A welcome ‘character reference’ for Sabine McNeill

In view of the incidents detailed in the July post, this testimonial from Canon Challen, with whom Sabine worked for many years on monetary reform issues, is heartening.

peter challenI testify out of 25 years association with Sabine McNeill in the longing and action of searching for inclusive justice, that she is a woman of stature among many with whom she has worked, and with many more for whom she has spoken out bravely in complex, sometimes crucifying, situations. She has high intelligence, a rather rare selflessness in her gifts of time and energy and a persistent altruism that makes her fearless in the cause of compassion. She has shared with those she meets a vision and passion for a rediscovery of genuine justice in society, giving a sense and place of identity and dignity to everyone without fear or favour.

I have witnessed occasions when she is speaking, as so often she does, in support of others less articulate and informed than she, when her passion may have over-ridden discretion; but I have never doubted the sincerity and integrity to which she is devoted.

Being outspoken in a society where vested interests often hold powerful sway requires courage. Sabine McNeill is a person of such courage in setting an example from which many have benefited.

Sabine and I have in common the oddity that we each had a father who urged us to retain integrity with the refrain: ‘All Power to Your Elbow’, which led us both on our life-long paths to speak out for compassion and against injustice.

Rev. Canon Peter Challen
Chair, Christian Council for Monetary Justice

News from FEASTA

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FEASTA, co-founded by the late Richard Douthwaite and now represented by Caroline Whyte, sends news of the visit of Thomas Greco, the author of The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, who will be participating in events in Cloughjordan, Dublin and Belfast. Several readers will remember meeting  him on earlier visits to Britain.

When: August 28th and 29th
Where: CONNECT 34 Westland Row, Dublin 2
Map: http://bit.ly/1IYUB3B

In late August, Thomas will be participating in four other events in Ireland. From August 25-27 he will be at the Cloughjordan eco-village where he will take part in the P2P Summer School : The Art of Commoning, described fully at http://openeverything.ie/

thomas grecoOn the evening of Friday 28th, Thomas will give a presentation on The Liberation of Money and Credit, outlining the fundamental importance of reclaiming the credit commons and showing how communities and businesses can reduce their dependence on bank borrowing and conventional, political forms of money.

The event will be hosted by CONNECT (formerly CTVR – http://ctvr.ie/), at their Dublin city centre venue and supported by Feasta. After the talk Thomas will join a panel of Michel Bauwens and Kevin Flanagan of the P2P Foundation, Rachel O’Dwyer of Trinity College and Graham Barnes of Feasta for a Q&A session. Registration for this event is here.

On Saturday, Thomas will run a one day workshop for currency activists, practitioners, researchers, and social entrepreneurs on The Exchange Revolution: Taking complementary currencies and moneyless trading to a new level, also at the CONNECT venue in Dublin. Anyone with a specific interest in developing and extending the impact of community currencies, mutual credit, and other complementary exchange mechanisms is invited to attend. Online registration is here. The event will be structured along the lines of the workshop presentation Thomas did in Athens July 24-25. See: https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/workshop-athens.ppsx

Finally, at 7.15pm on Tuesday 1st September Thomas will lecture on Communities, Currencies and the Commons: Democratising money & enterprise after the Euro-Greek crisis at Queens University in Belfast (the University Senate Room). The event is hosted by QUB School of Law partnered by Positive Money NI. Contact: publicmoneyni@gmail.com.

The P2P Summer School is taking bookings now, with special rates available for the unwaged. The other events are free entry – a retiring collection will be made in all cases for participants to show their appreciation of Thomas’ work and to wing him on his way back home to the U.S. For more background on Thomas’ work see http://beyondmoney.net/.


News from Tracy Worcester

Tracy sends an update about Farms Not Factories.

farms not factory 2 logoThis year Farms Not Factories has helped local residents successfully to oppose plans to build a 25,000 pig factory in Derbyshire. To quote one of the local activists, “The commitment, passion and energy shown by the members of Tracy Worcester’s team, coupled with her natural drive and charisma attached rocket boosters to our small community campaign and provided it with traction and focus. As a result it’s gone into orbit, achieving national media coverage and greatly increased support”.

