|LATER||Hung Brits||"Star Chamber"||Genetic Transfers||Judges - India||Libel Reform|
|Libel Follow-up||Libel Report||Secret Conspiracy?||Camp. Report||Libel Reform||Politicos&Poverty2|
|Survivor||F.o.I Release||Politicos&Poverty||Libel Reform||Weird Idea?||EARLIER|
Date: Sat, 8 May 2010 09:51:34 +0100 Subject: "Well Hung Brits
George at http://urbansurvival.com/week.htm wrote:
"Well Hung Brits
With any luck, the British have started to come to their senses about being led by a pack of ninnies like Gordo the Gold Seller as "Conservatives make sweeping gains across England."
Now, what the world needs to propel GlobalRev along would be several countries casting out political duopolies and replacing them with multiple parties since the duopolies invariably feed at the same political paymaster troughs. Time to get independent and pro human... but I suppose it's a little early for that although that's where GlobalRev leads as any student of French history knows.
Now, in other noose..."
This article seems to back George's opinion, which, coming from the BBC (heavily biased to `two-party / winner takes all' system), is impressive:-
"Lessons from New Zealand in art of coalition building
By Nick Bryant
BBC News, New Zealand
New Zealand, which switched to proportional representation in the 1990s, may be able to teach the UK some useful lessons in coalition government.
It is a far-flung outpost of the Westminster system, with a capital that bears the name of a former British Prime Minister and a parliamentary chamber adorned still with the British coat of arms.
But Wellington, New Zealand, deviated from Westminster in the mid-1990s when it adopted a system of proportional representation, known as the Mixed Member Proportional system or MMP for short. Since the 1996 election, the first under the new system, no single party in New Zealand has been able to command a majority.
So Kiwis have come to regard elections as a two-phase affair: first, the voting; and second, the period of government formation that follows afterwards which often takes weeks.
So are there are lessons to learn from New Zealand if the UK election fails to produce a clear-cut result? Horse-trading
Senior British civil servants appear to think so. In Wellington for a recent gathering of public servants from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Britain and New Zealand, the British Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell paid very close attention to a document called the Cabinet Manual.
It lays down the procedures and conventions which come into effect in the event of no single party gaining a majority.
So important has the document become that in a land bereft of a written constitution it is treated as a quasi-constitutional document, though it is not legally binding.
Some of the key elements of the Cabinet Manual are:
* It emphasises that the politicians should be left to their own devices to bargain and horse-trade, without outside interference. Civil servants can assist the negotiation, but usually to provide advice on areas of policy where they may be potential conflict or potential convergence.
* It stresses that there should be a level playing field. That is to say, silver and bronze can band together to beat gold, and the party with the biggest number seats does not get to go first in attempting to form a government.
* It also lays down very clear procedures for the operation of a caretaker government, for the weeks that it normally takes to strike a deal.
The New Zealand civil service does not like to use the terminology hung parliament because it implies paralysis. It believes that it has come up with a workable model which ensures smooth transitions.
Professor Jonathan Boston, who is the director of the Institute of Policy Studies, is adamant that the new electoral system has produced stable governments.
"We've managed perfectly well with our new electoral system, and many would say that it's been an advantage to have that system because it has generated a better policy process, a more representative parliament and probably better policy outcomes," he says.
He says that the Cabinet Manual, which has caught the eye of Whitehall, has provided a useful guide. "It's helpful. It provides the rules around what caretaker governments can do for example and has some general principles around government formation. But the art and craft of government formation is a primarily a political art rather than a constitutional art.
"The New Zealand rules around government formation are very loose. They have been described in the international literature as freestyle bargaining. We have very few constraints on what the party leaders can do on the way they go about shaping a new government."
After the 1996 election, the period of uncertainty dragged on for more than a month, as the kingmaker, Winston Peters of the New Zealand First party, continued parallel negotiations with the two major parties, the National Party and Labour.
Since then, the periods of governmental transition have been smoother and less troubled.
Rodney Hide, the leader of the small libertarian party, the ACT, which helps keep the present government in power, says that politicians now act in a more grown-up manner.
They know that leaders who overplay their hands eventually get punished by the electorate.
"In the early days, it was tough," says Mr Hide, who has a ministerial post in the government, though not a seat in Cabinet.
"We went from one-party rule to parties actually having to work with a third party. They hated it, and the third party loved it, and played their hands as big kingmakers, and there were a few problems.
"It took a while for it to settle down. It was a bit bumpy. But they got punished for that experience.
"Since then we have learned some lessons as politicians, that the the country expects you when you are elected into a position of influence to use it well and to use it wisely and respectfully."
Even though elections under the new system have always produced hung parliaments, New Zealand does not always end up with coalition governments.
Sometimes it produces looser arrangements. At the moment, Prime Minister John Key of the conservative National Party remains in power because of what's called a confidence and supply agreement with two smaller parties, the ACT and Maori Party.
It guarantees that the budget gets passed, and that it will survive motions of no confidence.
