WTO News in Seattle

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Don't know how the national media is reporting this but here's a good site:


Here comes the National Guard. They say they'll be unarmed. Mayor and Governor say they're just to "help." Tomorrow should be a very interesting day in that I work 200 feet from where the WTO will be meeting.

The cops are sweeping everybody from the streets. Moe Later

-- Fractal (bobalex@silverlink.net), November 30, 1999


San Francisco piped in today with small protest in support of the groups in Seattle. Longshoreman and Dock workers stuck today in the Bay Area also in support. Heard on sound byte... 1/2 the city was shutdown by protesters, strikers, etc. Tear Gas and Pepper Spray and Curfews by days end. WOW I got chills listening to it. The solidarity up there between so many different groups coming together in a show of support and solidarity is indescribable

-- babyinthesixties (karlacalif@aol.com), November 30, 1999.

i believe this is it?


Anti-WTO protesters disrupt talks Anti-WTO protesters stand defiantly in a cloud of tear gas Tuesday. WTO delegates fight mobs of protesters Tuesday in downtown Seattle. By Gary A. Seidman MSNBC SEATTLE, Nov. 30  Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray as thousands of protesters took to the Seattle streets Tuesday, throwing the 135-nation World Trade Organization summit into disarray. The protests became so disruptive that Seattle mayor Paul Schell imposed a 7 p.m.-to-dawn curfew, and Washington State Gov. Gary Locke agreed to send in two National Guard forces experienced in crowd control.

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THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION had hoped the event, the largest trade gathering ever held in the United States, would showcase the benefits of free trade. But demonstrators loudly protested the WTO  which they contend has a lack of concern for environmental and worker rights issues  and by late afternoon the demonstrations had become so disruptive that WTO Director General Michael Moore cancelled the opening ceremonies. Seattle police were forced to fire tear gas at the crowds after they failed to persuade demonstrators, who had blockaded the citys streets, to clear the area around Seattles Paramount Theatre, where trade delegates from around the world were trying to meet. Most delegates could not get to the building and some could not even leave their hotels without being jeered by the demonstrators. The police, in an effort to clear a corridor for delegates, announced that the gatherings were unlawful and asked the protesters to leave, but the demonstrators responded with Our streets, our streets! and sat down on the pavement.

Images from the WTO protests in Seattle. Heath Stevens, a 31-year-old demonstrator from Santa Cruz, Calif. with the Radical Action Insurgency Network, was in the front of a crowd when he was hit with pepper spray. He told MSNBC that the police pulled out the pepper spray ... they just ripped it out with no warning. Totally peaceful people and the police just unleashed against them, Alissa Westergard-Thorpe from Vancouver, Canada, told MSNBC, adding that she experienced the same treatment at the APEC Summit two years ago. Its a classic technique of violence against the non- violent. For the most part, the demonstrators were peaceful, using the tactic of human chain to block delegates from the meetings. Elsewhere, however, a small group of demonstrators smashed several store-front windows, including those at The Gap, the Warner Bros. store, Banana Republic and BankAmerica. Witnesses said the group of about 20 demonstrators, dressed all in black and carrying hammers, ran down a street smashing the windows. Complete coverage of the WTO summit OPENING CEREMONY CANCELLED At 10 a.m. PT when the WTO opening ceremony was originally scheduled to open at the Paramount Theatre, only about 5 percent of the total delegates were inside. Despite moving the planned opening ceremonies to the Convention Center, by mid-afternoon, the WTO was forced to cancel the opening ceremonies altogether. Tuesday's unrest has tarnished the reputation of the U.S., CNBC's Martha MacCallum reports.

