Friday, April 28, 2006

Protests against neoliberal globalisation in Mexico

Thousands of Mexicans walked in protest in the streets of Mexico City on Friday April 28th. The nation-wide protests in which about 4 million Mexicans were expected to lay down work and go on the street have been provoked by the killing of two striking steel workers who were occupying the Sicartsa steel plant in the port of Lazaro Cardenas. The workers demand the right to form independent unions and elect their own union leaders.

Protesters waved banners against "neoliberal" free market economic policies they blame for unchecked corporate-sponsored globalisation, and also carried signs urging the US Congress to come up with "a fair deal for the undocumented workers in the United States". There is a growing awareness among common people in Mexico that the plight of immigrant Mexican workers in the US and the growing economic problems in the country are connected. The bad economy drives people out to look for work north of the border.

This is not the way the US and the financial institutions in Washington see problems. The neo-con Paul Wolfowitz, who was one of the architects behind the Iraq war, and who is now president of the World Bank, visited Mexico from April 24 to 27. To Mexican papers and in speeches in the country he said that the problems of migration, violence and lack of employment in Mexico was due to a lack of investment and competitivity. The so-called Washington concensus, a recipe for neoliberal economic policies in poor countries, should not be blamed. In stead Wolfowitz stressed the problem of starting a new business. This takes much too long, he said, there's too much red tape.

Mexico has actually received lots of investments from its giant neighbour to the north. It is, however, money invested in branches of American companies that often compete the locals out of business. Mexico is being turned into a poor industrial suburb of America, a place for low-technology, low-wage production. For instance Wal-Mart is making a grand entrance into the country, and with it come massive lay-offs in small Mexican businesses that cannot compete with the retailing giant. The free-market NAFTA agreement has led to imports of cheap American corn and other farm products that price Mexican peasants out of the market. After 12 years of NAFTA real wages of Mexican workers have fallen.

There's an increasing awareness among Mexicans of the interconnectedness of the problems, and it's high time they protest against it.

New Danish brand: The Multicultural Mermaid

(From H.C. Andersen and the twee Little Mermaid to the "Explosive, multicultural Mermaid)

Denmark has got problems with its brand, the Little Mermaid. It's considered too tootsie-cute, - not least after the cartoons crisis, where Denmark showed its true face to the world as the "freedom-fries" eating pro Americans fighting a postcolonial war in Iraq.

So now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to do something about the Danish "brand", so Denmark will improve its image. The ultimate purpose is to increase exports of goods and services. Economic growth is the ultimate purpose of human and social life.

When you need to improve a nation's image, or brand, what do you do? Do you try to make the Danes better human beings? Instill them with other values in life? Improve democratic culture and decision making. Or perhaps that, after all, the Danes are Christians, even though secularised ones. And perhaps one could improve Christian ethics: Help thy neighbour? - No, of course not, that would be the most foolish thing you could do. No, what you do is, you contact an advertising or public relations bureau. Because selling a country must be very much like selling plastic toys, hamburgers or sausages.

So the Foreign office contacted Advice, which is a large Danish PR company, even though the name sounds a bit Anglo-Saxon. After all, we live in these highly globalising times.

- And what did Advice come up with.

The PR bureau found out that after the Muhammed crisis, half-timbered houses, tin solidiers, the Little Mermaid, the police officer helping the little ducklings across the street, and happy children in kindergartens no longer ought to be the way to sell Denmark, because it conveys an image of an inward-looking, smug nation, and that is not the way in a situation where there is some doubt about whether the Danes know how to be "glocalised" world citizens, cosmopolitan democrats with "respect for other cultures", - or whatever euphemism one will put on them.

Therefore, the new catchwords, according to Advice, should be "innovative", "environmental consciousness" and "social responsible", a country with a "discussion culture", where the serious issues of this world are taken seriously. - Out with the Little Mermaid, - in with the wind mill and Lars von Trier. Denmark is not a nation of cute Tootsies, it is a nation of cosmopolitan innovators.

So much for economic utility. How about the human beings that'll evolve after this re-modelling process. Perhaps they'll not even be post modern glocal citizens, but rather Mr. and Mrs. Anybody.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

CIA flights scandal peaks

Claudia Fava, spokesman of The temporary committee of the European Parliament investigating allegations that CIA illegally transported prisoners around Europe , informed the public of preliminary results on a press conference yesterday.

According to the Committee's investigation, Governments of EU countries have cooperated actively with the CIA in kidnapping European citizens and flown them to torture in third countries. Furthermore, a number of EU countries have consciously closed their eyes to the illegal CIA operations on their territories, even though these activities are in blatant contradiction to the European human rights convention.

The committee published a preliminary report on April 26th on the committee's findings. The information is derived from interviews with some of the abductees. Interrogations have taken place in corrupt authoritarian countries in the Middle East and Central Asia.

According to the report, CIA has made hundreds of such flights with illegally arrested persons since the "war on terror" started in 2001. None of the national security authorities have tried to get the CIA to clarify what the purpose of the abductions and the flights are.

It is a temporary report. The final report is pending disagreement in the committee. Some of the members of the committee do not found it proved that governments participated actively with the CIA.

The terms "globalisation" and "a world without borders", the "global village", etc, seem to have taken on new meanings with these CIA activities. The world seems to be equipped with one authority that can move across borders and make arrests with impunity in weak European states. It is characteristic that the work with clearing up various EU members' responsibility in the matter has got stuck. The EU's anti-terror boss, Gijs de Vries, has claimed that there is a lack of of evidence "beyond reasonable doubt". Mary McCarthy from the CIA has been dismissed for leaking information to Washington Post journalist Dana Priest about CIA's secret prisons in Eastern Europe. This is further proof that the information in the Post articles is correct.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

NATO: More Danish casualties in Afghanistan

According to Reuters and Ritzau the British and Danish forces in Afghanistan are going to be sent on a more dangerous mission when they are sent to Helmand and Kandahar provinces in Southern Afghanistan this summer.

"There'll be more casualties, but NATO will be determined", NATO general secretary Jaap De Hoop Scheffer says.

There is surprisingly little public debate in Denmark and Britain on this escalating war in central Asia.

It originally started in 2001, when NATO war planes attacked Al Queda and Taleban hide-outs and training camps in the country. The excuse for involving NATO was the so called Musketeers' oath, article 5 in the North Atlantic treaty, stating that an aggression of war against one member of NATO should be considered an attack on all members of the alliance. The USA succeeded in persuading NATO partners to view the World Trade Centre attack as a war-like attack implicating NATO. It was, naturally, far from that. The WTC attack was a terrorist attack, which should have been dealt with through anti-terror measures.

