rewritten - we hope. See Telegraph

July 2 ~ Lidington: "Government u-turn over battery hens"

Commenting on the news that the Government does not intend to ban all battery hens before 2012, David Lidington, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, said: "Last week it looked as though the Government were set to ban all battery cages by 2007. In a written answer today however, Elliot Morley MP has revealed that the consultation announced last week will be concerned only with what happens after 2012.
This is an example of the Government declaring one intention in public then changing their minds once the headlines subside. ....." From a press release just received.

July 2 ~ Prince Charles speaks out for farmers again

a lone voice pitted against the vilification, Prince Charles says, ""It is utterly incredible to me that farming - the basic industry of mankind - can be in such a state of crisis." Opening this year's Royal Show in Warwickshire yesterday he went on, "The consumer needs to be made more aware that the seemingly endless desire for convenience and the lowest possible price has a direct impact on the producer, the countryside and animal welfare." Prince Charles said retailers, processors, caterers, the government and the public all had an important role to play in helping food producers.
"Farmers are simply not earning a reasonable margin on what they produce and are living on their savings. The line between too much food and too little is very thin indeed. This country must retain the ability to grow its own food situations can change in the world unexpectedly and there could easily come a day when the UK might be reduced to relying on its resources once again." "....we have to encourage new priorities to help farmers add value to their products by focussing on quality and differentiation rather than the pursuit of quantity. ... if we want our farmers to have a realistic future then a new relationship has to be built with retailers, the caterers and processors."
What a pity it is that another headline, 'Farming low priority for Blair' sums up the attitude of what H.L. Mencken so rightly called the "reigning quacks"

July 2 ~ "a tiny feature on our mental maps"? Tony Blair orders British MEPs to block a strict new GM labelling regime.

European proposals to be put before a session of the European Parliament today would force all products containing more than 0.5 per cent of GM organisms (GMOs) to be labelled. The Government has sent British MEPs a briefing note urging them to vote against it, arguing that the issue is "low on the list of consumer priorities" The document also suggests that meat from animals fed on GM food should not be labelled and nor should the use of processing aids derived from GMOs. And it says British shoppers are unconcerned about genetic modification and that "GM is very far down the list of consumer considerations with regard to food. "It is a tiny feature on mental maps of food issues, and does not figure at all for some." A letter in the Guardian - " a GM-free label - as advocated by the FSA and the government - will create a niche market for GM-free products and mean consumers will have to pay more for food they have always eaten. It will also oblige "conventional" and organic producers to prove that their products do not contain GM ingredients. Given that coexistence between GM and non-GM crops will lead to "inevitable" cross-contamination and extra costs for traditional and organic farmers, it is likely that a GM-free status would be practically impossible to achieve. The FSA believes that the European proposals are unworkable and recommends a labelling system based on telling people what is absent from their food, rather than what is present. .... The European proposals - as opposed to those of the FSA - reflect the view widely held in the UK and the rest of the EU that all GM food should be clearly and honestly labelled. Regardless of the views of the FSA, or the misplaced enthusiasms of the UK government, MEPs and national governments must continue to protect the interests of their electorates by insisting on adequate labelling of GM products. Support for the EU commission's traceability and labelling regime is a key step in the right direction."

July 1 ~ 13. VACCINATION

13.1 Vaccination will not be an alternative to slaughter as a control strategy in the first instance. The decision to use vaccination as an element of the control strategy will depend on many factors and will be considered by the FMD Co-ordination Committee if appropriate. Full account will be taken of the guidance in VIPER Chapter 3a (Emergency Vaccination) and the ADAS document 'Planning and Implementing a Vaccination Programme for Farm Livestock'. Desk instructions for HQ staff are currently being drafted. (From DEFRA's interim Contingency Plan for FMD )

July 1 ~ Bobby Waugh - the scapegoat

"Waugh's pigs probably contracted the virus by being fed waste food containing contaminated meat, Britain's agriculture ministry said in a report published earlier this month...." proclaims PlanetArk.org along with so many others who ought to have the nouse to apply a little scepticism.

Pat Gardiner's comment on this:" Well, MAFF-Defra managed to tell us that they don't know the origin and at the same time still manage to get the press to report it as "contaminated meat." You have got to hand it to the lads. You can see how they have managed to create mass destruction that would put Attila the Hun to shame...and they are still there, still at it."

July 1 ~ Big Brussels Brother steps out of the shadows

Last week Britain's Bruges Group launched a pamphlet in Brussels - Federalist Thought Control - accusing the commission of spending 250 million euros a year on "blatant propaganda" promoting closer integration. Now, the Telegraph has leaked information showing that Brussels is going to "counter the growing mood of Euroscepticism across Europe by abandoning neutral presentation of facts and instead creating an aggressive spin machine modelled on the Downing Street methods of Alastair Campbell.
A leaked strategy document obtained by The Telegraph outlines a plan to spend 267 million euros (£173 million) over four years to devise a core catechism of "messages", and harness all elements of the European system to "improve the perception that citizens have of the European Union". The new unit will begin operations in early 2003, in time for the expected euro referendums in Britain and Sweden.... " (See Democracy Watch)

July 1 ~" Dressing up identity cards as "entitlement cards"

which have to be shown when claiming state benefits makes no difference to the underlying idea - although it gives a clue to the simplistic thinking in Whitehall which is constantly returning to this impractical, expensive and illiberal non-starter.
The simplicity of a universal means of checking identities is deceptive. It seems to offer a simple way to detect crime, stop benefit fraud and control illegal immigration all at once. But the police say that, when they apprehend people, establishing their identities is rarely a problem and not a serious factor in today's low clear-up rates. Identity cards would only cause tensions between them and ethnic minorities. As for benefit fraud, the Government already has a hard enough time keeping track of National Insurance numbers - why should a new layer of records make enforcement easier?
See today's Democracy Watch for this good article from the Independent

June 30 ~ authorities in Australia are considering whether to allow the commercialization of Roundup Ready canola.

This article should be read in full.
Extracts: "Canadian farmers have been growing Roundup Ready canola since 1996, so much so that it's now going crazy, literally The genetically modified varieties have contaminated, via cross-pollination and mixing of seed during storage and transportation, conventional and organic varieties. Farmers wanting to rid their fields of the now-invasive Roundup-resistant canola plants have had to resort to spraying other, more potent chemicals. *
Canada's agriculture ministry, Agriculture Canada, confirmed this in a study it released yesterday.
"More than half of the seed samples tested showed some level of genetically modified presence. The study's authors conclude that means almost every canola field planted with conventional seed will contain some genetically modified plants," according to a Canadian Broadcasting Company story on the report. * ...."Once [genetically engineered] seed is out, there's no calling it back," says (Percy )Schmeiser. "When you lose pure seed, indigenous seed to genetic contamination, that's the whole issue." The whole issue of Roundup Ready canola, soybeans, and wheat is not about feeding a hungry world or reducing herbicide use, he says. It's about selling more chemicals, especially Roundup. "At the end of the day, it comes down to Monsanto wanting total control over the seed supply," says Schmeiser, emphasizing that the Australian farmers with whom he'll talk need to know and understand that.

June 30 ~ 'Packaging ID cards as "entitlement cards" is not going to fool the public,'

said Karen Bartlett, director of the political pressure group Charter 88, which will lead the campaign against the proposals. 'A card which you have to show to access services is still an ID card, whatever spin is put on it. Without a written constitution, UK citizens have no fundamental protection against the gradual erosion of their civil liberties.
'Since Labour came to power they have introduced draconian surveillance laws on email, the recent anti-terrorism legislation, new proposals to extend data-sharing between government departments and the "Snooper's Charter", abandoned two weeks ago. A worrying trend is emerging.' ...See Today's Observer

June 30 ~ Spray Victims ignored

Booker's Notebook today "...Over the past 18 years, Miss Downs and her family have had their health seriously damaged by intensive spraying of the farm next to her parents' home in Sussex. She herself has suffered a wide range of health problems compatible with exposure to pesticides, including bone loss. Tests show her blood is full of chemical residues.
Yet her dogged questioning of the HSE, the Pesticides Safety Directorate and other regulatory bodies has revealed that there is virtually no legal protection for the public from the spraying of 25,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals on Britain's farmland each year.
There are strict regulations to protect farm operatives. But tests for risks to the public from "spraydrift" to adjoining land are based on visible exposures of no more than a minute. In reality the chemicals can hang invisibly in the air for days.
When Miss Downs was explaining the problem to an HSE (Health and Safety Executive) inspector last year, he admitted that once when his own car had been caught in a spray of organo-phosphorus (OP) pesticide this had burned his paintwork. "Very nasty stuff," he agreed. Yet despite repeated approaches to the HSE over the problems faced by her family, it has refused to take any action."

June 29 ~ >Is there out there any scrapie expert that has the courage to explain on this website exactly why any of my stock should be culled for a disease they do NOT have?

asks Janet." In our village there are farmers and stockmen who have also worked on our land (prior to our ownership) and in the surrounding area. They freely brought in sheep of various breeds from both within and outside the locality but have never seen any signs of scrapie. The eldest of these stockmen has had a working life spanning more than 50 years. "
"Have we been lucky? Or does this support Mark's theory?"

June 29 ~ Aujeszky's disease hits the UK.

It looks as though we have Aujeszky's disease back in this country. ( See Ananova)"Defra says routine testing in pigs has resulted in positive tests for Aujeszky's disease in six pigs." (blood testing a pig is never "routine" in the sense of being easy and painless. If only it were. Few SVS vets are competent in this area)
"Further tests will be carried out over the weekend at premises in Lancashire, Cheshire, West and North Yorkshire, West Sussex and Lincolnshire for other signs of the disease. Defra is keen to point out the blood test may also be a result of a false laboratory reading, or a contamination of samples. They say Aujeszky's is mainly a disease in pigs but is not in the same league as foot-and-mouth. It is not as contagious as foot-and-mouth and is generally spread from pig to pig." (An odd distinction to make since this is precisely how FMD spreads in pigs too - in spite of the modellers' belief that the FMD virus flew three kilometre distances on the air...)
Pat Gardiner tells us that, "The same story appears across the US sometimes linked to Waugh e.g.in the Washington Post"
Val points out that there is an effective vaccine. "Since about 1990, it has become possible to distinguish between antibodies resulting from natural infection and those from vaccination by use of gene-deleted vaccines.
Requirements for vaccines and diagnostic biologicals: The spread of Aujeszky's disease may be diminished by the use of vaccines containing either modified live virus or inactivated virus antigens. More recently, these conventional vaccines have been supplemented by rDNA-derived gene-deleted or naturally deleted live pseudorabies virus vaccines. The virus used in these new vaccines, sometimes referred to as marker vaccines, lacks a specific glycoprotein (gG, gE, or gC)".
Aujeszky's disease was discovered at the ill-fated Cheale Meats which is remaining open. It will surprise no one who reads these pages that a "slaughter policy" exists in Britain.

June 28 ~ In comparison to GM giant Monsanto, WorldCom's book-juggling is the moral equivalent of shop-lifting..

Monsanto has recently been tried in Alabama for dumping tonnes of deadly PCBs in the poor community of Anniston and then trying to cover its tracks. In March a jury found the company guilty of every count levelled against it. Monsanto's crimes included negligence, suppression of the truth, and conduct "so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency'; conduct, in fact, that is "atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilised society'. BUT..While Monsanto's crimes were directed at the environment and people (poor people at that), Enron's (and WorldCom's) undermined confidence in the stock market - thereby threatening the economy.
The media's choice of what to cover merely reflected the sad truth that absolutely nothing in this country is more sacred than the economy. When push comes to shove - people and the environment be damned - , it's the economy, stupid, that matters. And not just any economy. The economy that counts is the one that is run by and for huge corporations."
"There is no particular concern about the fate of local economies that support small farmers, locally-owned businesses, local craftspeople and artisans. Like people and the environment, those local economies can be - and systematically are - sacrificed for the good of the corporate-led economy." Do read this article from the Ecologist.

June 28 ~ Double standards

SIR - How is it that when so-called experts on MMR recommend that this vaccine is perfectly safe, because there is no proof that it can cause autism, the government accepts this, while when other so-called experts recommend that there is a remote, but purely theoretical possiblility - although no proof - that BSE can be transmitted to sheep, the Government takes the view that every precaution must be taken against the possiblility, to the extreme disadvantage of the sheep industry?
Philip Whitcombe Farnham, Surey
A good letter in the Telegraph from June 24th -(Thanks to Anne for alerting us to this.)

June 28 ~ Portugal cedes financial control to EU

Instead of receiving hefty pay rises and tax cuts, as promised by their government, the Portuguese are settling for the opposite. ... it is to breach the EU's Stability and Growth Pact. Germany got away with a slap on the wrist, France escaped with mild finger-wagging, but Portugal, as a small country many miles from Brussels, has neither's clout. It is the dog to be kicked when things go wrong. Hamstrung by the pact, Portugal has become the textbook example of what can happen when divergent economies come together under the same interest rate.
It now faces fines, and an economic policy imposed on it from outside, if it doesn't shape up. The real danger is that the Portuguese take to the streets, while their elected representatives have no power to do anything about it. See today's Telegraph (Thanks to Roger for this)

June 28 ~ For "cosmetic" reasons, all citrus trees in private gardens in Florida are being destroyed in an attempt to stamp out a non-harmful citrus blight. Anyone who resists faces jail

Bonnie sends us this chilling story of the stamping out of personal freedom. As she says - the contiguous cull mentalilty is strangely mirrored here. And the protests of ordinary people who can see no sense in the destruction are casually swept aside by the police. We live in strange and increasingly frightening times.

June 28 ~ "Any disclosure of a journalist's sources does have a chilling effect on the freedom of the press."

Journalists who fail to honour the code are liable to be sacked by their employers. Newspaper executives and reporters who fail to answer court orders to name sources are liable to go to prison, whatever that code may say. And in future, members of the public who might once have turned whistleblower to disclose a serious crime may opt instead to keep quiet." See Democracy Watch for this Telegraph story

June 27 ~ Slaughter team included a ten year od boy

Nick writes, "Morley's continuing insistence that MAFF/DEFRA Bio-Security was good (Radio 4 last night) really is quite astonishing. This time last year, DEFRA continued to wreak havoc around Cumbria, FMD continued to spread unstopped, animals suffered horrendously and senior government officials lied unrelentingly.
Did DEFRA officials' help to spread the disease?
Well of course they did.
How did FMD return to this part of the (Eden) valley after a break of some 8 weeks without a single I/P? Vets, milk tankers and assorted DEFRA teams paraded around our farms with seemingly little regard to bio-security. Not all involved were guilty, but I have evidence to suggest that a high percentage were. I will not elaborate further here, but wish to inform readers of an astonishing situation that occurred about a year ago, locally, here in Cumbria.
A slaughter team arrived to slaughter a small flock of ewes and lambs. I am told they were healthy. I am also told that the team slaughtered the stock "efficiently". Their bio-security was however, poor! This poor bio-security may not have been helped by the fact that one slaughter man was accompanied by------HIS 10 year OLD SON! I have the evidence in front of me; this young man even has a blue bio - suit on! Perhaps Mr Morley would be so good to inform me under what Health & Safety guidelines this gross act of stupidity was conducted. Was this 10-year-old boy briefed on the correct bio-security procedures and who authorised his attendance? Did this young man operate with/near to CBI`s? (Captive Bolt Instruments).
It is the prerogative of any parent to educate their children as they see fit. But, what sane person would expose their 10-year-old son to this carnage? "

June 27 ~ The Norfolk Show yesterday was getting back to normal

but very few pigs were shown. The TV commentary told us this was because of disease problems. This, of course, is correct. These are the disease problems that preceded CSF and FMD and still continue to plague the industry. (Pat Gardiner)

June 26 ~ Parliament is now irrelevant in the law-making process. ...

(See democracy watch) " While the British people's attention was elsewhere their government has agreed the final form of the European arrest warrant, leaving parliament powerless to block or amend the measure. ......CIB Vice Chairman, Lord Pearson said "One of the most sinister and little-known aspects of our relationship with the EU is that when the executive agrees something on Britain's behalf, parliament is powerless to change it. If we voted against the warrant it would be enforced by the European Court. This is a very important example of our subservience to Brussels. Parliament is irrelevant in the law-making process."
Unless the British wake up soon it really will be too late.

June 26 ~ Jon Dobson's appeal for video footage

"If anyone has any video footage themselves, or knows of someone who might, which would help describe harassment, methods of intimidation, illegal activity, lack of biosecurity, or just downright cruelty, could you please arrange to send it to me?
I promise to return it immediately after copying, and refund the postage.
The reason why I ask is because the EU Enquiry have asked for a film to be made for them to view on the last night of the Enquiry before the report stage begins, so this would be good as a last thought for them before they begin committing themselves to paper.
Please can you send it to me, Jon Dobson, at the FMD Forum, PO Box 67, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP15 6XP. As per usual, anything on biosecurity or the welfare aspects of FMD is crucial, and would be given top priority in the film."

June 26 ~ Newsnight warns of the likelihood of Atrazine use on GM crops.

"Dr Brian Johnston, bio-technology adviser at English Nature, is concerned that the four-year-old GM crop trials, which are due to be assessed next year, could be undermined by new scientific evidence. The scientific tests on farms throughout the country are monitoring the impact of different pesticides and herbicides used on GM feed varieties. ......New evidence, reported last night on BBC's Newsnight, has found that in the United States GA, known there as Liberty, has proved unreliable on GM maize crops. Farmers need to use GA at least three times for it to be effective. Instead they use a more powerful concentrate, known as Liberty ATZ, which needs to be sprayed only once and contains the hazardous pesticide Atrazine...." Times report . See also Friends of the Earth press release."...Because glufosinate is not as effective as Aventis has claimed, we are threatened with a new regime combining the worst of GM and the worst of the old system. Meanwhile, the credibility of the Government's Farm Scale Trials has been further undermined. The public have been told that the GM crop trials will show how GM crops will be grown in farming practice. But this has now been shown to be nothing more than a con trick".

June 26 ~ People are starving

because the policy structures that defended rural livelihoods, and access to resources and markets, and hence entitlements and incomes, are being systematically dismantled by structural adjustment programmes, driven by the World Bank, and by WTO rules imposing trade liberalization. In the important article, The real reasons for hunger, Vandana Shiva disagrees with Amartya Sen's article in last week's Observer - Why half the planet is hungry - (which argues that no famine can occur in a democracy, and cites India as an example of the elimination of famines.)
" It is true that famines disappeared immediately in 1947, with independence and multiparty elections. But famine is making a comeback in India.......
"as a society, India is paying more in terms of food insecurity and ecological destruction than it is earning through exports of luxury crops such as flowers and meat. Putting resources in people's hands, and guaranteeing small producers access to local markets is a far more secure, sustainable and inclusive way to remove poverty. "

June 26 ~ "There is, for a start, the language of New Labour, in particular its strident, almost totalitarian emphasis on "the people",

with which it alone seems to claim some mystical union. "We have won support from all walks of life, all classes of people," declared Tony Blair on election day 1997. "We are now today the people's party, the party of all the people." This echoed his earlier assertion, that Labour was "the political wing of the British people".
Compare this to Hitler's definition of his party: "To be national can only mean to be behind your people, and to be socialist can only be to stand up for the right of your people . . . Not purely nationalist or socialist, bourgeois or proletarian . . . the party is a movement which is . . . toiling and working for the existence of the people." He could almost have been addressing the Labour Party conference.
Naturally, when a leader comes to power who views himself and his party in such messianic terms, he poses a problem for a traditional bureaucracy, attuned to dealing with orthodox cabinet and parliamentary government. " Highly readable article in today's Telegraph by Robert Harris - which concludes "Sir Richard's comparison of the Blair Government with the Third Reich - absurd though it may be at first viewing - is actually one of the shrewder analyses of our current ruling Volkspartei."

June 25 ~ The scrapie holocaust has begun.

How many frighteningly misleading errors can readers spot in the Associated Press article today?
The Associated Press
BERLIN (AP) - More than 1,500 sheep have been slaughtered at a farm in central Germany as a precaution to prevent an outbreak of the livestock disease scrapie, authorities said Monday.
The entire flock at the farm near Fulda, east of Frankfurt, was slaughtered after tests confirmed one animal was infected with scrapie, the Hesse state social affairs ministry said.
Scrapie is a member of a family of ailments that includes mad cow disease. The case was the third this year in Hesse.
Scrapie poses no direct threat to people, but the outbreak of mad cow disease in Britain is thought to be related to feeding meal made of scrapie-infected sheep carcasses to cattle.
Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is linked to the human illness variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. "
In other words, we're killing a whole flock to save you from getting vCJD. And what happens in Germany today will, no doubt, happen here tomorrow. Where has sanity gone?

June 25 ~ an unconscionable act of terrorism against healthy animals

Mark Purdey writes, "These friends of mine are having their perfectly healthy buffalo herd destroyed , simply because they were imported from Europe"
This is the most recent update submitted to the website www.savethewaterbuffalo.com
"UPDATE June 24, 2002
The Office International des Epizooties (OIE) is recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the relevant standard-setting organization for animal health and international trade in animals and animal products, defined in the International Animal Health Code. OIE standards are not mandatory for member countries. The issue of susceptibility of water buffalo to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has not been examined by the OIE Animal Health Code Commission, therefore the OIE has no specific knowledge and cannot make recommendations. Any member country can request that an ad hoc group be formed to determine the risk in specific animals, e.g. the water buffalo. We have requested that Canada make such a request and we will cooperate with research. Until the origin of BSE is confirmed or a direct link can be found between water buffalo and BSE the water buffalo at Fairburn Farm should be maintained in a monitored situation and not senselessly destroyed.
To date four imported water buffalo have been destroyed - their brains tested for BSE - with negative results. The final fourteen imported female water buffalo are scheduled to be transported to Lethbridge Alberta on July 15th, 2002.
This is an unconscionable act of terrorism against healthy animals and against economic development for Vancouver Island. The government legally has the right to be wrong. Yet without current scientific research the unnecessary killing of water buffalo could be perceived as an abuse of power. Any abuse of power weakens democracy.
Please join with us: the Archer family, scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Canada, politicians, businessmen; many congregations and prayer groups from different religions and individuals worldwide; and with the Bhuddist monks and spiritual healers, in prayer, that justice and honesty must triumph. A reasonable solution will ensure an indisputable recognition of the need for sustainable farming, healthy rural communities and a stable regional food supply. This has always been our dream and we believe that water buffalo are an important part of the mosaic. Bless you all.www.savethewaterbuffalo.com"

June 25 ~ BLAIR SECURITY STEPPED UP AFTER 'TERROR PLOT'

We read that "SECURITY around Tony Blair has been stepped up after intelligence services received "credible information" about terrorist plans for an attack on him.
The Business newspaper reported that Mr Blair almost pulled out of events during the Golden Jubilee weekend on security advice.
Neither Downing Street nor Scotland Yard would discuss the claims.
Both said simply: "We never comment on any security matters."
It was unclear whether the alleged threat was from Islamic fundamentalists or Irish dissidents, The Business said.
The paper quoted an anonymous source as saying: "There was credible information that an attack was being planned. At one stage it was thought we may pull him completely out of the Jubilee frame."
In the event, Mr Blair attended both the Golden Jubilee pop concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on June 3 and a lunch for the Queen at the Guildhall the following day, at which he gave a speech....."
A favourite ploy by dictators and would-be dictators - discovering a plot against them. Will he be guarded by the new European Police?

June 23 ~ the true story of foot-and-mouth has a long way to run yet.

Today's story in the Sunday Herald tells us that farmers in the north do not agree that Bobby Waugh is to blame and that the anger over the handling of the crisis shows no sign of abating. Legacy of the killing fields "..... arguments over the government's handling of the crisis mean the recriminations will be felt for a long time to come. Allegations that the government is seeking to cut back the state veterinary service by continuing its recruitment ban on vets, restricting the use of 'casual' vets and scrapping overtime will inevitably bring accusations that it has not learned the lessons of last year's epidemic.
There was always going to be anger and distrust from those affected by the crisis which cost the country some £8 billion, particularly after the government resisted calls for a full public inquiry into the outbreak. But five months after the UK was reinstated on the list of countries free of foot-and-mouth, tracing FMD from its first appearance in the country showed that anger is smouldering still. .......(See whole article)

June 23 ~ New book by Angela Huth: "Of love and Slaughter"

See Amazon website - Duff Elton has returned to his childhood farm with new wife Lily, while next door are his childhood friends, Nell and Paddy. When Paddy's animals are wiped out, he and Nell turn to Duff for help. The solution, that they should come and live in Duff's house, has life-changing consequences for all.
Warmwell readers will be unlikely to want to read a novel that is so close to their own sadness - but it might perhaps be recommended to others who still have no idea what we are banging on about. But get them to look through Quita's "Fields of Fire" first.

June 21 ~ Shame on Tesco

Following Tesco's reluctance to appologise for selling its own label chicken, falsely labelled as being of the RSPCA Freedom Food Standard, it has been exposed in the Telegraph for selling organic pork from German intensive farms.German meat makes up 40% of the organic pork on Tesco's shelves. "The Soil Association accused Tesco yesterday of undermining British organic pork producers by buying the cheaper German pork which, though legally described as organic under European Union law, was not raised under the conditions the public expected of organic producers. "
Tesco also claims that 97% of its meat is British. Does anybody now believe a word that Tesco says?
Robert writes, "Is 97 a special number for Tesco?
97 is the percentage of Tesco meat that the company Chairman claims to be British (even though 40% of organic pork is German and don't you dare look at the bacon counter)
97 is the number that the Corporate Social Responsibility Manager quotes as being the percentage of products sold that receive an audit. What is special about 97?
99 would lack total credibility.
98 would have difficulty in being plausible
97 is nice and high and would be difficult to disprove. Could this be the reason that 97 is Tesco's favourite number?"

