Red Reading - Spectrezine's reviews of the latest the radical press

Lisbon Treaty: leaked document reveals governments don't even know what they are signing
The EU-critical UK-based group Open Europe has released a confidential strategy paper prepared by the Slovenian EU Presidency for heads of Governments which identifies 31 areas of the Lisbon Treaty where decisions have not yet been taken on how the arrangements will actually work in practice. The leaked document provides a list of decisions that will need to be taken and "preparatory work" which will need to be carried out during the course of 2008 - before the Treaty is even ratified in all member states. In particular, the document shows that EU leaders plan to make a series of important decisions only after ratification in "difficult" countries such as the UK. Many decisions are to be taken "as soon as possible" after ratification is out of the way. So MPs will effectively be signing a blank cheque if they vote for the Treaty without a referendum. Read the rest

Lisbon Treaty: British Trade Unionists' anti-Treaty Group launches website

Trade Unionists Against the European Union Constitution have launched a website. It contains speeches and articles by activists and masses of information on events in the UK and elsewhere.

Lisbon Treaty: Full Text
If you've got the stamina, and want to know just what they're planning for us in the post-democracy era, you can now read the full 336-page consolidated text of the Lisbon Treaty, courtesy of the UK Foreign Office, here The UKFO has also provided a helpful comparison between the Treaty and the current arrangements.

EU Returns Directive: An outrage against human rights
"Against the outrageous Directive!", the full text of this speech given by Yasha Maccanico of Statewatch at the hearing with NGOs organised by the United European Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European Parliament,
Strasbourg, 12 December 2007 can be read here If you care about human rights and racism, and want to know what the EU's attitude to these issues is, read it. If you know what the EU is about, you'll nevertheless get valuable information. If you don't, you'll find out.

EU/Israel: Liberty, democracy, brutality
Diplomatic pressure from the European Union has been credited as being partly responsible for how Israel allowed some deliveries of food, medicine and fuel to Gaza over the past few days.
But you would never guess that senior EU officials had been flexing their metaphorical muscles if you saw one particular document distributed to the Brussels press corps.
This was a transcript of a speech given by the European commission's vice-president, Franco Frattini, during a visit to Israel.
In a week when the UN berated Israel for violating international law by blockading Gaza, it seems extraordinary that Frattini should indulge in some flagrant fawning towards his hosts.
According to his prepared script for a conference entitled Israel at 60: test of endurance, Frattini did not allude once to the blockade imposed on Gaza, even though the UN considers it to be an illegal act of "collective punishment".
Instead, he insinuated that opponents of Israel in Europe were guilty of antisemitism. "This prejudice, this stance against Israel and Jews, has no place in today's Europe," he said.
Read those words again: "This stance against Israel and Jews".
How can opposition to a country's government be equated with hostility towards adherents of a religion?
Read David Cronin's intriguing answer which also contains links to Frattini's unsurprising festival of kissing-the-oppressor's arse.

EU/Climate Change: Permission to pollute
Far from tackling climate change, the EU's timid plans are rewarding those on the wrong track.
Promising a 20% cut in carbon emissions by 2020, the EU now claims to be the world leader in tackling climate change. But dig a little deeper, and the whole project starts to look like a smoke-and-mirrors trick to allow European industry to carry on polluting.
At the heart of the European commission's proposal, published yesterday, is an assumption that the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) will put a high price on carbon emissions, and that this will encourage a switch to renewable energy. This is backed up with a target of 10% for biofuel use in transport by 2020. Both measures are deeply flawed.
For starters, the commission assumes that the ETS, which awards "permits to pollute" to industry, will deliver a practical means to achieve its target. These permits have to date been given away, resulting in massive windfalls for energy-intensive industries. It now proposes to auction the greater part of these pollution licences, although heavy lobbying has resulted in a series of opt-outs and delays. In effect, the EU is offering polluting industries an extended period of grace. This despite the mass of evidence, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change downwards, that the next 15 years will be the crucial period for action on climate change.
Read the rest of Oscar Reyes' explanation of the ETS
See also Reyes' "EU sustainability criteria do not address agrofuel target problems"

Germany
Victor Grossman on the Left party's breakthrough in two western federal states in the recent elections:"....the Left achieved its great wish -- it is now a force to be reckoned with, not only in its accustomed eastern pastures but in West Germany as well. Unity and militancy are demanded more than ever before; neither is always easy to achieve as occasionally bitter experience has shown. But the next goal seems favourable -- the elections on February 24th in the big city-state of Hamburg, where it looks like another breakthrough for the Left. The Left achieved its great wish -- it is now a force to be reckoned with, not only in its accustomed eastern pastures but in West Germany as well. Unity and militancy are demanded more than ever before; neither is always easy to achieve as occasionally bitter experience has shown. But the next goal seems favourable -- the elections on February 24th in the big city-state of Hamburg, where it looks like another breakthrough for the Left." Read the rest

UK: Labour Left Briefing, Name Change, Site Change

Labour Left Briefing has now become Labour Briefing, though Spectrezine has no idea why, because we couldn't find any explanation in the mag itself, and the site is down "to reflect not just the name change but more importantly the new format of the Labour Briefing magazine." Watch this space. In the meantime you can get a complimentary copy of the February edition, which, as far as the international scene goes, has articles on Iraq, Iran, Guantanamo, and Kenya.

Africa: Western Humanitarianism or Neo-Slavery?
'In October 2007, Chadian authorities arrested European NGO workers for kidnapping more than 100 children they falsely claimed were Sudanese orphans. In light of this scandal, UNESCO Chair in Human Rights, Professor Amii Omara-Otunnu critically assesses "Western humanitarianism" and the role of NGOs in Africa. Omara-Otunnu argues that "little has changed since the mid nineteenth century," when Christian missionaries viewed African people as lesser human beings who needed to be saved through European colonization.' Read the rest of this piece from US paper Black Star News