It is now providing experience, legal contacts and online activist resources to help a community in Northern Ireland to oppose plans for a 30,000 pig factory. You can sign the petition to stop it here.

tracy 1Farms Not Factories has built a national and social media campaign, highlighting the cruelty, pollution and antibiotic overuse in animal factories to show people that they can help bring an end to this dangerous and inhumane system by simply buying their pork with high welfare labels like RSPCA Assured, Free Range and Organic.

To help people find UK farms, shops, restaurants and markets that supply high welfare pork, we have developed an interactive food directory on our Farms not Factories website.

What does the future bring?

We are co-producing a commercial with the production company Quiet Storm (who also designed our fabulous new logo). For no cost to us, they are making a short video showing the expressions of famous faces (so far including, Helen McCrory, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson and Jon Snow) reacting, and then commenting on horrendous factory farm footage.

Again for free, Clive Arrowsmith is photographing the celebrities holding a small pig. These assets will be used in a social and print media campaign coordinated by media consultants Agency Eleven for release at the end of October. Through Facebook and Twitter, we are building a loud social media presence.

Tracy ends: “If you know a famous face, pleeeeeeease could you let me know so we/you can invite them to join the campaign to urge consumers to use the power of their purse to close animal factories and support family farms”

News from Molly Scott Cato


molly 5

Molly writes to say that Greens have revealed the findings of country-by-country data from 26 EU banks which revealed they have been systematically shifting their profits, over-reporting them in places identifiable as tax havens, whilst appearing to under-report them in places where they have major centres of operation. Molly says:

“Results-by-country reporting for banks provide clear evidence of profit shifting and show this is a useful and powerful tool in helping to identify and crack down on tax avoidance. I am delighted MEPs have backed Green proposals to extend country-by-country reporting to all sectors.”

icij headerCountry-by-country reporting has long been advocated by Greens as a crucial measure for providing transparency on the tax dealings of corporations and even more so in the wake of the Lux Leaks revelations.

Greens point to a new report they commissioned which analyses country-by-country data from 26 EU banks [1]. They say the findings demonstrate the need to extend such reporting to all sectors. The report from Tax Research UK finds EU banks have been systematically shifting their profits, over-reporting them in places identifiable as tax havens, whilst appearing to under-report them in places where they have major centres of operation. Three UK based banks – Barclays, Standard Chartered and RBS – are ranked amongst the ‘top 10′ EU banks that are shifting their profits so they can reduce their tax liabilities. Barclays and Standard Chartered record their highest profit per head respectively in Luxembourg and Ireland, which are known tax havens.

tax research uk header

The report concludes that the process of profit shifting by banks means some European countries are seriously losing out in terms of revenue while other countries appear to be gaining from tax competition that is inconsistent with the level playing field required by the internal market.

Molly, who is a member of the European Parliament’s TAXE committee, tasked with making recommendations on improving transparency and cooperation between Member States on tax, said:

“The initial results from country-by-country reporting for banks provide clear evidence of profit shifting and show this is a useful and powerful tool in helping to identify and crack down on tax avoidance. The legal affairs committee have already supported the Green proposal and we hope other MEPs will back extending country-by-country reporting to all sectors when we vote on this measure as part of the Shareholder Rights Directive in Strasbourg today.”

Further reading:

[1] Synthesis of country-by-country reporting by EU banks and full report



Our first readers today, from Brazil and Serbia, missed news from Scientists for Global Responsibility

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Our associate member of SGR, which is also affiliated to the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES), reports for new readers (see last week’s stats below) that its members include natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects.

neIts work is focused on four main issues: security and disarmament; climate change and energy, including nuclear power; who controls science and technology? and emerging technologies. A recent newsletter covers science and engineering for war; shale gas and fracking; risks of nuclear weapons use; chemical weaponry and World War I; controlling global carbon emissions; UK domestic energy efficiency programmes and corporate influence on research on genetically-modified crops.

Some links:

Shale gas and fracking: examining the evidence
Gwen Harrison MSc and Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, summarise SGR’s recent briefing which finds numerous causes for concern regarding the planned extraction of shale gas in the UK.

