A NUKE OUT
Tuesday was the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Fifty-seven
years since the USA dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city
which eventually killed an estimated 200,000 people.
Tuesday was also the 12th anniversary of the imposition of sanctions
on Iraq - where another Hiroshima is taking place. In a report published
three years ago, the United Nations Childrens Fund said that
between 1991 and 1998 economic sanctions contributed to the deaths
of half a million Iraqi children under the age of five. These deaths
werent caused by sanctions alone, however. Other factors have
also contributed to the high child mortality rate, including the
after-effects of the Gulf War, where the countrys infrastructure,
namely water and sewage treatment facilities, was deliberately destroyed.
In addition, depleted uranium from tank shells and bombs used in
the Gulf War has caused cancer in many children. This situation
was worsened by the Iraqi government not taking all available measures
to prevent the massive increase in child mortality. Dr.Ginan Ghalib
Hassen, an Iraq paediatrician said, I have studied what happened
in Hiroshima. It is almost exactly the same here; we have an increased
percentage of congenital malformation, an increase of malignancy,
leukaemia, and brain tumours.
During the Gulf War, more than 300 tons of depleted uranium was
used in weapons against the country. On impact, they left a residue
of radioactive dust. This dust, travelling where the wind blows,
remains radioactive for 4,500 million years and as a result, there
is now an epidemic of cancer throughout Iraq causing babies to be
born without eyes, limbs, genitalia, and sometimes with their organs
on the outside of their bodies.
Professor Doug Rokke was the army physicist responsible for cleaning
up Kuwait. He now has 5,000 times the recommended level of radiation
in his body. He wonders why the United States and Britain decided
to use a weapon of mass destruction, What happened
in the Gulf was a form of nuclear warfare, he maintains.
As if the death of innocent civilians from cancer wasnt enough,
Britain and the US have also been bombing the country on and off
since 1991 to protect the so called no fly zones. During
1999 alone the two countries dropped more than 1,800 bombs and hit
450 targets. Bombing happens almost every day, yet to read the mainstream
media you wouldnt know it was happening.
For 50-odd years, Iraq relied on its oil exports for national earnings.
In 1990, its ability to export was cut off overnight and its oil
facilities decimated by bombing. Although the country can now export
oil, it can only spend the bulk of the revenues on humanitarian
imports. What this means Dr Glen Rangwala from the Campaign
Against Sanctions on Iraq told SchNEWS is three things: Iraq
cant rebuild its countrys public services; it cant
rebuild its oil sector, so it earns less than a fifth of what it
was earning in 1980 with double the population to provide for. The
Iraqi people dont have jobs that pay anything like adequate
salaries, because the Government cant use its oil revenues
to pay its people - which means that people arent able to
afford any of the necessities of life. They receive the bulk of
their food in a government ration - the whole country has been run
like a refugee camp for the past 12 years. Lastly, it also means
that if we invade, the ration distribution system will probably
collapse and well see mass starvation.
Bush and Blair say Saddam Hussein is still a threat to the world
but Scott Ritter, for five years a senior weapons inspector in Iraq
who meticulously checked out the countries chemical, biological
and weapons infrastructure, said If I had to quantify Iraqs
threat, I would say (it is) zero.
It was the CIA who helped put Saddam in power and it was the West
who helped keep him there. It was the US who sold materials that
it knew could easily be used to make nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons, even after the Iraqi government had slaughtered 6,000 Kurds
in its chemical bombardment of Halabja in 1988. A year later John
Kelly, US Assistant Secretary of State, visited Baghdad and told
Hussein You are a force for moderation in the region, and
the United States wants to broaden her relationship with Iraq.
Saddams problem was not that he tortured and murdered thousands
of his people, gassed and bombed the Kurds and made war with Iran,
but that he invaded Kuwait and now refuses to toe the American line.
As Rahul Mahajan, author and Green Party candidate for Governor
of Texas points out, The Bush administration wants a war
Saddam with a U.S.-friendly dictator who will make deals with American
companies and follow American dictates.
On any given day, U.S. troops are in 140 countries around the world
with permanent bases in more than half of those. This is the reality
of the so called war on terror, a war that will never end, until
every country bows to the might of the United States.
* A lot of this material was lifted shamelessly from John Pilgers
excellent new book The New Rulers of the World published
by Verso. Essential reading.
* Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq have produced a booklet giving
twelve suggested actions for twelve years of sanctions 0845 330
* A doctor from Oxford has begun withholding 7% of her tax bill
in protest against sanctions on Iraq and instead donating the amount
which would usually go to the military to the UK charity Medical
Aid for Iraqi Children.
