THE BATH BOMB
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“A happy medium between fact and fiction”
Missing In Action
ASTUTE READERS MAY have noticed how 'we' here at the Bath Bomb spent the last month indulging in another impromptu holiday from reportage. And whilst, like any other self-respecting burdens on society, we feel no reason to justify our aversion to hard graft, it would be a shame if our hallowed pages failed to make even a cursory reference to some key events of the past month. So what did we miss?
* The vote on A.V. came and went, with a resounding 'No': now, as far as voting systems go, proportional representation may well be a good idea, but A.V. would hardly have been a step towards this. In fact, out of the three countries currently using it, Fiji are soon to ditch the system, and 60% of Australians want to change – leaving just Papua New Guinea happy. Another big reason behind the 'No' vote was the absolute disgust felt by many towards the Lib Dems, rightly being blamed for enabling the Tory cuts agenda.
* The Stokes Croft Riots: we couldn't not mention it, could we? 160 riot cops pre-emptively dragged in from Avon & Somerset, West Mercia, South Wales, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset; 7 hours of battling vs. a crowd of 300 residents and revellers; a stash of riot gear donated to the masses; the trashing of the hated local Tesco; barrages of hurled missiles; burning barricades; all before running away, macho tails firmly between legs... It brings a tear to the eye. And whilst mumbling ridiculous conspiracy theories about squatters and petrol bombs, next time cops get the itch to bash some heads (and treat local communities like training manoeuvres), maybe they'll consider not biting off more than they can chew?
* £80 million security and £30 billion worth of lost trade later, and the Royal Wedding sadly went off almost without a hitch. Whilst republicans in Bath objected to the media frenzy of the 'special day' (a smokescreen cynically arranged to distract us from the savagery of the Coalition's class war antics) with a Picnic Against Parasites, they almost brought a posh pro-monarchist youth riot down on their own heads, in the heart of genteel Royal Crescent – flag burning and all. Apparently, B.&N.E.S. Council plans to rename Walcot Street as 'Will & Kate Street,' to celebrate the rout. Yet the right royal ruckus in Glasgow seemed far more fun: a standard street party magically transformed into an alcohol-fuelled fisticuffs, with 11 cops injured. Even the senior inspector present agreed the filth had it coming, heard to say: “The sight of a police officer with blood streaming from his head is totally acceptable.”
BACK IN MAY, David Cameron further ensured that only legislation which benefits the rich will become law, by appointing 117 new lords in his first year as P.M. – an unprecedented number. The move, which has seen the usual shower of landed gentry, jowelly toffs and 'captains of industry' donning furry dresses and snoozing on each others' shoulders, cost the taxpayer £18 million. But it shows that Cameron is not a confident man. The student uprisings, growing discontent, 500,000 on the streets against spending cuts, a weak coalition partner, and the threat of sustained industrial action has left Cameron wondering how long his government can hold out. They've already been forced into U-turns on forest sell-offs, 'Schools for the future', and the N.H.S., alongside a partial climbdowns over E.M.A. Cameron knows that he has no mandate for the cuts, and that he will be lucky to see through his five-year term.
The 'Hardest Hit' march on May 11th saw 5,000 disabled make their way through the capital to protest the predicted £9 billion's worth of welfare eligibility changes, Disability Living Allowance cuts and local authority reductions in care funding – changes that will leave many lives unliveable. The next day saw Bristol Solidarity Federation join the national picket against Office Angels, demanding that the temp agency pay their stitched-up former London temp Dan for work done. After similar pickets in London, Reading, Oxford, Brighton and the north, Office Angels saw the light and coughed up his wages in full! Substantially less effective was the pro-cuts 'demo' in London on Saturday May 14th. Called by an odious mix of U.K.I.P., and Tory front group 'The Taxpayers Alliance', it was intended as a show of force for the 'silent majority' who support the cuts, but only managed to dredge up 300 posh ingrates. While the event didn't even represent the majority of people in Parliament Square at the time, we can agree that it did indeed represent the majority of smug private school tossers who think the poor should know their place and stop whining. Oh well. Back to reality, the 28th saw Bristol Uncut occupy bailed out Barclays Bank in the centre. Then next month saw Bath Anti-Cuts Alliance folks join Vale of the White Horse Trades Council and superhero costumed-C.A.B. staff in Trowbridge for a leafleting and photoshoot, defending free legal advice from threats of government cuts. The 'Fightback Bristol' conference also took place at Colston Hall on the 18th. Though sadly under-attended, there were several useful workshops on disability rights, women & the cuts, fighting for the right to protest, and future organising.
