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(en) SchNEWS 418, Friday 15th August, 2003

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 15 Aug 2003 06:57:40 +0200 (CEST)


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WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT'S YER TAP DANCING... SchNEWS - THIRST FOR PROFIT
"How do you feel about your public services? Would you like them to
stay public? Or would you prefer it if they were forcibly
prised open to foreign corporate competition by way of a new
international law? All in the name of trade, of course." - Paul
Kingsnorth, The Ecologist.
Modalities. Appellate bodies. Singapore issues. Single undertakings.
Come again? Welcome to the dictionary of the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) who've been busy inventing their own language to
bore us all into submission and pull the wool over our
eyes so we just don't see their plans for the corporate carve up of
the planet. Last weekend nearly 200,000 people in France
saw through this fog of language and took part in a weekend rally
against the WTO, whose fifth ministerial meeting in Cancun,
Mexico is less than a month away.

For the past few years, the WTO have been trying to expand its
snappily titled General Agreement on Trades in Services (or
GATS - see SchNEWS 286), whose "privatise everything!" small print is
a wet dream for corporations. The EU is using GATS to
target everything from public healthcare, welfare, water, energy and
transport networks in the developing world as its new
golden goose. Its 109 'requests' for developing countries was a
strictly classified document that got leaked onto the web.
But why do they want to keep it a secret?

One of those requests from the EU is that 72 developing countries
make commitments to open up their water supplies to
competition.

The effects of this would be disastrous for the world's poor. Take
Brazil for example. In Porto Allegre, the local water
company DMAE is publicly owned, and financially independent from
state control thanks to water bills paid by the 1.4 million
city inhabitants. All profits are re-invested in the water supply,
and through public meetings, everyone can have their say
in what they think should be priority. This participatory model has
been a massive success. 99.5% of the city's population
now have access to clean water - the highest rate in Brazil. Overall
consumption has gone down while the water rates are some
of the lowest in the country. But under GATS if the Brazilian
government imposed legal requirements for all water companies
to act like DMAE it would be a 'barrier to trade' and illegal.

In the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, a proposed privatisation was
strongly opposed by the water workers' union, so the Dhaka
Water Authority contracted out one zone to the union, while another
zone was given to a private water company for a year's
trial. The union co-operative's results were so much better that they
won the contract. Many more people now have access to
running water and there has been a sizable reduction in water losses.
But should the Government of Bangladesh give in to the
EU's request then if any of their policies tried to expand the
cooperative model they would likely to be in violation of GATS
rules.

The city of Santa Cruz in Bolivia boasts one of the best-run water
companies in Latin America and the only not-for-profit
co-op in the world responsible for water supply and sanitation in a
major urban centre. The EU is requesting that Bolivia put
its water supplies under GATS rules. Should they agree then the
promotion and implementation of these alternative models
elsewhere in Bolivia would be illegal.

In Panama strikes and demonstrations in 1998 forced the then
president to back down on plans to privatise the national water
company and in Trinidad the UK water company Severn Trent, were
kicked out of the country after 5 years after they'd put
prices up while providing a worsening service.

The Bolivian mountain city of Cochabamba was also the setting for an
epic struggle for control of the water supply in early
2000. Thousands protested at the sell-off of the city's water system
to the US multinational Bechtel, who raised water bills
by up to 300 per cent and required people to get a permit to collect
rainwater in rooftop tanks. Eventually massive protests
drove the corporation out and led to the water system being taken
back into public ownership - an unprecedented reversal of a
major privatisation.

So what would happen now if the Bolivian government decides to open
up all its water services to corporate competition? Well
the WTO has learnt that whenever governments try to sell off
essential services they have faced mass protests. So they've
come up with the GATS trump card - that once a service has been
'liberalised' (that's WTO talk for privatisation) there's no
going back. As the WTO website once put it, GATS helps to "overcome
domestic resistance to change." Which means even if
there is massive protests or a government wants to take back control
from a failing private company, it won't be able to
unless it is ready to face the trade sanction consequences.

