Socialist Worker

Secure for more profits

Issue No. 1796

GROUP 4 is set to rake in greater profits from making the lives of refugees a misery. The firm, notorious for transporting (and losing) prisoners, has taken over Wackenhut Corporate Corrections.

Wackenhut is one of the biggest private prison companies in the world. In Britain Wackenhut transport asylum seekers, including those captured by 'immigration snatch squads' and those being forcibly deported. It owns Australasian Correctional Management, which runs all the detention centres in Australia.

These include the notorious Woomera Detention Centre, which houses refugees in harsh conditions. The buyout means Group 4 will get control over Wackenhut's detention centres in the US, Puerto Rico, South Africa, New Zealand and Canada. Conditions in Wackenhut's prisons in the US are notorious.

In New Mexico in the US Wackenhut's two prisons in their first year experienced riots, nine stabbings and five murders. According to journalist Greg Palast, the prison run by Wackenhut in Texas 'terminated their contract...pending the expected criminal indictment of several staff for sexually abusing inmates. The company has been yanked from operating a prison in their home state of Florida.'

Palast describes Wackenhut's 'hard time' philosophy: 'No electricity outlets for radios, tiny metal cells, lots of lockdown time, little or no schooling, job training, library books.'

The takeover of Wackenhut will give Group 4 a multi-million pound business from the prison industry, and from transporting migrants and refugees.

Hand up for the well off

NEW LABOUR'S Excellence in Cities scheme was supposed to help gifted children from poor backgrounds. Over £500 million has been spent on the scheme since it was launched in 1999. Now a report commissioned by the government has found that it is children from well off families who are benefiting from the scheme.

The report found those receiving grants were 'more likely to be female, to be from a white UK background, to have no special needs and not be entitled to free school meals (the usual measure of poverty).'

Despite these revelations education secretary Estelle Morris still defended the scheme. 'We are aware of this but I'm not going to issue an instruction to heads to put in two or more black boys to make the figures look better,' she said.

BUSH and Blair are preparing to bomb Iraq, and they have dubbed Iraq and Iran as part of the 'axis of exil'. But trade is carrying on as usual. British Pavilion and Trade Partners UK are set to hold and international industrial fair in the Iranian capital, Tehran, in October.

The event is a complete sell out. Next up is the Baghdad International Trade Fair in Iraq in November. The British organisers say, 'We are hoping to recruit the biggest British contingent for 12 years.'

Thanks to Caroline Conway

Who got a gift from Tony Blair?

SIX DRUGS firms were raided last week in a massive fraud inquiry. They are accused of running a price-fixing scam. The firms are accused of overpricing medicines, such as penicillin-based antibiotics and warfarin, between 1996 and 2000.

The six have received around £500 million of public money from the NHS. One of the companies under investigation is Regent-GM Laboratories. It has some interesting figures on its board of directors. The chairman is former Tory health minister Gerry Malone. Also sitting on the board of directors is Baroness Falkender. She was once the private secretary to Labour prime minister Harold Wilson. Regent-GM also has links to New Labour.

The company is owned by super-rich Nadhmi Auchi of General Mediterranean Holdings. Auchi is friendly with disgraced Labour MP Keith Vaz, who sat on the board of another one of Auchi's companies.

General Mediterranean Holdings celebrated its 20th birthday party in 1999 with a bash at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel. There a member of the government, Lord Sainsbury, presented Auchi with a painting-on behalf of Tony Blair.

WELSH Assembly ministers short changed a cash-strapped burns unit just six months after a major blast. The Morriston Hospital burns unit developed a £250,000 cash crisis because it nursed victims of a blast at the Corus plant for five weeks last November.

Three men died in the blast and 12 others were injured. Patients needed medical treatment costing £35,000 a day. But the Welsh Assembly has denied the hospital any financial help.

Thanks to Huw Pudner from Neath

Down at heel?

THE RICH have a new way to boast of how well heeled they are. Patrick Cox has produced a 'Jubilee stiletto heel' to mark the queen's 50th year on the throne.

The teetering 10cm heel is capped by an ornate gold crown. For just £400 the owners can look down on the rest of us.

Things they say

'VICIOUS, violent, horrible, appalling behaviour by the people that did it. Some might think that's politics. I think it's just despicable.'
MO MOWLAM on government figures who briefed the press against her

'HE SAID that if I didn't talk about these problems they'd go away. Well I am sorry, but I didn't brief the press that I was going mad, that I was intellectually inferior since my brain tumour.'
MO MOWLAM on Blair's spin doctor Alastair Campbell

'VOTES ARE being sold to business friends who have donated to both parties. It is corruption of the worst kind to debase parliament in this way.'
Labour MP JOHN McDONNELL on plans to give City corporations votes according to their size

'IT'S official- Hackney is more dangerous than Soweto.'

'TO FORGET that Soweto has the highest crime rate in the world is to forget that South Africa has the biggest differences between races and classes anywhere in the world.'
JUSTICE MALALA, South African journalist

'I AM sorry we didn't kill more Palestinians.'

'THE president believes Sharon is a man of peace.'

'THEY GET on fine. Berlusconi knows Blair loves Italy, so it was only natural that he should invite him for the holidays.'
ITALIAN SOURCE on the possibility of Blair holidaying in Berlusconi's luxury villa

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 20 Apr 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1796
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