What the frack!? (Robin Hood’s Lament)

Fracking is the controversial process of blasting a mixture of water and other chemicals into subterranean rocks in order to open up fissures, thus releasing oil or gas.

When I see definitions of fracking it’s always the “and other chemicals” bit that worries me. I can imagine the fracking PR man saying “we inject water into the ground,” and then adding under his breath “and other chemicals,” as verbal small-print. Actually, the fracking companies don’t disclose the exact mixture they use to frack due to the special recipe being a “trade secret”, but samples have concluded that benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene are amongst the lovely substances that are used.

I’ve always been morally against fracking anywhere, but a few months ago my NIMBY reflex was activated when I heard that the fracking company ‘INEOS’ wanted to test Sherwood Forest for its fracking potential. Sherwood Forest, the home of Robin Hood, is internationally famous and is a 15-minute drive away from where I live. The tests would involve seismic surveys just a few hundred yards from the Major Oak (Robin Hood’s tree). Obviously, when I heard about this I was outraged. I went to a demonstration in January organised by Frack Free Nottinghamshire and Friends of the Earth, as well as other activist groups (see the picture I took at the top of this article and this BBC story ).

The seismic surveys, a pre-cursor to fracking, are damaging in themselves (explosives are often used, vehicles need access, and detectors and cables need to be laid down over a wide area), but they are also a clear indicator that a company wants to frack the area. An INEOS spokesperson said, in response to the Sherwood Forest demonstration, that INEOS were only trying to get permission for test surveys and that there was no need to cause any alarm for the general public…which tells me there would be cause for alarm if the fracking actually went ahead! My advice, if there are plans for fracking in your area, is to be active early, and show your defiance at an early stage. Don’t let them get a foot in the door!

There are obvious environmental concerns about fracking, but the social side is also very worrying. I live in a former coal mining community, so I have experienced the after-effects of Margaret Thatcher’s brutal attack on the miners in the 80s. Sure, fracking would provide jobs in the area, but I know the government would have no qualms about unceremoniously taking them away on a whim and turning the area into a run-down ruin that would take 30 years or more to recover.

Wouldn’t it be better to invest in clean energy? Solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity? We should learn from Portugal who, last year, ran 4-days straight on renewable energy alone (why this wasn’t leading news all over the world is beyond me!) – read about Portugal HERE.

Looking at all the money-spinning schemes of the past, including the use of asbestos, tells me that it’s always the bigwigs that benefit financially, and it’s always the little people who are left with the long-term shit that it produces. INEOS doesn’t care if they poison our water, kill our habitat, destroy our communities as long as they get a short-term financial boost. In the case of Sherwood Forest they would also be attacking a world-renowned socialist icon in Robin Hood. What would he say about all this?

Robin Hood is long dead, so we have to fire his arrows for him. If there are plans for fracking in your area I urge you to get active, get organised, and refuse to let it happen!

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How does the 2016 Budget Affect You?

The 2016 Budget didn’t hold many surprises. Cuts to disability benefits, neglect of the North of England, and perks for big corporations seem to be commonplace when it comes to this heartless Tory government. But how does the budget affect you personally? Here is a fun device that the BBC has come up with. Enter a few details in the Budget Calculator and it will tell you if you’re better or worse off:

BUDGET CALCULATOR (CLICK!)

Woody Guthrie vs. Donald Trump’s Daddy

I stumbled across this article, and it seems relevant considering Donald Trump has gone on record as saying: “My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy”. The piece tells the story of how Woody Guthrie, a personal hero of mine, was raging against the Trump Empire way back when. Well worth a read!

Woody Guthrie, ‘Old Man Trump’ and a real estate empire’s racist foundations

How many years of good health can you expect?

There is a vast gap in the UK when it comes to health, as a recent study by National Statistics highlights. Unsurprisingly, affluent locations in the south of England are much better off than areas in the north, such as Manchester, Blackpool, Bradford, Birmingham, the North East & Lincolnshire etc.

 

Men in Kensington & Chelsea can expect 80.2 years of good health in their lifetime, while men in Salford can expect 46.3 years of good health (and, in reality, wouldn’t expect to live 80.2 years in total). Women in Westminster can expect 78.3 years of good health, while women in Birmingham can expect a paltry 46.1.

 

The reasons given in the article for this ‘sickness divide’ by Dr Ann Marie Connolly are ‘smoking’ and ‘lack of activity’. But this only scratches the surface. It is lifestyle as a whole that contributes to this sort of vast gap in health.

 

  • Pollution (poor people can only afford to live downwind of industrial areas, and so have to breathe in crappy air on a daily basis. Not an ideal environment for exercising).
  • Diet (the minimum wage cannot sustain a balanced, healthy diet)
  • Working environment (breaking your back every day is bound to cause health issues. Also, when you get home after a horrible day at work, how likely are you to want to exercise or take time to cook a balanced meal?)
  • Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs (the poor in society want escapism, and therefore turn to substances that can aid that).
  • Stress (when you’re constantly worrying about feeding and housing your family you are going to experience mental/physical health issues).
  • Education (in poor areas the schools aren’t as good, causing an endless cycle)
  • Environment (it is fact that just being able to see a nice, green setting improves physical as well as mental health)
  • The list could keep going on…

 

If the government was serious about investing in the North, and creating their ‘Northern Powerhouse’, these are basic discrepancies that they should be focussing on correcting instead of tokenistic HS2 railway plans that or neither here nor there.

 

On the Daily Mirror website, there is a section HERE where you can type in your postcode to find out how many years of good health you can expect. I can expect to live 77.3 years (62.4 of that being good health) … but I live on a bus route, so that’s assuming my road safety is up to scratch. Give it a go yourself!

 

http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/health-postcode-lottery-online-tool-6870413

Jeremy Corbyn & CND

Jeremy Corbyn’s affiliation with the CND is another reason why he should be the next Prime Minister. How can you justify ever using a nuclear weapon when you know it will kill thousands of innocent civilians? We need our world leaders to lead by example and denounce weapons of mass destruction.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn to Become CND Vice-President – BBC