Meanwhile, the Con-Dems' dastardly schemes continue, as they double the qualifying period for protection against unfair dismissal to two years: impacting heaviest on young people, ethnic minorities and women, including nearly 300,000 workers in the west country. Here's some numbers:
* 59.2% of employees aged 24 and under have less than two years’ service
* 30.1% of ethnic minority employees have less than two years’ service, compared with 24.3% of white employees
* 32.4% of part-time employees have less than two years’ service, compared with 22% of full-time employees
* 500,000 female part-time workers will lose out directly as a result of the 12-month extension to the qualifying period
They also hope to introduce fees for those wishing to take employers to tribunal, 70% of which earn average or below-average wages. Leaked Treasury documents estimate that over the next six years, 600,000 public sector and 700,000 private sector jobs will meet the axe. Equally nasty, plans are afoot to up the retirement age to 67/68. All this and more, whilst politicians blow £1.8 billion on private sector consultant layabouts.
They somehow think they can still “protect frontline public services” whilst trimming 40% off the top, but how? Never mind that frontline services are already being cut, but cutting support staff like N.H.S. cleaners has meant an increase in healthcare acquired infections, costing £1 billion. Meanwhile, the N.H.S. is facing £30 billion of so-called efficiency savings, a £6 billion per year shortfall, and another £3 billion of administration costs just to oversee such changes. All public services require tax revenues to fund them, yet Revenue & Customs has cut 25,000 staff in recent years, leading to £125 billion uncollected and evaded tax. On that sour note, Saturday July 9th has been declared a 'Save Our NHS Day of Action', and many from Bath will join comrades in Swindon on the day.
Locally, union officials were given to the end of this month to make the case for saving at least one of the three doomed M.o.D. sites in Bath, according to Defence Minister Andrew Robathan – only to be neatly contradicted by Housing Minister Grant Shapps. What do we pay these idiots for? Many of the 2,600 jobs transferrals to Abbeywood are still expected to become redundancies. Bath Uni staff are also becoming increasingly subjected to bullying and sackings by uni management, with snakes like Faith Butt abusing her power to arbitrarily sack one probationary staff member, though this has been overturned by the High Court. And whilst the uni greedily peaked its tuition fees to £9K (taking the average costs for students taking undergrad and postgrad courses up to £87,000), U.C.U. members working there are forbidden to join the upcoming strikes.
Despite snotty comments by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander (CHECK THIS) – the Con-Dems' resident work experience kid – 800,000 public sector workers are expected out on June 30th, in a “festival of the oppressed” day of nationally co-ordinated strikes by U.C.U., N.U.T., A.T.L., and P.C.S. unions, as well some local cases of R.M.T., Unite and Unison. With a cull of the so-called “gold-plated” pension (average public sector employees get just £70 per week, whilst private sector pension relief is subsidised by tax payers by 2.5 times as much), this issue is ostensibly the core of the dispute. But of course, it's really all about the Con-Dems and their malicious cuts, and that's why many non-union folk will be out, too – be they pensioner, claimant, student, anarchist, socialist or just commoner. If in doubt, call in sick!
For more info on any of the above, contact bathagainstcuts[at]yahoo.co.uk.
