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Anti-WTO Riot, State of Emergency in Seattle 787

bridgette writes "The Mayor has declared a state of civil emergency, there is a curfew at 7 p.m. and the police have been using pepper spray and allegedly tear gas, paintball guns and rubber bullets." Stories are at KOMO-TV, MSNBC, Seattle Times, CNN, and probably almost anywhere else you look.
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Anti-WTO Riot, State of Emergency in Seattle

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  • Yes, there are still vagrants in Occidental, although many of those are drug dealers not homeless. I serve food there every week, though, and I have personally heard many reports of homeless getting increased harrassment from the police. Certainly in the downtown core, in the state of martial law, the homeless are now gone. Luckily, SHARE, a local homeless organization, has set up two tent cities; one on Capitol Hill and one near Greenlake. (Initially, the city appeared to understand that this would be necessary. However, 2 weeks ago, city bureaucrats suddenly withdrew from tent city negotiations, apparently on orders from the mayor. The tent cities have not been broken up, but they are not city-approved.)
  • by Brian Knotts ( 855 ) <bknotts@@@cascadeaccess...com> on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @03:51AM (#1491712)
    Of course, people should keep in mind that it was the State of California that *mandated* MTBE use in the first place...even after it was known to be harmful.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org].
  • I haven't heard of any evidence that infection rates in cattle are increased by BGH. Can you provide a reference (to a news story at least). I'm not implying you made it up, I'd just like to evaluate the evidence for myself. If this is true, it might be a sound case for banning the stuff.

    As to whether I'd eat it, I don't know. I haven't looked into it in enough detail, but I've yet to hear a convincing argument as to why I shouldn't have the choice.

    The evidence for whether BGH is carcinogenic is definitely not sufficient to justify a ban, despite increasingly desperate efforts by the EU to find more evidence. Studies have gone both ways, and it seems that no simple errors were made in either case. Until there is sound evidence that the stuff is a public health risk, I say give consumers the choice.

    There is a very real question as to the standards of proof that need to be applied in these cases. Is the slightest suspicion sufficient ? or the balance of probabilities ? or general acceptance by the scientific community ? or beyond a reasonable doubt ? I don't know the answer - and its just as much a question for internal regulation as for import control - but I do think some clearer thinking is needed.

  • I cannot help but smile at the naivete that you show in lamenting that these protests turned "violent".

    Why is lamenting something unfortunate naive? Certainly, it is naive to say that violence won't occur on these occasions, but that doesn't stop you being remorseful when it does.

    This kind of thing happened in the '60s all the time

    and you don't hope that we have moved on as a society since then?

    Blocking traffic, stringing up banners, and even smashing windows is not violence. It is at worst disruption. Windows don't have feelings, and putting yourself in someone's way is a far cry from hurting them

    This is cr*p. Would you mind if I came and demonstrated outside your house and broke some windows? Damage to peoples' property certainly is violence. If the things being broken are public items, or belong to businesses, then granted it is disruptive rather than hurting peoples' feelings. Think however, about the people around when all these protests turn nasty. I've been near similar things in the past (although not quite on this scale). It's threatening - you want to get away from whereever the place is ASAP. The scene of disruption in London yesterday (see this BBC article [bbc.co.uk]) was near a major station. It's not nice if you're trying to get home and there's a violent mob there. That is in fact on the route I would normally take home from my holiday job. I'm glad that I don't start again until next week and so missed the disruption.

    [tear gas et al]

    they all target the innocent as well as the guilty

    It is rather easy to tell when a protest is turning into a mob. Whilst I applaud those standing up for their right to demonstrate (even when I don't agree with their arguments), it is rather stupid to hang around once things have turned nasty. If you continue to do so, then you have yourself to blame when tear gas is fired into the crowd. Having said that, you do make some fair points about Police on occasion instigating and/or making worse violence in this situations. As you say however, these situations are very complex, and it is very difficult for them to work out what is going to happen, and who the minority are that are causing the trouble.

    By the way, if you ever decide to lob a tear gas cannister back at the cops, think twice. They are extremely hot when they land, so unless you handle them the right way you will just burn yourself.

    I wouldn't know. I think the piece of advice that I shall choose to stick in bold is:
    If you feel strongly about some issue, by all means go and peacefully demonstrate. If the unfortunate happends and the thing turns violent, then move out. Let the Police do their job and arrest those responsible - those who are damaging your viewpoint by making it out to be a bunch of trouble makers.

  • If there is a health risk, then yes, there is a lot to lose. Do you, therefore, advocate the use of the precautionary principle in making these public health decisions ? That is, if there is even the remotest chance of a risk, ban it ? Do you want to make crossing roads illegal (thats not rhetorical, many countries have laws against crossing except at the lights) ?

    Bear in mind that the WTO has ruled *twice* on this issue, that there is insufficient evidence for a risk to justify the ban.
  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @06:18AM (#1491735) Homepage Journal
    There are other, more appropriate forums and methods of expressing concerns than blocking up a city and starting riots.

    But very few that can be as immediately effective as a protest. You obviously don't grasp the usefulness of being in somesone's face. I would assume after being on a mission you would understand how it is much more difficult to say "No" to a person's face than it is over the phone, or to a letter, or an e-mail.

    ..., these rioters knowingly put themselves in a position... I have no sympathy for these (cough) people.

    Too bad, I hope someday you don't feel the need to make your opinion heard. And if you do, I hope, for your sake, the world at large is more open-minded than you appear to be.

    Given recent accounts of police brutality (in NYC, for example), it would make some sense to not be in the area where a protest might happen--especially as a participant.

    Yea, running and hiding is usually a great way to get things changed. Obviously the police (since they're wearing uniforms) are entitled to do whatever is necessary to maintain the status quo.

    The most commonly accepted form is greasing a politician. Call it campaign finance. Call it graft...You can buy a politician. And it is perfectly peaceful

    Well, tithe your money to Sen. Hatch and go for it. Interesting how your solution is exactly the type of behaviour the protesters are protesting against. You obviously don't get it, in more ways than one.

  • Research first, conclusions later.

    A small amount of research shows quite clearly that a *very* small contingent of protesters became violent (less than 1%), and that most of them were gathered peacefully until attacked by batons or tear gas. The baton attacks happening *before* there was a single window broken.

    The more balanced articles seem to note that it was a peaceful protest with '20-30 anarchists dressed in black' causing the trouble.

  • Yes, but these corporations often set up shop in nations without minimum wage laws, and pay their workers barely enough to survive. Thus the poor stay poor, the middle class citizens of countries with minimum wage laws lose jobs and get poorer, while those who run the corporations get richer.
  • Whatever. Dunno 'bout you, but I'm living in a representative democracy in which one of the two legislative houses -- full of elected folks, not appointed... -- has to power to *not* ratify a treaty.

    And, wouldn't you know it, one of the members of that legislative body happens to be within easy walking distance today, here for a discussion on high tech.
  • Whatever. Just peaceful protest, mon'?

    So, it's all right if we bulldoze your home? Burn all your property? Demolish your school? All right! We're on it.
  • I was playing Half Life's Counter Strike mod... turned on the news and found that it was more exciting to watch the action in real life. Great slide show at: http://www.seattleinsider.com/news/1999/11/30/slid eshow2.html -Infopimp
  • The WTO helps keep special interests from using vote-based so-called democracy to preserve their past advantages against progess and the future.

    No, the WTO is about taking laws to the lowest common denominator for the purpose of "free trade". Environmental laws, health regulations, and other things along these lines have all been considered as "trade barriers" by the WTO. Decided by small, back-room decisions with no accountability.

    I'm all for world trade. I'm far from a "luddite" as you claim the anti-WTO people to be. But I'm not for allowing corporations to decide that laws passed for the good of the people should be removed because it keeps them from raking in more money. The WTO's goals are for corporate greed, and little else.
  • So-called representative democracy is nothing of the sort, because there is no opportunity to influence individual issues through the election sledgehammer, and in any event only candidates that follow the approved line get the funding that's needed to get anywhere in politics these days.

    Actually, there is such a mechanism in many states, including Washington, Oregon and California: referendum and initiative.

    Trouble is, elected officials and judges are trying as hard as they can to thwart this mechanism (see Calif. Prop. 187).

    Naturally, there are dangers associated with anything as purely democratic as referenda and initiatives, but some deference should be given to the will of the people in absence of any citizen's rights being violated.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org].

  • In looking over some of the news photos on the web, I've noticed that the police were not using firearms on the scene, but paintball guns firing rubber balls instead (Tippmann Pro-Carbines, to be exact. You can get 'em at many sporting goods stores throughout the US).

    I'm guessing that they're far safer than the firearms and rubber bullets they replaced, though I'm sure there's many a protestor out there covered in welts that might think otherwise... ;)

    -- JackCat

  • As far as I have heard, there WAS a lot of peaceful, organized demonstration. I don't think many people where planning violence. (whether they could have expected it is something different).

    As I'm posting anyway, I'd like to say that I'm not happy about the violence, but I'm glad someone was there to protest.
  • *shrug*

    How many people vote against it? You're often given opportunity to do so, with the fringe candidates. The CPUSA once had tens of thousands of declared members, who mostly vanished upon a) hearing about the Stalinist excesses of their "ideal" Rodina, and b) being persecuted after a number of spy scandals involving FDR's administration as well as the Manhattan Project.
  • by Amos Hayes ( 100145 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @06:41AM (#1491794)
    Good one! Very subtle sarcasm. Almost had me fooled there for a sec. Mind if I join in?

    "Imagine a US president being responsive to his/her citizens rather than foreign/domestic business interests! For shame!"

    How was that? Pretty good eh?

  • by Jamie Zawinski ( 775 ) <jwz@jwz.org> on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @12:31PM (#1491801) Homepage
    Adbusters [adbusters.org] is absolutely brilliant. I just love the idea of using the media to undermine the media. And even better, they're actually good at it: they are wonderful propagandists. Adbusters is actually the only paper magazine I have a subscription to.
  • I can definitely say that it was a minority of the protestors, and mostly out-of-towners, engaging in property destruction during the protest. Looting where I was (Niketown/Westlake area) didn't happen until after the protest had been cleared by the cops, and it seemed to be carried out mainly by local apolitical high-school students. (The situation was perhaps different at the Starbucks opposite the Westin that got much play on the news; there, protestors were hemmed in.)

