On September 15, The New York Times reported that the World Trade Organization talks…. collapsed. According to the Times, an agreement at the WTO talks would have jump-started the economy and "inject(ed) hundreds of billions of dollars into international commercial activity." Why did delegates from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America walk out on an opportunity to help our ailing world economy? The newspapers of several developing countries offer a different perspective than the mainstream American press.

Most of the papers pointed to the billion dollars a day the United States and the European Union give to agribusiness as the FOREMOST cause of their problems. The subsidies allow the US and EU to set their prices BELOW production costs….. which effectively shuts out small farmers from poorer nations. These small farmers are often forced into urban slums and bankruptcy as a result. One extremely distraught small farmer from South Korea STABBED himself on the security fence outside the WTO talks…. in protest of such policies. Recently, suicide hasn't been THAT RARE among farmers in developing countries. One Indian newspaper, The Asian Age, quoted Vandana Shiva, an Indian delegate, as reporting 20,000 farmer suicides in her country. In 1998 alone, 1,000 farmers killed themselves in India…. THREE HUNDRED by swallowing PESTICIDES. Developing nations connected this desperation and poverty to the policies of the WTO.

Some of the newspapers expressed frustration and distrust with the WTO. The Jakarta Post in Indonesia reported that the failure of the WTO talks "reflects on the continual lack of regard of the major members of the WTO, to the interests and concerns of developing countries." Many developing nations claimed the concerns of the WEALTHY nations DOMINATED the meeting. In India, The Asian Age connected Americans' refusal to reduce farm subsidies with Bush's upcoming presidential election. The Asian Age quoted an anonymous American senior delegate. "President Bush was not going to upset his farmers before his re-election."

Several newspapers described the attempts of the US and European Union to coerce weaker nations into a trade agreement. The Daily Nation in Kenya reported on "behind the scenes wheeler dealing and horse trading meant to weaken the developing countries' solidarity." The US and EU EVEN invited a small group of nations into a "greenroom" meeting to try to settle a deal. When the developing nations refused….. the US warned of the consequences. According to Chuck Grassley, a US senator, the US evaluates trading partners "on an on going basis. I'll take note of those nations that played a constructive role in Cancun and….. those who didn't."

Despite the failure of the WTO talks, the developing nations remain positive. "It was not possible to get a concrete result," claimed Celso Amorim, the Brazilian Foreign Minister for The Guardian newspaper in Nigeria. "But we think that we have achieved some important things: Firstly…. the respect for our group." The Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram Weekly looked POSITIVELY towards the future. "People have woken up to what's going on….. They can see what's happening in the world…… And what they see is far from satisfactory."




 

Crayola already has the color, "Burnt Sierra" under its belt. I wouldn't be surprised to find a Burnt Ventura in the next Crayola crayon box I open. Burnt San Bernardino, Burnt Angeles, Burnt Big Bear: If the palette of blistered hills, smoke filled skies, and unearthly sunsets is what Crayola is trying to capture next, look no farther than California.

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Last week David Kay updated the American government on his search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "We have not found at this point actual weapons," Kay told congressional committees. Kay's 1,200 member team has spent three hundred million dollars in the past six months searching Iraq for evidence of Saddam's alleged WMD program. So far, they've found one vial of botulinum, a poison that can be used as a weapon. 

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The connection between the current Bush administration and Halliburton Oil, their interests in the Middle East and particularly in the war and reconstruction efforts in Iraq are well documented. However, Vice President Cheney and his former boss, George H.W. Bush, have a stake in more than just oil in the Middle East, and a reason to keep the world's attention on the relationship between Dick Cheney and Halliburton's oil interests, rather than some of the company's other investments, like military bases in sub-Saharan African countries.

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On March 20, 2003 the United States invaded Iraq as part of the War on Terrorism. According to American officials, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which he could potentially sell to Al Qaeda. Saddam posed an imminent danger to the American people, and for this reason the United States began bombarding Baghdad last spring. Perhaps ironically, terrorism seems to have increased since Americans arrived in Iraq. Four American soldiers and close to forty Iraqi civilians died in FIVE suicide car bombings in Baghdad on Monday, October 27th.

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