Bath Bomb #31 Out Now

THE BATH BOMB
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Issue #31
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July 2010
'Where news goes to die'

George's Marvellous Medicine!

Wondrous news this month as we discover that the chancellor has healing hands rivalling those of the good Lord Jesus. Osborne claims he has the ability to cure the disabled and reduce the bankers' debt in the process. Praise be.

It would seem irresponsible, uncaring and cruel to ignore the welfare for those most vulnerable in our society, especially in the current climate. Thankfully, the Conservative Party think, with a dose of George's marvellous medicine, one in five people previously considered incapable of work will be able to miraculously attain and keep gainful employment. This will cut the deficit and bring nothing but hope and happiness to those unfortunate enough to be handicapped.

Despite the level of unemployment being so troubling, the Tories assure us that those coming off sickness benefits will have an easy time finding work. It doesn't matter if they've spent long periods out of work; that surely won't affect employers' decisions. Certainly, it won't influence those already on the dole. That'd be ridiculous.

Enough irony.

Unfortunately, Con-Dem don't appear to understand the definition of incapacity, seeming to believe that there are those who are unable and yet, at the same time, able.

Further issues are seen with the pension age due to rise to 66 and later to 70 and so on. Simply the increase by one year will mean 200,000 extra people will die without reaching retirement age. It's certainly worth noting that those with big salaries and big bonuses can and do retire earlier with the freedom their dirty money brings them. Even more so, higher wages mean higher life expectancy. The Conservatives promised no cuts to pensions and yet surely these substantially are.

In France, there is currently large scale industrial action over their increase to 62, surely 66 is just taking the piss.

This month's budget delivers freezes on child benefit and public sector pay (considering inflation, essentially a cut in both). It brings annually decreasing state benefits in line with the cost of living and further hits on the poor by raising V.A.T. to 20 percent. Meanwhile, corporate tax is reduced to leave more money with the C.E.O.s and shareholders. Clearly, Con-Dem could have raised taxes in order to tackle the deficit, especially of those with could have raised taxes in order to tackle the deficit, especially of those with more money than they know what to do with, yet they've ignored this avenue. Instead the Tories are seeking out ways to directly attack the poorest and most vulnerable to keep their banking friends' pockets lined. Cunts!

It's A SHSEI-ing Shame

Whilst we have given a fair chunk of coverage to the woes of one community activist initiative getting repeatedly bounced off the pavement by Bath's powers-that-be, another local scheme has also been taking it in the chops, but on the quiet. The brainchild of one Mr Lawrence Buabeng, Snow Hill Skills and Enterprise Initiative, has been slogging through council negotiations for the last four years. Whilst government directives and strategies have been blathering on about emotive touchy-feely terms like 'community empowerment', 'helping people to help themselves' and 'stronger, safer communities', on the ground they offer the exact opposite. S.H.S.E.I. is a case in point.

Whilst the scheme has put together a comprehensive, step-by-step and ambitious plan (a term its detractors often use against it) to combat worklessness, ill health, and lack of community cohesion, it also seeks to regenerate a visually-neglected area and reconnect its people to their own history. Specifically, it is made up of those people itself, and aims for fulfilling work, offering the skills and practical training to get it. It also implements locally accountable, cost-effective public services. Though London Road is one of the main arteries into this World Heritage city, it is the UK's third worst polluted road and absolutely littered with boarded-up shop fronts. The fact is that the homeless, unemployed, ex-offenders, and drug-dependent who make up a sizeable proportion of the community often have a poor working relationship with institutional bodies. When an affluent, philanthropist outsider rolls in to tell you how to improve your lot, the disempowerment, the patronising arrogance, the distrust and inequality leave a sour taste.

