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29 October 1999
No. 92

 

In this issue:

  1. FEATURE
    Corporate Hospitality at the WTO
  2. NEWS in Brief
    Burma - Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns sneaked into Thailand
    China - China's Parliament Outaws Cults
    Hong Kong - CCA-URM meet for visioning process
    Thailand - Open Letter to Chuan Leekpai
    Bangladesh - Central Committee of BAFLF meets
  3. RESOURCES Received
  4. Urgent APPEALS
  5. ANNOUNCEMENT
    Freedom from Debt Campaign (training Workshop)

 

1. FEATURE - top

 

Corporate Hospitality at the WTO

By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

 

Tired of getting fundraising letters in the mail?

Just imagine how hard it would be to be a corporate CEO. Not only does virtually every politician come hat in hand seeking a campaign contribution, but you are besieged by a long line of nonprofit organizations seeking support for their charitable endeavors. Then your fellow bosses hit you up for contributions to support one or another political lobbying effort. And now there is a new panhandler that CEOs must handle: the mega-intergovernmental conference.

The latest example: The World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in Seattle, to be held in late November and early December.

"I know you are on the receiving end of many requests for support from organizations and events, but the hosting of the WTO Ministerial is truly a unique opportunity," wrote Lawrence Clarkson, chair of the fundraising committee of the "WTO Seattle Host Organization" in a March 15 fundraising appeal to corporate executives. Host Organization co-chairs are Microsoft's Bill Gates and Phil Condit, CEO of Boeing.

"The Seattle Host Organization is committed to ensuring that the private sector is an integral part of the events surrounding the Ministerial. We are working very closely with the USTR [Office of the U.S. Trade Representative] and WTO officials every step of the way to coordinate schedules and venues to maximize interaction between the officials and the private sector."

The corporate-sponsored gathering in Seattle is no groundbreaker, as Susan Kruller, media and public relations director for the Seattle Host Organization, notes.

When NATO gathered for its fiftieth anniversary blowout in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, a dozen companies contributed a quarter of a million dollars each to have their CEOs serve as directors of the NATO Summit's host committee. Others kicked in smaller amounts.

Similar arrangements have been made at a recent G-7 meeting in Denver (presidents and top officials of a group of the world's most powerful countries meet at the G-7) and a Summit of the Americas in Miami. At a 1996 National Governors Association conference focused on education
issues, each governor was paired with a CEO from their state.

Corporate sponsorships of mega-event host committees are now routinely structured into event planning by the U.S. government, Kruller says.

In agreeing to host the WTO meeting in the United States, the U.S. government obligated itself to pick up the incremental costs between holding the meeting in Geneva at the WTO's headquarters and locating the gathering away from the WTO's home, Kruller says. The U.S. government turns to the private sector to help defray resulting taxpayer expenses.

The private sector is set to kick in $9.2 million to defray the ministerial's costs.

When the news first broke of the Seattle Host Organization's request for contributions, a controversy ensued over Clarkson's letter's promise that high donors would be able to attend a conference at which "the private sector will meet senior U.S. trade officials to discuss priorities for the upcoming Round." That offer drew a rebuke from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the promised meeting was cancelled.

Corporate contributors are not being denied all goodies, however. Those donating at the Emerald Level, a $250,000 contribution, are entitled to send five guests to the Host Organization's opening and closing receptions and to an exclusive ministerial dinner. They can send four guests to private sector conferences the Host Organization is arranging. They are provided with briefing updates on the ministerial's progress, assistance with room reservations, media assistance and hospitality service. Their logos are permitted to appear on the Host Organization's web site and they are given signage and display of corporate materials. Companies at the Emerald Level are Allied Signal/Honeywell, Deloitte & Touche, Ford, GM, Microsoft, Nextel, Boeing, US West, plus the State of Washington.

Lesser benefits are conferred on those making less generous donations. The Diamond Level supporters ($150,000 to $249,999) are Activate.com, UPS and Weyerhaeuser. Platinum Level supporters ($75,000 to $149,999) are AT&T, Bank of America, Columbia Resource Group, Eddie Bauer, Expeditors International of WA, Hewlett Packard, Seagram's, Preston Gates & Ellis and The Production Network. Gold Level supporters ($25,000 to $74,999) include Caterpillar, IBM, Lucent and U.S. Bancorp.

In addition to an extra opportunity to rub shoulders with policymakers and high-ranking bureaucrats, what the corporate contributors to the Seattle event and similar events really get in exchange for their dollars is a sort of hyper-niche image advertising, with a group of hundreds of policymakers as their target.

In most instances, at least, the corrupting element is not a quid pro quo, but rather something more profound. Corporate sponsorships at the Seattle trade ministerial and other meetings are another indicia, another reinforcement, another reminder to the government officials of their obligations to Big Business. The sponsorships are a corruption of atmosphere and place.

Happily, the Seattle meeting will include a counterbalancing factor: tens of thousands of activists who plan to take to the streets to protest the WTO's record of riding roughshod over consumers, workers, the environment and any non-commercial values. Hopefully this mass citizens' mobilization will force the trade officials to confront their collective betrayal of the public trust.