Of course our organization is not perfect, said a clearly agitated WTO director general Michael Moore to journalists in Seattles Convention Center. If it were perfect we would not need to meet. However, Moore said that trade meetings would take place, beginning Tuesday. Moore said he regretted the debilitating protests and reiterated that free trade is, on the whole, good for the welfare of people and said that the working groups would continue. There are fundamental differences at stake here, he said. But I hope people will think beyond their national interests. This day has been a disaster, said a Swedish delegate, who complained that the summit had been poorly organized and that proper arrangements for the protests had not been made. But, he added, the show must go on. SOME DELEGATES ATTACKED The protesters say the free trade ideals espoused by the WTO benefit big business at the cost of workers, the environment and communities. Attempts early in the day by numerous WTO delegates to stroll down to the opening ceremony were rebuffed by a human chain just one block from the Paramount theatre. One group of delegates, accompanied by police, walked sharply into the crowd, but were pushed back by the demonstrators after a small tussle. A WTO delegate fights to free himself from a mob of protesters Tuesday in downtown Seattle. Another delegate from the Philippines, Hermino Davis, said, Right now I cant get in. We have so many things to discuss, especially agriculture. Davis told the demonstrators, You are holding delegates from small countries from voicing our sentiments. A Colombian delegation headed by foreign trade minister Martha Lucia Ramirez was attacked by demonstrators who banged on the roof of their car. Police had to disperse them. We were attacked by people with masks, a Colombian diplomat said. WTO issue finder MSNBC Interactive  Find out more about the hurdles on the way to free trade The activists had vowed to shut down the city with up to 50,000 demonstrators in protest over the effect free trade was having on jobs and the environment. At one major intersection, several hundred demonstrators brought traffic to a total standstill. The protesters, waving placards saying Resist the WTO, blocked the road, halting commuter busses and limousines bringing delegates to the trade talks. One protestor was knocked off his bicycle as a limousine attempted to get through the gridlock, where police presence was minimal. The trade ministers are meeting to set the agenda for a new round of negotiations aimed at cutting tariffs and other barriers in a broad range of sectors from agriculture to electronic commerce. WTO pushes environmental buttons CLINTON SYMPATHETIC Advertisement

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President Bill Clinton said he sympathized with the protesters and that trade agreements should take into consideration labor and environmental concerns. I also strongly, strongly believe that we should open the process up to all those people who are now demonstrating on the outside. They ought to be a part of it, Clinton told reporters in the Oval Office. And I think we should strengthen the role and the interest of labor and the environment in our trade negotiations, he said. Clinton is scheduled to attend the WTO meeting on Wednesday.  KING Seattle coverage Clinton acknowledged that addressing labor and environmental concerns in trade talks was not going to be easy, because many developing countries see concerns about environment and labor standards as a way to keep them down. About 30 percent of recent U.S. economic growth was due to expanded trade, which has also helped keep U.S. inflation down  so, weve had this huge growth with low inflation, Clinton said. But he said he wanted to make sure that the economy was not damaged by trading rules that could put short-term economic considerations over long-term environmental considerations. Thomas Friedman, author and correspondent for the New York Times, told CNBC on Tuesday that the protestors' claims are baseless.

So Im very sympathetic with a lot of the causes being raised by all the people that are there demonstrating, Clinton said. The president said he hoped the WTO meeting would launch a new round of trade talks that would lead to a reduction in tariffs and other trade barriers in agriculture and other areas. I hope that we will agree to keep e-commerce free of unusual burdens, Clinton added. Since this has now become a global society with global communications, as well as a global economy, I think it was unrealistic to assume that for the next 50 years trade could be like its been for the last 50  primarily the province of business executives and political leaders, Clinton said. More people are going to demand to be heard, and I think thats a good thing, he said. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman at the White House told reporters the United States recognized the concerns of developing countries on the issue of labor standards. What is the WTO? MSNBC Interactive  Learn the basics about the World Trade Organization We are very cognizant of their concern that anything that we do with regard to labor standards would not be to the detriment of a third world country, but I think increasingly we all recognize that its not just about free trade but it is about fair trade as well, she said. We need new rules of the road and I am hopeful that the work in Seattle will begin the groundbreaking work of laying out what those new rules need to be for working families, Herman said. TOUGH TALKS AHEAD . WTO Timeline A look at the history of the WTO Sept. 1943 American and British politicians struggle to stabilize trade after World War II. They agree on goals such as reducing international trade tariffs, outlawing discrimination and eliminating quotas on goods. Dec. 1945 American and British governments introduce set of "proposals" that would establish the International Trade Organization (ITO). Fifteen other countries are invited to join the effort and the proposals gain momentum. Feb. 1946 The proposals are accepted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. An 18-government committee appointed to explore the idea of an ITO extends invitations to the rest of the seventy members of the UN Council. Oct. 1947 The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is signed by 23 countries, cutting tariffs as a prelude to an ITO. Meanwhile, participating countries are busy drawing up the ITO's "Havana Charter." But ITO plans are abandoned when the U.S. Senate refuses to ratify its charter. GATT remains in effect, but without an administrative organization. 1949 The second of eight successive GATT negotiations, called "rounds," begins in France. Some 350 national delegates continue these meetings every five to six years. 1973 With 120 participating countries, GATT's Tokyo Round breaks new ground with agreements on non-tariff barriers. But most of the agreements are left largely non-binding to many members. Sept. 1986 A new negotiating round, called the Uruguay Round, begins. It is the most ambitious trade negotiation to date. The ministers are able to accept an expanded agenda which, for the first time, covers trade in services and intellectual property. (GATT had only covered trade in goods.) The ministers gave themselves four years to complete their work. December 1990 At a new round in in Brussels, disagreement on agricultural trade reform leads to a decision to extend the Round. For two years, the negotiations lurch continuously from impending failure to predictions of imminent success. Differences between the United States and European Community become central to the hope for successful conclusion. December 1993 All outstanding issues from the Brussels Round on market access are finally resolved and an agreement is prepared. April 1994 The World Trade Organization is created when ministers from most of the 125 participating governments meet in Marrakesh, Morocco, to sign the agreement. The WTO is to become a formal international institution, joining the ranks of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). January 1995 The WTO debuts as the embodiment of the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations. December 1996 The first meeting of WTO ministers takes place. It provides the first in-depth review and assessment of WTO operations, establishes a precedent for future meetings and gives member countries an idea of how the organization will set policies. 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 SOURCE: MSNBC Research Printable version

