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Archive for the 'Human Rights' Category

Ready the Fire Extinguishers: The Coca-Cola Olympic Torch is Coming!

Posted by keith on 10th November 2011

The Olympic torch relay does not have an auspicious history. The modern torch relay, as a symbol of local pride enmeshed in the Olympic ideal, was introduced in 1936 to herald the opening of the Berlin Olympics. It was nothing less than a propaganda exercise to show the world the superiority of Aryan athletes over the rest of the world:

It was planned with immense care by the Nazi leadership to project the image of the Third Reich as a modern, economically dynamic state with growing international influence.

The organiser of the 1936 Olympics, Carl Diem, wanted an event linking the modern Olympics to the ancient. The idea chimed perfectly with the Nazi belief that classical Greece was an Aryan forerunner of the modern German Reich, and the event blended perfectly the perversion of history with publicity for contemporary German power.

The first torch was lit in Greece with the help of mirrors made by the German company Zeiss. Steel-clad magnesium torches to carry the flame were specially produced by the Ruhr-based industrial giant Krupp.

Media coverage was masterminded by Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels, using the latest techniques and technology. Dramatic regular radio coverage of the torch’s progress kept up the excitement, and Leni Riefenstahl filmed it to create powerful images.

Coca-Cola were there, a friend of Nazi Germany, as a major sponsor proud of its associations with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and seemingly proud of it’s links with National Socialism and the Third Reich (Coca-Cola Gmbh remained producing throughout World War Two, and even invented a new drink – Fanta – when Coke syrup became unavailable). In 1925 the Coca-Cola Corporation, perhaps naively, produced a watch fob in the shape of a Swastika to represent “good luck”. It has since come to represent something far more sinister; as has the name of Coca-Cola.

The website “Killer Coke” has highlighted some of the abuses carried out by, or in the name of, Coca-Cola over the last few years. The 1936 shame of Coca-Cola’s association with the Nazi regime is no distant, shameful memory; it is kept alive and kicking by the corporation’s continued activities:

Colombia and Guatemala

According to “The Coke Machine,” by Michael Blanding, published in September 2010, “…the union members do look to the lawsuit and the Killer Coke Campaign as the reason they are still alive.”

Some find it unbelievable that human rights abuses — systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder — are occurring at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. But it’s not the first time Coke has committed such atrocities.

In a 1987 booklet, “Soft Drink, Hard Labour,” the Latin America Bureau in London said:

“For nine years the 450 workers at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City fought a battle for their jobs, their trade union and their lives. Three times they occupied the plant — on the last occasion for 13 months. Three General Secretaries of their union were murdered and five other workers killed. Four more were kidnapped and have disappeared. Against all the odds they survived, thanks to their own extraordinary courage and help from fellow trade unionists in Guatemala and around the world.

“A huge international campaign of protests and boycotts was central to their struggle. As a result, the Coca-Cola workers forced concessions from one of the world’s largest multinational food giants and kept the Guatemalan trade union movement alive through a dark age of government repression.”

The kind of violence directed against labor leaders at Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City in the ’70s and ’80s has been happening at Coke bottling plants in Colombia over the past couple of decades and unfortunately is being repeated again in Guatemala.

Turkey

In Turkey, in 2005, 105 workers at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Istanbul joined a union and were terminated. They organized a lengthy sit-down strike in front of the main offices of Coca-Cola in Turkey. After several weeks of protesting, Coca-Cola workers entered the building to demand their reinstatement. While leaders of the workers were meeting with senior management for the company, the company ordered Turkish riot police to attack the workers who were by all accounts peacefully assembled, many with their spouses and children. Nearly two hundred of them were beaten badly and many required hospitalization. Lawsuits are pending.

El Salvador

In addition to abuse of workers, Coke has been involved in the exploitation of children by benefiting from hazardous child labor in sugar cane fields in El Salvador. This was first documented by Human Rights Watch in 2004 and in footage taken in 2007 for a nationally-televised British documentary and highlighted in Mark Thomas’s book “Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola,” published in 2009 in the U.S.

Representatives of the International Labor Organization interviewed company representatives at Colombian Coca-Cola bottling plants in 2008 to ascertain whether they exercised any control of suppliers of raw materials (such as sugar) to ensure that they did not use child labor. The manager at the Coke plant in Cali said that their suppliers should not use child labor, but added “that the enterprise [Coca-Cola] did not yet exercise oversight over this issue.”

India

Of the 200 countries where Coca-Cola is sold, India reportedly has the fastest-growing market, but the adverse environmental impacts of its operations there have subjected The Coca-Cola Co. and its local bottlers to a firestorm of criticism and protest. There has been a growing outcry against Coca-Cola’s production practices throughout India, which are draining out vast amounts of public groundwater and turning farming communities into virtual deserts. Suicide rates among Indian farmers whose livelihoods are being destroyed are growing at an alarming rate. Every day for years there has been some form of protest, from large demonstrations to small vigils, against Coca-Cola’s abuses in India.

One target of protest has been the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala, which has remained shut down since March 2004 as a result of the community-led campaign in Plachimada challenging Coca-Cola’s abuse of water resources.

The International Environmental Law Research Centre issued a report in 2007 that stated, in part, “The deterioration of groundwater in quality and quantity and the consequential public health problems and the destruction of the agricultural economy are the main problems identified in Plachimada. The activity of The Coca Cola Company has caused or contributed a great deal to these problems…The availability of good quality water for drinking purposes and agriculture has been affected dangerously due to the activity of the Company. Apart from that, the Company had also polluted the agricultural lands by depositing the hazardous wastes. All these points to the gross violation of the basic human rights, that is, the right to life, right to livelihood and the violation of the pollution control laws.”

It is not so much a case of Coca-Cola having hard questions to answer as people realising that this company stand in the unenviable position of being one of the most unethical corporations in history. In May 2012 the London Olympic Torch will begin its long route through the United Kingdom, raising publicity for the Olympics and giving an opportunity for thousands of people to share in the Olympic ideal. The London 2012 website states:

The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. It will enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer – including celebrations of local culture, breathtaking landscapes and dynamic urban areas.

