Weekly News Review Archive

5th April, 2002

EU refuses to impose sanctions on Israel

  Suspension of the EU-Israeli Association Agreement, which gives the terrorist state’s exports privileged access to European markets, is “not on the agenda”, according to the Spanish State’s foreign minister Picqué.  This is despite the fact that Article 2 of the Association Agreement allows the Union to suspend it in the event that Israel does not show sufficient “respect for human rights and democratic principles.”  One wonders just what Sharon’s stormtroopers would have to do to fail this test.  It is not, moreover, as if the move would be unprecedented: the EU has adopted sanctions against a total of 150 countries on human rights grounds. A number of governments, most prominently Belgium’s, have expressed unease at the failure to adopt a stronger stance, as has the European Parliament’s second largest group, the Party of European Socialists, while France is calling for a military intervention in the form of what it describes as a “buffer force”. Germany is the leading opponent of this position, begging the question of just how many years, decades, centuries will need to pass before Palestinian children cease to be forced to pay for Germany’s guilty conscience.

Spanish EU Presidency: Activists spy on spooks spying on protestors’ emails

In the run-up to the Barcelona EU Summit 15-16 March the Spanish police and the militarised Guardia Civil put the website, discussion pages and mailings lists of the organisation “Nodo50” under extensive surveillance. The activist group monitored this surveillance and has produced a report to explain how the Spanish State’s Ministry of Internal Affairs knew everything that the Nodo50 had been discussing and was “lying when it maintains that violent actions are being prepared including production of a sabotage manual, urban guerrilla warfare etc.” Go to this website to read the full story.

European Commission: Dutch whistleblower denies being source of leaked documents

Paul van Buitenen, the man who exposed the corruption at the centre of the European Commission and forced the resignation of then-President Jacques Santer’s entire team has denied being the source of documents apparently handed to a German magazine. The documents in question relate to a mass of material which Mr van Buitenen has collected to support a long list of alleged instances of malpractice, and worse. All of these incidents are said to have occurred under the Santer Commission. If the Dutch Commission employee had gone public at this stage it would have been a serious breach of the institution’s rules of conduct. Van Buitenen, denying any involvement, said, that the culprit must, however, have been “someone who had access to the report after I submitted it.” He suspects that the rumour that he was to blame had been started by someone out to undermine his reputation.

Union Syndicale, which fights at every turn to defend the indefensible privileges enjoyed by EU employees, has accused “PVB” as they call him, of launching a public offensive against it, though the “English” in its article in its weekly bulletin is barely comprehensible, making it unclear precisely what van Buitenen is accused of.

The German weekly magazine, Stern has denied accusations that one of its journalists paid a Commission official to get its hands on the new report, which Mr van Buitenen delivered to the EU anti-fraud office OLAF last August.

EU Commission shows “flagrant disregard for basic human rights obligations”

A long-awaited European Commission communication on the democratic control of Europol has recommended little more than cosmetic changes to the current structure and failed to address the key problem areas of decision-making and judicial accountability, according to UK-based magazine Statewatch. The Commission’s statement on the matter stresses what it calls the need to find a balance between parliamentary control and police confidentiality and discretion. Judicial control of Europol is not covered in the communication, with the Commission suggesting that as Europol does not have operational powers, the current framework is sufficient.  Read the rest at this website

Statewatch has also produced a critique of the Commission’s report on asylum rights and what it describes as “safeguarding internal security.”  Author Steve Peers concludes that the proposals display a flagrant disregard for basic human rights obligations, suggest solutions that are not coherent, and would apply to situations wholly unrelated to terrorism. The Commission’s paper was prepared in response to the "Conclusions" of the specially-called meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 20 September 2001 in response to 11 September.  Go to this website for more. If you would like an electronic copy of the Commission’s paper, in any EU official language, write to us at spectre@sp.nl quoting the document’s reference number, COM(2001) 743 final.

EU Council releases text of arrest warrant

The text of the "European arrest warrant" has been released by the Council of the European Union. On the basis of the issuing of the warrant a magistrate in one EU member state can order the arrest, detention and removal of the individual concerned to the requesting member state. Most of the information required covers the administrative process. The information to be provided to warrant the exercise of these powers can only be called minimalist. Apart from ticking one or more of the boxes for the 32 offences covered (which must be punishable by at least three years in jail) Section “e” asks for very general information such as "time of offence", "degree of participation" and "other circumstances". Section “j” invites the requesting authority to tick two boxes requiring "the confiscation and handing over of property which may be required as evidence" and the "seizure and handing over of property acquired by the requested person as a result of an offence" - with a description of the property "if known". The arrest warrant thus covers arrest, search, seizure, detention and removal from home country.  Read more at this website

Mexico: Genetic pollution threatens farmers’ livelihoods

Last September the Mexican environment ministry (INE) announced that cornfields in the states of Puebla and Oaxaca turned up GM-positive. In November, Nature magazine published a peer-reviewed article that confirmed INE's findings. According to Antonio Serratos, of the Mexico-based International Center for the Improvement of Maize and Wheat (CIMMYT), if a farmer with a one-hectare plot plants a single row with GM seed, 65% of the plot will be GM in only seven years.  Farmers, indigenous peoples and activists in Mexico are asking the government to take measures to prevent further contamination and to identify those responsible.

"This is pollution in the very center of origin of a crop of major importance for world nutrition. This pollution can spread not only to native and traditional maize, but also to wild relatives," wrote Silvia Ribeiro, of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group), in an article published in the Mexican daily La Jornada.

This gene flow "is polluting and degrades one of Mexico's major treasures."

Read the rest of this article on the excellent US Corpwatch website

New issue of IPN News out now

The Spring issue of the invaluable guide to what’s going on around the left of US politics, Independent Politics News is now available. In this issue you’ll find articles on the forthcoming National Mobilization (see our Action page),  Colombia, recent electoral successes, the Labor Party Convention, “The Fight for Clean Elections in Massachusetts”, “Popular Democracy in Houston”, the National Vieques Summit, the World Social Forum, Star Wars, and grassroots fundraising. If you haven't subscribed and would like to receive a free copy of a single issue send us your name and mailing address. If you would like to have a number of copies of this issue sent to you for you to get around to people you come into contact with who would be interested, let us know. We ask for 50 cents per issue; the price on the front cover is $2.00. (IPN gives no advice on prices outside the US, so we suggest you add  what you can afford to these prices to cover postage.) Write to Ted Glick at  futurehopeTG@aol.com to order or for more information.

In Brief

Greece wants Cyprus in EU by year after next: Cyprus will become a member of the EU during the Greek Presidency in the first half of 2003, according to Greek Premier Costas Simitis.  Mr Simitis would like to see an end to the island’s division and to the Turkish occupation, but does not see this as a precondition of accession.

Nice website, shame about the policies: a reader survey newly added to the website of the World Trade Organisation aims to gather information from users. “The information you provide will be used to prioritize improvements to the site.” Go to it, readers at this website  No frivolous answers please…

The Angelic Upstarts have a new album, Son of Spartacus, and are about to have a new official website to promote it. Write to lustforglory@hotmail.com for info

Quote of the week

"I'd rather use the nuclear bomb...Does that bother you? I just want you to think big...You're so goddamned concerned about the civilians."

--President Richard Nixon, from newly released transcripts of White House tapes.

SOURCE: Time Magazine, April 1, 2000