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Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective


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wake up! wake up! It's yer well connected SchNEWS

Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective

ISSUE 335, FRIDAY 14th December, 2001

CASH FOR CONNEXIONS

"Connexions is just one corner of a well-designed jigsaw puzzle which, when complete, will reveal a picture of education from which all freedom, all notions of public service and accountability to an electorate have vanished. The family silver is long gone, and now our children are being sold off." Action on Rights for Children in education (ARCH)

Connexions - coming soon to a high street near you, a re-mix of careers, benefits, housing and welfare advice for all you teenagers out there. Connexions, yet another scheme from Neo-Labour, the idea behind this one is to provide teens with a personal mentor and a 'one-stop shop' to help them get on the careers ladder. Introduced in pilot areas by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) in Spring this year it is now to be extended throughout England. On the face of it is just an upgrading of the old careers offices, but behind the glitz, big business is muscling in.

The Learning and Skills Act 2000 gave the DfES unprecedented powers to gather information about students from all schools, Local Education Authorities, social services, Young Offender Teams, probation services, police and benefits agencies. This gives government the chance to build up comprehensive records on every aspect of the lives of the population between the ages of 13-19.

As ARCH points out "The 'Connexions' database has already introduced what is effectively a national identity scheme for teenagers. The implications for all citizens if it is maintained into adulthood are extremely worrying."

So who will have access to all this confidential information? Will it be deleted? And can individuals check its accuracy? The DfES haven't even bothered to reply to letters from ARCH. Terri Dowty from the group said "They say the idea is to give youngsters a 'joined-up service' but it's all about tracking. They are saying things like 'no young person should be invisible to us'."

But we're sure some of the 'business partners' involved in Connexions are rubbing their hands at all that handy market research. Take 'Young Enterprise', a so-called charity set up by business whose board consists entirely of representatives from Nestle, Marconi, Bull UK, KPMG and more of the usual suspects. Or what about the 'Careers Enterprise Group' whose parent company is Vosper Thornycroft, who do a good line in warships.

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EDUCATING CAPITA

In May this year the government awarded a 100 million contract to Capita to develop a Connexions smart card scheme for over-16s. In return for attendance and achievement, students earn points, which are recorded on their Connexions card. They can then hot-foot it to a website to obtain consumer goods and discounts on such essential items as a Big Mac'n'fries. While they watch the screen, the screen watches them and draws up consumer profiles based on the pages they choose. Capita insist that young people can opt out of this monitoring - but run the risk of losing discounts if they do. As ARCH point out "The incentives to join the scheme are almost irresistible to teenagers; the opportunities to collect vouchers or discounts on goods and services is a blatant marketing ploy directed at young people and one which encourages a shallow association of education with consumerism, rather than building an ethos which fosters the right to education."

Big business has been gagging to break into education for decades. EU Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy, has said that education is 'ripe for privatisation' while Gerhard Cromme, the Chair of the European Round Table of Industrialists - the most influential pressure group in Europe - said last year that all schools should be privatised and subjected to market forces like any other business! Cromme also took a pot shot at "lazy" students who study subjects which have no relevance to industry. As ARCH said " In view of the increasing control which the business sector is gaining over education, and the size of the profits enjoyed by 'edubusiness', it is not unreasonable to ask whether our children are regarded as individuals, or merely as raw materials in the development of the economy. The direction and content of education needs to be in the hands of democratically elected representatives and not multinational corporations."

Action on Rights for Children in education (ARCH) PO Box 19, Lydbrook, Glos GL17 9WA www.arch-ed.org

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CRISP NOTES

Walkers crisps and The Sun newspaper are blatantly breaking the law by encouraging kids to "engage in an unhealthy eating activity." Both companies who are jointly running the "books for schools" campaign are forcing kids to munch their way through 15 worth of crisps for a 4 book. Tesco has a similar scam going with its 'free' computer promo - the snag is that mum and dad have to spend a whopping 250,000 pounds on groceries before little 'Jim' gets a 1,000 computer for his school. The Consumers' Association has slammed both promotions for being nothing more than a "high level" branding campaign aimed at kids. Psst! Want some free stationary for little 'Jims' school? Why not contact jazzymedia who are offering free exercise books, files and diaries emblazoned with 'ethical advertisers' logos, companies include-Pepsi, Adidas, BT and Sunny Delight!!!

In a throw back to the days of the fascist Ministry of Popular Culture a snitch line has opened in Italy to collect info about teachers carrying out 'propaganda work in the classroom'. After one month 300 reports of teachers speaking 'badly' about Berlusconi and the goverment had been collected. Propaganda work includes showing videos of the G8 meeting or criticising the involvement of big business in schools.

