Monthly Archives: August 2012

Final names announced for The Africa Express

Africa Express – the collective of African and Western musicians – has announced the final set of exciting names to join the train tour around the UK this September leaving London Euston on September 2nd with the first show at Middlesborough Town Hall on September 3rd and ending at Granary Square in London’s Kings Cross on September 8th.  The new passengers include Maximo Park, Thandiswa, Gilles Peterson, EL, Eliza Doolittle, Lucy Rose, The Bots, Rachel Unthank, Reeps One, Toumani Diabate and Rae Morris, joining the likes of Damon Albarn, Amadou & Mariam, Charli XCX, Baaba Mall, Temper Trap, Noisettes, Baloji, Tony Allen, Carl Barât, Fatoumata Diawara , Rizzle Kicks , Bassekou  Kouyate, Jupiter & Okwess International, Kano, Baaba Maal, The Noisettes, Jack Steadman (Bombay Bicycle Club), Rokia Traoré and Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) on board the train based tour. Other shows include Glasgow Arches (Sept 4th), Manchester HMV Ritz (Sept 5th), Cardiff University Solus (Sept 6th) and Bristol’s Creative Common (September 7th).

You can see the BBC’s report from the Euston Station send off here (and check out the short film!) and rolling coverage on the Guardian’s webpages here


Burning Man tickets underbaked

Having sold out in 2011, the Burning Man festival faced a different problem this year after a system to beat the ticket touts seemingly left the event undersold with hundreds of tickets available at under face value on secondary ticketing sites and sites like craigslist and eBay. For 2012 organisers introduced a ticketing system based on a lottery – which caused outcry amongst many loyal ‘burners’ who failed to get tickets – and then tickets still appeared on secondary sites at inflated values.  But now tickets for the week long event are freely available and theories range from the fact that burners need to plan for a week long desert stay some time in advance, to the extreme hot weather in the USA this year which may have deterred fans. Gate for the week long event in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada opened on Monday August 27th.

Olympic ticket re-seller faces bankruptcy reports that controversial ticket reseller EuroTeam faces bankruptcy after selling “unauthorized” tickets for the recent London 2012 Olympic Games. The Oslo based company originally sold 20,000 tickets for the Olympic games via the internet, using 12 different websites including [] and []. Only 5,000 of the purchased tickets were actually delivered to buyers according to the European Consumer Centre in Norway. EuroTeam is under current investigation by Britain’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) as well as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Police in Norway seized 455 of the tickets sold by EuroTeam – and investigators have alleged that many were illegally obtained by EuroTeam from the National Olympic Committees of two unidentified Eastern European countries. Euroteam’s owner, Atle Barlaup, called Olympic officials a “mafia” who used “all their resources to protect their own economic interests.” According to the Euroteam website, the actions of the IOC and the London Olympics were “done solely to harm a legally operating company in the interest of protecting the financial interest of the private organization IOC”, dispute a finding in the High Court in London that the EuroTeam website misled consumers. Whilst refunds have been promised to customers who did not receive tickets, says that the company doesn’t seem to have much hope of staying afloat.

Section 31 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, passed in 2006, made it a criminal offence to sell tickets without authorisation from the London Organising Committee (Locog) in the UK although once physical tickets became available holders could sell them for face value to friends and families.  The National Olympic Committee (NOC) of each participating country also received an allocation of tickets and in some countries there were authorised resellers are legitimately selling these tickets online. But EuroTeam was not seemingly one of them. Locog had warned UK fans to beware of bogus and unauthorised websites when searching for tickets from overseas sources.

