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“Keeping our heads in a crisis”
Summit For Nothing
This month, 20 of the world’s most powerful leaders flew in private jets to London to stay in luxury hotels, drink the finest wines, and discuss the collapse of the global economy. Safely tucked away behind the UK’s most expensive police operation in history (£8 million, thank you very much), with their every desire attended to irrespective of cost (hotel expenses topping £50 million), our glorious leaders failed to notice the obvious answer to the UK’s 2-million-strong employment problem.
Which was, I sourly reflected at the slightly disappointing block outside the conference centres on Thursday the 2nd, to train them all as journalists. As this journalist pondered his genius, another nervous-looking hippy edged up to me and whispered “Hey, are you a protester?” Of course not, I replied, I’m an undercover media parasite desperately hoping this will suddenly start living up to the awesome front-page-grabbing defiance of yesterday’s ruckus in the city. “Me, too!” he exclaimed, with a junkie-like edge to his voice. “Have you found anyone who isn’t? I need some quotes, man...”
Saturday the 28th of March’s Put People First procession was the exception rather than the rule, with the placid police letting the 40,000 marchers get on with it. But as for the Climate Camp... It was supposed to be beautiful. Sneaking like a weed through broken paving cracks, tangled vines creeping through urban decay, snatching back the stolen space that was swallowed up by the city. Camping under twinkling stars and streetlights in the very heart of capitalism. Singing songs around campfires fuelled by newspaper scraps and debris. Screw the system, we've got samosas, cake and a compost loo! It was supposed to be like that, but the Camp For Climate Action, occupying the space surrounding London's European Carbon Exchange, was evicted after 12 hours on the night of April 1st.
Indeed, overnight, brutal police attacks, raids, false imprisonment and sleep deprivation (officially recognised by the UN as torture) had hit the all the other squats and convergences spaces around the city too, to ensure that there was no repeat of Wednesday’s 15,000-strong marches, no fluffy carnival, or entirely justifiable smashing of RBS. Despite all this provocation, the protesters remained peaceful and proportionate. Despite coppers deliberately assaulting civilians, batonning people in the crotch, and walking up and down the lines shield-smashing the face of each demonstrator in turn, the crowds refused to lower themselves to the pigs’ level. Which, frankly, they should have.
How The G20 Plan To Help The World’s Poor
So what actually happened at the G20 summit last week? Well, in an attempt to give the global economy a kick up the arse and return to "business as usual", $1.1 trillion was given to the International Monetary Fund to aid failing industries around the world. $50 billion of this will allegedly go to poor countries, but will it actually reduce poverty?
The IMF typically only lends out funds at a price, controlling poorer countries by means of ironically named ‘Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers’. Loans are granted in exchange for the approval of regulations that help corporations and harm workers, such as cuts to the minimum wage and the banning of unions. The IMF and rich lender countries want to make sure they get their money back, so poor countries are forced to focus their industries on producing exports, rather than food for their own people. They are made to remove trade barriers so that rich foreign corporations can flood their markets with cheap goods and run local traders out of business. Public services such as healthcare, schools and transport are privatised while government spending on health and education is cut – placing the emphasis on profit rather than provision of services. When the Bechtel corporation took over the supply of public water in Bolivia, bills went up by up to 90%, leaving many families unable to afford water. When riots forced them to withdraw, Bechtel (supported by the IMF) demanded $30 million in compensation from the Bolivian Government.
Decisions made by the IMF override national laws. For example, when the State of California banned the gasoline additive MBTE because it pollutes ground water and poses a real threat to public health, the Canadian maker of the additive sued them under IMF and World Trade Organisation laws, because this restricted trade.
Who needs colonialism when you've got the IMF? They put the "rights" of corporations ahead of human rights. The G20 mean business as usual and don't give a shit about the poor if this is their plan for change.