June 21 ~ Same story - different spin

The report of the National Audit Office provides an interesting example of how different journalists and newspapers can slant the news according to how they want their readers to respond to it. We are amused to see how Valerie Elliott in the Times can turn what is a tactfully phrased but utterly damning indictment of government complacency and incompetence on its head. It becomes another "greedy, wicked farmer" story. Her two articles stress how the government - in their desperation to stop the disease - were "forced to" enter into deals with farmers, vets and valuers who "leapt on to a multimillion-pound gravy train". We wonder why she appears to lump farmers all together in this way. The recent well orchestrated blaming of farmers for the country's ills isn't far from the sort of propaganda of sixty odd year ago in another European country.
Robert Ulig in the Telegraph, who has followed the crisis with what seems to us to be ever more knowledgeable accuracy and fairness, chooses to focus on the plight Jim Scudamore found himself in when it became apparent that the run down SVS with its low morale and lack of resources was unable to respond to the warnings of a probably inevitable crisis.
Meanwhile, the Independent, whose grasp of the science and the data has never been particularly apparent, uses its Analysis page for the findings of the NAO report, repeating without comment the report's own failure to understand the significance of the delays in slaughter or the actual scale of the killing of healthy animals in the contiguous cull.
As for the BBC, about which words often simply fail us in our sadness at what it has become, reports the new Leicestershire FMD alarm..."The scare comes as the European Parliament's Foot-and-mouth Enquiry Committee tours the UK looking at measures in place to contain the disease should there be another outbreak. " Are they? We thought they were here to find out what happened last year. "Committee member Chris Heatton-Harris, Conservative MEP for East Midlands, said: "We need to know what containment measures the government have in place to prevent chaos and fear spreading throughout the farming community." In response to this somewhat odd statement an emailer writes,
"We are not in for another attempt at the Animal Health Bill are we? Given that the pig is from East Yorkshire and given the theories of the pig owner, (below) it could be worrying."
We agree.

June 21 ~ Timing is all

The timing of news about animal health is interesting for watchers of spin and trade games. The FSA last month warned consumers in Britain that meat from Polish, Zimbabwean, and South African cattle older that 30 months may pose a "slightly higher BSE risk" than other imported beef sold legally. Mad-cow disease is a sensitive subject in South Africa as it could have a far-reaching, negative impact on economic matters such as South African meat exports. The rumours surfaced just as negotiations were taking place with the European Union about meat standards.

June 20/21~ Yes 57 No 43

is the current state of voting (20.55 Thursday) on the Farmers Weekly website straw poll on whether Ben Gill should resign.

June 20/21 ~ "Just recently I feel as if I have been living through a nightmare where black is white and white, black."

writes a former pig owner. He goes on to say: " I draw you attention to the following report and ask you to bear with me a little... http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk_politics/newsid_2056000/2056301.stm "The report also reveals that a raid on a warehouse in Northumberland discovered illegally imported meat from China or Hong Kong. "
To know that the meat was illegally imported, you obviously have to know its origin. Otherwise it could be perfectly legal...that is obvious, I think. How come they don't know if it was from China or Hong Kong? How come we have only just heard about this?
"That has not been specifically linked to the outbreak but vets believe the UK strain foot-and-mouth originated in the Far East. "
Well we all have our views on MAFF vet's opinions don't we? Have they analysed the meat? Is it contaminated? This should not be a matter of conjecture, should it? We do have labs I presume? There need be no ambiguity.
"There is no suggestion Mr Waugh was connected to the warehouse where meat imports were found. "
Then why mention it? The only conclusion I can possibly come to, it that they are lying yet again. The question has to be why? Strange how all this is released within 3 hours of a suspected case in Leicestershire. That, you notice, is pigs yet again."
We can only agree.

June 20 ~ "The union is an utter disgrace to the industry and I simply don't intend to pay them good money for doing nothing."

FARMER FORCED TO TAKE DELIVERY JOB A farmer from Hewish has been forced to sell his dairy herd and take a fulltime job as a lorry driver. Dennis Jones hit out at the National Farmers' Union....... He said: "The union is an utter disgrace to the industry and I simply don't intend to pay them good money for doing nothing."
Dennis says he turned to the union to fight his corner at the height of the BSE crisis in 1996 but found his calls fell on deaf ears. He believes the NFU could soon get a wake-up call from angry farmers.
He said: "I have heard a lot of other farmers say they are only going to pay half their subscription because the union has only been doing half a job - but in my opinion they aren't even worth that. "The industry is absolutely on its knees, yet they still don't seem to be waking up to the fact that pretty soon there will be no small farmers left."

June 20 ~ The House of Lords

An emailer writes this morning, "when the chips are down we need honest, unbiased views supported by facts. We are much more likely to get this from good heridatary( can't find my dictionary) peers than Labour sycophants. (or Tory for that matter). Perhaps we now have the shit in the same building as the fan - fingers crossed."
We couldn't agree more. Bless the good aristos! And lets hear less from the envious toadies who want power without responsibility. There are many in the Upper Chamber who still put responsibility before power.

June 20 ~ Another important date

is 26th June. Caroline Lucas is speaking on:-
Another Agriculture is Possible: Local Food - Global Solution.
On Wednesday, 26th June at 7.30pm at Hereford Town Hall. Admission Free.

June 20 ~ Max Hastings takes over at CPRE

An emailer writes today, "As a member of CPRE and someone who hates the notion of hunting but hates far more the systematic killing of foxes in anti-hunting Norfolk with poison and traps, I welcome the appointment of Max Hastings to head the Council for the Protection of Rural England. His views about hunting are irrelevant to his ability to run the Council with energy and wit and he has made it plain that he's not going to use that platform to try to attck the government on its hunting stance. But you just watch the political capital that's going to be made out of this. Those in the anti-hunt pack who seem to put hatred of their opponents before their love of animals will be out at full cry."

June 20 ~ Thank the Lord

"Sir - David Blunkett's retreat from his "snooper's charter" (report, June 19) is the result of the determination of Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers to vote down the necessary regulations.
It is therefore a feather in the cap of the House of Lords. This power to vote down regulations is something of which the Government wishes to deprive the Upper House. If it succeeds, proposals like Mr Blunkett's would become unstoppable.
From:
Earl Russell, Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Work and Pensions, London SW1"
Telegraph letter

June 19/20 ~ As expected, the Royal Society of Scotland ducks the real issue

Under the dispiriting headline Biosecurity the chain's weakest link in FMD the Scotsman reports "PROFESSOR Ian Cunningham, chair of the Royal Society of Edinburgh's inquiry into foot-and-mouth in Scotland, said this week that the overwhelming message from those giving evidence was that "this must never happen again". Without pre-empting his committee's report - a final draft was being considered by the Royal Society of Edinburgh yesterday - he said: "I do not expect that everyone will agree with our conclusions or recommendations - and I will not say whether or not the committee was unanimous."
One emailer writes, " Well he got that bit right, anyway. The only people I saw or heard of breaking biosecurity ... were MAFF-Defra or their Privileged Pals...and I was at the epicentre, watching them terrorise the small farmers in their search for a scapegoat...."

June 19 ~ Farmers "plead for help from Brown"

announces the Telegraph, meaning, of course, that Ben Gill is doing so. A forlorn hope. The Treasury loathes DEFRA with a hatred that is evident to all. The Curry plan is unlikely ever to get funding. Farmers are now as unpopular as they have ever been. We read
*60,000 farmers and farm workers lost their jobs between 1998 and 2001
*The average farmed earned £10,000 on which to live and reinvest
*Farming incomes have fallen 71 per cent since 1995
*More than one farmer commits suicide each week
*Britain received just 3-6 per cent of EU subsidies despite making up 13.6 per cent of production
Does Ben Gill really imagine that Gordon Brown is going to listen sympathetically?

June 18 ~ Regionalisation and our descent into the hands of Brussels.

"The infrastructure is being put in place that will render any future referendum almost superfluous." Richard Mawdsley has written to the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald
"..... I have made contact with the N. W. Regional Assembly. Their office is in Wigan, telephone number 01942 737916. To my surprise they have been up and running for FOUR years! Their fourth AGM and 'annual jolly' is to be at the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, 11th - 12th July. Their PR lady told me, ".... there is nothing secret about the Assemblies...". .... On Friday I received an 'information pack' from Wigan. To give you an idea of the bulk, the postage cost £3.50. Wasted a large part of Sunday getting literary indigestion.....
The Government White Paper published on May 9th is hopefully entitled, "Your Region; Your Choice. Less bureaucracy, more democracy." That's a laugh. The bureaucracy will be ponderous, decision making slow and tortuous. Democracy doubtful; there's very little involved so far.
Imagine a piece of puff-pastry viewed from the side. One can see the layers, but try following them. .... .
If anyone tells you, "....there's nothing to worry about, the Assembly has no real power, it's just a talking-shop.......", don't believe them. The infrastructure is being put in place that will render any future referendum almost superfluous." (full letter)

June 18 ~ those who seek to protect our freedom by destroying it

Gavin Esler, the presenter on BBC News 24 has wrote a timely article in the Scotsman last week (see Democracy Watch)"....we also need to be on our guard against government agencies in the United States and elsewhere who seek to protect our freedom by destroying it. The supposed big success of the FBI over Padilla blew the scandal of the FBI agents in California right off the front pages of newspapers. How convenient. "

June 18 ~ Alastair Campbell: "Blair's yellow suit caused problems"

In a "news story" put out by the BBC we read that the losses to tourism during the foot and mouth crisis were due - not to Britain being quite rightly seen as the leper of Europe with its medieval rampaging, killing and burning - but because Tony Blair was seen by foreign audiences wearing a yellow suit.....(See Spin Alert)
Mr Campbell surpasses himself, as does the BBC. We have found ourselves reminded of Gerard Manly Hopkins' despairing lines "No worst, there is none" again and again over the past 16 months.
The BBC reports Mr Campbell as saying: "Part of our message (sic), once we'd focused on it (sic) as a crisis management issue being led from the top(sic), was the prime minister was involved, sleeves rolled up(sic), talking to farmers regularly (sic)... "
If this were not so nauseating its sheer impudence might be seen as funny. It isn't in the remotest degree funny. Rather it is a sobering indication of how the desensitised denizens of Number 10 view the foot and mouth crisis. It was a "crisis management issue led from the top"
Accountablity no longer walks with power and understanding of the real human issues has disappeared from public life. Like Hopkins, so many in Britain have been pitched past pitch of grief - and Number 10 'holds these feelings cheap' and congratulates itself on its cleverness.

June 18 ~ "The major problem with GM crops......"

writes Emeritus Professor of Genetics, Oxford University, J. H. Edwards in the Times today, " ...... is that, with widespread use of a single, genetically identical crop, it is only a matter of time, perhaps decades, before some insect or fungus develops a mutation and wipes out the entire crop. The risk may be small but can be neither ignored nor estimated. There is no way in which resistant seed could be developed and produced in quantity in less than a few years. "
Professor Malcolm Grant in a letter on the same subject writes, "The Prince of Wales's comments on GM crops are timely, as is the Government's commitment to an informed national debate on the possible commercialisation of GM crops in this country before decisions are taken...." (See news pages)

June 17 ~ A date for your diary

Saturday 7th September 2002 is national 'Don't Shop at Supermarkets Day'.
For an information pack please send an A4 sae to WyeCycle, 14 Scotton Street, Wye, Kent TN25 5BZ.

June 17 ~ Gibraltar

"..... The people of Gibraltar have always sensed that we enjoy the support of the general public in the UK. This has been confirmed by the massive response to our advertising campaign in the UK press. We have received over 300,000 letters and e-mails of support. We are advised that this represents an unprecedented response to a political appeal of this sort.
The people of Gibraltar feel angry and very concerned about the possibility of an agreement between the UK and Spain affecting our sovereignty and political rights. Morale amongst Gibraltarians has received a tremendous, and much needed boost from the overwhelming and inspiring response from the UK public to our appeal for help and support. I know that every Gibraltarian joins me in saying - thank you.
We hope that we will be able to rely on your continuing support, whatever "spin" and "disinformation" is now circulated about Gibraltar precisely to dent and diminish support for us in Parliament and in public opinion. We have set up an Internet support page support.gibraltar.gov.uk which we invite you to visit and forward to family, friends and colleagues who may wish to support us. Warmest thanks.

June 17 ~ Fed up with blatant lying?

Many are sick and tired of the way certain elements within DEFRA operate. The figure of four million animals killed was still - amazingly - being clung to by Elliot Morley in a Parliamentary Answer on May 15 when he said (to Ann Winterton) "...many of the lambs at foot are already reflected in the total slaughter figure of around 4 million for disease control purposes. Information describing this exercise has been on the DEFRA website for some time, where it is also noted that the data on the DCS are being validated and may result in figures being revised. Slaughtering under the Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme took place at abattoirs and it was consequently more likely that lambs at foot were recorded in the slaughter figures. These figures are therefore very unlikely to change. ..."

June 17 ~ Where DID the virus come from?

An emailer writes "We do know that MAFF-DEFRA were, at one time, very keen to attribute the arrival of both Classical Swine Fever and FMD to infected imported food reaching pigs via swill.
We do know that MAFF-Defra have a habit of lying and they later admitted that their earlier suggestions were a fabrication and apologised. This latest report ( Defra's statement reported below: 'Meat which has been imported from South American Countries can only have been imported after maturation.ie treatment process which kills the virus') confirms the withdrawal of these falsehoods.
Why did they invent these stories?
It seems fairly obvious that they were anxious to deflect blame from themselves. Why?
At the time, however much criticism they were getting for other reasons, nobody was blaming them for the introduction of these diseases, so why should they be so worried? How could they have been at fault?
The right place to look is for relevant information that has been deliberately withheld from publication by MAFF - Defra. There is plenty of data that has been deliberately withheld without obvious reason."

June 17 ~ "The Government intends to allow our internet use, emails and telephone calls to be monitored by a whole range of officials, with virtually no judicial control.

Not only the security services, but also such bodies as the Food Standards Agency and even local councils will be allowed to access our personal communications. The burden of proof ought always to rest with those who wish to take away a given freedom. It is up to the Government to explain how we will be made any safer by giving, say, the Post Office the right to monitor our private communications. So far, it has barely attempted to make this case" See democracy watch for this article from the Telegraph.

June 16 ~ We still don't know where FMD came from

A correspondent writes, "A journalist, who is writing an article on kitchen waste going to landfill and the risk of vectors transmitting FMD to neighbouring farms, today telephoned DEFRA press office in London for a statement and was told 'Meat which has been imported from South American Countries can only have been imported after maturation.ie treatment process which kills the virus'.
We must ask the question 'Where did FMD come from?' It obviously did not come via swill feeding."

June 16 ~ When will the Freedom Loving English (Welsh, Scots and Irish too) realise what is going on?

Anthony Scrivener has today written an Observer Special. Extract: "While the debate goes on as to where the Prime Minister should stand at royal funerals, Big Brother is being quietly ushered in, not by the dreaded Conservative Party responsible for a whole raft of other illiberal measures including the Investigation of Communications Act 1985, but by New Labour, the self-styled party of human rights. Snooping is to become official. Soon we shall all be able to sleep easier in our beds in the knowledge that seven Government departments, including Transport, Work and Pensions and Health, all local authorities, the Postal Services Commissions, the Office of Fair Trading, the Environmental Agency, the Financial Services Authority, the Health and Safety Executive, to name just a few, as well as the police, will be able to demand communication data on any one of us from telephone companies, internet service providers and postal officers.
All of these public bodies and many more will be able to obtain, simply on demand and without a court order, details of any phone call we have made or received, the source and destination of any of our emails, the identity of all websites visited and - best of all - all mobile phone location data which will reveal our whereabouts at any given time within a few hundred metres. "

June 16 ~ Whitty admits things are bleak for "younger elements" who can't afford houses in rural areas

Western Morning News..."Speaking during a short debate in the House of Lords yesterday, the Rural Affairs Minister Lord Whitty conceded that the Government needed to do more to tackle a problem which has been exacerbated in recent years by soaring house prices in areas like the Westcountry.
Lord Whitty said the Government had supported the Housing Corporation in increasing the number of low cost homes built in the countryside. But he conceded that there was a "quantum problem" which would require extra resources. He said: "I do recognise that one of the difficulties is that if the only people who can afford houses are incomers and retired people then that does seriously distort the availability of housing for the economically active, and particularly younger elements in many of our rural areas. That is why we do need to address the issue of affordable housing."

June 16 ~ "4,000 councils are refusing to sign. Councillors in up to 20 parishes have resigned en masse.

From Today's Sunday Times about the so-called "gift register" for parish councillors, the ludicrously named Parish Councils Model of Conduct Order"
".... under rules introduced by their Westminster colleagues, the men and women who make up Britain's 10,000 parish councils are being forced to register all gifts or benefits in kind worth more than £25.
Many are outraged and are resisting what they see as a snooper's charter. They say the rules are so strict they must declare whether their livestock grazes on someone else's land.
Under the , which came into force this month, councillors across the country must record details of all gifts, donations, land and business interests.
"It is absolutely ridiculous," said Alan Gough, the chairman of Arkendale, Coneythorpe and Clareton parish council in North Yorkshire. "It is another attack on rural communities by the bureaucratic elite."
While Gough believes that most councillors have nothing to hide, he also thinks they have no wish to see their interests pinned up on the village noticeboard. ...... " How insidiously are our freedoms being eroded by a government who wants to see all local matters decided at Brussels.

June 15 ~ "Article eight of the convention (of Human Rights) states clearly: "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life

his home and his correspondence." That is a fine statement, which in its sweeping language almost conjures up the principles of the US Constitution. The problem is that section two of the same article gives the Government a let-out on a range of grounds, including "national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country"
The Government maintains its extension of the RIP Act is in full compliance with the Human Rights Act, and is probably correct that it would beat off any court challenge. Local authorities will be able to cite "economic wellbeing" as a reason for demanding e-mail records in pursuit of, say, motorists who have not paid parking tickets.
We may well have to live with this grotesque extension of state powers, but it would be nice if the Government would drop its pretence that it has any interest in our rights..." Telegraph Opinion A free country By Stephen Robinson

June 15 ~".. none of these institutions would disclose whether they, or those preparing the reports, had any links with the biotechnology industry".

Arpud Pusztai first told The Ecologist what happened in the year 2000. What he said couldn't be more relevant.
http://www.theecologist.org/archive_article.html?article=179&category=74 Extract:"The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Royal Society (RS), Committee on Toxicology, Advisory Committee on Novel Food Processes (ACNFP), and the Nuffield Foundation Bioethics Committee all produced virtually identical, and equally damning, reports on my work within the space of a few days in May 1999, allowing Jack Cunningham to stand up in parliament a couple of days later and decree that there was 'no credible scientific evidence' to show that GM food was harmful.....none of these institutions would disclose whether they, or those preparing the reports, had any links with the biotechnology industry. ..... By accepting money from an industry which has aggressively set out to dominate many aspects of life and society, science and scientists are becoming servants of multinational concerns whose motives are at best questionable and at worst positively detrimental.
.....scientists must be, and be seen to be, transparent. They must publicly declare all financial or other interests, just as MPs are obliged to do. Only in this way can we begin to win back the public trust we have often deservedly lost. The time has come to remind our peers and politicians that any democratic society which suppresses academic freedom and the inventiveness of the individual is, ultimately, stifling its own development. "

June 15 ~ Gibraltar asks, "Who should decide our future?"

"The British Government are proposing to do a sovereignty deal with Spain against the wishes of the Gibraltarians. It wont be put into practice if rejected by Gibraltar, BUT IT WILL STAY ON THE TABLE as the agreed position between UK and Spain, to Gibraltar's political prejudice. This would be a sell out.
Only the people of Gibraltar have the right to decide their future. Any negotiations or agreements entered into by the British Government against the peoples wishes, betrays that right to self determination and therefore breaks international law and a 30 year old constitutional commitment by the British Government." See the website on which they ask for British suppport.

June 13 ~ 90 minutes set aside to debate this bill

"Anyone who loves liberty, and who wants to be protected from a nosy and unscrupulous government, should be aware of the coming Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Seldom has a Bill been so grotesquely misnamed. This will not regulate or control investigatory powers. It will oversee and encourage an explosion in snooping, by official bodies, into our lives, our associations, our interests, our every move. Investigatory powers are to be given to virtually every public body and quango, from the police to the local dog-catcher...." See democracy watch pages

June 13 ~ Re: Extension of powers is unjustifiable

"SIR - I am no stranger to the need for accurate, timely and verifiable intelligence, having served 19 years in a branch of the Services concerned with military intelligence and afterwards working on IT systems involved with criminal and similar intelligence.The extensions proposed by the Government to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (report, June 12) are unjustifiable. The sort of intelligence that can be obtained from when and where phone calls have been made, e-mail exchanges, and which computer sites have been visited (loosely defined as traffic analysis) should not, and must not, be available to the organisations the Government wishes to extend it to. There is absolutely no reason why the Food Standards Agency, local authorities or any of the other proposed bodies need access to this type of information.Any necessary investigations must be carried out by the police or other agencies that the Act already covers. The thought that a local authority, in particular, will obtain this sort of information is very frightening. Local authority staff do not receive the same level of security clearance and vetting as current users of this information and the opportunity for corruption is unlimited.
Secondly, the all-encompassing reasons for obtaining such information mean that it would be open to abuse for political ends.This Government has proved that it cannot be trusted with even the most basic information about individuals. Who knows what injustices and persecutions will follow when a politically motivated local council obtains information about individuals and groups with which it disagrees.I have always justified the collection of intelligence about individuals on the ground that it is handled by, in the main, apolitical, cleared and vetted individuals with a need to know. I am no longer convinced that this is the case. This Act must be repealed, not extended.
From:Ian Coghlan, Lydney, Glos" (Telegraph letter)

June 13 ~ EU - "....despite the fact that Ireland voted against the Nice Treaty last year, not one of its Convention delegates opposes it.

The only time that France was allowed a direct vote on closer integration was the Maastricht referendum of 1992, when half the country voted 'no'; but not one French MP on the Convention is anti-federalist. Opinion polls across the EU as a whole have consistently shown that between 35 and 40 per cent of people would like to scrap the euro; yet only some 10 per cent of delegates to the Convention could be classed as eurosceptics.
Even among those applicant states whose politicians have not yet cast off the guy-ropes that anchor them to public opinion, there is a reluctance to challenge the consensus. It is almost as though the Eastern Europeans feel that asserting themselves too strongly in the Convention will somehow result in less favourable membership terms.
Anticipating the complaint that the future of Europe should not be left wholly to politicians, Euro-enthusiasts have come up with a clever tactic. As well as the main Convention, there will be a parallel meeting for 'representatives of civil society'. A glance at the applicant organisations tells you everything you need to know about this forum: the European Movement, the Union of European Federalists, the European Women's Lobby, the European Council of Artists, the European Humanist Federation, the European Social Action Network. These are not simply NGOs that happen to be pro-EU. They are, in many cases, creatures of the European Commission, dependent on Brussels for their funding. Whatever else they do, it seems pretty clear that they will not be demanding the devolution of power to the nation-states..."See Spectator article

June 12 ~ "This is what happened..... calls went on for five days. They concerned Mr Blair's role in the lying-in-state in Westminster Hall and the funeral. The callers asked whether Black Rod did not think that the Prime Minister should have a bigger or different role"

We find the story of Mr Blair and the funeral alarming because of the Press Complaints Commission's behavioour. Four papers - The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, the Evening Standard, and the Mail on Sunday - reported aspects of this story. Alistair Campbell complained and used the word "lie", to all four of them, and took the last three to the Press Complaints Commission. As the Telegraph reports, "Yesterday he withdrew his case without an adjudication from the PCC. The reason he did so was that the PCC had sight of the testimony that Sir Michael would have given them if Mr Campbell had pressed on to adjudication. In the face of Sir Michael's evidence, Number 10's claim collapsed. Acting in the cowardly way that we have seen too often before, the PCC yesterday stated that the dispute was "resolved" because everyone agreed that the Prime Minister had not personally sought a bigger role. Of course he hadn't! Such things are never conducted by the principals.
.....the papers attacked by Mr Campbell did not agree to the PCC's "resolution". They were called liars by Mr Campbell. The facts then showed that they were telling the truth.
If anyone lied, it was Mr Campbell. It was no business of the PCC and its director, Guy Black, to try to broker a private deal about this; and it is to the credit of the papers involved that they would not accept one. This is a remarkable saga. Unable to accept the conventions that separate Crown and Prime Minister, even at a moment of unique royal and national grief because of the death of the Queen Mother, Number 10 badgers the Queen's servant in the Houses of Parliament.
Then it denies having done so, impugns the integrity of those who reported its actions and tries to support its untruthful version of events by complaining to the PCC. It presumably relied on its ability to bully royal employees, who are naturally reticent, into supporting its version in order to avoid controversy. The plot failed only because Sir Michael Willcocks was brave...." .

June 12 ~ Prince Charles has said that the GM industry must be made liable for any damage it causes to other farmers.

He made his comments while receiving the Euronatur award for environmental achievement. He is on a tour of organic farms in Germany and Poland. "The extent of the problems of contamination is becoming clearer and clearer. So I find it hard to understand how the companies which will profit from having developed these crops and which are taking out patents to ensure that they do, should be able to avoid taking liability for any damage that occurs," he said. (see today's Times)
See also Opposing views on the great debate from today's Times which juxtaposes the views expressed by Mr Blair and Prince Charles.