    On the cops side, I have to applaud most of the individual cops. Most of them, especially the Seattle Police Department, showed remarkable restraint. That being said, I still think it shows a fascist system when cops use tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets from the very start on a peaceful demonstration. (Destructive punks slept in and didn't start breaking windows until their scheduled start at 11:11; tear gas had already been in use for hours at that point.) There were also a few definite bad apples among the police - mostly apparently from nearby PD's - who covered up badges, beat protestors, squirted pepper spray up inside gas masks and then held the masks on, and shot peacefully retreating protestors in the back with rubber bullets. (All of this is first hand or second hand from sources who I know and trust).

    For a blow-by-blow account of my day, go to my journal [dragonfire.net].
  • Delegates also attacked... I was part of one of the blockades that remained peaceful, & saw more then one delegate try to physically force his way past the line. One guy who I have to assume was not overly bright (I can't absolutely confirm he was a delegate, but he appeared to be & was carrying wto credentials), after being turned away walked about twenty feet in front of our line & turned & charged head first into the line (three people deep with linked arms). When that didn't work he turned around, walked away, then turned & tried again...

    Another delegate apparently pepper sprayed one of the blockades in a failed attempt to break through.

    My favorite was the guy who got beligerent when we wouldn't let him pass. He said he was only trying to go see the new bond film at the theater around the corner. Once we pointed out to him that even if we let him pass, the squad of police in full riot gear immediately behind us wouldn't let him go any further, he decided that protesting would be more fun anyway, & he joined up.

    It is true that only a very small percentage of the protesters were violent. A group of 20 to 30 anarchists in town from Eugene, OR was responsible for most of the vandalism, & add in a few troublemakers who are always join in when ever there's an opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, those few troublemakers gave the police the excuse they were looking for to escalate the situation. Had the police actually made even a token efffort to arrest those responsible, rather then simply attacking everyone, the entire situation could have been diffused without a problem.

    Today, the city has instituted a "no protest zone" covering much of the downtown area & has pledged that anyone priotesting within that zone-- peaceful or otherwise-- will be summarily arrested, a policy that to me appears to be a clear violation of the first ammendment. Also, one of the main -peaceful- protest groups had all of their banners & communications equipment confiscated. The police claimed that the banners could be used as weapons (a shaky argument at best), but I can see absolutely no reason to sieze the radios that is not a clear first ammendment violation (the radios are used as safety equipment in addition to general organizational purposes).
  • You've fallen for a big load of slanted bullshit.

    Read this news story.

    It delivers a less biased view, and shows that MOST of the demonstrators WERE peaceful. It's only a small minority of agitators that are doing the window breaking. As with any group, it's easy to fall into the trap of judging the whole by a few bad eggs. But this is really a very diverse group.
    The WTO has managed to piss off a broad spectrum of people. Gee, I wonder how you do that, in a democratic nation?

    Telling these people that they have no right to march, and that they ought to grease a politician is lunacy. We don't all have nice fat stock options, or mommy and daddy's trust fund to siphon off of. Some people need to work for a living. And they'd just like the opportunity to do so without being fucked-over by some dictatorial group that caters to big business' whims.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • The Chinese factory working making $300 per year is living in China...
    You have to take that $300 in the context of someone in China. They have a lower cost of living than people in North America. It may sound like an impossible amount to live on, and true, it's not much, but it certainly goes farther in China than it would in N.America.
  • Thanks, now I understand your point better. I agree that there are no pure communist or pure capitalist states left (well, except maybe Cuba on the communist side), but I find pure socialism harder to define. In fact, to many people, socialism is by defintion the grey area between capitalism and communism. By that definition, the U.S. is most certainly a socialist country, since we have social protection programs like Medicare and Social Security on the one hand, and a market economy on the other (and, on the other foot, protections for companies such as copyright and bankruptcy laws).

    I thought you were just one of those many people who rejects socialism out of hand because they know communism fell in Europe and never learned about the welfare state of, e.g., Germany. I apologize for the error. Clearly you are much better educated and omre thoughtful than that!

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • O.K., I apologize. The context of your statement made it seem that you were defending the statement that "no rubber bullets were used" simply by questioning the definition of rubber bullets. This really got under my skin, as I can just see the police using that reasoning as a defense--and I thought you were supporting the obvious duplicity of the police.

    I clearly misunderstood your point. Again, I apologize.

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • You're not fast enough to beat the news networks on this kind of thing and you won't be for some time. You don't have an uplink truck or a camera crew.


    Sit down and think about this for a minute, and you'll realize the exact reason why this sort of thing should be on Slashdot.

    Would you rather be force-fed the obvious sensationalist crap that the media presents, or come to a forum like this where we can get intelligent (sometimes, anyway) discussion, and more importantly, first-hand accounts?

    If you don't like it, go into your user prefs and filter out the "news" category.

  • The WTO doesn't seem to stop workers from organizing or even coutries from passing laws preventing sweatshops and the like. Certainly sweatshops are a bad idea but if the WTO has provisions to somehow penalize countries with sweatshops this will be used by rich countries to justify tariffs against these countries.

    As is clear from looking at the history of the US and England sweatshops occur in developing countries whether or not they are competing against developed nations. These sweatshops then tend to disappear as the level of affluence rises to the point that the workers are no longer extremly dependent on the companies (in a poor enough country a workers strike will bring minimal results). Thus by placing tarriffs on a devloping country we could very well be hurting there industrialization and hence prolonging the period of poor workers rights.

    In principle an *appropriate* policy could convince the developing nations to have better labour standards in return for no tarriffs, however, such a policy is too likely to be abused by industrial nations which have a large voter block that is scared of competition from these countries. In addition it might make the WTO unpallatable to these developing countries thus obstructing its ennactment and increasing labour abuses.

    The enviornmental claims may have some merit but I was saying that any real issue their is getting buried under slogans and unions protesting the decline of their power.
  • The primary argument for free trade is that of specilization. Perhaps the Japenese can make cars cheaper then we can and we can make wheat cheaper than they can. If there are significant tariffs we will end up making cars for ourselves and they will end up making wheat for themselves. In the case without tarriffs we make the wheat and they make the cars for everyone. Thus the same amount of goods are produced but less resources are consumed in making them hence everyone is better off. In addition having one large world market vs. many seperate markets allows economies of scale to kick in further benifiting the world at large.

    >The fudamnetal flaw of capitalism, IMHO, is that the philosophy it springs from does not realize that it is in the selfish (best) interest of everyone to cooperate with
    >everyone else.

    But capitalism does NOT prevent cooperation...it merely says you are free to compete. If people wanted to organize themselves into communes in a captilistic systems they can. For instance kibbitzs (?) in isreal. The fact that people in fact do not act this way is in some sense proof that people aren't ready for a fully cooperative society.

    Secondly even in non-capitlistic situations (say research scientists with tenure) there is still plenty of competion for recognition or other such non-monetary values.

    In response to the maize farmers it is true that they may be put out of a job but this is precisely because they farm maize extremly inefficently compared to american farmers. So certainly if trade barriers were immediatly droped tomorrow the sudden shit would hurt this third world nation. However if the barriers are droped slowly (especially if the rich countries drop them first although this seems unliekly) (and the WTO doesn't look like it is going to drop all tarriffs immediatly) the maize farmers will transfer into some other sort of jobs (working at a nike plant or some such) thus because maize is cheaper now they will have more maize in the country in addition to faster industrilization by the location of factories in their country.
  • by Pool ( 88868 )
    Honestly the WTO is an organization that has to be rethought as a whole. In this country (america) it is very hard to get a bit of information that does not have some sort of a spin on it. I am not surprized by the lack of information concerning the WTO. By design the wto is not open to the public. Although heads of corperations are present at the meeting average citizens are not allowed in.
    I find this very disturbing. What I also find disturbing is that BILL GATES III!!!!! WILL BE CHAIRING THIS MEETING!!! If that is an indication of the quality of person that is at this meeting I would be very worried.
  • by delmoi ( 26744 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:25PM (#1491885) Homepage
    First of all, sovereignty sucks. Really, I don't see what's so great about it. I mean; do you really feel like the US government acts in your interests? I don't see why a world government would be any worse. Think about how much the EU governments seem to care about citizen privacy when compared to the US government.

    Look, France, Germany, and other European governments are giving up some sovereignty to be a part of the EU. I care about my rights, and as long as there preserved, why should I care whose running the show? (couldn't do a worse job then the idiots we've got now, could they?)

    Also, while there were a lot of people, there were over 250,000 at Marten Luther King's March on Washington, and over 400,000 at the 'million man march' much more then 50,000. In any event, how can you possibly say that this single event, witch did turn violent is possibly larger then the entire civil rights movement, with its many, larger, and lessviolent protests?

    ohhh, while watching CNN, I just saw an advertisement for you're little 'protest' "lets go to Seattle and put that on the WTO agenda"www.adbusters.org [adbusters.org] You can tell a real grassroots movement by there slick television advertisements.

    As for people jumping down my throat, go ahead, I don't usually to ranting. I wouldn't mind hearing some of the real issues (witch you have not done).
  • I was watching a CBS station broadcasting live from the center of the demonstration/riot. The interesting part is that I was watching this via a real video stream provided by "INTERVU". The news coverage ended about 30 minutes ago (11pm EST) so I am now watching an episode of JAG [cbs.com] on real video.

    I wonder if CNN knows they just bought an episode of JAG from CBS.

  • by Katydid ( 80531 ) <Hegemon22NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:28PM (#1491890)
    I'm going to school about an hour north of Seattle (WWU); our student body has a high percentage of hippies, although not as much as The Evergreen State College (south of Seattle). Accordingly, there have been signs up for several months now (possibly as long as a year) about the WTO conference, and many students are down in Seattle for the protest. I think there was even a University-sponsored bus, but that may be later this week. I've been watching the news all afternoon and many of my neighbors are in contact with friends who are in the middle of it.

    Most of the protestors are non-violent, intelligent, and well-intentioned. However, a few are not, and they're the ones doing the damage. Apparently the looting, etc., this afternoon was done almost entirely by a small group (30 or so) of anarchists who dressed all in black and didn't even show their faces. The real protestors tried to stop them, knowing the damage they'd do to the protest. The few hundred people who intentionally broke curfew are mostly just doing it to defy authority because it's authority. Again, this is only three or four hundred out of 20,000+.

