Red Reading: Spectrezine's latest picks from recent publications

EU Energy and Transport Policy
Despite growing public concern about the social and environmental risks associated with agrofuels (more frequently referred to as biofuels) and their problematic climate impacts, the European Union is throwing its weight behind the promotion of these often very harmful crops. In March 2007, the European Commission proposed targets to increase the use of agrofuels in all road transport fuel to 10 percent by 2020. The Commission is also planning to channel large amounts of EU funds towards research and development to boost the use of agrofuels. A new report from Corportae Europe Observatory (CEO) uncovers how the EU?s promotion of agrofuels has been heavily influenced by corporate interests, including car manufacturers, biotech companies and the oil industry. On the invitation of the European Commission, these industries have steered EU policy on agrofuels through industry-dominated advisory bodies such as the Advisory Research Council for Biofuels (BIOFRAC) and the European Biofuels Technology Platform (EBFTP).
Read the rest of "The EU's agrofuel folly: policy capture by corporate interests"

G8 and Climate Change
The emissions trading schemes promoted by G8 countries 'are deferring genuine climate action, while generating massive profits for the largest polluters. The hegemony of the G8 in international forums such as the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change means that global climate policy is being chosen for its compatibility with the existing economic system rather than its effectiveness in reducing emissions', argues Kevin Smith in "Profiting From Pollution: The G8 and Climate Change" in the latest issue of UK socialist monthly Red Pepper

Iraq
On Thursday, May 24, the US Congress voted to continue the war in Iraq. The members called it "supporting the troops." I call it stealing Iraq's oil - the second largest reserves in the world. The "benchmark," or goal, the Bush administration has been working on furiously since the US invaded Iraq is privatization of Iraq's oil. Now they have Congress blackmailing the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people: no privatization of Iraqi oil, no reconstruction funds.
This threat could not be clearer. If the Iraqi Parliament refuses to pass the privatization legislation, Congress will withhold US reconstruction funds that were promised to the Iraqis to rebuild what the United States has destroyed there. The privatization law, written by American oil company consultants hired by the Bush administration, would leave control with the Iraq National Oil Company for only 17 of the 80 known oil fields. The remainder (two- thirds) of known oil fields, and all yet undiscovered ones, would be up for grabs by the private oil companies of the world (but guess how many would go to United States firms - given to them by the compliant Iraqi government.)
No other nation in the Middle East has privatized its oil. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iran give only limited usage contracts to international oil companies for one or two years. The $120 billion dollar "Support the Troops" legislation passed by Congress requires Iraq, in order to get reconstruction funds from the United States, to privatize its oil resources and put them up for long term (20- to 30-year) contracts.
Read the rest of "What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq's Oil for US Companies" by Ann Wright on the US website Truthout

And while Iraqis are seeing their oil stolen from under their noses, their doctors are simply fleeing in search of a less harrowing life- or moving on to the next. "Ten thousand doctors have fled the country. Two thousand have been killed. Some hospitals lack the rudimentary elements of care: hygiene, clean water, antibiotics, anesthetics and other basic drugs. Oxygen, gauze, rubber gloves, and diagnostic instruments such as X-rays are absent or rarely evident. This is Iraq today." Read the rest of Adil Shamoo's "The Destruction of Iraqi Healthcare Infrastructure" in Foreign Policy In Focus.

Venezuela
"Led by the country’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan revolution is sending shockwaves through the corporate elite both within Venezuela and internationally. The Venezuelan people are waging a struggle to gain sovereignty over the country’s natural resources in order to rebuild the nation along pro-people lines," argues Stuart Munckton in Green Left Weekly