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Posts by Susannah

Data sharing, HMRC and a roundtable in Parliament

July 9th, 2014 by

Yesterday afternoon, nearly 70 38 Degrees members turned up at Parliament for a roundtable debate on HMRC’s proposals to open up our tax data to researchers and, well, the highest bidder.

We filled up Committee Room 14 (after thoroughly blocking up a Parliamentary corridor) – and were joined by loads of MPs (spot the suit) and lots of other MPs’ researchers.

The panel (r-l) consisted of senior Conservative MP David Davis, renowned Cambridge University security engineering professor Ross Anderson, Maddy Carroll (Campaigns Director at 38 Degrees – she chaired) and the Director of the Open Rights Group Jim Killock.

The room was quite busy!

The discussion ranged quite widely, and the panellists took questions from 38 Degrees members as well as from MPs and their researchers in the room. Lots of MPs mentioned that it’s down to so many 38 Degrees members emailing them an invite that they turned up.

And we ended with at least one firm conclusion.

The full audio of the event will be available soon, and right now HMRC are considering when they might be able to meet 38 Degrees and Open Rights Group. Every MP in the room yesterday will have left certain of the public mood, and every researcher will have headed back to their office and reported that not only do 38 Degrees members care – they seem to bringing their MPs on side. Now to persuade HMRC!

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Victory: Barclays won’t invest in destroying the Great Barrier Reef!

June 26th, 2014 by

*High fives* and *applause* – Barclays won’t be investing in the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef!

Remember Abbot Point, the huge coal port that mega company Adani want to build at the heart of the pristine reef? Last night, Barclays confirmed they have:

“… no plans to participate in financing the Abbot Point development or its associated mine/rail infrastructure”.

This is great news, particularly because they haven’t just said they won’t fund the port. They’ve also said they won’t sink money into the mines or the railway lines that take the coal to the coast. Barclays are one of the biggest international investors in Australian coal, so this is pretty huge.

Thousands of us worked alongside organisations around the world to make this happen. Organisations around the world are working to take bank after bank out of the funding pipeline for the Abbot Point coal port. From Campact in Germany to GetUp in Australia, and Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, 350.org and SumOfUs internationally, hundreds of thousands of people are working together to persuade banks like Barclays not to invest. So far, we’ve knocked over HSBC, RBS, Deutsche Bank and now Barclays.

Last week we turned up the heat on Barclays. 38 Degrees members sent over 10,000 tweets to Barclays’ media team, asking for a statement. We got one – but 140 characters or less is hardly a binding commitment. So together we sent an amazing 18,361 emails to Barclays asking them to formally rule out investing in Abbot Point or any of the railways or mines linking to it.

And we got it! Of course, “no plans to participate” doesn’t mean they couldn’t make plans tomorrow. So just to be sure, let’s remind them that thousands of people are watching them closely for the slightest hint of a u-turn.

So 38 Degrees members are tweeting Barclays today to thank them, and to lock down their commitment. Click here if you’d like to join them.

Adani are still on the hunt for investors, but taking Barclays out of the mix is a huge step forward. And it’s people power wot won it. Here’s to the Great Barrier Reef (and to saving Nemo!).

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Update: are Barclays giving ground?

June 20th, 2014 by

Remember the giant coal port that mega company Adani want to build at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef?

Well: an amazing thing is happening. People power’s fighting back. 38 Degrees members are joining hundreds of thousands of people from Australia to Germany to push big banks into saying they won’t touch the project. Deutsche Bank, HSBC and RBS have said they won’t invest in the coal port after people-powered campaigns forced their hands. And now it looks like we might be adding Barclays to that list.

On Wednesday, thousands of 38 Degrees members joined members of people-powered Australian organisation GetUp! to tweet an official demand to the bank that Barclays don’t invest in the Abbot Point coal port. And yesterday, the press team responded:

It’s encouraging – but it’s far from a solid promise. Barclays are still one of the biggest investors in Australian coal, and they might just be fudging.

The reef is supposed to be a pristine world heritage site. But the body who manage the reef have said that the coal port “has the potential to cause long-term irreversible harm to areas of the Great Barrier Reef.” And just days ago, UNESCO gave Australia an official warning over dirty industry along the reef coastline.

38 Degrees members can make sure that Barclays don’t invest in destroying the reef, either now or in the future. Hundreds of thousands of us care passionately about protecting the world we live in – especially from wanton destruction by big business. If we pile on the pressure now, we could lock them in to never investing in dirty industry along the Great Barrier Reef coastline.