June 10 ~ "No birds sang in the vicinity for many months. The killing went on, officially, for around 3 months.

Officially, around half a million healthy sheep were killed here. Of those tested, only 3 tested positive. (with anti-bodies). Add to that figure around 1.6 lambs per ewe and we will arrive at what is nearer to the truth. The real figure will be over 2 million healthy sheep and lambs killed at Gt Orton. One sheep fell every 6 seconds. A travellator transported dead lambs to their graves.
Some of these lambs had their lower jaws blown off as veterinary surgeons authorised the use of CBI`s to kill them.
The more fortunate came under the needle, being injected directly into the heart. Some vets struggled to conduct this task proficiently I have been told by a witness.
One slaughterman was killed with a captive bolt gun. He remained alive for some time. So did some of the wretched animals who were buried alive. I have received eye-witness reports from drivers at the site, who vividly report that many animals were moving as they thrown into the hastily dug pits." Nick Green has been back to Great Orton...

June 10 ~ Very Good News. Tony York has been elected to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust committee

along with five others, who are more than willing to fight for our rare breeds. He has asked that Angus Appleton should be thanked for his vote (apparently this was quite crucial).

June 10 ~ "UK 'needs GM research animals'"

is the headline in this BBC report
How far should research go
"British scientists say the UK could be penalised if they are prevented from using genetically modified (GM) animals for research. The warning comes from the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of sciences. It says those who oppose the use of GM animals in research are trying to impose their views on society....."
Once again we find ourselves deeply concerned by the pronouncements of the Royal Society.

June 10 ~ "Most of the landscape we value most highly, the meadows, the heaths, the marshland and the saltings, were maintained by grazing animals.

The vegetation, flowers, butterflies, other invertebrates, amphibians and small mammals evolved over 100s, even 1000s of years, alongside the varied patterns of grazing, producing the mosaic of wildlife that is our biodiversity heritage.
It is livestock that made the landscape. If we want to keep it, halt the decline in the biodiversity of flower meadows and recreate new ones, we must have an economically viable livestock industry. All grassland, whether ancient or modern, depends on this...."
"Today, milk is being sold below the cost of production. Supermarkets, catering and meat processors source their supplies almost entirely from the large meat plants, buying meat wherever it is cheapest, increasingly from abroad. If this continues, the British livestock industry will not survive and much of what remains of our 'green and pleasant land' will revert to scrub. However, the collapse of a viable British livestock industry can be prevented by government, by the retailers and by the consumer. "
an extract from an article for the East Anglian Daily Times 8.6 02 by Caroline Cranbrook

June 8/9 ~ Asking potentially troublesome questions

".... The questions Quist and Chapela raised about the unintentional spread of transgenes are still largely unexplored, and many scientists' careers, as well as vast sums of money, depend on how they are answered. As Chapela has noted, there's something inherently unnerving about the fact that this $2,000 research project has provoked such an intense reaction from an industry that has poured millions into biotechnology research. Perhaps these are the sort of projects that will be overlooked if more and more research facilities become linked with industry benefactors, giving them financial incentives to rush new products and technologies to market rather than stopping to ask potentially troublesome questions. Is transgenic corn truly growing in Oaxaca? It seems like a straightforward question. Why so few people have bothered to try answering it until now seems a much deeper mystery. " (This excellent article should be read in its entirety. It seems that Newsnight was based upon it.)

June 8/9 ~ ".. it cost me my job but I would do it again." Dr Pusztai

"I made my 150 second testimony on World in Action because I had facts the indicated to me there were serious problems with transgenic food. It can sometimes take 2-3 years to get science papers published and these foods were already on the shelves. I did indicate my concern and it cost me my job but I would do it again. Other scientists often ask me why I went against the code of practice and spoke out before publication in a peer reviewed journal? My reply is to say we would be eating these potatoes now and not be discussing the safety of GM food if I would not have done it."
Dr Pusztai's story in his own words.

June 8 ~ "Labour working for Rural Britain".

Richard Mawdsley sends us this extract from Shooting Times [6th June]
"Labour Party Conference. 19th - 21st July, Harper Adams University College, Newport, Shropshire."Open to all Party members as well as outside visitors.
Mrs Beckett: "....the issues that concern rural communities are the same as those facing people across the rest of Britain, though often they have a special rural dimension......"
Alun Michael: "....the Labour Party now has 180 MP's representing rural and semi rural constituencies. That's 40% of the Parliamentary Labour Party. It means that Labour is now the leading Party of rural, as well as urban and metropolitan Britain......"
Agenda: issues including the rural economy, agriculture, tourism, transport, housing, health, education, the environment and crime. (See Richard Mawdsley's email)

June 8 ~ "Not satisfied with bullying, intimidating, acting illegally and lying to rural communities....

Mr Blair is now officially sanctioning some very nasty "dirt digging" on lawful and innocent English people in urban areas" writes an outraged Nick Green from Cumbria today.

June 8 ~ Wayward pollen and seed from genetically modified crops have cost Canadian honey producers and organic farmers millions of dollars

according to researchers who say there is an urgent need to better control the controversial GM crops and their novel genetic machinery. "It is essential that new molecular gene-containment strategies be developed and introduced," says a report in the journal Nature Biotechnology this month, which points to the significant economic risks and liabilities associated with GM crops now widely grown ...In the most costly case to date, GM corn meant only for animals ended up in U.S. food in 2000. The resulting scramble to recall tacos and corn products cost "a staggering US$1-billion," the report says.
Prof. Phillips and his colleagues say industry and government regulators must do a better job of controlling GM crops and the pollen and seed they produce. Their report focuses mainly on the significant liability cost of genes from GM crops "escaping and going rogues," but scientists writing in the journal also say there are many unanswered questions about the long-term environmental risks of GM plants. There is concern transgenes will be picked up by weeds and other plants and make them even hardier. (See Genetic Threats Blowing in the Wind a report in the National Post Canada, by Margaret Munro)

June 8 ~ Virus infects Labour machine

This intriguing headline introduces an important story in The Scotsman by Jason Beattie on "the corrosion at the heart of New Labour" and the smearing of anyone who stands up to them - such as Pam Warren, the co-founder of the Paddington Survivors' Group, who has dismissed Mr Corry's apology ..."why would I be interested in Dan Corry? Is he an elected official?"
...David Davis, the Tory party chairman, yesterday stepped up his demands for a new civil service act which would remove the oversight of the Ministerial Code of Conduct from the Prime Minister and hand it to an independent tribunal.
"The case of Pam Warren is the latest in a series of smear attempts by this government," he said. "The Prime Minister has so far failed to put a stop to special advisers spending time trying to undermine concerned citizens. The civil service is being compromised as public servants are drawn into Labour's culture of deceit. ...
The Prime Minster should introduce a new civil service act . This act must end, once and for all, New Labour's damaging habit of misusing the enormous powers of government to intimidate, coerce, and undermine ordinary citizens who have the temerity to stand up to them."

June 7 ~ Fields of Ire

"What would happen if something went seriously wrong with a GM crop trial? We have in this country a prime minister who dismisses sceptics about the new technologies as Luddites and a science minister with an extensive personal and financial interest (held in trust) in biotechnology. The big biotech and pharmaceutical companies are notoriously rich and powerful and, say their critics, increasingly sophisticated in discrediting those who threaten their vested interests.
On the other side, you have a green movement which, in the view of many scientists and businessmen, plays fast and loose with the facts and which will never concede the benefits of the new technologies. They may not have the resources of the big companies and governments, but environmental pressure groups have much credibility with the public and have learned to make formidable use of the internet and email in order to get their point of view across. In the middle you have the media, trying to make sense of a tidal wave of information and disinformation." (See story in today's Guardian)

June 7 ~ "I would be much happier if he realised that we live in a parliamentary democracy. We're a parliamentary democracy and not a presidential system...."

Tam Dalyell, the Father of the House of Commons, has consigned Tony Blair to the bottom of the prime ministerial league by describing him as the worst occupant of Downing Street he has known since he became an MP in 1962. ,,,see today's Times

June 7 ~" GM is not a single process, but a group of techniques that can alter the genetic blueprint of a plant or other organism.

Hazards need to be assessed case by case (by just the sort of trials that have been sabotaged in recent years). Protagonists on all sides of the current furore also need to remember that GM organisms have already yielded many benefits - for example, life-saving and life-enhancing drugs, now consumed by millions of people with diabetes throughout the world. These include human insulin for people with diabetes and erythropoietin, which is making life more comfortable for patients on kidney dialysis.
It would be a tragedy if other benefits - in medicine, agriculture and environmental protection - were to be rejected because of the odious connotation which the bogey expression "GM" is rapidly acquiring. " says a letter from Bernard Dixon in today's Times Another letter however makes a very important point:"...It is not my responsibility (nor the public's) "to define the hazards"; it is the responsibility of the biotech industry to conduct an open, fair and comprehensive assessment of the risks, as well as the benefits of this technology. It is in these matters that public duty far outweighs commercial aspirations. "

June 7 ~ CUMBRIA FMD UPDATE - 6TH JUNE 2002

The update has been sent by Nick Green, whose contribution to the File on Four programme on the early days of the Foot and Mouth crisis ( to be aired on June 25th 8.00 p.m) should be interesting. Extract from Nick's letter: "...during a conversation with a well known member of our agricultural society, a highly respected man, Mr Elliot Morley...... made it clear that he had no idea what a hefted flock was and that he had no idea that most sheep will recover from the FMD virus. "What is an antibody?" he astonishingly blustered! This was patiently explained to Morley, who clearly, had no idea what he was talking about...."

June 6 ~ FMD has shown how "commercial interests" take precedence over people's lives and livelihoods. Now commercial interests threaten the lives of thousands of Kashmiris and millions of Indians and Pakistanis in one of the most beautiful and vulnerable parts of the planet.

British arms are making their way into the arsenals of these nuclear rivals. Blair's attempts to broker peace are hypocritical. As the Guardian points out, the UK would be "making peace in conflicts which our own arms exports may have helped to exacerbate." ...As author Arundhati Roy put it: "Tony Blair's 'peace' mission a few months ago was actually a business trip to discuss a one billion pound deal . . . to sell Hawk fighter-bombers to India. Roughly, for the price of a single Hawk bomber, the government could provide 1.5 million people with clean drinking water for life."
You can contact Jack Straw directly: Fax: 020 7272 2144
Mail: House of Commons, London SW1A OAA
Email: strawj@parliament.uk
or Fax your own MP at faxyourmp.com

June 5 ~ The EFRA Committee's important report into the handling of the Foot and Mouth crisis can be read in full from warmwell's left menu.

Bryn Wayt has made some annotationsto its first page which no doubt echo the frustrations of many - particularly those who believe that "misfeasance in public office" ought to be given its true name. This is a crisis that lives on in the minds of those who can't forgive the way misinformation and lies are being swept under the carpet.

June 5 ~ Today in 1975 a referendum was held on British membership of European Community.

The national vote was: Yes 17,378,581; No 8,470,073. Little did they know how Britain was to be sold down the river....

June 4 ~ Re: Fight the vitamin directive

Telegraph letter, under the headline Drug companies have too tight a hold
SIR - Dr Sarah Brewer has raised an issue (health, May 31) that will affect millions - the removal from sale of hundreds of vitamins and herbal products, and the dilution of others to levels many will see as meaningless.
The food supplements directive will pass into British law in the next few weeks or months - but the ambiguity remains. We will not know which nutrients will be allowed, or what dose levels will be permitted, for perhaps another two years. Consumers are going to lose a huge number of safe and popular products that have been on the British market for decades. In parallel, the Medicine Controls Agency (MCA) is pushing the proposed traditional herbal medicinal products directive (THMPD) through at breakneck speed, and with as little consultation as they can get away with.
The THMPD is deeply flawed and fails to meet the minister's stated objectives. Both will have a devastating affect on consumers, retailers and many manufacturers for purely political reasons. Consumers must realise this now and make their views heard.
From: Sue Croft, Consumers for Health Choice, Bristol

June 4 ~ "There are a number of substances being used today by physicians who are less hidebound than average by the tyranny of the double-blind crossover controlled trial,

( a letter in today's Telegraph), "that are of little interest to drug companies, because they are either naturally occurring or have been around for long enough to fall outside the rules governing patents.
It is a sad fact, that since pharmaceutical companies finance most of the research and therapeutic trials that take place today, these non-profit making substances may remain unavailable to the general public for many years to come. Vested interests connected with major industrial concerns (pharmaceutical, food, tobacco, for instance) have influenced policy-makers to the detriment of the health and well-being of the average person for generations and continue to do so.
As a woman, a mother and a medical practitioner, this is a situation that I deplore, and I suspect that there are many people beginning to wonder whether their elected representatives have their best interests at heart.
From: Dr A. Khilkoff-Choubersky East Grinstead, W Sussex"

June 2 ~ Under the guise of protecting us from "terrorism" the government's obsession for control snatches away our freedom

"Documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that details of almost every phone call or computer communication could be recorded indefinitely.
All telecom and internet service providers will be required to keep information about the amount of time people spend on the internet, their user names and passwords, the dates and times of all connections and full details of their e-mail.
Mobile and land line phone communications are also covered, with companies required to keep records of the dates, times and durations of all calls and messages, together with the names, birth dates and addresses of subscribers.
Companies can be forced to retain these and other details for an unspecified period. Although police will still need a warrant to intercept the content of electronic communications, the new rules will let them build up a picture of an individual's personal communications."
Let us be under no illusions - while the population sleepwalks into giving up all its freedoms, we are in the very last days of the Golden Age of personal privacy. They will come for our animals - and, one cannot help thinking, sooner or later they will come for us.

June 1 ~ From the Guardian, 11th April 2001:

"......English Government to close 25% of small farms. The government plans a major reduction in the number of farms and farmers as part of a recovery package for British agriculture in the wake of the foot and mouth outbreak, the Guardian has learned. Ministers expect that by 2005 as many as 25% of farms - almost all small ones - will have closed or merged, with 50,000 people forced to leave the industry
 Mr Brown has broadly hinted at a large scale early retirement scheme. He told MPs on Monday: "The big decision for farmers who have received a compensation payment is whether to restock the farmholding - or pause and think very carefully what the future holds for them."
MAFF figures show that many uneconomic farms make more money from offering bed and breakfast, than from farming.....http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4168775,00.html

June 1 ~ ARABLE LAND ONLY for the UK? GM crops...

"....Credence Publications contacted Mr Mote with regard to a particularly interesting letter sent to us, highlighting a 1998 European Commission meeting of European agricultural ministers attended by UK Agricultural Minister, Nick Brown. The letter stated that, during that EU meeting, a discussion had taken place with regard to the UK being possibly designated as 'arable land only' - arable meaning 'crop production'. .."
Mr Mote added that, upon his return from the EU meeting, Nick Brown made no mention of these discussions. Whilst the above 'EU' discussions remain unsourced at present, we cannot dismiss the rise in the number of GM crop discussions recently taking place. The following information is very revealing. In 1998/9, Tony Blair had an unprecedented 17 meetings with Monsanto, the multi-national corporation at the forefront of promoting genetically engineered crops into the UK. And Michael Meacher, the UK Environment Minister, has announced only recently that 58 new major GM test field sites for oilseed rape and beet will be going ahead, despite major concerns being aired by many members of the general public....(from http://www.whatareweswallowing.freeserve.co.uk/withoutbars.htm)

June 1 ~ Food Standards Agency: "more interested in protecting the biotech industry than British consumers"

Friends of the Earth "The FSA has echoed both the US Government and the American Soybean Association [US Government evidence to the House of Lords 27/02/2002 and letters sent to MPs from the American Soybean Association. ], by calling for weaker proposals as well as a "GM-free" label which will only apply to a limited amount of food, which the FSA admits will be more expensive. Meacher is believed to support more stringent labelling and traceability requirements, making a clash between the two likely.
... US embassy officials giving evidence to the same committee refused to accept European consumers' right to choose to avoid GM food apart for voluntary schemes.
Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: "The FSA's position is appalling. They seem to be more interested in protecting the biotech industry than British consumers. Food has been GM-free for thousands of years, but now the FSA say we must pay more if we want to avoid this controversial technology. The British public has made it very clear that they want proper choice over whether or not to eat GM foods. The FSA, which was set up to protect consumers,seems intent on taking that choice away."

June 1 ~ Robert May (Royal Society) does not want us to watch alarmist science fiction

BBC refuses to drop 'alarmist' GM drama despite protests reports the Telegraph today "The BBC refused to withdraw a drama about genetically modified crops yesterday despite a barrage of criticism from scientists, including the programme's scientific adviser.
Fields of Gold, a two-part thriller starring Anna Friel, purports to show a possible scenario in which a GM-created superbug kills elderly people and wildlife, and ultimately threatens the world. But Mark Tester, a GM crop expert who advised the programme makers, said they had ignored his criticisms and produced a drama riddled with "ridiculous errors of fact to inflame uninformed anti-GM hysteria". His comments were echoed by some of the country's most eminent scientists. Lord May, the president of the Royal Society, described it as a "ludicrous piece of alarmist science fiction" and a "disgrace"...."
Pat Gardiner writes, " Lord May tells me what I can read or view now? I think some of our establishment institutions are getting a little above themselves. Drama is drama. Fiction is fiction. I wonder how HG Wells or Jules Verne or Alan C Clark would have got on with Lord May...."

June 1 ~ Warning from France.. democratic use of the internet threatened still further?

Yesterday, a french lower Court decided for the first time in Europe that a webmaster is responsible for comments published by Net surfers on unmoderated forums of its Internet site. This webmaster was sued for libel.
This ruling sets a precedent whereby the webmaster (thus publisher) of a website can be held responsible for what is published in an non-moderated forum. This is the first step to the end for unmoderated online discussion on french (and perhaps european) websites.
http://www.foruminternet.org/documents/jurisprudence/lire.phtml?id=323>http://www.foruminternet.org/documents/jurisprudence/lire.phtml?id=323>

June 1 ~ She doth protest too much (and in language we are not alone in considering inappropriate for a public servant)

The Times today: MARGARET BECKETT, the Environment Secretary, let rip yesterday at critics who condemned the £180,000 cost of sending a British delegation to Bali next week to prepare for this summer's Earth Summit. Mrs Beckett swore when asked to justify spending taxpayers' money on first-class air fares for herself, a private secretary, Lucian Hudson, her department's director of communications, and Nicci Collins, her special adviser. Her husband, Leo, is to accompany her at his own expense. Another 24 officials are travelling club class. Opposition MPs are demanding to know why the taxpayer should foot the bill for the £6,446 first-class and £4,766 club-class tickets.
Mrs Beckett said: "I have to say, say what the hell you like about me, and even be rude about my husband if you like, but leave our bloody officials alone. They work damned hard, they are respected around the world and they don't need people to sneer at them for the purpose of having to harm the Government."

June 1 ~ Governments are less and less concerned with ordinary people's lives.

When are the credulous and kindly British going to realise that all governments now are concerned only with what is profitable and what they can get away with (which is often murder)? We read that the security at the Westfields Marriott hotel in Chantilly Virginia is very tight - and paid for by the taxpayers of course. (See democracy watch) ".....It seems to have escaped both these so-called public servants that if the U.S. government agreed to lift Iraqi sanctions which are killing roughly six thousand children a month in the country, Iraq could return to relative normality and war would be unnecessary. But Rumsfeld and Dam are in fact lobbyists for the defence industry and lobbyists for U.S. expansionism. They consider the growth of the U.S. defense industry, or 'military industrrial complex' as president Eisenhower described it, to be more important than tens of thousands or even millions of human lives. Global banker and head of the Rockefeller dynasty David Rockefeller has been spotted by Westfields Marriott staff as have Henry Kissinger and several others. Secretary-General of NATO, Lord Robertson, is aslo known to be in attendance this year. "

May 31 ~ Mutant Menu

- this illuminating article was published in the Ecologist last year. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrases "Death by Chocolate" or "Choc til you drop". Worth reading in full. But as alarming as anything else we have been reading about lately.
The last few years has seen a huge new business sector emerge around the cloning and genetic manipulation of animals. Heralded as a 'saviour science' on a number of fronts - including health and agriculture - it is actually a massively imprecise science that commonly results in large numbers of 'failed' animals. And these, as astute government officials first discovered in the 1960s, have got to go somewhere...
Astonishingly, that somewhere - in the minds of at least two biotech companies and the government watchdog bodies designed to look after our interests as consumers - should be the deep freeze unit at your local supermarket. Government ministers have authorised the setting up of what they call an 'applications system' to oversee the recycling of, for example, pork from pigs bred to contain human genes. Or, put another way, the government considers cannibalism OK for UK consumers.
Genetic engineering experiments on animals involve hundreds of thousands of animals every year. As well as pigs and sheep, cows, cats, dogs and even deer now find themselves on the receiving end. However, as few as 0.1 per cent of the experiments are successful, and - as BSE and foot and mouth have shown - there is a limit to what the knacker's yard (or the local incinerator) can cope with.....The government's open-minded approach to spawning a new genre of recipe books is sadly not matched by its attitude to naming its real authors, the biotech corporations. When asked to identify the companies that had approached it, a government spokesman sniffed: 'all information submitted to the ACNFP is treated as commercially confidential until such time as Agriculture and Health Ministers give food safety clearance to a product. We are therefore unable to release the names of the Companies who submitted these proposals.' ..... "

May 31 ~ And they wonder why there are conspiracy theories...

Commenting on the BBC report about MAFF, Ministry 'shares culpability for disease', Pat Gardiner of http://www.go-self-sufficient.com/ writes today, " Although it was widely reported at the time, it has now been largely forgotten that animal rights people visited Waugh and Cleave during CSF and just before FMD. They were later prosecuted/persecuted by MAFF over a similar incident in Norfolk following a case against BQP in which they were backed by the RSPCA. Most of the reports have long evaporated from the newspaper archives. I'm absolutely sure that this is significant.
About a year ago, I was visited, without appointment, by a man showing an interest in this affair. He clearly had connections with the pig industry and claimed to have been reading my site. We gave him lunch. He referred to this particular case and attempted to persuade me that the animal rights people had been deliberately spreading fmd and csf. What was very odd was that he admitted he had made an aerial reconnaissance of our home a day or so before. He was educated and articulate, but I do not think he was a journalist. He lost interest when he realised that I was unlikely to be convinced....oh and the registration etched on the windows of his car did not match the plates. And people wonder why there are conspiracy theories!" I will be happy to make full details available to any sensible journalist or organisation, capable of making an investigation, unconnected to MAFF-Defra, the NFU or the pig industry."

May 31 ~ the tragic, the comic and the absurd

Sheepdogs make do with ducks as legacy of foot and mouth ...Telegraph By Robert Uhlig, Farming Correspondent (Filed: 31/05/2002) Champion sheepdogs rounded up ducks yesterday as the effects of last year's foot and mouth epidemic were felt at the first major agricultural show of the season.
Regulations imposed to protect against any future outbreak of the disease left the Royal Bath and West Show, one of the rural calendar's major events, characterised by a mixture of the tragic, the comic and the absurd.
With sheep, goats and alpacas banned from the show, one enterprising Welsh farmer used 15 Indian runner ducks instead of sheep in the only working sheepdog demonstration at the show.

May 31 ~ Cut the utter blithering nonsense once and for all - and just do it

Commenting on the report in the Scotsman about the toxicity of synthetic pyrethroids which have replaced the organophosphates in sheep dips: (extract:"....director of the Tweed Foundation, after Allan Virtue, in charge of SEPA's Borders operation, told a conference this week that sheep dipping, as part of the total problem of diffuse pollution from agriculture, was the biggest single threat to upland waters.... Chris Badenoch, one of Scottish Natural Heritage's most senior and respected men on the ground, told the conference that farming must sharpen its act on diffuse pollution. ") Joyce today asks, "Why on earth don't the governments of this world just make farming a criminal offence and end all this b*ll sh*t? "

May 30 ~ -" The European Union Council of Ministers has decided to sign the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources

for Food and Agriculture. The treaty aims to protect the world's most important agricultural plant species in order to safeguard global food security." http://ens-news.com/ens/may2002/2002-05-29-03.asp
Reassuring. When the Europe-wide genetically modified crops have contaminated the natural species the scientists will feel that all will not have been not lost as a result of their naive trust in Monsanto et al. They will, after all, have their gene banks.

May 30 ~"His submission is a bumbling, mind numbing disgrace

and is in harmony with the government's wholesale humiliating and shameful handling of the entire 2001 FMD disaster." Bryn has written his own annotation to Prof King's submission to Lessons Leaarned about the "role of the contiguous cull"

May 29 ~ The Supermarket Code of Practice is too weak

and in a new initiative, the Fair Deal Group has set up to help small suppliers make their complaints about unfair trade practices used by supermarkets anonymously.
The Country Land and Business Association today throws its full weight behind the Fair Deal Group, in its initiative to act as an anonymous clearing house for complaints by small suppliers about unfair trade practices used by Supermarkets. The Group will collect complaints and present them to the Office of Fair Trading en bloc. (see note from CLA )

May 29 ~ Nick Green has sent a further short submission to the Cumbria Inquiry

" in desperation - a final shot at getting some questions asked" he says. Nick's last submission

May 29 ~ Deliberate sabotage of organic wheat. More massive fraud in the meat industry -but in Germany this time

" Mr. Bartels and State Premier Sigmar Gabriel repeatedly spoke of "criminal intrigues." Owing to the extremely high concentrations of the herbicide, the Agriculture Ministry did not believe the contamination with Nitrofen was the result of "normal," albeit illegal, use by the farms during grain production. Sabotage or import errors are also possible, Mr. Bartels said." This refers to the story in FAZ.com from Hanover about the animal feed in Saxony, discovered to have been contaminated with the herbicide Nitofen. This chemical, which is believed to cause cancer, had been detected in 302 tons of organic wheat and 248 tons of a wheat-rye mixture, known as Triticale, during internal inspections carried out since March 2002 Furthermore, there were suspicions that the authorities knew about cases of contaminated meat for a considerable period.

