Bath Bomb #18 Out Now!

THE BATH BOMB

@nti-copyright: copy and distribute!
Issue #18
free/donation
Jan 09

“Steal this newsheet!”

Looking Back At A Busy Year

2009 promises to be a busy year for BAN and friends, but before we look forward, let’s look take a look back at 2008. The year started with a continuing spate of foie gras, forcing the sick dish off the menus of many a restaurant. The FreeShop went from strength to strength, distributing goods to thousands of satisfied anti-shoppers and spreading its monthly anti-consumerist (2nd Saturday of each month, 12-3pm, Stall Street, opposite Holland and Barrett). In a new twist, BANners also distributed free ethical, eco-friendly vegan food to hungry passersby at the 'There is such thing as a free lunch!' stall. Punters of the Porter were kept entertained at 'Bubbling Under', Bath’s ongoing free monthly radical film showings. Members of BAN also helped open 'The 78', Chippenham’s first squatted social centre, and joined dozens in Bristol to resist the eviction of 'Ashley Road'.

Bath’s animals rights advocates have been equally busy, demoing Bath racecourse during a visit by Rolf Harris, travelling to Oxford Uni and Huntingdon for anti-vivisection events, sabotaging local fox hunts, travelling to Cardiff for an anti-badger cull demo and feeding hundreds at the first Bath Vegan Fayre. Bath activists also spent a fair bit of time in Bristol, helping organise the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, several days of credit crunch-related workshops, the first Bristol Anarchist Games Day (highly recommended!) and also helped organise anti-capitalist demos around the opening of the monstrous Cabot Circus shopping centre, which was invaded by zombie protesters. Getting active for the environment, BAN joined 3,000 others at Kingsnorth Camp for Climate Action, helping to seize the site, and causing serious disruption to the coal plant by scaling the perimeter fence. Earlier in the year, members of BAN joined others from Bristol, Oxford and Wales to successfully blockade Aberthaw coal-fired power plant, whilst more recently, another BANner helped out at the Plane Stupid blockade at Stansted. We were also busy with No Borders/pro-asylum seeker events, like the anti-IOM demos in Bristol and ID cards protest at Cardiff, and joined the anarchist ‘Freedom of Movement' bloc and 5,000 others at the Manchester anti-Labour Party Conference.

We’ve teamed up with Bath Mad Hatters to highlight the dangerous effects of forced medication, and our new pedal-powered sound system is justin about ready to go, after a year of hard work. Fascists failed to escape our attention, with local activists heading up north to oppose and confront the BNP’s annual Red, White and Blue festival (due to this year’s disruption, it is unlikely to happen again). Combined events and forces helped to delay the opening of Bathwick Hill Tesco for nearly a year, and BAN were there to greet them when they arrived. BANners celebrated Buy Nothing Day, and twice journeyed down to Brighton to join the 'Smash EDO/ITT' demos, aimed at closing down a weapons factory supplying genocidal states such as Israel and the US of A; after the demos (both of which got a bit 'rioty') and a four-year campaign, the factory is on its last legs – don’t miss the next demo on 04/05/09: www.smashedo.org.uk. BAN also launched its anti-credit crunch campaign, aimed at defending our communities against unemployment, bailiffs, corporate greed and recession. The campaign kick-started with a 35-strong, noisy demo in November and will continue on as recession deepens, with a focus on practically resisting recession and directly defending our rights and livelihoods. And we even managed well-earned group holidays at Tolpuddle festival and the beautiful Gower, too!

