South News - May 9

IMF Indonesian standover resisted 

by Dave Muller 

Violence flared this week in Indonesia after sharp rises in fuel and transport prices, part of a belt-tightening International Monetary Fund programme "of bailing out the bankers not the people" 

The IMF has added misery to the lot of ordinary Indonesians and reminded them of their colonial past and put into practice a new globalism that is in many ways more harsh the old colonialism. 

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, and the G8, the rich men club, just look on with growing anxiety as the IMF new Indonesian package fails in the streets. But there can't be any restoration of investor confidence, apart from the maintenance of the huge incomes of a few Wall Street bankers while starvation haunts many of the poor in Jakarta. 

The crisis in the asian tiger economies was generated by anarchic capital inflows inflating local real estate and share markets destabilising currencies and economies. It magnified the inherent booms and busts at each end of the global capitalist trade cycle but in this year of the tiger the nature of recovery has more militant overtones 

Australian economist Ross Gittins, has argued that the US is sacrificing Indonesia to appease the anti-IMF lobby in Congress in order to get US approval for the latest funding contribution. The IMF's Camdessus' posturings in Melbourne this week verifed this scenario. His chastisement of the Australian Government as "left" for advocating moderation in IMF dealing with Indonesia could only come from an arrogant conservative french academic. 

30 years ago after the Paris spring President Suharto seems destined to follow the path of President Charles De Gaulle. Pictures of indonesian student demonstrators rioting in Bandung after police used tear gas and rubber-coated bullets, after the government announced the IMF increases in fuel, transportation and electricity prices, have a similarity to Paris 1968. 

Pictures of batton-weilding, CRS style, riot police pushing back 1,000 students could easily be a rerun of the sixties when students of an Islamic university in Jakarta marched on a bus terminal to protest against a fuel price rise. 

Yet Australians travelling in Indonesia have been advised to stay away from university campuses to avoid possible clashes between students and security forces. The warning, issued by the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, comes in the wake of the worst rioting to strike Indonesia since the country was plunged into economic crisis. I wonder whether France will follow suit. 

Americans challenge Iraq sanctions 

Baghdad: Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark arrived in Baghdad Friday bringing $4 million worth of medical aid in a Iraq "sanctions challenge". 

Clark, founder of International Action Center, the American civil rights group that organized the shipment, was accompanied by 100 U.S. peace activists representing American religious leaders, medical professionals, trade unionists, students and anti-war activists. 

Decrying the U.N. embargo of Iraq as ``genocidal,'' former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark arrived from Syria on Thursday with $400,000 in medicine for Iraqi civilians. Another $3.8 million in medical aid from U.S. groups arrived from Jordan accompanied by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit. More than 1.5 million people, mostly children and the elderly, have died since 1990 as a result of sanctions. 

Clark said his group did not have U.N. permission for its mission. While the embargo does not include food and medicine, such shipments require U.N. clearance. ``When a power commits genocide against a people, we don't need its permission,'' he said. 

``We are here bringing nearly four million dollars worth of medicines ... trying to save children, the weak and the elderly,'' said Fred Champagne of U.S Veterans for Peace. ``We are here to defy the U.S. sanctions against Iraq. We are in defiance of the American policy against starving the people of Iraq,'' he said. 

Clark said the visit was a reaction to last month's U.N. Security Council resolution prolonging the punitive sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1991 invasion of Kuwait. 

``The message we carry is that the American people love the Iraqi people,'' Clark told reporters shortly after arriving in Baghdad. ``It is painful to feel the ... suffering. This is a place which people ought to come and help.'' 

Ramsey Clark, Nabil Magilli of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Christoph Arnold Elder of the Bruderhof Community, Dr. Berta Jobert of the National Peoples Campaign and George Capaccio Voices in the Wilderness flew into Beirut Thursday. They then traveled to Syria and on to Baghdad. Clark has visited Iraq several times since the Gulf War and was a strong opponent of U.S. and allied air and missile attacks against Baghdad. 

