What Climate Change?
The PR company Burson-Marsteller, an expert in reputation
management, reckons that corporate reputation has a
direct impact on a companys ability to achieve policy-related
goals. Which in English means for oil companies, giving the
impression that they can solve the climate threat themselves helps
to avoid silly government regulation and red tape, and, any public
debate about whether or not corporate-led globalisation is a good
thing. So Shell and BP-Amoco have been busy seeking to completely
transform their image from oil companies with dodgy environmental
and social records, to energy companies committed to
taking action to combat climate change, without having to dramatically
change their behaviour.
BP and Shell spend less than 1 percent of their budget on renewable
energy, while they continue to invest billions in the damaging search
for oil all over the planet. While BP reckons they are the
largest producer of solar energy in the world they forget
to mention, that they got there by spending $45 million to buy the
Solarex Corporation. This is peanuts when you compare it to the
$5 billion it will spend over the next five years on oil exploration
in Alaska. Read In The Pipeline in this issue to find
out the latest trick Shell and other oil gaints are up to.
Its not all doom and gloom though, a new report from the Chartered
Institute of Marketing reveals that advertisers command the trust
of just 3% of consumers. The report also complains about corporations
ethical posturing which is unsupported by their real-life conduct.
Its a pity some of our bigger NGOs didnt read
the report, and instead of jumping into bed (sorry creating
partnerships) with the very people that are causing misery
and mayhem in the first place avoided these greenwash events. The
corporations that have so much money to gain from destroying the
planet arent about to stop doing it voluntary, but if they
fool us into believing they really do care then their future profits
will go up and everyone elses quality of life will go down.
Corporate Europe Observatory have launched a campaign to curb excessive
corporate lobbying in Europe Over 15,000 full-time lobbyists
now operate in Brussels, most representing business interests, who
succeed all too frequently in postponing, weakening or blocking
progress in EU social, environmental and consumer protections.
Perception Managers like Burson-Marsteller should note
: it wasnt only the Nazi military that were tried at Nuremburg
after WW2. Editors of mainstream newspapers who championed the Nazi
cause in their pages were convicted of preparing the nations minds
for the lunacy that followed. PR pinnochios beware
OF THE WEEK
For Being a Kurd.
Remzi Kartal was arrested in Germany for the crime of speaking
out for the Kurdish people. Its not the first time Remzi
was arrested in Turkey in 1991 for the awful crime of speaking Kurdish.
He was an MP in the Turkish parliament at the time. He and 12 others
were arrested and when Belgium offered him asylum he jumped at the
In 2002 he was awarded 50,000 Euros by the European Court of Human
Rights who ruled that the right to free and fair elections had been
breached because all the Kurdish MPs were in jail (doh!).
Now Turkey wants another shot at him. They put out an International
Warrant for his (crap) arrest, claiming he is a terrorist and should
be extradited back to Turkey for trial and more time in Turkish
prison. The Dutch Court of Appeal refused to deport another Kurdish
activist because they suspected he could be tortured.
The German government should free Remzi immediately.
* Mark Thomas will be speaking at a public meeting hosted by Lord
Rea: Free Remzi Kartal - stop criminalising the Kurds
on Wednesday 23 Feb, 7pm at the Committee Room 3A, House of Lords,
Westminster (St Stephens Entrance). For more information call Estella
on tel 020 7586 5892
20 years since the first ever Day of Action against McDonalds,
things are looking up for would be leaflet distributors. This weeks
European courts ruling that the McLibel defendants
(combined income: £3,500 per year) did not get a fair trial
because of McDonalds vastly superior financial resources (£2,000
a day for one barrister), has led to a flurry of discussion about
whether skint activists will be able to get legal aid from the government
if theyre sued by big business. The fact that McDonalds were
so desperate to stop a bunch of anarchists distributing the infamous
Whats wrong with McDonalds? leaflet is, more importantly,
a real testament to the power of grassroots activism and how much
of a threat it poses to the multinationals that are so intent on
trashing the planet. In fact, leaflets given out in thousands when
McDonalds started to sue, are now distributed in millions all over
the world - direct action won the free speech battle.
During the original trial, the burger chain was so desperate to
silence its critics it used spies to infiltrate activist groups.
