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(en) SchNEWS 404, Friday 9th May, 2003

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Thu, 8 May 2003 23:55:03 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

"If GATS gets the green light Europe can kiss goodbye its public health
services" - Susan George, economist.
After bombing Iraq it's back to bread and butter issues for Neo Labour -
flogging off our public services to the lowest bidder.
The new Foundation Hospitals will give private companies a surgical strike
on our health service. They will also be able to pull out of nationally
agreed pay and conditions for workers. As Allyson Pollock, head of health
policy at University College London says "Don't be fooled by the rhetoric:
this is about privatisation."

When Prime Sinister Bliar talks about modernisation read privatisation. Such
'modernisation' has already been the fate of 50 NHS hospitals handed over to
companies like Jarvis, Tarmac, Siemens and Rentokil thanks to the Private
Finance Initiative (PFI) In a study of the first 15 hospitals put under the
PFI operating table a third of hospital beds have so far been amputated.

Foundation Hospitals and PFI's are just what the corporations ordered. These
very same corporations are busy pushing for a new round of GATS - the
General Agreement on Trade in Services, first signed in 1994 by the World
Trade Organisation. GATS aims to remove 'barriers to trade' (which are there
to protect us - health and safety rules, environmental laws, planning
regulations, etc.) and open up what's left of our public services to private
corporations - forever.

Once you've signed away a certain section of your public services to GATS
then there is no going back, because the aim of GATS is 'progressive
liberalisation' - a way of ensuring that eventually no other model of
service delivery other than by the private sector is available. For example
despite private companies making a complete pigs ear of our railways,
bringing rail maintenance and repair services back under some form of public
ownership would breach the UK's existing GATS commitments. The government
would then be taken to a World Trade Organisation tribunal made up of
unelected trade lawyers who meet in secret and subsequently told to change
the offending law or regulation - or face the massive trade sanctions


Since the government reckons private companies are obviously the right
choice for running our hospitals, here's a little reminder of how
corporations have been doing elsewhere. In education, where Local Education
Authority's (LEA) are so under-funded that they cannot afford to put in bids
to run their own show, companies like Jarvis are doing a great job. With no
previous experience in education, they've recently been awarded a £1.9m
contract to provide 'support' for 700 under-performing secondary schools.
Surely that's not the same Jarvis that's under investigation for its part in
the Potters Bar rail crash? Yep. Or the Jarvis that kept thousands of kids
out of school in Liverpool for two weeks and 20 schools in the Huddersfield
area closed, because they hadn't completed works on time? The very same.
But surely its not the same Jarvis recently joined by two defectors from
rival firm WS Atkins. Atkins recently pulled out of their contract to run
Southwark LEA after only two years because "We had bitten off more than we
could chew" and because there was no profit to be had, which resulted in the
company losing 90% of its value in six months, but not before the number of
schools in special measures in the borough had risen due to their
incompetence? Yes, that Jarvis. Ah, parents can sleep safe at night then.

The school standards minister, David Milibrand, justified Jarvis'
appointment by saying that "Ofsted have said there is a real problem in the
quality of support going to the lowest-performing schools." Is that the
same Ofsted that's farming its school inspections out to companies like Nord
Anglia who also run schools? No conflict of interest there then.

Despite an Audit Commission report published in January that found the first
PFI schools to be "significantly worse" than other new schools in England
and Wales, the government in its wisdom remains convinced that PFI in
education is the way forward. Defence and shipping company Vosper
Thorneycroft has just won a £100m deal to take over the running of Surrey's
LEA, the first award to be made for a successful LEA. Vosper's CEO made no
attempt to disguise the motivation behind their bid when he boasted "It is
£100m over 7 years. If we are able to catch some of the other LEAs we could
double or treble our size over that period of time."


They'd better be careful not to fall victim to the level of greed that
almost sunk Amey, the company who took on a third share of the London
Underground deal, and also went on to grab contracts for the Ministry of
Defence, the Edinburgh school system, and Network Rail - including the
Croydon Tram service- which almost went belly up when Amey failed for
reasons of mis-management and too-fast growth. No contract-breaking
penalties for Amey however, instead they were free to sell their contracts
on, for £80m to Spanish construction group Ferrovial, the first foreign firm
to get their mitts on Britain's public services.