At the next election in 2011, New Zealanders will also get to vote in a referendum whether they want to persist with the present system. The expectation at the moment is that they will.
In the meantime, the common-heard message from New Zealand in the event that the UK election produces no clear winner is curiously British: Stay calm and carry on."
Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 01:47:39 +0100 Subject: UK Gov't attempts "Star Chamber" courts
This is in addition to the joint Labour and Conservative anti-Jury campaign - aided by the BBC for nearly two decades, beginning with Brian Haze's propaganda and still running now (see this week's progs) - Ray
"How audacious! The government tries to overturn principles of law dating back to 13th century
It is fundamental to a civil trial that defendants have the ability to hear the allegations against them and respond. This the government was seeking to deny
When it first emerged that the government was attempting to have an entire civil case heard in secret, it seemed almost too audacious to believe. There may have already been legislation introducing special advocates, control orders, and indefinite detention without trial. But at first sight the idea that a single court case could be used to change the nature of civil proceedings seemed a step too far.
That's because, as the court of appeal ruled today, it was. With precision timing - as the country looks back over 13 years of New Labour's attempted inroads into fundamental rights - three of the country's most senior judges stated unanimously that the courts simply cannot tamper with the basic rules of civil proceedings, just because it's convenient for the government to do so.
On the surface, today's judgment concerned the procedure surrounding civil claims being brought by six men who were detained in prisons, including Guantanamo Bay and Bagram in Afghanistan. The men, including that most prolific source of controversial litigation, Binyam Mohamed, have not been charged with any offences and are now pursuing claims for a range of civil wrongs, including torture, false imprisonment and misfeasance in public office.
The government made an argument which on one level was seemingly mundane. The claim involves numerous government bodies, including the secret intelligence service, the foreign office and the attorney general, and allegedly more than 250,000 documents. In order to hear the case in open court, the government argued, each document would have to be vetted (more than half are apparently marked "secret") which would cost millions of pounds and take up to 10 years.
A foreign office spokesman put forward a pedestrian justification of the government's stance based on being able to "fully consider the large volume of relevant material already identified that cannot be disclosed openly without a real risk of causing substantial harm or real damage to the public interest".
But the sub-text to this argument is an enormous point of principle. It's hard to think of anything more fundamental to a civil trial than the ability to hear the allegations against you and respond. This is a hallmark of the adversarial nature of English procedure, dating back to at least the 13th century when it included trial by battle.
If claimants in a civil trial were not allowed to know the other side's defence, how could they ever achieve an even playing field in circumstances where the organs of state already enjoy significant advantages in court proceedings? How could the claimants bring any necessary follow-on proceedings arising from the government's case? How could they settle out of court - as is so often the outcome in civil proceedings and the most obvious way of reducing the phenomenal cost of litigation? And how could the rules of evidence be applied by the claimants to scrutinise the government's case if they have no access to what that evidence is?
The court's answer to these questions was, apparently, that the claimants would not be able to do any of these things, making the government's case "neither permissible ... nor practical, in terms of effective case management or costs management".
And Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, added, it would put the court in the invidious position of "purportedly developing the common law, [but] in fact be undermining one of its most fundamental principles".
"The principle that a litigant should be able to see and hear all the evidence which is seen and heard by a court determining his case is so fundamental, so embedded in the common law, that, in the absence of parliamentary authority, no judge should override it ... [it] represents an irreducible minimum requirement of an ordinary civil trial," he said.
The courts are rightly being praised by campaigners for openness and fair proceedings in all cases - including those involving allegations of terrorism. But, given that the only precedent in the history of the common law for trials being determined in secret is the Star Chamber - remembered by judges as "foreign, cruel, oppressive and unfair" - today's decision is not that surprising. Which leaves only one question remaining: what was the government thinking?"
Date: Mon, 3 May 2010 01:05:53 +0100 Subject: Scientists Uncover Transfer of Genetic Material Between Blood-Sucking Insect and Mammals
Had already seen some significance in that earlier discovered `horizontal transmission' - and now this. So GM is infinitely more risky than claimed. - Ray
[site text-copy just-in-case]
Scientists Uncover Transfer of Genetic Material Between Blood-Sucking Insect and Mammals
ScienceDaily (Apr. 30, 2010) - Researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington have found the first solid evidence of horizontal DNA transfer, the movement of genetic material among non-mating species, between parasitic invertebrates and some of their vertebrate hosts.
The findings are published in the April 28 issue of the journal Nature, one of the world's foremost scientific journals.
[Here's an Assessment of Risk - and a List of Dangers. - RD]
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2010 05:41:40 +0100
I am ever ready to expose the list of loafer judges ... not less than two hundreds at least in Andhra Pradesh by names and also by the relevant cases where they did every favour to criminals after enjoying huge amounts as bribe. My life is ruined to extreme extent by these bastards [ Judges ]. Most of the judges particularly in lower courts are not only dirty corrupt loafers, criminals and also womanizers too.
