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4th March 2006 |
RISE UP!! ITS YER JACKBOOT ON THE STAIRS...
Having a L.A.R.R-F | Crap Arrest of the Week
| Pipe Dream Poppycock | PRO TEST
DUMMIES | Down Shepton | Bombastic
| SchNEWS in Brief | Shell To Pay
| ...and finally...
HAVING A L.A.R.R-F
Last rites for Parliament under new Bill?
Heard about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill? Tedium
personified by the sound of it. In fact concealed under this yawn
inducing title is possibly the biggest goosestep towards a totally
authoritarian society the Blair oligarchy has yet dared to take.
Its been dubbed the Abolition of Parliament Act
by radical firebrands The Times.
Since the advent of the (now looking more liberal by the minute)
Criminal Justice Act in 1994, SchNEWS has warned about and reported
on the constant bombardment of measures clamping down on civil liberties
and eroding our previously hard won democratic freedoms. The repressive
grip has continued to tighten over the years, with increased surveillance,
Anti-Social Behavioural Orders, ID cards, Anti-Terror laws and the
Serious and Organised Crime Bill, to name but a few examples. In
fact, of the six thousand criminal offences on the books over a
thousand were created by Neo-Labour. These laws continue being abused
by the powerful to retain control and iron out any irritating resistance
to the great corporate sell-out of the last decade. There is one
thing, however, that theyve all had in common. All such laws
have had to be debated in and voted through
While this bunch of self-interested ideology-swallowing career
politicians have done little to oppose the big crackdown, it has
at least meant that everything done has remained fairly visible.
Pockets of political opposition have emerged, including some surprising
outbursts of sanity from the old loons in the House of Lords and
the judiciary. Even some parts of the mainstream media have taken
to wondering whether we are getting close to a dictatorship, now
that the crackdown has hit Middle England. All this has helped to
water down some of the more soviet-like sub-sections of the more
totalitarian proposals. Ultimately, we are left with a public record
of the law changes which, in theory at least, means that those responsible
could be held accountable later.
Overall, none of this was too disastrous for Government Inc. Enough
Whips could be cracked, arms twisted and cosy media relationships
fostered to ensure that most of the Magna Carta-pulping stuff could
get through unscathed. But as Neo Labours electoral stranglehold
has weakened of late, Tony Blair and the spin-doctors have become
increasingly frustrated by pesky opposition MPs throwing spanners
in the works. Even worse, hes had to contend with a number
of muscle-flexing interventions by the very last people he has ever
listened to - backbench Labour MPs who arent quite as on message
as they might be.
This has culminated with a number of irritating Parliamentary revolts
such as over the 90 days lock-em-up-for-no-reason provision in the
Terror Bill, which was kicked out by MPs a couple of months ago.
There are also the ongoing, repeated attempts by the Lords to remove
the glorification of Terror offence in the
same bill. How aggravating must this be for our would-be Lord Protector
Blair and his bunch of merry PR men? These laws dont affect
any important demographics! Damn public scrutiny! Damn reasoned
political debate and democratic decision-making! But how to get
around all these problems? Never fear, political genius Tony is
here with the answer: lets do away with democratically agreed
laws and instead have some LARRs - Legislative and Regulatory Reforms...
Launched with little fanfare, amongst concerns about bureaucratic
red-tape and the inefficiency of out-dated procedures, the aniseed
pip at the heart of the gob stopping bill is this: why not just
bring in a law that allows the government to introduce, amend or
replace any legislation it likes. This can be done without all that
tiresome business of needing Parliament approval. Ministers will
be able to create new criminal offences at whim. All manner of focus
group orientated idiocy cooked up Neo-Labour up in its laboratory
of ideas will find its way to a street near you. That way, ministers
can get on with carving up power to suit themselves and their corporate
overlords. MPs can then get on with legitimising the regime, opening
supermarkets and holding local surgeries back in their constituencies.
Brilliant!The fact that Neo Labour may not be in power for eternity
shouldnt matter - well, Neo-Labour - Conservatives, not much
and there are a few restrictions to ease
the consciences of the all important moneyed classes. Orders wont
be used to introduce new taxes, for instance, but most of the limitations
on their use are fuzzy and subjective. One of the safeguards
in the Bill is that an order can impose a burden only
proportionate to the benefit expected to be gained.
And the judge of whether it is proportionate will be
the minister introducing the law of course. Whose benefit is of
course carefully left unanswered.
Cambridge Law Professor, John Spensor, has referred to it as the
abolition of parliament Bill. This bill can be used
to detain people for a couple of years (troublesome activists or
Johnny Foreigner perhaps), introduce house arrest, and give the
police greater powers of arrest and interrogation. It could also
be used to set up new courts, and in effect re-write the rules on
immigration, nationality, divorce, inheritance and the appointment
of judges all without any parliamentary scrutiny.
