Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
ISSUE 281, FRIDAY 3rd November, 2000
With the worst storms and flooding for 50 years and a new report on how climate change will affect Europe, the fuel protestors picked a good week to announce its next days of action.
Without a sense of irony it was announced there would be another Jarrow march - except unlike the last one in 1936, where starving unemployed Tyneside workers walked to London to demand jobs, this one will be in the form of a four-day convoy of slow-moving lorries. Their demand - a 26 pence cut in fuel duty, for the right of the motorist to-drive-anywhere-we-like-for-as-little-as-possible, and bugger the consequences. And it gets better - the protests will begin on the very first day of the Climate Change Conference in the Hague! Hello, is anyone home?
And can't you see the similarities between the original Jarrow crusaders and the hauliers and farmers. The original crusaders lived in a town with 80% unemployment with a means test benefit system that made you sell everything you owned in order to qualify.
But if you think that's hardship look at what some of the fuel protestors have to live on. One of the leaders, Nigel Kime, struggles by with his haulage firm worth just £2 million. Another, Derek Mead, owns a piddling 1,600 acre dairy farm in Somerset. Poor old Derek Lynch owns just one haulage company in Kent, while Richard Haddock owns a farm covering just 800 acres. How embarrassing. These people are obviously starving!
Does SchNEWS have to spell it out? Our love affair with the motorcar not only means a never-ending sprawl of concrete covering our land, but that in the not to distant future the weather patterns we've been seeing over the past few weeks will be the norm, and huge swathes of the country will be permanently under water.
Perhaps commentator John O'Farrell summed it up best "After the burning of fossil fuels, our second greatest source of greenhouse gases is apparently the methane from cows' bottoms. But with the amount of bullshit coming from the fuel protesters at the moment, this figure looks set to rise as well. They used to give out free glasses with petrol. They should start to give out sandbags and life-jackets instead."
* Spare a thought for the poor old oil companies too.in the UK, North Sea Oil operating profits have almost doubled during the last 10 years, yet tax on them has remained non-existent.
* It's now less than two weeks till the Climate Change Conference at the Hague, and things are hotting up, so to speak. Unsurprisingly, the world's richest nations will be battling to carry on regardless, while the majority of the 'developing' world will be battling to get their voices heard. Actions and events will be happening throughout the conference, including a Counter Summit.
* For info about climate change get a copy of ASEED's excellent new booklet Send £3 to Aseed Europe, PO Box 92066, 1090 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands. www.aseed.net/climate/climate.htm
If you want to go to the Hague from the UK contact 01865 791 391 or firstname.lastname@example.org
* 12th November, eve of the climate talks is the anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa's death. Activists will gather outside Shell HQ in The Hague.
* 13 Critical Mass bike ride to co-incide with the opening of the Hague Conference Meet 7.45am at Devonshire Green, Sheffield. email@example.com
* The South African Government aims to distribute one million bicycles by 2010 as a sustainable transport solution. Ten thousand bikes are to be distributed in rural areas early next year. Check-out www.afribike.org
CRAP ARREST OF THE
Part of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, ASBO's were originally talked up as a way of dealing with persistent criminals and tearaways on estates. But by October last year, Jack was horrified to notice that only 5 had been issued. So an urgent call went out, and councils have responded with gusto. Over 150 ASBOs have now been slapped on a whole range of miscreants, from 'problem families' to prostitutes- though whether the councillors, cops and judges among the latters' clientele will get similar hassle is open to question.
Some councils have gone even further- a ticket tout earned his ASBO for asking passengers at Brixton tube for their Travelcards. Other agencies have been quick to notice 'alternative' applications. ASBO's have been mooted in discussions between government, police, scientists and 'law-abiding' animal rights groups as a means of dealing with 'extremists', who visit or threatening vivisectionists and 'home visiting' staff. "People can be treated more leniently because they are seen as idealists," warns the Home Office. "They aren't. They are criminals." As, it would seem, so are the homeless and beggars. In fact everybody except, funnily enough, truck driving, road blocking fuel protestors.