Since then they have been involved in a still more ferocious war involving still heavier casualties, also of civilian Afghanis. The official goal - if such has ever been formulated clearly - is nation and democracy building in Afghanistan. A puppet government under the protection of American forces has been set up in Kabul. Even though the Taleban should have been defeated it has not prevented the implementation of sharia law in large parts of the country.

There is precious little discussion in the Danish parliament and press of what the real purpose of the Danish military presence in Afghanistan really is. It's good of Scheffer to mention the risk of a rising number of casualties. But has that provoked more debate? It doesn't seem to have. Maybe the debate only starts when the soldiers start coming home in coffins.

The Americans have persuaded the Europeans to take on more responsibility so they can use the troops freed for other purposes, for instance Iraq - and perhaps Iran. That the Americans want to continue the operations of nation building is perhaps understandable in view of their "geo strategic interests", and the need of keeping the Americans driving in gas guzzling off-roaders. What are the Europeans' interest? Why don't they even have a discussion about it?

Norway can do it: A more independent foreign policy is an option for a small country

Some Danish papers have been running a story on how the Norwegian foreign ministry has set-up a meeting with Hamas diplomats, and the Americans have pressured them to give it up. Ritzau news agency wrote two days ago:

The USA does not like Norway having contacts with the Palestinian Hamas government. The Norwegian minister of foreign affairs Jonas Gahr Støre, confirmed yesterday that the US has tried to get Norway to cancel a scheduled meeting between officials of the Norwegian Ministry of foreign Affairs and two representatives of Hamas. Støre confirms that the meeting will be held in May as scheduled.

The Norwegian foreign ministry has not cancelled the meeting. Norwegian vikings seem to have more backbone than the Danish ones.
It is important that the West, in this case particularly the EU, show more conciliatory attitudes to the "reformist" movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The non-acceptance of Hamas on the part of for instance Jordan and other conservative Arab states is probably due to the fact that they fear that democratically elected Hamas may turn out to be a success, thus threatening their own authoritarian governments when populations see that democrtic elections are possible. That's why it's so important to continue supporting Hamas.

Yesterday Mahmoud Abbas, PA president, met with thre Norwegian cabinet ministers. They promised to continue economic support for to Palestinians. During a lecture at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Abbas suggested holding an international peace conference between the Palestinians and Israel, and with participation of the Mid East quartet (UN, EU, US, Russia). The negotiations should be based on UN resolutions and previous negotiations between the parties.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Who's running Danish foreign policy?

Don't hesitate to answer the question above. Just look at the picture. And it's a lot more than a satirical cartoon.

Two days after the US started "Shock and Awe" in Iraq on March 19th the Danish parliament voted for a Danish joining up - or should we say ganging up - with the "Coalition of the Willing" in the unlegitimate war in Iraq.

On April 21st the Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen's office could proudly send out the following message to the press:

President Bush invites the prime minister to Camp David.
The American president George W. Bush has invited prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to a visit in Camp David on June 9th 2006. On that ccasion the Prime Minister states:
"Denmark and the USA are close friends and allies in the efforts to promote peace, freedom and prosperity in the world. We appreciated the president's and the first Lady's visit here in July 2005, and the visit will be a good opportunity to confirm our close relationship. I look forward with pleasure to a continuation of our talks on subjects of common interest".

The press announcement mentions Iraq-Afghanistan where Denmark helps the US to secure the strategic interests of the West in building up a secure provision base for oil. NATO and the UN are also mentioned. Denmark has become chairman of the Security Council's terrorism committee. The US is generous to its friends.

The Generosity is also economical. Leading Danish exporters and TNC's have got good contracts with the Americans.

There is an established tradition for this kind of helpfulness. Vice-president Dick Cheney made $44m during his time as head of Halliburton, a company that has grabbed lucrative contracts in Iraq and has been accused of overcharging the Pentagon, which helps to increase corporate profits for the companies involved. He also appointed friends from the energy industry to his energy task force. The Iraq war and the coming military expedition or war in Iran has much been his and the Washington neo-cons' work. It's time for EU leaders to say "no" - even though this may antagonise the Americans; and they may start giving bad names to some of our most cherished products, like calling French fries "freedom fries". You can imagine what would happen, if the Danes changed course. Would the Little Mermaid be called the "old slut", A. P. Moller Maersk a "rotten Viking boat", the Lego bricks "PVC food for kids"!! There are ample opportunities for a nick-naming game.

When you look at the picture and contemplate the fact that this man is effectively running Danish foreign policy through his long hand on the steering wheel, you feel some kind of a chill. Before Anders Fogh Rasmussen came to power in Copenhagen in 2001, Danish foreign policy was much more directed towards humanitarian goals: Leader in development assistance, help to Palestinians in Gaza, etc.

How to share that oil?

(Oil price in 2004 prices. $ a barril. 1946-2006. Source: BP)

The Baltimore Sun writes today: "President Bush is reportedly annoyed that the Chinese are using so much petroleum. With the world's fastest-growing economy, China's oil consumption has soared to at least 6.5 million barrels a day, and its market for automobiles is growing. If the boom continues, the Chinese may eventually be somewhere in the neighborhood of the United States, which burns up about 20 million barrels a day.
Who do those Chinese think they are - Americans?"

The Bush adminstration wouldn't give the Chinese the honour of a formal state visit, when Hu visited America. He could start the Journey on the West Coast visiting a private businessman. That does not bode well for the coming relationship between these two - in future - perhaps equally dominating superpowers.

How are these two going to share the oil in the world? - If there's any oil to share? Anywhere, there's not going to be enough of it - and who will be most favoured in the coming distribution of it. This is probably what the coming global conflicts will be about.

The world production and consumption of oil is about a little under 100 million barrils (169 litres) a day. America consumes some 20 million. It imports more than half of this amount. The Chines consume a third of that. If the Chinese and the Indians end up consuming as much oil as the Americans, the world will need to produce and consume 300 million barrils a day. When the "little" extra Chinese consumption we've seen so far has been able to drive prices up, as can be seen on the curve of prices above, what effect will 300 million barrils a day have? - What effect will it have on the environment? What level will the water in the oceans rise to, when global warming heats up the Earth? How will the geostrategic situation evolve?

We are getting an "innocent" impression of it, when we see the push for regime shift and "Freedom and democracy" (designer democracy imposed from without) these days in Iraq and Afghanistan, - and soon also Iran. The West seems to be prepared for any line of action when it comes to protecting its geostrategic interests in the battle for resources.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Neoliberal model and the European social model compared

(Suddenly during Katrina crisis, they sprang to view, all the poor coloured people who had not previously got much exposition in the media. Left behind by the "American dream", and below the poverty line, they were so poor that they didn't even own a car to get away in. The middle and upper classes had left long ago)

Very often the European social model and the American neoliberal model are compared. And it is generally assumed that the USA has a more advanced economy with a higher GDP pr capita and higher living standards. That is a questionable assumption.

