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(en) UK, SchNEWS Issue 458 - Friday 11th June

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 11 Jun 2004 07:21:46 +0200 (CEST)


________________________________________________
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT'S YER BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS... SchNEWS
SKYEWAY ROBBERY - "After nearly a decade of struggle against both
British, and Scottish Governments we can see the light at the end of
the tunnel, we also know of course that there are strong, if somewhat
shy, forces strenuously opposed to conceding to our demand that the
toll be removed. We need once again to see the united voice of the
community demanding the removal of the toll, while celebrating the
success of the campaign so far." - Andy Anderson, Skye & Kyle Against Tolls.
Nearly nine years after its introduction, the controversial toll
on the Skye Bridge in Scotland could be abolished by the end of
the year. The Bridge, which has faced a barrage of direct action,
was the forerunner of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), built
and run by a private company, in this case the Bank of America who
could then charge motorists what they liked. This new method of
financing was described by journalist George Monbiot as "the
laboratory for a novel and controversial experiment" which has
since spread like a corporate cancer across the country.

Initially hated for its effect on wildlife (it destroyed the
second largest Otter colony in Europe), intrusion on the beautiful
skyline and ending the island's romantic isolation, the bridge has
the highest toll per mile of road anywhere on earth. Since the
ferries were closed on government orders, Islanders have no
alternative but to dish out £5.70 each way for a one-mile
crossing. A campaign of direct action and legal challenges has
been waged by the people ever since (see SchNEWS 45).

Of course when faced with any civil disobedience, governments do
what they do best, make new laws to criminalise the protests.
Before the bridge was built the Tory Government passed legislation
which made it an offence to refuse to pay the full toll demanded.
However, despite hundreds of arrests the legislation proved
useless and is no longer being used. Now the cops arrest toll
protestors for traffic offences like obstruction. Despite the
announcement Robbie the Pict, a veteran anti-toll campaigner, said
he'd "...believe it when I see it. Just simply removing the tolls
is like getting the mugger to stop hitting you. Should we be
grateful? The whole thing should never have happened and has not
been legal from day one."



NO PFI-LING MATTER

The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was a Tory idea, which, in
opposition, Neo Labour strongly opposed. But as soon as the party
came to power, surprise sur-bloody-prise it fully embraced it and
declared that PFI would become the means by which most of our new
public infrastructure would be built. Everything from schools to
hospitals to roads are now put under the PFI hammer.

Like some dodgy hire-purchase agreement, PFI allows the government
to avoid paying up front for the cost of big building projects.
Instead, private companies get to build and run the 'assets' and
the taxpayer then has to buy back these services, usually over a
20-30 year period. But this isn't like buying a mortgage, more
like paying by credit card.

So we get companies like Jarvis (who are so crap they have had to
change their name to Engenda) running schools (see SchNEWS 425),
while corporations like Tarmac, Siemens and Rentokil get the
hospitals (SchNEWS 404) But as George Monbiot points out "Far from
introducing market disciplines, it has become an official license
to fleece the taxpayer. Far from reducing the public sector
borrowing requirement, PFI is, as the Accounting Standards Board
has noted, simply an 'an off-balance sheet fiddle'".

Just take a look at the new Edinburgh Infirmary, which would have
cost the government £180 million to build, but thanks to the PFI
will cost the taxpayer £30 million a year for the next 30 years -
that's £900 million to some lucky corporation - a cost that is
already crippling the Lothian health authority. Or what about the
plan to build three new hospitals on a single site in the
Paddington basin where the rocketing costs - up from the original
£380 milllion to nearly £900 million - means that they may never
be built. Still, despite planning permission not even been granted
yet, over £5.6 million has so far been spent on consultants fees
alone!

In fact there is only one means of meeting the outrageous costs of
PFI, and that is by cutting public services. A study by a
consultancy company which works for the Department of Health shows
that for every £200 million spent on PFI hospitals the result will
be a loss of a thousand doctors and nurses. The first PFI
hospitals also contain some 28 per cent fewer beds than the
hospitals they replaced while many are heavily in debt and closing
wards and cutting back services.

Not only that but some NHS Trusts are being fined by the private
companies - for treating too many patients! The new Worcestershire
Royal Hospital opened in March 2002 and is already £15 million in
debt. Despite this it has been charged £200,000 this year under a
penalty clause with the private consortium Catalyst, that said bed
occupancy would not rise about 90%. At the University College
London Hospitals, they are fined when more than a set number of
meals are eaten or bedsheets used!

