BACK ISSUES

SchNEWS 701, 27th November 2009
Buy Buy Cruel World - SchNEWS hopes the anti-consumerist message will finally gain purchase with international 'Buy Nothing Day' tomorrow... plus, the Target Barclays campaign is launched, opposing their investment in the arms trade, protest camp against opencast coal mine in Scotland is under threat of eviction, protest camp by the sacked Vesta workers on the Isle Of Wight is evicted, and more...

SchNEWS 700, 20th November 2009
Good Cop Bad Cop - Things are hotting up for the COP15 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen next month... plus, despite being out of the news, the plight of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka continues to be dire, protesters disrupt the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Edinburgh, the state clampdown on animal rights protesters continues as four are raided and arrested, the far-right march in Glasgow – and again are outnumbered, but next month move to Nottingham, and more...

SchNEWS 699, 13th November 2009
Mexican Wave - Around 200,000 workers, teachers, students, unionists, farmers and social campaigners shut Mexican cities down on Wednesday (12th) in a national strike... plus, importer of Israeli produce grown on occupied Palestinian territories sees sustained protests, ex-soldier who served in Afghanistan is arrested over his opposition to the war, protests against the NATO meeting in Edinburgh begin as anti-militarist convergence space is opened, and more...

SchNEWS 698, 6th November 2009
Post Apocalypse - British postal workers are on strike as looming privatisation brings in a round of lay-offs, wage cuts and higher work demands... plus, racist far-right march in Leeds and London - where violence breaks out between far-right groups, Brighton film-maker has his charges dropped, fox hunting monitors are violently attacked by hunt supporters in Sussex, harsh repression continues to be dealt out to refugees at Calais, and more...

SchNEWS 697, 30th October 2009
A Liberal Helping? - SchNEWS looks critically at the Guardian's expose of a police spotter card for so-called 'domestic extremists'... plus, it's been another hot week for climate protesters in Britain as high-emissions coal power is targeted, a round-up of Halloween direct action protests in Britain against the arms industry and animal testing, Britain is deporting refugees back into the dangerous warzones they fled - and a group sent back to Iraq have found themselves being sent back to Britain, and more....

SchNEWS 696, 23rd October 2009
Sooty and Swoop - Over a thousand swoopers descended on Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station over the weekend - Britain's 3rd largest carbon emitter - with the aim of shutting the whole place down... plus, Britain’s newest anti-arms campaign, Target Brimar, staged their inaugural demo on Saturday, a counter demo of around 600 anti-racists ensured the English Defence League in Wales came a cropper in Swansea on Saturday, two protesters convicted during the Smash EDO Carnival Against the Arms Trade have had their convictions quashed by an appeal court, and more...

SchNEWS 695, 16th October 2009
La La La Bomba - SchNEWS looks to mexico, where butane is in the eye of the bomb-holder... plus, cosmetics company Lush release hunt saboteur soap, the Mainshill protest camp is attacked by machinery drivers, London community workers gets big pay-out after stop and search arrest, the anti-muslim racists English Defence League march in Manchester, but are still outnumbered, and more...

SchNEWS 694, 9th October 2009
Swooper Troopers - The Great Climate Swoop descends next week on the coal-fired power station at Ratcliffe-On-Soar near Nottingham... plus, the brutal eviction of refugees from camps in Calais continues, the racist English Defence League are marching against this weekend, this time in Manchester, with two marches in Wales later in the month, the IMF and World Bank meet this week in Istanbul as riots break out on the streets, and more...

SchNEWS 693, 2nd October 2009
Who Are Ya? - Who are the far-right English Defence League, and what are their strategies?... plus, Brighton journalists are forced to give police their footage for evidence gathering, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak makes and appearance at the Labour Party Conference, while lawyers apply for an arrest warrant for him for war crimes in Gaza, protesters and police in Denmark have a dress rehearsal for December's Climate Conference in Copenhagen, and more...

Copyleft - Information for direct action - Published weekly in Brighton since 1994

Home | Friday 4th December 2009 | Issue 702

WAKE UP!! IT'S YER FULL OF CRAZY DEVELOPMENTS...