The main delegation arrived from Amman, Jordan led by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton also consisted of members of the International Action Center, Voices in the Wilderness and the Committee in Support of the Iraqi People.It also included Rev. Lucius Walker, Catholic Worker, Fellowship of Reconciliation, American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice, American Muslim Council, Metro New York Peace Action, 1199 Health & Hospital Workers Union/SEIU, Labor Art and Mural Project. 

Humanitarian aid to Iraq has been gaining momentum during the last few months. Some 18 planes have landed in Iraqi airports since the beginning of this year bringing medicines and food supplies to Iraqis after obtaining the approval of a U.N. sanctions committee. Last month a cargo plane from the aid organization AmeriCares landed in Baghdad with 38 tonnes of medical supplies, the first airlift of humanitarian aid from a U.S. relief group since the Gulf War. 

Website : Iraq Sanctions Challenge 

Unveiling tip of Patrick iceberg 

Melbourne: As work resumes on Australia's cargo-clogged docks on Friday, lawyers for the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) are considering court action on Patrick stevedoring company chairman Corrigan's involvement in the failed Dubai training mission late last year. 

New revelations about Corrigan's bottom-of -harbour and Dubai training scheme, published in the Melbourne Age newspaper yesterday, threaten to sink Liberal Prime Minister Howard and the Workplace Relations Minister, Peter Reith. 

The Age's tip of iceberg revelations allege that the reason for the scheme was to allow Patrick to replace its entire unionised workforce with former military personnel. They allege that a Government consultant, Dr Stephen Webster, initiated the Dubai scheme with the recruitment agency Fynwest, and that Webster was acting with Reith's knowledge and consent. 

Former SAS army officer, Mike Wells, claims that his company, Fynwest recruited the Dubai trainees for the Patrick stevedoring company after Webster, a rightwing ex-yank, asked him to contact Patrick's Corrigan. 

The MUA's lawyers raised concerns yesterday about how Mr Wells's version of events conflicted with sworn evidence that Corrigan gave to the Industrial Relations Commission in February. The ACTU's Greg Combet, said yesterday that senior union officials and lawyers were focusing on differences between Corrigan's evidence and Wells's affidavit. 

On February 9, Corrigan told the Industrial Relations Commission in sworn evidence that his company had a "simple role" in the Dubai affair, leasing facilities at Webb Dock and supplying equipment for the operation. But Wells said in his affidavit sworn on May 6 that Corrigan's answer was untrue. "He totally funded the Dubai operation," Wells said, and referred to bank documents as proof. 

In his evidence on February 9, Corrigan denied that there had been any discussion within his company about the option of dismissing present employees of Patrick stevedores in the port of Melbourne. But Wells said that Corrigan had revealed as early as August 6 last year that he "wanted to replace the whole dock workforce" on March 30 this year. 

On April 21 Justice North found that there was an arguable case that Patrick had been involved in a conspiracy to dismiss its workforce, in violation of the freedom-of-association provisions of the Workplace Relations Act. In a Federal Court decision, Justice Tony North said the cancellation of the labour supply contact and the appointment of administrators on April 7 were made possible by a complex inter-company transaction, which occurred in September, 1997. 

He said by dividing the functions of employing workers and owning the businesses between two companies, the Patrick group put in place a structure which made it easier to dismiss the whole workforce. In consequence of that ruling, Reith and others may now face a conspiracy trial. 

While attention in the docks dispute focused yesterday on documents on last year's aborted Dubai venture, Mr Butterell and his fellow administrator Peter Brook continued to investigate the full and long-term return of Patrick MUA workers. 

Butterell and Brook will report by May 18 on whether the Patrick labour hire firms are solvent or have to go into liquidation in an attempt to recover cash and assets which, including property and equipment, total $315 million. 

The High Court said in its majority judgment last Monday that the result of the bottom-of -harbour restructuring, carried out without the knowledge of employees, was "... the MUA employees ceased to be employed by profitable companies carrying on business as stevedores with assets in excess of liabilities." 

It also quoted after-tax profits for the year ended September 30, 1996 prior to the restructuring of $20.4 million for one Patrick company, $9.3 million for a second and $6.9 million for a third. 

Website : Age Docks Papers 
Previous : Support the MUA special index 

More CIA funds after Iraq failure 

Washington: The House of Representatives approved increased funds for espionage Thursday 
citing the US intelligence community for failing to develop adequate options in recent months as the Clinton administration came close to bombing Iraq. 

