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(en) SchNEWS 405, Friday 16th May, 2003

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 16 May 2003 08:08:09 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

"When all the witnesses are murdered or driven out, what will go on in the
Occupied Territories? How will anyone know whether things have gone from
mere checkpoints, house demolitions, massacres, destruction of crops, theft
of land, denial of food, water, medicine, and assassination, to something
worse? How will anyone know if stepped-up killings, or mass starvation, or
mass expulsions, or mass denial of medical care is taking place? What will
happen to the Palestinians then?" - Justin Podur, ZNet www.zmag.org
Last Friday, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) raided the media offices of the
International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Beit Sahour in occupied
Palestine. The raid, in which computers, discs, papers, and every piece of
data they could lay their hands on was confiscated, will undoubtedly have a
temporarily paralysing effect on ISM operations.

Over the past two years, over a thousand volunteers from around the world
have joined ISM in the occupied territories, helping Palestinians by taking
non-violent direct action such as clearing road blocks and acting as
willing human shields, as well as sending back eyewitness reports of their
experiences. Over the past two months, the IDF have been making ISM
volunteers feel increasingly unwelcome--3 have been killed or critically
injured, and many others have been deported, some violently. The office raid
comes just over a week after two British suicide bombers detonated bombs in
Tel Aviv. The Israeli government have now tried to link the two bombers with
the ISM in order to justify their new hard-line crackdown on human rights

The IDF now stops any foreigner entering the Gaza Strip, making them sign a
waiver which reads, "I am aware of the risks involved and accept that the
Government of the State of Israel and its organs cannot be held responsible
for death, injury and/or damage/loss of property which may be incurred as a
result of military activity." In other words, please sign your own death

The stance of the IDF will affect humanitarian aid to the Palestinian
people. Amnesty International have refused to sign the waiver, and so have
been denied access to the occupied territories, while the main UN Agency
working there (UNRWA) are concerned that their operations are being crippled
by their staff being denied access.

The ISM, however, is determined that they will continue working in the area,
although the stakes have now been raised. In the past, the basic assumption
of international observers had been that they were relatively safe while the
eyes of the world's media was upon them. But Israel's security forces no
longer appear to have any qualms about killing foreigners, even when they
happen to be the citizens of Israel's closest allies. Sadly, however, the
death of three foreigners is a drop in the ocean in the Palestinian
conflict - on the day American Rachel Corrie was killed, nine Palestinians,
including one 4 year old girl, also suffered the same fate.


At the same time that the Israel army has been busy in the occupied
territories, their government has been continuing to flout international law
and have indicated their intention to stick two fingers up to the new "Road
Map" for peace. The Road Map, which was published earlier this month, is an
American- led invention that lays out plans for the creation of an
'Independent' Palestinian state by 2005. In reality, the Road Map is based
on the assumption that the new US-installed moderate Palestinian leader, Abu
Mazen, will be able to stop suicide attacks. But that's a tall order,
particularly for a puppet leader. As Rachel Corrie, the ISM volunteer killed
earlier this year, explained in an email to her Mum, who'd suggested that a
cessation of Arab violence might ease the situation: "If any of us had our
lives and welfare completely strangled, lived with children in a shrinking
place where we knew, from previous experience, that soldiers and tanks and
bulldozers could come for us at any moment and destroy all the greenhouses
that we had been cultivating for however long, and did this while some of us
were being beaten and held captive - don't you think we might try and use
violent means to protect whatever fragments remained... The vast majority of
people here, even if they had the economic means to escape, even if they
wanted to give up resisting on their land and just leave, can't leave... I
think this qualifies as genocide."

Next week, Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon will be meeting George Dubya
to discuss the Road Map, but Sharon has already made it clear that
regardless of whether Palestinian terrorist attacks stop, there will be no
concessions on the Israeli side. He has also made it clear that there's no
question of Israel giving up any of the Palestinian lands that they've
occupied since 1967, something that they're required to do under
international law.

