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(en) SchNEWS 487, Friday 4th March, 2005 - WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!! IT'S YER CHILLED OUT...

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 4 Mar 2005 08:48:39 +0100 (CET)


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Super-cool Iceland, the eco-tourist's wet dream, right? Maybe not
for much longer if the Icelandic government has its way.
You see, they've got a cunning plan to turn the whole country into
a heavy industry paradise for all sorts of multinational scum,
damming and flooding and generally trashing nature to power up a
bunch of giant aluminium smelters and other slight blots on the landscape.
This is not an early April fool - it's already started. The
construction of the giant Karahnjukar dam in the Icelandic
Highlands - one of Europe's last surviving wildernesses - is well
under way. Landsvirkjun (the national power company, a government
quango) has a raft of further projects that would see 25% of the
entire country dam affected by 2020: some vision.

Karahnjukar and most of Landsvirkjun's future schemes harness
glacial rivers fed by Vatnajokull - the biggest non-arctic glacier
in the world. This glacier is the heart of a fantastically
intricate eco-system: barren red and black Martian landscapes;
geo-thermal springs and pools hot enough to take a bath in; rivers
banked by deep, springy emerald green moss woven with tiny red and
yellow flowers where no-one's ever walked; the glacier's own
fantastic ice caves; seal breeding grounds on the black sand
deltas to the north. All this will be destabilized and damaged
forever if these dam projects are allowed to happen.

An international protest camp this summer aims to halt this war on
nature. It's going to be one hell of a struggle since the
Icelandic government seems determined to push these projects
through, no matter what opposition it faces.

What's going on at Karahnjukar demonstrates the way that
government operates. When plans for the mega-project were first
submitted to the National Planning Agency (NPA) in 2001 they were
rejected because of the "substantial, irreversible, negative
environmental impact" the dam would have. All the experts agreed
with this verdict (see IRN's report linked below). But the
environment minister overturned the NPA's ruling and declared that
in her opinion the project was environmentally acceptable - of
course she is suitably qualified to decide on environmental
issues - she's a physiotherapist! There were a few financial
hiccups with banks getting all ethical but Barclays bravely
stepped forward with the necessary dosh - even though they'd
signed up to the Equator Principles which demand "sound
environmental management practices as a financing prerequisite."

Work started in July 2003, with Italian bully-boys Impregilo
(construction arm of Fiat, currently charged with corruption in
Lesotho and 'financial irregularities' at home) and a terrifying
squadron of Caterpillar bulldozers began to claw up and dynamite
the fragile sub-arctic tundra. Reindeer, arctic foxes, other small
animals and thousands of bird species that lived there fled in
fear.

FROZEN ASSETS

All electricity produced at Karahnjukar is contracted to a massive
Alcoa aluminium smelter (being built by Bechtel, due to be
operational in 2007) which itself will pollute and ruin
Reydarfjordur, a pristine eastern fjord. A Reykjavik court
recently ruled that Alcoa's planning permission for this
monstrosity isn't valid, but that probably won't stop them as they
immediately appealed to the - allegedly - rigged High Court.

Karahnjukar won't benefit Icelanders at all: none of the
electricity is destined for the national grid and cos there's
little unemployment in the region no Icelander's gonna want a nice
healthy job at the smelter thanks.
Yet the cost to the nation is enormous: independent experts say
the economy is at risk (see IRN report), it has cost $1 billion so
far and is likely to cost more - the electricity for Alcoa is for
a price linked to the changing prices of Aluminium on London Metal
Market...in other words no guarantee it'll ever make a profit.

The environment suffers more by the day. They've already blown
part of Dimmugljufur - Iceland's Grand Canyon - to smithereens,
and if they fill up the reservoir (scheduled 2007), 65.5 square
kilometres of pristine wilderness will be completely submerged.
This land includes birthing grounds for the majority of Iceland's
reindeer and Ramsar 'protected' nesting sites for endangered
species such as pink-footed geese, and Gyrfalcon. Sixty waterfalls
will be lost as will a range of sediment ledges - judged
completely unique in the world by scientists studying global
warming - which record 10,000 years of geological and climate
change. And this vast projected reservoir would extend right onto
the glacier itself, which is breaking up because of global
warming. Wouldn't giant icebergs trucking up to the dam be a bit -
er - dangerous? Yep. And it gets worse - the dam is being built
over a seismic fault!

In 2003, Landsvirkjun's chief, Fridrik Sophusson, was asked what
would happen if there was an earthquake under the dam. "It would
burst," he smiled calmly. "A catastrophic wall of water would
annihilate everyone in Egilsstadir [the nearest town] and all the
neighbouring farms would be swept away." Icelandic Tsunami anyone?
"It won't happen," he added smugly. Yet in August 2004 there were
continuous earthquakes at Karahnjukar for several days.

Environmentalists also warned that silt residues left by changing
water levels round the projected reservoir would dry to a fine
dust which the wind would carry onto local farmland. This was
dismissed, yet last summer silt left in the wake of unexpected
surges in the newly diverted glacial river produced just such
devastating dust storms.

But none of this makes any difference: while everyone else in the
'developed world' is busy dismantling dams, Iceland's rulers just
can't get enough. There are plans to dam every major glacial river
in the country. Rio Tinto Zinc are reportedly salivating over the
chance to devastate the North of the country, while Alcan and
Century (who've already got smelters near Reykjavik) are keen to
expand their deathly shadow in the south.

Ironically, the government- via its tourist board - still invites
visitors to enjoy the "unspoilt pure natural beauty" it's
hell-bent on destroying! So how do they get away with it? Well,
Iceland has a tiny population (290,000) and power is concentrated
in the hands of a few very wealthy families who control politics,
industry and the media. Scientists, journalists, anyone who asks
questions is swiftly discredited and then sacked.

But it's not all bad news and you can even help. A really vigorous
and up-for-it grass-roots environmental movement is emerging,
determined to stop Icelandic nature being pimped to the highest
bidder. It's a David v. Goliath battle and the call is out for
international support.

If you are up for peacefully showing your solidarity with some of
the most fantastic nature on our planet, check out
www.killingiceland.org and joining the protest camp summer 2005.

* An Icelandic activist will be showing films and doing Q&A at the
Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton next Thursday (10th) 6.30 -
8pm www.irn.org/programs/europe/030530.karahnjukar.pdf

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Crap Arrest of the Week

For acting like a baby

In one of the "smallest" cases of civil disobedience, four
Bangladeshi kids have appeared in court this week accused of
looting and causing criminal damage. The "potty" four - whose ages
range from three months to two years - were released on bail after
a brief hearing. The magistrate commented that he was a "bit
surprised" to see the kids in court and, in a fit of rationality,
promptly suspended the four cops who'd brought the evidence
against them.

The case stems from an ongoing land dispute with a neighbour and
is likely to be found: "false and fabricated" Wahhhh!

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STRIP SLEAZE

In India tribal Adivasi people are once again facing massive
repression as they try to stop a $1.4 billion monster strip-mine
and refinery that promises to displace up to 20,000 people from
their ancestral homes, destroying their livelihoods and culture,
contaminating food and water sources and obliterating their
spiritual sites. Still, who cares about that, what's at stake is
the right for us in the West to be able to drink our fizz from a
can.

The battle has been raging in the Kashipur region of Orissa, on
the east coast of India for the past twelve years. Behind the
scheme are Uktal Aluminium International, an alliance between the
Indian firm Indal and the Canadian mining giant Alcan, who want to
get their hands on one of the world's richest deposits of
bauxite - the raw material for aluminium.

A few years back plans had to be shelved after three villagers
were killed by police. One company pulled out - but Alcan didn't
care, they just bought their shares. Then in November politicians
decided that the Alcan mining project was to be launched at any
cost and all opposition was to be suppressed. A leaked cabinet
document concluded that tribal areas "cannot afford to remain
backward for the sake of so-called environmental protection". Six
days later, and the police launched a brutal charge on 400
Adivasis, mostly women, who had gathered to try and stop an armed
police station being built. 16 people were seriously injured.
Since then, platoons of armed police with orders to fire have
sealed off the area and banned journalists. Eighteen activists of
PSSP, the umbrella organization of Adivasis that is spearheading
the struggle have been arrested and are now in jail without access
to bail.

Village teacher Bhagawan Majhi has been fighting the project ever
since he was a teenager, and was suspended from his job because of
it. He says that most Adivasis just want to be left alone and that
strip-mining would desecrate the Baphlimali Hill that is sacred
to their tribe. Of course government officials (who will no doubt
be getting plenty of backhanders) and Alcan (who of course aren't
just thinking about their profits) reckon they are doing this cos
they care about the plight of the poor tribal people. They are
promising jobs, schools and a health clinic, which, of course,
they will need more than ever as Alcan poison their land. Majhi
says, "Our village will vanish. What will we do with schools when
our homes and rivers will no longer be there? Land is the
foundation of our lives. Land gives us food. We are farmers."

Joan Kuyek, head of MiningWatch Canada, also isn't impressed:
"Mineral development does not bring with it economic benefit for
tribal people." Unsurprisingly the only lasting legacy will 'be
poisoned streams and tonnes of caustic soda used for disposing of
red mud, a by-product of bauxite refining'.

* Urgent solidarity action is being asked by the people of Adivasi
www.saanet.org/alcant/intro_en.html

* To find out more http://india.indymedia.org

* To find out what happens to tribal people who are displaced
www.indiaresource.org/issues/globalization/2004/sterlite.html

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SchNEWS in brief

* Late Monday night, a defunct Skoda was dumped at the main gate
of Sainsbury's depot in Merseyside. Two people locked themselves
to it while two others locked on to the side gate. The blockade
lasted over 2 hours, costing Sainsbury's about £300,000. This was
part of a national campaign to force Sainsbury's to stop selling
stuff from animals fed on GM feed. This action followed a similar
one in Bristol last week. www.geneticsaction.org.uk

* No rules for the rich - how tax avoidance is wrecking the global
economy. Talk this Saturday (5) with John Christensen of the Tax
Justice Network and former economic adviser to the tax haven
island of Jersey 10.30 am, French Institute, 17 Queensbury Place,
South Kensington, London. monde-diplo-friends@mondediplo.com

* There's an anti-mobile phone mast demo outside Brighton Town
Hall at 3:45 next Thursday (10) www.queensparkmastaction.co.uk

* Watching them watching us! A Public Meeting to launch strategies
of resistance to Scotland Yard's campaign of politically motivated
harassment, intimidation and surveillance. Next Saturday (12) 2pm,
London Action Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate Street, London E1.

* Commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Battle of the Beanfield,
Bristol's Kebele Kultural Projekt will be showing 'Operation
Solstice' plus the opening night of an exhibition of photos of the
Stonehenge Free Festival that runs until 7 April. 0117 939 9469
www.kebele.org

* Shakedown 05 is "a very big one-off non-profit DIY all-night
event...probably one of the biggest and best parties that
Nottingham has ever seen, to raise awareness of some global issues
such as world poverty, climate change and world leading
institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and the G8 ." next
Saturday (12th) £5 07910 428 896 www.m12.org.uk

* Protest the meeting of the G8 Environment and Development
Ministers in Derby, 17th March. Critical Mass 10am, Derby train
station. Street Party - 12 noon, Assembly Rooms. Benefit Gig -
7pm, The Mist, Normanton Road. Plus anti-G8 Frolics.
www.dissent.org.uk

* Pots and Pans Noise Demo on the 15th to welcome the G8
International Energy and Environment Ministers Roundtable. Meet 12
noon at The Brewery, 52 Chiswell St, London. 0845 458 8923
www.risingtide.org.uk

* ARCH are launching a legal challenge to the Government's plans
to put the personal details of every child onto a national
database (SchNEWS 452). ARCH urgently needs donations to pay court
costs - cheques payable to "Action on Rights for Children", 62
Wallwood Road, London E11 1AZ, or via website
www.archrights.org.uk

* Anti-ID card demo outside Brighton Town Hall 3:30pm Thurs 10th.
There will also be an Anti-ID card public meeting on March 24th at
Brighton's Friends Meeting house.

* Find out how taxpayers' money is funding the corporate takeover
of the world's water - and hear from grassroots campaigners who
are fighting back. Cardiff 16th, Shrewsbury 17th, Nottingham 18th,
Edinburgh 19th, Rochester 20th, Cambridge 21st, London 22nd. 020
7737 6215 email wdm@wdm.org.uk

* Fundraiser Collective, at The Volks, Madeira Parade, Brighton.
Club night every Wednesday raising money for different causes each
month. Weds 9th, all female DJs playing hip hop, breaks, DnB,
techno and jungle. Weds 16th Country and Bluegrass night, funds to
Dissent! and a womens refuge. www.funraiser.org.uk

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SchNEWS AT TEN MOVIE OUT SOON (HONEST!)

Screening at the Ocean Rooms, Brighton Weds 9th March as part of
an eclectic night of music, visual theatre films, DJs, and loads
more from Idiot Savant. Los Albertos playing live. 8pm-late
£5/4.50

* The SchMOVIE will also be playing at the Big Bath Book Swop, at
The Bell Hotel, Walcot, nr Bath. 12-6pm
www.wiffle(point)bathfringe.co.uk

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Tasmanian Devils

The Tasmanian logging company Gunns are trying that age old tactic
of silencing your critics by trying to sue them. They are seeking
A$6 million from 20 individuals and groups for "conspiracy to
injure Gunns by unlawful means", in other words for protesting and
taking direct action. This approach may well backfire on Gunns as
over 600 people attended a rally against the charges and more than
7000 people have taken part in a letter writing campaign, and as
the McLibel campaign showed - using financial muscle to bully
someone can sometimes backfire spectacularly. www.gunns20.org &
www.corporatewatch.org.uk/news/loggingcompany.htm

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Inside SchNEWS

Animal Rights activist, Sarah Gisborne, has been sentenced to six
and a half years for "conspiracy to cause criminal damage" to
eight cars in connection to the campaign against vivisectors HLS.
Write to: Sarah Gisborne LT5393, HMP Holloway, Parkhurst Road,
London, N7 0NU.

* Five anti-war activists barricaded themselves into the Irish
Embassy in London for almost three hours on Wednesday in
solidarity with the five Irish anti-war saboteurs on trial that
day in Dublin. All were arrested. www.warontrial.com

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Wind Up Windrush

Last week four anti-war activists were arrested for disrupting the
supposed "lawful" activity of corporate pirates Windrush
Communications Ltd, by occupying the entrance to their offices.
Windrush organize "Iraq Procurement Conferences" where Iraq's
public assets are sold off to private companies. A week of action
is planned against the corporate plunder of Iraq from 1-6th
April - starting with a Pro-Plunder Party on April 1st outside the
offices of Windrush Communications in Old St, London. More info:
www.corporatepirates.gzzzt.net 07931337890

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..and finally...

Paparazzi who turned up to witness a confrontation between fashion
designer Serpica Nero and anti-precarity activists got more than
they bargained for at this years Milan Fashion Week. Models, all
wearing anti-precarity* slogans, paraded the catwalk, cheered on
by the anarchists who had turned up to oppose the show. What next?
Hand-woven, hemp balaclavas?

Anarchists, highlighting increasing precarity in our lives, had
already stormed the catwalk at a previous Prada show, and
threatened the same at Nero's . Journo's gathered at Nero's
Marquee on the night of her show as police blocked the bridge
leading to the marquee. As the activists approached, cops were
surprised to see it led by none other than Nero herself, flanked
by a posse of models. Waving her official papers allowing the
gathering, the cops had to let the self-styled "fashion designer"
through, with all her crusty mates. Don't look for it in next
months Hello, though. You probably won't find any Nero underpants
in Primark (or anywhere else), either.

SCHNEWS VOCAB WATCH : PRECARITY -

a (take a deep breath now) 'condition of life without
predictability or security, generally with regards to an
individuals material or psychological welfare. Precarity increases
in late-capitalism as nations shift from manufactory to service
and information based economies.' Or like casualisation with knobs
on. Precarity is the new buzz for anarchists in-the-know, cool cos
no one else knows what the fuck you're talking about. See
www.indymedia.org.uk for photos of the "fashion show".

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Disclaimer
SchNEWS warns all readers with frozen features and feeling like
ice - it's heartwarming to print and be damned. And, anyway,
there's lies, damn lies and statistics... 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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