A Cold Wind is Blowing, the Wind of Approaching Disaster

Saturday, May 5th, 2001

UK Government: Foot and Mouth Caused By Misguided Farming Methods and EU rules

A report from the government’s powerful Cabinet Office confirms what we all knew: foot and mouth was caused by a number of factors, but each is connected to the disastrous farm policies which have prevailed in western Europe since the war. Unnecessary movement of animals in pursuit of greater profits is not only distressing for the sheep, cattle and other livestock involved, it leads to the spread of disease from farm to farm and area to area. Closure of small local abattoirs, made necessary by tight restrictions written more in the interests of agribusiness than out of any real concern for hygienic standards, has meant that animals must also often be moved long distances before being slaughtered.

Changes in farm practices, made more or less obligatory by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, have created the conditions for a series of food-related scandals, of which foot and mouth is, merely the latest and will certainly not be the last.

The report cites as factors provoking this latest crisis: huge increases in the size of farms and herds, an extension of what is charmingly called the ‘lamb production season’ which now runs from December to June, increased movement of animals, especially sheep, and especially by road, and the slaughterhouse closures.

As we add this news there is no reference to the report on the Cabinet Office website, with the last statement from the Prime Minister on foot and mouth dated Thursday 3 May. Presumably, however, this will change shortly, so try http://www.co-ordination.gov.uk/ if you want to know more

Irish Workers’ Party Launches Anti-Privatisation Campaign

  The Workers' Party of Ireland this week announced a major campaign to halt the privatisation of public assets with the launch of a policy document at Dublin's Mansion House.

Party president Mr. Seán Garland, launching the document said that privatisation represented nothing less than the theft of the Irish people's resources, and he called on the public to rally against the sale of power, transport, water and other public services.

Garland contrasted the character and ethos of public service companies against that of big business capitalism:

"What does a capitalist care about a health service, public transport or telephone services? Nothing, they only care about profit, profit and more profit."

Naming a number of prominent Irish businessmen, the Workers' Party leader said that they had 'succeeded in making millions for themselves and in the process have put thousands of workers out of jobs with little or no regard as to their future.'

Calling for 'renewed and greater scrutiny' of the actions of such people, Garland spoke of what he called the 'very dubious circumstances' under which they had gained control of public assets:

"The great progress made over decades in building a viable and successful public sector, in creating a decent life for all our citizens, is steadily being eroded. The people are the losers and a small number of wealthy individuals without spending one penny of their own money get richer."

The Workers' Party initiative comes at the end of more than a decade of economic expansion, which saw Ireland rival the Netherlands on two fronts: fastest growing per capita wealth, and fastest growing rate of poverty.  Go to the party’s site at www.workers-party.org  for more.

Trotskyist Euro-MP Almost Joins List of Banned EU Exports

Alain Krivine, former soixante-huitard and currently leader of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR, French Section of the Fourth International) was told last Thursday by US immigration authorities that he was persona non grata and not free to enter the land of the free - joining Kyoto, bananas, beef, hush-kits, Rocquefort cheese and genetically modified maize as one more grievance to strain the uneasy friendship between the two imperial blocs.

Krivine is supposed to go to the States on Tuesday as part of a delegation from the European Parliament’s temporary committee to look into the affair of the Echelon spy network, with the help of which your emails are currently being read by spooks (Hi Guys and Gals!). He immediately contacted Francis Wurtz, leader of his parliamentary group (the United European Left, known as the GUE) and a member of the French Communist Party, and informed him of the problem. Wurtz went straight to EP president, French conservative Nicole Fontaine, who complained to the US embassy, who promised to clear up what they were sure was a misunderstanding.

Describing the threatened exclusion as ‘unacceptable’ and an ‘outdated ostracism’, the GUE president pronounced himself ‘pleased that this ridiculous example of discrimination has been thwarted.'

