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(en) Britain, SchNEWS 484, Friday 11th February, 2005 WAKE UP!! IT'S YER BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS...

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 11 Feb 2005 10:13:29 +0100 (CET)


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SWEAT NOTHINGS!!!
"My brother works ten hours a day, sometimes from 4am to 10pm.
I've never known him to have a holiday or time for the kids. For
this he gets £45 a month" Andrea, Nicaraguan Charity worker
UK PLC seems to be in a generous mood. Last weekend Bliar and
Brown even dedicated a whole G7 summit to African debt relief,
promising £27bn a year in aid. Make Poverty History campaigners,
meanwhile, were 'allowed' to protest from the confines of a
fenced-off pen. Outside the meeting, the World Development
Movement had an electronic counter ticking away indicating that
one child was dying from poverty every four seconds. Debt relief
has been tried before and it always comes with the same
conditions: privatisation, redundancies and cuts to government
spending on health and education.

Nicaragua joined up to the old-style Highly Indebted Countries
Initiative and, for a few million dollars, was forced to sell its
assets and open the economy to bargain hunting investors. The idea
is that by attracting investment the economy will grow,
eradicating poverty in the process. But for the multinational
corporations the most interesting thing about Nicaragua is its
cheap wages. Once again our corporate sponsored politicians are
using debt relief as a smoke screen to hide the reality of
neoliberalism for the majority of the world's workers.

Costa Arm And A Leg

Heading into Nicaragua from the Costa Rican tourist resorts, you
may be forgiven for thinking that the people are good at speaking
foreign languages because the majority of roadside adverts selling
sports cars, land deals and financial services are all in English.
Scantily clad women meanwhile, flog booze and fags in Spanish.
This is an investor's paradise where if you can't make it, at
least you can get pissed. "Costa Rica is being sold as a
playground for rich North Americans" says Pepe, a bar worker from
the Playa Coco resort in the North of the country, "none of the
businesses here belong to Costa Ricans. We're all being pushed
into the countryside. Gringos practically own the whole coast and
we can't afford to buy anything anymore."

In a recent publication on poverty reduction, the World Bank said
that neoliberalism was the best way to 'develop' poor countries.
Bank officials argued that people could "move from the
vulnerability of grinding rural poverty to better jobs, often in
towns or cities". Leona disagrees. She's an activist working with
sweatshop workers in Nicaragua. There's no doubt, life in the
countryside is tough, "You've got to borrow money from the bank to
buy seeds and this means mortgaging the land. But the way things
are at the moment, with the droughts and harvest failures, you
can't earn enough money to pay back the loan and the bank takes
your land. People say: 'what's the point of that?' and leave the
countryside for the city."

"But we live in a poor city, a really poor city. We consume more
than we produce," says Andrea, a charity worker, "several years
ago the city was happy. Now its sad, very sad." The only 'formal
sector' work on offer is in the local Maquila, a sweatshop factory
on the edge of town. The Maquilas operate in tax-free environments
and in Nicaragua are generally owned by US, Taiwanese or Korean
clothes companies. The high value stages of making things like
jeans such as design and marketing take place in Paris, London and
New York. Maquilas are here to contract out the assembly stage.
Being able to force women to sew thousands of t-shirts a day is
one benefit, but with 70% unemployment, Nicaragua offers an even
bigger advantage for the profit hungry men in suits: Low wages.
This is the world of 'just in time manufacturing'. Business is
booming and profits are good.

"But the Maquilas are a disaster", says Leona. And, if workers
want out, "you get no compensation, they withhold your wages and
you can't get social security". So what do they do, asks SchNEWS?
"Move to Costa Rica!" replies Andrea. "If you want to leave those
infernos, the only option is to emigrate."

Just before Christmas the Costa Rican border town of Penas
Blañcas, heaves with Nicaraguans returning to their families after
working in the plantations and sweatshops and as domestic servants
in Costa Rica. Although the local newspaper says that record
numbers are crossing the border, many workers are no longer
returning to their families. Juan, a campesino from just over the
border in Nicaragua, earns less than 50p a day and has a family of
nine to support, "I haven't seen or heard from my two eldest sons
for over ten years." He suspects they're too embarrassed to admit
they haven't made their riches down south in Costa Rica. And there
are certainly riches to be made! A Maquila worker there can bring
home almost £1.40 per hour, that's over triple the 42p per hour in
Nicaragua.

Rebel Waltz

While some are hopeful that the Sandinistas will return to power
and things will get better, the revolutionary fighters of the
seventies have changed a lot since then. "I was in my 20s when I
fought with the Sandinistas" says Miguel, now an NGO worker in
Managua. "But now I'm in my 40s. I want a quiet life, more
relaxed, without problems. The same is true of the people I fought
with, they want an easy life. But the problems in Nicaragua
require a radical solution."

Still at the helm of the Sandinista party, Daniel Ortega, sure
enough, is searching for the easy life by striking a deal with the
same Catholic Church hierarchy that opposed the revolution he led
twenty five years previous. Hoping that the pact will improve his
chances in the forthcoming presidential elections he joins the
leaders who attacked 'liberation theology', the philosophy that
influenced many who fought in the revolutionary army. "Although
the Sandinistas will be better for the poor" says Leona, "they
don't have a magic wand to resolve all the economic problems in
this country. And, in reality, when the elections do come, the
Sandinistas may even lose. With Bush against us, I don't have much
hope."

Papa Bush told reporters in 1989 that Daniel Ortega "was like an
unwanted animal at a garden party." The feeling is still the same.
Junior Bush's henchman Donald Rumsfield was in the capital,
Managua, last November to bolster the corrupt and unpopular
Presidency of Enrique Bolaños. But supporting a president with
only a 10% showing in the polls comes at a high price. Bolaños
agreed to destroy another 300 of Nicaragua's 1,300 ground-to-air
missiles, which had been used to repel a US backed invasion during
the 1980s. The White House is making sure that they don't get in
the way should the policy to attack become an option once again.

Read The Country Under My Skin by Gioconda Belli Anchor Books: New
York

A fashion show benefit by No Sweat for Batay Ouvriye, a Haitian
garment workers union, will be held at the London College of
Fashion, 20 John Princes St, Oxford Circus on 25th Feb 2.30pm.
More info 07845 277865 www.nosweat.org.uk

Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign: www.nicaraguasc.org.uk

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CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK

Taking the pistol...

Four people were arrested at Kings Cross station while attempting
to travel to the European Social Forum demonstration last
November. One person was initially arrested for 'firearms
offences', but was released without charge when it was discovered
the item in question was a bottle of eyedrops !

We don't have any details as to the calibre of the bottle, or the
policeman.

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Chemical Love

Valentines Day is this Monday and lurve is in the air (at the
prodding of greeting card and chocolate manufacturers and the
mammoth-sized flower industry). Well, as always we at SchNEWS are
here to spoil it with a barrage of party pooping. And no we didn't
get any cards.

Anyway, if you're thinking of saying it with flowers, be careful
what it is that you say. Flowers are the most pesticide-intensive
crop and flower workers pay a heavy price.

A study published by the Netherlands' Ministry of Social Affairs
and Employment reports that Dutch floral workers are exposed to
pesticide concentrations of up to 60 times the amount considered
safe. The Netherlands, long famous as the global "flower capital,"
has heavily contaminated water and air in its flower-growing
regions. Some European countries are already setting up
cooperatives, with growers concerned about pesticide use and
workers' health.

Floriculture is big business, bringing in five times as much cash
per acre than fruit, never mind organic veg. Consumers demand
perfection from cut flowers - nobody wants to send their
sweetheart a manky bunch of wilting blooms, but the price of this
perfection is high. Flowers are dipped in a noxious brew of
chemicals to ensure that they look authentically fresh and natural
when they are delivered.

Several years ago, there was a crisis in the U.S. involving the
use of a fungicide marketed by DuPont as Benlate. "It was a known
carcinogen, widely used in greenhouses," explains Dr Hantworth,
"People working with plants sprayed with this substance were
getting sick. The flowers were going into people's homes."

In 1996, a U.S. jury awarded US$4 million to a couple whose child
was born without eyes after the mother was sprayed with Benlate
while pregnant; however, on appeal, the award was reversed. The
case is now awaiting a hearing by the Florida Supreme Court. There
have been hundreds of other cases of Benlate poisoning humans and
wildlife. Total litigation costs associated with Benlate have so
far cost DuPont an estimated US$1 billion dollars, causing them to
withdraw it from the market in 2001.

There are hundreds of pesticides in use, legal and illegal, around
the world. The hazards posed by these chemicals most directly
affect the people working with them at a production level, but
they also screw up the environment, those living in flower-growing
areas, and, in all likelihood, anyone who carries home a bouquet
in their arms. So if your purchase gets a good reception and he or
she is swooning and breathless, it doesn't mean you're onto a
winner. Symptoms of Organophosphate or Carbamate Poisoning can
include contracted pupils, slow heartbeat, confusion, loss of
coordination, sweating, tears, salivating, swooning or coma.
Sounds like your average love-struck teen to us.

The health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide.
Some, such as the organophosphates and carbamates, affect the
nervous system. Others may irritate the skin or eyes. Some
pesticides may be carcinogenic. Others may affect the hormone or
endocrine system in the body. The Toxic Trail website claims there
are some 25 million cases of pesticide poisoning a year, mostly in
developing countries.

If we've put you off buying imported minging toxic flowers, well,
good. But if you still need to affirm your feelings with a
purchase, what could you send instead? Well you could try buying
locally grown organic flowers. Or herbs to stick in the garden for
a year-round supply of tasty green stuff. Or, you could just feed
'em some sexy muesli - wild oats are a renowned aphrodisiac
(apparently).

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Sporting Zeros

History is not always kind to politicians, not much legacy in
unsupported wars and the privatisation of all our public
services...no, what's needed is a big feelgood project, one the
nation can unite behind with pride. Like the er, Millennium Dome
for example... Ok, well what about the Olympics? That Kelly Holmes
sure was popular last summer eh? So... London is bidding for the
2012 games. Ok, yes, the unaccountable International Olympic
Committee (IOC) have regularly been embroiled in more bribery and
corruption stories than a Tory cabinet...and yes, the costs for
all recent Olympics have spiralled well beyond all estimates given
beforehand (Sydney 2000 costs doubled, Athens 2004 quadrupled -
largely paid for by European Union money by the way, support which
London is unlikely to get - and Montreal are still paying off the
bills from 1976!). Yes, so civil liberties tend to get a little
trampled in the name of security, alright the plans do involve
Londoners stumping up at least £2bn for the privilege of turning
the city into a building site and yes, the plans include the
destruction of some natural conservation habitats in favour of
'landscaped parks' and the loss of cycle lanes in East London, but
none of these things should hold us back..! Well, we do have some
genuine gold medal contenders in the field of spin. London's bid
has been put forward with great celebrity razzmatazz but virtually
no public consultation, no transparency as to bid spending and
vague details as to how all the hidden costs such as transport
infrastructure will be paid for. Don't worry though, the
Government have got good planners in place - Arup, who did such a
good job on London's Millennium Bridge!

See www.nolondon2012.org for more info.

**Scrap the Olympic Bid Public Meeting this Monday (14) 6.30 pm at
Bryant Street Community Centre, off West Ham Lane, Stratford, E14
4RU.

** Join the critical mass bike ride next Friday (18) 6pm, outside
City Hall, on the South Bank, nr Tower Bridge. Saturday (9) Scrap
the Olympic Bid March 1pm outside Stratford Station, Meridian Sq,
E15.

* Before the Olympics bulldozers arrive - see the area they plan
to build on. Guided walks on East London's Bow Backs Rivers: 18th
Feb and 6 March Meet 10.45 entrance to Greenway, Stratford High
Street.

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SchNEWS in brief

* Don't forget the Kyoto Climate March this Sat (12) - various
meet up points 0208 8553327 www.campaigncc.org

* Meet to discuss anti-capitalist resistance in the run up to the
G8 Employment Ministers Summit in March at the Cowley Club, 12
London Rd, Brighton, 6pm Tues (15) www.dissent.org.uk

* Mon (14) East London Against the Arms Fair meeting, 7.30pm The
Garden Cafe, 7 Cundy Rd, London E16. There's also a weekly picket
of Spearhead who organise the ExCel Arms fair (DSEi) email
picket@dsei.org for details.

* Hate the G8! Love to Party! 'St Valentine's Massacre' party Sat
(12) Feb: 7-11 Labour Hall, Lyndhurst Rd, Worthing

* 'The Yes Men' film about those impressive anti corporate
pranksters is showing in the UK throughout Feb. For dates go to
www.theyesmen.org/movie

* Brighton pirate Radio 4A is on the airwaves again this weekend
101.4 FM - www.radio4a.org.uk around the world

* Sun (13) London Mayor Ken Livingstone will meet the Chinese
ambassador to slap each others backs in Trafalgar Square, while
the Liaoyang 2 are close to death in a Chinese jail where they are
incarcerated for daring to organise workers to ask for their
unpaid wages. Meet 11am steps of St Martin's-in-the-Fields,
Trafalgar Square to demonstrate 07719 283132 www.nosweat.org.uk

* 'Weatherbombin' 10 days of music, workshops, artspace, films,
etc in S London, 11th - 20th Feb. More info: 07913 518804,
www.randomartists.org

* Demonstrate against Detention and Deportations outside
Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Removal Centres (nr Heathrow) Sat (19)
11.30am - 1.30pm 01235 831568 www.barbedwirebritain.org.uk

* 'Fighting For Justice' public meeting Sun (20) to highlight the
rise of stop and searches, police beatings and racism that has
caused resentment amongst the Muslim communities since the advent
of the anti-terrorism laws. Lola Jones Hall, Tooting Leisure
Centre, Greaves Pl (Off Garratt Lane), London 1-5.30pm
www.stoppoliticalterror.com

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Waterloo Sunset

Every year over a period of 4 days, 'enthusiasts' gather at Formby
nr Liverpool to watch hares being torn to pieces at the Waterloo
Cup. The hares are released from their enclosure and chased by two
dogs in front of the cheering crowds. Once caught the hare is
literally ripped in two in a final tug of war. Nice! This year the
event has been moved forward, in advance of the bloodsport ban,
for a right bloody send-off. The demonstration against this last
(legal) Waterloo Cup will take place on Valentines Day! Meet on
The Causeway, Altcar, at 10.00am to move off at 10.30am. Maps and
info at www.veggies.org.uk/arc/event.php?ref=27

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EDON'T

Brighton's very own weapons dealers EDO thinks that just because
they produce bomb releasing mechanisms they should not in anyway
be held responsible for the Iraqi bloodbath. Well excuse us for
being sceptical but how else are these death torrents propelled
over hospitals, schools and mosques without a little helping hand
from weapon manufacturers like EDO? It was recently suggested on
Indymedia that EDO a) are warmongerers, (b) are complicit in the
deaths of innocent people and (c) make things that kill children.
EDO are still adamant that they are none of the above. How so?
Well, a threatening letter to Indymedia outlines that EDO only
'manufactures weapons interfacing systems and deals only with
reputable customers'. Customers like...George W. (for
'Well-thought-of') Bush d'ya mean? Convinced?.. If EDO started
floggin' biscuit launching devices SchNEWS reckons they would
'fess up to them raining all over the Middle East.

*go to www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/02/304915 for more on EDO
threatening Indymedia.

*Smash EDO and Brighton Quakers are holding a campaign day this
Sat (12) at the Friends Meeting House, Ship Street Brighton - This
will include a legal workshop from 1.30pm. As the state tries to
crack down on lawful protest anyone who wants to take part in
protest against EDO needs to get clued up. All welcome.

*Also this Sat there's a JUMBLE SALE to raise money for the
campaign at the Cowley Club, 12 London Rd, Brighton. from about
10-4

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..and finally...

Next time your twiddling yer thumbs on a rainy Sunday you needn't
bother being bored 'cos the US general has announced an exciting
new pastime. At a recent conference in San Diego, California he
decided to share with the public that it is 'Fun to Shoot Some
People'. Yep that's right, yet another maniacal cog spiraling out
of control behind the Bush regime without the flutter of an
eyelid. Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded troops in Iraq and
Afghanistan chirped 'it's a hell of a hoot!' but didn't hasten to
add that he'd 'be right up front' with the troops if only he
could. According to Mattis, popping a bullet into an Afghan's body
is a just repayment for the years of female oppression under the
Taliban regime. S'pose that means its cool to shoot women and
children too then eh? He got a light slap on the wrist for
condoning murder, and on Thursday military officials said that he
should have chosen his words more carefully but will not be
disciplined.

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Disclaimer

SchNEWS warns all readers to cause a stink... Honest!

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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
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To subscribe, go to the website or email webmaster@schnews.org.uk
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Phone: 01273 685913 (NO FAX)
Email: schnews@brighton.co.uk Web: www.schnews.org.uk

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