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7th April 2006 |
WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!! ITS YER SPECULATING...
Cleansing | Top ASBO of the Week | LIBERTÉ,
EGALITÉ, PRECARITÉ | Squaring Off
| Dam Shame | SchNEWS in Brief
| No Oil Painting
| Baa-Humbug | ...and finally...
CO-OP SHOPPED OVER 'ETHICAL BANKING'
CIS views this as an unacceptable position for an energy
company, and one that could harm long-term shareholder value.
- CIS greenwash team give ExxonMobil a firm ticking off for
climate crimes then increase their investment.
Two weeks ago (See SchNEWS 537) we told
you about the Co-operative Banks decision to sneakily invest
in Glaxosmithkline and Vodafone - and the mail bag was soon full
of requests from readers for more info. Well, as yer ever-obliging
Since 1992, the Bank has supposedly followed an ethical investment
policy which is supposed to offer people (all increasingly being
forced to use bank accounts), somewhere environmentally friendly
to stash their cash. In this promotion of capitalism-lite,
the Co-op is joined by a handful of smaller banks like the Ecology
Building Society and Triodos, but its preference for larger profits
has led it to compete with the real bad guys at places like Barclays
and NatWest. Co-op bosses have realised that they cant make
profits big enough to impress City fat cats without dancing with
the devil themselves and hence their decision to invest in Glaxo
Smithkline and Vodafone.
The Co-op, proud sponsors of police propaganda show the Bill,
says that it wont invest your cash in companies up to no good.
The bank says it does not deal with companies that participate
in armaments, animal testing for cosmetics, nuclear power, tobacco
or companies that operate in countries where human rights are disregarded.
Co-op propagandists have been careful with their words as the statement
does not prevent investment in companies that perform more general
tests on animals and nor does it give much mention to how corporations
should behave towards the environment. Not that their investment
decisions actually meet the standards that have been set by their
Their latest tax-efficient investment promises great
returns - without harming the environment, animals or other people.
According to the bank you can enjoy strong growth and a clear
conscience by opening a CIS Sustainable Leaders Trust investment.
One of the reasons for the great return is the decision
to allow investment in Glaxo and Vodafone, two of the worlds
most profitable companies. A delve into the activities of these
companies, though, leaves us wondering where the clear conscience
bit comes in.
Bank bosses are pretty chuffed with their pals in the worlds
largest pharmaceutical company, Glaxo. Anyone suggesting that anything
about this profit-hungry transnational giant is ethical
is having a laugh. With a bit of spin however Glaxo become a centre
of benevolence because they have invested in research into
treating HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB. Theyve also been
supplying vaccines to prevent illness. Err, sorry if
weve got this one wrong, but isnt that what pharmaceutical
companies should be doing: investigating the causes of disease and
ways to cure them? More cheers are offered for the companys
discounted pricing policy for developing countries and
ensuring good conduct in animal testing.
According to Factory Watch (www.foe.co.uk/factorywatch),
Glaxos chemical plant in Ulverston, Cumbria, is one of the
most carcinogenic polluters in the UK. Well thats the environment
covered. So what about animal testing? Well, Glaxo are Huntingdon
Death Sciences single largest customer, so nuff said
there too. Then theres witholding lifesaving treatments from
developing countries. Glaxo was one of thirty-nine major pharma
companies which tried to prosecute the South African government
for passing a law that allowed easy production and importation of
generic drugs for HIV. They didnt back down until
300,000 people from over 130 countries signed a petition against
the action. Glaxo have also been at the forefront of legal attempts
to enforce their patent rights under the World Trade Organisations
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
(TRIPS - see SchNEWS 420)
laws. Despite the Indian governments attempts to control the
spread of diseases, such as AIDS by creating copy or generic
(i.e. cheaper) versions of commercially available drugs, TRIPS has
encouraged corporations to call India a centre of commercial
piracy, simply for trying to cure disease amongst its poverty
People in developing countries represent 80% of the worlds
population yet they only account for 20% of worldwide medicine sales.
