Weekly News Review

16th January, 2004

NO to a visit from Alvaro Uribe Velez to the European Parliament


The Conference of Presidents of the political groups in the European Parliament this week considered a proposal from the Socialist Group (PSE) to invite the President of Colombia, Mr Alvaro Uribe Velez, to speak in plenary. Francis Wurtz, President of the GUE/NGL Group, and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, President of the Greens/EFA Group have loudly protested this invitation, arguing that President Uribe is one of the most contentious Heads of State in Latin America, in particular when it comes to respect for human rights and democratic freedoms. The decision was approved against the wishes of the left group (GUE/NGL), the Greens, the liberal ELDR and the "Eurosceptic" EDD group.


Staff and members from the GUE-NGL will be planning a suitably warm welcoming party for Uribe. Watch this space.

WTO and corporate capital cosy up in Davos while rest of world gathers in Mumbai


Business leaders will get together next week in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which takes place from January 21 to 25 for the annual meeting (WEF), is the first major gathering of top capitalists and their political servants   since global trade talks collapsed last September.

In the preceding days (January 16-21), tens of thousands of civil society representatives are meeting for the World Social Forum held this year in Mumbai (Bombay), India.

The World Economic Forum, which paved the way for the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), this year hosts selected WTO members for closed-door meetings aimed at trying to kick start trade negotiations following the dramatic collapse of trade talks in Cancun (Mexico) in September 2003. Corporate interests are at the core of the Davos gathering and this year business leaders are stepping up their efforts to expand the remit of the WTO and gain access to new markets.

Friends of the Earth International is will be keeping a close watch on the World Economic Forum from the independent 'Public Eye on Davos', an open (January 21-23) conference co-organised with the Berne Declaration to provide a critical analysis of the WEF corporate- driven globalisation agenda.

This year, the 'Public Eye on Davos' will be opened by former United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson. In an effort to diffuse criticism about its secrecy, the WEF organised its own 'Open Forum' that will run in parallel to its traditional closed-door meetings.

"The World Economic Forum claims to act in the public interest. This year it will focus its annual meeting on the themes of security and prosperity. But behind the closed doors and the WEF's public relations gloss there is a different reality," said Tony Juniper,

vice-chair of Friends of the Earth International.

"Prosperity for the World Economic Forum means prosperity for the huge multinational corporations who write the rules of world trade - rules that help them, but often hurt the global environment and the poorest people. It is deeply worrying and quite wrong for world trade policy to be decided in secret and while dissenters are excluded," he added.

At the World Social Forum (a yearly gathering traditionally held in Porto Alegre, Brazil) meeting in Mumbai (India), Friends of the Earth is involved in organising conferences on corporate accountability and trade liberalisation (among other issues) as a contribution to the World Social Forum's attempt to challenge and formulate alternatives to current thinking on corporate-led economic globalization.

Find out more about the WSF here  The WEF's site is here Public Eye on Davos can be visited at 


Democracy 2004: resources for people seeking to restore democracy in US


Democracy 2004 is a project of the Independent Progressive Politics Network (IPPN) that seeks to pull together an overall map of the various initiatives and resources within the progressive movement that can have a political impact in 2004, as well as longer-term.


Ted Glick of IPPN says that the group has "undertaken this project to strengthen the overall independent progressive movement at this critical time in our nation's history. We want to increase our movement's ability to educate, coordinate and work together with growing numbers of people in the U.S. and create synergy and leverage for various progressive voices and agendas. By election-day 2004, if we have all collectively done our work well, we will significantly increase the turnout of progressive-minded voters and present-day non-voters, particularly among youth, low-income and working-class communities and communities of colour."


A list of developing campaigns and resources to back them up is now available at www.democracy2004.org  Ted Glick "would like to hear back from you if you have additional input or ideas."

AK Press has a number of new anarchist and other radical books available, as well as all the old favourites.  Highlight of the list is The Day the World Said No to War (hardback, 1902593855, £18.99) which contains photographs from across the globe taken at the Stop the War demonstrations February 15th 2003. As AK administrator Dean Plant comments, "Proof if proof were needed of how out of touch with the people supposed 'democratic' politicians really are. One photo (p.27) shows 12,000 protestors - in Austin, Texas!"  Dean might like to know that Austin, which has a left paper called The Working Stiff is the last redoubt of a once flourishing Texan radicalism, with an active branch of the Socialist Party USA and no doubt other left organisations. Nothing like taking it behind enemy lines.  Go here for a complete list of AK's titles, and ordering details.


Catalyst, the British left-leaning thinktank, has recently brought out a new pamphlet by Angela Eagle MP. Entitled A deeper democracy - challenging market fundamentalism, it looks at possible "radical democratic alternatives to the market". Eagle is a fed-up Blairite, sick of the vacuous crap which passes for "thinking" amongst her erstwhile fellows. It might just be interesting to hear what such people have to say. Read more


Sipaz produces regular free updates in English and Spanish of developments in the Chiapas region of Mexico, the home of the Zapatistas. If you would like to receive them write to webadmin@sipaz.org


Jo Wilding is a British woman currently in Iraq and running a very valuable website on the situation as it unfolds. Read her reports here

Right Web  is an initiative of the US left thinktank the Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC) "aimed at tracking and analyzing the evolving structure of America's right-wing power elite."  Go here to see their latest efforts.


Petro-Politics: Over 300 people attended the recent PetroPolitics National Summit (January 6-8) in Washington, DC, sponsored jointly by Foreign Policy in Focus (www.fpif.org) and the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (www.seen.org). A special issue of the Progressive Response provides excerpts of the five briefing papers prepared for the conference as well as of a special report by regular contributor Tom Palley, who was one of the panellists at the summit. Fully footnoted versions of the briefing papers are available here