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From a comparative perspective, the United States is unusual if not unique in its lack of restraints on freedom of expression. It is also unusual in the range and effectiveness of the methods employed to restrain freedom of thought. -- Noam Chomsky
Literal censorship barely exists in the United States, but thought control is a flourishing industry, indeed an indispensable one in a free society based on the principle of elite decision, public endorsement or passivity. -- Noam Chomsky
There is no need for a law to check the license of the press. It is law enough, and more than enough, to itself. Virtually, the community have come together and agreed what things shall be uttered, have agreed on a platform and to excommunicate him who departs from it, and not one in a thousand dares to utter anything else. -- Henry David Thoreau
You may be reading this newsletter for the first time as a result of the BVEJ Experiment. To ensure you receive future copies please subscribe.
To participate in the BVEJ Experiment please visit the BVEJ home page and forward a copy of the BVEJ newsletter to everyone you know, ask the recipients to do the same. [BVEJ newsletter #0031 December 2002]
Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice was formed nearly three years ago as a response to the lack of any effective environmental group in the locality, sadly a situation as true today as it was then. Since then the personnel has changed, but we remain true to our founding principles (see links from home page), the only difference is we have gone international, but our roots remain in the Blackwater Valley.
The lack of any effective local environmental groups was not the only formative factor, the lack of any quality local press, we report what you don't read elsewhere. Our other guiding principle was the dismay at the failure of all existing groups to see the wider picture and the need to cooperate.
Locally we focus on Farnborough Airport, Farnborough town centre and exposing corruption in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor. Recently we have taken a closer look at what is happening in Aldershot.
Internationally we are part of the anti-globalisation movement. We highlight the ills of Big Business, as of late Iraq has been the focus of our attention.
Unlike traditional groups, we link together issues, we recognise social, human rights and other issues and link them together. A group fighting rainforest destruction may need our help because it is a British transnational that is carrying out the destruction.
Almost all our back issues are available on our web site, we are slowly slowly, adding more. We used to produce briefings and urgent actions, resources permitting, we may again in the future. We have finally got around to updating our on-line diary (the newsletter contains an edited version).
At the moment newsletter production is our main activity. Our editorial team put together easily digestible articles, often with links and references for more in-depth information.
Latest version of the newsletter usually appears on-line a few days after we have e-mailed out the the newsletter. We will post a notice on Indymedia UK when available.
We would like to be able to put out a hard copy of our newsletter but lack the resources.
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With war with Iraq looming ever closer, Farnborough Airport reaching a climax, it is important this newsletter reaches as wide an audience as possible. Please forward to everyone you know and encourage them do the same. To ensure you get future copies please subscribe.
Our last issue must have been struck by the gremlins. We managed to pick up most of the errors within half an hour of being posted on our web site. The e-mail version was posted before we noticed.
William Russell, the great correspondent who reported the carnage of imperial wars, may have first used the expression "blood on his hands" to describe impeccable politicians who, at a safe distance, order the mass killing of ordinary people. In my experience "on his hands" applies especially to those modern political leaders who have had no personal experience of war, like George W Bush, who managed not to serve in Vietnam, and the effete Tony Blair. There is about them the essential cowardice of the man who causes death and suffering not by his own hand but through a chain of command that affirms his "authority". -- John Pilger
Chickenhawk is the term used to describe a warmonger who has carefully avoided direct involvement in conflict themselves. Chief Chickenhawk is Bush himself who managed to not turn up for National Guard duty during the Vietnam War and since then has never been able to account for his absenteeism - we're fairly certain it had nothing to do with being a conscientious objector. -- SchNEWS
The people have risen, no more Blair. Even Thatcher in her darkest hours couldn't bring this number of people out on the streets. Tony Blair looked out from the Scottish spring conference and saw the people had risen up against him.
Party chairman and Blair creep, Charles Clark, tried to rationalise the numbers. 1 million was apparently the number Saddam Hussein had killed, 1 million the number of Kurds forced to flee. Of course he failed to mention the 1 million killed was when Saddam was 'our guy' in the Middle East, that the Turks have driven 6 million Kurds from their homes. Typical stomach churning crap from a has-been party politician who has yet to get the message, it's now the people who are in control.
It is now 'inhumane' not to attack Iraq, to not effect regime change. The last time the West effected 'regime change' in Baghdad was to bring the Ba'ath Party and Saddam Hussein to power.
'Humane' intervention by the West carpeted the country in depleted uranium from the use of DU weaponry in the last Gulf War. Testimony to this 'humane' intervention are the short lives of the grossly deformed children, a phenomenon unknown prior to the last Gulf war. Continuation of this 'humane' intervention is to deny Iraq specialist equipment that would allow its engineers to decontaminate its southern battlefields and to deny equipment and drugs that would identify and treat the cancers which, it is estimated, will affect almost half the population in the south.
The 'humane' intervention will start with Shock and Awe, which according to the Pentagon is intended to shatter Iraq 'physically, emotionally and psychologically' by raining down on its people 800 cruise missiles in two days, more than twice the number of missiles launched during the entire 40 days of the last Gulf War. This facet of 'humane' intervention developed by military strategist Harlan Ullman produces a 'simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but minutes.'
Stop the War, and Not in Our Name, was a spin-off of the anti-globalisation movement, a movement we were told was finished. What are finished are the has-beens, the hypocrites who think they have a mandate to walk all over us and line their pockets at our expense.
When people attend rallies they become informed, they inform their friends and neighbours. When Blair and his media lackeys lie, we know the truth and see through their lies.
We must maintain the momentum, to put the people back in control. A popular democratic uprising. We Have Had Enough.
Blair, it is time to resign.
As we go to press the world's biggest ever anti-war demo.
On Valentine's Day, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix rubbished Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council the week before.
Also on Valentine's Day, 200,000 marched in Melbourne, kicking off the start of the worldwide anti-war demos and a weekend of demos across Australia. An estimated 660 cities were expected to participate, including 66 towns and cities in Spain alone.
There was an impasse on the mass demo in London planned for 15 February 2003. The refusal to allow the use of Hyde Park, was no doubt bogus to stop the demo, but churned up mud is not a good idea. The opportunity should have been taken to take The Mall, with the speakers and platform before the gates of Buck House. Think what impression that would have had as the pictures were beamed around the world.
For the last big demo, the starting point was the Embankment. This time two starting points to handle the numbers, and en-route to rally and speakers in Hyde Park, three routes had to be taken to accommodate the numbers. Marchers set off early (before the noon start), by 4 'o clock, the tail end of the march was only just leaving Embankment. The police said maybe a million plus, the organisers nearer 2 million, maybe more. The largest demo ever seen in London. Speakers included: Rev Jessie Jackson, Michael Foot, Ken Livingstone, Tony Benn, Mo Mowlam, Bruce Kent, Tariq Ali, Harold Pinter, Bianca Jagger.