[list of bent judges' names - can't be printed in UK, which has corrupt `libel laws' preventing truth being told - see above and below - RD]
Any authority in India to admit the cases for execution. Please inform me I will be on the job in this rest of life till my death. why? Because more than police, judges are the main criminals helping the mafia in India continuously ruin the country for bribes.
full addresses provided - RD
BTW - maybe see laworjustice for same stuff in UK
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2010 18:35:28 +0000 From: email@example.com
The BCA have dropped their case against Simon Singh! A delighted Simon says:
"It still staggers me that the British Chiropractic Association and half the chiropractors in the UK were making unsubstantiated claims. It still baffles me that the BCA then dared to sue me for libel and put me through two years of hell before I was vindicated. And it still makes me angry that our libel laws not only tolerate but also encourage such ludicrous libel suits. My victory does not mean that our libel laws are okay, because I won despite the libel laws. We still have the most notoriously anti-free speech libel laws in the free world."
Read more here
In celebration, the Libel Reform Campaign is hosting the official "Free Speech Hustings" of the General Election 2010 and you're invited. We have a number of free tickets reserved especially for our supporters so you can see Jack Straw from Labour, Dominic Grieve from the Conservatives, and Chris Huhne from the Liberal Democrats go head to head over libel law reform and protecting our freedom of speech.
The Free Speech Hustings will bring together scientists, writers, human rights activists, journalists, bloggers and most importantly ... voters - we want you to put the difficult questions to the candidates about free speech and libel reform, counter-terrorism, privacy and religious hatred.
21 April at 6.30pm at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA - to book email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7324 2570.
If you can't make it to London on Wednesday evening we are planning on organising satellite events in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Westminster and other towns. Let us know if you would like to attend (email - email@example.com), and check back to
for more details soon.
Representing LABOUR ... Jack Straw
Jack Straw has been a Cabinet Member since Labour came to power in 1997. As Justice Secretary he set up the working-party that reported on reform of our libel laws and committed his party to a manifesto commitment. But could Jack have done more to protect free speech?
Representing the CONSERVATIVES ... Dominic Grieve
Dominic Grieve is the Conservatives spokesperson for Justice. He committed the Conservative party to a manifesto commitment to reform our libel laws. But with the Conservatives promising yet another consultation on libel reform will Grieve deliver the change we want?
And for the LIBERAL DEMOCRATS ... Chris Huhne
Chris Huhne fought Nick Clegg for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats in 2007 and is now their Home Affairs spokesperson. His party was the first to commit to reforming English libel laws at their party conference in 2009. The Liberal Democrats made the first commitment, but why did they vote against Jack Straw's proposals in the Commons to cap lawyers' fees?
And in other news ...
The Libel Reform Campaign has just hit the 50,000 signature mark!
And yesterday, libel reform made it in the Conservative, the Labour and the Liberal Democrat party manifestos.
Please continue to back us. Your support got us this far. But the work we do in the next few months will make all the difference.
Thanks from everyone at the Libel Reform Campaign:
Mike and Sile
PS - make sure everyone you know has signed our petition at:
Date: Fri, 9 Apr 2010 11:53:35 +0000
Conservatives, Labour & Lib Dems back our campaign / behind the scenes at the Big Libel Gig
It's official - all the main political parties are backing our campaign for significant changes to English libel law. It's a huge success and it's thanks to your support.
In January, Nick Clegg told us that the Liberal Democrats backed our campaign, followed by support from the Labour party when Jack Straw came to our public meeting in Parliament on 23 March. Yesterday, Dominic Grieve signed the Conservative Party up to our campaign saying: "The Conservative party is committed, if elected, to undertaking a fundamental review of the libel laws with a view to enacting legislation to reform them. This reform could best be done by means of a separate Libel Bill and this is the preferred approach for us."
This would not have happened unless 48,000 people like you backed our campaign, turned up to our public meetings, Big Gig and lobby of Parliament libelreform.indiemedium.com/lt.php?id=ZkQGUwACAlJRSAYCSQsFVlIP With the decison by three of the most important judges in the land on Simon Singh's case last week libelreform.indiemedium.com/lt.php?id=ZkQGUwACAlJSSAYCSQsFVlIP extending your right to fair comment, and a commitment to our politicians to reform the rest of our unjust libel laws, we're on the cusp of radical and long-awaited reform.
Yet, it won't be easy. On Tuesday, an attempt to cut lawyers' fees failed in the House of Commons. We know that some libel lawyers will oppose reform every step of the way. It's a lucrative business with some cases costing 3 million in lawyers' fees. The vested interests are huge. We need your support not just now, but more importantly in the next few months when we see how our newly elected politicians propose to reform the law in the next Parliament.
Please continue to back us. Your support got us this far. But the work we do in the next few months will make all the difference.