According to the worldbank's latest figures for 2004, the US GDP is 11667 bn $. As a European example, the Danish one is 243 bn $. Divided by population, 295 and 5,4 mio. respectively, you get a GDP per capita of US: 39.549, Denmark: 45.000. The Danish lead has increased since 2004 due to currency rate changes. A few European countries have higher GDP per capita than Denmark.

America is living above its means. Due to artificially low interest rates house prices have shot up and provided many American households with equity that makes it possible for them to finance overconsumption through loans. The effects can be seen in the balance of payments position (in the red at 6 per cent of GNP or some 7-800 bn $).

If one wants to compare the US with Denmark, one should look at incomes, - and income distribution. There’s no doubt that the US has a serious poverty problem. For in stance, one could read in the Boston Globe after the Katrina disaster:

“When ordering people to leave New Orleans while Hurricane Katrina lurked in the Gulf of Mexico, state and federal authorities apparently failed to consider that 27.9 percent of the city was below the poverty line and therefore unlikely to have transportation” (The Boston Globe). The official poverty line is about 20.000 $ for a four-member household.

Quote: “On August 30, 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau published its poverty report for 2004. The official poverty rate rose from 12.5% in 2003 to 12.7% in 2004. This puts the number of people officially living in poverty in the U.S. at 37 million. For a family of 4 persons the threshold was listed as $19,307” (Census Bureau). That is considerably lower than a corresponding Danish family.

In the US a lot of workers make no more than the minimum pay, which at the national level is very low, much lower than in Denmark. Quote: “Workers who are covered by the FLSA are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $5.15 an hour” (US, Department of Labor). In France the minimum wage (Le SMIC) was about 8 euros an hour in the beginning of 2006, or considerably more than the American minimum wage. In Denmark the minimum wage is not fixed by law, but as the workers are highly unionised by collective agreement. It was about 14 $ an hour at the end of 2005. Taking income taxes into consideration, it is only slightly higher than the French level.

In the other end of the income scale incomes are very high. Quote: “The average CEO of a Standard & Poor's 500 company made $11.75 million in total compensation in 2005” ( Income disparities have been widening as a consequence of the neoliberal economic order.

Of course, for a comparison, what is interesting is to look at average pay, and what you can get for that pay. According to most surveys, the average American wage earner/salaried employee made about 17 $ an hour in the beginning of 2005. Here it is noteworthy that taking inflation into consideration, average pay has barely budged since the beginning of the 1980s. The neoliberal model has led to sharpening competition in the labour market and outsourcing to low-income countries. And average wage earners are the losers in the income race compared to high income earners. And how much – or rather – how little do they get for the average income? Quote: “Meanwhile, those who secure the middle-class jobs of the 21st century will have to make $17 an hour stretch further than ever as they pay more for health care or risk doing without insurance and assume much or all of the burden for their retirement. Meanwhile, those who secure the middle-class jobs of the 21st century will have to make $17 an hour stretch further than ever as they pay more for health care or risk doing without insurance and assume much or all of the burden for their retirement” (Washington Post 31st of December 2004).

There’s a lot of talk about taxes in the European social model being so high. That is correct when you look at taxation on high income earners. When you look at middle or low income earners, the Nordic welfare model, for instance Denmark is not the area with the highest tax burden. Countries like Belgium, Germany in France are close to leading the race. In a publication from the Danish ministry of Taxation, “Skattetryk en international Sammenligning, 2005, it is shown how several countries tax low and middle income earners more than Denmark does. The US is lower in this comparison than most EU countries, but for instance taking families with or without dependent children, the US is not so much lower that it compensates for the lower earnings plus the higher living costs to health care and other insurances.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The workers' own fault!

According to BBCMundo, The Mexican president Vicente Fox' spokesman Aguilar has said at a press conference that the shooting of the Mexican steel workers at Sicartsa, in the michoacan port of Lázaro Cárdenas on Thursday April 20th "would have been avoided if the striking workers had obeyed the law".

The removal of the workers was requested by the owner of the steel plant, the company Villacero.

Sicartsa was a Mexican state company. In the early 1980s, the Mexican government decided to build a new steel mill -- Sicartsa II -- next to its existing Sicartsa facility located in Lazaro Cardenas.
They invested $2.2 billion in a state-of-the-art facility. Petro-dollar loans and World Bank loans were cheap after the oil price rises in 1980-81. It is another one of the sad stories of the privatization of Mexican state companies. State companies are sold off to private interests at very low prices, i.e. nearly given away. In this case Mexico was hit hard by the crisis in 1982. It had to devalue the peso, and the previously cheap loans were hard to pay back.

Sicartsa has been part of the Mittal Steel Group, owned by Lakshmi Mittal, the third richest man in the world. Sicartsa was aquired in 1992 in the midst of a crisis in the steel sector. That's why Mittal Steel got it very cheaply, only for 220 million $, some of the payment in Mexican state bonds. It later sold off part of the company at a price of 135 million $. Falling rates on the state bonds made these easily disbursable.

CNDH, the Mexican Mission on Human Rights is investigating the events at the steel plant. The NGO has sent several human rights activists to the place who are making interviews of people involved or who have been witnesses to the events.

The present sexenio (six-year election period) of the conservative Vicente Fox has been a long period of disappointment for the Mexican working class and indigenous groups in the country. Fox, a former CEO of Coca Cola in Mexico, came to power in 2000 on promises of change from the long, long rule of PRI, the revolutionary Institutional Party that had petrified into a machine for the protection of established interests. Fox has, however, failed on most promises. Mexican democracy, which can be described as a set-up for the protection of elite interests, by the elite and for the elite, has not been reformed.