May 29 ~ Corporate phantoms - The web of deceit over GM food has now drawn in the PM's speechwriters

George Monbiot himself, writing in today's Guardian, says "Tony Blair's speech to the Royal Society last Thursday was a wonderful jumble of misconceptions and logical elisions. He managed to confuse science with its technological products. GM crops are no more "science" than cars, computers or washing machines, and those opposing them are no more "anti-science" than people who don't like the Millennium Dome are "anti-architecture". He suggested that in the poor world people welcome genetic engineering. It was unfortunate that the example he chose was the biotech industry in Bangalore in south-west India. Bangalore happens to be the centre of the world's most effective protests against GM crops, the capital of a state in which anti-GM campaigners outnumber those in the UK by 1,000 to one. Like most biotech enthusiasts, he ignored the key concern of the activists: the corporate takeover of the food chain, and its devastating consequences for food security.
...... the Bivings Group, a PR company contracted to Monsanto, ... invented fake citizens to post messages on internet listservers. These phantoms had launched a campaign to force Nature magazine to retract a paper it had published, alleging that native corn in Mexico had been contaminated with GM pollen. But this, it now seems, is just one of hundreds of critical interventions with which PR companies hired by big business have secretly guided the biotech debate over the past few years. ... Bivings is just one of several public relations agencies secretly building a parallel world on the web...... they have either smelted or honed all the key weapons currently used by the world's biotech enthusiasts: the conflation of activists with terrorists, the attempts to undermine hostile research, the ever more nuanced claims that those who resist GM crops are anti-science and opposed to the interests of the poor. The hatred directed at activists over the past few years is, in other words, nothing of the kind. In truth, we have been confronted by the crafted response of an industry without emotional attachment.
Tony Blair was correct when he observed on Thursday that "there is only a small band of people... who genuinely want to stifle informed debate". But he was wrong to identify this small group as those opposed to GM crops. Though he didn't know it, the people seeking to stifle the debate are the ones who wrote his speech; not in the days before he delivered it, but in the years in which the arguments he used were incubated.

May 29 ~ what overwhelming public need?

The Guardian journalist George Monbiot, one of the clearest, most committed and least cynical newspaper men in today's world, is one of the six GM protestors who are to stand trial for destroying part of an Aventis maize crop. H L Menkhen would, we think, have heartily approved. Menkhen thought that "the function of a newspaper in a democracy is to act as a sort of chronic opposition to the reigning quacks" What a pity that this is not also the view of the current crop of sychophantic editors (with one or two noble exceptions).
We note a relevant letter in the Times "Sir, Tony Blair calls for a "more mature attitude" to scientific matters including the introduction of genetic engineering into UK food production (report, May 20; see also letters, May 23 and May 27). Quite so - and the science of these large-scale industrial agricultural systems, with their complex interdependencies and complicated behaviours, predicts that the long-term effects are probably (scientifically) unknowable. The widespread introduction of GMO (genetically modified organisms) technology will be irreversible and cannot be locally contained - and the outcome cannot be predicted. Perhaps the Prime Minister should explain the overwhelming public need that justifies the Government's support for "field trials" in this high-risk industry.
Yours sincerely, A. SHELL"

May 28 ~ Badgers not to blame after all?

We read on the forum today: "TB in cattle. I thought I'd tell you of a local farmer's exprience with TB in cattle and it was NOT the badgers who were to blame. His Jersey herd kept getting reactors to the TB test. They did everything they could think of to try and find the cause but to no avail.
Finally, they tested all the staff on the farm and it was found that one of them had TB and was giving it to the cows.
He felt fine and I think was a carrier but obviously he couldn't go on working there. To the best of my knowledge, they have never had any problems since. With the amount of TB rife in the country - and guess where THAT is coming from - it would not surprise me at all if the humans were giving the cows TB in the same way that a human unknowingly gave our local herd reactors....."

May 28 ~ Re: Cow pat problem

Letter in the Telegraph Date: 28 May 2002
SIR - On hearing last week Lord Whitty's pronouncement on the radio on the necessity of removing cow pats from the grass at agricultural shows, I am concerned that his knowledge both of cow pats and grass must be limited.
As a student of cow pats for 30 years, I can assure him that the lifters of this material will have extreme difficulty. The only way will be to remove all the turf on to which it splatters, which could itself present a problem.
I would be more than happy to give Lord Whitty and his department the benefit of my knowledge of this vital agricultural product, and hear from him why he believes that walkers in grazed pastures cannot spread the virus, but visitors to agricultural shows can.
From: Pat Rickett Co-owner, The Juniper Herd Everdon, Northants
Like Pat, we too are concerned that "Lord Whitty's knowledge must be limited"

May 28 ~ Does the "wild" in wildlife matter?

(Today's Independent) "Nature conservation has come a long way in the past 20 years. As a business, it has blossomed and flourished, turning from a minority pursuit with an income of less than £10m to a popular crusade with an annual turnover of at least 20 times that..... a much more businesslike approach, and a sophisticated public-relations machine. Wildlife is commonly "sold", using attractive animals such as otters ..... the aspirant language of government and businesses. The Wildlife Trusts partnership talks confidently of "green shoots of recovery starting to come through". The Woodland Trust is busy "planting the seeds of hope". The general sense of what they are saying is that the losses of wildlife we have experienced are recoverable, once "environmentally friendly" policies start to kick in, and so long as we go on supporting the trusts.
.....he sad truth is that skylark numbers are going down, not up, having fallen by more than half since 1975. And they go on falling, despite supposedly environment-friendly farming schemes like ESAs (Environmentally Sensitive Areas) or Countryside Stewardship. The well-researched reason is that the larks cannot find enough to eat in the modern British countryside. We are just too efficient.
The idea of happy families living in close harmony with larks or cuckoos or otters is a touchy-feely, human fantasy. The truth is that, as a species, our attitude to the natural world is ruthless and exploitative. To which one might add, hypocritical. The Government's support for GM crops threatens to finish off the skylark in sugar-beet growing areas. Another government policy is to increase skylarks. Meanwhile, their natural habitats continue to suffer eradication by a thousand cuts. (see full article in Independent)

May 27 ~ GM experiments on animals to rise. Protest.

Mark Townsend in yesterday's Observer writes, "Britain is facing an increase in the number of animals being genetically altered for medical and agricultural research after a decision by government advisers not to tighten regulations.
The Agriculture and Environmental Biotechnological Committee is to reject calls for a statutory watchdog to control the booming industry.
Genewatch, the genetics monitoring group, warned this weekend that the decision could mean up to 700,000 animals a year in the UK will be genetically altered for research - a 20 per cent rise. Britain already has a number of GM farm animals, such as the Belgian Blue cow. This crossbred hunk is 'double-muscled' to the extent that it struggles to give birth naturally. Pigs have been implanted with jellyfish genes in a bid to prove that organs can be grown for human transplants. The resulting monstrosities have fluorescent yellow snouts and trotters. Last week Israeli geneticists unveiled the red rooster, a gangly, pink, bald chicken, which cannot go outside for risk of sunburn or falling victim to cold, but is ideally suited to factory farms....."
If you, like us, are sickened and dismayed by the insanity of this, please do write to warmwell and express your feelings, with name and address. We will put comments on a special page of protest on warmwell and then send it to all policy makers and policy advisors.

May 27 ~ "I am a churchgoer. And the oath means more to me - than it may to some others."

(See full report of day 11 of Bobby Waugh's trial)" Mr Cosgrove suggested that Professor Penny was giving expert evidence but that the evidence was not objective. PP refuted the allegation and stated his evidence was objective. Mr Cosgrove repeated his suggested that PP was being paid by the defence to provide evidence in court. Mr Cosgrove further reminded him that he was giving evidence under oath. Professor Penny appeared stunned at the allegation and following a scathing riposte added, "I am a churchgoer. And the oath means more to me - than it may to some others."
Mr Cosgrove said that 12 day old lesions had been found on pigs at Burnside Farm on the 24th February 2001. This would have taken the dating of the lesions to the 12th February and the infection must have been present prior to this date. PP doubted this evidence and said, "35 of Mr Waugh's pigs had been sent to Cheale Meats on the 15th February. They were inspected (on the 16th February) prior to slaughter and after (anti and post-mortem) nothing was found. No lesions were found and they were hung up on a hook."
Professor Penny added that he did not believe that FMD had started at Bobby Waugh's farm, to which Mr Cosgrove replied, "I did not ask you that question."..."

May 27 ~ This scrapie madness

Janet, at a meeting in Dumfries about the National Scrapie Plan writes, " Mike Dawson, Food Standards Agency Technical Adviser to the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) explained how genotyping worked (ARR VRQ etc) He also talked about the attempts to date to produce scrapie resistant sheep.
In answer to a question he said that semen would be stored as an insurance policy in case in the future VRQ was seen to have other qualities that at present had not been appreciated. (i.e. before they were all killed) He also said that 85,000 had had bolus put in: 38 sheep had been killed or had to be put down. He described the results when sheep had been "challenged" .... His reputation is now firmly tied with the science that prevails at present." (see Janet's email)

May 27 ~ GM and livestock disease control are linked..

. "The media loved the (scrapie) theory because they could drum up a viral holocaust-horror scoop. The vegetarian lobby found themselves landed with a powerful propaganda weapon on their plate, whilst the scientific institutions could carry on drawing generous funding for their hyperinfectious witchhunt without the embarrassment of having to account for years of barking up the wrong tree.....
And more recently, the multinational corporations have been capitalising off this hyperinfectious prion' theory too; by coercing governments and their media spin doctors to scare consumers away from so called prion contaminated' livestock and organically grown protein sources.
Perhaps it is no surprise that these same corporations have been simultaneously buying up vast tracts of cheap farmland across Eastern Europe, third world countries, North America to expand their GM soya protein empire. And then dollar profits gleaned from the package of agrichemicals and GM seeds required to grow arable crop proteins, such as soya, greatly exceeds that gleaned from the zero pesticide inputs required for growing grass to produce meat and milk. " (Read more from Mark Purdey on the BSE page)

May 27 ~ Lord Sainsbury, the Science minister and a multi-million-pound donor to New Labour, has made £20m paper profit on GM food shares.

The billionaire, a known supporter of controversial GM technology, has shares in Innotech  an investment firm with interests in several biotechnology companies  that rose in value from £26.9m in 1998 to £42.6m at the end of 2000, it was reported last night.
Critics have seized on the disclosure, insisting there was a conflict of interest. (see Independent story)

May 26 ~ "Agribusiness and biotechnology companies have rapidly consolidated market power at the same time as the average farmer's profits and viability have significantly declined.

Policies promoted by biotech corporations have systematically acted to remove basic farmer rights enjoyed since the beginning of agriculture. These policies include unreasonable seed contracts and the intrusion into everyday farm operations. The introduction of genetically engineered crops has also created obstacles for farmers, including the loss of markets and increased liability concerns. To mitigate the abuses upon farmers, a clear set of farmer rights must be established." A Farmer Bill of Rights supported by 14,00 farmers in 35 states of America suggests that sanity is attempting a last ditch gallop to the rescue the land of the free. See http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?RecID=718 Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D- Ohio) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) will introduce the Genetically Engineered Crop and Animal Farmer Protection Act next Wednesday, May 22.

May 26 ~ Unnecessary famine in Malawi is about to happen. IMF demanded debt payment.

From ABC news Malawi's national grain reserve can hold thousands of tons of maize, which is intended for an emergency. The Malawian government sold the grain because it was under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to pay off the country's massive debt. Malawi sold all the grain without keeping even a small amount in reserve. And now, most of the cash from the sale has disappeared - allegedly pocketed by corrupt government officials. Banda says an investigation is underway to find out what happened to the money. Malawi now is scrambling to import food from South Africa. But the price of this imported food is high, it has driven the price of maize in Malawi through the roof to eight times what it was last year. The people who need it most cannot afford to buy it.

May 26 ~ "Foot and mouth took a terrible toll on this community. Throckmorton itself did not have an outbreak. It has suffered

instead by its proximity to a government-designated dump for infected carcasses. Near the proposed asylum centre, there is a landfill site, where they buried the carcasses.
Twenty-four hours a day for 12 months lorries carried carcasses there. There are now 130,000 carcasses buried that will take years to break down. Even on a relatively cold day the smell is carried on the breeze. In January this year, the Environment Agency admitted it did not know if the carcasses would have any long-term impact on local health, or if seepage from them could make it into the Avon."
Toyah Wilcox has been on a protest.

May 26 ~ Full commercial farming of GM crops in Britain looks more likely

Tony Blair's pro-GM speech last Thursday, added to the government's backing of the US in its aggressive opposition to the tough new EU GM labelling proposals suggest to many that a secret deal with the giant GM companies has been done. It seems very possible that the deal, if done, has the agreement of the NFU, whose heart would not be broken by the disappearance of organic farming in Britain. The EU proposals are to be put to the vote on 4 June but the UK Government will vote against. The Food Standards Agency too says the proposals are "unworkable" - hardly a surprise, given Sir John Krebs' favourable view of GMOs - but the British Retail Consortium disagrees and backs the new rules, and they represent the supermarkets who would operate the new rules. Once again, we are seeing the operation of a government trying to give the impression of caring about the electorate but in reality putting business interests first. When the government announces that it has "spoken to farmers" it means it has spoken to the egregious Ben Gill. The NFU represents no more than 35% of farmers in Britain. Many of the members it does have are so disillusioned that they are joining other organisations

May 26 ~ GM crops: a European Union report warns that it is 'virtually impossible' to stop cross-contamination.

"Consumers want to know what they are getting,' said Adrian Bebb, of Friends of the Earth. 'The Americans are upset because they have gone big time into growing GM maize and they didn't look to see if they had a market - and it turns out they don't.'
The labelling row will only increase fears over the threatened move towards full commercial farming of GM crops in Britain when current experiments finish in 2003. Important article in today's Observer

May 26 ~"it horrifies me that doctors will now have to choose between breaching their ethics and breaking the law.

To make matters worse, the new law is not restricted to doctors: the behaviour of every health care professional to his or her patients will now be subject to the direct control of politicians. The new law places the administrative convenience of the NHS not only above the bond of trust between doctor and patient, but above the dignity and privacy of patients.
When Tony Blair decided not to disclose whether his son Leo had been given the MMR jab, he cited patient confidentiality. It was, he said, more important than any public health message. Whatever the merits or otherwise of that judgement, I publicly backed his right as a parent to keep his child's medical records private. The changes Labour have just introduced will effectively destroy that right for the rest of us: any Secretary of State will be able to demand your child's immunisation records from your GP - and you will have no right of veto on behalf of your child." (see democracy watch or the original article in today's Sunday Telegraph)

May 26 ~" It is time to launch organised resistance to the BBC.

One hardly knows where to start. The place is run by Tony's cronies. Today is like Pravda. The rest of Radio 4 is ghastly: the Archers, with its inserts by government spin doctors, is not just absurd but mad. Who are these people? Why do they exist? What sickness grips British listeners that they can actually identify with this farrago? The price for the ever-expanding BBC bundle of channels is now £112, whether you want them or not. I have never seen BBC Four and know nothing about it. But I pay. I don't pay for the Playboy channel because I don't watch it. Why am I paying for BBC Choice? I have two UK addresses and so the price is double. They get £224 a year from me. Choice? Just one more big lie from the BBC. ...." Jonathan Miller is in fine form today in his iconoclasm - The BBC and the RSPCA, wrongly revered by the kindest, nicest people. Lets hope they are reading the Mean Fields column.

May 26 ~ eradication of small family farms

Sue writes, "...... "OUR WHOLE APPROACH TO FARMING IS WRONG. INTENSIVE FARMING IS WRONG. TAKING THE MOST WE CAN GET OUT OF THE LAND AND GIVING BACK AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE IS WRONG."...... Yes but.... Surely this is what your correspondent from the EU is saying but in less naive language? The EU is there "Telling us how we should farm" as is our own government. This is unlikely to change. I had an interesting conversation with my farming neighbour (one of the 70% not a member of the NFU) He is of the opinion that subsidies will never be abolished as they give government control not only over agriculture and what is grown, but also gives them control over the farmers themselves. This they are unlikely to relinquish. From this you can postulate that perhaps Brussels has not got its "Upstream policies" "wrong", and they do what "Big Business" want, which is the eradication of small family farms."

May 26 ~ As many as 50% of (T.B.) 'reacting' animals, slaughtered on test results, are found not to be infected on post mortem

writes Jane Barribal on farmtalking.org .... has to be a cause for concern ... ....movements were restricted by DEFRA for herds not yet tested in known infected areas, farmers have been allowed to restock from other areas that may well have become infected during the past year, thus risking the spread of disease to previously uninfected areas.
The introduction of SI843 under a Scrapie/BSE testing umbrella has made farmers fearful that it will be employed with regard to TB testing. To my knowledge, one has already been threatened with a £5,000 fine if he demanded a re-test on his 'inconclusive reactors' (IR's) and refused to have them slaughtered as ordered. Of course he capitulated, only to find they were uninfected on post mortem results..." This is a very good article on the secrecy and obfuscation we have come to expect from DEFRA alas. Farmers trying to get information " were met with a high handed, it's 'none of your business' attitude, resulting in a loss of temper on both sides and increased fear for the farmers involved." Read Jane's article.

May 25 ~"Your Brussels correspondent is 100% right

(here) but I feel that even she is too embroiled in the details to get to the heart of the analysis.
The central point is: OUR WHOLE APPROACH TO FARMING IS WRONG. INTENSIVE FARMING IS WRONG. TAKING THE MOST WE CAN GET OUT OF THE LAND AND GIVING BACK AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE IS WRONG.
As long as we think in this way, our animals will get ill and we will run mad. There are other ways to think and farm. We could feed the world and be kind to animals and one another. But we don't. We lurch from crisis to crisis instead and every crisis, like FMD, points to the central wrongness."
As usual, Hilary cuts through to the reality of the thing. I feel sure that most decent human beings know this to be a deep down truth - but prefer the superficial analysis as seeming so much more sophisticated and interesting. Every single one of the three inquiries could save time, money, paper and stress by simply publishing the words in capitals above.

May 25 ~" the modern day story of the EU. Protected by machine guns and multiple security systems

the parliament makes insane laws that bear no relation to the realities of modern business and, when the voters register their disapproval, we get more machine guns to protect us - while the torrent of laws continues unabated." (Read the article from the Federation of Small Business's magazine: "First Voice".)

May 25~ "I do not agree with one single word..."

One interesting and cheering piece of information received last night concerns the evidence of Professor Roy Anderson, appearing in Brussels on 21 May. A smooth performer, he went through his urbane and confident explanations. However, he did not find the usual "Emperor's New Clothes" reaction. Dr Simon Barteling, who followed him, began by saying, "I do not agree with one single word of what Professor Anderson has said."
We are told that the Committee Members appeared inclined to agree.

May 25 ~ Roger writes, "Apparently the Gibraltarians are absolutely amazed at the response by e-mail

and post to their "Gibraltar Needs Your Support " campaign. The address is info@gibraltar.gov.uk for those who want to and haven't written their support yet."

May 25 ~ Pigswill

Robert writes, "Is there a farmer near you or somebody in your village who feeds waste food from the local pub, school or restaurant to a few pigs? If there is, are you prepared to report them?
Highly regulated and registered swill feeders were made the scapegoats for Foot and Mouth disease and were forced out of business without compensation. What has happened to the waste that they were recycling to a very high standard? Has it gone to landfill sites where Foot and Mouth disease infected meat is being picked over by vermin and carrion birds with the potential to return disease to UK farms? Or is this waste going underground and being fed to pigs in your neighbourhood? Is it only a matter of time before Foot and Mouth disease or Swine Fever pops up again, perhaps next door to you?"

May 24 ~ Lest we forget...

From the Ecologist newsletter today
"As Dubya makes his tour of European states (you know, where the history comes from), a little reminder of his grip on the key events of the last 100 or so years. Speaking in Japan in February this year, the most powerful man in the world was moved to comment...
"For a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times."

May 24 ~ John Prescott's version of "I have a dream" is uncannily like that of Article 198A of the Maastricht Treaty. EU Document 501 PC0083

Peter Troy Chairman, Sedgefield & Darlington Branch United Kingdom Independence Party wrote a letter from which the following is an extract:
".. The plans announced by John Prescott on Thursday to achieve his so called "dream" of 8 Elected Assemblies in England is in reality not Prescott's dream but the dream of the creators of the European Superstate. ...
The plan to devolve regions in England Mr Prescott described enthusiastically, last Thursday, as "the conclusion of a political dream that I have held for decade" is exactly in keeping with Article 198A of the Maastricht Treaty. EU Document 501 PC0083 sets up "the nomenclature of statistical units" which are identical to the regions announced by Prescott.
The North East Region has been officially classified by the EU as region UKC.
.... the EU Parliament first produced a map showing the geographical divisions of the regions in 1996.
When the people.....wake up from their sleep in 2006 they will find that the their Region will be governed by an assembly, watched over by Brussels......

May 24 ~ The race for a fully scrapie-resistant national flock is on

Never mind the sheep. We are laughing all the way to the semen-bank
"Sheep breeders who fear the possible loss of long-established bloodlines through involvement in the government's plan to eradicate the fatal brain disease scrapie from the national flock have been reassured that development of a semen archive is part of the programme's long-term strategy..." (See Scotsman) But this seems a little illogical. Why would anyone agree to slaughter sheep on the basis of their genetic make-up simply because they were being told the same undesirable geno-type was being conserved in semen?
It is becoming more apparent that the race for a fully scrapie-resistant national flock is on and the FSA and SEAC and co are determined to win it. The motive for getting the agreement of the sheep owners is the same mixture of flawed but confident-sounding science, financial carrot and emotional-blackmail stick that we have become used to over FMD. But the science is not known. We are operating in the dark. Only SEAC approved research is allowed funding itn appears. Are we as a nation losing our collective mind? And not just us. Europe is also racing towards the goal of racial purity in its sheep. In America, the deer that succumb to TSEs are slaughtered at a cost of literally many millions of dollars. No one has been allowed to investigate the role played by manganese in their sickness. Similarly, Mark Purdey, currently finding a link between CJD-like symptoms in aboriginal people and the manganese oxide produced by the mines on what used to be their land, was excluded from the funded scientific community when it began to look as though his findings might pull the rug from all of theirs.

May 21 ~ Regionalisation."...like a lot of chickens, plucked, gutted, trussed and offered oven ready to Europe and at a discount price too."

The shameful splitting up of the UK into predetermined regional areas for easier Brussels control has to remain beyond the remit of warmwell - already stretched to the limit. But here is a splendid letter on the subject from : Richard Mawdsley, The Dash, Bassenthwaite, Keswick. Cumbria. CA12 4QX
Sir.
Nearly all the letters, [Cumb. News Fri. 7th May] express the same concern. Namely, that we have already lost most of our rights to deal with National matters in our own Parliament at Westminster. Regionalisation and everything else is being dictated by Brussels.
One wonders. Does a person need a Diploma from the School of Economy with the Truth in order to be accepted as a candidate for any party, or is 'on the job training' given after election?
We have six MP's in this county. Not one of them has had the honesty or decency to stand up and tell us that we have been betrayed. That everything has been agreed behind our backs. That we are like a lot of chickens, plucked, gutted, trussed and offered oven ready to Europe and at a discount price too.
The same Europe that pays our fishermen to scrap their boats and yet gives money to the Spanish to build super-trawlers which will operate, [yes, you've guessed it,] in our already over-fished waters....."

May 21 ~ Friends of the Earth GM campaigner Adrian Bebb:

"Yet another yowling GM cat has been let out of the bag. The Government pretends to be neutral in this debate. But once more we find that it is secretly planning to skew the system in favour of the biotech industry, and to take away the public's right to raise objections to and concerns about the commercial development of GM crops.
This shameful memo shows once again that only two things motivate the Government on the GM issue, to deliver what their friends in the biotech business want, and to spin, spin and spin again in the forlorn hope that the public won't notice what is going on."

May 21 ~ Margaret writes, "There was a comment on GoatsUK the other day as follows:

1) The French are now refusing to accept lamb over 6 m.o.
2) Most hill lambs aren't fit to kill under 6 m.o.
Is there a connection? To which I replied that it could be the excuse for killing all the non scrapie resistant sheep.
What I in my innocence fail to understand is why the Government spent billions on slaughter rather than vaccination to carefully and expensively preserve the export business during the FMD, if they were intent upon killing all the animals which tend to make up this export business, the lightweight hill lambs, so that there would be nothing left to export?"

May 20 ~Spectator: Democracy is in retreat. Parliament has become the personal fiefdom of the Prime Minister and a group of his unelected cronies.

A majority of almost 170 ensures that he can have whatever business he likes put through the Commons. The Lords have been neutered. Even the press is being emasculated, thanks to the ending of the lobby system and its opportunities for the consistent, forensic questioning of the government's spokesmen. Accountability is a thing of the past. Great disasters happen - like foot-and-mouth last year - and the government absolutely refuses a public inquiry. A secretary of state lies on television and to the House of Commons and yet keeps his job. When he comes under what would once have been intolerably heavy pressure over his lying, he is protected by colleagues who simply lie further in order to shield him. The public feels alienated, despised, irrelevant. Meanwhile, the government plots more ways to remove the voter still further from the political process. .....(Do read the whole article

May 20 ~ "The US President's heavy-handed treatment of criticism as unpatriotic

and his attempts to prevent an open inquiry - do some of the arguments sound familiar? Now the Americans will see what it's like, but they are luckier and will probably be more successful, because they have a system of checks and balances and a Freedom of Information Act." writes an American emailer this morning.

