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(en) SchNEWS Issue 438 - Friday 23rd January - PLAIN TEXT

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Sat, 24 Jan 2004 10:28:40 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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"This forum will blow up the myth that there is no alternative. It
will also explode the myth that this model of globalisation has
universal acceptance." - Varada Rajan, Indian trade union leader
It was the sort of conference where you couldn't grab yourself a
McDonalds and Coke or use a computer run by Microsoft. But the
100,000 people from 132 different countries representing over two
and a half thousand different organizations didn't seem to mind.
For this was the 4th World Social Forum (WSF) which took place at
Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, and ended on Wednesday. The WSF
is the grassroots answer to the annual World Economic Forum.
Western politicians, corporate bigwigs and other power brokers
schmooze it up at the Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,
protected from protestors by thousands of riot cops, while the
Social Forum brings activist groups together to develop
alternatives to the economic policies pursued by wealthy nations.

It's the first time that the WSF has been held outside Porto
Alegre, Brazil, in a place described as "the most
hyper-capitalist, fast-paced city in India, a grimier version of
the Bladerunner megapolis." A Forum statement said Mumbai has
borne the brunt of India's economic liberalisation policies with
millions losing their jobs. Glitzy shopping centres have replaced
mills and factories that have been torn down over the last decade.
Despite the 'benefits' of such globalisation, 300 million Indians
subsist on less than a dollar a day, many living in roadside
shantytowns similar to the ones outside the Forum conference
grounds. 100 million Indian families live without domestic water
and hundreds of thousands of children work in cottonseed
production and sweatshops. The WSF catered for these children with
a special conference of 2,000 children's representatives.

India has become part of globalisation's 'race to the bottom' in
which corporations move around the globe looking for the lowest
paid workforces. Jobs from America and Europe's call centres are
being relocated here and, according to Business Week, there may
now be more IT engineers in Bangalore than in the Silicon Valley.
That is why the American Jobs with Justice delegation met with
their Indian counterparts to organise against the new tech
outsourcing. Some 50,000 young Indians are employed in call
centres in Mumbai. Stress and physiological problems are rampant
among these workers, who earn a mere $160 per month on all-night

There was also a strong Dalit presence at WSF. Dalits are India's
untouchables. They make up 25% of the country's population and are
usually condemned to the most boring and menial work. "This
gathering gives me hope that we will be able to live our lives in
dignity and peace someday," said Vidi Thillana, a Dalit woman
attending the forum. "It might not happen in my lifetime, but if
we continue to stand in solidarity and gain inspiration from
everyone else, my children will have the opportunities that I am
fighting for."


The WSF is also about what one delegate called "an international
alliance to battle the multinationals." Take last Sunday, when
over 500 protesters marched under the banner of the People's Forum
against Coca-Cola to condemn the company's operations in India.
Three communities in India - Plachimada in Kerala, Wada in
Maharashtra and Mehdiganj in Uttar Pradesh - are experiencing
severe water shortages as a result of Coca-Cola's mining of common
groundwater resources around its factories; 150 residents who live
in these villages joined the rally. The Dalits and indigenous
peoples are playing a key role in leading protests. Unlike
top-down activism, their campaigns are primarily
village-organised, with national globalisation activists providing
access to press and linkages with other affected villages.
"Coca-Cola's actions are symbolic of the vulgar arrogance and
criminal power of corporations that are looting people of their
basic needs, water in this case," said Medha Patkar, coordinator
of the National Alliance of People's Movements. But people are
fighting back. Last April Coca-Cola was targeted for boycott in
protest against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. As a result of that
protest, sales dropped 50 percent in the state of Kerala and

In the Orissa region it's bauxite (aluminium ore) that the
corporations are looting. The region has millions of tonnes of the
stuff which is used for making missiles, bombs, planes, food
packaging and, of course, Coke cans. For the past decade, the
people of Kashipur have been resisting, using tactics such as road
blockades and sabotage, to stop one of these mines being built on
their land. In December 2000, the protests came to a head when
three people were killed. A Commission set up to look into the
deaths published its report last weekend blaming the police. But
no recommendations to prosecute were made and instead the report
stated that the mine should go ahead because it would not have an
adverse effect on the environment. As one of the tribal groups
pointed out, "They use 'development' as a pretext to hide their
real intentions. If any one is really interested in our
development, why are they not proposing a sustainable package to
improve our agriculture, our health, our education and our forest
resources? What they are trying to promote in the name of
development is in fact a manipulation, which would benefit
multinational companies. The Dalits and tribals have been destined
to pay a price, as if they have taken birth just to be sacrificed
at the altar of modern development."

The WSF isn't of course without its problems or critics. One
complaint is that some of the groups involved are just papering ov
er the cracks. Even those inside the halls voice disquiet. Indian
author Arundhati Roy told the crowds, "It is no good just saying
jeetenge, bhai jeetenge ["we will win, we will win"]. It is time
we did something."

The problem is not just getting people to listen - but to make
sure that rather than trusting leaders who once they get in power
forget all their good words, we instead work together in our
communities to take control together.

