geert lovink on Tue, 28 Mar 2000 08:39:23 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Ivo Scoric: Focus on Global Issues

from: (Ivo Scoric)
subject: Focus on Global Issues


White Rabbit Cult:

Gas Prices:
Somewhat coinciding, although maybe not directly related, with the 
NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, in March last year 
OPEC agreed to trim oil production. The prices are rising ever 
since. I spend about eight dollars a week more on gasoline than I 
did last year at the same time doing the same job that requires me 
to commute 32 miles a day. A 62% increase. With my income 
level this starts to bite into my "way of life." I guess that affects 
millions of people and makes them unhappy, not just me. 
Evidently, unlike with Kuwait, oil can't be called upon as a reason 
for the U.S. involvement in the Balkans. People may begin to ask 
why are we spending money pretending to be good Samaritans 
around the globe, when there is nothing in it for us, and the gas 
prices nearing its 1980 gas crisis levels are definitely not the 
encouraging factor. They killed the Democratic campaign then, 
they may do it again. Republican candidates are toying with 
isolationism card, and more and more people are looking their way. 
Unlike the current administration, the next one may not be as 
committed to "straightening bended rivers" (a Yugoslav saying 
meaning trying to do utopian things), which may prove disastrous 
to the Balkan crisis. One possible route is to admit Iraq oil back to 
the world markets - which is a tough choice: appease one dictator 
(Hussein) to be able to fight another (Milosevic).

Two Starbucks coffee shops were destroyed during the anti-WTO 
demonstrations in Seattle. A Starbucks shop was demolished by a 
large metal ball in the movie Fight Club (and in the book) a few 
months before Seattle. Earlier, Starbucks was featured as world 
headquarters of Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers sequel. As early as 
April 1999 Newsweek reported that the glass storefront of 
Starbucks in Portland, Maine was smashed three (3) times in the 
single month.  So just out of curiosity I did a little on-line research 
into why Starbucks is an object of such hatred:

The "McDonald's of coffee" (NASDAQ:SBUX), mocked on this page 
- - for attempts to 
control the stories about its image, even on the net, got in trouble 
sometimes in 1994/1995 winter with revelations of how much the 
global coffee producers did not care about miserable conditions of 
plantation workers in the Third World countries where the coffee is 
grown: worker in Guatemala made 2 cents for gathering the amount 
of coffee beans Starbucks would sell for 8 dollars. Shame, 
however, should not have been placed exlusively on Starbucks: 
the majority of specialty coffee firms at that time had not 
considered working conditions in coffee-producing countries a top 
ethical priority. "Purchasing products without regard to their effect 
upon local environments"  was ranked the thirteenth most 
significant ethical blunder, behind situations including, "Roasting 
beans with  no formal training," and, "Fixing prices with 
competitors," according to a January 1995 survey of members        
conducted by the Specialty Coffee Association in Long Beach, 
California. However, Starbucks did not only sell coffee - it sold 
coffee to the "cool crowd" and the "cool crowd" is more concerned 
with overseas ethical issues than ordinary folks who just buy plain 
coffee. That's where, I think, the Starbucks failed. Now it is too late 
to restore the image, it seems. Starbucks Coffee Company did 
release their "Framework for a Code of Conduct" Oct. 20, 1995 in 
response to a grassroots campaign demanding that Starbucks set 
minimum standards for working conditions at the plantations from 
which they buy. In addition to pledging to limit child labor and 
support workers' access to safe housing and healthy workplaces, 
Starbucks code states that "we believe in the importance of
progressive environmental practices and conservation efforts," 
"...wage and benefit levels should address the basic needs of 
workers and their families," and "people have the right to freely 
associate with whichever organizations...they choose."
However, there are important shortcomings to Starbucks' new 
code. It lacks any reference to possible enforcement mechanisms 
such as discontinuing purchases from non-compliant suppliers. 
There is no explicit support for the right to collective bargaining nor 
opposition to discrimination, and there is no reference to
consulting with unions to develop a plan for implementing the code 
in Guatemala.

Do not shoot the messenger:
Internet lists are filled more and more with sometimes nauseating 
posts about Western bias against Serbs. Indeed, today it is difficult 
to find in mainstream global media, particularly American, an 
article that does not depict Serbs with derision or disdain. But this 
was not always so. U.S. media do not have a particular hatred 
against Serbs. They just go along with what they expect would 
best sell their publications. Since in the past ten years Milosevic's 
disastrous policies brought Serbia and Serbs in the position of the 
world's rogues, the media picked up on it. It would be wrong to 
conclude that Western media created monsters out of Serbs, as it 
was sometimes suspected by people on various lists on the 
Internet. In fact, mainstream US publications gave a lot of 
reasonable doubt to the early years of the Milosevic's rampage in 
the Balkans. For example, in the first six weeks of 1992 (the end of 
Vukovar campaign - New York 
Times correspondent Chuck Sudetic cited Serb sources twice as 
often as Croat ones. In 1993, as war in Bosnia was raging, from 
May 1 to May 10, an activist with the American Croatian Society 
was counting how many times did New York Times articles 
regarding the war in Bosnia quote Serb, Croat and Bosnian Muslim 
sources. The results of the survey were as follows: Serb=86, B-
Muslim=21, Croat=0. At the same time, Yankelovich Partners poll 
showed that 53% of Americans said that they "don't know enough" 
about reports of Serbian atrocities to believe them. Not until 1995 
with the ITN's vivid pictures from the camps, Roy Gutman's article 
in New York Newsday about rapes and particularly with the 
detention of Christian Science Monitor journalist David Rohde 
during the siege of Srebrenica 
( did the writing of 
international media actually change. This change was in sync with 
the change in the US government policy that lead to NATO 
bombing, no-fly zone over Bosnia and Dayton agreement 
( The US mainstream media are 
not directly controlled by the US government as the Serbian 
maistream media are controlled by the Serbian government, but 
American journalists love to be invited to White House dinners and 
they all envy their colleague Strobe Tallbot on being so "close to 
the source" with his job at the State Department, that they do 
prefer to flatter their own government much rather than 