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BOOTLEG MARK THOMAS VIDEOS UP FOR GRABS

For just 8 quid plus 80p of stamps on a SAE you can get yer mits on a 2 hour special filmed in Brighton. All proceeds go to the next SchNEWS book. Send us an SAE to 55 Canning Street, Brighton BN2 0EF


COPWATCH

* Cops are stalking commuters in London who look like easy victims in mugging black spots Scotland Yard has revealed. The scheme called 'guardian angel' involves plain-clothes cops secretly following people to their home car or taxi ready to jump if the 'victim' is attacked. Meanwhile other plain clothed cops have been wandering around carrying laptop computers and mobiles to attract muggers. Despite this massive operation street crime has continued to soar while the scheme has yet to nick a single mugger!

* London cops are planning a register of kids who exhibit 'criminal potential' Anyone caught tagging, skipping school or even talking back to teachers runs the risk of being put on a database so cops can monitor their behaviour as they grow up! The plan was unveiled by Ian Blair, London's deputy police commissioner last month. Director of Privacy International, Simon Davies, said the registry was tantamount to police "profiling gone mad."

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TRUCKIN' CRAZY

Did you know the distance that food is transported by road increased by 50 % in just over twenty years? Or that between a third and 40 % of all UK road freight is thanks to food travelling around the country?

'Eating Oil: Food supply in a changing climate' is a major new report launched this week by Sustain and Elm Farm Research Centre (EFRC) which takes a look at how far our food travels to get to our plates. The report also exposes our dependency on imports and on fossil fuels to produce, process, package and distribute the food we eat.

In the Report, Sustain said that the UK's food system had become "almost completely dependent" on oil, and that internationally, food distribution was a major cause of pollution and climate change. The organisation also criticised this food system because, for the sake of international trade agreements and political commitments, many countries essentially just swap food. For example, in 1997, the U.K. imported 33 million gallons of milk and exported 71 million gallons, instead of just exporting 38 million. Likewise we exported 195,000 tones of pork while importing 240,000 tonnes and exported 102,000 tonnes of lamb while importing 125,000 tonnes. Call us thick but this sounds like a waste of fuel, time and money. Ah but we forgot, governments and big agribusiness make huge profits through international trade. By supporting local food suppliers, we can all help to reverse this damaging set of priorities.

Other problems highlighted include loss of nutrients in food, increased incidence and spread of diseases like Foot and Mouth, and major animal welfare problems.

The report's author, Andy Jones says, "The food system has become almost completely dependent on crude oil. This means that food supplies are vulnerable to increases in petroleum prices or any shortfall in oil supplies, as demonstrated during the fuel protests in the UK in 2000. Food distribution is also a major contributor to climate change and other forms of pollution. The environment and society cannot continue to bear the costs. We need to invest, now, in regional and local food systems combined with fair trade initiatives that will bring about a more secure, sustainable and fair food system."

Sustain, 94 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PF Tel 020 7837 1228 www.sustainweb.org

*One way to reduce organic food miles is to increase UK production. The Organic Targets Campaign rally and lobby will take place on 23 January 2002 to encourage government to adopt an organic action plan with a target of 30% agricultural land to be organic by 2010. For more information from sustain 0207 837 1228, email: otbrally@sustainweb.org.

* Wanna find out who grows what in your area? Log onto the interactive www.bigbarn.co.uk site type in yer postcode and a map will appear displaying local producers in your area.

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CHINESE CRACKERS

It's official - after fifteen years of asking, this week China finally got to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Right wingers in the US had used China's dodgy human rights record to stop them joining, when in reality it was a cover for their determination to keep Washington's grip on international trade. Last year China was the seventh biggest exporting nation in the world, and the eighth biggest importer (together worth more than 327bn) and so, surprise, surprise, this won the right wingers over. For the average Chinese person on the street, details of this trade marriage have remained obscure. As soon as the English version of the agreement went on the web, the site crashed after hundreds of thousands logged on. The 900 page Chinese version is still not available - nothing to do with government worries over the likely massive protests once people find out what's going on.

The International Forum on Globalisation doesn't hold out much hope for China's people, "Any obstacles in the path of operations and expansion of global business enterprise must be subordinated. In practice these 'obstacles' are usually policies or democratic processes that act on behalf of working people, labour rights, environmental protection, human rights, consumer rights, social justice, local culture, and national sovereignty."

With a lowering of Chinese barriers to trade, small Chinese farmers will be swamped by cheap imports from US agribusiness.

While China's leaders now expect a bigger share of world trade with their club membership card, it's unlikely that the US and the EU will reduce import quotas for textiles and clothing, two of the country's main exports. In effect this will mean that while China must lower its barriers to trade, it can forget drastically improving its trading chances cos richer nations won't follow suit. At US insistence it is possible for countries to deploy special measures against China and curb its textiles and clothing exports for 8 years and any other products for 12. This would otherwise be illegal under WTO rules. The WTO say 'If you wanna be in our gang, first you have to survive the initiation ceremony'. Anyone still think free-trade means a level playing field?

