Category Archives: Manchester

Why Sukk really does Suck!(Especially in Burma)

Okay, cheesy headline but there is a good reason for it.

The lovely people at the Mule Newspaper in Manchester have uncovered some murky going-ons with the latest energy drink that ‘SUKK!’.

If you happen to live in Manchester, you would have had trouble avoiding this new jelly-based drink. SUKK were on local radio, on Spotify if you tried to avoid them, they wanted to be your friend on facebook and were being promoted all around town.

Well it turns out that the Tata Group, which is currently on the  Burma Campaign for human rights and democracy blacklist for selling services and equipment to the Burmese government,  has been using a subsidiary company called Clever Jelly to sell its latest drink in Manchester. Yep, you guessed it- Sukk.

According to the local Ethical Consumer Magazine, Burma is ruled by one of the world’s most brutal military regimes and has even used forced labour to prepare the country for tourism.  War Resisters International have a page dedicated to the  company’s seriously messy history and its role in violating human and labour rights and environmental standards, as well as their involvement in financial scams.

These include deadly conflicts with indigenous groups for mineral resources, pollution, supporting Hindi fundamentalist groups and setting up its military activities with a $50m investment from Israel to manufacture Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), electronic warfare systems, missiles, radar systems and security systems.

But that’s not all. It turns out that they have been using local grassroots organisations such as the alternative and quirky Afflecks Palace as well as the local cycling organisation ‘I Bike Mcr’ to promote their product.

I Bike Mcr unaware of SUKK link to Burma

Nes and Ed from the cycling group told the Mule: “If we had known who it was we wouldn’t have done it. The marketing company that approached us, Mad Media, said it was the Clever Jelly Company who wanted the promotion doing. They offered us £350 and as we’re in debt we took the money.”

“Initially they had tried to hijack Critical Mass but we were clear to them that this wasn’t appropriate. In the end we only had to send out an email and sort out a route and we refused all joint branding with them. In the past we’ve turned down corporate sponsorship. Red Bull approached a while ago but we said no,” continued Nes.

Afflecks Palace image via Christopher Ellison

After talking to MULE, Bruntwood the company which owns the Afflecks building said that SUKK material would be taken down from the website and added that Afflecks would not be participating in anything similar again.

“If we’d have known beforehand we wouldn’t have gone ahead with the promotion…” explained Tony Martin of Bruntwood.

Its seems that the above were well and truly duped but apparently Manchester’s Key 103 is currently taking part in an online promotion with Tata and declined to comment after the MULE informed them they were  supporting a company that had known links to military dictatorship.

Key 103's online promotion

Typical.

Maybe someone should email them and politely tell them to think about it again and maybe change their mind. Here’s their email in case you were in that way inclined 🙂

Email: Clare.bostock@key103.co.uk

Phone: 0161 288 0103 – Studio Phone Number
0161 288 5000 – Reception

Postal Address: Key 103,
Castle Quay,
Castlefield,
Manchester,
M15 4PR.

It states on their website that “If making a complaint, please include your full name, postal address and telephone number so that we can contact you to discuss your comments. We reserve the right not to process complaints that do not include this information.”

Nes and Ed from the group said, “If we had known who it was we wouldn’t have done it. The marketing company that approached us, Mad Media, said it was the Clever Jelly Company who wanted the promotion doing. They offered us £350 and as we’re in debt we took the money.”

“Initially they had tried to hijack Critical Mass but we were clear to them that this wasn’t appropriate. In the end we only had to send out an email and sort out a route and we refused all joint branding with them. In the past we’ve turned down corporate sponsorship. Red Bull approached a while ago but we said no,” continued Nes.

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Eco-Mosque donates over £50,000 to community project

Image of Mosque dome via Atomicjeep

In a time when public sector funding has all but run dry, a mosque has dug deep to donate £52,000 to save a neglected church and transform it into a community centre in Levenshulme, Manchester.

Since hitting the headlines back in 2008 as the first eco-Mosque in Manchester, the mosque’s Bohra community have sought to support the local community and were happy to become one of the largest investors in the ambitious ‘Levenshulme Inspire’ project.

Centre Director Kate Chappell was thrilled by the generous investment, “It’s wonderful to see the community pulling together to make Levenshulme a better place for us all and this level of support has by far exceeded our expectations. Levenshulme Inspire exists to celebrate the diversity of the area and bring people together….”

Envisioned as a multi-use centre, it will include a cafe, space for clubs and groups to meet, a media enterprise centre, a church, a range of business and enterprise advice as well as fourteen social housing apartments.

Levenshulme Inspire has come about due to the vision of local church members and Ed Cox, Church Leader, said: “The mosque’s investment symbolises the strength of inter-faith relationships in our community. The relationship between the church and the mosque began with plans to develop a joint youth club which we hope will now come to fruition when the centre opens later this year.”

