rn- Storm Is Brewing in Seattle Over Trade Commerce


Richard Moore

Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 21:50:05 -0500
From: Nurev Ind Research <•••@••.•••>
To: Activist List Mail to <•••@••.•••>
CC: Bob Djurdjevic <•••@••.•••>,
        conspiracy theory research list <•••@••.•••>,
        cyberjournal <•••@••.•••>,
Subject: [Fwd: Storm Is Brewing in Seattle Over Trade  Commerce]

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Storm Is Brewing in Seattle Over Trade  Commerce
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 13:58:44 -0600 (CST)
From: MichaelP <•••@••.•••>
Organization: ?
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Seattle police chief warns protesters, < ... foreign or domestic, not to
mistake Seattle's open arms for an invitation to chaos. >
 Now I always thought chaos was a deliberate creation by the big
corporations trying to sell useless things and making a huige irreversible
mess in the process.


  -LA Times, Nov 14, 1999

Storm Is Brewing in Seattle Over Trade  Commerce: Protesters gear up for
WTO meeting, while officials praise globalism.

By EVELYN IRITANI, Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE--Judging from the fierce debate being waged in church basements,
labor temples and City Hall, this laid-back home for Gore-Tex-clad,
latte-sipping software developers has become the front line in a battle
over the fate of civilization.

The incongruous occasion for such excitement is a meeting about trade:
cotton tariffs, insurance markets and the like.

The landmark meeting of the World Trade Organization doesn't begin here
until Nov. 30, but in a real sense it is already underway.

For months, the citizens have been passionately lobbied for and against
the WTO by activists and officials from near and far.

There is street theater, guerrilla training and mudslinging. The  White
House has dispatched Cabinet secretaries here to sing the praises of
trade. The Internet sizzles with protest rhetoric. The City  Council holds
forth on Burmese human rights.

And Seattle police are on alert, given the riots that have erupted  in
Geneva and other cities where the WTO has met recently.

Protesters are headed here from around the globe, including France's
anti-McDonald's crusader Jose Bove and India's feminist author Vandana
Shiva, and there are rumors that militant groups in London and elsewhere
plan to infiltrate the nonviolent protests.

It's a commentary on the profound change afoot in the world economy that a
gathering of trade bureaucrats has become an international magnet for
protesters and a street-level referendum on the power of the WTO.

It is also a commentary on Seattle, the most trade-dependent city in the
nation but also a bastion of earnest liberalism where the  trade-offs
between jobs and, say, sea turtles don't sit well with everyone. In a city
known for progressive politics, this debate has fostered new, and not
entirely comfortable, marriages among those opposed to the forces of

"This is the kind of stuff that can cause a Republican law-and-order
politician to march in the streets with the Socialists,"  says King County
Councilman Brian Derdowski, an iconoclastic Republican who has become an
outspoken WTO critic.

When the trade ministers of 135 nations descend on the Washington State
Convention and Trade Center, there will be at least 750 accredited
organizations on the sidelines--versus 12 in Uruguay in 1986, the last
time a round of trade talks was launched. Tens of thousands of unofficial
types are also expected.

WTO opponents insist they are not attempting to blacken Seattle's
reputation or turn the gathering into a millennium version of Chicago
1968, when the Democratic National Convention became the site of a bloody
brawl between anti-war protesters and police officers.

But they consider this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to draw the
world's attention to what they consider the dark side of globalism: a
laundry list of sins such as Third World debt, overlogging of tropical
rain forests, child labor, the safety of bioengineered food, even the
transport of dangerous pests in ship ballast water.

"We need to have environmental rights, consumer protections and labor
rights protected just like intellectual property rights," say s Michael
Ramos, an official at the Washington Assn. of Churches, which is
organizing a religious procession that will culminate in a giant circle of
hands around the convention center.

In the forefront are labor and environmental activists, traditional
supporters of the Democratic White House, which has been rotating Cabinet
secretaries in and out of Seattle to try to defuse the tensions.

But when Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Carol Browner and Labor
Secretary Alexis M. Herman came to town last month, angry hecklers shouted
them down.

An effort by the King County Council to offer a simple welcome to the WTO
delegates turned into a high-stakes poker game, with council members being
heavily lobbied by business leaders, Democratic Party heavyweights and
labor and environmental groups.

The final result was a halfhearted resolution offering a carefully  worded
plea for "free and fair" international trade and a "respect for basic
human values."

Even candidates for five seats in this month's Seattle City Council race
were forced to take sides, with half of them promising to join the
protesters on the streets.

This rising clamor has tested the patience of the Seattle host committee,
which has organized a series of public events before and during the WTO
meeting for critics to debate the issues.

Led by Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp., Seattle's business elite has ponied
up millions of dollars to host 5,000 WTO delegates, officials and
journalists, ensuring their city's moment of  global glory. But large
corporations from other parts of the country, either uninterested or
anxious to steer clear of the mudslinging, are balking, leaving the host
committee $3 million short of the $9.2 million it needs with just a few
weeks left.

And media-savvy activists--from Ralph Nader's Public Citizen to the
Berkeley-based Ruckus Society--have proved to be formidable adversaries,
even inviting the media to watch them train would-be demonstrators in
scaling skyscrapers and chaining themselves to buildings.

Lacking the big bucks of their corporate-backed opponents, these groups
have used creative acts of rebellion and the Internet to spread the word.