Every year Mendip Council refuse the Glastonbury Festival's license, yet it always goes ahead. But this time, they are refusing to renew the license unless "the Festival Organisers and Police co-operate in resolving the issue of intrusion by the New Age Travellers convoys each year to the Festival site." Intrusion? What a bloody cheek.
Glastonbury today would not exist without the "intrusion" of the free-festival community. Even the greenest of young festival goers could not fail to perceive a marked difference between the chaotic 24-hour non stop carnival that is Glastonbury and the sanitised, lights out and bugger off at 11.30pm glorified pop-concert-in-a-field that is Reading/V2000 etc. Almost every article on Glastonbury this year raved about the casino Lost Vagueness, with photos showing the travellers who invented and ran it. Other site venues and bubbles of pure old-style festival spirit are run by people who were doing their thing on the travellers site 10 years ago but have gradually become an intrinsic part of the whole event.
According to the council report, 58 complaints were received concerning the site at Pipplers field. "Some members of the public could put up with their presence during the Festival only if they were quiet." So that's several thousand travellers' annual party threatened by 58 people who object to the inconvenience of a couple of days of basslines. What seems beyond the comprehension of opponents is that, for people who live on the road, Glastonbury is a traditional family gathering. Because their contribution to the festival over the years has not been cash based, the travellers have become increasingly marginalised.
Michael Eavis has attempted to accommodate them whilst conforming to license requirements, but this latest report signals a new onslaught of intolerance. Free festival veteran Tash told SchNEWS, "I have 30 years of experience in festivals. With outfits like Festival Welfare Services and Travellers Aid Trust, we have helped run the medical and welfare services at lots of events and did so as volunteers. Many will be excluded from Glastonbury under the new criteria although we have contributed to the festival for years. As far as those policing the event are concerned, we are 'travellers'. This is how they terrorised and fragmented the movement before in 1985 at the beanfields. If we have no annual gathering, we are less united."
Plans to shut the nurseries are part of a huge cuts package proposed by Hackney Council, currently £40 million in debt. The council's Labour - Conservative coalition (says it all really, doesn't it ?) want to introduce a "new era of political stability" for the borough by, er, cutting services, sacking staff, and slashing wages to reduce the debt. Sounds familiar? Also on the agenda is privatisation of council services (see SchNEWS 226) - even though contracting out Hackney's benefits section to the private company ITNet resulted in three years of chaos, with late payments causing 20,000 people to run up rent arrears and hundreds more being threatened with eviction.
Hackney's debt is no worse than that of several other local authorities, but it is one of the poorest local authority areas in the country. Residents and council employees believe they have been targeted for the axe by Central Government because of the borough's history of militancy during the 1980s and early 1990s. The council will meet on Monday 6th November to discuss a cuts package - but the same day will see all out action to shut down the borough in protest. Meet at 1pm at Hackney Town Hall to join the fun. More details: 07979 823597. For the thespians among you, there will also be a forum theatre performance about Hackney's debt on the 6th - contact Nick on 07946 048602.
Five protesters still remain in Czech jails in relation to the S26 events. The Civic Legal Observers are going to file complaints about alleged abuse against protesters to the Czech authorities within the next few weeks, and Czech Police have promised to take any complaints seriously (yeah sure).
On November 17 there will be a protest in Prague to denounce the fact that after the Velvet Revolution not much has changed for the majority of Czech people, and that there remains an extraordinarily level of active repression. This date marks the date that students protests sparked the Velvet Revolution. A call has gone out for solidarity actions around the world.
Michael Collins, a May Day prisoner on remand would really appreciate letters. He has been forced to accept a plea bargain, accepting Arson and Violent Disorder. He's up for sentence on 3rd November, and expects to get 4-5 years. FR6303, HMP Wandsworth, PO Box 757, Heathfield Road, London, SW18 3HS
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Last updated 3rd November 2000