Thanks from everyone at the Libel Reform Campaign:
Director, English PEN
CEO, Index on Censorship
Managing Director, Sense About Science
PS - watch Ariane Sherine's hilarious Simon Singh-Song here libelreform.indiemedium.com/lt.php?id=ZkQGUwACAlJTSAYCSQsFVlIP
or watch Ben Goldacre talking back stage at the Big Libel Gig here
Ray here - they have a bigger problem than they think: most politicos (even those pretending to agree) are also lawyers! - RD
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2010 18:46:40 +0000 From: firstname.lastname@example.org :- Message from Simon Singh:
"A big step for me, a small step for libel reform, and what you can do to help today"
Sorry for the silence, but it has been a ridiculously hectic (and happy) time since last week's victory at the Court of Appeal. However, I urgently wanted to get in touch to update you on the status of my case, the latest news on libel reform and what you can do today to push libel reform up the political agenda.
BCA v Singh
April Fool's Day 2010 was a day to remember. The Court of Appeal gave a ruling in my libel case with the British Chiropractic Association. The ruling strongly backs my arguments and puts me in a much stronger position when my trial eventually takes place. At last, after two years of defending my article and my right to free speech, I seem to have the upper hand and can breathe a small sigh of relief.
Moreover, the judges made it clear that they did not want to see scientists and science journalists being hauled through the High Court. In particular, they endorsed the view that a so-called comment defence should be adequate for scientific and other articles on matters of public interest. As well as the legal technicalities, the three wise, charming and handsome judges quoted Milton on the persecution of Galileo and directed that the High Court should not become an "Orwellian Ministry of Truth".
Libel Reform Campaign
This is a small step forward for libel reform, but there is still a huge battle to be fought over the issues of costs, libel tourism, public interest defence, balancing the burden of proof, restricting the ability of powerful corporations to bully individuals (e.g., bloggers, journalists, scientists) and so on.
The General Election was called yesterday and the manifestos will be published in the next week, so we need one last push to persuade the major parties to commit to libel reform. Although we have already achieved a huge amount (from editorials in all last week's broadsheets to the Commons Select Committee recommending libel reform), we must keep up the pressure!
Both the Labour and Conservative parties have made encouraging sounds about libel reform, but now is the time for them to make commitments in their manifestos.
What you can do today to pressure politicians
I have spent over a million minutes and 100,000 defending my article and my right to free speech, so I am asking you to spend just one minute and no money at all persuading others to sign the petition for libel reform at
The last time I made this request, we doubled the number of signatories from 17,000 to 35,000. Can we now double the number from almost 50,000 to 100,000?!
You could ask parents, siblings, colleagues or friends to sign up. You could email everyone in your address book. You could blog about it, mention it to your Facebook friends and twitter about it. In fact, I have pasted some possible tweets at the end of this email - it would be great if you could twitter one, some or all of them.
You could forward all or part of this email to people or just steer them to www.libelreform.org/sign. Or you could persuade people that English libel law needs radical reform by using some of the reasons listed at the end of this email.
Remember, we welcome signatories from around the world because English libel law has a damaging impact globally.
Please, please, please apply maximum pressure to the politicians by encouraging as many new signatories as possible. Please do not take my victory last week as a sign that the battle is over. My case is still ongoing and the campaign for libel reform is only just starting.
Thanks for all your support - it has been incredibly important for the campaign and a real morale booster personally over the last two years.
Ps. Please spread the word by sending out one, some or all of the following tweets
Pls RT English libel law silences debate, says UN Human Rights Committee. Sign up at www.libelreform.org & back #libelreform Pls RT English libel costs 140x more than Europe. We can't afford to defend our words. Sign up at www.libelreform.org & back #libelreform Pls RT Two ongoing libel cases involving health. The law should not crush scientific debate. Sign up at www.libelreform.org & back #libelreform Pls RT London is notorious for attracting libel tourists who come to UK to silence critics. Sign up at www.libelreform.org & back #libelreform
PPs. Reasons why we need radical libel reform:
(a) English libel laws have been condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee.
(b) These laws gag scientists, bloggers and journalists who want to discuss matters of genuine public interest (including public health!).
(c) Our laws give rise to libel tourism, whereby the rich and the powerful (Saudi billionaires, Russian oligarchs and overseas corporations) come to London to sue writers because English libel laws are so hostile to responsible journalism. (Again, it is exactly because English libel laws have this global impact that we welcome signatories to the petition from around the world.)
(d) Vested interests can use their resources to bully and intimidate those who seek to question them. The cost of a libel trial in England is 100 times more expensive than the European average and typically runs to over 1 million.
(e) Two separate ongoing libel cases involve myself and Peter Wilmshurst, and we are both raising concerns about medical treatments. We face losing 1 million each. In future, why would anyone else raise similar concerns when our libel laws are so brutal and expensive? Our libel laws mean that serious health matters are not necessarily reported, which means that the public is put at risk.
PPPs. I know that I will leave people out of this list, but I owe a huge thanks to:
1. The 10,000 people who joined the Facebook group "For Simon Singh and Free Speech - Against the BCA Libel Claim", particularly those who joined when the rest of the world ignored the issue of libel.
