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Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice

Newsletter April 2003


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What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight - who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust. -- Nelson Mandela

When American Vice-President Dick Cheney said that the "war on terrorism" could last for fifty years or more, his words evoked George Orwell's great prophetic work, Nineteen Eighty-Four. We are to live with the threat and illusion of endless war, it seems, in order to justify increased social control and state repression, while great power pursues its goal of global supremacy. Washington is transformed into "chief city of Airstrip One" and every problem is blamed on the "enemy", the evil Goldstein, as Orwell called him. He could be Osama bin Laden, or his successors, the "axis of evil". -- John Pilger

Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied. -- Arthur Miller


BVEJ

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.

We have recently added ourselves to the Yahoo list server. If you are getting multiple copies it is because you are on both the listserver and the manual list. Tell us and we will remove you from the manual list. The two will be for a time run in parallel, but we will eventually use the automated system only. Please ensure therefore you subscribe.

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Our material may be freely used and quoted provided it is not used out of context and full credit is given to BVEJ. Our material may not be used without our written consent by for-profit organisations.

Readers are welcome, indeed encouraged, to run off copies and pass around to their friends.

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.


War with Iraq

We're generating some serious street heat. Blair can feel it. Bush can feel it. Turn it up. -- Rev Jesse Jackson

It's a country run by a bunch of criminals with Tony Blair as a hired Christian thug.-- Harold Pinter

Let everyone recognise what has happened here today, that Britain does not support this war for oil. The British will not tolerate being used to prop up the most corrupt and racist American administration in more than 80 years. -- Ken Livingstone

We will lose this war. All it will do is create more terrorists and yet more hatred. -- Mo Molam

We are standing, we are speaking out, we are fighting. But the Prime Minister is ignoring our views. -- Ms Dynamite

Why has the bombing of Iraq, rather than feeding the hungry, providing clean water or preventing disease, become the world's most urgent humanitarian concern? -- George Monbiot

Tony Blair had to move forward his speech to the Scottish spring conference so he could skulk away with his tail between his legs before the anti-war protesters reached the conference venue. He claimed the protesters lacked understanding of the issues, would have blood on their hands, that he did not wish to go to war.

The protesters fully understand the issues, which is more can be said of Blair with his lies and half truths, non-existent links to Al-Qaeda and fabricated dossiers. Blair has so far led the country into war in Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. Blair has a blood-lust for war, he thrives on the stench of war.

The next day, after Britain's biggest ever protest, the cronies were pushed out to show how good they are at licking Blair's arse.

No mention in Blair's hand-wringing concern for the fate of the Iraqi people the withholding of more than $5bn worth of humanitarian supplies approved by the Security Council. Washington, with Blair's backing, maintains a medieval blockade against Iraq. Cancer treatment equipment, water treatment equipment, painkillers, children's vaccines, medical equipment, life-giving essentials that are maliciously withheld, have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of vulnerable people, mostly infants under the age of five. Extrapolating from the statistics, the American scholars John Mueller and Karl Mueller conclude that 'economic sanctions have probably already taken the lives of more people in Iraq than have been killed by all weapons of mass destruction'.

A few days later we had more stomach-churning hypocrisy from Blair at a Downing Street press briefing. Blair, in his own words, told us of his concern for the suffering of the Iraqi people, we learnt that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant. This may of course be new to Blair, but it is not to the rest of us.

Saddam has been in power for the last 30 years. Until the last ten years he has been fully backed by the West. Where was Blair's voice raised against this tyrant when he was 'our guy' in the Middle East? Blair's position is better judged by his fellow travellers.

The cost of sanctions in terms of half a million children was considered by Madeleine Albright, Clinton's UN Ambassador, to be 'a price worth paying'. In the immediate aftermath of the last Gulf War Colin Powell asked about the number of Iraqis killed responded 'it's really not a number I'm terribly interested in.'

Not that there has been a ceasefire since the last Gulf War, as we are often led to believe. Justifying the continuation of bombing raids, Brigadier-General William Looney, director of the bombing operations, said in 1999: 'We own their airspace ... we direct the way they live and talk ... And that's what's great about America right now. It's a good thing, especially when there's a lot of oil out there we need.'

Is regime change to install a democracy in Iraq? If yes, it will be news to Bush and a novel idea for US administrations. The US wants a new hard man, one they can control. Around the world the US has destabilised democracies and installed regimes no better than that in Iraq (which the CIA installed), Central America, Latin America, Iraq, Indonesia.

If Blair is to follow in Churchill's footsteps is he to follow the great man's dictum of 'using poison gas on uncivilised tribes'? Saddam was not the first to gas the Kurds, it was Winston Churchill in 1921.

We are supposed to be concerned for the Kurds. The same concern that periodically stands down the no-fly patrols in northern Iraq to allow the Turks to bomb Kurdish villages in the 'protected zone'. Kurds have more to fear from pariah state Turkey than they do from Iraq.

In the Commons debate, Clair Short displayed her usual stomach churning hypocrisy, when having publicly wrung her hands for the people of Iraq, she trooped through the lobby with the other arse-licking Labourites. 121 Labour MPs voted against Blair in War on Iraq, shame on those arse-lickers who trotted in with Short through the New Labour lobby. Not that anyone should be surprised by Short, who displays the same concern for the world's poor when she acts as the mouthpiece of the WTO.

Blair has no mandate for war. He has no mandate from the people, no mandate from parliament. Instead, he consulted a foreign power, the Washington regime. The Washington regime of George W Bush is now totalitarian, seized power by electoral fraud, captured by a clique whose fanaticism and ambitions of 'endless war' and 'full spectrum dominance' are the outward manifestation of the lust for world domination.

George W Bush, in his White House press conference (shown live on BBC World Friday 7 March 2003) appeared to be a robot, constant repetition of the same phrases, superficial analysis. Iraq was a threat to the United States as demonstrated by 9-11!!!!!

In New York, the city authorities showed their commitment to freedom and democracy by stopping the February 15 marchers from passing by the UN building and belting around the head with batons any protester who dared stray off the pavement. A day Saddam Hussein could be proud of.

Written in 1948, George Orwell's great novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, depicts a society in which three slogans dominate: war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. In Blair's moral new world, little has changed.