This headline could have appeared above a story about almost anywhere in the world, though some disasters are approaching faster than others. Israel’s general election result amounted to a clear declaration of war on the Palestinian people, and the whirlwind is about to be reaped. That’s unless courageous activists like those at Israeli anti-war group Gush Shalom.Gush Shalom Their excellent, if depressing, round up of just where we are up to in this long, slow war is what really appears under the above headline, and it can be read at www.gush-shalom.org, Or write to info@gush-shalom.org to request regular mailings. If you’re still reading the mainstream inkies, you’ll be amazed to find out what’s really going on out there

June 9th 2001: Haven-hunting season begins

For some time now groups such as Attac (Association for a Taxation on financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens) and others have been attempting to draw attention to the problem of tax havens throughout the world. Tax havens represent an increasingly important obstacle to reducing poverty. They deprive governments, particularly in developing countries, of the funds needed to maintain basic services and build up their economic infrastructure. A recent paper by Attac and Oxfam reported that "it is impossible to calculate the financial losses to developing countries associated with offshore activity." However, a conservative estimate would put the figure at around US$50 billion a year. Throughout Europe these havens have existed for years, notably in Jersey, Monaco, Switzerland, etc. These tax havens and financial safe-havens are states or micro-territories with 'flexible' or non-existent tax legislation and are particularly appealing to the vast number of rich people wishing to conceal at least part of their huge wealth from the public authorities. Furthermore, the free movement of capital has increased the globalisation of criminal financial activities.

In Brittany and in the Pyrenees, haven-hunting season or actions will begin on the 9th June. The programme of events, will include information and training sessions, demonstrations, and conferences and a fleet of activists sailing to Jersey. There will be activists from all over Europe and probably from the US who will be meeting in the port of St Helier where they will be taking part in actions to raise public awareness to the problem. If you’re interested they have set up a website with more details of the events: http://attac.org/jersey2001/ Demonstrations will also be taking place hopefully in Andorra if possible and, if not, near by - for more information contact: attac09@attac.org

International Event - Another World is Possible

With 1.3 billion people without access to fresh drinking water, 1 billion illiterate people, two billion people suffering from malnutrition, is all for the best in the best of all possible worlds?

Another world is possible

From noon,  Saturday 12th May on the Esplanade du Cinquantenaire, Brussels, Belgium, the Cinquantenaire, a colonial symbol of the exploitation of the South by the North, will be wrapped in a 600m2 banner decorated by Pierre Kroll and the participants!

After two decades of unrestrained liberalisation of the economies of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) the result has been the marginalisation and impoverishment of their populations. The 3rd United Nations Conference on the LDCs (14th to 20th May) and the NGO Forum (10th to 20th May) will take place in Brussels. These events will provide a unique opportunity for people in the South and the North to demand a rethink of the dominant model of development. A number of associations working on North/South relations will be mobilising to demand that human priorities and common interests are put at the centre of development strategies in the South and in particular the LDCs.

During the day’s events there will refreshments from around the world, along with stands from many of the associations taking part and, of course, lots of sunshine. This will also provide an opportunity for a number of personalities from the South to present their concrete proposals for a more just and realistic development. During "The women's tribunal and the people from the South", a play from Dakar, the actors will explain the issue of Third World Debt. Together with public participation we will be covering the Cinquantenaire in our demands and messages of solidarity. In a unique concert, the South, represented by "Tribute to Fela" and the North represented by "Les Extincteurs" will begin a dialogue through musical improvisation. Finally, for those of you who like that kind of thing there will be dancing and music, followed by a parade to the European Parliament, mostly a symbolic gesture as it will be closed on a Saturday.

One of the highlights of the day will of course be the bar where you will find the usual alcoholic beverages and also Fair Trade wine, coffee, tea and fruit juice all served by volunteers from the local Oxfam Fair Trade shop. Naturally, this event is highly recommended by Spectre not only because its editorial assistant, yours truly, has been involved in the organisation and will no doubt be working behind the bar but, also, because its going to be huge success and a cracking day out for all the family. For more details of the programmed events see the website of one of the organisers Oxfam Solidarité: www.oxfamsol.be or the NGO Forum: www.oneworld.org/liaison/forum


May 4-11 2001: Honolulu ADB Actions

During the first week of May 2001 the Asian "No Debt" protests, HonoluluDevelopment Bank will be holding its Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. This group of unelected officials has been meeting behind closed doors for the last 35 years to discuss the latest plans to further corporate interests. Until recently these meetings have gone ahead without attracting too much attention on a global scale, unlike those of their close friends in the World Bank and the IMF. However, after the demonstrations by thousands of Thai villagers during the last Meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand they have decided to hold their next meeting in Honolulu in the hope that this will receive less attention.

For those of you who know little of this international financial institution, it was set up in 1966 to provide loans and technical assistance to so-called "developing" countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The Bank has lent billions of dollars to governments and private companies, mainly for large-scale resource exploitation and infrastructure development projects, such as roads, dams and coal-fired power stations. Together with their friends in the World Bank and the Japanese government, the ADB has also played a major role in promoting deregulation, economic liberalisation and privatisation in the region over the last 34 years. Hardly surprisingly it is highly undemocratic, unaccountable and dominated by the US and Japan. More information can be found on the Hawaiian indymedia website: http://hawaii.indymedia.org/

The Asian Development Bank Watch (ADB-Watch) is a network of environmental, indigenous rights, social and economic justice, human rights, religious, and development groups and concerned citizens. Their work involves raising awareness about the effects of the ADB, creating dialogue around environmental and social justice issues surrounding the ADB, building solidarity with local communities in Asia and the Pacific and articulating and exploring alternatives to the destructive policies and projects of the ADB. They have issued a global call to action to welcome the officials of the Bank to Honolulu. In addition, there will be a parallel NGO event from May 5th to May 11th. ADB Watch Hawaii invites you to join in and create non-violent activities and events challenging globalisation and the ADB's record of imposing destructive and oppressive policies, projects and programs on communities throughout Asia and the Pacific. For more information you can contact them by email: adbwatch@lava.net or their website: www.crosswinds.net/~hexis/ADB-Watch.html

Alaska Pipeline

Bush’s coup d’etat has opened the way to further reckless exploitation of natural resources and brought nearer the threatened destruction of the Alaskan wilderness. Readers up there in the North Country who want to discuss the choices facing Alaskans in relation to the best use of all of their wealth – which of course includes the irreplaceable beauty of the place, its biodiversity and uniqueness, as well as the gas and oil that Bush’s thugs want to get their paws on – will have the chance to if they can get to Fairbanks for a forum organised Wednesday night by the Alaska Conservation Alliance and the League of Women Voters.  Under the title ‘Alaska’s Gas is Alaska’s: Socio-economic and Environmental Considerations for the Natural Gas Pipeline’, the Forum runs from 6:30-9:00 p.m. and takes place at the Noel Wien Library Auditorium, 1215 Cowles St. For details, or to be included on a regular mailing list, contact beth@northern.org

US residents who can’t get to Fairbanks (because they live 6,000 miles away, or find Honolulu a more conducive spot for making trouble, or whatever) can still help the cause of Alaskan conservation, simply by calling their local PBS television station and asking them to show the documentary ‘Arctic Quest: Our Search for the Truth’, which the giant corporation Arctic Power is trying to suppress. Beth Caissie of Arctic Action asks that ‘In the spirit of free speech and wilderness protection, please let your local PBS affiliate know that their viewers  would like the opportunity to watch this.’

Producer Jeff Barrie, who is also south-eastern organiser of the Alaskan Wilderness League, describes his award-winning film as ‘an in-depth exploration of the Arctic Refuge debate’ which ‘makes a strong case for protecting this wilderness treasure.’

JCP Continues News Service

Turns out that news of the death of the Japanese Communist Party’s email news service was premature. John Manning writes to tell us that happily ‘There has been a reprieve as to e-mail contact in that the friends in Japan will manage to supply twice weekly e-mail news in addition to maintaining the web site which begins next Monday.’ The current JPS site (JPS is the progressive news agency associated with the Communist Party) can be found at http://www.japan-press.co.jp/

Mat Coward: An Apology

Finally, Mat Coward has issued a fatwa after our inadvertent failure to mention his newly added column, on imperialism, violence and beer, in our recent SpectreMail. So, in the name of whatever strange deity or deities to which MC pays obeisance, we’d like to offer him our sincere apologies. We just hope the Warriors of Wessex and Destiny are not already on the Eurostar heading for our gaff, or at least that they can be contacted by mobile phone. The URL for this outstanding, excellent, penetrating and hilarious as well as outstanding and excellent piece of wit is http://www.spectrezine.org/cowardcolumn/beer.htm  So you can see for yourselves. The addition of this column, as Mat points out, the most important thing that has happened to our website since we don’t know when. And if you don’t get SpectreMail, you’re missing the chance to miss reading about the things we forget to put in it, so why not sign up now?