In fact, quite the opposite is happening. Work is continuing at a frantic
pace to complete the "separation wall", an Israeli invention that will
confiscate even more Palestinian land, and that will cut the Palestinian
territories into little pieces completely separated from the rest of the
world. "With an electrified fence cordoning off all "autonomous" areas, the
"independent" Palestine that the roadmap is supposed to lead to by 2005
couldn't possibly be anything other than a glorified concentration camp.
Perhaps not even glorified. And most likely a series of concentration
camps," said Mahir Ali, a reporter in Pakistan.

If this sort of behaviour were taking place in any other country of the
world, it would be called genocide or apartheid. Lev Grinberg of Ben
Gurion University says: "Suicide bombs killing innocent citizens must be
unequivocally condemned. But they cannot be compared to the State terrorism
carried out by the Israeli Government. The former are individual acts of
despair by a people that sees no future, vastly ignored by an unfair and
distorted international public opinion. The latter are cold and "rational"
decisions of a State and a military apparatus of occupation, well-equipped,
financed and backed by the only superpower in the world."

Tom Hurndall, the UK ISM volunteer who was shot in the head last month by an
Israeli sniper, is still in a coma in an Israeli hospital. The Israeli
government won't pay the £25,000 needed to fly him home, so his parents have
set up the Thomas Hurndall Fund to bring him home and a fund to help relieve
poverty in Palestine. Money for either fund, the Thomas Hurndall Fund or
The Tom Hurndall Trust Fund, can be sent to Lloyds Bank, 273-275 Kentish
Town Road, NW5 2LP.
Read eyewitness accounts from International observers at

Rally for Palestine this Saturday (17), 1.30pm Trafalgar Square, London 020
7700 6192 www.palestinecampaign.org

This Sunday (18) UK premiere of 'Bitter Water.' What is it like to live as a
refugee for 54 years? The film-makers will have a discussion after the
screening. 4pm, The Other Cinema, 11 Rupert Street, London. £5/£4. Info and
other world documentaries showing in June at www.dochouse.org

Hands Off the Middle East. Brighthelm, North Rd, Brighton, 7th June,
9.30am-1pm, £1. Sussex Action for Peace 01273 706820 www.safp.org.uk


* Israel has the 16th highest per capita income in the world, yet it
receives 40% of US aid - $3.5 billion a year. 60% of this goes to the
* By providing aid to Israel to construct highways connecting settlements,
the US is in violation of UN Security Council resolution 465, which "calls
upon all states not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used
specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories."



For playing games
An 11 year old boy was arrested in Antrim, Northern Ireland for carrying an
"offensive weapon" - a wooden hurling stick. The boy had been on his way
home after a game in the park when he was bundled into a car and questioned
before being taken home where the cops told his mum that he wouldn't be
allowed to take his hurley onto the street anymore.



The genetically modified food debate is set to become a fully-fledged trade
war after the US this week filed a complaint with the World Trade
Organisation (WTO). Thanks to intense lobbying by big US-based biotechnology
multinationals like Monsanto, the US government wants to force the EU to
remove all opposition and controls on GM food, complaining that they're 'an
illegal barrier to free trade.'

The EU has been relatively cautious about GM foods, insisting on labelling
and traceability of foods. The US, who has refused to sign up to
international safety codes regarding GM, says that this is just costly and

The opposition to GM foods comes from the public in European countries and
is genuinely democratic (some surveys say 70% of people don't want GM
foods), but of course this is irrelevant to the WTO. Un-elected pro-business
trade lawyers will hear the case behind closed doors and there is no right
of appeal. If they rule in favour of the US, the EU could face trade
sanctions running into the billions, with Green MEP Caroline Lucas warning
that "the mother of all trade wars and could bring about the [WTO]'s
collapse." Shame.

However, if this looks like the EU is a friendly crusader against crossing
fruit with jellyfish to make wine gums or whatever nonsense they're trying
this week, think again. The EU has granted Monsanto a massive monopoly over
all GM soybeans after a nine-year civil battle with watchdog group ETC - the
Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration.

The patent was originally granted to a different company, with Monsanto then
firing off a 292-page long statement of opposition. However, when Monsanto
bought that very same company they quickly changed their tune and supported
the patent. The ruling means that anyone who genetically modifies soybeans
in any way has to pay Monsanto.

