5th September, 2004 FREE SUMMARY OF CONSTITUTION AVAILABLE FROM SPECTRE

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Brussels unveils 'more intelligent' euro rules

Proposals to reform the EU's beleaguered economic rules were unveiled on Friday in a bid both to restore confidence in the Stability and Growth Pact and to end the rows between member states that have dogged the Pact in recent years. See here


Swedish Social Democrats split on EU Constitution

Local members of the ruling Swedish Social Democrat party in Malmö on Monday evening revolted against their party leaders and joined calls for a Swedish referendum on the EU Constitution. Read about the revolting social democrats here

Czechs might vote on EU Constitution in June 2005  

The new government in Prague could hold a national referendum on the EU Constitution as soon as June next year, the Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross said on Monday. See  here

…but Estonians will have no say

The Estonian government has decided not to have a referendum on the proposed European Constitution. The final decision on ratifying the treaty will be taken by the parliament. Go here



EU GMO moratorium still applies


According to an article in AgBioView, what was heralded as a turning point for accepting GM crops in the EU now appears to be "a farce". When the EU decided to allow imports of Syngenta's biotech Bt-11 sweet corn last spring, the industry breathed a sigh of relief. It was the first biotech approval in six years. Was the EU finally making strides to end its five-year moratorium on approval of new biotech crops? It seems not.



According to WTO rules, says Kim Nill, technical issues director for the American Soybean Association, "If the EU approves one new biotech product, they're no longer considered to be blocking biotech's progress. In this case, they (the EU) knew Syngenta wasn't going to actively market sweet corn there."



The fallout is that the EU has as much as two to three more years before they'll have to approve another biotech product to remain in compliance with WTO rules. "The farce of Bt-11 approval has given them breathing space," says Nill. "This whole approval issue has taken a step backward. It's a joke."



Currently, there are about 30 GM products and foods awaiting approval for import into the EU. "Even if they march forward at one every six months, it's just too slow," says Nill. "The products are already outdated in the US by the time they get through the approvals."





GM Trade war delayed: US fights to prevent scientists being called in




The outcome of the transatlantic trade dispute on GM foods has been substantially delayed as scientists are called in to debate the safety of GM foods and crops. The move is a blow to the Bush Administration who fought to stop any debate over scientific safety. The US had argued in its WTO submission Comments on the EC's final position whether to seek scientific advice, that there is "no need or value in consulting experts". And these are the people who accuse their opponents of being “anti-science”. The dispute concerns the continuing (see above) moratorium on new GM food and crop approvals by the EU and the Union’s recently-introduced raft of legislation which, though far from perfect, is too strong for Bush junta stomachs. See

here and here

European Commission takes action on Sellafield checks

This report first appeared in the Morning Star, Britain’s socialist daily. Go to http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/

The Social Democratic cabinet of Stanislav Gross would like Parliament to return the chance to decide on GMOs to the public, and has submitted a bill to the Chamber of Deputies that would allow for this. Haven’t they heard this is the 21st Century? Read the full story here


Dutch Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman, current holder of the Presidency of the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers,  has categorically refused to commit himself to establishing a maximum time for the transport of farm animals.  The refusal came in answer to a question from Dutch left Euro-MP Kartika Liotard of the Socialist Party, the Netherlands’ affilaite of the United Left group (GUE-NGL) of 40 MEPs.

Mr Veerman expressed his unwillingness to act during a meeting of the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament. Ms Liotard reminded Mr Veerman of the terrible conditions in which animals are transported, and said she was unable to understand why he was unwilling to act to limit the duration of journeys: "You can measure how civilised a society is by the way it treats animals. Veerman´s response can only lead to the neglect of animal welfare.”

Under pressure, the minister claimed that he was prepared to support legislation to improve certain aspects of the transport of animals, but was unclear about the details.  Ms Liotard’s response was that “My party the SP proposes that the minister quickly makes good this omission and comes forward with concrete proposals.”

Mr Veerman also spoke about the role of the state as regards agricultural policy. For the Agriculture Council to take place in Lisse in the Netherlands on Tuesday, 7 September he has prepared a discussion paper, "Agriculture under the public eye", in which he argues for a discussion of the division of roles between the EU and major food corporations.  He believes that as far as food policy goes there should be less EU legislation and that more should be left to the industry to regulate itself.  Ms Liotard does not agree: “What I wanted to hear from Veerman was that issue such as food safety, environmental protection and animal welfare will always remain matters for the public authorities.” She heard no such assurance, reason enough, she says,  for the SP to keep a close eye on discussions and developments during the Dutch Presidency and instigate actions to keep up the pressure.

