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(en) SchNEWS 447, Friday 26th March, 2004 - PALIN TEXT

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 26 Mar 2004 08:29:57 +0100 (CET)


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WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT'S YER FROTHY... SchNEWS
CROAKER COLA
Del-Boy would have been proud. Stick some tap water in a fancy
bottle, give it a poncy name, brag about the "highly sophisticated
purification process" based on Nasa spacecraft technology and then
sell it back to the public with an astronomical mark-up! But in
true Trotter style the scam seriously back-fired for Coca-Cola
last week when its entire UK supply of Dasani water was pulled off
the shelves because it has been contaminated with bromate, a
cancer-causing chemical.

But while in the UK Coke are just busy ripping off their customers
and encouraging people to drink a can which contains six
sugarcubes, across the world their fizzy pop actions are a lot
more life and death.

Colombia is not the place to be if you are a trade unionist - over
3,000 have been murdered since 1987 - eight of those trade
unionists were working at Coke bottling plants. One of them Isidro
Segundo Gil was killed inside a Coke bottling plant and his wife
murdered by the paramilitaries for campaigning for justice. These
Colombian bottlers are now part of a legal action in the US under
the Alien Tort Claims Act, which accuses the company of
collaborating or hiring paramilitaries to murder, torture kidnap
and disappear Coca Cola workers and trade unionists.

Last September Coca-Cola's largest Colombian bottler, closed the
production lines at 11 of their 16 plants and launched a new
offensive against union-affiliated workers in an effort to break
support for the food and drink workers union, Sinaltrainal. The
company imprisoned workers by force in factories or hotels and
pressured them to renounce their employment contracts in return
for a measly payout. Then the bottlers suddenly sacked 91 workers
from their plants, 70% of whom are union organisers.

So twelve days ago to try to draw world attention to the situation
30 of these sacked workers began a hunger strike in front of six
Coke bottling plants. One of them Juan Carlos Galvis, vice
president of the local union said, "If we lose the fight against
Coca-Cola, we will first lose our union, next our jobs, and then
our lives." He should know. Last August there was an assassination
attempt against him, and just a few months ago, in December, his
brother-in-law was brutally murdered in an incident that many
human rights groups have linked to anti-union thugs. Just a week
into the protest and strikers are already being threatened by the
paramilitary who issued a statement declaring "They must leave or
they will become a military target and we will finish them off."

Coke of Secrecy

Insufficient rains for the past three years has pushed the state
of Kerala in India to a severe drought-like situation. Reports
from across the state say that the water levels in reservoirs are
going down fast, crops are perishing and towns and villages have
been hit by drinking water scarcity. So what are the caring
Coca-Cola Company that "exists to benefit and refresh everyone it
touches" doing? Sucking peoples water dry so they can produce
their sugary crap of course.

Coke have been the focus of protests across India for the past few
years. In Plachimada in the state of Kerla the company arrived
three years ago, building a plant in the middle of fertile
agricultural land because it had plentiful supplies of
groundwater. But it wasn't long before problems began. Farmers
living nearby began noticing changes in the quantity and quality
of well water. Water from a well in the village of Plachimada
became unfit for drinking, cooking and bathing with a district
medical officer eventually telling the villagers their water was
now toxic. Crop yields began to plummet. The water scarcity
eventually hit Coke. Until recently, the company was drawing 1.5
million litres a day from the common groundwater resource - then
it is only able to extract 800,000 litres - the remainder being
brought in by truck from borewells from neighbouring villages. Fed
up with this people recently blocked two of these transporters and
instead distributed the water to local people and emptied the
remaining water into paddy fields!

But while complaints and requests to the company and Government
repeatedly fell on deaf ears locals began an indefinite picket (or
'agitation' as they call it) outside the factory gates demanding
its closure. So far they've been there for nearly seven hundred
days with over 300 arrests. Now due to the severe drought the
local authority has refused to renew the companies license to
operate. The vice-president of Coca-Cola India, Sunil Gupta said:
"We have a long-term commitment to the people of Kerala. We hope
the State Government would explore the possibility of finding a
solution to the present problem of water availability due to
deficient rain in the last couple of years." SchNEWS reckons that
solution would be for the company to stop stealing the peoples
water and bugger off out of India.

