UK Newswire Archive
22-12-2011 23:16How to guide on sharing and withholding your personal information: without risking your Data Protection or Human Rights or detriment via punitive measures, sanctions or financial loss.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has failed. In December, the Doha Round is turning ten years old, with nothing to celebrate[i]. Formal negotiations of the Round expired in 2005, without any agreement, and informal negotiations stalled in 2008. Indications in December too were that an agreement to liberalize trade among its 153 member countries was eluding.
The policies and practices governing the global world until now have also failed. The first world crisis rustles the fundamentals of market liberalization and mobility of unchecked and non-regulated capital flows, although some people do not seem to hear the sound of the collapse, mainly in Europe, which remains dogged in patching the cracks.
In the strictly commercial sphere, due to a lack of resolute action at a global level, small and large countries have resorted since the beginning of the crisis to domestic measures in order to deal with its impacts on the domestic economy, from import restrictions to intervention in the foreign exchange market and manipulation of exchange rates, all of them protectionist measures, which are contrary to the practices of the global model.
From the experience of ten years of Doha Round setbacks, and the lessons this crisis in the first world is leaving us, that model no longer seems viable. To the contrary, the crisis has pushed or made haste on untold number of initiatives for bilateral or regional trade.
Some initiatives are set up around geographical vicinities, such as in Southeast and East Asian regions, where several countries compete in the same sectors, or keep historic rivalries, which make it difficult to reach general free trade agreements; as a matter of fact several similar initiatives are negotiated simultaneously, and face obstacles similar to those which took place at the heart of the WTO.
Others are based on affinities or historic alliances. For instance the Customs Union between Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, already in effect, to which Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan might join. This union is the first step in a very ambitious and complex Russian integration project: The Eurasian Union (EAU), which goes beyond a mere comercial sphere; similar to the European Union.
And finally there are other leagues, similar to the previous ones, but without the geographical proximity component, which seem to blend economic interests and political alliances. Within this group lies the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), comprising nine countries: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Viet Nam, with the U.S. as its leader, and to which Canada, Japan and Mexico are negotiating their entry.
There is always a dominant member in any multilateral partnership, even if it is a strictly commercial one, needless to say when it has political components. Even in the European Union, which on paper grants equality to all its members, is clear that France and Germany carry the leading voice.
East and South Asia present a more complex situation; although China exerts its influence on its neighbours, this hardly transcends the commercial scope and it is highly unlikely that a political-economic bloc would emerge in the region, or that the political leadership of a dominant rival be admitted.
The three major free trade agreements being negotiated in the Asia Pacific region are the East Asia Free Trade Area and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia on one hand, and the TPP on the other.
The difference between them is that the first two integrate exclusively Asian countries; China is one of its promoters and the U.S. is not part of them, nor could it be.
The TPP incorporates countries from the Pacific Rim instead, and is open to any Rim country that applies for membership and is willing to adhere to the TPP policies. The US is the dominant country and for now China is not part of it and seems unlikely to be included.
Considered from both sides, Chinese participation seems difficult. The Chinese perspective views the U.S. return to the Pacific on the one hand as an attempt to limit China's economic growth and to narrow down its potential military influence in the region. On the other, China is unwilling to comply with regulations imposed by others.
From the point of view of the counterpart, the U.S. hastened the conclusion of the general agreement in such a way that potential new members will have to agree to its principles as they are, some of them custom made for the U.S., and no gaps are left for the Asian giant to enter.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will be comprehensive, and the following are some of its unique features [ii]:
Core issues: traditional trade agreements, including those regarding indU.S. trial goods, agricultural and textile products, as well as intellectual property policies, technical trade hurdles, labour and the environment.
Cross-cutting issues not included in previous trade agreements, like making the regulatory systems of TPP member countries more compatible so U.S. companies can operate more seamlessly in TPP markets, and assistance for small and medium innovative enterprises which generate employement to participate more actively in international trade.
New emerging trade issues: trade and investment in ground-breaking goods and services, including digital technologies, and mechanisms to ensure that state-owned enterprises compete on equal grounds with private companies and do not distort competition in ways that put U.S. companies and workers at a disadvantage.
Also the TPP has a unique attribute: most of the Asian Pacific members hold treaties or cooperation commitments in the military and security spheres with the United States. The U.S. has military bases in Australia, Japan and South Korea, the latter a potential candidate for the TPP.
With Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore the U.S. has 17 years of uninterrupted military exercises in the South China Sea under the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT exercises), and is currently under negotiations with Singapore for setting up a naval station for its new LCS (Littoral Combat Ships) type warships[iii] at the Changi Naval Base [iv].
Other potential TPP members are Colombia, Thailand and the Philippines; the U.S. has agreements of cooperation, logistical support and military training with them as well.
Another aspect to consider is that the TPP members are stepping up the pace; at the APEC Summit in Honoluluin November 2011 the conclusion of the general agreement and the decision to finalize pending detail matters shortly were announced with the aim to sign the definitive agreement in 2012.
As already mentioned, the TPP follows the line of the Russian Customs Union and both initiatives – if the TPP becomes a reality – seem to shape the model of future economic blocks, based on trade agreements and alliances on other common interests and affinities.
(*) Analyst and International Consultant
[ii] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/12/trans-pacific-partnership-leaders-statement and
Cleaners are staging a sit in at the Corporation of London’s Guildhall in
protest at the inadequate response of their employer, the contractor Sodexo
over the abusive treatment of women employees.
PRESS RELEASE: City of London Corporation Cleaners say: Occupy Guildhall!
Friday 23rd December, 6am onwards
Cleaners staging sit in at Corporation of London’s Guildhall over abuse of
Cleaners are staging a sit in at the Corporation of London’s Guildhall in
protest at the inadequate response of their employer, the contractor Sodexo
over the abusive treatment of women employees.
The cleaners who are organised by the independent workers union, the
Industrial Workers of the World say their action comes after a growing
frustration with Sodexo (and their predecessor Ocean) following
persistent complaints regarding the conduct of certain members of the
management team at Guildhall. Repeatedly complaints have been raised with
respect to varying degrees of the mistreatment especially women, including
extreme acts such as bullying, confinement of individuals, intimidation and
The cleaners say the last straw was an incident involving a manager and one
of the union representatives on Monday 21 November. The rep Isabel Martin
was followed to a room in the basement of Guildhall, where she was blocked
from leaving with the door closed, then it is alleged a
male supervisor subjected her to an outburst of aggression and intimidating
behaviour, the terrified women felt was under threat of real physical
The IWW London Regional Secretary Chris Ford states that ‘the union has
raised concerns and complaints of the treatment of employees on enough
previous occasions with the employers to warrant sufficient preventative
measures to safeguard the safety employees and to ensure no further
mistreatment may occur. In the summer a mass meeting of cleaners had called
for the removal of those managers responsible for ill-treatment of
workers.’ The last incident the IWW insists could have been avoided if the
concerns of workers were respected and acted upon beforehand. One cleaner
stated: ‘These big companies need to put the safety of the workers before
the reputation of the City of London
The union feels Sodexo have dragged their feet over this incident – they
raised a complaint in letters of 22/11/2011 and 29/11/2011 but it took
twenty days before the women worker was formally interviewed. Her
complaint of such a serious matter has been treated as a mere grievance.
For the last two days a number of workers have refused to undertake their
cleaning duties and are staging a sit in at the reception of the
Guildhall. They are demanding robust action that can protect women workers
from such ill-treatment occurring again.
Last week saw protests against a UK charter flight to Sri Lanka, in which activists struck at the heart of the Government's "unjust deportation machine", and blocked the road outside Colnbrook and Harmondsworth immigration prisons with ‘lock-on' devices and a tripod.
On Monday 19 Dec, a protest was held at the UK Borders Agency Reporting Centre in North Shields, Tyne & Wear, against a UK-sponsored mass deportation of Afghan asylum seekers to Kabul.
Video footage http://youtu.be/6HqO8tZoOQA
Charter flights are a numbers driven exercise to remove as many people as possible. They are conducted under a veil of secrecy which denies deportees access to justice. With the secrecy surrounding charter flights it is impossible to know how many other deportees on this, and other flights have been similarly denied access to justice and equality.
The UK asylum determination system is structured towards denying as many applications as possible. Because of this, people who are in need of sanctuary are refused status, made destitute and subjected to violent enforcement procedures. Charter flights such as this one and forced removals in general must be stopped.
