The G7 Finance Ministers meet this week, (4-5th Feb) in a swanky
London hotel to chat about how theyre gonna run the global
economy. The G8 is the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan
Russia. Russia arent really included in the finance
talks because they owe too much money, therefore its the G7.
The G8 are like the executive committee of the system that sees
economic growth as the answer to everything. They control over half
the votes in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and basically exist to make life easier for
transnational corporations. Its unaccountable, un-transparent
So how does what goes on in these meetings affect our lives? Many
of the stories you read about in SchNEWS or the corporate media
can be traced back to the dodgy influence of the G8. From Iraq to
PFI hospitals to the water revolts in Bolivia, the G8s pervasive
stink wafts through many bad news stories in recent years.
The G8/G7 dont actually make policies, they issue declarations.
At a meeting last October they discussed the sustainability
of health-care spending in the major countries and ideas and policies
for reform of such spending. In the UK that will mean goodbye
NHS and hello privatisation.
Neo-Labour strongly opposed PFI when they were in opposition, but
their principles caved in when they got into power. Now everything
from schools to hospitals to roads are put under the PFI hammer.
This rampant privatisation is what the GATS (General Agreement on
Trade in Services) agreement is foisting upon governments across
the world. GATS came from the G8-dominated WTO talks in 2001. If
these international summits seem distant and abstract, the results
are neither, they are concrete and visible in hospitals and schools
in every part of the UK.
A study by a consultancy company which works for the Department
of Health shows that for every £200 million spent on PFI hospitals
the result will be a loss of a thousand doctors and nurses. The
first PFI hospitals also contain some 28% fewer beds than the hospitals
they replaced while many are heavily in debt and closing wards and
cutting back services.
But there is a deeper level of corporate infestation. The G8 make
noble sounding task forces and ask their mates to run them - effectively
asking the corporations to cure the diseases they created. The Global
Health Fund set up to combat HIV/AIDS was just flogging big brand
drugs and Mark Moody Stuart, former Chairman of Shell, runs their
G8 Renewable Taskforce. Its like having the Childrens
Welfare Department jointly headed by Dr G Glitter and Prof M Jackson.
Blair is trying to use his presidency of the G8 to repair his
damaged reputation after Iraq and separate himself from Bush in
the eyes of the UK public, by talking about Africa and climate change.
This year they have invited China, India and Brazil to a breakfast
meeting in recognition of their growing influence but they will
have to wolf down their croissants sharpish and leave by the tradesmans
entrance before the business of business gets underway. After his
speech in Trafalgar Square to Make Poverty History campaigners on
Thursday, Nelson Mandela will stop in to try and persuade G8 leaders
to adopt Gordon Browns Marshall Plan for Africa.
What wont be in the headlines are the big financial issues
like the potential collapse of the dollar which has lost 30% relative
to other major currencies since 2002, due partly to the monkey in
the white house but mostly the instability of global capital markets.
And if the dollar goes then the bubble might really burst.
The dollar is used as the worlds reserve currency, which
gives a huge subsidy to the US economy. The Euro threatens this
situation, but the fact that OPEC sells oil only in US$ means that
the dollars status is maintained. In 2000, in a deliberate
attempt by Saddam to strike back at the US, Iraq started selling
its oil for Euros. Could this explain the rush to get Western oil
companies into Iraq? The only other countries considering making
the same move are Iran and Venezuela, both of which the US have
recently rattled their sabres at. And theyre not joking. The
Pentagon have recently been drafting a contingency plan for an invasion
of Iran by land from Iraq.
The G8 try and present themselves as a tight-knit bunch of mates,
but behind the scenes there is constant squabbling, deal-making
and deal-breaking. International summits are their family album,
Kodak moments where they hold hands and smile for the cameras of
the worlds media. By presenting a show of unity they can enforce
their will over the rest of the world. To some of us it will be
a relief to know that behind closed doors there are long, tedious
arguments going on and seemingly endless wrangles over how to achieve
their goals. To create a kick-ass mobilisation against the G8 this
summer will be a major challenge and will demand that we work together
over the few months we have left. Diverse groups will need to find
ways to work together and resistance to the summit itself will be
a reflection of this diversity.
Many will want to stop the so-called world leaders and their henchmen
from meeting. For others, it is critical to de-legitimise this bankrupt
system by shattering the fake global unity the G8 promotes - especially
in a rich state like the UK. Then there are others who dont
care about the G8 itself, only what we, as a global movement, can
do about expanding our own possibilities, living together, if only
temporarily, with no limits.
All this will take people, time, money and more. Its time
to get involved!
SO WHAT CAN I DO?