When you look at just two examples of how Coke are behaving across
the world you have to ask yourself - what would happen if any of
us did the same. Intimidating and shooting people who joined trade
unions, or stealing and contaminating peoples' water supply? But
then it's not people doing this but a powerful multinational whose
actions Medha Patkar, coordinator of the Indian National Alliance
of People's Movements says "are symbolic of the vulgar arrogance
and criminal power of corporations." Or as Joel Bakan put it in
his new book 'The corporation: the pathological pursuit of profit
and power' "As a psychopathic creature, the corporation can
neither recognise nor act upon moral reasons to refrain from
harming others. Nothing in its legal make-up limits what it can do
to others in pursuit of its selfish ends, and it is compelled to
cause harm when the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs." It's
up to people to make sure that the costs to these psychopaths make
it impossible for them to keep getting away with such behaviour.

For more about Colombia and the worldwide boycott campaign
www.killercoke.org For more on Indian protests
www.indiaresource.org

* There's a vigil this Friday (26) 7.30 p.m. onwards to coincide
with negotiations between Colombian union and senior managers,
followed by a picket tomorrow (27) 11 am to 3pm Both outside Coca
Cola Great Britain and Ireland HQ, 1 Queen Charlotte Street,
Hammersmith, London W6 (adjacent to Hammersmith tube). 07743
743041

* Former Coke Chief Executive Roberto Goizueta defined the world
as ''Coke versus people who don't drink Coke yet.'' This sort of
expansionist megalomania has meant that the company has willingly
jumped into bed with anyone in order to expand its empire. One of
those was the Nazi regime, where Coke produced some impressive
adverts that for some reason are now hard to come by. So comedian
Mark Thomas has organised an exhibition to recreate Coke's Nazi
adverts in May at the Nancy Victor Gallery, 36 Charlotte Street,
London W1T 2NA and at The Foundry, near Old Street Tube. Anyone is
welcome to submit artwork www.mtcp.co.uk/coca-cola

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Crap Arrest of the Week

For disorderly use of a camcorder(!) or something like that,
no-one seems to be sure, including the arresting officers. An
anti-war demonstrater at last Saturdays rally in London was
arrested and charged under section 5 of the Public Orders Act.His
crime?Filming the demonstraters and cops as the march wound it's
way through the capital.Apparantly the cops didn't like it so
found it in themselves to arrest the individual, confiscating his
film as "evidence".

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RIGHTS FOR $ALE

On Sunday the new Constitutional Court building was opened in
Johannesburg, but ten years after the end of Apartheid, many poor
South Africans are still denied their constitutional rights to
water, basic services, and the right to protest. Privatization of
water and public services in South Africa continues. Local people
have been mobilizing to protest against the privatizations which
have seen water bills rocket, and thousands cut off from their
water supplies for non-payment of bills. (see SchNEWS 368).

Last Sunday, police opened fire with stun grenades on members of
the Gauteng Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF). Fifty-two APF members
were arrested, including 6 children, for violating the Gatherings
Act. The arrests came after APF representatives in some of
Johannesburg's poorest communities were forcefully prevented from
boarding buses to a demonstration. Others gathered at the Police
Station where their comrades were being held, and were shot at
after being given three minutes to disperse. The 52 were finally
released on Monday after being charged with participating in an
illegal gathering.

The Gatherings Act is an Apartheid era law, which gives police
powers to ban or interfere with legitimate protests. On Thursday,
the Police denied permission for the Coalition against Water
Privatisation (the original organisers of the protest) to protest,
on the grounds that the protest would be violent (no previous APF
protests have been violent), would disrupt traffic (on a Sunday!)
and would constitute a threat to law and order. The Coalition
appealed against the decision, but saw their case overturned on a
technicality.

Sixty people have been arrested this week for violating the
Gatherings Act. Eight were arrested in Cape Town on Wednesday when
they protested against the South African - Angolan decision to
repatriate thousands of Angolans, despite a continuing lack of
human rights in Angola.

What is happening in South Africa has been described as "flag and
anthem independence" where people wonder whether all the
sacrifices they've made in struggle have been worth it. The
working class protesters, mostly women and pensioners, continue to
be arrested, evicted, removed forcibly from their own homes and
imprisoned as they struggle against governments who deny them the
most basic of rights such as water.