Taking The Visteon
On Tuesday the 31st of March, workers at three factories owned by Visteon, a Ford subsidiary received news that is all too common at the moment – you’re fired! The workers in Belfast, Enfield and Basildon were ordered to leave without any notice, redundancy packages, back pay and other money owed to them by the company. What happened next however, shows what happens when workers stand up to the boss. Refusing to leave, the 70 workers locked themselves inside their factories, refusing to budge despite intimidation from cops and bosses until they got the money and rights that were owed to them. The workers stayed put for 11 days, receiving huge support from locals and activists who set up 24-hour pickets in the factories’ car parks. The occupiers have now left the factories, but the fight is only just beginning: a permanent picket has been established at the London factory, along with other initiatives and the workers and their supporters have vowed not to give up the struggle. The campaign needs your help, and is setting a great example of how organised workers are capable of standing up for their rights in the face of the classist attacks of capitalism and the state. In this recession, the bosses and politicians have made it all too clear that they are looking out for themselves, their rich mates and nobody else. Only by taking a leaf from the book of the Visteon workers, or the Prisme Packaging & Design workers in Dundee, and getting organised to fight back can we build a fair and just society rather than relenting to leaders’ vision of business as usual. Or why not emulate the 2 million French who’ve just enjoyed their second general strike of the year, or the sacked Sony workers of the Landes region who took their chief executive hostage? To find out how you can support the Visteon workers, drop and email to visteon_support [at] haringey.org.uk, or bathactivistnet [at] yahoo.co.uk for info on local support actions.
Bath Hunt Saboteurs meetings, 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, 8pm, The Bell, Walcot Street
London Road Food Co-op, Wednesdays, 4-7pm, Riverside Community Centre, London Road
Bath Stop The War Coalition vigil, Saturdays, 11.30am-12.30, Bath Abbey Courtyard
‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay: From Poll Tax Rebellion to Recession Resistance’ talk and film, Thursday 23rd April, 7.30pm, The Cube cinema, Dove Street South, Bristol
Visteon solidarity picket, Friday 24th April, 5.30pm, Allen Ford garage, opposite former Bath Press, Redbridge House, Lower Bristol Road
World Day for Lab Animals march, Saturday 25th April, Hyde Park, London, coach leaving Bristol Temple Meads, 8.45am, email@example.com to book place
anti-police brutality solidarity demo, Sunday 26th April, meet 12 midday outside Bath Spa train station
Mayday TU march, Friday 1st May, Clerkenwell Green, London, 12 midday
Anti-Militarist Gathering, Saturday 2nd May – Sunday 3rd May, Cowley Club, Brighton, http://www.antimilitaristnetwork.noflag.org.uk
Mayday everyday gigs, Friday 1st May - Sunday 3rd May, Chesters, Frogmore Street, Bristol
Mayday in Brighton, Monday 4th May, 12 noon, Brighton, http://www.smashedo.org.uk
Bath Friends of the Earth meeting, Monday 4th May, 8pm, Stillpoint, Broad Street Place, Broad Street
Bath Animal Action meeting, Wednesday 6th May, 7.30-8.30pm, backroom of The Bell,
Bath Activist Network meeting, Thursday 7th May, 7.30-9pm, downstairs at The Hobgoblin, St James Parade
Bath FreeShop, Saturday 9th May, 12-3pm, outside Pump Rooms, Stall Street
Broadlands Orchardshare Volunteering Day, Saturday 9th May, 12-4pm, Broadlands Orchard, Box Road, Bathford, email broadlandsorchardshare [at] googlemail.com or phone 07532 472 256
Bath Greenpeace meeting, Monday 11th May, 7.30-9pm, Stillpoint, Broad Street Place
Transition Open Forum, Tuesday 12th May, 7pm, Widcombe Social Club
Bath Green Drinks, Wednesday 13th May, 8.30pm, the Rummer, Grand Parade
Performance: ‘Roots – A Tale Of Love And Vegetables’, Thursday 28th May – Sunday 7th June, BOG Lower Common Allotments
G20 Death – Pigs Might Lie
Amongst the broken windows and smashed banks of the recent G20 protests, a tragedy occurred that is threatening to drag the inhumane and brutal tactics regularly employed by British cops into the public eye. Ian Tomlinson, a 47-year-old paper seller, was walking home from work through the protests, when he suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack. The cops were quick to clarify the matter for us – Ian had become trapped in the crowd before collapsing. Police efforts to rescue and resuscitate the man were hampered by baying mobs of protestors pelting police medics with bricks and bottles. Really? The police clung doggedly to this version of events despite several convincing witness statements to the contrary. Then, some video footage came to light that showed a vastly different story. Ian, on his own, was walking away from a line of riot police with his hands in his pockets. Without warning, an officer beat Tomlinson’s legs with a truncheon before shoving him to the floor with his shield. He remained on the floor for around 10 seconds, receiving no help before being helped up by activists and moving off, “Dazed and stumbling along the road.” A minute later, he was dead. The police have now changed their story to suit the uncovering of their lies, but they deny any inconsistency in their version of events, which has changed from “baying mob stop us helping the injured” to “well, maybe an officer overreacted.” In a further revelation, the police have been criticized for rushing the post-mortem and using an incompetent, and widely discredited pathologist. Meanwhile, Saturday the 11th of April saw nearly 500 people march through central London to protest the death – thankfully, this day wasn’t attacked, unlike the vigil for Ian held on the 2nd.