Demos also in Glasgow (more than 80,000, Glasgow's biggest ever demo), Cardiff and Ireland. ScotRail had put on extra coaches, still there was insufficient capacity and passengers had to be turned away. Party members left the Labour Party conference in Glasgow and joined the demo outside. The Lord Provost of Glasgow preferred the protesters on the street to the conference and the company of Tony Blair (no choice really).
Big demos in Italy, Germany, and France. In Athens (one of the largest demos in decades) the police fired tear gas to break up the rally, the protesters retaliated with petrol bombs.
In New York protesters were refused permission to march by the UN building, in response over 60 autonomous feeder marches sprang up, all intent on converging on the UN. The main rally nearby, addressed by Desmond Tutu, had around half a million attend.
Although highlighted on BBC Radio 4 news in the week leading up, coverage from morning to midday was surprisingly light. Something changed at lunchtime, throwing caution to the wind, the demos dominated the one 'o clock news, Blair's keynote speech to the Scottish spring conference in Glasgow was relegated. By the time of the 5pm PM news programme, the anti-war demos did not dominate, they occupied the entire broadcast.
In the 1950s Saddam Hussein was just one of many political thugs in exile wondering around the back streets of Cairo. That is until the CIA master-minded the coup that put the Ba'ath Party in power in Iraq.
Saddam worked his way up to number two. He was for the time content to remain in the background as he was busy building up a network of terror.
With the rise of Moslem fundamentalists in Iran and the overthrow of the Shah, Saddam could do no wrong in the eyes of the West. US/UK were aware of the atrocities committed by Saddam but a blind eye was turned. He was their guy in the the Middle East. Officially neutral, the West backed Saddam in the war with Iraq.
Kurdish villages were raized to the ground, Kurdish villages were gassed. This was all okay in the eyes of the West.
Saddam finally overstepped the mark when he invaded Kuwait. He expected the West to as usual turn a blind eye, the West did not.
During the Gulf War, Saddam did not use weapons of mass destruction. The reason he did not was because he was warned by US/UK that if he did, Baghdad would be nuked.
In the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War, 14 out of 18 provinces revolted. Saddam looked doomed and went into hiding. US/UK handed back the helicopter gunships and allowed the armoured elite Republican Guard to withdraw unscathed and regroup in Baghdad. US/UK stood idly by as those who had participated in the revolt were massacred.
Alan Little, The Making of Saddam, BBC Radio 4, Monday 27 January 2003
John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2002
Milan Rai, War Plan Iraq, Arrow, 2002
A week after the worldwide mass demos against war with Iraq (BVEJ newsletter #0033 February 2003) the first of a series of Human Shield Action convoys left London.
Two double-decker buses are carrying a dozen human shields all the way to Baghdad. The convoy, comprising volunteers from Britain and around the world, will drive through Europe and into the Middle East picking up more human shields en route. It was due to arrive in Baghdad on 8 February where the volunteers will stay until the imminent threat of war has passed.
The convoy, led by former US Marine and Gulf War veteran Ken Nichols O'Keefe, has attracted volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. They state that a massive civilian presence in Iraq has the potential to create the pressure needed to stop western governments from pursuing 'a criminal war' and that 'our so-called democracies have failed us. If we as people are going to stop wars we must act.'
Following the weekend of mass demos against the war (BVEJ newsletter #0033 February 2003), opposition grows across the UK with almost daily actions and demonstrations taking place:
17 February, up to fifty human shield volunteers will fly to Jordan. From there, they'll travel by bus to Baghdad to meet up with the convoy of human shield volunteers who left London in January. The Human Shield movement aims to put loads of Western peace activists in Iraq around the large civilian areas in the hope of preventing bombing.
Human Shield groups are now starting in Spain, Slovenia, Italy, Australia and the US.
Mass world protest on 15 February 2003.
Human Shields leave for Iraq, UK Indymedia, 24 January 2003
An amazing coincident that in the week leading up to a report on Iraq to the UN Security Council and a large anti-war demo in London, tanks are surrounding Heathrow.
The government claims it cannot give the reason as it would compromise security sources, but surely these are already compromised by letting on we know what they are up to.
What is the threat? It could be a missile attack, a bomb smuggled onto a plane, a car bomb, hijack of a plane. If the public are warned of what to look out for they can be on their guard, and maybe prevent an attack. This is just panic generation measures, part of the gearing up to an unwanted and unjust war.
What use are tanks at an airport? If the intention was to crash into a terminal building with a lorry-load of explosives, then possibly some use for tanks, but not otherwise.
If terrorists wished to bring down a plane, a far better place than Heathrow, unless it is brought down over Central London, would be Farnborough. At Farnborough not only would it kill those on the aircraft, it would also take out a large number on the ground.
But why take out a plane over Farnborough? It is not even necessary to hijack a plane. Simply lease a plane courtesy of those eager to please people at TAG and down it over Downing Street, or the nuclear research establishment at Aldermaston and wipe out southern England. Piss-poor security at Farnborough is so lax as to be non-existent.
Ominously, a senior Met officer, only a couple of days before the mass demo in London, warned that it may be necessary to put troops on the streets of Central London.
War on terror, war on Iraq, regime change, massive military spending, massive budget deficit, Star Wars, flouting of international law, Middle East crisis. None of this is new. We went through the same in the Reagan/Bush years. Not surprising that we have seen it all before when it is the same recycled Reaganites from the Reagan/Bush era of twenty years ago back in power.
The war on terror that has been declared is not new. Reagan declared a war on terror. Behind the war on terror was the Great Satan, the Soviet Empire, so we have to find other culprits.
Reagan never picked on the Soviet Union directly, that would never do. It is far easier to have a more malleable villain.
Noam Chomsky wrote
Within the American doctrinal system no one so epitomizes "the evil scourge of terrorism" as Muammar Qaddaffi, the "mad dog" of the Arab world; and Libya under his leadership has become the very model of a terrorist state.
Chomsky wrote this in 1986. Change Muammar Qaddaffi for Saddam Hussein and we can see how little things have changed.
Or, again from 1986, when Chomsky commented
To demonstrate Libya's role as a state terrorist, the flimsiest evidence, or none at all, will will suffice.
As true today with Iraq, with the attempts to link Iraq with Al-Qaeda, as it was then with Libya.
The role with Libya, of terrorist acts and people killed was around a dozen killed at the hands of Libya, state terrorism yes, but nothing compared with the state of terror Reagan carried out across Central America, where El Salvador and Guatemala become bywords for terrorism.