2. The 300 people who packed Penderel's Oak in May 2009 and who helped launch the Keep Libel Out of Science campaign, particularly the speakers: Nick Cohen, Dave Gorman, Evan Harris MP, Professor Brian Cox, Chris French, Tracey Brown (Sense About Science), Robert Dougans (Bryan Cave) and David Allen Green.
3. The 20,000 people who then joined the Keep Libel Out of Science campaign.
4. Jack of Kent and every other blogger who ranted and raved about libel reform when the mainstream media was turning a blind eye.
5. Everyone in the mainstream media who is now covering the various libel cases and the issue of libel reform.
6. Sense About Science, Index on Censorship and English PEN, who formed the Coalition for Libel Reform. And thanks to everyone who has contributed pro bono to the campaign in terms of design, technical support, chivvying support for the EDM and more.
7. The 46,000 people (i.e. you) who have signed the petition for libel reform, particularly those who have cajoled others to sign up at
8. All the big names who have spoken out in favour of libel reform, from Professor Richard Dawkins to Derren Brown, from the Astronomer Royal to the Poet Laureate, from the Amazing Randi to Ricky Gervais. Particular thanks go to Dara O Briain, Stephen Fry, Tim Minchin and Robin Ince, who have gone out of their way to step up to the plate when the campaign has needed them. Immense thanks also to the 100+ big names who were the first to sign the petition to keep libel out of science and highlighted the need for libel reform.
9. Everyone who has emailed and twittered and told me in person that I am not going crazy, and who reassured me that I am doing the right thing by defending my article.
10. Thanks to Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib Dems, for promising to put libel reform in his manifesto. And thanks in advance to Jack Straw (Justice Secretary) and Dominic Grieve (Shadow Justice Secretary), because I know that the Labour and Conservative parties are going to commit to libel law reform. I cannot believe that they will allow more scientists, serious journalists, bloggers, biographers, human rights activists and others to go through the same hell that I have had to endure for last two years.
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2010 21:51:49 -0000 Subject: Re: Thomas - did you post this? "Top Secret PHENOMENON the lost archives"
> The Jekyll Island Conspiracy - i.e the plan to set-up the Federal Reserve
> Top Secret PHENOMENON the lost archives 1 / 5 (9 mins)
Co-incidence - am now listening to `In Our Time' history program talking about urbanization and empires since the Bronze Age - ie Athens, Rome, Byzantium etc ... and it suddenly hit me:- every `empire' has been run from one city-state and each was eventually bossed by an effete `aristocracy' ref01 which relied on usury ref02: living on interest and owning / controlling the money supply - and each one collapsed! ref03
Maybe a warning?
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 11:40:18 +0000 From: email@example.com
Thank you to everyone who came to Parliament today. You can see some photos of the mass lobby here:
It has been a very exciting day for the campaign, and a big step towards reform of our libel laws.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw MP, Henry Bellingham MP, the Conservative Shadow Justice Minister and David Howarth MP, the Liberal Democrat Justice spokesperson all came to our meeting in Parliament - because they know our campaign is important.
Jack Straw told us the Government was now considering serious reform of our libel laws and thanked our campaign for pushing it forward. You can read Jack Straw's libel reform proposals in the Guardian here:
and the campaign's response to his proposals here:
Although we don't yet have consideration of all our recommendations, the key result was that Labour has named some reforms they are going to consider and, crucially, pledged to draft laws early in the next Parliament, if they win.
David Howarth reminded us that the Party Conference back in September, and Nick Clegg in January, had committed the Liberal Democrats to significant reform. He welcomed what the Government had said and said the Lib Dems also wanted a ban on corporations and associations suing for libel.
Then, Henry Bellingham, the Conservative Shadow Justice Minister, said that if they formed the next Government they would give the issue a great deal of priority with a draft Bill by the end of the year. He indicated that the Law Commission would be asked to report urgently on necessary. The commitment to legislation from Bellingham is a major milestone.
The speakers who included Dr Simon Singh, John Whitingdale MP, Naomi McAuliffe (Amnesty International) as well as the Chairs of the meeting, Dr. Evan Harris MP and Peter Bottomley MP stressed the need for us to keep campaigning and making the case for reform everywhere we can. We really need your help with this, so please keep writing, blogging and talking about libel reform everywhere and anywhere you can.
After the speakers our mass lobby, which was joined by AC Grayling and Dave Gorman, formally began where scores of our supporters sought out their MPs to bend their ears about libel law reform.
Keep an eye out for more coverage of Jack Straw's announcement tomorrow.
Thank you again for your support over the last few months, we need to keep the momentum going.
Mike and Sile
PS - please tell all your friends to sign up, we're just short of 50,000 signatures:
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 19:29:20 +0000 From: firstname.lastname@example.org
A big thanks for signing the libel reform petition, coming to libel reform events, blogging, tweeting and pushing this campaign to the front of the political agenda.