May 20 ~ Empty words

From Christopher Booker's Notebook yesterday (Sunday Telegraph)
"A joy of modern government is the speed at which it seems to be reducing itself to a limited set of jargon words, invariably used as a disguise for vacuous wishful thinking. Mostly stemming from the EU, these include "sustainable", "deliver", "stakeholder", "implementation", "framework" and "strategy".
Almost any official document, whether from Brussels or local government, is now likely to include several of these terms scattered liberally through its pages. Hats off therefore to the Liberal group in the European Parliament for managing to combine them all, by demanding that a forthcoming "Sustainability Conference" in Johannesburg must "deliver a multi-stakeholder implementation framework strategy"......."

May 20 ~ GM crop protesters to be silenced

See Independent news report by By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor "Secret plans are being prepared to stop Britons challenging the safety of GM crops at public hearings, a confidential document seen by The Independent on Sunday reveals.
The internal memorandum circulating in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, proposes an "urgent" change in the law by November to crack down on objections to the crops, before they are grown in Britain. The disclosure comes as public hearings open in London tomorrow overcorn developed by Aventis, the first GM variety grown commercially here. Environmentalists, including Friends of the Earth, are challenging this. The document urges the Government to "proceed rapidly" to amend the law, straight after hearings into GM corn end this month. It admits the plans ''will be criticised because it will seem we are trying to silence GM objections''. The Government's move follows proposals to stop the public challenging the need for nuclear waste dumps, and other controversial developments, at public inquiries. Last night, Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth said: "The Government pretends to be neutral ... but this memo unveils the real agenda, to force GM food on to a reluctant public, while removing the only legal opportunity to object." Meanwhile, Tony Blair will warn scientists this week that they have to do more to persuade the public of the benefits of scientific advances. The Prime Minister has previously warned that Britain was in danger of developing an "anti-science" culture. "

GM crop protesters face up to biotech corporation

Story on yesterday's icWales site by Steve DubI The Western Mail
A SMALL group of Welsh people will face one of the world's giant corporations in a legal hearing in London next week as the biotech company Aventis continues its bid to grow GM crops in Britain. Organic farmer and environmentalist Dr Tony Matthews, chairman of the Carmarthen Gene Concern group, and member Yvonne Davies will oppose the company's bid to grow the GM cattle feed maize Chardon LL. Ms Davies is one of six defendants ......

May 19 ~ Letter to the Editor Western Morning News Dear Sir, Top MEP's inquiry mission over FMD

Your readers may wish to know that MEPs Dr Caroline Lucas and Mr Michael Holmes, in setting up a meeting with "farmers and businessmen who have had their livelihoods ravaged" by FMD (report 18 May) are not doing so as part of the official European Parliament Inquiry. In fact, while this duo is in Devon, the official inquiry will be visiting Holland to take evidence on Dutch experiences.
Thus, any "evidence" that Dr Lucas and Mr Holmes may gather will have no official status and, in any case, can hardly add to the considerable amount of material already in the public domain - not least through the Devon inquiry.
Further, given that the "mandate" of the EP inquiry is in any event to "analyse the management of the foot-and-mouth epidemic and the implementation of Community law", it is hard to see how the personal accounts of "victims" of the FMD epidemic can assist MEPs in their work.
One therefore has to question whether Dr Lucas and Mr Holmes, in embarking on their own private venture, are merely indulging in a form of political "grandstanding" rather then attempting to deal with the issues which they are charged to investigate.
Yours faithfully,
Richard North (Dr)
Research Director,
UK Independence Party
European Parliament Brussels

May 19 Extract from letter in Private Eye

......The criticism that a few MEP's seemed to have done much homework is laughable. The main aim of the trips to affected countries was to listen to the accounts of those hit by foot and mouth from tourism to farming, not to swamp the public with information from politicians. Brussels and Strasbourg is where the detailed analysis takes place.
As for the investigation's supposed "lack of structure", we now have follow-up questions in all hearings which facilitates greater scrutiny of witnesses. This means that men like Whitty, adept at skirting delicate issues, can now be pinned down.
If anything, the first trip to the UK helped to consolidate our purpose. The allegations that we receive nothing but official documents is spurious. The committee has access to all information submitted by witnesses and this is circulated regularly. One last correction is that we will be having 14 hearings, not the nine quoted and this number does not include all meetings which take place on the planned trips.
It is fantastic that Private Eye is following the foot and mouth issue and I hope it will see fit to commenting on our final report out in November.
Yours sincerely, ROBERT STURDY MEP. (see also letter from Caroline Lucas to Dr North )

May 16 ~ The Government had ignored everything in the Northumberland Report

Elaine reports from Appleby last night. The meeting started fairly quietly but gradually brought forth several emotionally charged recounts of experiences during the FMD crisis. A well known land agent from Penrith spoke about the number of complaints they had given to the Ombudsman about maladministration. He asked if the Inquiry could get a hold of the contingency plan as they couldn't. They had many specific and generalised complaints and remarked that the Government had ignored everything in the Northumberland Report. A specific complaint was made about the inequality in valuations as the later scale pushed values through the roof. The 1967 outbreak had a top up scheme for those disadvantaged by earlier valuations. He also questioned the 14 day appeal time frame. Most farmers were in shock and not in a fit state to appeal and he felt the Govt were too rigid about the 14 days. The cull policy was unfair and inconsistent - "it was moral blackmail to agree to slaughter". If you didn't agree to it, you were bullied. .....(more)

May 16 ~ Elaine writes, " I have just received the first matrix list of evidence submitted

as of 8 May 2002 (there is plenty more coming in I hear). You can receive one copy free but any more they charge 10p per sheet of paper. Full set £140.
Inquiries about copies should be referred to: Suzy Grindley, FMD Inquiry Support 01228 590242 or email her on suzannah.grindley@cumbria cc.gov.uk
Val Lusmore's critique of the mathematical modelling for FMD is listed A/MC/1
Possible interesting ones from the list:
Alan Richardson - Submission on epidemiological spread of FMD comparing 1967 to 2001 (A/AR/1)
Norman Leslie - Submission of Ministerial cirrespondence with DEFRA re supervision of slaughter & of concerns about slaughter contact (A/NWL/1)
Dr Sarah Binns - evidence from veterinary surgeons from Bristol University (A/SB/1)
Rt Hon David Maclean - Submission of 180 completed questionaires from culled out farmers in North Cumbria (G/DMMP/1)
Geoff Brown - Implications of FMD on Herdwick & Rough Fell Sheep in Cumbria (G/GB/1)
Janet Bayley - Use of epidemiological modelling for future FMD outbreaks (G/NFMG/1)
John Cook - DEFRA performance iro veterinary issues (A/LVA/1)"
See also this warmwell page for other submissions

May 16 ~ From Hansard Heddon-on-the-Wall: Tests for Foot and Mouth

On May 14th
Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether the tests for foot and mouth disease carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs veterinarians in February 2001 at Mr Bobby Waugh's farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, were positive or negative; and whether the results of those tests have been made public.[HL4130]
Lord Whitty: The results of the tests for foot and mouth virus in February 2001 at Bobby Waugh's farm are likely to form part of the evidence at the current trial.
An oddly evasive answer. If Lord Whitty knows they were positive - why does he not say so? And if they came back negative....

May 16 ~ How right Hilary is The system STINKS.

Dont tell me they aren't all aware of this extraordinary piece of back door legislation. Whitty and Morley alluded to it when they gave their evidence in Strasbourg. Everyone then thought they were talking about the parliament act ..... Those dumb sentient beings with no one to stand up for them. The individual farmers either totally bemused or complacent or relying on someone else to look after their interests. Every organisation like the NFU, Countryside Alliance, RSPCA, RCVS etc etc in some way or another in the pocket of this bunch of rulers. The whole thing was a cross-party fix. The sprinkling of Conservatives, other than those who spoke, did not vote with Lady Mar who fought like a tiger against all the odds and finished with a 16 to 116 imbalance. Whitty shuffled papers and scribbled notes doing all in his power to take absolutely no notice of the proceedings - just preparing himself for his closing speech and chatting with the likes of the 'no case to answer' pig farmer Lord Carter who sat that there with his arms folded and the body language of a street urchin bully boy.
.....There were two strident and vociferous Labour women, one of whom admitted she hadn't read it. ..... She was also adamant that overwhelmingly 'the scientists' agreed that there was a link. She had no papers she quoted nothing to back her statements - BUT SHE AND ALL THE OTHERS IN THE SAME MOULD HAD A VOTE.
See Alicia's full and important message

May 16 ~ "Foully bad news about SI 843".

writes Jaquita sadly, " The government now has another instrument of slaughter (in all senses of the word)
For the party which 'has consistently shown itself as the only party to trust on issues of animal welfare', it has certainly done well!! It gets away with everything because of people's lack of information and knowledge - and, sadly, in many cases, because of their lack of interest when you do try to inform them. And that applies to the majority of M.P's as well, I guess."
Agreed. The population are so dependent on the media to tell them how to think that anything outside this must come from a crank. Thank God for the cranks (Cranks-R-Us) - but it is true that we are voices in the wilderness while the media are cowed into compliance as so many are. Lord Whitty is wooing the Western Morning News at the moment. One of the very few papers we trust. It is independent. Long may it remain so - but what a contrast with the mainstream London press of which the Telegraph is usually a very honourable exception.

May 16 ~ Leachate has been escaping from Great Orton for months

writes Nick Green. "The Gt Orton fiasco, and I refer specifically to the imported "digger" that had to effect a barrier around the whole site to stop the leakage is NOT a revelation. This was "leaked" to me months ago. The cost of doing this "barrier" was huge as you have reported. What was not reported all those months ago was that massive quantities of "leachate" had already escaped! I had reported all this many months ago, but had been "overlooked". Were my comments on the continuing saga of Mr Whitty lying too strong? Here in Cumbria, and elsewhere we are having what I can only see as a "news PARTIAL-BLACKOUT!" Funny isn`t it, but whenever I report the TRUTH about the LIES of various ministers, NOONE will publish! Morleys LIE re. the 3km Cull...."
(warmwell did not deliberately suppress any comments on Lord Whitty and await them with interest. )

May 15 ~ the government shows itself to be out of touch with reality not just rural matters

" If Elliot Morley thinks we do not need British Sheep because we can import all the meat we need, " wrote Ben Pratt, a bee keeper, to www.smallholders.org, "perhaps he should take a look at the current Honey situation.
The country having got into a situation where 40% of the honey sold came from China it has been found to contain antibiotics and had to be withdrawn. Result: a national honey shortage.
If this Government is determined to destroy UK agriculture, as they appear to be, we will find ourselves in this sort of situation over and over again as we find that we are over-reliant on imports and have no home produced food to rely on.
Once again the government shows itself to be out of touch with reality not just rural matters "

May 15 ~ The future? Then come, friendly bombs...

From Ananova tonight..."Farms of the future could resemble high-rise office blocks stacking livestock, fish and vegetables on top of each other in self-contained agricultural complexes.
Designers are already planning a six-storey farm with 400,000 square metres of floor place earmarked for a wasteground site near Rotterdam harbour in Holland.
The farm can accommodate 300,000 pigs, 1.2 million chickens, and millions of salmon in a ground-level fish-hatchery, with vegetables and flowers growing in top floor hothouses......"

May 15 ~ Balletic triple act of spin...from Krebs, May and Anderson

The Spin Alert page is proving useful. We make no other comment than that it all looks beautifully orchestrated.

May 15 ~ DEFRA, "INVESTORS IN PEOPLE"!

Nick Green writes, "I notice, with some amusement, that DEFRA, (Destroy English farming Right Away), is an Official "Investor in People"!
No honestly! The "Investors In People emblem appears on headed note paper supplied by the Department in Truro Cornwall! (Possibly elsewhere?)
What is the criteria required to obtain this award? Perhaps someone out there can tell me?

May 15 ~ Viral Marketing and Monsanto.

From George Monbiot's article about the GMO maize affair in Mexico and why Nature retracted its article.
" .....a PR firm contracted to the biotech company Monsanto appears to have played a crucial but invisible role in shaping scientific discourse.
Monsanto knows better than any other corporation the costs of visibility. Its clumsy attempts, in 1997, to persuade people that they wanted to eat GM food all but destroyed the market for its crops. Determined never to make that mistake again, it has engaged the services of a firm which knows how to persuade without being seen to persuade. The Bivings Group specialises in internet lobbying.
An article on its website, entitled Viral Marketing: How to Infect the World, warns that "there are some campaigns where it would be undesirable or even disastrous to let the audience know that your organisation is directly involved... it simply is not an intelligent PR move. In cases such as this, it is important to first 'listen' to what is being said online... Once you are plugged into this world, it is possible to make postings to these outlets that present your position as an uninvolved third party... Perhaps the greatest advantage of viral marketing is that your message is placed into a context where it is more likely to be considered seriously." A senior executive from Monsanto is quoted on the Bivings site thanking the PR firm for its "outstanding work".........

May 15 ~ Just as the government chose not to claim EU agri-money would be worth some £72m to UK livestock farmers

so it also chose not to vaccinate. Could this have been for the same reason?

May 15 ~ An experimental new page on warmwell is Spin Alert

- The first entry is a story of farmers' compensation for BSE slaughtered animals. The second concerns sausages, bolony and Professor Roy Anderson. His assertion is that he has been "on and on at the Food Standards Agency for some time".....
Suggestions for items for inclusion in this page would be most appreciated.

May 15 ~ "The Firebreak Cull epitomised the confusion, chaos, level of bullying and unscientific policy that characterised the Governments response to the outbreak!"

An extract from the Cumbrian News and Star for May 9th with a headline CONFUSION,CHAOS,BULLYING can be read here.

May 14 ~ Free from political interference?

We are becoming concerned at the apparent inter-relationship between GMOs, the Food Standards Agency, SEAC, BSE research, DEFRA and measures taken to control animal disease.
It is interesting how certain names keep cropping up within the same small circle. The connection between John Krebs and the Imperial College/Royal Society coterie has already been noted on warmwell. Sir John Krebs and David Byrne are also linked by being enthusiasts for GM crops. "Amid calls for more openness, delegates were assured by EU Health Commissioner David Byrne that the planned European Food Authority would be free of political interference. (see CNN article from January 28, 2001) But Byrne said it would be up to members of the new authority to decide whether meetings would be open to the media like those of the UK's Food Standards Agency.
The head of the new agency, Sir John Krebs, said polls showed only seven per cent of people in the UK trusted the government on food safety.
Therefore to "travel up the long hill to public trust and confidence" his agency was free of all political influence, industrial interests and published all its advice to ministers. ....
....Krebs warned delegates that discussions over food safety were largely a western luxury with commercial interests warning of the need for science to develop genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to feed the millions in the developing world. Delegates were told that expanding present-style agricultural production could only be done at the cost of polluting many of our rivers and forests.
Delegates with doubts about GMOs were told of the American minister faced with similar worries. He declared: "When we develop a tomato with a Viagra gene everyone will want to eat it." .....
Here's how Cherwell magazine reported on Krebs' appointment as first Head of the FSA:

May 14 ~ Suicide of mad cow vet

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese veterinarian who failed to diagnose mad cow disease in a sick dairy cow has apparently committed suicide, health officials said today, a day after Japan confirmed its fourth case of the brain-wasting disease.
The 29-year-old woman, who worked at a public health centre near the site of the latest outbreak on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, was found dead at her home on Monday, officials at the centre said on Tuesday. Police were investigating, media reports said.
The woman had left a note apologising for failing to detect the disease in the six-year-old Holstein cow, the officials said.
"I'm so sorry for my unforgivable fault as a veterinarian," Mitsuaki Kawakami, head of Kushiro public health centre, quoted the note as saying.
Pat G's Comment: "You can't help noticing the level of responsibilty felt by the Japanese veterinarians. Our lot can't even manage an apology."
Tim C's comment - "...when and if the truth about BSE is allowed to come out, the world is likely to be appalled by the destructive waste and heartbreaking misery caused so unnecessarily by governments panicked into measures that have no proven scientific or veterinary basis, only financial considerations. Just like FMD."

May 14 ~ Dr Chitra Bharucha has been appointed Chair of the Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs (ACAF)

we hear, courtesy of David. "Her term of office will run for three years. Dr Bharucha is a Consultant Haematologist currently living in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. She is a member of the General Medical Council, the Independent Television Commission and has held professional appointments on a wide range of national and international panels, councils and committees. ACAF is a broad-based committee with members from wide-ranging backgrounds including consumer affairs, farming, feed industry and science. It advises the Food Standards Agency, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Ministers of the Scottish Executive, the National Assembly for Wales and the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development (Northern Ireland). ACAF's area of expertise is on the safety and use of animal feeds and feeding practices, with particular emphasis on protecting human health and with reference to new technical developments. Dr Chitra's appointment was announced by Sir John Krebs, Chair of the FSA, on behalf of the Agency, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the devolved administrations."

May 13 ~ Three articles by Nick Green

From article one...." I have also been told today, from an extremely reliable source, that a slaughter man from the Gloucester area has been heavily traumatised after working on culls in the Devon area. This man so regrets his actions that he is driving to Devon and visiting every farm that he helped cull animals on to apologise personally....
From article two"....Field has apparently lied to avoid a "Rapid Risk Assessment ". The very odd statement that "all contiguous premises will have been exposed to infection " stand up to no scrutiny at all. The Donaldson Report, May 2001 and the sheer lack of infected stock found on contiguous farms destroy this myth. (3,305 farms culled as contiguous and NONE were infected. Field was so confident that the stock DID NOT have FMD he refused to blood test them as they would return Negative Results. The stock on Higher Fonstone Farm was killed by MAFF between 0915 and 1115, 2nd April 2001. However, eleven other contiguous farms were not culled out. The stock on these farms remained healthy..."
From article three....I would remind Blair, Byers, Whitty and all the other liars on BOTH sides of the House, that PERJURY is a very serious charge. There remains at least one disgraced Politician in PRISON for LYING. It may be that the REAL reason for Blair NOT having an open Inquiry to give evidence under oath is that HIS Ministers would be compelled to LIE and therefore would be committing PERJURY. Whereas at the moment they can just carry on LYING at will. As I have said before, Blairs refusal to hold the Inquiry we all want is a GROSS ACT OF COWARDICE"

May 13 ~ " We are at a critical point now,

with the Government having acknowledged receiving our claim and demand for disclosure of documents, and asking for an extension of time. What we have to do is get people to commit themselves to joining our case. If we don't get 8-10,000 claimants, its unlikely that we can bring the issue to court. There must be hundreds of thousands of businesses which have lost money from this epidemic, and now is the time that they should all come forward to be counted. We all owe it to each other to do this. No one person can do it on their own. It is our last chance to make the Government take proper responsibility for its actions, and we must grasp it. (See Tom's email)

May 13 ~ "Sleazy wheelers and dealers seem to be the main beneficiaries."

An emailer today speaks for many others when he says, "Farming has done itself a great disservice by championing live exports. Most people want them banned...and for once most people are right. Not for the first time, I wonder who speaks for farming and just who they really represent. I appreciate that there are EU constraints, but that makes good reason to say nothing - if your primary interest is the well-being of farming. Why antagonise the vast majority of the population just to strike a pose? The importance of all kinds of exports have been constantly overstated by the farming organisations. Sleazy professional wheelers and dealers seem to be the main beneficiaries." We agree. Surely, with just a little marketing and an appeal to consumers to support home production - light lamb, for example, would be as enthusiastically consumed in the UK as in Europe.

May 13 ~ Hansard a year ago (May 11 2001)

Ms Quin [holding answer 29 March 2001]: An EU risk assessment analysing the costs and benefits of both a vaccination and slaughter policy was published in 1993. This concluded that a slaughter policy would cost less than a vaccination policy. It was therefore decided that EU policy should be to slaughter and dispose of affected animals, or those animals exposed to infection, and that this was the most effective way of controlling the disease.
The results of this cost-benefit analysis confirmed the results of a cost-benefit evaluation of alternative control policies for foot and mouth disease which was published in 1973 following the 1967 outbreak.
Ms Quin [holding answers 4 April and 23 May 2001]: Contingency planning against foot and mouth disease operates at two levels. The GB contingency plan provides a general overview of our planned response to an outbreak. It was approved by Commission Decision 93/455/EEC on 23 July 1993 as being in compliance with the requirements of European Commission Decision 91/42/EEC. The revised version of the contingency plan submitted to the European Commission in July 2000 did not require formal approval by the European Commission.
No bodies outside my Department were consulted during this revision of the contingency plans. The update was a purely factual one to expand the section on publicity and disease awareness so that it covered the same ground as the Classical Swine Fever contingency plan. The State Veterinary Service Standing Instructions for foot and mouth disease set out the detailed procedures to be followed during an outbreak. ....A copy of this document, which has had certain commercially confidential sections removed on legal advice, is being placed in the Libraries of the House.

May 13 ~"He implied that these farmers, whom Nick had already explained were traumatised by their experiences, needed to get up and make their allegations in public. That is quite unrealistic, and I told him so in my evidence."

What you have been given is the written submission which I made last week-end. ... I was extremely disappointed with the BBC Cumbria summary of my statement, which failed to pick up even the eleven issues in that written submission, of which they had a copy. It failed to go into the details which I gave of our court case, and into the first-hand allegations which I made about bullying and intimidation by MAFF/Defra. I do feel that these are important issues, which they had recorded in full on their internet video, so there is no excuse for this. ...
UKRBC. We are at a critical point now, with the Government having acknowledged receiving our claim and demand for disclosure of documents, and asking for an extension of time. What we have to do is get people to commit themselves to joining our case. If we don't get 8-10,000 claimants, its unlikely that we can bring the issue to court. There must be hundreds of thousands of businesses which have lost money from this epidemic, and now is the time that they should all come forward to be counted. We all owe it to each other to do this. No one person can do it on their own. It is our last chance to make the Government take proper responsibility for its actions, and we must grasp it. (See Tom's email)

May 12 ~"Lambs are easier to catch than rabbits, like shopping at the supermarket instead of trekking up and down the High Street from shop to shop.

Hunting with hounds is the best way of dealing with the problem. The fox is caught and killed or it gets away unharmed. .." Richard Mawdsley had a letter published in the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald yesterday which is entitled "Countryside dwellers are becoming a cultural minority"....I say that the actions of our own Government and its agents implementing the 'cull policy' last year, legal or otherwise, were barbaric, yet I heard no word of protest raised by those who condemn hunting. .....

May 12 ~ I have seen many English people bullied by MAFF this year.

I have seen the cowardly attempt by this Government to introduce the power to bully more comprehensively in the AHB/SI. I now realise that this is not just about FMD or CSF it is simply the destruction of English people and English society as we know it ...See letter from Nick Green

May 12 ~ Labour defends Desmond donation/Porn baron's cash mires Blair in new favours row

The difference is reporting the Desmond donation is interesting. See BBC report "Richard Desmond denied the donation was underhand
The Labour Party has denied accusations it acted improperly by accepting a donation of £100,000 from Daily Express publisher Richard Desmond.
On the other hand, the Observer writes, "Porn baron's cash mires Blair in new favours row ...Richard Desmond, the millionaire publisher of OK! magazine and a range of soft porn titles, gave more than £100,000 to the Labour Party just days after Trade Secretary Stephen Byers cleared the way for him to buy the Express newspaper group, The Observer can reveal......"
Pat Gardiner's Comment: "Press manipulation throughout the CSF and FMD outbreaks was disgraceful. The role of some of the agricultural editors need investigatng especially in the provincial press....Even more alarming is Murdoch holding back on FMD and CSF exposures. It's all about what you know and don't publish. "

May 12 ~ the final dismantling of Britain's system of democratic local government as it has evolved over 1,000 years

(Booker's Notebook today : Prescott's map was drawn up 30 years ago )"There is no way in which abolishing county councils in favour of these nebulous new regional bodies will "bring power closer to the people". The idea that they represent "devolution", when their main task will be to administer policies and grants originating from Brussels, is laughable. In Leninist terms, our Minister for Scuba Diving has simply been set up as a "useful idiot". In this he has been joined by various Church of England bishops, recruited to help foster the illusion that there is somehow a popular grass-roots demand for these assemblies. In each region a campaigning body has been set up, several chaired by bishops, such as those from Durham, Liverpool and Exeter, to hold public meetings and create a fiction of local debate.
The true nature of these debates was exposed last month when several West Midlands Eurosceptics turned up at Aston University, Birmingham, for an open meeting chaired by Councillor Phil Davis of Wrekin, a prominent Euro-enthusiast. He told them firmly that they were not welcome and refused them entry.
This aptly reflected the real nature of the project to break up the UK into powerless Euro-regions. Its only achievement will be to mark the final dismantling of Britain's system of democratic local government as it has evolved over 1,000 years, and to help incorporate the former United Kingdom into a United States of Europe.
At least if people are expected to endorse this in referendums, they should be told rather more honestly what it is they are being asked to vote for..."