SchNEWS

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Story Links : If You're Not Swiss-ed Off... | Dow And Out In Bhopal | When Chips Were Down | Uni-lateral Decision | Inside Schnews | Dubai Now, Pay Later | De-tension Centre | Schnews In Brief | Raising The Barclays | Dale Farm Alert | And Finally

IF YOU'RE NOT SWISS-ED OFF...

AS THOUSANDS CONGREGATE IN GENEVA TO RESIST WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION MEETING

Ten years on from the ‘Seattle Battle’, about 5,000 people marched through Geneva for the Anti-WTO protest on the 28th November - and were met with tear gas, grenades and water cannon as they tried to disrupt the latest WTO Ministerial meeting, aimed at ‘reviving’ world trade. This was part of a week of events, workshops, and demos involving a convergence of farmers, fishermen, unionists, and anarchists group from across Europe.

Since Seattle shook the pants of the corporate world (See SchNEWS 239, 240), the WTO hasn’t expanded - a victory of sorts - but it hasn’t shown any sign of disbanding yet. The number of people suffering extreme poverty has surged ahead since the organisation was set up and two-thirds of developing countries now import more food than they export.

But what has changed since Seattle is the fact that populations and governments in the ‘developing world’ have woken up to the sham of neo-liberalism, and are no longer the push-over the West would like. The Doha Round talks (See SchNEWS 332) are still in deadlock eight years on with countries more prepared to hold-out against US-led proposals.

And why should they agree to plans designed to open up ‘immature’ developing economies to explotation by global corporations, cutting tariffs and subsidies to ensure that the resultant ‘level playing field’ tilts heavily in western economies’ favour?

Doha was not even on the official agenda for the Geneva meeting, but was being pushed as an economy boosting measure off the record.

Protesters descended for their own Geneva Convention, dressed-up to mock the shirts attending the conference. A black bloc threw fire bombs at police and damaged a dozen shopfront businesses, including a bank at Place Bel-Air, a jewelry shop and a hotel on the Quai des Bergues. A number of cars were burned, and three buses and numerous other cars were damaged. Thirty-three were arrested. There were no injuries to police or protesters, although a little 80-year-old lady was pushed over in a melee.

* See http://www.anti-omc2009.org/?lang=en

* The climate caravan is leaving Geneva after the WTO protests to arrive in Copenhagen On December 9th for the COP15 Climate Conference - see www.climatecaravan.org

* This was all just a warm up for next week’s Copenhagen biggie - for a rundown of events see SchNEWS 700, www.klimaforum09.org , www.globalclimatecampaign.org , www.climate-justice-action.org , www.climatecamp.org.uk 

Keywords: neo-liberalism, summit protests, wto
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DOW AND OUT IN BHOPAL

"It took some time, but we managed this quickly, and we can say that we are providing 100% clean water [in Bhopal]. There was nothing hazardous for human lives there." - Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, on the 25th anniversary of the world's worst industrial disaster at Bhopal.

Nothing Tony Blair has ever said about the Iraq invasion could come close to this level of outright bullshit, and no climate-change denier or flat earth society proponent could speak so much in the face of reality or scientific evidence.

On December 3rd 1984, the Union Carbide plant at Bhopal leaked 27 tonnes of highly toxic methyl isocyanate gas - used to manufacture the pesticide Sevin – killing some 8-10,000 within three days, leading to a current death toll of 23,000, and some 150,000 are left with chronic conditions, such as neurological, organ and chromosomal damage; tuberculosis, cancer and other diseases. One in 25 babies born in the area have congenital defects. The company has never been brought to justice for it.

As the site was never cleaned up, the toxins have seeped into the water system, and now analyses commissioned by the Bhopal Medical Appeal have shown that the soil has at least 16 contaminants at levels greatly exceeding WHO levels, including Carbon Tetrachloride toxicity at more than 2400 times the 'safe' level – which has actually risen by 270% in the past year as the chemicals leech further into the soil. The toxins in the ground water are known carcinogens and neurotoxins, particularly harmful to children and the unborn.

