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(en) SchNEWS 419, Friday 22nd August, 2003

From schnews <schnews@brighton.co.uk>
Date Fri, 22 Aug 2003 20:22:41 +0200 (CEST)


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WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT'S YER HACKSAW IN THE POST... SchNEWS - SHELTER SKELTER
"Group 4 have been a national laughing stock ever since they first
blundered into the field of private custodial services... They fouled
up the initial stages of the police enquiry by the improper showing
of photographs to witnesses; they organised group counseling
sessions, risking the contamination of evidence." - Mr Nigel Rumfitt,
prosecuting QC in Yarl's Wood trail.
In last week's farcical Yarl's Wood trial, four people were found
guilty of violent disorder, others who were acquitted were
re-arrested in court and taken back into detention. Many potential
key witnesses for the trial had been deported soon after the small
riot and fire at the £100 million Yarl's Wood 'removals' centre last
February. The unrest was set off after Eunice, a 55 year old woman
held at Yarl's Wood, was prevented from going to a prayer meeting by
prison guards who pinned her to the ground. Through a glass partition
male inmates saw her struggling with staff and becoming emotional.
They tried to break through the locked door and groups of detainees
smashed lights and security cameras and fire was started. Later a
Group 4 manager, ordered detainees and staff to be locked inside the
burning building.

At the beginning of the trial there were eleven detainees charged
with violent disorder, some with arson, on the basis of accusations
by Group 4. Some of them were either on a committee set up by
detainees to raise complaints about Group 4 or had been vocal at
meetings. Several had warned that if detainees were not treated
better, they feared serious consequences.

Both Group 4, the private company in charge of running Yarl's Wood,
and the Home Office, who put them there, were accused of gross
negligence in court and Group 4 was initially treated as a suspect
and investigated for the offence of corporate manslaughter by the
Bedfordshire police force. Former employee Darren Attwood told the
court that they were told to "lock the detainees in the burning
building."

Not that this is the first time Group 4 have been economical with the
truth. How about Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre in
Oxford, which hosted a disturbance of it's own in 1997? Nine
detainees were charged with riot in a case that spectacularly
collapsed, as Group 4's evidence was deemed 'unreliable'

The Haslar detention centre has been subject to similar inhuman
conditions - there are regular hunger strikes to protest against
conditions in the prison, in the last two years there has been four
attempted suicides and in March one man killed himself the night
before he was to be deported. SchNEWS has visited Haslar and heard
accounts of inedible food, random strip searches, metal dorm-room
doors behind which there were no smoke alarms, clear Perspex shower
doors, no toilet doors and no privacy. Detainees are kept locked up
for sixteen hours a day and that over a hundred people had only one
payphone to share in order to make calls to family, friends and legal
support.

On top of all of this there are a number of parasitic solicitors who
abuse the vulnerable in these centres to get their legal aid handout
and do nothing to assist those being kept randomly locked up and
simply count their cash. Two Chinese men, whose names were not known
by detainees because they couldn't speak English, had received a
letter from the Home office informing them they were to be deported.
They were unable to understand its contents because they had no
access to a translator.

Given these conditions its no wonder people have been trying to
escape: Four young Sri Lankans escaped from the detention centre in
Gosport on Sunday, after cutting through window bars and scaling the
perimeter razor wire topped fence. Apparently they received a file in
the post to help their escape! Another detainee escaped two months
ago.

Group Free 4 All

Both Haslar and Yarls Wood are part of an increasingly repressive
immigration policy in the UK and Europe. Last year Home Secretary,
David Bland-git, coldly set down quotas of asylum seekers to be
expelled. His grand plan would have seen 2500 asylum seekers expelled
every month and the 1000 person Yarlswood centre was a pillar for
this plan.