Starting off with a film-making workshop for youth (four films are already available at http://www.ilovesnowhill.com), the scheme also aims at re-opening the garden behind Caroline House, taking back three buildings for the community (maintaining them to exacting environmental standards, and put them to use as Heritage, Skills & Enterprise Centres), promoting child- and elderly-care schemes, and exploring alternative economics. The first stage survey of local needs was done for free this spring, whilst the council's survey of 170 people in 2002 gobbled up around £30,000. The results of the first 100 have been damning, displaying a 45% rate of localised unemployment. The scheme has seen support from a dizzying array of institutions: B&NES Heritage and Economic Development officer, the local MP, the Local Improvement Advisor, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, Somer Housing, Better Bath Forum, Job Centre Plus, Genesis Trust, Bath Abbey Homeless Initiative, North East Somerset Arts and Bath Spa Uni, as well as those local denizens at the bottom of the ladder.

But no, it seems the council would rather sweep any problems under the carpet: though Snow Hill has four times as many Job-seekers as the normal rate, it is divided neatly between the affluent wards of Lambridge and Walcot, so no one has to get upset by damning statistics. For its part, the London Road Partnership seeds its members into community meetings to witch-hunt local youth. The Council seems to be waiting for the uppity poor folk to either die off (as two of the S.H.S.E.I. sub-committee already have) or do what they're supposed to do, like get a habit or a jail sentence. This justifies an ever-increasing gold-rush of police resources as the upper echelons matter-of-factly step up the class war. At the same time, they scavenge the choicest morsels of the scheme, rather than give credit to the disadvantaged who have put in years of solid, unpaid work.

The first hint of back-stabbing was when B&NES's Paul Pennycook all but promised a sum of £45,000 for a worklessness initiative in the area at the turn of the year; but when the cash did arrive, instead of it going to the existing, locally-based scheme, it instead fell in the hands of Re:Generate - a team of well-meaning young and polished community consultants from Shrewsbury, cynically being used by their higher ups to undermine and marginalise the active community, (who already do work in more needed areas like Whiteway, Twerton and Keynsham) and instead sink funding into a spate of jumble sales.

Things started getting ugly from there on in. Although the official route hasn't led to many results so far, a complaint was lodged with the local authority ombudsman, and law suits were initiated. Alex Schlesinger, chair of the London Road Partnership and antiques emporium emperor, threatened to return funding to sender or waste it on court fees, rather than use it for the scheme - painting him as a self-serving, self-satisfied do-gooder refusing to actually do any good for those who count. 3 and 4 Long Acre got squatted to push the council in the right direction, but things got even uglier when Joanne Long, from B&NES Property Services, reared her....face? and started court proceedings. The eviction took place on Thursday the 8th of this month. Property Services management of the building, or mis-management, incidentally, borders on criminal neglect: back in April, they erected scaffolding round the outside of the building to carry out a surveyance, and 'deal' with the rain damage; however, when we say 'deal', we mean they didn't bother to patch up the holes in the roof which admits regular streams of rain (and the floorboards are partially rotten inside, which the squatters took pains to reverse), but just put up boarding to conceal the moss growing on the outside of the brickwork. Rather than return the buildings over to the needs of the community, they'd rather flog them off to the highest bidder, in a desperate bid to pay off council debts from other mistakes.

We could go on - we often do, but the sorry saga involves a lot more double-standards, co-option, perjury and lies. S.H.S.E.I. still hasn't given up, and if people of integrity want to support it in any way - be it practical, financial or political - drop them an e-mail at lawrencebuabeng[at]googlemail.com .

Nice Work If You Can Skellett

Although the times are hard, it's nice to know that some folks are getting by. Colin Skellett, for example, owner of Great Western Enterprises, is doing quite nicely. G.W.E. specialise in providing business services (inventing this season's hottest buzzwords, and other important stuff) for local councils like B&NES. He was busted by the London Police Fraud Squad back in 2002 for accepting a supposed £1 million bribe for selling off his company Wessex Water to Malaysian-owned YTL Power (apparently, the money was payment for the consultancy role he played in the buy-out). It turns out this chairman of the Initiative for Bath and North East Somerset just can't get enough (monopolies, that is). Still on Wessex's board of directors, he also helped out Business West after their financial trouble two years back, by acquiring them. Business West provide business services too, for companies in the west-country. However, G.W.E. also owns the freemason-like Bath and Bristol Chamber of Commerces, who represent the interests of large businesses like banks, supermarkets, lawyers and public transport groups.

Then consider the shining example of Orwellian doublespeak that is 'Future Bath Plus'. Half-owned by B&NES Council, they promote Bath's tourism and World Heritage reputation, and have let loose a city centre manager intent on threatening positive community schemes like the Bath FreeShop. They are also the vehicle through which Bath's Business Improvement District scheme is brought in. B.I.D.s, which, if voted in, pop an extra tax levy onto all local businesses, with the stated aim of promoting 'all' businesses in the area, ostensibly. The B.I.D. is likely to boost CCTV surveillance and pseudo-cop presence in the city centre, privatising public space, and sweeping away the homeless, the ethnic minorities and the politically active who might just render the high street too unseemly for our beloved tourists' delicate sensibilities. First seen in this country in London in 2006, 22 of them have spread now, with particular outcry in Plymouth, where vast amounts of taxpayers' money has been channelled into the promotion of the B.I.D. companies' directors, interests whilst competitors have been high and dry. It's the same story of corruption throughout the so-called North East Triangle of Bristol, Swindon and Gloucester. Oh, and did we mention that our Colin is the chair of Future Bath Plus?

So, Skellett, a close friend of B&NES Council's CEO John Everett, is sending G.W.E. all over the south-west, accumulating heaps of taxpayer cash through a multitude of disguises, whilst vulnerable public services face wave after wave of 'inevitable' cuts. B&NES claim that last year G.W.E. earned £40,000, but if you include the funds tossed Future Bath Plus and Business West's way, it's looking closer to £1.5 million. Anyone else smell a rat?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_improvement_district"
http://www.bbc.co.uk

A Class (War) Act!

So, the budget has been announced and, as expected, it hits the poorest hardest, while leaving the rich - the same people who caused the crisis - laughing at the rest of us. There is expected to be a minimum of 600,000 redundancies solely from the public sector. In Bath alone, the largest employers, B&NES, the MoD, and the Universities, are all facing heavy losses, with at least three hundred council jobs on the chopping block in the next three years. Along with the all-out assault on average people, Cameron and his Eton chums have decided to reduce the amount of tax paid by corporations and the ultra rich. But while the old school tie brigade get ready to dish us out a kicking, many ordinary people are getting prepared to bash back. Bob Crow, leader of the 85,000 strong RMT union summed it up best by saying "The trade unions must form alliances with community groups, campaigns and pensioners' organisations in the biggest show of united resistance since the success of the anti-poll tax movement. Waving banners and placards will not be enough - it will take direct action". He has also called for 'general and coordinated strike action' - a call which is being taken up by thousands around the country preparing to fight back against the devastating Tory cuts. Already, there have been a spate of protests and actions up and down the country. Where better to ignite the fightback in earnest than the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham on October the 3rd? Protests are being organised that look set to involve thousands of angry people, and it looks like a coach will be going from Bath. So, if you fancy letting lord Snooty and the rest of the Thatcher clones know what you think of their cuts, why not drop B.A.N. an email at bathactivistnet[at]yahoo.co.uk. In the meantime, anti-cuts campaigns are springing up left, left and centre, so keep your ear to the ground and take a bit of inspiration from our mate Bob Crow, who ended his recent speech with a clear message to all of us - "Don't fear them - fight them!"

Climate Camp Counters Cymru Coal

There will be a Camp For Climate Action targeting coal in South Wales this August, from the 13th to the 17th.

The direct action network will converge at a venue in Cardiff on Friday the 13th August, from which people will be taken to the camp itself. "Coal is one of the dirtiest fossil fuels in terms of carbon. We will take action against opencast coal mining because it trashes the land, destroys our planet and wrecks the health of local people. Clean coal is a dirty joke", said spokesperson Cerys Jones.

Last year's camp was held next to Ffos-y-fran in Merthyr Tydfil, the largest opencast coal mine in the UK. The camp involved workshops on climate science, direct action training, a solar-powered cinema, compost toilets, solar-heated showers, greywater systems and wind power.

As part of the continuing campaign residents are now taking Miller Argent to court on the issue of 'private nuisance'. Due to the constant clouds of coal dust residents are unable to open windows, or hang washing out. Also, of the 18 coal train blockaders, as mentioned last month, five have now had their cases withdrawn.

For further information about the camp, e-mail: media[at]climatecampcymru.org, or give them a call at 07077 076147.

http://www.risingtide.org.uk
http://www.stopffosyfran.co.uk
http://coalaction.org.uk
http://www.climatecampcymru.org
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2009/aug/12/climate-camp-cymr...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8270681.stm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/26/coal-protest-ffos-y-fran

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UPCOMING EVENTS

London Road Food Co-op, Wednesdays, 4-7pm, Riverside Community Centre, London Road
Bathampton Community Growers workday, Thursdays, 10am-dusk, Mill Lane, Bathampton, e-mail thelostplot[at]googlemail.com/ tel Chris 07792 444628
Bath Stop The War Coalition vigil, Saturdays, 11.30am-12.30, Bath Abbey Courtyard
Recycle Your Sundays, Sundays, 10.30am, starts Abbey Churchyard, the regular series of sociable, easy-paced cycle rides, http://www.bathrys.org.uk/ tel Hazel 01225 469199
Bristol & South Wales Hunt Saboteurs punk & thrash benefit gig, Friday 9th July, 7.30pm, The White Hart, Whitehall Road, Bristol, feat. Kismet H.C., Death Job, Mutiny Plot and This Ends Here, £5
Introductory Permaculture Weekend, Saturday 10th to Sunday 11th July, Bath City Farm, £50, http://www.transitionbath.org
Bath FreeShop, Saturday 10th July, 12-3pm, outside Pump Rooms, Stall Street
Broadlands Orchardshare Volunteering Day, Saturday 10th July, 12-4pm, Broadlands Orchard, Box Road, Bathford, http://www.bathford.net/broadlands.php
workshop: Activist Comms/Radio Training, Saturday 10th July, 12-4.30pm, Bristol Castle Park, suggested donation £2; please let us know if you're planning on coming - either e-mail nickkassam[at]hotmail.com, or text 07796 864 649; bring food for a picnic and something waterproof
film & discussion: 'Stop that train!': direct actions on the railways against climate chaos and nuclear power, Thursday 8th July, 6.30pm, Kebele Social Centre, 14 Robertson Road, Easton, Bristol; hosted by Bristol and Bath Rising Tide
Climate Camp Cymru planning gathering, Saturday 10th July, the Wyndham Street Centre, 3-5, Wyndham Street, Cardiff, South Glamorgan CF11 6DQ; e-mail info[at]climatecampcymru.org
Climate Camp Cymru comms training, Sunday 11th July, Cardiff, e-mail l3wis85[at]gmail.com
Bath Animal Action meeting, Monday 12th July, 8-9pm, The Bell, Walcot Street, e-mail bathanimalaction[at]yahoo.co.uk
culture festival: 'A Taste of Palestine', Tuesday 13th July, 7.30pm, Masonic Hall, Frome, £7.50/£4 concessions, including food
Bath Mad Pride, Wednesday 14th July, 2-4pm, Abbey Courtyard; dancing, games & entertainment
workshop: 'Organisational Resilience', Wednesday 14th July, 9.30am-5.30pm, the Creater Centre, Smeaton Road, Bristol, sliding scale payment from £50; http://www.response-ability.org.uk
comedy: Ivor Dembina's 'This Is Not A Subject For Comedy', Wednesday 14th July, The Granary, Frome, £5
Raw food workshop, Wednesday 14th July, 7pm, the Abundant Life Wellness Centre, 36 New King Street, £10; pre-booking essential as numbers limited to 12, tel 01225 318060
Bath Stop the War meeting, Wednesday 14th July, 7.30pm, Friends Meeting House, York Street, Bath, BA1 1NG; http://www.bathstopwar.org.uk
Bath Green Drinks, Wednesday 14th July, 8.30pm, the Rising Sun, Grove Street
readings & food: 'Arab Writing Today', Thursday 15th July, 7.30pm, Trinity Hall, Frome, £8
Tolpuddle Martyr's Festival, Friday 16th July to Sunday 18th, Tolpuddle, Devon; http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/index.php?page=martyr-s-festival