It's been left to the independently run, internationally funded Sambhavna Clinic – set up in 1996 – to treat the victims, which sees 150 people every day for conditions such as liver disease, anaemia and all manner of organ damage. The clinic constantly sees new victims - those born with defects, 25 years later.

The other side to this whole sordid story is the efforts that Union Carbide – and its now parent company, Dow Chemicals – as well as the US Government and Chamber Of Commerce, have gone to avoid cleaning up the site, offering due compensation or facing criminal charges.

The morning after the disaster there was clearly one thing on Union Carbide's mind – how they could get away with this scot-free. As the relief effort began in the immediate aftermath, emergency medical efforts were hampered by UC not disclosing what toxic chemicals had been unleashed. In the months that followed a US Court Judge demanded that UC put between $5-10 million into emergency medical funds - eventually $5 million went to the Red Cross.

As a settlement pay-out for the victims, UC first offered $100 million – yet had the accident happened in the US, the liability would have been closer to $10bn. In 1989 UC paid a $470 million settlement – with a maximum of $1000 going to victims – and at the same time reclaiming the $5 million they gave the Red Cross, forcing them to close all their hospitals in Bhopal. By 1989 UC had paid $50 million on lawyers and an unknown amount to PR company Burson Marsteller to worm out of the fiasco. And all this was before any money had been spent cleaning up the site, which they claimed was the responsibility of the local government.

Straight away criminal proceedings began against UC, with charges being brought against the CEO of UC, Warren Anderson, and several key leaders of UC India and those running the plant. Anderson and others were arrested, but he was bailed after four days (for the non-bailable offence of culpable homicide) – under promise to return when summonsed, but was flown out by an Indian State plane and hasn't returned since. Anderson was summonsed again in 1987 in a case brought by the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation, with further ignored summonses in the years that followed. 

Finally in 2003 the Indian Govt attempted to extradite Anderson, but Freedom Of Information requests by US Bhopal campaigners have shown the efforts the US Govt have gone to prevent Anderson being extradited, or Bhopal having any impact on US international corporate activity. The US Chamber Of Commerce hired a 'who's who of high-powered law firms' to protect UC and Anderson. Attempts to extradite Anderson again resumed this year, meanwhile he remains a 'fugitive', despite his New York address being well known.

There has been a week of events in Bhopal to commemorate the disaster, including continual vigils and processions. In London yesterday a choir gathered at Trafalgar Square, and there were other events and demos around the world.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal and Amnesty have been touring Europe in a bus since October travelling through seven countries from Sweden down to Italy, stopping off at Dow Chemicals plants, visiting campus's, human rights centres, and speaking to MEPs. The bus is due back in Britain soon, and will tour Britain next year visiting festivals, town centres and anything it can fit in – see http://bhopalbus.com

* See also SchNEWS 238, 580, 637

* For info about the UK-based International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal see http://bhopal.net , for more about the Medical Appeal see http://bhopal.org

* To read the BMA water report see http://water.bhopal.org

Keywords: bhopal, corporate crime, india
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WHEN CHIPS WERE DOWN

A Welsh Climate Camp faction turned their attention to Port Talbot this week and targeted a biomass power plant in Margam. The only one of it’s kind in the UK (although more are planned for the local area), the plant takes hourly deliveries of 20 tonnes of woodchip during working hours to keep the fires burning.

Activists locked on using bicycle locks to close off the plant’s entrance and stop the deliveries, while others climbed the chimney and unfurled a banner reading ‘Clean Energy: Dirty Joke’. The demo lasted three to four hours before a squad of police officers removed the campaigners, took their details and searched the group and their vehicles.

With Port Talbot air pollution levels already exceeding EC limits, another biomass plant in Holyhead is planned which will be the largest in the world. The two stations will require an area of managed forest plantations half the size of Wales to feed them, land that could be used to feed a third of Britain.