[BVEJ newsletter #0034 March 2003]


More on Iraq

I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons - biological, chemical, missile, nuclear - were destroyed. -- General Kamel

It was when Rumsfeld and Saddam were friends that Iraq was a real danger. -- Red Pepper

The League of Nations collapsed after the 'pre-emptive' strikes carried out by Hitler and Mussolini. Hitler used to argue that his invasions were provoked by the threatening attitudes of nations like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway etc. Mussolini defended his invasion of Albania by arguing that he was removing the 'corrupt', feudal and oppressive regime of King Zog, and newsreels showed grateful Albanians applauding the entry of Italian troops. -- Tariq Ali

How have we got to this point, where two western governments take us into an illegal and immoral war against a stricken nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat: an act of aggression opposed by almost everybody and whose charade is transparent? -- John Pilger

The highest ranking defector from Iraq was Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law. He arrived in Jordan in a convoy of cars bearing crates of secret documents with which he hoped to buy freedom in the West. Kamel was not any old defector, he was the man in charge of Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear programme. It was from Kamel that the West learnt much of the programme, the West also learnt that these programmes had been destroyed for fear of them being discovered by US/UK and the repercussions that would follow.

Maybe Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, maybe he doesn't. The view of the previous weapons inspection regime which was withdrawn by US/UK in 1998 so that Baghdad could be bombed was that Iraq was within 6 weeks of being completely disarmed. According to former chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, when he left Iraq in 1998, disarmament was '90 to 95 per cent'. Even if Saddam has anything left, possession is not the same as intent to use. In the past, when such weapons have been used, it has been with the nod and the wink of the West. But, what we can almost guarantee, if Saddam has anything up his sleeve, it is likely to be used if his survival is threatened.

If, Saddam Hussein is operating this gruesome regime, as Blair has recently discovered, why not, as Jeremy Corbyn MP (who has an honourable record of exposing Saddam's atrocities over the last two decades) has demanded, are there not prosecutions of the British companies that have supplied and sustained the Iraqi torturers?

Two years ago, brown nose Peter Hain, then a Foreign Office minister, blocked a parliamentary request to publish the full list of British companies that had illegally traded with Saddam Hussein. Why?

Could it be because the Blair government has secretly paid out more than £33 million in taxpayers' money to British companies claiming non-payment on the weapons they sold Saddam Hussein in the 1980s? The total loss to the taxpayer on sales to Iraq now exceeds £1billion. Add this to the £3.5billion that Gordon Brown has 'put aside' for an attack on Iraq. Add this to the £1billion that the bombing of Iraq has already cost - the rarely reported bombing by British and American aircraft in the so-called 'no fly zones', which now cover most of Iraqi airspace and were set up, according to Blair, to 'protect Iraq's minorities'.

Blair is concerned with the suffering of the Iraqi people. Is that why we bomb civilians in the no-fly zones, why we periodically stand down the patrols to allow Turks to bomb Kurdish villages?

In northern Kurdish Iraq, John Pilger interviewed members of one family who had lost their grandfather, their father and four brothers and sisters when a 'coalition' aircraft (British or American) dive-bombed them and the sheep they were tending. It was open desert, a moonscape with not a sign of other life, let alone a military installation.

The attack was investigated and verified by the then chief United Nations representative in Iraq, Hans Von Sponeck, who drove there especially from Baghdad. His findings are listed among dozens of similar attacks - on shepherds, farmers, fishermen - in a document prepared by the United Nations Security Section. Not long afterwards Hans Von Sponeck resigned.

A senior intelligence official in Australia has resigned. He has resigned because he could no longer stomach the lies that Saddam Hussein was a threat or that there were links with Osama bin Laden. As in the US and UK, the Aussie intelligence services are under pressure to distort their findings to suit the political agenda.

We hear of Saddam gassing the Kurds, what we do not hear of is the British Ministers and US officials competing with each other to reward our man in the Middle East. We do not hear of the western denial and cover-up.

Barely one month after the atrocity in 1988, Tony Newton, Margaret Thatcher's Trade Secretary, flew to Baghdad to offer Saddam £340million of taxpayers' money in export credits. Three months later, the smiling Newton was back, this time to celebrate with Saddam the joyous news that Iraq was now Britain's third-largest market for machine tools, from which a range of Iraqi weapons was forged - some of them used against British troops in the Gulf War.

Newton was followed by Assistant US Secretary of State John Kelly who flew to Baghdad to tell Saddam that 'you are a source for moderation in the region, and the United States wants to broaden her relationship with Iraq'.

The time when Saddam Hussein was a regional threat was in the 1980s. This was the time when we armed him, when Margaret Thatcher regarded him as a friend, when Donald Rumsfeld flew out to Baghdad to greet him as Ronald Reagan's Middle East Envoy, when Gerald Howarth MP was acting as an adviser to a key company in the Iraqi super-gun.

USAID has lined up five US companies who will benefit from the post-war reconstruction bonanza in Iraq. Even apart from the US occupation and control of the Iraqi oil fields, US oil companies will benefit from the reconstruction of the oil fields. One of these companies to benefit is Dick Cheneys's old firm, Haliburton.

It was claimed that there were no Kurds on the 15 February demos, that Kurds welcome the attack on Iraq. This is news to anyone who has been working with the Kurds over the last two decades. Did Blair bleat when Clinton poured massive military aid into Turkey in the late 1990s for state terrorism and genocide against the Kurds? On 15 February, according to John Pilger 'as many as 7,000 Iraqis and Kurds marched. Iraqi families stood on the roadside holding up home-made placards: "Thank you for supporting my people."'

Next time Blair bleeds from the heart about the Iraqi people and Saddam's atrocities, remember there is no record of Blair or his sycophants having prior to 9-11 showing the slightest concern for the fate of the Iraqis or the Kurds.

The French are perverse in their use of the veto. Perverse because it conflicts with US/UK interests. Were the US perverse every time they vetoed a Middle East Security Council resolution? Check out the long sorry record of US vetoes at the UN.

Arab, Turkish and Iranian neighbours of Iraq do not see Saddam Hussein as a threat. If we go to war we will go to war against a near defenceless people who offer us no threat.

If US/UK go to war, with or without a second resolution (which is a fig leaf), it will be a war crime. Tony Blair and Jack Straw will be war criminals, as will be anyone encouraging such actions, as will the squaddies fighting in Iraq.

Blair is a coward. He will not permit a free vote in the House of Commons. When Clare Short called him and his policy reckless, the slimy ministers and sycophants that surround Blair were wheeled out to stab her in the back.

John Pilger, This is the cost of Blair's 'Moral' War: The trickery used to create a threat, The Mirror, 13 March 2003


Anti-war actions

Civil disobedience is the sole path left for those who cannot support the Bush-Blair pact of aggression. Only then will politicians on both sides of the Atlantic be forced to consider the folly of their ways. -- John Pilger

Ulla's action gives a huge lift to the anti-war movement and will inspire other peaceful and nonviolent acts to put a spoke in the wheel of the Blair war machine. -- Trident Ploughshares spokesperson

So many anti-war actions are now taking place that we can only list a few interesting highlights.

