Daily Archives: 2011-08-21

Who Pays for the European Union?


By Zbigniew Mazurak

The financial burden of running Europe is not divided evenly among European countries.  This fact makes the upcoming 2012 EU budget negotiations noteworthy even across the Atlantic.

Next year, the EU will decide on the exact composition of its budget document for the years 2014-2020 — how much will be spent on what, and who will shoulder the lion’s share of the burden.  It is in America’s interest to ensure that Britain, the staunchest and most loyal ally to the United States, is not burdened with an unfair share of EU budget contributions.  Yet this is exactly what will happen if the U.K. rebate is reduced or abolished.

First, some background.  When the U.K. joined what was then the European Economic Community in 1973, it was one of the poorest countries in Europe and had a small agricultural sector.  Yet its budgetary contributions were disproportionately large, because the EEC’s largest spending item, the socialist Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), constituted 66% of the entire EEC budget, and the U.K. benefited little from it.  France and West Germany benefitted the most.

In 1984, Margaret Thatcher negotiated and won a budget rebate which, to a large degree (though not completely), corrected this anomaly.  The rebate was a deduction from the U.K.’s net contribution to the annual EU budget in a given year, calculated as 66% of the U.K.’s net contribution in the previous year.  For example, the U.K.’s contribution in 1985 amounted to 66% of the nation’s contribution to the 1984 budget.

Even then, though, the EU’s spending on agriculture never dropped below 40% of the total EU budget, and that was in the 1990s.  No serious reform of the CAP ever occurred.  Thus, the U.K. continued to contribute more on net to the EU budget than any other country other than Germany.

Nonetheless, in 2005, Tony Blair surrendered a large part of the U.K.’s now-smaller budget rebate, caving in to the demands of other 24 EU member-states led by France, which managed to block any reform of the CAP and won an increase of spending on agriculture (to 47% of the total EU budget in 2009).  Blair thus contradicted himself — he earlier claimed that the budget rebate was fully justified until and unless the CAP were to be reformed or abolished.  He advocated CAP reform and an increase of spending on R&D programs, which would have been beneficial for the entire EU.

But Britain surrendered to France (that doesn’t happen often!), and the EU is now laboring under obsolete budget principles, while its industrial base is obsolete.  Blair later offered pathetic “justifications” that the U.K. was “transferring wealth from Western to Eastern Europe,” even though British voters did not consent to this.

Now Nicolas Sarkozy is building a coalition of EU states to block any CAP reform and any cuts of EU spending on farms (which, by the way, causes food costs in the EU to be twice what they would be in the absence of the CAP).

Sarkozy is, of course, an unpopular president craving votes.  He is dependent on French farmers and other special interest groups for reelection.  But that doesn’t entitle him and other European “leaders” to British taxpayers’ money.

It also doesn’t change the fact that with the now-reduced British rebate, the annual EU budget is even more unfair than it was before 2005.  Even with the budget rebate, the U.K. is now (as it was even before 2005) the second-largest net contributor to the EU budget, trailing only Germany and paying the EU on net over 3 billion EUR per year.  That is, every year, the U.K. pays the EU over 3 billion EUR more than it gets from the EU budget, with the rebate accounted for.

Source: BBC

By contrast, France’s annual net contribution is only 2 billion EUR, and Italy’s is only a little over 1 billion EUR, even though these three countries have roughly equal populations and GDPs.  Not surprisingly, this is reflected in per capita net contributions: France’s and Italy’s contributions are significantly smaller than the U.K.’s.

This is primarily because France and Italy simply get more from the EU’s annual budget than the U.K. does.  France is by far the single largest beneficiary of gross EU spending, to the tune of ca. 14 billion EUR per year, and Italy to the tune of ca. 11 billion EUR per year.  The U.K. receives only ca. 7-8 billion EUR per year.

Source: BBC

France is also the chief beneficiary of EU farm spending, to the tune of 10 billion EUR per year; Italy receives 6 billion EUR annually, and the U.K. only 4 billion EUR per annum.

The EU’s second-largest budget item is “regional aid,” which is spent mostly subsidizing rich countries like Spain (the chief beneficiary), which has a GDP per capita of over $30,000; Italy; and Germany (East Germany is actually wealthier than the entire New Europe).  In that category, Italy and France again beat the U.K., not to mention Spain, Germany, Greece, Poland, and Portugal.

Source: BBC

The EU’s R&D budget is tiny — only 4.059 billion EUR per year, which is smaller than the research budget of the DOE, let alone other federal U.S. agencies.  This small budget is utterly insufficient to develop new technologies, support research programs, keep the EU’s industrial base up to date, and keep the EU competitive with other entities, including the U.S., China, and India.  The EU’s individual member-states also spend only tiny amounts of money on R&D.