    As a sidenote to one of the reports on the radio, they mentioned that many of the delegates conversed with the protestors outside the convention center (as they couldn't get in). Both sides actually talked about issues and explained why they were there. That's the news that should have come out of today, not the violence and looting and burning and such. But human nature being what it is, a small group had to ruin it for everyone.

    BTW, there's a rumor here that this anarchy group has stolen a petroleum truck and plans to wreak havoc with it tomorrow - anyone else hear this? Is it just someone's imagination, or real?

    Just ramblings from another annoyed Washington State college student...

  • First of all, the National Park Police will tell you otherwise wrt it being the largest protest in US history. They count people at protests/deomonstrations in DC that take place on federal land. You don't get to be largest unless you are counting people in hundreds of thousands. Second, sovreignity is not an issue. Member nations of the WTO are members by choice. If the WTO is encroaching on a member nation's sovreignity, the member nation can leave the WTO. They stay members because it is beneficial to the workers and consumers in the nation for the nation to stay a member of the WTO. Finally, calling that a civil protest is an insult to those who have participated in civil protests. Civil protests do not require the local police to break out the SWAT teams and tear gas. Civil protests do not involve looting or general destruction of property. I think Starbucks is bringing about the downfall of Just Plain Coffee, but I feel sorry for them for having stores looted by what you are refering to as civil protestors. Frankly, I hold the protestors responsible for the damage done by vandals who are unassociated with the protest. By taking actions that require such a large police presence, the protestors stripped the citizens of Seattle of their right to police protection that their local taxes pay for. Call me a capitalist pig, a heartless bastard, or whatever you prefer. I think that a lot of people are passing harsh judgements of the WTO without a complete comprehension of what it is that the WTO does, and what the limits of it's power are.

    itachi, card carrying member of the oppresive bourgeoisie conspiracy against the glorious worker
  • In a way this is true, however the issue of self governing vs. supranationalism is one that will have great importance in the next few years. The United Nations is currently not allowed to interfer in internal affairs, however many people believe the only way that the UN will ever be able to do anything is if they have this power. I agree that it is wrong to interfer with internal afairs, but this issue is not linited to the WTO, and a doubt that an incident like this would happen over the UN.

    I honestly believe that most of the people here are just what i would call 'do gooders'. They want a fight (not usually physical), and they will fight for anything that the see as the 'good' thing, with little regard for what is right. I remeber from when i was in university this was common, and a doubt much has changed. A good example of this was a show i saw on tv about the tibet concerts. One of the people that was attending said 'I'm here to show my support to the tibeten(sp?) people, its really sad that their depressed'.

    I hope nobody critized the mayor or the police for what they are doing, it is amazing what can happen when mob mentality takes over.

    Anyway, i hope that there are few injuries on either side, and that the meeting can take place, and that people have a chance to aire their grevences in a rational environment, instead of on a street.
  • by Pool ( 88868 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:33PM (#1491898)
    I recommend that you read up on what is going on. When there is more than say 10,000 people gathering to protest you should really look into the reasons behind it.

    Try here.
    Or here
  • they gathered to enact the LARGEST protest and civil demonstration in all of american history, including the civil rights movement. It's not just 'seattleites', but indeed upwards of 40 to 50 thousand people

    You are totally wrong about that. A number of protests and demonstrations have been larger in US history. For example, Martin Luther King's famous March on Washington [angelfire.com] in 1963 drew a quarter of a million people. Somehow they managed to avoid looting and rioting, too..

    Protests in DC over such contemporary issues as abortion have drawn larger crowds, as well. You really need to get your facts straight. However, considering you support the protest, it's unlikely you are intrigued by facts.

  • by m0nkyman ( 7101 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:35PM (#1491900) Homepage Journal
    Matt XVI said:
    (NB ALL rights are individual rights)

    This may be true, but corporations are considered individuals by the law ... with none of the responsiblities that come with those rights. This is the problem. The government has created an imbalance by creating an immortal 'individual' with all the rights that that entails, and none of the responsiblities. As someone who believes in the free market, I find this repugnant. The WTO is being used to further the rights of corporations, without adressing the concerns of us mere mortal individuals.

    As far as your comment of lowering trade barriers goes, good for you. If you believe that buying the cheapest goods possible, made by someone making a daily wage less than you spend on coffee, Yippee. Me, I work as hard as I can to make enough money that I can buy (relatively expensive) goods made by people who make as much as I do. If the WTO helps even the playing feild for people making a living wage, YAY!.... That however does not seem to be the goal.

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @07:10PM (#1491906)
    What deepened the great depression? Are you an economist or an economics genius? NO!

    Are you? We have no way of knowing this, since you chose to go AC. I'm not; although I've taken a couple of courses on economics I don't claim to be a genius.

    You have to realize that tariffs and trade barriers increase world suffering.

    Agreed, to a point. But the lack thereof can be just as bad, and have exactly the same effects, only in different regions. Sad as the truth may be, you cannot completely eliminate world suffering. The best you can do is minimize it, try not to cause any more of it, and try help those who are suffering from it.

    Japan would have NEVER attacked US in WWII if the US didn't bring about the Holly Smoot tariff which effectively cut Japan off.

    That's "Hawley-Smoot." And it cut everyone off, so why didn't everyone attack? For that matter, how are you so certain that was the reason Japan attacked at all (remember, they're historically very protectionist also)? Again, these are honest questions.

    So in fact what you are protesting for is the collective suffering of everyone and a greater disparity between land renters and land owners rather than just rich or poor.

    Wrong again. The fact is, he's got a point. People tend to see the US, because of its affluence, as a nation of rich people. This is hardly the case. While we do have a lot of rich people, and those people are very rich indeed, they're still an extremely small minority of the population. I would say that no more than five thousand, maybe ten thousand Americans are in a position really benefit at all from WTO. That leaves over three hundred million others in a position to suffer, and suffer greatly, as their jobs go where labor is cheaper.

    I should point out that when jobs go overseas, suffering for those tho get the jobs rarely ends. It's not like they get paid nearly as much as their US counterparts (for if they did, then what would the point of moving the jobs be?) Most don't even get a twentieth of what a US worker makes, and the working conditions are awful. That's what's known as a "sweatshop" and it's what happens to most jobs when they go overseas. That's not stopping suffering, merely transmuting it to a different form (now, instead of suffering from having no money, they suffer under abominable labor conditions for obscene hours and still don't have much more money than they did before). So now, you don't just have an American who's suffering from unemployment, you also have someone overseas who got the job but is still suffering (which the American would not have been had he or she kept the job). People forget that businesses are ruthless whenever they can get away for it, and why not? Businesses exist for one reason alone: to make money. They'll do this by any means they can get away with; that's the nature of comeptition. Laws can be enacted to make sure business act honorably, but those are useless if they can't reach somewhere that the business can.

    This is the problem with the WTO. Its theory is great. The problem is, it's not executed very well. It does nothing to level the playing field across nations (which was its original purpose; it just doesn't do anything which will do that).

    A trade organization which ensured fair wages and working conditions in its member nations would be one thing. But WTO doesn't do that. All it does is drop barriers to trade, without a thought as to what lies on both sides of those barriers.
  • Think about free trade for a second. What free trade is is a way for the rich to get richer. Those who can afford to set up manufacturing plants in foreign third world countries and ship manufactured goods benefit immensely from Free Trade.

    It also alows the poor to get richer. If those 'rich bastards' didn't setup shop in the 3rd world, how would they get jobs?

    Do you belive that its more imporntant for Americans to have jobs then people in other contrys? I don't. And just beacuse people don't working arn't in the US, it dosn't mean that there being 'exsploited'
  • by jyang ( 86770 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:43PM (#1491921) Homepage
    Maybe it's because I was from China, and I know many people there liked to be "exploited", just like poor areas here in Urban district in america trying to attract "investments". I normally agree with progressive causes, but not on WTO issue.

    Just like in civil right movement, it's admirable that some whites were fighting along with blacks, but ultimately it was fight of black people and nothing could have been achieved without black's leadership and paticipation. If it's a 3rd world's problem, let them fight their fight.

    I am aware a lot of US manufacture jobs are lost to 3rd world countries. But protectionism is not the solution. WTO is not the forum. Trying to tie labor and environment into WTO IS making WTO into a world goverment. If you afraid of losing your jobs and want Buccanna be president, say it out loud.
  • by J05H ( 5625 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:43PM (#1491924) Homepage
    These riots seemed pretty certain to happen, with as much anger and bad blood over the WTO.
    Here are some things that are immediately apparent to me about these riots:


    People are afraid at these protests, many are trying to hide their identities with scarves, bandanas, masks and hoods. This can be attributed to three factors, the most important, IMHO, being that people are worried about reprisals and retribution even for attending the peaceful protests. The other two factors seem to be CS gas protection (not effective unless face covering is wet and covers eyes) and the natural inclination to disguise while vandalizing, for the more violent protesters.


    Major media outlets (CNNonline, local TV in Boston, Reuters) and the Seattle PD are not acknowledging using rubber bullets or CS (tear) gas, despite photos, video and eyewitness accounts of the use of both. Medics have reported treating CS burns, yet CNN claims that only pepper spray is being used.

    evolving state of govt and economy

    People from all over the political spectrum, left, right libertarian and "buchananites", are out there with a beef against the WTO. People are flying in from all over the world with an agenda against the WTO. Ergo, no one likes the WTO, except for those who stand to directly benefit from it's existence. Those benefits do not seem to extend to ordinary citizens, be they Bangladeshi, American or Estonian. Instead, they seem to benefit an increasingly powerful group of professional politicians, worldwide, and the people and companies that keep them in power.

    This "new cultural elite" (LM 125) draws influences from all over the political spectrum, but increasingly demands structure, stability and authority in a suddenly fluid world. It purports capitalism, while working towards something an egalitarian and open capitalism should find anathema. Markets are increasingly being propped up, lowered, tweaked and micromanaged, by unelected "officials" who continuously enact new rules and regulations that directly harm people's lives, with no accountability. The WTO is one of many, many examples of a political tool that does that. In among some of the news stories and weblogs discussing the WTO are some horror stories about things the WTO has done. The major problem is a total lack of accountability, so they do whatever they feel like. The resentment this has caused, worldwide, is prompting people to vent their spleens in Seattle, because they most definitely do want control of their own lives.