The economy is stagnant. Millions of corn producing peasants have been forced by the NAFTA free trade agreement to leave the land because of heavy competition from subsidized giant North American farms. They have been forced to accept the use of GMO seeds and crops. Large parts of the country have been lain to waste from over exploitation by American companies. And when the Mexicans try to leave the country for better life conditions elsewhere they are met with Minutemen across the borders and the shoot first, ask later philosophy of this motley crowd. Octavio Ruiz writes in the Minneapolis Star April 22nd:

The 12 million Mexicans working in the United States who will be criminalized by proposed immigration legislation are the same people who were promised the possibilities of a decent living with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
It is ironic that House conservatives who want to execute these anti-immigrant policies are the same ones who signed the trade agreement, which only has brought poverty to the Mexican people for the last decade and years to come. No level of heightened criminalization will reduce the flow of immigrants to the United States when we endorse trade agreements that give people little choice but to leave the countries of their birth.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of immigrants to the United States from Mexico actually decreased by 18 percent in the three years before NAFTA's implementation. But in the first eight years of NAFTA, the annual number of immigrants from Mexico increased by more than 61 percent.
The cause was twofold. First, NAFTA's agricultural provisions resulted in a flood of subsidized corn being imported into Mexico from the United States. The effect in rural areas was that some 1.5 million rural families -- and some researchers claim twice that -- were driven out of business. Their only options were to move to the cities and seek whatever work, at whatever wage, could be found, or to cross the border. A very large number chose the second option.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Across the love bridge to the promised land

(Across the bridge, my Dear, you and I will find the promised land of our mutual love)

One of the readers of my blog, Elizabeth from New York, wrote and asked me to evaluate something, her father had written on her blog about Danish racism.
This is quite interesting as an example of how foreigners view Denmark and Danish "racism", particularly in view of the enormous transformations Danish society is going through at the moment. The present situation can be characterised as one in which Denmark is opening up to globalisation in the economic field and closing to it in the field of human relations. That leads to a strangely backward and contradictory way of doing things and viewing the world. Large swathes of the Danish population even get at odds with progressive business interests that want an open and tolerant attitude to immigration, as this is a precondition for the effective development of the economy in the supposedly "open" global market.

Especially this part of Elisabeth's (father's) piece on Danish "racism" is quite to the point:

"Danes are odd in that they are well educated and great travelers, and have a splendid record on foreign aid, but at the same time seem to have very little empathy for people from different cultures. They like their homogeneous tight little island and feel uncomfortable if too many swarthy people are walking the streets with them. Much of the problem stems from their 1973 decision to alleviate a shortage of production workers by opening the gates of immigration to a lot of poor folk from the south and east -- mostly Yugoslavs, Pakistanis, and Turks, as it turned out."

- Even though, it's a bit exaggerated. Actually, only some 60.000 foreign workers came as part of the gueest worker programme, most of them Turks.
They are not the big integration problem, however. That is the asylum seekers and refugees entering the country in the 1990's. Particularly the 200.000 muslims, and especially the approximately ten per cent strong islamic believers among them. Many Danes see them as quite alien to the secular Danish culture.Denmark is not, like America, a "melting pot" of immigrant groups where people come and often live in separate groups next to each other. The Americans have their Chinatowns, their Little Italys, etc. Denmark, on the other hand, is a quite homogeneous country, - or has been a quite homogeneous country. Some years ago a certain neighbourhood in Copenhagen got populated mostly with Turks, and it was called "Little Turkey". A lot of Danes found it highly inappropriate that "foreigners" should gather in the same place. Demands were put to politicians that "the ghettos be dissolved". "Ghettos" are considered dangerous fractional activity.
The "foreigners" only constitute some 6-7 per cent of the Danish population. And those of them that are found hard to integrate only some 3 per cent. But the "problem" gets an unproportionately large media coverage. And the problem has transformed traditional Danish politics in fundamental ways. Previously the Social Democrats, who consider themselves the builders of the Danish welfare state, had a kind of birth right to government formation. Large party to the centre/centre-left in the political spectrum. That position they have no longer. The Danish electorate no longer feel they can handle the immigrant problems, and they have been voted out of power.

Danes get very uncomfortable at being called racist. They have traditionally considered themselves one of the most tolerant, humanitarian and generous (for instance in development aid) peoples of the world. It's difficult to come to terms with the new image of the "ugly Dane" participating in the Iraq war, America's staunchest ally in Northern Europe, tough on immigration etc. And a lot of them are yearning back to the good old times when they were world leaders in progressive policies, like calling for boycott of South African goods under apartheid in that country, giving more than one per cent of GDP in development assistance and supporting freedom fighters in Africa and Latin America. Many Danes are yearning back to that time. Usually that part of the brain that is dealing with the question of national identity is one of the most complex and contradictory: I want to be one thing, but I also want to be that other thing. What is going on there is opposed to the logic of normal language.

For some reason the Swedes seem to be better at integrating foreign people. The Bridge to Malmoe across the Sound is called the "Love Bridge". More than a thousand couples of mixed nationalities have moved to Malmoe, even though they continue working in Copenhagen. They flee the tight immigration laws in Denmark that make it difficult to be united with a bride or groom of another nationality, if that person is under 24. One of the official excuses for the policy is that it prevents arranged marriages, and hence is necessary to protect the girls. But it has the effect of stopping many inter-national couples, in which one is a Danish citizen, from moving together and getting a common home in Denmark:

A group of Danes recently gathered on Malmo's main square to protest, saying they felt hurt and betrayed. They also expressed deep gratitude to their Swedish neighbours. “I'm very grateful to Sweden. I know they had to take me but they were extremely welcoming,” says Ms Reves, who now lives in a Malmo apartment with her Egyptian husband. As many as 1,000 couples have now crossed the love bridge. The Swedish migration board reckons that Danes are arriving at a rate of 60 couples a month. The exodus could one day even exceed the country's previous migration record, set in 1943, when more than 7,000 Danish Jews were spirited across the Oresund to escape the Nazis. Then, as now, Danes found welcome refuge in Sweden. (The Economist)

Neoliberal globalisation and intensified class struggle in Mexican society

(Wawing the red-black flag in a hunger strike in 2004. Mexican workers protest against petrified state dominated trade union. La Jornada)

An attempt to remove striking Mexican steel workers from a steel plant belonging to steel maker Sicartsa in the Mexican state of Michoacan led to a confrontation between the workers and federal police and security forces. According to BBCMundo, April 21st, 3 workers lost their lives and 40 were injured, some of them badly wounded when the federal police shot at the striking workers.

The workers have been blocking the entrance to the plant belonging to steel producer Sicartsa since April 2nd 2006 in a protest against the federal minister of labour removing the leader of their trade union Napoleón Gómez from his post. Mr Gomez was accused of corruption, allegations he has denied. More than 600 federal police took part in the operation. Opposing them on the other side were 2800 steel workers.

The Mexican steel workers have become increasingly restive not only after the dismissal of their union leader but also after the accident in February when 65 mine workers lost their lives in a mining accident. The Mexican steel company is an integrated concern producing steel from iron ore produced by the same or affiliated companies.

The workers are protesting against the “official” status of their trade union. The workers had their section 271 of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers in the Mexican Republic registered in 1973 in the department of Labour in the federal government. Before that they had in vain tried to get recognition of an independent trade union.