May 11 ~ Lucky DEFRA isn't in business if it takes an average of 48.14 days to answer a letter

Thursday 9 May 2002
Mr. Evans To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average response time was for responding to departmental correspondence; what percentage of letters took longer than one month for a response; and what percentage took longer than three months for a response in each of the last five years. [37442]
Mr. Morley: Our Minister's correspondence database does not record details of response times and percentages of response times for the last five years. We can only provide this information for letters answered for the period since the formation of DEFRA on 8 June 2001 to 31 March 2002. Mr. Morley ~ DEFRA service target is 15 working days. Letters answered from 8 June 2001 to 31 March ..... 2002 Mean response time was 48.14 working days
Percentage of letters that took longer than one month for a response: 64.58 .....Percentage of letters that took longer than three months for a response: 24.18.
Mr MorleyThe Department suffered severe disruption last year due to allocating top priority to defeating the foot and mouth epidemic. Furthermore the sheer volume of correspondence received following the creation of DEFRA had a major impact on the Department's performance, resulting in a large backlog of letters. We have devoted more resources to clearing the backlog and we are making progress in improving response times......

May 10 ~ Janet Hughes fears if she stops her legal bid to have the cull declared unlawful, the killing could start again.

We have been sent this newspaper report about Janet from the Shropshire Star for 6th May.

May 10 ~" Strange, I thought a sizeable chunk was about bullying"

Elaine has been looking at the Cumbria Inquiry report in the Westmorland Gazette "Notice comment about second day concentrating on business", she writes, "Strange I thought a sizeable chunk was about bullying, intimidation, Govt lies, the illegal culls and the emotional effects on people. (Nick Green, Jean Dixon, Tom Griffith Jones and Ros Ridley).
Haven't found any paper yet who has mentioned Suzanne Greenhill or Tom Lowther from day one - or even hefted flocks."
Perhaps Warmwell is the only place they have been reported. This is a disquieting thought.

May 10 ~ "Mr Blair is pandering to the animal rights lobby"

writes Alice Thompson in today's Telegraph"He doesn't seem to like animals - remember Humphrey the cat, booted out of Downing Street - yet he knows that the supposedly cuddly bunny brigade is a huge lobby. The Political Animal Lobby (Pal) gave £1 million to Labour in 1997. The vote on hunting this year, a carrot to his Left-wing backbenchers, was a whole carrot cake to the animal rights activists.
Last week, the Government floated another clever gimmick: a Bill of Rights for pets. The RSPCA is behind it. The idea proposes giving animals more "rights" than children or pensioners. Britain's 25 million pets must be kept in spacious conditions (yet children can still live in tower blocks) and kept stimulated (the RSPCA suggests toys for budgerigars).
Sick pets must be seen quickly by vets (not left on trolleys), should be allowed to mix with other animals for companionship (not dumped into care - in - the - community schemes) and should be free from fear (not worry they're going to be mugged on a street corner). This may look caring and compassionate (from a Government that has conveniently forgotten that its dithering helped cause the slaughter of three million animals (sic) during the foot and mouth epidemic). But it's not; it's ludicrous. .......Only humans have rights, and a real responsibility to make sure animals don't suffer unnecessarily."

May 10 ~ "Recent studies suggest that the real number of animal slaughtered could have been more than 10 million. Rural communities across the EU continue to feel the psychological and economic effects. "

The EPP-ED attached the utmost importance to the Foot and Mouth crisis, driving two hard-hitting resolutions through Parliament in 2001. Angered by the British Government's stubborn refusal to hold a public inquiry into the handling of the crisis in the UK, the Group then called for an EU-level probe to examine why there was an outbreak in the first place, why it was not controlled more quickly and what lessons must be learned in future. In the face of relentless opposition from the Socialists, including British Labour MEPs, the decision to set up a Parliamentary inquiry was deferred several times. By January 2002, however, the EPP-ED had secured sufficient support and the Plenary agreed to establish a Temporary Committee on Foot and Mouth and Disease. Even then, the Socialists voted against the move en bloc.
The Committee, which will sit for up to one year, will deliberate and hold all its hearings in public. Delegations from the Committee will visit affected Member States so as to hear first-hand the experiences of those who have been denied the chance to be heard. The Committee's work will be guided by its mandate with a view to producing a report towards the end of the year. Through this website, the EPP-ED warmly invites you to follow our work on the Committee and to contact us should you wish to make a direct contribution.

May 10 ~News media all over the world, encouraged by PR firms working for Monsanto and other companies, reported Nature's retraction as a "big public relations victory for the biotechnology industry"

Nature's editors issued a retraction, or rather a partial retraction, of Chapela's article on April 4, stating that the article "should not have been published." (Associated Press 4/18/02) and as, one pro-GE scientist stated, a "testament to the technical incompetence" of biotech critics (New York Times 4/5/02).
The fundamental problem with most of these post-April 4 media reports, the biggest story of the year so far on a biotech, was that they were wrong. Most reporters and editors either didn't read the Nature "retraction" closely or else didn't understand what they were reading, since even the critics of Chapela and Quist did not contest their central research conclusions-that indeed widespread genetic pollution of traditional corn varieties has occurred in Mexico. Instead critics were simply contesting whether or not gene-altered DNA constructs, once they had polluted traditional corn varieties, were then "fragmenting and promiscuously scattering throughout genomes."
On April 18, Chapela and Quist's findings were vindicated when the Mexican government announced at a biosafety convention in the Netherlands that massive GMO contamination of traditional varieties had indeed occurred, not only in Oaxaca, but also in the neighboring state of Puebla. According to Jorge Soberon, executive secretary of Mexico's biodiversity commission, the level of contamination "was far worse than initially reported."(London Guardian 4/19/02) Up to 95% of corn plots were contaminated by gene-altered DNA. In one field 35% of all plants were contaminated, and overall 8% of all kernels examined were contaminated, ....This is the world's worst case of contamination by genetically modified material because it happened in the place of origin of a major crop. It is confirmed. There is no doubt about it." (Daily Telegraph, UK 4/19/02). (Read more from link http://www.organicconsumers.org/)

May 9 ~ The result could affect whether countries use vaccination or mass slaughter to control FMD outbreaks in future.

An article by Debora MacKenzie in the New Scientist concludes,"...However, unlike in the UK, the Korea outbreak has infected pigs, which cough out (sic) 100 times more virus than sheep or cattle. Soon after the first outbreak, another farm at Jinchon was infected. It was 25 km further south - outside the restricted zone - suggesting airborne spread. ........
Jabs versus slaughter
The World Organisation for Animal Health in Paris has confirmed that the virus is the Pan-Asian O virus that hit the UK in 2001, and Korea and Japan in 2000.
Korea contained that outbreak by vaccinating animals, but had recently stopped vaccinating again. Pirbright plans to sequence the virus from the two outbreaks. This could show whether the current one is a fresh invasion, or a leftover that somehow survived vaccination - though proving that would be difficult. The result could affect whether countries use vaccination or mass slaughter to control FMD outbreaks in future."

May 9 ~ From farmtalking org. "Bruce Jobson has kindly sent me the following eport of Bobby Waugh's Court case so far "

"Just to thank everyone for their messages of support that have all been passed on to Bobby. He is bearing up well at present and appears relieved that the trial has started.
Day One was taken up with legal argument and the opening statement by the prosecution.
Day Two has been a much longer day with proceedings finishing at 5.10pm. Video evidence was provided and Mr Mansley MAFF Epi Vet gave evidence of his findings on Burnside.
Late in the afternoon, under cross examination by Jeremy Stuart Smith QC - using MAFF written evidence that Mr Mansley had helped comply - Mr Mansley agreed - that it was possible - repeat - that it was possible - that FMD may have been present in sheep/cattle at Ponteland prior to being present at Burnside.
This was a very lengthy and complicated cross examination (that I will not attempt to repeat in this brief note) leading towards two conclusions according to JSS.
1) The dating of lesions (at Burnside) was inaccurate.
2) An alternative source of infection.
Best wishes Bruce"
And an additional e-mailed comment about the so-called finding of a piece of Chinese restaurant cutlery..."Don't give up on their "yellow peril" do they? Anyone with any sense would have dropped that bit of evidence. Not MAFF-Defra. They will find bits of the ship that brought FMD from South Africa next. .... Frankly, from what I've seen of the SVS, they are quite likely to have planted this evidence."

May 9 ~ When a Government Minister reacts with such bad temper you can be sure that the cap has fitted....

Rather in the manner of Lord Whitty and his irate repetitions that the culling policy was legal we now have Margaret Beckett in the letter column of the Telegraph making waspish swipes at the Director General of The Wildlife Trusts, Mr Simon Lyster. On Tuesday he had the temerity to point out that instead of implementing its grandiose sounding environmental schemes (Safeguarding Our Seas and the Curry Report are given as examples) the government, "promises further consultation and shows every sign of backing off because it will cost the Treasury a bit of extra money." Mrs Beckett's response? She calls his letter "nonsense" and adds, with a jarring selection of New Labour cliché "We are now engaged in efforts to shape the way forward in partnership with those who can contribute to a sustainable, competitive and diverse farming sector within a thriving rural economy. On the showing of his recent letter, Mr Lyster seems unlikely to be one of them."
What leads politicians to think that bad English somehow covers up bad government - or are they unaware of just how poor their English is? Having caught up with what she was trying to say we see no reason to think Mr Lyster's letter anything but justified, forthright and showing a genuine concern for the health of wildlife both in the sea and in the country.

May 8 ~ ...there are many different possibilities for providing farming support.

writes Dr North in answer to a query from Lawrence. "Mine was but one suggestion. I have yet to see anything better. For instance, the "green" idea is to tax intensive farmers (internalising external costs) in the expectation that this would drive up their costs and make "environmentally friendly" farming more attractive. That, of course, is a recipe for bankruptcy for all farmers, unless you erected massive import barriers, which could not be done under the current regime and is, in any event, hardly desirable. " The objection and the answer to the objection are both sound and well worth reading. Are there any other points of view?

May 6 ~" While globalization from above may self-destruct through its own internal contradictions,

its failure does not guarantee that another, better world can be realized. That depends on the commitment, integrity, wisdom, and unity of those who are forging globalization from below." See Democracy Watch for an article which suggests -without rhetoric - that those who were initially united by little beyond their opposition to globalization share a common interest in putting the world on a safer, saner, and less destructive path than global elites currently offer. Columbia University student Yvonne Liu of Students for Global Justice met cheers when she said, "We are not an antiglobalization movement. We are against corporate-led globalization. We are a global justice movement."
There is absolutely no reason why governments alone should set the agenda in things that matter - they have done so mainly because they always have - it never occurred to people that an alternative was possible. A Vision for Control of Global Animal Disease - by-passing the bureaucrats, the government toadies and the scientists who are only interested in funds and status - could well be a new path for globalisation from below.

May 6 ~ Belgium's new environment minister Magda Aelvoet has invoked the "precautionary principle" to block five field trials of GM oilseed rape.


Ross Finnie has the power to ban similar experiments in Scotland - yet he claims he does not have the power "becuase of the EU". How convenient for the GM companies when politicians are so spineless. Magda Aelvoet has ruled that it was "impossible" to stop leakied genetically modified materialfrom escaping into the environment, despite strict measures designed to protect surrounding wildlife and has warned GM developers that she will introduce a change in her government's policy on the issue, with future trials subject to much tougher rules. Friends of the Earth in Scotland is now calling on Ross Finnie to follow suit.

May 6 ~ The GM report is a whitewash.

In May 2000 it was discovered that hundreds of British farmers had sown thousands of acres with GM-contaminated seed imported from Canada. The GM seed - which was also planted in a number of other European countries - was not approved by the Europe Union for release into the environment. The crops were eventually destroyed, and Advanta, the firm that sold the seed, agreed to compensate farmers. Two years after thousands of acres of British countryside was planted with illegal GM crops, the authorities still don't know how it happened. What steps are the biotech industry and the governments of Canadian and the UK taking to ensure it doesn't happen again? This report is a complete whitewash: "The Canadian Food Inspection Agency held an inquiry into how the GM seed came to be contaminated. It concluded that "there is no evidence of any impropriety on the part of Advanta Canada, its third party processor or the Canadian Seed Growers' Association"
"It is likely that this contamination was caused by cross-pollination from neighbouring GM crops. As the nearest GM crops were at least 800 metres away this raises questions over the effectiveness of separation distances between GM and conventional crops - particularly in the UK, where they are only 50 metres for oil seed rape. The whole fiasco demonstrates once again the risk these crops pose to conventional and organic farmers, and provides yet more evidence for banning GM crops from being commercially grown in the UK." says Pete Riley, GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth. .

May 5 ~ Ann Winterton sacrificed on the altar of Political Correctness

We see that the Thought Police are alive and well in Congleton. To sack Mrs Winterton from the Front Bench of the Conservative Party for jokingly but thoughtlessly uttering, during a rugby club dinner, Words that Must Not Be Spoken is mad, bad and sad. Mr Duncan Smith is none of those things - but surely his behaviour here is. We can only thank Mrs Winterton for her intelligence, honesty and energy on behalf of the rural communities during the foul months we have been through. British farmers, who might as well be ten a penny as far as the government is concerned, have reason to be grateful to her. But some minorities are more equal than others, we find.

May 5 ~ "Soon after the (arms) sale, Blair condemned Mugabe's election-rigging in his most sincere and anguished voice."

Article in New Statesman "The man who would be King"
"... Cook wanted to stop them, but Blair paid more attention to his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, who sees himself, Clark said, as a "realist" and is "dismissive of what he regards as left-wing posturing". The arms went to Zimbabwe and Cook had to defend a policy he opposed because "Robin always took the requirements of collective responsibility seriously, even if Blair didn't".
......The government's decision to allow the chairmen and women of select committees to interview the PM was nowhere near enough to satisfy the minority on the Labour back benches.......(but) ... there's nothing most of his colleagues won't do to please the leader."
"Downing Street confuses democratic debate with hostile attack. It regards legitimate questions as sinister and, quite disgracefully, is prepared to lie, deceive and manipulate rather than tell the truth"

May 5 ~ "Sorry, was I in a different country last year then?"

South Korea and Japan are jointly hosting the World Cup, which kicks off at the end of this month. South Koreas inhumane methods contrast starkly with those used in Britain, where licensed slaughtermen ensured cattle were killed quickly and with minimum suffering.
"Sorry, was I in a different country last year then? or on the Moon!
Chris Lawrence, the chief veterinary officer of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: "The RSPCA thinks this is deplorable. It would cause tremendous suffering to the piglets.
Does he really? Well, pity he didn't do something about his organisation turning a blind eye to the cruelty that went on in UK. How can they say something like that when they did nothing about it here? Oh I know... Because they can't be expected to do anything about it over there can they? Silly me.
I find myself getting ever more cynical.....
Well I bet it will take more than foot and mouth to put paid to a football game. Does the UK take part in this World Cup?"
Chris speaks here for many....
"The only way of guarding against situations like this and the possibility of it coming back is mass vaccination of animals."...said Dr Harash Narang in the newspaper from which Chris quotes above.

May 5 ~ Would the threat of European Court action force the Government to change its mind?

Robert Persey writes about the UK Government's decision not to access the UK farmer's entitlement of £72 million agrimoney
"The Rt. Hon Joyce Quinn, Minister of State at Maff said whilst giving evidence to the Agricultural Select Committee Dec 11 2000 :-
'There is a responsibility on Government to ensure that European rules are applied fairly and that our own pig industry does not suffer disproportionately compared to the situation regarding the implementation of European rules in other countries' The UK Governments decision not to access the UK farmer's entitlement of £72 million agrimoney, forces UK farmers to suffer disproportionately compared to farmers in other countries. The UK Government should be challenged in the European Courts. (see more)

May 5 ~ Ministers have comprehensively broken promises not to ignore the countryside when drawing up policies, the Government's own official watchdog has reported.

See Independent story.
"The report shows that Margaret Beckett's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) - which was specifically set up just under a year ago to look after the countryside - has one of the worst records in Whitehall. The stinging criticisms in the report - by Ewen Cameron, who was officially appointed as the Government's "Rural Advocate" last year - will add fuel to the anger that has been blazing in rural Britain.
Hailed by Peter Ainsworth, the shadow environment secretary, as "a rare and welcome example of independence within the machinery of government", it will be cited as proof ministers have failed to honour their undertakings in their Rural White Paper to provide "joined-up government ... in rural areas".

May 5 ~ Patients' confidential case notes to be demanded by the Government - doctors must comply or face fines

The proposal also allows the government to look at the notes of anyone with a communicable disease. Lawyers believe the clause means the government could demand files of people with CJD, HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
(Sunday Times)"At the moment, doctors hand over patients' records to researchers without consent. In effect, this is a breach of the law although it is not thought any such case has ever come to court. Medical bodies proposed reforms to put in place a system of "informed consent", which would allow patients to refuse to take part in research. However, Milburn is trying to go much further than the professionals have suggested. He proposes making it legal for the health department to demand patient notes from doctors. Any doctor who refused would be liable to be fined up to £5,000. " Unbelievable. See Democracy Watch page

May 5 ~ Beckett looks favourably on plan to drown Welsh Valley

Also unbelievable. The valley already contains a small reservoir, which was built a century ago to supply water to the West Midlands. The land around it has since been declared a special protection area under the EC's directive on wild birds and also falls within the Cambrian Mountains environmentally sensitive area. About 80% of it has been given additional protection after being incorporated into 12 separate sites of special scientific interest (SSSI). These range from ancient pastures and meadows to woodland and rare upland mires. There are also small family farms - in their families for generations. We read with incredulity the words of Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, who said: "We need a different attitude to water. We can't keep relying on huge engineering works that damage the environment. ......."
What on earth has happened to dear old FoE? What has happened to the RSPCA to the RSPB and - most desperately sad of all - to the RCVS? a See newspaper page today.

May 4 ~ "I have always believed that there was an association between CSF and FMD, possibly but not necessarily biological"

writes Pat Gardiner from East Anglia this morning. "Now FMD and CSF both in Korea. Funny that - especially when CSF and FMD seem to almost overlap in the UK. Even odder is that some of the major UK pig companies had farming operations also in areas where I'm told that both diseases were known.
I'm not saying that this is how both diseases entered the UK, but what I am saying is the MAFF deliberately withheld the data for anyone to notice and ask any questions. Why did they energetically suppress information during CSF, when they released similar information during FMD?"

May 4 ~ Jean-Marie Le Pen has said he fears widespread electoral fraud during of his looming vote showdown with conservative President Jacques Chirac.

According to Yahoo news. 'He also condemned the "totalitarian climate that has set in" during the campaign, warning that the "surge of hatred, insults and calls to violence" against his supporters favored a "veritable rape of the people."
"I am here because the French decided to put me here -- all the rest of it is terrorism, manipulation and lies," Le Pen said, urging supporters to have courage in the voting booth....'

May 4 ~ " The notion of freedom

must be made electorally attractive before our parliamentary system slips into terminal disrepute. A solemn manifesto commitment to review our statutes and repeal the repressive or unnecessary ones would be a splendid start. " concluded the Telegraph article yesterday called "Scrap Bad Laws" (see democracy watch page)

May 3 ~ The Queen has received a very warm welcome so far on her 15-week nationwide Jubilee tour

In a speech at the Guildhall in Bath she mentioned the deaths of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, and said: "I would like to thank all those who have made the last two days so enjoyable. Following a time of sadness in my family, the warmth of the welcome we received in the South-West has been particularly heartening". According to the Telegraph report today, " She spoke also of the foot and mouth crisis, which had devastated much of the local economy and, during a visit to Taunton's Farmers' Market, expressed her good wishes to stallholders, many of whom had suffered during the crisis.
Among the 20,000 who crammed into Taunton's Vivary Park to see her was Doreen Hardman, 89, who nursed her father, George VI at Buckingham Palace immediately after the operation to remove his left lung. ..... Mrs Hardman......then worked as a ward nurse at Westminster Hospital, nursed George VI ........ at the time of the October General Election in 1951, when Attlee's government fell to Churchill, and earlier she recalled how the King constantly expressed his dislike for the post-war Labour government, she said. "Labour was in and he loathed them - and so did I. He used to say, 'Bloody awful lot'," she added......"

May 3 ~ What on earth has possessed the Scotsman...

to think it appropriate to deride the Duke of Edinburgh yet again? With po-faced horror it repeats a remark that made us laugh aloud. "On the second day of the Queen's Golden Jubilee tour, Prince Philip told a blind woman with a guide dog: "Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?" ....."
Perhaps the writer, like many humourless others, (including it seems, the Prime Minister,) would prefer to see the position of head of state pass to Tony Blair. They must be very irritated by the warmth and genuine affection shown to the Royal Family at the moment. Can't these people see how they are being OPPRESSED?

May 3 ~ Labour is to consider making it mandatory to vote

and to join the electoral register during a policy review that will draw up its next general election manifesto. A discussion document sent to party members says that fewer than 90 per cent of people register in some low-income areas. It asks: "What are the arguments for and against compulsion either in voter registration or voting itself?" See report in the Independent today. We feel it would be nice if Mr Blair were to show his enthusiasm for parliamentary democracy by attending Parliament himself. Would members of the Fourth Form, please neatly list the arguments for and against making it compulsory for the Prime Minister of the day to vote from time to time.

May 2 ~ Cumbria Foot and Mouth Disease Inquiry opens with local media and Brigadier Birtwhistle

http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/news/2002/0105d.asp The first witnesses to give evidence to the Cumbria Foot and Mouth Disease Inquiry, which opens in Kendal on Tuesday 7 May 2002, are representatives of the Cumbrian Newspaper Group, BBC Radio Cumbria and Brigadier Alex Birtwhistle. The opening session starts at 10.00am. Cumbria's public inquiry into the Foot and Mouth crisis will hear evidence from a range of witnesses during two formal hearings in Kendal between 7TH and 10th May and Carlisle between 28th and 31st May 2002. Witnesses called to the formal hearings will appear in public and submit their evidence to a ten person independent panel chaired by Professor Phil Thomas. The two formal four-day sessions in Kendal and Carlisle will be split into eight half day themes with an opportunity at the end of each session for questions from the floor. In addition the Inquiry Panel will visit local communities on the 14, 15 and 16 May to hear further evidence from local people. (seeitem on left menu)
The opening morning of the Inquiry looks at general evidence in order to get an overview of the extent of the impact the outbreak had on the County. Cumbria had 44% of the country's total Foot and Mouth cases with 893 farms contracting the disease, close on 2,000 farms having livestock culled and over a million head of livestock slaughtered.

May 2 ~ The Prince said "So?"

We have learned to feel an enormous respect over the past year for the Prince of Wales. We are grateful for his genuine concern and diplomatic behind the scenes help in rural matters. He has pleased us even more today by suggesting that he would not be concerned if Britain withdrew from the European Union. According to today's Independent "The Prince revealed his views when he met Lord Haskins, a businessman admired by Tony Blair who is the Government's Rural Recovery Co-ordinator, to discuss the future of farming. When Lord Haskins argued that EU trade regulations meant that the logical conclusion of the Prince's pro-organic views would be the withdrawal of the Britain from the European Union, the Prince said: "So?"........"

May 2 ~ ".. inside the grand notions of freedom and liberty which come from this country and can still come from this country, there is the simple stubbornness and fair-mindedness of the individual English man or woman.

a quotation from Melvyn Bragg, quoted by Nick Green in his letter published in the North Devon Journal. "Not to be 'put on', not to be 'pushed around' - these are the colloquial expressions which are the foundations of those large ideas of free man in a free society which need re-stating now as loudly and firmly as ever.
"In this I believe we are unique as a country. It is not fashionable and it is not headline news - but it is vital and can only be increasingly important as the world seems to swing to authoritarian solutions of the Left, of the Right and of the Big.
"If we have a role, then that is it - not only the guardians of liberty but the spokesmen for it and fighters for it. The need may be greater than ever!"

May 2 ~ Peter Ainsworth tells Britain to carry on composting

He says "This is another story of staggering incompetence. My advice is to carry on composting. It is good for the environment."

May 2 ~ Ross Finnie says he is bound by a European directive to allow the GM test to continue.

The Guardian says "he is becoming increasingly isolated in his stance. On the same weekend protesters were destroying parts of the crop, the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference voted 2-1 to end the trial. The party's UK leader, Charles Kennedy, is one of 4,000 people to have signed a petition calling for a halt to the experiment. And this week, in the Scottish parliament, a Lib Dem colleague of Finnie's will lodge a private member's bill that would make it illegal to grow GM crops in Scotland.
Last Thursday, the Scottish National Party joined Holyrood's only Green MSP, Robin Harper, in his fight to persuade the executive to back down. Harper says: "I am no longer a lone voice in the parliament. We have got to keep pressing on this. The executive has the power to plough the crop in, and we have the evidence that should persuade them this is the best thing to do." That evidence centres on a new European environment agency report, which Harper says warns of a high risk that growing GM oilseed rape will result in genetic contamination between different varieties of GM plants, and between GM plants and their wild relatives. And a study from New Zealand, he says, concluded there should be no further development or field-testing of GM organisms because of uncertain ties about the risk they present.
But Finnie insists that, having received advice from the UK advisory committee on releases to the environment (Acre), the executive was bound by law to allow continuation of the trial - although Acre pointed out at the weekend that Finnie is not bound by its advice.

May 1 ~ "The fuel protests and the row with the Countryside Alliance hurt - and the foot and mouth epidemic marked "the lowest point" for Downing Street, says one who was there - but they all passed."

Jonathan Freedland, in the Guardian today, asks why "don't we love this government? You could start with the string of black clouds that have cluttered Labour's sky. The Dome, the 75p pension rise - those are the decisions ministers volunteer first as undeniable mistakes. Prod more and they'll add the control freakery that led Blair to handpick leaders for devolved bodies in Scotland, Wales and London ...All these factors explain some of the disappointments with New Labour, but they are not complete. Nor does a list of the events that buffeted the government suffice. The fuel protests and the row with the Countryside Alliance hurt - and the foot and mouth epidemic marked "the lowest point" for Downing Street, says one who was there - but they all passed........."
They all PASSED? The government may well find that no amount of sweeping or spinning is going to suppress the howl of outrage over FMD. The Class Law Action is waiting patiently in the wings for a government response. Those of us who want answers to the foot and mouth fiasco have a great deal more staying power than most of the journalists.