Meanwhile, our old mates WS Atkins are on the loose again, as part of the
design team for the new Birmingham Northern Relief Road, the 27-mile
motorway that seems set to fail in its objectives before work is completed.
The road is being built, - despite huge opposition and legal challenges from
the local community and environmental groups - by joint venture company
CAMBBA (Carillion, McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and Amec) who will also be the
operating company after completion. One of the reasons given for building
the road was the diversion of heavy polluting trucks off the M6 and out of
Birmingham, but the £11 per trip toll that CAMBBA plan to impose on lorry
drivers (as opposed to £3 per car) will almost certainly keep those trucks
trundling over Spaghetti Junction. And the reasoning behind this can only be
guessed at, but Friends of the Earth probably aren't far from the truth:
".a lorry damages the road infrastructure as much as 100 times more than a
car. They're going to want to attract cars, which give them revenue, but
not lorries, which cause damage."

So, that's health, education, transport - and so to public housing, what's
left of it. The government is committing £40m into an estate in Manchester
as the first of eight 'social housing' PFI projects. The Grove Village
consortium, led by Nationwide Building Society and house builder Gleeson,
will revamp the 1,090 home estate, then sell most of it on to private
buyers. Jane Robinson from Unison has said that councils have been left with
little option but to use PFI through lack of government funding and that the
quest for profit by private companies is "not appropriate in public
services, where there's a range of other responsibilities to be taken into
account." But then we all know that the only responsibility big companies
care about is their responsibilities to line the pockets of their

· 'Serving (Up) The Nation: A guide to the UK's commitments under the WTO
General Agreement on Trade in Services.' Copies from the World Development
Movement 020 7274 7630 or read it at www.wdm.org.uk WDM have also
organised a 'Whose rules rule? Conference 14 - 15 June University of
· 31 May Defend Council Housing National Conference Friends Meeting House,
Purchase St. Liverpool www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk Tel. 020 7987 9989



A Canadian woman was threatened with 24 hour detainment for "taking part in
terrorist actions against a U.S. citizen in international airspace while on
an American flight during a time of war". Her crime? Explosives in her
handbag? Nope - refusing to stop breast-feeding her 4-month-old baby, on a
flight from Houston to Vancouver. The threat came after an American man on
the plane felt assaulted by her "subversive" behaviour, and demanded that
the woman be charged with assault and an act of war against an American
(what a tit!). Luckily for the woman there were no laws against
breastfeeding in Canada and she managed to walk free once the plane landed
in Vancouver.



"We don't do body counts," said General Tommy Franks, Head of US Central
Command, when asked about civilian casualties in Iraq.

Nevertheless hospital records in Baghdad released this week show that
American cluster bombs and other weapons of indiscriminate destruction
murdered at least 2,300 civilians and injured at least 7000. The death toll
for the rest of the country still remains unclear - Iraqi Red Crescent say
they will have figures in mid-May - but it's sure to run into thousands. Is
that enough deaths to avenge September 11th? And don't let's forget the
Iraqi civilian death toll due to sanctions that now stands at an unthinkable
1.5 million. Or that the World Health Organisation today issued a warning
that a cholera epidemic is 'inevitable' in Southern Iraq, in which thousands
more could die.

So why doesn't Tommy want to face the bloody truth? Well it's one of those
inconvenient details, one of those spanners in the works of the mighty lying
propaganda machine that promised no civilian deaths, loads of Iraqi weapons
of mass destruction and a dead dictator.

The horrific effects of Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons as used in Iraq were
highlighted last Saturday when 80 people protested at the weapons test site
near Dundrennan, Kirkcudbright in Eire, which has been testing DU weapons
for 20 years! Ken Dale from the Red Cross spoke of the massive increase in
childhood leukaemia in Iraq since the last Gulf War, with drugs to treat it
unavailable thanks to UN sanctions. The marchers also heard how the UK
government is currently ignoring pleas to decontaminate DU sites in Iraq.