Since the forming of their branch of the official national union the workers have been making repeated protests against “officialdom”. In several actions in the 1970’s they made reiterated spontaneous actions where they were brandishing the red-black flags in support of their demands. The spontaneous and democratic expressions of demands for autonomy were defeated, not least during the economic crisis of 1982 and onwards, when the steel sector and large industrialised sectors of the Mexican economy were restructured, and thousands of workers were dismissed. The democratic centres of protest and demands for workers autonomy were defeated.

In 1990 Sicartsa was privatised and merged with the Villacero group and 2-3000 workers, among them some of the most active, were dismissed. The section 271 was weakened. The leadership and executive committee were increasingly recruited from far away, and the connections between leadership and base weakened. The company and the mining and steel sector was increasingly exposed to the neoliberal restructuring agenda. Wages and piece work rates were reduced and flexible labour contracts instituted.

On the second of April 2006 the workers went on strike because of government and company actions to force Elias Morales into position as leader of the union. Some two weeks later the strike was deemed illegal by Mexican labour authorities.

The events are very incriminating for the Mexican president Vicente Fox and his conservative government. The violent suppression of workers’ demands and the zero tolerance of independent unionisation is perhaps typical of philosophy of neo-liberal adaptation to globalisation. But it is having detrimental effects on the already precarious position of the Mexican working class. The minimum wage is some 4-5 dollars a day, and it has been difficult for the millions of employed in the informal sector to get even that amount of money which for years has had difficulty keeping pace with inflation. Mexico is suffering from low growth. Many sectors of the Mexican economy are having difficulties competing with American and Canadian products and services inside the NAFTA free trade arrangement. The Fox presidency has been characterised by increasing difficulties adapting the Mexican economy to demands for flexibility and competitiveness. The Mexicans have been losing market shares to China in the North American market.

It’s high time workers are protesting, but too bad that they’re met with that kind of response.

Sources: BBCMundo and La Jornada

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sino - American relations - Enjoy while they're still comparatively cosy

(Still cash enough for a few rifles!)
The Washington Post writes on Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the US:

"While they recognize they are a growing international force, I believe the Chinese of today are pretty absorbed with their domestic development," Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick, the administration's point person on China, told a small group of reporters last week. "Will the China of 10 to 15 years from now have a similar view? I can't say."
China's foreign policy has traditionally stressed maintaining the status quo. But in recent months, administration officials have begun to emphasize to the Chinese that with greater economic power comes greater international responsibility. Zoellick, in a major speech last September, said that though the United States had once tried to rein in the Soviet Union, it now wanted to draw out China and integrate it into the international system.
China, Zoellick said, should become a "responsible stakeholder," willing to tackle broad international concerns as any great power would.

What is actually meant by this American sweet-talking to the Chinese? "Responsible stakeholder" means that the US wants China to back up the US in its efforts to counteract Iranian og Korean nuclear programmes, and support the US in other arenas as well. With these great expectations to the Chinese, one may wonder why Hu is not given the full, toplevel reception in the US? It is quite unusual that a state visit at this level starts in the Western US, and the Chinese president opens the ball by having a meeting with a private businessman (Bill Gates). Hu has perpaps more to talk with Bill about than with George: Let's get down to business, for Christ's sake!! Anyway, it is unusual and a protocol of international diplomacy that is tantamount to giving the Chinese president a snub. He is not even invited to a full galla dinner at the White House, but only to a lunch.

What is going on here? It is obvious that Bush wants to show some muscle to the American public: Look at me leading the Chinese leader down the garden path to the exit behind the Rose Garden! And then the visit was even postponed. It was supposed to have taken place in September, but the Americans used the Katrina disaster as an excuse for postponing it.

The international situation is too serious for this kind of playing around the Bush (Ha, Ha!!). If I were Hu, I think I would have stayed at home. But this is not the Chinese line. The chinese are experts at quiet, efficient and pragmatic diplomacy. And they share a lot of common interests with the Americans that they'll not risk for bravouda diplomacy, primarily the economic interests: The 200 bn. $ surplus in the foreign trade with the US. The Chinese are using the US trade as an engine for economic development and expansion/modernization of the Chinese economy.

The Americans are playing the role of the generous Uncle Sam with the unlimited purse strings that the printing of the common international currency, the dollar, gives. The country is the surprisingly liquid central banker of the world with their deficit financing of the costly war in Iraq, and their deficit financing of much else. Jubii!!, The world is awash in cash. May the party last for a very long time!! It's good for the balance of payments of the prudent nations and for all the home owners in Western countries, who are sitting on piles of cash when equities in their houses increase!

The Chinese know how to exploit the American profligacy, - and the continued acceptance of the dollar as international currency (for how long it lasts!?) to their own advantage. For the time being they finance the American trade deficit by buying American treasury bonds and other assets that the Americans are not too fond of. Even though they were not allowed to take over the American oil company Unocal in July 2005 (so much for unlimited economic freedom!), the Chinese pc maker Lenovo could buy the IBM pc division - after pc's had become cheap standard mass industrialised goods that weren't worth much anyway. But never mind, the Chinese know how to appreciate industrial production niches and turn them around to their own needs and advantages.

The Chinese won't show their muscle as a coming superpower until they're strong enough. And they're are afraid of being pressured by the Americans in the Taiwan issue. Furthermore, Hu Jintao may want to strengthen his position in the Chinese Communist party leadership by being a statesman on the international scene, shaking hands with the dangerous Texan cowboy in Washington. But it may backfire, when the comrades in Beijing see how he has actually been snubbed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Eternal damnation of democratically elected movement?

(An EU leader who spotted a terrorist)

Come on, Christian soldiers and EU leaders! Don't be so damn unchristian!! You all know there's something called Christian ethics. It's meant to be used, not to be concealed in dark churches, where Christian soldiers do not wander!!

Movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are not necessarily static. They see a need to adapt to the modern world in order to survive in it and gain influence in it. It's up to the West to understand this and draw the relevant conclusions, for instance: Should Hamas get financial support or not? - And say "yes" to the question. Some years ago there would have been no doubt in the minds of democratic politicians in the European Union: It is only natural to support people fighting for their national identity and freedom from the colonial legacy.
By relegating the organisation to something akin to eternal damnation, when it is left to stay on the bureaucratically administered terrror list, the West, and in particular the European Union, is ruining the prospects of implementing change in the democratically elected organisation's policy. When do EU leaders become responsible? When do they see that it's not all the shots that should be called - nor fired - by Big Daddy's playboy in the White House?

