The Council of the European Union, which directly represents the EU’s 15 member states, is discussing plans to extend its Scheng

8th December, 2001



EU steps up surveillance of activists

Union leader: T&G members’ jobs too high a price for euro

Bill Morris, General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, one of Britain’s biggest trade unions, this week warned Blair’s government that euro membership could cost thousands of jobs. Mr Morris said, “A callous call to bounce Britain into the euro by an ill-timed referendum irrespective of the economic consequences will damage British manufacturing and bounce thousands of workers out of their jobs. Our members will not be bounced out of their jobs for the sake of the euro.”

Mr Morris may have been alarmed by Blairite statements suggesting that the government’s famous five tests, which will supposedly determine whether Britain is “ready” for the euro, are losing their untouchable status. Labour Party Chair Charles Clarke said, “I think the political case is very strong and there is no constitutional objection. So if was a 50/50 call I would still go for it.” However, both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor (finance minister) continue to insists that the five tests must be met before a referendum is called.  The latest poll  shows that 60% of voters would reject the euro if a referendum were held now, with only 25%  approving and 10% undecided

UN Anti-Torture Committee investigates Genoa and its aftermath

According to Italian mainstream newspaper La Reppublica, the United Nations Committee Against Torture has requested a report from the Italian authorities on the events in the Diaz School, where large numbers of demonstrators, overnighting there during the demonstrations last July, were attacked by police. In addition, the UN Committee is interested in the Italian state’s answer to charges concerning the conditions in which arrested demonstrators have been held Bozaneto prison and alleged acts of violence against them. The move comes in response to a letter by lawyers working for the Genoa Social Forum, the umbrella body which co-ordinated the demonstrations around the G8 summit.

The possibility that five Carabinieri – members of the highly militarised police force - might face trial had already been raised in Italy, where state prosecutors are collecting evidence and interviewing alleged victims of  police violence, including some from Germany. In addition, six prison guards who have allegedly committed acts of violence against young men held in Bozaneto have been identified from photographs at the Ministries of the Interior and Justice.

Israeli and British anti-war groups share peace prize

On Friday, in an official ceremony at the Swedish parliament, the 'Alternative Nobel Prize'  was awarded to four recipients including Israeli peace group Gush Shalom and  British anti-nuclear weapons group Trident Ploughshares.

In its decision the jury says that “Gush Shalom and its co-founders Uri and Rachel Avnery, have shown the way to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and worked for several decades with courage and dedication to promote its acceptance and implementation."

Accepting the award, Uri Avnery said "In the same week that the government of Israel, dominated by the most extreme and intransigent factions, declares war against the Palestinian Authority and Arafat, in Stockholm the international community gives a very different message. From the moment he was elected, Sharon acted consistently against every possibility of conciliation and peace - by closure and siege, bombardments and liquidations, and by effectively neutralising any chance of getting back to the negotiating table. The recent assassination of Hamas leader Mahmud Abu Hunud meant the end of the silent agreement between the Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, in this way provoking the latest series of terrorist attacks, which in turn gave Sharon the legitimation he sought for an all-out war. It proves this government  aims at war, a war which will entail enormous bloodshed.”

The Trident Ploughshares campaign, which carries out non-violent direct action against Britain's Trident nuclear weapon system, was described in its citation as "a model of principled, transparent and non-violent direct action dedicated to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Their imaginative campaign highlights the illegality of these weapons."

The TP campaign was initiated in 1998. Since then there have been 1520 arrests of its activists, 1466 days have been spent in prison, there have been 229 trials and fines totalling £32,486 have been imposed by the courts. Two members, Jenny Gaiawyn and Sylvia Boyes, are currently serving sentences in British jails for anti-Trident actions. The British government has consistently refused to meet the campaigners to discuss the disarmament of Trident.

Only this week a further TP campaigner, Sylvia Boyes, was sent to prison for a month after she refused to pay compensation and cost orders imposed for an anti -Trident action earlier this year. Ms Boyes, a veteran peace activist from Keighley, Yorkshire, was one of a number of Trident Ploughshares supporters who, in May this year, cut their way into the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, where components for Britain's Trident nuclear warheads are made. Subsequently she was found guilty of criminal damage in Newbury Magistrates Court where a compensation order of £300 was imposed on her along with court costs of £314.  When she appeared in her local magistrates court for a means enquiry (a hearing at which an offender’s claim to be unable to afford a fine is examined), however, she stated that on principle she had no intentions of paying either order. She is likely to serve 14 days of the 28-day sentence.

