Turkey's voters have delivered the 'wrong' result
The Independent, London
05 November 2002
After the Taliban's chums enter the Pakistan
parliament, the Islamists are back in Turkey. Who said
that fundamentalism is dead? No, the victory of
Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) is not a
specifically anti-American vote - corruption and
economic collapse produced its 350 seats in the
540-seat Turkish parliament. But opposition to
corruption and economic collapse lay behind the
Pakistani vote, too. Indeed, it is the foundation for
almost every Islamist opposition vote in the Middle
East, the desire to destroy the cancer which infects
almost every pro-American regime in the region.
President George Bush, riding the Iraqi war cry in his
mid-term election campaign yesterday, will not have
spent more than a few seconds - if that - reflecting
on the meaning of Turkey's election results. For this
is a country that not only opposes his Iraqi adventure
but has made it very clear that, in the event of
hostilities, the Turkish army will move into Kurdish
northern Iraq to prevent the declaration of a Kurdish
state. So much for "safe havens".
Even now, the Turkish army could push the courts into
banning the AKP on the grounds that the party leader,
Recep Erdogan - who was characteristically forbidden
to participate in these elections - is a closet
Islamic militant. This claim is partly based on Mr
Erdogan's public recitation of an old poem which
compared minarets to bayonets, mosques to helmets and
Muslim believers to soldiers. In 1999, this earned Mr
Erdogan a brief trip to prison for "incitement to
religious hatred". But Islamists know how to re-invent
The AKP - officially at least - supports Turkey's
military alliance with the United States, not least
because it needs Washington's pressure on Brussels to
allow Turkey to join the European Union. Asked if the
army might simply remove the AKP from office, the
patriotic Mr Erdogan cheekily responded: "What do you
mean? They are my army, how would I not work with
But you don't have to look far to see other reasons
for this strange if temporary religious-secular
alliance. The Turkish lira has lost half its value in
12 months, the economy had declined by 10 per cent in
the same year and two million people have been added
to the total of unemployed. Nothing could have been
more symbolic of the decline of the old nationalist
parties than the decaying, shrunken figure of the
Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, staggering towards the
voting box in Sunday's elections.
If the army wants a new EU Turkey, free of pointless
disputes about headscarves in parliament and alcohol
in municipal restaurants (the "secular" Mr Erdogan
banned the latter during his previous incarnation as
mayor of Istanbul), it also wants to wash the blood of
30,000 Turkish Kurds off its hands, the death toll in
its ferocious war against the Kurdish insurrection in
the south-east of the country in the 1990s.
Having been spared President Bush's moral outrage for
such an atrocity, it also needs to clean up its record
after 2,000 "disappearances" of intellectuals,
journalists and Kurdish politicians during the same
"cleansing" operations. In an odd way, living
alongside the revamped AKP - the Christian Democrats
of Islam, as the party rather unconvincingly suggests
it is - helps the army shrug off its dirty war against
But Turkey does not fit easily into Middle East
patterns. Secularism really means "Kemalism", a form
of nationalist modernisation which would prefer to
treat Islam as a kind of folk culture in Turkish
society rather than part of the religious fabric of
"Kemalism" is derived from Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the
hero of Gallipoli who became founder of the
post-Ottoman Turkish state. But Kemalist Turkey never
really confronted the issue of secularism. To its
shame, Turkey has never admitted its genocide against
the Armenians in which 1.5 million of its Christian
Ottoman citizens were massacred in the First World
War. Even in the Second World War, it contrived to
levy massive taxes against its non-Muslim population,
especially Jews. (Its Israeli ally now forgets all
this, joining Turkey in its denial of the Armenian
For the present, Mr Erdogan's appeal to party
supporters - "that absolutely no one take actions that
would upset public order, endanger security or upset
anyone" - will keep the army at bay, as well as the
Americans, whose $31bn (£20bn) reform programme is as
important to Mr Erdogan as it was to Mr Ecevit.
But any US war against Iraq could fracture these
alliances and promises. Muslim Turkey will not
tolerate the breakup of Iraq, and it will sympathise
with the thousands of Iraqi Muslims likely to die in
Washington's invasion. President-General Pervez
Musharraf's participation in Mr Bush's "war on
terrorism" has already been hobbled by the Islamists'
victory in Pakistan - in a poll originally billed by
the White House as "an important road map" on the
return to Pakistani democracy. Now Turkey has produced
another "wrong" result as it practises the democracy
so touted by the Americans.