Under the cowboy, the White House was ringed with tanks for fear of an attack from Libya, Grenada had to be invaded because of the threat it imposed to the US, Nicaragua destabilised because the Sandinistas were two day's march from invading the US. It was only in 1998 that Cuba was marked down as a threat to the US.
If it was not so serious it would be laughable.
These countries serve two functions. We can bomb them with impunity and strut around the world stage as conquering heroes. We can strike terror at home and cow the population into obedience. Tony Blair tells us that after Iraq, North Korea is next, if we fail to set an example we will be perceived as weak. The philosophy of a mafia Don enforcing obedience in his arena of influence.
An Orwellian war with no end.
Listening to George Bush giving his State of the Union address in January we learned that the US and its allies was being threatened by Iraq.
Threatened with what?
Nicaragua and Cuba were a threat to the US, they threatened an alternative. JFK ranted that Cuba could not be allowed to defy 150 years of US control of the hemisphere.
US under Reagan were found guilty in the World Court for acts of war against Nicaragua.
International law, then as now, is what the US decides it will be.
US and its junior partner have been the most powerful military alliance since the Second World War. With the demise of the Soviet Union there is no longer a deterrent. The use of force is no longer the last resort of diplomacy, it is the only tool to be used.
Bush may not have instigated 9-11, he may not even have stood idly by and let it happen (though there is compelling evidence that he did), but it was a God send.
There may be terrorist cells in UK, but an amazing coincidence that a rash, almost a plague, of them, are discovered just on the eve of war with Iraq.
There may be justifiable grounds to go after the countries that supply funds and succour to terrorists. That would be grounds to attack Saudi Arabia not Iraq. It would also be grounds for many countries to attack USA, but never of course raised in polite society.
One of the worst terrorist attacks in the 1980s, was in the Middle East, a car bombing where 80 people were killed and several hundred injured. It was not the Palestinians, not even the Israelis. It was the Lebanese, who were targeting a Shi'ite leader. Behind the plot was the CIA.
They carry out terrorist attacks, we carry out reprisals, or pre-emptive strikes. They and we are whoever we determine they are.
The Palestinians carry out suicide bomb attacks. Appalling yes, but nothing like the atrocities in Central America where tens of thousands of people were raped, mutilated, then left dead. Mutilated, decapitated bodies of trade unionists, human rights workers, teachers, health care workers, priests, were left in the streets as examples to others. And the examples worked, the population was too terrified to raise its head.
John Negroponte, now US Ambassador to UN, was under Reagan, US Ambassador in Honduras, from where most of the terror campaigns were directed.
Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defence, was Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East during the period of worst atrocities.
We are seeing realpolitik at work in the US hemisphere of influence. In Colombia US special forces are on the ground, as the military aid rises, so do the human rights abuses in direct correlation. In Venezuela the US government is behind destabilisation. Brazil has yet to experience the problem, but the US has another tool thanks to Clinton. Neo-liberalism with the help of IMF/WTO can turn the screws and bring a country to its knees without the need for a bloody coupe.
In Turkey, in the late 1990s, Clinton used more traditional methods, massive military hardware, money and political support and a terror campaign against the Kurds. At the time terrorism could not be tolerated on Nato's borders but it could be tolerated within.
We have an administration run by people used to terror, with blood on their hands. They are back to finish the job.
Noam Chomsky, Rogue States, Pluto Press, 1986, 2000
Noam Chomsky, Pirates and Emperors, Old and New, Pluto Press, 2002
Noam Chomsky, Challenging US Power, Red Pepper lecture in London, December 2002
John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2002
In 1946 the judges at Nuremberg who tried the Nazi leaders for war crimes left no doubt about what they regarded as the gravest crimes against humanity. The most serious was unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state that offered no threat to one's homeland. Then there was the murder of civilians, for which responsibility rested with the "highest authority". Blair is about to commit both these crimes, for which he is being denied even the flimsiest United Nations cover now that the weapons inspectors have found, as one put it, "zilch". Like those in the dock at Nuremberg, he has no democratic cover. -- John Pilger
The logic is brilliant. To save the Iraqi people from a murderous dictator (who we put there in the first place) we must first kill them with sanctions and then with bombs. To stamp out terrorism we must attack countries and kill innocent people, which will produce more terrorists. And to protect our civil liberties and freedoms we must, of course, take them away. -- SchNEWS
As public opinion hardens against the war, Tony Blair is getting ever more desperate.
A document was placed on the Downing Street website justifying the case for war. It turned out to be the regurgitated thesis of a Californian PhD student, right down to the spelling and grammatical errors, extracts from Jane's Intelligence reports were also added for good measure. The document has since been removed from the Downing Street website, but maybe is still in the Google cache.
An Iraqi missile in test firing has reached 180km and a bit, not the restricted 150km. Neither here nor there. This vital piece of 'evidence' for war was released a couple of days before the report to the UN Security Council. This information was provided by the Iraqis in their voluminous dossier to the UN last year. If it is judged a violation, and assuming the locations are known, the missiles can be destroyed. Weapons inspections work.
Colin Powell in his recent report to the UN showed an Iraqi missile launch site. A site that has not been used for years.
We are told there are links with Al-Qeida, even though none have yet been shown and are highly unlikely due to the secular nature of the Baghdad regime. 'Proof' was provided, a distant link living in the Kurdish controlled areas of northern Iraq. According to Colin Powell and Tony Blair, this radical Muslim enclave was the site of weapons of mass destruction. Inspections by journalists a few days later found a deserted TV/radio studio and deserted buildings, the occupants having fled for fear of a US/UK bombing raid.
On both sides of the Atlantic the intelligence and security services are leaking like a sieve, disowning any of the war propaganda being promulgated by our corrupt warmongering politicians.
Yes, there are proven Al-Qeida links. These links are with CIA, MI6, Pakistani ISA and the Saudi royal family.
Maybe Saddam Hussein has a few weapons of mass destruction, but he is not currently threatening anyone. The only time he has threatened (and used), was with the tacit approval of the West and armed to the teeth by the West. With his back against the wall and with nothing to lose, Saddam will be tempted to unleash whatever he has remaining in his dwindling arsenal.
The only rogue states threatening other countries are the US and UK.
From where did Saddam Hussein get his weapons, who were the suppliers? Why, last December, did the US government immediately seize the 12,000 pages of Iraq's weapons declaration, saying they contained 'sensitive information' which needed 'a little editing', this was after all a report to the UN Security Council not the US? Sensitive to who? The original Iraqi submission listed 150 American, British and other foreign companies that supplied Iraq with its nuclear, chemical and missile technology, many of them in illegal transactions. In 2000, Peter Hain, then a Foreign Office Minister, blocked a parliamentary request to publish the full list of law-breaking British companies. Why?