Clare Joy from the World Development Movement says "The record of
water liberalisation and privatisation around the world has
been a disaster. Many developing countries and impoverished
communities have rejected the idea of providing water for profit
yet the European members of the G8 are pushing them into a trade
agreement, lobbied for by business and negotiated in secret,
that will lock in liberalisation regardless of the cost to the poor
and vulnerable."

Or as Paul Kingsnorth puts it "This is the story of Cancun - the
story of a continuing power grab by private corporations
operating under the fig leaf of the World Trade Organisation; a
global colonisation of pretty much everything by
profit-seeking private interests. And this is the key thing to grasp:
this is not about 'trade' at all; it's about power and
who gets it. Governments or corporations? Ordinary people or
profiteers? The answers to those questions will affect all of
our lives."

Time we started reminding them of the language of the street protest.

* Join the protests to derail the talk's
www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/cancun

* Decode the gobbledegook - the World Development Movement has loads
of excellent resources on GATS 0207 2747630
www.wdm.org.uk

###################################################
Why is the European Union so keen to get its hands on other countries
water supplies? Well 70% of the world's private water
supplies are owned by just two French companies Vivendi and Suez. The
third largest is Thames Water, now part of German
utilities conglomerate RWE.
###################################################

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Crap Arrest of the Week

For wearing a badge
A passenger was ejected from a British airways flight from America to
London for wearing a button saying "Suspected
Terrorist". His partner was chucked off too because she was
'associated' with him. John Gilmore was asked to remove his
button but refused, saying it was a political statement. The captain
told him this was a federal crime and the two were
chucked off. They were met by a BA official who said that passengers
and crew are nervous about terrorism and that mentioning
it bothers them. Asked whether he would be allowed to fly if he wore
other buttons, perhaps one saying "Hooray for Tony
Blair", the official reckoned that that would be okay.
www.statewatch.org/news

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OIL THAI'D UP

For 3 years a beach at Lan Hoi Saip in Southern Thailand has been
occupied by local residents in opposition to the Thai-
Malaysian gasline project. The pipeline which runs 366km from the
Gulf of Thailand to Kedah State in Malaysia is due to pass
near to the beach and a gas separation plant is also due to be built
nearby. Local opposition has already forced the Thai
Prime Minister to announce a rerouting of the pipeline. But the
protesters are vowing to fight on as one protester said "It's
not really the gas pipeline or the plant that the government plans to
build here that we are talking about, but the issue of
local autonomy. This is part of a development plan that the state
plans to implement in the south of Thailand and it
contradicts the will of most people here. The state has failed the
people already in eastern Thailand. Development there came
with the construction of massive industrial estates. The result was
people can't even live there. Schools had to move because
of chemical fumes and no one can eat the fish anymore"

The occupation of the beach has already caused serious delay to the
pipeline, so much so that the Malaysian government are
now threatening to build it on their own and use all the gas
themselves. With the pressure mounting on the Thai Government
the protesters have been subjected to increased levels of repression.
In December last year police attacked a demonstration
in the nearby town of Hat Yai, 30 protesters and 15 police officers
were injured. Since then several protesters have been
arrested on trumped up charges. Now over 400 police have been drafted
in to make sure that construction work on the project
can begin. A police encampment has now been set up a few hundred
yards from the Lan Hoi Saip encampment.

Thai activists are calling for international support. Contact the
Thai Prime minister and ask him to stop the repression and
give people the right to protest. Email him at
govspkman@mozart.inet.co.th

More info www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/EF24Ae02.html or
www.earthrights.org/takeaction/thaipipeline.sthml

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Positive SchNEWS

The Talamh Life Centre in South Lanarkshire aims to build solutions
to the social and environmental problems our society
faces, by raising awareness that they are fundamentally linked. Set
in a 50-acre site, the Centre was opened in 2000 with the
intention of creating an educational resource, running courses in
permaculture, managing wildlife and developing organic
gardens and renewable energy. It also provides employment and a
housing co-operative.

TLC provides a venue for events and workshops, and works
co-operatively on a number of exciting projects each year with the
local community, volunteers and various voluntary organisations.
People of all backgrounds are welcome to come and learn,
gain valuable work experience, and exchange and discover new skills
in a relaxed environment. Or simply sit back and enjoy
the natural environment. No previous experience is necessary, and all
contributions are welcomed.