Opposition Increases As Attacks Intensify

On Saturday 3rd January, 400-500 gathered in Bristol to oppose the continued Israeli attacks on Palestine. The march, attended by young and old, anarchists, students, Muslims and socialists alike, took place on the afternoon of the day that Israel was reported to have begun its land incursion in Palestine. The demonstration coincided with various others around the country, and indeed around the world, including a 50,000-strong march in London. The following weekend 100,000 people attended a march in London in opposition to the continued devastating attacks which have since included the bombing of a school being used as a shelter for civilians, in which more than 40 people were killed. The IDF have also dropped leaflets over Gaza threatening to increase the ferocity of their attacks. In the five years that preceded the recent attacks, around 5,000 Palestinians are reported to have been killed by the Israelis’ advanced weaponry. In spite of the British Government's renewed call for ceasefire, figures reported in the Guardian in 2006 tell a different story: the Government approved £22.5m of weaponry exports to Israel in the previous year. If you would like to get involved in opposing the attacks, there is a vigil in Bath every Saturday outside the Abbey between 11.30 and 12.30. In Bristol, there is a vigil every night at 5pm in the centre, opposite the Hippodrome, and Bristol’s also home to the ‘Raytheon Out’ campaign, who are now in the fifth week of their rooftop occupation of that arms manufacturer. And let’s not forget neighbouring deathdealers Boeing, who recently found all their windows smashed! In Frome too, 40 people recently occupied Lloyds TSB, who have ridiculously closed the account of human rights charity InterPal. Other corporate nasties with ties to Israel include M&S and Starbucks, and be sure to boycott Israeli supermarket goods, where many peppers, sweet potatoes and avocados are grown on stolen land.

http://www.bathstopwar.org.uk/index.html
www.stopwar.org.uk/
http://palsolidarity.org/
http://raytheonout.wordpress.com/
http://electronicintifada.net
http://www.maannews.net/en
http://www.freegaza.org
http://talestotell.wordpress.com

Bash Back Against Bath’s Bastard Bailiffs!

Recent articles in the Chronicle have starkly contradicted assertions by government and academic think tanks that Bath would “weather the worst effects of the recession.” At the last count, 1,542 people are claiming benefits in the Bath area, an increase of 59% on last year, with 600 people having lost their jobs in the city since last November - a dramatic rise. And how are we rewarded when we’re laid off and forced onto the dole? Do we enter a nurturing welfare system that caters for the needs and skills of the unemployed? No, it’s more authoritarian than ever - benefits have not risen with the increasing cost of living, and claimants are harassed into searching for non-existent jobs under the constant threat of benefit stoppage for failure to conform to the infuriatingly bureaucratic world of Jobseekers. As a direct result of this and the rise in bills, food and living costs, Bath residents are seeing a lot more of everyone’s least favourite parasite, the bailiff. Recent figures show that bailiffs chasing unpaid council tax visited 2,400 homes in Bath last year. With three/four people in the average household, that means that 8,000 (10% of Bath’s population) were visited for council tax alone! When we take into consideration bailiffs sent out by banks, loan companies and energy suppliers, we can realistically increase the number of Bathonians being harassed several times over. At this point the old reactionary cry that people who are unemployed or bailiff-ridden are 'layabouts' who have 'brought it on themselves' simply no longer holds true. The majority of us are now feeling the pinch, some harder than others, and it’s simply not our fault. If your boss fires you and the job market is empty, what choice is there but benefits? If you were going to pay your council tax, but had to spend the money on the 40% gas and electric bill increase and feeding your family, what would you do?

Bailiffs are famed for their ruthlessness - a recent court case tells of a bailiff who posed as an ambulance driver to gain entry to an elderly couple’s house to repossess goods, while the elderly occupant suffered a heart complaint. And this is the norm, not the exception. Parliament recently passed laws allowing bailiffs to break into your house, so without our elected representatives to rely on, it looks like it’s up to us! In Bath during the Poll Tax campaign of the early 90s, and today in Edinburgh, London and elsewhere, bailiffs have met community solidarity. Organising amongst your neighbours to face off bailiffs when they turn up on your street is a powerful way of defending yourself, your property and your community against these vultures. Bailiffs prey on the weak, the stranded and the vulnerable. Resisting bailiffs is to be a key part of BAN’s anti-recession campaign in the coming year, and they will be holding an informal day of discussion, networking and organising on Saturday the 28th of February; location TBC. To get involved in the campaign, if you need help organising resistance to bailiffs or if you can name and shame any bailiffs, e-mail BAN at bathactivistnet [at] yahoo.co.uk

EVENTS

Bath Hunt Saboteurs meetings, 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, 8pm, The Bell, Walcot Street

London Road Food Co-op, Wednesdays, 4-7pm, Riverside Community Centre, London Road

Bath Stop The War Coalition vigil, Saturdays, 11.30am-12.30, Bath Abbey Courtyard

