| Friday 7th September
2007 | Issue 602
WAKE UP!! IT'S YER SHOP TIL YOU DROP...
Version - Download, Print, Copy and Distribute!
Story Links: Aisle
Be Damned | Crap Arrest Of The Week | Last
Throw of the DSEi? | Mexican Stand-Off| Balluchs
to 'Em | Un-Bil'in-able | Party
& Protest| and finally...
AS SchNEWS GOES FOR A
SPIN DOWN THE HIGH STREET
Of course, youll judge us by our actions and not
by our carefully crafted words...but hopefully youll see that
when it comes to the environment, we mean business. Asda
CEO, Andrew Bond
This year has seen a massive tide of greenwash from the big supermarket
chains. Sinking hundreds of millions of pounds in efforts to convince
consumers of their eco-credentials and banging on about being really
just out to save the planet and not just make out-of-town warehouses
full of cash. Unsurprisingly, SchNEWS remains unconvinced (See SchNEWS
493, 442, 295,
140 for some of the story so far.)
Green-friendly advertising has become the new battleground for
the retail giants hence the impression that most hypermarket PR
is coming out of a yurt in Totnes these days. The well-paid marketing
consultants involved must have been working overtime (highly paid,
of course) due to the number of cracks theyve been asked to
paper over ...
Supermarkets are ultra carbon-intensive businesses that rely on
transporting food from all over the world, driving down costs at
all points on the supply line, exploiting labour and trashing more
sustainable local businesses in the process. And thats without
mentioning energy wastage and the creation of a pile of unnecessary
packaging of Himalayan proportions.
But if we can be convinced to shop our way out of Ecogeddon
the big chains have it made. So what if the odd documentary expose
wobbles the consumer faith? Theyve learned that there are
heftier than usual profits to be made from rapidly increasing eco-guilt.
So what are the current campaigns promising?
Every little helps says Tesco especially now that theyre
planning to reduce the number of plastic bags customers use. This
global catastrophe-avoiding scheme will mean that only 75 billion
bags will be used by their customers next year. If youre thinking
that 75,000,000,000 placcie bags is still quite a lot, Tesco is
quick to point out that the bags will be sunlight-degradable (although
not bio-degradable), so no worries there as they sit under mountains
of landfill never seeing daylight.
OFF THEIR TROLLEYS
Those eco-worriors over at Sainsburys are now charging customers
for carrier bags in an effort to reduce consumption.Of course theyre
also flogging a designer eco-bag to carry your shopping around
a snip at 5 quid. In fact, they seem experts at doing their
bit by launching new product ranges designed to look more
environmentally friendly. Theyre also singing from the rooftops
about making more of their ready meal containers recyclable
anything so long as you continue consume their processed crap and,
after all, its not their fault if most waste never actually
gets recycled...thats someone else responsibility. Welcome
to the market-driven solution to climate change, folks.
Still theres nothing better for Wal-Mart owned
Asda, than the environment. The company is showing its
commitment by producing a regular sustainability newsletter together
with the promise that it is the true green grocer. Not
only does Asda have all the carrier bag schemes; its also
thrown in a little bit of energy efficiency for good measure, planning
big cuts in its carbon emissions. Great news surely? But theyve
neglected to mention the impact of building new stores. In a report
out last week, Wal-Mart Watch reckon that at the current rate of
growth in the US, Wal-Mart (also the countrys largest private
purchaser of electricity) will be churning out another 28 million
tonnes of carbon every year by 2013.
Tesco are trying a similar blag. The company says it has plans
to halve the amount of energy it uses in its stores by 2010 and
become the most environmentally friendly store in the UK. Friends
of the Earth had a look at Tescos expansion plans and found
that the supermarkets carbon output would actually increase!
Even if Tesco meets its target, its overall fuel consumption will
go up by 100 million Kilowatt hours the equivalent of 25,000
UK households. And thats excluding the carbon cost of building
the new shops in the first place.
Supermarkets are profitable precisely because the systems they
use to get food to our plates are the very ones that are contributing
to climate change. Over 95% of our food is imported from abroad
- Tesco imports nearly three quarters of even its organic produce!
Take Fair Trade Bananas for example. Action Aid recently
exposed how workers at both ends of the supply ballnchain
are being squeezed by Tescos hunger for offering low low prices.
Not only are Costa Rican and Nicaraguan workers on the banana plantations
given unrealistic targets and forced to work excessive hours for
minuscule pay, with no right to organise and abuses of womens
rights commonplace, so too the migrant workers at the UK-based banana
importer firm Pratts are similarly exploited. It may say Fair
Trade on the label, but its still more important for
the supermarkets to maximise profits, minimise costs and sell em
cheaper than their rivals. (To go really bananas, see SchNEWS 581)
And supermarkets actively work to undermine local food systems
by undercutting local suppliers prices. According to the New
Economics Foundation, between 1995 and 2000 the UK lost around one
fifth of our local shops and services.