Two Tunnels group open day, Saturday 17th July; walks will start every half hour between 10am and 4pm at the Tucking Mill (southern) end of the tunnel; http://www.twotunnels.org.uk
workshop: 'Permaculture Allotment Gardening Techniques', Saturday 17th July, 1-7pm, Royate Hill Allotments, Bristol, sliding scale payment from £20; http://www.shiftbristol.org.uk
'Wild Walk' foraging day, Sunday 18th July, 2pm, meet point tba, £10; tel Jonathan to book: 07740 706232
Bath Cycling Campaign meeting, Monday 19th July, 7.30pm, Rising Sun, Grove Street
gig & workshop: 'Survival Tales', Wednesday 21st July, 7pm, Easton Community Centre, Kilburn Street, Easton, Bristol, BS5, £5/suggested donation entry - please book in advance: contact[at]survivaltales.uk; http://www.survivaltales.org.uk; with Eirlys Rhiannon
gig & workshop: 'Survival Tales', Thursday 21st July, 7pm, Kebele Community Co-op, 14 Roberston Road, Easton, Bristol, £5/suggested donation entry - please book in advance: contact[at]survivaltales.uk; http://www.survivaltales.org.uk; with Eirlys Rhiannon
conference: 'A Second City Remembered: Rethinking Bristol’s History, 1400-2000', Friday 23rd July to Saturday 24th July, Museum of Bristol, The Old Council House, Corn Street, Bristol; organized by the Regional History Centre, University of the West of England
Peace News Summer Camp, Friday 23rd July to Tuesday 27th, Oxfordshire; http://www.peacenewscamp.info
Bath Animal Action info stall, Sunday 25th July, 2-4pm, Stall Street, e-mail bathanimalaction[at]yahoo.co.uk
Transition Bath Social, Monday 26th July, 7.15pm, the Love Lounge/ back room of the Bell, Walcot Street; bring food to share; http://www.transitionbath.org
Bath Hunt Saboteurs meeting, Monday 26th July, 8-9pm, The Bell, tel Justin 07854 062336
Critical Mass Bike Ride, Saturday 31st July, 1pm, Kingsmead Square, http://www.bathcyclingcampaign.org.uk
Earth First! Summer Gathering, Wednesday 4th to Monday 9th August, Derbyshire, £20-30; five days of workshops, skill sharing and planning action, plus low-impact living without leaders; e-mail summergathering[at]earthfirst.org.uk FFI
Bath Activist Network meeting, Thursday 5th August, 7.30-9pm, downstairs at The Hobgoblin, St James Parade, http://www.bathactivistnetwork.blogspot.com
film: 'A Grin Without a Cat: Scenes of the Third World War 1967-1977', Saturday 7th August, 7.30pm, the Arnolfini, Bristol, http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/films/details/710
film: 'November', Thursday 12th August, 6.30pm, the Arnolfini, Bristol, £3.00/£2.00; http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/films/details/711
film: 'Little Dieter Needs to Fly', Friday 13th August, 6.30pm, the Arnolfini, Bristol; http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/films/details/712
Climate Camp Cymru, Friday 13th August to Tuesday 17th, http://www.climatecampcymru.org
talk: 'The Venus Project', Saturday 21st August, 1-5pm, Victoria Rooms - The Auditorium University of Bristol, Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1SA, £16.02 entry; http://thevpinbristol.eventbrite.com
Camp for Climate Action, Saturday 21st to Tuesday 24th August, Edinburgh, http://www.climatecamp.org.uk
film: 'The War Game', Sunday 22nd August, 2.30pm, the Arnolfini, Bristol; http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/films/details/716
Bath Vegan Fayre benefit gig, Friday 27th August, Hobgoblin, St James Parade; more details tbc
one year part-time 'Practical Sustainability' course, starts September 2010, Bristol; exploring permaculture design, organic horticulture, woodland management, green building, ecological interactions, energy, group dynamics, re-localisation, creating change, community engagement and more; http://www.shiftbristol.org.uk
Bath Vegan Fayre, Saturday 4th September, Manvers Street Baptist Church, 12-4pm, free entry
Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, Saturday 11th September, 10.30-5.30pm, Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol; e-mail bristolanarchistbookfair[at]riseup.net; http://www.bristolanarchistbookfair.org
Regional South West Animal Rights Coalition meeting, Sunday 19th September, 12-5pm, The Factory, Cave Street, central Bristol
anti-Tory demonstration, Sunday 3rd October, Tory Party Conference, Birmingham more details tbc

Painted Lions As White Elephants

Bath's elegant and imposing 30s-era Churchill House in Southgate was smashed up, and a giant trash-can stuck in its place. The back of the old Tech college building in Lower Borough Walls was ripped off by a cowboy 'developer', leaving the rest of it jacked up with a metal girder after he did a runner. Only some ugly scaffolding stops the abandoned Cornmarket in Walcot St. from falling down. The last remaining Georgian-period lido in the country, the Grade II listed Cleveland Pools, just off London Road, is falling to bits as a result of years of deliberate council neglect.

B&NES's ludicrous response to this dereliction is to dump 100 identikit plastic lions on the streets of the city in some lame excuse for 'street art', and try to flog the idea to the public under the banner of 'Pride in our City'. The spin-doctors from B.U.M. (Bath Urban Mafia) must have laboured for minutes to come up with this oh-so-clever double meaning.

These same council P.R. hacks describe the dummies as 'public art', yet, in the tradition of Bladud's Pigs, Sophie Ryder's hideous giant brillo pads, and the decade-old Earth from the Air exhibition, they don't bother asking the Bath public what THEY want.

By snubbing local residents yet again, they were asking for trouble, and they got it. Some of the beasts were smashed up not long after being unloaded, which would seem to show that extreme censorship rules, K.O.

Not everyone is taken in by the B&NES moral spiel either; the three charities which are apparently to benefit when the beasts are auctioned later in the year, are Off the Record, the Quartet Community Foundation, and the Mayor's relief fund for Bath. Yet the self-same funding areas for young people, the homeless and the needy are the first to be savaged when cuts are made. A £3.4 million butchering of childrens' services, to be spread over a three-year period, was announced by B&NES in 2009. So maybe this is why B.U.M. uses smoke and mirrors to flaunt the lions as some kind of testimonial to their alleged concern for the welfare of the vulnerable in Bath, by using them as giant charity begging bowls in this pathetic publicity stunt.

Smashing News!