Yes, Saddam Hussein has been involved in providing support for Middle East terror groups, as has Syria and Iran. These groups are seen locally as liberators from Israeli occupation and oppression.
The biggest exporter of terror, especially during the Reagan/Bush years, has been the US.
Yes, Saddam Hussein has a bloody awful human rights record, but so has Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
US/UK are poised to rain down on Baghdad more cruse missiles in the first 48 hours than during the entire period of the last Gulf War.
The perverse logic of Bush/Blair is that you bomb Baghdad, with tens of thousands of people killed, into a pro-western democracy.
Formerly secular Iraq, has seen in the last few years, more mosques being constructed than any other Middle East country. Sanctions, with the people on subsistence levels, with the only source of income the oil for food programme, has consolidated the power of the Ba'ath Party. The only other source of help is radical Islam.
The last Gulf War did not see massive uprising across the Middle East because repressive regimes put down any sign of trouble with an iron fist. Reaction was also tempered by the fact a fellow Arab country had been invaded.
This time it is different. We are likely to see the entire Middle East in flames. Turkey, where the parliament has voted for war, has in excess of 90% public opinion against war. The Jordanian parliament has not met for several months, street protests are brutally put down. Kuwait is now little more than a US/UK military outpost, indigenous people are being kicked out of northern Kuwait.
Turkey has invoked the Nato mutual defence pact. But why is Turkey under threat, because Turkey is threatening Iraq.
Bush/Blair in their collective stupidity will ignite the Middle East, and in all probability start World War III, a Muslim jihad against the infidel in the West, terrorism will become the norm. It may even be what they want, the Orwellian endless war, good for arms sales, good for repression back home.
As if on cue, Osama bin Laden has called for a war against the West if Iraq is attacked.
Blair has shown himself to be nothing but a liar. Blair, Geoff Hoon (Defence Secretary) and Jack Straw (Foreign Secretary) are war criminals.
Blair likes to compare himself with Churchill, when in fact the opposite is true of the lying sanctimonious prig. Churchill granted parliament a vote to go to war with North Korea. There is a comparison with WWII, where a heavily militarised/industrialised country attacked a weaker defenceless country for its resources. The US/UK military alliance have taken on the role of Nazi Germany. We are being led to war by a man in the White House who stole the election and a man in Downing Street whose government gained the lowest percentage of the popular vote. The latest opinion polls put the support for war in the UK at 9%
Under the UN Charter to attack another country one either has to have been attacked or under risk of imminent attack necetating a pre-emptive strike. Neither applies to Iraq. A second UN Resolution means nothing as those voting yes will have been bullied and bribed to vote yes. Sanctions are already being threatened against Germany and France for not toeing the US/UK line.
Which country is next? Muslim pariah state Iran is developing ballistic missiles with the help of North Korea and China, has a programme for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Iran is far more of a threat than Iraq.
Action is needed to stabilise and demilitarise the entire Middle East, not just Iran, Iraq and Syria, but also Saudi Arabia, Cyprus and Israel. The Turks have to pull out of occupied northern Cyprus and establish a Kurdish state in the south east of Turkey.
Negotiations should begin with Saddam for a post-Saddam Iraq - he won't be around for ever - a democratic Iraq, possibly Iraq split in to three countries, with northern Iraq part of the settlement with Turkey for a Kurdish state. The Royal family has to toppled in Saudi Arabia, the Emir kicked out of Kuwait.
Iraq is an artificial creation of the British, created out of three Ottoman provinces following the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the carve up of the Middle East by Britain and France in the 1920s. Iraq was governed by a relatively benign monarchy, until toppled by a military coup, followed by a series of ever more repressive military coupes, until finally the CIA installed the Ba'ath Party and Saddam Hussein.
War is not the way to either stabilise the Middle East or rid the region of weapons of mass destruction or terrorism, it will have the exact opposite effect. It will push an already unstable region over the edge, act as a recruiting drive for Muslim terrorists. The last Gulf War left Saddam's weapons relatively unscathed, it was the inspection and monitoring regime that eliminated most of the weapons of mass destruction.
We must do our bit. The massive demonstrations send a clear political message but it is not enough. Stop the War coalition has to take direct action that hits where it hurts.
Boycott USA is a start - Starbucks, McDonald's, Monsatan, and especially Exxon. The next big day of action should be, not a mass demo as 15 February, rather a shut down of Exxon worldwide. Every locality has a local demo, but instead of in the town square, it is on the forecourt of every Exxon filling station and outside every Exxon oil refinery and oil terminal.
William Blum, Rogue State, Common Courage Press
Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy
Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, Pluto Press, 1999
Noam Chomsky, Rogue States, Pluto Press, 1986, 2000
Noam Chomsky, Pirates and Emperors, Old and New, Pluto Press, 2002
John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2002
[BVEJ newsletters passim]
Pablo Picasso's Guernica depicts the bloodbath of the Spanish Civil War
A tapestry version of Pablo Picasso's powerful anti war painting Guernica hangs, appropriately, in the United Nations headquarters in New York, right outside the Security Council chamber. However, when delegates arrived to hear Hans Blix's weapons inspection report in January (some of whom have already decided on war) it was a surprise to see that the picture had been covered by a blue banner with the UN logo on it. Abdellatif Kabbaj, the UN's PR person explained 'It's only temporary. We're only doing this until the cameras leave,' apparently it's more 'appropriate' for people planning a war to be photographed in front of a neutral background.
The Security Council clapped following the French and Russian response to Hans Blix's February report. If the Security Council stands firm against US/UK thuggery, it will enhance the reputation of the UN.
One of the world's most notorious terrorist training camps is the School of Americas in Fort Benning.
As Bush/Blair blunders on with the War on Terrorism, the US courts are busying themselves handing out draconian sentences to scores of Human Rights activists who dare to oppose the training of terrorists on their own soil.
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Co-operation (see SchNEWS 382), formerly the School of the Americas, has spent the last 57 years spewing out 60,000 paramilitary graduates with honours in coercion and repression, ready for export to Latin America. SOA graduates include some of the region's most notorious dictators, like Norriega, Galtieri and Suarez.
The school is an integral part of US foreign policy - influencing Latin American politics and economics in order to protect US interests by aiding and influencing South American militaries.
Last November 10,000 activists gathered peacefully at the school in Fort Benning to demand its closure. 43 were nicked for the hideous crime of 'repeated line-crossing' and have been sentenced with up to 6 months in federal jail, with a $2,000 fine to boot! Even worse, many of these dangerous criminals were nuns!
One activist managed to get the last word. Addressing Judge Mallon Faircloth after getting 3 months, Eloy Garcia said, 'Thank you Judge. These harsh sentences will only make our movement, our opposition to this unjust war which is shared by millions across the globe, even stronger.'
