Sunday, July 10, 2005

News from around the world on the G8 summit

A NUMBER of police concealed their identities during the G8 summit, perhaps to prevent complaints about their behaviour, a Scottish Socialist MSP claimed yesterday.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpos) said 21 complaints had been made over the conduct of police officers so far.
However, Colin Fox, SSP national convener, has written to Cathy Jamieson, justice minister, complaining that other protesters trying to lodge official complaints about the actions of officers had been refused because they did not have the officers' numbers.
He said: "The conduct of the police must be examined, in particular the role of forces that came from outside Scotland who appeared to act in a completely uncontrolled manner on a number of occasions.
"Did police officers cover their numbers to prevent complaints being made about their behaviour?" he said.
Roseanna Cunningham, the SNP MSP whose Perth constituency includes Gleneagles, said she had raised the issue of officers' numbers and the complaints procedure before the G8, specifically because a number of forces from across the UK would be involved.
"I was reassured by Chief Constable John Vine of Tayside Police that officers would be identifiable.
"From my experience last week police acted impeccably, but the Scottish Executive should be asking senior officers to investigate allegations that individuals concealed their identities," she said.

Neil e-mailed to highlight the above which is from Billy Briggs' "G8 police accused of hiding identities" (Scotland's The Herald).

Annie e-mails to note Wangari Maathai's "Africans can do it for ourselves" (openDemocracy):

This is a historic time, when the spotlight is on Africa. It is appropriate for us to recognise and applaud the efforts of our friends, both within the G8 and in civil society, who are trying to improve the quality of life in Africa.
In 2004 the peace prize award of Norway’s Nobel committee
linked the environment with democratic governance and peace. I have compared these three themes and the situation they create to a traditional African stool. Just as such a stool needs three solid legs to be stable, so does any stable state. And just as the legs, the body and the basin of the stool are made from one log, so leaders and citizens must together mould the three pillars.
One cannot build democracy in order later to manage resources sustainably and create peace. Managing resources accountably and responsibly, and sharing them more equitably, are essential to nurturing a culture of peace. This in turn is possible only if there is adequate democratic space for everybody; space where the rule of law and the rights of all, including the weak and vulnerable, are respected.

Annie also notes Myles Allen's "The ghost of Gleneagles" (openDemocracy):

No country-house party is complete without something in the basement that no one wants to talk about, but which gives everyone the creeps. At the G8 summit in Gleneagles, what the leaders will not be discussing is a solution to the problem of climate change – even though it could have far more impact than any conceivable political negotiations. The solution already exists, and requires nothing more of the politicians than that they simply get out of the way. No, it is not a whizz-bang new energy technology or crunchy lifestyle change, but something much uglier: impact liability.
Right now, it looks unlikely the G8 leaders will make more than a token reference to what was meant to be (after
African poverty) the second great theme of the meeting. They may agree climate change is a problem, bringing us more or less to where we were at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. But with so little to show for more than a decade of effort, is it time to encourage the politicians to redirect their energies elsewhere? By continuing to pretend they will eventually come up with a solution, might they be doing more harm than good?
But, environmentalists will protest, politicians have to come up with the solution, because this is a collective problem requiring collective action. Campaigners – particularly those who were none too comfortable with markets in the first place – often cite climate change as an example of market failure. Conversely, free-market enthusiasts find themselves denying the need for any action over climate change at all, like the church denying the discoveries of Galileo’s telescope, because anything so inimical to their worldview cannot possibly exist.
International negotiations to steer us towards a greener future do indeed sound horribly reminiscent of central planning. Ironically, the United States administration’s government-funded research into alternative-energy technologies sounds equally 1950s. People have learned that governments don’t have a great record in developing or delivering consumer goods.

Jeremy e-mails to note Sanjay Suri's "Pop Campaign on Africa Fizzles Out" (IPS):

Outside of British officialdom, celebrations over increased G8 aid for Africa were confined mostly to a population of two -- rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono. "A great justice has been done," Geldof said after the announcement following their summit at the Gleneagles golf resort in Scotland the Group of Eight most powerful industrialised countries and other institutions propose to double the aid package for Africa to 50 billion dollars a year by 2010. "The world spoke out and the politicians listened," said Bono, frontman for the ever-popular Irish band U2 and now an outspoken advocate for poverty eradication.
The day of the announcement was a "great day", said Geldof, another Dubliner, from the former band Boomtown Rats, and organiser of the 1985 Live Aid concert for African famine relief.
[. . .]
Groups campaigning for greater G8 commitments were far from ecstatic; and there were no reports of jubilation in Africa either. A closer look at the G8 offer would suggest that those not celebrating had far more reason on their side. Much of what is covered by the "extra" aid is no more than G8 dressing for what was in the pipeline anyhow. And much of this "doubling" comes from an addition of intentions, not of commitments, according to anti-poverty activists.
[. . .]
"Bob Geldof's response to the G8 communiqué is misleading and inaccurate," said Peter Hardstaff, head of policy for the World Development Movement. "By offering such unwarranted praise for the dismal deal signed by world leaders he has done a disservice to the hundreds of thousands of people who marched in Edinburgh at the weekend."
Speaking at a meeting in Edinburgh after the announcement, Hardstaff said Geldof's comments "do not reflect the collective conclusions of the development campaigns who make up Make Poverty History. Mr. Geldof has become too close the decision-makers to take an objective view of what has been achieved at this summit."

Pru e-mails to note "Betrayed by the G8 -- but resistance grows world wide" (The UK's Socialist Worker):

It's business as usual for the G8, who despite the rhetoric will at the end of this week produce a document that will do nothing effective to alleviate poverty or halt climate change.
As we near the end of a week of protests activists spoke to Socialist Worker about the G8. Ghanaian campaigner Mani Tanoh said, "People around the world are not fooled by the empty words from the G8.
"We must continue to resist. The G8 will deliver little because it is in their interest to keep things the way they are.
"Any aid they give is tied to privatisation of vital services like water and the opening up of markets.
"We will not beg for aid from the G8. Instead we demand justice."
Salma Yaqoob, who stood as a Respect candidate in the general election, said, "Let's not forget that these leaders did not hesitate to bomb poor countries like Afghanistan and Iraq in order to establish military bases, seize their resources, open up their markets and increase privatisation.
"These are the same leaders who use the monetary weapons of the IMF, WTO and World Bank in poor countries for the same reasons, with the same devastating consequences.
"The real glimmer of hope is that the scale of mobilisations is helping to unmask the brutal and undemocratic nature of the G8. Our challenge in Respect is to help support and make the connections between the apparently disparate struggles against injustice while bringing these vital issues into the electoral arena."
As 300,000 people marched through Edinburgh on Saturday of last week the eyes of the world focused on the Live8 concerts.
Dave Randall, guitarist with Faithless, played at the Berlin Live8. He said, "The contradictions of the Live8 event were evident in Berlin.
"Celebrity obsessed film crews jostled to conduct interviews in front of Nokia adverts while powerful literature about poverty and the G8 went largely ignored.
"We decided to play three of our angriest and most political songs, which the crowd of 200,000 responded to brilliantly.
"However, politics far too often felt like an unwelcome guest at a smug nostalgia fest. Our movement is young, angry and political. Live8 wasn't."
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

Pru also notes Douglas Robertson's "Did police plan 'trouble' on Gleneagles demonstration?" (Socialist Worker):

I’m a photographer who was working yesterday, 6 July, on a shoot at Gleneagles for Community Care magazine. The brief was to photograph emergency social workers covering the demonstration and to shoot the demo itself.
Firstly, I am absolutely NOT a conspiracy theorist who believes every event to be determined by dark forces. However, serious questions must be asked about the way that a relatively small peaceful demo led to such evil scenes as we witnessed on TV screens around the world last night.
I arrived, like most of the press, at the furthest point from Auchterarder — a steel fence blocking the further advancement of the demonstration. A number of us waiting there suddenly came to realise we were facing a situation where, unless stewards took some initiative, a Hillsborough-style disaster could easily happen.
A solid wall down one side of the road to our right and an immovable steel fence behind us, we watched as three thousand determined people advanced. The senior police officer that I called to behind the fence had no response when I asked him if there was a strategy should people start to be crushed. He turned away.
I did alert the chief steward to the danger when the march arrived. He took action by lining up stewards and key figures from G8 Alternatives (including George Galloway) in front of the fence to act as a form of human shield.
Moving on, I walked away from the fence following the route of the demo to the right. In front of us was a field of crops, across the field was the famous five mile perimeter fence surrounding Gleneagles, beyond that a line of mounted police. It seemed like a film set.
Any protester feeling frustrated by a leisurely walk in the country and looking to be a little bit radical could not fail to be tempted by this expanse of crops leading to the fence.
I said to a number of other photographers "So this is where its supposed to happen?" Behind us, the three film crews who had set up in advance on cherry-pickers overlooking the field had obviously been pre-warned in order to obtain permission to use the driveways of private homes.
The situation was similar to that at Welling, London in 1993 where the path of a 50,000 strong anti-Nazi demonstration was blocked by the Metropolitan police with nowhere for it to go. On that occasion a graveyard wall fortunately collapsed under crowd pressure. Again on that day we saw a small army of press including at least four TV crews set up on platforms waiting for the show to start.
But, to return to yesterday’s events, after 15 minutes or so, a single protester entered the field, followed soon by two or three others. A steady flow then ensued while the police stood by inactive. I listened in as a Channel 4 reporter standing in the field and speaking to camera pointed out that the police seemed unconcerned at the invasion of the field as "the only damage could be to crops". As a ragtag file of perhaps 200 demonstrators snaked their way towards the security fence, a band struck up near where I was standing. The atmosphere was upbeat. There was no ominous presence of the usual handful of "anarchists" in black masks. There was no reason to believe that much would happen to justify the presence of the large numbers of press.
At this point I left to visit and photograph another team of emergency social workers in Perth. As I walked back to the centre of Auchterarder my phone rang. A friend back up on the road overlooking the field sounded alarmed. She told me about the fleet of riot police vans which were arriving, the mounted officers reappearing on the scene, and the huge Chinook helicopters disgorging riot police across the field. Another photographer and I tried to return but were blocked by police despite our NUJ cards.
I later watched footage of dog handlers and other riot police clearing the field of the handful of skinny youths who could easily have been kept out in the first place had the will been there.
We are told that some were attacking the fence. I look forward to seeing evidence that this was so threatening as to demand even a tenth of the response given which was as if operating in a war zone rather than a small Scottish town in which the forces of law and order had total control of the streets. Helicopters? Where had they flown from? Were there not more than adequate numbers of officers within 500 metres on the ground? Was it not obvious that one or two protesters would shake the fence? It was to me and many others.
The implications of yesterday’s events could be far reaching. The viewing public have been sold a fiction of another "violent" demonstration. They have seen the "necessity" of our combined police forces using massive force to control a handful of youths. Many questions need to be asked about this event and others.
I returned to Edinburgh to find my 17 year old daughter in a state of shock. On her way to work here in the city she came upon a small group of demonstrators who had been prevented from travelling to Gleneagles by the police. They were marching in Edinburgh instead. She witnessed three Manchester police run into a crowd of protesters. seize a steward, and throw him to the ground whereupon she said that their colleagues then joined them in beating the guy on the ground. I believe her when she said this was witnessed by a large number of people.
We cannot allow these fictions to go unchecked. An inquiry into policing of the G8 event is essential. A huge amount of footage must be available from an array of amateurs on the ground, professional crews and photographers. This needs to be resolved.
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

