509, 26th August, 2005
508, 19th August, 2005
507, 12th August, 2005
506, 29th July, 2005
505, 22nd July, 2005
503/4, 15th July, 2005
502, 17th June, 2005
501, 10th June, 2005
500, 3rd June, 2005
499, 27th May, 2005
498, 20th May, 2005
497, 13th May, 2005
496, 6th May, 2005
495, 29th April, 2005
494, 22nd April, 2005
493, 16th April, 2005
If you go down to the woods today...
A man was arrested last Sunday during a picnic in Parliament Square.
He was one of a group of people who had the sheer cheek to take
tea and play croquet in front of the Mother of Parliaments. He was
nicked under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, which has
a whole host of measures aimed at stopping protests. The law used
specifically in this case, by officers clearly a sandwich short
of what they were busting, was that you arent allowed to protest
within 1km of Parliament without permission from the police
maximum penalty up to a year in prison and no cake!
* Theres a regular Picnic in Parliament Square to poke fun
at the Serious Crime of picnicking; bring food and drink to share
(and a book to read in the cells) Noon every Sunday on Parliament
Square green 07854390408 www1.atwiki.com/picnic
Since Labour took power in 1997 fees to outside consultants
have rocketed by 600%.
The Government claims its extensive use of consultancies ensures
more effective delivery of policies. A new book from
a 20-year veteran of the consultancy business tells a different
story. David Craigs Rip Off outlines the scams used to generate
huge fees at the expense of gullible clients.
Take the NHS, which is busy spending an estimated £30 billion
on its IT programme. Tony Blair was sold the idea by McKinsey management
consultants, led by David Bennett - who it just so happens has now
been appointed Blairs policy chief for an undisclosed six-figure
The NHS computer system was supposed to list everyone in the country,
ailments included, so doctors could treat them on screen.
Nobody ever asked for this database, which was due in 2004. Since
then the cost has soared and now stands at £6.2 billion, with
no known delivery date - all money that could have gone on silly
things like new hospitals, doctors and nurses (SchNEWS
So how do they get away with it? As Craig says, What you
tend to find with major technology projects is they start with a
huge fanfare and with the consultants promising all kinds of financial
and operational benefits once the great system is up and running.
However, months or even years later, as the whole thing grinds excruciatingly
to a halt with money and peoples time apparently disappearing
into a huge black hole, clients soon dont care about the benefits
anymore. They drop their expectations to the minimum and are just
relieved when the basic parts of their system are finally working.
In my experience, very few consultancy cock-ups ever see
the light of publicity. After all, any management consultancy project
is normally a joint effort between the consultants and the organisations
top management who decide to hire them. If the whole thing goes
belly up, there are not many management teams who want the world
to know that they have made a dreadful and expensive mess. Therefore
consultancy screw-ups are typically swept quickly and efficiently
under the carpet and life goes on. Management consultancies know
this and exploit it.
And of course the other silver lining to this parasitic cloud is
that if it really comes on top, the leaders of business and government
who agreed (over a lavish lunch, no doubt) to spend so much cash
paying other people to make their decisions for them can use the
old it wasnt me - they screwed it up excuse. No
need to resign, just bring in some new consultants to clean up the
mess! All future responsibility washed away. Its win-win!
And its a popular game too. Last year 40% of the World Banks
aid budget went to consultants. Organisations in Britain spend over
£8 billion p.a. on consultants. But as Craig asks, Why
are many of the huge multinationals, major hospitals and government
departments apparently unable to find the skills they need amongst
their many hundreds of thousands of employees?
* David Craig Rip-Off: the scandalous inside story of the
management consulting money machine (Original Book Company)
* Monitor, who regulated NHS foundation trusts (SchNEWS 404) has spent £10 million with McKinsey consultants more than half its budget, in its first 15 months. £64,500 of this is going to Chelsea Clinton, the 23 year old former US presidents daughter, who works for the firm. Of course with her Oxford University degree in international relations she is no doubt an expert in privatising our health service.
Following the closure of Newchurch Farm (see SchNEWS
509) animal rights activists have been identified by senior
police officers as the single biggest threat to UK Plc.
Of course damaging corporate profits is the greatest crime of all
in PFI Britain. Right now the movement seems to have the state on
the back foot. Britains reputation as a safe haven for animal
abuse and Life Sciences has taken a battering, leaving
the government seriously rattled. New laws have recently come into
effect and a new multi-million pound attempt to destroy the movement
has been announced. But activists remain defiant, one telling SchNEWS
They say this every time were successful Its
a sign of their desperation.