----------------
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy

 

2. NEWS in Brief - top
 

BURMA

Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns sneaked into Thailand

Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns have illegally sneaked into Thailand from Burma to seek offerings because of food shortages. Their plight stems from the Burmese military regime's closure of the frontier October 2 in response to Thailand's handling of the takeover of Burma's embassy in Bangkok by armed student activists.

CHINA

China's Parliament Outaws Cults

China's parliament passed a law yesterday outlawing cults, but defiant members of the banned Falung Gong spiritual movement, its prime target, continued silent protests in Tiananmen Square.
The law "calls on courts, prosecutors, police and administrative judicial organs to be on full alert for cult activities and smash them rigorously in accordance with the law," the official Xinhua news agency said. The law provides the framework for an even harsher crackdown on Falun Gong, which was officially branded a cult on Thursday.

HONG KONG

CCA-URM meet for visioning process

The new executive secretary of CCA-URM, Rev. Yosef Widyatmadja, saw the need to start a URM visioning process for the 21st century through a meeting under the theme "From Crisis to Kairos: CCA-URM Beyond 2000". Representatives of some national URM groups from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, India, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, new staff and previous executive secretaries of CCA-URM were invited to assess the work of URM in the past and to draw a vision, new strategies and programs for URM.

The 3-day meeting reaffirmed URM's commitment towards working with the poor at the grassroot levels in dealing with the effects of globalisation. Some of the priority concerns of URM expressed in the meeting include ethnic and religious conflict in Asia, impact of foreign debt and strategies for building self-reliance, impact of globalization, information revolution and liberal trade, growing militarism, destruction of the environment.

THAILAND

Open Letter to Chuan Leekpai

Working groups for Women's Human Rights in Asia wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai of Thailand to to support the government's decision to send 1500 Thai soldiers to be affiliated with International forces in East Timor (INTERFET). The letter also expressed the Working Groups for Women's Human Rights called on the UN to:
 
*  adopt a 'Code of Conduct', for the UN international force in East Timor. Experiences from Cambodia suggest the increase in trafficking in women, sexual exploitation and violence against local women and children since the work of UN peacekeeping forces. In order to avoid the repetition of this kind of exploitation, we urge the adoption of the Code of
Conduct for the Interfet forces.

* allocate financial support for the immediate assistance, such as recovery program for the victim of violence in East Timor, especially to women and children, by sending trained staff from government and private organisations. The women organisations listed below are ready and willing to join the humanitarian projects.
* support the recommendation from UN Human Rights High Commissioner to establish an international inquiry into human rights violation in East Timor, especially violence against women and children to punish offenders in war crimes.

BANGLADESH

Central Committee of BAFLF meets

An extended meeting of the central committee of Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF) was held on 18th October, 99 where 135 representatives of 110 basic unions all over the
country side participated. The meeting unanimously decided to go on militant campaign from 15th
November, 99 to demand that the government respond to their 11-point demand that was submitted to the relevant authorities two years ago. The lengthy process under bureaucratic practice have caused caused serious financial problems and sufferings to the workers. The following programmes have been proposed.
1) 15th November - Demonstration and submission of Memorandum to the respective Distric Authority.
2) 16th November - Blockade the Farm
3) 17th November - Blockade the Roads and High ways (9 am to 12 noon)
4) 18 & 19th November - 48 hours strike all over the country.

 

3. RESOURCES Received - top
 


==========================
A. Indigenous Communities
==========================

Item 1.

Development, Equity and Justice: Adivasi Communities in India in the Era of Liberalization and Globalization, (1999), Report of a roundtable jointly organized by Minority Rights Group (MRG) and Centre for Social Knowledge and Action (Setu), Ahamedabad.

The report contains summaries of the papers presented at the roundtable and highlights of the discussion. The roundtable focused attention on the following issues.

1. Displacement of Adivasis from land and livelihood
2. Economic Marginalisation of Labor and Livelihood
3. Decline of Food Security
4. Deteriorating Social Ecology
5. Increasing Marginalisation of Women
6. Increasing Threats to Adivasi Culture and Traditions
7. Decrease in Access to Education and Health Care

(Copies of the report can be obtained from: Setu, 1, Punyashlok, Near Liberty Bus stop, Navarangpura, Ahmedabad, 380 009, India e.mail: setumail@wilnetonline.net   or MRG International, 379 Brixton Road Lodon SW9 7DE UK, e.mail: shelina.thawer@margmail.org  or DAGA


-------
Item 2.
New Book!

Aboriginal Heroes of the Resistance; From Pemulwuy to Mabo
Paul W. Newbury (editor)

Published by Action for World Development
8/8-24 Kippax Street, Surry Hills 2010
Australia

ISBN 0959375376
Price per copy: AUD$19.95, (Plus postage AUD$3.00)

Aboriginal Heroes of the Resistance. From Pemulwuy to Mabo edited by its principal contributor, Paul Newbury, commences with stories from around Australia of Aboriginal resistance to invasion and dispossession. The stories of Pemulwuy, Windradyne, Yagan, Janmdamurra, the Kalkdoons and Tasmanian Aboriginal heroes explode the myth of "peaceful settlement" of Australia.

