The Beat

The Beat




After anti-World Trade Organization activists filled the streets of Seattle last November, one of the prime movers in corporate globalization schemes offered a curt dismissal of the protests. “I don’t believe those [activists] in Seattle represented somebody with a legitimate stake,” said Peter Sutherland, former co-chairman of the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue. A privately funded vehicle through which CEOs from corporations such as Boeing, IBM, Time Warner, Proctor & Gamble and Ford influence trade policies set by governments in Europe and the United States as well as the WTO, the TABD has been in the forefront of efforts to eliminate barriers to trade based on human rights, labor rights and environmental concerns. The group is a big proponent of “harmonization” schemes, which force countries with tough regulations to water those standards down to parallel the rules of weak regulators. Such is its influence that US Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce Timothy Hauser has said, “Virtually every market-opening move undertaken by the U.S. in the last couple of years has been suggested by the TABD.” But when the group meets in Cincinnati November 16-18 to “enhance economic globalization,” activists from around the world plan to remind Sutherland and the top business and government officials expected to attend that the people in the streets do indeed have a stake in trade decisions.

Public Citizen’s

Global Trade Watch

, a prime mover in the Seattle protests, has been working with local labor unions and church groups to organize a November 16 teach-in on the group. The local

Coalition for a Humane Economy

is planning a major protest on the 17th, with support from the


, the

Sierra Club

and the

Farm Labor Organizing Committee

. And the

Cincinnati Direct Action Collective

is pulling together puppeteers, dance troupes and affinity groups for street theater, including a parade of corporate pig puppets representing visiting CEOs. “The TABD is used to meeting in the dark,” says Global Trade Watch’s

Mike Dolan

. “They aren’t going to know what hit them.”




isn’t interested in George W. Bush’s proposed tax cut. “I’m one of the 1 percent that George W. Bush wants to give the money to. What I say is: ‘Keep it, W.–it’s just not worth it,'” said Cher, one of a number of wealthy celebrities who publicized their views during the presidential campaign. Sharing that view was Chicago Hope actress

Christine Lahti

, who declared, “Education needs it. I don’t need it.” Those messages delighted the three-year-old group

Responsible Wealth

, a national network of business executives, investors and affluent Americans who actively oppose public policies that favor the rich over working Americans. Members of the group were present at the White House when President Clinton vetoed a Republican-sponsored repeal of the estate tax. Said Responsible Wealth co-director

Mike Lapham

, an heir to an upstate New York paper-mill fortune, “Something is wrong when we can’t fully fund Head Start, but we can give descendants of the wealthy an added head start.”


In an effort to spike turnout in traditionally Democratic constituencies, President Clinton made Election Day phone calls to radio stations in urban areas across the country. Most of the calls were perfunctory get-out-the-vote appeals. But that wasn’t the case at

Pacifica Radio’s WBAI

in New York, where Clinton found himself on the line with

Amy Goodman

, the host of Pacifica’s

Democracy Now!

news show, and

Gonzalo Aburto

, host of WBAI’s

La Nueva Alternativa

. In a freewheeling thirty-minute interview, Goodman and Aburto peppered Clinton with questions about the morality of his support for the death penalty, sanctions against Iraq and executive clemency for Native American activist

Leonard Peltier

. In his first public comment on the Peltier matter, Clinton said he was reviewing requests that he grant executive clemency to Peltier, who is serving a life sentence for murder. Clinton also said that “there’s just not a shred of evidence” that the two parties are bought by corporate campaign contributions, and he rejected criticism of his Administration’s free-trade policies, saying, “Two-thirds of the American people support [NAFTA].”


The international campaign to force reform of the World Bank by getting public agencies to boycott the international lending agency’s bonds won a major boost when the

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

voted unanimously this fall to stop buying the bonds. The movement has also won endorsements from unions (the

Communications Workers of America

and the

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America

), religious groups and human rights groups.

Dennis Brutus

, the veteran antiapartheid activist, has taken a lead in linking the bond boycott to the divestment movement of the 1980s. “We need to break the power of the World Bank over developing countries, as the divestment movement helped break the power of the apartheid regime over South Africa,” he says.

John Nichols’s e-mail address is [email protected].

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