Weekly News Review Archive

Saturday, March 23, 2001

Left Euro-MPs Release Message of Solidarity with the Workers of Daewoo Motors

The arrival last February in France of a delegation of South Korean trade unionists, on the hunt for the ex-head of Daewoo Motors, received a significant response from politicians and widespread media coverage well beyond the French border. This visit provided an opportunity to increase awareness in Europe concerning the position of employees of this major group as well as those of their sub-contractors, every one of whom has been the victim of high-level fraud orchestrated by their former boss, Kim Woojoong, who is today on the run. Members of the European Parliament United Left Group released a statement expressing their solidarity with the workers and calling on the South Korean government to end its repressive measures and fully respect union rights, including the right to strike.

Swedes Not Convinced

The fact that it's Sweden's turn to be EU president isn't helping to convince people of the need to be in the Union. A poll carried out for the Finanstidningen newspaper revealed that more than one in three Swedes believe their government should quit the EU immediately.

Campaign to Save Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Gets Boost

Arctic Action reports that the US House of Representatives proposals for the budget do not include any assumed revenues from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Despite 'President' Bush's request to assume the receipt of $1.2 billion in new revenues from drilling in the Refuge, the Budget Committee chose to leave this out of its Resolution, the motion which kicks off the budget process. was not a battle we wanted to have in the budget." Representatives Ed Markey and Nancy Johnson, sponsors of the Arctic Refuge Wilderness bill, both submitted letters to the Budget Committee Chair urging him to reject the President's request to assume revenues from drilling activity. These letters were co-signed by 56 Democrats and 13 Republicans, showing the breadth of support for the conservation of one of the world's last great wilderness areas. Readers who are US citizens could help by writing to their Congressman/woman urging support. All can be contacted at US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515, USA

Quote of the Week

"the US could save huge amounts of energy through simple efficiency measures, using existing off-the-shelf technologies. As for the so-called oil supply problems, these are caused at the margin by the massively inefficient sport-utility vehicles and pick-up trucks that clog much of America's roads. As oversized vehicles account for much of US automobile companies' domestic profits, the obviously needed taxes on engine size or vehicle weight are not in place. Better to drill in pristine regions than to face up to special interests." Rob Lichtman in a letter to the Financial Times, March 23

Trial Against Russian Environmental Journalist to Start in Vladivostok

The military trial against the Russian environmental journalist Grigory Pasko started in Vladivostok on Thursday. Pasko is an investigative journalist who worked for Pacific Fleet's newspaper. He was arrested in Vladivostok on November 20th 1997. The Russian Security Police, FSB, accused him of high treason through espionage, for having collected and handed over to the Japanese TV-channel NHK allegedly secret information on nuclear safety issues in the Russian Pacific Fleet. Amnesty International adopted Pasko as a prisoner of conscience in January 1999. In July 1999 the Court of the Pacific Fleet acquitted him of high treason, but found him guilty of 'abuse of his official authority'. Pasko was sentenced to three years, but released under an amnesty since he had served 20 months in pre-trial detetion. The Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court cancelled this verdict on November 21, 2000, and sent the case back for a new hearing of the espionage charges in the Vladivostok Court, with different judges. The case against Pasko, who was attempting to alert the public to dangers caused by Russia's rust-bucket nuclear subs, has been characterised by procedural irregularities and other dodgy practices. For more information, see this website or Email

Okinawans Protest U.S. Soldiers' Crimes

In Ginowan City, Okinawa, Japan, home of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, about 1,000 people attended a rally on March 17 in protest against the recent series of crimes by U.S. military personnel and calling for the marines' withdrawal.. In Japan, opinion in favour of the reduction in the presence of the U.S. Marines in Okinawa is increasing, and the Okinawan governor has officially requested a review of the Japan-U.S. Status of the U.S. Forces Agreement. Marines have been stationed in Okinawa since the end of World War II, and their presence has become an anachronism, more to do with policing the rest of Asia, and keeping an eye on China, than occupying a previously hostile power. Akamine Seiken, Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives from Okinawa said that the continued presence of the GIs was making the country's politics 'the laughing stock of the world.'

Weird Lunch

According to a recent edition of The Guardian (UK) Director of Sony Music and Luton Town Football Club Rob Stringer recently had lunch with Fidel Castro. Entertainment was provided by the Manic Street Preachers. Is any of this true. Any readers out there know any more about this?

