Weapons of Mass Deception 'Not Topical'? by John Stauber
A Farmer's Suicide: A Farmer's Message by Anuradha Mittal / Food First

A Death on the Barricades by Anuradha Mittal / Food First
We Won in Cancun! The WTO Was Derailed! by Via Campesina

October 3, 2003

Weapons of Mass Deception 'Not Topical'?
By John Stauber

PR Watch Director John Stauber
Our new book, Weapons of Mass Deception, spent most of its first two weeks on the Amazon.com bestseller list. In the UK and Australia the book was well reviewed by major newspapers and magazines. Overseas, Sheldon Rampton and I have been interviewed on many syndicated TV and radio programs.

Here in the US the situation couldn't be different. Major TV and radio networks have ignored the book so far, and the only daily papers that have reviewed it are the San Francisco Chronicle, Wisconsin State Journal, the Charlotte Observer and our hometown Capital Times. It is striking to see how uncomfortable this books makes many in the mainstream US news media feel.

Sheldon and I have just returned from New York city where our very competent and hardworking publicist at Penguin was unable to interest a single ABC/NBC/CBS/MSNBC/FOX/CNN/PBS program in having us on for a discussion. (We couldn't even get the war's number one cheerleaders at FOX to pound and smear us in their typical WWF style.) Amazingly, the common response from these networks when they turned down our publicist was: "The book is not topical."

If you've read the book, you know how bizarre this statement sounds. To contrast the US media with the foreign media, you can read a front-page newspaper magazine review from Australia and reviews from Britain where the book is considered topical in the extreme. These and other reviews are available at: www.prwatch.org/books/wmd_reviews.html. In late September, the nation's most trusted and influential national newspaper (of course I'm referring to The Onion) ran the review below. www.theonionavclub.com/3937/words.html. [NOTE: An excerpt from Stauber's book was featured in The-Edge in August.]

For the past ten years, Sheldon and I have reported on the decline of the mainstream US news media, so it's not surprising that the media who failed to challenge the march to war now are now failing to examine the propaganda campaign that enabled the war to happen. The White House press corps has apparently ended its three-week love spat with President Bush over his 16-word deception in the State of the Union. That falsehood was one of dozens of instances where he and his top officials mislead the nation, as we document in our book. But the media doesn't want to go there.

The media's failure to view Weapons of Mass Deception as "topical" is one more reminder of how [corporate media] fails our nation. This statement reveals how Americans are kept misinformed and ignorant about world events, so that they think Iraqis were in the planes on 9/11, that Saddam was behind the attacks or in cahoots with Osama, and that the war was about weapons of mass destruction rather than the neo-con political agenda of the Bush administration.

Hopefully, our book's sudden and growing success will demolish some of these carefully cultivated myths.

John Stauber is Co-Author of:Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, and Trust Us, We're Experts.

A Farmer's Suicide: A Farmer's Message
By Anuradha Mittal / Food First

Kyung-hae Lee is carried from the WTO barricades shortly after fatally stabbing himself in the heart. ©IndyMedia.org
CANCUN (September 11, 2003) -- The following words are those of Kyung-Hae Lee, former President of the Korean Advanced Farmers Federation, who was quoted in the April 2003 edition of Korea AgraFood. On September 10, Kyung-Hae Lee took his life in front of police barricades set the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

I am 56 years old, a farmer from South Korea.... Soon after the Uruguay Round Agreement was settled, we -- Korean fellow farmers and myself -- realized that our destinies are out of our hands already.... [W]e could not do anything but just looking the waves that destroyed our lovely rural communities that had settled-downed over the [past] hundred years.

To make myself be brave, I have tried to search the real reasons for and the major forces of those waves. Reaching to my conclusion..., I am crying out my words to you that have been boiled so long time in my body: "For whom do you negotiating now? For the people or for yourselves?"

Exclude the Agriculture from the WTO system.

All over the world, trade liberalization in agriculture has devastated livelihoods of small farmers. Mr. Lee addressed this devastation:

One part [of] those farmers who gave up... farming went to urban slum. The others who had tried to escape from the vicious cycle had to meet bankruptcy.... Once I run to a house where a farmer abandoned his life by drinking a toxic chemical because of his uncontrollable debts. I also could do nothing but hearing the howling of his wife. If you were me, How you feel?

My warning goes to all citizens that human beings are in an endangered situation. Uncontrolled multinational corporations and a small number of big WTO members officials are leading an undesirable globalization [that is] inhumane, environment-distorting, farmer-killing, and undemocratic. It should be stopped immediately, otherwise the false logic of neoliberalism will perish the diversities of agriculture.

On February 23, Kyung-Hae Lee set up a tent in front of the WTO headquarters in Geneva and started a solo protest against the WTO agreement on agriculture. On March 20, he began a hunger strike with picket boards expressing his outrage: "WTO Kills Farmers." "Stop Your Agricultural Negotiations."

And on September 10, Kyung-Hae Lee spoke out once again on behalf of millions of small family farmers around the world.

A Death on the Barricades
By Anuradha Mittal / Food First

CANCUN -- Around 14,000 farmers and indigenous peoples -- including delegation of South Korean farmers carrying a coffin labeled "WTO" in a mock funeral procession -- marched towards the Cancun convention center at the opening of the WTO ministerial.

They were stopped at the police barricades -- which were ironically placed near signboards welcoming visitors to the resort city of Cancun. Barriers and a massive security deployment kept the people more than 10 kilometers (six miles) away from the convention center where ministers from the 146-member were meeting to further their free-trade agenda.

