Ivo Scoric on Tue, 28 Mar 2000 18:48:06 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> 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 -
http://home.sprynet.com/~hotoff/starbuck.htm - 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 -
http://balkansnet.org/vukovar.html) 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 (http://balkansnet.org/srebrenica.html) 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
(http://balkansnet.org/dayton.html). 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 Milosevic's...

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 http://balkansnet.org/raccoon/torres.html 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 helicopters. 
        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.


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