This adds another dangerous equation to President
Bush's forthcoming adventure in Iraq - and yet another
reason why the Americans, despite their public demand
for democracy in the Middle East, will secretly hope
that the contagion of democracy doesn't spread any
further in the region.
Back to Main News Page
Date: Thu, 07 Nov 2002 22:51:37 -0800
Subject: Afrikan Involvement In Atlantic Slave Trade
Afrikan Involvement In Atlantic Slave Trade
By Kwaku Person-Lynn, Ph.D.
Facing the truth about the past is not always a pleasant adventure. In
fact, it is extremely painful dealing with why Black people are in the
United States, after the 16th century. In no way is this an attempt to
belittle the great and amazing history of Afrika, but simply to look at a
portion of the past that does not merit a positive spot light, but is part
of the Afrikan story nonetheless.
An authentic way to attack this problem is to look at a passage from Adu
Boahen, a noted Afrikan historian, author and former chair of the History
Department at the University of Ghana. He approaches this issue with a pure
honesty: "How were all these numerous unfortunate Africans enslaved and
purchased? African scholars and politicians today must be honest and admit
that the enslavement and sale of Africans from the seventeenth century
onwards was done by the Africans themselves, especially the coastal kings
and their elders, and that very few Europeans actually ever marched inland
and captured slaves themselves. Africans became enslaved mainly through four
ways: first, criminals sold by the chiefs as punishment; secondly, free
Africans obtained from raids by African and a few European gangs, thirdly,
domestic slaves resold, and fourthly, prisoners of war," (Adu Boahen, Topics
In West African History p. 110).
There is adequate evidence citing case after case of Afrikan control of
segments of the trade. Several Afrikan nations such as the Ashanti of Ghana
and the Yoruba of Nigeria had economies depended solely on the trade.
Afrikan peoples such as the Imbangala of Angola and the Nyamwezi of Tanzania
would serve as middlemen or roving bands warring with other Afrikan nations
to capture Afrikans for Europeans.
Extenuating circumstances demanding exploration are the tremendous efforts
European officials in Afrika used to install rulers agreeable to their
interests. They would actively favor one Afrikan group against another to
deliberately ignite chaos and continue their slaving activities.
I.A. Akinjogbin, noted Afrikan historian, in his article, 'The Expansion of
Oyo And The Rise Of Dahomey 1600-1800," gives an example in the Aja Kingdom
of Dahomey (now Benin): "The principal European traders took active part in
installing kings who they judged would favor their activities, irrespective
of whether such kings were acceptable to their subjects, or were the right
candidates according to Aja traditions," (History of West Africa, J.F.A.
Ajayi and Michael Crowder, eds., p. 389). This is the exact same system used
today, whereby certain American Afrikans are put in positions to divide
people of Afrikan descent through radio programs, editorials, books, chairs
of academic departments, so-called fabricated leaders, executive directors
of white supremacists organizations, and so forth.
A couple of additional points to be addressed are the Arab slave trade in
Afrika, occuring almost 1000 years prior to the European slave trade, and
continues even today, and continental Afrikan slavery, which was part of the
culture, but more humane and unlike the chattel slavery of the United
States. In Afrika, slaves were still human beings. In the United States,
slaves were property. The cold reality, Afrikans controlled the capture of
other Afrikans, initiated several wars and raiding parties to secure
captives, set prices for buyers and even extended credit to Europeans for
the purchase of Afrikans.
One prevailing and probably wishful sentiment on the part of many is that
Afrikan rulers did not know what type of slavery they were selling Afrikans
into. A view dispelled by the fact many rulers knowingly went to war with
their neighbors, killing millions and destroying entire communities in order
to capture fellow Afrikans for sale. Maintaining power, expanding the
economy, greed and expansionist ambitions were the prime motivating factors.
There is no way anyone can defend or justify Afrikan involvement in the
slave trade, other than acknowledge that it is one of many historical facts
that must be faced.
It is mandatory to look at the mistakes of the past so as not to duplicate
them again. There are several people of Afrikan descent psychologically and
culturally involved in the negative, anti-Black philosophy of western
culture. They would turn against other Blacks at the drop of a dime,
especially if they felt it would curry favor with their European companions,
and often add to their pockets. It is essential to examine the slave trade,
in order to understand the same behavior operative today.
