Love me! Help me! – can art save Battersea Power Station?

Brian's poster

As Chairman of Battersea Power Station Community Group Brian Barnes has fought for the power station for 32 years.

The Battersea Power Station has without a doubt a special place in many Londoners hearts. It has this word presence – not many buildings have been featured in popular culture as much as the iconic building based on a river side site next to Thames.

Now the power station is facing a massive re-generation scheme led by the Battersea Power Station Development Company, a Malaysian consortium in charge of the ambitious building project. The scheme has stormed critique especially among local residents.

One of them is Brian Barnes, a mural artist who have been the fighting for the Battersea Power Station over three decades. Brian is Chairman of Battersea Power Station Community Group which has been campaigning to save the power station and to inform people about what the local community thinks about the redevelopment plans.

The Battersea Power Station has inspired Brian’s artwork and the posters made by Brian have been part of the Battersea Power Station Community Group’s campaign. One of Brian’s posters represent what Pink Floyd did in 1976. A helium filled 45 long pig was anchored to the chimney for the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animal album. “Battersea Power Station and the pig go together like peaches and cream” Brian says.

Algie

The iconic rock image Pink Floyd’s inflatable pig Algie has inspired Brian Barnes’ posters. Algie famously flew over Battersea Power Station for Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album cover in 1976.

However the pig isn’t the only animal Brian has used in his artwork. Orangutangs have also been a common feature in Brian’s art inspired by the power station. This is because one of the companies that owns the power station, Sime Darby – one of the biggest palm oil producers in the world – is cutting down a rainforest in equatorial zones and destroying the natural habitats of orangutangs.

“If they can do that in Borneo and threaten the rainforest and the orangutangs, I don’t think they are going to be much bothered about a building of brick”, Brian adds.

“On Valentine’s day we put up a big ‘Love’ banner up on the chimneys with a heart on it. That got everyone interested in loving Battersea Power Station”, Brian says. The 45 foot long banners which the Community Group members strung up between the chimneys have also said ‘Love me’ and ‘Help me’.

Brian believes that art helps to galvanise people’s attention to the power station and what’s going on: “Whether the chimneys are coming down or whether there is too much luxury housing around it or whether the tube station is really going to be useful for the local people”.

Brian and mural

A mural ‘Battersea in perspective’ was made in 1988. The mural including Battersea Power Station ‘is all about the Battersea area and people who are famous of being Battersea residents’ Brian says.

“Battersea Power Station missed out being an art gallery because it didn’t have a roof” Brian says referring to the Bankside power station which now serves as the Tate Modern.

The chimneys of the Battersea Power Station have been a significant part of Brian’s art. “If all the chimneys are down and the present Battersea Power Station Development Company leaves then you would have a box of brick with no chimneys”, Brian worries. At the moment the chimneys are indeed going down in order to be rebuild.

Perhaps art cannot save the Battersea Power Station. However it has spread the message of what is happening and helped social change by being a part of a wider campaign. “I used it (Battersea Power Station) as an image to represent Battersea”, Brian says and what is sure is that his campaign to save the power station isn’t over yet.

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Anti-gay law set for Winter Olympic Russia

To be gay and compete in the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi seems to become a problem. An anti-gay bill, to outlaw “Homosexual propaganda” which would involve making public display of affection by same-sex couples and public events that promote gay right illegal, is working its way through Russian parliament. Some cities in Russia, such as St. Petersburg, already similar laws.

If the new law gets approved, which it seems it will, gay athletes will not be allowed to talk about their sexuality or show their partners affection in public. It also prevents athletes who has not stepped out of the closet yet to do that anytime soon, since that might make them a target for discrimination during the winter olympics.

Vancouver and London hosted a Pride House for their gay fans and athletes, but even if a gay-rights group in Russia wanted to do the same the members claims the Russian Ministry of Justice banned them for doing so.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says that they can not do anything about there not being a Pride House in Sochi since they have no responsibility for the various national or special interest houses common during the Olympics. They also claims that there will not be any discrimination against those taking part in the Olympic Games.