One of the biggest actions is at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, nominally an RAF base but in reality a USAF base. B-52 bombers, the same as carpet bombed Vietnam in the 1970s, are being prepared for bombing of Iraq. The police have gone overboard and are abusing the Terrorism Act (2000) to stop and search anyone. One protester had their lunchbox searched for weapons of terrorism: 'They opened up the sandwiches to see what was in them - no razor blades, but some rather tasty houmous and vegan pate.'

Another ongoing protest is that at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Shannon Airport is being used by the US military and has been the scene of recent mass protests and direct action. A large police presence complete with dogs and water cannon was recently deployed to protect a newly-erected razorwire fence, which campaigners have declared they will dismantle.

Trident Ploughshare activist Ulla Roder managed to get into a hangar at RAF Leuchars in Fife and do some serious damage to a Tornado plane that had been left unguarded. Ulla later said, 'I took my hammer to the nose-cone, the cockpit, the fuselage, the wings, the tailplane and other parts of the plane which it was safe to damage. I don't see it flying again'. Ulla Roder, a Danish activist living in Scotland, is one of the Trident Three who were acquitted by a Scottish court after damaging the Trident research barge Maytime in 1999. She has served several prison terms for anti-Trident actions. Currently she is on remand pending trial.

Kids across the country have been taking to the streets to protest against the war.

Six kids who walked out of school to take part in an anti-war demonstration have been suspended for two months. The decision means that the kids will not be re-admitted to Blatchington Mill School in Hove, Sussex, until they begin their GCSE examinations. In a crude attempt to stop over 200 kids taking part in anti-war demos the school locked the gates (safety!), but the kids simply walked across the playing fields.

The head said they were very naughty children for disobeying teachers and leaving school without permission. But the kids (15 - 16) were under the misapprehension that recent government initiatives promoting citizenship meant taking an active interest in our so-called democracy.

Why not e-mail the school and tell them what you think of their treatment of the kids, and the deliberate attempt to sabotage their GCSE results.

	office@blatchingtonmill.org.uk

Other kids have been telling SchNEWS about their walkouts, with one 14 year-old girl in Birmingham saying, 'We were accused of truanting but we were standing up for our political views about the world we're growing up in.' More than 1000 in Leicester took part in what one local councillor described as the 'most effective anti-war demo to date'. As one 16 year-old demonstrator put it, 'Tony Blair has only succeeded in one thing as far as we're concerned - politicising a whole generation.'

Police refused to monitor an anti-war demonstration by more than 500 kids in Oxford and blamed their schools and parents for allowing it to happen. The kids brought chaos to the city centre after storming out of schools at lunchtime. The kids managed to frighten off an army recruiting drive.

Early last month a blockade of Parliament took place, this was part of protests across the country that took place that day.

Actors and sex workers across the world staged a global anti-war protest, with readings from the play Lysistrata held in almost 60 countries, and with over 1000 events worldwide. The play depicts how Greek women organised a sex strike to convince their men that war must end. In London extracts were read out opposite Parliament with actors and supporters wearing white gags to show how Blair and the government are not listening to the people.

Edinburgh Claimants destroyed armed forces recruitment material at an Edinburgh Job Centre in resistance to the threatened war with Iraq. Group spokeswoman Ethel MacDonald said 'The army and other armed forces try to take advantage of unemployed people's poverty. They produce glossy brochures, portraying exotic locations. The reality is killing and being killed.' She continued 'And what's it all for? Protecting the interests of the rich - like safeguarding the oil in Iraq for the western multinationals'. The protesters removed a large quantity of Army, Navy and RAF recruitment material from a city Job Centre. These were shredded and returned through the letter box to Leith Walk Job Centre.

A month on, from the mass February demonstrations, demos took place across the world, more demos took place once war started.

For ongoing coverage and what you can do now war has broken out, also check out our diary:


Gulf War II

You will create an Osama bin Laden in every village across the Arab world. -- Arab on the streets of Cairo

War has been launched based on lies and half truths from Bush and Blair.

People in Iraq are starving and dying, dependent on UN food aid. No explanation of why: the US/UK siege of the country that prevents needed supplies from entering the country, the devastating effect of the use of depleted uranium weapons or the deliberate targeting of water supplies and civilian infrastructure during Gulf War I.

Evidence was produced to 'prove' Iraq was importing uranium from Africa for a nuclear weapons programme. The 'evidence' was found to be crudely forged documents.

We have support from a large number of countries. A measure of the support from the most vocal, Spain and Italy, is their failure to commit any troops to the US/UK coalition. Those backing war include ten former Eastern Bloc countries. Their statement supporting the war was written by a former vice-president of Lockheed.

The intervention is 'humanitarian'. No doubt that will be why cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions will be used with their long lasting effects on the civilian population. [BVEJ newsletters passim]

Bush gave Saddam Hussein and his entourage 48 hours to leave Iraq. Less than 24 hours later Bush said Iraq would be attacked whether or not Saddam Hussein left.

Saddam Hussein was given 48 hours to leave because he operates torture chambers. Is the same ultimatum to be issued to the Saudi Royal family and other Middle East despots? What of the Israelis and war criminal Sharon, what of the torture in Central America, established with the connivance of US, or similar in Turkey?

Spot the difference: Iraq is a threat to the region. Iraqi forces will melt away like snow in a Baghdad summer.

Iraq is a near defenceless country. Reagan attacked Libya, Grenada and Nicaragua, Bush Snr invaded Panama. Bullies on the block, pick a weak and defenceless opponent and show how tough you are.

The occupation of Iraq was supposed to be a push-over. The Iraqis are mounting a brave resistance in the face of overwhelming force. They quite rightly see US/UK as an occupying force. Where are the local population welcoming the invaders with flowers? As all invaders, they are welcomed with bullets. Iraqi refugees are streaming across the border from Iraq to defend their country.

The Iraqis no more trust the Americans than they do Saddam Hussein. They know too well the Americans are after their oil.

Saddam may be a bastard, but he is also a nationalist, someone who is prepared to die to save his country. Bad he may be, coward he is not.

Histrionics by US/UK on the parading of POWs on Iraqi TV. Red Cross has quite rightly criticised both sides for parading POWs. But, abuses by both sides pales into insignificance compared with the US treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan or Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Where was the outcry on the coalition soldier with a broad smile on his face holding a gun to the head of an Iraqi prisoner?

Further histrionics that Arab TV is showing dead and mutilated bodies. This is the reality of war, not the sanitized pictures shown on Western TV or the video games of the last Gulf War.

Americans have gone into Iraq like gung-ho tooled up thugs. Not dissimilar to their behaviour in Vietnam where they 'liberated' the Vietnamese by killing anything that moved.

George Brown has found £3 billion to fund the war effort. He can't fund firestrikers with a decent wage, can't fund student grants, can't fund our hospitals, but money can be found for killing people.