The Korean farmers rammed the coffin into the steel barricades as the Mexican military police watched in full riot gear. Chanting "Death to the WTO," the farmers broke down and toppled a part of the barricades. The Korean farmers burned the American flag, which many see as a sign of imperialism and a symbol of a colonizer to the poor, the indigenous, the starving, and homeless the world over.

At this point, Korean farm leader Kyung-Hae Lee climbed atop the barricade with a banner reading: WTO Kills Farmers" and plunged a knife deep into his chest. The Korean farmers who gathered to keep vigil outside the hospital where Kyung-Hae Lee dying understood the meaning of his sacrifice: As one explained: Lee wanted to "demonstrate opposition to the WTO, which is killing our farmers and destroying Korea's agriculture."

The peasant organization Via Camesina said that while those inside the WTO meeting were discussing the elimination of so-called barriers-to-trade, enormous barriers-to-people were being raised in the streets to silence the voices of millions of the world's poor who were being harmed by the WTO's policies.

"Our hearts mourn the death of our fellow farmer, Lee Kyong-Hae," Via Campesina declared. "Kyung-Hae Lee, your words are etched in every heart and soul that gathered outside the hospital where you lay. The farmers around the world are rallying: 'One more time we flatly and emphatically demand that the WTO takes the Agricultural Agreement out of its agenda. We do not want one more death. We do not want people to continue to die of hunger; we do not want our land to die. We do not want one more death!.'

"Tears and determination are the molten lava of a volcano that is erupting in the streets of Cancun. Your obituary will read, 'We are all Kyung-Hae Lee'."

Via Campesina asked that the negotiations be suspended out of respect for Lee Kyong-Hae. WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi's response was: "We all regret this sad incident. This self-inflicted wound has resulted in his death, so we do regret it."

Kyung-Hae Lee and every farmer who traveled the long distance to come to Cancun to express outrage has been heard. The grief at the sacrifice made by Kyung-Hae Lee and his family has reinvigorated the determination to wipe out the corporate regime of the WTO. No words can describe the look on the faces of the students, campesinas, the poor, and others who sat with lit candles outside the hospital trying to understand why the trade pushers push starvation for our food producers. This movement is grieving. But is even more determined.

Anuradha Mittal is co-director of Food First [398 60th St., Oakland, CA USA 94618]. For a complete day-by-day report on the WTO protests, go to the Food First website: www.foodfirst.org.

We Won in Cancun! The WTO Was Derailed!
By Via Campesina

TEGUCIGALPA (September 23, 2003) -- The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the WTO ended on September 14 in complete failure. The WTO did not even succeed in identifying the location of the next Ministerial Conference. There was no Declaration expressing any theme upon which there was agreement and there was no time to develop consensus on a future agenda. This, together with the anticipated withdrawal of many countries from the South, created confusion and chaos in the Ministerial Conference.

Despite the mobilization of strong presence of police and military forces, on September 13, rural organizations, youth, women and other sectors succeeded in tearing down the barricade imposed by the Mexican Government and the WTO in attempts to make invisible our presence and our proposals.

From September 8-14th we engaged in significant days of struggle, first, within the framework of the International Peasant and Indigenous Forum, and later, in diverse street demonstrations both inside and outside the convention center where the negotiators were concentrated. The peasant and indigenous march of September 10th set the tone for the resistance and struggle of the following days.

On September 13, with patience and courage, 100 women from all over the world dismantled piece by piece the barricade that impeded entry to the convention center. Korean peasants and a large part of the crowd joined in this action, using thick ropes to tear down the walls. This was a symbol of the WTO that would soon collapse in Cancun. Thousands of police and military stood ready to quell the protestors but no one was intent on confronting them. Our non-violent confrontation was with WTO, not with the police and the military.

Demonstrators burned effigies of the WTO and sat down. White flowers were placed in homage of our friend Lee who gave his life to the people's struggle against the WTO. On September 14, the WTO talks collapsed.

There is no doubt that sacrifice of our friend Lee served to animate, strengthen and radicalize the struggle of those who were in Cancun. Lee contributed enormously to our victory and the derailing of the WTO.

The governments of the United States and the European Union (EU) have demonstrated themselves totally incapable of understanding and taking into account the legitimate interests of people. Their arrogant and inflexible manner, and blackmailing practices, drove countries of the Third World to form a block of opposition led by Brazil, India and China (the G22 countries). The governments from ACP countries (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) also showed opposition.

Via Campesina welcomes this opposition, but does not agree with the proposals of the G22 countries regarding agriculture. Increasing liberalization and market access do not resolve problems of poverty and social exclusion of millions of people in the world. On the contrary this will worsen the situation.

In Cancun the EU claimed they had already reduced export subsidies when they had, in fact, reduced farm prices and replaced export subsidies with direct payments. The use of direct payments by the EU and income support schemes by the US are a hidden way to support agro-industry through low farm prices and to facilitate dumping on international markets.

The reaction of some is "to abolish subsidies in agriculture all together." However this would be another blow for peasant-based production. Public support for sustainable peasant-based agriculture is a key demand in the North and the South. It is critical to stop overproduction in export countries through supply management schemes. Countries must be able to protect themselves from low-priced imports.

The collapse of the WTO is a result of a profound crisis within the neoliberal model. It is urgent that we continue to strengthen our movements, our alternative proposals. Creating an open transparent and constructive dialogue among ourselves is all the more necessary to advance in our strategies of struggle.

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