There is some good news: Monsanto's sales are well down from last year, and
they're now facing shareholder resolutions questioning the safety of GM.



Meanwhile Nanotechnology (see SchNEWS 249 & 348) looks set to become the
next big GM thing, with mad scientists already rolling out the old cliché
that it could end world hunger. Nanotechnology involves building materials
and small devices by manipulating individual atoms. The scale is so small
that you could fit 100,000 of these devices across a human hair.

Environmental groups are pushing for caution, with Kathy Jo Wetter of ETC
complaining, "Even though industry is scaling up the manufacture of
nanoparticles. there appear to be no government regulations in Europe or
North America to ensure the safety of workers or consumers." Funding in the
US for Nanotech this year will total around $2 billion, with similar amounts
in Japan.

Nanotech particles are already beginning to pop up in various products such
as sunscreens and wound dressings without extensive testing, and of course
the US is busy using the technology to make new bombs. According to Patrick
Mulvany from ETC, "Nanotech threatens even further to divert funds,
knowledge and political will away from the research necessary to address
society's problems."

More on the GM Trade War: www.foe.org.uk

Nanotech, GM and patents: www.etcgroup.org or read this month's Ecologist
magazine www.theecologist.org



Reverend Billy, the anti-consumerist evangelist who spreads the gospel 'Thou
shalt not shop' was nicked in a Derby Disney Store after he used a megaphone
to inform shoppers of the company's use of sweatshop and child labour.
Arrested under breach of the peace, he was held until the shops shut. Follow
the anti-shopping tour at http://stopshopping.blogspot.com ** People's
Assembly for Manchester, June 7th with workshops on everything from the
selling off of our public services to lessons from the anti-war movement to
creating your own media. Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, City Centre
(behind Central Library) 1- 5pm 07986 305320
peoplesassembly@manchesterstopthewar.org ** Apologies from your
geographically challenged SchNEWS. Dundrennan, Kirkcudbright (in last week's
SchNEWS), is in Scotland not Ireland. ** Manchester Radical Bookfair this
Saturday (17th) 11am- 5pm Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street, Ancoats.
www.radicalbookfair.org.uk ** Lakenheath Trespass Day, May 27th
6am-midnight, Lakenheath, Suffolk, the primary U.S. tactical airbase in
Europe with about 30 nuclear weapons. Organisers are asking people to form
affinity groups and spend the day trying to get into the base 0116 247 0121
www.lakenheathaction.org ** The annual Stonehenge walk starts in Brighton,
27th May, 1pm from the Old Steine Fountain, Brighton, for a walk along South
Downs Way to Stonehenge Solstice celebration 078141 92881
jesterdream@hotmail.com ** A Stonehenge Acoustic Free Festival is planned
for June 21st - 22nd to protest at English Heritage's decision to open the
monument on the wrong day of the solstice! Campaigners are demanding full
restoration of their traditional rights of free access to the Stones and the
provision of land for camping. Acoustic musicians and groups wanting to
participate in the celebration should contact
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stonehengeentertainmentsdiscussion/ ** Sound
systems are planning a big UK T3KNIVAL free festival somewhere in the UK
over the Bank Holiday weekend (24-26 May) "open invitation to all, sound
systems, artists and performers.... and ravers of course" 07050 601945/07092
350834/07092 310245 (phonelines active from Saturday pm)
http://uktek.freetekno.org **'The Allotment - Its past, present and future'
conference organized by the Rural History Centre, 31st May, University of
Reading. Tickets £25 and spaces limited 0118-378 8306



The new Water Bill to be discussed in Parliament later this month may force
water companies to add fluoride to public water supplies if told to do so by
health authorities. So what's wrong with fluoride, after all it's in our
toothpaste? While fluoride applied to the teeth can neutralise the bacterial
action of sugar (which is the cause of cavities), when it is ingested, as
would happen if it were in the water, it can have severe health effects such
as high incidences of hip fractures, joint conditions, bone cancer, and
Alzheimers disease. Adding fluoride to water has been banned in most of
continental Europe because of the health effects. Switzerland has just ended
41 years of putting fluoride in the water saying its merits "could not be
proven in any study."

