The Heat Is On, nr1 Copenhagen process update during a week

The Heat Is On, nr1 Copenhagen process update during a week

A week ago Friends of the Earth Sweden (FoE Sweden)  made some political initiatives.

1. A call for Building a movement of movements for Climate Justice activities at the Climate Forum 09, (CF09)

2. A report on Via Campesina (VC) Brasil visit to Sweden and Denmark

3. The FoE Sweden statement: Stop the Violence Against Oil War Refugees in Denmark!

4. Changing the mainstream leftist and NGO climate messaging in Sweden.

5. A protest against People´s Climate Action (PCA) description of CF09 as a meeting ”aimed primarily at activist left wingers”.

6. Informal contacts to discuss the Climate Justice Action (CJA) Push for Climate Justice activity at COP15 venue December 12.

7. Launched FoE Sweden climate autumn activities

You find the call, report and statement at the blog together with much other climate material.

The outcome this week is the following:

Politicising based on both CF09 and CJA platforms seen as positive

1. The call for Building a movement of movements for Climate Justice with three activities at CF09 was well received. The aim was to focus on politically uniting interests between CF09, CJA and other climate justice initiatives and to use the Copenhagen activities as a platform for the coming years. The response from the CF09 board was an invitation to a meeting to discuss the declaration process. You find more information in a coming invitation letter to the CF09 declaration process. There has been some problems in the relationship between CF09 and CJA with the result that some persons left the board of CF09. What triggered the conflict was requests to support the CJA meeting in October. This is the only open international preparatory process for climate justice activities in Copenhagen. Now with the help of Safania Eriksen from FoE Denmark working at the CF09 office there will be an international preparatory meeting for CF09 in conjunction with the CJA meeting in mid October thus enabling broader participation and possibilities for organisations to participate at both meetings.

Necessary to challenge Western corporation both at home and in the South

2. The report on VC Brazil visit by Terena Castro to Sweden and Denmark focused on political aspects. In a meeting between VC Sweden and VC Brazil  criticism was made towards the position by VC international to focus mainly on agriculture with the argument that it was the crucial point in the negotiations. VC Sweden stated that it rather was forests that was the crucial point. Another main outcome of the seminars were Castro participated was the understanding that it is necessary to address the domestic politics which enables forest and other corporations exploiting nature to become aggressive actors promoting ecologically damaging industrial forestry and agriculture worldwide. This political strategy questions the way many North-South organisations work when they do not address the activities and politics at home that enables corporations to become aggressive in other countries. The response on this report was coming from the organisers of the Trade to Climate caravan who cooperates with VC and liked the political perspective and as well was worried about how they could fund their 60 participants from the South. Persons from VC Sweden and Bente Hesselund from Noah Denmark were positive about the political content of the report.

Policy fragmentation a hinderance for opposing the violence of fossil fuel society

3. The statement Stop the Violence Against Oil War Refugees in Denmark! have caused divergent opinions in Denmark. The protest was directed against the violent fossil fuel development model with its use of violence to deport refugees from Iraq that had searched asylum in the Brorson church in Nörrebro in Copenhagen. There has not been time to spread the statement more widely. One argument from a person in FoE Denmark is that it is impossible for an environmental organisation to mix asylum policy, security policy and environmental policies. A closer look at the statutes of FoE Denmark and FoE Sweden shows a clear difference. In Denmark it is only protection of the environment which includes struggling against the causes of environmental degradation which can include everything and nothing. The Swedish version is that we are both an organisation for the environment and solidarity between people, promotes peace and cooperation between popular movements. We also address the political situation and do not necessarily accept the fragmentation of politics into specific policies. Another argument was that the situation in Denmark is so polarised that any statement to prevent the causes of creation of refugees will be helping nationalists who are against immigration. Do not try to make me explain that argument. Furthermore  was the issue of the deportation of Iraqí refugees so controversial splitting the population in half, one on the left supporting the refugees and the other on the right supporting the government. Any linking to the issue would result in putting a leftist stamp on the environmental organisation that made a statement. Others that are working with the Church asylum issue can report that most people involved see their commitments as only based on humanitarian values and do not see any linkage to any other question and do not consider their action at all political. Thus many actors in Denmark tries to reduce politics to narrow single issue policy activities if not only acts of humanistic concerns. The result is that the FoE flood action that should have passed the Brorson church and primarily was based on Nörrebro support have to be rethought as the activists now only devote their time to the church asylum issue. 20 000 people participated some hours after the deportation of the refugees from the church.

Nort-South organisation understood the need to go beyond North South issues

4. Changing the mainstream leftist and NGO climate messaging in Sweden was not such a hard thing after all. The Latin American Groups in Sweden, a radical well funded solidarity organisation cooperating with popular movements in Latin America proposed a petition for a signature campaign along the normal main stream leftist and NGO lines. It started by stating that an effective climate deal built on climate justice is necessary. ”But this will not happen if the Swedish government did not feel pressure from their citizens”. It continued with addressing the right to development for the poor and labelled the poor as hit by the effects of global warming. This kind of framing of the climate issue is the hegemonic shared by both governments, NGOs and most left wing organisations alike. In the proposed wording the key actor is the Prime minister while others are reduced to individuals using their pressure to make him act or ”poor” people that have the role of being victims. Instead of making the climate issue a question of social justice this framing puts it firmly within a controllable rhetoric were negotiations between states is the only thing that is going on and the role of others is to be pressure groups or victims to be displayed in this power game. From FoE we proposed to change to right to development into: ”The world needs a fair agreement on climate change which gives power to the social forces that can work for social justice and constructive solutions.” Collective action instead of individual. Social justice within countries instead of rich people that are supposed to help the poor. The second hegemonic ideology to challenge was that of only focusing on policy and climate negotiations instead of also addressing the politics which is implemented daily by the government. Thus we proposed that what we want ”can only happen if many people go together and demand that Sweden live as it preaches and does not promote political solutions to energy and transport, which increases emissions, as well as demanding social and global justice in climate negotiations” (badly translated with the help of google. Our proposals were well received. A small step in the struggle against the leftist and NGO hegemony that puts the focus only on North-South issues as trade and other relations between countries and nothing on the social relations within them.