We need you to *come to the Houses of Parliament* next *Tuesday, 23 March*, for a mass meeting with MPs to convince them to commit to libel reform.
The Libel Reform Campaign has booked Committee Room 15 at Parliament, and MPs know that we're coming. Please, if you can, come and join us. Simon Singh will be joining us to tell MPs about the real effect of our libel laws.
The political parties are on the verge of signing up to once in a generation reform of our libel laws. But we don't have them signed up yet. This is our last chance to lobby parliamentarians before the general election.
So here's the plan:
*Mass lobby of Parliament***
2 - 3pm
We're trying to get as many campaign champions, press and MPs along as possible for a meeting 2-3 pm in Committee Room 15. You can come to this even if you don't have an MP appointment. If you can, let us know you are coming by emailing us: email@example.com
3 - 4pm
You can email your MP and ask them to meet you between 3 - 4 pm in Central Lobby. Even if your MP has signed the EDM on libel reform it is still worth doing this. (info is also at www.libelreform.org [scroll down - Ray]).
This is the closest we've been to fundamental libel law reform in a century, but we need everyone along to help it succeed.
See you Tuesday!
Mike and Síle
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2010 23:49:30 -0800
A shocking one billion people live on less than £0.67 a day. And while it can be hard to wrap our minds around what true poverty means - especially when our own friends and family members are struggling in the current economy - it's an issue that will not go away without decisive leadership.
Please take action today and urge UK party leaders to stand up against global poverty:
It can be easy to lose sight of global issues under the weight of local concerns. But even one child living in poverty in the world is one too many. Ray, we need your help to remind UK party leaders that global poverty is unacceptable.
Five years ago, former South African President Nelson Mandela told a crowd of 22,000 gathered in Trafalgar Square: "Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings."
It is our responsibility to stand up and speak out against that which is an affront to human dignity. More than 2,000 Care2 members have signed the petition to UK party leaders. We need your voice to help make our message heard (and pass it along to your friends!) Please sign the petition today:
Care2 Campaign Team
Date: Sat, 6 Mar 2010 21:46:05 -0000 Subject: Selfish scientists finally admit - "Cooperation trumps selfishness
Ha! He's climbing onto a bandwagon that started (publicly) moving about five or so years ago. Before, twice as long ago, Dawkins ref01 (using the BBC in two or three progs, where he was a bit defensive even then, and using Melvynn Bragg before he got wise), was shouting against the `Altruist Survivor' pages. Now un-arguable results, and hence fashionable "opinions", are coming in line with it - without admitting so much, of course.
(see note below article)
Is this the meaning of life?
John Stewart argues that despite the perception that science has stripped the meaning from life, recent developments in evolutionary theory suggest that humans have a central role to play in the future of the universe
It is often assumed that the science-based worldview implies that life on this planet is a meaningless accident in a universe that is indifferent to our existence. Humans struggle to find purpose within this purely naturalistic understanding of reality, and so they supplement it with beliefs in supernatural processes and entities.
However, recent advances in our understanding of evolution are revealing a bigger picture that can, by itself, give meaning to life. This new worldview locates humanity within a much larger evolutionary process that appears to offer us a meaningful role to play.
This new understanding of evolution is founded on the recognition that evolution is headed somewhere - it has a trajectory. In particular, evolution on Earth has repeatedly gathered small-scale entities into cooperative organisations on a progressively larger and larger scale. Self-replicating molecular processes were organised into the first simple cells. Communities of these simple, prokaryotic cells formed the more complex eukaryotic cell. Collections of these formed multicellular organisms, and organisms were organised into cooperative societies.
A similar sequence appears to have unfolded in human evolution: from family groups, to bands, to tribes, to agricultural communities and city states, to nations, and so on.
This trajectory has applied regardless of whether evolution proceeds by gene-based natural selection or cultural processes. It is driven by the potential at all levels of organisation for cooperative teams united by common goals to be more successful than isolated individuals.
Cooperation trumps selfishness
Mainstream biology has been slow to accept that evolution moves towards increasing cooperation. The view has been that selfishness, rather than cooperation, is favoured by evolution. But this objection has been overcome in the past two decades by a large body of research on the evolution of cooperation. In short, this research shows that complex cooperation will emerge among self-interested individuals if they are organised so that they benefit from their cooperative acts - and if free riders and other non-cooperators are restrained or punished.
Crucially, this removes any conflict between self-interest and cooperation.
(Readers interested in a more detailed discussion of why biologists have been so slow to accept that there is a direction to evolution should read my pre-press article for the journal Foundations of Science.)
Where will evolution go from here? Extrapolating the trajectory into the future is reasonably straightforward, at least initially. The next major transition on Earth would be the emergence of a sustainable and cooperative global society. As with cooperatives at all other levels, the global society would curb internal conflict and destructive competition, including war and pollution. Past transitions demonstrate how this might be organised.
Extrapolating the trajectory further would see the continued expansion of the scale of cooperative organisation out into the solar system and beyond. Wherever possible, this expansion would be likely to occur through cooperative linkage with other living processes, rather than by "empire building". The possibility of life arising elsewhere seems high, and while the details of evolution on other planets are likely to differ, the general form of the evolutionary trajectory would be universal.
If the trajectory continued in this way, the scale of cooperative organisation would expand throughout the universe, comprised of living processes and intelligence from multiple origins. As it increased in intelligence and scale, its command over matter, energy and other resources would also expand, as would its power to achieve whatever objectives it chose.
What might organised life and intelligence do with this increasing power? One possible answer was developed as an attempt to solve the "fine-tuning problem" - the enigma of why the fundamental laws and parameters of the universe seem to be fine-tuned to support the emergence of life, with even slight changes leading to a universe in which life is unlikely to emerge. Supposing the trajectory of evolution eventually produces life and intelligence with sufficient power and knowledge to reproduce the universe itself? This intelligent universe would fine-tune "offspring" universes so that they are even more conducive to the emergence and development of life and intelligence. And so on.
According to this scenario, our universe itself is embedded in larger evolutionary processes that shape universes. And life (including humanity) has a function and purpose within these larger processes in the same sense that our eyes have a purpose within the evolutionary processes that have shaped humanity.
Not all organisms that evolve to humanity's current stage will go on to participate in these large-scale evolutionary processes. Up to our stage, evolution has been driven along its trajectory by competition and selection. But these pressures weaken as a global society begins to emerge, because this society will not be in direct competition with other global societies.
From this point on, evolution will continue to advance only if the emerging global society decides to advance the evolutionary process intentionally. The society must awaken to the possibility that it is living in the midst of a directional evolutionary process, realise that the continued success of the process depends on its intentional actions, and then commit to actively move the process forward.
Organisms that complete this transition to intentional evolution will drive the further development of life and intelligence in the universe. Those that do not will be failed evolutionary experiments. They will be eggs that never hatched. Humanity is fast approaching the threshold of this critical evolutionary transition.
John Stewart is a core member of the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition Research Group of the Free University of Brussels, and the author of Evolution's Arrow and The Evolutionary Manifesto. This is a condensed version of his paper "The meaning of life in a developing universe" which is in press for a special issue of the journal Foundations of Science
N.b. - applying logic ref02 (which seems rather rare in science, ref03 especially `social sciences', or even in exobiology), it should be obvious that _any_ life, whether self-conscious or not, has an influence, ref04 perhaps controlling influences, on the whole universe.
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 2010 19:24:32 +0000
Campaign for Freedom of Information Press release: 25 February 2010
Welcome for decision to drop proposed cabinet papers exemption
The government's announcement that it has dropped its proposal to exempt cabinet papers from the Freedom of Information Act, and that it will reduce the 30 year rule to 20 years, was welcomed by the Campaign for Freedom of Information today.
The changes follow a review of the 30 year rule by a committee chaired by Paul Dacre, managing editor of Associated News, and set up by the prime minister. In response to the review's recommendations, the government announced that old government records would be publicly available in The National Archives after 20 years, instead of the current 30 years (though the review had called for 15-year period). But it also said it would create two new absolute exemptions to the FOI Act, one for cabinet papers and the other for the Royal Family. In neither case would the Act's public interest test apply.
But today the government announced that it had decided that a new exemption for cabinet papers was not necessary. The 20 year period for releasing old files will be introduced. A new exemption for the Royal Family will be created.
The Campaign's director Maurice Frankel said:
"We are extremely pleased that the prime minister has decided to drop the proposed cabinet exemption. That would have ruled out the release of any paper circulated to cabinet or a cabinet committee, even if there would be no harm to decision-making or collective responsibility. Requests for such documents will now continue to be considered on their merits. Cabinet minutes may be unlikely to emerge, given the way the ministerial veto has been used so far, though that too is not entirely out of the question, particularly for older or less contentious material or where the public interest in disclosure is overwhelming. And the 20 year rule will mean old records are more likely to emerge while the events they refer to are still remembered."
The Campaign pointed out that cabinet or cabinet committee papers were protected by existing FOI exemptions for policy formulation and ministerial communications, subject to the Act's public interest test. The government also has the power to veto decisions of the Information Commissioner or Tribunal. The veto has been used twice to date, blocking the release of cabinet minutes about the war in Iraq and cabinet committee minutes on devolution. However, the veto is judicially reviewable, which provides some safeguard against its casual use.
The new 20 year rule will be phased in over 10 years by doubling the volume of old government records released each year.
However, a new absolute exemption, which will protect information about the monarch, the heir and second in line to the throne for 20 years and then, if the individual concerned is still alive, until 5 years after their death. This exemption will not be subject to the Act's public interest test. The Campaign said it regretted this change, and believed the public interest test should continue to apply to such matters.
For other members of the Royal Family, an exemption will apply for the same length of time but will be subject to the public interest test.