* See http://climatecampcymru.org/?p=932

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UNI-LATERAL DECISION

Students at Sussex Uni took to direct action yesterday (3rd), protesting against staff cuts. Following on from last week (See SchNEWS 701), a large demo was held outside the building on the Falmer campus where a management meeting was taking place to vote for the cuts. But then students set off the fire alarm and a group stormed into the building and tried to force their way into the meeting, having a rowdy synchronised stomp and banging on the walls. Soon around seven police cars arrived on the scene, and the crowd dispersed, without arrests. As far as we know, the meeting went ahead and presumably the cuts were waved through.

Said a student spokesperson, “students and staff are here to show them that we won’t allow a decision without consultation. The proposals have been made without any real consultation with staff or students. They involve massive cuts to student support services, and involve cuts to over 115 jobs and over 70 fixed terms contracts.”

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INSIDE SCHNEWS

Mindaugus Lenartavicius, a 22 year old Lithuanian national was sentenced this week to two years for his part in the G20 demos (see SchNEWS 671). His crime? Trying to set fire to some window- blinds inside the Royal Bank of Scotland. Even the prosecution had to admit that his efforts resulted in nothing more than singed blinds and “scorching” to the ceiling. He had been cleared at an earlier hearing of arson “being reckless as to whether life was endangered”. Although he wasn’t nicked there and then, and despite being balaclava-clad at the time, cops were able to identify him later by his distinctive ‘studded hood’. An address to send letters of support to Mindaugus will be published when we find out where he’s gone.

* Elijah Smith (one of the EDO Decommissioners - see SchNEWS 663) was moved to Lewes prison yesterday. You can write to him: VP 7551, HMP Lewes, 1 Brighton Rd, Lewes, BN7 1EA

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DUBAI NOW, PAY LATER

So the jewel in the capitalist crown has finally fallen off this week as Dubai World, the emirates holding company responsible for conjuring up much of the desert city asked as nicely as they could for a six month debt holiday from their creditors.

Described as a dream location where ‘expansion has no limit’, Dubai was built on cheap immigrant labour (with obligatory absence of worker rights, squalid housing and a high rate of worker injuries and deaths) - all financed with borrowed money from the big global investment players. The creditor list includes plenty of UK interest with all the credit crunch villains involved, including RBS, Lloyds, HSBC and Standard Chartered PLC. In all British banks have a tidy £30bn ‘invested’’ in Dubai.

In a state with rapidly dwindling oil reserves and few natural resources, the idea was to stay afloat with income from property, trade and tourism to hold face with super-wealthy oil rich neighbours like Saudi Arabia and Oman. Well, you’ve got to keep up with the Al-Jones’ haven’t you?

They wasted no time with buying up international property stocks - Dubai World owns many famous locations in the UK (a corner of Trafalgar Square, 10 Whitehall Place and the Metropole building to name just a few) and in the rest of world. But with debt now spiralling into the region of 80 billion dollars (although no one knows the true figures) development projects in Dubai have ground to a halt, with cranes standing idle as everybody scratches their heads wondering what to do next.

The reality is that Dubai is not the only economy based on sand, speculation and other people’s money. Countries that bought wholesale into the consumerist dream such as Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Ukraine are now facing sovereign debt that they have little chance of repaying, and the UK isn’t far behind. Dubai has become the financial crisis in a microcosm, demonstrating that even the most over inflated bubbles can burst when an economy based on debt and denial faces the fact that if the money isn’t really there, spending it anyway eventually leaves you in a hole heap of trouble – yes, even if you have wisely spent it on creating landscaped islands in the shape of a map of the world.

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DE-TENSION CENTRE

On 28th November, activists and supporters arrived at Campfield Immigration Detention Centre in Kidlington to continue the campaign to close the prison and end immigration detention as the Centre reached its shameful 16th anniversary.

Throughout its history detainees have campaigned tirelessly for release with letters, rooftop protests, and hunger strikes - and their efforts have been matched by activity on the outside. Every last Saturday of the month activists meet to protest and demonstrate their solidarity with those on the inside.