The cop who murdered Ian has now been suspended pending investigation, but this avoids the most important issue surrounding the incident. This is how police ALWAYS behave during public order situations. ‘Kettling’, the police tactic of confining a group and refusing them access to toilets, medical aid or water is now common place, as is police refusal to wear identification, use of pepper spray, and unprovoked baton charges. Suspending and punishing one cop is a start, but we need to use the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson to challenge the violent and arbitrary manner in which police deal with almost all acts of public protest. Ian’s death was not caused by the actions of one ‘bad apple’, but by a culture of contempt, violence and arrogance that is the rule, rather than the exception in the modern police force. Will we, in Britain, sit by and watch as the police continue to kill and injure us with arrogance and brutality? Or perhaps now is the time to stand up against a system that is happy to viciously strike anyone who dares to stand up and question its waning authority.
A full video of the events leading up to Ian’s death can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADd_6ISHLdg
What Housing Crisis?
As repossessions soar by 68%, housing lists double (from 3,000 to 6,000 locally over the last decade), and the market continues to nosedive, B&NES are dealing with things the only way they know how. They’re, um, selling off all council houses. With 1,100 affordable homes ditched already (thanks to retired banker Councillor Malcolm Hanney, who lives in a very unaffordable house in Chew Magna), and more at Manvers Street, Dorchester Street and Broad Street to follow, this can only mean one thing... Less rent to pay!
That’s right. Theses houses aren’t going anywhere, after all. There’s no actual housing shortage – just an excess of scamming landlords leaving buildings empty. And increasing numbers of people across the region are choosing to legally squat these empties rather than choose homelessness or giving every penny they own to the undeserving.
In Bristol, a national squatters’ meeting on the 14th and 15th of March, brought people from across the country to a specially-occupied mansion for a weekend of discussions and workshops – and also helped the economy by providing work for a veritable horde of journos. More locally, the Squatters Communal Association of Bath have finally lost the former Twerton rail station following their fourth illegal eviction, with the tacit approval of Twerton ward Lib Dem Councillor Tim Ball. Bath police turned a blind eye to the theft, criminal damage and burglary committed by publicity-shy bailiffs, who even got away with pouring boiling water over one occupant’s hands. Resident David Clements explains, “Dealing with a landlord who resorts to force first and the courts second is hard, but we stuck at it to teach them a lesson. Fortunately, landlords like that are rare, so we’re looking forwards to having an easier time of things in our new home.”
Interested in squatting or learning more? Contact bathactivistnet [at] yahoo.co.uk. Problems with bailiffs or repossessions? Contact resistbailiffs [at] yahoo.co.uk, or 07794 774938.