There was an article in the Economist February 2nd that dealt with this flux in these islamic - and politico-social movements:

"Now that Hamas faces the reality of power and day-to-day challenges of administration, it must decide how much more of a “western game” it is prepared to play. It has already watered down its Islamist fervour by entering policy debates with its secularist, Palestinian-nationalist rivals in the Fatah movement, and may soon be deliberating the pros and cons of a tactical compromise with Israel.And part of that dilemma will be ideological. Hamas leaders will need a theological licence from the Brotherhood's spiritual guides for the political choices they make. At the same time, the world Brotherhood has a huge stake in the success of a Hamas government which could be a model of political Islam.
For exactly that reason, predicts Ziad Abu Amr, a Palestinian legislator close to Hamas, the Brotherhood is likely in the end to provide “doctrinal cover and political support” for whatever decisions Hamas takes. But if those decisions include compromise with Israel, the doctrinal bit will not be easy. Despite its rejection of violence in most circumstances, the Brotherhood's bottom lines have included deep ideological opposition to Israel's existence and a demand for Muslim control over Jerusalem.Given that theology will play a role, at least, in these deliberations, it is worth studying the ways in which different Islamist movements converge and differ. Al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood, for example, are both loosely articulated international movements which claim to operate, often through proxies and ideological soul-mates, in scores of countries. Both have emerged out of the conservative wing of Sunni Islam, which believes in sticking to the letter of the earliest texts as the main form of spiritual guidance.In other ways, al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood are entirely different phenomena. Al-Qaeda is first and foremost a movement which sponsors and co-ordinates acts of violence, not just in the Islamic heartland but anywhere it can hit back at the western enemy. In the ideology of the Brotherhood, including Hamas, resort to violence is justified only in the exceptional circumstances of “self-defence” and “occupation”—conditions which are deemed to exist in Israel, the West Bank and American-occupied Iraq".

This is a clever analysis made in conservative magazine The Economist. Policy makers in the West should listen to such assessments of the social movements in the Mid East.
So far democratically elected Hamas has only been rejected by the West. The public in Western countries is exposed to unbalanced media reports on the situation in the Middle East. By not giving readers, listeners and viewers a more balanced view, the media are harming the chances of policy changes.
Funds have been cut, and so on. Maybe that is not a wise policy if the West wants to get some influence on the movement.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Should Asmaa be allowed to wear a veil in TV programme?

Louise Frevert, MP from Danish People's Party, has submitted a question in parliament to minister of Culture Brian Mikkelsen, whether Asmaa Abdol-Hamid is allowed to wear a veil in a discussion programme on Danish public service channel DR2. The young muslim woman has been nominated anchor in the discussion forum "Adam and Asmaa".

This has released a torrent of debate in Danish media: Should this be allowed in Danish public service TV? Even a feminist organisation has expressed angry dissent. They think it is repressive to women to wear a veil, and they think the management of the channel should forbid it.

Great progress for women's liberation!! One wonders why they did not protest when catholic girls wore the crucifix? Thousands of catholic girls around the country have been doing that for many years without an eyebrow being raised. Melchior, a well-known Danish rabbi has also appeared on Danish public service TV with his religious head gear on on several occasions without anybody blinking, or thinking the world was going under!! So, what is the fuss really about!!!???

Monday, April 17, 2006

Cartoons row help to xenophobic politics

(From BNP website Land and People)

"A vote for Labour is a vote for national suicide". Her Majesty's England going down like Titanic.

The xenophobic and semi-fascist British National Party is "within a 3% swing of adding 40 councillors to its ranks, and in most of its target areas it is challenging Labour, according to the Guardian April 17th.

"The areas where it is expected to perform strongly include Barking and Epping Forest in east London, Sandwell in the Midlands, Dewsbury and Calderdale in Yorkshire, and Burnley in Lancashire. ..... the BNP was increasing its anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of the July 7 bombings and the Danish cartoon row. The party was also benefiting from disillusionment among Labour voters, and the Tories' apparent shift centrewards, which had left a gap on the right".

The BNP resembles the Danish People's Party, which also draws the most support from working class constituencies and places with a concentration of the elderly. Both parties cater to the fear of globalisation.

On the frontpage of its website the BNP proclaims:

Can you just sit there and watch as our country is being ripped apart by the forces of multiculturalism? The BNP cannot do anything without your full and active support - join, donate, get involved. Today is the day to do something.

Feeling despondent or depressed, perhaps bewildered by daily events?
Feeling angry about news the newspapers and television stations are reporting?
Feeling ignored, abandoned and forgotten by Blair's regime?
Feeling ripped off by the Big Brother Government and the corporate giants?
Feeling exploited, over taxed but unrepresented on your local council or in parliament?
You are not alone.

In this way the party is appealing to the lowest gut feelings in people. This may be the breeding ground of a new fascist movement. The party's website is full of nationalist symbols. On the front page you see the British flag to the left and the English flag to the right.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

New War Games

According to the Guardian, "British officers took part in a US war game aimed at preparing for a possible invasion of Iran, despite repeated claims by the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, that a military strike against Iran is inconceivable.
The war game, codenamed Hotspur 2004, took place at the US base of Fort Belvoir in Virginia in July 2004.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman played down its significance yesterday. "These paper-based exercises are designed to test officers to the limit in fictitious scenarios. We use invented countries and situations using real maps," he said.

It seems that a military strike on Iran is very conceivable. Perhaps, to alleviate the British from too much embarrassment, it will be carried out by the US alone, probably with some commandos inside the country and after that a bombing of nuclear installations. After that, any kind of scenario is conceivable, depending on Iranian reactions. The US may have to depend on help from its allies, - and it'll probably get this help, - even from a bigger number of them compared to the attack on Iraq. It is a decisive time for the EU which gets a big chunk of its oil from Iran. The US is not importing much from the country.

According to Russian general Jurij Balujevskij, the Iranians will not be able to produce nuclear weapons, neither now, in the near future, nor in the distant future. If that is correct, it raises the question: Why are the Iranians up for a sound beating? Because they're talking badly about Israel? It doesn't make sense. An eagerness to spread freedom and democracy? - Doesn't make sense either.

Another reason could be the batte for control of Central Asia and the Middle East; the area is the richest in the world in oil and gas reserves.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Easter rides again

When routine bites hard, and ambitions are low
And resentment rides high, but emotions won't grow
And we're changing our ways, taking different roads
Then love, love will tear us apart again --

Why is the bedroom so cold?
You've turned away on your side
Is my timing that flawed - our respect run so dry?
Yet there's still this appeal that we've kept through our lives
Love, love will tear us apart again --

You cry out in your sleep - all my failings expose
There's a taste in my mouth, as desperation takes hold
Just that something so good just can't function no more
When love, love will tear us apart again -- (Joy Division 1979)

What is the significance of Easter to the anarchist mind? - In many ways the same as it is to the Christian mind, - except as an anarchist you do not believe in the healing powers of God. You do believe, however, in the healing power of spring, growth, love between man and woman, love of children.