  • by delmoi ( 26744 )
    um, the WTO cannot overide any contrys laws, unless the contry lets them. The WTO does not have any military force.
  • by MillMan ( 85400 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:45PM (#1491944)
    I am a bit suprised to see this on slashdot, but since it's here I have a few things to say :)

    I posted this link earlier on the "cyber-sit in story" or whatever it was called. I'll warn you this time that it is a very left-wing site, but don't worry, it won't kill you. In fact, you might learn something. It's a good addition to mainstream coverage that doesn't talk about the WTO at a particularly intellectual level.

    Z magazine WTO coverage [zmag.org]

    I didn't think so many people would end up protesting. This is good because it gives the issue LOTS of attention. As usual the media has overblown the violence, looks like a few bonfires and some broken windows. But it looks like its getting a lot uglier. It's been mostly peaceful from what I've seen other than blocking traffic and enterance to the event. Hopefully people from Seattle will keep us up to date.

    The WTO applies to the computer and sofware industry the same as it does to every other industry. The WTO is, in my opinion, a government by and for corporations. They don't have any accountabilty to the public. They can overturn laws in any member country that are deemed unfair to competition. The most common example I have seen is that countries in Europe were cited by the WTO for not allowing the sale of American beef products because the cows were treated with hormones. CNN.com has a few other examples in their coverage.

    I think the WTO is an extreme form of capitalism that REALLY puts money before people. It takes control away from local governments and the people.

    Globalization definately has its benefits. I think most people reading this can see them as far as the hardware and software industry, especially our trade relationship with Asian countries. I see it as a step twords global unification (well, a really small step). But when labor rights and the environment aren't put first, no one wins, and the gap between the rich and poor gets wider. I think this is why so many protesters have descended on Seattle. Corporations have gone too far this time. The establishment better be careful or the next decade could end up being a rehash of the 60's with globalization as the central issue.

    At any rate it's an important issue that everyone should try to learn about.
  • Not only are they doing no good, but also they're fueled but Labor Unions Advertising money. In fact, they (www.adbusters.org) had the audacity to continue there adverting (I wouldn't have seen them, if I hadn't turned on CNN), even after the rioting.

    Meanwhile, important issues like Privacy, crypto, Censorship fall right through the cracks (There was a protest of the CDA in Silicon Valley. 60 people showed up)
  • so, yes the Protesters aren't violating the constitutional rights of the WTO, because the protesters are not a part of the government.

    However, I doubt that violent rioting is going to do much for there cause. Most people are going to be turned off by this.

    Any organization that can afford slick television ads (I just saw one, from www.adbusters.org, telling people to go to Seattle) Probably doesn't really have your best interests in mind, IMO
  • by PG13 ( 3024 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:47PM (#1491959)
    The WTO has many many good points and several very troubling points such as patent issues and the ever increasing power of corporations. Unfortunatly this protest distracts attention from the real issues and focuses them on the non-issues of unionized labour and 'workers rights.' The violence involved makes it even worse, no one will take seriously the intellectual property concerns after this.

    For the record I call the labour concerns irrelevant because at heart of the matter all that is important is how much stuff the workers recieve. Lowering tarriffs can only increase the total amount of goods in a country (more goods enter the nation) and while some citizens may be demoted to lesser jobs a fluid job market will guarantee everyone is still employed and hence the country has more goods in total.

    So the net effect of trade barriers is to favor organized labour at the expense of the rest of the country. While you might feel that working class people deserve more money this could easily be accomplished by increasing federal aid to those who don't make much money. Increasing this aid would accomplish the goal of makeing sure the working class are not impoverished while not reducing the total amount of goods in the country.

    On the other hand the WTO's seemingly strong stance on intellectual property might restrict the adoption of new/more efficent technology thereby making the world as a whole a less wealthy place (yes I realize IP is necessery to encourage innovation the trick is striking the right balance). But this issue will now be ignored.
  • by OWJones ( 11633 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:47PM (#1491962)
    ... which is why they're protesting.

    I, for one, am very disturbed by the fact that most of the clothes I'm wearing were most likely made by underpriviledged workers, not only in third-world countries, but also here in the US. When the people have a very limited choice, when all they've been given are what they don't want, it's not necessarily their fault if they use it. It is their fault if they don't do anything about it.

    I'm just afraid that the overly sensational US media is going to focus on the 20 or 30 idiots who made serious trouble, while the other 40-50K people there behaved themselves. The tension in this country has been growing at a very visible rate in the last few years and I think this is just one of the first (mostly) good outwards signs of it.

    Being a (young) 20-something myself, most of the people I know (an interesting mix, seeing as I have both leftist or libertarian friends yet go to a very conservative school) are frustrated and angry about the state of politics in this country. The average person no longer has a voice, and large corporations and government institutions are working hard to make sure we have even less of a voice. Restrictions on encryption, anyone? More wiretapping capabilities built into our hardware and software? The "right" of the NSA and FBI to circumvent due process and keep people under surveillence without a warrant?

    The WTO (good article here [citizen.org] in pdf) has a track record of leveragaing their power to tromp the soverign laws of independent countries in order to make more money (article here [latimes.com]). Powerful representatives from the US and large corporations convince small, developing nations that they need the latest whiz-bang-all-in-one products to even survive in the new world. These representatives then provide tasty soundbites wherein they ask for free trade and villify the protestors for not allowing their poor, starving country to get the best TVs out there (yes, bad example, but you get the point). It's for reasons like this [rachel.org] that when I have kids they will never ever have Gerber baby food.

    And for everyone who's been saying "Hippie, go home", RTFA (articles) before you make yourself look stupid. Thousands of people from all different walks of life are protesting this, not just a few "burnt-out acid-dropping hippies who crawled out of the woodwork", as much as you'd like to believe that. Middle-aged people who know this is a Bad Thing (TM) are right next to youth who feel they want to make a difference and are motivated to do so. Prominent figures have lent their voices to causes such as this, and the difference is starting to be felt. Previous generations had The Who, The Clash and U2 to send out the call for arms and action against the oppresive elements of their times. Today, groups like Rage Against The Machine [ratm.com] are sending out the call to action and education to the youth of today. Do you think it's an accident their album debuted at #1 and is currently the #2 selling album in the world?? I don't think anything short of physical action on this scale (meaning large peaceful yet committed protest groups) are going to bring about the change we need.

    Educate yourself. Let yourself get angry. And then do something constructive and meaningful to channel that anger. My 100% support to the protesters in Seattle. Not to mention somewhat reluctant thanks to the police out there for not allowing a re-creation of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago to occur.


  • I disagree
  • Well, sir, perhaps I was misleading when I said that I was currently *in* Pioneer Square - I was NOT trying to say that the turmoil was happening IN Pioneer Square. You are right, it has been mostly quiet throughout the day. Not completely quiet, but mostly - there was a group of people wearing black with costume blood carrying coffins and "mourning" around mid morning, for instance. (no, not the "black robed anarchists" - these were other protesters)

    What I was saying is that "the Downtown area (starting 2 blocks north...)" was the location where these things were taking place. For the most part... pretty much completely... my post was referring to the downtown core, not where I currently am. I'm sorry for the confusion...

    To clarify:

    Yes, Pioneer Square has gone relatively untouched all day today. Yes, the protests affecting this area were last night - I was here working until 2am, and saw that, too. Downtown today was a horrible mess, and that was what I was talking about. I wasn't trying to say that this was armageddon, just that todays events were pretty wild and surreal.

    And yes, when I posted the original post, there was an APC parked just up 1st Ave (just past Yesler), and another had driven by recently. There were also several helicopters that flew over this area on their way north. I didn't know when the Nat'l Guard was arriving, which is why I didn't say that they were here - just that they had been called.

    On a side note - you said that all the homeless had been 'discreetly removed from the area'? What part of Pioneer Sq were they removed from? The same group of homeless are out in Occidental Park by the firemen statue that are always there - more, in fact, since the paddywagon that is usually parked near there isn't around. :)

    I agree with your post for the most part, although it started out a little more hostile than it needed to be... just my opinion.

    - strabo
  • No, the idea of the WTO is to increase free trade and lower (with the intention of eventually removing) tariffs, quotas, and the like. It can be beneficial even to non-members - country A joins WTO, lowers imports quotas for everyone, country B, not a member, has something they want to export to country A, and so they are better off because country A joined. Now, this wont necessarily happen, because the WTO membership influences trade behavior wrt other members, not to the entire world. However, a forward thinking nation would see that the lowering of trade barriers to everyone means greater competition and lower prices for all goods, with increased specialization. Life gets good for everyone when everyone starts to see things like that.


  • by satanic bunny ( 69378 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @07:25PM (#1491968)
    Whoaaaa Nellie!!!!!!!

    You've must have been watching KING 5 TV all day!

    Pioneer Square (we live here) is almost untouched. And the Nat'l Guard don't arrive until tomorrow am anyway.

    P square was affected mostly *last* night when 8,000/10,000 church-sponsored protestors staged an incredible "human chain" potest which encircled all the parking area of the football stadium, barricaded at either end against their attempt to reach the Paul Allen-sponsored Exhibition Hall, where Bill Gates and Boeing head Phil Condit were "entertaining" (read lobbying) the WTO delegates.

    Aim: a protest to make the WTO cancel third world countries' debts. This was peaceful and passed off with NO problem (and almost NO media mentions at *all*). But it was incredibly powerful due to the faceoff of a set of motorcycle cops (approx 40) and riot cops who harangued the demonstrators at the demarcation line. Also because: it was pouring and freezing. They chanted, "We're here, we're wet, cancel the debt!"

    BTW, check out how much Gates & Co are paying for their lobbying opportunities at www.corpwatch.org/calandar/

    Police restraint? Not exactly considering the marginality of offenses actually committed amidst a 40,000-person union march and constant nonviolent actions by 5-8,000 additional protesters - which occupied most of the day (total arrests before mid-afternoon: 12, including five people arrested for banner-hanging)

    None of this, however, involved Pioneer Square (although here, as everywhere else in town, the homeless have been discreetly removed from the area...unlike Belltown, tho, they haven't been replaced by pots of petunias!). The chase/gas/chase and firing of rubber bullets went on all day in the _city center_, near the WTO convention area... our poor excuse for a Mayor, Paul Schell, declared his "state of emergency" around 3pm in a dumb fit of over-reaction.

