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WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT'S YER JUST SAY NO! TO DODGY CHEMICALS...Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Issue 180, Friday 21st August 1998South Downs Mass Trespass this Sunday (23rd) meet 12:00 Brighton Station
- Ambika Chawla, A SEED
Four weeks ago the Ethyl Corporation of America, received $13 million from the Canadian government. Well, so what? The Ethyl Corporation make a chemical called methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl, MMT for short. MMT is a fuel additive, which is mixed with petrol in order to prevent engine knocking. It is also a dangerous neurotoxin. Manganese entering the body through the lungs causes nerve damage which can lead to psychosis, memory loss, and early death. In April 1997 the Canadian government decided to ban it.
Had the vote taken place three years earlier, the Ethyl Corporation would have had to abide by the decision. But, since 1994, corporations in Canada, the United States and Mexico have enjoyed a powerful new tool over elected authorities. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows companies to sue governments which, they believe, raise unfair barriers to trade.
"It is the butterfly's wings over North America that will cause a hurricane in
Ethyl sued the Canadian government for the 'expropriation' of its 'property' (namely its anticipated profits) and the 'damage' to its 'good reputation' caused by the parliamentary debate. It took its suit to NAFTA, where a secret tribunal whose records are not disclosed and whose decisions cannot be appealed, began to assess the case. Last month, the Canadian government realising that its chances of success were approx zero, settled with Ethyl, agreed to allow the corporation to resume its sales of MMT and announced that "MMT poses no health risk."
So what has any of this got to do with us? Well, the NAFTA rules that allowed Ethyl to sue the Canadian government are almost identical to those in the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI - see SchNEWS 141).
The MAI is a multinationals wet dream. Discussed in secret for the past couple of ears before activists let the cat out of the bag, it will, like NAFTA, give corporations the right to sue governments for even debating issues which may harm their profits. As SchNEWS predicted in October last year, the MAI 'will force governments to respond to economic pressures by abolishing worker protections, public safety regulations and measures protecting the environment.'
The Canadian 'pay the polluter' case should have alarm bells ringing in all of us. The signing of the MAI has been delayed, but the mentality of the multinationals will mean that a similar agreement will no doubt be rearing its ugly corporate head in the very near future.
Last week BP announced a 67 billion pound move to merge with Amoco which will make them the 14th largest corporation in the world. Here are some things you might like to know about...
BP is proud of its 'miniscule' contribution to climate change from its production operations: only 1 % of world C02 - but that makes it the worlds 21st largest polluter, bigger than countries like Sauda Arabia, Indonesa and the Netherlands!
A recent Colombian government report presents a catalogue of deforestation, contamination and dumping of toxic waste. They've been fined hundreds of thousands of pounds by the Colombians and had four rigs temporarily suspended. It also finances the Colombian military for the presence of a 3,000 brigade of soldiers to protect its installations from 'guerrilla' attacks. Since 1994 six villagers who have objected to damage caused by the oil company. have been assassinated and others falsely imprisoned and harassed by the army. Human rights lawyers investigating the killings said that BP's military brigade are out of control.
Amoco Infamous for its Amoco Cadiz oil disaster in Brittany 1978, their US refineries have been plagued by fires, explosions, injuries and deaths. In Indiana, Amoco accepts responsibility for 75,600,000 litres of spillage and an explosion at a gas plant in Kansas forced a close down, it's also had a go in Papua New Guinea, where it bought up 30% of the OK Tedi correctmine. Toxic spillage from here proceeded via local rivers to the Torres Straights and Australia's Great Barrier Reef. In 1989 it paid Burma's brutal military regime $5 Million for a concession in the country's virgin teak forests and its 1996 proposals for a World Bank financed oil exploration of Western Siberia outraged environmental groups. Amoco is a member of the Global Climate Coalition, an industry front group that tells everybody that global warming isn't happening and tries to stop laws that reduce in fossil fuel emissions. Last year it help fund a PR company by the Nigerian dictatorship to improve the countries image and prevent oil santions.
To receive details of how to get to site, send SAE toEF! Gathering c/o Cornerstone Resource Centre, 16 Sholebrooke Ave, Chapeltown, Leeds LS7 3HB 0113 262 9365.
Got a vehicle? Ring SchNEWS office
- The Indigenous Federation of the State of Bolivia
1,000 Pemon Indians of the Imataca and Gran Sabana regions of Venezuela are blockading the only highway between Venezuela and Brazil. They are trying to stop a 120 kilometre high voltage electrical line being built through their rainforest homeland. 50 National Guard are on the scene and telephone communications from the region are being blocked. At the beginning of the month in Caracas, a coalition of environmental organisations and university students marched in solidarity with the indigenous protesters in a march timed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It was the third time in a week that the highway has been closed. The blockades began in July, protesters suspended the blockades after the government agreed to meet with indigenous leaders. But blockades began again with protesters saying, "... the government sent representatives with no real decision-making power."
In May 1997 the Venezuelan government signed a decree which opens up 40% of the Imataca Forest Reserve, an area of 3.6million hecates of diverse tropical forest to mining. About 10,000 Indians live in the reserve but were never consulted about the decrees and are worried that their land will be targeted by mining and loggers and that their small scale cooperative mining will be affected. The Pemon live mainly from their gardens supplemented by hunting and fishing. Palm trees provide housing materials and fruit. Some villages have set up small scale tourism. The Pemon came into sustained contact with national society in the 1920's but have so far successfully kept their own language and way of life.
Contact: Survival International, 11-15 Emerald St., London, WC1N 3QL 0171 242 1441 www.survival.org.uk
- Chief Inspector Reid
Another street party, another dollar... So Bristol Reclaim the Streets showed impeccable professionalism in throwing down the gauntlet to the police, who picked it up and wielded it with an iron fist. But the three hundred-or-so party-goers weren't about to go home empty-handed. As the 'World of Public Order' theme park opened once again on the Bristol streets the old bill struggled to retain control, while party-goers dashed past cordons, outmanoeuvring officers on horses or with dogs, alternately to seize control of two major roundabouts. There were 66 nickings during a day in which the cheery throng danced two main roads and a Shell garage into closure, leaving the thin blue line just a pale smudge all over the disgruntled pavement.
The next HILLGROVE demo is taking place on Sunday 6th September. Meet at 12 noon in Leys Recreation Ground, Station Lane (next to Sainsburys), Witney, Oxon. Transport is available from around the country, to offer or request lifts call 0121 632 6460.
The following weekend (Saturday 12 Sept.) a demonstration is taking place at HUNTINGDON LIFE SCIENCES (HLS), Barrack Road, Occold, Nr Eye, Suffolk. HLS carry out animal research for the chemical, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. They own the world's largest primates and beagle laboratories and plan on expanding. Activists have pledged to "stop this thing before it starts". Demo commences at 12 noon at the main gates. For more information call: 01394 384583 or 01379 678622.
While Judge Hall counselled that people living in the countryside had to expect such things, Sytner's wife Elizabeth told thecourt of her own rustic ordeal; "I was in my garden and heard cows making a noise in the field. It was annoying, so I went to see what was happening." When told it was normal for cows to be heard in the countryside, Mrs Sytner replied "Yes, it's unfortunate, isn't it?".
Sytner was ordered to pay his own and Mr.Baines legal costs, estimated at £35,000.
Big shout to B.F.N. and everyone else who sent us donations last week but dig deep readers, we ain't out the woods yet, all those lovely summer double issues cleaned us out!!!!
SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 2DX, England
Last updated 21 August 1998
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