Data Leak Reveals the Truth About Palm Oil

Owners of Battersea Power Station,  Palm Oil giants Sime Darby, want to build a bio-fuel power station at the site to power the massive development. To side step criticism they claim not have decided what bio-fuel it will use ( yeah right. Maybe Palm Oil?)

This blog has been sourced from an article by David Carrington, for The Guardian.     Click here if you would prefer to view the full article.

A new data leak has revealed how certain bio-fuels can have a worse impact upon the environment then fossil fuels. Although some bio-fuels can be advantageous in preventing climate change, others such as palm oil are quite the opposite due to the large carbon footprint that they generate.

In distinguishing the good bio-fuels from the bad ones it is also important to account for factors such as deforestation and other man made sources of pollution that are involved in harvesting bio-fuels.

A diagram displaying the individual carbon footprint of bio-fuels in comparison to that of crude oil from tar sands, puts Palm oil just beneath that of the crude oil:


Second generation fuels (SG), particularly those that are land-using such as Biodiesel and Ethanol produce the least CO2. While sugar cane and corn maize are thankfully less harmful then crude oil, however their carbon footprint could still be considered a cause for concern.

Recently, the US environmental protection agency stated that Palm oil failed to meet the US requirement of emitting a minimum  of 20% less carbon then the diesel produced from crude oil. Furthermore, bio-fuels campaigner Robbie Blake for Friends of the Earth Europe further condemned the use of Palm Oil (speaking to David Carrington):

“It’s getting quite indisputable that the use of soy or palm oil to fuel our cars is even dirtier than conventional fossil fuels. Forests in Asia and South America are being destroyed by the expansion of plantations to meet the European market. It’s a delusion for politicians to think that biodiesel will solve climate change.”

An important factor that helps assess how beneficial or environmentally unfriendly bio-fuels are is sourced from research into more sustainably advancements, with the latest examples in sourcing low carbon bio-fuel come from seaweed and algae.

An EU target has been made to ensure transport fuels incorporate 10% of bio-fuels by 2020. However the production of certain bio-fuels has been named ‘unethical’ in relation to the environment and to human rights. Research groups meanwhile have branded it ‘immoral’ to not look for an alternative to using fossil fuels.

For more information on this topic view the full article here, or try these related links:

Issues surrounding the production of second generation fuels, how the EU brands fuel sustainability, other recent studies into bio-fuel carbon footprints.

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CNN Update: Shaker Aamer on the Guantanamo Hunger Strike

CNN Update: Shaker Aamer on the Guantanamo Hunger Strike

A CNN video report uncovers the latest insight into the Hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay. The report features testimony from Shaker Aamer, the last British resident to remain at Guantanamo despite never being charged for any alleged crime, and having twice been cleared for release in the past.

Shaker Aamer describes how inmates at Guantanamo (himself included) feel it is necessary to continue the on going Hunger strike which is now approaching four months,  in an attempt to finally secure the closure of Guantanamo.

The CNN video also describes the suffering that Shaker Aamer has experienced from being force fed, and explains the just cause for hunger striking when life inside Guantanamo is so intolerable that prisoners see no other option but to remain on hunger strike.

“I do not want to be force fed, I don’t want to die either, but this is a living death here in Guantanamo, so if I have to risk death for principle, this is what I want to do.”  – Shaker Aamer

The video also features Moazzam Begg, Former Guantanamo inmates and now a worker for an advocacy group Cage Prisoners. His appearance in the video places further pressure on the US Government to get Guantanamo closed down, remarking on the poor treatment of the inmates:

“They don’t get clean drinking water. They are getting stripped searched constantly. Sprayed in the face with pepper spray. Rubber bullets. All of that is true. But that’s not why they are doing this. They are doing this because there is no hope.” – Moazzam Begg

Meanwhile a speech by President Obama has questioned the US Military in their response  that “forced feeding is being continued so that inmates are kept alive”. Obama says “Is this the America we want to leave our children”

It appears therefore that the 103 prisoners on Hunger strike will not give up their quest to secure the closure of Guantanamo, while the US Military will continue to force fed them. For Shaker Aamer – prisoner 239, there is a strong determination to return home to his family after eleven years in Guantanamo. Shaker furthermore, shares his confidence for the hunger strike to be a success:

“This place is going to close sooner or later”… Don’t wait for too much longer or there is going to be dead people down here, and that’s not good for anyone.”

“I have been called 239 for so long, I fear my children my have to call me by a number for a while.” – Shaker Aamer

A Q&A with Shaker Aamer can also be viewed on the CNN page, along with related clips, and related headlines.


Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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Elephant & Castle Regeneration: The Heygate Diaspora

The Heygate Diaspora June 8th, 2013

“There is a huge silent majority of people that have been moved out of the Heygate that are happy in their new homes.”
Cllr Fiona Colley Cabinet Member for Regeneration

“I could no longer afford to stay in the area and, in the end, the offer I was made plus £45,000 of my life savings bought me a terraced property 15 miles out of London. I have, I feel, given up my home to accommodate the building of homes for overseas investors.”
Terry Redpath Former Heygate Leaseholder


Property Week Magazine – 17/05/13
In our last blog post we corrected some of the more fanciful claims that council leader Peter John made about the rehousing of Heygate tenants. We showed that only 45 Heygate tenants have actually been rehoused in new homes. We now also know that only around 1 in 5 Heygate secure tenants actually remain in the SE17 postcode (216 tenants out of 1034). This information comes from a response to an FOI request. The rest have been scattered to the outer corners of the borough and beyond:

Around half have relocated to SE postcodes (including Woolwich, Thamesmead and Welling), most of the rest have had to move to suburbs such as Sidcup, St. Albans, Chelmsford, Croydon, Bexley Heath, Ilford, Romford, Dartford, Cheshunt, Mitcham and West Thurrock. The reason for this is clear: the very low levels of compensation leaseholders have received for their Heygate homes. This link has a full list of the amounts paid to Heygate leaseholders. It is compiled from information received through Freedom of Information requests, and includes an indexed column showing today’s value of the settlements.

The average compensation paid for a 1 bed flat is £108,164 (indexed to today’s value). Owners of 2 bed flats received on average £122,140, 3 bed maisonettes £185,070 and 4 bed maisonettes £209,440. Some home owners got particularly poor deals: one leaseholder received just £32,000 for a 1 bed flat in 2008.

Compare this to the cost of the new Heygate homes as advertised by Lend Lease. These start at £330k for a 1 Bed flat, £455k for a 2 Bed flat and £590k for a 3 Bed – (

All in all not many residents – whether a secure tenant, an insecure tenant or a leaseholder – will get either a new home or a home in Elephant and Castle through this regeneration.

See more information at

Also learn more about the forced housing deplacement here.




Weeklies Snubbed for Event on Patch

Author: Helen Lambourne, July 9, 2013

Reporters from two weekly newspapers were refused entry to an event attended by Prime Minister David Cameron which was attended by the Press Association and international titles. The Wandsworth Guardian and rival weekly South London Press did not receive invitations to a ground-breaking ceremony at Battersea Power Station last Thursday and were not allowed entry when their reporters attended.

The event, which was also attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and London mayor Boris Johnson, was held to mark the start of work at the 39-acre site, including the creation of 3,500 luxury new homes and leisure developments, and was organised by the Battersea Power Station Development Company.

Jamie Henderson – Chief Reporter at Wandsworth Guardian said “it was disappointing not to be allowed entry because the paper had reported on the future of the site for many years. We thought an invitation would come from them. I thought I would go down anyway to see what was happening.

“We knew there would be protesters there because we found out about the arrival of David Cameron. Their press officer eventually came out and I thought they would let us in but they told us the press area was full.”

“It is pretty galling really that we have not only given this much support to the project but local people want to know through our newspaper what is going on. The reports in the nationals didn’t report on anything to do with the local area. There was nothing about Wandsworth or the people  who are hopefully going to get jobs.”

The Wandsworth Guardian has won the support of a number of Local Councillors and the Public and Commercial Services Union which was protesting at the event.

Cathy Cook, London Campaign Manager for PCS, told the paper:
“At a time when the country is in economic crisis the Prime Minister prioritising a meeting about luxury penthouse flats is a disgrace.”
“What we think is even more of a disgrace is that the local press were denied access to this meeting today. The local press has a major interest in what is going in its locality and its readership will be interested to know that their journalist was not allowed in.”
Having not being allowed access South London Press reporter James Cracknell the day before the event tweeted: “So, a big-name VIP is going to be at Battersea Power Station tomorrow for a ground-breaking ceremony. But I’m not allowed to say who. I’ve also been banned from attending because the South London Press doesn’t qualify as important media.”

On the day of the ceremony, he tweeted: “I was escorted off the premises of Battersea Power Station this morning by a security guard the size of a house. Oh dear.”

The Battersea Power Station Development Company declined to comment.


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DMAU – Participatory Documentary

DMAU’s  research project on Participatory Documentary features a video report that introduces one of Spectacle’s participatory projects APaNGO. The video explains the projects purpose – developing a strong community based network that promotes urban participation in planning through social media.