Thousands of 38 Degrees members are emailing the press team urgently to ask for a full and official statement, ruling out ever funding the Abbot Point coal terminal. Click here to join them.

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Will Barclays invest in destroying the Great Barrier Reef?

June 18th, 2014 by

HSBC, Deutsche Bank, RBS… now Barclays? Today, thousands of 38 Degrees members joined hundreds of thousands of other people from Australia to Germany fighting to protect Australia’s priceless Great Barrier Reef from the Abbot Point development – where Adani, a mega coal company, want to build the world’s biggest coal port. They’re planning to dredge thousands of tonnes of soil and dump it on the reef. And they’re looking to British banks to stump up the cash.

And all of this despite the fact that the Barrier Reef is a pristine world heritage site, and UNESCO have just used some of their strongest language ever to slap Australia on the wrist for industrial development along the reef coastline. They’ve even suggested they might list the Barrier Reef as ‘endangered’. And the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority saying the coal port “has the potential to cause long-term irreversible harm to areas of the Great Barrier Reef.” Still – Adani seem pretty determined. The Australian and Queensland governments seem pretty unconcerned, so now it’s down to ordinary people around the world.

People powered campaigns over the last month have pushed HSBC, Deutsche Bank and now RBS into saying they won’t have anything to do with the Abbot Point coal port. But Barclays, one of the biggest UK banks, is also one of the biggest international investors in Australian coal – and they might well be lining up to pour money into this project. So 38 Degrees members have launched a Twitter bid to persuade them to back down.

Barclays’ press team got thousands and thousands of tweets over the course of the day, linking to an official letter demanding they don’t line up any investment in Abbot Point. The deadline for an official response is next Wednesday 25th June. So now, we wait. In the meantime, if you’d like to join other 38 Degrees members in ramping up the pressure, please click here!

Check out some of the tweets below:

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Simon Stevens, NHS England: will you meet 38 Degrees members?

May 13th, 2014 by

Back in March, nearly 150,000 38 Degrees members added their names to a petition to Simon Stevens, the new head of NHS England. We called on him to make the NHS more transparent. Now he’s responded. And it’s promising.

The petition called for NHS England to be more open about how decisions about our NHS are made. Especially when it comes to contracts with private companies.

In a statement in May’s board papers, Simon’s said he’s committed to transparency. And he’s agreed to publish, for the first time, top NHS bosses’ meetings with private companies. Here’s the full thing:

“NHS England has set new standards for openness and transparency in all of its operations, compared with what went before. And I’ve set myself and our organisation the goal in everything we do of ‘thinking like a patient, and acting like a taxpayer’. We meet as a board in public, are publicly set goals through a democratically-accountable Mandate, and maintain and publish declarations of interest for all Non-Executive and Executive Directors. NHS England already publishes information on expenses incurred by national directors and we hold a register of gifts and hospitality received. One additional transparency step we will now take – similar to the practices of government departments – is to routinely publish information on the chief executive’s and executive directors’ business meetings with external non-public sector organisations.”

That’s a big step in the right direction. It means we can call out meetings that look dodgy and see – a little more clearly – who’s really influencing NHS policy.

But we still don’t know how his commitments will work in practice. And he hasn’t responded at all to our call not to pay corporate lobbyists to write government policy.

NHS England are front-page news today for another reason – an emerging expenses scandal. So far, they’ve responded by announcing a clampdown on lavish spending, alongside setting a new goal for the whole organisation: “Thinking like a patient, and acting like a taxpayer”.

So let’s make sure Simon Stevens knows what patients and taxpayers want! 38 Degrees members are emailing Simon Stevens in their thousands today to ask him to meet face-to-face with us. Putting our points to him face-to-face could be just what we need to find out where he stands – and give us the chance to tell him how he can protect our NHS. If you’d like to email Simon too, please click here.

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Bees 1 – 0 eBay

April 1st, 2014 by

Fantastic news. The bee-killer pesticides are off eBay – AGAIN!

When a seller tries to put up a listing of a banned pesticide, they see this message asking them to review their listing, and informing them that certain pesticides are banned in the EU and cannot be sold on eBay:

62,827 emails (!) from 38 Degrees members pushed eBay into taking action. They even told the 38 Degrees office that they had people in “making manual checks over the weekend” – which for a huge corporation based on fancy technology is extraordinary.