They have an open day on the 30 August, from 11am-4pm at
Lintfieldbank Hall (next to Talamh Life Centre), with guided walks,
info, composting and gardening demo, herb walk and talk, creative
writing and story telling. 01555 820880 or have a look
at their web site www.talamhlifecentre.org.uk

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SchNEWS in Brief

** This Saturday (16) it's Coca Karma, an anti Coca Cola Benefit with
a live Algerian band, Egyptian belly dancing with a
Japanese twist, DJ's, Cafe/Bar. 10pm-7am, Eton Mission Social Club,
91 Eastway, Hackney Wick, London. £3. "Coca Cola is
responsible for the killings of union leaders in their bottling
plants in Colombia where workers have called for a boycott of
the drink and other associated products. Coca Cola's misuse of water
and HFCs (global warming compounds) is causing
environmental havoc across the globe." (see SchNEWS 416)
www.killercoke.org or www.cokewatch.org 020-89867966

** About 300 people at the noborder camp in Cologne were arrested by
German police on Saturday 9th. About 30 people were
injured when batons were drawn and teargas was fired at protesters
preparing for an anti-racist demonstration against a
neo-nazi march. As it was a pro-freedom of movement camp, refugees
and immigrants without papers were among those arrested.
Solidarity actions have erupted all over Germany and a day of action
has been called in Cologne for the 16th. See:
www.noborder.org

** Info night on Roma and Nomadic People looking at the plight of the
700 Medjitlija Roma on the Greek border and the
struggles of travellers in England and across fortress Europe.
7-11pm, 28th August, 2-4 Sutton Street, Whitechapel, London.
07956601849 yokerist@yahoo.co.uk

** Benefit party for Rising Tide, the climate change campaigners,
with Sierra Leonean, Jewish and Gypsy music and DJ's mixing
global beats plus 'Green Gold', a new film about a South African
woman with a hazardous dumpsite in her doorstep. It's at The
Spitz, 109 Commercial street (Liverpool St tube) 21st August,
7pm-12pm £10/£7. 01865 727911 www.risingtide.nl

** The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that Shearer Lumber
Products, one of the main employers in a small community,
was within its rights to fire 22-year Michael Edmonson. Michael's
crime was to go to meetings opposing a logging project
being proposed by Shearer. He did not speak up at the meeting or
express opinions to his fellow employees, but was fired
anyway. Now what was that about the right to free speech?

** "Why Don't You?", the new direct action campaigning group for
Tyneside, are holding a friendly competition for the best actions to
get a message across. Contact whydontyou@post.com

** Since the end of the Iraqi war over 1000 Iraqi children have been
killed or injured by unexploded cluster bombs. This
Sunday (17) Children Against the War are staging an anti-cluster bomb
protest in Whitehall. Meet noon in Parliament Square to
march on Downing Street. Oldies are welcome too. Info 0845 4582564

** Yesterday four people staged a rooftop protest at Smiths Aerospace
in the West Midlands, the protest is a part of the
build-up to the Disarm DSEi protests against Europe's biggest arms
fair (6th-12th September). They were all later arrested
under Section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations Act which
was introduced to stop people intimidating strike
breakers! There are many more protests and gatherings planned in the
run-up to DSEi. See www.dsei.org www.destroydsei.org

** SchNEWS needs someone to sort out our town distribution every
Friday for a couple of hours. Please get in touch with the
office.

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Inside SchNEWS

Richard Campbell is serving a sentence for hostage taking. He told
SchNEWS "whilst defending my squat from the governments
attempts to make me homeless and destitute I effectively held on to a
policeman barring his escape from the building. I have
no family and no one to write to so any support whilst I am in here
would be appreciated."

Write to Richard Campbell DE8059, HMP Wolds, Everthorpe, Brough, HU15
2JZ

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HALL OF INFAMY

On June 21st Kevin White, a campaigner for Save the Newchurch Guinea
Pigs, was arrested within one minute of leaving his car
for attempting to join a demonstration at Branston Golf Club in
Staffordshire. He was arrested on three charges, including
causing intentional harassment and distress to the police officer
that was pinning him to the ground, and failure to leave
(spot the contradiction). As a result, Kevin is probably the first
animal rights protester in the UK to be served with an
Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO'S - see SchNEWS 209).