The main sponsor of the Olympic torch is Coca-Cola. In 2011 the corporation ran a competition to select the young people who would bear the torch on its way around the country; in essence, if you wanted to bear the torch then you had to bare your soul to the Coca-Cola Corporation. The competition contained the following, stomach-churning propaganda, not a million miles away from the same propaganda that Joseph Goebells utilised so effectively in 1936:

The Olympic Flame is coming to the UK in 2012, and for the eighth time, Coca‑Cola will be a Presenting Partner of the Olympic Torch Relay. The route will stretch the entire length of the country, starting at Land’s End on May 19th 2012, and finishing in the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27th 2012. We’re using our involvement to shine a light on young people across the UK, and celebrate the great things they get up to every day.

Through our Future Flames campaign, we’ll be giving young people who are using their passions to inspire others the once-in-a-lifetime chance to carry the Olympic Torch next year.

Enough! It’s time we had another way of looking at the Olympics and opposing the way it and the torch relay has become a corporate party; a way that reflects the Olympic ideal, “to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play”.

So how about being a Future Rebel? Young people who agree with the Olympic ideal, but disagree vehemently with the corporate ties that the modern Olympics are so ravenously embracing. These corporate ties are so embedded that if you so much as bring a soft drink into an Olympic stadium that isn’t made by the Coca-Cola Corporation you will, at best, have it confiscated, and at worst be refused entry. Now I don’t really care whether I can take my choice of soft drink to an Olympic venue – I won’t be attending because of the sheer scale of commercialism. But I do care about the drowning of the ideas of friendship, solidarity and fair play in the tide of commerce. If you are in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, then as the Olympic torch passes through your neighbourhood I would love a band of people to be there, at every corner, on every street, subvertising the sponsors with alternative images; telling the press, radio and television reporters how commercialism is destroying childhood, sport and life in general; and generally pouring water on the brands that have come to dominate every aspect of our lives.

Or, for that especially ironic touch, you could use something other than water.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Exposure, General Hypocrisy, Human Rights, Sabotage, Subvertising | 1 Comment »

An Open Letter to Mike Gonzalez, and Everyone Else Writing About Evo Morales

Posted by keith on 4th October 2011

To: Professor Mike Gonzalez, Glasgow University

Hi Mike

I’ve just read your article “Eva Morales Defence of Mother Earth Rings Hollow in Bolivia” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/oct/03/evo-morales-indigenous-people-protest) and am a little concerned. I assume (hope) you weren’t responsible for the headline as that only reflects a personal opinion, even though the headline implies this as fact. You are no doubt more qualified than me to comment on the political situation in Bolivia, but to suggest that the actions of an over-zealous police force reflects on Morales’ worldview when earlier in the article you show it was subordinates of Morales who ordered and defended the actions of the police is confused, if not dangerous.

There is a huge amount of economic interest in Bolivia, as you correctly state, and to ignore the enormously powerful forces of corporatism and state-sponsored agitation (as has been rife in South America over the past 45 years) in favour of an attack on Morales principles is disingenuous to say the least. A common tactic in past regime changes has been to undermine the head of state through the buying out of lesser politicians, and creating a feeling of unrest on the street by the spreading of rumours, the control of the military and subsequent violence to suppress dissent, and other tactics more subtle yet just as effective. I, and others like me, suspect this is happening at this very moment.

Mainstream NGOs are, of course, blind to such activities as they will always pursue the populist agenda, i.e. that which supports the viewpoints expounded by the bulk of their supporters – after all, where would they get funding from if they were campaigning counter to the viewpoints of their funders? Of course the frontline prevention of unethical activities has to take place, but to report on this and ignore the background of supremely powerful influences bent on regime change (and how better to make it happen than to tar the regime with the brush of “inhumanity” – how ironic given the previous paragraph) is not acceptable. The real kicker here is that none of the mainstream NGOs have signed up to the ground breaking People’s Agreement of Cochabamba, or the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth which Morales himself has pushed for since 2009. This is a telling sign, if not absolute evidence, of the mainstream bias of the media bodies and NGOs reporting on the current situation in Bolivia.

I would urge you to read the article at http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2011/09/30/who-really-leads-on-the-environment-bolivia-verses-the-movement-the-facts-speak-for-themselves/, and perhaps ask that your article be amended to reflect the wider background of corporate and state influence in South America.

Kind regards

Keith Farnish

(More information at http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2011/09/30/peak-hypocrisy-u-s-organizations-exploit-bolivia-crisis/)

Posted in Government Policies, Human Rights, Media Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

English School Embraces iPads, Apple and Techno Brainwashing

Posted by keith on 30th August 2011

There is a rule in civilized society that goes something like this: Whenever something is compulsory then it must have something wrong with it. We see it all the time, in the school system and it’s one-size-fits-all approach to child indoctrination; in the application of statutory rules that are essentially corporate policies; in the forced registration and noting of people and everything associated with them – compulsion is rampant within civilization because if it weren’t then people might do whatever they liked, and that would be a terrible blow to the economy and the power of the ruling minority.

Such is the micro-management taking place in every aspect of our lives, that it comes as little surprise when a new compulsion is introduced, and a great surprise when any genuine freedom is granted. One such new compulsion, or so it seems, that only briefly caused a ripple – and then possibly only because of a fear of increased access to pornography – was a new scheme introduced by Longfield Academy in Dartford, Kent. Essentially, every student (of state-sponsored indoctrination) will be given an iPad, which would be used to, in the school’s own words: “revolutionise learning in the new Academy and at home”. There is little about this idea that doesn’t make my skin creep, and the creeping becomes more intense as you delve deeper into the details.

The otherwise abhorrant Daily Mail was refreshingly candid in the headline to the story that broke in July, 2011: “School orders parents to buy their children a £600 iPad2″. It went on:

A school came under fire yesterday for forcing its parents to buy a £600 iPad2 for their children. Teachers at Longfield Academy, in Dartford, Kent, have succumbed to the current technology trend and are bulk-buying 1,400 of the touchscreen computer tablets made by Apple. From September the school will require all pupils to have one and are installing interactive whiteboards that link to the iPads.

Parents will have to splash out £16 a month, for three years, for the iPads – equivalent to £576. The total cost to parents at the school will be a staggering £806,400. The move by Longfield, a school for pupils aged 11 to 18, is the first of its kind in England, but hundreds of schools could follow suit as it has been revealed that some 500 are poised to adopt a similar scheme with digital education charity, e-learning Foundation.