George Bush is asking for $75 billion to fund the war, a further $2.5 billion for post-war reconstruction, zilch for peace-keeping.

Americans are handing out contract for reconstruction in Iraq. What right have they to hand out contracts on behalf of the Iraqis? All the contracts to date have gone to companies with close ties to the Republican Party or the Bush neo-fascists. One such company, Halliburton, former CEO Dick Cheney.

War on Iraq is to launch a New World Order. It is a demonstration of what will happen to any country that dares to defy the military might of the US. They will be bombed to shit.

War on Iraq is to launch a New Oil Order. (more on this next month)

The Middle East is disintegrating. Turkey, realising the Kurds worst fears, has invaded northern Iraq. This is a brutal army of occupation, not humanitarian liberation. Will the American call in close air support to halt the invading Turks? Iran is massing on the border and may have already crossed the border. Across all Arab countries, street protest is being brutally put down. We may see regime change in all these countries but it will be to sweep in Muslim fundamentalists, not Western style democracy.

We are embarking on a war that has no moral justification, that has no support in the country, that has no support across the world.

Can there be a Just War in Iraq? Yes, were the Iraqi people to mount a rebellion and call for support from the West there would be grounds for intervention. At the end of the last Gulf War the Iraqi people did rebel, we sat idly by and watched them mercilessly cut down.


Kids on the streets

One of the few good things to come out of Gulf War II has been the politicisation of a whole generation of kids. These are the students of a few years time.

We need to get them involved in the anti-globalisation movement, mobilise them to reject the sweatshop products from Nike and GAP, to not eat shit food in McDonald's or slurp shit coffee in Starbucks.

A million students and school-kids took to the streets across Spain.


Truth is the first casualty of war

The war was launched on a pack of lies and the lying continues.

In the first week we were told ....

No resistance. Massive resistance.

No US troops captured by the Iraqis. Captured troops paraded on Iraqi TV.

Uprising in Basra. Arab TV on the spot reports no uprising.

No planes shot down. Iraqis display the downed aircraft

And so on.


Stop the War

We may not have stopped the war but we are having an effect.

World opinion is on our side, the careful bombing is to avoid the civilian casualties.

We now need to target those companies who will benefit from the war, the oil companies, the arms companies.

Vietnam was stopped and the troops withdrawn because of mass protest on the streets. We have already mobilised far more people than at this stage in the Vietnam war, we need to press home this advantage.


Project for the New American Century

The ominously named Project for the New American Century (PNAC) desires and demands one thing - the establishment of a global American empire to bend the will of all nations. Created in 1997, the Washington-based think-tank chafes at the idea that the US, the last remaining superpower, does not do more by way of its economic and military force to bring the rest of the world under the umbrella of a new socio-economic Pax Americana. -- William Rivers Pitt

The men who created PNAC's imperial dreams now run the Pentagon, the US Defense Department and the White House. -- William Rivers Pitt

Afghanistan, Iraq, did not just happen, they were the brain-child of PNAC (Project for the New American Century).

PNAC occupied the fringes of the lunatic far right, and where it would have remained, but for two things, the seizure of the White House by a group of right-wing Christian bigots and 9-11. PNAC is no longer lost in the wilderness of the lunatic fringe of Washington think tanks, it is at the heart of US policy making with its key people in the White House, Pentagon and Defence Department.

The key PNAC policy document Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategy, forces and resources for a new century, written in September 2000, lies at the heart of US military and foreign policy:

The aim is to achieve 'full spectrum dominance'.

Alumni of PNAC include: Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Zalmay Khalilzad, Elliot Abrahams.

In the Middle East, PNAC see Iraq as a permanent military base to control the region and the flow of oil. The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, was a Richard Perle and PNAC brain-child, a vehicle to formulate and launch war on Iraq.

The goal is as stated above 'full spectrum dominance. US companies to reap the benefit from the overt use of US military power, US media to control public opinion.

John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2002

John Pilger, Iraq, New Statesman, 17 March 2003

William Rivers Pitt, Be afraid, The Ecologist, April 2003


Richard Perle

No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq, then we take a look around and see how things stand. This is entirely the wrong way to go about it ... If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war ... our children will sing great songs about us years from now. -- Richard Perle

At the peak of his deal-making activities, in the nineteen-seventies, the Saudi-born businessman Adnan Khashoggi brokered billions of dollars in arms and aircraft sales for the Saudi royal family, earning hundreds of millions in commissions and fees. -- Seymour Hersh

Perle helped set up another crypto-fascist group, the Project for the New American Century. Other founders include Vice-President Dick Cheney, the defence secretary Rumsfeld and deputy secretary Paul Wolfowitz. -- John Pilger

Richard Perle, Prince of Darkness in the Reagan administration, one of the key architects of war against Iraq, claimed it would be a piece of cake, the Iraqi people would welcome with open arms their liberators. He chairs the Defence Policy Board, one of the most influential boards formulating US defence policy. He was also responsible for establishing the Project for the New American Century.

The Defence Policy Board is a Defence Department advisory group composed primarily of highly respected former government officials, retired military officers, and academics. Its members, who serve without pay, include former national-security advisers, Secretaries of Defence, and heads of the CIA. The board meets several times a year at the Pentagon to review and assess the country's strategic defence policies.

Saudi Adnan Khashoggi moves in the same circles as the people behind TAG. He supplied the Saudis with arms and aircraft, has been in trouble with Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors in the US. During the Reagan years, Khashoggi was one of the middlemen between Oliver North, in the White House, and the mullahs in Iran in the Iran-Contra scandal. A US Congressional investigation revealed that Khashoggi had borrowed much of the money for the weapons from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

January of this year, Adnan Khashoggi, Richard Perle and Harb Saleh al-Zuhair, a Saudi industrialist whose family fortune includes extensive holdings in construction, electronics, and engineering companies throughout the Middle East, had lunch in Paris. Was this a sheikdown for backing for Trireme?

Richard Perle is managing partner in a venture-capital company called Trireme Partners L.P., which was registered in November, 2001, in Delaware. Trireme's main business, according to a two-page letter that one of its representatives sent to Khashoggi last November, is to invest in companies dealing in technology, goods, and services that are of value to homeland security and defence. The letter argued that the fear of terrorism would increase the demand for such products in Europe and in countries like Saudi Arabia and Singapore. Trireme is a direct beneficiary of war with Iraq.

For his sins of exposing the lunch, and the conflict of interest, Richard Perle has called Seymour Hersh a 'terrorist'.

Perle is the 'brains' behind the US policy of 'total war' and 'creative destruction', the latter which is to lead to complete subjugation of the Middle East.

Perle co-authored A Clean Break, a war plan calling for the invasion of the Palestinian Authority territory and the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Perle serves on the board of the Jerusalem Post, owned by Conrad Black who also owns the Daily Telegraph.

