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(en) SchNEWS 435, Friday 19th December, 2003 - PLAIN TEXT

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 19 Dec 2003 08:07:52 +0100 (CET)

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FUEL BE SORRY "Last week the World Health Organisation calculated that climate
change is causing 150,000 deaths a year. This figure excludes
deaths caused by drought and famine, pests and plant diseases and
conflicts over natural resources, all of which appear to be
exacerbated by global warming. Flying is our most effective means
of wrecking the planet: every passenger on a return journey from
Britain to Florida produces more carbon dioxide than the average
motorist does in a year. Every time we fly, we help to kill
someone." - George Monbiot, journalist.

Neo-Labour celebrated one hundred years of flying this week by
giving the green light to an unprecedented programme of aviation
expansion. 20 airports were given the chance to expand; with
Heathrow getting the nod for a third runway and a sixth terminal
while Stansted, Edinburgh and Birmingham all get new runways. What
was even more impressive was the timing of the white paper,
announced just a few days after the latest anti-climactic Climate
Change talks in Milan.

Transport Minister Alistair Darling told MPs that air travel was
crucial to the economy, that half the population flies every year
and that the aviation industry supports 800,000 jobs. While the
white paper says in principle that aviation should pay for its
environmental and social impact, there are no plans for the
industry to pay fuel tax or VAT. Ever wondered why you can fly to
places like Prague for fourteen and a half pence? These tax breaks
amount to £9 billion a year being lost which could be spent on
more environmentally-friendly means of transport. Even the
governments own research says that making the air industry pay
these taxes would remove the need for new airports or runways for
twenty-five years. For example around 45 per cent of air journeys
that take place between European countries are currently 500
kilometres or less in length: ideal for high speed rail.

What Darling also forgot to mention was that air travel is the
UK's fastest growing contribution to greenhouse gases, releasing
not only carbon dioxide but also nitrous oxide, an even more
powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Encouraging more air
traffic won't exactly help the government reach even its own
pathetic targets for tackling climate change.

Still, the government has promised to insulate nearby householders
affected by noise, especially helpful to those who will have their
houses demolished by new runways, as well as helping people to
invest in "really good earplugs." They also propose to pay for
"school trips away from the noisy environment", especially "where
the loss of amenity outdoors may be severe." People whose houses
go under water thanks to all the extra climate change causing
planes will no doubt receive snorkels in the post.

Even the Carbon Sink

Like we said, the latest meeting of the Convention on Climate
Change ended in Milan last Friday with the decision by 120
countries to, er, reaffirm their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.
The US politicians were in Milan of course, doing their best to
derail everything, even though they won't even sign up to Kyoto,
despite accounting for around a quarter of global emissions. But
then we've seen what they'll do for oil. Still, the Kyoto Protocol
will become legally binding when it receives the backing of
nations whose combined carbon dioxide emissions comes to 55
percent. To reach that figure Russia needs to sign on the dotted

The problem is that Kyoto calls for a measly 5.2% reduction in
emissions - and that's without the loopholes such as air traffic
being excluded from the targets - when in reality the rich world
is gonna have to cut emissions by 60-90% just to stabilise
atmospheric concentrations.

These loopholes include ones where rich countries will be able to
plant forests in the developing world and count the amount of
greenhouses gases absorbed by them against their own greenhouse
emissions, helping them to meet their Kyoto targets. Unfortunately
the vast majority of such plantations are environmentally and
socially destructive, some using genetically-modified or other
invasive species - and all funded through the Protocol's so-called
Clean Development Mechanism.

This idea, dubbed 'carbon sinks' should, according to a new report
published by Sinkswatch, be washed down the plughole. It reckons
EU governments should blacklist carbon sinks projects, as they do
nothing to help global warming and they provide subsidies for
unsustainable and unwanted plantation projects. The report "Forest
Fraud. Say no to fake carbon credits" focuses on the Plantar
project in Brazil, a 23,000 hectare eucalyptus plantation project
that is aiming to sell carbon credits despite widespread
opposition. You've got to hand it to some capitalists though,
creating a market out of hot air, that's impressive!

Its taken 15 years of climate change talks to get this far and
time is running out - especially for the Alliance of Small Island
States who managed to block attempts to delay the next round of
talks. Made up of 40 small islands, some might have disappeared
beneath the waves by then. They desperately need the £30 million
relief fund agreed in Milan to help them adapt to environmental
changes. But even this small amount was in jeopardy because oil
rich nations like Saudi Arabia argued that they should get help to
diversify if renewable energies like wind or solar power dent
demand for fossil fuels. Ever helpful Russian President Vladimir
Putin used Russia's role on Kyoto as a bargaining chip to gain
entry into the World Trade Organisation, with its standard
'everyone for themselves' politics. But the onset of climate chaos
should be reminding us that we're all in the same boat. As direct
action group Rising Tide put it "While it's crucial that you cut
your own emissions as much as possible, it's also up to
communities the world over to both challenge the power structures
that are playing havoc with our climate, and to create new
structures built on local, diverse, ecological and socially just
foundations." The problem is that the boat is already taking on
water and could soon be holed below the waterline, unless the
world comes together to stem the tide.