    This was, sadly for him, at the same time as several local newscasters got hit by CS gas. They stopped playing nice guy and pointed out that the cops were firing rubber bullets, lobbing explosive tear gas greandes embedded with same and firing at anything which moved. They, for instance, caught some people on their way home from offices.

    Most people here _outside_ the media knew something just like this would happen, for many reasons. One of the main ones, however, is that many people are sick of Gates and Allen being allowed to effectively run Seattle...whether by building sports facilities we don't need or being (esp by the media) treated as our de facto mayors and superiors.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I agree with most of what's been said, that a small portion of violent people ruined valid protests and acts of civil disobidience. As a whole, the peaceful protests were very well organized and went smoothly.

    I happened to be near some of the "action" around noon. The protestors blockaded a downtown street (4th and Union for you locals) with overturned dumpsters, and formed a human wall, preventing any vehicle traffic from passing. The police were very patient and tolerant in the face of the screaming crowd. After about 45 minutes of blockade, a police officer announced with a bullhorn that the protestors would be tear-gassed if they did not move immediately. I was only 50 feet away, and could not hear a word the police officer said over the protestors. The people in the back of the crowd (mostly innocent bystanders) had little warning when tear-gas and pepper spray were lobbed into the crowd.

    Like the rest of the crowd, I ran down the street, eyes stinging and throat burning. The police were able to clear the road, but for what purpose I cannot tell. The police did not attempt to move the dumpsters so that the street could be utilized.

    That hot-spot was in stark contrast to a human chained formed to the east (Pike and Boren), near the WTO meeting site. There, the protestors had a legal advisory team, and a negotiating team in constant contact with the police, and remained calm and co-operative at all times.

    In the end, I think this communication between the opposing groups (Police and protestors) made all the difference.

    And this is what most of the protestors wanted: to have dialogue with the WTO in any way they could, and try to make a difference.

  • Let's see what possible reasons the mayor could have for calling it a state of emergency. Especially noting that anybody with a WTO id can avoid the curfew, no problem.

    Wait, are they trying to stop the protest, even the legal parts of it, so lots of foreign business attracted to the city by the convention will stay?

    It looks like (imho, anyways) that this is an arbitrary suspension of civil liberties designed to help people the mayor likes.

    And I'm not usually prone to conspiracies of this sort, but, damn. This just isn't right.

  • The only time that the UN can ever interfere in a country is if there is a major violation of human rights, however this really does not interfere with the right to govern any more then not allowing me to kill someone interferes with my freedom. The ideal UN (as far as they're concencerned) is a body with complete political control. However nobody was willing to give this up, so they gave everybody complete sovernty.

    This ideal will never work, as it is impossible to look out for everyone, just look at the Austrian and Ottoman empires. We must however ask how much power the UN should have.

    Secondly, if you think that Hiroshima was as bad as the Holocaust then you must be insane. 12 million people were killed in the Holocaust, in a form of genocide, 80,000 were killed in Hiroshima, in what probably saving a 2-3 million on both sides of continued fighting. If you believe this is just propoganda, look at the casualties from the Japanese war, and consiter attacking the Japanese homeland, it would have been a long battle. The entire war horrific, Hiroshima was only a small part of it.
  • by Mike Buddha ( 10734 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @07:27PM (#1491976)
    ...To get some new shoes and stuff. Maybe do a little X-mas "shopping". Anybody need anything?
  • I was listening to the radio and one commentator said how easy it would be to discredit all the protestors in seattle by simply hiring a few skinheads to disrupt the protests which would mean that the police would come in and whatnot and no one's message would really be heard. Is this the start of a new trend? I don't know what happened down there but that comment is pretty unfortunate.

    I'm not sure which to think actually, if rioting or peaceful protests help more. I tend to think that rioting and violence brings about a immediate coverage but basically no change unless you take over the organization you're protesting against. Peaceful protest on the other hand actually get a message out rather than people seeing that people are mad for some reason... but a lot of people are anti-authority just by nature these days and their 'opinion' about an organization might be swayed simply because other people don't like them.

    But who would you rather have protesting against an organization.. a bunch of idiots, or those who actually know the issues?

  • Actually, it was a propane tanker [seattleinsider.com].

    It was stolen early monday morning, and is most likely completely unrelated. Its a rumor that is probably just that - a rumor.

    Here's the text of an article about it:

    An alert went out to law enforcement agencies Monday that someone stole a truck loaded with propane.

    Security officials at WTO in Seattle were among those notified.

    Pierce County Sheriff's officials say the timing of the theft is causing alarm.

    The propane truck had more than 2,200 gallons of explosive propane gas when it was stolen at about 3:00 a.m. Monday morning in an unincorporated part of Pierce County.

    The Sheriff's Department issued a bulletin advising other agencies of the theft.

    The sheriff's office also says there's nothing to link the theft to the WTO

    - strabo
  • The WTO doesn't particularly support unions, and they are undermined anyway by the competition created between factory workers in different countries. A company can say to a union "accept these concessions or we'll take all these jobs to another country where we can pay them 10% as much."

    This is why the AFL-CIO has so many members there protesting right now. But I agree with most of the rest of your comments.
  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @07:30PM (#1491997) Homepage
    What's going on in Seattle is fascinating. Beirut you say? Hmmm...

    Beirut I can understand. Kosovo as well. This? No. Here? Never!

    I grew up in Warsaw and came to the US at the ripe old age of 10 (in '83). By that age, I knew what tear gas smelled like. It's not something 10 year olds should know. But, I can honestly say, I knew if for good reason. I was there when the fuse was lit, on the bomb called Solidarity. That bomb blew up the Berlin Wall and the USSR.

    Being from Poland, I imagine that I have a little more insight into the ageless ethnic tensions that made the former Yugoslavia into the blood-bath that it was. A little more insight than the average US citizen, since here people tend to hate each other for color, creed, idealism and other easily observable traits. There, people are more tolerant of such extreme differences, and hate over the history of a neighbor's bloodline. But I digress... (these are my opinions BTW, flame on!)

    Seattle is on the other coast, and while I can see it on the screen, I keep expecting Orson Wells to come out of the shadows and laugh into the camera.

    I can only ask myself 'why?'...
    What do those rioting people rage against? Tyrants? Taxes? The killing of priests? Or is it just the imposition of a more global economy, that would bring the American standard of living (which I very much enjoy BTW) out of the stratosphere and onto the more level plane of globalisation?

    Would these people still be there if they knew that the alternative to what the WTO stands for is (for example) a 200% increase in the cost of gasoline? Do they really want to HAVE TO grow their own vegetables, pluck their own chickens and ride a bike for transportation rather than cheeseburger-burning exercise?

    And will I have to pay more at Starbucks in the morning?
  • It just pissed off the british even more. I really doubt that we wouldn't have won the War if it hadden't happend. Read the book The March of Folly by Barbra W Trunchman(sp?). Its an intresting read.
  • No, this is not true. They can tell their member nations to change their laws as pertaining to free trade. If the nation doesn't want to change the laws, they can always leave the WTO. Please research the WTO before furthering propaganda.


  • People need to realize that the large majority of protesters aren't protesting against globaliztion, they're protesting against unequal labor rights. The WTO wants you to beleive that the protesters seek reactionary protectionist measures along the lines of Pat Buchanan's beliefs. This simply isn't true.

    As long as there are unequal labor rights, corporations can use this as leverage at the bargaining table. "Accept these concessions or we'll shit all your jobs to the Phillipines where we can pay them 10% as much." This opportunity for corporations puts downward pressure on the middle class. This is what the protesters are afraid of, as far as the labor rights issue goes.

    As far as this being a 3rd world issue, you're partly right, but everyone can help. In a lot of these 3rd world countries in the WTO you'll be jailed or maybe even shot if you speak out against the WTO and the government decision to be a member. This is an american issue as well however, becasue of the possibility of the gap between the rich and poor widening even more.

    Keep in mind that the WTO really IS a form of global government because it can bypass laws of any member country! Countries can leave, but that keeps them out of the international trade loop.

    Keep this in mind:

    Globalization can be a Good Thing, but NOT with the WTO as the method. It is not designed to help the average person any way you look at it, it only benefits corporations and renders them unaccountable. Everything I've read about it points to this, and any benefits it gives us are outweighed by its problems. This is a step backwards politically.
  • by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:55PM (#1492016)
    Think about how much the EU governments seem to care about citizen privacy when compared to the US government.

    You mean those EU goverments that impose directives limiting the collection of personal data? (See [eu.int]the Directorate General XV, for Media, Information Society and Data Protection [eu.int] page on the EU's Web site.)

    Look, France, Germany, and other European governments are giving up some sovereignty to be a part of the EU.

    And some in Europe are, I have the impression, not certain that this is all A Good Idea; they may or may not be correct in that belief, but I think at least some of them think that the fiscal policies needed to meet the Maastricht criteria may have increased unemployment.

    ohhh, while watching CNN, I just saw an advertisement for you're little 'protest' "lets go to Seattle and put that on the WTO agenda
    www.adbusters.org [adbusters.org]

    The notion of "a slick television advertisement" from Adbusters seems a bit odd, given that they spend a fair bit of energy arguing against "slick television advertisements" (and other advertisements, hence the name). The WTO Uncommercial [adbusters.org] page on their site ask for donations to help fund those advertisements - in modern societies, it may be that you have to advertise on TV to make your viewpoint widely known.

    I may not agree with all of what Adbusters says, but I, at least, think it's a Good Thing that there're more ads on TV than just ads trying to seduce you into buying product XXX....

  • by delmoi ( 26744 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:57PM (#1492021) Homepage
    Western contries will gain more advantage by puting 3rd world into product markets and raw material providers Oh, no! third-world citizens might get money and they might be able to buy stuff with it!!! That would be so terrible.

    really this thing is ridicules. The WTO makes no policy on the environment, this would be akin to a mob of people trashing your home because you didn't donate to the salvation army or something.

    The only people this hurts are US labor unions, who apparently thing that its much, much more important for US blue color workers to get a lot of money then it is for 3rd world-ers to get food...
  • Why Seattle? Because Boeing has shipped endless jobs out of there in the last few years. Japan, China - they're all getting a slice. When a Chinese machinist costs $20 less per hour than their US counterpart, you can bet your bottom dollar that job will move.

