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(en) Britain, SchNEWS 485, Friday 18th February, 2005 WAKE UP!! IT'S YER FRYIN' IN THE JUICES...

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 18 Feb 2005 11:12:18 +0100 (CET)


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SLICK TALKING
"It is easier and less costly to change the way people think about
reality than it is to change reality" - Morris Wolfe, PR consultant.
"To put the environmental lobby out of business...the petroleum industry
must render the environmental lobby superfluous, an anachronism." - Bob
Williams, 'US Petroleum Strategies in the Decade of the Environment.'
With the Kyoto climate change treaty coming into effect the same
week that the McLibel Two scored yet another victory against
McDonalds, in what has been dubbed the world's worst public
relations disaster, 'greenwash' is back on the agenda.

Ever since the environmental movement appeared some of the world's
biggest polluters have been at it, conjuring up one green illusion
after another. This deceptive marketing has become known as
greenwash. The Oxford English Dictionary recently gave the word a
place in its pages, defining greenwash as "disinformation
disseminated by an organization so as to present an
environmentally responsible public image."

Take Shell for example. A week before they announced record
European profits of a staggering £9.8 billion, their UK chairman
Lord Oxburgh was giving a speech at the annual Greenpeace Business
Lecture about the future of oil companies in the light of climate
change. Hmm, an oil baron telling us about the perils of climate
change? Sounds interesting - how does he explain away the fact
that, despite its core business being oil and their number one
priority is to maximise profits for their shareholders, they
really do care? Most attendees came from the world of oil
companies, renewables companies, big NGOs, media and politics
(this is called 'partnership'). Outside the venue Greenwash
Guerrillas declared that this event was in fact a Toxic Greenwash
Hazard. The Gureillas reminded people that despite Shell's fine
words, the company "has promised to close the growing gap with
rivals such as BP and ExxonMobil by finding new reserves." As the
Guerillas pointed out "In terms of climate chaos, the solution is
simple: leave petroleum in the ground."

This sort of corporate greenwash, together with "corporate social
responsibility" and partnerships with people who really should
know better is becoming rampant.

In October everyone's favourite oil and mining multinational
companies - including BP, Shell, Rio Tinto and De Beers - got
together (at a price tag of £400 a head) to talk with some big UK
charities like Oxfam, Amnesty and International Alert to find
common ground on "Business Action on Human Rights" we kid you not.
Organised for the magazine Ethical Corporation, the whole
conference was geared towards how these companies, who deal in
extracting profit from resources under the land of displaced or
affected communities, can deal with the resulting issues. Stuff
like the armed insurrection by the people of Bougainville against
the Rio Tinto over their polluting copper mine. Sessions included
"Extractive industries: Managing plant security issues" (that's
'how you keep your mercenaries in ammunition') and "What are the
limits of business responsibility for human rights?" (Er, bugger
all if you can get away with it). Forget 'greenwash' this was
'red-wash' - how to get rid of the unwanted blood on your lily
white hands. Next Week Ethical Corporation will be holding another
one of these 'Partnership' conferences where organisations like
Greenpeace, Christian Aid and the World Wildlife Fund will rub
shoulders with the likes of Tesco, Exxon Mobil, Coca Cola and
Vodaphone. But is it good to talk?

What Climate Change?

The PR company Burson-Marsteller, an expert in 'reputation
management', reckons that "corporate reputation has a direct
impact on a company's 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. It's a pity some of our bigger NGO's didn't
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 aren't 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 else's 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." www.corporateeurope.org

"Perception Managers" like Burson-Marsteller should note : it
wasn't 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 pinnochio's beware...

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CRAP ARREST 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 chance.

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

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BURGER CHAINED!!

20 years since the first ever 'Day of Action against McDonald's',
things are looking up for would be leaflet distributors. This
weeks European court's ruling that the 'McLibel' defendants
(combined income: £3,500 per year) did not get a fair trial
because of McDonald's 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 they're sued by big business. The fact that
McDonalds were so desperate to stop a bunch of anarchists
distributing the infamous "What's 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-McDonald's 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.

McDonald's 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 McDonald's "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 "What's wrong with
Tescos?" leaflet will be hitting the streets.

For more info on the court case and campaigns against the scary
clown... www.mcspotlight.org

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Positive SchNEWS

Are you bored of mainstream radio blather and chart dross on
rotation yet? Yup, so are we.

And we ain't 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 Manchester's 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 that's a potential audience of 6,000,000! Tune in, Turn Up,
don't Veg Out!

Website with info, pics and highlights from past shows available
at: www.underthepavement.org

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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 EDO's 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

* There's 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 didn't take long! Most of the trees
on route have been felled. Protests continue however.
www.linsladeprotest.org.uk

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STRIKING BACK

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 www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org

*On 8th March the Sixth Global Women's Strike takes place,
demanding an end to poverty, war and crap wages. For more
information check out www.globalwomenstrike.net

* Wal-Mart, the world's 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

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RICE-CRACKING

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

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IN THE PIPELINE

It's not easy being one of the world's 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,
it's completely understandable they should need to screw over
anybody getting in the way of business development... how could
they make ends meet otherwise?!

Let's 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 island's
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 economy...why, it might knock a billion or
so off profits...get real!

Those affected by Shell and Exxon have started taking direct
action against the companies - over 200 indigenous people
blockaded ExxonMobil's 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 haven't been paid since October last year! Latest
info on the protests:
www.pacificenvironment.org/russia/sakhalin_protest

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..and finally...

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 isn't the tabloid stereotype "anarchist" that the Tourist
Board is trying to appeal to - spokesman Graham Birse said
"...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 - "...that's 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, we're not
like that really - most of us have got mortgages and jobs and lots
of stuff. (The right stuff , that is !)

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Disclaimer
SchNEWS warns all readers not to greenwash and bear it, but bare
the naked truth... 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...

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