Too close for comfort: cases of near nuclear use and options for policy
Sasan Aghlani MSc, Chatham House, outlines just how close the world has come to the inadvertent use of nuclear weapons in the last 60 years – and suggests some immediate measures to reduce the risks.

CapGlobalCarbon: a global response to a global problem
John Jopling, Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, argues that a radical addition is needed to the international system for curbing carbon emissions.

UK household energy policy: another fine mess
Dr Philip Webber, SGR/ Yorkshire Energy Services, describes the recent string of failures in the government’s home energy efficiency programmes and what needs to be done about them.

Scientific publication in peril: the Séralini affair
Dr Eva Novotny discusses the controversy surrounding an academic paper showing health problems in a feeding trial of a GM crop – and what it says about corporate influence in this field.

To see other news go to http://www.sgr.org.uk/


News from Sabine McNeill

In happier days Sabine wrote about a meeting with Austin Mitchell MP and John Hemming MP who both encouraged/congratulated her on going to Brussels as all three agree that human rights issues are not ‘getting anywhere in the UK’.

sabine brussels

Now the issue of children’s rights is being recognised as pan-European

At the end of May she welcomes ‘a critical new beginning’, as Latvian Tatjana Zdanoka, a young MEP, takes the lead in the EU Parliament. Latvian Laila Brice who has been fighting Merton Council for her daughter for years presented her petition on the same day as Sabine did in March last year. Since then, Latvia and Lithuania have followed Slovakia in questioning the UK Government.

In meetings and by handing a folder of evidence to EC vice president Frans Timmermans, Sabine has sincerely been operating on behalf of all the children who have been wrongly taken into care and adopted against their parents’ will. To hear an EU presentation by Sabine click here.

She later said, in an email message, “I have only taken on cases that are representative of the worst of their kind, and I can’t do it any more! I have reached a stage of suffering from ‘too muchness’ that can hardly be beaten, it seems…”

Allegations of Satanic abuse in Hampstead which Sabine is convinced are truthful, are, according to a High Court Judge, ‘baseless’. In that case, why have those who made the allegations not been charged with slander, libel, defamation etc? So many news items about high-level ‘coverups’ are emerging that the public at large can only wonder whether this is a genuine case or fabricated.

She sends a link to her one-page story: http://sabinemcneill.pressbooks.com/chapter/regarding-my-own-case/

In February, after receiving a letter from a senior solicitor (Harrow Council), telling her to consider her position very carefully and seek appropriate legal advice, Sabine left the country in February fearing arrest and writes:

  • my pension credit was stopped on 22 May and I am supported by friends and donations;
  • my housing benefit was stopped because the police came to the flat and my landlord informed Camden Council;
  • my Facebook and Change.org accounts have been closed;
  • and videos have been deleted from my Google Drive.

a comitasAfter receiving the following news from Edward de Boer (pseudonym: Alexander Comitas) she writes “I can’t tell you how stressful my life is and has become, but this, too, will pass! Hence it was such a joy, relief and release to get that music dedicated! I now put the composer’s text and links on this blog post”. An extract from his message:

“First of all, I would like to express my sympathy to you. It is incredible what you went through and are still going through. I am certain, though, that all these terrible things will turn out not to have been in vain, and I hope you will derive at least a bit of solace from this thought, too. The story of Alisa and Gabriel gave me the impetus to transcribe a composition for brassband and dedicate this version to the children, to their grandparents and to their mother and her partner. But I felt I wanted to compose something for you as well. So I wrote a short Prelude for wind orchestra, based on the ending of Coming to Light, and not too difficult to play. I attached the score of this piece to this mail, and I hope you will accept the dedication.

“Meanwhile, I would like to end this e-mail with the final words from this preface: in my view, you are a heroic woman and it is with deep admiration that I would like to dedicate this composition to you”.

News from Zerbanoo and Richard Gifford

See a 2011 summary of the Giffords’ earlier involvement on a sister site.