After well over a year of waiting, the E.D.O. Decommissioners' trial has come to an end, with the result being a unanimous NOT GUILTY verdict for all seven defendants. The Decommissioners are activists who, at the height of Israel's 2009 genocide jolly (aka operation 'Cast Lead') took things into their own hands and smashed up the Brighton factory of arms manufacturers E.D.O./I.T.T., causing upwards of £200,000 of damage and destroying heaps of records and research documents. The company have long supplied Israel with bomb release mechanisms and other nasties that they need to maintain their brutal stranglehold over the people of Gaza. The E.D.O. Seven used the defence that by crippling the weapons factory, they were preventing illegal war crimes from taking place in Palestine, thus making their actions legal by virtue of preventing a bigger crime from occurring. After hearing evidence direct from Palestine and reams of human rights reports, the judge decided that the E.D.O. Seven had a point, acquitting all. This effectively deems the Israeli occupation of Gaza illegal, E.D.O./I.T.T. immoral and complicit in war crimes, and sets a precedent for similar action in the future. Whichever way the court case had gone, the E.D.O. Seven have set an example for us all - when the powerful actively aid war crimes, it is the job of ordinary people to step in and jam a spanner in the works and a brick through the window of the war machine.

http://www.smashedo.org.uk

Pre-emptive Incarceration For Bath's ASBO Bastards

We here at the Bath Bomb were interested to hear about Avon & Somerset Constabulary's predictions for the future of the city's youth, with their open day last month. As well as teaching up to 2,000 would-be crims how to commit unarmed robbery with replica firearms, District Superintendant Gary Davies explained how "This police station belongs to the people." They then proceeded to baton charge infants and throw them in the cells, demanding charity bribes from the families to secure their release. Given a stark taste of things to come should she put a foot wrong in the ever-increasingly dystopian police-state of her next seventy years, nine year-old Abby weepingly begged her sneering goalers for freedom. The terrified tyke later confessed about her cell: "I didn't like it. It was quite scary and not very big. I am not going to commit a crime as I don't want to be locked up."

There Is Such Thing As A Free Lunch

Plans are currently simmering away for another free Bath Vegan Fayre in the city, to take place on Saturday the 4th of September. The one last year was a great hit, with around 150 folks coming through the doors, much chuffed at the quality of cruelty-free fare filling their bellies. The event was very much a locally-focused and a non-corporate affair, emphasising that even with the health, ethics and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, exploitation of humans is also on the 'bad' list. Many were disappointed by the angle that the Bristol Vegan (sorry, 'Eco Veggie') Fayre took this year, jacking up the prices and the polish, and marginalising campaigning groups away to a quarantined-off separate enclosure, so that people won't be distracted away from all the consumerism to be done. This year, the Bath Vegan Fayre will take place at the Baptist Church Hall on Manvers Street, but other plans are still pretty much open. If you can help organise or improve the event in any way, please get in touch with Bath Animal Action - e-mail bathanimalaction[at]yahoo.co.uk, or ring them on 07717 130954.

The following month, on the 30th of October, Bristol Animal Rights Collective will put on a similar event. A benefit gig to raise funds is also expected to take place at the Hobgoblin pub on the 27th of August - more details to be confirmed.

Rich Justice

Five employees working at the South African Royal Marang Hotel have been caught stealing various items, and a small sum of money from some of England's millionaire football players. It is reported the items included underwear. The employees were sentenced to paying a fine of £524, followed by three years of prison. This from a 'World Cup Court', a very special kind of court indeed, where the rich get all their stuff returned in one day, and the poor despair for three years after an afternoon's hijinks.

Jail seldom is called for. What restitution or reparation could the fact of a person being jailed accomplish? Do we have some kind of natural duty to spend time behind bars once in a while? No. The origin of the prison system lies in a medieval conception of justice. That is, justice as punishment. Justice as an attempt to control the population's behaviour, and make it fit in the 'correct' mould.

Of course, the 'correct' mould is arbitrarily defined by the authorities, so that we are today incarcerating not only actual criminals, who may pose a threat to the general population were they roaming free. But also, and mostly, people who either did not do anything wrong, or people whose victims will clearly not gain anything from them being in jail. However, those un-unionised prison labourers do make a lot of cheap consumerist tat, so it's not all bad.

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 and greens, and people who just want to change Bath for the better. For details on meetings, demos, or just to get in touch, e-mail bathactivistnet[at]yahoo.co.uk or see our website: http://www.bathactivistnetwork.blogspot.com

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 do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other contributor.