Gareth e-mails to note, from the UK's Socialist Review, "Noam Chomsky speaks to Ian Rappel about resisting the G8:"

The G8 are coming to Scotland in July, and they've put forward what appears to be a progressive agenda on Africa, Third World debt and global warming. But what in your opinion is the US, under George W Bush, looking to get out of the G8 summit?
Well, it's not a big secret - they're quite frank about it - and I wouldn't suggest that the other members of the G8 are very different. I'm just reading a book by Philippe Sands, a British Professor of Law at the University of London, who describes how, in relation to the US, Britain has moved from an independent society to a servant society, and the others are not all that different. The G8 come from pretty much the same narrow interlinking sectors of power and concentrated resources, but the Bush administration is at the extreme of a pretty narrow spectrum, and their policies are quite open - it's not a secret.
Take, say, global warming. No doubt they'll come out with some nice words at the G8 summit, but nice words are cheap - actions are what count. The Kyoto Protocols were no great advance forward, but there was at least something. The Bush administration was virtually alone in rejecting them, but it's important to remember that it rejected them over the strong opposition of the population of the United States. Indeed, an overwhelming majority of the population of the US supports the Kyoto Protocols. In fact it supports them so enthusiastically that a majority of Bush's voters, because they supported them so strongly, thought that he supported them. But the Bush administration has a primary interest here, and that is to stuff the pockets of its rich friends with as many dollars as possible, and leave the costs to future generations.
It's not just global warming. The next thing they did after refusing to join the Kyoto Protocols was to pass the bill to allow depletion of the Strategic Reserve. Now, the Strategic Reserve is holes in the ground where you pour oil in case it's ever needed. If you take oil out of it and let the oil companies sell it, they make a profit, of course, at the cost of increasing the reliance of the country on imported oil and causing significant problems of access within ten or 20 years. Well they didn't call it the 'Depleting the Strategic Reserve Bill' - they never would've got away with it if they'd called it that - so what they call it is the 'Arctic Wilderness Drilling Bill'. But the oil in the Arctic is just the Strategic Reserve - same thing - it's oil, in the ground, in the United States. In fact, depleting the actual Strategic Reserve would make a lot more sense because when you deplete the oil in the Arctic, you're also harming the environment, you're harming indigenous people and so on. If you empty out the holes in the Strategic Reserve you're not harming anyone except the population of the future.
So what's the point in doing it? Well, the point is it'll enrich some of your rich friends for the next ten or 20 years. It will increase reliance on foreign oil, which means mostly Gulf oil, and it will lead to problems of access, but it's worth it - it doesn't matter - what's important is short-term gain for very narrow sectors of power. And if global warming turns into a total environmental catastrophe, which it might, it's for somebody else to worry about, like our children or grandchildren. It's not an issue - and that's an extreme position on a pretty narrow spectrum.

(Noam Chomsky fans take note, the above is an excerpt. Use the link to read Ian Rappel's interview in full.)

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