Here’s a statement from eBay:

“An open letter to 38 Degrees supporters: 

eBay is a marketplace, not a retailer.  We rely on our sellers and our community to help us, as well as our own monitoring system.  We are still improving our system to catch listings for this issue, and it will get better, but no system is perfect.  We will immediately take action against items reported to us. 

It is our experience that sellers want to comply with the regulations, but often don’t know them so we will educate sellers about the rules too.

Thank you for your passion in helping to keep eBay free of items of concern.
eBay”

Last week it looked as though eBay had acted. 48 hours later the pesticides were back up on their site. But this time, it looks like eBay have actually done the work and fixed the problem. The staff team can’t find either of the banned bee-killers, imidacloprid or thiamothoxam, in pesticides for sale on eBay.co.uk right now – can you?

The charity Buglife, who first found the illegal pesticides on eBay, are now talking to eBay about their pesticide policies. Vanessa Amaral Rogers from Buglife started the original petition to eBay on Campaigns by You, a platform which lets anyone start their own campaign. [3] That’s how 38 Degrees members first got involved. Here’s what Vanessa has to say:

“After fantastic work from over 60,000 38 Degrees members, Buglife are extremely happy to report that neonicotinoid pesticides are no longer up for sale on eBay. We will be keeping a close eye on eBay to see whether they keep their promise and don’t allow the sale of these illegal bee-killing pesticides in the future – bees can breathe a sigh of relief for now.

Do you know of another corporate giant behaving badly? Is there something else you’d like to change? Click here to start your own campaign on Campaigns by You in minutes.

All this is not to say the banned pesticides will never go up for sale again. But eBay sound serious about fixing their systems – and now, eBay know that 38 Degrees members are watching.

So, some good news. But everyone keeping a watch out will help catch the illegal listings the next time they go up. Report anything you find – eBay want to hear it.

Until then, eBay!

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eBay: killing our bees AGAIN

March 28th, 2014 by

Update: statement from eBay!

An open letter to 38 Degrees supporters:

eBay is a marketplace, not a retailer.  We rely on our sellers and our community to help us, as well as our own monitoring system.  We are still improving our system to catch listings for this issue, and it will get better over the coming days as we make changes, but no system is perfect.  We will immediately take action against items reported to us though.

It is our experience that sellers want to comply with the regulations, but often don’t know them so from next week we will educate sellers about the rules too.

Thank you for your passion in helping to keep eBay free of items of concern.

So it looks like eBay are moving in the right direction – but three of the links below are still up on eBay.co.uk, and on Wednesday, eBay said something similar… but 48 hours later hadn’t taken every illegal listing down.

They’ve also said that they “have a team making manual checks over the weekend.”

These are positive steps, for sure. But is it as far as we want eBay to go? Please comment below!

——————

Unbelievable – two days after eBay listened to 38 Degrees members and said they’d stopped selling illegal bee-killer pesticides, they’re back up on the site.

You can see the statements that eBay made on Wednesday here.

It’s a classic move: wait ’til the fuss has died down, then quietly get back to business as usual.

Click here to email eBay directly and tell them to:
1. stop selling the illegal pesticides!
2. fix their broken ‘we don’t sell illegal things’ policy

The staff at the charity Buglife are picking through eBay’s marketplace with a fine-tooth comb right now, and we’ll keep updating the list of the banned pesticides that are still up for sale. You can sign the Buglife-Campaigns by You petition to eBay here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/get-ebay-to-remove-toxic-illegal-chemicals-from-their-website

And here are the illegal listings. –UPDATE: some of these listings have now been taken down by eBay, and some are still live and up on the site. Watch this space as eBay respond to 12,112 emails from 38 Degrees (and counting!)–

If you have an eBay account, you can also report them individually to eBay.

Listings with the banned chemical imidacloprid:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bayer-32oz-12-Month-Tree-amp-Shrub-Protect-amp-Feed-II-Conc-/371028093236?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5662ff6934

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bayer-4-12-Month-Tree-amp-Shrub-Protect-amp-Feed-Gran-/231185270497?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35d3b746e1

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bayer-Gal-12-Month-Tree-amp-Shrub-Protect-amp-Feed-/380868090109?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item58ad81d8fd

(from a UK seller) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bayer-Provado-Ulimate-Bug-Killer-400Ml-/151252553018?pt=UK_Home_Garden_Garden_Plants_Weed_Pest_Control_CV&hash=item23375acd3a

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Natural-Sipcam-Biological-Insecticide-against-Whiteflies-Aphids-750ml-/111281628296?pt=UK_Baby_Baby_Feeding_Bottle_Warmers_Coolers_LE&hash=item19e8e6e488