Greece Fighting? What A Spain In The Ass
IT WAS PROBABLY May's peaceful sit-in camp at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid that did it. Co-ordinated between the youth organization 'Democracia Real Ya' and the union rank 'n' file, they camped to demand not only jobs, but more democratic participation, fair international relations and the elimination of poverty. With 20% mainstream unemployment in Spain, 43% youth unemployment, high rents, poor housing and regular attacks on education, the people are “sick of being sick”. By June, the camps had sprung up in 100 towns and cities, incorporating first aid, libraries, legal advice, and constant mass meetings to discuss the future – some with as many as 10,000 in attendance. Whilst the state declared them illegal and made their moves, the camps spoke out to the factories, and more and more joined. Solidarity camps soon spread over here, with London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and even Bristol declaring “Nobody expects the Spanish revolution”. As with elsewhere in Europe, the Spanish economy is on the brink of collapse, but is twice as big as Portugal, Ireland and Greece combined. And speaking of Greece...
Following the Spanish example, solidarity demos outside the Spanish Embassy in Athens quickly relocated to Syntagma Square, overlooked by Parliament. The fiery Greeks had already suffered the first wave of austerity measures the previous year, signed between the Greek government and a troika of the I.M.F., E.U. and E.C.B. – and the €110 billion loan made no difference, snatched away by corrupt politicians. But now that a second round of cuts and privatisation was on the table, the state vastly underestimated the people's anger. Unemployment and cuts to minimum wage and pensions were already similar to Spain, and June 15th became the day of the twelfth General Strike: a day of not only huge attendance, but also violence. As Athens became a battlefield, hostility turned not just on the police and the politicians, but also the corporate media. Daily mass debates and meetings threaten to redistribute power and decision-making firmly where it belongs: the people's hands. Prime Minister Papandreou is on the back foot, but regardless of his concessions and parliamentary reshuffles, it seems that this anything-but-lazy people are hungry to take their power back.
It's also worth keeping on eye on Prague, where it's time for a Czech-up. Over 48,000 marched in the city in May, mostly doctors, under a banner roughly translated as "Cheers! But we're off now". Fed up with a 20-year stream of lies and broken promises regarding appalling working conditions and wages, the L.O.K. union co-ordinated the simultaneous resignation of around a quarter of the 20,000 doctors in the country, giving the notoriously corrupt "gangster capitalist" government two months to negotiate new contracts, or invent a new workforce. In the end, the government ceded to doctors' demand of a 25% pay increase and, so great was the good doctors' success, inspired a strike wave in neighbouring Slovakia. Doctors' conditions over there are so shite that there has long been a culture of doctors moving to the Czech Republic for... wait for it... better working conditions.
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Greenwashing The Company Walls
HERE AT BATH Bomb Towers, we can offer our professional medical opinion of Mother Earth's health, once more: yep, she's fracked. A commons committee okayed shale gas drilling at Bowland Shale near Blackpool, where hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' – underground explosions set off to loosen shale – could help companies like Cuadrilla Resources turn a profit on flogging us a paltry 1.5 years of gas fuel. Naturally, extraction isn't without its danger – in the U.S., drinking water supplies at 1,000 sites have been rendered flammable by gas contamination. Also, the associated methane leaks may pollute the atmosphere more than coal. And thirdly, the recent U.S. and Chinese price fixing which brought down the cost of gas, is looking set to damage renewables investment over here. Green groups like W.W.F., as well as grassroots opposition, are calling for a moratorium on drilling.
But the peak oil scare has led other corporate vultures to circle: whilst the rest of the E.U. is working on a bill to impose pollution controls on car and lorry fuels, the U.K. is blocking it. The Fuel Quality Directive would effectively ban the use of tar sands oil – the world's filthiest fuel, the mining of which tears up Canadian forest, displaces indigenous peoples and spreads cancerous heavy metals and sulphur through the air. Yet the oil industry has just invested $379 billion in the fuel, and are leaning on the U.K. rich to get their way.
And then we have the north pole. Or, rather, we don't. Wikileaks revealed in early May that, as the last thirty years have seen three quarters of the ice disappear, companies like Cairn Energy (embattled by Greenpeace) have made things worse by drilling the remaining ice for oil; B.P and Shell will soon follow suit. Even though the sub-Arctic 90 billion barrels' worth would keep the world in oil for perhaps only another three years, diplomatic relations are getting decidedly cold, with Russian, American, Norwegian and Greenland's militaries all gearing up for their share of the black gold.
