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Year 2005 No. 84, June 29, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Portsmouth Respect Meeting:

World Poverty, Debt and the G8

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Portsmouth Respect Meeting:
World Poverty, Debt and the G8

For Your Information:
Live 8 and the Commission for Africa

Indymedia Bristol Server Seized by Police

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Portsmouth Respect Meeting:

World Poverty, Debt and the G8

Around 50 people took part in a public meeting on Wednesday, June 22, organised by Respect in the Portsmouth area on the subject of "World Poverty, Debt and the G8".

The evening began with Sue James of the World Development Movement (WDM). She started by talking about the G8, who she described as eight men making decisions that affect whole world, self-selected and not accountable to anyone. They control the UN Security Council, the IMF, World Bank and the WTO, and are committed to free trade and the neo-liberal agenda, she said.

Trade is the most important issue in her view, but little is being said about it. "Free trade", which in practice means trade liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation, actually causes poverty. We have to keep saying that this is not the way to run the world, she said. In particular, she expressed the demand for control over the transnational companies.

Tim Dawes, Green Party candidate for Havant, spoke next. He began by stating the policy of the Green Party: to raise aid to 0.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 5 years (as recommended by the UN) and to 1% in 10 years. As well as cancelling debt, we have to cancel globalisation.

He explained that the Government Department for International Development white paper, "Making Globalisation Work for the Poor", is spreading illusions of globalisation. For example, "free trade" has, in terms of GDP, made the poor countries poorer: the GDP of the poorest countries has actually declined in recent years. "Free trade" is in favour of the rich.

Newham Respect’s Kevin Ovenden spoke third. The high profile given to the issue of global poverty recently is a testament to the movement, he said, as well as a testament to the tragedies that are taking place. Quoting Martin Luther King, he said that we have to "keep the movement moving".

However, there are attempts to derail the movement, he observed. In particular, there is the attempt by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair to rehabilitate themselves, while at the same time to politically intervene in the movement. They are arguing that a lack of integration into the system, a lack of capitalism, is the real problem. We should not let Blair and co. get away with posing as saviours, after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

The final speaker was Guy Taylor from Globalise Resistance. He commented that the He ppoHe figure of 0.7% of GDP was set by the UN in 1970. Britain has every year failed to achieve that, and he pointed out that the year it was lowest in 1999 – under Tony Blair!

He spoke about the importance of what’s going on. The G8 are denying that another world is possible and declaring that there is no alternative, he said. We have to say there is an alternative.

Discussion continued from the floor, with interventions coming from many participants resulting in the forum carrying on long after its intended finishing time. The reporter for WDIE contributed, taking up the points raised about the alternative. The Government uses "aid" and "debt relief" as a means to impose its values on the world, such as what they call "good governance", etc.

For example, Jack Straw gave a speech to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The main theme of the speech was the arrogant claim that: "The alliance between Europe and America has done more than any other in human history to promote the values of freedom, justice and fairness which we share and which we so prize in others." "Today, it is more vital than ever that we advance those values and the wider freedom which they underpin."

Elaborating on this, the battle over values, on the side of the values that serve the British state, is central to Labour’s vision.

The manifesto and speeches of New Labour speak about instilling young people in particular with these values and mobilising them for programme of "Making Britain Great Again". Labour have emphasised how they intend to develop a "sense of British identity" in young people, through "citizenship education" in schools, for example.

These are the values that the Government is trying to mobilise everyone, especially young people, behind and to impose on Africa in particular. They are actively promoted by Blair's Commission for Africa.

Labour is trying to keep people and especially young people ideologically disarmed, so that it can try to place itself at the head of the movement from social justice, and so that the conditions that caused Africa’s problems can now be presented as the solutions. They will fail in that; we will not let them succeed; but in all this, the battle over values is a key issue.

Article Index

For Your Information:

Live 8 and the Commission for Africa

The Live 8 concerts are being principally organised by Sir Bob Geldof, Richard Curtis, Midge Ure and Harvey Goldsmith along their organisations. According to the Live 8 website, the events are being supported by a number of key broadcast and facilitation partners. Globally, this includes the BBC, AOL and Nokia, and regionally, Capital Radio and O2. Live 8 also acknowledge the Prince's Trust in Britain.

Bob Geldof is a part of the Commission for Africa set up by Tony Blair. "The British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched the Commission for Africa in February 2004. The aim of the Commission was to take a fresh look at Africa’s past and present and the international community’s role in its development path," says the Live 8 website (http://www.live8live.com).