The healing power of the regenerated self, - the resurrected selv, does that make sense? How does resurrection of the self come about? Some years ago I walked out into my backyard an early morning in summer. The purple sun was rising in the East, there was a mist in the air. Deep down in the back yard there was a dense growth of plants that I had not had the courage or strength to clear. I wanted to penetrate the dense growth of plants to get to the other end, from where there is a view to the red ball of the sun. In some way I got so entangled in the growth of wild and semi-wild plants that I dropped the Idea of seeing the purple sun in its free playing field of rosy sky. It was not important. It was an ambition gone too far. What mattered was the tactile sense of wet branches and wet leaves clinging to my naked legs and arms. I was part of existence, born again. Being part of a world onto itself. From the house I could hear distant sounds of a kettle whistling (- coffee being prepared? I no longer remembered) - the sound of a cat hissing. Nature is a wondrous thing made not by us.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

When will Iran be taught a "lesson" on modern weaponry?

"I know here in Washington prevention means force," George W. Bush said in response to an audience question on dealing with "axis of Evil" country Iran. It was after a speech at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

"It doesn't mean force, necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy. And by the way, I read the articles in the newspapers this weekend. It was just wild speculation, by the way. What you're reading is wild speculation, which . . . happens quite frequently here in the nation's capital."

What is interesting about this exchange is the fact that Bush does not deny the substance of Seymour Hersh's story in the New Yorker.

With the election of Romano Prodi as the next prime minister in Italy it is to be hoped that the EU will gain new strenghth, so it can distance itself from this adventurist American foreign policy. Prodi has promised to withdraw Italian forces from Iraq. His coalition of parties contains elements that are very sceptical of the way the US administers its global leadership. A truly united Europe might become a stronger force in international politics than the US. That would mean adopting an independent line vis a vis the Americans.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Removing economic support for the PA

There seems to be a majority in the Danish government/parliament for taking economic support of the Palestinian Hamas away.
On Monday there's a meeting in the Council of foreign ministers in the European Union, and the EU is expected to make a decision along the same lines. Denmark has appropriated nearly 70 mio. euro until 2009 for the PA. This comes after the US made a similar decision. The line of command seems to be fairly obvious. One cannot help asking: Why doesn't the US put more pressure on Israel to give up its "targeted operations" in Palestinian areas?

Calling the Hamas terrorist seems to be done on the basis of its charter, where the organisation calls for the abolition of Israel. This is however cloaked in rather lofty religious metaphor. And it was not part of the organisation's election program. Actually Hamas has not performed terrorist acts the last 1 1/2 years. The terrorists have been Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, both of them Fatah organisations. Fatah has not been called "terrorist" by the West. Hamas, however, is on the US and EU terror lists. So it follows from logical deduction that they're terrorist, stupid!!

This move of freezing funds will not help to promote peace in the region. Hamas will get the money it needs, but from other sources.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Spreading freedom in new ways UPDATED

George W. Bush and his neo-con cronies are planning the next war in the Middle East. This time they’ll try out another new weapon, the so-called Bunker Busters, which are small atomic bombs that can destroy underground facilities. The enemy is Iran and the nuclear weapons program they claim the country is working on. According to British The Independent, which quotes the American reporter Seymour Hersh:

One option under consideration, Mr Hersh reports, involves the possible use of a B61 nuclear "bunker-buster" bomb against Iran's main centrifuge plant, at Natanz. Last week the Federation of American Scientists alleged that a weapons test to be carried out in the Nevada desert in June was designed to simulate the effects of just such a bomb. Conventional explosives would be used, it said, for "a low-yield nuclear weapon ground shock simulation against an underground target".
The US Defence Threat Reduction Agency told The Independent on Sunday that the test, codenamed "Divine Strake", was intended "to assess the capability of computer codes" to predict the effects of the explosion. The experiment aimed to improve "warfighters' confidence in their ability to plan to defeat hardened and deeply buried targets". It did not refer to tactical nuclear weapons like the B61.
According to Mr Hersh, some officials are shocked at what they describe as "operational" planning which goes far beyond the usual work on hypothetical scenarios. One former defence official is quoted as saying the planning was based on a belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government". (The Independent April 9th)

To legitimize the attack the clique in Washington have been demonizing the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has made some questionable statements on Holocaust and this seems to be one of the justifications for considering him a potential Adolf Hitler. The holocaust remarks are semi fascist, but otherwise any comparison with Hitler and the nazis is off the mark. The Iranians are not a threat to anyone else's freedom the way Hitler was. That means there are some ulterior motives for starting a new war in violation of international law.

The Iranian regime is considered a threat to Israel, and with the newly won strength of the Shiites in Iraq the Middle East is experiencing a build-up of too much Shiite power, in the eyes of the Americans. Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney have shot at their own precious feet, and now they're on their way to making an even bigger blunder that'll cause hatred of the West all over the Middle East and the poor South. It'll beat the cartoons!
Now is the time when the Europeans should find out what their real interests are!!

It has not been verified by the IAEA that the civic atomic program of the Iranians is to be used for illicit fabrication of nuclear bombs. In all likelihood the Americans are planning a new WMD expedition, with concomitant lies and violation of international law.

It’ll be interesting to see how European leaders will react. France, Germany and Belgium were opposed to the Iraq war, much to the chagrin of the Americans. But this time Bush seems to have got them safely on board. In the Iraq war the Americans tested new heavy bombs in the initial "Shock and Awe" campaign. They failed, however, to bomb Saddam Husein to pieces. The Americans paid a heavy price for this: NATO cooperation was almost destroyed in Rumsfeld’s divisive talk of “Old” and “New” Europe.
Since then the Europeans' weakness has been exposed. The EU constitution that was meant to boost a common foreign policy and introduce a reinforced defence policy with a weapons agency that could foster technological renewal in the Old World, was rejected in the referendums in Holland and France. The economic giant had to admit it is a political mouse that has started cooperating more fully with the Americans out of fear of the consequences if it does not do so. - Bark poodle, bark - tyranny is in sight!!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Brussels Journal attacks French demonstrators

Under the heading "The collapse of France. Grab what you can get", the ultra-liberalistic Brussels Journal writes about the protest demonstrations in France:

France has 60 million inhabitants. Yesterday between one million (police figure) and three million (trade union figure) of them took to the streets in protest marches against the government’s youth employment bill (CPE). The bill, which was approved by a large parliamentary majority, allows small companies to fire workers under 26 without cause during the first two years on the job while paying them only 8% of their salary in damages. The bill applies only to young people in their first job. Nevertheless, the French trade unions joined the student protests out of principle. In France a job is virtually owned by the employee and cannot be taken from him unless the employer pays heavy damages.