Weird People

'European integration is teleological and is as such inseparable from its intrinsic element of process.' From a report by Spanish right-wing Euro MP Inigo Menedez de Vigo and Portuguese 'Socialist' Euro-MP ntonio Jose Seguro. If you're not familiar with philosophical jargon you may not spot that this isn't just crap, it's dangerous crap. It means we get European integration whether we like it or not. You knew that, though, didn't you?

EP United Left Group to host seminar on openness in public administration

The GUE/NGL (the Parliament's left group) is inviting anyone interested in this issue to this seminar, on the 28th of March from 10h30 - 12h30 in ASP 1G3, European Parliament, Brussels. Behind closed doors intensive negotiations are going on. Oddly enough it is rules on openness in the EU administration that are being written in this highly inaccessible and possibly illegal way. Following the conclusions of the Amsterdam treaty, rules regulating public access to documents within the EU institutions need to be adopted. This must be done before May 1st 2001. With an increasing number of documents, and an increasing number of staff handling the documents, the need for a policy on public access to documents is clear. And in a world where an increasing number of political decisions are taken far from elected governments, transparency and free access to all documents provide one of our last lines of defence. But how do we define access, openness, transparency and what is accessibility actually about? The conference comes in the wake of a statement by the EU Ombudsman condemning the powerful Council of Ministers for refusing to keep a register of its documents. Speakers from Sweden and the US will speak about access to information in their countries. Contact Carolina Falk on 00 32 2 2844572 or Christine Sidenius , 32 2 2846526 for more information.

Writers in Chains

Yorkshire Playwrights and Amnesty International are jointly presenting Writers in Chains, a one-day conference on forms of persecution and censorship of playwrights around the world with performances, debate, readings and exhibitions. Conference takes place at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, England Saturday 31st March 2001, 11am to 5pm Tckets 6 pounds (Concs £4) contact West Yorkshire Playhouse Box Office 00 44 113 213 7700

Hidden Wars Of Desert Storm

video-documentary for sale

The hidden agenda of the Gulf War is revealed in this 60 minute in-depth documentary by US indy filmmakers Freewill Productions. Narrated by John Hurt, this two year investigation covers historical events leading up to the war, interviews with General Shwarzkopf, Denis Halliday, and Ramsay Clark, issues surrounding DU, and features documents never before seen on television. Virtually banned in the US, this acclaimed video is now available in Britain for £15. Hidden Wars Of Desert Storm has been a very effective campaign tool for anti-sanctions activists all over the world. - selected among the Top Ten Best Films at Vancouver Film Festival and Grand Prize winner at the 2000 Cine Eco FF in Portugal. click here to order copies or for the USA, here.

March-May Edition of Peace News

In the latest edition of Peace News, which recently arrived on Spectre's news desk, there are a number of interesting articles worth a mention. Notably, Spectre's good friend, and former US Presidential candidate David McReynolds, gives his assessment of the recent US 'election' and sheds some light on what we can expect from the next Bush generation. Also in Peace News, an article about the victory of the most recent war criminal to be elected head of the Israeli government, Mr Ariel Sharon. Beate Zilversmidt and Adam Keller provide a few thoughts on what went wrong for Barak and suggest what the future may hold for the peace process. There are numerous articles under the heading of 'Economies of Militarism' featuring various authors such as Chris Ney, 'Military violence and economic exploitation', Rafael Marques, 'Angola: war as a way of life', Janet Kilburn, 'Business is booming', and Drazen Simelsa, 'Croatia- a small country for a great plunder'. The last article to catch th our attention was by Bruce Gagnon, 'The wonders of the night sky' in which Gagnon urges us to work to prevent a new arms race, before it is too late. This article deals with the controversial plan for a National Missile Defence (NMD) currently under negotiation between the US and its allies. Unfortunately, Spectre doesn't have the time to go into any more detail at the moment, as Spectre's Youth Representative, News Editor and Fox Terrier Walker has to leave for a workshop on financial markets and third world debt to be held in Liege, Belgium this weekend. you can email Peace News or visit their website.

Finally, there is also a good editorial analysis, by John Boyd, of the links between globalisation and militarism in the March edition of The Democrat, a magazine published by the (UK) Campaign against Euro-federalism. You can contact them by email or visit their website.

Compiled by Ian Kitching