    You know, I keep hearing people like Michel More, and other hardcore left/Hardcore right complain that jobs are leaving the US. And yet, no one has ever said why it is that US jobs are more important then jobs in other countries. Yes, they pay less, but then Mexicans still need to eat, right?

    So, I would like it if you would answer this question:
    Why are US jobs more important then jobs in other countries?
  • Hrm. I dissagree with the protesters, in both there means, and there goals. So, I'm ether a troll or a WTO astro-turfer? um. Yeh...
  • Interesting points, all. I wish you the best with your protesting. Me, I'm just anti-everything, more or less. Or, if you're an optimist, I'm highly pro-Me. But if people get their kicks enslaving the downtrodden masses / fighting for the cause of the downtrodden masses / being downtrodden... well, more power to them. None of them are right, and none of them are wrong. We all choose our respective poisons.

    Morning gray ignites a twisted mass of foreign shapes and sounds
  • There is more than just the one post there. There is a discussion of a sort that you no longer see on /. because the pace here does not lend itself to serious discussion.

  • so, yes the Protesters aren?t violating the constitutional rights of the WTO, because the protesters are not a part of the government.

    I'm not sure I'm parsing your comment correctly... that was my point. I was responding to the previous poster who had claimed that the protesters were infringing on the WTO delegates' freedom of assembly.

    I agree that violent protest usually doesn't raise people's opinion of you. (But that's not universally true...) However, most of the protest was not violent- see some of the other posts here, and read some of the news stories and you'll see what I mean. It certainly wasn't a bunch of people who just got together and decided to break stuff to protest WTO.

    Any organization that can afford slick television ads (I just saw one, from www.adbusters.org, telling people to go to Seattle) Probably doesn?t really have your best interests in mind, IMO

    Yeah. Though that pretty much applies to everyone in the whole mess equally. I'd study the issue, make up my own mind, and stay away from either side's propaganda.
  • Live MP3 stream at
  • Its "For" the labor unions, who want to keep Jobs from the third world, and here in the US. Why? beacuse there selfish, thats why.
  • by jacobm ( 68967 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @05:49PM (#1492061) Homepage
    The cnn link listed in the article is broken. The correct link is here [cnn.com].
  • "First of all, sovereignty sucks"

    your kidding right?

    No, I'm not. (well, maybe suck is a little strong of a word)

    Sovereignty works great, if you already live in a democracy with lots of rights, etc. But I don't see why its so important to extend it to rouge nations, or, for that matter why US sovereignty is even so important to begin with.

    Like I said, as long as my rights are maintained, I don't really care whose running the show (this includes the right to vote, etc)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I find it pretty amazing that people were able to motivate Americans like this, what happend to the culture of apathy?

    Oh well, I guess they have a right to exspress there oppinions, but they should have been a little more courtious.
  • World Trade Organization.

    a group of contrys working together, on trade issues. The idea is to alow free trade between contrys. A good thing IMO, workers rights and the environment would be just as bad without it, so I don't see why all these seatiletes are getting there pantys in a bunch.

    Probably just a bunch of Ex-hippies wanting to relive there glory days, or somthing
  • > ...a group of hippies...hodge-podge mix of students and "labour union" supporters - union stiffs...

    It is easy to attack the protesters by characterizing them as a group of "Hippies students and union stiffs" without bother to ever understand or address any real issues they might bring up. I find this attack on the character of the protesters a cheap attempt to discredit them without actually addressing any of their reasons for protesting.
  • It gets going here [infoworld.com]. Worth skimming. (OK, so I am biased, but I don't feel like retyping all of those points I made..:-)

  • I'm not sure I'm parsing your comment correctly... that was my point. I was responding to the previous poster who had claimed that the protesters were infringing on the WTO delegates' freedom of assembly.

    Yes, it was your point. I'm agreeing with you :)
  • Free trade in the world guarantee that the best
    products are produced at a competitive price.

    Free trade guarantees nothing. We've had free trade here in America in the software industry for years - need I tell you where that thought is going?

    the US, the best
    country in the world. To think the contrary is
    a symptom of stupidity and ignorance.

    Heh, funny how that looks when you move the context around a little. I bet all those poor, unhappy, ignorant, and *cough* stupid FINNISH people are feeling pretty bad for themselves right now. Yup. Life is hard over there in the boonies.
    The criminals in Seatle are for the most part
    unions brainless jerks, basket weaving university
    graduates and other morons.

    Heh, you've just made this too easy.

    Anyways, I use the subtle flame to make a point: There are no guarantees - we, as Americans, are not all THAT much 'better off' than a lot of citizens of socialist, semi-facist, or other democratic countries - Free Trade is about money, money, money, money, and it aint about money for you or I, unless you happen to be the CEO of a great big company.

    Those of you who think otherwise, take a little step back for a moment, and ask yourself this:

    "Would a group of representatives from countries that want money, meeting with a group of private citizens and/or money-driven politicians, be likely to seek solutions that benefit me in my everyday life?"

    FUCK no. Money, money, money. None for you, monkey. WHY would they go through all that trouble to make YOUR life better?


  • by rlkoppenhaver ( 101366 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @05:54PM (#1492087) Homepage
    It really is too bad. Here we have a group of people who were trying to peacefully make a point about their objections to the WTO. Unfortunately, some other people couldn't keep it peaceful, and then the forces of law and order started resorting to violence even against those who weren't using it themselves. As a result, we're bound to see a lot of commentary on how people are animals, since we all riot at the slightest opportunity, or how the government is oppressive because they pull out pepper spray on peaceful protesters.

    Unfortunately, this probably means that the message that the peaceful protesters wanted to get out, that the WTO has a poor track record with environmental and worker issues, is going to be pretty much lost in the noise.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @09:38PM (#1492100)
    I agree, I watched the protest on TV all day.

    A group of people were going around all in black and breaking windows and throwing trash everywhere. But other people kept on cleaning up the trash that these vandals were throwing out and telling the vandals to stop. This group, called the anarchists, were thirty people in a group of 60,000 people. I was suprised that there were so few of these people in such a large group.

    A group of protesters grabbed a street intersection and the entry to where the delegates were meeting and wouldn't let the delegates through, but they were simply blocking the delegates, the only physical violence that I saw was a delegate hitting several of the people that were blocking their way.

    By ten oclock these protesters had been hit with at least ten canisters of gas, sprayed with pepper spray, shot with rubber bullets and attacked with flash-bang devices for at least an hour. The protesters held their ground and refused to surrender the intersection. During the course of these police attacks a few of the protestors became angry with the police and were physically defending themselves by tossing the canisters back at the police and building a baracade of tipped over dumpsters which some lunatic protestor set on fire. (That was a stupid move, gauranteed to make the headlines.)

    Once the delegates were in the building the attacks stopped until the Union march finished around 3 pm. Then the police continued to attack the intersection.

    By 5:30 most of the protestors had gone home, only a bunch of angry young people were left, less than 5,000. They vowed to hold the streets but were pushed out of the downtown area by 7pm so that the delegates could go enjoy a nice catered meal at the flight center.

    The protestors were pushed further and further back into residential neighborhoods where the continued police gas and pyrotechnics attacks were affecting the older people and children in the neighborhoods. At 11pm several hundred policemen are chasing a lesser number of protestors through the streets of Seattle. It will be over soon.

    The one thing that I found really interesting about the protest today was the lack of press coverage today on anything other than the local channels. By 3pm CNN was doing a 5 second blurb every hour and Fox didn't even to seem to know that there was a protest in Seattle against the WTO. By this time the Govenor of Washington had called out the National Guard. But Pete Rose was interviewed live all day long...

    I am not one to believe in conspiracy theories, but the lack of National Press coverage, the biased reporting against the protestors when the news was finally reported at the end of the day, and the police response toward the protestors leads me to one and only one conclusion. The system is rigged and ran by those with money.

    I know that most of you are saying, what am I some sort of idiot for not realizing this years ago? My only excuse is that I saw what I wanted to believe was true. For those that don't believe this, wake up. For those who know the system because they are the system, beware, my eyes are open now and I will be watching you very carefully.

    I am going to my first protest tomorrow morning at daybreak. See you there.
  • by Q*bert ( 2134 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @08:54PM (#1492142)
    Heh. I cannot help but smile at the naivete that you show in lamenting that these protests turned "violent". This kind of thing happened in the '60s all the time, with the cops instigating the violence at least as often as the protestors. In any large group of demonstrators, there will always be some who resort to violence, or at least unruly behavior. In any large group of cops, the same is true. In fact, I would say that, in the U.S., the police have a much worse track record of using excessive force than do political demonstrators. Also, you have to consider this: Blocking traffic, stringing up banners, and even smashing windows is not violence. It is at worst disruption. Windows don't have feelings, and putting yourself in someone's way is a far cry from hurting them. On the other hand, clubbing people, firing rubber bullets at them, and choking them up with tear gas are pretty clearly acts of violence. They may not have lasting effects--let's hope not, for those who have been clubbed tonight!--but they are painful and accomplish little. More to the point, they all target the innocent as well as the guilty. I hate to break it to you, but tear gas floats, and rubber bullets are not exactly fired from precision sniper rifles at predictable targets. As others report here, even non-demonstrators are being gassed and shot at.

    What I mean to say is that the dynamics of "crowd control" always involve brutality. (Why police don't just stand there with their shields and arrest people, I don't know.) Another thing about situations like these is that, with so many agents acting so unpredictably, is that sudden and wild actions often take place. The breakdown of the walls at Woodstock is one classic example. A much more common and less light-hearted example is that moment in every demonstration-gone-wrong where someone does something violent and suddenly it all erupts into a melee. Such are the dynamics of complex systems. As often as not it is impossible to see who threw the first blow, the police or the protestors. Once someone does, though, things happen fast;

    • The police crack down, more or less indiscriminately beating people and firing tear gas;
    • Most protestors panic and try to flee the area;
    • A few protestors stay and start baiting the police by throwing things at them (like unexploded tear gas cannisters, for instance), fighting back with their fists, and setting things on fire.
    From there the situation just goes from bad to worse. In the confusion, a lot of people get hurt with no personal provocation at all. It's a mob scene.