Though this effort concentrated on the Afrikan involvement in the slave
trade, by no means does it dismiss the European role in the most traumatic,
brutal, oppressive event in human history. Europeans, through the church in
Rome, and lessons learned from Arabs, launched the Atlantic slave trade,
financing the European and American industrial revolution. Thus, the birth
of an economic system we practice today, capitalism. Europeans developed it
from a pirating operation into a business, partly the European Jewish
contribution to the trade, and supplied favored groups with arms and
ammunition, contributing to the deaths of millions. Without the Europeans,
there would have never been an Atlantic slave trade.
Kwaku Person-Lynn is the author of On My Journey Now - The Narrative And
Works Of Dr. John Henrik Clarke, The Knowledge Revolutionary. E-mail
_____Sent To Your Mail Box From: ______
So Now We KNOW! What Now?
Back to Main News Page
>Secret Trials of Gentically-Engineered Food Crops Designed to Grow Drugs
> >>> Press release from Genetically Engineered Food Alert coalition,
>11 July 2002:
> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
> July 11, 2002
> Contacts: Matt Rand, NET
> Mark Helm, FoE
> 202-783-7400 x102
> DRUGS AND CHEMICALS WILL CONTAMINATE FOOD SUPPLY CONCLUDES NEW REPORT
> More than 300 field trials of genetically engineered
>biopharmaceuticals crops already conducted in secret locations nationwide
> Washington, DC - A coalition of consumer and environmental groups
>called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today to prohibit a new
>class of genetically engineered food crops that threatens to contaminate
>the food supply much the way StarLink genetically engineered corn did in
>September 2000. In a letter to the USDA, the coalition called for an end to
>open air cultivation of crops engineered to produce prescription drugs or
>industrial chemicals. The new crops, already planted in over 300 field
>trials at secret locations nationwide, include plants that produce an
>abortion-inducing chemical, growth hormones, a blood clotter, and trypsin,
>an allergenic enzyme. The coalition proposed that the USDA permit only
>contained cultivation of non-food plants under the same controlled
>circumstances as other drug production.
> "Just one mistake by a biotech company and we'll be eating other
>people's prescription drugs in our corn flakes," said Larry Bohlen,
>Director of Health and Environment Programs at Friends of the Earth, a
>member of the coalition. "The USDA should prohibit the planting of food
>crops engineered with drugs and chemicals to protect the food supply from
> The National Academy of Sciences warns: ".it is possible that crops
>transformed to produce pharmaceutical or other industrial compounds might
>mate with plantations grown for human consumption, with the unanticipated
>result of novel chemicals in the human food supply." And the editors of
>Nature Biotechnology recently warned: "Current gene-containment strategies
>cannot work reliably in the field." A contamination incident may already
>have occurred as one biotech company official noted at an
>government-industry conference that: "We've seen it on the vaccine side
>where modified live seeds have wandered off and have appeared in other
> In a new report released today, the Genetically Engineered Food
>Alert coalition details the threats that biopharm crops pose, the extent to
>which they have been planted across the U.S., the failure of regulatory
>agencies to serve the public, and a set of recommendations. The report,
>entitled "Manufacturing Drugs and Chemicals in Crops: Biopharming Poses New
>Threats to Consumers, Farmers, Food Companies and the Environment," may be
>found at www.gefoodalert.org.
> The majority of engineered biopharmaceuticals and chemicals are in
>corn, a prolific pollinator. ProdiGene, the company with the most plantings
>of drug and chemical-producing plants, projects that 10% of the corn crop
>will be devoted to biopharm production by 2010. StarLink corn, planted on
>less than 1% of total US corn acreage, contaminated hundreds of food
>products and corn seed stock with a potentially allergenic protein despite
>the use of gene containment measures. Far from supporting containment
>strategies such as buffer areas, Anthony Laos, ProdiGene's CEO, wrote
>farmers in 2001 that: "We will be dealing with these distances until we can
>gain regulatory approval to lessen or abandon these requirements
>altogether." Some companies also propose extracting drugs or chemicals from
>plants, then selling the remainder. Incomplete extraction would mean drugs
>or chemicals in food or feed.
> "Farmers cannot afford another contamination incident hurting sales
>and throwing the harvest into turmoil like StarLink did in 2000" said Matt
>Rand, Biotechnology Campaign Manager at the National Environmental Trust.
