at the U.N.: A new U.S. ambassador may
Picking a Prime Minister: Citizens of England prepare to elect a prime minister. (6/6/01)
How's he doing? The first 100 days of the Bush presidency. (4/25/01)
Global Warming: Scientists warn of future climate change. (2/14/01)
and the world: The world's richest countries gather in Japan.
Albright: The former Secretary of State on news from Kosovo and
the G-8 peace proposal.
Buying into Capitalism: Russia will join the leaders of the G-7 nations (6/19/97)
Globalization has brought Starbucks to Japan and BMWs to Baltimore.
But it has also tied world economies closer together than ever before. And now that the U.S. economy is slowing down, the effects are being felt almost everywhere.
What can be done?
This weekend, the world's greatest economic powers will join together in an effort to reverse the economic downturn that has affected the international community.
President George W. Bush left Washington Wednesday for his second trip to Europe. After a stop in England to visit with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II, Mr. Bush will spend the weekend in Genoa, a small port city in northwestern Italy, where he will participate in the annual G-8 summit.
The G-8, or "Group of Eight," is made up of the leaders of the eight major industrial powers. Every year, they gather in a different city to discuss the most important global political and economic issues.
The countries involved are the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, and Great Britain.
The first summit took place in 1975 with only six members - the United States, Great Britain, France, Japan, Italy and Germany. Canada joined a year later, and the group was called G-7. It wasn't until 1997, that Russia began to participate in the meetings. Ever since Russia joined, the summit has been called G-8.
At first, the only issues discussed at the summit had to do with global relations and international business. Over the years, topics have expanded to include subjects like employment, the global environment, drugs, organized crime, weapons control, and terrorism.
But what has remained constant are the disagreements that arise when very different countries try to agree on how to address a problem, which can prevent important policies from being adopted.
Differences over energy policy
One of the hottest
issues that will be debated this weekend is a dispute between the United
States and other countries. Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Great
Britain and Canada have proposed an energy plan that would require rich
nations to help a billion people around the world get their power from
renewable energy sources in order to reduce global warming.
President Bush opposes this energy proposal. He says that the free market, and not governments, should decide when and how soon these new energy sources are adopted worldwide. He argues that the proposal would encourage governments to throw their money at the global warming problem without really thinking about it.
Critics of Bush's decision say that his major concern is that the policy would reduce sales of power plants and drilling equipment, thus cutting the profits of the oil and gas companies.
Debt and the global economy
Another hot topic will be the money developing countries owe to large international banks, such as the World Bank. Poor countries must often use the little money they have to pay back lenders instead of funding projects that could feed the hungry or provide health services.
President Bush has
proposed that the World Bank and others give out more grants for education
and health, as opposed
The summit participants will also debate how bad the global economy really is. In a G-7 (excluding Russia) meeting to prepare for the upcoming G-8 summit, Bush declared that he was optimistic that the American economy would grow next year, and that the global economy would improve as well.
But the other leaders countered that the global economy is in very bad shape. Japan has been in a slump for almost ten years and the European Union is feeling the drag of declines in U.S. purchases.
Over 100,000 activists are expected in Genoa. These demonstrators believe international financial institutions and big corporations abuse their power, causing the poor to suffer even more. Other protesters will campaign to lower the price for AIDS treatment in Africa and relieve the debt of developing nations.
The protectors are mostly environmentalists and human rights advocates, and they are usually not violent. But there are some anarchists who would like to end globalization. Some of these more radical demonstrators have thrown rocks and firebombs at police and on Friday, a man was shot and killed by Italian police, reportedly in self-defense.
In response to the violence, the local government has taken steps to ensure the safety of the world leaders attending the summit.
More than 16,000 police officers walk the streets, and 12-foot tall iron walls block the alleys leading to the city center. The area around the palace, where the meetings are being held, has been turned into a "Red Zone" with restricted access.
President Bush is
taking additional precautions. While the other summit participants plan
to sleep in a luxury cruise liner in the old harbor, Mr. Bush will most
likely sleep at a U.S. military base a short helicopter ride away.
Contributed by Alexia Elejalde
Copyright © MacNeil-Lehrer Productions All Rights Reserved