A group of 150 Colombian paramilitaries assassinated 4 Kuna indigenous leaders in an attack on a remote mountain community in Paya. Doing the dirty work for the US-backed (often trained) Colombian military, the paramilitaries systematically terrorise rural populations and 'silence' any opposition.
Last October, a group of badgers armed with water pistols stormed Starbucks in Oxford Street, claiming it as their ancestral home. They evicted customers and erected a badger settlement. Authentic Badger Bibles were handed out to prove the legitimacy of the occupation.
A self-styled Badger Defence Force set up check points and frisked tourists and shoppers for concealed weapons. 'If they're not a badger, they could be a terrorist', a spokesbadger warned.
The badgers selected Starbucks because of the role of the CEO is supporting Israel. As a spokesbadger said: 'Since the chief executive of this company clearly believes it is okay for one group of people to grab land belonging to another group and say they have a right to it, we believe they won't mind if we take some of theirs.'
Across the Middle East Starbucks and McDonald's are suffering declining sales as they are boycotted by Arabs.
Christian Aid have reported that the situation in Israeli occupied Palestine is as bad as Zimbabwe.
Whilst Civil Society gathers in Porto Alegre for the 3rd World Social Forum to debate alternatives to neoliberalism and economic globalisation, in the Swiss city of Davos world finance 'leaders' and CEO's of the main global corporations meet behind closed doors for this year's summit of the World Economic Forum to further implement economic globalisation policies.
At WSF there were 100,000 people and a mind boggling 1,714 events. They were crammed into a Catholic University, football stadiums, a gymnasium, five marquees and some dockside warehouses. Described by some as the People's UN, this was the World Social Forum (WSF) which happened in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Since the very first WSF three years ago, the event has become, according to Noam Chomsky, 'unparallelled in world history.'
So what is the WSF? Conceived as a direct alternative to the corporate knees up globalisation ball known as the World Economic Forum, the WSF is a week of workshops, discussions, and brainstorming for social change without profiteering and neoliberalism - and it runs at exactly the same time every year as the World Economic Forum.
In addition to WSF workshops, several 'parallel conferences' sprang up around the city, including an anarchist convention and a youth camp in a nearby park where about 10,000 people pitched camp, including representatives of Indymedia from around the world.
The choice of Porto Alegre is symbolic too. For 15 years the city's governing Worker's Party - which now rules Brazil through the leftwing President Lula - has been deciding the budget through a process of popular participation, redistributing wealth, reducing poverty and eliminating corruption as a result.
One SchNEWS hack sorting through the myraid of events and opinions said that three issues seemed to stand out: Palestine, opposition to the war on Iraq, and the Latin American issue of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, which Bolivian Indian leader Evo Morales described as a charter for 'transnational pirates'.
This year, Brazalian President Lula went to both the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre AND the World Economic Forum in Davos. Many weren't happy with that - the leader of Lula's Worker's Party, Josť Genoino, received a pie in the face as a protest.
As the Confectioners without Borders who delivered the pie-ing said in their communique:
The wave that carries Lula's Worker's Party to electoral success is not, in any form, the same wave that supports the movement against capitalist globalization. Our movement is without leaders or representatives. No one can speak in our name. If someone in Davos 'represents' the movement, it is ourselves, the thousands that occupy the roads of Geneva in protest against the reunion of bankers, businessman, and governments that the Worker's Party legitimates. The hope for change that we carry cannot one more time be co-opted and frustrated by politicians and political parties that wish to promote themselves at our expense. This time we are going to do things differently.
Crapita, the 'outsourcing specialists' (running public services as a private business), who've been dubbed capita by the mainstream after cocking up everything they touch from housing benefit to passports, have now taken over the running of TV licensing in Bristol. They sent out tens of thousands of leaflets to homes inviting punters to call a hotline. Only problem is that they printed the phone number of a tyre wholesaler, who then received over 500 TV licensing enquiries a day. The tyre company may now sue Crapita for loss of earnings.
If you are harassed by Crapita for a TV licence, use the return FREE envelope to return unwanted junk mail.
The London congestion charging looks likely to get off to a very shaky start. And the company responsible, why none other than Crapita.
[BVEJ newsletters passim]
All that can be said about them is that they are shiny discs which resemble CDs and whose use might result in music coming out of a CD player. -- Campaign for Digital Rights
What we've seen so far is troublesome and cumbersome. that governs the compact disc trademark. We worry (the labels) don't know what they're doing. -- Gerry Wirtz, general manager, Philips copyright office
We've made sure they would put a very clear warning that you're not buying a compact disc, but something different. We've been warning some labels to begin with, and they've adjusted their behaviour. -- Gerry Wirtz
It's extremely difficult to retrofit the system with copy protection without losing the ability for all CDs to play on all players. -- Gerry Wirtz
From our perspective, CD copy protection is unfortunately not as good as we'd all like it to be. -- Christa Haussler, vice president of new technology, BMG Entertainment
Copy protected CDs, better termed corrupted CDs, as they do not meet the standard for CDs, are a growing problem for consumers. Worthless bits of plastic which contain some form of digital audio are masquerading as CDs. The chances are they will not play on all your equipment. -- Keith Parkins
Although we are calling these CDs, ie compact discs, strictly speaking they are not. Pick up any non-copy protected CD and you will find somewhere the Philips CD logo. This is your guarantee that it is a genuine CD, that it meets the standard for CDs (Red Book), and will play on any equipment that meets the Red Book standard. Any 'CD' that does not carry the logo may carry some form of digital audio, but it is not a compact disc. Carefully examine any copy protected CD and you will find it does not carry the logo. It does not carry the logo because what you are holding is not a compact disc, it does not meet the CD Red Book standard. Philips (licencers and holders of the CD standard) do not permit the manufacturers of such plastic discs to mark them with the 'compact disc digital audio' logo. What you are holding is a flat, circular piece of polycarbonate plastic, which may, if you are lucky, play on a variety of CD devices, including CD audio players, but it is not a CD.
For convenience we will refer to CD, but bear in mind it is not technically, nor legally, a CD.
An example is the Rod Stewart latest 'CD' It Had to be You ... The Great American Songbook, published by BMG, one of the worst offenders. This does not carry the CD logo. It does carry a couple of meaningless logos which would seem to imply that it will play on audio equipment and computer equipment. But try reading the almost impossible to read small print on the back of the 'CD' and you will find that it may play on audio equipment and may not play on computer equipment.
A CD conforming to the CD standard, should and must play on any CD device. If not, it is faulty goods. If there is an attempt to pass off as a CD, when in fact not a CD, and the absence of a logo will show this, then the retailer is flogging fake goods and action should be taken.