As Yarlswood shows, private companies are not the best people to deal
with asylum seekers. Group 4 were awarded a 'fast track contract' not
only to build the Yarlswood centre but also to run it for 6 years.
Six of the nine removal centres in the UK are run by private security
firms. Private guards are paid around half what prison officers are
paid, with Group 4 recently advertising for new guards offering
'£6.95 per hour , no experience necessary.' In general the private
guards, entrusted with the care of traumatised refugees, are often
grossly racist and provoke the detainees.On the other hand, the great
majority of detainees are in the process of applying for asylum and
therefore they're not even technically 'illegal'. Unfortunately for
them though the purpose of detention, the government admits, is to
deter others who might come to this country for refuge. So you'll be
locked up regardless, mate. There are similar conditions in much of
Europe with private companies taking over running asylum centres.

The European Union is pushing for asylum claims to be made from
asylum seekers' country of origin, and have put forward a 250 million
Euro programme to rapidly kick 'illegal' human beings back to the
country they entered the EU from. Nearly 150 million euros is to be
spent "harmonising" EU border patrols and co-coordinating their
efforts in expelling the 'unwanted'.

Amidst the corporate media frenzy of labeling asylum seekers as
'scroungers', 'terrorists' or 'AIDS infected' a lot of realities are
forgotten. Many 'scrounging' asylum seekers work in Britain in low
paid jobs that most British refuse, contributing millions to the
British Economy. Labeling asylum seekers as 'terrorists' is rather
far fetched when you think of the billion dollar western arms
industry that supplies dictators in the Majority World with weapons
that fuel divisive civil wars. People arrive at our shores fleeing
this terror as well as western corporations devouring their resources
and then sending the profits of $50 billion per year back to Western
banks. And finally, calling asylum seekers 'diseased' or 'AIDS
infected' is downright racist. Every year Majority World governments
train thousands of medical staff who are poached by the NHS and other
western countries. Then we have the cheek to deport AIDS sufferers
back to the hospitals that we've depleted. Maybe asylum seekers are
seeking asylum. And maybe we should offer it to them, and question
ourselves a bit more and not them.

*Yarl's Wood Campaign meeting Saturday 23rd August, Camden Town Hall,
11am-1pm.

* Boundaries to Bridges Caravan Tour. Activists will be gathering in
Almeria, Spain this October before moving through various countries
to St. Louis, Senegal by March 2004. The Caravan will serve as a
platform for talks, workshops, info-exchanges, parties, circus and
theatre performances and will also have a mobile cinema showing
documentaries and films covering themes of immigration and frontiers.
If you wanna get involved see www.memenet.de/tour.htm

* Recommended reading 'Open Borders: The case against immigration
controls' Teresa Hayter, Pluto Press 2000

* We hope to have names and addresses of detainees who would like to
receive letters of support in next week's SchNEWS.

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Crap Arrest of the Week

For having a nano blim of pot!
We are talking a really small piece of dope. When it was weighed it
came to the staggering weight of 1/50th of a gram. If you were a flea
it still couldn't get you stoned. But after 3 days of trial he was
found guilty of possession. Stone me - it happened in Britain!

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WATT'S UP DOC?

As America plunged into the dark ages last week and millions of
Americans went without electricity, the message was clear: the
terrorists had struck. Except these terrorists weren't your
easy-to-target Allah lovers, they were the barons of fossil and
nuclear power and their government cronies. Their weapon is an
ancient electric grid that's, in their own words, fit for 'a third
world country'. It's an insanely fragile device that inefficiently
sends electricity from polluting, centralised generating plants to
buildings that waste massive amounts of energy and generate none. And
it will crash, crash and crash until it's replaced.

The technology exists to replace it now. Back in 1952 a report to
President Harry Truman predicted that America's future lay with
renewable energy. It envisaged 13 million solar-powered homes by 1975
with the promise of decentralised, off-grid self-sufficiency. Still
today solar technologies make energy self-sufficiency a real
possibility. Solar panels on roof tops and embedded in windows can
produce grid-free electricity. Methane digestion can turn waste into
usable gas and basement generators can run on biomass fuels such as
ethanol. So why are Americans not using such decentralised, green
energy? Why are they relying on a crusty old centralised grid run by
a handful of fat-stomached corporations? Well, we're gonna have to
break our way through the incestuous web of US business and the state
to find out.