> ABOUT THE GE FOOD ALERT COALITION AND GEFoodAlert.org
> Genetically Engineered Food Alert founding members include: Center
>for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, Institute for Agriculture and Trade
>Policy, National Environmental Trust, Organic Consumers Association,
>Pesticide Action Network North America, and the State Public Interest
> Genetically Engineered Food Alert supports the removal of
>genetically engineered ingredients from grocery store shelves unless they
>are adequately safety tested and labeled. The campaign provides web-based
>opportunities for individuals to express concern about genetically
>engineered food and fact sheets on health, environmental and economic
>information about genetically engineered food. The coalition is endorsed by
>more than 250 scientists, religious leaders, doctors, chefs, environmental
>and health leaders, as well as farm groups.
> BACKGROUND MATERIAL AVAILABLE ON WEB
> The executive summary, the full report, the letter with
>recommendations to USDA and a link to the ProdiGene statement are located
to Main News Page
On The 2002 Midterm Elections
By Michael C. Ruppert
© Copyright, 2000, From The Wilderness Publications,
www.fromthewilderness.com. All rights reserved. May be copied, distributed
or posted on the Internet for non-profit purposes only.
(FTW) -- There are a multitude of dangling questions about Tuesday's election
results. Widespread anecdotal accounts of voting irregularities, disenfranchised
voters and absolutely accurate and, in many cases, understated criticisms of
abysmal leadership from Tom Daschle and the Democratic Party are not
difficult to find. While pundits are trying to spin that the Republicans don't
have a blank check, the fact is that they do and will now use every ounce of
leverage they can squeeze onto it. I totally agree with James Carville -- a less
than likeable, ruthless, crusty, hard-ball operative from the Clinton years --
who said last night, "The American people just don't have a clue as to what's
As I write, the biggest transport ships operated by the Navy have already or are
now setting sail for the Middle East, laden with main battle tanks and all the
equipment necessary for invasion. At Ft. Hood, Texas elements of the III
Armored Corps and the 1st Air Cavalry are quietly leaving in small
I have no doubt that the Homeland Security bill will be passed -- by any means
necessary -- during the lame duck session of Congress which commences on
Nov. 12. At that moment the government will enshrine a $37 billion
bureaucracy that will have no other mission -- for the rest of its life -- than to
find and destroy enemies of the state. For that reason alone -- a law of
bureaucratic existence -- the list of enemies of the Homeland is compelled to
forever grow as the definition of "enemies" is revised, and new evidence is
found to justify their destruction. How else does a bureaucracy justify bigger
The Democratic Party is a shameful and laughable disgrace. In a world of hope
the Green Party would seize this opportunity to enshrine and claim as its own
all of the issues which the Democrats left unaddressed and laying in the dust of
this election. I will not hold my breath.
The fear that exists in Washington must also be addressed. Sens. Leahy and
Daschle got anthrax letters. Many, including this writer, believe that Paul
Wellstone was murdered. Cynthia McKinney was removed in a well
orchestrated conspiracy which will be addressed in my forthcoming book,
"Across the Rubicon."
On Aug. 27 I published an essay titled "No Way Out" in which I wrote, "And
most of the American people, with their bankrupt and corrupt economy, will
welcome cheap oil, while it lasts, and they will engage in a multitude of
psychological and sickening rationales that will, in the end, amount to nothing
more than saying, 'I don't care how many women and children you kill. Just let
me keep my standard of living.'" As the Empire embarks on the occupation of
the Middle East, to control the largest reserves of oil remaining on a planet that
is coming to grips with the fact that oil is finite and depleting, the American
people are on the threshold of getting a taste of what real sacrifice means.
The military occupation of Iraq (and Saudi Arabia) may come fairly quickly
and be hailed as successes. But the prices that will be paid in casualties,
economic expense and global hostility will be bitter and permanent pills for this
Empire and its people. Homeland Security will provide Caesar with the means
to permanently suppress any restlessness at home.
There was one other great message from this election. On Wednesday morning
I watched a crawl on the bottom of the CNN news screen. It said, "Proprietary
software may make inspection of electronic voting systems impossible." It was
the final and absolute coronation of corporate rights over democracy; of money
over truth; and of man's self-destructive fears over the best parts of the human
I note with irony the fact that much of the new software to resolve voting
issues is either created by Microsoft and/or the companies that own and sell the
voting machines, including one with investments from the Rothschild family.
