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(en) Britain, SchNEWS 479, Friday 7th January, 2005 - PLAIN TEXT

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 7 Jan 2005 16:17:00 +0100 (CET)


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WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT'S YER TYPICALLY CYCNICAL... SchNEWS
> A DROP IN THE OCEAN --- "If the money promised to the victims of the tsunami
falls far short of the amounts required, it is partly because of other
priorities, namely the war on Iraq." - author and journalist, George Monbiot.
As our sympathy goes out to the many thousands of victims of the
tsunami disaster and people across the world dig deep into their
pockets, disgust should be thrown in the face of governments whose
'generosity' is not only dwarfed by the response of the public,
but is even more miserly when compared to their own arms spending.
Consider, for instance, the cost of one B-2 bomber - a whopping $2
billion. US aid currently equates to only a day and a half of the
money spent occupying Iraq, which stands at $148 billion. The UK
itself has already spent £6 billion on massacring the Iraq people.

The groundswell of empathy from ordinary people in the face of
such tragedy makes us wonder just how long the war in Iraq (or any
other war) would last if we had more pictures from the ground of
the destruction of Fallujah, the birth defects caused by depleted
uranium and people killed and maimed by the aerial bombings.

Meanwhile, corporations have been busy marketing their own brand
of global compassion. Take Starbucks, who in 2004 had a staggering
market value of almost $15 billion made off the backs of some of
the worlds 25 million grossly underpaid coffee farmers - including
those in Indonesia. Their donation - a microscopic dent in
profits - is loaded less with generosity than with cynicism and
exploitation.

As for Coca-Cola, the bottled water they are shipping to the
victims in itself leaves a trail of devastation and destruction.
In India, communities around Coca-Cola bottling plants are
experiencing severe water shortages and the land has been
polluted. The abundance of pesticides used by Coca-Cola, which
includes DDT, has rendered the agricultural land infertile,
crippling the locals' means of subsistence.

And UK companies? Vodaphone's oh-so-generous £1m donation works
out at less than a days' profit. The PR value, though, is
priceless.

Damned Aid

The US has boasted that it is providing military as well as
financial aid to the region. Does this sound a bit suspect to
anyone else?

And, what's the political context of the disaster? Reports
typically ignore the crucial stories in volatile areas like Aceh
and Sri Lanka and how "aid" efforts will be exploited for
geo-political gain, a point surely proved by the Whitehouse
choosing Jeb Bush to lead its "aid mission".

In the worst-hit province of Aceh, thousands have been killed in a
region which has already suffered countless deaths and mass
displacements thanks to the Indonesian military. Aceh is rich in
resources - it supplies much of the natural gas for Japan and
South Korea while Exxon Mobil take its oil - yet remains in
poverty.

Five years ago a million Acehnese (that's a quarter of the
population!) held a massive peaceful demonstration calling for a
referendum for a chance to vote on independence from Indonesia.
The military decided to crush the movement, carrying out
assassinations, 'disappearing' leaders and raping female
activists. Jafar Siddiq Hamsa, a leading international spokesman
for the Acehnese, returned home in 2000. He was abducted, and his
body returned wrapped in barbed wire, with multiple stab wounds
and his face sliced off. Meanwhile Exxon has spent millions over
the past three decades, hiring Indonesian security forces to
protect company facilities in Aceh in full knowledge that troops
were committing gross violations of human rights against
civilians.

Allan Nairn, a journalist once jailed by the Indonesian army,
spells out the future: "We should put this in perspective. Now the
world is looking at Aceh for the first time ever and will probably
never again look at Aceh with this intensity, but as dramatic as
this act of nature is, it's still far less than the death toll
over just a couple of years due to hunger and poor nutrition,
diarrhoea; deaths mainly among children who live in poverty in
Aceh. It's also dwarfed by the military massacres carried out by
the Indonesian military in various places. They killed 200,000 in
Timor. They killed anywhere from 400,000 to a million in Indonesia
itself when they consolidated power in 1965 to 1967. So, the
concern that the world has now for this disaster is appropriate,
but we should have that concern all the time. When people are
dying, not just from natural tsunamis, but from military or police
bullets, often paid for by the United States, or dying from
preventable hunger. There are also thousands of American
individuals who could sit down right now and write a check for $50
million. They could save tens of thousands of lives, but there's
no social pressure on them to do that, because we live in a world
where it's assumed that it's okay to let people starve while the
dollar that can save them sits idly in your pocket."

Or as author Jonathan Schell put it "Why, we might ask, is there,
alongside armed forces in almost every country, no established
international rescue army - no well-funded international force
fully equipped with emergency gear ready to give prompt aid in any
large-scale catastrophe? Initial funding might be $100 billion - a
mere 10 percent of the trillion or so the world spends annually on
arms. Why, when human need is the greatest, should the human
response always be left to improvisation? There is no reason to
think that nature had any lesson in mind, whether about the
world's bloated, multiplying nuclear arsenals or anything else,
when it shoved one tectonic plate beneath another, causing the
earthquake that caused the tsunami. But we are free to draw a
lesson: Leave mass destruction to nature. Our job should be to
protect and preserve life."

* Read the interview with Allan Nairn
www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/29/161219

* Read George Monbiot's article on the tsunami aid pledge and
military spending at www.alternet.org/waroniraq/20885/

DONATE!

Via Campesina is calling for solidarity with those affected by the
tsunami disaster, channelling assistance to affected fishing
communities and peasants, for their own relief and construction
efforts, through grassroots organisations. They are asking for
your donations for direct emergency support to provide basic
needs. For anyone doing benefit gigs or with larger donations,
check out their website, www.viacampesina.org

Also, TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign works with a
number of grassroots humanitarian and human rights organisations
in Aceh and is launching an appeal so that funds can be used by
them to optimum effect where it is most needed by local people.
020 8771 2904 www.tapol.gn.apc.org

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CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK

For being a stubborn old woman...

Lillian Willoughby, a 90 year old wheelchair-bound quaker was
sentenced to a week in prison by a New Jersey judge. She was
arrested for taking part in an anti war blockade of a courthouse
and refused to pay the $250 fine. "I've been arrested before but
have never spent time in jail" Lillian said "...this is the start
of a great adventure."

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Greenhouse Guesses

Britain's top scientist Sir David King reckons that the tsunami
disaster underlines the threat posed by climate change. King who
last year said climate change was a greater threat than terrorism
said "What is happening in the Indian Ocean underlines the
importance of the Earth's system to our ability to live safely.
One side of this is we need to prepare ourselves against these
increased impacts, the other side, of course, is changing our
energy industry - in other words, to move away from fossil fuels."

Last month thousands of delegates from almost 200 governments
converged on Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the latest in the
endless round of talks aimed at implementing the 1997 Kyoto
Protocol, the international treaty that aims to reduce emissions
of the gases largely responsible for human-induced global warming.

The treaty, which has been stalled for seven years and which both
America and Australia are refusing to sign, will finally come into
effect on February 16.

The treaty's main significance lies in the fact that it recognizes
that legally binding international action to tackle global warming
is required, by reducing the release of "greenhouse gases" into
the atmosphere. But these targets are so low as to be meaningless.
Under the treaty, the industrialised countries which are the major
emitters of CO2, are required to cut their greenhouse gas
emissions on average to just 5.2% below their 1990 levels. They
have until 2012 to achieve this. Meanwhile the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change reckon we need to cut emissions by 60-80%.

Worse, the treaty contains corporate-friendly, market-based
mechanisms that give plenty of scope for rich governments to
engage in climate change creative accounting. According to the New
Scientist magazine, the treaty's range of loopholes and scams will
mean that even if the industrialised countries achieve Kyoto's
5.2% reduction on paper, the real-world reduction will be more
likely to be 1.5%. In fact since 1990 annual greenhouse gas
emissions from the highly industrialised countries have increased
by "more than 7%".

Despite all this, America still nearly managed to derail the talks
in Argentina by having yet another oil-obsessed hissy fit. The US
insisted that a proposal to compensate the world's poorest
nations, who are being damaged now by climate change, be dropped.
It even supported Saudi Arabia's demand that oil-producing
countries should be compensated for any decline in sales caused by
carbon cuts! In the end, thirty-six hours after talks should have
ended, the barest ghost of an agreement was made with the US
permitting an informal meeting in May, during which "any
negotiation leading to new commitments" is forbidden. According to
the head of the US delegation, the time to decide what happens
after 2012 is "in 2012" which as journalist George Monbiot pointed
out is "like saying that the time to decide what to do about
homeland security is when the plane is flying into the tower." If
the world doesn't get its collective finger out, we could be
seeing a hell of a lot more tsunami-like disasters, but this time
they'll be man made.

* London Rising Tide are showing 'The Day after Tomorrow' and
'Cheeky Apocalypse' this Sunday (9th) 5.30pm, followed by
discussion and food. LARC, 62 Fieldgate St, E1 1ES; (corner of
Parfett St.) 020 7377 9088 www.londonrisingtide.org.uk

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Inside SchNEWS

Spanish eco-activist Inaki Garcia Koch has been released from
prison, his sentence served. Inaki served just under five years
for his alleged role in the sabotaging of the controversial Itoiz
Dam construction site. (We say alleged because Inaki and his
co-defendants were found guilty at a trial they did not attend and
therefore were unable to defend themselves). His co-defendant,
Ibai Ederra, is still inside and is still in need of support.
Please send letters of support to: Ibai Ederra, Carcel de
Pamplona, C/San Roque. Apdo. 250 31080 - Irunez - Pamplona
Navarra, (Espana) Spain.

Another high-profile eco-prisoner, Craig "Critter" Marshall has
been released. He was found guilty of involvement in placing
homemade bombs under SUVs at a Portland car dealership and at
Tyree Oil in 2000, which got the media buzzing as the frenzy over
the Earth Liberation Front was at its peak.

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SchNEWS in brief

* Fundraising jumble sale for Brighton Dissent! this Saturday
(8th) 9am-1pm at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road

* Help the Teaching & General Assistants campaign against Brighton
Council - their Support Group has its 1st meeting Wed 12 Jan 8pm
St George's Community Centre, Kemptown Brighton

* The Seeds for Change Collective are organizing G8 direct action
trainers workshops around the country, starting in Sheffield on
Jan 21-23. www.seedsforchange.org.uk

* Want to know how to organise actions without getting Totally
Busted? Then get along to a weekend in the Pennines on 14-16
January. Workshops include why we need to think about security,
making communication more secure, mobile phones, how to deal with
police and not lose your temper, blending in etc Booking essential
0113 262 9365

* If you want to find out about radical, non political party,
anti-hierarchical groups in Leeds get along to a 'Rebel Alliance'
on the 14th at the Maelstrom squatted social centre, Hyde Park
corner 6pm leedsef@leedsef.org.uk

* International Day of Action this Sat. in support of seven people
still facing charges during the protests at the EU Summit in
Thessaloniki, Greece in June 2003 (see SchNEWS 413). London demo
meet at the Greek Embassy at 1pm

* If yer in Glasgow on 15/16 Jan check out the "Wimmin vs G8"
launch event www.g8feministaction.frockon.org

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Positive SchNEWS

A Plymouth judge will be giving his verdict on the legal rights of
the badger following a case against 3 animal activists last month.
Charged with damaging DEFRA badger traps near Lerryn, Cornwall,
the three are pleading not guilty on the grounds that badgers are
a protected species under the 1992 Badger Act. This Act forbids
the killing, harming or interfering of badgers and their setts,
but this hasn't stopped DEFRA, the rural affairs ministry, doing
just that for the last seven years, in a flawed attempt to
eradicate TB in cattle.

The Judge is looking into the complexities of the case and will
deliver his verdict on the 13th.There's a demo that day outside
Plymouth Magistrates Court. The cull is due to start again in May.
www.badger-killers.co.uk

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Talking Rubbish

Berlin will soon have solar powered talking rubbish bins. They
will each generate their own electricity and will be programmed to
thank people for putting rubbish in them during the day and glow
green at night. It is hoped that they will discourage people from
littering.

The prototype bins are designed to be "fun" - each one can be
programmed to say different things, even in other languages, said
a spokesman from the city's cleaning service.

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Their 'Armless M'lud...

Activists who occupied the roof of EDO's Brighton arms factory are
on trial next Tuesday 11th at Brighton Magistrates Court accused
of Aggravated Trespass. In the evening there's a public meeting at
the Bridge Social Centre next to Falmer School, Moulescoomb,
6:30pm Films and speakers including journalist Ewa Jasiewicz.
http://smashedo.bpec.org

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Lynch the Landlord!

Imagine being arrested for a murder you didn't commit. Now imagine
being convicted of that murder and serving 11 years and 43 days
before someone finally agrees with you that you are innocent, that
you were stitched up by the collusion of lying policemen and false
confessions extracted under duress. You are awarded compensation
for the lost decade of your life. Now imagine being told you have
to pay rent for the time you spent in jail because you saved lots
of money by being locked up. This is the story of Mike O'Brien.

Mike was one of the so-called Cardiff Newsagent Three convicted of
the murder of Philip Saunders. He was to be awarded £650,000 after
all three convictions were finally overturned in 1999 after the
Criminal Cases Review Commission confirmed what Mike had been
saying for years - that he had been set up with falsified
evidence. They found that the confession of Darren Hall, which was
a key part of the case against the three, was extracted under
pressure - Hall was handcuffed to hot radiators and a tea urn,
repeatedly threatened and questioned for hours. He was also
emotionally unstable and vulnerable to the manipulation the police
employed.

Detective Stuart Lewis, who claimed to have overheard two of the
prisoners admit to the murder in a conversation in their cell is
now under investigation over evidence he gave in this case and
another.

Now the Home Office are beginning a two day court challenge to get
£37,000 deducted as payment for his keep in jail. Last April Mr
Justice Maurice Kay ruled that a Home Office decision to deduct
"saved living expenses" from compensation payments had been
mistakenly applied. Lawyers are now battling to overturn that
decision at the appeal court.

Mike said: "They don't charge guilty people for bed and board,
they only charge innocent people."

The Home Office won the right to charge the innocent rent for
their false imprisonment on July 29th 2004 when they won an
important case at the appeal court.

So now it seems the government will charge prisoners "bed and
board" if their appeals succeed. That's the spirit. That'll teach
them to be innocent while looking guilty and to sponge off the
state.

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..and finally...

The Thought Police are alive and well in the USA! It seems even an
11 year old can't criticise the military these days without the
cops coming round to interrogate the parents about 'anti-American
values'. The Allbaughs of Virginia were questioned about their
views on Sept 11th, the military and whether they knew any
'foreigners who criticized US policy' after their son refused to
take part in a Veterans Day exercise at school. And he supposedly
said "I wish all Americans were dead and that American soldiers
should die.", but kids'll say anything to get out of school!

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Disclaimer

SchNEWS warns all readers not to expect a witty or topical
disclaimer; the bloke who writes 'em is off sick...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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