Experts yesterday criticised Longfield for piling pressure on cash-strapped parents to pay for the ‘toy’. They questioned the school’s desire to use iPads as an educational tool – saying they were more suited to watching movies, surfing the internet and playing music.

And they warned that it will lead to an increase in the number of pupils viewing porn.

Education expert Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, said: ‘This school is jumping on the “cool” bandwagon. It’s after cheap headlines. It should instead be focusing on the quality of education it provides. The school is shamefully giving parents the impression that buying an expensive iPad is in their child’s long term interest. In reality parents are being asked to invest a small fortune in something that is little more than a toy and hugely associated with the viewing of porn.

Longfield’s decision to teach all pupils with an iPad is the first of its kind in the England.

To be honest the “porn” issue is a moot point – people will view porn whenever and however it is available, so long as it remains available, so the iPad is no worse than any other technology on this point. On every other point, though, it is clear that the scheme does nothing but feed the technological obsession of the school system while lining the pockets of Apple Computer. This latter point is made clear via the school’s own newsletter, all about the scheme, which explained:

On the 30th March two parents events were carried out where the vision for the scheme was outlined and the iPad project
manager from Apple demonstrated the educational applications of the device.

Going on to answer the revealing question, “Why are we going to use Apple only?” with a trite explanation pointing to “life expectancy” and “creative and collaborative work”, conveniently skipping over the idea that Open Source or even other commercial offerings have much the same capabilities. But that’s not the point. Apple appears to have benefitted perhaps accidentally from this decision but then been called in to ensure the technology becomes binding. Brand loyalty is what all corporations love best, and what better way to seal brand loyalty than to make your brand ubiquitous in a (to all intents and purposes) compulsory “learning” environment?

Apple love this lots, as you can see from their Youth Programs, offering among other things:

Youth Workshops
From composing a song in GarageBand to building a photo album to creating a compelling Keynote presentation, our Youth Workshops offer families with kids (ages 6 to 13) a chance to work together to hone their Mac skills and use iLife and iWork applications to complete exciting projects. We offer the free workshops at Apple Retail Stores worldwide.

Field Trip to the Apple Store
Take your students on a Field Trip to an Apple Retail Store for an unforgettable learning experience. On their Field Trip, students can create something amazing right on the spot. Or they can bring in a project they’ve already created and turn our store into a theater, sharing their achievements with parents, teachers, and friends. No matter which option you choose, everyone will have a great time.

and the exceptionally immersive:

Apple Camp
Lights. Camera. Camp. Nothing beats Apple Camp for a fun summer activity for your kids. This summer, kids ages 8-12 will learn the ins and outs of iMovie and how to make a film in about the time it takes to watch one. The free workshop, held at the Apple Retail Store, spans three days and leads up to an Apple Camp Film Festival where campers debut their masterpieces.

So by falling for the latest retail obsession, no doubt helped by the fact that it is run by the Leigh Academies Trust (motto “Act Enterprisingly. Work in Partnership. Achieve Excellence.”), Longfield Academy has allowed Apple to influence a significant part of the lives of the young people whose care it has been entrusted with. By further making the iPad a home/school deal then Apple gets to eke its way into the private lives of these same young people who without the iPads may have (horror of horrors!) decided to spend some time away from technology when they get home rather than being gripped with the ubiquity of computerisation.

I can’t finish off this noxious tale without linking to a video produced by (some of) the students of Longfield. What is really frightening is that they really think this is a good thing…


UNDERMINING OPPORTUNITY

Are you a student at Longfield Academy? Do you like being brainwashed by the technocracy and the so-called “education” system? Well, first I think it would be fair to refuse the iPad – just take it back, if you have it, or if you are today’s new intake (yes, term starts today, at the time of writing) then refuse it in the first place. Legally, no school can force you to accept the iPad; less still can they make you pay for it – they would be in breach of tax rules and subject to ferocious fines from HMRC if you were forced to pay.

And how about a nice bit of subvertising? Maybe you have an art project coming up, or perhaps something in media studies. How about taking the beloved Apple logo and turning into something a lot more truthful – perhaps a worm coming out of its rotten core, or some slave labour overseen by a grinning Apple?

Some good examples of subvertising here: http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/subvertising-gallery/, to adorn the toilet walls, or even the art room :-)

Posted in Advice, Human Rights, Public Sector Hypocrisy, Sponsorship, Subvertising | No Comments »

Dispatches: Conservation’s Dirty Secrets

Posted by keith on 21st June 2011

JUST-WATCH-THIS…

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3201652

Dispatches reporter Oliver Steeds travels the globe to investigate the conservation movement and its major organisations. Steeds finds that the movement, far from stemming the tide of extinction that’s engulfing the planet, has got some of its conservation priorities wrong.

The film examines the way the big conservation charities are run. It questions why some work with polluting big businesses to raise money and are alienating the very people they would need to stem the loss of species from earth.

Conservation is massively important but few dare to question the movement. Some critics argue that it is in part getting it wrong, and that, as a consequence, some of the flora and fauna it seeks to save are facing oblivion.

Long term it can also be viewed on YouTube via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUwYZSwSLY0

More information about Conservation International’s activities can be found at http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/877241/conservation_international_agreed_to_greenwash_arms_company.html

More information about WWF’s capitalist addiction can be found at http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/partners/corporate/index.html. You can make your own mind up about the motivation of the various businesses.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Cover Ups, Exposure, Funding, Human Rights, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 2 Comments »

UK Census 2011: Why I Will Be Breaking The Law on March 27, 2011

Posted by keith on 28th February 2011

On Sunday March 27, 2011 I will be breaking the law.

If you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland then I would also like you to break the law. We can do it together, and I know for a fact that an awful lot of people will be doing the same.