Britain’s First Muslims: Yemen, Fred Halliday and British Colonial Rule

Although Muslims have been visiting the shores of Britain as merchants and traders for centuries, the Yemenis were the first Muslim community to settle  permanently in the UK back in the 1890s.

In his book, ‘Britain’s First Muslims: Portrait of an Arab Community’, Fred Halliday (who passed away in April 2010) chronicles the journey of this Arab community. I was particularly interested in this book as where I live (Eccles, Manchester) there is a sizeable Yemeni community and so it was great to read about those first sailors who left from Aden and decided to make a living in the harsh industrial cities of Britain.

The book is no masterpiece and didn’t have enough background information or personal insight for my liking but it is a historical record where before there was none.  It reads more like a collection of facts with interesting bits of information and explanations of the pull/push factors of migration into the UK.

Don’t get me wrong, all the major points are covered- such as the 1919 riots, workers organisations and the changing character of the community- but you only occasionally get a real glimpse of the community itself. This is all the more ironic as Halliday states that the Yemeni’s remain the ‘invisible Arabs’ of Britain as they have been clumped with larger migrants groups and have been known as everything from lascars, negroes, Adenis, Arabs, Mediterranean, Asians, Pakistanis and more recently as Muslims.

One interesting bit of insight was the Sojourner mentality of the Yemeni migrants- many of whom ironically lived and died in the UK- whilst this is accurate of the older Yemeni population, it doesn’t reflect the aspirations of second-generation Yemenis.

April 4 1967: A Northumberland Fusilier imposes order among Arab demonstrators during a disturbance in the Crater district in Aden, Yemen Photograph: Terry Fincher/Getty

One aspect which wasn’t covered in detail was the British rule of South Yemen.  Although it probably wasn’t part of brief of the book, I think it would have been interesting to get Yemenis view of the brutal British rule and the complex relationship of dependency and detestation that must have developed. Halliday was conspicuously silent about British rule and the resentment that many Yemenis must have harboured about the treatment of their fellow Yemenis back home.

Whilst it’s easy to forget, this absolutely must-see and quite shocking bit of great documentary dug up by Adam Curtis is a real testament the harsh realities of colonial rule.  When I first watched it, I was genuinely shocked about how British soldiers treated the locals and don’t think I’ll ever forget the repeated refrain of one Yemeni man who keep saying in broken english ‘I am  man’ as he gets a thorough kicking and beating.

All you need to know about Manchester City Council

…Well, everything you need to know in under five minutes.

Marc Hudson of Manchester Climate fortnightly and a million other ambitious project has put together a five-minute vid on Manchester City Council and the Environment which every activist in Manchester should watch. Despite people running around proclaiming the rise of globalisation and a global village, in reality the local level politic is where the average person can have an impact.  So knowing your stuff on a stuff locally makes a lot of sense.

I am sure Marc won’t mind me saying that it’s a pretty rough-n-ready video but it delivers what it promises and more would be appreciated.


[Artwork information: Emmesse, Townhall. Emmesse is a local artist who is best known for his surreal cityscapes and whose work is displayed in Mooch Art Gallery in the Triangle, City Centre.] ~ I thought this was a really cool portrayal of the M’cr Townhall …I like it~

Carol Ann Duffy and Democracy

It feels really strange to think that I am now officially living under a Conservative government- it’s a strange mix of horror and morbid curiosity. I have a theory that curiosity is the main reason we don’t learn from history. We just wanna see that mess with our own eyes, I guess.

Anyway, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy wrote an eloquent poem about the whole fiasco of an election which refers to poor old Gordon Brown and also the scandal of people getting turned away at polling stations.


Democracy

Here’s a boat that cannot float.
Here’s a queue that cannot vote.
Here’s a line you cannot quote.
Here’s a deal you cannot note …
and here’s a sacrificial goat,
here’s a cut, here’s a throat,
here’s a drawbridge, here’s a moat …
What’s your hurry? Here’s your coat.


Information is Beautiful- Left and Right politics..

Everyone in the office today was talking about politics and the elections and the problems with Labour, Conservatives, the wars, politics in general etc. Where I’m working at the moment is quite diverse and I get to  talk to some tories (!) and to be honest- I am finding it absolutely fascinating.  Kinda realizing that they are just (if not more so) fragmented as the left and seem pretty pragmatic in their views.. still the legacy of Thatcher runs pretty deep in my Manchester roots and I don’t think I could ever vote Conservative!

Anyway, I stumbled on this and just thought it was a great summary of the differences between left and right politics in the Western world. I think we should be taught more things visually- especially when it looks this gorgeous.

Click on the image to get a proper look at the info!

Because Politicians are a Laugh

Hilarious poster on the Tories that I stumbled across on the Headstretcher blog [ Steve Connor from Manchester’s Creative Concern]. I think it’s important to see the funny side of politics…. I am sure politicians poke as much fun at the rif-raf of humanity that is the general public too.

Image via Make A Mark