* Want to get involved in climate change campaigning? Then call
01865 241097 www.risingtide.org.uk

* Check out the 'carbon sinks' report www.sinkswatch.org

* Cornerhouse also have some good briefings, see

* London Earth First! open discussion on the plans for a new
runway in the South East and how we can fight it with a speaker
from the Heathrow Terminal 5 Campaign. Monday 5th January 7pm at
the Autonomy Club, Freedom Bookshop, 84B Whitechapel High Street,


Crap Arrest Of The Week

For not using a shopping basket!

In a new low in supermarket fascism a man was arrested and then
fined £95 for not using a basket when he went into his local Eddah
store to buy one item. When Carst Kijlstra, from Holland, went to
pay for it the shop assistant refused to serve him saying he must
have a basket. "Don't be ridiculous" said Mr Kijlstra who then
left the money on the counter and went home. At home while cooking
his dinner a cop car arrived at his house to arrest him. After
being held for an hour Mr Kijlstra was allowed to go home if he
agreed to pay the £95 fine and stay out of the shop for 12 months.



Trade unionists from the Iraqi Southern Oil Company have declared
their workplaces a no-go zone for Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR),
part of multinational Halliburton, formerly headed by US Vice
President Dick Cheney. The American government gave KBR the
contract to reconstruct oil refineries and installations in Iraq.
The oil workers union however, representing over 10,000 Iraqi
workers, has now banned all KBR representatives and foreign
workers from their sites.

Occupation Watch visited oil installations and discovered that
workers had been carrying out reconstruction work independently of
KBR, using their own tools, spare parts from old equipment, and
parts purchased from the local market. In Majnoon two weeks ago,
workers rebuilt a damaged refinery independently, using KBR
materials but refusing any KBR personnel involvement.

The mirage of the 'West Knows Best' multibillion dollar
reconstruction project falls apart when faced with the truth of
ordinary Iraqi workers rebuilding their own country using the
inventiveness and ingenuity they learned during 13 years of
UN-US-UK enforced sanctions.

The US government is not happy with this, so have been harassing
Iraqi trade unions. According to a union spokesperson, on Dec. 6th
the office of the Iraqi Workers Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU)
was stormed by twenty US soldiers who tore down posters (which
condemned terrorism!) and arrested eight members of the
Federation's executive board. The soldiers also painted over the
name of the federation on the front of the building. "They gave no
reason at all, despite being asked over and over," says IFTU
spokesperson Abdullah Muhsin. Although the eight were released the
following day, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) (US
occupation government) gave no explanation for the detentions.
This followed the detention of two other trade union leaders on
November 23, Qasim Hadi, general secretary of the Union of the
Unemployed, and Adil Salih, another Union leader. Hadi had been
arrested twice before, for leading demonstrations of unemployed
workers demanding benefits and jobs.

US military control and "reconstruction" is making the country
attractive to foreign investors, who can buy up state companies
and promptly transfer profits outside the country. Iraqi workers
fear privatization will bring massive layoffs. "I'll have to fire
1,500 (of the refinery's 3,000) workers," says Dathar Al-Kashab,
manager of the Al Daura oil refinery. "In America, when a company
lays people off, there's unemployment insurance and they won't die
from hunger. If I dismiss employees now, I'm killing them and
their families." Iraq can find no country willing to fund plans
for even a minimal system of unemployment benefits. At the
refinery, those with jobs work 11-13 hour shifts. They earn $60 a
month and have no safety equipment. The IFTU and the Workers
Unions and Councils group have helped workers organize unions and
elect leaders around the country.

When these new unions talk with the plant managers, however,
they're told that a 1987 law forbids workers in state-owned
enterprises (where the majority of Iraqis work) from forming
unions. The CPA still enforces this Saddam-era law. Another order
issued by the CPA on June 6 threatens that anyone who "incites
civil disorder" will be detained as a prisoner of war under the
Geneva Convention.

While unions are suppressed, international conferences in
Washington and London take place every week, at which Iraqi assets
are put on sale to private buyers. At one recent conference,
ExxonMobil, Delta Airlines and the American Hospital Group all
expressed interest in various Iraqi enterprises. Muhsen Mull Ali,
an IFTU leader who spent two long stints in prison for organizing
unions, both before and during Saddam's reign, says US actions
against unions won't deter him. "Our responsibility is to oppose
privatization as much as possible, and fight for the welfare of
our workers."

See www.occupationwatch.org for more info.


SchNEWS in Brief

Schwoops - last week we said the six people arrested under the
Terrorism Act for having "terrorist property" such as magazines
and badges were still in prison when they are in fact out on bail
awaiting trial next year.

Meanwhile Hundreds of mosques in the UK have launched a protest
campaign against the treatment of British Muslims arrested as part
of the "war on terror". Aafreen Khan, a spokeswoman for the Muslim
Public Affairs Committee, added: "Out of 500 arrests since
September 11, only 77 have been charged and two convicted." Home
Office figures for 2002-03 revealed that 32,100 people had been
searched under the Terrorism Act with just 380 of those arrested.