If the delegates eventually get their meetings in gear, there will be nothing simple about the discussions, and likely little concrete that will come out of it. The declaration for the annual meeting generally tries to finalize an agenda for the coming round of talks. This document is normally negotiated by lower level trade officials to about 80 percent agreement prior to the meeting, with an additional 20 percent to be hashed out by the trade ministers. This time, pre-WTO talks produced a document with about 20 percent agreement. The rest, about 80 percent, remained in brackets. Thats way too much for the ministers to get done, said Sam Gilman, a Washington reporter who specializes in trade. The most likely outcome of the meetings, he said, is that the WTO ministers announce the launch of a new round of talks, in very vague terms, but finalize the documents in drawn out follow-up meetings at WTO headquarters in Geneva. The biggest logjam, not counting the one outside the convention hall, is over agriculture, as the European Union, Japan, Korea and other countries that have heavily subsided agricultural sectors, face off with the U.S., Australia, Argentina and other major exporters of farm products. Under the Uruguay Round of talks, WTO nations agreed to resume discussions about the highly sensitive issue later  that is, at the round that will now begin. They agreed to chip away at high tariffs and subsidies that protect domestic farmers, especially in the EU. Since then, the U.S. and its allies on the issue have upped the ante, calling for this round to eliminate all subsidies. The EU is adamantly opposed, in part because it will soon have new members, such as Poland and the Czech republic, where farms are still heavily dependent on the state. While the U.S. wants to focus sharply on agriculture and trade in the services, the EU wants to vastly broaden the agenda. They want to put more trading stock on the table, says Stafford. The danger is that it will prevent progress on any front. MSNBCs Kari Huus, Tom Curry, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story. Do you think the WTO is confronting the right issues? Post your comments to our BBS. Behind protests lies fear of loss Democrats who love free trade Anti-WTO violence hits London Talks push environmental buttons At WTO meeting, mums the word on piracy issues

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-- clayton (ratchetass@hotmail.com), November 30, 1999.


You must have been. I wasn't. Read Chuck's piece below. Half of Seattle shut down; You must not know Seattle very well; or the person that wrote the piece you read doesn't.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), November 30, 1999.

I hope all the supporters of the WTO protest will behave in kind, and support the "human chain" approach when pro-lifers "link-up" to inhibit access to the murder mills/abortuaries.

Be consistant.

-- connie sistant (veritatis@splendor.com), November 30, 1999.

Why are there protestors in Seattle?

Because Corporate executives "own" the elected officials (they contribute billions of dollars to get "their candidates" elected) of the countries represented in the W.T.O., they decide the laws and rules which govern both the individual countries AND world trade.

Corporate executives don't care about you, me or the environment. They care about profits. "We The People" have no "representative" at these trade negotiations. Decisions are being made at the W.T.O. RIGHT NOW that will result in the loss of tens of thousands of "living wage" jobs in industrialized countries like the United States, Canada and Eastern Europe.

Corporations cut worker benefits to increase their already annual record breaking profits. They shut down manufacturing plants in high wage countries (such as the United States) and move these jobs to low wage countries (such as Mexico and China) where labor laws and environmental laws are non-existant. The result is, they pay workers pennies per hour with no benefits while being allowed to dump toxic chemicals into the air and water. It's all done to arrive at the "least cost" to manufacture. Once the product is made, it's shipped to the United States (or another industrialized country) where it's sold for the SAME PRICE as it was when it was originally manufactured either here or in another "living wage & benefit" country.

Result: MEGA PROFITS for Corporations at the expense of living wages and benefits for "We The People" along with the trashing of our environment.

-- GoldReal (GoldReal@aol.com), November 30, 1999.

Fine. Then we'll just stop buying their products so we can buy our bread and rice. When we're all too poor to shop at the malls, their profits will go into the toilet.

-- Tim the Y2K nut (tmiley@yakko.cs.wmich.edu), December 02, 1999.

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