The influx of tourists to the city for the 2012 London Olympic Games had caused excitement among businesses all over London, yet statistics show that during the Olympic period, UK retail sales fell and online sales plunged the most in five years.
Shoppers – both online and on the high street – were said to be distracted by the Olympic Games, causing an unanticipated drop in sales. Economists predict further falls in UK retail sales due to inflation and weak consumer confidence.
As one of the world’s largest brands, Coca-Cola is drunk globally at most major events, organisations and in normal day-to-day life, but controversy is never far away from the corporation’s door as their actions are felt by all of those unable to defend themselves.
They pedal their work in communities, but always fail to mention their crippling effects on non-western countries, the drastic effects to the environment around their bottling plants and the mysterious deaths associated with their work.
The Olympic sponsor’s chokehold on the drinks market is unassailable, but as opposition to their activity grows, legal challenges will continue to bombard Coca-Cola until something drastic changes in their behind-the-scenes work.
Carmen Garcia and German Gutierrez made the following film telling the story of Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth as they attempt to take on one of the most recognisable companies on the planet using The Alien Tort Claims Act, an act dating back to the early days of the American Constitution.
Click below to watch the film on the ever-intriguing thoughtmaybe.
Olympic impact on UK retail sales. August brings the worst sales growth this year.
UK retail sales values were down by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from August 2011, when they were down 0.6% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.6%, against a 1.5% rise in August 2011.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “There’s no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall. Sadly, apart from April – distorted by Easter timings – August saw the worst sales growth this year.
It’s clear people were absorbed by the magnificent Olympics and had little interest in shopping, especially for major items. Usually-reliable online sales suffered, putting in the worst sales growth since we started the measure four years ago. Some retailers told us online activity was particularly thin in the evenings. If people weren’t watching television they were more likely to be following the sport on PCs and mobile devices than shopping.
British Conservative politicians have been booed at the Paralympics in London amid protests against cuts to disability benefits.
The government has faced heat for awarding Paralympic Games sponsors Atos a contact to carry out “fitness to work tests” on people on incapacity benefits, which opponents claim has driven disabled people to poverty and even suicide.
Atos Healthcare, a global IT company, was given the £400m (NZ$796m) contact at the beginning of last month.
The British government claims more than £600m (NZ$1.19b) each year is being spent on overpayments to people who no longer qualify for the level of benefits they are receiving, the BBC reports, and so is now basing its payments on the Atos Work Capability assessments.
However, action group Disabled People Against The Cuts says less than 0.4 per cent of incapacity payments are fraudulent, but the government is looking to cut spending in the area by 20 per cent.
Opponents to the assessments say more than 1,000 people who had their benefits cut as they were deemed fit work subsequently died last year.
DPAC’s Roger Lewis told the BBC the assessments were causing “huge damage and distress to disabled people”.
“We now have a situation where we know that people have gone through the Atos assessments who have unfortunately died as a result. Some have committed suicide. Some have had heart attacks.”
Last Friday saw a large protest at the Atos’s London headquarters, as well as a demonstration at the Department for Work and Pensions, also in the capital.
Both Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne have now been loudly booed by crowds at Paralympic events.
Cameron received his negative reception when he was shown on the big screen at the Aquatic Centre, while Osborne was on the end of deafening disapproval at a packed London Olympic Stadium as he was announced to present the medals for the 400m T38.
Not all UK politicians have been booed by Paralympic crowds, with former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown receiving a “rather contrasting reaction” as he presented medals at the swimming, the Guardian reported.
It is not clear if the reception for the Conservative MPs is related to the Atos contract, or simply a reflection of the slumping support for the Tory-led Government in the polls.
British paralympians have also spoken out against proposed cuts to the disability living allowance, telling the Guardian that without benefit they would not have been able to participate in society, let alone sport.
“Without DLA I would not have been able to do what I did or be a top athlete,” Ade Adepitan, former-Paralympic wheelchair medallist told the paper.
Athletes also hid their security pass lanyards, which bear the Atos logo, during the opening ceremony to the games, however ParalympicsGB rejected this was a protest, rather claimed they had been tucked under their uniforms as it was windy.
Olympic medalist Liz McColgan has said she fears that a generation of aspiring athletes will see no benefit from any “legacy” from the London Games.
The former long-distance runner, from Dundee, directed her concern to politicians during an event in the Scottish Parliament.
She said little has changed since she was young.
“I still coach kids who are paying £3 to get into a track that has very bad lighting. I can’t see them in the winter time. There’s only one toilet. There’s no drinks available,” she pointed out.