But, don't worry: look, there on the horizon! Is it a bird? No. Is it a plane? Possibly, considering local airport expansion plans... But, no, it's the coalition to save the planet! That's right, Cameron & Co have a new climate plan, and they're afraid to use it. Apparently it will make the U.K. one of the greenest countries in the world, but we don't really know much more than that because we're the general public, so we don't need to know. Bluff, bluster, mumble, low carbon (not zero), chortle, tough carbon emissions targets by 2050, new nuclear power stations, C.C.S. coal power stations, guffaw... Carbon Capture and Storage coal, perhaps the greatest example of greenwash in the modern age, is an unproven and incomplete technology that won't be operational for another 40 years. Electricity bills will also go up to fuel the magic.
This new cloud of hot air has fundamentally flawed thinking at its heart; political strap-lines won't combat climate change, and they won't help when tidal waves and food riots become part of everyday British life. Almost all recent international policy on climate change rotates around carbon trading, the deeply disturbing system that privatises the planet and empowers companies and countries to buy their way out of ecological responsibilities, as long as they've got cash to burn. When the ruling classes replace abject cynicism with pretence and spin, the world becomes a more dangerous place. From C.C.S. to the cuts, from 'clean coal' to the pledge to keep tuition fees capped, from carbon trading to "going to war to prevent war", the ruling classes are rotten to the core. As ever, the solution comes not from new policies and dazzling interviews, but from community strength, solidarity and social justice. The stakes could not be higher.
In other news, genetically modified fears are back in the air. Never commercially grown over here, the biotech companies were beeten off back in 1997 by a concerted public campaign, amidst concern of the untested science leading to new deadly allergens, mass crop contamination, and economic/legal strangleholds, caused by Big Pharma's intellectual property rights arguments. Recently a pathogen new to science was discovered in Monsanto's 'Roundup Ready' G.M. crops and, because of agribusiness' patent-protected ownership of newly engineered foods, they can easily control international food markets, and dictate poor farmers' livelihoods. Yet now crop trials are being carried out in Norfolk and Bramham, near Leeds, 'Stop G.M.' neo-Luddites will head over to the Sainsbury's John Innes Centre lab near Norwich (where experiments have failed ten years on the trot) on July 23rd, to deliver a trailor-load of conventionally-grown blight resistant spuds, and show the white labcoat brigade where they've gone wrong. They'll be travelling in a pedal-powered carnival procession of farmers, families and infants, and there will almost certainly be chips!
At Least He Died Like Elvis
ALARMING REPORTS HAVE recently come in of senior members of the Tory party targeted by serious attacks of conscience, following revelations that their party is comprised solely of nasty little Etonian shits. (Formerly) leading the charge was 55-year old businessman and chairman of the West Oxfordshire Conman Association Christopher Shale, inset, who wrote of his party “[there is] no reason to join. Lots of reasons not to.” After squeezing out this radical new membership drive, he rounded off his P.R. responsibilities by promptly expiring in a portaloo backstage at Glastonbury Festival. Mr. Shale was shockingly described by Barry Norton, another scion of House Slytherin, as “highly respected.” Whilst this insensitive comment is expected to cause uproar, it is believed that the highly respected David Cameron, Prime Minister and friend to the late Mr. Shale – acting on advice from image consultants – is now researching similar locations to crawl away and die.
