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Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice

Newsletter January 2004


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After ages during which the earth produced harmless trilobites and butterflies, evolution progressed to the point at which it has generated Neros, Genghis Khans, and Hitlers. This, however, I believe is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peace will return. -- Bertrand Russell


BVEJ

You may be reading this newsletter for the first time as a result of the BVEJ Experiment. To ensure you receive future copies please subscribe.

To participate in the BVEJ Experiment please visit the BVEJ home page and forward a copy of the BVEJ newsletter to everyone you know, ask the recipients to do the same. [BVEJ newsletter #0031 December 2002]

Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice was formed three years ago as a response to the lack of any effective environmental group in the locality, sadly a situation as true today as it was then. Since then the personnel has changed, but we remain true to our founding principles (see links from home page), the only difference is we have gone international, but our roots remain in the Blackwater Valley.

The lack of any effective local environmental groups was not the only formative factor, the lack of any quality local press, we report what you don't read elsewhere. Our other guiding principle was the dismay at the failure of all existing groups to see the wider picture and the need to cooperate.

Locally we focus on Farnborough Airport, Farnborough town centre and exposing corruption in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor. Recently we have taken a closer look at what is happening in Aldershot.

Internationally we are part of the anti-globalisation movement. We highlight the ills of Big Business, as of late Iraq has been the focus of our attention.

Unlike traditional groups, we link together issues, we recognise social, human rights and other issues and link them together. A group fighting rainforest destruction may need our help because it is a British transnational that is carrying out the destruction.

Almost all our back issues are available on our web site, we are slowly slowly, adding more. We used to produce briefings and urgent actions, resources permitting, we may again in the future. We have finally got around to updating our on-line diary (the newsletter contains an edited version).

At the moment newsletter production is our main activity. Our editorial team put together easily digestible articles, often with links and references for more in-depth information.

Latest version of the newsletter usually appears on-line a few days after we have e-mailed out the the newsletter. We will post a notice on Indymedia UK when available.

We would like to be able to put out a hard copy of our newsletter but lack the resources.

We have recently added ourselves to the Yahoo list server. If you are getting multiple copies it is because you are on both the listserver and the manual list. Tell us and we will remove you from the manual list. The two will be for a time run in parallel, but we will eventually use the automated system only. Please ensure therefore you subscribe.

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Our material may be freely used and quoted provided it is not used out of context and full credit is given to BVEJ. Our material may not be used without our written consent by for-profit organisations.

Readers are welcome, indeed encouraged, to run off copies and pass around to their friends.


BVEJ mail server

We are not sure if our Yahoo group mail server is working. We are also having problems with our yahoo e-mail account. For some reason it removes line breaks between paragraphs, making the text files difficult, if not impossible, to read (we have got around this by adding the newsletter as an e-mail attachment).

If you don't appear to be receiving an e-mailed newsletter, you can always find it on our website (and we post on Indymedia UK when it's there).


BVEJ website

Our website was down for a few weeks from the end of May 2003. It has since been restored and should be on a faster server, but seems to be running slower. The good news is that as we write, there are no popups. In the meantime, we created a new website.

We are taking the opportunity to completely overhaul both our websites, which we will now run in parallel.

In addition to using our search engine, you can also search the site by going to Google, typing BVEJ, followed by whatever you are searching for.

We will, as before, post on Indymedia UK when a new newsletter is on-line, but to be sure of receipt, please subscribe.


North Camp Abattoir

The abattoir down Peabody Road, in the middle of a high density residential area, is clearly not in a very sensible location. So where do we relocate it to?

The councillors, demonstrating their usual crass stupidity and contempt for local residents have decided to re-locate to Gold Farm in Aldershot, bordering on Ash.

Once gain no consultation with the local community, councillors acting as petty dictators. Who the fuck do they think they are. Already several hundred people have said no.

The developers who bought the old Boots depot site, are none too happy, having since a substantial amount wiped off their investment before they have built a single house.

Ash councillors are none to happy. The first they learnt of this re-location, was when they read the local paper.

Guildford as a unanimous decision at their planning committee, have decided to lodge a strong objection.

Rushmoor, as the local planning authority, has to deal with impartially with every planning application based on its merits. They have already prejudged this application.

Cabinet papers on the abattoir have been released, but only after threats of legal action.

A big question mark hangs overt Sue Dibble. According to her fellow councillors, including a Tory cabinet member, she is speaking at every council meeting in favour of the relocation, and yet, she is working with the opponents of the relocation claiming too be on their side! We are pleased to learn she has been barred from the planning committee when it considers any application, due to her vested interest.