These spooks followed people home, nicked their post and even ended
up handing out anti-McDonalds leaflets! The multinational
has a long history of using the courts to silence its critics. And
not just other activists, but biology professors, Channel 4 TV,
Trade Unions, the Guardian and even a bunch of tofu munching hippies
making McVegan t-shirts.
McDonalds worst nightmares, Dave Morris and Helen Steel,
have long been involved in community activism, working on grassroots
campaigns since the 1980s, including nuclear disarmament, corporate
non-accountability, anti poll tax and animal rights. SchNEWS can
also exclusively reveal that Dave Morris has been involved in local
residents groups. Controversial, eh? Dave says that his activism
is about helping to build up local community mutual aid and solidarity
networks, encouraging people to stand up for themselves and to take
control of all decision-making and resources themselves. We reckon
he should be bloody locked up.
This latest court battle is sure to drive another nail into the
McCoffin - something which seemed impossible a few years back. The
burger giant is shrinking: it announced the closure of almost 200
stores in 2002 after taking an 11% dive in profits. A year later
it lost £20m selling off its café chain, Aroma.
Their latest promotions for healthy salads, apples,
yogurts and Quorn burgers are no match for the likes of movies like
Supersize Me. Nor is this the first victory against
the company. At the original trial the court ruled that McDonalds
exploited children, were culpably responsible
for animal cruelty; deceptively promoted their food as nutritious
and helped to depress wages in the catering trade. SchNEWS wonders
when the Whats wrong with Tescos? leaflet will
be hitting the streets.
For more info on the court case and campaigns against the scary
Are you bored of mainstream radio blather and chart dross on rotation
yet? Yup, so are we.
And we aint the only ones. Up in rainy Manchester Under the
Pavement are putting out a groundbreaking radical alternative radio
show. The show is a mix of radical news and activist information
with interviews and eclectic music covering covering punk, folk,
experimental, electronica, indie and world.
Under the Pavement broadcast on South Manchesters ALL FM
96.9 community radio station fortnightly every other Monday from
9pm until 11pm. You can pick it up across most of Greater Manchester
so thats a potential audience of 6,000,000! Tune in,
Turn Up, dont Veg Out!
Website with info, pics and highlights from past shows available
SchNEWS in brief
- A group of indigenous Mexican activists representing
the interests of peasant farmers, fighting everything from illegal
land seizures by US companies to the introduction of GM Maize
are on a speaking tour of the UK. They will be in Nottingham next
Monday (21st) Sumac Centre 7.30pm / 22nd - East Oxford Community
Centre 7pm / 23rd - Cambridge Old Library 8pm / 24th - Brighton
Cowley Club 6pm / and 25th - Rampart Social Centre E1 7pm
- Justice for Colombia is organising an opportunity to
find out more about the situation in the country and to hear a
firsthand account from one of the victims of the Colombian military
and the British aid programme, Congressman Wilson
Borja. Wed 2nd, 6:30 pm. Lecture Theatre, Medical School Building,
University of Sussex. www.justiceforcolombia.org
- London Indymedia have organised a five-day festival of
radical and independently produced films from South America. Discussion
with solidarity groups, activists and film-makers, including visiting
CIPO activists, food, drink, and music. RampArt Creative Centre,
RampArt St, London E1 22- 26th www.rampart.co.nr
- Lawyers RPC have pulled their contract with death-merchants
EDO. Having been informed about EDOs products (computers,
release clips and targeting devices for US warheads) and of the
ongoing campaign against them, RPC decided to sever ties with
the company. Nice one! For campaign info look at www.smashedo.bpec.org
- Theres also a Smash EDO fundraising film showing
of The Corporation next Wednesday (23rd) at the Madhatter,
Western Rd, Brighton 7.30pm £5/3
- The Linslade Bypass treehouse was taken by security on
Tuesday. As it was empty at the time it didnt take long!
Most of the trees on route have been felled. Protests continue
Workers at the CODEVI Free Trade Zone in Ouanaminthe, Haiti are
celebrating victory this week, after winning a bitter battle over
trade union recognition. Five union organisers and over 150 other
dismissed workers are due to be re-hired, and will be supported
by a solidarity fund while they wait to return to work.