“It’s quite sad that we’ve had so much success at the Olympics, and we’ve got 112 kids who all want to be like Mo Farah, and I can see that the cycle track that’s just 100m along across the park is exactly the same, the swimming clubs are exactly the same.
Were we prepared? No we weren’t.
We are probably going to let down a lot kids who are so enthused from the success that we had. Kids nowadays have got a great access to television. I didn’t have that in my day. They see it and they want it.
I feel the Government, the associations have let us down because we are not prepared to deal with all these kids that want to be the next Chris Hoy or Kat Grainger.”
Ms McColgan, who won silver in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and two golds in Commonwealth competitions, said it was lucky that the 2012 Games were a success.
Speaking as a panellist at the Festival of Politics in Holyrood, she said: “I believe there’s no legacy that I can see left in my neck of the woods. We’re left to our own devices.”
In a direct plea, she said: “I’ve sat on many, many panels like this and nothing happens. Everyone’s got great ideas but nothing happens. Why not just listen for once and take action?”
She was joined on the panel by former Scotland rugby player John Beattie who also complained about a lack of action to stimulate investment in sport for children.
He suggested private funding for state school sport, adding that he feels guilty about the high standards he enjoyed at private school.
“I don’t think it’s a Government thing alone. There’s a whole corporate world that should be getting into this because there’s no way you’re getting more money,” he said.
“The next step to make it work would be corporate money coming into the school system to sponsor leagues, to pay teachers extra.”
The panel also included sports journalist Alison Walker and Scottish Sports Association policy director Kim Atkinson, and was chaired by Labour MSP John Park.
The Paralympic sponsor Atos has been targeted by disability and anti-cuts demonstrators in angry protests at its role in testing disabled people to reassess their eligibility for benefit payments.
Hundreds of disabled and able-bodied protesters chanted outside the IT group’s central London headquarters, before moving to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Westminster, the government department in charge of the scheme. There were minor scuffles with police after a small number of protesters occupied the lobby and attempted to blockade the department’s front entrance.
Atos has been the focus of fierce controversy over its sponsorship of the Games while contracted by the DWP to carry out “fitness to work” tests, which campaigners argue are part of a money-saving drive to reduce benefit payments.
Campaigners say the scheme, worth £100m a year, has driven many disabled people into poverty or, in some cases, to suicide. Micheline Mason, who has used a wheelchair all of her life, said she had come to the protest, called by Disabled People Against the Cuts and UK Uncut, because she was “just so angry and so horrified at the demonising of disabled people. We’re being used as an excuse for the government to take resources from the poorest, most vulnerable people.”
Atos, she said, was “an agent of a policy that has already driven people to suicide and even those it hasn’t, has added such hardship and fear and uncertainty and insecurity to the last people who need to be feeling that”.
Atos Healthcare, a subsidiary of the French IT multinational, is contracted by the DWP to carry out “work capability assessments” of people receiving incapacity benefits, in which they are scored on whether assessors judge them able to work.
But campaigners say many of those whose benefits are slashed or removed remain incapable of holding down a job, citing research showing that, during one nine-month period last year, 1,100 people who had been judged able to work and had their benefits slashed accordingly had died.
Some 40% of the 738,000 assessments carried out last year were appealed against, of which 38% were upheld.
Several people at the protest cited the case of Cecilia Burns, 51, from Strabane, Co Derry, who died this week from breast cancer despite being told in February that she was well enough to get a job, after which her employment support allowance was reduced to £30 a week. After a campaign her benefits were reinstated a few weeks ago but she died on Monday, the BBC reported.
Claire Glasman, from north London, said she felt that “disabled people are under the harshest attack that we have faced since the welfare state was set up”. She described the results of the tests as “a humanitarian disaster” and said that disabled people were feeling increasingly desperate after lobbying parliament and MPs without significant results. “It’s just an absolute crisis. You can see we are just at the end of our tether,” she said.
The comedian Jeremy Hardy said he had attended the protest because “I just think the way the coalition has decided to victimise people with disabilities is so blatant and shameless, and they are willfully creating a new stereotype and a new scapegoat, suggesting that hard-working people’s money is being siphoned off to the undeserving.
“It’s just so cynical, because that strategy is being targeted at people who don’t have much, trying to make them hate people who have less.”
On Thursday, ParalympicsGB officials denied British athletes at the Games had hidden their accreditation badges at the opening ceremony, after observers noted that none was displaying the lanyard that bears the sponsor’s logo.