Citing "serious shortfalls'' Porter Goss, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who once was a CIA case officer, said "Earlier this year, the United States came to the brink of military confrontation with Saddam Hussein yet we did so without all of the information necessary to support a serious campaign.'' 

But the Republican congressman from Florida said the intelligence community's shortcomings stem in part from decisions made in Congress. "U.S. intelligence capabilities have dwindled since the end of the Cold War,'' Goss said. "In effect we have asked the intelligence community for more and we're giving them less to do it.'' 

Goss' remarks came as the House by voice vote passed the 1999 national intelligence authorization bill. The proposed budget for national intelligence is classified, but sources said it is slightly larger than this year's $26.7 billion. 

The Goss committee report included increased funds and recommendations for a long-range hiring plan for CIA's Directorate of Operations but outlined several accounting concerns. On National Security Agency allocation the committee was concerned about the agency's failure to change its budgetary methods.The NSA runs the US's eavesdropping, codebreaking and electronic intercept operations. 

In recommendations in the area of clandestine or black operations, Goss said he wanted the intelligence community and particularly the CIA to be "bold and imaginative" in finding new psychological warfare ways to deal with leaders of "rogue countries". "Mind management" tools, Goss said, can "create doubt" within an enemy leader's supporters and "stop the will to fight." 

While Goss emphasised that he was not calling for specific covert actions against the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein or any other foreign leader but "we are calling for more arrows in the quiver" of covert action. He said cyberspace is a growing arena for such clandestine operations. 

In a voice vote, the House approved the annual national intelligence authorization bill, providing a bit more money for the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency after an amendment by Bernie Sanders to trim intelligence spending by 5 percent was defeated in a 291-120 vote. 

The appropriation provides an estimated $27 billion for the 11 agencies that compose the U.S. intelligence community. While roughly $3 billion of that goes to the CIA,the rest funds military services and Pentagon-run snooping agencies, such as the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office, which builds and maintains satellites. 

UN call to close North-South Info-gap 

United Nations: Close the creeping "information gap" between the global North and South, the Philippines representative told the UN Committee on Information on Tuesday. 

Felipe Mabilangan said given the explosive development in information and communications technology, innovations must serve to bridge and not widen the gap between North and South. 

In the post-industrial age of information, ideas and knowledge, not factories and mills were the main currency of human progress. However, since the fruits of the information revolution were mainly enjoyed by those States able to afford the costly infrastructures of the new technologies, the developing world was in danger of further marginalization, he said. 

The content of mass media conveyed by the global information community should not be determined solely by profit motive, but also by the needs of humanity as a whole. The reorientation should not diminish its activities in the areas of interest to the developing world, and must endeavour to close the creeping "information gap" between North and South. 

He said that many innovations had dramatically improved the capacity to share and obtain information and to communicate globally, much of the world could not yet enjoy the fruits of advanced technology. Rather, it continued to rely on traditional print and radio media.States as well as regional organizations should be consulted on the development of "regional hubs". 

He expressed his delegation's concern about the projected reduction of resources allocated to information in the 1998-1999 budget. Such reductions would undoubtedly have negative consequences for the implementation of the General Assembly's mandated information activities. In the course of the Committee's deliberations, the vital role of information as a factor in both development and world peace should be underscored. 

US farmers lost sales to Cuba 

Washington: US farmers have lost an estimated $500 million worth of wheat sales to neighboring Cuba during the past decade because of long-standing sanctions, a major American wheat group said Thursday. 

``It is disturbing that among the largest barriers to trade US wheat farmers face today are the economic trade sanctions imposed by our own government,'' Gerdes said.``By conservative estimates, in the last 10 years alone the United States lost out on wheat sales to Cuba of 3.5 million (metric) tons, valued at more than $500 million.'' 

The United States imposed sanctions against Cuba 36 years ago,but also block farmers from selling goods to Iran, Libya and North Korea, said Dan Gerdes, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates. Gerdes, testifying before a House Ways and Means subcommittee, urged the Clinton administration to review the impact of existing sanctions and open a national debate on US sanctions policy. 

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