Media Declares War on Anti-War Protests

The August 26, 2004 New York Daily News headline blared: ANARCHY, INC. The idea, of course, was to paint the upcoming RNC protests with the broad brush of corporate media propaganda. An influential ingredient of wartime spin is shaping public perception of the anti-war movement. As a result, coverage of demonstrations is usually a tepid combination of low crowd estimates and footage of police arresting “unruly” protestors. Read all about the US media's distortion of last week's anti-Bush demonstrations in New York City here

Activists brave Junta Groupies to launch protests

Fernando Suarez del Solar, June Brashares and Medea Benjamin were just three of the courageous activists who braved the lunatic far right assembled at the Republican National Convention in New York City, managing to infiltrate the conference centre to lodge their protests. Mr Suarez del Solar had strong personal reasons to risk his neck amongst the assembled pro-Bush junta forces. His son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus Alberto Suarez del Solar Navarro died in Iraq on March 27, 2003 that Bush’s friends might line their pockets. He held a sign on the convention floor: "Bush Lied, My Son Died." Ms Bashares and Ms Benjamin are activists with Code Pink, a women's peace group. Ms Benjamin held a banner which read: "Pro-Life -- Stop the Killing in Iraq."  Find out more about Code Pink here

More lies from the Junta 

In his Republican convention speech last Thursday evening, Junta Jefe George W. Bush claimed: "After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein another chance, a final chance, to meet his responsibilities to the civilized world. He again refused, and I faced the kind of decision that comes only to the Oval Office -- a decision no president would ask for, but must be prepared to make. Do I forget the lessons of September 11th and take the word of a madman, or do I take action to defend our country?"

Author Rahul Mahajan, who wrote Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond, asks people to cast their minds back to what really happened: "The entire world was watching. Yet the president of the United States now brazenly lies about the central question of how the war started. George Bush says his choice was between trusting Hussein and war. In fact, Iraq had been undergoing intrusive weapons inspections for months before the attack. Iraq allowed inspectors into the country in November 2002. Iraq turned over 12,000 pages of documents to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1441's disclosure requirements. Both UNMOVIC head Hans Blix and Mohammed el-Baradei of the IAEA had expressed confidence that continuing inspections might be able to account for all unresolved issues in a matter of months. Blix withdrew the inspectors only in March 2003 after Bush stated that the U.S. was about to attack. At the time inspectors withdrew, Iraq was destroying its al-Samoud 2 missiles, as prescribed by UNMOVIC because they were slightly over the range limits in some tests - information that was contained in the original disclosure."

Mr Mahajan added: "Weapons inspectors had been absent from Iraq since December of 1998 when they were withdrawn by UNSCOM head Richard Butler at the urging of the Clinton administration before the 'Desert Fox' bombing campaign."

For more on Bush’s lies, see:

"White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit" March 18, 2003 (just before the attack on Iraq) here

Bush's War Case: Fiction vs. Facts, October 9, 2002 (shortly after a major Bush address and just before the Congressional vote on authorizing war) here

Full reports on the Juntafest (sorry, Republican Convention) can be found at http://nyc.indymedia.org

The Vanishing Corporate Profits Tax

 

Tax laws were set up within the nation state bordered phenomenon and now we have to deal with the global borderless phenomenon. In the current globalised economy, countries are competing for foreign investment by reducing corporate profit tax, thus relying more on consumption and personal income tax to finance social services, and when that fails, reducing them. Transnational corporations are able to manipulate tax obligations by reporting smaller profits in high-tax countries and high profits in low tax countries (transfer pricing). In a recently published paper, Howard Wachtel argues that tax rates are artificial political constructs, having nothing to do with market forces of comparative advantage. They are simply a means to get one country to compete with others. Wachtel proposes a new way of ensuring TNCs meet their tax obligations which would not only put a stop to transfer pricing but would provide a source of finance for global development. His proposal was received with great enthusiasm by the Chirac Commission, which includes representation from ATTAC and was set up late last year to look into a global fund for development. Read the full article here

 

Green Left Weekly, Australia's socialist newspaper, #596, September 1, 2004 now available at http://www.greenleft.org.au/index.htm  This week's main story: Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution: People power victory. "The Venezuelan government's victory on August 15 is not only a victory for the people of Venezuela, but for working people worldwide. The Venezuelan voters' decisive rejection of the right-wing bid to recall President Hugo Chavez has demonstrated what is possible when the interests of working people are put before those of big business." Read the full article here

Censored!

Sonoma State University's student run media research group Project Censored has announced the release of Censored 2003, the latest issue of its annual publication. The report consists of  a compilation of the year's 25 most significant news stories that were overlooked or under-reported by the major US national news media, as well as chapters on the grass roots media democracy, media ownership maps, real news about US involvement in Palestine, Haiti, Iraq, and more.

With an introduction by Greg Palast and the political cartoon commentary of Tom Tomorrow throughout, this year's book covers critical issues facing the American public this election year, as well as being of interest to people who live outside the US, no country’s media being entirely free of the practices and problems which Censored 2003 draws to our attention.  Chapter 1's list of the top 25 stories focuses on politics, economics, foreign policy, food and health, the environment, energy, domestic policy, and the military.

"We define censorship as interference with the free flow of information," says Peter Phillips, Director of the Project. "Corporate media in the United States is interested primarily in entertainment news to feed their bottom-line priorities.  Very important news stories that should reach the American public often fall on the cutting room floor to be replaced by sex-scandals and celebrity updates."

The Sonoma State University research group is composed of nearly 200 faculty, students and community experts who review about 1000 story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources and national significance.  The top 25 stories are submitted to a panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance.  Current judges include, Norman Solomon, Michael Parenti, Cynthia McKinney, Howard Zinn, and 20 other national journalists, scholars and writers.

Censored 2005 can be purchased on the project's website at http://www.projectcensored.org