Yet continental European governments do not intend to increase it.  Instead, they intend to defend the socialist, useless, wasteful CAP, which keeps farmers happy and prevents them from blocking roads.  Most importantly, the CAP makes it easier for politicians to get reelected.  And who cares about the EU’s obsolete industrial base?

In 2000, the EU launched its “Lisbon Agenda,” which was supposed to make it the world’s most dynamic, most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2010.  When that year ended, it was clear that the Agenda was a dismal failure, but EU politicians refused to acknowledge this.

The Lisbon Agenda called on the EU and its member-states to collectively spend 3% of the EU’s total GDP on research.  This goal was never met, partly thanks to the French and their allies who sabotaged EU budget reform.

There is, of course, no need to raise taxes or spending to finance new R&D projects.  Savings can be made on the forementioned agricultural spending, “aid” to “poor” countries like Spain, and the EU’s excessive administration costs, now running at over 6 billion EUR per year, financing bloated bureaucracies and the perks their employees enjoy, as well as huge, excessively expensive buildings.  The EU could thus triple its spending on R&D while still reducing its total annual budget.  Agricultural spending and “regional aid” collectively constitute 79% of the total annual EU budget (114 billion EUR).

The British government should make these points, fight for CAP reform (or better yet, the total abolition of the CAP), lobby to increase spending on R&D and decrease “aid” to rich countries like Spain, explain why increased R&D investments would benefit the entire EU and make it more competitive, and veto any budget that reduces the U.K.’s benefits or its budget rebate.  The British government’s only allegiance should be to British taxpayers, not to the EU.  And America should strongly support the U.K.


Anti EU campaign The Hague, Amsterdam

I know how they feel.


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Posted by on 2011-08-21 in EU


Getting Away with Torture: Obama Bans War Criminals, Except Our Own


By executive order on Aug. 4, President Barack Obama refused entry to the United States of war criminals and human-rights violators (, Aug. 4). He ignored, as he often does, the deeply documented factual evidence of war crimes committed by the Bush-Cheney administration along with grim proof that the Obama administration also violates our anti-torture laws and the U.N. Convention Against Torture we signed. Take, for example, right now under Obama, “The CIA Secret Sites in Somalia” (the, July 12).

In what will be an historic 108-page report, “Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees,” Human Rights Watch is further accelerating the rising insistence here on accountability from George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and former CIA director George Tenet for having not only authorized these war crimes, but also failing “to act to stop mistreatment, or punish those responsible after they became aware of serious abuses”

Not only has President Obama rejected an independent criminal investigation of these highest-profile officials, but also, adds Human Rights Watch, of Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, David Addington (counsel to Cheney) and, among others, John Yoo, author of the unsparingly cruel, aptly dubbed “torture memos” from the Ashcroft Justice Department that gave “legal cover” to allow torture.

Moreover, as Stephen Rohde, constitutional lawyer and chairman of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, discloses (, July 28), Freedom of Information lawsuits filed by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights have yielded more than 100,000 pages of documents detailing these war crimes.

As others and I have reported in articles and books, there is additional evidence, including from actual Defense Department records, of the deaths of “detainees” in our custody. Because unknown numbers of these deaths are very likely to have also taken place in CIA “black sites” and during CIA “renditions” to countries known for torturing, there is no way of knowing how many other “ghost prisoners” have disappeared into eternity because such information remains classified.

It is also worth noting as Jane Mayer, a key historian of this “dark side” of our history, emphasized the impact on some CIA agents of their involvement in these crimes. As I have reported (“History Will Not Absolve Us: Leaked Red Cross report sets up Bush teams for international war-crimes trial,” Village Voice, Aug. 27, 2007):

“She quotes a former CIA officer: ‘When you cross over that line of darkness, it’s hard to come back. You lose your soul. You can do your best to justify it, but … you can’t go back to that dark a place without it changing you.’”

CIA agents are also human beings.

For those growing number of Americans who are concerned with what has been and still is done in our names, it’s important to know exactly the warning in this regard in the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by our government in 1994:

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

“An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The United States also signed the Geneva Conventions, which mandates and please pay attention to this, President Obama each contracting party “shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches (of the Geneva Conventions), and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.”

This means that you, President Obama, are obligated to bring the foregoing list of war criminals during the Bush presidency into our courts or, before that, be subject to an independent criminal investigation. Next week, reasons to believe that you and your administration have also been violating the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture and U.S. laws.

Also, Americans of all political parties, faiths and backgrounds are themselves obligated to insist that this administration, like Bush-Cheney’s stop preventing lawsuits on these war crimes from even being heard in our courts under the perversion of “the state secrets” doctrine.

We owe it to our next generation and those following to take responsibility for our worldwide shame of having become a torture nation. As we condemn other nations’ crimes against their citizens Syria, Libya, Zimbabwe, et al our government makes it easier for those countries to escape accountability by utterly denying our own complicity in the cruel, inhumane, degrading torture that has given terrorists around the world so valuable a means for recruiting more terrorists.

Not one of the aspiring Republican candidates for the presidency next year has said a word about this. And Obama cherishes their silence.


UK govt openly backs Zionist funded EDL

There has not been, and there is no justice.


Analysts have voiced their concerns over British government’s miscarriage of justice, sentencing a boy for stealing a bottle of water to six months imprisonment, but gave away an EDL thug attacking a mosque with £ 200.

British government has taken one more step in favor of Zionist funded English Defence League (EDL) by passing very light sentences on its members who overtly shouted “we’ll burn your mosques.”

During last week’s massive unrests across England, thousands of people were arrested and appeared in courts and received harsh sentences even on minor crimes, since the cabinet ministers reportedly violated the judiciary’s independence.

Following the widespread unrests in England, two men were sentenced to four years in prison for inciting riots on Facebook and one man was sentenced to 18 months for having a stolen TV in his car.

Claiming to be independent, UK Judiciary system has been imposing tough sentences against protesters to prevent them from further anti-government demonstrations in the country.

Frank Fernie, a 20-year-old student at York College, has been given a 12-month sentence for throwing two placard sticks at police in Piccadilly on the anti-cuts strikes on March 26.

Charlie Gilmour, son of the Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, recieved 16 months for hanging off a flag at the cenotaph, sitting on a car and throwing a bin at a convoy of cars taking Prince Charles to the theatre during a student protest last year.

However, Andrew Ossit, the supporter of the extreme right-wing group, appeared at Calderdale Magistrates’ Court for an act of religious aggravation and got away with a £100 fine along with £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Several British unions and activists have many times expressed their surprise over the support government is giving to the anti-Islam group, and urged Prime Minister to ban the EDL rallies across Britain because violence erupted in their protests.

Analysts also insisted that David Cameron has obviously failed to notice that Norway terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who caused deaths and injuries to many Norwegian people, confirmed having links with EDL leaders.

Since the formation of racist group EDL in 2009, UK leading unions have accused the government of failing to clamp down on extreme, right wing, and fundamentalist group that staged several anti-Muslim demonstrations shouting against spread of Islam and Muslim communities in Britain.


Londoners oppose Israeli blood diamond


British anti-Israel campaigners have staged a protest in central London’s diamond district to express their opposition against the sale of Israeli blood diamond.

Palestine solidarity activists took the Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds campaign at Hatton Gardens to protest against the sale of Israeli diamonds and to inform the nationals and jewelers that the diamonds crafted in Israel would fund war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Diamonds are reportedly most important export product of Israel, rocking to 34 per cent in the first half of this year. Israel’s diamond industry makes over $1 billion a year for funding Israel’s military operations.

The activists drew a parallel between diamonds from Israel to blood diamonds from conflict zones. They say sales of diamonds help bankroll the Israeli military and therefore fund its war crimes.

Sean Clinton, the leader of Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds campaign, said that Hatton Gardens was targeted because it was one of the main hubs of global diamond industry.

“While there is some public awareness about the trade in blood-tainted, rough diamonds from Zimbabwe, the media in general ignores the far larger trade in blood tainted diamonds from Israel.

“According to evidence presented at the London session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine last year, the Israeli diamond industry generates about $1 billion in funding for the Israeli military each year.

“So when someone buys a diamond from Israel they are helping to fund war crimes and other human rights violations in Palestine,” he said.

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Posted by on 2011-08-21 in Crime, Israel


California residents protest police brutality


California residents take to the streets to protest against police brutality after a mentally-ill homeless man had been beaten to death by law enforcement.

The ongoing demonstrations are being staged in front of the Fullerton County Police Station in the state of California after six officers have been accused of brutally killing 37-year-old Kelly Thomas on July 5, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The police officers attempted to arrest Thomas based on a report that a man was trying to break into cars at the Fullerton Bus Depot.

They had beaten and tasered him multiple times with the altercation having been caught on video and seen by bystanders.

“As far as I can see, I couldn’t see him moving at all. It looked like he was pinned to the ground and yet they kept saying ‘stop resisting’. And this went on for, probably, about 10 minutes,” a witness said.

Thomas died several days later after being removed from life support.

The FBI, Orange County District Attorney and an independent auditor are investigating the case.

The national average among large police departments for excessive-force complaints is 9.5 per 100 full-time officers.

“Police brutality and use of excessive force has been one of the central themes of Amnesty International’s (AI) campaign on human rights violations in the USA,” AI reports.

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Posted by on 2011-08-21 in Crime, Police brutality, US


Public Concern For Norman Scarth 2011-08-13

Ordinary people expressing thier dismay. Too True


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