Weekly News Review

31st October 2002

British rebate under threat

The French Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac continues to call into question Britain's £2 billion rebate from the EU. Chirac has said that, "the British cheque is less justified today than it was yesterday". The British Government dismissed the idea that the rebate could be scrapped as "inconceivable" and a Whitehall source quoted in the right-wing Daily Telegraph said that Chirac "knows he is being pushed on to the back foot so he is trying to raise questions about the rebate as a diversionary tactic."  Similarly, of course, Blair tried to deflect flak after his failure at the European Council to further wither his own government's agenda or the interests of the people who elected them, in his case by picking a fight with Chirac and then pretending he was all huffy about it.  If the rebate were scrapped, each British subject would have to contribute four times more than the French or the Italians.

Call for action to save Barents cod stocks

Greenpeace Norwegian oceans campaigner Frode Pleym writes:

On November 4-8 the Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Committee will meet above the polar circle, on the Lofoten Islands in Norway. The meeting will decide not only next year’s cod quota in the enormous Barents sea in the Arctic ocean, but will show if Governments are able to manage the fisheries resources in a sustainable way.

A large number of fish stocks are depleted because of overfishing. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has estimated that 75 percent of the world’s fish stocks are fully exploited, over exploited or in crisis.

The cod in the Barents is, according to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), outside safe biological limits. Several other cod stocks are collapsing and ICES has recommended no cod fishing in the North Sea and adjacent waters, the Irish Sea and waters to the west of Scotland. The situation in the Barents is yet somewhat brighter, but it is required that overfishing is stopped immediately. The cod in the Barents is the basis for one of the world’s most important capture fisheries and a collapse in the stock will have severe ecological and social consequences.

Unless pressure is put on the responsible Governments, overfishing is due to continue in 2003.

Please take a moment now and send a letter to the Norwegian prime minister and fisheries minister using this link.


The US National Academies of Science holds key unclassified US military research documents that shed light on the Moscow theater tragedy; but is refusing to release them despite repeated, urgent requests. Read about the cover up here

IMF blamed for Malawi famine

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank forced policies onto the Government of Malawi that were responsible for turning a food shortage into a famine, concludes a report released last week by the World Development Movement (WDM). Seventy per cent of rural families faced starvation earlier this year, following floods in 2001.

The report details a catalogue of disastrous IMF enforced policies that have undermined Malawi’s ability to feed its people. It blames the ongoing privatisation of the food production and distribution system (notably the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation - ADMARC), removal of agricultural subsides to small farmers and deregulation of price controls on staple foods such as maize - policies that have enabled Malawi to avoid famine in the past. The price of maize increased 400% between October 2001and March 2002 as a result of these policies.

Entitled Structural Damage: The Causes and Consequences of Malawi’s Food Crisis, the report also reveals evidence that the IMF, World Bank and EU were heavily involved in the disastrous decision to sell-off Malawi’s grain reserves at the height of the famine, something they have repeatedly denied.

The authors in addition condemn international lenders for insisting that the heavily indebted Government of Malawi continue to make debt repayments to rich countries and the IMF and World Bank, despite the humanitarian crisis. Malawi will spend $70m, over 20% of its national budget, on debt repayments in 2002 - money desperately needed for health and education. Read the full report here

Paul Wellstone's Death & the Congressional Balance of Power

"Come on, Portside, Even my non-political relatives look at Wellstone's death and say, "Murder." This cockeyed coincidence theory stuff is fine in the New York Times, that the most left wing (yeah, I know, he wasn't perfect) Senator dies in an accident. Two weeks before the election. In a senate with a one vote Democratic majority (which ain't worth much, but is slightly better than a Republican majority). We have a "President" who is not elected. The last coup d'etat we had in this country also put a Texan in power, and also lead to a war. The guys who run this country play rough. This is hardly news. And hardly in the news.

But is anyone going to talk about it? On Portside?" Jack

Go here for more


After three consecutive losses, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leftist, has finally claimed Brazil's presidency. Now what?  Read what Benjamin Lessing has to say here

Pluto Press in Florence

Left UK publisher Pluto Press will be welcoming visitors to its stall at next week's European Social Forum in Florence, Italy. The Forum begins 6th November and lasts five days. Pluto will be offering a wide selection of its publications, including The European Union: A Critical Guide, by Spectre editor (and shameless self-publicist) Steve McGiffen, for sale in the exhibition space in the Florence EXPO centre, where there will be a variety of other stalls.

at specially discounted prices. If you plan to attend please go up to Julie or Melanie who will be staffing the stall and tell them you read all about it in Spectre.

A new green order?

Largely untroubled by critical voices, governments met last month in Beijing for the Participants' Assembly of the Global Environment Facility. Invoking participation and transparency, they quietly rubber stamped this little known aid fund¹s use of billions more taxpayers' dollars to save 'global' nature. The GEF was set up under the auspices of the World Bank in 1991, officially to finance implementation of the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity. Investigating the workings of this unique experiment in global resource management, Zoe Young, in a new publication from Pluto Press,  A New Green Order? the World Bank and the Politics of the Global Environment Facility takes a critical look at

the conflicts involved, and how they relate to issues of globalisation, knowledge and democracy in the US-based World Bank.

For more info and a sample chapter see here

Green Left Weekly


Green Left Weekly is Australia's socialist newspaper. The latest, October 30 issue, available on-line here features John Pilger on "Howard's Lethal Hypocrisy": "the more bellicose Bush, Blair and Howard become, the more they place the citizens of their countries at risk of terrorist attacks". Also news, information, opinion and debate on Australian and global affairs from an environmental and left perspective.