May 1 ~ This week, tens of thousands of trade unionists, along with anti-globalisation, anti-capitalist, anarchist and environmental protesters will mark the day by congregating in city centres across the world.

says today's Guardian In previous years, we, like other normal, ordinary, law-abiding British people felt vague disquiet at the sight of the mass protests and accepted the "authority" view of the protestors. Now, while deploring violent behaviour in the streets, we look at the protests differently. The change in our perception has nothing whatsoever to do with planes crashing into a New York skyscraper. As the Guardian says:
..... the world has not changed that much.
It is still a world where British politicians condemn the rise of the French right in one breath, and in another call for asylum seeker children to be imprisoned to prevent them "swamping" our schools.
It is still a world where the US, with UK support, pursues a national missile defence system, which could not possibly prevent similar terrorist attacks.
It is still a world where the most significant piece of news about last year's May Day protests in London, was that it stopped high street chains on Oxford Street from making £20m."......
We would add that it is now a world where genuine science (and common sense) have flown out of the window and hard-eyed materialism has taken their place in our major institutions. "Authority", as we have seen this year, has become a dirty, nasty, messy and fundamentally dishonest business. In a sea of nonsensical rules and regulations our hard-won democracy is not waving but drowning .

May 1 ~ 90 equestrian businesses and 20 suppliers close after the FMD handling. £235 million irretrievably lost.

AN industry wide survey carried out by the British Equestrian Trade Association into last year's FMD outbreak has thrown new light on the impact of the crisis. The findings confirm that FMD affected some manufacturers and retailers more than others while an estimated total of £235 million turnover was lost to the equestrian industry. "It is also clear that the turnover that was lost was not able to be recovered. This led to the closure of, we estimate, over 90 retail businesses and up to 20 of their suppliers." (See BETA press release)

May 1 ~" a government less interested in "doing" than being seen to do"

Leading article in today's Independent. "It may seem an absurdly small incident on which to hang an assessment of Tony Blair's five years in office. But complaining to the Press Complaints Commission about mischievous reporting on the Prime Minister's alleged wish to play a more prominent role in the Queen Mother's lying in state tells us a good deal about the way New Labour has chosen to run the country. Of course, what Mr Blair's office said to the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod about the arrangements for this piece of state pageantry is stunningly trivial compared with, say, the running of the economy, the battle to deliver quality public services, the Northern Ireland peace agreement or even the Ecclestone or Hinduja affairs.
But it is important because Downing Street cannot rise above it. It is an excellent example of what has prevented this government from becoming the truly bold, radical reforming administration promised to us in May 1997. "The time for words is over; it is time to do," Mr Blair said then; half a decade on, with some fine successes to its credit, the abiding impression is of a government less interested in "doing" than being seen to do."

May 1 ~"Isn't it time we had our own spin doctor?"

We are grateful to the anonymous writer on the farmgate forum for this observation: "Can anyone tell me where these milk producers subsidies are that DEFRAand supermarket bosses keep shouting about? We don't appear to have received ours for the past sixty years. Cannot understand either why they think milk prices in shops should be slashed, supermarkets are already selling at less than twenty years ago. When we opened our farm shop twelve years ago milk was ninety nine pence for two litres and a can of coke twelve pence a can, milk is still the same price but a can of coke fifty pence. Isn't it time we had our own spin doctor?"

April 30 ~ Last night, the Shadow DEFRA Secretary of State, Peter Ainsworth MP, proposed an Early Day Motion

urging the Government to press for European Commission agrimoney aid, in the light of today's planned deadline for claims. The motion was signed by 85 Conservative members of Parliament. Today, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Mrs Ann Winterton, commented:
"We urge the Government to act quickly and claim this aid for the country's farmers. If the European Commission is happy to consider a late claim for the money, Ministers may not yet have missed this opportunity to do something positive for the farming sector."

April 30 ~"Owners would be required to provide them with the opportunity to "express normal behaviour" and freedom from "fear and distress".

(Government RSPCA Animal Bill of Rights) Joyce drily asks," So is it going to be a criminal offence to NEUTER an animal as this most definitely causes fear, pain, and the permanent destruction of 'normal behaviour' ?"

April 30 ~ Tony Blair is taking the London Evening Standard, the Mail on Sunday and The Spectator to the Press Complaints Commission

after all three publications refused to retract their stories that the Prime Minister sought to inflate his role in the Queen Mother's lying-in-state. This is a sensational development. See the article Who is the more trustworthy: Alastair Campbell or Black Rod? in the Spectator. ".... I repeat: political editors on national titles do not make up stories, and it is a serious slur on the part of Alastair Campbell, himself a former political editor, to suggest they might......... Mr Greenslade is asking us to choose between the word of Sir Michael Willcocks, KCB, and that of Alastair Campbell, a former pornographer, a master spin doctor by trade, a man once described by a High Court judge as by no means 'a wholly satisfactory or convincing witness', and someone who - let us put it kindly - has misled the press on several occasions. ..."
(we are reminded of the Guardian story by John Vidal about Phoenix the calf)

April 30 ~ "In 2001, (RSPCA) inspectors responded to 1.5m phone calls about animals in distress - one every 20 seconds -

and a rise of more than 350,000 since 1991. The number of complaints investigated has gone up from 86,531 a year in 1991 to 123,156.
But despite the increases, the number of convictions dropped to 2,449 last year, compared to 2,718 successful prosecutions in 1991. Judges handed out six prison sentences for cruelty. In 80 cases, owners were banned for life from keeping any animals.
Tony Crittenden, the RSPCA's chief officer of the inspectorate, said of the figures: "We are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers and yet our inspectors come across some of the most distressing cases of neglect and suffering day in day out." ...." runs the article in the Independent right on cue for the Government's latest extraordinary legislation on an animal "bill of rights", (see Telegraph letter today for a typical reaction.) For the RSPCA with its political ambitions to admit how utterly ineffectual it has been seems strange. After a year of watching its heirarchy toadying to the government, particularly over foot and mouth, we can only feel sorry for the ordinary RSPCA foot soldiers whose efforts have been so footling. The nation of animal lovers would have done better to use more effectively the money poured into the huge RSPCA coffers.

April 30 ~ Spin Alert.

As regular visitors to this site are well aware, governments use the fear of terror to justify measures "for public safety" that are in fact their own attacks on the civil liberties of the population. A BBC page "Q&A: The threat from bio-terrorism" seems to have been reissued or updated. Rather in the style of the FSA telling us that there is no real reason why we should be frightened to death of eating lamb that may possibly be infected with a BSE-like horror bug, this BBC page plants again the idea that diseases such as FMD could have their origin in "terror groups using biological and chemical warfare agents on the UK population" We find the following statement very interesting: Experts caution that this is probably beyond the scope of terrorist organisations. That said, the British did manage to develop an anthrax weapon in the 1940s, and with today's technology and the resources of a man like Osama Bin Laden, a terror group might be able to do it.
A man like Osama Bin Laden? AAAugh! Quick! Fence us round with rules and regulations to save us from this hobgoblin!

April 29 ~ "I am planning a mass protest at a North Yorkshire farm, which MAFF would have closed down many years ago (on the grounds that it endangered public, animal and environmental health), had the Government not needed to conceal its fraudulent legal practices and sexist land policy.

"The regulatory authorities have thrown away the rule book: MAFF, Trading Standards and the RSPCA continue to be criminally-negligent, as any prosecution of the unauthorised farm manager would be self-incriminatory. 'This rogue farmer is an unregulated, serial, multiple offender of a catalogue of UK and EU regulations (including BSE and FMD), but the Court of Appeal has refused to grant an eviction order, as the winding up of the insolvent business would expose the Government's crimes.
This matter deeply embarrasses the British Government: but the French Government can justify its ban on English beef by citing MAFF's failure to close down the North Yorkshire farm, which remains a hotbed of infection. (See Ann Mallaby's letter)

April 29 ~ British Official Says Bible Could Violate EU Anti-Racism Law

LONDON, Apr 24, 02 (CWNews.com) - A top European Union judge warned on Wednesday that the distributing the Bible could become illegal under a proposed European anti-racism law.
British Law Lord Scott of Foscote said the proposed law was meant to normalize members' states laws against racism. "The offense in question would almost certainly cover the distribution of Biggles [novels about a fictional WW II pilot]. It would probably cover the distribution of the Old Testament as well," he said. Scott outlined the European Commission's draft definition of racism and xenophobia ........ A key factor in the debate over the law is a proposal for a European arrest warrant. It would supersede current extradition treaties, making it easier for one country to demand that a suspect in another be handed over. Former member of the European Parliament Lord Kingsland said, "I believe the EU is making a serious mistake in extending the terms of this arrest warrant beyond the issue of terrorism." " And who is listening to this? Where are the outcries? Why is this not on the front pages of all the newspapers? What an obscene insult to all the people who died in recent wars, thinking they were defending Britain and the rights of its free people. Our government trivialises the very notion of rights (see below) while casually tossing away the freedoms that were so hard won.

April 29 ~ Bill of Rights for pets 'is silly and unenforceable'

NEW welfare laws to protect pets and captive animals were welcomed yesterday but it was questioned whether a "Bill of Rights" was necessary or enforceable. ...Ann Grain, head of press relations at the RSPCA, said: "We are here to prevent cruelty to animals and not to prosecute people...." (see also)
Pat's emailed comment: "Could have fooled me. I wonder who put the RSPCA up to this stunt? They really have become a threat to liberty and merely a branch of the government. Time, I suggest, to hit them were it hurts...in the collecting tin and bequest departments."

April 29 ~ There are constant calls for an increase in the number of vets in the State Veterinary Service.

But an emailer points out: "They are a very inefficient organisation with very poor managers. That is why there have been so many complaints of bullying. Poor managers waste resources and invariably resort to bullying, intimidation and falsifying documents to cover-up their own inadequacies.
The management of the State Veterinary Service has done more than enough mischief to Britain. The management must be removed before any increase in the number of vets is even contemplated.
No private company would ever provide additional resources to any department with such a deplorable record. They would withhold resources and sack the management. They would then either "contract out" or carefully rebuild with "clean" staff...."

April 29 ~ (from the Financial Times, 27th April) - "...in almost five years since he became Prime Minister, Tony Blair has spent 77 hours in the Commons chamber"

- that works out around 15 hours each year. "
"We are NOT impressed." From Alan Beat's Smallholders Newsletter

April 28 ~ a staggering 13.05 healthy farms were killed per. I/P

Nick has had enough of hearing how well the crisis was handled in Dumfries and Galloway and expresses himself in his refreshingly characteristic fashion.
"As we now know, this policy was illegal under EU and UK law. We now also know that it was completely ineffectual. Well then Ms. Murray, or is it Tweety Pie? Lets hear it just one more time for D&G! Sorry speak up!
Not that impressive really, was it? In fact an absolute Bloody Disaster!"

April 28 ~ "Nothing can excuse yesterday's conviction of the plane spotters."

wrote the Daily Mail "These are clearly innocent people who are being cruelly abused by the legal system of a supposedly civilised state that for some twisted, paranoid, machismo reason imagines that a somewhat eccentric hobby Is the equivalent of espionage.
Only the vagaries of the appeals process now stand between these ordinary, harmless people and a Greek jail. ...SO much for the Government's grossly misleading assurances that the fast-track European extradition treaty poses no threat to individual liberty. What happened in Greece has exposed the folly of its whole approach to EU legal matters." (See democracy watch page)

April 28 ~ (Last vestiges of) Democracy under threat

Sue writes,"Is anyone else - or is just me - living in an area that has to vote by post at the elections next week? If anyone else has to, how do you feel about it?" (warmwell note. We don't but we know exactly how we feel about it. We feel the same as you do.) "Can't quite put my finger on it but something doesn't feel right about it. The fact that I have to include my name and address with voting paper and I have to show it to someone else who has to sign to witness it to say that it is my voting paper. Where has my right to a secret vote gone? Spoke to someone from UKIP yesterday and they said that there had been no real Lib Dem or Tory opposition to the idea. I had felt that surely it would be more likely that people would put papers to one side and forget about them whereas the UKIP seemed to think that it was something Labour were doing because they have enough people on the ground to go round and collect these voting papers and ensure they go into the system thereby increasing the Labour vote. Anyone got any ideas or views on this?
Sue (a different one) writes,"It is a fallacy that we have a secret ballot. Every ballot paper has a number on both the ballot paper itself and the stub. When we vote our electoral role number is written on the stub. Thus in theory, and with ever increasing computerisation, it is possible to check for whom we voted."

April 28 ~ ..."So, France is corrupt, racist, seized by a tyrannical bureaucracy,

taxed until the pips squeak and people are scared to let their children out of their sight. Just like home. The difference is that in Britain we have mastered hypocrisy and pretend it isn't so...." see article in today's Sunday Times

April 28 ~ Ian Geering's exhibition in Oxford Street is reported to have reduced hardened Londoners to tears

[see Country Life review http://www.countrylife.co.uk/newsfeat_exhib.htm]. The exhibition is intended to go on tour around the country. He has also produced a book: Foot and Mouth: The Aftermath." A Collection of Photographs by Ian Geering. It costs £19.95 post free. All royalties [£2.00 per copy] are being donated to the Addington Fund to support those suffering from the foot and mouth crisis. It is available from Booksellers (ISBN 1 873953 34 8) or direct from the publishers: Publications Dept., Geerings of Ashford Ltd., Cobbs Wood House, Chart Road, Ashford, Kent TN23 1EP. Tel: 01233 633366 [ext. 256]; Fax: 01233 646994.
Look out too for the imminent appearance of the very best book to come out of the horror:

Fields of Fire by Jacquita Allender

This book, like Mr Geering's, will perhaps do more, with its images and quiet commentary, to awaken public outrage than any other kind of protest. We will keep readers of this website informed about its date of publication.

April 28 ~ "The World Summit on Sustainable Development"

See Independent �� Sue writes, "The Summit in Rio was called The Earth Summit. According to Vandana Shiva, a memo was sent out saying that this summit was not to be called an Earth summit or anything else environmental! So we know for whose benefit this is for - Big Business."

April 28 ~ "Please Herr Blair, can we have our nice sane world back?"

"Our poor sheep are still trying to regain their street credibility after the haircuts we gave them last year. Takes shearer about three hours...sheep nice and trim,cost us £30 and everyone is happy. Last year (and no doubt this year) took four of us two weeks and the sheep have been the laughing stock of the sheep world ever since. Please Herr Blair,can we have our nice sane world back?

April 27 ~ Unfortunately every Inquiry so far has said that their role is "not to apportion blame".

An email today echoes that of many others.."Why can nobody be made accountable for their actions?
It seems to me that the guilty will be saying to themselves: "Oops, I made a few fatal mistakes, totally wrecked peoples' lives, destroyed the rural economy, killed millions of healthy animals, but even though I have been heaviliy criticised, at the end of the day nobody has actually said I was responsible. I can safely look forward to my Queen's Honour, retire successfully and by the time the truth emerges in about 30 years time, I will be well out of harm's way to even worry about any damaging effects on my reputation."

April 27 ~ "I want to change public opinion". The highly respected Hilary Peters speaks out.

"I feel we would never have got into the unbearable situation of last summer if our farming hadn't degenerated into agro-industry. It is our attitude to the planet that needs to change, not just a decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. People opposed to the Foot and Mouth policy know this instinctively and express it from different angles. I want to change public opinion.
I am trying to do this through education. The Growing Schools scheme (which incidentally is backed by the government) is working through Teacher Training Colleges, schools, city farms, country farms, and many other organisations, to give children (and consenting adults) a chance to grow plants, have contact with animals, understand the structure of the soil, and know at first hand how food is produced.
There are projects all over the country. From making compost in Sheffield to growing potatoes in Rotherhithe, to relating the farm to every part of the curriculum in Haywards Heath, to hatching chicks in Bradford. Schools are getting together to create a garden for the Hampton Court Flower Show. Teachers are learning about the food chain and the role of the supermarkets.
We are beginning to see change: maybe only surface change at first, but it's a start. You can be as dismissive as you like about niche markets, but change has to start somewhere." hilary@peterspc.fsnet.co.uk

April 27 ~ A memorial service is to be held today, Saturday 27th April, for the Forest Sheep, but also for all the other animals needlessly slaughtered

during the FMD crisis and for the people who lost their lives, either directly or indirectly as a result of the crisis (or more correctly, the mishandling of it.)
The sevice will be held along the Speech House Road, where the free roaming sheep were taken to be slaughtered. The Forest of Dean Action Group writes, "If any of our friends from other areas would like to join us, we would be so pleased to see you." (See also)

April 26 ~ "Our views on the proposed removal of the 28 day temporary use clause are well known.

There is no need for this change. Only 30 out of 388 local authorities identified temporary use as a problem and the current system can deal with isolated concerns. Traditional rural events such as fêtes and shows are threatened by this, and that makes it likely to be deeply unpopular." Sir Edward Greenwell, President of the Country Land and Business Association, the voice of the rural economy, yesterday met Planning Minister, Lord Falconer, to press home the CLA's concerns about the rural implications of the Planning Green Paper. (See CLA press release)

April 26 ~"I think that the people that I work with, that I regard as my peers are intelligent; they care passionately about a whole range of social issues; they are incredibly knowledgeable; they'll go out of their way to find out information; they'll set up alternative means of distributing information.


They believe so much in human rights and the rights of people within the environment that they are often prepared to be arrested for these issues.
These people that I regard as my peers they really, and this is no offence, but they don't trust you.
They don't want anything to do with you.
They don't want anything to do with government. " See Mark Thomas' investigation into quangos. Rather impressive.

April 26 ~ Our Dales will be a giant lump of set aside of ragwort and thistles. Grey squirrels will take the little birds eggs, and feral cats will prey on small mammals.

Wild flowers at home in hay meadows will be strangled, denied light by grass that will become lifeless matted dead tussocks. Scrub will develop as hedges seed and advance into open spaces, along with other saplings, to form in time, a hostile inpenetratable scrub.
And when they decide to bring back the farmer (if the term still exists), to try to bring some order to this wilderness, no Government training scheme will be able to turn out a work force sufficiently dogged and gritty to live and work in these hills. - For along with our native hefted flocks of which they are rapidly disposing, they are effectively getting rid of the Dalesmen that have their very hearts and lives hefted to these hills. - Quiet, unassuming men with an innate reverence for life and land. ....Read Julia Horning's article, written last year and as relevant now as it was then.

April 26 ~ Nick Green writes,"I am still chasing up the details of the un-logged Police firearms call out during FMD.

I spoke to Superintendent Horn today. He had no details but gave me the number of the head of Firearms who will have the details.
Superintendent Horn was at pains to make it known that whilst admitting the facts I had written concerning these culls were completely correct, the "emotive" language used was not his.
I agreed completely and told him it was an emotive subject especially as botched culls had left many animals suffering and in one case where the Police were involved, an escaped bull rampaged over farms all night giving MAFF the right to make the farms "Dangerous Contacts".
Supt. Horn has treated me at all times with the utmost respect, is very professional and has been very helpful."

April 25 ~"I am all for a witch-hunt."

"Cumbria is going to hold its own inquiry into foot and mouth. Like Northumberland and Devon, before it, it will founder because it will be snubbed by Defra and the government.
One of the reasons given by the government for not holding its own public inquiry is to avoid a witch-hunt, suggesting that, somehow, a public inquiry will point the finger at innocent people. If, however, a witch-hunt means pointing the finger at the guilty persons, the people who made the mistakes and allowed the situation to get out of hand - the people who were afraid to take decisions and sat by and did nothing - then I am all for a witch-hunt. The fact that this government is prepared to tolerate the Jo Moores of this world gives some indication of their worries." Cumberland News and Star
The first witness to give oral evidence at Cumbria's public inquiry on the Wednesday May 8th, 10:00 hrs, Live on the Internet, will be Nick Green.

April 25 ~ This week has been the anniversary of the launch of the hugely influential and successful Forest of Dean Action Group

A year ago, farm gate protests, (Sat and Monday) began - and today, Thursday, was the anniversary of the public meeting where the Divisional Vet Manager for Gloucestershire, Mr Parker, (to whom so many remain very grateful indeed) agreed to halt the contiguous cull and for the Forest of Dean FMD Action to lobby the Government to agree to blood test all the remaining animals.
A very big thank you must be said to Carole Youngs and Siobhan Spivack for having the courage and initiative to set up the Forest of Dean FMD Action Group. They put in train a terrific movement to push for vaccination and an accountable, responsible approach to dealing with the catastrophic epidemic. (warmwell addition: since this reminder comes from Janet Bayley, she does not include herself in this thank you. But all who read this website will know just what a tremendous force to be reckoned with Janet Bayley and the Foot and Mouth Action Group have been - and continue to be.) We think it is important to thank those FoD stalwarts such as Carole, Siobhan and Janet for the stance they took and for making it possible for so many to make a stand and stop, at least in the Forest of Dean, the terrible atrocities that had been carried out as "disease control." We now know only 13 cases in Gloucestershire tested positive in laboratory testing out of 72 Infected Premises - and that 346 farms were culled out. The Ministry were still carrying out Contiguous Culls 3 to 5 weeks after the free roaming sheep (ie the source of infection) had been slaughtered - so it was a reasonable action to protest when animals were obviously showing no signs of the disease.

April 25 ~ COBRA now to bear down upon street crime....

We read in the Scotsman and other papers that Mr Blair has made a surprise promise to control violent street crime within five months. This amounts to assuming personal responsibility for bringing violent crime under control - although he has failed to explain what this promise actually involves. He is now holding meetings in the room for national emergencies - COBRA, a Cabinet Office room safe from nuclear attack, which was used to discuss the foot-and-mouth outbreak. Mr Blair's promise, like the "personal control" he took over foot and mouth, was made very publically. He does, however, seem to have a way of evading the responsibility that comes with grandiose statements. One rather wonders what plans are underway for bearing down on those who create the crime figures. Readers of this website will be well aware that "bearing down" on foot and mouth meant "killing everything quickly" in order to be able to make declarations about being "in the home straight" just before the General Election.

April 25 ~ Doomsday is upon us lads the state is in control

Here is Henry Brewis' 'Brief History of Agriculture' from 'Goodbye Clartiehole' [first published 1994]

Dog and stick and Clydesdale, clipping sheep with shears
binders, stooks and threshers, life in bottom gear
midnight in the lambing field, bogies leading hay
turnips, muck and railway sacks, pocket-money pay.

Comes the revolution, rig and furrow turned
VAT and metrication, stubble quickly burned
combines built like spaceships, scientific seed
ten tonnes to the hectare, fine exotic breeds
European picnic, M'sieur Jacques Delors
Brussels sprouting bureaucrats,
Common Market law
rules and regulations, paid for growin' nowt
IACSidental nonsense...
until the cash runs out....

Another regulation another silly form
another bloody bureaucrat
like locusts in a swarm
Doomsday is upon us lads the state is in control
god help us simple countryfolk
and goodbye Clartiehole...
Henry Brewis 1994

Having seen this on warmwell, Sue comments, We have all Henry Brewis' work - some very funny, some full of pathos. He lived up Northhumberland way and sadly passed away a couple of years ago. Which is just as well, as last year would have broken his heart. (warmwell note: as it has broken so many of ours.)

April 24 ~ "Even basic utilities such as water may be privatised in developing countries if the EU has its way. With 1.3bn people already denied clean water, this push for profit could have devastating effects "

Money Talks, an article by Kevin Watkins in today's Guardian makes sombre reading."Programmes aimed at cross-subsidising public water supplies to poor communities by taxing commercial providers could put a government in a WTO dispute tribunal. So could any attempt to impose price regulations aimed at making water affordable. In a world where 1.3bn people lack access to clean water, and where inadequate access to clean sanitation is implicated in 12 million child deaths a year, such policy prohibitions have grave implications.
As European citizens, we now know what our governments are demanding on our behalf - or, more accurately, on behalf of big business. Unlike most of the dirty tricks they have concocted against the world's poor, this one, at least, is out in the open."

April 24 ~ From Monday's Telegraph "Defra's logic"

"EVER wondered what the civil servants at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs actually do, now that they've killed off half the country's livestock?
Answer: spend tens of thousands of pounds of our money devising a new logo to encourage us to like them more. "Along with loads of other people, I was paid £5 to spend a few minutes answering questions about some new logos they've had designed," says one reader.
"They asked me what I thought of them, so I told them: 'This is a new image for an old department employing exactly the same people who've never known the difference between a cow and a bull.' "
Defra was unavailable for comment yesterday when Peterborough called to ask whether the money might be better spent on helping farmers get back on their feet."

April 24 ~ The EU sees a "risk" of FMD from camels cheese

and, by imposing a ludicrous condition, kills off the poorest nomads' way of making a living ."The north-west African nation of Mauritania was achieving international success with cheese products made from camel's milk, even winning some prizes at a German cheese fair. Camel's milk is supplied by nomads, 70 percent of whom live on less than one U.S. dollar a day. Their cheese attracted one of the highest tariff levels, impeding its entry into the EU. But that wasn't ultimately what killed this promising export line for Mauritania. Although foot and mouth disease is not known to come from camels, the EU decided it was a risk. "They said these camels had to be milked mechanically - a bit of a challenge for a nomad in Mauritania. Essentially what was a very promising export line in a very poor country was stopped on that kind of technicality. That," says Stern, "is a non-tariff barrier." (see story in All Africa.com)

April 24 ~ Village Fêtes are threatened by the government now...