Regulations were put in place by Franklin Roosevelt back in the '30s
to make sure all energy charges were linked to real expenditures by
the energy suppliers, blackouts to hike rates were illegalised and
all electricity companies were closely monitored by the federal power
commission. Then came Dubya's Daddy and 'deregulation'. Big
electricity companies, such as Enron, had been scheming to avoid
regulations that imposed huge fines on them for ripping off
ratepayers. They decided not to break the rules but to eliminate them
altogether and they christened their dodgy little baby
'deregulation'. "It was," according to the investigative journo, Greg
Palast, "like a committee of bank robbers figuring out how to make
safecracking legal." So with the barons of fossil and nuclear power
firmly behind him, Dubya's Daddy gave his corporate chums 'federal
deregulation of electricity', which meant they were on the way to
taking ratepayers hostage and not having to worry about any pesky
fines or regulation things.

To fully deregulate energy consumption the big electricity companies
now began to focus on state deregulation. After a massive campaign in
California promising electricity bills reduced by 20%, a deregulated
San Diego looked at their bills and realised that their 20% savings
were swallowed by a 300% jump in surcharges. Becoming more and more
powerful in their lawless, deregulated paradise, three power giants
began to withhold power from the state of California in the year 2000
and ripped off over $6 billion in excess charges from ratepayers.
After Clinton had imposed price caps on electricity bills in
California, Dubya waltzed in to the White House, dancing to a $16
million tune from the power companies, and immediately blew the caps
away. At the same time, New York's Republican Governor, George
Pataki, ripped the lid off electricity prices and relieved the Niagra
Mohawk power company of the annoying duty of maintaining the grid
system.

So now after being plunged into the dark ages are Americans gonna
finally think about how much energy they consume? Is the corporate
media gonna run stories about the necessity of decentralised,
self-sufficient, green energy? Is George Bush gonna break with his
power baron chums and overhaul a rotten, centralised energy grid?
Course not. This is the American state and big business we're talking
about. Bush has just pushed through a law to "upgrade the grid"
which, in the words of Harvey Wasserman, is " a new money pit for the
same old unsafe nukes, polluting coal burners and gas turbines all
looped together by dangerous, wasteful wires that are bound to crash
again and again." See: www.zmag.org

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MARMOSET ON TOAST

The verdict is expected soon on the University of Cambridge's
proposed Primate Testing Centre, The Centre would house a breeding
colony of some 400-500 marmosets in tiny, barren metal cages; the
animals would then be used in neurological experiments and endure
horrific suffering at the hands of the researchers

The Science Minister at the Department for Trade and Industry Lord
Sainsbury and the University has touted its "essential" purpose in
solving human neurological disorders. The governments claims are
bogus as Dr Ray Greek of Europeans For Medical Advancement confirms,
"Everything we know about Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other
specifically human neurological disorders has been learned from
studying humans and their tissues... Mutilating monkeys helps no-one
and actually harms patients by misleading researchers and diverting
them from more productive avenues of research, such as brain-scanning
and clinical research."

Stopping the centre is essential if the battle against animal testing
facilities is to be moved forward, according to Professor Roger Lemon
director of the Institute of Neurology "It would effectively be a
signal that would block any new animal-research facility for the
foreseeable future."

Protest on 23 August, Parkers Piece. September 3 public meeting , 11
October National rally all in Cambridge.

Stop Primate Experiments at Cambridge 07957588253
www.primateprison.org

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BURMMER!

The Burma Campaign this week published an updated version of its
'Dirty List' of companies whose operations are helping to finance the
military dictatorship in Burma.

The list of companies that are lining the pockets of the military is
too long to put in SchNEWS but here's a few. Most well known is
British American Tobacco who makes $400,000 a year for the regime and
has contributed $16m in total to the junta. Hutchison Whampoa Ltd are
a company you've probably haven't heard of but they own Superdrug, 3
Mobile and three major ports - Felixstowe, Harwich International and
Thamesport, as well as major stakes in luxury property developments.
They also own Myanmar International Terminals Thilawa, a major port
in Burma.