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FIGHTING MAD

On International Human Rights Day (Dec 10th) dozens of people went to Northwood in London to protest against the military action in Afghanistan, and against militarism in general. Northwood, has been described as the British "nerve centre" in the war on Afghanistan. It's the British military joint forces headquarters, which means it's connected by secure links to the Ministry of Defence in London and the hidden Downing Street bunker known as Cobra. Australian Ploughshares activist Ciaron O'Reilly commented, "We have come here today in a spirit of non-violent resistance and in solidarity with the past, present and future victims of the state terror that flows from this base." Activists daubed red paint around the place, scattered photos of Afghan children, stopped traffic and generally made their presence felt. Three protestors were arrested, held for 12 hours and charged with criminal damage. They have a date with the wigged ones at Watford Magistrates Court on December 13th. For pics of the action on the day, or for more info Tel 07904 450307 email: d10northwood@gmx.net or check out their website www.northwood.cjb.net.

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Inside SchNEWS

"Books are a little lifeline for prisoners, offering knowledge, inspiration and a little bit of sanity in a totally insane environment." Mark Barnsley, Full Sutton Prison.

After a threatened legal challenge by prisoner John Shelley and the Prisoners Advice Service, HMP Full Sutton have been forced to end its blanket ban on prisoners receiving publications from Haven Distribution. They were forced to admit that the ban infringed on prisoners rights to freedom of expression, protected by article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Haven has been sending out free books and publications to prisoners since 1996. To get a copy of their catalogue of fiction and non-fiction books, send a second class stamp to - 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3XX

* Another person who'd like some christmas cards and books to cheer him up. Stuart Durkin has served 5 years of a 13 year sentence in a Italian prison for streaking through the Vatican naked! He is in his cell 20 hours a day with nothing to do - write to him at II A-9 Casa Circondariale Mamma Gialla, Via S Salvatore 141B, KM 1800 Cap, 01100 Viterbo, Italy

* There's a conference on the abolition of prison on the 26th January 2002. There will be a few speakers but emphasis is on discussion. For more info Email: prisonabolition@hotmail.com.


SchNEWS in brief

  • Stop ESSO protest this Saturday (15) at Lewes Rd and Dyke rd stations 12 noon more info www.stopesso.com
  • Winter Moot 2002 The Earth First! motley crew are having another knees up in Manchester on the weekend of the 26th and 27th of January. Accommodation available from Friday night and so it'll cost around 10 each including food. Manchester EF! 0161 226 6814 mancef@nematode.freeserve.co.uk
  • The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign is organising a trade study tour to Nicaragua and meetings with local and national organisations working on debt structural adjustment and trade, 16-25 February. 020-7272-9619, nsc@nicaraguasc.org.uk
  • Justice for Mark Barnsley Campaign picket of the Home Office, Queen Annes Gate, London. Sat 20th 12.30-2.30pm. 07944 522001 www.freemarkbarnsley.com
  • Alveston protest site against the by-pass want people to go and live on site in trees or tents. Info at bypass.18.com Tel: 01332 733540
  • Radio 4A will be transmitting this weekend (14th-16th Dec) on 106.0 FM tune in for underground music, party music and speech based piracy.www.radio4a.org.uk
  • Surrey Activist Group (SAG) is holding a demo against capitalism and war this Saturday (15) in Guildford town centre. Assemble outside main train station at 1pm. Please bring flyers, flags, banners, & friends. This is a demonstration not a paper sale! saggymail@hushmail.com
  • Four Swedish teenagers have been found guilty of high treason for throwing a cream cake at King Carl Gustaf's face. The boys shouted, "For King and country" as they lobbed the tart to protest against the Swedish monarchy. The pie-thrower was fined 100 days' wages and his mates were each fined 80.

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...and finally...

A Robin Hood wannabe in Canada, known as the "briefcase bomb bandit" has been holding up banks and giving all his loot to charity. Robert Henry Arthur robbed banks in Calgary, Edmonton and London, Ontario by pretending he had a bomb in his suitcase. "He was not a selfish man, for a guy who threatened to blow himself up and kill people, he did good things with his money" said a Canadian police Sherrif!


disclaimer

Schnews warns all readers that we refuse to learn our lesson. Honest.

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Cor-blimley-they’re-practically-giving-them-away book offer

  • SchNEWS Round issues 51 - 100 4.50 inc. postage.
  • SchNEWS Annual issues 101 - 150 4.50 inc. postage.
  • SchNEWS Survival Guide issues 151 - 200 and a whole lot more 5.50 inc. postage
  • The SchQUALL book at only £6.50 inc postage. (US Postage 4.00 for individual books, £13 for all four).
  • SchNEWS and SQUALL's YEARBOOK 2001. 300 pages of adventures from the direct action frontline. 7 + 1.50 p&p. You can order the book from a bookshop or your library, quote the ISBN 09529748 4 3.

In the UK you can get 2, 3, 4 & 5 for 20 inc. postage.

In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles, photos, cartoons, subverts, a “yellow pages” list of contacts, comedy etc. All the above books are available from the Brighton Peace Centre, saving postage yer tight gits.



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Last updated 14th December, 2001
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