The Commission for Africa released their report in March. Live 8 explicitly promote Blair's Commission and its report. In their words, "Our leaders have the power to change the world. But we have the power to make them use it. The 8 world leaders, gathered in Scotland for the G8 summit, will be presented with a workable plan [the Commission report] to double aid, drop the debt and make the trade laws fair. If these 8 men agree, then we will become the generation that made poverty history." (live8.edenbookings.com)

The Commission for Africa

The Commission for Africa, launched by Tony Blair in February 2004, is made up of politicians and big businesspeople. According to www.commissionforafrica.org, its 17 members are:

Tony Blair (Chair): British Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown: British Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Hilary Benn MP: Secretary of State for International Development, Britain; Tony Blair's G8 Africa Personal Representative.

Sir Bob Geldof: musician and founder of Live Aid, Ireland; has a number of different business interests; founded Planet 24, one of the largest British production companies; founder and chair of 10 Alps Broadcasting.

Fola Adeola: Chair of FATE foundation, Nigeria, which promotes entrepreneurship among the youth in Nigeria; founder and a director of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.

K. Y. Amoako: Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa, the regional arm of the United Nations in Africa; previously served in the World Bank, most recently in senior positions including Director of the Education and Social Policy Department (1993-1995).

Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker: US senator (Republican) for Kansas 1979-97.

Michel Camdessus: Africa Personal Representative, France; honorary Governor of the Bank of France; previously Managing Director and Chairman of the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); President Chirac's Personal Representative on Africa.

Ralph Goodale P.C., MP: Minister of Finance, Canada.

Dr. William S. Kalema: Chairman of the Board of the Uganda Investment Authority; member of the Divestiture Reform and Implementation Committee; instrumental figure in the formation of the Private Sector Foundation; Board Chairman of the Development Finance Company of Uganda and of its related financial institutions, including DFCU Bank, a commercial bank and DFCU Leasing, the leading leasing company in Uganda, and a mortgage company.

Trevor Manuel: Minister of Finance, South Africa

Benjamin William Mkapa: President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Linah K Mohohlo: Governor, Bank of Botswana; has worked for the IMF and been a member of the International Monetary and Financial Committee.

Ji Peiding: NPC Standing Committee Member and Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, China.

Meles Zenawi: Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

Tidjane Thiam: Group Strategy and Development Director Aviva PLC, Côte D'Ivoire, the 7th largest insurance company in the world (trading in Britain as Norwich Union); selected to be one of the annual 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos, 1998; has since been co-chair of an international task force on Global Public Goods, financed by Britain, France, Sweden and Germany.

Dr. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka: Under-Secretary-General & Executive Director of UN HABITAT, Tanzania; Convener of Tanzania's Local Entrepreneurs Initiative (TALE), a group mobilising Tanzanians to form joint venture companies with overseas investors; Director of various private companies which encourage entrepreneurship in the marketing of agricultural commodities.

Report of the Commission

The opening paragraphs of the Executive Summary set the tone: "African poverty and stagnation is the greatest tragedy of our time. … Recent years have seen improvements in economic growth and in governance. But Africa needs more of both if it is to make serious inroads into poverty. To do that requires a partnership between Africa and the developed world which takes full account of Africa’s diversity and particular circumstances.

"For its part, Africa must accelerate reform. And the developed world must increase and improve its aid, and stop doing those things which hinder Africa’s progress. The developed world has a moral duty – as well as a powerful motive of self-interest – to assist Africa."

The meaning of "improvements in economic growth" is explained as: "The public and private sectors need to work together to create a climate which unleashes the entrepreneurship of the peoples of Africa, generates employment and encourages individuals and firms, domestic and foreign, to invest. Changes in governance are needed to make the investment climate stronger. The developed world must support the African Union’s NEPAD programme to build public/private partnerships in order to create a stronger climate for growth, investment and jobs."

The "key issue of governance" makes up the bulk of the Report’s detail, since "good governance and capacity-building is what we believe lies at the core of all of Africa’s problems".

"By governance we mean the inability of government and the public services to create the right economic, social and legal framework which will encourage economic growth and allow poor people to participate in it."

Further: "At the heart of the proper function of government is establishing an economic environment that encourages investment. That means basic functions such as providing security, setting sound economic policies under the law, collecting taxes and delivering adequate public services like health and education. It means seeing that physical infrastructure is in place – roads, railways, water, electricity and telecommunications. But there are also more abstract forms of infrastructure, such as legal systems to protect basic property rights, human rights, and respect for contracts, to uphold order and to act as a check on governments."

On "Getting Systems Right: Governance and Capacity-Building", the report makes the interesting comment that "A cornerstone of development is a state with a sound constitution" (e.g. Britain?!), which "balances the interest of all its citizens, and that separates powers of the judiciary and legislature from the executive."