Cambridge-based Autonomy Corporation, one of the few UK companies that stands to benefit from the war with Iraq, have, with Perle's help, been selling advanced computer eavesdropping systems to intelligence agencies around the world. Perle is a director of Autonomy with an option on 75,000 of the company's shares.

As we go to press, Richard Perle, Prince of Darkness, Chairman of the Defence Policy Board, ex-policy maker for extremist Binyamin Netanyahu, rabid Zionist, and architect of Gulf Slaughter 2, has resigned for having a finger in every pie.

Perle is the first to go. Let's hope Donald Rumsfeld is the next to fall on his sword, followed by the entire criminal regime in Washington.

Commenting on the New Yorker story, a well-placed Washington intelligence source, who confirmed that Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar had been circulating details about the Perle Marseilles incident for weeks prior to publication of the Hersh article, noted that, if Perle resigns, there will be a well-justified groundswell of demands that Vice President Cheney does the same.

Dick Cheney, who received a massive payoff as former boss of Halliburton, recently revealed $1 million a year continuing escrow payments from Halliburton, which is bidding on billions of dollars in post-war Iraq reconstruction contracts and other war-zone projects.

Seymour Hersh, Lunch with the chairman: Why was Richard Perle meeting with Adnan Khashoggi?, The New Yorker, 17 March 2003

John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2002

John Pilger, Iraq, New Statesman, 17 March 2003


Site Unseen: Exposing the Arms Trade

CAAT are running a campaign across the country exposing the arms trade.

The British arms trade is fanning the flames of conflict, aiding repression, decreasing rather than increasing security and creating economic and humanitarian problems both for the poorest people in our world and for the international community as a whole. Whilst the actual causes of any particular conflict are complex, the arms trade not only increases the likelihood of disputes breaking out into armed conflict, but also vastly increases the number of casualties once it does.

The UK is the second largest arms dealer in the world, exporting £5 billion of arms and military equipment each year. BAE Systems is the UK's largest arms company, producing virtually every type of weapon or weapons system. Globally it is major player in the arms trade.

During 2003, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) are organising protests at 40 sites belonging to BAE Systems or its subsidiaries. In addition it will be holding local public meetings to raise awareness about the arms trade and how we can work together at national and at local levels to end it.

Locally (23 April 2003):

London (29 April 2003):

For more details about any of the protests or public meetings, please contact CAAT on +44-(0)-20 7 2810297 or e-mail: siteunseen@caat.demon.co.uk

Last month, a group of 'civilian weapons inspectors' sprung a surprise visit on a BAE Systems munitions factory in Glascoed, Wales, which produces everything from bullets to depleted uranium shells. A group from Cardiff Anarchist Network used a home made rope ladder to scale a seven foot spiked fence and bolt cutters to get through chain link fencing. The action lasted several hours and activists gained access to sensitive areas despite the best efforts of security guards and police. There was one arrest for criminal damage, although BAE declined to press charges.

Fences Breached at Civilian Weapons 'Inspection' BAE Systems Glascoed, UK Indymedia, 4 March 2003


E$$on

Climate criminals E$$on, would be one of the main beneficiaries of US occupation of Iraqi oil fields. E$$on campaigns aggressively to keep the US hooked on oil, fuelling war and causing global warming and has funded front groups that are advocating an attack on Iraq. Greenpeace have published a report showing how oil is fuelling the drive to war and the role E$$on has played.

On the 24th February, Greenpeace volunteers and anti-war campaigners protested at and shut down up to 120 Esso petrol stations as well as blocking the entrance to the companies UK headquarters. The direct actions occurred as small mobile teams closed down Esso petrol stations from Hampshire to Yorkshire, Wales to Norfolk, with many towns and cities affected. Petrol pumps were disabled and in some areas protesters locked themselves together and refused to move.

Greenpeace Target ESSO in Anti-War Actions, UK Indymedia, 26 February 2003


GATS

Last month GATS fat-cats were gutted when their most top-secret documents got leaked and published on the web (nice one Polaris Institute). The papers instantly exposed the true nature of the EU's GATS agenda (SchNEWS 286, SchNEWS 395, BVEJ newsletters passim) for the next negotiating round: Nothing less than a global takeover of essential services (most notably water) by EU-based transnationals.

The EU - with the full co-operation of the UK government (who have repeatedly given reassurances that water would be excluded from World Trade Organisation agreements) - is targeting state and not-for-profit service provision in the developing world as its new golden goose.

The EU has sent 'requests' to 109 (mostly developing) WTO member countries demanding trade access to water, energy, transport, telecommunications and news services. In some cases, they are targeting countries where European companies have already been booted out by government or public protest.

Each of the 109 'requests' is a strictly classified document with a warning attached: 'Member States are requested to ensure that this text is not made publicly available and is treated as a restricted document.' The general public was never supposed to know that public services were being traded away in secret negotiations until all the deals had been cut. The deadline for compliance with the requests - sorry, agreements - was 31st March 2003.

Caroline Lucas requested some of the EU GATS documents. She was granted limited access on the strict understanding that the documents were for her eyes only. Caroline is only a member of the European parliament.

It is not just MEPs who get this treatment. 28 January 2003, Pascal Lamy (EU Trade Commissar) issued an edict that EU member governments would be issued a list of what was being traded, on the strict condition the list was not made available to national parliaments or the European parliament.

To date there has been no democratic debate of what services, if any, should be liberalised.


Bananas

The world's banana crop is about to fail. Urgh, no. Just another scare story put out by GM scientists to justify their sordid trade (and of course GM bananas were poised to rescue the world). Shame that the New Scientist science comic chose to propagate the myth (they did to their credit subsequently print a letter refuting the story).

FAO have rubbished the scare story. Yes, there is a problem due to the narrow genetic base of much of the world's banana crop, but this can be overcome by conventional breeding, indeed it goes to show the problems that would arise if we were to reduce the genetic diversity even further by taking the GM route. Huge collections of banana germ-plasm exist in the Philippines, Thailand and Belgium. Not widely exported, the Canary Islands grow bananas on small plantations, vastly superior to the chemical drenched monsters we import from near-slave plantations courtesy of companies like Dole.

In Central America, Dow, Shell and Standard Fruit have been forced to pay $490 in compensation to 583 banana workers for sterility caused by Nemagon, an extremely toxic soil fumigant.


