Rally for Kyoto

Saturday, 28th April, 2001

UK Labour Party Tries to Sabotage May Day Rally

The South Tyneside May Day 2001 Committee, which is representative of most working peoples’ organisations in the area,  has organised a rally and celebration for May Day, inviting  Arthur Scargill, President of the National Union of Mineworkers and leader of the Socialist Labour Party, as national speaker. Eric Trevett, an Honorary President of the Korea Friendship and Solidarity Campaign, has also been invited by the committee as international speaker at the rally and celebration, which will take place at the South Shields Labour Club on Tuesday, May 1, in the evening.

In March, Labour Party leaders in South Tyneside called, in an emergency motion, for Labour Party members to boycott the rally because Scargill is "standing against the official Labour Party candidate from Hartlepool". The issue made front‑page headlines in the South Shields Gazette on April 5 with supporters of the May Day event condemning the Labour Party’s position. Although Labour’s attempted sabotage will not seriously harm the event, the issue that it raises is important. What the local Labour Party leaders are saying is that workers should vote only for  "official Labour Party candidates" because maintaining the Labour Party in power is the paramount task of the workers, which takes precedence over all others. In calling for a boycott of the May Day event, they are also going further in suggesting that no discussion should take place  on the programme the Labour Party has been carrying out while in office, or that it plans to implement when re‑elected.

Italian Euro-MP Demands Peres Be Stripped of Nobel Prize

Giuseppe Di Lello, an Italian member from the United Left Group in the European Parliament has demanded in the name of his group that the Nobel Prize for Peace be stripped from Shimon Peres who, as Israeli minister for Foreign Affairs, has been “implicated” in, as Di Lello puts it, the “brutal policy of the colonial war” of the Sharon government against the Palestinians. The Communist Refoundation Member recalls that the Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to Shimon Peres, Yitzhatk Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1994 after they signed on the 13 September of the same year the “Declaration of principles” which was heralded as a step in the development of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.


Quote of the Week

“We in the Socialists (laughs) …sorry, the EPP…a bit of a slip…we agree so much!” - Mrs Gutierez, Spanish Member of the European Parliament, at an EP Environment Committee meeting on Wednesday, 25th April. The European People’s Party is the right wing group in the European Parliament, whilst the Socialists aren’t supposed to be.

Peru Plane Downing

  A front‑page article in Wednesday’s Washington Post reports that the CIA was late in warning the Peruvian military not to fire on the civilian aeroplane shot down in the week. Co‑founder and director of the Colombia Support Network, Cecilia Larate-Laun, commented that "The downing of the airplane in Peru makes more public the level of U.S. military presence in the Amazon area, which is rich in natural resources. The U.S. government is selling its 'war on drugs' to the American people as its solution to voracious drug consumption. But when we look carefully at what is happening on the supply side of the issue, more and more doubts come to our minds when we see how the war is implemented in Colombia. The U.S. is focusing Plan Colombia on the south of the country, where the guerrillas are strong, while ignoring the 'paramilitaries' in the north, even though they are responsible for much more of the drug trafficking. Once the paramilitaries enter a town, they kill the community leaders so that democracy does not flourish. Three out of every five unionists killed around the world today are Colombian. Plan Colombia is more a war against the guerrillas to ensure that U.S. corporate interests will dominate Colombia, which is key strategically, than a war against drugs. It is costing $1.36 billion, 80 percent of which is military. It goes to the Colombian military, to the police and for fumigation of the rainforest. Very little of Plan Colombia goes to addressing the real problems; the peasants plant coca because they are desperate and, given their circumstances, few other crops are profitable." For more info go to this website

US Greens Sign on to Oil Company Boycott

A boycott of the US oil companies whose purchase of ‘President’ Bush led to his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol was approved unanimously by the 70‑plus nations represented at the Global Greens 2001 Conference in Canberra, Australia from April 14-16. The boycott targets Exxon/Mobil, Texaco, and Chevron, and demands that the U.S. rejoin the Kyoto process. Widespread anger over Bush's withdrawal from the Kyoto Treaty and Exxon Mobil's record profits during an "energy crisis" may help the boycott gain momentum. The Association of State Green Parties (ASGP), the U.S. federation of state parties that organised last year's Green Party Nomination Convention in Denver, voted to sign on to the boycott of major U.S. oil companies that funded the failed campaign to elect George W. Bush last year and his subsequent unconstitutional accession to power. In targeting three global corporate contributors to George W. Bush's national campaign, the Green call for an oil boycott addresses both the crisis in global climate change and the control corporations maintain over the American political system and policy on the environment, labour and other human rights, and international trade. For more information take a look at either of these two websites: ww.greenparties.org

or www.global.greens.org.au/

Texas State Senators Call for Death penalty Moratorium

The Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee has produced a report favouring a moratorium. Senate Joint Resolution 25 would amend the Constitution to prohibit the State from carrying out executions until September 3, 2003. You may view it at: www.capitol.state.tx.us  and track the bills' progress too. Representative Harold Dutton of Houston has also introduced into the House of the Legislature (the lower house) a companion bill creating a moratorium for the death penalty in Texas. The Bill is House Bill 720 (HB720).

The bill was referred to the House Committee on State Affairs on February 1, 2001. However, the bill is still bottled up in the committee. What needs to happen is to have it reported out of committee, and for the House to consider it and/or for them to consider and pass the Senate bills.  The committee members are: Chairman: Representative Steven Wolens, Vice Chair: Representative Sylvester Turner and the members include Representatives Kevin Bailey, Kim Brimer, David Counts, Tom Craddick, Debra Danburg, Paul J. Hibert, Bon Hunter, Delwin Jones, John Amos Longoria, Kenny Merchant, Brian McCall, Ruth Jones McClendon and Tommy Merritt. The names, addresses and phone numbers for all of these members are available on the above web site. If you are interested, whether or not you are a US citizen, please contact any or all of these members in English and  politely and respectfully ask them to consider and vote for the Senate Bills and/or to vote for the Dutton bill and ensure it will get to the full house for consideration.

We will shortly add to our website an interview with Manon van der Berg, a Dutch campaigner against the death penalty, who has been active in the campaign against the death penalty in Texas..

Disagreement over traceability of GMOs

Agreement is proving difficult on the thorny subject of how to establish whether a particular product contains genetically modified organisms, mainly because of a division of opinion between the EU and the US, but with opposition to an effective system of traceability also coming from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Indonesia. Some countries claim that traceability is too costly and is anyway unnecessary. Following pressure from the United Left and Green groups in the European Parliament, however, EU member states recently accepted that if GMOs are sold, people are entitled to know what they are in. A complete report on the Codex negotiations, where such matters are decided on the international level, can be found at: www.who.int/fsf/Gmfood/

On the 5th May a group of environmental activists are planning to demonstrate outside the  US Embassy, Grosvenor Square in London. The nearest Underground station is Bond St and the demo starts 11 a.m. It’s followed by a picnic in Regent’s Park, hurricanes permitting.  Go to:


or www.CampaignAgainstClimateChange.net

for more information.

Solidarity Day of Action

“ALL TOGETHER FOR A GLOBALISATION OF SOLIDARITY” is our rather cumbersome translation of the theme of a day of action organised on the same day, 5th May, at two places in Brussels. The day starts with stalls, food and music at the Botanique at lunchtime before participants leave to “make our views known to the Belgian government”,  ending up at the Halles de Schaerbeek, a beautiful building recently renovated for concerts and events such as this. The early evening is taken up with meetings and speeches, but there is also music from bands from Belgium, France, Benin and Haiti. Concerts cost BEF 200 (about  Euros 5 / £3.20). Email

Conference on ‘Least Developed Countries’ Organised by European Parliament Left Group

Brussels, Wednesday 2 May, from 10 – 12.30 European Parliament, Room ASP 1G3, two weeks before the Conference of the United‑Nations on Least Developed Countries, in Brussels, and one day before the European Parliament adopts his position on LDC countries (Miranda resolution) the Parliamentary Group of the United Left ‑ Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) is organising a conference entitled “Fight against poverty in the LDCs, proposals to reality…” in order to analyse the initiatives already taken and the solutions put forward to reduce poverty in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The group invites anyone interested to take part.. There will of course be translation into a variety of languages including English. Speakers include Francis Wurtz, president of the GUE/NGL group, Dot Keet from the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) in Zimbabwe, Eric Toussaint from the Committee for the Cancellation of Third World Debt (CADTM) – interviewed last year in Spectre - Badrul Alam, Secretary General of the Organisation ‘Bangladesh Krishok Federation’ and member of the international farmers organisation “Via Campesina”, Thierry Kesteloot from Oxfam Solidarité and Joaquim Miranda, Portuguese Communist MEP and President of the Parliamentary Committee for Development and Cooperation. It’s a good idea to register your name in advance for the conference, which you can do by contacting Paul-Emile Dupret by email: pdupret@europarl.eu.int or Tel: 02 284 20 67 or by fax 02 284 99 63 . All Welcome.

Mayday Action Against Pakistan Military Regime

The Alliance for Restoration Of Democracy (ARD) has decided to hold a rally on 1st of May in Karachi. This is to press the demands against privatisation, downsizing and so‑called restructuring, processes which will cost thousands of workers’ jobs.. The military regime has  banned the rally and warned that ARD leaders attempting to get to Sind from other provinces will be sent back. The regime has also banned May Day rallies across the country and said only indoor meetings will be allowed. The ARD leadership has rejected the government’s warning and  decided to continue with the rally. The Labour Party Pakistan, which forms part of the ARD, has decided to go ahead with their plans and the LPP Karachi branch will organise a march from its office to Nishter Park, Karachi to join the main rally. LPP activists from all over the city will defy the ban and gather at party office to proceed to the main rally. For more details you can contact the Pakistan Labour Party by email: pakistan.labour@usa.net

Spectral News Bites

President George W. Bush decided on April 23rd to offer Taiwan the largest arms package since his father sold various warships and F-16 fighters to Taiwan a decade ago. His decision to do so would normally have provoked controversy, even in the US itself and amongst quite conservative opinion. So now we don't need to speculate any further on why the US spy plane ‘accidentally’ bumped into a Chinese fighter jet, do we?

Tales from Blair’s Britain: why did Motorola choose to close a profitable plant in Scotland rather than a loss-making one in Germany? Because, quite simply, if you want to sack over 3000 people it’s best to do it in a country where workers have only one right, to shut up and do as they’re told.

Counting the cost: 95% of people with HIV, 98% of deaths from TB and almost 100% of people with malaria live in the developing world.

Fan Mail

We are proud to announce that our cartoonists at the Contagion Media Group have received some fan letter all the way from the good old US of A. Naturally we were so overwhelmed by this that we felt it necessary to share the news with all our readers. So here it is. From one  James Crabtree. “You know your art really sucks? Who are you blowing to get this shit published? Looks like a 4 year old blind kid doing the drawings. For real cartoons see our site! Bet YOU wish you were enjoying the freedom of the USA! ”

‘Busterbattery’ is associated with the United States Army – you can imagine the cartoons. The US Army is the world’s most costly, but generally either turns up to wars when they’re almost over or only beats enemies who refrain from fighting back.

Current Concerns, April/May 2001

In the latest copy of this Swiss anti-EU paper, which describes itself as “the monthly journal for independent thought, ethical standards and moral responsibility,” there is wide coverage of the foot and mouth epidemic in the UK and the role the EU Common Agricultural Policy has played in the destruction of the UK farming industry. If you’d like to get your hands on a copy you can contact them by email: CurrentConcerns@zeit-fragen.ch e

Finally, a Happy May Day to all our readers.

Compiled by Ian Kitching