* 24 August: Citizens Inspection at Welford US munitions store
to highlight the hypocrisy of US demands for arms inspections. Meet
10 am Reading station. 0118 966 8328 email@example.com
* Sellafield Peace Camp 29-31 August The Sellafield site is implicitly
involved in the nuclear weapons industry. 0773 2928780
* Dont Attack Iraq demonstration Saturday 28 September. 12noon
Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, Central London CND 020 7700 2393
* Two ships carrying rejected MOX fuel from Japan are due to arrive
in the UK at the end of the month. A nuclear-free flotilla is going
to sail out to greet it, and a protest is being organised in Barrow-on-Furness.
Info: firstname.lastname@example.org www.nuclearfreeflotilla.org
Arrest of the Week
For travelling in the same car!
In Iran the Basiji (the Islamic police force) routinely stop cars
playing forbidden Western music, and if unmarried women are found
in the company of men, they are arrested and charged with moral
corruption! Single women can be subjected to humiliating virginity
tests, and if they fail they are given the option of marrying their
companion or being flogged for having extramarital sex. www.hambastegi.org
In an astonishing victory for the residents of San Salvador Atenco,
the Mexican government last week confirmed that they were abandoning
plans to build a new international airport smack on top of the small
farming community just outside of Mexico City. The whole saga began
last autumn when Mexican President Vicente Foxs government
approved plans to build a six-runway, $2.3 billion airport that
would gobble up much of San Salvador Atencos farming land.
In October, a federal ruling offered villagers a mere 40 pence a
square yard for the land - the land that served as the farmers
main source of food, income, and security. The residents of Atenco
and the surrounding villages quickly dismissed this slap-in-the-face
offer, and immediate protests and marches were organised. Over the
next 9 months, farmers mobilised themselves with few results - but
things began to change on Thursday, July 11th, when a demo was organised
to protest an official government announcement affirming the airport
plans. Farmers travelling in a peaceful caravan to the demo were
attacked by police with clubs, tear gas, and live ammunition. Thirty
protesters were injured, fifteen arrested, and five hospitalisedone
of whom, Jose Enrique Espinoza Juarez, died in hospital two weeks
This brutal show of force inspired supporters in nearby Atenco to
take immediate and radical direct action. Over the next few days,
five police squad cars were burnt and used along with other seized
vehicles (including some Coca-Cola trucks!) to block the nearby
national highway. Thirteen government and police officials were
taken hostage, and the Atenco farmers used these hostages as bargaining
tools in their struggle with the authorities. On July 14, the last
hostages were released in return for the release of all arrested
farm workers. It has taken the government another three weeks to
cancel plans for the airport altogether, but with last weeks
announcement; the Atenco workers victory became certain.
Many people feel that the Atenco struggle has been a vital test
of the ability of a community-based movement to stop projects that
only serve the interests of a few, powerful and wealthy businesses.
The administration of President Fox has a plethora of such projects,
including the lofty Plan Puebla Panama (PPP), a plan to privatise
the energy industry and support the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
The PPP is President Foxs crown jewel economic project, which
seeks to transform south eastern Mexico into an industrialised factory
centre where maquiladoras (sweatshops) can thrive, producing yet
more raw materials for the developed countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
The plan involves massive construction projects and generous factory
building incentives in an attempt to attract more foreign investment
from multi-national corporations. But the PPP cuts right through
the heart of a lot of indigenous land and territory in the poverty
stricken southern Mexico State of Chiapas and beyond. Roberto Rivera,
a student involved in a recent Atenco solidarity march, sees the
protests in Atenco as an important turning point, because
the proposed airport is the first integral step in the process of
implementing the Plan Puebla Panama . . . if the plans to build
this new airport in Atenco are stopped, it will be a major blow
to the PPP.
The events of Atenco have indeed sent a clear message to multi-national
companies and the governments that seek only to protect their interests.
Even if they gave us all the gold in the world, said
one Atenco woman, We wouldnt leave our land because
that is all we have.
- Brightons Radio 4A is back on the airwaves this
weekend, followed by a Reclaim the Beach party on Saturday night.
Bring your ghetto blaster - you are the sound system.
107.8 FM www.piratetv.net
- Random Artists have opened a building as a café,
gallery space and record shop at 282 Richmond Rd. London E8. Open
Thurs-Sat midday-late. 07092 012299
- Sunday 11th is the 9th Portsmouth Smokey Bears Picnic
for those who like a joint or twenty. 2pm on Southsea Common.
- 87 activists who were arrested during a march to the Mayor of
Johannesburgs house in protest against water privatisation,
are being taken to court on 15th August. An international day
of action is being called. Picket of South Africa House,
Trafalgar Square, London, 4.30pm onwards. www.resist.org.uk
- Glasgow once again has its own new radical bookshop and
meeting space. The John MacLean Centre is a workers co-op
run by volunteers, 34 Clarendon Place. 0141 332 6849. www.johnmacleancentre.org
- A compilation video of various GM actions from Stop the
Crop in 1998 to last months DEFRA action is now available for
£5 from ToGG 01803 840098.