The UK Census 2011 is being held on that date, and everyone is expected to have their details recorded and sent back to the government for processing. Except it won’t, because it is not the job of the government to do the processing – and that is the key to why I will be breaking the law.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the Census data will be recorded and processed by one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world. In Scotland the Census data will be recorded and processed by a company wholly owned by a military services contractor. The following extract from the 2011 Census Security Report puts the two contractors in context:

The review team are aware that this has been a matter of public interest and note that the use of UK and EU subcontractors places Lockheed-Martin UK at arm’s length from the data gathered in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland. Once the data capture infrastructure has been completed. there will be a ‘scrubbing’ stage in which all routes of access for Lockheed-Martin UK employees will be removed and the Census Ofices will formally assume control, with Steria, an EU company, undertaking the necessary data management and administrative functions. There have been public assurances that the contractual arrangements have been structured to ensure that only sub-contractors registered and based in the UK, and either UK or EU owned, will have access to personal census data. No Lockheed-Martin staff (from either the US parent or UK company) will have access to any personal census data. The approach adopted by GROS [General Register Office for Scotland] has been similar, and GROS will play a major role in controlling access to the infrastructure used for processing data supplied in the 2011 Census. It is a condition of the contract with CACI (UK) that personal census information will not leave the UK. GROS have confirmed that CACI (UK)’s sub-contractors with access to 2011 Census data have no US links and that the Act, therefore, does not apply to them. GROS have also given public assurances on contractor confidentiality in this area.

It is important to note that under Patriot Act rules, any data processed by a US company for any reason can legally (under US law) be utilised for the purposes of National Security. In the case of the UK Census it is of great interest to National Security who has whatever name, living in whatever place, having whatever religious beliefs, holding whatever passport and having whatever country of origin (and maybe staying in whatever country for more than 30 days a year). This information is being collected, and there is nothing any foreign government can do to legally stop the US government and its agencies from using that data if the data gets into the US-based processing facilities of either Lockheed-Martin or CACI International Inc.

This fact has been recognised by the Office of National Statistics, revealed in a startling passage:

Concerns expressed about the possibility of the US Patriot Act being used by US intelligence services have been addressed by a number of additional contractual and operational safeguards. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure to that US authorities are unable to access census data.

The ONS know they have no legal powers to prevent the access to data, so they are merely going to try and do their best to make sure it can’t happen. Yeah, right!

And that isn’t even the major issue. As mentioned above, both of the companies involved in gathering and carrying out the initial data processing are involved in providing arms (in one case) and services (in both cases) to military operations.

The Office of National Statistics has awarded the England, Wales and Northern Ireland contract to Lockheed Martin, one of the largest arms companies in the world. From their own website:

While a pilot engaging an enemy in armed conflict is a defining moment, air power is more than just aircraft. Air power includes actual aircraft, training, focused logistics, munitions, and even targeting and navigation systems – all the interconnected pieces necessary to complete their missions successfully. Lockheed Martin is a global leader in the design, manufacture and support of military aircraft.

Lockheed Martin provides high altitude airborne reconnaissance that includes state of the art imagery sensors that collect intelligence in all weather and light conditions. This enables the warfighter to download and transmit data in real time via satellite to multiple ground stations and other manned and unmanned aircraft around the world.

The General Register Office for Scotland has awarded the Scotland contract to CACI (UK) Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CACI International Inc. From their own website:

In support of DISA CACI also provides global net-centric solutions to our nation’s warfighters under all conditions of peace and war. CACI is the predominant IT services provider supporting a highly sensitive DISA agency that designs, operates and maintains presidential communication systems. CACI integrated computer network security solutions that formed a network which the National Security Agency (NSA) evaluated as one of the most secure government IT networks in the U.S.

Missile Defense Agency (MDA) – As the market leader in contracting and acquisition support, CACI has supported the MDA since 1993 by providing complex contracting and acquisition services. CACI’s expertise has been pivotal in evolving and transforming MDA’s mission over many years. CACI’s services are essential to awarding multiple billion dollar missile defense systems and associated services contracts. This cornerstone program has led CACI to become the premier contracting and acquisition support contractor and for the entire DoD and federal civilian marketplace.

Having companies like this deal with public census data is rather like having Monsanto carry out your gardening. They might be able to do the job, but do you really trust them to do the right thing; and do you really feel comfortable paying them to do the job given what they routinely do to the natural ecosystems of the world?

So that is why I will be breaking the law on Sunday March 27, 2011. And that’s why I will be explaining to the census-taker when they come to my door to collect the form that, for both data security and ethical reasons I wish to have no part in the Census. I will not be filling it in.

I know for a fact that I won’t be going to jail, despite what some media sources have been claiming, and I probably won’t even get a fine*; but if push comes to shove, here are some other things I might be trying to avoid giving any satisfaction to the peddlers of blood gathering the data:

1) Spoiling the Census form by making it illegible;

2) Filling in vague data that provides no useful information, but is not false in any way;

3) Filibusting on the doorstep, so that the census-taker runs out of time;

4) Claiming the rights of a Conscientious Objector given the business of the business of the companies involved (particulaly useful if this ever goes to court, for more information read this article).

I don’t think I will be the only person doing this…

— ————

*From the Census Act 1920

Penalties.

(1)If any person—

(a)refuses or neglects to comply with or acts in contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or any Order in Council or regulations made under this Act; or

(b)being a person required under this Act to make a statutory declaration with respect to the performance of his duties, makes a false declaration; or

(c)being a person required by any Order in Council or regulations made under this Act to make, sign, or deliver any document, makes, signs, or delivers, or causes to be made, signed, or delivered a false document; or

(d)being a person required in pursuance of any such Order in Council or regulations to answer any question, refuses to answer or gives a false answer to that question;

he shall for each offence be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

Posted in Advice, Human Rights, Political Hypocrisy, Sabotage | 6 Comments »

Monthly Undermining Task, April 2010: Sack the SATs!

Posted by keith on 1st April 2010

“Before school really starts to mould and shape you — and these days the assessment and unnatural selection begins just the other side of the cradle — you remain a primal being, attracted by the good earth.”
Andrew Collins, Where Did It All Go Right?

In a few week’s time we will be packed away and ready to move to Scotland. The timing is perhaps serendipitous, for at the beginning of May, in England alone of all the parts of Britain, approximately 300,000 children aged between 10 and 11 years will be sitting examinations in English and Mathematics. My younger daughter would have been sitting them too, had we not been moving to Scotland.

The aim of these examinations (these are not “tests” – they are sat under exam conditions) is ostensibly to assess the level of understanding that a child has of the subject being examined: given that knowledge in only two subjects is being assessed, this seems like a rather narrow view of what “education” means, but that’s not the worst of it.