Officially part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, but also claimed by nearby Mauritius, the Chagos Islands were home to the Chagossians for more than a century and a half until the United Kingdom evicted them in the early 1970s and allowed the United States to build a military base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos Islands. Since 1971, the atoll has been inhabited only by military and civilian contracted personnel.

chagos-deep-space-surveillance-facilityOn Monday 22 June the Supreme Court heard two appeals by former residents of the Chagos Islands who were forcibly removed from their homeland more than 40 years ago. The appeals were watched here by many on ‘live streaming’. In the Guardian, “Prominent lawyer Richard Gifford, who has worked with Chagossians for almost two decades, argues that “Iraq changed everything,” tracking the reluctance to support Chagossian return to the Diego Garcia US military base’s role in to the controversial 2003 US-UK led invasion of Iraq”. The UK Chagos Support Association added: “That the case has returned to the Supreme Court is also a testament to the relentless efforts of Richard Gifford over many years to discover the true facts and reveal what appear to be attempts to conceal information”. The full case can now be watched online here.

supreme court header2The main case concerned the application to set aside the House of Lords decision which upheld the abolition of the Right of Abode in the Chagos islands. The Supreme Court website has a summary here.

The second case was an appeal against the upholding of the Marine Protected Area around Chagos, which was declared by David Miliband MP, then foreign secretary, on 1st April 2010. It bans all fishing which has been identified as the main source of sustenance and economic activity for the population if they were permitted to return.

Belated disclosure of evidence

A panel of five supreme court justices, led by president Lord Neuberger, heard that the legal challenge was brought on the grounds of alleged “material non-disclosure” by the foreign secretary relating to a 2002 feasibility study into the resettlement of former inhabitants. In law this is called a breach of the “Duty of Candour”.

Specifically these documents included a copy of the draft of the 2002 feasibility study, correspondence, and the comments of an FCO scientific adviser, Charles Sheppard. Lawyers for the Chagossians suspected that these documents existed and had been asking for them since 2005 but the FCO and the Government lawyers (Treasury Solicitor) had claimed that they had all been destroyed. This was untrue and they were finally disclosed in May 2012.

The documents show that the FCO’s scientific adviser was unqualified to comment on the key areas of the report concerning present and future storms and wave-overtopping and flooding of the islands. As a result he endorsed a report whose science was fundamentally flawed and whose final conclusion, on which the Government’s case in the House of Lords was based, was also wrong.

Up-to-date scientific evidence demonstrates that the 2002 analysis was flawed

chagos coral reefIt had originally been alleged that the islands were at risk from rising sea-levels which would eventually make them uninhabitable. However the islands are protected by one of the healthiest coral reef systems in the cleanest waters in the world. As a result, the ecosystems of the Chagos have so far proven resilient to climate change and environmental disruptions.

“These low-lying coral islands should continue to be able to support human habitation, as they have done for much of the last 200 years”

A search finds that in a 2012 paper: Contemporary sea level in the Chagos Archipelago, central Indian Ocean, [Dunne, R.P., Barbosa, S.M. and Woodworth, P.L. 2012. Global and Planetary Change 82-83: 25-37] finds that both earlier analyses cited “were based only on short tide-gauge data sets, involved inappropriate statistical methods, and as a result have given an erroneous impression of the magnitude and significance of sea-level rise in this area”.

Dunne et al. examined what they describe as “the up-to-date evidence of recent sea-level change in the Chagos Archipelago from tide gauge, satellite altimeter records, and ocean models.”…”there is no evidence of any statistically significant sea-level rise either from the Diego Garcia tide gauge (1988-2000 and 2003-2011) or in the satellite altimetry record (1993-2011).”…They say “there is no evidence of subsidence in the islands,” adding that on Diego Garcia there was actually crustal uplift of 0.63 ± 0.28 mm/year between 1996 and 2009, as recorded by GPS. And they add that “there is no evidence of changes in the wind or wave environment in the past 20 years.”…these results suggest that this has been a relatively stable physical environment, and that these low-lying coral islands should continue to be able to support human habitation, as they have done for much of the last 200 years. [Richard P. Dunne, Susana M. Barbosa, Philip L. Woodworth 2012: Global and Planetary Change]

Counsel for the Chagossians in the Supreme Court, Ed Fitzgerald QC, told the court that a serious injustice had occurred and invited the judges to overturn the 2008 decision and to restore the right of abode. Judgment was reserved.