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Globalization

IMF and World Bank meet in Washington

GREG PALAST:
It’s quiet now, but all police leave in the capital has been cancelled. They’re taking no chances after last week’s anti-globalisation protests in Quebec and the street wars on this spot during the same meeting last year of the IMF and World Bank. So what’s their complaint? The protesters say that what we have here is a conspiracy – the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organisation don’t help the poor of the world, they crush them. Well, the bosses are here today, let’s ask them. Mr Wolfensohn, the protesters say you are the chief of a secretive, undemocratic world government which has made poverty worse worldwide. How do you respond?

GATS Got His Tongue

(Note to American readers: Replace the words “Trade Minister Dick Caborn” with the words, “US Trade Representative” – whose assurances about the WTO are virtually interchangeable with European ministers’ happy-talk…)
Britain’s Trade Minister Dick Caborn does nothing all day and that keeps him very, very busy. Caborn is busy reassuring his nation that nothing in the proposed General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) threatens Britain’s environmental regulations. Nothing in GATS permits American corporate powers to overturn safety and health regulations.

Gregory Palast – International Investigative Reporter

Gregory Palast is almost certainly the greatest investigative journalist you’ve never heard of. An award-winning reporter in Britain, where he writes for The Guardian and The Sunday Observer, as well as hosts the BBC’s 60 Minutes-esque Newsnight, Palast abandoned his native America when the mainstream press declined to publish his groundbreaking, hard-hitting exposes, known for stripping bare abuses of power. Case in point: his recent series on how Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris conspired to illegally purge the Florida voting rolls of thousands of former felons whose voting rights had been restored by other states, the vast majority of whom were (not coincidentally) Democrats. In the few venues that have bothered to report it in the United States, it’s caused scarcely a ripple. Palast will be in Cleveland on Tuesday to debunk reigning myths about the much-touted phenomenon known as globalization.

Dear Richard, Don't Say We Didn't Tell You

For Gtech, an In With The Bush Family is Worth More Than Anything Lottery Players Have in Their Hand
The Observer
Congratulations to George W Bush and to Camelot on their victories.
More than a year ago, we reported that the Government had decided to let Camelot retain control of the National Flutter in perpetuity. That was two weeks before the formal bidding process began. Despite our announcement, Richard Branson soldiered on, refusing, like the last dinosaur, to heed the voice whispering: ‘Excuse me, but you’re extinct.’

Blair's American Daze

A truly curious letter appeared in the New York Times two years ago headed, ‘It’s time to repay America’, by one Tony Blair. In it, he thanked Bill Clinton and the whole of the US for introducing him to the pleasures of governing the American Way. That, he wrote, meant ‘results, not theology… free from preconceptions and bureaucratic wrangling… Government should not hinder the logic of the market!’

States Deregulate Energy at Their Peril – from The New York Times

While reporters ogled celebrities at Barbra Streisand’s bungalow during the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, there was a real display of populism 100 miles to the south in San Diego. There politicians have enrolled two million citizens in a scary economic experiment. This year, San Diego became the first city in California to experience the end of state regulation of electricity prices.

Of Blackbeard and Bill Gates Rip-off Software and CDs, Price-Rigged Pig Feed, Human Rights Abusers – a US Network is now on to them all

For The Observer/Guardian UK
You want to be a billionaire? Answer this one: What do Blackbeard, the Butcher of Croatia and Bill Gates have in common?
While the money clock ticks away, let me tell you about my weekend. I spent it at the Sheraton Hotel in Brussels, watching the guests shuttle between rooms. It looked a little like love, but maybe it meant nothing more to them than a couple nights of fun. There was Steve Ballmer, new CEO of Microsoft, and a thousand of his closest commercial and government friends, meeting under the guise of the ‘European Business Summit’.

Millions May be Eligible for Microsoft Refund Anti-Cartel Lawyers who Joined Forces to Fight Price Fixing Worldwide will File Suit on Behalf of non-US Windows Customers

and Clare Dyer for The Guardian UK
Millions of Britons could be in line for a refund if it is proved that they paid inflated prices for Microsoft’s all-pervasive software, ready installed in most computers on sale.
Next Monday 16 leading US law firms will file the billion pound suit on behalf of hundreds of millions of people who bought Microsoft Windows and programs outside the US.

Tony Rushes in Where Bill Fears to Tread

For The Guardian UK
For all those conspiracy cranks and paranoid anti-globalisers who imagine that the planet’s corporate elite and government functionaries actually meet to conspire about their blueprint for rewriting the laws of sovereign nations, be advised that the next meeting of the New World Order is being held this week at the Swiss Hotel in Brussels. It is the mid-year meeting of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue.

New British Empire of the Dammed Bolivia's Water Supply is the Latest Acquisition of Thirsty British Firms in the Service of Uncle Sam

for The Observer/Guardian UK
With the front pages jammed with photos of two dead white farmers in Zimbabwe, the news from Bolivia “Protests claim two lives” was pushed into a teeny “World in Brief” in the Guardian, and unmentioned elsewhere. What a shame. The Zimbabwe murders merely exercised a suppressed nostalgia for England’s imperial past. But Bolivia is the story of Britain’s imperial future.

Postcards From The de-Valuation Carnival

For The Observer/Guardian UK
As Fat Tuesday nears, the political chit-chat above the carnival drums is about the minimum wage, which the nation’s Constitution effectively sets at US$100 per month. With currency devaluation and massive inflation of basic necessities (electricity is up 250%), the minimum should rise automatically to at least 170 REALS from 130.
Regarding this relief for the low-paid, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Latin America’s carrier of the Third Way torch, remains inscrutably befuddled. But his ministers, the chambers of commerce and their academics have filled newspaper columns with arguments for eliminating the Constitution’s ‘inflexibility.’

In the Land of the Free, the Legal Eagle is King

For The Observer/Guardian UK
There are 200 million guns in civilian hands in the United States. That works out at 200 per lawyer. Wade through the foaming websites of the anti-semites, weekend militiamen and Republicans, and it becomes clear that many among America’s well-armed citizenry have performed the same calculation. Because if there is any hope of the ceasefire that they fear, it will come out of the barrel of a law suit.
First, the score. Gunshot deaths in the US are way down – to only 88 a day. Around 87,000 lucky Americans were treated for bullet wounds last year; 32,436 unlucky ones died, including a dozen policemen by their own weapons. In one typical case, a young man, Steven Fox, described feeling pieces of his brain fly from his skull after a mugger shot him. He is permanently paralysed.
But, hey, that’s business for you. And what a business it is. Guns, ammo and accessories are a $6bn-a-year honey pot for several corporations: Browning, Smith & Wesson, Colt and others.
Britain loves stories of gun lust in the US. It is an opportunity for snooty comparisons with America’s crude and lawless society. This drives Elisa Barnes crazy.
Barnes is the lawyer who recently brought a groundbreaking law suit against handgun manufacturers, which were found negligent in the shooting of Fox. “You [European] guys are so smug. Glock, Browning, Beretta have these refined European owners. Smith & Wesson is the number one seller of killer guns – and it’s owned by Tomkins plc, of England.”

Inside Corporate America The Few Cyberati Dial Handouts from the Many

For The Observer/Guardian UK
It’s 2022 and my grandchildren ask, ‘Grandpa, when did the communications counter-revolution begin?’ As we huddle round the cyberfire, they guess it all went wrong in October 1999. That was when MCI WorldCom paid $115 billion for Sprint Corporation which, once it had merged with AT&T in 2002, gave the telephony behemoth 80 per cent of America’s long-distance market.

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