It was while watching a fascinating television programme about the teaching of mathematics a few weeks ago, that I came across a phenomenon I had not experienced at first hand before: the dropping of virtually the entire school curriculum for 11 weeks in order to concentrate on passing SATs. When my elder daughter took her SATs last year — which also included science for the last time — the school sent home a few books for the children to read, and a few past papers were looked at, more for technique than anything else; yet, as I have since learnt, this is unusual. At this time of year, across England, schools are cramming students’ heads with probable exam questions, tips for passing using intelligent guessing, imposing additional targeted homework on children, and running “after school clubs” for those children who are on the borderline between grades.

And here the crux of the matter emerges: the schools (my younger child’s included from this year) are not running extra classes for the least able students, nor those likely to breeze through the exams – no, they are trying to ensure as many as possible get to Level 5. The statistics of most interest to parents of prospective students are the ones that show how many children achieved Level 5 in Year 6. Here is a vicious feedback loop working at full-tilt, for the more parents obsess with SATs results, the more the schools push the exams onto children as essential, and consequently the more the parents become obsessed by SATs results.

Have you any idea what this level of pressure does to the mind of a ten or eleven year old?

The Cambridge Primary Review, a four-year study covering all aspects of primary education in England had the following to say about SATs:

It is often claimed that national tests raise standards. At best their impact is oblique, says the Review. High stakes testing leads to ‘teaching to the test’ and even parents concentrate their attention on the areas being tested. It is this intensity of focus, and anxiety about the results and their consequences, which make the initial difference to test scores. But it does not last; for it is not testing which raises standards but good teaching.

Concern about stress levels is rife on parenting discussion groups; one such comment on Mumsnet was interesting, not only for highlighting the stress, but also raising a very interesting possibility:

The problem is not necessarily her academic progress, Her English is in the top 1/4 of the class and her maths is in the bottom half.

My concern is the stress that this will cause her. Worrying about them consumes her, and I’m worried that exam nerves will cause her to get a very bad mark in the exam, which will then destroy her confidence in her ability.

So the question is more to do with people who have experience of withdrawing their children from the test, is unauthorised absence the only way?

It seems odd to me that parents have the “right” not to have their children vaccinated but there does not seem to be a clear procedure for opting out of these potentially damaging tests

It is possible that the examinations may be boycotted by a large number of teachers in 2010, because of the disruption they cause to the curriculum in general. This would be a good thing for all concerned – except perhaps those head teachers and parents obsessed with getting “the best” for their children (or rather, their school’s reputations) – but in the event of the SATs not being put down with a terminal strike, there are quite a few things you can do to both remove the unnecessary levels of stress on your children, and also undermine the idea that “education” is about rote learning and cramming of useless facts.

Note: Although the text and actions specifically apply to the English school system, there is no reason they cannot be adapted to whatever part of the world and “educational” system you fall under. It is really just common sense.

Low Risk

Most children in Year 6 are being sent home with revision papers and given access to online resources in order to “brush up” on their technique. Why not spend that time with your child, learning how to grow food in the warming soil, or perhaps do some sewing, knitting or cooking as the sun goes down. Then again, you could play a game of cards, or just let them go out and have fun with their friends.

In summary: forget the revision homework and ignore the online tests. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Your child will get a mark that is based on their current ability – that is, if they sit the exams.

We had a great time last year purposefully ignoring the revision books – in fact we sent them back to the school in order to make the point that we had better things to do.

Medium Risk

If you are a teacher then anything rebellious you do, in such a high-pressure situation, may harm your career, so tread carefully if you value your pay packet; nevertheless, there are a couple of things you can do. The first is to ease up on the pressure; if not only for your sanity, but for the good health of the children you teach. Just because you have been told to drop lessons in order to concentrate on SATs it doesn’t mean you have to set mock exams or give extra homework – just teach the subject in hand, and if complaints are made the ideal response would be: “But surely it’s better to teach English / maths than to teach children how to pass exams.”

And you always have your union to fall back on; speaking of which, if your union does call for a SATs boycott, then you are in a much better position to not get involved in the SATs than if you had acted unilaterally (which is definitely a High Risk move).

As a parent, I believe you are within your rights not only to refuse SATs revision for your child, but also to refuse your child entry to the SATs exams themselves. Withdrawing from school entirely on the day(s) of the exams is – strictly speaking – illegal, although I would like to see this come up in court one day! Withdrawing because of an unexpected illness(!) may be another option, or maybe a special outing as described by the Anti SATs Alliance:

In some instances, groups of parents have made a further point by arranging educational visits or experiences on those days. This has always been as the result of getting together with other parents – usually starting with nothing more grand than a chat at the school gates.

Oh, and if you are a student who has the threat of SATs over your head (I like to think The Unsuitablog has a wide demographic) then there is no real reason that you have to put pressure on yourself. Take it easy; if you’re given a mock exam then do the minimum amount of work possible so as not to be noticed – life isn’t about exams, it’s about having a life.

High Risk

Whether you consider this High Risk or not depends on your attitude to Home or Community Schooling, but if you really want to make a statement about examinations, and the aims of the schooling system in general (turning children into nicely-rounded economic units ready for a life of wage slavery) then one strategic withdrawal will not be enough. Examinations are part of school life and, love them or loath them, if you attend a mainstream school then you will be taking exams, and the only way to avoid it is to not attend a mainstream school.

That’s a discussion for another day, but it is undoubtedly an option for quite a few people.

Finally – although with a bit of creativity I’m sure you will be able to think of more undermining actions – try a bit of concerted rebellion across the whole school; simply refuse to take the SATs as a group of parents and children. Go into school with a purpose, and make it clear that none of you want anything to do with SATs and that your children will not be sitting them, making clear the reasons for your refusal (see the introduction to this article). If the school insists that there is no way they can countenance this, or that supervision is not available so they have to take the exams, then withdraw the children from the school for the precise times the exams are taking place.

Of course, the risk you take is your decision, but one thing must always be clear: education is not about school, and it is certainly not about exams – it is about learning the skills and knowledge necessary for the future. The way things are going, that future is anything but certain, and there are some skills we will all be needing that you won’t find taught in any school…

(For more background information, read “The Problem With…Work” on The Earth Blog)

**UPDATE**

This, from The Observer, May 9 2010:

Thousands of primary schools will boycott national tests for 10 and 11-year-olds tomorrow, treating their pupils to class trips and lessons in creative writing instead.