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
drawing classes: 'Remembering the Present', Mondays & Tuesdays, Stokes Croft Museum, 81-83 Stokes Croft, Bristol; http://www.stokescroftmuseum.info
London Road Food Co-op, Wednesdays, 5-7p.m., Riverside Community Centre, London Road, tel 07837 784715; http://www.londonroadfoodcoop.blogspot.com
film: Factory Film Nights, Wednesdays, 7p.m., the Factory social centre, 26 Portland Square, Bristol, free entry; http://freefactory.wordpress.com
exhibition: 'Remembering the Present', Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays, 11a.m.-3p.m., Stokes Croft Museum, 81-83 Stokes Croft, Bristol; http://www.stokescroftmuseum.info
'Developing Health and Independence' & 'Chew Valley Community Farm' veg box, Thursdays 12-7p.m., Green Park Station
Dry Arch Growers workday, Thursdays, 3p.m.-dusk, Mill Lane, Bathampton, e-mail F.F.I. jamiecolston[at]gmail.com; http://www.bathamptoncsa.wordpress.com
Alice Park Community Garden work days, Thursdays from 6.30pm, Alice Park, London Road
Bath Stop The War Coalition vigil, Saturdays, 11.30a.m.-12.30, Bath Abbey Courtyard
Bradford-On-Avon peace vigil, Saturdays, 11.30a.m.-12.30, by the peace statue opposite Westbury Gardens by the Town Bridge, Bradford-On-Avon
exhibition: 'Remembering the Present', Saturdays, 12-4p.m., Stokes Croft Museum, 81-83 Stokes Croft, Bristol; http://www.stokescroftmuseum.info
Dry Arch Growers workday, Sundays, 10.30-4p.m., Mill Lane, Bathampton, e-mail F.F.I. e-mail jamiecolston[at]gmail.com; http://www.bathamptoncsa.wordpress.com
Recycle Your Sundays, Sundays, 10.30a.m., starts Abbey Churchyard, the regular series of sociable, easy-paced cycle rides; F.F.I. see http://www.bathrys.org.uk/ tel Hazel 01225 469199
Alice Park Community Garden work days, Sundays from 11.30-1.30pm, Alice Park, London Road
Taunton anti-cuts protests, Sundays, 1p.m., Taunton centre memorial; http://www.tauntonac.wordpress.com
Camerton Batch Green Fair, Saturday 2nd July, 10a.m.-11p.m., Cam Valley, Bath; workshops in green woodwork & crafts, nature walks and sculpture trail; £1.00 entry; http://www.camertonbatch.com/green-fair-2011-2
talk & workshop: 'How Can We Create a Zero Waste City?', Sunday 3rd July, 3-6pm, Friends Meeting House, York Street
film: 'Bold Native', Monday 4th July, 8p.m., Cube Cinema, Bristol; £3/4 entry, but nobody refused for lack of funds; http://boldnative.com or http://www.vegansoapbox.com/bold-native-trailer
freeskilling session, Tuesday 5th July, 6-7.30p.m., Better Food Company Cafe, Sevier Street, St. Werburghs, Bristol; http://www.justfortheloveofit.org/public/FreeskillingPosterJuly2011.pdf
M.D.F. BiPolar Organisation launch meeting, Wednesday 6th July, 3-5p.m., United Reform Church, Grove Street; F.F.I. tel Charlie 07896 362848 or Jen 07977 172979
talk: 'War on the Poor', Wednesday 6th July, 7-9p.m., Cafe Kino, 108 Stokes Croft, Bristol
punk benefit gig for Green & Black Cross, Thursday 7th July, 7p.m., the Winchester Arms pub, Taunton; £3 entry; feat. Rash Decision, Ed Wood, Sickpig & Rat Bandits; F.F.I. e-mail anonpromo[at]myspace.com
Bath Activist Network meeting, Thursday 7th July, 7.30-9p.m., downstairs at the Hobgoblin, St James Parade; http://www.bathactivistnetwork.blogspot.com
exhibition:'Temwa presents: The Undercover Cinema In Aid of Malawi', Thursday 7th July, 7.30p.m., secret location; £5.50/£11 entry; F.F.I. see http://www.temwa.org/support-us/upcoming-events/details/89-undercover-cinema-in-aid-of-malawi.html
Web of Life Community Art Project, Saturday 9th July, Frome; http://www.natureswords.co.uk/Weboflife.pdf
demo: 'Save Our N.H.S.', Saturday 9th July, Swindon; F.F.I. e-mail bathagainstcuts[at]yahoo.co.uk
Broadlands Orchardshare Volunteering Day, Saturday 9th July, 12-4p.m., Broadlands Orchard, Box Road, Bathford
'Change the Record': disability-led festival, Saturday 9th July, 12-9p.m., the Trinity Centre, Oldmarket, Bristol; F.F.I. tel Sophie 07979 603497/ e-mail sophie[at]accessevents.org.uk; £10 entry
