Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
ISSUE 296, FRIDAY 9th March, 2001
After a hard day's graft at SchNEWS Towers we like nothing better than retiring to the local boozer for a swift 23 pints. The problem is that as we sip our well-earned pint we could be lining the pockets of some corporate nasty we've never even heard of.
Take Nomura International, the Japanese investment bank who pulled out of buying the Dome at the last minute. Last month they became the UK's biggest pub landlord after taking over Bass, and now control over five and a half thousand pubs. They are also currently in the front running for Whitbread's 3000 pubs. Whitbread has offered none of the pubs in this 'Everything Must Go' sale to any of its current landlords, preferring to sell them all to one bidder. If, as seems likely, Nomura is successful, it will own 8,885 pubs, some 17% of the total pub market.
Other vulture capitalists are now casting their greedy eyes on yer pint. Punch Taverns have bought up more than 5,000 pubs in the last two years, and the execrable Wetherspoons seem intent on world domination with a characterless supermarket pub on every street corner.
The bulk buying capabilities of these groups mean that they are able to negotiate substantial discounts from the breweries, often purchasing beer at a discount of between £100 and £120 per barrel compared with the price paid by an individual landlord. Very little if any of this discount is passed on to the customer.
At the present time, more that 6,000 pubs in the country are on the market and a pub closes permanently every day of the year.
So why would venture capitalists be interested in a pub? The answer is certainly not that they want to serve the community. Pubs are often in prime city centre locations and represent an enormous profit potential in real estate terms. Currently, there are many examples of these powerdrunks deliberately running down pubs that they can't turn into soulless, trendy and expensive wine bars. Once a pub becomes so run down that it's not viable, they relinquish the license, demolish the pub and build expensive housing on the site.
Hands off our Pubs!
The man behind Nomura is Guy Hands, who is reputed to earn £40 million a year and had Conservative leader William Hague as the best man at his wedding. Even in the shark-eat-shark world of venture capitalism Hands is acknowledged as a merciless predator - which is saying something. Hands has taken full advantage of his contacts, helping Nomura to buy up 57,000 redundant Ministry of Defence houses from the Government at a knock down price. These houses were not even offered to local authorities or housing associations, where they could have made significant inroads into housing problems. The homes were then sold off at vast profits on the private market.
And don't think you can escape their evil clutches with a few tinnies from the off-licence. Chances are that Nomura own that too after they bought First Quench - the country's largest off- licence chain that includes Thresher, Victoria Wine, Wine Rack and Bottoms Up. Nothing like good old freedom of choice in the High Street is there?
A local ex-landlord, whose pub was frequented by the more inebriated members of the SchNEWS crew (that means most of 'em) before Nomura won a high court battle to evict him, commented that "The days of your local, friendly, community boozer are definitely numbered. Pubs are being priced out of the range of ordinary working class people. Soon only the rich or the trendy will be able to afford to drink in a public house. The global capitalist pub of the future will have all the character of the foyer of your local Sainsburys."
* It's a year since Brighton's New Kensington Public House and the Gladstone fell foul of the vultures (SchNEWS 251). Since then Zel and C Side continue with their pub and club domination plans killing all diversity. C Side have now been bought up by - venture capitalists! Check out www.brightonsucks.com
* See you on the Park Bench, mate - mine's a tinny of Special Brew!!!
Fed up with over priced beer and crisps? Then why not set up a social centre? Here's 3 examples of Permanent Autonomous Zones around the country: "There's no gaffer, no one's in charge."
* Bradford's 1 in 12 club is celebrating twenty years of "self-management, music and mayhem!" next month. After years of moving from venue to venue they finally got their own building, which opened in 1988 after three years of hard work, almost all carried out voluntarily by the Club membership. "It has been the membership who have led the way and the principle of self-management has never been compromised. All the way from the bulk of the building work to the bars and accounts, we've done it all. And we're still here to be a thorn in the side of those who claim it can't be done without hierarchy and bosses." The celebrations kick off on Friday 27th April and continue into MayDay and beyond with everything from hardcore punk gigs to radical folk music, an exhibition of Anarchist Artworks, a weekend football tournament and a new play by Chumbawamba's Alice Nutter. Get along to 21-23 Albion St., Bradford, BD1 2LY www.1in12.com
* The sacked Liverpool dock workers have bought and re-opened the old Casablanca club on Hope Street and fitted it out with the help of volunteer labour. They payed for the club with money received from the Channel 4 drama about the dispute. The Casa Club is run on co-operative principles, and profits from its three bars will subsidise an employment training centre housed in the grade II listed building. Tel 0151 709 2148 www.gn.apc.org/initfactory
* Veggies - the vegan catering crew - finally bought a new permanent home on Wednesday at 'The Ukrainian Centre' in Nottingham. Anyone who wants to get involved can go along to their public meeting on Sunday 18th. Call 0845 4589595 www.veggies.org.uk
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For refusing to watch TV! Two teenagers from Ohio were locked up in a local juvenile detention centre for truancy after walking out of their classrooms in protest against the compulsory viewing of Channel One.
Channel One is an in-school broadcaster, showing a daily compulsory 12 minute current affairs programme with two minutes of adverts targeted at children. In return the schools get no cash, but can use the equipment in other lessons. Channel One is raking it in charging advertisers twice as much as regular TV stations as they can guarantee viewers with no channel hopping or off button. Channel One spreads the corporate TV bullshit more sneakily by enlisting teachers to develop lessons for such socially useful teaching as designing new Pepsi vending machines and Burger King adverts.
