Saturday, 26 July 2014

Wrecsam rallies in solidarity with Gaza and Palestine

Today's Wrecsam rally in solidarity with the people of Gaza was capped by a lively march around the town, which certainly made people think about the 1000 people killed over the past fortnight.
There were speeches from Adam Phillips as well as messages of support from Aled Roberts AM and Ian Lucas MP. But the undoubted highlight was Sami, a 12-year-old boy who spoke from the heart about the plight of other children being killed in Gaza. It moved many to tears.

 Here's my speech to the rally:
 "Imagine you live in a strip of desert half the size of Anglesey, except there's 1.2m people living there. Imagine you've been herded there from all parts of Wales, where your families have lived for generations. You've had to leave on pain of death, many of your communities were bulldozed and people massacred. Imagine you have lived in this strip of land for generations, waiting to return to your home. The refugee camp that is the Gaza Strip has become a home for your children, your grandchildren, their children.
  Around your neck you have a key, your front door key, that you've clung onto since 1948 when you last locked that door. You dream of returning home. But instead of returning home, the people who kicked you out now text you to say you've got 10 minutes to leave your home before it's destroyed. You shelter in the UN-run school - it gets bombed. You go to the hospital - it gets bombed. These are no accidents - the Israeli army is one of the largest in the world and has huge resources to spy and monitor on activity in the Gaza strip. It knows exactly where and who it is targetting. This is the context for Palestinian militants launching pathetically ineffectual rocket attacks on Israel - 15,000 launched, 9 people killed over six years. They are nine people too many but these attacks are the slingshots against a Goliath. A rock hurled at a tank.  We're reaching some kind of end game now in Palestine. The Israeli hawks want to end Palestinian resistance once and for all, rather than let it fester on in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. For decades they have turned the screw slowly on these communities.  I last visited Palestine about 8 years ago - just the West Bank because Gaza was out of bounds. Even then it was like an open prison and the West Bank was little better. Among the places i went to was Bethlehem, a place we're all familiar with. It's as far from Jerusalem as Wrexham is from Chester but it can take half a day to enter because of military checkpoints and roadblocks.  A huge 30'-high concrete wall has been put up to separate the Palestinian West Bank from Israel  - it looks and feels like a prison with turrets all along to monitor the "inmates". You enter Bethlehem through a narrow turnstile with armed Israeli soldiers ready with their guns. Our guide took us to the family home on a hillside overlooking the town - it had a fantastic view but he had to keep the shutters down because Jewish settlers regularly fired from across the valley at his home. They wanted him and his family out so they could continue the colonisation of the West Bank.  That screw has been turned for generations and, unless we play our part, it will end with annhilation of an entire people. 800 dead in the past 10 days alone - enough is enough.  My biggest frustration today is that we've been here before… six years ago people in Wrecsam mobilised against another Israeli invasion of Gaza. Nothing was learned by Israel because they don't play by normal rules.  So what can we do? Boycott. Apartheid beaten by international boycott and internal resistance. Tell our politicians we don't want trade with an apartheid state. No arms, no exports, no football, no Eurovision... These are what makes Israel believe it's normal. But it's not normal to herd a million people into a refugee camp and bomb them to bits...  Let's challenge our politicians to stop Israel killing children. We can make a difference by our campaigning and by our actions."

Next Saturday will see another much-larger demo at 2pm in Queen's Square. Please spread the word.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Shale gas and ‘fracking’: examining the evidence

Press Release by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health on Fracking for Unconventional Gas.

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) have today published a report which reviews current evidence across a number of issues associated with shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing (fracking). These include environmental and public health aspects and socio-economic considerations.
Importantly, the report is an independent assessment which draws heavily on academic research. It highlights:
  • Major shortcomings in regulatory oversight regarding local environmental and public health risks.
  • The large potential for UK shale gas exploitation to undermine national and international efforts to tackle climate change.
  • The water-intensive nature of the fracking process which could cause water shortages in many areas.
The report also points out that, despite claims to the contrary, evidence of local environmental contamination from shale gas exploitation is well-reported in the scientific literature. However, extrapolation from the experience in the USA (where most fracking has been carried out to date) to the UK is not straightforward. Nevertheless, there is widespread concern that, even with strong regulation, the safety of fracking for the UK is in doubt.
Furthermore, the report highlights that local authorities and other regulators have undergone budget cuts, undermining their ability to provide adequate regulatory oversight. Yet paradoxically regulation is being presented as the way in which the process can be effectively managed to reduce the risks.
CIEH Chief Executive, Graham Jukes, OBE said: “The CIEH has consistently made the case for a full independent environmental impact assessment to be carried out on all shale gas extraction proposals before permission to drill is given.
‘In the enthusiasm to exploit new sources of energy we must assess and ensure that there are no unacceptable adverse impacts on the environment or on the health of people in the communities surrounding extraction sites. Despite central government encouragement for the process, local authorities should resist allowing shale gas extraction in their areas until they are satisfied on that point. We believe that there is currently insufficient evidence to provide such assurance for proposals in the UK and the precautionary principle should apply’
SGR Executive Director and co-author of the report, Dr Stuart Parkinson said: “The evidence we have gathered shows that exploiting yet another new source of fossil fuels – such as UK shale gas – is likely to further undermine efforts to tackle climate change. We need to focus on low carbon energy sources, especially renewables, together with concerted efforts to save energy.”

Sunday, 20 July 2014

#GazaJ19 London Protest : The Speeches.

Public Services.

