Archives for: "July 2007"

Yeovil Labour Party website online

After a number of weeks working with comrade Lee Skevington, the Yeovil Labour Party website is now online in some early form. Feedback is welcome, feel free to leave them on this entry.

Update April 2010: The CLP website has been replaced by the website for the parliamentary candidate Lee Skevington.

I'm tempted to pad out the main page a bit with the history of the founding of the party, and the party's greatest moment, at least in my opinion, the defeat of Churchill in a landslide election leading to the creation of the National Health Service.

But I still need some ideas how to up the level of content across the rest of the website.

Perhaps a bit of Sidney Webb's Clause IV from 1917 (a good year all round):

"To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service."

That felt good, once more:

"To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service."

Much better than the wishy washy thing we've got at the moment, which let's face it could mean almost anything, there's too much of a tendency to use wishy washy language, we need to get back to more direct and honest language and less of the marketing.

Anyway, probably my favourite part of the website is the blogs section, and hopefully we'll get a few more regular bloggers to help fill it out a bit. Between Lee's talk of Hezbollah, and my talk of the revolution in Venezuela, may be one of the bloggers will talk about topics going on in Yeovil. I suppose I could do a post on setting up a 'Speakers Corner' in Yeovil.

Such openness I believe is critical to our ability to defeat the Liberals and Tories, not only does it show the public that we aren't a monolithic organisation but one made up of individuals, but it also encourages debate and discussion internally, something so many political parties have a problem with these days.

The Daily Creationism the third

Well I stumbled across my old friend, TheDailyCreationism. On a new website, again claiming to do daily updates but failing to do regular posts. Quite disappointing I have to say as I'd love to read a creationist blog that is well, up to date with fresh arguments not those stale things from a hundred years ago.

Anyway one of the posts on this blog featured Mr Kent Hovind's $250,000 offer. He presents it like James Randi presents the $1 million paranormal challenge, prove evolution and you get $250,000. Simple right?

Wrong. Look how this whack job defines evolution.

1) Brought time, space, and matter into existence from nothing.
2) Organized that matter into the galaxies, stars, and at least nine planets around the sun. (This process is often referred to as cosmic evolution.)
3) Created the life that exists on at least one of those planets from nonliving matter (chemical evolution).
4) Caused the living creatures to be capable of and interested in reproducing themselves.
5) Caused that first life form to spontaneously diversify into different forms of living things, such as the plants and animals on the earth today (biological evolution).

So yes only the fifth one has anything to do with evolution. This is how it falls down and becomes improvable:

Prove beyond reasonable doubt that the process of evolution [...] is the only possible way the observed phenomena could have come into existence.

Hmmmmm OK, oh wait, there's more, now he redefines evolution to mean:

When I use the word evolution, [...] I am referring to the general theory of evolution which believes these five major events took place without God:

1) Time, space, and matter came into existence by themselves.
2) Planets and stars formed from space dust.
3) Matter created life by itself.
4) Early life-forms learned to reproduce themselves.
5) Major changes occurred between these diverse life forms (i.e., fish changed to amphibians, amphibians changed to reptiles, and reptiles changed to birds or mammals).

So in effect, he is requiring you to disprove the existence of god. This isn’t possible, as you can’t disprove a negative. A comparable analogy would be me putting forward the following statement.

The Invisible Pink Unicorn created the universe ten minutes ago, and gave everybody false memories of events, and planted evidence of events that happened before the creation to give the impression that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. Disprove this and I will give you $250,000.

Or disprove the existence of Zeus, Apollo, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster and I'll give you $250,000.

Obviously it is not possible, Mr Kent Hovind's offer is junk. He's not asking somebody to prove evolution, he's asking somebody to disprove god.

Creationist heads Texas school board

Yes that's right, a creationist, Don McLeroy, has been appointed to head the Texas school board. This guy now has the ability to spew his anti-science ideology over 4.5 million school students, and the damage that could happen to the already poor science textbooks in the United States could be felt across the whole country.