The costs of the proposed primate lab in Cambridge (SchNEWS 432)
have soared by 25% putting the project in jeopardy. One of the
reasons for the increase is the expected protests, so why not join
in on the 10th January? For details nearer the time contact 0845
3307985 www.primateprison.org

Four anti-GM activists have been ordered to pay up to £1000 court
costs each for aggravated trespass when they attempted to prevent
planting of GM field trial. The High Court overturned an earlier
ruling by a judge who found them not guilty saying "I can see you
all have huge knowledge of GM crops and were acting to protect the
land and animals." Some of the activists are planning to refuse to
pay costs and may go to prison, others will pay costs but will
accept any financial offers of help! info@geneticsaction.org.uk

In a massive victory for anti-GM campaigners Bayer CropScience who
are the principle company pushing for the commercialsation of GM
crops in the UK has withdrawn six of its nine UK GM crop varieties
from the UK national seed listing, meaning they can't be
commercialised in the UK. The campaign against the other three
continues with Bail out of GM Actions on 5th January in support of
those arrested on previous actions. www.stopbayergm.org

Nominate your least favorite pirate for a "Captain Hook Award for
Outstanding Achievements in Biopiracy - 2004."

The mother of 16-year-old Chris Kesterton who was killed while
working on a construction site in Leicester has asked people to
protest outside the court where the company will hear if it is to
be fined, 5th Jan 9.30 am, Leicester Crown Court, 90 Wellington

Come and protest and party with the Brighton & Hove Palestine
Solidarity Campaign. Meet at 1pm on Saturday 20 December outside
Churchill Square. Bring cameras and make some noise! 07768 815472

Check out Cardiff Alternative News a weekly radical e-mail
newsletter http://uk.geocities.com/cardiffalternativenews/

Annual Christmas Ride, meet 11am Christmas Day, Cutty Sark Gardens
for a gentle ride through deserted central London, then late lunch
with veggie/vegan options 07905 889005

Radical performance arts group Clean Air Turbulance are available
for benefit gigs, actions etc. romanyromany@hotmail.com

An Iraqi arrested at the DSEi protests will be in Snaresbrook
Crown Court in the weeks to come, using his court appearance to
challenge the legality of cluster bombs in front of a jury.


Positive SchNEWS

Everyday from our vantage point at SchNEWS towers we watch the
tides coming and going and wonder if this could be harnessed to
help sort out the mess we're all making of the planet.

Well this is to become a reality off the coast of Swansea where an
offshore tidal lagoon is being built that will give the power of
half a nuclear power station - without any of the radioactive
waste. This works by harnessing the power of the tides by having
gates that are opened and closed with the tides. After the tide
rises, the gates are opened and water rushes through the turbines
and fills the lagoon. At low tide the water runs out of the
lagoon, turning the turbine blades the other way, thus generating
electricity in both directions.

Offshore tidal lagoons have advantages over other forms of
renewable energy, unlike solar or wind energy, tides are regular
and predictable, and there isn't the destruction caused by large
dams in hydroelectric schemes or coastal tidal schemes. Tidal
lagoons have a potential to contribute 8% of the UK's energy needs
at a cost that is similar to coal or gas fire stations, without
all the extra pollution.

Check www.tidalelectric.com for more.


..and finally...

Here's a Christmas carol for our times...

"DON'T hold back on your seasonal spending. Worthing's Business
Community needs your generous support!
DON'T worry about the cost. Just bung it on your plastic. You know
that's the sensible approach in the long term.
DON'T ever stop to think whether what you are about to buy is
useless, unnecessary or unwanted. Just get your wallet out. Now.
DON'T worry about rampant consumerism spoiling the planet for your
children or grandchildren. There's plenty more planets in the
universe. And, frankly, who cares about a bunch of stupid kids?
DON'T ever think of repairing anything. It's just not the modern
way. Go out and buy a new one. Go on, it's Christmas!
DON'T ever borrow things from friends or lend stuff to others so
they don't have to buy their own. Where would that sort of
thinking lead us? Eh?
DON'T forget the true meaning of Xmas! Let's make sure trading
figures in town are the highest ever! It's what Baby Jesus would
have wanted!
DON'T forget either that shopping defeats Terrorism. The more you
spend, the more tax money the Government gets and the more bombs
it can buy to blow up people who don't share our superior
Christian values."

This public information announcement was brought to you by the
Worthing Braindead Consumer Campaign Supported by sussexploit plc
and The Institute of Greed.

Shamelessly stolen from Worthing's excellent 'Porkbolter' (which
is well worth reading even if you don't live there)


..it's goodbye from us...

That's it for this year - we're off to the pub, and shall
re-emerge to produce the next SchNEWS for 9th January 2004 (unless
global capitalism has been overthrown over Christmas when we shall
instead be planting broad beans on collectively owned farms).



SchNEWS warns all readers we'll be back with some crackers and a
sack full of goodies next year. Honest.



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