In a statement, Atos said: “We fully respect people’s right to peaceful protest and we understand this is a highly emotive issue.
“We do not make decisions on people’s benefit entitlement or on welfare policy but we will continue to make sure that service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be. We do this through a constant program of training and education for our staff, a rigorous recruitment process for healthcare professionals and through continual work with the government, disability rights groups, healthcare professionals and those going through the process on the ground.
“At Atos we have proudly supported the Paralympics movement for a decade. We hope people will view the Games as we do, as an opportunity to celebrate sporting achievements.”
A government spokesman added: “It’s disappointing that a small number of organisations are protesting against sponsorship of the Paralympic Games, which is an opportunity to showcase the talents of disabled people and act as a catalyst for our sporting talents of the future.”
Lord Coe, the London 2012 chairman, also reiterated his support for Atos as a sponsor at a press conference. “They are helping us with accreditation and they are helping us with the recruitment of volunteers. They are helping the media with the delivery of results. They have been in the Olympic and Paralympic space for a long time. You know my view, we can’t do this without sponsors. So the short answer is that I am pleased they’re here. They are helping us.”
‘The government’s decision to crack down on the disabled takes a bizarre turn this week after a man in a coma was stripped of his benefits – because he’d not handed his fitness-for-work questionnaire in.
Client’s husband is in hospital in a coma. He was sent ESA501.
Client contacted DWP to explain situation and was asked to obtain letter from hospital confirming he is in a coma. Did so. Was told to send it to ATOS rather than local BDC. Did so. Husband has now received decision letter – yep, as he has failed to return the ESA50 without good cause and is therefore capable of work [he is] no longer entitled to ESA…
The decision is part of a lengthening list of seemingly nonsensical judgements handed down by ATOS healthcare since it was appointed to oversee benefits claims in 2005 – another notable case is that of Larry Newman, who was told to stop slacking and get back to work despite having an incurable lung disease, which killed him just months after his assessment.
The firm has been targeted repeatedly over the last few years by campaigners under the banner ATOS KILLS, with activists pointing to a sharp rise in applications against the decisions being made, with 40% of appeals being successful overall rising to 70% where legal representation is used.’
We are calling on disabled people, disabled activists, families, colleagues, friends and supporters to come together and fight back against Atos’s attacks. Atos represents as dangerous an opponent as any government, law or barrier the disability movement has faced in its long history. It’s not just welfare, but our very identity and our place within society that is under attack.
We are asking the whole of the anti-cuts movement to join us in our opposition to the company most responsible for driving through the government’s brutal cuts agenda.
Let’s make it Games over for Atos!
We’re not against the Paralympics, or the people taking part in it. We’re highlighting the hypocrisy of Atos, a company that soon may be taking disability benefits from the people winning medals for Team GB.
Ever since George Osborne announced he was slashing £18 billion from the welfare budget, the government has paid Atos £100 million a year to test 11,000 sick and disabled people every week – then decide whether they’re ‘fit for work’.
Atos uses an inhumane computer program to do the testing and trains its staff to push people off benefits. The government has admitted the tests are flawed and the British Medical Association wants them to end immediately.
So – join in The Atos Games however you can – online, on the phone, or on the streets!
• Monday 27: A coffin full of your messages about Atos will be delivered to its doorstep.
• Tuesday 28: Pay a visit to your local Atos office – and maybe even take your protest inside!
• Wednesday 29: We’ll hold a spoof Paralympic awards ceremony – hopefully with some very special guests…
• Thursday 30: Phone jam! Let’s flood Atos with calls, and generate a Twitter-storm they can’t ignore!
• Friday 31: Join us in London where we’re teaming up with UK Uncut for the Grand Finale – an audacious, daring and disruptive action. Last time we shut down Oxford Circus. This time we will be performing miracles…!
We’ll give more details about each day of action. We’ll make sure that DPAC members and disabled people who can’t travel will be able to take part in different and accessible ways.
We’d really like YOU to make this week of action a great success!
Atos has offices in most towns across the country, so start organising an action for August 28 at your local Atos now!
‘The pringle’, the nickname for the new London velodrome where Olympic cyclists race this summer, has sprung into the headlines for having “minor leaks” in its roof due to the “heavy rain” England has been experiencing these past weeks, as confirmed by a London 2012 spokesman.
This announcement leads us to question the quality of the Olympic ‘legacy’.
In the end, what we really need to be grateful for, is that it rarely rains in England…