Afghanistan is not safe
With regard to Afghanistan, just 2 weeks ago, Human Rights Watch reported:
‘Conflict-related violence remains a daily reality in many parts of the country.'
[Human Rights Watch - Afghanistan: A decade of Missed Opportunities 4 Dec 2011 http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/12/03/afghanistan-decade-missed-opportunities ]
The United Nations also has also raised concerns about conditions for people returned to Afghanistan:
‘The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that a significant number of all returnees (potentially 40 per cent) are still in need of reintegration support and that many (potentially 28 per cent) are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.'
UN, The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, 09/03/2011. http://www.ecoi.net/file_upload/1226_1300285687_n1125034.pdf
Yet the UK Border Agency ignore these reports in favour of out of date country evidence which supports their claim that Afghanistan is a safe place.
Forced removals such as this are an illustration of the violence and indifference that are essential components of the UK's dehumanising migration regime. The vast majority of deportations have been to countries devastated by wars and armed conflicts such as Afghanistan, Iraq, DR Congo, Nigeria, Jamaica, Sri Lanka. After being forcibly deported, many have been kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and killed. Others have had to change their identities or move again to avoid persecution. Forcible deportations tear apart people's lives as they are split from their families and communities and their right to freedom of movement is denied.
Stop Deportations! Freedom of Movement for all!
More on Afghanistan:
UK Government, on the Foreign and Commonwealth office's website, states that Kabul is not a safe place:
‘No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts.'
‘The kidnap threat throughout the country remains high, particularly against local nationals.'
‘We advise against all but essential travel to Kabul. There are regular, indiscriminate rocket and bomb attacks in the city.'
UKBA's own Country of Origin Information Report on Afghanistan in 2008 stated ‘It is not difficult to track people down in Afghanistan...‘
http://www.statewatch.org/news/2009/mar/afghanistan-ukba-c-of-origin-report.pdf (Section 30.06)
More info on charter flights:
More local info:
A copy of the statement without the Guardian edit:
EIGHT WOMEN DECEIVED INTO LONG TERM INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH FIVE SEPARATE UNDERCOVER OFFICERS COMMENCE UNPRECEDENTED CLAIM AGAINST POLICE
Birnberg Peirce and partners have commenced legal action against the Metropolitan Police on behalf of eight women who were deceived into having long term intimate relationships with undercover police officers. The five undercover officers* were all engaged in infiltrating environmental and social justice campaign groups between the mid 1980’s and 2010 and had relationships with the women lasting from 7 months and the longest spanning 9 years.
The women assert that the actions of the undercover officers breached their rights as protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 3 (no one shall be subject to inhumane and degrading treatment) and Article 8 (respect for private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state), The women are also bringing claims for deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence, and seek to highlight and prevent the continuation of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers.
After deceiving at least one woman into having a relationship with him, one of the officers, Bob Lambert, went on to supervise other undercover officers who had long term intimate relationships with campaigners. This, and the extended period in which these relationships were undertaken confirms that recently exposed police spies were not 'rogue officers', but were in fact part of an unacceptable pattern of engaging in long term intimate relationships (including embedding themselves in extended families) as part of the infiltration of environmental and other activist groups, which seems to have been condoned at high levels.
Through their collective experiences the women have identified a pattern that covers more than two decades of police operations and is therefore indicative of systemic abuse of female political activists involved in a range of different groups. Officers are given extensive training in how to spin tales, groom, deceive and embed themselves deeply in protest movements. After the women formed loving relationships with these men, they disappeared when their posting ended, leaving the women to cope with the trauma of not knowing whether or not the person they were in love with would return, not knowing if they should be worried or angry and trying to discover what was real and what was not. In one case where the officer re-appeared, his training enabled him to create a new deceit and further abuse the woman who had been left in a state of shock and trauma. She extricated herself with the help of Women's Aid and left for Refuge with her children. The responsibility for the lasting damage this caused goes right back to the undercover operation by the Metropolitan police and the training they gave him in the art of duplicity
The subsequent discovery that the men they had loved were in fact undercover police officers spying on them and others they knew was a horrifying experience, leaving the women with both a sense of violation and difficulties in trusting others and their own judgement. Discovering that the fundamentals of the relationship were lies has left them trying to comprehend how someone they shared dreams with, knew so intimately and trusted so deeply had never actually existed
This abuse has had a severe and lasting emotional impact on those affected.