Whilst I have never been a big fan of the Labour apparatchik and South Wales Police Commissioner, Alun Michael, I must commend and congratulate him on this occasion for not renewing a £3 million pound detention contract with G4S and keeping the business 'in house'. Whilst many of us were critical of the decision to establish Police Commissioners, many have indeed set their own course and gone against this government's decision to outsource public services and those actions should be welcomed.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Cymru'n Cefnogi Annibyniaeth | Wales Supporting Independence

£1bn splurged on Newport bypass: 'Time we had a government for the whole of Wales'

Letter to the Daily Post:

Dear Editor
News that the Labour Government in Cardiff has decided to splurge its entire capital spend on transport - £1 billion - on a 17-kilometre bypass for Newport is bad news for public transport and bad news for other much-needed road and rail projects in North Wales.
It's no surprise that the transport minister sneaked out the announcement in the final hour of the current session of Parliament without any chance for scrutiny or debate. 
There was a far cheaper and less environmentally damaging alternative "blue route" to the M4 bypass being proposed. This would also have been up and running more quickly than the "black route" Labour has opted for, in the teeth of opposition from Plaid Cymru and some of its own backbenchers.
 For us here in the North, this means no upgrade for the A55, no electrification of the North Wales coastal rail line and no proper dualling of the Wrexham-Saltney line.  As a result of this reckless decision, important alternatives have been put on hold.
It would appear the Cardiff Labour Government is only bothered about Cardiff transport problems. It's time we had a government of Wales for the whole of Wales - only Plaid Cymru can deliver that. 


Marc Jones

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Welcome to St Colin International Eisteddfod

One stupid letter deserves another I suppose.

The first stupid letter in the Leader was one calling for all placenames in Wales to be Welsh only. Now most placenames in Wales are Welsh and should be first on any signplace but others, like Prestatyn, are English in origin. There are numerous other examples that are in common parlance among Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers alike. In short, trying to impose a blanket ban would backfire.

Cue the stupid response:

The letter writer complains that having Welsh placenames only would mean foreign visitors would be unable to find places like, er, Llangollen.

Yes, that backwater that thousands of tourists fail to find because of its monoglot name. It's a disgrace! We need to begin an immediate campaign to rename Llangollen to make it easier for non-Welsh speakers to find the damned place. Llangollen means St Collen apparently. No, still too Welsh. How about St Colin?

PS I do quite like the idea of handing out Welsh dictionaries to visitors upon arrival.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Timing is everything

In comedy, as in politics, timing is everything.
 Imagine the horror in a certain Labour household when they realised that the letter below was going to appear on the same day as news of Alun Davies's unfortunate misuse of officials was revealed as a sacking matter.
 For Mary Winbury, Labour candidate for Aberconwy and wife of Tal Michael, attacking the inappropriate use of officials to make party political points made sense - until you realise that's exactly what her Labour colleague Alun Davies sought to do.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Alun Davies - a symptom of a problem

The video shows a youthful Plaid Cymru activist named Alun Davies outlining his contempt for Labour's "gangsters" who misrule his country.

How ironic that the self-same Alun Davies should today be sacked from his post as a Labour minister for his blatant disregard of the rules that should bind any government minister. Behaviour that some gangsters would no doubt be proud of.

 His journey from Plaid radical to Labour establishment man should be no surprise to those of us who understand the nature of political power in Wales. If you want to "get on", join Labour.

 Davies took a particular route to join Labour that involved promoting nuclear power and tobacco as a lobbyist. But his path is similar to many careerists who see that Labour is the way to advance their prospects regardless of their political principles.

 Little wonder that Carwyn Jones was so fed up in First Minister's Questions today - he knows he has no talent on the backbenches to replace Davies and so has had to share out his post with existing ministers.

 Davies isn't the problem, he's a symptom of a far wider problem - the one-party state that Labour has created by stuffing the public and voluntary sectors with their own people. The rise of the mediocrity is almost complete.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

What number baby are you?

Users of Facebook will probably be familiar with this screenshot by the Labour Party offering to tell you what number baby you are out of 44 million that the NHS has delivered since 1948. To find out this fascinating piece of information you must complete some personal data which of course we suspect will be used by the Labour Party for electronic marketing prior to the 2015 General Election.

HT to Information Rights & Wrongs @bainesy1969 for the detailed information so I was able to write the following email of complaint to the Information Commissioner:

Dear Sir/Madam,

None of the advice provided on your website applies to the complaint I wish to make:

The complaint concerns the UK Labour Party using the birthday of the NHS as a cover to gather data by getting Facebook Users to complete personal information so that users can be told which number they were out of the 44 million that have been born since its formation.

The Facebook link is as follows

I believe that this action is in breach of the The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PECR), because the information will be used for unsolicited electronic marketing on behalf of the Labour Party in the run up to the General Election 2015.

Thank you,

Arfon Jones, 

I will publish the response as soon as I receive it.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Frack-free Wrecsam

About two-thirds of the Welsh population will potentially be affected directly by fracking if the main London parties get their way. The pink area on the map contains approximately two million people. The yellow parts are those already licensed for exporation by fracking companies. If we don't stop them, these multinational corporations will get political support to start drilling under your homes without even asking your permission.
 This includes large parts of Wrecsam and Flintshire.

 To increase awareness of the situation, a ground-breaking film about the impact of fracking on a US community - Gasland - is being shown at Saith Seren, 18 Chester St, Wrecsam, LL13 8BG at 7pm on Thursday, 24 July. Admission is free but donations towards campaigning for a Frack-Free Wrecsam will be taken.

Anti-fracking campaigners will be on the streets across Wales this Saturday to raise awareness about this problem that could affect every householder in Wrecsam.