Shortly after the official WTO Web site was established
(www.wtoseattle.org), a counter site appeared with a similar address
(www.seattlewto.org) to give viewers instructions on how to join the
"mobilization against corporate globalization."

In another sabotage attempt, fliers bearing the WTO logo were distributed
to Seattle businesses inviting them to apply to the host committee for
reimbursement for lost sales during the meeting. No such program exists,
muddying the picture for store owners already worried that the WTO meeting
will scare away holiday shoppers.

Noah Kenneally is a 24-year-old member of a street theater group that is
building giant puppet caricatures of world leaders and anti-trade heroes.
In one popular depiction, the WTO is a huge octopus whose tentacles are
strangling clean air, old-growth forests and workers of the world.

"People putting their bodies on the line are taking risks, but we can also
do it in a festive and celebratory way," says the soft-spoken Canadian,
who is volunteering full time in the crowded Seattle office of the Direct
Action Network, a leading anti-WTO group.

Ray Waldmann, the Boeing executive on loan to oversee the host committee's
largely volunteer operation, is convinced many of the WTO's critics would
prefer attention-getting stunts to a true debate on the issues.

The exasperated executive, echoing concerns expressed by many Seattle
leaders, fears decorum will give way to chaos when the WTO delegates
arrive. He predicts that will leave many foreign officials even more
determined not to give in to the democratic clamor.

"If demonstrators trash the city, that will backfire," Waldmann warns. "If
the demonstrators stop the cars of foreign diplomats and throw eggs, it
will make them less willing to listen."

Here in Washington, the many faces of trade are much more than an academic

Seattle Mayor Paul Schell sees both the promise and pain of trade and the
pressures it creates. Cross Lake Washington and you drive through
prosperous waterfront neighborhoods populated by Microsoft millionaires.
But Seattle's high-tech boom has dramatically pushed up home prices and
other living costs, contributing to the shortage of affordable housing and
long lines at food banks.

Schell hopes the WTO meeting will launch a global discussion of ways to
improve a trading system that, while far from perfect, is a "reality, not
an option." "Who can be for child labor?" he asks. "But if the
[alternative] is nobody eats, we must come up with another way to put
money into the economy."

As the headquarters for big-time exporters such as Boeing, Microsoft and
Weyerhaeuser Co., this state depends on trade for nearly 1 in 3 jobs, the
highest ratio in the country, according to a recent study by the
University of Washington.

WTO advocates, such as the Washington Council on International Trade and
Washington State China Relations Council, argue that expanded trade will
create markets for Boeing aircraft and eastern Washington wheat and help
developing countries produce low-cost goods to fill America's Christmas

But this picturesque region of forests and fishing villages also boasts
some of the nation's most powerful, and militant, labor unions and
environmentalists, who decry the export of jobs to nations with low wages,
lax environmental standards and dubious human rights records.

"The rest of the world thinks all Americans are consumers and all we care
about is lower costs," says Ron Judd, executive secretary treasurer of the
King County Labor Council. "But we care about environmental quality. We
care about community standards. This should not be a race to the bottom."

This tug of war between economic self-interest and social and political
concerns can be viewed through the eyes of Bill Johnson, president of the
Machinists District Lodge 751.

He represents 35,000 hourly workers at Boeing, the giant aerospace firm
locked in a bitter competition with Europe's Airbus Industries. Since the
first of last year, Boeing, which now employs 202,000 people worldwide,
has slashed 36,600 jobs.

Boeing wants to get China, one of the world's fastest-growing airplane
markets, into the WTO, where it would be forced to reduce barriers to
foreign firms. But U.S. unions are strongly opposed to China's entry until
it allows independent unions to operate and improves working conditions.

"It puts us in a difficult spot," admits Johnson, who is encouraging his
members to join the WTO protests. "I want to be conscious of the things
happening in other parts of the world, but I also want to be conscious
about Boeing's ability to sell airplanes."

So far, such differences have played out here in a mellow, congenial
fashion, an attitude as much a part of the Northwest as sodden skies and
Chinook salmon.

After all, this is a city where the police have been known to lend
protesters their megaphones so they can get their points across more
clearly. During a trade demonstration here in 1993, protesters shattered
pieces of glass as a show of discontent--and then carefully cleared away
the shards.

But Seattle police are budgeting $6 million to cover additional officers
and overtime and a stockpile of tear gas and other crowd control

Assistant Police Chief Edward Joiner expects his biggest headaches to be
juggling motorcades, managing traffic congestion and maintaining buffer
zones between supporters of countries with  END strong historical
animosities, such as India and Pakistan.

But he also warns protesters, foreign or domestic, not to mistake
Seattle's open arms for an invitation to chaos.

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest
in receiving the included information for research and educational
purposes. ***


    an activist discussion forum - •••@••.•••
    To subscribe, send any message to
    A public service of Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance
        •••@••.•••     http://cyberjournal.org

  **--> Non-commercial reposting is encouraged,
        but please include the sig up through this paragraph
        and retain any internal credits and copyright notices.
        Copyrighted materials are posted under "fair-use".

    Help create the Movement for a Democratic Renaissance

    To review renaissance-network archives, send a blank message to:

    To subscribe to the the cj list, which is a larger list
    and a more general political discussion, send a blank message to:
    To sample the book-in-progress, "Achieving a Livable World", see:

            A community will evolve only when
            the people control their means of communication.
                -- Frantz Fanon

            Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful
            committed citizens can change the world,
            indeed it's the only thing that ever has.
                - Margaret Mead