    By the way, if you ever decide to lob a tear gas cannister back at the cops, think twice. They are extremely hot when they land, so unless you handle them the right way you will just burn yourself.

    Perhaps this is our generation's "baptism of fire". Most of us have never seen a large-scale demonstration, let alone one that turned into a riot. A lot of people here are either shocked by the violence--like you--or disbelieving and blindly trusting in the police. In my opinion, both of these reactions are naive. On the one hand, large demonstrations often turn violent; this is just a fact of life. There are too many agents acting too quickly. Mob scenes are truly an example of complex systems at work. On the other hand, police always exacerbate this violence. I don't know why; they must be taught to do it in riot training. Instead of forming a human wall and arresting the "bad apples", they try to disperse the whole crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets. Perhaps they fear an organized response more than they fear the mob scenes required to disperse a crowd.

    As I say, perhaps this is our generation's baptism of fire. Perhaps, too, it will be a turning point in what has so far been general Dilbert-esque grumbling or just plain lying down over the abuses of corporate America. I hope so. Let us remember among the inevitably positive effects of greater protest that riots, too, are inevitable. Insofar as each of us is committed to peaceable conduct, we can help minimize them and contain them, and, above all, deal with them properly when they occur (by getting the Hell out and not baiting the police). However, we cannot prevent them altogether. If we are to repeat the victories of the '60s, we have a long, rough road ahead of us. Things like this will happen.

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • by delmoi ( 26744 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @09:56PM (#1492143) Homepage
    And I didn't know that it was them who had been running the 'I miss my other lung, bob' billboards. Those are great :)

    However, whether or not they are 'doing good' is a matter of debate. Would Seattle have been so ravaged if there ads hadn't run? I think that's a question that they really need to ask themselves. The info about the protest on there site was your typical information-free political propaganda and nothing more then rhetoric.

    If you want to fight a cause, disseminate information about it. Let people make up your own minds. If people chose not to join you, then maybe you're in the wrong.

    Advertising is about manipulating people, not informing them. I certainly wouldn't call what I saw on CNN an "Unadverizment" it was as much a political ad as anything else. (actually, it was a hell of a lot better then most political ads, but that's another story)

    Just because an idea is progressive, it isn't necessarily good. And, once you stop disseminating real information, and start producing propaganda, then you are no better then anyone else. You're just another salesman, pushing your ideas, regardless of how correct they are.

    Advertising, in the form used by corporate America, and by adbusters.org is not designed to inform us, but rather to control us. Corporate America's message is simply to buy their stuff. Adbusers has a political agenda, and is using the tools of advertising to push it.

    There was another organization that used modern advertising to achieve its 'new' goals, It was called Nazism. And they were pretty successful.
  • by strabo ( 58457 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:01PM (#1492165) Homepage
    It is AMAZING what's going on outside right now. I work in the Pioneer Square section of Seattle, just on the south end of Downtown proper. I'm probably insane for still being here, but that's what they pay me the big bucks for, right? Oh yeah, I'm salary. :P

    Anyway, I've been watching this whole thing unfold all day, and it has been absolutely insane. The National Guard has been called in, the Downtown area (starting 2 blocks north of me right now) is under curfew until morning, and the tear gas was so thick at times that you could barely see across the street!

    When I came down here this morning, it wasn't too bad - there were several tens of thousands of people protesting, but it was mostly under control and peaceful. A little tear gas here and there, but not much. The condition deteriorated throughout the day until around 4:30-5:00 - it started to get dark, and it seems like all hell broke loose.

    Watching the news (and the streets, for that matter), it was very surreal - the first thing I wanted to say was "this is happening WHERE?" It looked like CNN coverage of some foreign city under seige by terrorists - not kidding at all... Police in all their riot gear, herding people out of the "curfew zone", shooting tear gas and pepper spray, rubber bullets, and now the National Guard. My kid sister even got tear gassed on her way to work this afternoon!

    All in all, I must say that the police have shown some pretty decent restraint through all of this. Lots of gas, etc, but not too much violence, and VERY few arrests - I think the count is at around 22 people. 22 people out of THOUSANDS really isn't bad. The VAST majority of the protesters were also very well-behaved and got their point across well. It wasn't until some of the "hey, let's go riot!" people started coming out of the woodwork before it got nasty.

    Very odd day, all in all. There's helicopters flying overhead every couple of minutes, and APC's just up the street, and I'm not sure how I'm going to get home, which is on the other side of the locked down area, but very interesting nonetheless...

    *grin* Never again will I say "it couldn't happen HERE... not in MY town..."

    - strabo
  • by jacobm ( 68967 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:01PM (#1492167) Homepage
    ...unless you happen to think that civil rights, ends to oppressive regimes, and ending intolerable working conditions are "constructive."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:03PM (#1492201)
    I have to say that both the protests we've seen today and the response of the Seattle/Washington authorities have both been very good (positive).

    The protests have been good because it is free speech and civil disobediance in a most American fashion. In 2/3 of the WTO countries, the public would have been severely restricted a priori, if not having "dissidents" rounded up and jailed weeks before the meeting. The degree of coordination of the protestors in taking downtown Seattle corner by corner and holding territory was impressively effective.

    For the police response, it appears that they have taken back downtown Seattle in an organized and efficient way. The Governor's State of Emergency giving them a legal basis, the police have shown an amazing amount of restraint... there have been a few minor injuries, but no clubbing/takedowns/violence. I think that this is because the police would have been outmanned at the peak of the protests; when outmanned, they would have to use a greater proportion of force to disperse the protestors. Not to mention that after 12 hours of marching, the protesters would be easier to move.

    I've been watching this live on Northwest Cable News for a couple of hours... Congratulations are in order to both sides for a good show.

    Oh... and leave it to Seattle protestors to loot Starbucks... I can just see the stocking-capped hoods making off with pockets full of biscotti, pilfered mochas, backpacks full of stainless steele travel mugs.... in LA they have the sense to loot consumer electronics... guess in Seattle they have to feed their community addiction.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:07PM (#1492245)

    The real problem with the WTO is that it gives away too much sovereignty. Here in California we're banning MTBE from gasoline because its somewhat water soluble, and may be a carcinogen. I've heard that there are oil companies in other countries trying to get the ban overturned in court because it violates the WTO guidelines.

    If such a case were decided in favor of the oil co.'s, it would basicly mean that the US government has given away California's right to self govern, and the people would have to keep drinking MTBE contaminated water no matter what they thought of the issue.

    That's the sort of thing they're protesting against. More power to them! I wish I could go to Seattle and join them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @09:06PM (#1492250)
    The events in seattle are not a result of the WTO conference (of which they have been heavily recruiting volunteers for in area high schools. I'm glad I didn't volunteer.), but the hype generated by the massive preparation the city has been undertaking for the past several months in order to get ready for the protests. It attracted all of those people that thought setting bon fires and beating up delegates (Which did happen, to those hapless enough to try to use the front entrance)would be great fun. Shortly after the protests began, the protestors quickly factionalized. Conflict began between the groups, as those who had coordinated their protests with the city attempted to stop those that were firebombing dumpsters and rolling boulders down hills at lines of police for fear of being tear gassed. Things began to degrade at around 10:00 AM Pacific, when the police donned their riot gear and began loading their hot-pink shotguns. Wacky and entertaining protestor vs. police hijinks ensued. I saw a man in a sea turtle costume (bearing the placard: Save the sea turtles. Go fig, at a trade conference?) beating the hell out of another man who was unlucky enough to rouse the beast's ire. Many of the protestors had unusual costumes on, probably to attract the attention of television cameras. The overall effect was that of a demented mardi gras, but with more tear gas. On a side note, I found out that CS gas smells like horribly rotten mustard and doesn't "hit" you until several seconds after exposure. The tear gas attacks were mostly ineffectual, as many protestors (Rioters at this point) had gas masks, and were lobbing the cannisters back into the police lines. After several hours of this, the crowd shifted into 'Arson mode' and began stripping Seattle's beautiful downtown pedestrian areas of anything flammable and setting massive blazes. As the curfew approached, only the hard-core bands of rioters remained behind to taunt the advancing riot squads. Oh, and somebody set off some sort of explosion during this phase of the .. party.. and that seemed to /really/ piss the police off. As for the conference itself, it was delayed by several hours and the attendees were generally annoyed. Personally, I would've sent in the fire department to quell the riot. I would have volunteered on the spot if one of the availible positions was to work the hoses. At any rate, this wasn't about the WTO. It was a gigantic , really destructive, block party. The pleasure we take in being part of the group, acting with violent purpose towards a goal with no eye towards its morality will ensure that we are supplied with a never-ending fountain of such spectacles well into the new millenium. The police felt it, and they did take part, with their lobbing of tear gas and engagement with the protestors. Even I felt it, far removed as I was from the chaos. I thrilled at the prospect of taking part-- a primal need to put myself in the center of it, setting fires and engaging in wholesale mindless destruction with my.. as the mob, the distinction of self vanishes. Something in ourselves makes us manic for the chaotic energy we find when we swarm. Philotes, herd instinct, whatever you please. It exists. This is what Y2K will be like, but everywhere.
  • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @10:40PM (#1492288) Homepage
    An interesting trend that I've noticed is that usually with any sort of political protest such as this there are two distinct groups of individuals. The first group consists of people who have a deep commitment to a particular cause and are willing to risk imprisonment and their personal safety to make a point. The second groups consists of people who want to wreak a little destruction and will use any political excercise as an excuse to do so.

    If you read MSNBC's articles on the subject, they mentioned a protestor who was arrested by the police. The protestor, upon being interviewed, admitted to the fact that he did not have a particular agenda against the WTO. Ah, the committed ideals of the civilly disobdeient masses are amazing aren't they? :)

    A friend of mine particpated in a Martin Luther King rally that ocurred in Denver a few years back. The KKK, being the fun loving happy go lucky kind of white supremacists they are, thought it would be a lovely idea to stage a rally of their own at the state capital. She was with a large group of people who were very into civil rights, and wanted to show their respect for MLK with a peaceful march through downtown. At the capital, they discovered that another group, completely unrelated to theirs had shown up with only one intention, beating the ever loving crap out of the KKK. Now, if there is any organization that deserves such a reception it is the KKK, but the end result was a riot that far overshadowed anything good that happened that day.