You would think though that IOC would be big and powerful enough to be able to make the Russian Ministry of Justice to remove their ban from the Pride House, especially since they are keen to make sure that everybody knows they are against any kind of discrimination.

Marc Naimark, from the Federation of Gay games, says: “When they choose a country that’s homophobic, they send a message to the world and to gay athletes, among those messages is, ‘if you’re not out, stay in the closet.”

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2012 Unemployment increases in Olympic boroughs

The British Government promised work for 20,000 of the people who lived in the Olympics host borough. Despite that fact only 9,700 jobs went to the residents of these borough.

The Guardian wrote an article about how the unemployment has increased during 2012 in some of the Games host boroughs. What happened to Cameron’s promise to keep the legacy of the games alive and as a part of that legacy to bring jobs to people in East London? The long-term youth unemployment in Bethnal Green and Bow increased by 55% in 2012. Wasn’t it supposed to decrease according to Cameron’s promise?

So the real Olympic legacy, as in Athens, is debt, despair and less access to sport than before…

 

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Atos Protests Continue

New protests have been planned to force Glasgow 2014 to drop Atos as sponsors.

This news comes after demonstrations were held in tandem with the paralympics, protesting against Atos’s poor record in their fit-for-work assessments.

The coming protests still aim to bring the inferior assessments to public light and are hoping to take Atos out of the sponsor list for Glasgow 2014, where they are hoping to gain good press.

Below is a video of one of the protests held during the paralympics games


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The Dark Side of Olympic Sponsor, Coca-Cola

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.

Wikipedia hosts a broad summary of a number of the criticisms of Coca-Cola.

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Olympic impact on UK retail sales

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.

Full article: http://www.brc.org.uk/brc_news_detail.asp?id=2282

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Join the Atos Games with Disabled People Against Cuts

Join the Atos Games with Disabled People Against Cuts

Join Disabled People Against Cuts for The Atos Games From Monday 27 to Friday 31 August – five days of action against a company that’s sponsoring the Paralympics but wrecking disabled people’s lives.

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!

Let the Atos Games begin.

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Liquid Bombs and Price Explosions

The fear for agitation during the London Olympics 2012 is tangible. The number of security staff is doubled compared with last year’s plans and this includes a doubling of  the costs for security. This makes the overall cost of the Olympics 2012 so far around £11bn. This summer, London will experience the biggest UK military mobilisation since the Second World War. Despite these high security policies, an attempt to smuggle in a fake bomb was successful according to The Sun.

Water bottles that can be used as liquid bombs, are a fear of terror and the reason the Olympic organisation has sharpen the safety policies, which are now turning  into airport safety policies equivalents. Visitors are not allowed to bring their own refreshments anymore, which leads into food prices that are the real criminal activity. A price explosions that is getting out of hand.

Is the organisation taking advantage of the banning of foods and drinks from the area? A sandwich is approximately going to cost £4.90  and a hot dog could fetch £5.90. Apparently you can expect some high standard food quality, but do cheering people  really fancy a haute cuisine hot-dog while watching sports? You can bring their own baby food snack (without bottle?) though.

Weapons and whistles are also prohibited. And any expression of political or religious opinion in the shape of cheering material are also a no go. Weapons, obviously. But whistles? Well the athletics must be thankful for the ban of whistles, meaning also no Vuvuzela’s which are weapons for the ears and distracting both athletic and supporter. It would have been amazing watching a game of table tennis while listening to a Vuvuzela concert though.

No but really, 6 quid for a hot-dog?