There's Oracle, Total and Unocal who are building a gas pipeline from
Burma to Thailand; Carnival/P&O; Daewoo; Accountancy firms
Price-Waterhouse and Ernst & Young; Suzuki who have a factory jointly
owned with the military government and the 'right on' Lonely Planet'
who insist that just because they publish a guide to Burma this
doesn't mean they're encouraging people to go there! Tourism is a
vital source of income for the Burmese dictatorship in Burma,
providing it with millions of pounds every year. There are also
companies which maybe local to where you are - in London there's a
law firm called Norton Rose and in Sussex there's a garden furniture
manufacturer Lister which sources all teak wood from the rainforests
of Burma.

For the full list call 020 7281 7377 www.burmacampaign.org.uk

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SchNEWS in brief

Yesterday the head office of Spearhead, the company organizing
Europe's largest arms fair, Defence Systems Equipment international
(DSEi) was occupied by protesters. The "fair" will happen at the
Excel Centre in London next month and a week of protests have been
organized. Actions are happening around the country in the lead up to
DSEi: On 31st August there's a Cardiff Disarm DSEi Day from 1pm at
East Moors Community Centre, Sanquahar St, Splott. Contact: 07754
585856 http://uk.msnusers.com/cardiffsocialforum/messageboard.msnw On
1st September there's an anti-DSEI disco benefit night at Notting
Hill arts club along with visuals and films from Guerilla TV , info -
anti.dsei.disco@errorware.co.uk For more information about Disarm
DSEi actions see www.dsei.org

Anti war protesters have won the right to challenge the police
against the draconian powers they used at the Fairford demo on 22nd
March. 3 coaches were stopped on the way there and then made to go
back to London.

Gillette have abandoned the use of RFID smart-chips in products
following a recent trial of the technology in Tescos supermarket in
Cambridge (SchNEWS 415), which attracted protests by local residents.
Following the recent protest in Cambridge against the introduction of
smart-chips to track in-store product movements. In Boston, the home
of Gillette the Boston Globe ran an article on the issue and within
hours Gillette announced they would be abandoning the use of RFID in
products.

Ladyfest - four days and nights of 'oestrogen fuelled fun. to
showcase, celebrate and encourage the musical and artistic talents of
women.' 4-7 September, Zion Arts, Stretford Rd, Hulme, Manchester.
0777 612 6525 www.ladyfestmanchester.org

Brighton Alliance of Sound Systems Random Party this Saturday (23) @
Concorde2 Madeira Drive, Brighton 10pm-3am. £3 www.bass23.org

Ska Punk Losers have a homecoming concert on Saturday 6th September
for Neil Bartlett who has spent the past two years inside for animal
rights stuff. Littlehampton Railway Club, opp. The train station.
Doors open 6.30 pm and it's £4 www.splshows.cjb.net

A new squatted social centre has opened in Newtown, Wales. Music,
food and cinema are all on offer. Call 0402 522485 after 12pm on
Sunday 24th for directions.

Benefit gig for Brighton Peace and Environment Centre. Attila the
Stockbroker and Rob Johnson at the Kings and Queens pub on
Marlborough Place, 7.30pm 29th. £8/£5.

If you're handy with computers and want to become part of the SchNEWS
web design team on a Thursday evening get in touch with the office.

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...and finally...

While the fight against the building of the new A30 at Fairmile in
Devon (See SchNEWS 103) was happening the local pub, the Fairmile
Inn, refused to serve the eco-warriors who were living in the protest
camps (Remember them?). But now thanks to the new road the pub has
lost all its passing trade and has been forced to close through lack
of punters! What do they say about karma? Or is it just time for one
for the road ?

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Disclaimer
SchNEWS warns all committed readers we still seek refuge in your
generosity. 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
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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,
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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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SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 0EF, England
Phone: 01273 685913 (NO FAX)
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