So their pretences of corporate responsibility continue.
Everything they tell us is based on their own reporting - with little
or no external audit. In an attempt to hold the supermarkets to
account, groups including the Fair Trade Foundation, Soil Association
and trade unions came together with retailers to set up www.racetothetop.org
a website dedicated to tracking supermarkets progress
towards a sustainable and fair food system. Tesco and
Asda declined to participate and Sainsburys pulled out early
on. Now the projects over. Why bother indulging in external
scrutiny when the greenwash is working so well?
* For more check out www.walmartwatch.com
... and buy local or better still GROW YER OWN!
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For Not Being in the Wrong Place....
Another week, another Action Camp it seems. On Monday (3rd), attendees
for the Flood Summit, a PR knees-up from regional over-development
quango Yorkshire Forward to convince everyone that its
response to the recent flood chaos in the county was just terrific
(tell that to the people left snorkelling in Hull), were rolling
up at self-syled Robin Hood Finninley airport, near
But these robber barons were ambushed by an impromptu camp of local
merry men (and women) who popped up with banners, leaflets and workshops
highlighting the link between aviation growth and climate change.
The local sheriffs, as ever, were less than enthusiastic and soon
arrived to make sure the local barons could continue the back-patting
without confronting any awkward truths. Two were nicked for leafleting
and one outlaw for breaking bail conditions conditions that
actually only applied to the scene of the Climate Camp, Heathrow.
Only out by the distance of a short internal flight then...
* Pics and report at www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/09/380316.html
THROW OF THE DSEi?
Killing people in conflict zones is a profitable business (seven
million since 1989, with 75% of those civilians). If it wasnt,
then the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) wouldnt
be around. As one of the words biggest arms fairs, organisers
promise that theyll be something for everyone whether army,
navy, air force or self-employed mercenary.
The death show kicks off on 11th September with an Armageddon ridden
agenda running until Friday 14th. When it last ran in 2005 the show
was home for over 1,000 exhibitors with 20,000 visitors from more
than 70 countries.
Last time round, hundreds of campaigners took part in blockades
and other actions (See SchNEWS 511). The
arms traders will be facing more direct action this year as it vertically-lands
at the Excel centre in Londons docklands.
And ahead of next weeks actions, campaigners have some right to
feel optimistic. After a long effort by the Campaign Against the
Arms Trade (CAAT) and others, Fair-backer Reed Elsevier will be
organising its last DSEi this year and unless another company steps
in the fair could be a goner.
Reed Elsevier is a big publisher of medical and scientific journals
and the doctors amongst its readership mobilised to persuade company
bosses to pull out. Not an organisation to worry about the ethical,
company boss Sir Crispin Davis admitted that they were selling the
DSEi product for financial reasons so the warmongers could
be back after a re-brand in 2009.
Unsurprisingly, Neo Labour is fully behind the show providing subsidies
to research and development and running its own marketing department
for the weapons UK plc flogs the Defence Export Services
Organisation (DESO). Set up by another Labour government in 1966,
Gordon Brown announced at the end of July that DESO would be shut
down. Although this is a victory for arms trade activists who have
been campaigning for more than 30 years for the departments
closure, PR for weapons sales is not going to go away. It will now
be the responsibility of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) a body that
supports all UK exports. Military sales total less than 2% of UK
exports and it remains to be seen whether the UKTI will use less
than 2% of its resources flogging military hardware or whether its
business as usual.
Get involved in stopping DSEi
* Public meeting at 8pm on Monday 10th at the convergence centre,
which opens on Saturday 7th.
* The expo kicks off on Tuesday with a critical mass bike ride
starting 10.30am from Bank tube station and a march from Plaistow
Park at 11am, organised by CAAT. Find out more by going to the convergence
centre. See www.dsei.org
In the words of one SchNEWS correspondent on the ground in Mexico...
Bombs, elections, protests, arrests and Oaxaca City is still
fighting. Its been over a year since teachers, trade unionists
and their supporters took over the city in protest, spawning a larger
uprising and the creation of the Popular Assembly of Oaxacan Pueblos
(APPO), a grassroots organisation attempting to force the resignation
of corrupt local bigwig Governor Ruiz and a minimum wage amongst
other things (see SchNEWS 567).
Its been nine months since the government and military violently
took back the city but the area has remained in turmoil and state
repression continues. Only a few weeks ago the Peoples Guelagetza,
(an alternative to the state sponsored tourist spectacle of traditional
arts and dance) ended with the usual brutal police violence.
There was one death and 45 demonstrators were nicked as around
10,000 people tried to enter the Guelgagetza auditorium. All this
because people were asking why their traditions and culture were
being used to line the pockets of businessmen. Meanwhile the latest
crop of tourists are blissfully unaware that any such war took place
as they wander the citys colonial splendour, occasionally
mumbling dissatisfaction as to why anyone should feel the need to
deface such a splendid church with revolutionary propaganda.