seminar: 'Feminism in Action', Monday 11th July, 10-5p.m., Room 4E13 (E Block), Frenchay Campus, University of the West of England, Bristol; http://www.uwe.ac.uk/research/groups/gender-studies/index.shtml; F.F.I. e-mail victoria.clarke[at]uwe.ac.uk
Bath Animal Action & Bath Hunt Saboteurs meeting, Monday 11th July, 8-9p.m., The Bell, Walcot Street, e-mail bathanimalaction[at]yahoo.co.uk; http://www.bathanimalaction.com
Factory Social Centre reading group, Tuesday 12th July, 7p.m., the Factory social centre, 16 Portland Square, Bristol; http://zinelibrary.info/we-are-all-survivors-we-are-all-perpetrators-what-do-when
Transition Bath in Action Group meeting, Tuesday 12th July, 7.30-9.30p.m., United Reform Church Halls, Grove Street; http://www.transitionbath.org/tbag-meeting
Bath Green Drinks, Wednesday 13th July, 8p.m., the Rising Sun, Grove Street
seminar: 'Fairness, sustainability and human numbers – Does it add up?', Wednesday 13th July, 6-8p.m., St. Nicholas House, 31-34 High Street, Bristol; F.F.I. e-mail julia[at]schumacherinstitute.org.uk; http://www.convergeproject.org
Transition Bath Economy Group meeting, Thursday 14th July, 7p.m., The Griffin Inn; http://www.transitionbath.org/economy
Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival & Rally, Friday 15th - 17th July, Tolpuddle, Dorset; http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk
Bath Cycling Campaign meeting, Monday 18th July, 7.30p.m., The New Inn, Monmouth Place; http://www.bathcyclingcampaign.org.uk
Bath Anti-Cuts Alliance meeting, Tuesday 19th July, 8p.m., the Bell, Walcot Street; http://www.bathanticutsalliance.blogspot.com
Green Drinks Summer Bike Ride, Wednesday 20th July, 6p.m.
demo: 'The Spuds Don't Work', Saturday 23rd July, Sainsbury's John Innes Centre lab near Norwich; F.F.I. see http://www.stopgm.org.uk/take-action.html
Bath Hunt Saboteurs meeting, Monday 25th July, 8-9p.m., The Bell, Walcot Street, tel 07854 062336
'The Green Roofs' series of creative community theatre workshops, from August til mid September (dates still T.B.C.), London Road & Snow Hill; http://www.kiltertheatre.org
Earth First! Summer Gathering, Wednesday 10th - 15th August, East Anglia
course: Shift Bristol Practical Sustainability, September 2011 to July 2012, 16 hours per week for 40 weeks; F.F.I. see http://www.shiftbristol.org.uk
mass anti-nuclear blockade, Hinkley Point nuclear power station, Monday 3rd October; http://www.stopnewnuclear.org.uk
London Anarchist Bookfair, Saturday 22nd October, 10am-7pm, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London; http://www.anarchistbookfair.org.uk
There's No Place Like Home
WITH NEWS THAT ten out of 12 care homes in Bristol (as well as day care services) facing closure, care homes residents are looking set to be the latest cuts victim, as Con-Dems scour the land for easy targets. Whilst the two biggest private care homes firms – Southern Cross and Four Seasons – teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, threatening 30,000 sick and elderly with homelessness, ten years ago it was a different story. A rising property market and the prospect of an ageing population led greedy banks and investment speculators to pour money into local care homes, amounting to a privatisation gold rush where 70% of homes were out of public hands. By why stop there? So the dodgy private equity firms moved in, like Blackstone. They bought out Southern Cross in 2004, doubling its value. Then it got tricky(er); using a 'sale and leaseback' strategy, they invented a fake spin off company to whom they sold Southern Cross's property assets, fleeced their own care homes company with rent hikes, then later sold off that same spin-off. With nursing home rents now £700 a week per resident, profits hit the roof, and Blackstone's competitors followed suit. After all, business is business.