Positive response on critique of Danish NGOs

5. On my way to the CF09 declaration meeting I passed by the PCA offices. Here I met with Lene Villets, the director of PCA and discussed the general situation before Copenhagen. PCA is the only climate initiative with a website that has published a strongly self-critical statement. It is about Danish NGOs by Ben Marjorie, director of the tcktcktck campaign. He claims that the Danish organisations lacks energy and acts too much based on market principles competing with each other instead of cooperating. I informed about that FoE Sweden would make a formal protest against PCA description of CF09 on its webpage. The information was well received and something should be done about it. In the evening we sent our protest and the next day the description was changed. The meeting was positive and could result in contacts for the future. The relationship between PCA and CF09 is a bit tense as CF09 regards PC as a tool for putting pressure on CF09. The original initiative for doing broader activities at COP15 came from Permaculture association and CF09. The government responded by giving 20 million DKK, ca 2,5 million euro to a broader set of organization including big NGOs that named itself PCA. This set up than distributed 8 million to CF09, 8 million to different projects and 4 million to its own operation.

Informal discussions

6. Informal contacts with different actors have been taken by people in FoE Sweden to discuss the CJA Push for Climate Justice activity at COP15 venue December 12. ore information about this will come later.

Climate campaigning in Sweden against motorways and climate trading

7. FoE Sweden launched climate autumn activities on September 16. There has been a camp, actions, meetings and spreading of leaflets. The main focus has been on transport as the government plan hard core neoliberal deregulation of all train and bus services and recently decided to build a motorway on the Western side of Stockholm. There has also been some seminars on linking climate, job and financial crisis issues including the visit from VC Brazil and discussions with car workers on how to make a transition of the transport industry. In the end of November we will focus on trading emissions and offsetting as a false solution to climate change. We have been unsuccessful in fundraising and received zero crowns from our normal donors for the climate issue and as we are a poor organization that caused some problems but we now have 500 euro and are doing better and better. 28 peoples high schools have asked Lars Igeland, active in FoE Sweden climate working group to come and make speeches about our perspective on climate justice.

Promising mass action and less polarisation

Other developments the last week has also been promising.  Most promising is the Shut it down civil disobedience action with 1500 participants against a coal plant on Amager island were the COP15 venue is placed. The whole week there has been climate discussions at Chistiania were the movement freely can meet and gain strength for coming struggles. In general the climate activists have been able to find a model for building a momentum towards COP15 that strengthens the climate justice movement and makes it possible for many to be involved. Each day during COP 15 there will be actions on specific issues enabling many different kind of organisations and people to be involved addressing a wide range of issues. As the climate activists are the only ones that have organised several international open and democratic preparatory meetings for the Copenhagen process they have gained a strong momentum which is hard to ignore.

The other two main actors are big NGOs and small radical or practically oriented environmental organisations. Both belong to the category generals without committed troops. Both also tend to build their identity as an antithesis of the violent climate activists. WWF Denmark claimed in an article in the Guardian that the planned CJA action December 12 was violent and the polarisation has been growing ever since. Among the big NGOs there are now concerns about the lack of focused work. At the PCA office I was told that international NGOs will come to Copenhagen to discuss how things can be improved.

The CF09 gains momentum with 5000 registered participants so far. The initiative to invite to a CF09 preparatory meeting in conjunction with next CJA meeting also contributes to strengthening the climate justice movement. When PCA tried to monopolise all contacts with the municipality excluding Climate Collective from the talks Permaculture international representative in the board of CF09 intervened and the exclusion was stopped.

All in all the week have shown that steps have been taken in the right direction in Denmark. It is about time for movements in other countries to show the same spirit and start to feel the heat from people coming together to change he world.

Via Campesina actions at COP15

This is how Via Campesina describes it actions in relation to the Climate Summit in Copenhagen:

“From December 7 to 18 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 15 will be held in Copenhagen). The Climate Justice Action Network, supported by many others networks, is organizing a caravan called « From Trade to Climate ». This caravan will start in Geneva on the 3rd of September to reach Copenhagen. La Via Campesina will take part in this caravan. Two or three routes are planned and buses will stop in France, Belgium and Germany. You can support this initiative by attending the stops (more info : havaria [at] or elviejo [at] In Copenhagen the Via Campesina will participate with all the other social movements in a great march on December 12. We will organize some farmers’ actions on December 13 and we will also participate in a special day of action on agriculture, planned for December 15. In addition, we have registered workshops on food sovereignty and we will be co-organizers of a joint forum with the Women’s World March, Friends of the Earth International and the Global Forest Coalition. The Youth of Reclaim the Fields will also be present and active throughout the meeting of the COP 15 (more info at:

Join the mobilization! Inform us of your actions, and don’t hesitate to send photos and videos at viacampesina[at]!”

Others that joins the action on agriculture on December 15 are A SEED and Climate Justice Action

More information on VC website

and CJA:

Via Campesina Brazil demonstrates against the crisis this year with the MST message, The crisis is not ours

ESF preparations: Link ecological and social crisis when mobilising for Copenhagen

Text adopted by the participants  of the EPA in Vienna (20th-21st of June 09):

Besides the financial  and economic crises, the climate crisis, including the energy crisis, is the  other dimension of the global crisis we face. We participants of the EPA in  Vienna, recognize the importance and the challenge of social movements, trade  unions and NGOs to build the links between the ecological and the social  crises as they are intrinsically linked with each other. We commit ourselves  and call upon all social movements and social organisations in Europe to  engage in building joint agendas of mobilization towards the UN Climate Change  Summit in Copenhagen and beyond. At the core of these efforts shall be the  building of an integrated answer and alternative addressing the social and  ecological question at the same time, supporting the ecological conversion of  our economies. We propose a collective meeting in the early autumn to build  convergences towards Copenhagen.

Text from the network meeting on  Copenhagen at the EPA:

We call upon interested organisations to  contribute to building a constructive program promoting public transport,  conversion of car and other fossil-based industries, ecological reconstruction  of housing, agricultural reform and supporting public solutions. A program  that needs to be financed by a redistribution of wealth from the rich to the  majority and promote public and political solutions rather than market based  solutions.