Teaching unions have predicted that half of England’s 17,000 primaries will lock up their test papers in protest, affecting tens of thousands of pupils.

Some 600,000 pupils are due to sit the tests, known as Sats, in maths and English every day this week. Unions argue that the tests disrupt children’s learning and are “misused” to compile league tables, which they say humiliate and demean children and their schools.

Teachers said that in some parts of England, such as Calderdale, Hartlepool, Barnsley and the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Kensington and Chelsea, more than half of all primaries have refused to administer the tests.

A survey conducted by the Press Association shows that in 37 local authorities alone, an estimated 1,010 schools have already said they will be boycotting the tests. More are understood to be still considering what action to take.

In Kirklees, 83 out of 152 schools will take part in the boycott, while in Dudley 50 out of 79 will. Manchester city council said half of its primary schools – about 60 – will be taking action.

The unions said a letter from Ed Balls, the schools secretary, warning school governors that it was teachers’ statutory duty and professional responsibility to carry out the tests had backfired and spurred more teachers to join the boycott.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have insisted Sats should not be scrapped, although Labour has said the system is “not set in stone”, while both the Tories and Lib Dems have promised reform.

Headteachers from across the country told the Guardian they would use the boycott to take pupils on trips and have classes in subjects such as creative writing.

Teachers in London have organised a giant anti-Sats picnic near the London Eye. Its organiser, Sara Tomlinson, predicts at least 20 schools will bring their classes. The children’s author Alan Gibbons will tell stories and pupils will bring their favourite books.

Pupils at Bromstone primary in Broadstairs, Kent, will prepare for a local schools’ writing competition while 10 and 11-year-olds at Lindale primary in Cumbria will spend their week going on school trips and being taught orienteering. Children at Westfield junior school in Hinckley, Leicestershire, will visit Beaumanor Hall, a stately home used for military intelligence gathering in the second world war. Other schools said they would continue lessons as normal, but without any test preparation.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “We know that schools will be using the boycott as an opportunity to do things they wouldn’t normally have time to do, such as trips to museums and parks.”

Nigel Utton, headteacher of Bromstone primary, said Sats were “unbelievably unreliable”. “They are inaccurately marked, the quality of the questions is very poor indeed, they skew the curriculum horribly and they give unnecessary stress to the children. We already assess pupils ourselves.”

Michael Rosen, the former children’s laureate, told parenting site Mumsnet that Sats reduced children to machines and “units of productivity”.

In a question-and-answer session on the site, Rosen wrote: “I think we are obsessed by giving kids scores, measuring them and producing research that is based on statistics. This biometric approach to human behaviour is to my mind corrupting. It tries to reduce the variability in human behaviour. The difference between humans and machines is that with machines, you can keep all the variables in your test constant … you can’t do that with human beings.”

According to BBC News on Monday 10 May, something like 25% of schools in England due to take the tests, are not running them:

The data is not complete, but the councils which have given information cover 73% of England’s 17,000 primary schools.

Among the schools of which the BBC has details, nearly 1,900 (15%) say they will boycott the tests and about 5,650 say they will not (45%).

The councils say they do not know the situation in the remaining 40% of schools.

Posted in Advice, Government Policies, Human Rights, Monthly Undermining Tasks, Political Hypocrisy, Sabotage, Subvertising | 4 Comments »

Alex and Ani Can’t Resist The Lure Of Disaster Capitalism

Posted by keith on 28th January 2010

Disaster Capitalism is the name given to the process by which natural or purposefully contrived human disasters are exploited in order to impose a free-market system upon a population. The most extreme examples are those that have been contrived: these include the 1954 military coup in Guatamala, orchestrated by the CIA at the behest of the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita) to open up markets to the industrial West, and the afternath of the first (in Kuwait) and second (in Iraq) Gulf Wars, specifically to benefit US oil and construction companies. Natural disasters – and even that term is being questioned in relation to the Haiti earthquake of 2010 – have tended to result in a more subtle, but nonetheless significant change in conditions, such as the period following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in which the restoration and expansion of the tourist industry in Thailand seemed to be more important than the rebuilding of peoples’ lives!

I have been watching the developments in Haiti with an overriding sense of distrust, recording some of the more disturbing ones in a blog called Haiti Watch. The imposition of military rule seems to be inevitable, followed by free trade agreements and the installation of a US-friendly President. But it is not just the big guns (pun intended) that are taking advantage of the chaotic situation that, let’s not be coy here, has already left at least 200,000 people dead, hundreds of thousands more injured, and millions of people homeless. Wherever there is a market there shall be an opportunist; that’s how capitalism works, and I have seen a perfect example of this in a press release I received today from a fashion chain that, up to now, I had never heard of:

Contact: Megan Benson
megan@alexandani.com
212-385-1075

ALEX AND ANI SUPPORTS THE VICTIMS OF THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE
WITH LIMITED EDITION CORNELIAN EXPANDABLE WIRE BRACELET
-All Proceeds to benefit Doctors without Borders-

(New York, NY – January 2010) – In an effort to lend support to the victims of the Haiti earthquake, Alex and Ani, designer of couture and contemporary jewelry, has created the “Cornelian Bracelet” featuring its patented, expandable wire bangle™ with 100% of proceeds donated to Doctors without Borders.

The Alex and Ani Signature Expandable bracelet is an innovative wire bangle bracelet that adjusts and expands for a customized fit on any wrist. This exclusive piece features Russian or yellow gold finish plated over a brass etched wire and is adorned with a Cornelian stone. Wear Cornelian to increase energy, self motivate and take action. This stone is also a symbol of protection and peace.

This limited edition bracelet is available at www.alexandani.com and retails for $18 USD. Buy one for a friend, loved one, or yourself.

Alex and Ani was created by Carolyn Rafaelian. The line, which is made in the USA from recycled materials, is named after her two daughters. Their collections are sold at fine retailers such as Henri Bendel, Scoop, and e-commerce sites such as Shopbop and Saks.com. Alex and Ani’s pieces have been featured in publications such as Vogue, Lucky, In Style, Marie Claire and Glamour.