* For more on the WSF see: www.india.indymedia.org

* The Kashipur struggle www.saanet.org/kashipur

* For background information on Coca-Cola www.IndiaResource.org


Crap Arrest of the Week

For having a beard!

A journalist working in Baghdad was arrested last week for looking
like an "Israeli" by Iraqi police and a "terrorist" by the US
authorities! He was then taken to a police station at gunpoint,
chucked in a cell, and held over night. The next day, a US
appointed lawyer decided there was no evidence of any wrongdoing,
but the man was still sent to see a judge, just in case he could
still "be accused of anything". www.wildfirejo.org.uk


Flushed down the System

Not content with simply hassling people on the dole into accepting
crap jobs, Neo-Labour have now decided to target single parents
and the disabled. The problem you see is that, according to the
government, there are too many "economically inactive" people in
the country who are far too busy bringing up children and being
ill. How dare they!!

It used to be the case that, as a single parent or recipient of
sickness benefit, you could choose to see an advisor at the
Jobcentre for help with finding work, but they couldn't force you
to take any old job or go on a training course. Now, with the
merging of Jobcentres and Department of Social Security Offices
into Jobcentre Plus, there will be the introduction of "work
focussed interviews" for single parents and the disabled.
Attendance at these interviews is compulsory and if you don't
attend you will lose 20% of your benefit. The good news is that
although you have to talk about your situation, work history and
training etc, you still can't actually be forced to take a job or
go on training schemes.

The bad news, however, is that by 2006, the situation will be much
worse. A 'pilot' scheme in which job applications and training
scheme attendance can be enforced is currently running in six
areas and will eventually be extend to the whole country. This
"Pathways to Work" Scheme will force claimants into six mandatory
interviews, once a month, starting from week 8 of your claim.

And while the government talks about helping people to "use their
skills to find a job with a local employer", there won't actually
be any more money for training, so if you're a skilled
tradesperson who can't do your job anymore because of an injury,
you can just fuck off and work in a call-centre for peanuts (or at
least that was until they were all transferred to India).

For more information about these changes, get a copy of "Missing
Links". Send an SAE or stamps for each issue to: AwoL, c/o BHUWC,
4 Crestway Parade, Brighton, BN1 7BL.

Meetings in Brighton for claimants, single parents, the unemployed
and all system sufferers, 5.30pm, 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each
month, Cowley Club, 12 London Road.


Inside SchNEWS

In Russia the Federal Security Service (FSB, formerly the KGB)
have been harassing Krasnodar "Automomous Action" activists. The
involvement of the FSB is incredibly fishy as they have previously
tried to jail many anarchists accusing them of terrorism. FSB
agents have been present in the court case where two anarchists
were accused with assaulting the director of the press-service of
Kuban oil company "Rosneft" Mr. Dolgov. The FSB have been in court
leaning on the judge and persuading him to continue with the case
even though Mr Dolgov had asked for the case to be dropped. It has
resulted in a six month prison sentence for Dmitry Ryabinin and a
one year corrective order for Lev Sokolov. More details:

Marshalls PLC (owners of Stancliff Stone quarry company) won
repossession of the Nine Ladies site in court yesterday. They can
begin eviction as soon as they get their warrant, which could be
in as little as 24 hours. Their climbers and security crews are
ready to move in. This information has come direct from site.
People are needed on site NOW!! Please start your phone trees.
Site number - for text messages only 0700 5942212


SchNEWS In Brief

** Martin Shaw, the climber injured by Swiss police at the G8
summit in Evian last June, is on a video and speaking tour: 27th
Nottingham, 28th Derby, 29th Manchester, Feb 3rd Sheffield, 4th
Leeds EF!, 5th Bradford Uni. Call Martin 07762 252932 for more

** Sussex Action For Peace meeting to organise for the anniversary
of the start of the Iraq War. Everyone welcome. Community Base
South Wing, 113 Queens Road, Brighton. 4.30pm, Sat 31,

** Bristol Indymedia are showing 'Fourth World War' plus some
shorter community films on Monday (26) at Cube Cinema, 7.30pm £3/2

** Zapatista Anniversary screening next Thursday (29) at the Other
Cinema, 11 Rupert Street, London W1 020 7437 0757 £7/5

** The 'Hijacking Green Energy' workshop information is now online
at www.fraw.org.uk/rangers/frwe/19/index.shtml

** Next weekend (30-31) is the European Days of Action against
Refugee Detention and for Migrant Rights. In the UK, actions are
happening in London, Liverpool, Oxford and Lindholme Detention
Centre. 0121 554 6947 www.ncadc.org.uk

** A hunt sab has been deliberately run down by a huntsman in
Sussex and was taken to hospital unconscious with severe bruising.
The police arrested the huntsman. 0845 4500727 www.huntsabs.org.uk

** Gill Emerson, who was arrested for sitting on a wall and had
her nose broken by police during Prince Big Ear's visit to
Gravesend (SchNEWS 178), has five years later been awarded £3,500
in damages and £100,000 legal costs. Nice one, shame it took so

** A man who was arrested at protests against the DSEi arms fair
last year has been found not guilty of aggravated trespass. He was
arrested for sitting and meditating on the raised footbridge
entrance to the Excel centre. The judges ruled that someone
sitting quietly could not be "aggravating" and criticised the
police for handcuffing him! More police payouts on the way...