G20 Police violence and summary

Tord Björk | G20,global crisis,International action,police,Summits | Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

G20 protesters, Photo Vendela Procopé

You can find a summary of the G20 protests with many link at:

The Police violence at the G20 meeting became to obvious, at least when it was recorded on video. First the police claimed they had nothing to do with the death of Ian Tomlinson, a newspaper seller cought in a police kettle on his way home from work. Then when the facts about how Tomlinson died was kept secret a video filemd by a visiting North American banker was published by the Guardian showing how he was hit to the ground by a police offcier shortly before he died. Two weeks later a new video turned up showing how another police officer at a vigil for Tomlinson one day after he died slapped a woman in the face and the hit here legs with a baton. These two occasions are just two that happened to be recorded closely on video. There were a lot more. One can find the assault on the climate camp at the G20 protest on You tube and many more.

The two police officers guilty of hitting Tomlinson and the woman were suspended. Also many people normally supporting the police became offended by the way the polic behaved. Protests have grown not only criticizing single events and police offciers but the whole police strategy.

The documentation and protests against police attack on the Climate camp outside the EU climate exchange helped promoting a more far reaching debate. Above you see a climate camper being hit by the police, below you can find the Youtube video made by climate camp legal team;”

The way the claimed independent police watchdog IPCC handled the situation is less criticised. After the death of Tomlinson they immediatly backed the police version. They even criticises the Guardian for upsetting Tomlinson’s family when the newspaper started to publicize picture that questioned the police version. They also told other jporunalists that there is “nothing in the story” that he had been assaulted by an officer. When the video finally appeared IPCC had to give up their role as police PR agency and go back to its role as police watch dog.

IPCC have a criticized history. The Tomlinson story spread rapidly all over the world but especially in one country. In Brazil it reignited anger over the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician who was shot dead with intent by police officers inside Stockwell underground station in London in 2005. At this occasion IPCC also backed the false police versions that claimed that Menezes had behaved in any way suspiscious, running etc. It became clear that in the age of War on terror anyone can get murdeed by the state anywhere without behaving in anyway wrong and nothing will really happen more than that so called independent police wathdogs will claim that the police did everything right until others do the wathdog job and they have to change opinion. In the case of Menezes the first IPCC inquiry came to the conclusion that no offcier involved in the shooting had done nothing wrong.  The second inquiry criticised the police command structure and communications to the public. The truth when came out out late and the impunity for the police remained intact.

For more details:

Obama’s Strategy and the Summits

Tord Björk | G20,global crisis,International action | Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

A new G20 meeting takes place. Here an analysis of the Summit this spring.

There has been a lot of comments and analysis on the G20 Summit in London in April 2009. This one from Statfor, a US think tank takes up some different angles quite uncommon in Europe. Its realistic assessment of how EU actually is divided and how key countries as Germany dominate in a struggle for stopping EU efforts to bail out CEE central banks. Instead Germany and EU countries that in fact controls much of the CEE economy and have gained much profit from bank operations in these copuntries now wants IMF to save them from loosing their money. Ruffly 80 per cent of current IMF laons have gone to CEE countries.

G20 protesters in London, Photo by Vendela Procopé

By George Friedman, April 6, 2009

The weeklong extravaganza of G-20, NATO, EU, U.S. and Turkey meetings has almost ended. The spin emerging from the meetings, echoed in most of the media, sought to portray the meetings as a success and as reflecting a re-emergence of trans-Atlantic unity.

The reality, however, is that the meetings ended in apparent unity because the United States accepted European unwillingness to compromise on key issues. U.S. President Barack Obama wanted the week to appear successful, and therefore backed off on key issues; the Europeans did the same. Moreover, Obama appears to have set a process in motion that bypasses Europe to focus on his last stop: Turkey.
Berlin, Washington and the G-20

Let’s begin with the G-20 meeting, which focused on the global financial crisis. As we said last year, there were many European positions, but the United States was reacting to Germany’s. Not only is Germany the largest economy in Europe, it is the largest exporter in the world. Any agreement that did not include Germany would be useless, whereas an agreement excluding the rest of Europe but including Germany would still be useful.

Two fundamental issues divided the United States and Germany. The first was whether Germany would match or come close to the U.S. stimulus package. The United States wanted Germany to stimulate its own domestic demand. Obama feared that if the United States put a stimulus plan into place, Germany would use increased demand in the U.S. market to expand its exports. The United States would wind up with massive deficits while the Germans took advantage of U.S. spending, thus letting Berlin enjoy the best of both worlds. Washington felt it had to stimulate its economy, and that this would inevitably benefit the rest of the world. But Washington wanted burden sharing. Berlin, quite rationally, did not. Even before the meetings, the United States dropped the demand

Germany was not going to cooperate.

The second issue was the financing of the bailout of the Central European banking system, heavily controlled by eurozone banks and part of the EU financial system. The Germans did not want an EU effort to bail out the banks. They wanted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail out a substantial part of the EU financial system instead. The reason was simple: The IMF receives loans from the United States, as well as China and Japan, meaning the Europeans would be joined by others in underwriting the bailout. The United States has signaled it would be willing to contribute $100 billion to the IMF, of which a substantial portion would go to Central Europe. (Of the current loans given by the IMF, roughly 80 percent have gone to the struggling economies in Central Europe.) The United States therefore essentially has agreed to the German position.
Later at the NATO meeting, the Europeans — including Germany — declined to send substantial forces to Afghanistan. Instead, they designated a token force of 5,000, most of whom are scheduled to be in Afghanistan only until the August elections there, and few of whom actually would be engaged in combat operations. This is far below what Obama had been hoping for when he began his presidency.

Agreement was reached on collaboration in detecting international tax fraud and on further collaboration in managing the international crisis, however. But what that means remains extremely vague — as it was meant to be, since there was no consensus on what was to be done. In fact, the actual guidelines will still have to be hashed out at the G-20 finance ministers’ meeting in Scotland in November. Intriguingly, after insisting on the creation of a global regulatory regime — and with the vague U.S. assent — the European Union failed to agree on European regulations. In a meeting in Prague on April 4, the United Kingdom rejected the regulatory regime being proposed by Germany and France, saying it would leave the British banking system at a disadvantage.
Overall, the G-20 and the NATO meetings did not produce significant breakthroughs. Rather than pushing hard on issues or trading concessions — such as accepting Germany’s unwillingness to increase its stimulus package in return for more troops in Afghanistan — the United States failed to press or bargain. It preferred to appear as part of a consensus rather than appear isolated. The United States systematically avoided any appearance of disagreement.