SchNEWS arent under illusions that parliament ever acted
in our interests but were not ready to see absolute power
handed over lock, stock and barrel to the spiders at the centre
of this web. The whole project bears an uncanny resemblance to the
Reichs Enabling Act which allowed the Nazis to legally dismantle
the constitution of the Weimar Republic. What do they want that
is so controversial that theyre not even sure if this parliament
of placemen and sycophants is going to push it through? This proposition
has already begun to cause ripples and it is imperative that it
doesnt remain in the shadows but encounters resistance at
The Bill is online at www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmbills/111/06111.1-4.html
ARREST OF THE WEEK
For arson about...
The trial of US environmental activist Rod Coronado continues this
week. The San Diego FBI arrested Coronado in 2003 for allegedly
teaching others how to start an arson fire. In an unprecedented
bout of bad timing Rod gave a lecture on animal rights and militant
environmental activism, just 15 hours after a $50 million fire that
wiped out an apartment complex, in the most expensive act of eco-terrorism
in US history. A press release from the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)
claimed responsibility The FBI allege that Coronado is a national
leader of the ELF and because of these links they nicked him for
incitement, along with three others who had attended the lecture
for contempt because they refused to testify before a grand jury
investigating the fire. Charges include distribution of information
relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass
destruction, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years. Coronado
denies all charges. A quirky footnote that falls under the category
for simplest tell it-how-it-is slogan of the week comes
from the scene of the eco-attack where the FBI found a 12-foot banner
that read, If you build it, we will burn it.- Flamin
It was recently announced that yet more British troops are heading
for Afghanistan. St George and his malleable sidekick, St Tony,
have decreed that in their crusade to save the world (especially
the USA and UK) from the far-reaching tentacles of terrorism - and
heroin[ism] - Afghanistan must be tamed.
British troops are being stationed in the southern territory of
Helmand, with the expectation that some 3,300 of them will be deployed
there by late summer. This UN-sanctioned intervention has a multi-pronged
purpose: Helmand is considered to be a lawless region; under the
control of drug lords, the Taliban, and an alleged al-Qaeda stronghold.
Added to this, the area is fertile ground for poppies, estimated
at yielding a trade in heroin valued at £650 million per year.
Military bigwigs spout the well worn soundbite that interrupting
the flow of the regions narcotics trade will deprive al-Qaeda
of lucrative funds, and therefore keep the threat of terrorism away
from our shores. Helmand, roughly the size of Wales, is considered
by the militarists to represent a fertile training ground for insurgency.
(Coincidentally, there were those who found Wales itself good enough
for this purpose Mr Hamza?)
What everyone still seems to be avoiding mentioning, however, is
the subject of oil. Specifically, the Caspian Sea Pipeline Project.
Not so back in 1998, when Dick Cheney was enthusing, I cannot
think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to
become as strategically significant as the Caspian. However,
in order to make this pipe-dream of pumping black gold all the way
back to the Mediterranean a reality, Afghanistan was vital to the
equation and the Taliban had grown increasingly business-unfriendly,
threatening to spoil the plans.
Then came the slightly convenient 9/11, and shortly afterward troops
moved in, removed the Taliban and the pipeline was back on. (To
check how we saw it at the time, see www.schnews.org.uk/sotw/reshaping-the-world.htm).
So frantic were the US to have things run smoothly, Congress lobbied
for the overturning of sanctions against Azerbaijan (known as Section
907 of the Freedom Support Act), in order to allow the
proposed pipe to run through that territory. Among those sponsoring
the drive were four US oil giants forming the conglomerate to run
the project: Unocal, Amoco, Exxon and Penzoil. Little wonder as
estimates for transportable oil reserves in the region ranged from
a conservative 60 billion barrels to a dizzying 200 billion. (For
more on the pipeline, see SchNEWS 433)
The fact remains that US Inc. wants to make sure it can remain
in control of the region and ensure nothing stands in the way of
the latest dash to secure the worlds resources and
it doesnt want to be seen as acting unilaterally when it has
so much to gain from such military dominance. Not to mention it
probably needs to keep enough troops back for other adventures,
such as the continued plundering of Iraq and preparing for face-off
with Iran. What to do, what to do? Stand up and be counted loyal
servants of your Majesty
* To learn more about the USs reign of terror in Afghanistan,
visit Human Rights Watch at http://hrw.org/doc/?t=asia&c=afghan
Concerned about the effect that the SPEAK campaign is having on
preventing the go- ahead of Oxford Universitys primate research
laboratory, (SchNEWS 524) a bizarre coalition
calling itself PRO TEST (good pun - shame about the ethics) has
entered the fray. They had their first demo on Saturday 25th going
head to head with SPEAKs regular monthly demo outside the
Of course its great to see the mainstream media get behind
a grassroots group or perhaps were being a little naïve...
Luckily for PRO TEST their agenda coincides exactly with that of
the University, the government and Thames Valley Police so
thats how you get headlines! Despite national press coverage
and exhortation from the Uni to support the new pressure group,
a crowd of only 350 turned out to march for the lab. This included
die-hard vivisectionists as well as Vegetarians against the
ALF and a mish mash of Marxists and rugger-buggers. One idiot
even turned up in full hunting gear!