A recent Amnesty International report condemned the actions of
the federal and state officials in Oaxaca, calling for an immediate
investigation into the abuse of human rights, torture and sexual
abuse in custody. At the beginning of August a bomb went off in
Sears department store. Another unexploded device was found in a
bank. Although the Peoples Revolutionary Army allegedly claimed
responsibility for these, some claim that its more recent actions
have been used by the government to create a state of fear.
During the elections on 5th August, hundreds of police were patrolling
the city cleaning up the main plaza of the unsightly
banners proclaiming support for the Popular Assembly, freedom for
political prisoners and an end to the fascist government. Four of
the arrestees were from Catalonia, who were assaulted and had their
documentation, cash and other personal effects stolen by the cops.
They are still being held by state officials in Mexico City. More
than 80% of the population failed to vote, and not through apathy.
There are still many autonomous villages in Oaxaca state, and anti-government
feeling still runs high. There are regular large marches, such as
the the one on the 10th August - anniversary of the death of mechanic
José Colmenares, shot dead in a paramilitary police ambush
whilst out on a demo.
As the marchers neared Colmernares former home, the people chanted,
Are you tired? NO! Then Fight Fight Fight! We want this fight.
No matter what the consequences.
For more in-depth analysis on recent events in Oaxaca see articles
(and, provided the govts not closed it down) www.oaxacalibre.com
Dr. Martin Balluch, an animal rights activist nicked for his part
in filming the fur farms, has been found not guilty by a Finish
court. Back in Autumn 2003, three Austrian activists were attacked
by fur farmers whilst filming conditions and arrested by police.
In what was heralded as an important victory in the fight against
terrorism the activists were held for three days and one had his
home raided by the police. Upon the collapse of the £20,000
prosecution case, Marin said, This verdict should send a clear
message to the authorities and to fur farmers: it is not just necessary
and legitimate to investigate and publicise the conditions on fur
farms, it is fully legal as well.
Victory for the villagers of Bilin in their struggle against
Israels apartheid wall (see SchNEWS 544).
On Tuesday, the Israeli high court decided in favour of a petition
drawn up by the Palestinian villagers to change the current route
of the wall which encircles the small village. For years, residents
of Bilin, along with international and Israeli activists,
have led nonviolent resistance actions every week against the encroaching
wall and the illegal settlement colonies that expand on a daily
basis on their land. Villagers and activists have been tear-gassed,
shot at, arrested, and beaten by Israeli occupation soldiers during
direct confrontations against the wall and the continued theft of
Bilin land, but the resistance presence has grown into a force
to be reckoned with.
However the victory is only partial: Yonatan Pollack of Anarchists
Against the Wall, says that the larger context is important to keep
in mind while looking at the situation in Bilin. The
overall picture is that of Israeli annexation of land and strategic
control over the Palestinian population. The most important thing
people can do in the international arena is to support the boycott,
divestment and sanctions movement, which is the most powerful tool
of international resistance.
* For more check out http://electronicintifada.net
SEPT 10th Confronting Empire
former US Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney talks about the
loss of fundamental freedoms under the Bush Junta. From 6.30pm at
Friends House, Euston - £5 or £3 for concessions. www.confrontingtheempire.org.uk
19-24th - Gatwick No Borders Camp. This will be a space
to share information, skills, knowledge and experiences, and to
plan actions together against the system of border controls. Place:
Gatwick area. Info: email@example.com http://noborders.org.uk
OCT 1st - Faslane365 Big Blockade. After a year of blockading
Faslane nuclear base, a mass bloc will take place to celebrate the
campaign and shut down the base. Starts 6.30am, at the north and
south gate of Faslane naval base. For more call 0845 45 88 365,
If youve got a great idea for futuristic killing machines
then the Ministry of Defence are waiting to hear from
you. They've got a super competition called the Grand Challenge
open to allcomers... Design the next generation of military hardware!
But be warned, competition will be tough. A team from the University
of Portsmouth, all secret Transformers fans no doubt, are leading
the field with a war robot designed to hunt down enemy troops
(and, maybe, the odd civilian) in the urban environment.
The team of academics like to refer to themselves as Team
Locust presumably because they envisange a thousands of
their battle bots destroying everything in their path. The flying
death dealor is touted as the future of warfare and
if the team win then their robo-warrior will be put into commercial
The challenge was to create devices that could be used
in the fight against people who dont fight under established
rules, says Charlie Baker-Wyatt, manager of the universitys
defence and homeland security research section. We are fighting
ideologies espoused by very clever extremists who are often one
step ahead of the game and not constrained by a public purse,
health and safety, environmental or legal concerns or even their
fellow human beings.
Of course, concerned civil service mandarins will even now be
rewriting those 'rules' of war to include the use of flying robots...
SchNEWS warns all readers - don't believe the hypermarket. Honest!
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