The reason there was no bargaining was fairly simple: The Germans were not prepared to bargain. They came to the meetings with prepared positions, and the United States had no levers with which to move them. The only option was to withhold funding for the IMF, and that would have been a political disaster (not to mention economically rather unwise). The United States would have been seen as unwilling to participate in multilateral solutions rather than Germany being seen as trying to foist its economic problems on others. Obama has positioned himself as a multilateralist and can’t afford the political consequences of deviating from this perception. Contributing to the IMF, in these days of trillion-dollar bailouts, was the lower-cost alternative. Thus, the Germans have the U.S. boxed in.

The political aspect of this should not be underestimated. George W. Bush had extremely bad relations with the Europeans (in large part because he was prepared to confront them). This was Obama’s first major international foray, and he could not let it end in acrimony or wind up being seen as unable to move the Europeans after running a campaign based on his ability to manage the Western coalition. It was important that he come home having reached consensus with the Europeans. Backing off on key economic and military demands gave him that “consensus.”
Turkey and Obama’s Deeper Game

But it was not simply a matter of domestic politics. It is becoming clear that Obama is playing a deeper game. A couple of weeks before the meetings, when it had become obvious that the Europeans were not going to bend on the issues that concerned the United States, Obama scheduled a trip to Turkey. During the EU meetings in Prague, Obama vigorously supported the Turkish application for EU membership, which several members are blocking on grounds of concerns over human rights and the role of the military in Turkey. But the real reason is that full membership would open European borders to Turkish migration, and the Europeans do not want free Turkish migration. The United States directly confronted the Europeans on this matter.
During the NATO meeting, a key item on the agenda was the selection of a new alliance secretary-general. The favorite was former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Turkey opposed his candidacy because of his defense on grounds of free speech of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed published in a Danish magazine. NATO operates on consensus, so any one member can block just about anything. The Turks backed off the veto, but won two key positions in NATO, including that of deputy secretary-general.

So while the Germans won their way at the meetings, it was the Turks who came back with the most. Not only did they boost their standing in NATO, they got Obama to come to a vigorous defense of the Turkish application for membership in the European Union, which of course the United States does not belong to. Obama then flew to Turkey for meetings and to attend a key international meeting that will allow him to further position the United States in relation to Islam.

G20 protesters, Photo by Vendela Procopé

The Russian Dimension

Let’s diverge to another dimension of these talks, which still concerns Turkey, but also concerns the Russians. While atmospherics after the last week’s meetings might have improved, there was certainly no fundamental shift in U.S.-Russian relations. The Russians have rejected the idea of pressuring Iran over its nuclear program in return for the United States abandoning its planned ballistic missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The United States simultaneously downplayed the importance of a Russian route to Afghanistan. Washington said there were sufficient supplies in Afghanistan and enough security on the Pakistani route such that the Russians weren’t essential for supplying Western operations in Afghanistan. At the same time, the United States reached an agreement with Ukraine for the transshipment of supplies — a mostly symbolic gesture, but one guaranteed to infuriate the Russians at both the United States and Ukraine. Moreover, the NATO communique did not abandon the idea of Ukraine and Georgia being admitted to NATO, although the German position on unspecified delays to such membership was there as well. When Obama looks at the chessboard, the key emerging challenge remains Russia.

The Germans are not going to be joining the United States in blocking Russia. Between dependence on Russia for energy supplies and little appetite for confronting a Russia that Berlin sees as no real immediate threat to Germany, the Germans are not going to address the Russian question. At the same time, the United States does not want to push the Germans toward Russia, particularly in confrontations ultimately of secondary importance and on which Germany has no give anyway. Obama is aware that the German left is viscerally anti-American, while Merkel is only pragmatically anti-American — a small distinction, but significant enough for Washington not to press Berlin.
At the same time, an extremely important event between Turkey and Armenia looks to be on the horizon. Armenians had long held Turkey responsible for the mass murder of Armenians during and after World War I, a charge the Turks have denied. The U.S. Congress for several years has threatened to pass a resolution condemning Turkish genocide against Armenians. The Turks are extraordinarily sensitive to this charge, and passage would have meant a break with the United States. Last week, they publicly began to discuss an agreement with the Armenians, including diplomatic recognition, which essentially disarms the danger from any U.S. resolution on genocide. Although an actual agreement hasn’t been signed just yet, anticipation is building on all sides.
The Turkish opening to Armenia has potentially significant implications for the balance of power in the Caucasus. The August 2008 Russo-Georgian war created an unstable situation in an area of vital importance to Russia. Russian troops remain deployed, and NATO has called for their withdrawal from the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. There are Russian troops in Armenia, meaning Russia has Georgia surrounded. In addition, there is talk of an alternative natural gas pipeline network from Azerbaijan to Europe.

Turkey is the key to all of this. If Ankara collaborates with Russia, Georgia’s position is precarious and Azerbaijan’s route to Europe is blocked. If it cooperates with the United States and also manages to reach a stable treaty with Armenia under U.S. auspices, the Russian position in the Caucasus is weakened and an alternative route for natural gas to Europe opens up, decreasing Russian leverage against Europe.

From the American point of view, Europe is a lost cause since internally it cannot find a common position and its heavyweights are bound by their relationship with Russia. It cannot agree on economic policy, nor do its economic interests coincide with those of the United States, at least insofar as Germany is concerned. As far as Russia is concerned, Germany and Europe are locked in by their dependence on Russian natural gas. The U.S.-European relationship thus is torn apart not by personalities, but by fundamental economic and military realities. No amount of talking will solve that problem.