Similar repression and privatization is taking place all over the
world. (see SchNEWS 339). If there is one lesson developing
nations can learn from us in the 'developed' world, it's that
privatization has been a total disaster for ordinary people. **
E-mail Dale McKinley at drdalet@metroweb.co.za to make donations
to pay bail or for updates on the APF detainees.

** This Saturday African Liberation Support Campaign Network
meeting - what is the network? What is its relevance to the
African liberation struggle? Unity Centre, 2 - 4 Ravenstone St,
Balham, London SW12, 4pm-8pm 020 8347 7605 nkexplo@yahoo.co.uk

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HELP!

We don't want you're money this week (well we do, but won't go on)
but we seriously need a few more people helping doing some
writing. So we are having another Training Day on Wednesday 7
April 12 noon at SchNEWS Towers. Sorry but its only open to people
who live in the Brighton area. Give us a call on 685913 or email
schnews@brighton.co.uk for directions.

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BLACKWOOD CAMP

The ten year campaign to protect St Davids Wood at Blackwood (See
SchNEWS 441) from being turned into the access road for an
industrial area is in its final stage. This week the camps
protecting the woods were evicted - but it's not too late to
defend the last camp - get down there now, but ring the first on
07811 948764 or 07708 420446.

Bailiffs and cops moved in on Tuesday, securing the land over the
next few days. A cordon is now ringed around the site, but some of
the camp still exists outside the cordon. This eviction was done
on dodgy legal grounds because it is taking place during an appeal
against the legality of the whole project. If the appeal goes in
favour of the protesters the eviction will have been illegal and
Costain - the project contractors, the bailiffs and police could
all be found in contempt of court. It is notable that police
haven't charged anyone for resisting the eviction - knowing the
dubious legal status of the operation. Residents from the camp
told SchNEWS that the bailiffs had been bought in for Blackwood
and would be moving onto Sherwood Forest or Nine Ladies next.

* The Sherwood Forest tree camp have won a two month reprieve due
to the council agreeing to an independent inquiry into the
feasibility of the road junction.

* It seems that a whole load of road schemes could be resurrected,
but in typical Neo-Labour spin, these are to be "re-branded": so
the Hastings Bypass becomes the "Bexhill to Hastings Link Road";
the Salisbury bypass becomes the "Harnham relief road and Brunel
link" and even the Arundel bypass rejected last July may rear its
ugly head again soon, all this comes after the Government
abandoned its target of reducing congestion and say car growth
will grow by a fifth by 2011. www.roadalert.org.uk

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SchNEWS in brief

** Protest against the internment of people under terrorism laws
at Belmarsh Prison, with speakers, live performance & signing of
expressions of solidarity with the detainees being held without
trial. Belmarsh Prison, Western Way, London SE28, 4th April from
12 noon, 020 72501315 / 07818 442526, www.cacc.org.uk

** Next Saturday (3) is the Black Cat Press Freethinker's Book
Fayre - something for everyone to read, at Conway Hall, Red Lion
Square, London. 11am-4.45pm.

** There will be a memorial service on Easter Sunday on the route
of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road (now the M6 Toll) at the
former Greenwood Site for Sorted Dave - who died during the
protest, and Sgt Mick Belcher, (apparently an old-style country
policeman friendly to protesters) who had his ashes scattered
there. Meet at Canwell Caravans on the A38. 07742 206004

** While there have been Travellers in Britain since time
immemorial, and their way of life has been subject to attack and
prejudice - particularly in the past twenty years in Britain.
There will be an evening to focus on Travellers and how they can
be supported - with films about recent evictions as well as food
and bar - at the Social Centre at 156 Fortess Rd Tufnell Park,
London on 1st April 7pm.

** April 8th is International Romani Day www.gypsy-traveller.org

** Bristol Indymedia are screening 'Afghan massacre - convoy of
death' and some short community films next Monday (29) 7.30pm at
The Cube Microplex, Kings Sq, Bristol
http://bristol.indymedia.org

** The first meeting of South West London Anarchist Group is
happening next Tuesday (30) 6pm at the Bread n' Roses Pub, 68
Clapham Manor St London, SW4 6DZ swag@riseup.net

** The Land is Ours and Chapter 7 will have a Land Occupation and
Low Impact Dwelling Convention over the Easter Weekend (8-13th
April). Events include the construction of another turf-roofed
roundhouse and a protest against the demolition of the Roundhouse
(SchNEWS 443) at the planning offices. 01460 249204

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SchNEWS At Ten

SchNEWS has its tenth birthday this November. To celebrate we will
be putting together a book and a film covering the exciting events
of the past decade, as seen through the eyes of SchNEWS crew past
and present. We are calling out for photos, flyers, and video (any
format) of events from the last ten years. Contact the SchNEWS
office.