Under Sale of Goods Act (1979) and later Sale of Goods Act (1994), goods must:
Fake CDs seem to fail on all three counts: are masquerading as CDs, fail to play on all equipment bearing the CD logo, are of poor durability due to failure of error correction. If they contain access blocking devices, apart from failing to meet the CD standard, are also not fit for the purpose as may not play.
The above mentioned Rod Stewart 'CD' has been released in at least two versions, one of which will not play on Microsoft Media player on some machines and under some versions of MS Windows. It plays on Apple iMacs.
A case of BMG using the consumer as guinea-pigs to test their flawed products?
Insert the 'CD' into a drive and the autoplay feature on Windows will load and run software on the disc which then plays some audio. The user is not informed of this or their consent obtained for running unauthorised software on the user's machine. What the software does we do not know, apart from the fact that it installs on the system hard disk. The software is playing some form of compressed inferior audio, not the high quality audio you expect from 16-bit audio.
When attempting to play what is allegedly a 'music CD' we do not expect it to launch and execute unknown software with untold consequences for the system on which it is run.
Can the 'CD' be copied? Maybe.
Attempts to copy the 'CD' with Nero and Exact Audio Copy failed, on systems where it would also not play. The 'CD' that would play was copied on a system running Windows ME, using B's Recorder Gold 5, but it varied with the drive used (from DVD drive errors on copying and playing, okay from Sony CD writer).
Needed, a means to not only copy the 'CD' but to disable the copy protection and stop the software on the 'CD' from running.
We have no intention of having a go at Rod Stewart. He has produced an excellent album on J Records, well recorded, performed and produced, it is just unfortunate either he or J Records have chosen BMG, the villains of the piece, to distribute the album, as they have done neither him nor J Records any favours and ultimately will have lowered the sales of the album and left a bad taste in everybody's mouth.
Copy protected, ie duff CDs, are part of a wider problem of intellectual property rights and abuse of copyright and patent laws by large companies who abuse their market dominance and monopoly position. For example pharmas with their high costs for medicines. The worst abuse must be genetic piracy, where strands of genetic code are patented, where big business is claiming intellectual property rights over something they do not own and did not invent, often the work of generations of peasant farmers.
Copyright evolved out of the Middle Ages and guilds and noblemen exploiting a monopoly. Copyright is intended to grant the copyright owner a measure of protection in the form of monopoly for a limited period. Contrary to what the major record companies spout about protecting the intellectual property of their artists, it is about protecting mega-company profits.
Copyright lasts for 50 years, and in many cases is being extended to 70 years. A book, for example, after the end of its copyright period falls into the public domain. Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare are all in the public domain, whereas John le Carre, John Grisham, Iain Banks are not.
There has always been the concept of fair dealing. You may copy an article from a magazine, or pages from a book, or parts of a map, for your own personal use or research. This varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It would seem reasonable, for example, to transfer a CD to tape to listen to in the car, or take a copy of a CD when travelling on the train or going away in case it gets lost, dropped in the pool or scratched on the beach. Permitted in most jurisdictions, but not it seems in the UK, where it is prohibited to takes copies for personal use, which only goes to show the law is an ass.
If a compact disc has some form of copy protection, what happens in 50 years time, when it reaches the end of its legal copy protection, and should now be in the public domain, does the technical copy protection disappear?
In the US, the position on fair dealing is clearer, or was clearer. It is, for example, seen as fair dealing, to rip tracks off your CD to the hard drive on your computer. This was settled by the US Supreme Court in what became known as the Betamax case, the essence of which was it is permissible for you to record or copy copyrighted material so long as it does not deprive the copyright holder of revenue it could obtain if your copy did not exist. This would seem to imply you could borrow your mate's CD and copy it if you had no intention of buying it (which presumably you didn't if you were blagging a free copy).
If you see a record shop selling a corrupted CD, complain. If you buy one, take it back and demand your money back. It is only when people take the 'CDs' back, and demand money it causes a problem, that the shops will take notice.
Complain to trading standards. Trading Standards are quick to persecute traders selling by legitimate measure, prosecute market traders for selling fake goods. Will they prosecute High Street stores for selling fake CDs? If these copy protected CDs are being sold as real CDs, they are knowingly selling fake CDs and should be prosecuted.
In Farnborough, Virgin and Sainsbury's are selling the Rod Stewart fake CD.
It is worth warning the stores. If they refuse to take the fake CDs off the shelves, you will be pushing for prosecution.
Sainsbury's customer care 0800 636262 Hampshire trading standards 01329 316219
None of this is of course new. The big companies opposed the introduction of VCRs and have done everything possible to delay the introduction of DVDs. Hollywood film companies make their money on bums on seats in cinemas (and tacky merchandising tie-ins), but greed means they want a second bite of the cake with video and DVD sales.
Remember 'home taping is killing music'? The only people killing music are the big record companies.
The big five record companies would argue they are installing copy protection to protect their copyright. No, they are installing access denial.
There is a generation, the mp3 generation, who do not buy CDs. They download music off the net. Instead of developing alternative business models to address this rapidly growing new market, the major record labels are penalising everyone else. The losers are the consumers who buy faulty products. The technically literate can apply a techno-fix and copy the discs anyway. The pirates, who mass produce CDs in their CD copying plants, will continue 'business as usual', completely uninhibited by copy protection schemes.
On the net, mailing lists and chat rooms have been filled with calls for class-action suits, boycotts of record companies and even coordinated cracking campaigns to prove that copy protection will always be broken.
'I have a right to make personal copies and refuse to buy protected CDs,' Steve Groen wrote in an e-mail to CNET News.com. 'If Hollywood had invented the toilet, it would be five times as expensive and you'd pay $1 every time you flush.'
In the 1980s, software companies to protect their bloated profits tried copy protection. Techno-fixes and a massive consumer backlash forced them into a humiliating climb down. We can do the same with the recording industry.
Matthew Ruben, Celine Dion Killed My iMac!, 28 May 2002
[BVEJ newsletter #0033 February 2003]
Dmitry Sklyarov is a 26-year-old Russian citizen who works for the Russian software company Elcomsoft. As a cryptographer, Dmitry Sklyarov helped crack the protection on Adobe e-books so that the files could be transferred to other formats and read by the blind - Advanced e-book Processor (AEBPR). Neither he, nor his company, had done anything illegal in Russia.
Dmitry Sklyarov attempted to present a paper at a security conference in Nevada. At the behest of Adobe, Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested by the FBI for trafficking in a circumvention device under the statutes of the DMCA. Elcomsoft were later charged with trafficking.
DMCA: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998), is a draconian piece of legislation, which among many other provisions makes it illegal to circumvent any access-restriction measure protecting a copyrighted work, to distribute any device which does so, or even to publicly discuss any known method for doing so.