The key to sustaining the U.S.-German alliance is reducing Germany’s dependence on Russian natural gas and putting Russia on the defensive rather than the offensive. The key to that now is Turkey, since it is one of the only routes energy from new sources can cross to get to Europe from the Middle East, Central Asia or the Caucasus. If Turkey — which has deep influence in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Ukraine, the Middle East and the Balkans — is prepared to ally with the United States, Russia is on the defensive and a long-term solution to Germany’s energy problem can be found. On the other hand, if Turkey decides to take a defensive position and moves to cooperate with Russia instead, Russia retains the initiative and Germany is locked into Russian-controlled energy for a generation.

Therefore, having sat through fruitless meetings with the Europeans, Obama chose not to cause a pointless confrontation with a Europe that is out of options. Instead, Obama completed his trip by going to Turkey to discuss what the treaty with Armenia means and to try to convince the Turks to play for high stakes by challenging Russia in the Caucasus, rather than playing Russia’s junior partner.

This is why Obama’s most important speech in Europe was his last one, following Turkey’s emergence as a major player in NATO’s political structure. In that speech, he sided with the Turks against Europe, and extracted some minor concessions from the Europeans on the process for considering Turkey’s accession to the European Union. Why Turkey wants to be an EU member is not always obvious to us, but they do want membership. Obama is trying to show the Turks that he can deliver for them. He reiterated — if not laid it on even more heavily — all of this in his speech in Ankara. Obama laid out the U.S. position as one that recognized the tough geopolitical position Turkey is in and the leader that Turkey is becoming, and also recognized the commonalities between Washington and Ankara. This was exactly what Turkey wanted to hear.

The Caucasus is far from the only area to discuss. Talks will be held about blocking Iran in Iraq, U.S. relations with Syria and Syrian talks with Israel, and Central Asia, where both countries have interests. But the most important message to the Europeans will be that Europe is where you go for photo opportunities, but Turkey is where you go to do the business of geopolitics. It is unlikely that the Germans and French will get it. Their sense of what is happening in the world is utterly Eurocentric. But the Central Europeans, on the frontier with Russia and feeling quite put out by the German position on their banks, certainly do get it.

Obama gave the Europeans a pass for political reasons, and because arguing with the Europeans simply won’t yield benefits. But the key to the trip is what he gets out of Turkey — and whether in his speech to the civilizations, he can draw some of the venom out of the Islamic world by showing alignment with the largest economy among Muslim states, Turkey.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to

Alternative London Summit Press Release: Occupation at 4pm

Tord Björk | G20,global crisis,International action,popular movements,Repression | Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Despite management efforts to shut down the Alternative London Summit on Wednesday 1st April organisers and speakers are committed to making sure the event goes ahead at the University of East London as planned.

Occupation commences at 4pm. At 6pm there will be a press conference held at University of East London in the East Building, room 1.12. Speeches commence at 6pm across two lecture theatres.

Organisers are appealing to the public to join academics, union representatives and students in the occupation of the university in order to ensure that prominent political, scientific, academic and activist speakers who have remained committed to the event will be free and able to speak as planned.

It is vital at this pivotal moment in British and world history that we, the people have a public platform to understand and act on alternative ideas and strategies for our political, environmental and economic future.

The inconvenient truth that the authorities are so anxious to suppress is the simple fact that another world is possible!

Despite New Labour’s best efforts to establish corporate control over our education system, like many other universities across the country the University of East London is proud of its diversity of ideas, its intellectual autonomy and freedom of expression.

Free speech still exists in our university and it is our duty to protect this.

The crucial battleground on April 1st is the Docklands Campus of the University of East London. Either we lose control to the corporate state or we defend our sovereignty and therefore defend our traditions of freedom and democracy across England and Beyond. This is a battle between language and violence. If armed police are permitted to break the sacred circle of academic and scientific autonomy England will be a police state.

You may not have been thinking of coming. Please think again.

We are the people. We are the power.

The Alternative London Summit 2009 program you find at:

Petition to open the university:

WSF Bulletin March 27th 2009

Tord Björk | global crisis,International action,popular movements,Repression | Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The situation is heating up in the follow up on the call of action from World Social Forum in Belem in January and other places. In London a whole university were the alternative summit to the G-20 meeting was scheduled have been closed. Among the speakers were a former minister, mayor, members of parliament, professors and many others. Today a call was made to not accept the closure.

Those in power seems to believe in attacking the infrastructure of the movement, only politicians are allowed to meet and have qualified discussions. The political opposition becomes physically impossible. It seems like a crazy strategy. It destroys possibilities for motivating a coordinated politically response and promotes chaos. The EU Summit in Gothenburg 2001 is a clear example when the closure of a counter summit and convergence center created disorder.

The strategy has been used against the global justice movements since 2000 as a proactive police tactic in response to what happened at the WTO meeting in Seattle. It was than brought to Europe by the US educated police boss Håkan Jaldung in Gothenburg. It seems like the London organizers responds in a more political way. In Gothenburg the whole organizational core was broken down as the police encircled the alternative summit and convergence center with 150 containers and then arrested 450 persons inside. In the chaos the organizers were not able to establish political alliances caught in the practical problems that occured. Lets hope that in London that the US kind of way to proactively attack the right to gather people and create chaos in the interest of mass media and the police will be met with more combined political alliance building and mass action.

Below you find the content of the WSF Bulletin March 27th 2009 as i could not find it on the official WSF web site:

Global  week of mobilisation and action against capitalism and war

From  the 28th March to the 4th April, women and men from all over  the world will be in the streets to protest against capitalism  and war and to affirm that they will not pay for the crisis.  Launched by the Social Movements’ Assembly, that gathered  during WSF 2009 in Belem. Three moments mark this week of  mobilisation:

*28th March: Mobilisations in protest of  the Group of 20 meeting (the G20), composed of representatives  of Central Banks and governments from the 20 countries that  represent two thirds of world commerce and population and more  than 90% of the gross world product. The World Bank and the  International Monetary Fund (IMF) are also members of the G20.  They will meet in London (United Kingdom) at the beginning of  April.