Commercial Alert and Obligation, Inc., two national anti-media groups, have taken up the kids' cause, saying "When the government sends children to a juvenile detention centre because they don't want to watch advertising, that is both Orwellian and more than a little sick. The public schools ought to be a sanctuary from the noxious aspects of commercial culture."
Sand Grains Of Truth
Nice to see Labour's ethical foreign policy working as usual. The Foreign Office recently admitted to granting licences for Royal Ordinance (subsidiary of BAe Systems) to refurbish 30 105mm Howitzer guns for Morocco. The guns' final destinations are the middle of the Western Sahara, a country invaded by Morocco in 1975. The people of the Western Sahara have been fighting an independence struggle from their refugee camps in the desert of SW Algeria. The camps were 25 years old on Feb 27 this year. 10 years ago the UN sponsored a cease-fire between Morocco and the Saharawis, on condition that both sides agreed to a referendum on independence. Morocco has dragged its heels for 10 years and now the Saharawi's want to return to war if they can't get the referendum. Mark Thomas, who was in the camps last week said: "Every single Saharawi I spoke to thought the UN had failed and that they should go back to war with Morocco as it was the only chance they had of getting their country back. The family I was staying with had escaped across the desert from the Moroccan forces, who napalmed people as they fled, and people were asking me "Why does Robin Cook want to help my enemies kill me?" Western Sahara Campaign 0113 245 4786
The law suit brought by 39 pharmaceutical companies fighting South Africa's right to import cheap generic AIDS drugs has been adjourned on its second day. A ruling by the judge has forced the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PMA) to find responses to accusations of profiteering and secrecy.
The corporations are challenging laws that allow patented drugs to be produced more cheaply by someone other than the patent holder if it's in the public interest. The drug giants - who fear a drop in profits - say the laws are breaking World Trade Organisation rules (SchNEWS 290).
The ruling will force the PMA to reveal their pricing policy, which has always remained top-secret until now. Previously they claimed the excessive prices in the country are due to mark-ups by chemists, a claim which lobby groups in South Africa have disputed.
Kenya's health minister has said his country will also adopt South Africa's stance in order to curb their own AIDS epidemic, promising to use a clause in international law which allows countries to break patents in order to respond to a national emergency.
* More than 31 million people are currently living with HIV in developing countries.
* Action for South Africa 020 7833 3133 www.actsa.org
University of Corporations
Regular SchNEWS readers will be well aware of the privatisation of our education services, but Cambridge University has gone one further by appointing a GKN Professor of Manufacturing Engineering. GKN is a dodgy arms exporter and clearly it is now much more important for the University to accept money from any company then conduct impartial research for the benefit of everyone. This comes after appointments of a Shell Chair in Chemical Engineering and a Thatcher Professor of Enterprise! SchNEWS wonders how long it will be before there is a McDonalds Professor of Nutrition. Students are campaigning to stop this corporate take-over of British Universities, e-mail: email@example.com
SchNEWS in brief
BACKWARD FRONT BACK OFF
Last Saturday the National Front (NF) tried to whip up support for their fascist cause by joining a picket of the paedophile wing at Nottingham Prison. A pathetic 19 fascists turned up, met by a welcoming committee of 400 anti-fascists. 4 NF who turned up late and couldn't join their scumrades were recognised by Nottingham Anti-Fascist Action (NAFA). A chase followed, with one NF member caught and hospitalised. The other three knocked on a door, ran past an old man, then barricaded themselves in as NAFA waited outside. The police arrested 15 anti-nazis and if anyone saw any arrests get in touch with NAFA 07949-312668, firstname.lastname@example.org
* The NF are going to Leicester on the 21st of April (St George's Day) and NAFA plan to humiliate them again.
* Find out more about the history of Anti-Fascism get a copy of: Anti-fascist recollections 1984-93 by K. Bullstreet, also A5 pamphlet, £2.50 from Kate Sharpley Library, BM Hurricane WC1N 3XX
Itoiz'll be Dammed
The Itoiz Dam in Spain is about to be filled despite the fact that it is unsafe; a collapse of the dam would endanger thousands of lives and threaten the nuclear power station downstream. Solidari@s have fought a 17-year campaign and eight members were sentenced to 5 years in prison for an action that stopped the construction for a year. Now Solidari@s are calling for actions on 14th March the International Day of Action Against Dams. www.irn.org/dayofaction
* The Ilisu Dam Campaign is demanding the withdrawal of UK involvement in the project - which will see 25,000 Kurds forcibly evicted (SchNEWS 259). Meet 11am, 14th March, 130 Wilton Street, Victoria, London. 020-75661666. Demo in Sheffield, 5 pm, 14th March, New Town Hall. Phil Turner 01142-670706. www.ilisu.org.uk
A Christian fundamentalist group based in California called "The Second Coming Project", have hatched an ungodly plan to clone Mr J. Christ. As they say, "Our intention is to clone Jesus . by taking an incorrupt cell from one of the many Holy Relics of Jesus' blood and body that are preserved in churches throughout the world, extracting its DNA, and inserting it into an unfertilised human egg, through the now-proven biological process called nuclear transfer. The fertilised egg, now the zygote of Jesus Christ, will be implanted into the womb of a young virginal woman (who has volunteered of her own accord), who will then bring the baby Jesus to term in a second Virgin Birth. No longer can we rely on hope and prayer, waiting around futilely for Jesus to return. In order to save the world from sin we must clone Jesus to initiate the Second Coming of Christ." After pissing ourselves laughing, we decided that the whole the thing could be a joke, but we'll leave it up to you to decide. Check out www.clonejesus.com. Maybe we could get in on this blag and clone people like William Wallace (Braveheart), Robin Hood or even Boadicea, complete with her spiky chariot. Then we'd show 'em.
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Last updated 9th March 2001