And more on EuroTeam from Festival Republic here saying “The same site is now offering tickets for Reading and Leeds Festivals. They are NOT an authorised seller and we have issued NO ticket allocation to them or their affiliated sites”

Paralympics set for spectacular opening ceremony

As thousands rushed to buy the last remaining tickets for the 2012 Paralympic Games, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said that the opening ceremony would be ‘superb’ and that the public would be ‘blown away’ by the level of sportsmanship on display at the Games. The opening show will feature disabled acrobats, and tonight’s event will open with the words “O wonder! How many goodly creatures there are here” from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with a young actress playing the character of Miranda leading the audience through the ceremony. In a celebration of scientific achievements, it will include references to the Big Bang theory and the Large Hadron Collider and the show will also feature world renowned scientist Professor Stephen Hawking who is severely disabled from motor neurone disease. The author of A Brief History Of Time has filmed a pre-recorded message for spectators inside the Olympic Stadium where those attending will include the Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Among the international stars appearing will be actor Sir Ian McKellen, 73, who will read lines from The Tempest, blind soprano Denise Leigh, who performed four years ago in Beijing, and Beverley Knight, who officials say was chosen for her ‘stadium-filling voice’ and who will perform live. Award-winning film director Stephen Daldry and Co-Artistic Directors Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings head the team behind the ceremony, which has a cast of over 3,000 volunteers, rehabilitating soldiers, 100 children and professionals. Called “Enlightenment“, the programme celebrates the inclusivity of the Paralympics, including a fly past by “Aerobility” and incredible acrobatic performances on a 35 metre-high rig above the stadium floor. Over 4,000 of the World’s top Paralympians from 162 countries will parade the ceremony in front of the 80.000 audience and an estimated 1 billion worldwide TV audience. Once all the nations have arrived into the Stadium, LOCOG Chair Seb Coe and President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven will address the audience. The Games will then be declared open. The ceremony culminates in the lighting of the Paralympic Cauldron, which will burn throughout the Paralympic Games until the 9th of September.

Albarn visit highlights Mali crisis

Malian singer and guitarist Afel Bocoum was joined in Mali by Damon Albarn for a unique music project to draw attention to Mali’s growing humanitarian crisis and to the food crisis across the Sahel region of West and Central Africa. The Mali Music Unplugged trip for Oxfam included a special performance from the album Mali Music, and a performance of a completely new track.  More than 18 million people in nine countries are threatened by food shortages, including 1 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.  In Mali itself, 4.6 million people are affected — 1.6 million of them in northern Mali, where insecurity and violence are making access for humanitarian organisations extremely difficult. This conflict has forced around 370,000 people to flee their homes in the north. Around 200,000 are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries – that are also experiencing serious food shortages –and 170,000 are displaced within Mali.

For more on the Sahel crisis – and to donate to Oxfam’s relief effort – visit and you can see a short film here


Forest fires are threatening tourist resorts in Greece and around the Mediterranean. On the Greek island of Chios residents of the village of Lithi were forced to seek safety on the beach as fires engulfed the surrounding hillsides. And on the Canary island of Gomera a ten day old blaze has destroyed thousands of acres of vegetation and 5000 people have been evacuated. . The worst hit country is Spain – 140,000 acres of woodland have been destroyed in Catalonia in the Cabaneros and Donana National Parks. Firefighters have also fought large blazes in Portugal, Italy, Sardinia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has come out in support of the Severn barrage, the £30 billion project to generate energy fro tidal flows with a 13 mile tidal barrage which would produce 5% of the electricity needed for British homes. The plan has split the environmental movement – yes, green power – but the scheme, even in a newly revised  form, would have significant impact on legally protected habitats and special areas of conservation for bird life including Shelducks, Beswick Swans, Redshanks and European White Fronted Geese.  Tbe project would create 20,000 jobs and would not need taxpayer funding as it would be a commercial scheme.

The Guardian reports that the growing row over biofuels is ready to flare up again with German researchers claiming to have found evidence that European-produced biodiesel does not meet the sustainability targets claimed by Brussels. Two experts at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena say eight out of their 10 tests on locally produced rapeseed biodiesel failed to show the 35% greenhouse gas savings promised. In most cases it was under 30%. The use of biofuels would be further undermined when the EU emissions target increases, as planned, to 50% in five years’ time. .