Of all annual health related research says an Oxfam
report on Glaxo from 2001, only 0.2 per cent is spent on pneumonia,
diarrhoea, and tuberculosis-three poverty related ailments which
account for 18 per cent of the global disease burden.
And then theres Glaxos interest in the weaponry biz...
at least Chief Executive J.P. Garniers, anyway. This £2.5
million-a-year corporate lackey also happens to sit on the board
of arms manufacturer United Technologies, the maker of the Blackhawk
helicopter and other assorted killing machines.
Vodafone, though, doesnt invest in the arms trade. The company
only supplies telephones to the British military and,
after all, a quick glance over to Iraq tells us that British forces
are a force for democracy and justice - and if they want to make
a phone call to help them co-ordinate a bombing run targeted against
a local water supply, or some civilian insurgency hotbed
then why not?
Vodafone also receives a co-operative pat on the back for Investigating
the impact of mobile phones on society and the environment.
So now we know that we cant spll anymr and changing your phone
once a year creates a bit of a rubbish problem. Nice one. Maybe
Co-op bankers missed the bit about not investing in companies that
trade in countries with poor human rights records, because Vodafones
nice little earner in Kuwait seems to have passed the ethical test.
Despite the bank offering an Amnesty International affinity
credit, bankers obviously havent read the Kuwait section
of AIs website. A whole range of human rights abuses are cited
there, from arbitrary detention through to institutionalised sexism
and curbs on freedom of expression.
The Co-ops not alone on this one though. Standard Life is
proud to show off its ethical investment funds, even though they
account for less than 1% of the companys business. Their UK
Ethical account includes shares in Tescopoly, Vodafone, The Royal
Bank of Scotland and (oil scumpany) Cairn Energy. Meanwhile, both
Standard Life and Co-ops CIS throw cash at the big oil firms
such as Shell, ExxonMobil, and Burma sanction-busting Total Oil
(See SchNEWS 488).
But the Co-op arent just into damaging the Global South over
here in the UK, Co-op customers have to pay £30 every time
they go more than £1overdrawn which must do its bit for their
annual £96.m profit. Not forgetting the range of lovely services
which could help you get your giro paid into a nice tax-exempt offshore
account in the Channel Islands. If youre with the Co-op, have
a look on their website under sustainable investing,
read their investment criteria and have a word with
one of their financial advisers on 0845 850 0168. (Or maybe explore
the ethical possibility of keeping your cash in a tin up the chimney)
ASBO OF THE WEEK
For hunting dusters...
Finally a decent use has been found for the Anti-Social Behavioural
Order - use it against those other rowdy bands of Burberry-wearing
trouble-makers, the fox hunters. Three senior hunt members, in Stroud,
were issued with their ASBO notices by Gloucestershire Police on
March 25th. This was thanks to one local resident, who researched
the application of ASBO rules to this most anti-social pursuit,
following the CPSs blatant refusal to do anything about local
hunts repeated law-breaking.
Outraged Senior Hunt Master, Bob Cooper, explained how everyones
got it all wrong: We run a trail hunt where we impregnate
a piece of duster with live fox scent and trail that (quick moving
but every now and again the scent of a real
fox is far stronger and the hounds come off the trail. When that
happens we have go like hell to get the hounds back
(And smear themselves in the warm blood of another unintended kill,
presumably). Mmm, that explains it
! SchNEWS wonders if sabs
could train dogs to attack red coats and then go out in hunt areas
and run trails, where they put the scent of upper- class
twats on to dusters...
As the French government clings onto the CPE employment laws which
sparked national protests, the demonstrations are still in full
swing, with continued blockades and occupations of campuses, roads,
railways, shopping and town centres, and government offices across
the country again each day this week. (see SchNEWS
This Tuesday saw another three million out on the streets nationally
following on from the same last week. There were big official
marches as well as autonomous protests where the unions and
police joined forces to catch those who refused to disperse at the
end with hundreds arrested.