So what? Well apart from the fact the US is trying to make its legislation effective worldwide, the EU is attempting to introduce similar draconian legislation, the European Copyright Directive, which threatens to impose restrictions similar to those in the DMCA to all of us in Europe.
Under the DMCA, a corporation may do many things not traditionally protected in the US, such as legally destroy materials a person has bought from them, deny a person's right to sell their used copy of a published work, deny a critic or academic access to the material, or, as has happened in this case, silence and imprison people who point out exploitable flaws in their software.
Not only is this not traditional copyright law, it is unconstitutional and harmful to the nation, allowing a programmer or company to effectively decide what is illegal or not, allowing industry associations to circumvent the First Amendment rights of individuals, and making security experts afraid to report on their findings.
The DMCA is a law written by a corporation-friendly Congress (H.R. 2281 - 105th Congress) for the benefit of massive corporations with the approval of their lobbying groups like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and the Association of American Publishers (AAP), all of whom support the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov. The stated intention of the law is to protect the artists' copyright under international treaty. The result has proved something very different.
The most flawed parts (in particular the anti-circumvention provisions and the reverse-engineering provisions) of the DMCA have proven to be not about enforcing copyright, but rather designed to enforce corporate protection from consumers in a fashion which ignores the traditional rights of the consumer.
Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested 16 July 2001, eventually released on $50,000 bail, but confined to California. He was found not guilty 17 December 2002.
Lisa M Bowman, ElcomSoft verdict: Not guilty, CNET News.com, 17 December 2002
Why did Time-Warner take the word of the MPAA and immediately cut us off without even asking us about the allegations, or even notifying us about what was going on? We were our ISP's customers, not the MPAA -- although, of course, Warner Brothers is a member of the MPAA too. But when we asked Time-Warner about it, we were told that they "had to take immediate action". -- Amita Guha
Amita Guha after a long weekend away with her boyfriend found Time-Warner Cable, her Internet service provider, had cut off access to her account sometime around midnight the Friday before. After a long run around she learnt she had been disconnected for 'security reasons', which told her nothing.
The next morning, she received an express-mailed letter from Time-Warner Cable, which stated that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had accused her of distributing copyrighted material. The MPAA had determined that someone, supposedly with an Internet protocol (IP) address assigned to her computer by Time-Warner at the time, had distributed the material on 4 July 2001. The second paragraph stated: "In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. Section 512, (ISP name) has removed or disabled access to that material."
Not only did she stand accused of breaking the law, even worse, she had evidently been tried, found guilty and penalized before even being told of the accusation.
The letter went on to inform her that our account would be suspended for one week, pending assurance that it wouldn't happen again. There was no mention of what materials had been distributed.
MPAA had alleged that someone had uploaded a movie to Usenet, allegedly from her IP address, on the evening of 4 July 2001. However, at that time, she and her boyfriend were out watching fireworks. Her boyfriend logs all network activity on his machines, and there was no activity at the time they were allegedly dealing in pirated flicks.
Time-Warner Cable would not reconnect until they had received written assurances that the infringement would not happen again.
This is not an isolated case. There have been attempts to seize customer records from an ISP on the basis of false claims from the recording industry. Fortunately the ISP has stood firm to protect its customers.
But what this does indicate is the bully boy tactics that are being deployed.
If we introduce laws like the DMCA, the Internet will become something like a police state, with the content industry becoming judge, jury and executioner for your behaviour in the electronic world. -- Campaign for Digital Rights
Granted, none of this is as alarming as the apparent suspension of habeas corpus in the extended detention of more than 1,000 unnamed people in the U.S. since 9/11, but it's pretty darned ominous just the same. -- Matthew Ruben
Post 9-11 we have seen a whole raft of repressive legislation forced through on both sides of the Atlantic. DMCA pre-dates 9-11, but it is no less repressive. It is another bit of Big Business legislation that severely curbs our rights, legislation that all anti-globalisation and free speech campaigners should be concerned about. It currently only affects the US (although as the case of Dmitry Sklyarov has demonstrated the reach of the US extends far beyond the coastline), but, the non-elected EU is trying to force similar legalisation across Europe.
DMCA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998), is a draconian piece of legislation, which among many other provisions makes it illegal to circumvent any access-restriction measure protecting a copyrighted work, to distribute any device which does so, or even to publicly discuss any known method for doing so.
On his CD-R information site, a popular resource for recordable CD technology, software engineer Andy McFadden tells his own story of how he was able to get a digital copy of a SunnComm-protected CD.
In his discussion of how the various types of CD protection work, McFadden also notes the fear that is beginning to ripple through free-speech and computer-engineering circles: Creating tools to evade copy-protection measures, or even discussing their weaknesses on-line, may well be illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). That's the same law movie studios have used to keep DVD-decoding tool DeCSS off-line and to prosecute people who have posted it on the Net.
'It's possible that any software specializing in defeating the copy protection would run afoul of the DMCA ... and the authors (would be) subject to fines and criminal prosecution,' McFadden writes. 'Come to think of it, the preceding discussion might be illegal.'
The "European Union Copyright Directive", or, more properly, the Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society establishes in European law a number of changes which are, broadly, intended to bring European copyright law into line with the provisions of the various World Intellectual Property Organisation treaties, including the WIPO copyright treaty. Among other changes, the Directive requires that member states incorporate into law protection for "effective technical measures" and "digital rights management" information.
Because the EUCD gives (in article 6) legal protection to "effective technical measures" used by rightsholders to restrict the use of copyrighted works, and because reverse-engineering such a measure is equivalent to circumventing it, the law creates a class of computer programs which cannot legally be written. Under the "Digital Millenium Copyright Act" in the United States, which is the rough equivalent of the EUCD, the programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was prosecuted for writing a program intended to allow the users of electronic books to back up the works or to make them more accessible to blind people. In the future, we can expect more widespread use of technical protection measures, and therefore the sphere of computer programs which will be illegal to write will widen. We can imagine, for instance, a future word-processor protecting its document files with a technical protection measure, so that the file format gains legal protection from circumvention: and, hence, reverse engineering. The publisher of the software would therefore be able to preserve their market from any competing product.
Similar protections apply to "rights management information", which is metadata such as identifying "watermarks" which is combined with a work (this is covered by article 7 of the EUCD); in particular, the EUCD prohibits the removal or modification of rights management information. Although not as serious as the problems with the protections for technical protection measures, these provisions clearly restrict the ability of programmers to develop software to process media files. For instance, it could become illegal to write image processing software which permits the removal of "watermarks" or which converts images into a format which does not preserve them. One implication of this is that when rights management information is used to track the usage of a work in digital format, infringing user privacy, it will become illegal to write or use software to strip out the information in an attempt to preserve the user's privacy rights.