Demonstration in London. Pics from Indymedia UK,
*30th March: Day of mobilisation against the  war and the crisis, and in solidarity with the Palestinian  people. This day coincides with Palestinian Land Day, which  remembers the 1976 Israeli massacre of Palestinians in  Galilee. It was chosen to strengthen the campaign for boycott,  disinvestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

*4th April: Day that marks the 60th anniversary of  NATO – North American Trade Organisation, an alliance of  military cooperation between the USA and several European  countries. NATO will meet between the 3rd and 4th April in  Baden-Baden and Kehl, in Germany, and in Strasbourg, in  France.

In Europe, movements will concentrate their  actions in London and Strasbourg. There are many different  street activities (such as marches, flyering and bike rides)  planned in the following countries: Australia, the Basque  Country, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Catalonia, France, Germany,  Greece, Kenya, Holland (the Netherlands), India, Italy,  Norway, Pakistan, Quebec, the Spanish State, the United  Kingdom (Scotland and England) and the USA.

During  this week and particularly on the days mentioned above,  movements will affirm that in order to overcome the different  crises (food, finance, economy, climate, energy and population  migration), it is necessary to tackle with the root of the  problem and build a radical alternative to the capitalist  system and patriarchal domination.

In the face of the  false answers presented by companies, banks and governments to  deal with the crisis – such as dismissals and privatisation of  public services, natural and energy resources – which merely  aim at socialising losses, social movements will demand a  number of urgent measures such as:

– Nationalising  the banking sector without compensations and with full social  monitoring,
– Reducing  working time without wage cuts,
– Taking  measures to ensure food and energy sovereignty,
–  Stopping wars, withdrawing occupation troops and dismantling  foreign military bases,
–  Acknowledging peoples’ sovereignty and autonomy, and ensuring  their right to self-determination,
–  Guaranteeing rights to land, territory, work, education and  health for all,
–  Democratising access to means of communication and knowledge.

Click  on the following link to read the full Declaration of the  Social Movements’ Assembly, held during the WSF 2009 in  Belém:  <>  (ou  )

For  further information about the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and  Sanctions) campaign, visit the website:

Read below some of  the actions already scheduled:

30th March: In  Melbourne, the Coalition of Palestinian Support Groups is  launching a campaign called “The Sack Connex, Boycott Israel”.


28th March: In Brussels, an action drawing  attention to the financial crisis and the Palestinian question  will take place under the slogan “Palestine occupied, Dexia  implied”, as well as a symbolic action between 1.30pm and  16.30pm with the performing of the street theatre “Who will  pay for the crisis?” In addition, as part of the mobilisations  against the crisis and war, the largest Belgian trade union  (FGTB) has launched a campaign with the theme “Capitalism is  seriously bad for our health”. More information (in French):


30th March: In São Paulo a national  demonstration organised by various different social movements  and Brazilian trade union networks will affirm that: “Workers  will not pay for the crisis!” The demonstration will begin in  the Avenue Paulista and will continue throughout the centre of  the city. The act will be accompanied by actions and  demonstrations in cities around the country. Look at the flyer  by clicking on the following link:,com_banners/task,click/bid,18  (ou

Demonstrations  against the ratification of the Mercosur-Israel trade  agreement, and in support of the BDS (boycott, disinvestments  and sanctions) campaign against Israel will also take place in  the centre of the city, organised by the Solidarity with the  Palestinian People’s Front.


28th  March: In Montreal, peaceful demonstration in front of the  Guy-Favreau Complex at 1.30pm to say no to the G20, considered  an illegitimate forum in which to solve the crisis.

30th  March: In Toronto, “Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar”, a  talk by George Galloway organised by the Toronto Stop the War  Coalition.

30th  March: In Montreal, symbolic olive tree planting in front of  the Israeli consulate, and an exhibition and sharing of  testimonies with regards to the Gaza situation.


28th March: Demonstrations  against the crisis and G20 and in solidarity with Palestinian  people will be held in Albacete, Almería, Barcelona, Bilbao,  Cádiz, Córdoba, Alicante, Elche, Madrid, Murcia, Pontevedra,  Tarragona and Valencia. Check the agenda at: <;id_article=189>


28th March: In Paris, demonstration organised  by a wide coalition of organisations, movements, trade unions  and political parties will leave from the Place de l’Opera at  2 pm. Activities are also scheduled in a further 30 cities.  Read the full list at:

On this same day, various activities in solidarity  with Palestine, such as demonstrations, film exhibitions and  conferences will take place in Paris, Lille, Le Mans, St  Brieuc and St Denis, organised by the France – Palestine  Solidarity Association (AFPS, in French).

On the  4th April, under the slogan « No to war! No to NATO ! »,  thousands of people from all over Europe will meet in  Strasbourg where different forms of action will take place to  demand an end to  militarisation and to NATO: workshops,  flyering to raise awareness, street blockades, meetings and  civil disobedience actions. A large demonstration is scheduled  to depart at 1pm. An alternative camp also will be organised.  Further information (only in French):


3rd April:  Demonstrations and blockades are planned in the city of  Baden-Baden, one of the entrance points for Heads of State and  military chiefs who will participate in the NATO ceremonies in  Strasbourg. More information:


2nd April: In Crete, demonstration in support  of sports boycott and protest of the Greece – Israel soccer  match in Heraclion.


28th March – 31st March: Cycling event calling  for the suspension of the EU – Israel Association Agreement.  Bicyclists will begin at the International Courts of Justice  at The Hague on the

28th and arrive at European  Parliament in Brussels on the 31st to deliver a petition to  European MPs. Organised by The Peace Cycle.


30th March: In Delhi, Exhibition, poetry and  films commemorating Palestinian Land Day.


28th March: Demonstration will take place at  2.30pm in Rome under the slogan “Loro la crisi, noi la  soluzione” (“Their crisis, our solutions”), organised by  COBAS. Sit-in at various shopping centres in Milan, Turin,  Pisa, Bologna, Rome, and Naples, organized by Forum Palestine  will also be held.

4th April: large demonstration  organised by CGIL and other organisations and networks through  the streets of Rome in direction of the Circo Massimo.


28th March: the World March of Women will  participate in actions in support of women artists, and to  affirm that women will not pay for the crisis. They will be  accompanied by a feminist drumming group and will base their  actions around the themes of women’s work, the common good,  food security, domestic violence and peace.