The central aim of Spectacle’s video workshops is to train residents to film and edit video footage and through this capture and influence the changing physical and human face of their neighbourhood.” Mark Saunders, Spectacle Founder.

DMAU specialises in documentary film-making and urban research. DMAU (or Digital Media Architecture Urbanism) provide a selection of participatory media in the form of visual essays, interviews and case studies.

“Our work focuses on projects – designs and documentaries – that improve the public realm, be that built designs or temporary events and interventions, with an emphasis on work that has a positive social or environmental impact” –                                             Daryl Mulvihill, DMAU Founder.

The scope of this project spreads across various countries in the EU and works upon maintaining strong communities. It is therefore a good example of how participatory media can influence and support social development.

An accompanying interview with Spectacle founder Mark Saunders gives a broader understanding of how Spectacle works with communities to encourage social media. The interview explains the importance that participatory production workshops have, and the significance they have upon urban regeneration.

The DMAU research project explores:

“The potentials for the use of documentary practice in urban research and design projects go much further than the traditionally formatted video production. New interactive documentaries combine film with a range of other media; photography, maps, soundscapes and data visualisations to create an immersive experience for the viewer. Next to this participatory documentary has the ability to empower and engage communities by bringing their story to a wider audience. We will see how interactive and participatory documentary is not simply about producing stories. It is as much about designing a storytelling process that engages with the voices of people impacted by an event or ongoing situation.”

Spectacle now runs affordable effective Participatory Video Weekend Training Courses

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Battersea Power Station to Lose Chimneys During Renovation

Battersea Power Station could be temporarily left with just one solitary chimney after developers applied to change conditions of work on the listed building. Last week the Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) applied for permission to change the sequence in which the listed building’s chimneys are rebuilt.

The new application, called a deed of variation, proposes a change to the original legal agreement, between Wandsworth Council and English Heritage, so that the first chimney could be rebuilt on its own.

The power station with one chimney

The remaining three would then be rebuilt at the same time. A safeguard will also be added to the legal agreement which will require the developer to provide a bond for the full value of the chimney works contract before the project can get under way. The council could use this bond to pay for the completion of the project if for any reason the developer failed to finish.

No changes are being proposed to the design of the chimneys which would be constructed according to the original architecture plans so that they match the appearance of the originals. The development company estimates that changing the sequence of the chimney works would mean the power station restoration project could be completed two years earlier.

In 2011 Wandsworth Council and English Heritage approved plans for each of the decayed chimneys to be rebuilt after successive engineering studies showed all four were beyond repair.

Last month the Wandsworth Guardian reported campaigner’s fears the power station could permanently lose its famous chimneys once they were taken down. and a final decision on whether to approve the proposals will be made by the council’s planning applications committee.

“It is entirely plausible the owners will take the chimneys down and then contrive some reason why they can’t be rebuilt. Council planners are now examining the application in detail.’ Keith Garner – Power station campaigner 

View the Wandsworth application and enter reference number 2013/3076.


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Forced Feeding is Apparently “Not Uncomfortable” for Detainees


The Hunger strike at Guantánamo has now been going on for more then 130 days. According to official figures, 103 of the detainees are now on hunger strike, and the number of detainees being forced fed remains at 30.

Reporters were allowed into the camp on what was believed to be a well choreographed and scripted guided tour. The reporters were allowed to see the force feeding equipment and were told how the medical team used this equipment upon the detainees. According to the doctors and the nurses, no prisoners had complained about this brutal force feeding procedure.

The guards at Guantánamo have been reported as being very patient with detainees. While certain detainees have been accused of throwing feces and urine at guards. This only re-reinforces the guards strategy of not negotiating with detainees, and instead subjecting them to procedures such as force feeding.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera obtained documents that explained the force feeding procedure which could last up to two hours. These documents described how time was a significant factor in ensuring the success of the force feeding procedure.

The tour showed prisoners mouths being covered with a mask while a tube (at least 61cms long) would be snaked down their nose until an x-ray or test dose of water confirmed the tube to be in the stomach of a prisoner. After being force fed, a prisoner would be kept in a dry cell without any water to ensure they did not vomit for 45-60 minutes. If the detainee was to vomit, this force feeding procedure would have to be repeated.

It was also reported that while this procedure was carried out detainees would be heavily drugged, hence their lack of complaints regarding the force feeding procedure. The identity of the detainees are being shared with the top officials at the Pentagon who apparently, do not care about violating medical ethics that force feeding concerns.

Order Spectacle’s DVDs  Shaker Aamer: a decade of injustice ( New Version) and  Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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