(from a UK seller) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Aerosol-Strong-Bug-Killer-Bayer-Garden-Provado-Ultimate-Bug-Killer-400ml-/161206343835?pt=UK_Pet_Supplies_Reptiles_Spiders_Insects&hash=item2588a5989b

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dominion-2L-Premise-27-5oz-CONTROLS-SPIDERS-ANTS-/260700657640?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb2f857e8

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dominion-2L-27-5oz-CONTROLS-SPIDERS-ANTS-TERMITES-/250734974869?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a60f81795#shpCntId

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dominion-2L-27-5-ounces-3-bottles-Termite-Control-/250734974725?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a60f81705#shpCntId

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dominion-2L-27-5-ounces-Spiders-Ants-and-MORE-2-/260700657767?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb2f85867

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dominion-2L-Tree-Lawn-Shrub-insecticide-27-5-ounces-/250734974680?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a60f816d8

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dominion-2L-27-5oz-KILLS-SPIDERS-ANTS-TERMITES-2-/260700657680?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb2f85810

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dominion-2L-Premise-27-5-ounces-kills-spiders-3-/260700657547?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb2f8578b

Listings with the banned chemical thiamothoxam:

(from a UK seller) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200ML-RESOLVA-BUG-KILLER-CONCENTRATE-PLANT-POT-CONTAINER-INSECT-KILLER-/271418088283?pt=UK_Home_Garden_Garden_Plants_Weed_Pest_Control_CV&hash=item3f31c75b5b

 

 

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NHS England: Give us transparency

March 27th, 2014 by

Private companies are helping to decide the future of the NHS.

It’s come to light that a lobbying outfit working for some of the biggest drug companies was paid by NHS England to write an important report. It’s claimed that this report could help shape £12bn (!) of NHS spending over the next five years.

The NHS is owned by all of us. But NHS England – the body that runs the NHS here – doesn’t have to publish conflicts of interest like this, or details of the lobbyists they meet with. We may never have even found out this was going on.

If enough of us kick up a stink, we could force NHS England to come clean about who’s deciding the future of our NHS. Let’s show them that the taxpayers who fund them expect them to be transparent about who’s advising them, especially when these people might profit from the decisions.

Private companies getting involved in NHS decision-making is exactly what we all feared would happen when the government passed the Health and Social Care Act. As well as providing local services, private companies are now being ushered in at the top of the NHS.

There’s no reason why NHS England can’t publish potential conflicts of interest or meetings with lobbying firms. Government departments regularly do this.

NHS England is less than a year old. They’re not used to being on the receiving end of a big people-powered petition. Thousands and thousands of names on a petition, delivered to their offices, could embarrass them into coming clean about who’s influencing them.

38 Degrees members have voted time and time again to ensure that protecting our NHS is at the core of what we do. It’s moments like this where we can come together and take action. Let’s fight to protect our NHS from the vultures that are circling around it – or at least, to find out which vultures are circling.

Click here to join thousands of other 38 Degrees members in demanding that NHS England come clean about the revolving door between big business and the NHS.

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eBay: no longer killing our bees!

March 26th, 2014 by

Success! It took 3,380 emails from 38 Degrees members and a few hours to stop eBay selling bee-killing pesticides.

We took them by surprise, and it worked. The illegal pesticides are off the site. Unwitting gardeners won’t accidentally break the European ban that hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members campaigned for, and our bees are a little bit safer.

It’s easy to feel powerless when we’re up against corporate giants. But today we’ve proven that even the biggest opponents respond when thousands of us campaign together.

So – a good day!

Here’s what some other 38 Degrees members had to say on Facebook:

Dave: Brilliant! Well done everybody, and maybe a good word for eBay who took notice of us and didn’t procrastinate like other organisations do.

Sonia: Only 3500 made the difference. Okay let’s focus and get another few billion and shift this planet on!

And the obligatory bee pun:

Chris: 38 degrees caused quite a buzz.

Congrats all round!

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Poll results: March 22nd 2014

March 24th, 2014 by

Every week a random (but representative!) sample of 38 Degrees members vote on which issues our movement should prioritise and which campaigns to get behind. Here are the results for March 22nd 2014.

The blue represents people answering ‘a lot’ to the question of whether 38 Degrees members should spend time on each issue, the red represents people answering ‘a little’, and the green is ‘not at all’.

Protecting our NHS from privatisation has come top this week! See here for a campaign to uncover links between NHS England – the body in charge of privatisation contracts in the NHS in England – and big business.

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