On Thursday there were national transport blockades with Paris
train stations Saint-Lazare and Gare du Nord stopped, while in Caen
high school pupils and students occupied rail tracks. Meanwhile
high school kids paralysed the centre of Laval and in Brest the
Chamber of Commerce was stormed by students, who closed entrances
and threw eggs at police from the roof. In other words a typical
day in todays France.
The CPE law may not go ahead, or be modified, but as Alternative
Libertaire say The struggle against the CPE is only one element
of the general struggle against precarity*. The government,
media and unions will be doing everything to manipulate the protests
so they dont broaden focus beyond the employment law (and
quietly go home at 5pm), so fingers crossed that the countless autonomous
groups who make up the protests will continue to be realistic
and demand the impossible. Momentum is high, and many groups
have agreed to continue next week.
Our writer in Paris says They aim at choking the whole national
economy and target railways, post offices and factories.
Friday April 7th (today) is a national day of action in support
of protesters arrested in March as well as making links with those
arrested in the November the Paris banlieue riots (see SchNEWS
* Detailed coverage at http://libcom.org/blog
* SchNEWS Vocabwatch: Precarity: A condition of late capitalism
where lack of job security and receding welfare has people living
precarious lives financially and socially. See also www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precarity
Protesters proved there is safety in numbers last weekend when
between two and four thousand turned up for a Naming the Dead
event in Parliament Square. Holding a four-hour unauthorized
demonstration, in Parliament Square, and reading the names of 1,000
Iraqis who have died as a result of the invasion and occupation,
demonstrators carried hundreds of placards and signs, giant puppets
and banners. Despite the clear breach of Section 132 of the Serious
Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA), the police were unwilling,
or unable, to make any arrests. This was the first mass act of civil
disobedience against the occupation to take place in the UK since
the 2003 invasion.
* Helen John and Silvia Boyes are the first known arrests in England,
under Section 128 of SOPCA. This clause makes trespass at a few
handpicked military sites (mainly US military and nuclear sites
in the UK) a criminal offence, potentially carrying a 51 week prison
sentence. The two women were arrested on Saturday 1st April 2006,
after allegedly trespassing at NSA Menwith Hill. This was within
hours of the new Act being brought into force, by the Ministry of
* NSA Menwith Hill, the United States spy base, near Harrogate
in Yorkshire, illegally monitors telecommunications traffic, to
and from Europe. Communications passing through Britain are intercepted
by the base, including private telephone calls, faxes, emails and
Medha Patkar, a leading campaigner to stop the Narmada Dam in India
- who was eight days into a hunger strike - was arrested, this Wednesday
night, for attempting to commit suicide, and taken to
hospital to be forcibly treated, without her consent. Police clashed
with protesters, stopping them from getting in, and arresting some
on charges of rioting. Ms Patkar, who is the founder of the campaign
against the building of the Narmada Dam in India, began the hunger
strike in protest of the decision to further raise the height of
the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The damming of the Narmada river involves
over 3000 separate dams, and will displace millions of people.
* For more see www.narmada.org
- London Anti-war Action Forum this Saturday 8th, 2-5pm,
London Action Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel,
London E1 1ES (nearest tube Aldgate East).
- Iran: Secrets and Lies - public meeting with Emily Johns
& Milan Rai. 7.30pm, Tuesday 4 April, St Vincents Centre,
Carlisle Place, Victoria, SW1P 1NL. Theres also a launch
for Milan Rais new book 7/7: The London Bombings,
Islam and the Iraq War 7-9pm, Wednesday 12 April, Friends
Meeting House, 173 Euston Road, NW1 2BJ.
- Castlemill boatyard (See SchNEWS
527) is under imminent eviction alert. The campaign to save
the Oxford canals last boatyard, from the developers, is
making a call out for help and equipment - See www.portmeadow.org
for full wish list. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone the site office on 01865 55948.
- Brighton Animal Action are holding demos every Saturday
and Sunday at 1pm - throughout April - outside Brighton Sealife
Centre - protesting against plans to incarcerate seals and penguins.