    So, for those in the audience who just enjoy stirring things up and being violent, would you take up knitting or something rather than screwing up the political message of the few people in this country who are willing to go out of their way to make a political point.

    *As sterno steps down from his soap box the crowd goes wild*


  • by kuro5hin ( 8501 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:12PM (#1492301) Homepage
    Hey, you there, with the sign.. yeah you, throwing that stick... were those jeans you're wearing organically grown in a Salvdoran cooperative, or were they assembled by 8-year-olds in a Malaysian sweatshop?


    Morning gray ignites a twisted mass of foreign shapes and sounds

  • by garagekubrick ( 121058 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @01:32AM (#1492325) Homepage

    Everyone has their own opinion, yeah, but I'm surprised at some of the responses in the Slashdot community. Sure, when I saw the protestors preparing on the news here in London I sorta mumbled to myself, "Yeah... THEY'RE going to save the world, sure..." - but the really interesting thing is that it's not just bong addled hippies out there. It's retired firemen and nuns and Union workers. That is how important this issue is - because anyone who has lived in WA state, where I grew up, and hasn't gotten filty rich on MS stock options knows that free trade has been disastrous to our economy and environment. The Salmon runs are nearly dead, hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in that industry. Loggers were hired by big corporations to strip clear trees from the state that were sold to Japan, then fired once they were all gone (and don't get me started on how they bought public land - PARK LANDS - to get even more timber). Then there's Microsoft. The brief history of this state is our future history praying at the altar of free trade. These were issues that affected blue collar working class people and their ability to support their families - not smelly assed crusties playing bongos worrying about the new batch of Humboldt bud.

    The WTO means that hormone injected beef that has been proven to cause cancer cannot be restricted from being sold in a country whose people don't want it. This means that controls on GM food and labelling cannot occur despite a populace agreeing on such an issue. This means Monsanto can sell their self destructing seed no matter what the farmers think. It means a company who makes an enormous profit from one country doesn't have to put one cent back into taxes to that country or jobs or local interest. Basically - it's Microsoft vs. Linux, except it's not the OS you run, it's the food you eat, the air you breathe, the animals in the sea, your local populace's employment rates, the ability of a large corporation to strip mine all the resources in an economy and not put anything back into that economy - rather keep it for themselves - which is the real damage of free trade.

    Maybe I'm emotional, because I'm here in London and it's only through webcams and message boards and TV coverage that I can get a sense of what's going on back home, and worry about friends and family, some of whom I know are protesting, while others are worried about getting to work on time, and one or two police officers. Undoubtedly there is a small minority causing trouble. But what I see is a diverse crowd of unarmed people with interests devoted to having a say in the shape of the world versus the latest kevlar protection and non lethal weaponry - against the sheltered protection of large corporations. It's Terry Gilliam's Brazil. For the first time in my life I have empathy with the older generation who protested in the 60s and understand why they were so reactionary. If you're going to consider this issue as non sequitir and having no importance to nerds, then please, like a true nerd educate yourself first and consider what's at stake.

  • by Gurny ( 99941 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:14PM (#1492339)
    Okay first things I was in downtown Seattle were all of the demonstrations occurred. The news media (even local) is focusing on some rather limited acts of vandalism the have happened over the course of the day. A group of "anarchists", which were in reality about 15 nineteen year old kids dressed in black broke some windows and spray painted all kinds of things. I think it is important to understand that the action of these 15 or so kids is what you are hearing about in the news, and doesn't represent the actions of many thousands of protesters you demonstrated peacefully. As far as the police, they were very patient for the most part and did use tear gas and rubber bullets. For whatever reason they are denying the use of the rubber bullets but they were used at a couple of occasions during the day. While I wasn't there to protest the WTO directly I can't say that I agree with the closed door nature of there meetings, or many of their decisions (gene patents anyone?). PS In reply to an earlier post the CSE department at UW is quite good, but it is small and VERY difficult to be accepted to.
  • by shazam* ( 83121 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:14PM (#1492343)
    here's my two bits
    free trade is good for developing countries
    it is, however, probably a bad thing for many north american labour unions
    if unlimited growth in the production of wealth is unrealistic (and I believe it probably is)
    then the only way for the quality of life for the average third worlder to improve is for us to share the wealth
    ultimately, we (western citizens) may be poorer, but the system will be more fair
    to hell with national sovereignty, citizenship is only an accident
    The chinese (most of them) don't want democracy
    they want color tv sets
    If the labour groups really want to help the average third world worker, they would be pro WTO, then help them unionize at home
    thought must come before action
    these knee jerk responses and rhetoric spouting assholes are driving me up the wall
  • by MattXVI ( 82494 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:15PM (#1492352) Homepage
    Lowering trade barriers does quite the opposite. It increases my individual right (NB ALL rights are individual rights) to buy products without state interference and taxation. This benefits the buyer and seller.
  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @11:05PM (#1492369)
    Feedback of this sort is an essential part of our socio-political system, because there is no other mechanism available by which the actions of political and economic institutions can be controlled in a democratic way.

    So-called representative democracy is nothing of the sort, because there is no opportunity to influence individual issues through the election sledgehammer, and in any event only candidates that follow the approved line get the funding that's needed to get anywhere in politics these days. In any case, one day of democracy every five years is a joke.

    In the absence of any official feedback mechanism, people have to protest to get their points across, and in this media-led world, a peaceful protest just doesn't get on the news. At the very least it's got to create a disturbance or nuisance of some variety to be reported.

    Well, so be it. If the politicians in their comfy rose-tinted world don't provide any better way for the populace to express itself and to get things changed by due process, then people will take to the streets. It's that simple.

    I bet that they never get the message though. That would require a clue. Nah, far easier just to send out the riot police to control it.
  • by blackmail ( 62874 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @11:14PM (#1492385)
    The following is a first-hand account from a Stanford student of the lack of police brutality:

    Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 00:24:07 -0800 (PST)
    From: "Louise A."

    Greetings from Seattle,

    I was at the demo today -- will send out a full report soon -- but for
    now, i just want to say that reports of police brutality are not
    exaggerated. Many are in fact grossly underestimated. I didn't get
    anything worse than tear gas, but police have been
    beating with riot sticks
    peaceful protestors who sat or lay on the ground. They have taken
    protestors who were wearing face masks, covered the inside of the mask
    with pepper spray and forced it back onto the person's face. They dragged
    an elderly woman across the ground by her hair and an arm. They've shot
    rubber bullets at ranges of a few feet, and one officer pulled a real gun
    on protestors before other officers restrained him. In addition,
    police have _not_ been arresting protestors to any extent -- I heard 18
    arrests the whole day -- they have simply been attacking us. Now the
    mayor has declared a state of civil emergency, set a 7 pm curfew dowtown,
    and called out the National Guard. So if you can make it to the Palo Alto
    demo tomorrow, do. (info below if you missed it)

    NO WTO!

    In solidarity,

    Louise A.
  • by strabo ( 58457 ) on Tuesday November 30, 1999 @06:18PM (#1492390) Homepage
    From what I have seen (I am in downtown Seattle right now), there has been VERY minimal police violence, almost no injuries to people, and the vast majority of the protest WAS nonviolent.

    There were a lot of people that started coming out, particularly toward the end of the afternoon/evening, who saw this as an excuse to riot and destroy property. There were also a large number of peaceful protesters trying to talk them down.

    For the most part, the police simply used tear gas (not pleasant, but nonviolent), pepper spray, and some rubber bullets. Mostly gas and pepper spray. And they used it fairly sparingly until it became evident that something had to be done to get things under control, and they imposed the curfew. Then they got more agressive with the tear gas to get people OUT of the downtown area.

    There was a lot of property destruction done by a small (in comparison) group of people, and the police, for the most part, excersized a good deal of restraint in dealing with it.

    Also, for the most part, the protesters (peaceful) that I have talked to feel that today was a GREAT success, that their message was heard, and that their objectives were accomplished. I don't think that will get lost in the noise at all.

    All in all, I must applaud both the peaceful protesters of today -and- the police. They both did their jobs, did them well, and nobody really got hurt (that I'm aware of). It could have been A LOT worse.

    - strabo
  • by totoro ( 81409 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @05:15AM (#1492395)

    You ask "What do those rioting people rage against?"The short answer is
    that the protesters in Seattle are fighting against a body that exists outside of
    any nation's government for one purpose: to create globalized free trade for
    multinational corporations to increase their profits at the expense of the
    citizens of the world.For a more in depth analysis of what is going on in Seattle,
    try ZNet [zmag.org] for starters. I truly believe that everyone should be concerned about the
    WTO's power due to its ability to drastically alter our lives without us having
    any say whatsoever.

  • by Gorimek ( 61128 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @09:11AM (#1492440) Homepage
    The only first hand account I see is that she says "I didn't get anything worse than tear gas".

    She does not claim to have seen any of the other things she talks about. I'm sure the rumor mill is spinning at top frenzy out on the streets.
  • by Ralph Bearpark ( 2819 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @03:29AM (#1492466) Homepage
    I am completely with you on this Morgaine. Violence and rioting are the undocumented part of the constitution of all states.

    In the UK the unfair and unpopular Community Charge (or Poll Tax) wasn't beaten (just) by peaceful argument, democratic vote, or even civil disobedience - it was only dropped after rioters trashed a large part of the City of London. Then the politicos finally got the message.

    The WTO and their attempts to allow business to (further) abuse the patent process by allowing genetic patents (I mean, what better example of Prior Art do you need?) and to deny labour rights to the 3rd World (thus allowing business both exploit cheap/child labour and further erode pay & social conditions in the West). Ditto the environmental standards.

    The WTO's denial of the rights of democratic states to refuse import of goods on safety or ethical grounds is not about Free Trade it's about exploitation.

    Of course, you can't blame Big Business. Ethics are expensive, and if you don't do the bad but profitable thing then the other business will. The WTO is doing a dangerous job here because it's underming the democratic control of such bad business practices.

    As Morgaine says, the feedback mechanism is now kicking in. Kicking and shouting and throwing bricks in. Ultimately this is how we preserve our democracy and our social standards. All we hold dear.

    The WTO, big business and their pet polititions can take the warning or not. They can step back and start acting in a more socially and environmentally responsible fashion ... or they can push on and take the consequences.

    Regards, Ralph.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson