Land laws and tax dodging Scotland

March 15, 2016 Leave a comment

In just 32 hours we have a chance to make a real difference to tax dodging in Scotland.
Right now, our country is a tax dodger’s dream. Lax land laws mean that 750,000 acres of land in Scotland are owned by shadowy corporations in tax havens – and we have no idea who owns what or why. [1] But this Wednesday our MSPs will be voting on a law that would ban secrecy around who owns Scottish land.
Pressure from 38 Degrees members and campaigners forced the Scottish Government to make plans for a public register of who owns what. But wealthy landowners have been whispering in politicians’ ears, and the plans have been watered down. [2] If we all write to our MSPs ahead of Wednesday’s vote, together we can drown out those whispers.
Please can you email your MSP now and ask them to vote for amendments that ban secret landownership? Use the button below – there’s some suggested text on the page and it should take less than two minutes to send your message:

EMAIL YOUR MSP

Right now the big landowners in Scotland can hide behind obscure company names or complicated legal arrangements. A register could fix this injustice. Rural affairs committee member Sarah Boyack MSP has put down amendments that would make sure this register gets real teeth – and quickly. [3] She’s spoken about how persuasive she found emails from her constituents on this issue. She’s proof our pressure works. [4]
As 38 Degrees members we’re campaigning for a fairer Scotland for all. Just last year we called for justice for the Stoddart family – farmers in East Lothian who were being forced off a farm they’d run for 20 years. [5] Our pressure last year means Wednesday’s land reform bill will include measures to help tenant farmers.
Banning secrecy in Scotland’s land ownership would make Scotland a fairer country. So together let’s email our MSPs and tell them to do the right thing on Wednesday and stand up for the many, instead of the wealthy few. Please click here to email your MSP now:
EMAIL YOUR MSP

World Canals Scotland 2016

March 11, 2016 Leave a comment

The 2016 World Canals Conference is shaping up to be the best yet, with an array of world-renowned speakers and high-profile sponsors signing up to take part in the prestigious event in Inverness this September.
 Speakers

The prestigious four-day conference has already attracted a wide range of speakers, academics and experts at the pinnacle of their fields. Each keynote speaker will focus on one of the conference’s four themes and include:

Dr Jonathan Chambers, Team Leader in Geophysical Tomography, British Geographical Survey

Professor Mark Horton, Presenter of BBC’s Coast & Professor in Archaeology, University of Bristol

Professor Steven Mithin, Deputy Vice Chancellor & Professor of Archaeology, University of Reading

Professor Bruce Prideaux, Director of the Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunities, Central Queensland University

Dame Seona Reid, Deputy Chair, Heritage Lottery Fund

Darren Parkinson, National SCADA/ICA Manager, Canal & River Trust

Sea World infiltrates Animal Rights Group

February 28, 2016 Leave a comment

On Thursday, SeaWorld chief executive Joel Manby told investors the theme park operator had employees pose as activists to infiltrate People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.This admission comes months after PETA accused SeaWorld employee Paul McComb of working for the animal rights group under the alias Thomas Jones. PETA claimed McComb attended anti-SeaWorld meetings and protests, asked for insider secrets from other protesters, and encouraged aggressive and illegal tactics during demonstrations.

At the time, SeaWorld officials denied the claims but put McComb put on temporary leave. He has since returned to the company, according to Manby.

“Following the completion of an investigation conducted by independent outside counsel, the board has directed that the company’s management team end a practice in which certain employees posed as animal rights activists in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of company employees, customers, and animals in the face of credible threats that the company had received,” SeaWorld said in a statement issued after Manby discussed the issue with investors during a conference call Thursday.

International Animal Rights Conference 2016!

February 27, 2016 1 comment

The sixth international animal rights conference in Luxembourg will take place on September 8th until 11th 2016 at the Kulturfabrik in Esch, Luxembourg. We welcome all animal rights activists and all people who care about animals, the environment, and would like to learn more about animal rights in both theory and practice.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • viewpoints on animal liberation / animal rights
  • learning and networking options
  • presentations, workshops, discussions
  • stalls by animal rights groups and vegan shops
  • animal rights concert
  • of course vegan meals

They Profit, We Die!

February 27, 2016 Leave a comment

Our food system is in big trouble. It’s in big trouble because the global agritech/agribusiness sector is poisoning it, us and the environment with its pesticides, herbicides, GMOs and various other chemical inputs. The Rockefeller clan exported the petrochemical intensive ‘green revolution’ around the world with the aim of ripping up indigenous agriculture to cement its hegemony over global agriculture and to help the US create food deficit regions and thus use agriculture as a tool of foreign policy.

This was only made possible and continues to be made possible because of lavish funds, slick PR, compliant politicians and scientists and the undermining and capture of regulatory and policy decision-making bodies that supposedly serve the public interest.

For example, writing in the British newspaper The Guardian earlier this year, Arthur Nelson noted that as many as 31 pesticides with a value running into billions of pounds could have been banned in the EU because of potential health risks, if a blocked EU paper on hormone-mimicking chemicals had been acted upon.

The science paper that was seen by The Guardian recommends ways of identifying and categorising the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that scientists link to a rise in foetal abnormalities, genital mutations, infertility and adverse health effects ranging from cancer to IQ loss. Nelson writes that Commission sources say that the paper was buried by top EU officials under pressure from big chemical firms which use EDCs in toiletries, pesticides, plastics and cosmetics, despite an annual health cost that studies peg at hundreds of millions of euros.