The two who are courting all the publicity are on a a self-promotion exercise.


Zapatistas – 10 years on, the struggle continues

1 January 2004 marked the tenth anniversary of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) uprising in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico, and 20 years of modern Zapatismo. Under the campaign "El Fuego y La Palabra - EZLN 20y10" (The fire and the word), thousands of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of Chiapas, Mexico and all over the world, have been remembering and celebrating that early morning of 1st January of 1994, when an army of primarily indigenous people shouted Ya Basta! (Enough!) whilst taking over San Cristobal de las Casas and several other major towns of the state of Chiapas. With that rebellion, the Zapatistas not only declared war on the Mexican government, but also on NAFTA, the free trade 'agreement' that went into effect that same day, and which, the rebels claimed, "it meant death to indigenous peoples".

Throughout the following decade, the EZLN has been a key reference for anti-neoliberal and anti- racist struggles around the globe. The Zapatistas have not only injected the anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movement(s) with notions of horizontality and direct democracy as a way of organising and operating, but they have also consistently pointed out the need for autonomy and diversity within a global 'movement of movements', made up by a civil society that has many different faces, voices, ways of expressing and modes of being visible.

To mark this anniversary, the Chiapas Indymedia Center has produced a 30 minute long radio program which reviews the history of the EZLN, the Zapatista autonomous communities and the Zapatista support bases. The 'EZLN 10 Years After' audio document includes interviews and recordings (in Spanish) of some of the key players in the EZLN, as well as audio from the major events of the last 20 years of global Zapatismo.

During the evening of the 31st December 2003, as well as during the 1st January 2004, a series of celebrations took place in each of the 5 Zapatista Caracol centers in Chiapas. These were modestly attended by the EZLN and Zapatista communities rank and file, and somewhat more generously by national and international supporters. The Zapatista caracol of La Realidad became one of the major focus of these celebrations in the rebel Zapatista territories, where hundreds of people gathered to dance and listen to radio broadcasts by some EZLN commanders in clandestinity.

Meanwhile, in Oventik, a communique by the EZLN was read at midnight of the 31st December. Amongst other things it stated: "Today we are gathered to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the armed uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation because this is the most important part of our great history as indigenous peoples. Because this was the moment when the zapatista indigenous peoples declared war against being forgotten, against discrimination, against the plundering of our natural resources, against exploitation and oppression, and against all types of injustices that we, the indigenous peoples of these lands, have been suffering for more then 500 years..."

Zapatista solidarity actions and celebrations took place across the world. In Sheffield New Year was celebrated with a Zapatista Party. Everyone wore ski masks to mark the 10 years with the Zapatistas, well OK, it was snowing!

EZLN 10 Years After, The Struggle Continues, Indymedia UK, 9 January 2004


Killer-Coke

The paramilitaries have graffitied threats and accusations against us on the walls of the bottling plants. These plants have become like concentration camps. The army patrols the buildings. There is so much repression that union members are even followed into the toilet. One worker killed himself. In his suicide note he blamed Coca-Cola. -- Javier Correa, president of Colombian trade union SINALTRAINA

We have become military targets. Would-be union members at the Coco-Cola plant now see joining SINALTRAINAL as like signing one's own death sentence. -- William Mendoza, branch president, SINALTRAINAL

When you drink Coca-Cola remember that you are contributing to a process which sows unemployment, hunger and pain. The young, happy image projected by Coca-Cola masks the suffering and the return of profits from Colombia to the US. We ask Coca-Cola to stop killing and you to stop drinking Coke. -- Carlos Julia, SINALTRAINAL, Colombia

In Colombia Coco-Cola are linked to deaths of trade union officials. Coke have been accused of involvement in paramilitary killings of their workers and trade union officials. A court case has been initiated against Coca-Cola in the US.

In India Coco-Cola bottling plants are accused of depleting and contaminating ground water and of poising surrounding land with their toxic waste.

A worldwide boycott of Coca-Cola was launched last year. This should be seen as part of Boycott USA for their illegal invasion of Iraq.

A further reason for boycotting Coca-Cola is that they are major backers of George W Bush.

Remove coke from your school, campus, bar, workplace. Spread the Killer-Coke message, ask your friends not to drink Coke and explain the reasons why.


Farnborough town centre

An excellent article on published by Corporate Watch on the shenanigans in Farnborough

The Rotten Borough of Rushmoor is at long last getting the national exposure it deserves. The one thing they don't like, is bad publicity.