But as with the banking crisis, the property market went into freefall, and struggling care homes owners became indebted just to stay afloat. Then, when local council policy changed, leaving the elderly in their own homes, and the Con-Dems slashed social care spending by 10%, it got even worse. The once-'gold mine' elderly carried on getting older and sicker, and more and more expensive. The care homes got shoddier, and occupancy fell because no one wanted to move in; so Southern Cross made up the short fall with job cuts, pay cuts, and cutting corners in training. So whilst private care workers now get 20% less than their public sector equivalents, and staff turnover doubled, the vulnerable – who need stability more than anyone – can never be sure who will be looking after them from one day to the next, and frequently end up dumped in hospitals crusted with their own shit. So now, deja vu, the care home owners want their bailout. Meanwhile, Con-Dem cuts also hamstrung the Care Quality Commission – the body set up in 2009 to regulate care homes – with a recruitment freeze and an inspection reduction of 70%. Thus, we see the institutional abuse carried out by private care workers at Castelbeck (and elsewhere), poorly paid, poorly trained, no union rights, alienated and uncaring... Why is anybody surprised? They're there to make money, not to be nice. It's just business, after all; and the N.H.S. is next.
* FOLLOWING HOT ON Tesco's heels, Sainsburys plan to triple the size of their store at Western Riverside; customers have allegedly “repeatedly asked for a bigger store”. Colluding with Ethical Property Company and the neutered Bath Heritage Watchdog, they hope to pressurise locals and stakeholders into approval, with the store's eventual existence being a foregone conclusion. Meanwhile, Tesco's designs on the former Bath Press site have been delayed til January or December, where the increased traffic congestion will impede ambulance access, heighten pollution, reduce job satisfaction, and destroy local independent business. The £50 million deal is expected to create 600 jobs, and end substantially more. Perhaps we'll see the 'Battle for Stokes Croft Part 2' on Lower Bristol Road? Unlikely
* Unfortunately, Beechen Cliff and Oldfield schools both voted to follow the privatisation route, and will become academies – regardless of the impact on kids' education
* Transition Bath have started another 85 square metre community garden at Hedgemead Park, off London Road; if you want to get involved, or donate bedding plants – particularly edible or bee-friendly ones – contact Iva at iva[at]transitionbath.org. It's also not too late to become a member of the Dry Arch Growers Community Co-operative, who have recently been awarded a £4,089 grant for water supply and tools. E-mail jamiecolston[at]gmail.com to get involved
* For your culinary needs, 'Developing Health and Independence' & Chew Valley Community Farm have joined forces to start up a new veg box scheme, running on Thursdays from 12-7pm, in Green Park Station. Sourced from nearby Chew Magna, the veg is 100% organic, not-for-profit (splitting proceeds between the charity and the community-owned farm), and creates work opportunities for socially excluded people in the city
* Not content with killing civilians like Ian Tomlinson, it seems that the Metropolitan Police have extended their blood thirst to mammals of the canine persuasion. On June 28th [CHECK], two police dogs were left to cook in an unventilated vehicle at Keston, near Bromley, and both later died at an emergency vets in London. It was 30C outside, so probably 60C inside. Maybe the cops were doing something important like, I don't know, eating hippies or beating doughnuts?
* Animal welfare groups led to a government ban on the use of animals in circuses on June 23rd, though not before at least one M.P. was offered bribes to vote “No”
* On May 18th, the Con-Dems exceeded expectations and approved the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system with their 'Initial Gate' decision, blowing £3 billion. The Secretary of State for Defence, Liam Fox, opted to buy the Lib Dems off by commissioning a toothless study into costs and feasibility, but the party isn't for sale. Ha!