Just check out some of this nonsense.

I don't think I share a common ancestor with a tree. However, most of the books we are considering adopting, claim as a fact that we all share a common ancestor with a tree.

Reality isn't required to obey what you do or do not think. The fact is we do share a common ancestor with a tree.

If you want more Phil Plait and Steven Novella have already written up good posts on the matter.

Oi David Cameron get your bucket out

Come on David, go down to your shed and grab your bucket! There are photo opportunities you're missing in your very own underwater constituency.

What are you doing flying (yup that is helping the whole climate change thing ain't it David) off to Rwanda to get your pretty photos in the press, when you could be helping out with your bucket in Witney?

As your new propaganda advisor, I advise you should fly home, get your bucket out of your shed, phone the press and get them to meet you splashing around in the water for a bit. We'll try and spin it so it looks like you're rushing home from important party business to save the people of Witney from the evil proletarian waters, just think of all the votes you'll get David!

Brown messing with the minimum wage already

From the BBC:

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is considering plans which could see the minimum wage reduced in Northern Ireland, it is believed.

The minimum wage is set at £5.35 across the UK, however, if the plans go ahead it will be reduced in NI, Scotland, Wales and the north east of England.

Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey said he was disappointed with the idea.

"We have difficulty in getting people to leave benefit and go to work, this would make matters worse," he said.

"I think for that reason we have got to remember that the people who are receiving the minimum wage tend to be those people who are doing very basic jobs and I honestly don't think penalising them will improve our economic prosperity."

If true this is nothing short of an all out act of war upon the working class, and with the recent attacks upon democracy within the Labour Party it is a war we must be swift and decisive in winning.

NO SUPPORT FOR GORDON BROWN'S PRO-BUSINESS POLICIES.
FOR A LABOUR PARTY TO REPRESENT LABOUR.

Blinded by faith (literally)

Jesus is well known for "curing" the blind, in this case the irony is overwhelming when a christian goes blind while searching for the Virgin Mary in the Sun.

Amal Nassif believed 17-year-old Francesca Zackey when she said the Virgin Mary would appear if Nassif gazed into the sun.

Now 37-year-old Nassif, a devout Catholic, may be blind for life.

She went to Zackey - the Benoni girl who claims to have repeatedly seen the mother of Jesus - to receive a blessing.

Now she says at least four other people also damaged their eyes after being told "the lady" would spin the sun and confirm her presence to her believers.

[...]

Meanwhile, at her home, Zackey performed several "spiritual healings" and insisted thousands of people around the world had looked into the sun to confirm Mary's presence.

Her mother Bridgette said she looked into the sun each and every day.

The teenager has started a prayer group and is launching a youth group - a demand she says that Mary made on one of her appearances.

Apparently the Virgin Mary failed to tell Zackey that looking at the Sun can cause blindness in any of her visions. I'd like to see criminal charges brought against Zackey.

Full article here.

Aren't we forgetting Berezovsky?

Britain has recently expelled four Russian diplomats in some kind of childish hissy fit because Russia (obeying its constitution) declined to extradite Lugovoi to stand trial in Britain for the murder of Litvinenko a few months back.

The Russian government offered to put Lugovoi on trial in Russia for the murder, an offer which the British government refused.

So in response they expel four diplomats. Utter hypocrisy, Russia has been putting in requests for the billionaire tycoon Boris Berezovsky to be extradited for years, the most recent being in April. This guy fled to Britain with billions of dollars and claimed asylum and now escapes justice under the protection of the British government.

So let's keep things in context, Britain has been refusing to extradite wanted criminals, ranging from fraudsters to terrorists to Russia for years. The British government has no right whatsoever to complain about Russia declining extradiction.

Time for a living wage

I had an e-mail from Nick Wall, a GMB member and political activist from Merseyside, arrive into my inbox the other day.