Coffee

If consumers decide tomorrow they want only to buy fairtrade coffee and let the big companies know, it can help us communicate this to the big companies who will have no choice but to join our system. -- Guillermo Denaux, fairtrade organisation Flo International

The coffee farmers of Latin America are suffering the worst crisis in a hundred years. -- Raul del Agilia, Junta Nacional de Cafe de Peru

The urgency of the coffee crisis cannot be overstated. 25 million coffee farmers are dependent on governments, companies, coffee cooperatives, trade unions and NGOs coming together to solve the problems of price collapse. -- Nestor Osario, Executive Director, International Coffee Organisation

If a few companies were less greedy, the people at the bottom would have a lot more. We can do our bit by pressurising politicians to end this insanity, and by buying Fair Trade coffee. -- Chris Martin, UK rock band Coldplay

World coffee prices are at an all time low. Not that this is apparent in the High Street as the price has not dropped in the supermarket for a jar of coffee or for a cup of coffee in Starbucks (where you pay more for a cup of bad coffee than a coffee picker earns in a day).

Ten years ago producer-country exports captured one-third of the value of the coffee market. Today, they capture less than ten per cent. Over the last five years the value of coffee exports has fallen by $4bn, cf total debt repayments by Honduras, Vietnam, and Ethiopia in 1999 and 2000 of $4.7bn.

The reasons for this situation are various.

Coffee, unlike money, grows on trees. When the price is high, trees get planted. It takes around five years to produce the first beans, a long time to plant more trees. By the time the trees bear fruit, the price has dropped.

Ten years ago coffee production in Vietnam was on-existent. Output is now second only to Brazil. And as the song goes, there's an awful lot of coffee in Brazil. To get international loans from the World Bank and IMF seal of approval, Vietnam had to embrace a neo-liberal agenda, which meant sweat shop factories, land reform (ie privatisation) and cash crops (ie growing coffee). US AID, World bank, Asia Development Bank, French aid, all were only too happy to help boost production. As was one of the big players in the market, Nestle. Nestle encouraged production by promising to buy huge amounts of coffee, then reneged on their promises.

8% more coffee is currently being produced than consumed. In the meantime coffee companies have been slow to comply with what one of them identified as being their core responsibility within the current crisis - the generation of demand for coffee. The current growth rate of 1-1.5% per year in demand is easily outstripped by a more than 2% increase in supply.

US AID encouraged the planting of high yielding varieties - varieties which just happen, surprise, surprise, to need high inputs from US petrochemical companies.

Ronald Reagan pulled the plug on the ICO, a move that was supported by George Bush Snr. A move that was guaranteed to favour the coffee companies. ICO helped to maintain stability in the coffee market. One of its important functions was to keep the rubbish off the world market.

The United States imports 1/5 of the world's coffee. Americans are not too fussed what rubbish they drink. Advertising and branding is the be all and end all.

Cafe Americano is Spanish for bad coffee.

Technology has come to the rescue, the big roasters are able to do things to the lower grades of coffee that they previously couldn't. A new method of 'steam cleaning' sucks out the worst flavours, flavour additives put the 'flavour' back in. So while the very worst coffees may still be not good for anything except land fill, the next level up is consumed by Americans like there is no tomorrow.

The big four, Kraft, P&G, Nestle and Sara Lee, control the global coffee market. Kraft (and Philip Morris, its owner), the largest retailer of coffee in the USA, have been the largest single donater to the Republicans over the last 10 years.

The big four coffee roasters, Kraft, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Sara Lee, each have coffee brands worth $1bn or more in annual sales. Together with German giant Tchibo, they buy almost half the world's coffee beans each year. Profit margins are high - Nestlé has made an estimated 26% profit margin on instant coffee. Sara Lee's coffee profits are estimated to be nearly 17% - a very high figure compared with other food and drink brands. If everyone in the supply chain were benefiting this may be acceptable, as it is, with farmers getting a price that is below the costs of production, the companies' booming business is being paid for by some of the poorest people in the world.

In El Salvador, coffee pickers are earning around $1 a day, Barely enough to feed a family (the difference is made up by a UN food programme), not enough for medicines or to send the kids to school. They are the lucky ones, in Nicaragua, growers are being forced to abandon their farms. Many who have abandoned their farms now live in makeshift homes on the outskirts of the city. In the Matagalpa mountains, farmers can not even cover the cost of growing their crops. The director of the UN World Food Programme in Nicaragua, Krystina Bednarska, says that 45% of under fives in this region are chronically malnourished. One in eight children is starving as a direct result in the loss of income from the coffee crop, and no one knows how many children have died. In just one hospital, 18 children have died of malnutrition in the first couple of months of 2003.

A neo-liberal agenda says the farmers have to be more efficient to compete on the world market. It's difficult to see how these coffee pickers can be any more efficient. They've already pruned education, housing, health care and even adequate eating from their lives. Maybe they are in the wrong business, maybe they should get into share trading, put aside some of their daily dollar and invest in one of the big four coffee companies, after all profits, prices and dividends are booming (or were before Bush and Blair caused the world's financial markets to nose-dive).

There is a solution, Fair Trade, where small scale and family farms are paid a decent price for their coffee, a price that enables them to feed, clothe and house themselves, that enables them to afford medicines and send their kids to school, quality organic production that produces a premium quality product without damaging the environment.

Oxfam have put forward a Coffee Rescue Plan to make the coffee market work for the poor as well as the rich. The plan needs to bring together the major players in coffee to overcome the current crisis and create a more stable and equitable market.

Within one year the Plan should result in:

The Coffee Rescue Plan would be a pilot for a longer-term Commodity Management Initiative to improve prices and provide alternative livelihoods for farmers. The outcomes to include:

In the meantime you can help by only buying quality fair traded coffee, not slurping shit at Starbucks, writing to the big four companies and demanding they pay farmers and growers a decent price for their coffee (Oxfam have set up an on-line advocacy).

For more information read the Oxfam report on unfairly traded coffee.


BBC rig World Music Award

We just felt that a real injustice had been done to the band and the thousands who voted for us. If BBC Radio 3 want to promote World Music, they shouldn't be afraid of songs which express the growing global movement for world peace and justice. -- Shannon Smy

When I arrived at the Ocean Venue I was ordered at the door to remove my anti-war badge, which said 'Not In My Name'. This confirmed our view that Radio 3 were trying to silence public opposition to the war in Iraq. -- Theo Simon

We didn't want to rob Terra Folk of their moment of glory - which they deserved as much as anyone - but we did want to publicly show the Radio 3 organisers up for their cowardice and dishonesty. -- Rich Whistance

Seize the Day were clear winners (that is in terms of votes cast) of the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award 2003, and yet you will not see them listed as winners.

BBC did not like the result and pulled the plug on Seize the Day. BBC claim the band solicited votes by appearing on various lists, especially political and anti-war lists. Err, 'scuse me, the band performs political protest songs, and plays some bloody good music.

Let's get this straight, Seize the Day appeared on some lists. This did not force people to vote for Seize the Day, or stop them voting for anyone else. It merely alerted people to the fact that an obscure radio station that about three people listen to was running a competition and Seize the Day were in with a chance. If people voted it was because they chose to do so, because they enjoy the music of Seize the Day.