 

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John ‘Black Power Salute’ Carlos speaks in London 21st May 2012

John Carlos, who marked his medal at the 1968 games with a raised fist ‘black power’ salute, will speak about inequality, resistance and struggle in London on Monday 21st  May 2012 at a meeting organised by members of the RMT trade union on the London Underground and sponsored by the Fire Brigades Union. The famous gesture by John Carlos and fellow medal winner Tommie Smith epitomised resistance to racism.
The world is under the spell of the Olympics 2012. In these times of global gathering around an sports event, resistance is the best Olympic spirit according to Olympic athlete Carlos. Resistance against inequality and being pro human rights.

At the Olympic Games in Mexico City John Carlos created one of the most powerful images of all times. When the American anthem started, he and Tommie Smith bowed their heads and raised their fists to represent the Black Power movement of that time. Their way of dressing and posing represented symbols for working people, black poverty, peace, and lynch mob victims. In defies of the important Olympic rule: no politics. This controversial gesture created huge debates about politics. Carlos’ athletic career was over, but his human rights spirit did not die. He represents personal sacrifice for humanity and equality and this is your chance to hear him speak in real life.

John Carlos will be joined by activist and campaigner  Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered by racists and whose long battle for justice brought the conviction of two of his killers earlier this year. Also on the platform will be Janet Alder, whose brother Christopher died in police custody, and Unite Against Fascism joint secretary Weyman Bennett.
Other speakers include Samantha Rigg-David from the Sean Rigg Campaign for Justice and Change and United Friends and Families Campaign, Sharhabeel Lone of the We are Babar Ahmad Campaign, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack and Mac McKenna, an RMT activist on London Underground.

Register here for FREE! and join the FaceBook page.

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BP’s Unsustainable Olympic Sponsorship

The Counter Olympics Network (CON) held a conference on the 14th April at the Bishopsgate Institute where they discussed the problems that the 2012 Olympics has caused and planned points of action for the coming months to tackle such issues.

They were joined by international speakers Derrick Evans from the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health, Bryan Parras from the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s) and Clayton Thomas Muller from the Indigenous Environmental Network. Together they spoke about how their projects have been affected by previous Olympics. More specifically on the issues of corporate sponsoring, pollution, gentrification and surveillance that the Olympic Games bring to cities.

Derrick Evans

 Derrick Evans Representing the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health

BP is one of the sponsors for the London 2012 Olympics, as the ‘Official Oil and Gas Partner’ as well as sponsoring the USA Olympics Team. The corporate sponsorship of the Games by BP has angered campaigners who want to publicise the adverse effects BP contributed to the natural environment. Derrick Evans is one such campaigner who argues that BP’s involvement with the Olympics is an attempt to divert attention from its “incomparable contributions to unsustainability globally”.

He gives the example of the Deepwater Horizon Spill when BP discharged two hundred million gallons of crude oil into the gulf of Mexico in 2010 and then “applied nearly two million gallons of chemicals dispersant of Correxics not clean up, but to hide because it has the effect of breaking the oil up.” This has resulted in oil particles being consumed by the smallest life forms in the gulf and therefore infiltrating the whole food chain. Two years on the oil is still present and washes ashore in the Northern Gulf.

This has resulted in economic damage and health problems for the local people. In particular, the local fishing communities have been badly affected as two of their fishing seasons have been completely destroyed and very few of them have “received anything near the level, if anything at all, the level of compensation to compensate them for the lost income and the lost investment in their one asset, which is their boat, and their nets; and the things that they pour all their money into, to get ready for the fishing season.”

The health of the local population has deteriorated considerably since the oil spills. “Thousands, tens of thousands children and adults are exhibiting in large scale, physical symptoms: respiratory issues, skin issues, loss of short-term memory, a lot of the same issues, they don’t know each other.” And these people have not received any compensation, “they haven’t received a dime.” What is more worrying is that not a single cent of BP’s twenty billion dollar Gulf Coast Trust Fund has “pay for a single medical bill for a single person”.

The aim of the Gulf Coast Fund is to “seeks to assist and renew and empower the most vulnerable of the communities and ecosystems on the gulf coast.” The very same ones that have been affected by the BP Oil Spills.