* 29th May is the 2nd International Day of Action against DU with the
Galloway Coalition for Peace holding another demo at Dundrennan 4.30 - 7.30
pm www.cadu.org.uk



Pro-Palestinian activists are now being barred from entering the country,
and many already there are being expelled. The families of British
activists, UN and peace workers who have been shot by Israeli forces (3 in
the last few months) have complained that the UK government seemed not even
a little bit interested in putting pressure on Israel to open investigations
into the shootings but is now bending over backwards to help this latest
Israeli move. The plan, drafted by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) is a means
of further isolating the Palestinian people and ensuring there are less
people around to witness or report on further atrocities in Gaza. Activists
have been labelled by the IDF as 'provocateurs' and 'riot inciters' but most
belong to the International Solidarity Movement and are prepared to act as
'human shields' to protect Palestinians and their homes, and to help safe
passage through Gaza and the West Bank. www.ism-london.org and

**National Rally for Palestine in Trafalgar Sq, including speakers from ISM,
Jewish peace groups and Palestinian organisations,Sat 17th May noon
Trafalgar Sq 020 7700 6192 or info@palestinecampaign.org
**Rave Against The Occupation, a Palestinian night of Live Music, DJ's,
Films and Comedy Yallah 17th May at Sahara Nights, 257-259 Pentoville Rd,
Kings Cross, London N1 tickets £8/£5. 07776 243164
**ISM Training Day - a preparation day for those wishing to go to Palestine
18th May Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, Bow, London, E3.11am- 5pm For info and
booking email: rachel@ism-london.org or 020 7263 3040
**Palestinian Youth Leaders speak at the Circus Circus pub (upstairs),
Preston Circus, Brighton. 7pm 14th May. other dates round the country 07786
628107 www.slpyouth.org



For a round up of last week's May Day around the world go to
www.indymedia.org ** There were about 30 arrests at this years London
Mayday. The Legal Defence & Monitoring Group (LDMG) are seeking witnesses.
If you saw an arrest or have photos or video footage contact
ldmgmail@yahoo.co.uk or post: LDMG, C/o BM Haven, London WC1N 3XX. **
Dirtier Weekend - anti bypass play set in a road protest tunnel: 9th -
9.30pm, 10th/11th - 7pm Marlborough Theatre, 4 Princes St, Brighton ** SEReN
is Wales' new weekly alternative bi-lingual newsletter. Subscriptions £5 to
SEReN, PO Box 661, Wrecsam, LL11 1QU. Writers, distributers and stories
needed www.serencymru.org ** The killing of badgers, who are a scapegoat for
TB in cattle, will start again this month. Actions will take place across
the country www.badger-killers.co.uk: 07817 858166 ** The Essex school girl
who took her schools Board of Governors to the High Court, after she was
expelled from school for 30 days for organising anti-war demos, has now been
allowed back to school but not until the high court judge had told her that
she was a "very silly girl". Now that will teach her! ** Public meeting: The
War on Terror threatens us all, Tues 13th, Moses Room, Houses of Parliament,
7pm. Speakers include Mark Thomas and Michael Mansfield QC. www.cacc.org.uk
** The London Detainees Support Group, who support detainees held at
Harmondsworth Removals Centre desperately need volunteers. Contact Amanda or
Matt on 020 7700 0606 ** Bus to Haslar Prison, Portsmouth from Brighton next
Monday (12) to show support for refugees on hunger strike. Meet noon from St
Peter's Church. Bring things to make a noise nooneisilegal2002@yahoo.co.uk
** Cardiff Anarchist Network will screen Genoa Red Zone to raise awareness
about the forthcoming G8 summit in Evian. 2pm, 18th May at Chapter Cinema
1,Market Rd, Canton, Cardiff. £2.50/£3 www.geocities.com/bozavine/can **
Hove action for Peace have organised transport to next months G8 Summit,
details: megan.mccauley@lycos.co.uk ** Congratulations to the Devizes
Guardians who have won three seats in last weeks elections with a
pro-community stance and under the banner of saving a local tree!



Mario Placanica, the police officer that shot dead anti-capitalist
protester, Carlo Giuliani, at the protests against the G8 summit in Genoa
2001 (see SchNEWS 314/5) won't face prosecution. Carlo was shot when a group
of protesters attacked a Carabinieri (paramilitary police) landrover. The
reason the authorities have given for not prosecuting is that the police
were acting in self-defence and that Placanica did not aim the gun at Carlo
Giuliani, but shot towards the sky to scare the protesters and the bullet
was deviated by a rock in its trajectory! This is despite their being photo
evidence of the gun being pointed at the protesters.