The Brussels Journal does not seem to understand what it is the young people and the unions are demonstrating against. They demonstrate against the assault by a conservative government on the worst insecurities employees suffer in the labour market. It is actually not so that employers cannot dismiss workers in France. That is possible. They just have to give a reason, and perhaps some compensation. It is only a natural part of the employers' social responsibility. Without such social responsibility it is a one-way street capitalist market economy for employers.

French economists have studied the so-called "Danish model", and this "flexicurity model" is probably part of the inspiration behind the labour market legislation in France. If employers can hire-and-fire with no restraints, the globalised market economy can function more freely, and it'll do its wonderful work of job creation, it is believed.

One reason for the vehement protests is the fact that the French have taken one side of the Danish model, the hire-and-fire, but they have not emulated the social security side. Then it is no wonder there have been protests. - Too much "free lunch" for employers, and too much punishment of workers. Another caveat is that what works for a small economy is not necessarily to be emulated by a large economy. The small Danish economy has been able to find niches in the market left by the European and global giants, and it has gained stronghold by exploiting a growing energy economy and a favorable position as gateway to the Baltic and Scandinavia, which have opened up after the demise of the Berlin wall and access to East European markets. The Danish economy is a special case in that it has developed strongholds in shipping sectors (Maersk Line) connected to the increasing oil and gas production from the North Sea oil and gas fields. And it has strongholds in the medico sector. It is by these factors as much as it is by "flexicurity" that the successes of the Danish economy in the beginning of the 21st century is to be understood.

Furthermore, it is questionable how weak the French and German economies actually are. These are the two economies that are often referred to as the two big "eurosclerosis cases". Germany has high unemployment, but at the same time it is the biggest exporter in the world. The German export offensive is partly an important element in the success of the Danish model. Danish companies are suppliers to large German businesses.

The lull in the French and German economies is largely attributable to the Euro-zone's Growth and stability pact and the convergence critieria connected to it. It is difficult to stimulate the economy when these criteria apply. The European Central Bank (ECB) is modelled on the German central bank. Its monetary policy is based very one-sidedly on monitoring the monetary aggregates for the sole purpose of controlling inflation and keeping inflation down under 2 per cent. In comparison the American federal Reserve can take the overall economy into consideration. At the supranational level a financial policy of stimulation is practically absent, as it is difficult for the 12 euro-economies' finance ministers to coordinate efficient economic policies. The combination of the most conservative central bank in the world and the least interventionist economic policy leaves perhaps too much to market forces. No matter how "free" the labour market is it will not be capapble of redessing this.

The stagnation of the German and French economies may very well be a temporary phenomenon. The main reason for the temporary economic lull is not employee protection. This is conservative-liberalist propaganda that serves the interests of capital.

Their masters' voices - but where is the Danish foreign secretary?

The sworn brothers and sisters of the great Christian crusade to liberate Iraq, Rice and Straw, are on a surprise visit to Baghdad on April 2nd to oust Ibrahim al-Jaafari from the premiership. They are going to urge the Iraqis to form a government of a supposedly "non-sectarian" character.

The day before they were met with British anti-war protesters when they had a summit meeting together at Jack Straw's private home in England.

Their mission in Iraq shows how desperate the war coalition are becoming. Resistance to the war is growing in coalition countries. They may put pressure on Iraqui politicians in Baghdad, but will probably achieve very little towards altering the puppet regime. Nor will it stop the rising wave of sectarian violence.

The meeting of the two foreign ministers is a clear indication of who're running the show? What about Per Stig Moller, the Danish foreign secretary, - why was he not invited to Straw's home and the week-end excursion to Baghdad? What has been the role of the Danes in Iraq?

The Danes have been allowed by the masters to turn their military expedition into a kind of "international social work", a department of international development assistance project. - And that is clearly the way the Danes want to see themselves. This has become the cherished justification for sending Danish troops to Iraq. The Danish parliament voted for war on March 19 2003, thereby making a drastic u-turn in Danish foreign policy. For what? Was i just the call of the master in Washington that inspired this act? Perhaps it cal also be explained by the interests of big business in Denmark, business interests that are aligned with the Anglo-American businesses.

Even though Per Stig was not invited to Baghdad on the weekend excursion, Danish participation in the war is valuable to the Americans. It has no military relevance. It is all propaganda. The Danes help to give legitimacy to the war project. In the battle of "Old Europe" versus "New Europe", the Danish ally was important. It was stressed by George W. Bush when he visited Denmark in July 2005, just before the G8 meeting in Scotland. It was with some triumph he could emphasize the fact that not all Europeans were against him.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Turks demand closure of ROJ TV - Danish prime minister close to being labeled as "terrorist".

The Turkish foreign minister has in a telephone conversation with Danish Foreign minister Per Stig Moeller asked Denmark to close down the Kurdish TV channel Roj TV. Per Stig expressed understanding for the request, but he did not promise anything, according to Ritzau News Agency.
Roj TV has been sending satellite TV for more than three years from a large flat in the centre of Copenhagen. The TV station sends in Kurdish language to some 40 mio. Kurds all over the world.

On November 15 the Turkish premier Erdogan walked out on a press conference with Danish Prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, because a young female reporter from Roj TV was present.

The Turks have on several occasions pressed for a closure of the TV channel that they claim supports terrorism. There is some probability that the Americans support the Turks, and they have probably also been putting pressure on the Danish government in the matter. The Turks have claimed that Anders Fogh Rasmussen is responsible for disturbances in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the Kurd dominated South Eastern Turkey at the end of March. Roj TV broadcast messages from the banned Kurdish organisation PKK.

In 2005 the Danish Radio and TV board concluded that ROJ TV does not transgress Danish law. The ruling was based on a scrutiny of several months of news broadcasts from the Kurdish channel.

Turkey is applying for membership of the European Union. The present case is probably not helpful for the advancement of the application. It is only recently that the Kurds are gaining som minority protection and rights in Turkey. Traditionally the Kurds have not been allowed to speak their language and to claim minority rights. The PKK has been regarded as a terrorist organisation.

The Danish magazine "The Journalist" (nr. 19, 2005), which is published by the Danish union of Journalists, interviewed Havin Gunser from ROJ TV:

"- Do you get money from the PKK?"

"No, we're supported by the Kurdish people", Havin Gunser says.
"There are an infinite number of examples of people being labeled as terrorists just for having mentioned that there is a Kurdish problem. That was close to happening to your prime minister", she says to the Journalist.