ASBOs can be served on anyone over the age of 10 and were introduced
in 1999 primarily to deal with 'neighbours from hell'
and nuisance youths on housing estates. But the guidelines for its
use include such distressing activities as graffiti and
under-age smoking and drinking. Not only can an ASBO be served
without the recipient being present to defend their case, but
also hearsay evidence is permitted and is often the only evidence
presented in proceedings. In Kevin White's case, written
harassment warnings for attending protests outside farm workers
houses have been used against him. When he took a small claim
to the county court objecting against restrictions on his lawful
right to protest, the case was thrown out, he was told he
would be liable for court costs, and the fact that he had the
bare-faced cheek to make the claim in the first place was
included in the decision to serve an ASBO on him! Kevin says that in
the likely event that he is found guilty of any of the
three charges made on June 21st, his ASBO will come into force,
restricting his activities for a period of 2-5 years and
potentially banning him from the whole of Staffordshire.

The demonstration at Branston was intended to pressurise the club to
dissolve the membership of John Hall of Newchurch Guinea
Pig Farm. Newchurch Farm in Staffordshire breeds guinea pigs and
sells them on to vivisection laboratories across the
country. The multi-millionaire Hall family have run the farm for
over 30 years and keep around 10,000 guinea pigs in filthy,
overcrowded conditions where death from disease is common. The
mothers often become so distressed that they eat their young,
and when breeding stock animals become inefficient they have their
necks broken by animal-loving staff. If the guinea pigs
are unlucky enough to stay alive at the farm, they are sent off to
labs for poisoning, mutilation and torture and the final
humiliation of keeping the Hall family in luxury. Meanwhile, bail
conditions prevent Kevin from coming within 4 miles of the
farm, so protests have been set up at that point on the road leading
to the farm.

Save The Newchurch Guinea Pigs (SNGP) have been campaigning since
1999 for the closure of the farm, raising public awareness
in the area with regular demonstrations, rallies and marches.

SNGP 01902 564734 www.communigate.co.uk/worcs/rar/page5.phtml

* John Hall has since resigned his membership at Branston Golf Club
following an Animal Liberation Front action in which 9
greens were damaged and spray-painted.

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...and finally...

Traffic wardens are a zealous bunch and they even hound you after you
're dead! In Australia a sharp-eyed warden slapped a
parking ticket on a car parked illegally with what he believed was a
very drunk man asleep in his car. The warden has now
been sent for an eye test by his employer because he failed to notice
that the man in the car was in fact dead, and had been
for some time. The council has been forced to apologise to the man's
family but failed to say whether they need to pay the
fine.

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Disclaimer
SchNEWS warns all readers that we still need to tap your pockets
before we dry up in a whirlpool of debts... Honest!

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NEW BOOK!!!! PEACE DE RESISTANCE IS NOW OUT. It costs £10 INC. p&p
per book, further details as below...

SchNEWS Of The World - issues 301-350 for £6!! Past books are goin'
cheap... SchNEWSround issues 51-100 - SOLD OUT; SchNEWS
annual issues 101-150 - going for £2!! Survival Handbook issues
151-200 - also at £2; SchQUALL issues 201-250 - almost sold
out - £6; Yearbook 2001 issues 251-300 - bargain £3. Add £1.70 p&p
for each book, cheques to Justice? Honest!

In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles,
photos, cartoons, subverts, a "yellow pages" list of contacts, comedy
etc. You can also order the books from a bookshop or library.

Subscribe to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9
issues)or donations (payable to Justice?). Or £15 for a
year's subscription, or the SchNEWS supporter's rate, £1 a week. Ask
for "originals" if you plan to copy and distribute.

SchNEWS is post-free to prisoners.

SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 0EF, England
Phone/Fax: +44 (0)1273 685913
email: schnews@brighton.co.uk

@nti copyright - information for action - copy and distribute!

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