The driver of the landrover, Officer Filippo Cavataio, who twice drove over
Carlo's body will also not face prosecution as this only caused light
wounds!. Er, bullets bouncing off rocks and landrovers that cause light
wounds when they run you over? Welcome to Italian justice. www.indymedia.org

Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire who shares power
with the fascists, is in court accused of bribing a judge to bar the sale of
the state-owned food giant SME to Carlo de Benedetti, owner of Buitoni. The
trial is expected to last for months. To protect himself, he is introducing
legislation for members of parliament to be immune from prosecution. He
argues that it would be good for the country - good for him and his cronies
more like!



Spain's unpopular Prime Minister José Maria Aznar, who ignored 90 percent of
his country when he joined the un-coalition in the war on Iraq, looks set to
introduce new laws that would impress even Franco (the former Spanish
dictator). The proposals include a new law making it an offence to carry out
public actions or to publish 'false' information that weakens the morale of
the population or provokes disloyalty amongst the Spanish military. The laws
would apply not only to actions against Spanish military involvement, but
also to actions carried out "against an Allied power". If approved, it could
result in the hundreds of thousands who repeatedly protested against the
government's backing of the war in Iraq being sanctioned for "defeatism" by
a military court. Their punishment could be one to six years in prison. The
way he's going though most people predict that it will be Aznar himself who'
ll be defeated at next year's elections


Inside SchNEWS

There will be a gathering outside Gloucester Prison this Sunday (11th) at
1pm to show support for two Oxford peace activists awaiting trial for
attempting to disarm a B-52 bomber at RAF Fairford in March. Oxford Support
Group - 01865 423200.

Send letters of solidarity to Toby Olditch JT 5132 and Phillip Pritchard JT
5131 both at HMP Gloucester, Barrack Square, Gloucester, GL1 2JN. For a list
of peace prisoners see www.j-n-v.org/prisoners.htm

* Protesters involved in mass trespasses at Shannon Airport, Ireland last
October were in court last week. Eight of the nine were found guilty of
trespass or criminal damage, banned from County Clare (unless they lived
there) for up to two years, and received fines of between 50- 3,150 Euros.
Donations are urgently needed to help pay fines and costs for these and
other direct action defendants arrested on actions at the airport. Shannon
airport has been used for the refuelling of US planes used to bomb Iraq.
Cheques can be made out to Shannon Solidarity, and sent to Shannon
Solidarity c/o Ecology Society, Students Centre, NUIG, Newcastle, Galway.



The people of Iraq have undoubtedly got a lot of work to do before they are
really liberated. Part of this is the establishment of their own independent
media. Bristol Indymedia have made contact with people in Iraq who want to
work to set up an Iraqi Indymedia, and are going to provide them with
ongoing support. If you'd like to get involved, or can contribute technical
support or equipment then contact bristol@lists.indymedia.org. Donations can
be sent to Bristol Indymedia, Box 7, Greenleaf Bookshop, 82 Colston Street,
Bristol BS1 5BB, please indicate that the money is for Iraq IMC.


...and finally...

Always on the lookout to profit from public anxiety, especially if it
involves death and disease, biotech companies and research institutions from
all round the world and even the US government are queuing up to be the
proud owner of a new patent.. for the SARS virus. It seems the whole virus
is up for grabs with groups claiming ownership of everything from bits of
genetic material to the entire virus itself. Ahhh - Just imagine sitting
back and watching the royalties roll in as the death toll increases.



No disClaimer this week due to writers building block. More grand columns
and raising the roof next week. Honest!


SchNEWS Of The World - issues 301-350 for £7!! Past books are goin' cheap...
SchNEWSround issues 51-100 - nearly sold out - £5; SchNEWS annual issues
101-150 - going for £3!! Survival Handbook issues 151-200 - also at £3;
SchQUALL issues 201-250 - almost sold out - £7; Yearbook 2001 issues
251-300 - bargain £5. Add £1.50 p&p for each book, cheques to Justice?

In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles,
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