Broadlands Orchardshare Wassailing, Saturday 17th January, 3pm, Broadlands Orchard, £2 entry

Israel Out of Gaza demonstration, Saturday 17th January, 12.30 start, Abbey Courtyard

Bubbling Under, Sunday 18th January, 1-5pm, Porter Cellar bar, George Street

Talk: ‘Eco Upgrading of Existing Houses - Challenges and Opportunities’, Monday 19th January, 7.30pm, Quaker Meeting House, Bradford on Avon, free entry

Seed Swap, Sunday 1st February, 3-5pm, St Marks Community Centre, Widcombe, £2 entry

Bath Friends of the Earth meeting, Monday 2nd February, 8pm, Stillpoint, Broad Street Place

Talk: ‘Composting - how to make it and when to use it’, Wednesday 4th February, 7.30pm, Grove St Church Halls

Bath Animal Action meeting, Wednesday 4th February, 7.30-8.30pm, back room of The Bell

Bath Activist Network meeting, Thursday 5th February, 7.30-9pm, downstairs Hobgoblin

Earth First! Winter Moot, Saturday 7th February-Sunday 8th, 10am start, Cowley Club, Brighton, e-mail: moot2009 [at] earthfirst.org.uk

Bath Greenpeace meeting, Monday 9th February, 7.30-9pm, Stillpoint, Broad Street Place

Transition Bath Forum, Tuesday 10th February, 7pm, Widcombe Social Club

Bath Green Drinks, Wednesday 11th February, 8.30pm, the Rummer, Grand Parade

Borders & Immigration workshop, Saturday 14th February, 1-3pm, Bristol venue tbc email trapeze [at] riseup.net

Bath FreeShop, Saturday 14th February, 12-3pm, outside Pump Rooms, Stall Street

‘Beat the Bailiffs’ listening post, Saturday 28th February, more details tbc

Talk: ‘Portrait of a Road Protest’, Sunday 1st March, 3-4pm, Bath Central Library, £6/£4 entry

Rescue Rangers

Apparently, a dog’s not just for Christmas, and neither is the rest of the four-legged furry world, too. Following the usual seasonal peak in little Timmy and Sarah’s passing whim for cute little caged pets, a huge number of unwanted rodents need re-homing. Whilst the majority of humankind can’t get over the crazed notion that other animals exist purely to entertain, feed and otherwise serve them, and pet breeders are always out to make a quick buck, official rescue authorities such as the RSPCA centres and Bath Cats & Dogs Home are full to bursting, with many hapless beasts not lucky enough to reach rescue centers facing lethal injection. If you can offer a loving and responsible home for any of four mice, 21 gerbils or 60 rats in the nearby area, please drop us a line.

www.fancy-rats.co.uk/

Greece Is The Word

Last month’s issue of the Bath Bomb carried a hastily-written report of the murder of a Greek teenager, and the night of riots following his death. Since then, the riots have given birth to a full-blown revolt and although (or probably more accurately, because) a genuinely revolutionary situation has emerged in Greece, the media has lost interest. Don't let the subsidence of the sensationalist tabloid press’s ranting of 'bomb-throwing youths' fool you though, the insurrection in Greece is as alive as ever. Coinciding with a general strike, the riots expanded beyond the anarchist movement and became a coherent expression of anger at the deepening economic crisis. For three weeks, rioting involving hundreds of thousands raged across all of Greece, with symbols of capitalism and the state, such as police stations and banks, targeted by Molotovs, bricks and graffiti. Universities, schools and workplaces were occupied and self-managed by workers and students, and many districts of Greece remain in control of the residents, as no-go areas for the police. So why have the events in Greece fallen from the eye of the world’s media? It is because revolt and revolution almost always initially manifest themselves in rioting and 'chaos'. It is the instinct of most people, when liberated from the oppressive yoke of their former masters to celebrate, revel, and attack the symbols of the old order - this makes exciting footage, which can easily be portrayed as misguided violence. The next step in a revolt is thoughtfulness, of organisation, of order, and of beginning to think about how to organise and practically manifest a liberated space. The media have given this phase no attention, as firstly, it’s less dramatic, and secondly, and most importantly, because it is against the ethos of the corporate media to report on radicals as rational people capable of, and serious about, organising a society free of leaders, poverty and capitalist greed. Make no mistake, Greece is still in revolt, and is proving that as the old saying goes “capitalism is chaos, anarchy is order.”

Welcome To The New Year

2008 finished with riots in Greece, as people on the streets fought back against the corrupt government and police who gunned down Alexandros-Andreas Grigoropoulos. 2009 has opened with a bloodbath in Gaza carried out by the Israeli Defence Force, while world leaders blame the victims and refuse to interfere like they did with Iraq and Afghanistan, all because Israel is their friend. Only ordinary people throughout the world have raised their voices against this new wave of killing. Meanwhile, over here, unemployment and house repossession are up because we pay for the crisis caused by policy makers and politicians. Let’s try to make 2009 a year when we can shake off these leaders who run this sick system. A year like England 1381, Great Britain 1640, France 1789, Europe 1848, Mexico 1914, Russia 1917, Kronstadt and the Ukraine 1921, Spain 1936, Hungary 1956, everywhere 1968 and Eastern Europe 1989. Most of these struggles fell just short, permitting dictatorships of the left and right, but these were still years in which ordinary people strived to bring about a better world, and will try again. (Oscar Nominee inspirational speech time:) the time is always now, and if you’re interested in joining the struggle in a movement where everybody is equal and valued, join us in Bath Activist Network. A better world is possible!

Bath Activist Network are a local umbrella group campaigning on issues as diverse as development, environmentalism, anti-war, animal rights, workers' rights and more. Helping to produce The Bath Bomb, we are open to anyone, and our members range from trade unionists to anarchists, liberals to greens, and people who just want to change Bath for the better. For details on meetings, demos, or just to get in touch, ring us on 07949 611912, email bathactivistnet@yahoo.co.uk, or see our website: www.myspace.com/bathactivistnetwork

Earth First! Things First

During the coming Bath Book festival on the 1st of March, Bath Central Library will be hosting the exhibition ‘Portrait of a Road Protest,’ about the goings on at Solsbury Hill in the early 90s. It’s free entry to see the images, but a talk will take place from 3-4pm, £6 entry waged, £4 unwaged. Here’s a little history lesson. The direct action protest against the would-be Batheaston Bypass began in March ‘94, following the public enquiry several years before. Batheaston did have a traffic problem, and a small bypass, traffic calming or improved public transport (we're still waiting) would have been acceptable, but the sheer scale of the road, destroying water meadows and slicing through the lower slopes of Solsbury Hill, was madness. The non-violent direct action that took place consisted of sitting on diggers, building tree camps, squatting, blockading, and standing up to the mostly brutal security guards (rumour has it that one was fed raw meat!). The protest brought many different people together: locals, Earth First!ers and Dongas, all fighting the Department of Transport. Over all, it went on for several months, with reunion actions the following year, received lots of coverage and, along with other road protests round the rest of the country, cut back around 90% of the UK road building programme started by the dreaded iron lady.

Bath Bomb Wordwatch: Donga, Donga Tribe (noun) - a group of semi-nomadic hippies and squatter-punks that joined to defend Twyford Down and other road protest sites

www.earthfirst.org.uk

Airport Expansion Is Plane Stupid

The runway of Stansted airport was invaded by activists from the group Plane Stupid at 3.15am on 8th December, while closed for maintenance work. Scheduled to be reopened at 5am, the runway was closed for three hours while confused cops and security guards struggled to remove 57 protestors. 56 flights were cancelled. The average flight out of Stansted releases 41.58 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. We literally can’t go on like this – hopes of the UK meeting even the ridiculously low government-set targets for emissions are screwed if we don’t cut our reliance on aviation, yet Neo-Labour has approved the capacity increase of Stansted by ten million passengers a year. So yeah, this action no doubt pissed many people off, but nothing else has worked so far. Who now would deny the worthiness of the cause of the suffragettes, and the effectiveness of their tactics (which were far more disruptive than those of Plane Stupid, who’ve never turned to explosives)? Thousands of well-behaved protestors marched against the war in Iraq and got nowhere. The media claim that protestors disrupted working class families’ holidays, yet it is the poor who will be hit hardest by climate change - who generally lack the means to survive floods, famine and freak weather. Indeed, statistics show that the majority of flights are still taken by business people and rich holiday-makers. Plane Stupid’s stunt comes at a critical time when the government is soon to make their decision on Heathrow’s third runway, and desperate times call for radical measures. To protect the very near future, we must act now.