30th March: in  Kristiansand and Oslo debates and workshops around the  Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign as a tool to  pressure Israel. In selected neighbourhoods of Oslo, the  Socialist Youth will engage in a face to face boycott action,  going door to door and informing inhabitants about the BDS  campaign, which products to boycott, and how they can get  involved. Finally, the Palestine Committee and others will  hold a joint BDS demonstration at the Israeli embassy in Oslo.


In Karachi, a conference on the Palestinian  situation will be held on 28th March. On 2nd April,  demonstrations against the G20 will take place in the city  streets.


28th  March to 4th April: London will receive participants from all  over Europe for the demonstrations against the capitalistic  system and the crisis, on the 28th March, and against the war  and the NATO, on the 2nd April. Surprise actions, meetings and  debates will take place during the week, as well as a camp in  the city centre. Further information:

In Glasgow and Edinburgh, in  Scotland, boycotts of supermarkets will take place on the 29th  March in solidarity with Palestine.

On 30th March,  mass calls to Waitrose and Tesco supermarkets’ customer  services to complain about the sale of Israeli products across  the UK.


29th  March: Film projections, discussion around BDS actions with  speakers recently returned from Gaza and on links between  Mexico and Palestine walls, will be held in Santa Cruz, and on  the
30th March in San Diego and Los Angeles, California. In  New York, the Campaign for the Boycott of Israel will launch a  broad boycott campaign against the Motorola Company on the  30th.

… And much more around the  World.

Wallerstein on MST as a model in the global crisis

Tord Björk | Brazil,global crisis,MST,Uncategorized,WSF | Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Follow Brazil’s Example

By Immanuel Wallerstein

Quotes from article that appeared in the March 23, 2009 edition of The Nation.

MST activists together with other Via Campesina women occupying Barra Bonita March 8 2009 to promote agrarian reform alternatives to corporate monoculture

“In my view, the only sensible attitude is that taken by the large, powerful and militant Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil. The MST supported Lula in 2002, and despite all he failed to do that he had promised, they supported his re-election in 2006. They did it in full cognizance of the limitations of his government, because the alternative was clearly worse. What they also did, however, was to maintain constant pressure on the government–meeting with it, denouncing it publicly when it deserved it and organizing on the ground against its failures.

The MST would be a good model for the US left, if we had anything comparable in terms of a strong social movement. We don’t, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to patch one together as best we can and do as the MST does–press Obama openly, publicly and hard–all the time, and of course cheering him on when he does the right thing. What we want from Obama is not social transformation. He neither wishes to, nor is able to, offer us that. We want from him measures that will minimize the pain and suffering of most people right now. That he can do, and that is where pressure on him may make a difference.

The middle run is quite different. And here Obama is irrelevant, as are all the other left-of-center governments. What is going on is the disintegration of capitalism as a world system, not because it can’t guarantee welfare for the vast majority (it never could do that) but because it can no longer ensure that capitalists will have the endless accumulation of capital that is their raison d’être. We have arrived at a moment in which neither farsighted capitalists nor their opponents (us) are trying to preserve the system. We are both trying to establish a new system, but of course we have very different, indeed radically opposed, ideas about the nature of such a system.

Because the system has moved very far from equilibrium, it has become chaotic. We are seeing wild fluctuations in all the usual economic indicators–the prices of commodities, the relative value of currencies, the real levels of taxation, the quantity of items produced and traded. Since no one really knows, practically from day to day, where these indicators will shift, no one can sensibly plan anything.

In such a situation, no one is sure what measures will be best, whatever their politics. This practical intellectual confusion lends itself to frantic demagoguery of all kinds. The system is bifurcating, which means that in twenty to forty years there will be some new system, which will create order out of chaos. But we don’t know what that system will be.

What can we do? First of all, we must be clear what the battle is about. It is the battle between the spirit of Davos (for a new system that is not capitalism but is nonetheless hierarchical, exploitative and polarizing) and the spirit of Porto Alegre (a new system that is relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian). No lesser evil here. It’s one or the other.

What must the left do? Promote intellectual clarity about the fundamental choice. Then organize at a thousand levels and in a thousand ways to push things in the right direction. The primary thing to do is to encourage the decommodification of as much as we can decommodify. The second is to experiment with all kinds of new structures that make better sense in terms of global justice and ecological sanity. And the third thing we must do is to encourage sober optimism. Victory is far from certain. But it is possible.”

Immanuel Wallerstein, senior research scholar at Yale University, is the author, most recently, of European Universalism: The Rhetoric of Power.

Article at

Women Struggle against Agribusiness, for Agrarian Reform and Food Sovereignty

Tord Björk | global crisis,monoculture,MST,Women | Sunday, March 29th, 2009

700 Via Campesina women occupy the fazenda Ana Paula

Women from La Via Campesina mobilized last week on March 8th for International Women’s Day. The fight is our historic tool to denounce the agribusiness model which is socially unjust and environmentally unsustainable. We also question the role of the State, which in the wake of a deep structural economic crisis, chooses to aid big private companies which exploit our country, its biodiversity, our natural resources and leave our workers unemployed.

We live in a period where there is a new right-wing offensive against social movements. With this campaign, we show the enemies of Agrarian Reform and of the worker, that we will continue confronting agribusiness, creating an alternative project for the Brazilian countryside.

While factory farms receive R$65 billion in financing from the government, family farmers, which generate jobs and produce food for the people, are left with less than R$13 billion. In 2008, BNDES gave to various sectors, including mining, stockbreeding, cellulose and paper, nearly R$17 billion.

In the wake of the crisis, these sectors were the first to throw their negative effects onto the backs of workers: firms tied to agribusiness left 134,000 people unemployed in the country. It was the second highest sector of unemployment since September, when the international economic crisis began.

The actions of our struggle transform the sentiment of all workers in cities and in the countryside into struggle:

We won’t pay for the crisis!

We denounce monocultural production, and for that reason we occupy sugar cane and eucalyptus plantations. Those crops advance over food production and damage our biodiversity. For that reason we occupied the Cosan power plant in São Paulo, a Votorantim farm in Rio Grande do Sul, a Vale eucalyptus farm in Maranhão, we cut stalks of sugar cane in Paraíba, and planted beans and corn in their place.