New initiatives to target the animal rights movement are nothing
new. From the Schwarzenegger approach of ARNI (Animal Rights National
Index) to NPOIU (National Public Order Intelligence Unit) to NETCU
(National Extremism Tactical Co-ordinating Unit (What a gobfull!)),
repression by acronym has been a constant feature of activist life.
Whats different this time is that laws brought in under the
one-law-does-it-all Serious Organised Crime Act specifically make
certain activities around animal research activities
illegal. It is now a criminal offence, punishable by up to five
years in jail, to try and get someone to break a contract with a
vivisection establishment. If you commit an act that is either now
a criminal offence or a tortious act one that
causes someone economic damage (which used to be a civil matter
like trespass or libel) you can get nicked. Yet another classic
Neo-Labour blurring of civil and criminal law to protect those with
deep pockets and guilty secrets.
The first arrests under these laws were made in Hounslow last week.
Seven people were bailed after demonstrations at delivery companies,
which transport animals for research.
Even the allegedly left-wing press dutifully repeated the mantra
that the animal rights movement is an isolated minority. These
people are thugs, pure and simple. Forget about having a debate
with animal rights activists according to the Independent.
In an effort to justify this crackdown they happily parrot the line
that the AR movement is a conspiracy of about 40 hardliners
who between them somehow manage to run four major campaigns
and take direct action every night of the week across the world
Presumably one of the side effects of a vegan diet is the ability
In fact the movement consists of thousands and is going from strength
to strength and state attempts to destroy it have unleashed a spectacular
wave of underground actions.
* SHAC (Huntingdon Life Sciences) www.shac.net
* SPEAK (Stop Oxford Primate Lab) www.speakcampaigns.org.uk
* GATEWAY TO HELL (Vivisection transport) www.gatewaytohell.net
Last Friday New York cops arrested 48 cyclists taking part in the
monthly Critical Mass bike ride, arresting them for parading
without a permit. This brings the total arrests to 566 in
Critical Mass began thirteen years ago in San Francisco and has
since gone worldwide, usually taking place on the last Friday of
every month. It is an organized coincidence where cyclists
get together and take over the roads with the message Were
not blocking traffic. We are traffic. In New York this had
been going on for years till last August when 264 cyclists were
arrested on the Critical Mass that came a few days before the start
of the Republican National Convention. Since then the rides have
continued with harassment from NY cops. www.worldcarfree.net/nyc
* Unofficial Critical Mass Webpage - www.critical-mass.org
* Bicycle Film Festival this weekend @ the Cochrane Theatre, Southampton
Row, Holborn, London 020 7269 1606 www.bicyclefilmfestival.com
* Still We Ride, the film about the crackdown on NY Critical Mass
last August is showing in Brighton. 7.30pm, 22nd Sept, Fringe Basement,
24 Kensington St. www.stillweridethemovie.com
* World Car Free Day is 22nd Sept, events all round the world:
* Sleepwalking into Disaster: Are We in a State of Denial About
Climate Change? Discussion in the Holywell Music Rooms, Oxford led
by George Monbiot and George Marshall. 7-9pm, 22nd Sep, 01865 727911,
The skys going to fall on our heads so said Chicken
Licken yesterday. The latest ludicrous scare story to have us running
around like headless chickens is avian bird flu.
Nevertheless the Government is getting into a flap over a potential
outbreak. It is worried that the avian flu that is endemic in chickens
in Asia might spread to Britain and that if the virus mutates it
could spread more easily amongst humans - currently only those handling
birds have been affected.
This has ruffled the feathers of pigeon hater Ken Livingstone who
has ordered 100,000 anti-viral tablets to protect him and his staff
at the London Assembly. Bird brained officials at the Department
of Health have also drawn up a plan to preserve the pecking order.
Anti-viral tablets will be available for those at the top of the
dung heap who want to chicken out: top of the list are key government
ministers, health workers, police, armed forces and workers at the
BBC who would be expected to keep everyone informed and show re-runs
of Birds of a Feather to keep everyone calm. SchNEWS suspects fowl
Of course the rest of us turkeys will have to wait and hope that
there isnt an epidemic until March 2007 when there will be
enough anti-viral tablets in stock.
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