So what was the real reason? Could it be the anti-war message Seize the Day were promoting, which did not find favour with the BBC anti-war censors?

Please lobby hard Roger Wright R3 controller and Stephen Whittle Head of Editorial Policy

	Stephen.Whittle@bbc.co.uk	roger.wright@bbc.co.uk

You'll probably be told the matter is closed and asked to write a letter to this address

	BBC Information, PO Box 1922, Glasgow, G2 3WT

But don't be fobbed off. Write straight back and demand a proper explanation and the reinstatement of Seize the Day as the winners of the Radio 3 World Music Award.

Seize the Day had the last laugh. No strangers to direct action, they stormed the stage at the award ceremony, and stripped off naked. Their bodies were hidden at first with signs reading 'BBC Cover-Up', before they went 'the full Monty', to excited cheers from the 1000 strong audience. The slogan 'Peace Not War' was written across their chests.

Seize the Day are not the only ones to be affected by this bias within the BBC. George Michael was recently interviewed on BBC World. He was not able to get his anti-war message across as he was subjected to a torrent of abuse by the interviewer that would have done justice to the Murdoch gutter press - has been pop star looking for some cheap publictity, a pervert, and so on. About a week or so later George Micheal appaered on the crap juvenile BBC programme Top of the Pops. He and his band were forced to remove their anti-war t-shirts.

Keith Parkins, Banned Members In Naked Protest, UK Indymedia, 27 March 2003


Corrupted CDs - update

We don't condone illicit sharing of music on the internet, but it is probably doing the record industry a power of good, by increasing record sales, not hurting them. Their own figures certainly don't support the propaganda that they're spreading about the need for new copyright laws and a crackdown on internet users. The record industry needs to stop treating its customers like criminals and embrace new technology. They should stop crying wolf about file-sharing and offer the public a convenient, legal way to download tracks at a reasonable price. Nobody is fooled by all this talk of theft and piracy. -- Julian Midgley, Campaign for Digital Rights

Locally, corrupted CDs (ie copy protected or fake CDs), are on sale at Woolworths, Sainsbury's, Virgin, WH Smith, HMV and MVC.

We need more people to get out and demand genuine CDs, that is CDs that meet the Phillips Red Data Book standard and carry the Phillips CD logo.

The lie that file sharing piracy is hitting CD sales, has been exposed by the Campaign for Digital Rights. The peak for file sharing was prior to the shut-down of Napster. During this period, official figures for UK sales of CDs show sales rose by almost 7%, up from 1.05 billion in 2000 to 1.12 billion in 2001, despite a claimed increase of 34% in UK commercial pirate sales, from 20.50 million to 27.55 million. [BPI Piracy Report, June 2002]

This near 7% increase in sales once again exposes the bogus claims of the greed-driven industry. If they are losing sales, as they falsely claim, this increase in sales would have been considerably higher. The last time that CD sales grew this fast was in 1997/8, when there was an 8.5% increase, but that was at a time of much higher economic growth, and there is no reason to expect very high growth in CD sales during the current recession. GDP growth 2.9% in 1997/8, 1.9% in 2000/1. [Office of National Statistics, BPI Trade Deliveries surveys]

The industry's own research also exposes the lie. RIAA's then president Hilary Rosen discovered when she surveyed members of the Oxford Union in October 2002, the majority of file-sharing users bought more CDs even after downloading tracks. And according to surveys in the US in 2000, between one-third and two-thirds of file-sharing users were more likely to buy CDs after listening to tracks downloaded from the internet. [Yankelovich Partners, Jupiter Research, Wall Street Journal]

Check out Rickie Lee Jones' website, and you will find she makes available mp3 downloads and bootleg albums. There are even album covers to download.

[BVEJ newsletter #0034 March 2003]


Pavilion

Dilapidated, rat infested slums with yobs terrorising the estates is an apt description of Pavilion housing.

Pavilion are behaving like a bunch of thugs. A lady has in desperation because of alleged harassment by Pavilion tenants and lack of action by Pavilion taken Pavilion to court. The immediate reaction of Pavilion has been to threaten both her and Peter Sandy (chairman of a local tenants association) accusing both of harassing Pavilion!

Back in February, a group of Pavilion tenants and local councillors had a meeting with Pavilion to seek further information and clarification on Pavilion moves to become a charity. Although directly affected, tenants have been kept in the dark, then given a couple of weeks in what was jokingly called consultation (Pavilion has been in discussion with Rushmoor on charitable status since early last year). The representative from Pavilion appeared to be a clueless idiot. He came ill-prepared, was unable to answer even simple questions, did not even know what were the intended charitable aims. It was suggested, if it was desirable to become a charity (as yet no way demonstrated), then it should be a membership organisation where all tenants are members who elect a board, which appoints the chief executive. That way there would be some accountability which is woefully lacking at present. The clueless idiot was given a series of questions to take away with a clear demand that answers were required. The tenants are still waiting for a reply.

Several Pavilion tenants have contracted Alison Whiteley (Rushmoor head of housing) and given her ten days to enforce repairs. Her only response has been to forward a list of Pavilion tenants who have complained to Pavilion. The response from Pavilion has been to attempt to intimidate the tenants into withdrawing their complaints and to offer a site visit sometime within 21-28 days to investigate the cause of complaint.

Rushmoor are under a statutory obligation to enforce repairs. Pavilion, in their latest Annual Report, claim they carry out repairs within ten days.

We have heard Peter Sandy, chair of Pavilion residents assoc over in Aldershot, is standing for election in the local elections. We wish him luck as he has done more on behalf of the local community than any of our existing councillors. He is standing against Sue Dibble who approved the Manor Park development, Farnborough Airport and many other unwanted developments, sits on the board of Pavilion, in other words she must go.

[BVEJ newsletters passim]


Farnborough town centre

The two monstrosities are slowly taking shape. More retailers are voting with their feet and either going bust or leaving the town for good.

When, maybe if, JJB Sports take occupancy of one of the monstrosities, it would seem to be an ideal opportunity to take advantage of any opening razzmatazz to hand out leaflets on sweatshop factories.

The skateboard park which has helped to destroy part of the small remaining green area in the town, has proved to be an abject failure. The kids prefer the car park and the streets. Now it is not for us to say we told you so. [BVEJ newsletters passim]

The Tories have recently delivered a leaflet to local households claiming the skateboard park to be a huge success!

More shops are closing down. The crap computer games shop is going, as is Bonus Print (photographic processing opposite Sainsbury's). Bonus Print blame the collusion between KPI and the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor for destroying the town and forcing the closure of their shop. Competition from ASDA will not have helped. If you can drop your film off at the start of a major shop and collect your prints on the way out, why go elsewhere? This illustrates the problems the few remaining shops, if any are remaining, if the planned superstore for the northern end of Queensmead ever gets built.