** If you fancy getting involved in a bit of street theatre
exposing the reality of Guantanamo Bay and the War on Terror,
Romany Blythe is holding workshops on Wednesday evenings in
London, 07866 474408 RomanyRomany@Hotmail.com

** The Truth and Justice Campaign are holding a meeting -
'Remembering 1984: India's Hidden Genocide'. It's on 7th Feb 6pm
at Hounslow Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Alice Way, off Hanworth Road

** The Bar End protest camp near Winchester has called it a day.
The protestors were trying to stop the council building a park and
ride scheme on meadowland set aside by the Conservative government
to compensate for the destruction of Twyford Down. The protestors
have added £760,000 to the cost of the £3.5m park and ride scheme,
but, unfortunately, have not stopped yet another beautiful site
being covered by concrete.

** Prepare for the Battle of Weymouth following Dept of Transport
approval of a bypass that will cut through the ancient woodland
Two Mile Coppice and destroy the breeding grounds of bats and
voles. www.roadalert.org.uk

** Following the 'Battle of Bulkington' last week (SchNEWS 437),
in which a Traveller community near Coventry fought off eviction,
another site has sent calls for help to save their homes at
Meadowlands Caravan Park, Cranham Rd, Little Waltham (near A130).
Travellers from Essex and Bedfordshire have already agreed to help
resist the eviction but more support is needed. Get to the site
this Sunday (25) and stay overnight. Call 07721081000 for
transport from Chelmsford station. To be added to an alert phone
tree please email nooneisillegal2003@yahoo.co.uk


Percy and Perky

The Canadian Supreme Court is deciding on a case concerning
patents, genetic contamination, Monsanto and 73 year-old farmer
Percy Schmeiser (SchNEWS 300). Percy's home-grown canola
(rapeseed) was contaminated by Monsanto's own genetically modified
rapeseed. Monsanto then had the cheek to accuse him of stealing

Other farmers whose land have been contaminated by wind born
pollen, which spreads up to 16 miles per plant, have also been
forced to pay Monsanto for the honour. Percy's costs so far are
$370,000 and judgement is not expected for several months.


Positive SchNEWS

Fancy a Seedy Sunday in Brighton? Then do your bit for guerrilla
gardening and get along to a community seed swap next Sunday (1
February). The UK has lost 97% of its vegetable varieties in the
past 100 years and just three corporations now control a quarter
of the world's entire seed market. As well as the seed swap there
will be talks on everything from supermarkets to saving your own
seeds, organic seed potatoes on sale, community gardening groups
to chat too, seed doctors, and a café, bar and crèche. All this
for £1 at the Old Market, Upper Market St., Hove. 10am - 5pm.
Programmes available around town or check out www.seedysunday.org

There's also a Seedy Sunday on the same day at Tapeley Park,
Instow, Nr Bideford, Devon. 01237 424029


Nuked Out

Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has been imprisoned since
1986. His crime? Revealing to the world the existence of Israeli
nuclear weapons. Israel had illegally created more than 200
nuclear warheads at its Dimona centre. Soon after the story broke,
Mordechai was kidnapped by Mossad in Rome, smuggled to Israel, and
convicted of treason, espionage and revealing state secrets. The
campaign to free him expects him to be released on April 22nd.

Weapons of Mass Destruction, like nukes, exist in many dodgy
regimes such as Britain, the US, and Israel. So while Iraq gets
bombed, Libya gets to cut a deal for tourist dollars, and Israel
gets mega-bucks and gets told to keep schtum about its military

For more on the Campaign to Free Vanunu and for a Nuclear-Free
Middle East 020 7378 9324 www.vanunu.freeserve.co.uk


..and finally...

And the prize for the most counter productive idea of the year
goes to... Slough Council. They are about to hold an anti-litter
competition in their town. And what's the matter with that we hear
you ask? Well nothing, until you find out that the first prize is
a years worth of McDonalds meals! Seeing as fast food wrappers
constitute most of the litter on our streets, it's more than a bit
ironic that the winner will have to dispose of another 1068 burger
wrappers, chip bags and drink cartons - and that's not even
counting all the disgusting "food" that comes along with the



SchNEWS warns all readers we don't just print any old
Mumbai-Jumbo. Honest!



What's On? Check out out Party and Protest guide at
www.schnews.org.uk/pap/guide.htm It's updated every week, has
sections on regular events, local events, protest camps and



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PEACE DE RESISTANCE It costs £10 INC. p&p per book, further
details as below...this one comes with a free multimedia CD too!

SchNEWS Of The World - issues 301-350 for £6.50!! Past books are
goin' cheap... SchNEWSround issues 51-100 - SOLD OUT; SchNEWS
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In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles,
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Email: schnews@brighton.co.uk Web: www.schnews.org.uk


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