The continuing resistance by Aboriginal people to domination and control is mapped out as Paul bears witness to the extraordinary campaigns by William Barak and the Coranderrk Community. The struggles are many. The Aboriginal sesquicentenary protesters, the Pindan Mob, the Gurindji, the Yirrakala, the Noonkanbah community and the setting up of the Tent Embassy, the Aboriginal Flag. Then the 1988 March for Justice, Freedom and Hope, the Royal commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Native Title claim of Eddie (Koiki) Mabo and the Meriam People and the struggles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to establish their own organizations.

The book concludes with respectful and moving tributes to four aboriginal heroes who words and deeds continue to inspire, challenge and bring richness to the non Aboriginal worlds of the books contributors.


-------
Item 3.

Das, Bhagwan. (1999). 'Dalit Discrimination and Empowerment', in Connect to the Flight Against Discrimination and Racism, Vol. 3, No.3, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism' Tokyo.

In this article Bhagwan Das argues that even institutionalized forms of discrimination can be eliminated. He calls for a united struggle.


===================================
B. World Bank, IMF and Global Debt
===================================

Item 1.

'Communication and Debt' Key issues in Global Communication, World Association for Christian Communication, 1999.

At first glance there does not seem to be anything in common between debt and Communication. The authors of this article argue that communication has a place in deciphering 'Third World Debt, Structural Adjustment Policies, the Balance of Payment Crisis, and their accompanying perpetuators consisting of the IMF, World Band and World Trade Organization.

(For a copy of the article you my get in touch with World Association for Christian Communication 357 Kennington Lane, London, SE11 5QY, UK web: www.wacc.org.uk  or DAGA)



------
Item 2.
Discussion Paper

Bello, Walden. Still No Protection Against Capital Speculators

A critical discussion on what some people call 'real economic recovery' in Asia but regarded by others as the return of the 'Electronic Herd', as described by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Bello examines the irresponsible never-ending move by Washington to push for opening up trade and financial markets with little challenge from Europe and Japan. With no protection the future looks gloomy.

(Article was received at DAGA from Third World Network Features. Copies may be had from Third World Network Secretariat, 228 Macalister Road, 10400 Penang, Malaysia. For more details see their homepage at http://www.twnside.org.sg   or from DAGA.



-------
Item 3.

Woodward, David. (1999). Fatal Flaws in the IMF's Prescription, CIIR News Sept.

Recent world-wide financial crises have made it clear that the global financial system is unable to deal with the effects on national economies of globalization. In this new CIIR briefing, the author proposes a radical new solution that would enable currencies to be automatically and immediately defended.

(A copy may be obtained from CIIR on request by e.mail ciir@ciir.org   or from DAGA.)


==========
C. Burma
==========

BURMA: TIME FOR U.N. ENGAGEMENT
(A REPORT TO 54TH SESSION OF UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY)
by Dr U Ne Oo Adelaide, Australia

I. Burma in the Year 1998-1999
II. Intransigence of Military Leadership
    - Forced Labour
    - Refugees and Internally displaced people
    - Repression of Political Dissidents
    - Questions on the Transition to Democracy
III. The Burmese military leaders' complicity in the drug-trade
IV. Assessment on New Initiatives
    - United Nations `Dollar-for-Democracy' deals
    - Creation of a National Human Rights Commission
V. Recommendations
    - Recommendation to the 54th Session of UNGA
    - Recommendation to UN Security Council

(A copy may be obtained on request from DAGA.)



=============
D. North KOREA
=============
Essay by Kim Myong Chol
1. Introduction
2. Difference between 1994 and 1999
3. Diplomatic Nod Is American Obligation under Geneva Accord
4. DPRK Is De-facto ICBM Power; Nonnegotiable Missile Program
5. Dismantling the Cold War Structure in Korea

This is the fifth in a series of articles on the recent developments in US-DPRK relations. This essay was contributed by Kim Myong Chol, Executive Director, the Center for Korean-American Peace, Tokyo, and the former editor of People's Korea.

Kim argues that for the US to truly improve relations with the DPRK, it should abandon its long-standing support for the ROK. He maintains that the only alternatives to full normalization of relations with the DPRK are war or a nuclear arms race.

(A copy may be obtained on request from DAGA.)

4. Urgent APPEAL - top

 

 

 

 

5. ANNOUNCEMENT - top
 

Conference Announcement

Theme: Freedom from Debt Campaign (training Workshop)
Dates: November 29- December 9 1999
Venue: Thailand
Organized by: CCA URM
eMail: cca_urm@pacific.net.hk

The training workshop is organized to support and strengthen action groups in Asia working on the issue of odious debt.

 


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