We denounce dangerous working conditions that lead to slave-like exploitation, and for that reason we occupied sugar plantations in Pernambuco and marched in Paraná. We denounce the project calling for the transfer of the São Francisco River and we occupied Codevasf in Pernambuco.

1300 female workers occupy the harbor Portocel

We denounce the agro export model, which prioritizes the profits made by large companies. We occupied Portocel port, used and operated by Aracruz Cellulose, in Espírito Santo state, questioning the exportation of 96% of disposable paper from its production to consumers in the north.

We questioned the agribusiness model and its financing of the State. The alliance between large property owners and transnational corporations has been deemed legitimate by the government, which doesn’t prioritize the family farmer. In Brasília we occupied the Agricultural Ministry, we occupied Incra offices in Rio Grande do Norte and in Paraíba. We occupied the Banco do Brasil agency in Santa Catarina.

We protested in front of the Federal Supreme Court, whose president, Gilmar Mendes, has assumed the role as a leader of the right in Brazil. He defends his interests as a large property owner and the interests of his social caste. He doesn’t want Agrarian Reform or to see land redistributed. We will continue with our promise and remain mobilized and we won’t waver against those most reactionary sectors, the transnational corporations and financial capital.

And while land, water and seeds are threatened, we will be ready. We are the progeny of so many men and women who did not submit to inequality and injustice. We have a plan for Brazilian agriculture, with its base being food sovereignty, family agriculture and Agrarian Reform, to address the necessities of the Brazilian people.

At this moment, we place ourselves at the side of Brazilian society to discuss how to confront the economic crisis and construct a popular development plan, with social justice and popular sovereignty.

MST National Coordinators

The crisis will be profound and prolonged

Tord Björk | global crisis,MST | Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

João Pedro Stedile in Belem 2009 discussing plantation issues, photo Tord Björk

by João Pedro Stedile

It’s been several months since the crisis of capitalism was unleashed on the international level, with its epicenter in financial capital and the US economy.  Now we have more evidence that this crisis will be profound and prolonged, affecting all the peripheral economies — including Brazil.

Many analyses of the crisis have been published in academia and the media.  There are all sorts of positions and ideological currents.  But they all converge on this diagnosis: it is a profound crisis, worse than the crisis of 1929.  It will affect the entire world economy, which has been increasingly internationalized and controlled by fewer than 500 companies.  It will be worse, because it combines an economic crisis, a financial crisis (of the credibility of currencies), an environmental crisis, an ideological crisis due to the failure of neoliberalism, and a political crisis due to the lack of alternatives on the part of the dominant class at the center of capitalism or the governments of the periphery.

In the history of crises of capitalism, the dominant classes, owners of capital, and their governments have adopted the same prescription to exit them.

First, they need to destroy a part of (over-accumulated) capital (lacking demand) to make room for another process of accumulation.  In recent months, over 4 trillion dollars in paper money have gone up in smoke.

Second, they call for wars.   War is a way of destroying goods (weapons, munitions, materials, facilities) and getting rid of the social tension of workers.  And it does so in such a way as to also eliminate the industrial reserve army.  Thence the First and Second World Wars, and then the Cold War.  Now, given the fear of atomic bombs, they stir up regional conflicts instead.  The attacks on the Palestinian people by Israel, the provocations in India, and the threats against Iran all fit in this strategy as well.  The strategy is to increase military spending and destroy goods.

Third, magnify the exploitation of workers.  That is to say, in crises, lower the average wages, and bring down the living standards and thus the costs of the reproduction of the labor force, in order to restore the rates of surplus value and restart accumulation.  Hence also the expansion of unemployment, which keeps multitudes surviving only on the basic baskets of goods, etc.

Fourth, a greater transfer of capital from the periphery to the center of the system.  This is accomplished by the direct transfer from enterprises in the periphery to their headquarters, as well as through the manipulation of the dollar exchange rate, the payment of interests, and the manipulation of prices of goods sold and bought in the periphery.

Fifth, capital goes back to using the state as the manager of the savings of the population to shift these funds for the benefit of capital.  For this purpose, capitalists again valorize the state, not as the caretaker of the interests of society, but as the steward of their interests, to use its compulsory powers and thus collect money from everyone, through taxes as well as savings deposited in the banks, in order to finance their way out of the crisis.

We are witnessing the application of these classic measures, reported in the press every day — here in Brazil, in the center of capitalism, and in the rest of the world.

But, as with everything in life, there are always contradictions.  For each action of capital, the government, etc., there will be its contradiction, which society and workers can recognize and exploit to change the situation.

The historic periods of crises are also periods of change.  For better or worse, there will be changes!  Crises create openings and rearrange the positioning of classes in society.  In Brazil, we are still apathetic, amorphous, listless, watching the description of symptoms of the approaching crisis on television.  There was hardly any reaction or feedback from nearly 800,000 workers who lost their jobs just in December 2008.  Nor are there comments on the IPEA research showing that, of the 17 million poor families in Brazil in the general register of beneficiaries of government programs, 79% of them are unemployed!  For they received some benefits, they are not seeking more jobs, and they are left out of even the statistics of unemployment.

It is vital for the organized sectors of society — in all existing forms, whether in churches, trade unions, schools, colleges, universities, the press, social movements, or parties — to do something about the crisis.  The first thing to do is to debate the nature of the crisis and find ways out of the crisis, from the point of view of workers and the majority of society.  It is urgent to encourage all manner of discussions in all arenas.  Paraná Educational TV’s initiative to promote this kind of public debate is welcome.  But it is still insufficient.  The crisis will be long and deep.  We need to involve the largest possible number of militants, politically conscious men and women, to discuss the situation, so we can collectively build popular alternatives.  Without mobilization and social struggles, there will be no way out for the people — except for capital.

João Pedro Stedile is a member of the national coordination of the MST and Via Campesina.  The original article “A crise será profunda e prolongada. . .” appeared in the February 2009 issue of Caros Amigos, Sao Paulo, Brasil, republished by the Agencia Latinoamericana de Información on 16 February 2009.

Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.

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