This time, No Borders, Barbed Wire Britain, Campaign To Close Campsfield and the odd MP made speeches about the work they are doing outside the prison and an impassioned speech was also made by a migrant who saw his friends kidnapped by the authorities. The most moving images of the day remain the hands waving at the windows from inside the Centre, an indication that the demo meant something at least to those imprisoned inside. All are urged to join the monthly demos against the cruelty of racist policies and institutions like Campsfield.

* See www.closecampsfield.org.uk and www.barbedwirebritain.org

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SCHNEWS IN BRIEF

* The Mainshill protest camp kept up it’s active reputation by blockading the site for seven hours on Monday night to prevent tree felling, and did it all again on Tuesday to halt further works. For more see http://coalactionscotland.noflag.org.uk

* This Saturday (5th) is The Wave - a big day of action and march against climate change, in the run-up to COP15 at Copenhagen. London: organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, meeting 12pm at Grosvenor Square going to Parliament at 3pm, then onto LSE at 4.30pm. http://the-wave.org.uk Glasgow: organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, assemble at Bellahouston Park, 10.30am marching to Kelvingrove Park. www.stopclimatechaos.org/thewavescotland

* NOTT A CHANCE - After being outnumbered by antifascists at recent demos in Wales and Scotland, the Islamophobic English Defence League are turning out this Saturday (5th) in Nottingham. The EDL are meeting at 2pm at Wetherspoons, marching to Nottingham Castle. Also during the afternoon is a returned soldiers’ march. The UAF and Stop The War are marching, but again, don’t let their stewards control the demonstration. Meet 10am at Market Square. See www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire

* PARTY & PROTEST - for a full listings of events see www.schnews.org.uk/pap

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RAISING THE BARCLAYS

‘Target Barclays’ actions took place across the country last Saturday (28th), called for by Smash EDO (see SchNEWS 701). The day of action drew attention to the bank’s involvement with EDO MBM/ITT, the Brighton-based weapons parts manufacturer.

A host of autonomous groups staged their own demos at Barclays in locations across the country. In Hastings, Tunbridge Wells and Falmouth, campaigners leafletted and picketed their local branches causing sleepy town police to come out to protect the ‘defenceless’ multinational.

Brighton activists demonstrated at their local branch, handing in a letter to the manager, and inspiring some customers to promise to close their accounts after reading their flyers. Wrexham joined in the party, making use of Barclays new £1 million shop front by stringing up banners.

SchNEWS’ top prize goes to Cambridge activists for scaling a huge building opposite Barclay’s, currently conveniently covered in scaffolding, and cutting seven foot high letters in the plastic surround, telling people for miles around that Barclays invests £7 billion in the arms trade.

The campaign against Barclays and EDO MBM /ITT continues with regular noise demos in Brighton and more action planned for the future, including the Remember Gaza mass demo in Brighton on January 18th. For more see www.smashedo.org.uk

* A recent investigation of EDO’s export licences has found that they have owned UK patents for equipment used by the Israeli military since 1998, and have been actively seeking Israeli patents since 2003.

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DALE FARM ALERT

Dale Farm, the largest Romani Gypsy and Irish Traveller community of its kind in Britain (See SchNEWS 694), home to over 100 families (1,000+ people) is now under serious threat of eviction.

The site on Oak Lane in Crays Hill, Essex - which began in the 1970s has, like all other sites, been under threat since the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act which repealed the Caravan Sites Act 1968, obligating local authorities to provide space for travellers. The population of Dale Farm has swelled as other travellers were evicted from sites around the country.

Part of the site was bought around this time by the Sheridan clan of travellers but planning permission to live on the land has been repeatedly refused by Basildon Council. According to the Commission for Racial Equality this is typical – 90% of planning applications from traveller communities are routinely refused compared with a 20% average failure rate. Stitched up by the council, the residents of Dale Farm have recently also lost their final appeal to be heard by the House Of Lords.

The council are now pressing ahead with a £5 million plan to evict and bulldoze the site. On 10th December, Basildon Council leader Tony Ball will formally lead his cabinet in voting to give a £2m contract for the eviction of Dale Farm - and this contract will most likely go to ruthless ‘gypsy eviction specialists’ Constant & Co (See SchNEWS 669). If that happens Dale Farm will soon be given just 28 days notice before the bailiffs arrive, and residents face having to prepare to resist the eviction imminently - and will need urgent support.