It's a petition to number ten, campaigning for a living wage. Here's the link to the petition.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to take steps to replace the national minimum wage with a living wage based on the level of pay and conditions that enables a full-time worker to make ends meet for themselves and their family.

Here's a few meaty bits from the e-mail:

The living wage is an idea whose time has come. There should be no excuses in a strong economy like ours not to pay workers enough to live on. My petition is only a small step in what is likely to be a long campaign. I am excited by the work that has been done in cities like Oxford to establish local living wage campaigns outside of London, and I hope to see many more such campaigns develop in the months and years ahead. All these campaigns are run in partnership with trade unions, and do not undermine trade union campaigns to raise the level of the national minimum wage. The living wage can make a real difference to the lives of many poor families - last month living wage campaigners won a victory when Barclays agreed to bump up the pay of about 1,000 London cleaners and other ancillary staff employed by outside contractors to a living wage of £7.50 an hour.

There's a blog set up to follow this campaign here.

What people are saying, Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP:

British people work some of the longest hours in Europe yet 7 out of 10 people working over 48 hours per week say they would like to work fewer hours. For many however this is impossible as they simply cannnot afford to do so. It is currently possible for someone to work more than 60 hours a week and still be paid less than £11,000 per year. The number of people living below the poverty line in the UK is higher than the EU average and continues to increase. The long hours culture is endangering our health and acting as a detriment to our family life. We can't have a culture that says you can not rest. We need a national living wage immediately to ensure this changes and everyone can make ends meet without working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Richard Bertin, Labour Party Councillor (Vale of Glamorgan):

Yes we have now thankfully got the minimum wage, and yes it is helping thousands of low paid workers. But with the economy doing so well there are repercussions one of which is the rising house prices.
Unfortunately, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow and this needs to be addressed now! - How? By rightly establishing a national living wage to ensure that we improve the lives of those on
low pay and also do our bit to remove poverty from the 4th largest economy in the world - Great Britain. We need a living wage and we need it now!

I'd like to ask all my UK readers to consider signing this petition. Thanks.

Virtual Earth checkmates Google Maps

Now I'm getting impressed. Microsoft's Virtual Earth after releasing its web-based 3D version quite a while ago now, which was excellent just having the landscape modelled in 3D, but now in addition to major landmarks, it's got towns and city centres modelled in 3D.

Unlike Google Maps, they're not ignoring Europe either, we've got several extra features already like 'bird's eye view' modes which Google haven't made available for us yet.

Eastbourne, UK rendered in Virtual Earth

This is Eastbourne in the UK, the first town to get the treatment here. They've got a number of US cities and a few other spots around Europe too in this first update.

Best of all you can use all this with an Xbox 360 controller. :)

Companies are not paying their fair share

Companies in Britain avoid paying £90-£150 billion of tax per year.

What could we do with that money?

Every person in Britain, every man, woman and child could get an extra £1500 - £2500 per year in their pocket. Just think, that's an extra £10000 per year for a family.

That much money could pay for 360 - 600 new top of the line hospital buildings every year, and that's a conservative estimate.

Or it could pay for thousands of new school buildings every year.

With what these companies don't pay in just a few years we could replace every hospital and school building in the country.

Yet we're told there's no money for pensions, no money for schools, no money for hospitals.

What would I like to see happen? Threaten every company with socialisation without compensation if they don't pay their taxes. Either way, we get the money.

Scrap income tax for earners up to say £20 000 per year, scrap council tax completely, scrap all taxes for workers other than income tax, chuck VAT in the bin, probably the most regressive taxation there is. If retailers try and keep their prices the same and pocket the difference, threaten them with socialisation without compensation, monitor their prices and link average prices in inflation.

Increase the minimum wage to £9 per hour and link it with inflation, that will allow every full time worker to take home £15 000 per year, a living wage, not a minimum wage.

Either death to capitalism, or death under the heel of capitalism

Make them pay their share. People deserve a decent standing of living, stop letting the capitalists rob you of that.

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