Weekly News Review

4 April 2003


Spectre's Weekly News Review is a little shorter than usual this week. Colin Powell came to Brussels, so obviously we had to get the kettle on and the buns buttered to give him a warm welcome. More on that next week...

European Parliament Greens vote to weaken European Parliament's position on War

The Greens in the European Parliament, under the leadership of long ago self-styled revolutionary Daniel Cohn-Bendit, lurched further to the right last week when it gave its support to a resolution on the war in Iraq which failed to make any criticism of US militarism and blamed Iraq for the war. The Greens then compounded the offence by sending out press releases attacking the "leftists" (their word) of the European Parliament's United Left Group (GUE-NGL).

Monica Frassoni, Cohn-Bendit's co-president, was quoted as saying that:

"Caught in their dogmatic thinking, the leftists were incapable of understanding that the logic of the proposed common resolution was clearly against the war. By voting against it, they helped the pro-war faction in parliament to win the day and left the Parliament voiceless."

A spokesperson for the GUE-NGL explained that "we could not vote in favour of this compromise because it did not explicitly condemn the war in Iraq. Indeed, several amendments, in particular those of the Socialists and the Greens, seeking this explicit condemnation were rejected. On 30 January 2003, the Parliament took a clear position against a unilateral American intervention in Iraq. Since then, the war has been started and a barrage of bombs are dropped daily on Iraq, causing the death of innocents and widespread destruction. Faced with this situation, the GUE/NGL could not vote in favour of a Resolution which did not explicitly condemn the war and which was weaker than that approved on 30 January."

A number of Green MEPs were unhappy with their group's decision. Paul Lannoye, of the Belgian Ecolo, said that he did "not share in any way either the analysis of the compromise text (contained in your press release) that you wished to see adopted, or your indignation towards the GUE." Mr Lannoye, who abstained on the vote, said that he "certainly did not regret not having supported (the resolution) which put the most emphasis on Iraqi responsibility in terms which contradict reality and which accept the pro-war justifications of the Americans and British."

The resolution "deplored" the war but did not call for its immediate end, or declare it either illegal or illegitimate, and it represented a clear step backward from the strongly anti-war position adopted by the European Parliament at the end of January.

Lannoye also asked why the GUE had been singled out for abuse when some members of the Socialist and Liberal groups had also refused to give the resolution their support.

The answer to that is clear enough. Euro-elections are coming up and Cohn-Bendit and many other Greens fear for their seats. Using the old, tired language of right-wing social democracy, they hope to discredit the left and pick up floating protest votes. Their support for another US-led illegal war, that in Yugoslavia, demonstrates that whilst individual greens - and especially those in Ireland and the UK - are good, progressive activists and politicians, the movement as a whole can rarely be counted on as a trustworthy ally.

As Erik Meijer, GUE-NGL Euro-MP for the Socialist Party of the Netherlands (SP), said "Why have they chosen to attack us now? Last Saturday the SP and Green Left (the Dutch Green Party) stood shoulder to shoulder on a huge demonstration against the war. We need that unity more than ever."

To read the whole of the Greens' press release go to http://www.greens-efa.org/en/

Franco lives

Spain has proposed that data on all airline passengers should be sent to law enforcement agencies and extra checks conducted on all foreign nationals entering the EU. Read all about it at here

Not welcome here?

Under plans to recently presented to last week's European Union summit in Brussels by British Home Secretary, David Blunkett, asylum seekers will be held in 'temporary processing centres' outside the EU - possibly in the Ukraine, Russia, Turkey or North Africa. A report by the Institute of Race Relations shows how this proposal is part of an ongoing attempt to create a militarised migration bulwark around the EU. Read a summary of the report at

here Further comment at


The European Social Forum

The ESF, which has emerged as a major pole of resistance, now has a multilingual website at http://www.fse-esf.org

The Bush Administration and Congress Join the Cover-up in the Murder of

Rachel Corrie

"There has been a real fear in recent months that the right-wing government of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon might take advantage of the international focus on the U.S. invasion of Iraq to increase its repression in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Few people realized, however, that one of the first casualties would be a young American." Read the rest at here

Jam the War

"Fancy closing down the White House and Downing Street websites?

1) Click on the link below.

2) Click on "OK" when the option box appears

3) Allow to run in minimised browser window ...

4) ... for as long as you are connected!


This is the electrohippies site, the people who closed down the No 10 website on Sunday night. What happens is that your PC repeatedly "pings" the WH/n10 webpages, denying access to other users and shutting the site down. Not a crime, believe it or not!" 

Thanks to Mat Coward for this handy household hint.

Surprise, surprise....

"Nine Members of the Defense Policy Board Have Ties to Defense Contractors"  Read all about it at here

Pictures of war and peace

Pictures of the bombardment of Baghdad: herel

Destruction of the heritage of the country which was home to the world's first cities: here

And pictures of the anti-war resistance here

And as vivid as pictures, read Jo Wilding's diary of the last few days in Baghdad here

Busting the Water Cartel

A Report From Inside the Activist Coalition at the World Water Forum


Kyoto - The convenors of the third World Water Forum, the World Water

Council and Global Water Partnership, tried hard last week to sell the idea

that there is a consensus behind their control, distribution and conservation of the world's water. But efforts to turn the Forum into a thinly veiled commercial for corporate solutions to the global water crisis backfired. Instead, many delegates were convinced by arguments put forward citizens' groups framing the water debate as a human rights issue." Read the rest of

Holly Wren Spaulding's account of the latest instalment of the series of expensive, absurd gatherings which have become the routine response to environmental crises at


Justice for the “Miami Five” and the war on terrorism

On Monday next, the legal representatives of the “Miami Five” Cuban nationals imprisoned in the United States on various charges including “conspiracy to commit espionage”, will file their appeal papers to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, USA.

To correspond with this event,  at 11am on that day (7th April), a delegation of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in the United Kingdom will be presenting a 10,000-signature petition, calling for justice for the five, to the U.S. Embassy in Central London.

The next day at the same time, a delegation from the campaign, including Michael Connarty MP and Father Geoff Bottoms (recently returned from visiting one of the men in prison), will meet with Baroness Amos at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to voice their concerns.

In recent weeks, at a crucial time, when the five should have been preparing their appeals, they were placed, without event or justification, into solitary confinement and denied access to their legal teams. Following an enormous international outcry, and a new approach from Amnesty International to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, the five were released back into normal prison routine – with significant damage having been done to the preparation of their appeals.

The campaign for justice for the five has been spearheaded in the UK, not least in the House of Commons where 87 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion calling for justice for the five – a call publicly supported by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

The case of the five has drawn international attention. The five were monitoring the activities of well-known right wing terrorist organisations, based in Miami, who operate with impunity. These groups have been responsible for 691-recorded acts of terrorism against Cuba in the last 40 years. A total of 68 of these acts were committed in the 1990s including 33 in the last five years. The government in Havana has undertaken various initiatives which have provided Washington and the UN with information regarding plans and activities of U.S.-based terrorist organisations. The only response to these gestures had been the detention and conviction of the five, who were monitoring the activities of known terrorist groups.

Write to director@cuba-solidarity.org.uk for more information

Quote of the week

"The subtleties surrounding the sensitive role oil plays in the Iraqi war may have eluded the United States Army. Deep in some newspaper coverage yesterday was a report that the 101st Airborne Division had named one central Iraq outpost Forward Operating Base Shell and another Forward Operating Base Exxon."                                                                         Neela Banerjee, New York Times, March 27,    2003