Weekly News Review Archive

21st September, 2001

Casualties of terror

Not surprisingly,  cherished rights and freedoms are going up in smoke in the aftermath of the destruction of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in property.  Following a decision by the US Senate taken two days after the terrorist attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, the FBI may soon be allowed to spy on Internet users legally without a court order.  This could be a consequence of

approval of a bipartisan bill, the Combating Terrorism Act of 2001," which enhances police wiretap powers and permits monitoring under a wider range of criteria.

Meanwhile, racist demonstrations against “Muslims” were reported in various parts of the US and elsewhere, including Australia. In Chicago police turned back 300 marchers - some waving American flags and shouting "USA! USA!" - who tried to march on a mosque in a Chicago suburb late on the day after the attack. Fortunately the Mosque, like the demonstrators’ heads, was empty.

Chicago also, however, witnessed one of the most moving demonstrations against such warmongering racism. 

Not long after the destruction of the WTC, the IMF and World Bank called off its scheduled meetings in Washington DC. Officials, not surprisingly, cited “security concerns”. Clearly, this means that demonstrations planned for the weekend of September 29th-30th will also be put on hold. It is not yet clear when or where the two institutions will reschedule their conferences.

In view of the WTC attack and its aftermath, the International Action Center has issued a call for a march and rally on 29 September in Washington DC. Under the slogan Tell Bush:

We say no to racism and war!, the IAC is urging people to demonstrate outside the White House.  In its statement, the Manhattan-based IAC states that “We demand …. the government spend billions to rebuild New York City and compensate the victims of the September 11 bombing and their families, many of whom have lost not only loved ones, but also jobs, homes and health care - not for a new war against the people in the Middle East or elsewhere!” Go to this website
for more details.

German Left Condemns NATO Decision

Party of Democratic Socialists leaders have attacked NATO’s decision to invoke the mutual defence clause in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Leader Gabi Zimmer said that “Article 5 applies to the aggression of a state against one of the treaty's parties, not to an armed attack of a terrorist group. Therefore the decision is doubtful from a judicial point of view. Politically it may rather escalate than de-escalate the situation. In no case should be counter-attacks with innocent people being the victims. Peace must be restored, not a chain of violence and counter-violence let loose.”

European Parliament Targeted?

Reports in the British press that the European Parliament may have been the target of a planned attack using deadly gas were denied by EP General Secretary Julian Priestley, who said that the assembly’s security services had had no information from French police or anyone else regarding such a threat. The Daily Telegraph reported Monday that a number of “Islamic terrorists” had been rounded up following the uncovering of a plot to release a deadly gas during a plenary session of the Parliament in Strasbourg last February. Spectre editor Steve McGiffen, who was present during the session, said that security at the Parliament’s monstrous Strasbourg HQ, which is used for only four days a month, could be improved. He added, however, that “we can hardly criticise the EU for being undemocratic and then demand that its only elected institution meet behind armed guards in an underground bunker.”

At the opening of last Wednesday’s plenary session in Brussels, EP President Nicole Fontaine told MEPs that the French authorities categorically denied the story. The British Secret Services were not aware of such threats, she said, adding that she would be writing to the newspaper to protest about the spread of such false information.  Following the terrorist attack in New York, Ms Fontaine must be one of the very few people who still has any faith in “security” services, $30 billion’s worth of which were unable to protect US taxpayers from mass murder.

Fontaine did, however, promise to “introduce stricter new measures”.

More analysis of WTC attack and aftermath

War might be bad for you and me but if it wasn’t good for business it wouldn’t be so very, very popular. Read "War is Good for Business" by Michel Chossudovsky on the website of the Centre for Research on Globalisation. There is also interesting comment and analysis in a Special Issue of  GlobalCircle NetNews 

The Greek Communist Party (KKE) also issued a statement , as did the Socialist Alliance in Australia, an electoral coalition of left parties and individuals.  The Communist Party USA has a resource page accessible at this website , and the US Black Radical Congress has posted a statement at this website.

Afghan women’s groups have made some of the most moving and apposite comments. Afghani women respond to terrorist attacks on US. Read the statement of the Woman's Alliance for Peace & Human Rights in Afghanistan at this website and that of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) here


Wayne Hall first drew our attention to his article "Ostpolitik-Westpolitik: What Now"? in August, when he wrote it. Holidays, illnesses, workload and overwhelming inefficiency have delayed our establishment of a link to the piece to the point where Hall’s question has, as he points out, been answered in a grim and terrifying way, “with” his message continues  “the incident that is described as "The New Pearl Harbour"…but could be

called "The New Reichstag Fire and Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand". In the climate of the new Holy War, German politicians like Joschka Fischer begin to sound like voices of comparative sanity, thus confirming the thesis of ‘Ostpolitik-Westpolitik’. The article can be found on the Hellenic Direct Democracy Forum site. When you get there click on "topics" and see "other articles on related subjects".

And (for now) a few last words…

"The United States is a country that believed itself not just at peace but war-proof, a self-perception that would come as quite a surprise to most Iraqis, Palestinians and Colombians. Like an amnesiac, the U.S. has woken up in the middle of a war, only to find out it has been going on for years." Naomi Klein. Read more from Klein

The following is translated from the French of Michel Collon

Today also

35.615 died of hunger

victims: 35.615 (FAO)

place: the planet’s poor countries

press articles: zero

messages from the president of the la republic: zero crisis conferences: zero

solidarity demonstrations: zero

minutes of silence: zero

commemorations of  the victims: zero

social forums organised: zero

messages from the Pope: zero

stockmarkets: doing fine

the euro: rallying

level of alert: zero

military mobilisation: none

theories concerning the identity of the criminals: none

probable originators of the crime: rich countries

20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of the planet’s resources if the attack on New York qualifies as inhuman, how can we describe the act which allows 13 million children a year to die of hunger?