Greenhouse gasses:
A few days ago, Rutland Herald's front page top story was about 
scientist's findings that planet's oceans are indeed heating up as 
suspected by various environmenalist groups. Mild winters greatly 
hurt Vermont's economy. Vermont, the second least polluted state 
in the Union (past Alaska), is also the third poorest, with its 
economy limited by Article 250 (a State law that practically makes 
impossible to build a factory there) to the service industry. The 
service industry in Vermont is mainly concentrated around winter 
sports resorts (which explains Rutland Herald's exceptional interest 
in the story): New England's mountains, although lacking height, 
are among coldest and windiest in the world (actually the highest 
speed winds in North America were recorded on Mt. Washington in 
New Hampshire), or at least they were so until the global warming 
kicked in. For several years nicknamed El Nino, now finally even 
the US government admitted its us - we, the people, did it to our 
planet. Operating our power plants, factories, cars, heating devices 
- we burn a lot of stuff. Fossil fuels are dead trees, dead animals. 
Since the development of steam engine, and particularly with the 
internal combustion discovery, we have put the planet in the 
permanent state of an immensely large forest fire. The enormous 
amounts of carbon-dioxide produced by that fire simply can't be 
absorbed in time by the natural mechanisms (like green leaves), 
and there are less of them, too - due to logging, paper production, 
etc. So, CO2 acumulates in the atmosphere and blocks the return 
of sun's heat back to space, creating the greenhouse effect. 
Oceans warm up slowly, but they do. And we have more volatile 
climate everywhere (hurricanes, floods, draughts, ...). Vermont is 
suffering through yet another record warm winter with record low 
snowfall - and every season sets new records. I guess in a decade 
we won't go to Vermont to ski and snowboard but to mountain bike 
and wakeboard, while for skiing and snowboarding we'll have to go 
to Alaska or Himalayas.

No justice, no peace:
No, not Kosovo - New York city: it happened again - the NYPD 
shot an unarmed minority male with no apparent reason and 
walked. In about a year the NYPD officers killed four unarmed 
Black men who posed no threat to them. And that's on top of 
sodomizing Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, who survived police 
torture. Mayor Giuliani gives his police wide berth, so they enjoy 
freedoms almost like Milosevic's police in Kosovo did before NATO 
intervention. Check out 
for a Puerto Rican man that they shot in front of my home in NYC. 
The latest killing finally brewed up a riot: 

"The New York Times, 3/26/2000
Grief Turns to Violence Against Police
           On a day of solemnity and outrage that degenerated into
violence, Patrick M. Dorismond, the unarmed son of Haitian 
immigrants who was shot to death in a confrontation with the police 
on March 16, was carried across Brooklyn, eulogized as a martyr 
and laid to rest yesterday after a march and funeral that drew 
thousands of anguished mourners and angry protesters.
        Before and after his funeral, there were clashes between
protesters and the police, and wild scenes and sounds of chaos: 
barricades tumbling under surging crowds, American flags burning, 
the clashing chords of car horns, and the crash of glass thrown 
from a height, all beneath the airborne staccato of police 
        The police said 23 officers were injured, most of them cut by
flying glass, although one suffered a leg injury and a possible 
broken nose. Four civilians were injured and at least 27 people 
were arrested, most of them on charges of disorderly conduct."

Note the use of the term "civilian" in the article. I wonder should the 
citizens of New York call for international community to react and 
send UN peace keepers in Flatbush? Or maybe we can still afford 
to negotiatie with Giuliani? He does, though, appear to be as 
recalcitrant as Milosevic:

"The mayor came under fire from critics for releasing information
about Mr. Dorismond's police record, including sealed juvenile
records, for not visiting or even expressing regrets to Mr. 
Dorismond's family, and for defending the police actions in the 
case, as he had in previous shootings.
        The mayor was not at the funeral. "In situations where the
person involved may have been involved in a crime, the mayor does 
not attend the funeral," the mayor's spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, 
said yesterday."

So, young Mr. Dorismond was presumed guilty by Mayor Giulliani 
on the pretext of his past sealed juvenile record with no benefit of 
the fair trial and the due process. Because he was simply shot 
dead by Giulliani's police. This is worse than Albin Kurti received 
from Milosevic. 


Nettime-bold mailing list