Fluoride is a toxic waste product of the phosphate fertiliser industry.
Dumping it in our water avoids the high costs of safe disposal, and the
industry has done a brilliant job of persuading everyone that it is
necessary to combat tooth decay. This is forced medication on a massive
scale and is against the EU Human Rights Charter which states: "everyman has
to have a guarantee...that he has free choice of therapy."
National Pure Water Association 01924 254433 www.npwa.freeserve.co.uk


"I'm a Refugee, Get Me Out Of Here"

"I have been living in Battersea for fourteen years. I am married to an
English woman and have been working and paying my taxes all this time. Two
years ago they caught me and took me to a detention centre, then they let me
go and now they have caught me again and put me in Haslar and I don't know
why. They ask me to explain why I don't want to go back to Algeria. Anyone
who knows anything about Algeria knows that it is kill or be killed over
there. There has been civil war there and I don't want to go back." Medhi
Bentounes, detainee at Haslar 'removals' centre.

On Monday, eleven people went on hunger strike at Haslar 'removals' centre
in Portsmouth to protest against conditions and SchNEWS was amongst some of
those who visited them to offer solidarity. The hunger strikers overwhelming
message was that none of them know why they are being detained or for how
long. Asked about the hunger strike, a detainee told us, "We feel a little
weak and sick but this is our only weapon we have at hand. Conditions here
are so bad, you know we can't eat the food anyway usually because it's too
disgusting". Medhi, the detainee we quoted above, is not on hunger strike
because, like many other Algerian detainees at the centre, he is scared that
it will harm his case and that he will be deported. After the last hunger
strike, a man who had been identified as 'leading' the strike was deported
only days after the strike had ended.

Like most detention centres, Haslar has now been renamed a 'removals'
centre, despite the fact that only a handful of detainees face immediate
deportation. People being kept at Haslar are forced to spend most of their
days in dormitories--large rooms housing 120 detainees. They are locked in
their dormitories for 16 hours a day and are only permitted to have visitors
for two hours (the rest of the time they are asleep, with most detainees
being given sleeping tablets because they suffer from insomnia due to high
levels of stress and lack of privacy).

Support the hunger strikers - write to the governor of Haslar and ask him to
listen to their demands. For a sample letter go to www.ncadc.org.uk

* National demonstration against Haslar, 21 June, 11am at the centre. Bring
noisy things, the detainees need to hear us!

*The Yarl's Wood trial (see SchNEWS 348) is now in its fourth week and there
are demos outside Harrow Crown Court each Monday 9-10:30am 07786 517379


...and finally...

Strathcylde cops are on rent strike after part of the roof of their new
building caved in. The new police recruitment and training centre was built
under the Private Finance Initiative (see last week's SchNEWS) by Balfour
Beatty and funded by US private equity firm Babcock and Brown. Balfour
Beatty are the safety-conscious crew who received a record £1.2 million fine
after part of the tunnel they were building on the rail link to Heathrow
airport 'collapsed'. Their latest building achievements include no disabled
access and flooding caused by a collapsed roof that forced the police to
cancel one of their own conferences. This is the first time that a public
authority has withheld rent on a PFI project, although many PFI projects
have been fined for poor services and missed targets. Babcock and Brown have
blamed Balfour Beatty and also accused the cops of being "pretty crap at
looking after their own facilities." SchNEWS can't wait for the bailiffs to
turn up.



SchNEWS warns all backseat drivers to fasten their seatbelts - with SchNEWS
at the wheel it's a bumpy ride. Honest!


SchNEWS Of The World - issues 301-350 for £7!! Past books are goin' cheap...
SchNEWSround issues 51-100 - nearly sold out - £5; SchNEWS annual issues
101-150 - going for £3!! Survival Handbook issues 151-200 - also at £3;
SchQUALL issues 201-250 - almost sold out - £7; Yearbook 2001 issues
251-300 - bargain £5. Add £1.50 p&p for each book, cheques to Justice?

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.

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