There will also be a big demo on Sat 15th April at the centre.
For more, call 07787 953347. For more animal rights events see
- Bristle #21 is out. Bristols spikiest magazine
has a new issue out focusing, this time, on the environment, with
features about nuclear and renewable energy and how were
gonna keep the planet inhabitable. To get yours, send a cheque
for £1.50 to Bristle c/o Kebele, 14 Robertson Rd, Bristol,
BS5 6JY or see www.bristle.org.uk
The Greenwash Guerillas paid a visit to the British Museum, on
March 23rd, to join in with the celebrations accompanying the opening
of the British Petroleum sponsored Michelangelo Drawings
exhibition. The day also happened to be the first anniversary of
an explosion at BPs Texas City refinery, in which 15 people
were killed. Demonstrators outfoxed security guards, unfurled a
banner reading BP sponsors climate chaos across the
front steps of the buildings entrance, and later set up camp
outside the main gates, warning the gathered public of the threat
to truth that is BPs propaganda machine.
Unbridled joy as Heathrow Airport reaches its 60th birthday this
month. To celebrate, a group of protesters from activist group Plane
Stupid crash-landed and blockaded the Heathrow Headquarters
of the British Airports Authority (BAA). They locked on to the main
office entrance, preventing employees from getting into work, generally
disrupting the whole operation until the plod moved in to make a
few arrests. Although Heathrow has reached retirement age, instead
of being booted out of work and sent off home with a small pension
and a bus pass, there are plans for yet more expansion. Therell
be a new runway and extra use of existing ones which will raise
flight levels from a mere 450,000 at the moment to over 700,000
in a few years time. BAA have issued a few homespun denials over
the extent of the plans and promise a series of discussion
forums. BAAs commitment to consultation and open decision
making becomes a little harder to swallow if we look at the recent
history of collusion and deception by the company and various governments.
In 1980, the Tories approved Terminal 4 on the understanding that
there would be a cap of 260,000 flights a year. The deal also stipulated
that it would be the last development on the site. Later, in 1995,
as BAA was seeking permission to build another terminal, they ruled
out a third runway, writing in their company newspaper, Heathrow
News, that they have repeatedly said that There will
be no third runway. In 2001, Terminal 5 was given the
go-ahead (See SchNEWS 322) on the condition
that flight numbers at the airport did not exceed 480,000 a year.
Within two years, the government proposed a third runway
As Plane Stupid spokesman, Joss Garman, explained,
Heathrow has grown from being a small local airport into a
climate change factory. BAAs plan to expand the airport further
puts them in the premier league of climate change criminals. BAA
can be assured; todays action is just the start of our direct
action campaign to stop airport expansion. More at www.planestupid.com
- a lobby group representing residents under the Heathrow flight
* Live near Brighton? Find out more about the plans to expand Shoreham
(sorry, Brighton City) airport in Rough Music www.roughmusic.org.uk/rm07.html#eight
A group of anarchic golfers played around at Tracey Park
golf club nr Bristol last week - and left the course a little under
par. On the evening of Thursday 30th March, persons unknown dug
up and knackered greens. Coincidentally, the next day other gentleman-only
clubs for posh twats received letters from an anonymous group warning
them they should cut their water use by 25%, return 10% of their
greens to nature, and reverse any policies of wildlife control,
such as poison or trapping. The sabotage was apparently committed
as incentive to bring out the course managers greener sides.
Whilst we hope the action has gone a fair-way to bringing some attention
to this pointlessly wasteful and destructive game, we but arent
holding our breath - golfers will presumably retreat to their secret
To pacify teed-off club owners, Police have responded
by pledging more patrols. Apparently all eighteen holes of local
courses are to be regularly walked by detectives, armed with non-lethal
vigilante projectile devices, cunningly disguised as golf clubs
Theres no SchNEWS next week cos
were in solidarity with our French comrades and going
SchNEWS warns all readers... However you dress it up, merchant
banking makes you blind. Honest!
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