Farnborough is not the only town experiencing these problems. Wisbech in the fen lands of Cambridge has boarded up shops and unwanted development

At the end of last year, Rushmoor discussed the town centre. Strange how neither local residents nor retailers get informed of these meetings and yet KPI get an invite. So the council gets a one-sided presentation. The usual crap. John Wall, councillor for the ward that includes the town centre, launched a vicious attack on objectors. Maybe he should try acting for the people he is supposed to represent, not a Kuwaiti-financed property developer.

The issue of Arena published around Christmas (Rushmoor's corporate rag) contained strong hints of redevelopment of the southern end of the town centre. Having laid waste to the northern end, it appears KPI now wants to lay waste to the southern end.

There has been no discussion or consultation with local residents or retailers. But that should be no surprise, KPI have still not had the courtesy to notify retailers of their plans for stopping up of highways, including the retail service roads.

But things are not going all the way of the council. A tenant at Firgrove Court has sought and obtained leave to take a judicial review. This was on the grounds that the planning consent was unlawfully granted. The council now have option of fighting the judicial review or admitting they have got it wrong, and determining a fresh application. By issuing a press release that said they had won their case they seem determined to brazen it out. This is reinforced by the planning officials telling the councillors that all they have to do is ratify the unlawful decision.

Eddie Poole, chairman of the planning committee, has launched a vicious attack on objectors. So much for impartiality. He is now under investigation by the Standards Board for England.

KPI appear to be trying to pull a fast one. They have circulated a letter to all retailers with what they claim are their detailed plans (having falsely claimed they have outline planning permission). These plans now include a hotel!

Keith Parkins, Town & Out II, Corporate Watch, 14 January 2004

Simon Coughlin, Delays annoy councillors, Farnborough News, 6 February 2004

Simon Coughlin, Town plans forced back, Farnborough News, 20 February 2004

Council wins court case on Farnborough town centre, press release, Rushmoor Borough Council, 17 February 2004

Keith Parkins, Farnborough town centre judicial review, press release, 18 February 2004

Keith Parkins, Farnborough town centre judicial review, Indymedia UK, 18 February 2004

Keith Parkins, Objectors should be listened to, letters, Farnborough News, 20 February 2004


Pink Castle Now Guilty!

On 15th December 2003 a District Judge in Weymouth, Dorset found four anti-GM activists guilty of aggravated trespass for attaching themselves to tractors. The activists were attempting to prevent the sowing of a trial of GM maize near Weymouth in May 2002.

This marks the end of a drawn-out and contradictory legal process which saw all four activists cleared of aggravated trespass by the same District Judge in March 2003. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) appealed and had the verdict overturned by two High Court Judges who ordered a retrial, with instructions that the defendants should be found guilty. The four now face prison for refusal to pay the punitive costs.


Avian flu

Avian flu, or bird flu as it is commonly known, started in Vietnam, and is now spreading across Indochina (Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia) like wildfire.

Avian flu can spread to humans and can be fatal. We are facing a far worse danger than the outbreak of SARS last year (and already this years several cases of SARS have been reported in China).

Thailand is the world's fifth biggest exporter of poultry. Tens of thousands of tons are imported by the UK, hundreds of thousands of tons by the EU.

Tesco has admitted to using Thai poultry in its ready meals and processed foods. Fresh chickens are not imported from Thailand.

The place to eat this cheap imported processed crap is in the fast food restaurants and ready meals

Cheap food is not cheap, as foot and mouth and BSE have already demonstrated. We have to move away from the insanity of raising animals in very unsavory conditions and then shipping half way around the world.


Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

Eddie Poole is on his way out. He has been deselected from his safe Tory Aldershot seat and offered a safe Labour seat to contest at the next election.

But that is not Poole's only problems, he is also under investigation by the Standards Board for England for alleged abuse of his position as chairman of Rushmoor planning committee.

Poole is not the only Rushmoor councillor under investigation. Sue Dibble is under investigation by the Standards Board for England. She sits on the board of Pavilion, then sits on the Rushmoor planning committee and speaks and votes in favour of applications which are either from Pavilion or are of some benefit for Pavilion. Keith Dibble is possibly under investigation for handing around secret documents to unauthorised third parties. He was stupid enough to not only wave the documents around at a public meeting (and be photographed doing so), but he then handed the documents back, leaving attached an audit trail of where they had been.

John Edwards, and lesser officials, are under investigation by the Local Authority Ombudsman.

The local Tories despise their leader John Marsh so much they are plotting to get rid of him. The only person who seems to be unware of these plots, is Marsh himself. Marsh in turn, has been threatening Tory councillors with unspecified dire consequences if they talk to local activists.


Snippets


Diary


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BVEJ News January 2004
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