“Alex and Ani…Where Glamour and Consciousness Co-Exist.”

So, let’s get this right – rather than just donate a portion of their profits, or quietly stock a special item in their stores, they instead choose to send a press release out to everyone on their huge mailing list to show exactly how wonderful and full of conscience Alex and Ani is?

The correct term for this is “Opportunistic Marketing”; in the case of Alex and Ali, the “opportunity” is the death of 200,000 people so they can tell the world about their high couture range of jewelry.

If this is what “conscience” means then I need a new dictionary.

Disaster Capitalism is alive and well, and coming to a country near you.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Human Rights | No Comments »

Potential Murderers Of Amazonian Tribe Win Survival International Greenwashing Award

Posted by keith on 21st January 2010

Impinging upon an uncontacted tribe is, by any stretch of the imagination, culturally the most destructive thing it is possible to do: the tribe not only lose their landbase – the source of everything they need to live – but they become subject to foreign diseases to which they have no immunity, and their cultural identity becomes diluted, almost certain to be swallowed up by industrial civilization’s “growth at any cost” mentality. In short, if civilization impinges upon an uncontacted tribe, the tribe dies.

Survival International never let up in their efforts to prevent this kind of thing happening. Their “Greenwashing Award” may be symbolic, but it is a vital way to publicise the awful things that corporations and governments do in order to make money; just money, as though it is more important than life…

A Brazilian company bulldozing an uncontacted tribe’s land in Paraguay has won Survival’s ‘Greenwashing Award 2010’.

The company, Yaguarete Porá S.A., has won the award for ‘dressing up the wholesale destruction of a huge area of the Indians’ forest as a noble gesture for conservation’, says Survival’s director Stephen Corry.

Yaguarete owns 78,549 hectares of forest that is part of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe’s ancestral territory. After satellite photos were published around the world revealing that it has destroyed thousands of hectares of the tribe’s forest, the company issued a press release announcing it intends to create a ‘nature reserve’ on its land.

But plans submitted by Yaguarete to Paraguay’s Environment Ministry reveal that the amount of ‘continuous forest’ in the reserve will be just 16,784 hectares out of the 78,549 hectares total, and the company in fact plans to convert around two thirds of the land to cattle ranching.

Some of the Totobiegosode have already been contacted and vehemently condemned the plans for the ‘reserve’, pointing out that it violates their rights under both Paraguayan and international law. The contacted Totobiegosode have been claiming legal title to this land since 1993, but most of it is still in private hands.

The Totobiegosode are the only uncontacted Indians in the world having their territory destroyed for beef production.

Survival director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘This is textbook ‘greenwashing’: bulldoze the forest and then ‘preserve’ a bit of it for PR purposes. The public won’t fall for it. Yaguarete should stop playing games and pull out of the Totobiegosode’s territory once and for all.’

Survival’s Greenwashing Award is presented to Yaguarete Porá S.A. for dressing up the wholesale destruction of a huge area of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode’s forest as a noble gesture for conservation.

The following video shows what is likely to happen to the Totobiegosode people, using the terrible example of the Akuntsu:

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Human Rights, Offsetting | No Comments »

10:10 Campaign Dies By Its Own Hands

Posted by keith on 26th November 2009

10 Tag In Blood

You may have heard of the 10:10 Campaign, founded by “Age Of Stupid” director Franny Armstrong, and currently sweeping across the UK with its message of a 10% reduction in carbon emissions by the end of 2010. In essence, such an idea is a good thing: a 10% reduction in carbon dioxide every year will, if taken up by the world’s emitters, and continued until 2030 will lead to nearly a 90% cut overall. This is almost enough to stave off the threat of irreversible climate change.

There is one fundamental problem with this, and it isn’t that 10:10 is only in the UK (you can hardly blame the organisers for that); the problem is that 10:10 only runs until the end of 2010. To quote the web site:

What happens after 2010?
10:10 is a year-long campaign to get the ball rolling on the move away from fossil fuels. We hope that this will be the beginning of a journey that finishes in a world that is no longer threatened by runaway climate change. But for now the important thing is that we stop talking about what happens in the future, and start cutting the carbon.

The lack of a meaningful endgame and the inclusion of the weasel-word “hope” is a major sticking point, because the first 10% of any reduction is really easy. Just by changing the lightbulbs around your house from incandescant to energy saving, and turning your heating down 1 degree in the winter will achieve this. But isn’t easy good? Actually, no. Easy sends the message that we don’t have to really change the way we live, as reinforced by the point, again within 10:10’s FAQ:

Does signing up require a major change in your lifestyle?
No. 10:10 is about getting started on the transition to a low-carbon society, and unless you’ve already slashed your emissions, reaching 10% will be easy. It’s all about not wasting energy at home and cutting down on unnecessary journeys and it will save you money.

How does making a fairly trivial change set you on the path to a low-carbon society? What is missing is the process that takes people’s assumptions about the way they should live (i.e. as part of the globalised industrial consumer society) and moves them into a different state of mind (i.e. the globalised industrial consumer society is fundamentally unsustainable) with a different goal — local, non-industrial and self-reliant. 10:10 does none of this.

Oddly, they seem to recognise the potential for criticism, while simultaneously failing to address it:

Is this just another greenwash campaign?
To really make 10:10 happen we have to get everyone on board, from primary schools and residents’ associations to local authorities and big brands – perhaps even government departments, if they are brave enough to try. This is a project to start making genuine changes to British society, changes we need so that we can leave our children a future we can be proud of. That’s why 10:10 does not recognize any form of offsetting as counting towards the 10% target.

And with that announcement that sustainability is to be achieved while retaining the corporate and political status quo, a whole bag of nails is hammered into the coffin marked “10:10 RIP”.

To be fair, there are very few people anywhere in the mainstream environmental movement, of which Franny Armstrong is most definitely a part of, that see beyond the “one right way to live” delusion. It is all very well people like me harping on about the ills of Industrial Civilization, when the vast majority of people living in the civilised world are not aware that for most of human existance there was no such thing as civilization and that there are a multitude of different ways to live only limited by the imagination; but if people don’t accept this position there is little chance of genuine alternatives being sought. In short, I am probably on a hiding to nothing, should gather up all the like-minded people and go and live somewhere untainted by civilization.