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DAMBUSTERS

A massive hydroelectric dam is to be built in Belize which will
flood an area which according to scientists is "one of the most
biologically rich and diverse regions remaining in Central
America," it is home to endangered species such as the jaguar,
tapir, and the last 200 remaining scarlet macaws in Belize.

* The Itoiz dam in Spain is now being filled, but anti-dam
activists are planning to stop it - "Our objective is to paralyze
the dam works...Sometimes we stop the work for minutes, sometimes
for weeks, sometimes for days - but our objective is to paralyze
the works." Read an interview with the activists:
www.corporatewatch.org/news/dambusters.htm

* The Indian govt are raising the water levels of the Sardar
Sarovar dam project by a further 10 metres, which will submerge
thousands of peoples' land, on top of the many who have already
lost their land to dam catchment areas. www.narmada.org

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Inside SchNEWS

Mehdi El-Radhi - a British Iraqi stopped-and-searched under the
Terrorism Act and later arrested for taking direct action on the
Docklands Light Rail against the DSEi Arms Fair in London last
year - will be appearing for a full jury trial at Snaresbrook
Crown Court, London on Monday (29). He faces charges under the
railways-specific Malicious Damage Act. Support in court is
welcome 07792136765 mehdielradhi@yahoo.com

* Good news. Stuart Tideswell (SchNEWS 445) has had his conviction
for harassment of benefit staff overturned and he should now be
entitled to claim compensation. This victory means that it may be
harder for companies and government departments to use
anti-stalking laws against people making complaints.

* We have received more information about Helen Woodson, her
original conviction was for taking a pneumatic jackhammer to a
Minuteman nuclear missile silo in Missouri. She has taken further
actions because she was released on parole against her wishes, she
would rather have total freedom or none.

* The three women arrested for flyposting on a billboard that did
not have planning permission (SchNEWS 442) have had their charges
of criminal damage dropped. In their local area 48 out of the 50
billboards are illegal as they do not have planning permission, so
will the billboard companies be prosecuted or have them removed?
Don't hold your breath.

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..and finally...

Some like it hot...Kings of Fizz Coca Cola have unveiled plans for
a new type of vending machine.Sensitive to the climate outside,
the machine raises the price of a can as the weather gets
hotter.That bastion of socialist economics, Pepsi, have accused
Coca Cola of "exploiting consumers in hotter climates".

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Disclaimer

SchNEWS warns all readers we never bottle the truth when it comes
to Coke and rum dealings... Honest!

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INFORMATION FOR ACTION - IF YOU LIKE IT PASS IT ON...

What's On? Check out out Party and Protest guide at
www.schnews.org.uk/pap/guide.htm It's updated every week, has
sections on regular events, local events, protest camps and
more...

The SchNEWS at Ten Tour plans are being updated regularly as well.
Check them at www.schnews.org.uk/extras/tour.htm

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PEACE DE RESISTANCE It costs £10 INC. p&p per book, further
details as below...this one comes with a free multimedia CD too!

SchNEWS Of The World - issues 301-350 for £6.50!! Past books are
goin' cheap... SchNEWSround issues 51-100 - SOLD OUT; SchNEWS
annual issues 101-150 - going for £2!! Survival Handbook issues
151-200 - also at £2; SchQUALL issues 201-250 - almost sold out -
£7; Yearbook 2001 issues 251-300 - bargain £3. Cheques to Justice?
Honest!

In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles,
photos, cartoons, subverts, a "yellow pages" list of contacts,
comedy etc. You can also order the books from a bookshop or
library.

Subscribe to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9
issues)or donations (payable to Justice?). Or £15 for a year's
subscription, or the SchNEWS supporter's rate, £1 a week. Ask for
"originals" if you plan to copy and distribute. SchNEWS is
post-free to prisoners.

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SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 0EF, England
Phone: 01273 685913 (NO FAX)
Email: schnews@brighton.co.uk Web: www.schnews.org.uk

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