* Rally to ‘Save Dale Farm’ - meeting outside The Basildon Centre, St Martin’s Squ-are, Basildon SS14 1DL from 7pm on 10th December, aptly also on Human Rights Day. Email dale.farm@btinternet.com to receive further updates.

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AND FINALLY

Nottingham city council is as cash strapped as most are – and currently has a £30m hole in its finances as it struggles to maintain its failing public services. Given the current political climate, it’s perhaps beyond droll to note that the incumbent council leader is call Kay Cutts.

But this hasn’t stopped them from spunking over £80,000 on an internal smut hunt, paying outside contractors to use their ‘intelligent software’ to trawl council computers looking for ‘inappropriate’ material.

Well just porn actually, racist and other extremist material slips through the net. The software must use some complicated set of algorithms to identify things like a predominance of skin-coloured pixels within images, characteristic grunting-shaped soundwaves in videos or likely word combinations of porn-sounding file names, and determines an estimated level of obscenity. How accurate this process is unknown – presumably some perv relishes the job of testing the results.

But apparently Notts is festering in filth – 2,700 images were labelled as those “which may cause distress or psychological harm to an unexpected viewer” and only 12% of the PCs have yet been checked. Next up are individual councillors computers, who must now be cold sweating in anticipation. Whether spending up to three quarters of a million quid to check ‘em all and prove once and for all what a bunch of wankers work for council goes down well with the electorate – or merely gives them the hump, as their bin collections get cut, remains to be seen.

Keywords: nottingham, pornography
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Disclaimer

SchNEWS suggests that the Advisory Service For Squatters set up an office in Dubai. Rich pickings. Honest.

 

SchMOVIES

REPORTS FROM THE VERGE - Smash EDO/ITT Anthology 2005-2009 - A new collection of twelve SchMOVIES covering the Smash EDO/ITT's campaign efforts to shut down the Brighton based bomb factory since the company sought its draconian injunction against protesters in 2005.

UNCERTIFIED - OUT NOW on DVD- SchMOVIES DVD Collection 2008 - Films on this DVD include... The saga of On The verge – the film they tried to ban, the Newhaven anti-incinerator campaign, Forgive us our trespasses - as squatters take over an abandoned Brighton church, Titnore Woods update, protests against BNP festival and more... To view some of these films click here

ON THE VERGE - The Smash EDO Campaign Film - is out on DVD. The film police tried to ban - the account of the four year campaign to close down a weapons parts manufacturer in Brighton, EDO-MBM. 90 minutes, £6 including p&p (profits to Smash EDO)

TAKE THREE - SchMOVIES Collection DVD 2007 featuring thirteen short direct action films produced by SchMOVIES in 2007, covering Hill Of Tara Protests, Smash EDO, Naked Bike Ride, The No Borders Camp at Gatwick, Class War plus many others. £6 including p&p.

V For Video Activist - the SchMOVIES 2006 DVD Collection - twelve short films produced by SchMOVIES in 2006. only £6 including p&p.

SchMOVIES DVD Collection 2005 - all the best films produced by SchMOVIES in 2005. Running out of copies but still available for £6 including p&p.

SchNEWS Books

SchNEWS At Ten - A Decade of Party & Protest - 300 pages, £5 inc p&p (within UK)

Peace de Resistance - issues 351-401, 300 pages, £5 inc p&p

SchNEWS of the World - issues 300 - 250, 300 pages,£4 inc p&p.

SchNEWS and SQUALL’s YEARBOOK 2001 - SchNEWS and Squall back to back again - issues 251-300, 300 pages, £4 inc p&p.

SchQUALL - SchNEWS and Squall back to back - issues 201-250 - Sold out - Sorry

SchNEWS Survival Guide - issues 151-200 - Sold out - Sorry

SchNEWS Annual - issues 101-150 - Sold out - Sorry

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