...... proposed regulation changes which would require them to apply for planning permission. As things stand, land can be used on a strictly temporary basis for fetes, clay shooting and other rural events under the "28 day rule". However, Government is now proposing a change to the regulations that would require any such temporary use to have full planning permission. The Country Land and Business Association say there is no evidence that would require a change in the law and that it would be exceptionally damaging to businesses and communities in rural areas. They generate income for charities, businesses and the wider rural economy. ....... Only 98 out of 388 local authorities responded to the Government's research and of those only 30 identified temporary use as a problem. There is no need for new regulations: existing controls are sufficient to take account of any isolated problem.
"Removal of these rights will affect numerous temporary uses of land including traditional summer village fetes, markets, shoots and shows. We all know that if such temporary uses were brought under planning control there will be extra costs of application fees, delays in appeals and ultimately possible refusal of consent. (From a CLA press release)

April 24 ~"I'm Poppy Turpin-West and I'm a home educated teenager who keeps goats.

On this coming Saturday 27th at 2-30pm I'm holding a Memorial Service on the Speech House- Barracks Road in the Forest of Dean where the mass slaughter of the Forest Sheep was carried out.
This is in memory of all of the suffering both animal and human caused last year through the attempted control of Foot and Mouth.
I would be grateful if you could maybe put something on your website to let people know of the service which will be led by Rev Patricia Pinkerton from Broadwell. The service has contributions from Noel Edmonds and Lady Sarah Apsley but unfortunately due to prior engagements they will be unable to attend.
If you need more information please call me on 01594 861484 or 07970472251.
This Service was postponed from the 6th of April to the 27th due to the sad death of the Queen Mother"
It would please Poppy a lot if people were able to attend.

April 24 ~ Letter to the Express

Richard Mawdsley, The Dash, Bassenthwaite, Keswick. Cumbria. CA12 4QX
Sir.
Your front page headline on The Express, Tues. 23 Apr, The Return of Fascism is mistaken. One must distinguish between fascism and racism. Jean-Marie le Pen is a racist.
We, in the U.K. have already descended into fascism - the political doctrine by which the rights of the individual are subject to the needs of "The State". Or, in our case, "the whims of The Party"
See also:-

April 24 ~"Gordon Brown's Spectator lecture three years ago, when he asserted that openness, tolerance and fairness were the three defining British virtues...... was a worthy speech

But it failed to recognise that human beings cannot respond to abstractions: values need to be embedded within institutions. The Millennium Dome was New Labour's attempt to find a contemporary institution to embody its contemporary values; it ended in failure, bankruptcy, ridicule, humiliation and fraud. The Queen Mother's funeral showed, with a power that went much deeper than words can tell, that British values are not merely contemporary: they endure.
Taking his seat along with the rest of the congregation on Tuesday, Tony Blair had time to ponder and brood. There were deep truths to be learnt at that service about right and wrong, the exercise of power, the nature of authority, and what kind of country Britain really is. At a pivotal point in world history, with Britain poised on the edge of a new war in the Middle East, there could not have been a better time to take them in."
This is the last part of a splendid article in the Spectator What makes it even more significant is thatNo. 10 has reported it to the Press Complaints Commission.

April 23 ~ The greatest English poet, who died exactly 386 years ago today wrote:

Sir, I am a true labourer: I earn that I eat, get that I
wear; owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness; glad of other
men's good, content with my harm; and the greatest of my pride is
to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck.
(As You Like it)
Corin is one of the truly great characters in Shakespeare and represents in this play the antithesis of the self-seeking politician of the city. We are certain that Shakespeare would feel the same grief that we do ourselves in seeing what the government has done to the sheep, the lambs, the country and to the lives of all the modern day Corins.

April 23 ~ Pigs and welfare. FWi reporting more feed back from KH of Safeways. Just an excerpt below from Anne Lambourn

- to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude for her help in sending relevant material over the past months
"I see that CIWF is doing a supermarket animal welfare survey and forms (simple and short) can be obtained from 01730 260 791 or compassion@ciwf.co.uk The Customer Comment Card states "Please fill out this card and let your supermarket know what they are doing right or where they can improve their farm animal welfare standards". CIWF also publish a very useful leaflet Compassionate shoppers' Guide, complete with Customer Service Numbers for all the supermarkets.
Recently I went to Safeways and tried to buy organic meat, but I was told that it "must be a discontinued line because there is not the demand for it"! I had never seen it displayed in the first place. In our local Safeways you can sometimes buy Outdoor reared meat, but it is not advertised and usually stuck on the top shelf at the back. I just think what a difference it would make to sales if they tried an advertising campagin such as Anchor butter and their outdoor reared cows. from the excerpts below I am not convinced that KH has animal welfare at the forefront of his mind. It is all money, money, money."

April 23 ~ extract from The Rough Guide to Southwest USA, by Greg Ward

"The Navajo Nation.
........The most traumatic event of the twentieth century was the 1933 STOCK REDUCTION, when the federal authorities killed off a million sheep and goats and reduced the total Navajo herd to half a million animals. They argued that overgrazing was washing silt into the Colorado that threatened the new Hoover Dam; the effect was to force a change away from pastoralism towards wage labor........." (we are grateful to Joyce for this)
Is anyone beginning to think the unthinkable, believe the unbelievable? The 2001 handling of FMD certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with "Animal Health", any more than does the "Animal Health bill" waiting in the wings to return at the next contrived animal disease scare. (it appears that TB numbers, for example, have not risen this year, they have only suddenly received publicity from the press echoing nonsense about the effect of TB being "worse than FMD") The efforts of the key players to keep the eyes of the world and the press away from what really happened suggests something very murky indeed. What is so hard to comprehend is why the papers - with some noble exceptions - are being so compliant in all this. It really seems as though nothing that hasn't been vetted by No 10 gets into the mainstream press or onto the television news.

April 21 ~ Sounds familiar.

From AllAfrica.com"The government should stop cheap agricultural imports to protect farmers, the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission was told yesterday. Farmers said cheap dairy, fruit and poultry imports had devastated the agricultural sector, denying them a livelihood. Farmer Edward Gichuki Muigai said agriculture should be protected by the Constitution. He told the Review Commission - sitting at the Anglican Church hall in Wangige, Kiambu District - that milk imports from the former Soviet Union and eggs, chicken and fruit from South Africa had killed local production."
As David. says below: "NEVER lose the ability to feed your own."

April 21 ~ A field of genetically modified crops in the Highlands has been vandalised.

Northern Constabulary said about five acres of GM oilseed rape was destroyed overnight at Roskill Farm, Munlochy, Easter Ross. Police said they were investigating the matter and appealed for any witnesses to come forward. Ananova

April 21 ~ Who is who in the European Parliament - pages

Information about Jan Mulder and Herr Wolfgang KREISSL-DÖRFLER

April 21 ~ EU Parliament - Public Inquiry

Peter Troy has sent us the following:
"An in-depth report into the plight of rural small businesses in the North of England was promised to the EU Parliamentary Inquiry Hearing at Kendal, Cumbria on the morning of Saturday 20 April. Addressing the Panel of six MEP's, Peter Troy from Darlington FSB stated that a detailed report would be completed by 30 September 2002 on the effects of the FMD Crisis on rurally based small businesses in the North of England. See http://www.fsb.org.uk/030/default.asp?id=46
The FSB's "First Voice" national magazine (www.fsbfirstvoice.co.uk), April/May edition, which is distributed free to the membership of some 170,000 small business people, details on page 4 the reasons for the FSB's call for a FMD Public Inquiry following the Curry Report. The magazine also has an article titled "Members recovering from Foot & Mouth".
Small Business people that are not members of the FSB but wish to join the largest and most effective small business pressure and protection group should contact Peter Troy on ptroy@fsbdial.co.uk

April 21 ~ "NEVER lose the ability to feed your own."

David writes, "Right now if we all go onto 50% rations we may be able to survive but don't bank on it if our imported inputs such as fertilizer, seeds and Soya are withheld. Be careful with seeds because we could soon all be on infertile GM seed and then we would not even be able to save our own seed for corn etc.
We have joined a corrupt undemocratic power in the EU and 30 years of the CAP has all but destroyed Britain's manufacturing base. France may have come to an accommodation with Germany before we joined the EU, whereby Germany provides the industry and France the agriculture but I resent the EU manipulating us out of our own markets.
There is not ONE politician who does not want to reform the EU but they have no say in its working so they cannot reform it.
I live in hope that one day Britain will wake up and repeal the 1972 Act that gave away our right to self determination.

April 21 ~ "....menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins....." A campaign to warn children about the safety dangers on farms is to be stepped up in a bid to cut deaths and injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive is to have special marquees at several of this summer's agricultural shows to warn of the potential dangers and hazards children face. "It is essential that children realise that simple games such as hide and seek in a farmyard can lead to tragedy," said Linda Williams, Chief Inspector of Agriculture. See Ananova today.

April 21 ~ "There are many rumours abounding about control and metering of private water supplies."

writes a regular emailer. " Under Gatts all water supply is open to privatisation. I've skimmed through the Draft Water Bill but didn't pay much attention to the water quality clauses, I will go back and read through it again. Didn't I see somewhere a suggestion that E.coli 157 (?) was genetically manipulated?
And also another anti-animal scare. Also agree that the TB stories are to cover EU FMD inquiry." (and so say all of us.)

April 21 ~ "A good report by Peter Greenhill on the EU FMD inquiry committee to Gt. Orton," writes Roger Walker

"On the point of the meeting open to the public. My wife and I attended the EU meeting at Hexham as invited speakers. When we commented that we thought the public should be allowed into the meeting we were told that the meeting was in fact open to anyone as an observer and most were surprised that this hadn't been made common knowledge. Seating was provided for a number of the public but to my knowledge, except for the "guest" that we took along, there were no other members of the public there."

April 20 ~All very healthy, bio secure and 'holistic'. Did it protect us? Not a chance.

"As a working farmer," writes Pat, "I have listened to the NFBG and Dr. King. I have hung minerals on metal gates, installed high water troughs, not grazed silage headlands and kept a closed herd, (i.e one that is completely home bred) for the last 6 years. Herd health is excellent, and we vaccinate for BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea), which is suspected of compromising cattle test results. We test the cattle annually, and have no contact with any other cattle, being ring fenced by roads, woods or rivers. All very healthy, bio secure and 'holistic'.
Did it protect us? Not a chance. TB is now raging through our herd, which was established in 1908, and accredited (TB free) in 1952. So where do we go from here?
Dr. Chris Cheeseman of Woodchester Park's 'badger heaven' was asked the same question at a Cheshire meeting. His reply shocked his audience. He said " You can't farm with infected badgers, get rid of your cattle'.
Well the Minstry are certainly doing that. Three super young cows will be shot next week. All home bred, as were their mothers (2 are still in the herd, at 10 years old )
Two of them are heavily in calf. Their unborn calves will die too. Obscene.
No lesions have been found yet, and Maff have been unable to culture TB from previous carcasses. Our source of exposure is badgers, but our cows are still dead.
Concern for animals can be very selective

April 20 ~ "A Welsh vet had warned of a "serious" situation developing in Denbigh.

But animal health minister Elliot Morley said the comments by North Wales Divisional Veterinary Manager David Pugh were misleading...." Minister plays down cattle TB fears
Pat's Comment: "Well do something about Pugh then. Can't, can you? He would blow the whistle. Your State Veterinary Service DVM's are totally out of control, and the government can't do a thing about it. Must be the first "vetocracy" in the world. A whole country given the run-around" by a gang of civil servants!"

April 20 ~ "I regard the supermarkets as the key to the future of UK agriculture," writes Robert

"ASDA and Tesco are the most powerful. ASDA is owned by Walmart (USA), but Tesco is owned by its shareholders. Tesco AGM is held in a London Hotel in June, when about 1000 people come for their free bottle of wine !! Full marks to Tesco Directors, because they take Questions for an hour and it is an ideal opportunity to remind them of their corporate responsibility. Anybody can become a shareholder for as little as £100, come to the AGM and make themselves heard."

April 19 ~ "We, as United States citizens, have a special responsibility to oppose this mad rush to war. You, as Europeans, also have a special responsibility.

Most of your countries are military allies of the United States within NATO. The United States claims to act in self-defense, but also to defend "the interests of its allies and friends". Your countries will inevitably be implicated in U.S. military adventures. Your future is also in jeopardy...." See http://www.zmag.org/content/Mideast/manyletter.cfm

April 19 ~ 12,500 badgers will be exterminated to see if the relationship exists.

From tomorrow's TB story in the Independent "It is a contentious tactic since research earlier this year found that the genome of the organism that causes bovine TB is 99.9 per cent identical to that which causes the disease in humans - and that badgers may not be culpable...."

April 19 ~ Time is on our side, for the problems with GM crops are becoming much clearer," says Flavia Londres, from the anti-GM umbrella group.

"Moreover, this is an election year in Brazil, and unexpected things can happen. No one knows who will be chosen as the next president of Brazil in October's elections. The battle is far from lost." From the Guardian articleby Jogn Vidal...." Brazil is coming under increasing pressure to authorise genetically-modified crops, in the wake of India's decision in late March to open its doors to this technology. For four years, a small group of underfunded Brazilian environmentalists and consumers has succeeded against all the odds in keeping a GM ban in place, but many observers now believe it is only a matter of time before Brazil, too, follows the worldwide trend. Brazil is a key piece in the global bio-tech jigsaw. The area under GM cultivation throughout the world rose from 1.7m hectares in 1996 to 52.6m hectares in 2001. ..... Only Brazil, the second producer, is still holding out against GM.
...No one knows how many Indian cotton farmers will seek to plant Monsanto's varieties, but it is expected to be confined - at least, at the start - to large farmers. Last week, Indian ecologist Vandana Shiva predicted that the small farmers' groups who have vociferously opposed the introduction of GM into India will heavily pressurise any farmer wanting to grow them, and that the only way GM could be grown in some areas would be with hundreds of guards. ...... "The introduction of GM cotton will rob the cotton farmers of whatever little they could benefit from. We will see more and more cotton farmers getting into the spiral suicide dance."

April 19 ~ At present, the use of GPS and RF tracking technologies in their more sinister form is limited to pets, possessions and assets.

But with businesses and governments standing to gain from the ability to track and control sections of the population, continuance of this limitation is by no means certain. As can be seen, the gap between legitimate applications and loss of human liberties is in reality very small indeed. ...see Every step you take, an article at http://www.e4engineering.com/item.asp?id=45195&type=Features&ch=e4_home

April 18 ~ Canadian organic farmers fight Monsanto and Aventis

(news from Canada com) Larry Hoffman of Spalding and Dale Beaudoin of the Maymont area claim that Roundup Ready canola sold by Monsanto, and Liberty Link canola sold by Aventis (formerly known as AgrEvo Canada) are pollutants that have contaminated their organic canola through natural cross-pollination from neighbouring fields, making it impossible to sell.
The GM canola is now grown so pervasively in Saskatchewan that it has essentially destroyed the organic canola market for local farmers, their lawsuit claims. It also argues Monsanto and Aventis violated environmental laws by not conducting environmental impact assessments before releasing the seeds.

April 18 ~ "It was decided that the proceeds of the raffle should be donated to the Labour Party - it seems that anyone who donates money to Labour is richly rewarded and our reward would be that we should be allowed to carry on as we have for some 200 years."

Hunting with hounds is the best method of controlling vermin that has no known wild enemy and which kills both farmed and domesticated animals. The farmer on whose land we walked had already lost a number of new lambs to the fox and was delighted by our presence. Hunting is also a huge part of the rural infrastructure of this county. Give money to Mr Blair: save our countryside. ...."
We thought this was a most astute and far-sighted letter in the Telegraph this morning.....

April 18 ~ "The Lyons Symposium seems seems very well organised and all the world experts will be there. I personally feel it is an opportunity not to be missed."

writes Alicia Eykyn. Please circulate to anyone interested in going to the International Symposium on Foot and Mouth in Lyon 2-5 June 2002 We have a concession for FMD Forum Members of the 'student rate' of 250 Euros (which is half price). Hotels and accommodation are on top, but lunch is included in their price. I attach the preliminary details, including a list of the speakers present. All bookings should be done direct with the organisation. Once registered they will let you have up-to-date information direct. The Symposium seems seems very well organised and all the world experts will be there. I personally feel it is an opportunity not to be missed.

April 18 ~ Plan to rescue stranded cows Cows need to be drugged to be safely airlifted

(BBC report) A rescue operation is planned to recapture six escaped cows which swam out to an island in the middle the Humber estuary. ...An RSPCA spokeswoman said: "The plan is that three RSPCA inspectors will travel to the island.
"They will tranquillise the cattle and then roll them in netting.
"The nets will then be attached to the underside of the helicopter and flown to a field near Faxfleet Farm.
"There will be two RSPCA inspectors waiting for them in the field to remove the netting and check they are okay."
Pat's Comment: Watch the RSPCA make the most of this photo opportunity. Just like London Buses, never see one when you want one, then three come along at once. Err, sorry... five come along at once.

April 18 ~ The Independent today says "The European Commission rejected as "patently false" yesterday claims that it is demanding that several Third World countries privatise their public monopolies

as part of the new global trade talks. EU trade officials did confirm that they had asked for key sectors such as water distribution and energy in developing countries to be opened to more foreign competition. The EU stance was revealed in leaked draft documents detailing the Union's opening bids in world trade negotiations. Dave Timms, a spokesman for the pressure group World Development Movement, said utilities could move "from state control to the private sector". But a spokesman for Pascal Lamy, the European trade commissioner, said that to say the EU was seeking privatisation was "patently false". The Guardian article yesterday suggests that the EU is indeed seeking privatisation. "The European Union is demanding full-scale privatisation of public monopolies across the world as its price for dismantling the common agricultural policy in the new round of global trade talks, secret documents leaked to the Guardian revealed yesterday." Read both articles on democracy watch.

April 17 ~" What on earth would happen if we had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission here? as in South Africa...."

writes Val. "would the truth ever become visible? or would people ever testify? The truth should set us free from all this pain and anguish, from suspicion and doubt - cynicism sometimes seems the only protection in this current world from all those who are only seeing what is best for them! Does no-one ever realise that you have to do something for other people any more?"

April 17 ~ "I really do wonder about the competence of the NFU. To raise this at exactly the same time as serious allegations are being made and investigated in respect of OTM beef entering the food chain in Wales.

The NFU self-publicity machine has no brakes. That could be their downfall," writes an emailer today. He is commenting on NFU Cymru's Spokeswoman Leigh Roberts writing in The Western Mail yesterday ".... a new report out last week highlights the French government's failure to meet key European BSE consumer safeguards which highlights the blatant hypocrisy of its own illegal ban on British beef. ......"etc..

April 17 ~ Welsh Euro-MP, Eurig Wyn, has said Wales should have its own inquiry into the foot-and-mouth outbreak

He was speaking at Strasbourg. "In the absence of an urgent and comprehensive inquiry at a national level, Northumberland County Council decided to set up its own inquiry. I therefore ask the question again - why can't we in Wales with our own devolved government autho-rise a similar inquiry for Wales? Wales can identify with the suffering caused to the farming community and many rural businesses in Northumberland by this terrible episode. This report clearly indicates what needs to be changed and highlights grave errors in the handling of the disease, giving a comprehensive evaluation of its far-reaching effects. How can we in Wales have an effective evaluation without a similar full public inquiry?"

April 17 ~ Email today: "The tax payer gave 28 millions pound last year to the dome. It stands empty but still it eats our money. What would that amount of money have financed?

Today Gordon Brown will start to take even more tax for a better Heath Service - or so they would have us believe. What is even more distressing is that reporters say this Government has a long way to go before it knocks the Conservatives off their post as the number one sleaze party. I wonder how many other people are sitting thinking and asking the same questions. Probably not that many - or else we would surely have a Government that is more accountable to the people..."

April 17 ~"LANDOWNERS yesterday warned that the Scottish agricultural industry would be threatened

by proposals to give tenant farmers the right to buy the land that they work. Around 10,000 tenant farmers in Scotland will be given new powers to help them buy out their landlords under proposed legislation unveiled yesterday..." (Telegraph) This is an ongoing story that has apparently raised few ripples - but we see it as one of the most potentially devastating issues in Scotland. The war on landowners in Britain is fiercely raging - to the general apathy of the members of the formerly United Kingdom most of whom apparently feel that the fox-hunting toffs deserve all they're going to get. Little do they realise how life is changing for the worse when governments can take away property at will and impose any rules and regulations that its stringpullers see fit. They make it seem palatable at first by appearing to benefit the people who might otherwise support objections. And once the legisation is safely passed ...what then?

April 17 ~ State funding for politics? " Mandelson wants 'ethics commissioner'"

Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor of the Independent, tells us today that " Peter Mandelson, the former secretary of state for Northern Ireland, stepped into the row over Labour Party donors yesterday by calling for the creation of an independent "ethics commissioner" to oversee ministers. "...
Meanwhile, Andrew Tyrie in the Times says ." I am attracted to matching funding. Parties should be paid a small sum for each party member they recruit, subject to an overall cap. The cash per member should be set at a level which encourages recruitment. An alternative would be tax relief for political donations, up to a certain limit. The sooner action starts to be taken, the better. In today's Budget the Chancellor could adopt Lord Neill of Bladen's proposals for the extension of tax relief to individual donations to political parties. The two approaches - tax relief and matching funding - could be run in tandem..." . ..
So we will carry on campaigning with no funding whatsoever and - one way or another - continue to fund the party politics that seems to us so needlessly flawed. But before cynicism completely overtakes us....Andrew Tyrie reminds us too of a statement by Disraeli: ": "Without parties parliamentary government is impossible.' (but immediately adding, "He might have added that without public trust in them democracy cannot function. ")
Some are firmly convinced that "trafficking in honours" played a part in the CSF/FMD fiasco. As one emailer puts it, "Our honours system has enormous potential for good but it is being shamelessly exploited to reward people who 'don't rock the boat.'..."
As for Peter Mandelson's jolly good idea, we wonder why he doesn't go the whole hog and create The Ministry of Truth?

April 17 ~ Animal Health In Crisis

a meeting of AHIS (Animal Health Information Specialists) UK & Ireland on April 25th. The meeting is entitled: Animal Health In Crisis: Information For Professionals, Decision-Makers And The Public, at London Zoo, Regent's Park, Thursday April 25th 2002 Speakers include Dr Mike Catchpole, PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, Dr Judith Hilton, Head of Microbiology and Food-borne Diseases Unit, Food Standards Agency, Dr Mike Meredith, Pig Disease Information Centre, Professor Dirk Pfeiffer, Royal Veterinary College and David Watson Editor, Veterinary Times
For more information and booking details, go to the AHIS website at: http://www.ahis.org

April 16 ~ "Almost four million animals were slaughtered" pipes the BBC this evening

with their news that "The government is on the verge of being sued for £7bn over claims the foot-and-mouth outbreak actually happened months before it was officially recorded." Yes, the government were almost certainly aware that FMD was present long before the official outbreak was publicised and yes it was hushed up according to many serious accounts. Of course, of course. But why is this ludicrous figure of four million still being bandied about when DEFRA themselves admitted months ago that the figure was nearer 11 million? Why is Mrs Beckett saying that the Devon inquiry conclusions reflected only local opinion? Why was it OK to spend 3.1 billion pounds, as Mr Morley admitted on April 10th, on the "cure" for a disease that could have been treated quickly by vaccination - or left to die out on its own? Why was it considered so necessary for the government to fence themselves round with secrecy, bullying, threats and the widespread use of the Official Secrets Act? Why was it all right to hurt and traumatise so many people as a result of this utterly repugnant cull? And why is it thought reasonable to spend £940,000 on two inquiries when everyone concerned (except the NFU heirarchy) is calling out for a proper public inquiry?

April 15 ~ Once again, we have reason to bless the House of Lords. "Opposition parties in the Lords combined forces to strike an entire clause outlining the power from the Police Reform Bill, saying it undermined the independence of chief constables"

reports the Times in a story we have quoted in full on Democracy Watch." It would have allowed ministers to order a chief constable to prepare an action plan, and revise it if instructed, if the whole force, one area within it or one aspect, such as its burglary rate, was deemed inefficient or ineffective. This was defeated by 205 votes to 131, a majority of 74, during the Bill's report stage in the Lords. ... Lord Dixon-Smith, for the Conservatives, said the measures were "taking the business of centralising the administration of one of our essential services too far.
"We see the legislative tentacles of the department stretching down, desperately seeking something small enough that they can control." He said that such interference would ultimately only impede the running of police forces. Lord Dholakia, for the Liberal Democrats, said the measure placed too much power in the hands of the Home Secretary.

April 15 ~ "My vicious, horrible colleagues....." says Mo Mowlem in the Observer

See Democracy Watch. Mo Mowlem will say in a documentary to be screened next month that the behaviour of officials who briefed against her over her ill-health was 'despicable'. "...Transcripts of the Channel 4 programme, which have been obtained by The Observer, reveal Mowlam's fury at the way she was treated by the Government. She says a whispering campaign by senior figures undermined her career in government, despite the fact that she was a huge hit with voters. In other, highly damaging, parts of the transcript of the programme, Mo Mowlam: Inside New Labour , she says that the relationship between Tony Blair and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is 'destructive' and that Gordon Brown should be removed from his post.
She also claims that tension between the two men delayed the implementation of key policies, and that she bitterly regrets that the Government failed to do more to help poorer people.
Mowlam, who quit politics at the last election, said that Blair had become 'more presidential than prime ministerial' and that the notion of Cabinet government, where the Prime Minister consults senior colleagues over key decisions, had become 'a farce'. Such a powerful attack will be difficult for the Government to dismiss. ..."

First Archive back to February 2002

earlier archive May 13th 2001 - Feb 23rd 2002-