In The Tradition: Carlo Tresca
IN THIS NEW monthly (!) feature, the Bath Bomb will profile a historical figure who has influenced the way we think, and worked to build a society based on freedom, justice and equality. First in this veritable who's-who of ne’er-do-wells, rioters and agitators: the man who started the noble tradition of lefty gutter journalism that we strive to mimic today: Carlo Tresca.
Born in the Italian village of Sulmona in 1879, Tresca was a rebel from birth, frequently in trouble at the school he rarely attended, and in constant scrapes with all authority. As a young adult, Tresca became involved in a socialist railway workers' union and, using his natural charisma, built the group up from less than a dozen, to a network encompassing the majority of Suloman workers and peasants. In 1902, he was forced to flee Italy after a messy affair with the daughter of one of his social betters, and a libel lawsuit over accusations made against prominent politicians in his local muckraker mag.
Once in the U.S., Tresca made a quick conversion from socialism to anarchism, and dived head first into his favourite pursuits – womanising, smoking, drinking and rabble-rousing. Popping up in almost all major strikes and disorders of early 20th Century America, he frequently lectured to packed auditoriums and, when words failed him, let his fists do the talking. Thus he earnt himself a reputation as a streetfighting hero among poor Italian immigrants, and Public Enemy No.1 to the authorities. Throughout his career, Tresca spent several spells in prison and made himself many powerful foes, as he launched attack after attack (both polemical and physical) against 'enemies of the people': Stalinists, fascists, priests (or “black hogs”, as he called them) and the establishment. Tresca was eventually killed in 1943, aged 63, by a pro-fascist Mafia gunman.
He was best known for his long-running paper 'Il Martello' ('the Hammer'), described by the authorities during one of his trials, as “an anarchistic weekly, distinguished by its violence, insults and systematic defamation of public officials and private citizens”.
All Quiet On The West Country Front
CURIOUSLY ABSENT FROM the News Corporation press over recent months is the scandal of Rupert Murdoch, staunch supporter of 'Babyface' Cameron, and his attempted 100% takeover of BSkyB, the U.K.'s largest commercial broadcaster. But, hey, size isn't everything. Whilst his media empire already boasts 40% of newspapers, last year he pressurised the B.B.C. to reduce the usability of B.B.C.3, B.B.C.4 and B.B.C. I-Player, as the quality level was too good, which goes against competition. Apparently. Meanwhile, evidence is surfacing regarding News Corp's use of phone hacking – and a complicit police force who failed to fully investigate. Bent coppers? Yeah, pigs might fly. Just to reassure our readers, the Bath Bomb can guarantee that we will never be able to afford phone taps, or working taps of any kind.
In other non-news, journalism standards have shot up in Bristol recently, with last month's advent of '1831', a new radical newsletter put out by Bristol Anarchist Federation, which makes use of actual facts. In direct contrast, 'the Autonomist' has long been a fixture of toilets around the south west since last summer, and a) accuses its competitors of tagline theft, b) is willing to alter its editorial stance in return for cheap cider, and c) has allegedly been bought out by News Corporation. The Bath Bomb refuses to comment about any incidence of journalist defection, and urges all readers to not believe everything they read.
(A)lms For The Poor
FOR FOUR YEARS, the Bath Bomb has been sniffing out scandal, unveiling council and big business sleaze, telling it like it is and isn't, and poking fun at the rich and powerful (something we unfortunately have no short supply of in Bath). We have done all of this on a budget of zero, save the odd kind donation and benefit gig (we asked the council for an arts grant, but haven't heard back). Now, we need your help to secure the future of the Bath Bomb, and here's three simple steps you can take to do it:
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AND NOW, TO the disclaimer: as anyone is free to contribute, the opinions expressed in each article are not necessarily reflective of all contributors. Naturally, any right-wing or corporate bullshit will be binned and spat upon. Needless to say, the opinions of the author of this disclaimer do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other contributor.