Therefore, the idea that BP being a major sustainability sponsor is ridiculous as the environmental and human damage that BP has caused through oil spills undermines its attempts to be a “sustainabilty sponsor” of the Olympics. “BP has essentially got away with murder in the country and in a part of the country where the state officials and the government agencies that defer to them are like useless law enforcement.” Derrick Evans concludes to say that: “I want to encourage to those of you who want to shed the truth and light on this apparently multi faceted fiasco.”

Bryan Parras

 Bryan Parras Representing the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s)

Bryan Parras is a campaigner from Houston, Texas who is also campaigning against BP and their involvement with the Olympics. He described BP as a “repeat offender” as they repeatedly have accidents and problems. Five years before the Deepwater Horizon Accident BP had an explosion where 15 workers were killed. BP are “constantly cutting corners and cutting back on their safety measures.” But at the same time they are spending huge amounts of money by sponsoring the Olympics.

Bryan Parras sees the “Olympics as just another one of those opportunistic moments where capitalism sort of comes in and reigns its terror on folks.” It’s like watching little league baseball in the stadiums, where “everyone is watching their children and their friends play ball” while their cars get broken into all the time. This seems to happen wherever the Olympics go, everyone is so “focused on where the lights are all shining that we are not seeing what’s happening” to the local communities.

Clayton Thomas Muller

 Clayton Thomas Muller Representing the Indigenous Environmental Network

Clayton Thomas Muller is an activist for indigenous rights and environmental justice and lead campaigner of the Tar Sands campaign. The Indigenous Environmental Network comprises of indigenous people in the United States who have been affected by unsustainable development. BP’s involvement in the exploitation of the Tar Sands on the East coast of Canada has angered both campaigners and local indigenous communities as the extraction industry is unsustainable, causes irreversible damage to the environment and illegally encroaches on disputed indigenous lands.

It is important to understand that for us BP using the Olympics spectacle, the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet. We all know, for those of us who have done the history of the Olympics, that the Olympics is nothing more than a mechanism for the neoliberal capitalist agenda that is essentially a real estate operation to utilize and justify the expropriation of vulnerable communities.”

Vancouver Protests Image by (c) Jason Levis

In Vancouver, the Coalition Olympics Resistance Network or ORN organised and challenged corporate sponsors of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. One campaign, called ‘No Olympics on Stolen Native Lands’ brought together different groups who were fighting for Native rights and sovereignty platforms in opposition to the Olympics. The Olympics caused the gentrification in downtown Vancouver where the local communities have been pushed out to make way for villages for the athletes and tourists. This gentrification mostly affected disadvantaged groups: low income, indigenous urban-based people.

As well as the gentrification of downtown Vancouver the Olympics had caused the destruction and desecration of sensitive ecological regions in and around Vancouver. In order to build the training facilities Eagleridge Bluff, a bald Eagle nesting site and a site that is sacred to the local tribal people. One Elder of the local tribe, Harriet Nahanee organised a campaign to protect Eagle Bluff by creating a blockade to stop machines from coming in. Elder Harriet Nahanee was arrested and contracted Pneumonia in prison and died. “So she died for Olympic resistance, standing up for her rights.”

The Olympics has also caused the increased surveillance in Vancouver. Vancouver is now the second most videotaped city on the planet next to London. Personal privacy has been negotiated as the CCTV cameras are still there. “And so what the Olympics really brought in was a new regime of both militarization and criminalization of the poor, gentrification of the most vulnerable communities, the destruction of ecologically sensitive sites [and] sacred sites to local indigenous people.”

Campaigners are therefore concerned with how the Olympics “created division that used poverty and alleviation as a way to divide different social movements that were converging onto the Olympics.” Clayton Thomas Muller concludes to say that it is absurd that BP is a sustainability partner of the Olympics, “it is nothing more than greenwashing of their horrific human rights abuses and crimes of ecocide against the sacredness of the earth”.

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