This is a real set back for company bosses who had been used to
using army violence to get their way, despite the fact that the
factory was set up with World Bank money on the condition that trade
union rights would be respected! Repression of workers rights is
par for the course in the Haitian sweatshop industries. Check out
*On 8th March the Sixth Global Womens Strike takes place,
demanding an end to poverty, war and crap wages. For more information
check out www.globalwomenstrike.net
* Wal-Mart, the worlds largest retailer, has just closed
one of its stores in Quebec - because workers won trade union rights.
The company - who own ASDA - said it was shutting the store in response
to unreasonable demands from union negotiators that would make it
impossible for the store to operate efficiently and profitably.
Like having to pay wages people could live on.
See also www.walmartsucks.org
Syngenta has dropped a claim for patent rights that would have
given them frightening power (SchNEWS 482). The patent if approved
would have given Syngenta the rights over the flowering process
of rice and many other plants, including ones not yet discovered!
Syngenta had claimed they had discovered the DNA sequence
of the flowering of rice as if it never existed before! And
therefore would have exclusive rights to this process.
Fortunately after a month long campaign by the ETC Group supported
by farmers organizations, trade unions and other civil society
organizations Syngenta have decided to let the patent lapse. www.etcgroup.org
IN THE PIPELINE
Its not easy being one of the worlds big "energy
firms" ExxonMobil could only manage a £13.4bn
profit in 2004 whilst poor old Shell struggled to scrape a measly
£8.7bn. With that in mind, its completely understandable
they should need to screw over anybody getting in the way of business
how could they make ends meet otherwise?!
Lets look at some of their handywork: Since 1994, Shell,
along with ExxonMobil, Mitsubishi and Mitsui, have been involved
in oil and gas extraction on Sakhalin Island, in the far east of
Russia. The construction of the 500-mile pipeline threatens the
islands pristine salmon habitat and new offshore platforms
are slap bang in the middle of the breeding grounds for the last
remaining 100 Western Grey Whales. The pipeline also crosses a sacred
indigenous burial site, will threaten the livelihood of tens of
thousand of fishermen.
The Nivkh, Uilta, and Evenki peoples of Sakhalin have long asked
that the oil companies take action to mitigate the adverse impact
of their work and establish an independently managed indigenous
peoples compensation fund. Sensibly, the companies have completely
refused to do any such thing - just imagine if they had to pay compensation
every time they destroyed a local environment or devastated a local
why, it might knock a billion or so off profits
Those affected by Shell and Exxon have started taking direct action
against the companies - over 200 indigenous people blockaded ExxonMobils
shoreline production complex for four days last month. Not content
with shafting the environment and locals, Exxon and Shell are shafting
their own contractors - drivers of vehicles delivering construction
materials to the site have gone on strike they havent
been paid since October last year! Latest info on the protests:
The capitalist Scottish tourist industry is cashing in on the anti-capitalist
G8 protests planned for July. The Edinburgh and Lothian Tourist
Board is hoping to entice protesters with short-break packages.
In between building burning barricades and fighting running battles
with the police, the anti-G8 protesters will be offered amongst
other things a walking tour of Edinburgh (taking in, or bricking
in, all McDonalds and banks perhaps?) and perhaps rather unwisely,
a visit to a distillery with free alcohol and plenty of bottles
as available ammunition. It could well turn into your typical British
riot, with pissed up punks chucking bottles from the back of the
crowd at the end of a hot summer day, or maybe just another grey
rainy day - it is Scotland after all.
But it isnt the tabloid stereotype anarchist
that the Tourist Board is trying to appeal to spokesman Graham
many of the people coming are much like you
and I and your readers: they have mortgages and jobs and stuff.
Other tourists in Scotland will include summit-hopping police from
around the country, drafted in to cope with the estimated numbers
of protestors. Halls of Residence at Stirling and Edinburgh Universities
have been earmarked to cope with the influx of police (total security
budget £150 million) all paid for by the Foreign Office
(in other words people with mortgages, jobs and stuff.)
SchNEWS wonders if in future there will be coach tours of the area,
we look forward to our retirement where we can reminisce on the
bad old days
thats where we danced with
the Samba band behind the barricade of upturned delegates vehicles.,
this is the spot from where I chucked the first brick.
Sorry, were not like that really most of us have got
mortgages and jobs and lots of stuff. (The right stuff , that is
SchNEWS warns all readers not to greenwash and bear it, but
bare the naked truth... Honest!
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