Who remembers the fireworks over Baghdad?

It is very instructive to remember the attitude of CNN during the Gulf War and to compare it with their present attitude.

Let’s remember:  "On the night of the Baghdad bombardment, three star reporters, installed in their place of safety, the Hotel Rachid, rivalled each other for thoughtlessness and vulgarity: they made fun of the Iraqis’ helplessness; they were astonished that for an hour and a half they were allowed to continue their live commentary. They ended up by bursting into laughter, going into ecstasy over the aesthetic beauty of the fireworks, then discussed the quality of the meal they had eaten.

And life, and the struggle for a better world, go on…

John Manning sent us this report on events in Japan, which reminds us of what we must, even now, be doing to change the conditions which fuel acts of mass murder, as well as the long, slow, unspectacular, murderous drip of capitalism’s normal daily round:

Japanese Communists Lead Fight Against “Restructuring”

While the aftermath of the terror attack and the Bush administration's  preparation for war takes all our attention, the globalisation restructuring and its attack on the sovereignty of nations and any rights labour has had (which has caused much of the world unrest of which the attack is one of the results) goes right ahead.

Facing corporation plans for cutting 160,000 jobs, the powerful Japanese  Communist Party has called for a nationwide struggle against it, setting up a headquarters and urging workers to fan out in the communities to build support. See JCP daily newspaper Akahata's report

Left Socialists Double Vote in Norwegian Election

Last week’s Norwegian general election, misleadingly portrayed as a swing to the right in those non-Scandinavian mainstream papers which bothered to cover it, in fact represented a huge victory for the left party and a rejection by Norway’s working people of the rightward course of the Labour government. Party activist Dag Seierstad told Spectre that the Left Sociaists (SV) “climbed from 6.0% in 1997 (parliamentary elections) via 8.5% in 1999 (local elections) to 12.5% yesterday. Our group in the parliament has increased from 9 to 23 (out of 165).”

The Conservative Party increased its vote from from 15 to 21%, returning it to what Seierstad described as its “normal strength”. The Labour party was the big loser, droppping from 35% to 24%. The Progressive party which combines xenophobia with populist social policies kept its strength of about 15%, while the Christian People's party went down to 12,4%.

Following the election, Seierstad told us, “the parliamentary situation is chaotic. The only safe bet is that the Christian People's party will be part of the government. The rest is still in the clouds. We are trying to convince other parties in parliament that the main task now must be to isolate the two right-wing parties (the Conservative and the Progressive parties) by a common minimum programme of strengthening the public sector instead of privatising it, attacking the development towards increasing social inequality and especially the poverty of marginalised people, and turn our economic policies in an environment-friendly direction. We are trying to mobilise support for such an isolation of the right-wing parties in the trade union movement and from environmental organizations.”

Spectre extends its congratulations to our Norwegian friends, who have followed their Swedish neighbours in the Vänster (Left) Party in doubling their vote in recent years.

EU promotes GMOs

David Byrne, the European commissioner for health and consumer affairs, told a meeting of European Agriculture ministers in Brussels on Tuesday that the debate that he felt debate over  GM food should be more “scientific.” At the meeting in Brussels, the Commission presented its new proposal for a labelling and tracing system for GM foods and animal feed. The new proposal suggests that non-labelled products may contain a maximum of “adventitious” (accidentally present)1 per cent of material from genetically modified organisms. Byrne went on to complain that "Among consumers there is an impression that there is a lack of benefits from GM foods and this stands in the way of a more general use of genetic modification." Greenpeace's Danish GM campaign co-ordinator, Mads Flarup Christensen, commenting on the proposal, said: "The European Union is following the tone of a number of international organisations, like the Organisation for European Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nation's development programme, and has chosen to support a larger international political campaign under the slogan 'GM will feed the world'."  Jaak Gabriels, Belgium's agriculture minister, talking to the conservative daily La Libre Belgique, described opposition to GM techniques “intellectual terrorism”, a remark which makes up in topicality what it lacks in taste.

Important new publication on Climate Change

Many environmentalists cheered last July when an international agreement on how to tackle climate change was reached in Bonn.

But is the agreement a step forward or a step back for climate politics?

The latest Corner House Briefing, Democracy or Carbocracy? Intellectual Corruption and the Future of the Climate Change Debate argues that the "carbon market" approach which the agreement champions is largely incoherent. No one knows how to value the goods on display in this market, or even who they belong to. As a result, the market is set to subsidise further climate change, and ultimately is likely to collapse.

A fresh start is needed which builds on a better understanding of property rights, of the full range of the relevant science, of economics, and of existing resources for climate care and climate adaptation. Standing in the

way, however, is a growing, well-funded global climate technocracy committed to an obsolete approach. Democratic challenges to the power this "carbocracy" exercises will be crucial in opening up the climate debate and

combating the scientific fraudulence now rife in the mainstream discussion.

Electronic copies are available free of charge on request in either plain text or pdf versions. Just send an email stating which version you want. The briefing is also available in a printed version for £2/$3 from THE CORNER HOUSE, PO Box 3137, Station Road, Sturminster Newton, Dorset DT10 1YJ, England. More information about the Cornerhouse can be found at their website

Labour Resignation Threat?

“Martin pledges to transform ‘tedious’ image of Parliament”. So read a headline in last week’s European Voice.  David Martin, that is, former leader of the British Labour Party group in the European Parliament. Colleagues are interpreting this to mean that the charisma-challenged party hack won’t be standing for re-election to the EP next time around.  (Spectre categorically denies the scurrilous rumour that we are seeking to relieve our “cash flow problem” by threatening to reveal the originator of this remark, which we were surprised to hear was meant as a joke.)