www.planestupid.com/

Review Corner: Off The Hoof

As we always say, going vegan is a way forward to save the world against climate change and to take a stand against the cruel and murderous meat industry, so we here at the Bath Bomb thought we’d take a look at this latest news agent addition. Off the Hoof is a magazine that purports to cater for “veggies, vegans and meat eaters everywhere.” However, a closer inspection reveals that this is unfortunately a vegan mag for vegan people, with some of the content sure to offend all but the thickest-skinned of meat eaters. This first winter issue has interviews with vegan celebs such as contortionist Rubber Richie, medal-winning body builder Pete Ryan, and musician Debbie Leigh Driver, and features on vegan stars like Natalie Portman and Chris Martin. Oh, and an article on non-vegan Harry Hill and his fair trade nuts. The magazine is generally a very good read with interesting articles, and a style all of its own. Why not give it a read?

www.offthehoof.co.uk/

Duck Tales

It may be a new year, but some things never change. The epic war between compassionate do-gooders and the arrogant animal-abusing restaurateurs of Bath over the issue of foie gras continues. But enough objective journalism. The production of foie gras is banned in this country and many others, and involves taking otherwise free-range ducks and geese and forcing them to spend the last 12 weeks of their lives in tiny cages, being force-fed corn mash up to three times a day via gavage pipes shoved down their throats. Eventually, as well as suffering throat lacerations and finding it painful to move, the birds’ livers become infected with the disease ‘hepatic steatosis’ and expand to up to ten times its natural size – which is then served up as pâte de foie gras. Haute cuisine this is not. Though restaurants present this as an exotic delicacy, the scale and ethic of production is closer to that of fast food, and then they just slap on a hefty mark-up.

Over the Christmas period, regular protests and visits from Bath Animal Action, Bath Activist Network and Bristol Animal Rights Coalition persuaded The Pinch and Bistro Number 5 to stop publicly selling, but they are both expected to resume the dirty habit soon. The Olive Tree and Royal Crescent Hotel both apparently only serve ‘faux gras,’ a seasonal, rarer dish, based on the natural over-eating tendencies of geese before migration, and involves much less animal torture. Bathampton Mill has been found to be selling foie gras, as have Beaujolais, who’ve been serving dodgily under the counter ever since previous protests; didn’t your mum ever tell you lying was wrong? Whilst around 800 members of the public have now added their signatures to a petition calling for a city-wide ban on the sale of the stuff, the offending eateries should be expecting mystery shoppers and more demos soon.

Here endeth the sermon.

www.banfoiegras.org.uk/
www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/foiegras/index.html

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For Fox Sake

Boxing Day saw hunt sabs from Bath teaming up with Pewsey and Wales to stop the cruel ‘sport’ of fox hunting - we followed the hunters with video cameras to ensure they obeyed the law, and used citronella spray to mask the fox’s scent. This jittery reporter was concerned by the hunt supporters’ history of violence towards saboteurs, yet the barbaric scum gave up after a pitiful hour and a half. Maybe it had something to do with the highly effective hunt sabbing seen on the day, or maybe the hunt master just realised he’d left his cousin handcuffed to the bed. It is illegal to hunt with dogs in the UK, although it is still legal to exercise hounds, chase a scent and flush out foxes to be shot, making the ban virtually un-enforceable. Police generally don’t give a shit, so saboteurs are needed as much as ever. To get involved contact Bath Hunt Sabs at bathhuntsabs [at] yahoo.co.uk, or find your local group at http://hsa.enviroweb.org/contact/index.html

And now, to the disclaimer: As anyone is free to contribute, the opinions expressed in each article are not necessarily reflective of each contributor. Naturally, any right-wing or corporate bullshit will be binned and spat on. Needless to say, the opinions of the author of this disclaimer does not necessarily represent the views of any other contributor...

For further info on any of our stories see www.myspace.com/bathbomb