We have already lost the photographic/art shop from Queensmead, a family business that had been there for more than two decades, Fingz Fashion and Eclipse have recently closed. Fingz Fashion went into liquidation, Eclipse have moved to Camberley. The camping shop (another shop that has been in Farnborough for decades) is closing down. Farnborough town centre must be one of the few town centres lacking either a butcher or a baker.

GOSE have refused a public inquiry into the destruction of the town centre.


Farnborough Airport

Like many organisations and individuals the Hart and Rushmoor District Group of CPRE has long been alarmed and bemused by the choice of representatives to serve on your Committee. There would appear to be an imbalance of representatives both geographically and in interests. -- Philip Todd, CPRE

The inaugural meeting of the illegitimate airfield consultation committee (BVEJ newsletters passim) took place last month. No publicity and the meeting was held early afternoon to make it difficult for members of the public to attend. In spite of the lack of publicity, the public attended in quite high numbers, notice of the meeting having been spread by word of mouth.

Pat Devereux was elected as an independent chairman! Not only is she a Rushmoor councillor, but also vice-chairman of the planning committee that rubber-stamped everything TAG requested. Her chairing of the meeting was an absolute disgrace.

Of the four Rushmoor councillors sat around the table (other local councils only had one seat each and some no representation at all), all are members of the same party (Tory), all are members of the Rushmoor planning committee, all have consistently backed TAG, none have acted for the local community. The four Tory councillors are: Diane Bedford (St Marks), Roland Dibbs (Knellwood), Paul Taylor (Knellwood), Pat Devereux (South Farnborough, Empress).

Not only the public gallery, but several of those who sat around the table, were appalled at what they saw. The committee was run as is the norm for committees in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, but an eye opener for impartial outsiders.

TAG claimed they were under no legal obligation to establish a committee under section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act (BVEJ newsletters passim). A mere technicality as the Secretary of State has yet to designate Farnborough Airport under the Act.

Consideration of the amateurish constitution produced by Rushmoor has been deferred. This gives the opportunity for an acceptable constitution.

Members of the committee were highly critical of the unfair structure of the committee (BVEJ newsletters passim) and want to see changes. CPRE have written to Rushmoor demanding membership.

In view of the appalling behaviour of Rushmoor and the fact that the committee they have established is not a legitimate committee under section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act (BVEJ newsletters passim) the opportunity should now be taken to establish a committee under the Act. [BVEJ newsletter #0033 February 2003]

The next meeting of the illegitimate Rushmoor committee will take place at 2pm on Thursday 17 July 2003 at the BAE Systems site alongside the airport. It is important that large numbers of the public attend.

And where were FARA when all of this was going on? Two members of the committee kept trying to raise issues (like committee structure, constitution etc) but were cut off mid-sentence. The FARA representative failed to give support. FARA failed to alert anyone to the fact the meeting was taking place (they also failed to alert anyone to the recent planning meetings). That the meeting was well attended was due to activists in Farnborough, but mainly due to people in Fleet making the effort to notify people. FARA have known since last October that the committee was flawed but have done nothing to help rectify the situation. To cap it all the FARA representative praised Rushmoor on their submission on the Future of Aviation (the submission was garbage).

FARA lacks any credibility locally, they seem more interested in ingratiating themselves with authority than actually acting for the local community. To many people they are seen as a front organisation formed to stop any effective airfield opposition group from forming. We see no reason to dissent from this widely held view. Why has FARA been blocking the participation of Keith Parkins in the current efforts to improve airfield consultation, the only person who has been lobbying on this since the illegitimate Rushmoor committee was proposed last October? Why does FARA make no attempt to inform the locality of what is going on, fail to mobilise any public opposition or get people out to important meetings where the airfield is being discussed and important decision taken? Why does the FARA website fail to contain any useful or up to date information? The performance at the Rushmoor committee was for many a public confirmation of what they have long suspected.

The time is long overdue for FARA to be wound up to make way for an effective airfield opposition group.

The only reason why we have a rapidly expanding airport on our doorstep has been the complete failure of FARA to provide any effective opposition.

Last May FARA refused to make the airfield a political issue. As a result anti-airfield campaigners narrowly missed getting elected, and the result, as they say, is history. What will FARA do this May? They could call a public meeting and grill the local candidates standing for St Marks and Knellwood. If FARA fail to do anything to make the airfield the main political issue, then we have have the final proof, if further proof were needed, that FARA are a front organisation, stooges for TAG. If FARA fail to act, then they must be publicly exposed for what they really are.

Roland Dibbs (Tory, Knellwood) has at every opportunity spoken out on behalf of TAG, Diane Bedford (Tory, St Marks) voted for the TAG planning application. Both are on the Rushmoor illegitimate consultative committee as yes men for TAG. Assuming they are standing in the May local elections, they must be kicked out.

The heathland at the western end of the runway, that had started to recover, has once again been trashed. In addition, a further very extensive area of trees has been cut down.

Still waiting for a say on airfield, Fleet Mail, Tuesday 18 March 2003

Keith Parkins, People will get a fair hearing, letters, Farnborough News, Friday 28 March 2003


Fleet

Proposals for a massive housing estate (1100+ houses) in Fleet on the site of the old Gurkha Barracks at the end of the runway are being rammed through.

Hart claim the PSZ does not reach the estate. A false claim as TAG have not yet submitted their estimates for movements in 15 years time to enable a PSZ to be drawn (based on the 1:100,000 individual risk contour). As with Farnborough, no ground safety study has been carried out.

Any planning application is currently sitting on the shelf as the Local Plan has to be modified to accommodate such a large scale development.

Fleet and Church Crookham residents association held an AGM to which the Hart chief executive attended and talked about working with local residents to fend off unwanted development which would destroy the character of Fleet!

Fleet Pond is slowly, slowly silting up. Locally, species are becoming extinct. This winter, further trashing of the heathland to the west of Farnborough Airport has only served to exacerbate a dire situation. The Pond could have been dredged this winter before the bird nesting season. Why is everyone avoiding the cause, as though it is not known? Fleet Pond is silting up as a direct consequence of the work TAG Aviation carried out for height clearance for Farnborough Airport. If anyone is to pick up the bill, it has to be TAG. Could this be why Fleet Pond Society has been excluded from the airfield consultation committee, even though they have every right to a seat? [BVEJ newsletters passim]


May local elections

As we go to press, we don't know who is standing, but assuming we get it right ....

YES

NO

More next month ....

Apart from the names above, if in doubt, vote Green or Independent.


Snippets


Diary


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