In general, the EUCD and similar laws represent an unwanted and unhelpful intrusion into the sphere of software development and innovation.
Things may get worse, of course. In the United States, media companies are pushing for the introduction of even more draconian legislation, the CBDTPA ("Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act", previously the SSSCA or "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act"), which would require all computer systems to be licensed by the Federal Government, lest they become channels for "piracy" of copyrighted works. This would be likely to criminalise much small-scale software development, and effectively prohibit the use of open source operating systems in the United States. Although the CBDTPA is not yet law even in the United States, it should serve as a warning of the character of restrictions for which the media industry is now lobbying.
The discussion of TPMs in Article 6 of the EUCD discusses technical protection measures and the legal protection which they are to attract under the new copyright regime. The Directive requires member states to provide adequate legal protection against the circumvention of any effective technological measures, which the person concerned carries out in the knowledge, or with reasonable grounds to know, that he or she is pursuing that objective.
Technological measures are defined in article 6.3. A measure is deemed to be "effective" if the use of a protected work or other subject-matter is controlled by the rightholders through application of an access control or protection process, such as encryption, scrambling or other transformation of the work or other subject-matter or a copy control mechanism, which achieves the protection objective.
This definition is somewhat tautological. An "effective" measure is one which can be used by rightholders to control the use of a work, and "which achieves the protection objective". An obvious argument to make here is that a TPM which has been broken does not "achieve the protection objective" and is therefore not "effective". However, it is hard to believe that the framers of the Directive can have intended for the legal protection of a measure to extend only up to the point where it is circumvented.
(The draft UK implementation does not clear this up at all; it simply uses the "effective technological measures" formula verbatim.)
In summary, we don't know the answer to this one, but it is hard to believe that we should understand "effective" to mean "not broken yet". A more reasonable interpretation which (especially in the light of the definition in article 6.3) is that an "effective" measure is one which is designed and intended to restrict access to a work.
[courtesy of Campaign for Digital Rights CD Faq]
... at the end of the day, this is a political process ... if people are unhappy then the politicians will be held accountable at the ballot box. -- Richard Short, former Rushmoor planning official
... the Secretary of State regards the 1 in 10,000 risk contour as being an intolerable level of risk ... This figure is consistent with the Health and Safety Executive's upper limit to the tolerable risk to third parties from hazardous industry. -- Paul Cox, Aviation Policy Division, DETR
The upper limit to tolerable risk to people living, working or congregating near airports is set at an individual risk of death of 1 in 10,000 per year. This is the same as the widely accepted upper limit to the tolerable risk to third parties from hazardous industry adopted by the Health and Safety Executive. -- Phil Cotterell, Aviation Policy Division, DETR
The risk modelling is only intended to calculate the average individual risk at an airport and its environs for a given mix of traffic. It takes no account of the population on the ground. -- NATS
... it is important to be clear that our recent work for the DETR does not aim to provide a detailed risk assessment of operations at the aerodrome [it] is intended simply to provide advice to the DETR to assist in determining whether Farnborough should have a PSZ. -- Penny Foot, NATS
... the size and shape of Public Safety Zones are determined by individual risk contour modelling work undertaken by the Department's consultants, NATS. The NATS model seeks to take account of the annual probability of a crash occurring at a given airport, the distribution of such crashes, and their consequences. The specific factors for each airport which are used in the calculations are ... the landing thresholds and forecast of the number and type of aircraft expected to use the airport in the year 2015. No account is taken in calculating the size and shape of the Zones of other local factors such as the distribution of the population around an airport and the local topography. -- Phil Cotterell, Aviation Policy Division, DETR
TAG are refusing to accept their legal obligations under Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act and establish an airfield consultation committee (BVEJ newsletter #0033 February 2003). Graham Wood (TAG) director is saying it is the responsibility of Rushmoor. Readers may wish to put him straight.
Graham Wood firstname.lastname@example.org 01252 526001
Farnborough Airport has been officially opened by Transport Minister John Spellar, his spiel appeared to have been written by TAG. All the usual suspects - arms dealers, TAG directors, Rushmoor councillors, Gerald Howarth MP - were there. The formal opening ceremony took place five days before the planning committee were due to meet to consider the final two conditions prior to TAG gaining full planning consent. But then who gives a toss about little details like operating an airport in the absence of planning consent?
Having been let down by ERM, Rushmoor have now obtained 'independent advice' from Halcrow. It seems, even for the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, to be taking the piss. Halcrow are the lead consultants for DfT on the future of aviation in the south east. In a recent report Halcrow claimed there was no third party risk at Farnborough.
As expected, the final phase of the TAG planning consent was rail-roaded through. Officials lied through their teeth. Only two councillors, Don Cappleman (Labour) and Patrick Kirby (Independent) questioned what was going on and showed any concern for the local community. The Tories showed breath-taking hypocrisy, hand-wringing over safety, then voting in favour of TAG. Roland Dibbs couldn't see the difference between Lockerbie and Farnborough, accidents happen. Paul Talyor was very concerned about safety, so concerned he suggested a sign be erected on the Basingstoke Canal warning that the area was not safe. Voters at the next election should remember the behaviour of Dibbs and Taylor, both supposedly represent Knellwood, the ward at most risk of a crash.
All the Tories voted yes, including, Pat Devereux, Rosemary Possee, Paul Talyor and Diane Bedford (Dibbs lacks a vote). Sue Dibble (Labour) also voted yes. Patrick Kirby (Ind), Don Cappleman (Lab) and Charlie Fraser-Fleming (LibDem) voted no, and wisely requested their votes be recorded.
During the discussion, the man from Halcrow, came across as a clueless idiot. Halcrow had not addressed any key safety issues as they had not been asked. ERM reports had previously been found at fault, especially the maths, this was swept under the carpet. 1:10,000 risk contour should not extend beyond the airfield boundary, that it does was of little concern. That a safety study or cost benefit analysis had not been carried out, or that the 1:100,000 risk contour enclosed more people than any other UK airport, was also of little concern. The only risk that mattered to the councillors was the risk to their own necks, were they liable in the event of a crash. Having been falsely assured not by officials it was gung-ho for an airport and sod everyone else.
Airfield campaigner unhappy with committee, Farnborough Mail, 4 February 2003
Simon Coughlin, Airfield: TAG takes control, Farnborough News, 7 February 2003
Keith Parkins, Farnborough Airport: Halcrow 'independent' advice, UK Indymedia, 4 February 2003
Keith Parkins, Farnborough Airport: Halcrow 'independent' advice, UK Indymedia, 7 February 2003
Keith Parkins, Farnborough Airport officially opened, UK Indymedia, 8 February 2003
Row takes off over the development of airfield, Farnborough News, 14 February 2003
[BVEJ newsletters passim]
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