Thursday, June 07, 2007

The true value of what the G8 gives in aid
Posted by MikeD on MEDIALENS, June 4, 2007

As leaders of the world's richest countries meet, this is the proof that they could do much more for the poor

Overall aid to Africa has risen by less than half of what is needed to stay on track to reach the Gleneagles goal to double annual aid by 2010.

A report by Oxfam yesterday suggested that, if present trends continue, the G8 will miss its target by a staggering $30bn.

Even the country which has done best in keeping its word, the UK, is projected to fall short of its promise of $14.9bn by $1.6bn. The country that has failed most so far, Italy, will be a whopping $8.1bn short of the $9.5bn it has vowed to give.

Last year, the rich world spent three times more on bottled water ($58bn) than it did on aid to Africa ($18bn).

We spent 10 times more on military expenditure ($1trillion) than we did on aid globally ($104bn).

Despite the Gleneagles promises, global aid actually fell in 2006 for the first time in 10 years. Aid to Africa has grown only 2 per cent since 2004.

* The British spend twice as much money on wine and champagne as Government does on aid

* German women shell out more on shoes than their Government spends on aid

* France's aid budget is dwarfed by the amount its women spend on perfume

* Spending by Japanese people on luxury goods is about the same as country's aid budget

* The amount the US gives in aid is less than the annual profits of the ExxonMobil oil company

* Italians spend more on ice cream than the country provides in overseas aid

* Canada's aid budget is only half the amount its people spend on beer

* Russia does not make figures available for the amount Moscow donates in aid or debt relief

Protesters defy police to rock the G8 leaders
by Chris Nineham, in Rostock

The German authorities mounted the biggest security operation since the Second World War for the G8 at Heilingandamm near the north German town of Rostock.

They sent 16,000 riot police to the area, destroyers packed with marines up the Wranow Estuary and a fleet of fighter planes to patrol the skies.

Despite this much hyped build up, over 80,000 people travelled from Germany and around the world to join the anti-G8 demonstration last Saturday.

Demonstrators streamed from two meeting points in the suburbs to the old harbour near the city centre.

There were pensioners groups, climate change campaigners, anti-war groups and impressive trade union delegations.

Local families mingled with student groups from all over the country marching alongside mobile sound systems. There were large groups of young anarchists, many dressed in black.

But perhaps most impressive of all were the massive red contingents on both marches organised by the new left party Die Linke.

The party brings together activists who have left the SPD, Germany’s equivilant to New Labour, radical socialists and the PDS, the remnants of the East German Communist Party.

It is currently at 12 percent in the polls and played a vital role in the mobilisation for the G8, especially in the final couple of weeks.

A spokesperson for Die Linke estimated there were 6,000 people on their contingents.

As well as hyping the threat of violence, the G8 organisers had picked a remote part of Germany – its most sparsely populated region – for their meeting.

They had widely trailed plans to use the meeting to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems, especially the threat of climate change.

The huge and radical demonstration showed once again how many see through their rhetoric and oppose their real agenda.


Rostock is an old port and shipbuilding city in decline and is now an area of high unemployment.

The biggest of the two demonstrations marched through miles of monotonous housing projects and empty factories, picking up support on the way.

The atmosphere was relaxed, like a huge political festival. As our anti-war contingent reached the harbour scuffling broke out some metres ahead of us between groups of anarchists and some riot police.

Within seconds hundreds of paramilitary police in green uniforms poured into the area from three directions.

A stick, one or two stones and a flare were thrown and the police started baton charging the anarchist groups mercilessly. Other protesters were pushed over and trampled.

One man was thrown out of a wheelchair and beaten by a group of about 15 police officers. A young woman held by her mother fled past us with blood pouring across her face.

From that point on throughout the evening there were sporadic attacks by police using baton charges, water cannon and tear gas.

There were hundreds of police vans and armoured personnel carriers lining all the cities main streets. All other traffic was banned.

The police seemed to be trying to give the impression that Rostock was under military occupation.

But the protesters were defiant, 30,000 or so stayed in the harbour to hear the speeches and dance at a concert.

Others walked the streets and sat in outdoor cafes and restaurants. On Sunday morning many of the marchers came back in to the centre of the town to join a demonstration against genetically modified foods or go to a conference on climate change.


At lunchtime there was an international anti-war assembly in one of the cities central squares addressed by anti-war German MPs among others.

The assembly agreed to launch a campaign to pull Nato troops out of Afghanistan.

The German movement has called a demonstration against the war in Afghanistan on 15 September.

After the demonstration the town of Rostock was almost completely undamaged.

We heard of three cars that had been overturned and set alight and a few wheelie bins that had been turned over.

Some of them had been lifted back up. A tiny number of protesters had allowed themselves to be provoked by the massive police presence.

But the police’s military-style manoeuvres that flashed over the world’s TV screens appeared to be just that – manoeuvres designed to intimidate.

The media coverage of the G8 protests will have to be challenged by the movement around the world.

But the biggest roars of approval in Rostock’s harbour last Saturday night were for the speaker who said, “We should accept no lectures about violence.

“We are not the ones responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Iraq, we are not the ones threatening to bomb Iraq.

“We are marching for peace and justice, concepts the leaders of the G8 do not even understand.”

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