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Bath Activist Network are a local umbrella group campaigning on issues as diverse as development, environmentalism, anti-war, animal rights, workers’ rights and more. Helping to produce The Bath Bomb, we are open to anyone, and our members range from trade unionists to anarchists, liberals to greens, and people who just want to change Bath for the better. For details on meetings, demos, or just to get in touch, email bathactivistnet [at] yahoo.co.uk, or see our website: http://www.bathactivistnetwork.blogspot.com
Meeting True Veg
Kilter, Bath’s unique outdoor theatre company, premieres their new production ‘Roots – A Tale Of Love And Vegetables,’ during this year’s Fringe Fest, running from Thursday the 28th May to Sunday 7th June, it is to be performed on Bath Organic Group’s Lower Common Allotments, in Victoria Park. Planting the seeds of change with a playful and engaging show, Kilter lead their audience on a gentle journey down the bean-rows to investigate food-security, food history and traditional skills in the approaching post-oil world. Friendly, welcoming characters tinker with their seedlings whilst mulling over the cycles of past and future. The set is made up of entirely found and recycled materials, and you even get to take away a free set of seeds at the end! Kilter, who will be working the allotments during the preceding week, is committed to engaging audiences in issues on the environment, social justice and English heritage, and seeks to deliver low carbon theatre. Tickets are priced at £9 (concessions £7) and are on sale from ICIA’s Box Office at Bath Uni - ring 01225 386777.
A Cut Above The Rest
Here at Bath Bomb HQ, we were saddened to hear the news surrounding the death of passionate blood-junkie Trevor Morse. Trevor ended his life attempting to prevent two hunt monitors from taking off in a gyrocopter they were using to monitor fox hunting activities. Running in front of the fast moving aircraft, Trevor was obviously under the impression that the sheer strength of his personality would suffice to halt a speeding aircraft. Wrong. It was not so much the news of his gyrocopter-inflicted near-decapitation that caused our bad moods, but the ridiculous charges that have been pinned on the pilot, Bryan Griffiths, of the gyrocopter, a peaceful man who has been charged with murder. In the last 20 years, three hunt saboteurs have been killed, mostly being run over, by hunters, and the most serious charge brought against a hunter has been reckless driving. But as soon as it is a hunter who dies, it is not a tragic accident, but murder. This charge just highlights the one-sided policing that’s been the norm regarding hunting for decades. A support group has been set up for Bryan, and letters of support can be sent to:
Bryan Griffiths XW8892
Redditch B97 6QS
Pharma To Get Taste Of Own Medicine?
In spite of the Government’s sustained attack on animal rights advocates, World Day for Lab Animals will be marked this year in London with a national march on the 25th April. Meeting in Hyde Park at 12 midday, the demo will proceed to through the centre to a rally at Parliament. Whilst Neo-Labour still refuse to carry out their much-promised Royal Commission into the medical relevance of animal testing, 18,000 people a year die from dodgy drug side effects in the UK alone: in fact, relying on animal testing results for our medicines is Britain’s fourth biggest killer. But instead of worrying about helping research into modern non-animal testing, such as the work carried out by the Dr Hadwen Trust or Europeans for Medical Progress, instead they bail out companies like Huntingdon Life Sciences, who carry out contracts for animal abuse and have once again recently been exposed for cruelty. To join this fight for both human and non-human animals’ health and dignity, a coach will be leaving Bristol Temple Meads train station just before 9am that morning, £4 waged return or £2 unwaged return: get in touch with bathanimalaction [at] yahoo.co.uk, or ring 07595 745441 to book your place.
http://www.curedisease.net `` ```
The Big Chalk-In
Members of BAN attended a big ‘chalk-in’ outside Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 9th April. This demo was called because Paul Saville, a UWE student, had chalked on a pavement in Bristol: ‘Liberty – the right to question it, the right to ask are we free?’ Obviously not, because he was promptly arrested and charged with criminal damage. He was to appear at court the morning of the 9th, but the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charges at the last moment. The chalk-in was called as a protest against the latest would-be attack on our right to freedom of speech and dissent. People on the demo took turns to scrawl slogans, and were joined by other young people who’d been in court that morning already. Paul, however, had problems in taking part, as his wrist had been broken by the police at the recent G20 protests! This time, the thin black and blue line kept a low profile, probably due to their own current public order problems. The day proved that the best way of defending one’s rights when attacked is mass defiance.
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