The paper’s proposed criteria for categorisations of EDCs was supposed to have enabled EU bans of hazardous substances to take place last year. According to The Guardian, Commission officials say that under pressure from major chemical industry players (acting via SANCO), such as Bayer and BASF, the criteria were blocked. In their place, less stringent options emerged, along with a plan for an impact assessment that is not expected to be finalised until 2016.

Angeliki Lyssimachou, an environmental toxicologist for Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN), is quoted by Nelson as saying:

“If the draft ‘cut-off’ criteria proposed by the commission had been applied correctly, 31 pesticides would have been banned by now, fulfilling the mandate of the pesticide regulation to protect humans and the environment from low-level chronic endocrine disrupting pesticide exposure.”

Lisette van Vliet, a senior policy adviser to the Health and Environment Alliance, blamed pressure from the UK and German ministries and industry for delaying public protection from chronic diseases and environmental damage:

“This is really about whether we in the EU honestly and openly use the best science for identifying EDCs, or whether the interests of certain industries and two ministries or agencies from two countries manage to sway the outcome to the detriment of protecting public health and the environment.”

Monsanto Buys Weather Climate Corporation

February 27, 2016 Leave a comment

Monsanto, the agricultural biotech giant, also responsible for manufacturing multiple pesticides that have been linked to numerous human ailments has announced the acquisition of the Climate Corporation. It’s a climate data research company that Monsanto has purchased for approximately 1 billion dollars. This purchase is expected to benefit the company, putting them at the forefront of scientific weather data, which would put a large amount of information with regards to climate into farmers’ hands. The idea is to sell more data and services to the farmers who already buy Monsanto’s seed and chemicals.

Climate change, according to the Monsanto corporation, presents ever increasing extreme challenges for farmers today. This is indeed true, but many farmers are starting to find ways around this naturally. As a result some governments are even rejecting Monsanto climate resilient patents, like India recently did. What makes the Climate Corporation so special is its wide variety of techniques they can use to predict local weather events with high precision.

Farmers will be able to access information from Monsanto’s new satellite-based science software. Currently the trial version of the software is being tested by around 160 US farmers across 40,000 acres of land.

This move comes after the Monsanto corporation just passed it’s historically weakest quarter. This comes as no surprise as the entire planet has been speaking up against Monsanto as of late, and with good reason. Monsanto recently benefited from the Monsanto Protection Act, which was recently shut down thanks to activism world wide. We can really make a difference here, all we have to do is try.

A large majority of countries across the planet have chosen to ban anything related to Monsanto, and Monsanto has been making a number of headlines with regards to their products. This makes it very hard to trust the company, and more people across the planet are starting to realize that major biotech corporations like this are just not needed. The human race can do much better than this.

Below is a clip from Jeffrey M. Smith, a GMO researcher from the Institute for Responsible Technology in an interview with RT news accusing the company of trying to take full control of the world’s seed supply. Below that I have listed a number of articles with regards to Monsanto, Pesticides (manufactured by Monsanto) and GMOs that we have recently covered.

Worms Eat Plastic!

February 27, 2016 Leave a comment

I think it’s safe to say that we all know just how irresponsibly we have been using plastic over the past few decades; I don’t even know if we saw it as a problem until quite recently. The damage has been done and there is now so much plastic waste in landfills (and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the ocean) that the situation is starting to seem hopeless. Interestingly enough, there are garbage patches in the Indian and Atlantic oceans as well, but the Pacific is just the largest and gets all the credit. This is not only terrible for the environment, as plastic takes centuries to biodegrade, but very detrimental to wildlife as well.

In the United States alone, 33 million TONS of plastic waste are being thrown away every year, but less than 10% of the plastic being consumed actually ends up being recycled at all. And, according to Popular Mechanics, the material that is used to make plastic bottles can only be recycled into lesser products before eventually ending up in landfills as well.

Mealworms Eat Plastic!

But thanks to a recent discovery, it seems there is hope. It turns out that mealworms can survive off of nothing but Styrofoam; they can digest it, turn it into compostable waste, and still meet all their dietary needs. This is pretty amazing. A collaborative study between Stanford University and Chinese researchers found that just 100 mealworms were able to consume almost 40 milligrams of Styrofoam per day. This is by no means a lot, as 453,592 milligrams are equal to 1 pound of Styrofoam, but this has opened up the doors to some exciting implications. Many bugs have the ability to eat plastic, but not all are able to turn it into totally natural, biodegradable waste. The plastic also does not harm the worms in the process (phew).

So, Now What?

You may be thinking along similar lines as I was — just release millions of these little guys onto landfills all over the world and let nature run its course, but that is likely not going to happen. What might be feasible instead is that scientists could one day be able to recreate whatever biological process is allowing the mealworms to breakdown the plastic. If we were able to emulate the environment of the mealworms’ stomach on a mass scale, we wouldn’t have to use so much energy melting down bottles and other plastic containers and turning them into new bottles.

Can We Do Anything?

There are a number of things that can be done to help reduce our plastic consumption on a daily basis.

Use a reusable water bottle

Simply don’t drink soda, it’s bad for you anyways

Choose items with as minimal plastic packaging as possible

Buy items in bulk, and bring your own containers or paper bags to put them in

Try making certain personal care products and foods yourself, and storing them in glass containers

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