Friday 27th August 2010 | Issue 736
WAKE UP!! IT'S YER WEB ONLY WEEKLY ROUND UP...
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Story Links : Royal BS | Hovefields Eviction Threat | The Fash Show | War is Over (Killing Continues) | Grow Heathrow Eviction Alert
Camp for Climate Action 2010 finished this week having shut down operations at the RBS Global Headquarters, disrupting works at their administration building and closing numerous branches around Edinburgh's city centre. Activists also targeted Cairn Energy and Forth Energy, companies that had received huge wads of cash from the bank for not-so-environmentally-friendly projects.
Climate Campers outfoxed police by swooping fifteen hours earlier than announced and taking a site rather closer to their target than expected at around 9pm on Wednesday 18th August. The first campers arrived at the RBS Global Headquarters at Gogarburn in Edinburgh and erected tents right in their back garden, giving a clear "fingers up" signal to the bankers and cops.
RBS, dubbed the "Oil Bank of Scotland", was chosen as a target for its involvement in various climate crimes, including financing tar sands extraction from an area of pristine wilderness in Canada, and being the biggest lender out of all the banks to the fossil fuels industry. Banners set up to be clearly visible to the 3,300 workers employed at the site included "Nature Doesn't Do Bail-Outs". Campers repeatedly targeted the Gogarburn building (set in acres of woodland and meadows with its own moat, tennis courts and 'education centre') throughout the week, leading up to the day of mass action on Monday (23rd), when RBS told workers to stay at home and left the building empty.
Friday saw campers warming up with an "RBS Rousing". A mobile rave danced around the building, with police apparently seeing no reason to stop them until the ravers entered the building and one woman superglued herself to the reception desk. The woman has changed her name to "Dongaria Kondh" after an indigenous community whose land has been occupied by Vedanta. Vedanta is mining bauxite from an Indian mountain area rich with wildlife, including an elephant corridor, has an atrocious human rights record, and they have been doing it all with money loaned from RBS. The Treasury had to defend its part in the mining project in the High Court last October, when campaign groups challenged why they had allowed RBS to invest taxpayers' money in this destruction. Dongaria sent a report to Andrew Cage, the Sustainability Officer for RBS and says she will not change her name back until Vedanta pulls out of the project and gives the tribe their land back. Dongaria was arrested and charged with Breach of the Peace.
Other mischief continued throughout the week. On Saturday Greenwash Guerillas in biohazard suits marched around the Royal Mile with feather dusters detecting and denouncing RBS greenwash. They did the same at the Gogarburn site, an odd choice of action considering no workers were in the building nor were there any press on site. Police watched with mild amusement and after about 15 minutes the guerillas returned to camp. No trouble was had from the police in town either, even when three women twice invaded RBS sponsored stages at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and sang Lady Gaga rewrites about tar sands.
On Sunday afternoon, 100 people in biohazard suits and masks stormed the small foot-bridge separating the camp from the RBS offices with a sound system, pushed back police lines and gave them a run around the building, smashing windows but getting stopped short of entering the building. There were some successful de-arrests, but police caught two people and charged them with Breach of the Peace. The window-smashers are as yet unidentified. Two people were injured in the resulting turmoil, but both were back onsite the following day. A camp-wide discussion was prompted by the day's events. The workshop by representatives from the Indigenous People's Network campaigning against the tar sands oil extraction was interrupted by the action that resulted in the damage. They addressed the camp in the evening, voicing concerns that the ties of solidarity between the two campaign groups may now suffer due to a clash of tactics, as the Indigenous People's Network did not advocate damage to private property. Camp-wide consensus was that as the Camp for Climate Action is made up of autonomous individuals, a diverse range of tactics are employed to attain a common goal, and property damage was an action that most people in the camp saw little problem with. News also spread around camp in the evening that RBS workers wouldn't be coming in the next day, meaning actions had to be re-planned.
During the night, RBS branch doors were superglued together, and RBS slogans were graffitied around Edinburgh city centre.
Mass-Action Monday got off to an early start with campers waking up to triple the number of police around the site, access roads in and out of the Gogarburn site blocked by police and the building looking decidedly empty. Affinity groups quickly re-organised and a plethora of small actions started to take place all over the city.
Seven people made themselves into a human-superglue-arm lock-chain in the RBS executive car park and a banner was dropped outside the headquarters reading "RBS: Using Our Money to Fuck the Planet". No mean feat considering the vast numbers of police that had been set to work guarding the bridge over the road outside the entrance.
Another affinity group got in on the action straight away by targeting Forth Energy, a company that is pushing biomass solutions that don't meet Climate Camp's stringent eco-principles. Two got on top of the building, dropping banners saying 'BIO MASS HEALTH HAZARD' and 'BIO MASS = CLIMATE CHANGE', two chained themselves to the front of the building and three activists occupied the inside.
Cairn Energy was the next to come under fire as campaigners smashed a giant piggy bank of molasses in front of their offices, in protest of the £117 million in RBS loans the company has used to start drilling for oil off the coast of Greenland – only now possible as the ice caps are melting.
In Edinburgh, most RBS branches had already been shut down by the police before any campers had even stepped foot in the town centre, but protests continued with groups demoing outside shut branches and talking to the public about why they were there. Several performances of 'Oily Gaga' spontaneously sprang up at different locations.
Other activists managed to shut down one of the few branches still open by supergluing themselves across the front entrance and handing out leaflets while another two scaled some scaffolding in the city centre and did a banner drop.
Four campaigners acting in direct solidarity with the tar sands campaign staged a sit-in inside a branch and then outside the bank while covered in molasses, shutting it down for an hour. The group then recreated a toxic tailings pond, complete with dead ducks, on the Royal Mile, drawing a large crowd of Edinburgh fringe-goers to listen to a representative from the Indigenous People's Network's explanation of why RBS's investments are so devastating.
Meanwhile, back on site, a "Molassapult" was thrown at RBS from across the stream, leaving large dirty oily patches clearly visible and a Rhino Siege Tower kept police occupied for several hours as it slowly descended the hill to the main gate. Police, presumably frenziedly thumbing through medieval law books for advice on how to deal with such an incident, ran themselves in circles, eventually deciding to erect a metal fence at the main gate which flummoxed the Rhino's attack. This incident ended with a standoff between police and Rhino, which continued ‘til the end of camp.
By Monday evening 12 arrests had been made, taking the grand total up to 18. Nearly all the arrests made were as result of superglue blockades and most were charged with the Scottish police's failing-all-else charge: Breach of the Peace.
Allegations have been made that Climate Campers were involved with one more event that occurred on the Monday. According to police, unknown persons poured an 'oil like substance that resembled vegetable oil' over the busy dual carriageway outside the headquarters, causing delays and traffic jams while a clean-up operation ensued. SchNEWS spoke to one South Coaster about the accusation; “I don't believe anyone at the camp would have done this. Nobody there would do something that would so recklessly endanger people's lives, that totally goes against the ethos of the camp. And anyway, what's the point of this action? When Climate Camp does 'oil' actions we use something visual like treacle or molasses. It sounds more like an attempt to damage the reputation of Climate Camp to me.”
Did the campers succeed in their stated attempt to "shut down RBS Global Headquarters" then? Well it appears so. Workers were told to stay at home on Monday after the window-smashing and rebel-rousing incident allegedly sparked concern for office workers' safety and the offices were shut down for the day. However, the building was shut down, but were the operations of the business? Employees were on their laptops in their houses working from home, and although the disruption caused to RBS is obviously something that Climate Camp can count as victory, whether this has any real impact on the way the 84% publicly-owned bank spends taxpayers' money is less certain.
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HOVEFIELDS EVICTION THREAT
Gypsy/travellers in Essex are in serious trouble after receiving a 28-day notice of eviction to vacate their site at Hovefields at the beginning of August. This site is near Dale Farm - the largest Gypsy site in the country – which is also under imminent threat (see SchNEWS 702). Twenty families face a violent eviction by bailiffs Constant & Co if they don't leave by next Tuesday (31st). This group includes two children with learning disabilities, plus several elderly residents, and no alternative site is being offered by Basildon Council. It is a breach of the Human Rights Act.
This comes after six families were evicted from Hovefields on June 29th, when Constant & Co bailiffs arrived – with Essex Police – without forewarning in the early hours of the morning and gave them one hour to go. A bulldozer was used to flatten pitches and knock down a building being used as a toilet. Six pitches were empty due to the residents being on the road at the time – they are not allowed to return due to an injunction. No compensation or alternative site was on offer.
Yesterday there was a training day at Dale Farm to help prepare people to defend the eviction, and will surely need reinforcements as Constant & Co, the self proclaimed 'gypsy eviction specialists' – and currently under investigation for breaches of safety law - have a long history of wanton violence (see SchNEWS 439), as they play their part in the ethnic cleansing of traditional travelling peoples.
Dale Farm – which houses around 1000 people – is on land owned by the travellers, but only part of it has planning permission – and the Basildon Council is choosing to evict rather than settle the whole matter by allowing permission for the rest. It is also under direct threat, and some consider Hovefields to be a warm-up for a massive eviction of Dale Farm.
Tory cutbacks have seen the cancellation of funding for new caravan parks for Gypsies and Travellers, but in reality none of this is about saving money – in fact quite the opposite. No expense is being spared to ethnically cleanse those living a travellers' life. So far Basildon Council have spent £2.5 million on legal fees, and will spend £3.5 million trying to evict these sites in Essex. Their offer to provide housing for the Essex families would cost £35-40 million, and it costs tens of millions to keep evicting travellers around the country. The cheaper option of spending £4 million to provide sites for travellers doesn't come into it.
* Hovefield location: off A127, take Gardiners Lane North to Oak Road, Wickford CM11 2YH.
* To help protect Gypsies and their way of life, email firstname.lastname@example.org or the Essex Human Rights Clinic email@example.com See also www.gypsy-traveller.org
* Roma and Gypsy travelling communities are constantly suffering from brutal evictions across Europe, and at the moment in France there is a campaign to deport 850 Roma people to Romania by the end of August. In the past fortnight there's been several large expulsions with hundreds who the French Government say have outstayed the three-month limit (even though these are EU citizens) being flown to Romania. The French Government are giving a paltry compensation of Eur300 per adult, Eur100 per child for the loss of vehicles and property. See www.errc.org
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THE FASH SHOW
For all you dedicated followers of Fascism, it's a double header this weekend with Islamaphobic goons set to hit the streets of Bradford and Brighton (See SchNEWS 735). While the powers that be have banned the EDL from marching in Bradford on Saturday, they have announced they still intend to hold a 'static' demo and tensions are still running high.
Anti-fascists are still on high alert and intend to be there to meet them. in Brighton the ENA will meet at the train station at around 12.30. They will also be met by both organised and autonomous anti-Fascists. Full reports and analysis next week.
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WAR IS OVER (KILLING CONTINUES)
Crack open the champagne, brush the dust of the Stop The War Banners, and remember those chants from all those years ago. If you didn't hear it anywhere else you heard it here: The Iraq War is over. Or, to be more precise, the American war in Iraq is over. 1,000,000 dead Iraqis, 4,000 dead US soldiers, perhaps 3000 dead coalition and mercenary troops, 2 million refugees and entire cities in ruin; the Americans have left Iraq. Mostly. There is of course the small matter of some 50,000 soldiers that will remain for an indeterminate time in an advisory role, making sure that Iraq's death squads and torturers are up to scratch.
The Obama administration decided to jump the gun, leaving two weeks before their self-imposed deadline of August 31st 2010. The last combat division, the 4th Stryker brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, have driven out with their hundreds of vehicles from Camp Victory to Kuwait. The US strategy perfected in Iraq by General Petraeus has been to declare victory and get the hell out. The good general is soon to repeat this in Afghanistan. The Iraqi government has demanded a complete withdrawal of US forces by December 2011, and the US is likely to accede (they don't have much choice).
As it turns out, there was no war for oil. Or at least, a trillion dollars of war bought at best a few tens of millions of dollars of Iraqi oil.
The US has abandoned most of its bases in Iraq. Many of them were as large as cities, complete with malls, Burger Kings, Pizza Huts (TGI Friday was refused permission because it was considered too provocative to Muslim sentiment). Balad airbase was for a while second only to London Heathrow in its traffic. These garrisons of the US empire were for a while quite an emotional issue for people either for or against the 'New American Century.'
And now they are the subject of one of the largest fire sales in recent history. Entire bases - blast walls, generators, housing units, are being sold at bargain basement prices to Iraqi middle men. US army issue prefab briefing rooms (complete with whiteboards and military maps en situ) are being sold on to Iraqi farmers who can use then to chill out whilst tending their sheep.
If controlling Iraq was the US/UK war aim, they failed abysmally. If the war aim was to cause complete and utter bloody chaos and devastation, then Messrs Bush and Blair can pat themselves on the back. Iraq has no functioning government - the divisive and sectarian system development by the US has meant that, following the elections, there has been a 4 month long deadlock. And while violence may have dropped from it's bloody peak, there is still not even the semblance of security. On Wednesday, around 50 people in seven cities were killed in a series of co-ordinated bomb blasts, blamed on Sunni militant groups aligned to al-Qaida. The attacks were the first to break into the consciousness of the media for a while but violence is a daily occurrence. The following is taken directly from Reuters Alertnet, on just one day- August 18th 2010, (based on police, military and interior ministry reports). Just an ordinary day in Iraq:
MADAEN - Gunmen in a speeding car opened fire at a government-backed Sahwa militia checkpoint, killing one and wounding two others in Madaen, 30 km (20 miles) south-east of Baghdad
BAQUBA - A sticky bomb attached to the car of a government-backed Sahwa militia leader killed him and wounded his brother when it exploded in eastern Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north-east of Baghdad
MOSUL - Gunmen using silenced guns opened fire at an Iraqi military checkpoint, killing a soldier in western Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad
MOSUL - A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed one civilian and wounded two soldiers when it went off in eastern Mosul
MOSUL - Police found the body of a man with gunshot wounds to the head in the town of Bartila, west of Mosul
SADIYA - Gunmen stormed three houses, killing three people in the town of Sadiya, 80 km (50 miles) north-east of Baquba, the capital of Diyala province
TIKRIT - Two people were killed, including a policeman, and one civilian was wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in central Tikrit, 150 km (95 miles) north of Baghdad
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb wounded four people in Palestine street in north-eastern Baghdad
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb wounded two people in the eastern Baghdad district of Zayouna
MOSUL - Police found the body of an unidentified man with head and chest bullet wounds in eastern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad
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GROW HEATHROW EVICTION ALERT
A squatted garden in Sipson, Heathrow has been served a court summons for eviction. The garden was reclaimed in March this year and guerilla gardeners have spent the last six months working with residents to rejuvenate the neglected plot.
They are currently in negotiations with the landowners for long-term community ownership, and are asking for support in the upcoming struggle by; Signing their petition Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a supportive testimony for the project or coming to court and show your solidarity: 2nd of September in Uxbridge County Court at 11am.
Email email@example.com if you have any skills, ideas or experience to contribute in resisting this threat.
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