* Get in touch and involved with your local Dissent! Network
group - www.dissent.org.uk
* Donate and raise desperately needed money for leaflets,
posters and - importantly - convergence spaces. Send money
to: Dissent. Cooperative Bank, Sort Code 08-92-99, Account
Number 6515 5518.
* Watch out for Corporate Watch briefing on the G8
in Scotland, available on line at the end of March and as
a map sometime in April www.corporatewatch.org.uk
* TRAPESE have been touring about the UK since September
doing workshops and pub quizzes clueing people up about issues
behind the G8, and mobilising people to get to Scotland in
July as well boosting grassroots resistance in their own area.
Only 21 weeks til the summit, the clock is ticking. Time to
get involved? TRAPESE and Have I Got SchNEWS For You
crew are planning a spring tour. If you want to host an event
call 07904 452297 or the SchNEWS office. See www.trapese.org
for dates and more info.
OF THE WEEK
For telling a joke
Did you hear the one about the pair arrested for telling a lawyer
joke? Two people waiting outside a US courthouse quipped: How
do you tell when a lawyer is lying?
His lips are
moving. Unfortunately, a sour-faced lawyer wasnt laughing,
and now they face new charges for abusive and disorderly conduct.
ARE YOU SERIOUS?
If any SchNEWS readers out there are thinking about stock market
investments, what about an animal lab? Worried about animal rights
protesters denting your profits? Dont be, theres £16
billion of investment in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries
and Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, announced this week that
investment terrorism will become a serious criminal
The Serious Organised Crime Bill is passing through parliament
and is being touted as a way to tackle economic terrorism.
Terrorist tackling ministers are in quite a rush: of the 113 companies
recently pulling out of doing business with animal labs, over one
third did so in the last three months. Animal rights actions are
proving successful with the construction of a primate research centre
in Oxford being stopped and 100 contractors and suppliers severing
links with Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Sarah Dixon of the Save the Newchurch Guinea Pig Campaign makes
the point that there isnt a need for a new law: The
offences this legislation is trying to stop are already against
the law. I have no idea how far the legislation is going to go.
At what point does peaceful protest become economic sabotage?
With the Public Order, Malicious Communications, Criminal Justice
and Terrorism Acts already in place, coppers are certainly going
to need some extra training to help them choose from such a wide
ranging menu of protest-stopping laws. Under an amendment to the
Bill it would be a criminal offence for more than two people to
harass someone with the intention of making a company
break off commercial links with an animal research company. So what
will happen to groups calling for boycotts of companies, or people
doing pickets outside McDonalds?
And if the law is found to be successful at stopping animal rights
campaigns, you can be sure it will be used against other campaigns.
The Bills even got a clause on Behaviour in the vicinity
of Parliament which is designed to prohibit anyone spoiling
the visual aspect of the Palace of Westminster. But this is
no opportunity to move on ugly politicians, its mainly aimed
at one single demonstrator Brian Haw. Brians been camped
outside Westminster for 3 years protesting against US/UK policies
on Iraq. Now the powers-that-be are fed up with the embarrassment
and want him removed, as according to former Home Secretary, David
Blunkett, he is giving tourists a view of dysfunctional democracy
Blunkett obviously reckons that protesting is dysfunctional
but this is the attitude weve come to expect of this
authoritarian Neo-Labour government. Blunkett admitted the law was
a sledgehammer to crack a nut, the nut being Brian,
who has apparently caused total havoc with his one man protest.
We will let you decide what total havoc is and who the nuts are,
but the implications of the amendment are wider than one man. The
proposed rules will outlaw peaceful protest within a 1km radius
of Parliament and Downing St, including Trafalgar Square, without
a permit. Demonstrators could be banned from the area, fined up
to £2500 or face 3 months in prison for the organisation of
* Support Brian Demo: next Monday (7th) 2-8pm in Parliament
Square (see www.parliament-square.org.uk)
or get a megaphone and pitch a tent down next to Brians.
While the government in this country is setting up a specific law
of economic sabotage against animal rights protesters, in the USA
theyve already got the law - the controversial Federal Animal
Enterprise Terrorism Act.
Seven Activists face three years in jail each for participation
in an international campaign to close the notorious product testing
lab Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Specifically, these activists are alleged to have operated a website
that reported on and expressed ideological support for protest activity
against Huntingdon and its business affiliates. For this they are
charged with terrorism. Even though they themselves
have not committed any actions against HLS the US authorities
are attacking these seven people to try and silence a growing movement
against animal abuse.