The government's announcement is at: www.justice.gov.uk/about/docs/government-response-30-year-rule-review.pdf
The Government's outline response to the Dacre report is set out in Gordon Brown's `statement on constitutional renewal' of 10.6.09 www.number10.gov.uk/Page19579
The Dacre report can be found at: www2.nationalarchives.gov.uk/30yrr/30-year-rule-report.pdf
Campaign for Freedom of Information
16 Baldwins Gardens
Tel: 020 7831 7477
FOI Blog: http://foia.blogspot.com/
Email: katherine AT cfoi.demon.co.uk
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2010 23:02:12 -0800
Five years ago, Nelson Mandela called on the world to eliminate global poverty. With the UK general election just around the corner, it's time for party leaders to stand up and explain how they plan to achieve this important goal.
Tell party leaders to go "on the record" with their plans to fight extreme poverty.
ONE plans to ask Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and other party leaders six questions about how they would tackle poverty, including their policies on aid and development funding, their stance on securing a global climate bill that would help the poor and how the UK can continue its tradition of leadership in fighting poverty.
Voters deserve to know how their political leaders intend to combat poverty and have a record to which those elected can be held accountable.
Tell party leaders to give clear answers about how they will fight extreme poverty.
Thanks for taking action!
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team
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Read the petition
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 2010 17:38:14 +0000
There are two very important events for the Libel Reform Campaign this week.
Tuesday: Simon Singh's case
On Tuesday 23rd February, Simon Singh's libel case with the British Chiropractic Association is before the Court of Appeal in London. His case will be heard by three of the most powerful legal figures in the UK, the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls and Lord Justice Sedley. Simon's case is very significant and depending on how it goes, could either strengthen our right to `fair comment' or hugely undermine it. Look out for coverage of this in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, the Guardian and elsewhere on Tuesday.
Wednesday: MPs report on our libel laws
The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee will release a report on Wednesday 24th February that, amongst other issues, will look at the impact of English libel law on free expression. We submitted evidence to the Committee of how our libel laws are unjust and against the public interest and we hope they will make serious and far-reaching proposals for reform.
What can you do?
Come down to the Royal Courts of Justice (map here), at 9.45 am on Tuesday to show your support for Simon.
We want MPs to get letters all next week so they understand how important this issue is for people across the UK, and abroad. Please try and persuade one or more friends, family or colleagues to sign the petition:
We have received 10,000 new signatures in the last 10 days, but there is still a long way to go, so please keep spreading the word. Simon and others are undergoing a severe strain to defend free speech, and we know that it would be a major morale boost for him if supporters could spare five minutes to persuade friends and family to sign up to libel reform. It would be great if we could add 5,000 more names before Simon leaves the Court of Appeal tomorrow.
Mike and Síle
The Libel Reform Campaign
The Libel Reform Campaign is a coalition of English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science.
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2010 20:06:54 -0000 Subject: Fw: Simon Singh's weird idea that might just work
I've had an idea - an unusual idea, but I think it might just work.
As you know, England's chilling libel laws need to be reformed. One way to help achieve this is for 100,000 people to sign the petition for libel reform before the political parties write their manifestos for the election. We have 17,000 signatures, but we really need 100,000, and we need your help to get there.
My idea is simple: if everyone who has already signed up persuades just one more person each week to sign the petition then we will reach our goal within a month!
One person per week is all we need, but please spread the word as much as you can. In fact, if you persuade 10 people to sign up then email me and I promise to thank you by printing your name in my next book, which I will start writing as soon as I have put my own libel case behind me. I cannot say when this will be, but it is a very real promise. My only caveat is that I will limit this to the first thousand people who recruit ten supporters.
When persuading your friends remember to tell them:
(a) English libel laws have been condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee.
(b) These laws gag scientists, bloggers and journalists who want to discuss matters of genuine public interest (and public health!).
(c) Our laws give rise to libel tourism, whereby the rich and the powerful (Saudi billionaires, Russian oligarchs and overseas corporations) come to London to sue writers because English libel laws are so hostile to responsible journalism. (In fact, it is exactly because English libel laws have this global impact that we welcome signatories to the petition from around the world.)
(d) Vested interests can use their resources to bully and intimidate those who seek to question them. The cost of a libel trial in England is 100 times more expensive than the European average and typically runs to over £1 million.
(e) Three separate ongoing libel cases involve myself and two medical researchers raising concerns about three medical treatments. We face losing £1 million each. In future, why would anyone else raise similar concerns? If these health matters are not reported, then the public is put at risk.
My experience has been sobering. I've had to spend £100,000 to defend my writing and have put my life on hold for almost two years. However, the prospect of reforming our libel laws keeps me cheerful.
Thanks so much for your support. We've only got one shot at this - so I hope you can persuade 1 (or maybe 10) friends, family and colleagues to sign.
The Libel Reform Campaign is a coalition of English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science.
So far, 188 MPs have signed our Parliamentary Early Day Motion calling for libel reform and the Justice Secretary Jack Straw has formed a working party that the Libel Reform Coalition is represented on.
Please also considering donating to keep our campaign going: