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(en) SchNEWS 490, Friday 25th March, 2005 WAKE UP!!! IT'S YER TURN TO PAGE 3... SchNEWS

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 25 Mar 2005 10:28:19 +0100 (CET)


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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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LUNATICS HAVE TAKEN OVER ASYLUM
As the general election draws near, Neo Labour and the Tories are
busy in a race-to-the-bottom, hurtling towards the BNP position on
asylum, as refugees become scapegoats for all of our country's
problems. If they're not stealing our jobs, they're abusing our
health service or taking all the council houses (better be quick,
before Labour flog them all). Forget about the rich ripping off
the system, it's those bloody foreigners snatching what is
rightfully ours from under our noses that are to blame for
everything.

But what about the people that come here? How come they haven't
got a public voice? What's wrong if people want to come here for a
better life? After all isn't that what we do when we emigrate in
our thousands to Spain, France or Australia each year?

Beto from Angola: After a 2 year legal battle, Beto, a refugee
from Angola was finally granted asylum in 1998. Sick from months
of torture and neglect in prison he had been desperate to get away
from a regime that had imprisoned him twice and had killed his
father. Transferred to hospital because of serious illness, he was
then smuggled out and across the border into DR Congo and given
false travel papers. His asylum application was posted after he
had been in the UK for four days, sleeping rough. "For the first
month I got about £30 benefits, but in the second month it was cut
off - I got food and board in a shared room but I had no money.
They said I should have applied at the airport when I got there,
but because I had applied late I didn't get benefits. I couldn't
do anything, I couldn't get a job. I didn't know the rules because
we do not get the BBC in Cabinda." Beto's illness worsened.

He had written to the Home Office several times to check on the
progress of his application with no reply so he asked his
solicitor to investigate. The Home Office told him they thought
Beto had left the country as they had no address for him -
unsurprising, as he had no address. Ten months later Beto finally
got an answer: he had to return to Angola. "They didn't believe
what I had told them, they said there was now a ceasefire in
Angola and they told me everything was alright in my country." He
took his case to appeal but was turned down again, this time
because he had not registered in DR Congo after slipping across
the border and because he had no proof that his life would be in
danger if he returned. Proof? He pointed out that if someone
wanted to kill you they wouldn't necessarily write to tell you
first. Just days before his second appeal was due, hostilities
broke out in Angola again and Beto was finally granted leave to
stay. If he'd returned to Angola, "I would be dead," he said.
Since being granted asylum he's learned English and studied IT. He
now helps out at the Refugee Council one-stop centre in Brixton as
an interpreter and gives advice to others facing the same
situation.

Mohamed Nasri from Afghanistan: Mohamed Nazri's mother sold the
family home in Kabul for £5,600 in 2001 and gave every penny to an
agent to smuggle her teenage son to England. Her husband, a famous
politician, had been imprisoned by the Taliban for supporting a
more democratic party and she feared the same fate for him. He
made the long journey overland in vans and buses before arriving
"somewhere in Europe" where he was sealed with nine others into a
hidden compartment in a lorry carrying car engines. After twelve
hours in the cramped airless chamber, he remembers he didn't even
care if he had made it to the UK. When the doors were finally
opened, he just wanted to be able to breathe. "I remember
thinking, 'I'm going to die in five minutes inside this lorry.'
There was no oxygen left. I was shouting to open the doors and
when they did, I was laughing. I didn't care that there was a
police officer there, I had another life."

Now working as a liaison officer for a project which links Afghan
asylum seekers and Salford NHS, the 22 year old says many people
have a similar tale. "I miss my family, I have four brothers and
three sisters and I want to go home, but not until I feel free in
Afghanistan." He has enrolled in college to study social work from
September and hopes to apply for citizenship when his 'leave to
remain' visa expires.

Y.K.L from the Ivory Coast: "The rebels came into our house and
took my brother. When my mother tried to protect him they killed
her with a knife. They cut her throat and told us to drink her
blood. They put knives to our throats and forced us. Then they
took my brother away. The men threatened to cut my clitoris if I
wouldn't stop resisting. Then they raped me. One of them took his
belt and started beating me on my face." Y.K.L still has two scars
along her cheekbone from the blows. She also has scars on her
wrist and down her legs from cigarette burns. Y.K.L was then
taken, with other civilians, to the rebels' camp. She was held
prisoner for four days in a small makeshift prison where she was
frequently raped and watched other women suffer the same
violation. One night she and a number of other girls managed to
escape.

"I went straight to my father's police station. When I went inside
I found the bodies of the policemen lying on the floor, most of
them had no heads. I recognized my father's body by his clothes."
She ran away and was trafficked to France to stay with a colleague
of her father's, but his family was not prepared to take in an
illegal immigrant for more than a couple of days. Y.K.L went to
England. She arrived in Dover in November 2002 and asked for
asylum.

Her application was rejected but she is unlikely to be deported,
Y.K.L is now in limbo because the Ivory Coast is not designated a
'safe country' by the Home Office. Without the right to work or
any entitlement to welfare payments, little English and an
incomplete education, her condition is desperate.

She is not alone. An estimated 25,000 asylum seekers have
exhausted their legal possibilities and are now wandering the
streets of Britain's cities trying to survive from day to day.

* 2nd April European Day of Actions for Migrant Rights
www.noborder.org

* Zoe Neirizi is an Iranian refugee who gets refugees to use film
to express their experiences www.blackswanfilms.co.uk

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CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK

For being creative...
A Detroit artist has been sent down for a month for painting a
mural on the side of his studio! Edward Stross, who suffers from
Multiple Sclerosis, replicated Michaelangelo's "Creation of Man"
on the side of his studio building, to the outrage of the local
powers that be. Philistines all! The American Council for Civil
Liberties are filing a motion to free the 43 year-old. You can see
his mural at www.aclumich.org/attachments/gonzowall.jpg

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Patent Nonsense

The name Microsoft is, for most people, synonymous with ideas of
monopoly position, corporate bullying and crap bug-ridden
software. Over the years, Microsoft has used every avenue of legal
leverage their well-paid lawyers can think of to protect their
position and snuff out any development that could threaten it.
This includes the 'Open Source Movement', in which software
developers have been attempting to develop free (improved)
alternatives to proprietary software whilst retaining similar
functionality and compatibility (SchNEWS can recommend
OpenOffice.org for a suite of excellent programs to replace MS
Office).

All this has upset companies like Microsoft, because the
developers do not have to steal any legally protected copyrighted
code to do it but can design their code to achieve the same
results - a little like expressing the same basic idea in English
but using different words / sentence structure to do it. So, how
to stop people thinking that they can write their own programmes
and then, even worse, give them away without consumers having to
pay big business?

The newest form of attack is patent law. Unlike copyrighting,
which protects a specific instance of an idea, patents allows
someone to control the idea itself (and for something like 20
years!), suppressing anyone from doing anything derived from the
same basic idea. The absurdity of this, especially in a
pure-thought based activity like computing, is obvious. If patents
had been allowed at the inception of the software industry, some
big Microsoft-type company could have come in and said, "er,
programmes to manipulate text, some for numbers, pictures, audio,
some to sort out data transfer from one computer to another.." and
that would've been it - practically no programme could have ever
been developed without paying them for the gracious use of 'their'
idea. This, however crazy it seems, is now what is, in essence,
being proposed. Worse still, for such a crucial piece of
legislation affecting creative freedoms of all, and a plethora of
small independent developers in Europe and the UK particularly,
there was a scandalous recent attempt by the EU Commission to
bring it in through the back-door.

In December 2004, the bill was 'attached' to an obscure fisheries
bill, as an 'A-list item' to be carried without discussion or
vote. It was thankfully spotted at the last moment by an alert
Polish eurocrat (Poland has a growing sector of small software
houses) and derailed... for a while. The matter was referred back
to EU parliament who demanded that the EU commission reconsider
the matter; they refused and re-tabled the same directive as an
'A-list' item for a ministers' meeting a couple of weeks ago.
Denmark requested a postponement, rejected by current
presidency-holder Luxembourg on 'institutional' grounds. The
directive now goes back to the parliament where only a majority of
MEPs can stop this disastrous bill becoming EU law.

For more, and to find out how to lobby your local MEP, see
www.briefhistory.com/footnotes

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Brief Briefs

* Want to get involved in action against the G8? Festival of
Dissent April 6-10th Lanarkshire, Scotland www.dissent.org.uk

* Around 20 citizen weapons-inspectors demonstrated outside
Brighton's EDO arms dealers on Monday. Over-the-top cops placed a
one hour restriction under section 14 of the Public Order Act,
demanding that people disperse because they were "intimidating"
and might "compel EDO staff to cease work." Three people were
nicked and held for 12 hours.

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20 to 1 on the Derby

The Derbyshire cops said it was their biggest police operation
since the Miners Strike twenty years ago, and it was their advice
following "intelligence reports", that made environment minister
Margaret Beckett insist that full security measures be taken.

So, police from as far afield as Brighton and Durham were bussed
in to protect 30 environment and development ministers discussing
stuff in the lead up to the G8 in Scotland. They met for just two
hours before being taken in police convoys to Chatsworth House 10
miles away for dinner! 2,000 police sealed off the area with a
five-mile ring of steel fencing and specially laid metal road
capable of carrying fully laden riot vans on 24-hour patrol. The
operation, costing at least £2m, included the closure of Breadsall
village primary school for two days. One SchNEWS reader described
the policing as "phenomenal: lines of riot police outside the
station at 10am in riot gear including Darth Vader style leg
wear." All this for about 100 protestors - which works out at
around £20,000-a-head. As one demonstrator said "Seems it would
make more sense to simply give us all a few grand to stay away.
I'd have stayed away for less than half of what it cost to police
me!"

A demonstration march planned by groups including Friends of the
Earth was banned by the home secretary, while a Critical Mass bike
ride ended with 12 arrests.

So did they get their 'intelligence' wrong? Or was this just a
helpful training session and evidence-gathering exercise to help
the cops plan for when the G8 meeting proper takes place in July?

* See the pictures at http://tashcamuk.fotopages.com/?entry=384246

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Big Bad Wolfowitz

Who needs to have experience of banking to run the world's biggest
bank? Not Paul Wolfowitz, who, it is rumoured, can barely use a
cash-point card. Bush's nomination for the top job at the World
Bank is not only worrying because Wolfowitz was a former professor
from the National War College, where he developed his concept of
"do-able" wars. Nor is it because he can't add up - he said the
Iraq war would cost $30bn, not the likely $200bn.

Wolfie was introduced to Bush by George Schultz, former Secretary
of State to Ronald Reagan, and now director of Betchel, the
corporation which charged Bolivian workers, earning an average $40
a month, half their wages for access to water. Guess who forced a
desperately poor Bolivian government to flog its water system to a
multinational? You guessed it - The World Bank. With Vice
President Dick Cheney's close connections to Halliburton, the main
contractor reconstructing Iraq, SchNEWS wonders whether a
Wolfowitz-led World Bank will be bunging Halliburton a few
backhanders too. After all, it's all mates together and Iraq's
sure to want to borrow some money. But maybe all the talk about a
'hawkish' approach is wildly off the mark. After all, Wolfie told
the New York Times in 2003 that he thought "all foreigners should
stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq. Those who want
to come and help are welcome. Those who come to interfere and
destroy are not." Honest. www.worldbankpresident.org

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Positive SchNEWS

Banner Theatre is a community theatre company who'll be
celebrating their 30th anniversary next month. Banner has produced
plays on everything from Private Finance Initiatives to the
Miners' Strike and stuff about refugees. 0845 458 1909
www.bannertheatre.co.uk

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Be A Darling

This week the government announced the biggest rail deal in
Europe, awarding GNER a £1.3bn contract to run the East Coast
Mainline for the next ten years. Transport Secretary Alastair
Darling was acting as a PR exec for privatization and GNER, saying
how wonderful they were and how GNER had made a profit and so were
contributing money to the government. But he failed to mention
that GNER want to scrap vast swathes of regional services,
essential to people in rural areas without cars. These less-used
lines also link in with the main lines, so cutting them means less
passengers on the main lines. Doh!

In fact GNER is one of the very few train operating companies that
makes money from running trains; most companies run at a loss, so
the taxpayer foots the bill in subsidies so that the private
companies can er, make a profit. £2m a week is paid by the
government into the pocket of shareholders. That's right readers,
despite crap services and running the lines at a loss, last year
profits from rail for National Express were up by 74%, Go Ahead up
by 64% and FirstGroup up by 55%.

The biggest winners are the Roscos (Rolling Stock Companies),
which are little better than loan sharks. They actually own the
trains and carriages and lease them to the train companies at
extortionate prices. These companies have made over £2bn in profit
since the Tories decided to sell off the railways in 1996. Last
year Angel Trains who are owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland made
£86.3m and HSBC Rail made £75.3m. These parasitical middlemen
lease old trains at extortionate levels which led the chief
executive of GNER to comment: "In any other industry, as an asset
gets older the people leasing it would pay less."

What our Darling Transport Secretary also failed to mention was
that one of the biggest success stories was the publicly owned
South Eastern Trains (SET), who since taking over from those
jokers Connex in November 2003 have improved punctuality, safety,
cleanliness and customer satisfaction - and they've recruited more
staff yet need less subsidy than Connex did. Neo-Labour aren't too
pleased about this and have pressurized the Strategic Rail
Authority, who run SET, not to publicize these successes for fears
that it will increase calls to bring the railway system back into
public hands even further. In the year before privatization
British Rail's Network South East made a surplus of £71m - in
2003-04 the privatized companies needed a subsidy of £360m. The
evidence is clearly there that publicly owned rail services are
better than privatized ones, so why is the government putting the
franchise for SET up for sale to private companies? Perhaps
Alistair Darling has an eye on his long term career prospects and
thinks he'd like to work for GNER as their PR manager - he's
getting enough practice at the moment. Or maybe he's just stupid.

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..and finally...

SchNEWS's hot gadget to get - The TV-B-Gone - a palm-sized
remote-control device that shuts off nearby TVs! Join 10,000
Jammers in over 275 cities around the world who plan a seven-day
rebellion against TV (week of April 25). All you have to do is
roam around targeting idiot-boxes in shops, airports, bars,
classrooms, etc. and remind people that TV pollutes our mental
environment and distracts us from reality. Better still, if you
organize a JammerGroup, the makers will even you send you a
TV-B-Gone for free! Check details at
www.adbusters.org/metas/psycho/tvturnoff

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Disclaimer

SchNEWS warns all readers to switch off yer television sets and go
out and do something less boring instead. 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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