- At Hayle Beach in Cornwall there is a series of protests
against the destruction of the beach by the harbour company that
manages the area. www.SOSHayle.fsnet.co.uk
- Road Alert! have a new website www.roadalert.org.uk
created to provide a forum for those interested in a direct action
response to the resurrection of the Governments road building
- Demonstration against the resumption of live exports
from Dover next Saturday (17th) midday, Pencester Gardens, Dover.
Coaches from London and the Midlands 01730 264208
- Last Saturday shoppers at Selfridges in Oxford Street
faced a couple of hundred demonstrators protesting about the store
continuing to stock goods made in illegal Israeli settlements
in the West Bank and Gaza. The protest was organised by Direct
Action Against War Now! www.daawn.cjb.net
Last week, 300 hospital workers at Glasgows Royal Infirmary
went on strike to demand a minimum of five pounds an hour and a
return to NHS conditions of employment with holidays and sick pay.
Ever since the French multinational Sodexho has officially employed
the workers (when they won the contract from the NHS) the workers
have been in a much weaker position to make any demands. Not content
with treating workers like second class citizens, Sodexho has really
taken the piss recently by offering to restore workers rights by
2005! No rush hey. This crap offer was unanimously voted out and
there has been a three day strike this week and one planned for
next week. The fact that public services are now run by profit is
due to the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), which is basically
privatisation by the back door, allowing corporations like Sodexho
to get their hands on public services (see Schnews 240). Sodexho
has its fingers in many pies--it has contracts with 120 public sector
institutions, at least 4 of which are PFI profit-run NHS hospitals;
its subsidiary, UK Detention Centres Ltd., is a leader of
the privatised prison service. This lovely company was also planning
to pay asylum-seekers 34p an hour for cooking, cleaning and doing
odd jobs at a detention centre near Heathrow, an offer which they
eventually dropped under pressure from various groups.
More info: Sod Action, Box 95, 82 Colston Street, Bristol, BS1 5BB.
While big business is profiteering, local resources are cut.
While poor areas of the city are given a paint job and abandoned
shops covered over with corporate adverts, the real problems go
unsolved and the real needs of the communities in these areas are
ignored. - Manchester Biotic Baking Brigade.
The Blitz festival blew up in the streets of Manchester with a mind-expanding
explosion of art and direct action. Running parallel to the Commonwealth
Games, this well-organised, independent festival showed how cunningly
the people of Manchester could attack the corporate games spectacle.
The simply splendid march FOR capitalism kicked off with cucumber
sandwiches and G & Ts in a park, where an impeccably dressed
rabble held banners such as Bomb Other Countries and
the environment can kiss my ass. AgiTATE put on an art
exhibition in a shopping mall, and cyclists and skaters teamed up
for a skate-athon around Manchester City centre. Councillors were
none too pleased with all this unpredictable activity, particularly
when they eventually realised that tourists were wandering around
with spoof alternative guides to the city.
The Commonwealth Games, like all major sporting events, was used
to boost sales of advertising and sponsorship. Reebok sponsored
UK Athletes. Chinese Labour Watch say the company encourages illegal
long hours, failure to pay the minimum wage, lack of social benefits,
crowded living, short term contracts, and constant violation of
both Chinese law and Reeboks own cosmetic Human Rights standards.
Asda Walmart and Manchester Airport were two other sponsors who
both have lousy labour rights records. In 2000, Walmart in the US
was forced to pay $50 million to settle claims after 69,000 workers
were forced to work unpaid overtime.
No Sweat organiser Mick Duncan said Our campaign isnt
about attacking the Games, or sport - its about exposing the
practices of firms who use sport and sporting events to make millions
while paying next to nothing to the workers who make the products.
For a copy of the splendid spoof booklet send 2 first class stamps
on an SAE to NATO, c/o EF! Box 29, MERCi, Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick
Street, Manchester, M4 7HR
Land and Future is the worlds first guide for
tribal people, with information on how tribes around the world can
secure their lands and way of life. It advises tribes on how to
conduct a campaign when faced with the invasion of their lands by
nasty oil companies, loggers and colonists, and offers tips on their
rights under international law, and how to secure them. The book
is going to be printed in many languages and there are plans for
it be sent out to the remotest parts of the world. www.survival-international.org
Cardiff Bay, once an expanse of tidal mud flats, was recently redeveloped
at a cost of billions cos nature wasnt considered good
for business. Instead of being home to wading birds, the Bays
new residents are thousands of rich people who flocked to the area
hoping to spend their time sipping cocktails on their balconies
whilst the sun set over the tidal barrage. It now seems however
that nature is getting its revenge in the form of thousands of midges
that are plaguing the area. Residents, who now have to lock themselves
in their luxurious flats at dusk to avoid the swarms of midges,
are now threatening to take legal action against the harbour authorities
for their failure to understand mother nature. Gnats that then.
SchNEWS warns all readers living in the atomonous zone - dont
fall-out over the mushrooms. Honest.
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