These are the same firms connected to the election debacle of 2000. Some
even have Bush family connections. And here we see the final purpose of the
2000 Florida voting scandals: In order to prevent the same kind of
hanging-chad confusion, we now have electronic machines so the problem
won't occur again, and the results have been forever totally removed from
And wasn't it convenient that Voters News Service decided at the last minute
that there would be no exit polling this year. Exit polling was a reliable standard
against which the numbers from the voting machines could be compared.
Some will take issue with me and say, "Mike, how can you blame the
American people and say that the voting machines are rigged at the same
time?" Easy, I answer. Today there was nobody in the streets. There was no
public outcry. There was no revolt or outrage. All that has happened is that one
more time a people has avoided responsibility and retreated in the hope that
some other half-measured, half-willed, half-hearted, childish tactic will produce
results in a world that no longer exists ... and probably hasn't for a long, long
Back to Main News Page
[Related link: American Library Association Resolution
Reaffirming the Principles of Intellectual Freedom in
the Aftermath of Terrorist Attacks --
The FBI Has Bugged Our Public Libraries
November 3, 2002
Some reports say the FBI is snooping in the libraries.
Is that really happening?
Yes. I have uncovered information that persuades me that
the Federal Bureau of Investigation has bugged the
computers at the Hartford Public Library. And it's
probable that other libraries around the state have also
been bugged. It's an effort by the FBI to obtain leads
that it believes may lead them to terrorists.
Many members of the public regularly use computers in
libraries to access the Internet for research purposes
or to locate information about particular interests.
It's also not uncommon for students and others to
communicate with friends and relatives through e-mail
The FBI system apparently involves the installation of
special software on the computers that lets the FBI copy
a person's use of the Internet and their e-mail
messages. (Don't ask me how I know about this because I
can't reveal how I was able to collect the information.)
Members of the public who use the library have not been
informed that the government is watching their
activities. It's not just the computers. Circulation
lists that show which books someone borrowed are also
accessible to the government.
What are the Hartford librarians saying?
"I can't disclose that we were presented with anything,"
said Louise Blalock, Hartford's head librarian.
I asked Mary W. Billings, the library's technical
services manager, if the FBI had given her a subpoena or
a court order for library information. Her response: "I
cannot answer that question."
She did confirm that in recent months the FBI made two
separate visits to the Hartford Library, and there were
discussions about "computer-related information." On one
visit, an agent asked to speak to the library staff - a
request that was turned down.
Interestingly, Billings said, "The library is now
working on a public notice that it can't guarantee that
there isn't third-party monitoring" for people who use
its computers. A library staffer also remarked, "You
know there is software that can grab everybody's
I know my librarian, and I believe she would tell me if
the government were tracking my computer use at the
library. Don't you agree?
No way. There's a gag order. When the FBI uses a court
order or a subpoena to gain access to library computers
or a list of the names of people who have borrowed
certain books, librarians can't tell anyone - not even
other librarians or you. They face a stiff federal
penalty if they do. It's unfair that librarians should
be placed in such a position.
Does this mean that when I use the library's computer to
do research for college papers on Saudi Arabia or Islam,
the FBI could be following my steps on the Internet?
Very possible. Of course, it may depend on which library
you visit. And there's no way you're going to be able to
find out. The librarians can't tell you, and you're not
going to spot the special software in the computers.
Even if the software hasn't been installed, there's a
back door for the FBI to tap in through. The Internet
service providers (businesses located elsewhere) are
required to cooperate with the authorities, and spy
software can be installed at that end.
But isn't this snooping only going to be used against
people suspected of being terrorists?
That's not how it works. It can check on everyone who
uses the bugged computers. The rules allow this kind of
surveillance even if someone is not suspected of being a
terrorist or under any kind of suspicion.
Is there a state law that protects my privacy in the
Yes. Circulation records must be kept confidential.
However, a new federal law - the U.S. Patriot Act -
takes priority over the state rule and allows the FBI to
have easy access to these records as well as to the
What are the FBI and the Congress saying about all of
Mum's the word. The FBI has refused to discuss the
issue, and Congress wants to get more information. It
has asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to describe
what the FBI has been doing in the libraries. But
Ashcroft also is not talking and has indicated he
doesn't have to answer to Congress.