Meanwhile one of the first PFI hospitals, the Cumberland Infirmary
in Carlisle, has in its contract a clause that if the buildings
workload increases (y'know caring for too many sick people) extra
cash must go to the consortium. This is a bit rich coming from the
people whose new building included collapsing ceilings, a sewage
system which could not cope with the number of users; offices so
small clerical and laundry staff couldn't work in them, spaces
between beds so narrow new trolleys had to be ordered, and a glass
roof that on sunny days meant the temperature inside the hospital
hit 33C. So far 40 cleaners have lost their jobs thanks to
're-structuring' and there has already been a shortage of beds.
All this for a £67 million hospital that will eventually cost the
taxpayer a staggering £500 million.

In fact while Neo Labour tells us if you've got nothing to hide,
we've got nothing to fear when they bang on about ID cards, it
seems they don't seem to want to be under the same sort of
surveillance spotlight when it comes to PFI. Almost every leaked
document suggests that it is a gigantic fraud upon the taxpayer
and that if everyone knew what was really going it would be
ditched. But with the Skye Bridge toll victory on the horizon
George Monbiot told SchNEWS "This is great news for two reasons:
first it shows that persistent protest can eventually win against
impossible odds. Secondly it suggests that the Private Finance
Initiative - the biggest financial fraud ever foisted on the
British people - is beginning to fall apart."

* Saturday 3rd July is 'Independence from the stranglehold of an
American company Day' For more on the protests at Skye
www.skat.org.uk

* Private Eye recently did an excellent 'idiots guide' on PFI. To
get hold of copies email private-eye@galleon.co.uk

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Crap Arrest of the Week

You've Bin Nicked!
At the Baishakhi Mela festival in East London's Brick Lane on the
9th of May, police arrested a remote controlled wheelie bin for
being a public nuisance. When told that the bin had been booked to
perform at the festival the police asked 'what's the point?' Hmm
entertainment maybe! The bin was later released without charge.

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.."SO IT'S GOODNIGHT FROM ME...
..AND GOODNIGHT FROM HIM"

It's nice that the shock of ex US President Ronald Reagan's death
at 93 was so sensitively cushioned by kind words from the
corporate media and politicians. According to Business Investors
Weekly, Ronnie "revived the US economy, rebuilt its military and
faced down the Soviet Union to win the Cold War, thereby giving
hope for peace and freedom to billions of people throughout the
world." But hang on a minute, didn't he oversee one of the biggest
increases in inequality and poverty, cause thousands of deaths by
supporting a bunch of nasty Latin American dictators and nearly
blow up the world in his fight with the Soviet Union? Er yes, he
did.

According to the Heritage Foundation, Ronnie oversaw "the most
successful economic policy of the 20th century." This success
started within a month of getting the presidency, as Ray-gun cut
$41bn from the US budget, mainly targeting welfare for the poor
while at the same time massively increasing military spending. He
turned the world's richest country into a debtor for the first
time since the Second World War and paved the way for the first
increase in poverty since the 1960s. Inequality rose so much that
by the 1990s the top 1% of US citizens owned as much wealth as the
bottom 95% percent. This was Regeanomics and the beginning of the
neo-liberal agenda of market deregulation, flexibile labour laws
and privatisation.

In a recent White House speech, the incorruptible Vice President
Dick Cheney said that he was proud that Ronnie was always "taking
risks to advance freedom, justice, and democracy." Like backing
Vinicio Cerezo of Guatemala, where, according to Americas Watch,
tens-of-thousands of people were killed and 400 rural villages
were destroyed by government death squads during Ronnie's time in
office. Then there's PW Botha who oversaw the apartheid regime in
South Africa and of course Suharto of Indonesia, responsible for
over one million deaths, both grateful customers for US military
hardware. In fact the sort of 'freedom' that Ronnie loved lead to
a quarter of a million deaths in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El
Salvador during the 1980s. Then there's the invasion of Grenada,
the bombing of Libya and Beirut and his support for Saddam Hussein
and Osama Bin Laden...

Ray-gun said that his idea of US policy toward the Soviet Union
was simple: "We win and they lose". Often complimented with
winning the 'Cold War', Ronnie sought to outspend the Soviets with
the Star Wars initiative, bigger bombs and faster missiles,
winning the Cold War without firing a shot according to close chum
Maggie Thatcher. Well he almost did fire, as he kept his options
open if the out-buying strategy didn't win. Famously talking of
'recallable nuclear missiles' and 'winnable nuclear war', he meant
it. In 1981 he ordered thousands of Minuteman missiles, which were
designed to destroy Soviet missile silos. But what's the point in
destroying silos if there are no missiles in them? Simple: these
missiles were designed as a 'first strike' weapon, to hit the
Soviet Union before they hit the US. To launch a Minuteman in
those days, an operator had to "unlock" the missile by dialling in
a code. However, according to former launch officer Bruce Blair,
the U.S. Strategic Air Command was worried that such safety
features might slow things down, and set all locks to 00000000.
Cementing this legacy the US has just named its latest nuclear
aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan.

So why all the positive press for this man? Investigative
journalist Joseph Spear describes how the Reagan White House
further refined Nixon's tricks of press appeasement, evasion and
intimidation to shape opinion and mould public perceptions. Spear
called Ronnie's presidency "probably the best staged one in
history thanks to his acting abilities and the expertise of his
media specialists."

* Reagan Gaffes: During his 1980 presidential campaign Reagan
declared that "trees cause more pollution than automobiles." Once
elected, he promised "Now we are trying to get unemployment to go
up, and I think we're going to succeed." Always accentuating the
positive, Ronnie once claimed that the rate of poverty in the US
"has begun to decline, but it is still going up." And you thought
Dubya was the expert.

* For more see www.accuracy.org/press.htm

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LAST MINUTE DELAY

Rail passengers in Sussex were looking forward to four days of
free travel this month when members of the RMT Union were due to
hold "no-revenue" days on Southern Trains as a protest over the
increasing casualisation of their jobs. But, due to repressive
union laws introduced by Thatcher, these days of free travel for
the masses have been postponed because they were due to start one
minute too late!

The anti-union laws state that industrial action must start within
28 days after the last day of the ballot. The "no-revenue" days
were due to start at 0:01 on 14th June, technically 28 days and a
minute after the ballots closed. But why not just change the start
time to 23:59 on 13th June? Well the problem is that the union
must give at least seven days notice to the company that
industrial action will happen. So what now must happen is that all
the members have to be re-balloted, and there must be at least
seven days notice before the ballot takes place and then it has to
be held and then at least seven days notice before any more
industrial action happens, which means it'll probably be another
three weeks before SchNEWS can hop on the train out of Brighton
for a free day out.

All these legal hoops that unions have to jump through are
designed to make life as difficult as possible for effective
industrial action to take place. And even if the RMT Union decides
to have more no-revenue days it is likely that the lawyers for
Southern Trains will argue that this sort of action is illegal as
it is effectively a strike and the union only balloted for "action
short of a strike". And then there could be the managers and scab
labour stepping in to collect money and issue tickets.

So what are the roots of this industrial unrest? Well its part of
the continuing privatisation and casualisation of public services
started in the eighties by the late Ronald Reagan and his lover
Margaret Thatcher and continued by their bastard love child Tony
Blair. Southern Trains have been bringing in agency staff for
£2,000 a year less than regular staff which, according to RMT
assistant general secretary, Pat Sikorski, "amounts to the thin
end of a very large wedge which threatens the jobs, pay and
conditions of all our revenue-handling members." But then Southern
need to save a few quid after they've wasted millions on
re-branding after changing their name from South Central "...each
of our 2,800 customer facing staff will get a new uniform
emphasising their professionalism and the distinct roles they
perform to look after the needs of passengers." says their
managing Director Charles Horton. So never mind crap pay and
conditions what workers really want is a nice new uniform! A bit
like the trains, they've got a new lick of paint, but they still
run late.

SchNEWS will keep readers posted of this dispute and let you know
if there's gonna be any free travel days. RMT Union:
www.rmt.org.uk

------------------------------------------------------------------

SCHNEWS IN BRIEF

* Get out yer feet at a night of Brighton Beats for Colombian
Streets.Colombian Highgrade at The Zap Tuesday 15 June 10pm-2am.
Benefit for exploited Coca-Cola workers.

* There's another demo this Saturday (12) against arms
manufacturer EDO. Meet 12pm for peace picnic at Wild Park by Lewes
road. Bring food, drink, music. March to EDO at 1 30pm. Bring
banners, chalk and messages to EDO. http://boob.safp.org.uk

* Check out the new 23Topia squatted social centre in Chapel Road,
Worthing, in the landmark town centre building (previously 3TO
nightclub) events happening all this weekend
www.eco-action.org/porkbolter

* Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the last Stonehenge Free
Festival on Sat 19th June 2pm til late, Vertigo/491 Gallery, 485
Grove Green Road, Leytonstone, London with photo exhibition, films
and bands 07930 255233. www.hoap.co.uk

* The P10K-Force initiative is coming to UK, and will be in
Brighton on Thurs, July 8. In response to repeated yet unheeded
calls for International Observers, P10K Force aims to deploy
10,000 Western citizens to the Occupied Palestinian Territories on
Sept 11, 2004. It aims to document acts of terrorism (as defined
by law), effect a ceasefire and non-violently compel the
application of International Law to end the illegal occupation. To
find out about becoming an Observer see www.P10K.net.

* 250 anti-facist protestors were arrested on Saturday in The
Hague for "illegal protest" after demonstrating against a nazi
parade. The city authorities had given permission to the
anti-fascist march, providing it stuck to a prescribed route. When
marchers tried to block the fascists' route the police reacted
with extreme violence. Most arrested were charged with being on an
illegal demo and fined 200 Euros.

* In Libya, five nurses and one doctor were sentenced to the death
penalty after being accused of deliberately infecting 400 children
with HIV in a hospital. However researchers testified that poor
hygiene and re-use of medical equipment were the main causes of
these infections. During the trial, French Professor Luc
Montagnier, Aids expert who first identified HIV, claimed blood
samples analysis pointed "strongly against" the disease being
spread deliberately. www.petitiononline.com/bulgaria/petition.html

* Anti ID Card Meeting this Tuesday (15) at 5.30, The Cowley Club,
12 London Road, Brighton (opposite Somerfield).

------------------------------------------------------------------

SCABBY GIT

A scabby farmer has destroyed species-rich rare chalk grassland
prompting the Brighton Phantom Conservation Volunteers to spring
into action with a Summer Solstice Mass Tresspass. The farmer
bulldozed and ploughed the old Down pasture hillside known as
Scabby Brow, at Ashcombe Farm between Lewes and Falmer. If you
fancy letting him know what you think of the damage: Meet 12 noon
next Sunday 20 at St Peters Church, near the Level. Bring water,
food, sensible footwear, bus money (oh and sun protection). 07966
952 018 on the day for more info.

------------------------------------------------------------------

..And Finally...

The Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping were thrown off
Vanessa Feltz' BBC radio show earlier this week, for stating the
true costs of Ronald Reagan's policies and Starbucks' anti-labor
practices. Show bosses became alarmed when the Stop Shopping
Gospel Choir broke in to a chorus of "George Bush Does Not Return
To Ground Zero." and the reverend (quite rightly) pointed out that
"Wal-Mart is the Devil, and Starbucks presides over infant
mortality rates in Guatemala that must drive us from our pose with
the double latte..." What else did they expect from a man whose
been banned from every Starbucks in America? www.revbilly.com

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Disclaimer
SchNEWS warns all readers there will be more unabridged sexy tales
from the battle against the exploits of capitalism next week.
Honest!

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We're looking for photos and cartoons relating to what's been
happening over the past year for the next SchNEWS Annual - email
stuff to webmaster@schnews.org.uk or post it to the address below

*****************************************************************

INFORMATION FOR ACTION - IF YOU LIKE IT PASS IT ON...

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
more...

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HOW TO UN/SUBSCRIBE TO SCHNEWS-L

To unsubscribe, go to the website and follow the instructions
there, or send a message to webmaster@schnews.org.uk with subject
UNSUBSCRIBE PLAIN TEXT.

To subscribe, go to the website or email webmaster@schnews.org.uk
with subject SUBSCRIBE PLAIN TEXT.

------------------------------------------------------------------

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
annual issues 101-150 - SOLD OUT; Survival Handbook issues 151-200
- a snip at £2; SchQUALL issues 201-250 - almost sold out - £8.50;
Yearbook 2001 issues 251-300 - bargain £3. All prices inc. p&p.
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.

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SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 0EF, England
Phone: 01273 685913 (NO FAX)
Email: schnews@brighton.co.uk Web: www.schnews.org.uk

------------------------------------------------------------------

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