On the other hand, at least I don’t accept the support of companies that make killing machines:

In a potentially controversial move, the campaign has accepted MBDA Missile Systems, a UK-based arms manufacturer, after it pledged to meet the campaign’s single aim – to cut its carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. But 10:10 has rejected Manchester Airport Group.

The campaign’s leaders said the decision to accept an arms manufacturer had caused considerable debate, but it could not exclude an organisation operating lawfully on the grounds of ethical objections to its product.

MBDA, which counts BAE Systems as a major shareholder, produces more than 3,000 missiles a year, including the Exocet. It has 10,000 workers employed across four European countries and sells to more than 90 armed forces worldwide.

Franny Armstrong, the campaign’s founder, said: “Of course arms manufacturers can reduce their emissions by 10%. What they do with the rest of their time is a different matter, on which we couldn’t possibly comment. 10:10 is about reducing emissions right across British society, and that means everyone. As long as arms manufacturers are a part of British society, it’s just as important for them to reduce their emissions as it is for the rest of us.”

[silence induced by disbelief]

Posted in Campaigns, Human Rights, NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better | 2 Comments »

CompassPoint Embrace Chevron, Destroyers Extraordinaire

Posted by keith on 8th September 2009

CompassPoint Chevron

I admit to being a bit behind the curve on this one, but like I did, I recommend you get up to speed on the appalling human rights and environmental abuses carried out by ChevronTexaco in Ecuador, all in the name of industrial “progress”. The campaign currently being jointly run by Amazon Watch and the Amazon Defense Coalition is being organised under the appropriate banner of ChevronToxico, and is fighting against the might of this corporate behemoth on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorian people.

This is from the ChevronToxico campaign site:

For over three decades, Chevron chose profit over people.

While drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon from 1964 to 1990, Texaco – which merged with Chevron in 2001 – deliberately dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater, spilled roughly 17 million gallons of crude oil, and left hazardous waste in hundreds of open pits dug out of the forest floor. To save money, Texaco chose to use environmental practices that were obsolete, did not meet industry standards, and were illegal in Ecuador and the United States.

The result was, and continues to be, one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet. Contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface streams has caused local indigenous and campesino people to suffer a wave of mouth, stomach and uterine cancer, birth defects, and spontaneous miscarriages. Chevron has never cleaned up the mess it inherited, and its oil wastes continue to poison the rainforest ecosystem.

Today, 30,000 Ecuadorians are demanding justice in a landmark class action lawsuit. Despite Chevron’s repeated efforts to sabotage the trial, an independent court-appointed expert recently deemed Chevron responsible for up to $27 billion in damage.

ChevronToxico

While this unequal fight (by which I mean 30,000 ordinary people against the might of a corporate entity that has the ear of the world’s governments) goes on, Chevron as a company are continuing to push their “caring side” both to the public in general and to a swath of non-profit organisations who might one day be tempted to act against them. If Chevron can win the PR war by brainwashing enough well-meaning people into thinking that, actually, maybe they aren’t such a bad company after all, then their activities in sucking even more oil and gas from delicate ecosystems and cultural centres will be able to continue without too much interference.

Step forward CompassPoint, a company that has a slick line in helping Californian non-profit organisations get the best out of their finances and management structure. Their big selling point is, apparently, working “with community-based nonprofits”, which would seem to rule out having anything do do with a corporation that have gone out of their way to systematically destroy communities in Ecuador.

It seems not:

San Francisco – Chevron, a company facing widespread criticism by many Bay Area organizations for human rights abuses and environmental destruction, is the primary sponsor of CompassPoint’s “Nonprofit Day”. CompassPoint Nonprofit Services is a consulting, research, and training organization, that provides tools to the very same non-profits fighting the likes of Chevron. Chevron’s donation is the latest in a string of good-will gestures intended in deflecting attention from a $27 billion dollar lawsuit in Ecuador. Amazon Watch called upon CompassPoint and all the non-profits participating in the event to demand that Chevron fund a full-scale clean up of its toxic waste in the rainforest.

In a letter sent to CompassPoint, Amazon Watch voiced concern towards CompassPoint’s conflicting relationship with Chevron:

“We believe that as Chevron’s very prominent sponsorship of the event publicly associates your name with Chevron’s corporate brand and image, you should know what the Chevron brand has come to represent in the Ecuadorian rainforest and beyond.

“Your organization represents the best of the Bay Area. We hope that you will join us in using Chevron’s association with Nonprofit Day as an opportunity to press the company to do the moral thing in Ecuador.”

“Our concern is not in the intention of CompassPoint, rather that Chevron’s participation in Non-profit day dilutes the mission of the organization. This is typical Chevron spin, throwing peanuts to a good cause, while throwing punches at communities where they operate,” said Paul Paz y Miño, Managing Director at Amazon Watch. “This is the very same corporation that attacked last year’s Goldman Environmental Prize winners with a full page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle.” The Goldman Prize and its associated family fund are two of the most respected non-profits in the San Francisco Bay area.

Chevron has seen a wave of negative press in the past months, primarily focused on the company’s dumping of more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water into Amazon waterways and abandonment of more than 900 unlined waste pits filled with oil sludge. In the past months, Chevron has launched its PR crisis team to new levels by hiring online bloggers, paying for bloggers to attend Chevron-chaperoned trips to Ecuador, and hiring three giants in the PR world (Edelman, Sard Verbinnen & Co., and Hill & Knowlton) to develop a crisis plan for the company.

A verdict in the $27 billion lawsuit in expected later this year or early 2010.

Sadly, the letter to CompassPoint had no effect, and their sponsorship of Non Profit Day went ahead, with Chevron being the lead sponsor and, notably, providers of a $10,000 dollar prize:

One organization will leave Nonprofit Day with a $10,000 capacity-building contract with CompassPoint. This prize, sponsored by Chevron, will be awarded during the luncheon. Your organization will be automatically entered when you register.

I love the idea of registering as an earnest non-profit, then finding you have won a prize paid for by a truly evil corporation — I wonder what the winner said:

“Thank you to CompassPoint for this wonderful prize, and also Chevron for sponsoring it. I accept this gift on behalf of 30,000 sick Ecuadorian people and the dying ecosystem, which without Chevron would not have been possible.”

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Human Rights, NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | No Comments »