I've got nothing to hide when I go into a library, and I
don't care if the FBI sees what I'm doing at the
computer. What's the big deal?
We all want to be safe, and I don't know anyone who
opposes the prosecution of terrorists. However, the way
it is carried out is important. It comes down to a key
question: How does a democracy deal with serious threats
from terrorists and maintain its own freedoms?
Three points to consider:
1.) We have to be very careful that we don't fight
terrorism in a way that destroys democracy. Terrorists
may want us to accept their methods and the idea that
our democracy should be tossed away. If that's what they
achieve, we will have walked into a trap, and we will
have given them a major victory.
2.) Libraries exist to provide information and knowledge
to the public. When our own government places librarians
in the position of participating, possibly against their
will, to "watch" the public, it runs counter to vital
principles that have guided us for much of our history.
3.) Protecting our freedom includes being able to openly
communicate with each other without worrying that the
government is listening or looking over our shoulders.
The mere suspicion that we're being watched, even if
we're wrong, can intimidate us in expressing our views.
If Americans are only going to say and read what is
"politically correct," our democracy will be in deep
Questions can be sent to Bill Olds, in care of The
Hartford Courant, Features Department, 285 Broad St.,
Hartford, CT 06115 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Back to Main News Page
PAMBAZUKA NEWS 86
A weekly electronic newsletter for social justice in Africa
STRUCTURAL DAMAGE: THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF MALAWI'S FOOD CRISIS
Executive Summary Of A Report By The World Development Movement
There is a common perception that the food crisis in Malawi has been caused by
the floods that ruined the planting season in 2001, or by widespread government
corruption and mismanagement. These undoubtedly have contributed to the crisis.
But there is another cause, which has been even more significant -
inappropriate policies of donor agencies, led by the International Monetary
Hunger and food shortage has always been a problem in Malawi, hence the poor
nutrition levels of 32 percent of the population. In the past, food shortages
have been addressed through food aid from donors and government subsidies for
basic food channelled through the grain board, the Agricultural Development and
Marketing Corporation (ADMARC). This system has allowed the people of Malawi to
survive the seasons of adverse weather, and the government corruption and
mismanagement which has persisted through years of good harvest and bad.
However, over the past twenty years the agriculture sector has been
restructured by the IMF and World Bank, under their structural adjustment
policies. In agriculture, these policies are supposedly aimed at improving
efficiency and productivity. But, as in other countries such as Zambia and
Mozambique, the donors have ignored the reality of farming systems in Malawi
and have assumed that markets will be able to meet social aims; to supply food
at affordable prices throughout the country, and to ensure that smallholder
farmers can feed their families. Instead, Malawi now faces chronic food
insecurity. The IMF/World Bank policies in Malawi's agricultural sector,
supported by the bilateral aid donors, have failed.
Prior to these reform programs, the Malawi Government could ensure food
availability even in the remotest areas of the country. Through subsidies and
controlled prices, farmers were assured of affordable farm inputs and grain
stores were maintained in remote areas. However, with the introduction of the
agricultural reforms, Malawi is now faced by famine even more serious than the
fabled 1949 hunger crisis.
As in other countries, agricultural reforms were imposed on Malawi without the
donors having undertaken a proper analysis of their potential impact and
consequences, particularly on the poor. Standard policies were applied to
Malawi, following a one-size-fits-all approach. Subsidies for small farmers and
the poor were reduced, price controls and regulations removed, and agencies
that played a social role, such as the agricultural marketing agency, ADMARC,
were re-structured and/or privatised.
The results in Malawi have included price rises and increased volatility. For
instance, the removal of price controls led to a price increase for maize of
400 percent between October 2001 and March 2002. Private grain traders have
followed the market signals all too well - they have hoarded supplies and made
money out of food shortages. This spirit of profiteering has fuelled corruption
amongst Government officials in Malawi.
Agricultural reforms have done little to address the real problems of food
production in Malawi - rural poverty, the impact of HIV/AIDS and discrimination
against women. The chronic levels of poverty in Malawi's rural areas
significantly affects agricultural productivity as it directly impacts on
labour availability, access to inputs, health and education and other key
social indicators. Over 60 percent of Malawians live below the poverty line,
and 20 percent of Malawi's adult population are HIV positive. Women constitute
70 per cent of Malawi's full time farmers and 87 per cent of the total
agricultural labour force. Yet, despite their numbers and enormous contribution
to the agricultural economy, they remain marginalised from the mainstream.
Gender differentiated access to resources and benefits continue to hinder their
full participation, even though this is indispensable to lifting food
productivity and increasing Malawi's economic prosperity generally.
There is no doubt that Malawi needs agricultural reforms so as to enhance
productivity and food security. There is no doubt either that Government
parastatals, such as ADMARC, need to improve their management through reform.
But, rather than ensuring that social aims are achieved through accountable
government, the IMF/World Bank and other donors have pursued an agenda of
austerity, deregulation and privatisation. And when, as in Malawi's case, there
have been disastrous outcomes, they have denied any responsibility. The
of good governance and accountability has all too often been abused by donors,
using it as leverage to ensure that developing country governments comply with
their policies. It must also be applied to the donors themselves.
In addition to policy influence, the donors have insisted that Malawi continue
to service its foreign debt at a time when there is widespread hunger. Even
after debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)
initiative, debt service still amounts to around 29 percent of Malawi's
Government spending. This heavy burden is further compounding the humanitarian
crisis confronting such a poor nation.
The policies that donors have proposed for dealing with the crisis include food
aid, but also an IMF loan of US$37 million to purchase maize. Since there is a
shortage of grain in southern Africa, Malawi will most likely be forced to
purchase grain from the US, including genetically modified grain. In its
unmilled form, it will be used by desperate farmers to plant out. Malawi, as
has been the case with other countries, will have GM crops introduced by the
If countries in the South are to make any meaningful growth in their economies
a new approach in the world economy is needed. The relations between the rich
North and the poor South have to be re-defined. African Governments, supported
by civil society, must be given the leading role in developing policies for
their countries, instead of the IMF/WB dictating policy. Matters of food
security and trade policy are fundamentally matters of justice and human
rights. It is important therefore that poor countries are given enough space to
articulate and implement their own policies, with the support of the
Back to Main News Page
SF Federal Grand Jury Subpoenas Energy Company Records
Saturday, 09 November, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal grand jury has subpoenaed records related to California's energy crisis
from at least two power sellers that state regulators have accused of scheming to drive up prices.
Both North Carolina-based Duke Energy and Oklahoma-based Williams said Friday they received
subpoenas from federal prosecutors in San Francisco as part of a grand jury investigation. Matt Jacobs, an
assistant U.S. Attorney, said he could not comment because the case is ongoing.
Federal investigators have sought information from a California Senate panel investigating the state's
energy crisis to find evidence of market manipulation in 2000 and 2001. The Senate panel has spent about
18 months probing the price spikes and energy shortages that led to rolling blackouts in 2001.
California owes tens of billions of dollars for power it bought when prices soared and hopes to convince
federal energy regulators to order energy sellers to refund $9 billion in alleged overcharges.
Duke spokesman Pat Mullen said Friday the subpoena demanded documents and records but that he
did not know the full extent of the information sought. Duke will cooperate with prosecutors, he said.
A call to a Williams spokesman for comment was not immediately returned Friday. But in a statement,
the company also said it would cooperate.
John Sousa, a spokesman for Texas-based power company Dynegy, said the company had not been
subpoenaed Friday to his knowledge. Calls to Reliant, Calpine, Enron and Mirant were not immediately
Duke also has been subpoenaed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and a federal grand
jury in Houston about its energy trading activities, including strategies that enabled the company to boost
prices. Duke has admitted to using several techniques.
The state Public Utilities Commission issued a report in September blaming most of the state's
blackouts on energy companies withholding power from the market. The report singled out the five largest
energy suppliers - Duke, Dynegy, Mirant, Reliant and AES/Williams.
The generators have denied that they withheld energy, saying their aging plants worked more hours than
in previous years and required frequent maintenance as a result.
Last month, in the first public acknowledgment that criminal activity helped drive up California power
prices, a former Enron energy trader pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a San Francisco federal court. Timothy
Belden, the former head of trading in Enron's Portland, Ore., office, admitted to one count of conspiracy to
commit wire fraud. He faces up to five years in prison and must forfeit $2.1 million.
Belden promised to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors as well as any non-criminal effort to
investigate the energy industry.
Enron bought California power at cheap, capped prices, routed it outside the state, and then sold it
back into California at vastly inflated prices, authorities said. The sham trades were designed to circumvent
the California-only price caps on wholesale energy.
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