So what next for PRO TEST? Funnily enough they dont seem
to have anything planned. Cynics might argue that the whole thing
was a propaganda stunt cooked up by the authorities to justify the
clampdown on animal rights activists. Despite all the pious cant
from the vivisection lobby about democracy, freedom of speech and
assembly are rationed commodities on the streets of Oxford. Campaigners
against the lab are subject to a draconian injunction under our
old friend the Protection from Harassment Act and are subject to
routine police aggravation.
are calling for a mass demonstration on World Day for laboratory
animals on Saturday 22nd April.
Its been a topsy-turvy week for the anti-Tescos treesitters
in Shepton Mallet (see SchNEWS 533). First,
on Wednesday, the whole site was cleared by one hundred bailiffs
at six in the morning. The trees used for the last camp were destroyed
after the eviction, but theres around 180 still waiting to
be saved. The campaign is down but not out as activists have reclaimed
part of the site and are sending out an urgent call out for people
to get down there with equipment and general tat ASAP . The camp
can be contacted on 07749 110689. Shepton Mallet is located on the
A361 between Glastonbury and Frome. Nearest train stations are Castle
Cary (about 8 miles) and Frome (about 9 miles). The camp is in a
patch of woodland behind the Cenotaph (at the top of the High Street)
at the south end of Townsend Road.
And across the Channel a few dozen people have been occupying the
building site of the youth prison, the EPM (Établissement
Pénitentiaire pour Mineurs) in Orvault, France since Monday
morning. Activists have set up four tree-houses whilst others gather
on the ground in solidarity and intend to thoroughly shut the whole
Last October, a first demonstration against the EPM
took place during which some 200 people invaded the building site,
putting up banners on the highway and putting out survey stakes,
to slow down the construction process. For more contact: email@example.com
200 cops and 40 Police vehicles that was Sussex Plods
proportionate response to March 1sts Victory demo
outside Brighton bomb-builders EDO MBM. Over 70 campaigners gathered
to celebrate the end of the injunction which created an exclusion
zone around the factory. (see SchNEWS 531).
There are regular demos outside the factory so check out www.smashedo.org.uk
Activists will be returning for a Citizens Weapons Inspection
at 4pm on the 21st of March
- Last week the Botswana government announced that a diamond mine
on the land of the Central Kalahari Bushmen (See SchNEWS
517) would affect 5,027 square km of land - well over a hundred
times more than previously admitted. They stated that a
small area immediately around the mineral deposit (i.e. within
a mere 40km radius), is cordoned off. This means that an
area 10% of the total size of the Central Kalahari Game
Reserve (CKGR) will be impacted. This is despite Botswanas
Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs saying in 2000
that only 46 square kilometres or 0.09% of the reserve would be
allocated to mining. No doubt the repression of the Kalahari people
will continue apace
For more see www.survival-international.org
- March 5th sees the launch of the Brighton Alliance Against
Urban 4x4s. They will be setting up an information table in
the Sydney Street/Gardner Street area from 12.30pm and will send
out teams of parking wardens to issue mock parking
tickets to urban 4x4s. For more call Blake Ludwig, national Alliance
Against Urban 4x4s on 07932 736257
- On Sunday April 2 there will be an act of mass civil disobedience
against the occupation of Iraq from 12 noon within the no-protest
zone outside Parliament.
- Debt and Power - Towards an End of Debt Domination
is the title of the Jubilee Debt Campaign Conference 2006. 11-5pm
Saturday 8 April 2006 South Camden Community School, Euston, London,
NW1 1RG. Attendance is free but booking is essential. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
to reserve your place.
Oil giant Shell have found themselves in the dock in Nigeria. The
Ijaw have been fighting since 2000 for compensation for environmental
degradation in the oil-rich region. (For more on the ecological
devastation wrought by the company see SchNEWS
520). Having initially ignored calls by the Nigerian parliament
to pay restitution to the Ijaw for polluting their lands. The corporation
have now been ordered to cough up to the tune of $1.5bn. Apparently
they are feeling hard done by and will appeal, claiming the decision
should not be upheld, as there is no evidence against them. They
do however remain committed to dialogue with the Ijaw people.
While some Ijaw have opted for court claims, others have taken
the law into their own hands. Militants have launched attacks on
oil-related sites and are currently holding seven foreign oil workers
hostage. In the wake of these crises, Shell has halved its output
If and when the Ijaw do see their award, then will come the internal
wrangling over how the money is divided up. But for now, theyve
had their day in court.
If ever proof were needed that all politicians are wankers....Not
content with all the usual perks of political office (kickbacks,
expense accounts, and corporate soirees), it turns out the worn
out members of the U.S. Congress can also look forward to a free
monthly dose of porn in the form of Hustler magazine.
Since 1983 pornbroker Larry Flynt has been mailing a copy of his
nudie mag to all 535 upstanding members of Congress. The arrival
of the latest (left of) centrefold has been causing quite a stir
in more ways than one. Despite most Congress men and women claiming
they bin the magazine as soon as it arrives (and the rest just read
it for the articles), it seems that they have no choice
whether they receive it or not. Members of Congress are legally
obliged to accept mailings from members of the public, even jazz
mags. Some have even gone as far as suing to try and prevent the
monthly delivery, but to no avail.
Time to add 535 names and addresses to the SchNEWS mailing list
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