European Parliament Approves New Israeli Trade Agreement

— by Sharon Bender

B’nai B’rith International commends the European Parliament for voting in favor of the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA), a technical agreement within the European Union-Israel Trade Agreement designed to facilitate and ease pharmaceutical trade.

The ACAA will allow Israeli pharmaceutical companies to export their products to the EU without having to obtain additional certification outside of domestic approval. This is recognition of the high standards of the Israeli pharmaceutical industry, an area where Israel has been a pioneer of quality and excellence.

More after the jump.
B’nai B’rith International also applauds the Members of the European Parliament who passed the ACAA with a total of 379 votes in favor.

The ACAA was stuck in the international trade committee for two years and the rapporteur for the agreement pushed to delay the vote, saying Israel should not be awarded with improved trade relations given the EU’s “condemnation of the Israeli government’s policy regarding the occupied territories.”

It eventually passed by a wide margin through the persistence of several Members of the European Parliament. These Members not only saw an opportunity to strengthen EU-Israeli relations, but also an opportunity to benefit EU citizens with Israel’s cutting-edge expertise in this field. The agreement will result in reduced costs for European patients and Israeli manufacturers, faster access to EU markets, availability of a wider range of medications and enhanced quality control of pharmaceuticals produced in non-EU countries.

Amb. Rice: U.S. Will Stand With Israel to Prevent Nuclear Armed Iran

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— by Max Samis

Yesterday, new sanctions were imposed on Iran that effectively cut off the country’s central bank from the global economy. Following this announcement United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on MSNBC, where she discussed the sanctions with Andrea Mitchell:

The President has been very clear. The United States will stand with Israel and the rest of the international community to take the steps necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. This is a matter of great importance to our national security, as well as to countries in the region, obviously including Israel. We want to continue to increase the pressure on Iran-the economic pressure-to change its behavior, to change course and come clean about its nuclear program. We have ratcheted up the sanctions at every stage. The United Nations in June 2010 passed the broadest and harshest sanctions to date on Iran and those are having a real bite. We have passed, on a national basis, ever tougher sanctions. The EU has done the same. Countries in the Gulf Region and Asia, Canada, and many others around the world.  

And Iran is really starting to feel economic pressure-by their own admission-from the highest levels they’re saying that it’s crippling and biting. We think that pressure needs to have an opportunity to play its course. As the President has said repeatedly, we have taken no options off the table. But we hope and believe that it might be possible yet for this situation to be addressed through diplomacy. That is our hope. We will continue these efforts while ratcheting up the pressure on Iran and be clear in our determination that they will not gain nuclear weapons.

Governments Big and Small

Reprinted from Democratic Convention Watch.

The 2012 elections in the US are about three things that our elections usually are not about:

  1. How much hatred does the wacko right have for President Obama and how much of that hatred is strict, unadorned racism?
  2. Does the electorate want a country of the people, by the people and for the people, or a corporate state akin to an old time company town?
  3. Does the country want a union of 50 states, or does it want a bunch of independent states which share little more than geography?

Read those questions again. Think about how different they are from the "normal" issues of major elections. More often elections are about issues that affect the nation, not about what the nation should be. Think about them through the prism of what the EU is currently experiencing, and ask yourself what defines a country? What defines a union of countries?

Throw in the the mix the issues raised and answered by Marbury v Madison in 1803.


More after the jump.

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This was the opening of Chris Matthews' comment last night:

Let me finish tonight with this. The Republican party is about to seal a Faustian deal with the devil. Every observer from left to farthest right knows what's going on here.

The Republicans, led by the angriest among them, are about to give away their partisan souls for one all-consuming political purpose: the destruction of Barack Obama. They are about to begin the nomination for president of a figure who  represents the Mephistopheles of what they preach: He is nasty, brutal, ready to fight and kill politically, a man of no discernible commitments or values – who has nothing to offer but a sharp-as-hell intellect and a wicked rapier of words. For the right price — and a presidential nomination is his — Newt is ready to jump on a dime and hit any opponent where he shows weakness.

I agree with Chris, and believe that one of the major reasons the evangelical wacko right is willing to consider Newt is NOT just because he is the anyone-but-Mitt-December-edition, but because he was a commentator on Fox for years until May. Thus, he is, to the great unwashed who view Fox as "news" someone like Walter Conkrite, Chet Huntley or David Brinkley. Someone who speaks with authority. Someone "of them" who, like Uncle Walter on 22 November 1963, shares their common experience. While I believe that anyone who meets the constitutional bar of age and citizenship can run for president, it doesn't mean they are legitimately qualified. The idea that someone like Newt who has been trying to destroy the American structure of government for decades is being considered by a single person who lived through those years is absurd on its face. But most people are stupid.

Newt is, much more than Mitt, the poster child for a corporate state. Mitt is a businessman, he's not an ideologue, he's not a politician…"running for office" is just a thing to do. When he was governor of Massachusetts, it was a low-paying gig. Something to do to see how it feels. Like yachting or dismantling a company. Newt's a smart guy, and he's a consummate insider. He knows how and why corporations are encroaching on the running of America, hell, he helped to get them there.

The Supremes are going to consider, in addition to the individual mandate, whether or not Arizona's immigration law is constitutional. (Hey! back to Marbury v Madison!) This latter case acceptance is over the objections of the Obama administration. If Arizona prevails, we cease being the country we have been since the writing of the Federalist Papers: we enter the path of separate states on the most fundamental issue of who an American is, and can be. The thing that defines a country is its people, and that should always be a countrywide decision. Remember, from the point of view of the corporations, it's better for the states to have more "power" than the Fed: it's easier to rule, say, South Dakota, than all of the U.S.

When I was in college, I undertook a double-major degree and was required to write a thesis. My topic was the relationship between governments and corporations, and the potential affects on hegemony. Back then there were many fewer multinationals then there are today. Further, it was more difficult for a multinational to exist than it is today, given the changes in logistics and technology. Still, my conclusions were that a generation out, these large companies could hold sway over smaller governments, changing those countries into corporate states, to the detriment of the citizenry. It nevercrossed my mind back then that it could happen here.

I think about this and am suddenly overcome with the knowledge that I'm going to work the election next year. I had thought about sitting it out, disappointed as I am in the things that didn't happen. But it's  become an issue notof what has led it us here, but getting out of it. It will be more important than ever to turn out voters and identify people who might end up disenfranchised early, to help them get the documentation necessary to be able to vote. Simultaneously, of course, working to end the disenfranchisement the Republican Corporation hat wrought. It will be a year of working for multiple candidates at all levels, of giving money until it hurts. I hope you'll join me: for this is the election where we can lose our country.