“We believe our case highlights institutionalised sexism within the police. It is incredible that if the police want to search someone’s house they are required to get the permission of a judge, yet if they want to send in an agent who may live and sleep with activists in their homes, this can happen without any apparent oversight!”
”We are bringing this case because we want to see an end to the sexual and psychological abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers. It is unacceptable that state agents can cultivate intimate and long lasting relationships with political activists in order to gain so called intelligence on those political movements.”
So far twelve inquiries have been set up in relation to undercover officers, however none of them are focussed on the human rights abuses perpetrated by the unit, none is independent and none of them are open and transparent.
* The five undercover officers are Mark Kennedy, Jim Boyling, Bob Lambert and two others who have not yet been exposed, known when undercover as John Barker and Mark Cassidy.
22-12-2011 09:57From Bristol with Love is a showcase for local music, local news and new forms of local thinking.
22-12-2011 08:47Piers Morgan claimed that he had no knowledge of the Mirror receiving information illicitly when he gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on 20 December. This was a lie because he admitted to receiving such information in a letter to the PCC when editor of the Mirror
22-12-2011 07:46CHINESE protesters against a coal-powered power station have blocked a main road and defied riot police.
Omar Ibrahim March 26th Anti-Cuts Prisoner Blog
An investigation by the Public Accounts Committee has calculated there is £25 BILLION in outstanding corporate tax, which is bigger than the UK budget deficit for 2002. This report vindicates UK Uncut, Occupy groups and anti-austerity protests, and in terms of the movement breaking-out of its cultural ghetto and linking with mass culture, the most important lesson for radicals is that there is outrage about this "from across the political spectrum", with even the right-wing Daily Telegraph admitting that "Conservatives should support left-wing campaign groups when they’re in the right"...
In what is arguably the most important domestic news report of 2011 (and possibly 2012) "allegations about tax avoidance in the highest echelons of the corporate world have been vindicated in a Commons report". The sheer scale of corporate crime will come as no surprise to most ordinary people, but it is very important in PR terms that claims made from within protest culture have been corroborated by an investigation from within the very heart of the political establishment.
An investigation by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons has vindicated claims by UK Uncut, calculating there is £25 BILLION in outstanding corporate tax which Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs has failed to collect. The report details "specific and systemic failures" by HMRC and states that "senior HMRC officials were not prepared to cooperate with our inquiry" - in other words it's obvious the HMRC are deliberately failing to tax the hyper-rich.??This £25 billion is bigger than the entire UK budget deficit for 2002, is only slightly below the £30 billion deficit of 2006, and is equivalent to £1,000 for every UK family or 6% off basic income tax. This £25 billion is THEFT, because the likes of Vodafone and Goldman Sachs derive huge financial benefits from the education and health-care that British taxpayers provide for their employees, and from taxpayers funding the infrastructure that helps these corporations trade profitably, yet corporations avoid paying for the services that help keep them rich, while jobs, services, pensions, health-care and education are STOLEN from the taxpayers who've funded them, in order to pay back for all this lost revenue. As such this report vindicates UK Uncut and all Occupy groups, all anti-austerity protests, and everyone who campaigns against traitors like Nick Clegg using the deficit as an excuse to turn every single British university into a private school.
In terms of the protest movement breaking-out of its cultural ghetto and linking-up with mass culture, the most important lesson for radical groups is that there is "widespread outrage" about this report "from across the political spectrum" with "union leaders joining forces with right-wing pressure groups like the Tax Payers Alliance to back the findings", and even right-wing papers like The Daily Telegraph stating this is "outrageous" and that "Conservatives should support left-wing campaign groups when they’re in the right".
There are 2 ways that radical groups can respond to encouragement like this however. The first way is to make political capital out increasing popular anger at the grand-theft capitalism that's robbing us all. The 2nd is to make loud displays of violent radicalism which will seduce a tiny minority while successfully convincing everyone else that radicals are still best avoided.
Here's ANOTHER BILLION the government don't need to cut from public services...
21-12-2011 11:29Squatters in Brighton have succesfuly defended themselves against a violent eviction attempt by High Court Balliffs this morning (21/12/11)