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

EU: Will Commission and Parliament Create a Proper Register for Lobbyists?
In an open letter to European Commission President José Barroso, the ALTER-EU coalition has expressed its anger over the Commission's backtracking from key promises made for improving transparency around EU lobbying. In recent meetings
with representatives of ALTER-EU, Commission officials revealed that names of individual lobbyists will not be included in the EU lobbying transparency register that will be launched this spring. Also the disclosure of meaningful information on
how much money is spent on lobbying is missing in the Commission's plans for the
register. Read ALTER-EU's "Open Letter"

EU: Paving the way for Agrofuels -EU policy, sustainability criteria, and climate calculations
by Tamra Gilbertson, Nina Holland, Stella Semino and Kevin Smith
This "revised second printing" outlines how in the face of the climate change threat and the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels, agrofuels are being heavily promoted as a means to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The EU is proposing a 10% mandatory target for agrofuel use in transport by 2020. Yet there is strong and growing evidence that, far from reducing emissions, the rush to agrofuels will significantly accelerate climate change, as well as contributing to a range of other social and environmental problems.
As criticism of agrofuels grows, the European Commission, various EU governments and international bodies are now developing ‘sustainability’ criteria and standards for their use. But it is unlikely that any set of criteria can mitigate against the large-scale impact of agrofuels, such as the expansion of plantations for energy crops, which are directly and indirectly promoting land use changes (including deforestation) and agricultural intensification.
Paving the way for Agrofuels – EU policy, sustainability criteria, and climate calculations, available for free pdf download in English or Spanish summarises EU policy making on agrofuels to date. It provides a full survey of current international efforts to develop ‘sustainability’ standards, drawing attention to problems with existing certification schemes, in particular their failure to consult affected groups in the global South. A survey of the scientific literature on greenhouse gas emissions shows that many of the existing studies fail to consider crucial variables, such as the ‘displacement’ effect of agrofuels in terms of land use changes and soil carbon losses. Finally, the paper looks at the possibility that agrofuel production could in future be funded through the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, which would provide a huge financial boost to the expansion of agrofuel plantations.
Germany: Once again, a left party makes a difference
Once people start voting for a real left party, evidence shows that the social democrats start dusting off their red flags, and liberals discover their consciences, probably somewhere in a deep, dark corner of a remote cupboard in a locked room. Others simply get the wind up.
The latest example comes from Germany, as Victor Grossman points out in a recent MR blog, "Fear of the Left Cripples German Defense Chiefs":
What a difference a party on the left can mean!
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, at the annual International Security Conference in Munich, stepped up pressure on Germany to send more troops to Afghanistan and commit them to active fighting there, not only in the currently more peaceful north but in the battle-ridden south as well. US troops are in short supply.
Germany Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung says categorically No. Not us. Or at least not just now, anyway, certainly not until October. Or if at all, then only in emergencies. We can't overturn the decisions and limitations imposed by the Bundestag, he insists.
Gates doesn't quite understand that. His president in Washington has never given a tinker's damn for what Congress says -- on the rare occasions when it hasn't kowtowed to him. So why should Jung worry?
Of course, basically, Defense Minister Jung wouldn't give two euros for the Bundestag's opinion either. And in the past the governing coalition, whether it consisted of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats or of Social Democrats and Greens, almost always played "follow the leader" in Washington. The one exception was during the second Iraq War, when Gerhard Schroeder wanted to win the election so desperately that he suddenly began to talk like a king of peace. But even then the Rumsfeld warriors were permitted to use every military facility in Germany -- and are still using the country as its main pivot for the war against the Iraqis. In general NATO laid down the law, and everyone knows who writes the laws of NATO.
But this time the situation has changed. Read on.