Concerning accountability: "Improving accountability is the job of African leaders. They can do that by broadening the participation of ordinary people in government processes, in part by strengthening institutions like parliaments, local authorities, trades unions, the justice system and the media … transparency can help combat corruption, which African governments must root out. Developed nations can help in this too. Money and state assets stolen from the people of Africa by corrupt leaders must be repatriated …"

On the issue of trade: "To improve its capacity to trade Africa needs to make changes internally. It must improve its transport infrastructure to make goods cheaper to move. It must reduce and simplify the tariff systems between one African country and another. It must reform excessive bureaucracy, cumbersome customs procedures, and corruption by public servants, wherever these exist. It must make it easier to set up businesses. It must improve economic integration within the continent’s regional economic communities. Donors can help fund these changes."

According to the report, Africa needs to be "a safe place to invest": "If people are to feel safe about investing their money in a country they need to feel confident about a whole range of things – that the law will be upheld, that contracts will be enforced, that business regulations will not be imposed merely to secure an endless stream of bribes for corrupt officials. They also need stable economic policies, good public financial management systems, predictable and transparent taxation and effective competition laws."

On the central issue of debt relief: "For poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa which need it, the objective must be 100 per cent debt cancellation as soon as possible. … The key criterion should be that the money be used to deliver development, economic growth and the reduction of poverty for countries actively promoting good governance."

Concerning motive, the report explains: "A stable and growing Africa will provide a market of several hundred million people into which the rest of the world can sell its goods and services. Africa has the potential to be transformed from a place of privation to one of opportunity. It will also provide a stable source of supplies. Africa holds seven per cent of world oil reserves, and generated 11 per cent of global oil exports in 2000. By 2015, West Africa will provide 25 per cent of the oil imports into the United States. And its richness in natural resources is not confined to the more traditional commodities. It is the primary source of coltan, the essential component of the world’s mobile phones. As the world changes and grows it is likely that Africa’s rich resources will continue to be vital to the world’s prosperity."

The report concludes by tying in all of its values together with the phrase "We are one moral universe. And our shared moral sense makes us recognise our duty to others. We, as a mixed group of African and non-African Commissioners, have in our shared enterprise experienced some sense of this as we have been bound together in the interests of our common good."

For the full report, see http://www.commissionforafrica.org.

Article Index

Indymedia Bristol Server Seized by Police

By Bristol Indymedia

On Monday, June 27, Indymedia Bristol's server was seized by the police. An Indymedia volunteer was also arrested during the raid on suspicion of incitement to criminal damage and is now on bail.

Bristol Indymedia say: "We are outraged at the actions of the police. They have completely disabled the entire Bristol Indymedia news service. By their actions they have undermined the principle of open publishing and free access to the media, thereby removing people's opportunity to read and report their own news. This situation has serious implications for anyone providing a news service on the Internet. We do not intend to let this stop us from continuing the project."

Last week, police demanded access to the server to gain the IP details of a posting. The alternative media outlet is receiving advice from civil liberties organisations and the NUJ. Before being legally forced to hand over the server, Indymedia Bristol stated: "We do not intend to voluntarily hand over information to the police as they have requested". Bristol Indymedia see the seizure of their server and the arrest of one of their volunteers as an attack on the freedom of speech.

This is the second time that law enforcement authorities have attacked Indymedia servers in the UK in the run up to a major event. Last October, just prior to the European Social Forum, Indymedia servers in London were seized in an international law enforcement operation - prompting a wave of protests and solidarity statements from a wide range of organisations. This time, events are unfolding one week before the G8 Summit begins in Scotland.

In order to provide grass-roots non-corporate coverage during the G8 protests and events, Indymedia UK needs additional http mirrors to help decrease bandwidth costs. If you would like to help, please contact us at imc-uk-contact@lists.indymedia.org or donate [via www.indymedia.org.uk – Ed.].

Sequence of events

On Monday, June 27, the police raided a residential property in Bristol and seized an Indymedia server and other computer equipment. They also arrested one person for incitement to criminal damage under common law. That person has since been released on bail. We see this police action as an attack on the freedom of speech and journalistic independence.

This police action relates to an article posted on June 17 in which persons unknown claimed to have damaged cars being transported on a train. This article was considered by Bristol Indymedia to have breached the guidelines and was hidden.

On Monday, June 20, the police contacted Bristol Indymedia with reference to this posting. Bristol Indymedia informed the police that they were in the process of instructing a solicitor to reply on their behalf. On Tuesday, June 21, the police contacted a Bristol Indymedia volunteer requesting the IP logs. Bristol Indymedia considered that the system was journalistic material covered by special provision under the law.

A solicitor from Liberty faxed the police explaining this provision. The police then contacted Bristol Indymedia to request a meeting which Bristol Indymedia agreed to. Ten minutes before the arranged meeting the British Transport Police cancelled the meeting and asked to postpone it.

The next police contact was the seizure of the server and the arrest of a Bristol Indymedia volunteer. The seizure of the server was carried out under a search warrant (Police And Criminal Evidence Act 1984, ss.8 and 15), not recognising the journalistic privilege.

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