Government dept’s urged to use Twitter


New government guidance has been published urging civil servants to use the micro-blogging site Twitter. Launched on the Cabinet Office website, the 20-page document is calling on departments to “tweet” on “issues of relevance or upcoming events”.

The website is already used by Downing Street, the Foreign Office and many individual MPs. Neil Williams, of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), published the “template” strategy.

Writing on the Cabinet Office’s digital engagement blog, Mr Williams – who is BIS’s head of corporate digital channels – conceded that 20 pages was a “a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter” but added “I was surprised by just how much there is to say – and quite how worth saying it is.”

The template had been written for BIS to consider using Twitter but could be used by other departments, he said. Publishing tweets, replying to incoming messages and monitoring the account would take less than an hour a day, according to the strategy.

Tweets should also be limited to issues of relevance or upcoming events rather than just campaign messages, and insights from ministers are encouraged.

Read the full story on the BBC NEWS website.


Musicians demand BNP stop selling their songs


Musicians from bands including Blur and Pink Floyd have launched a campaign demanding that the British National party stop selling their music to raise campaign funds.

The BNP is selling folk albums on its website featuring artists who claim they have no control over the fact that the far-right party is using their songs.

The BNP’s commercial partner Excalibur sells compilation CDs with titles including Proud Heritage, Rule Britannia and The White Cliffs of Dover.

An album called West Wind, written by the party leader, Nick Griffin, and featuring songs including Nothing Bloody Works and Colour, is among those being sold. It claims “to incorporate folk and more upbeat tempos to deliver a powerful message of how British people have been dispossessed”.

Billy Bragg, along with Dave Rowntree from Blur and Nick Mason from Pink Floyd, have joined with the Musicians’ Union and Featured Artists’ Coalition in objecting to the BNP’s “politics and morals”.

“In the lead up to the European elections, it has come to our attention that the BNP is selling compilation CDs through its website in order to raise funds for campaigning,” they wrote in a letter published in the Times.

“Many of the musicians featured on these … have no legal right to object to their music being used in this way. We would, on behalf of our joint membership of over 31,000 members, like to have our opposition to the BNP’s politics and morals formally noted.”

Read the full story on the Guardian website.

Green Party calls for end to mobile network energy wastage


Unnecessary duplication in mobile phone networks is wasting an “enormous” amount of energy, the Green Party has claimed.

In a report released last week, the party said there are at least 50,000 base stations across the UK, many of which belong to rival companies and serve the same areas. The party is calling for government regulation to force operators to create one “super-network”, which it estimates could save 300 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year, the equivalent of the annual electricity use of nearly 70,000 homes.

The UK is covered by five virtually independent networks due to the government’s early attempts to ensure competition in the industry. James Page, industry policy adviser to the Green Party, said: “The government wanted competition, but you can achieve competition without necessarily having a separate network each. The best hope is in government requiring Ofcom to begin considering environmental and energy issues, because at the moment it doesn’t.”

The time is ideal for the government to step in, said the party, because of the impending digital television switchover. Ofcom will auction off the frequency currently used by analogue television broadcasts in 2010, handing it over for use by mobile operators. When new masts are built to take advantage of the extra spectrum, they could be built in a partnership, suggests the report.

Read the full story on the Guardian website.

Alistair Darling pledges broadband for all


The chancellor, Alistair Darling, has outlined plans in his budget speech today for additional government funding to help achieve universal broadband coverage across the UK.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Darling also said that the UK’s creative industries – including the media, technology and music sectors – could be allowed to draw from £2.5bn of public funding being set aside by the government for investment in “high-skilled jobs of the future”.

A strategic investment fund of £750m would also help regionally important sectors and emerging technologies, which could include digital businesses, alongside other sectors such as biotechnology.

“It is vital to ensure the entire country and economy benefits from the digital age,” Darling told MPs.

“So I am allocating extra funding for digital investment, to help to extend the broadband network to almost every community,” he added.

“This will allow us to deliver the vision set out in the Digital Britain report – making sure everyone can benefit from this communications revolution and create thousands more skilled jobs.”

Read the full story on the Guardian website.

Thousands protest over G20 summit


Thousands of anti-capitalist and climate change protesters are taking part in a series of demonstrations in London to coincide with the G20 summit.

There were minor skirmishes between police and demonstrators outside the Bank of England amid a huge security operation in the City of London.

Anti-war groups are due to gather near the US Embassy and in Trafalgar Square.

Protests have been lawful but 11 people have been arrested after being stopped in an armoured personnel carrier.

Hundreds from protest groups under the G20 Meltdown banner marched from Tube stations to the Bank urging those who had lost their homes, jobs, savings or pensions to join them in following four “horsemen of the apocalypse” to “lay siege” to financial institutions.

Crowds were chanting “one solution revolution” and “climate, justice, peace”. Among them were groups of masked protesters from other European countries.

Read the full story on the BBC News website.

A welcome change


This just in from Green Pepper

“The dawn of a new era in American politics brings with it the hope of a real change in energy policy.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged his support for the Apollo Alliance Program to bring new jobs and energy security to the US through an alternative energy economy.

The idea for a new Apollo program to build an alternative energy economy has been around since the Apollo Alliance was founded in 2004.

According to their website, the program would generate and invest $500 billion over 10 years to implement a strategy of five principal initiatives.

An annual investment of about $50 billion a year, the Alliance notes, is a smaller share of the gross domestic product than was spent on the Apollo space program, about one-third of current spending in Iraq, and roughly half of what was lent by the federal government to insurance giant AIG.”

Read the full story on the Green Pepper website.