If the authorities are successful in prosecuting these activists
it is likely they will go after other protesters, as the SHAC7 website
says: This case is intended to pave the way for further silencing
of activists involved in all issues. It is imperative that the broader
social justice movement stand behind these activists in our communal
defense of free speech, press, and association. www.shac7.com
* The campaign against HLS continues: www.shac.net
SchNEWS in brief
- Learn more about dodgy health effects of Tetra phone masts,
used by the police, this Saturday (5th) 10:30am, Institut Francais,
17 Queensbury Place, London. £3/£2
- Open day on waste including what to do with it, the Newhaven
Incinerator Campaign, compost and wormies. This Saturday (5th).
Brighton Peace and Environment Centre, 39-41 Surrey St, opp. Brighton
Station 12 noon
- Catch SchNEWS at Ten - the movie and a new film by those
Worthing troublemakers The Porkbolter at the first ever South
Coast Indymedia video night next Tuesday (8th) upstairs at
The Downview pub in Tarring Road, Worthing, directly opposite
West Worthing station. 7.45pm
- The president of the General Union of Oil Employees in Basra,
Iraq will be talking next Tuesday (8th) at Room 3E, ULU, Malet
Street, London. 7.30pm www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk
- Brighton Defy ID meeting at the Cowley Club, 12 London
Rd next Thursday (10th) 7pm
- Colombian Hip Hop band Zona Marginal are playing next
Sat (12th) 7pm-12 midnight Parker Place Bar, 51 Parker St, Holborn,
WC2 Entry £5.
- Demonstrate against migrant and refugee detention centres
which hold people without trial, indefinitely. Meet outside
Harmondsworth Detention Centre, Feb 19th, 11.30am. Bring: Pots
and pans, musical instruments, balloons, kites, banners 020 8510
- Nottingham Student Peace Conference - Whats oil
got to do with it?; Living in the shadow of the War on Terrror;
What are we going to do about it? 2-7.30pm, next Sunday (13th),
Portland Building, University of Nottingham www.su.nottingham.ac.uk/~nspm
- Hats off to the squatters of Arbour Square police station
in Stepney East London, who have turned the old cop shop into
a haven for hard-up musicians and artists from Europe and South
America. Theyve won the first round of their eviction order
thanks to the police screwing up the serving of eviction notices.
CHIPS WITH THAT?
Whatever will they think of next? Well, micro-chips the size of
sand grains with miniature antenna which are embedded into
products allowing them (and therefore their user) to be tracked.
If this particular bit of big-brotherly love and attention doesnt
appeal to you then join CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy
Invasion and Numbering) in their boycott of Tesco, the supermarket
giant who are kindly offering these chips free with their products.
This technology is called RFID - radio frequency identification
(see SchNEWS 415) - and if you have been shopping recently at Tesco
in Leicester or Sandhurst you may already have these spychips in
your house. CASPIAN say these two branches are part of a trial which
is about to be increased to ten Tesco stores across Britain. The
ethically challenged supermarket chain assure us they dont
intend on tracking products after purchase - but you have to admit
that people walking around with unknown amounts of traceable devices
on them could come in handy for a police state. www.boycottTesco.com
* Colchester library is the first UK library to use RFID chips
with another 30 to follow.
Hot rocks found 1000 metres below an old cement works in Weardale,
County Durham could be used to provide hot water for an eco- village,
and surrounding houses. Scientists from the University of Newcastle
and PB Power have spent half a million pounds drilling a big hole
into the ground to investigate. They found the water was 46°C
- hot enough for heating up to 4000 homes! There are also plans
to have wind and solar power supplying the homes, which, as the
chairman of the hot rocks task force said could make Weardale
the first truly sustainable community in the British Isles.
Sex, lies and
Start practising now - dont let your voice wobble when youre
talking to the folks down at the Department of Work and Pensions
(DWP) coz they may in future be using a lie detector on the phone
that can suggest youre fibbing about your claim. In yet another
Big Brother-esque addition to our lives, the DWP, which is trying
to crack down on benefit fraud but still expects people to live
on £55 a week, has admitted to looking into using voice-analysis
technology. It indicates changes in your voice due to rising
stress levels and can suggest that you are lying so they can look
into your case. Dealing with the dole people - rising stress levels?
We dont see any connection there...
While the government is finding new and intrusive ways to get people
back to work in some fantasy job market in Britain, in Germany a
women faces cuts to her unemployment benefits because she doesnt
want to work in a brothel providing sexual services.
Yep, under Germanys recent welfare reforms, any woman under
55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to
take any available job including in the legal sex industry
or lose her unemployment benefit. When the unemployed IT
professional looked into suing the jobcentre, she found out that
it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people
who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action
from the potential employer. When Blair bangs on about getting people
back to work to improve their quality of life, SchNEWS wonders whether
being forced to work in a job that sucks for little more dosh than
benefits isnt just another form of forced prostitution?
SchNEWS warns all readers going to the G8 in Scotland...to have
brave hearts. Honest!
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