Weekly News Review Archive

Saturday, March 31st, 2001

EP United Left Group Condemns US Policy Reversal On Climate Change

President Bush's decision to renege on a major campaign promise and renounce plans to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants has dealt a major blow to the battle to halt accelerating climate change, according to members of the European Parliament's United Left Group (GUE-NGL). Commenting on the 'President''s policy reversal, Jonas Sjöstedt of Sweden's Left Party, co-ordinator of the GUE-NGL members on the Environment Committee, said: "George W. Bush clearly lied to the American people during the election campaign. His statements then were clear: any idea that a Bush administration would not take global warming seriously could be forgotten. Now we find that he has completely rejected the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and that CO2 emissions from power plants are not going to be regulated. His excuse is that this would cause rising electricity prices. However, any short term costs will be massively outweighed by savings in what will have to be spent adapting to rising sea levels, increasing frequency of unusually bad weather, and adaptation of agriculture and other activities to rapid and significant transformation of weather patterns. This is not to mention the costs of the disasters which will inevitably result from precisely the kind of complacency shown by Bush and his team." Members of the GUE-NGL were pessimistic over the possibility of any EU-US accord. "The multi-pollutant strategy, under which CO2 would have been regulated," said Mihail Papayannakis "was always inadequate, but it at least provided some basis for negotiation. Now only nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and mercury will be include, despite the fact that CO2 is easily the major cause of the greenhouse effect." "The United States, which is responsible for 25% of global CO2 emissions, agreed at Kyoto eight years ago to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 7% below 1990 levels, but, as Bush's policy reversal shows, US promises apparently count for little." Speaking on behalf of their group, both members urged the Commission and member states to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change "without further delay" and to "use all available means to persuade the Bush administration to change its mind." Broad swathes of US opinion agree with these views. Tyson Slocum, a senior researcher for the Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program at Public Citizen, for example, said "Bush's unwavering support for heavy industry's narrow interests is coming at the expense of public health standards, sensible environmental regulations, and true solutions to the nation's electricity deregulation failure.... Since 1996, the GOP (Republican Party * ed.) has received nearly $110 million -- or more than 73 percent -- of all energy industry contributions." For more on Public Citizen's reaction to Bush's announcement, go to this website . To make your views known to the Bush administration there is a 'Flood Bush: Save the Climate Treaty' email campaign organised by Friends of the Earth. For more information visit this website . or e-mail

Quote of the Week

"They want to take the heat off themselves because they know they can't meet the Kyoto targets either. George W.Bush is the only one to say that the emperor is not wearing any clothes." -Margo Thorning, Chief Economist, American Council for Capital Formation

Canada Mounts Biggest-ever Security Operation for Summit of the Americas

The Summit of the Americas, which is due to take place in Quebec City 20-22 of April, has resulted in the largest security operation in Canadian history. For the most part this operation has been cloaked in secrecy. However, flagrant violations of basic civil liberties have already come to light. Moreover, by transforming Quebec City into an armed camp, the authorities hope to marginalise and stigmatise opposition to the summit and to the big business agenda pursued by its thirty-four participating governments. The authorities are taking extraordinary steps to ensure that the most lowly summit participants, let alone 'US President' George W. Bush and the thirty-three other state presidents and prime ministers who intend to attend, do not encounter or even come within earshot of any anti-summit protests. The downtown core of Quebec City, an area that contains the summit meeting site and the hotels where the participants are to be housed, as well as numerous shops, offices and residences, is to be fortified with a 4.5 kilometre-long and 3 metre high metal fence anchored in concrete as this entire area is to be transformed into an exclusion zone. These measures were defended by Quebec's Security Minister in stark terms. "As the proverb goes," Serge Menard told reporters, "if you want peace, prepare for war."

West African Nations in Bid to Preserve Marine Life

A number of West African nations are attempting to offer some protection to fish and marine life of their coasts. Thanks to massive over-fishing by EU fleets, the local fishing boats have no choice but to fish further out to sea which presents a risk to life or begin fishing in the sensitive coastal areas. Speaking at a press conference on 13th March, Julie Cator, European Fisheries expert for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), made it quite clear who was to blame when she said, "if developing countries in West Africa can invest precious resources in safe-guarding fish stocks why can't the European Union stop over-fishing in West African waters?". In Senegal and other poor West African nations, fishermen who had traditionally lived of a diet of fresh sardines have been reduced to eating their own fish stocks kindly donated by the EU, as food aid, in the form of tinned sardines.

Corporate Watch merges websites

Just to let you know that the TRAC-Transnational Resource & Action Center and the popular Corporate Watch website are merging under the name CorpWatch. The US-based website is at the forefront of the movement against corporate-led globalisation - and those involved have repeatedly found that people tend to refer to them as CorpWatch. So, in recognition of the growing importance of Internet activism, they are simplifying the situation. They are bringing their grassroots and policy advocacy campaigns - previously conducted under TRAC - together with their Internet presence under one name, one logo and a matching website . Accompanying this change they have redesigned the website. The new CorpWatch.org provides users with access to more information, while continuing to roll out a series of investigative reports. CorpWatch.org now includes a Press Room, a new Corporate Research Guide, an Issue Library with in-depth information on corporate globalisation and much more.

Exhibition: Rebellion on the Border

An exhibition of work by US labour rights photographer David Bacon, - Rebellion on the Border - documents "globalisation from below". The photographs examine the lives and struggles of workers on both sides of the US - Mexico border and the collection offers a compelling insight into the lives of the worker migrants. The photographs show the true conditions of the maquiladoras - child labour in the fields, toxic waste dumps, oppression by anti-union employers - but also the inspiring efforts of Mexican workers and their efforts to form independent and democratic unions. As the workers move north to the USA, the images document their efforts to escape extreme overty and exploitation, but they also show that this journey also often leads, not to "the land of the free", but to hard work and conditions reminiscent of those they left behind. UK exhibition dates: March 26th - April 7th 2001 Marble Hall (UK Trade Union Congress), Congress House, Great Russell Street, London (near Tottenham Court Road tube station).

Socialist Alliance Appeal

The Socialist Alliance is standing candidates against all of Blair's ministers and numerous other friends of the ruling class in the coming UK election. As I'm sure you're all aware this costs money. John Gill will be standing against Yvette Cooper (Blair's minister of health) in the constituency Pontefract and Castleford. If you want to help, with time or money, contact John by email . Spectre will be carrying full details of the Socialist Alliance campaign as the election approaches.

Gush Shalom Email Service

Gush Shalom is an Israeli organisation dedicated to a peaceful settlement in Palestine. Although the mainstream media prefers to portray the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a purely ethnic dispute rather than a long standing pursuit of justice by the Palestinian people, Gush Shalom demonstrates that not all Israelis agree. To receive news from their email service send an e-mail or see their website at http://www.gush-shalom.org/

Teresa Hayter on BBC Scotland

Pluto Books recently sent the Spectre news desk some interesting news for those of you based in Scotland as you'll be able to catch Teresa Hayter who will be interviewed on BBC Scotland's Lesley Riddoch show between 1pm and 1.30pm some time in the next two weeks. Keep an eye on the schedules if you live in the right part of the world. She will be answering questions on her book Open Borders: the Case Against Immigration Controls, which came out last October. Teresa was recently interviewed by Steve McGiffen for Spectre, so if you are part of the miserable majority of the human race that doesn't live in Scotland, you can read this interview. Steve was himself recently interviewed on the Lesley Riddoch Show. Makes you think! To contact Pluto directly see their website

Critique, Journal of Socialist Theory, Issue 32-33

A publication by the Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements, Glasgow University, 'Critique' contains articles on Russia before and after the Soviet collapse. Also included is a survey of the Iranian Left and several review articles. For further information contact them by email.

International Viewpoint

This monthly review is published by the 4th International and the latest copy to arrive on the Spectre News desk is the February edition. In this edition, there are numerous enlightening articles: notably Eric Toussaint, interviewed last year in Spectre, discusses the 'audacious gamble' of bringing together representatives of movements opposed to neoliberal globalisation from all over the planet during the World Social Forum which convened in Porto Alegre, Brazil from 25-30 of January. Other articles to note cover Brazil and the Workers' Party's (PT) surprise victory in municipal elections back in October 2000; Harry Tubongbanwa on the impeachment trial of the former President Estrada in the Philippines, several articles on the crisis of the Spanish left; finally, the economic rise of China, and Vietnam, Argentina and Colombia also receive some coverage. To find out more or subscribe you can contact them by email.

Labour Left Briefing

The LLB represents an independent voice and forum for socialist ideas in the Labour Party and Trade Unions and in the April, 2001 edition they are carrying an article by Andy Mullen, a PhD student working with Dr Brian Burkitt at the University ofBradford a frequent contributor to Spectre - on the response of the British left to European integration. Mullen outlines the socialist arguments against the euro. Other sections include the Labour Party and the general election debate, Trade Unions, international and immigration coverage and finally a review of Ken Loach's recent film 'Bread and Roses'. If you're interested you can surf your way onto their soon to open website [note that this site is not running yet so keep trying]. Or email.

Voices in the Wilderness

UK Finally. I would like to give a mention to this newsletter dedicated to breaking the sanctions on the people of Iraq. The people who run the website are involved in organising the national petition against sanctions on Iraq; copies can be found on their website In addition, they are one of the organisers of the National Week of Action Against Economic Sanctions on Iraq 23-29 April, find out more by subscribing to their monthly newsletter by contacting by email. That's all folks.

Compiled by Ian Kitching