Commenting on the prize, Trident Ploughshares spokesman David Mackenzie said: "The Award is a great encouragement to us and yet another indication that sane civil society across the globe is wholeheartedly behind us as we strive to uphold international humanitarian law."

The prestigious prize, whose official name is the Right Livelihood Award, but which is generally known as the "Alternative Noble Prize" is awarded every year in the Swedish Parliament, on the day before the official Nobel Prize ceremony. Founded in 1980, the prize  aims  “to honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.” The initiator Jacob von Uexkull, a philatelic expert and descendant of a well-known Swedish-German aristocratic family, sold his valuable postage stamp collection to provide the original endowment. The prize now totals SKr 2 million and is always divided between four groups or individuals. As well as Gush Shalom and TP, winners were Brazilian Leonardo Boff, Brazil, one of the founders of liberation theology in Latin America and Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of Venezuela’s system of children’s orchestras.

For more on the award, go to this website See also TP’s site and that of Gush Shalom

“New Enclosures”: report exposes plans to go beyond TRIPS

A newly-published report from the ETC group argues that the current furore over intellectual property  will soon give way to what will be a protracted battle over what it dubs “New Enclosures”, based on biological monopolies,  remote sensing and bio-detectors, and legal contracts. New Enclosures: Alternative Mechanisms to Enhance Corporate Monopoly and BioSerfdom in the 21st Century describes how, confronted with the practical, technical and political uncertainties of intellectual property, industry is developing alternative mechanisms -- 'New Enclosures' -- to secure monopoly control of biotechnology and other emerging technologies. New Enclosures that offer built-in exclusivity and long-range (remote) control will be used to supplement (or eventually replace) intellectual property as a means of strengthening corporate dominance over products and processes. New Enclosure mechanisms encourage “bioserfdom”, facilitate corporate consolidation and undermine national sovereignty. Evolving technologies are being used to identify and control germplasm, territory and labour. Poorly-understood but powerful new technologies may be used to ensure regulatory compliance, or to circumvent regulations and patent laws.

Start-up companies developing the new control technologies are developing alliances with - or are controlled by – the companies their tools are intended to monitor. This new technocracy is positioned to dictate regulatory standards to governments that have lost their capacity to assess and evaluate control mechanisms. New Enclosures will facilitate external, long-distance control of industrial (farm and manufacturing) systems. Ultimately, New Enclosures threaten to erode the rights of farmers, workers, and small enterprises and their role in management and decision-making.

New Enclosures span a diverse array of technologies - from biotech to microelectronics, remote sensing to robotics, geospatial information technologies, and more. Corporate giants from Cargill to Deere, Motorola to Monsanto are teaming up with entrepreneurial start-ups such as CropVerifeye.com, GeneScan, Icon Genetics, Neogen and many more. Governments are also using New Enclosure tools to monitor and enforce regulations.

ETC’s report looks at how we can fight back. The full text version is available in PDF format only at  this website

Osama and Dubya: the forbidden truth

George W. Bush’s Big Oil Junta initially blocked US secret service investigations on terrorism, while it bargained with the Taliban over the delivery of Osama bin Laden in exchange for political recognition and economic aid, according to a newly-published book by two French intelligence analysts.  In the book Bin Laden, la verité interdite ("Bin Laden, the forbidden truth"), authors Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, reveal that FBI deputy director John O'Neill resigned in July in protest over the obstruction.

Prior to September 11, US strategy was to support the Taliban in exchange for access to the oil and gas reserves in Central Asia. The terrorist attack made it possible to launch military actions against Afghanistan with the aim of establishing a dependent regime in Kabul. When the Taliban became unreliable, new means had to be found to make it possible to build and defend a pipeline from the rich oilfields of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. Despite the demise of the Soviet Union, the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia continue to be controlled by Russia. As Brisard and Dasquie say, “The Bush government wanted to change all that".

The last meeting between US and Taliban representatives took place in August, five weeks before the attacks on New York and Washington

The writers reject American claims that bin Laden has been on their wanted list since 1998. In fact, the only country to have made any serious attempts to pursue bin Laden is Libya, which remains on the US list of terrorist states. Libyan president Gaddafi was, the authors state, himself the target of assassination attempts planned by Osama bin Laden, who has links with Iranian dissident organisation the Islamic Fighting Group (IFG)

Independent Politics News

Finally, we hear from our friends at the US Independent Progressive Politics Network (IPPN) that they have around 700 copies of the Fall issue of Independent Politics News left. The winter edition will be out early in the New Year, so if you can distribute any of these contact Ted Glick at indpol@igc.org