The UK’s 115 universities could save up to £13.8m if they adopted the British Standards Institution’s (BSI) new energy management standard according to – ah – the BSI!  Sheffield Hallam University, one of the largest in the UK and where our good friend Hannah Ross Morris works, implemented the new standard called ISO 50001 in between January and May this year and have saved £50,000 so far.

The kittiwake, one of the World’s most abundant seabirds, is struggling to survive in Britain because of a lack of food caused by climate change. The RSPB says that numbers have halved since the mid 80s with ever steeper declines in the Shetlands Isles and Orkney .

A £23m demonstration programme to encourage UK transport operators to buy and use low carbon commercial vehicles is set to receive over £11m in Government support to promote  alternative and dual-fuel heavy-goods vehicles. Thirteen major companies, including Tesco, the John Lewis partnership, Robert Wiseman Dairies and the BOC Group are leading trials in the programme, with more than 300 low-carbon commercial vehicles involved.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is calling for the public to comment on sustainability reporting guidance geared towards improving the way companies report on greenhouse gas emissions. GRI produces a sustainability reporting framework that is widely used around the world and is now working on the next generation of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, called G4. More here . reports that The Government must take urgent action on the UK’s pending raw material crunch and set up a rapid response unit to co-ordinate Whitehall activity on potential resource threats to the economy. The warning comes from a consortium of business and environmental organisations.

Ex-Manchester United player Gary Neville has decided not to install a wind turbine at his ‘eco-home’ after local residents in Bolton contested the plans. That said, Gary’s home will include a ground source heat pump, sustainable rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic cells to generate energy.

More on turbines: Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) may have its plans to install Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm dismissed because of its potential impact on the areas marine life.  Mars Petcare has decided not to progress with a planning application to build a wind turbine in Birstall, Yorkshire, says the company following “mixed views amongst the local community and the council during the planning process, as well as wider business considerations”.

The fabric wrap that surrounds the London 2012 Olympic stadium will be reused as sheltering for vulnerable children in Rio de Janeiro and Uganda.

The UK Government has been called upon to kick-start individual producer responsibility  in the UK by incentivising manufacturers to design electrical and electronic goods that are easier to reuse or recycle including a weighting mechanism for eco-design.

Businesses will be able to manage water sustainably with the help of a new guide called Water For Business published online by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and SustainAbility.

United Utilities gave been accused of polluting and contaminating large streches of the UK’s coastline with the Environment agency saying that in the North West alone, 34 beaches have poor seawater quality and high levels of bacteria meaning they are hazardous for swimmers.  Surfers against Sewage put the blame on a lack of investment to deal with sewage and run-off from farmland after heavy rain (and we get lots of that now!) although United Utilities will not release overflow data – and highlighted problems with beaches at Blackpool, St Annes and Morecombe amongts others which would fail European standards for cleanliness which will be introduced in 2015.  United Utilities made a profit of £594.1 million before tax last year and said it was backing a scheme to get people working on the project, and that it was committed to looking at how we can make overflow data available to the public”.

More UK weather woe as Creamfields floods

The Creamfields dance music festival has ended a day early after torrential rain caused “heavy flooding” at the festival site at Daresbury in Cheshire. The site was closed and revellers were asked to leave the site after the heavy downpours over the previous 24 hours had produced ‘significant and heavy’ flooding in the area according to the Police. Organisers warned people via Twitter and Facebook on Sunday morning that the site was closed and people with day tickets should not travel. A message posted on said: “It is with regret that today’s event at Creamfields has been cancelled due to significant rainfall overnight and on site flooding. Every effort has been made to continue with the event and following an evaluation of the site the decision has been made by the promoters, Cheshire Police and multi agencies on site to close today’s final day in the interest of Health and Safety. The heavy downpour overnight has created issues across the site leaving many areas unusable. It is our primary concern at this time that assistance is given to those on site and ensure those campers exit safely”. Coach operators Big Green Coach were attempting to bring forward its services to help campers depart.