Blog of Mass Distraction

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Making Amends

Canada and the European Union have raised retaliatory taxes against certain US imports. The move is in reaction to the Byrd amendment, named after Democrat Robert Byrd,1 that gives duties collected from anti-dumping laws on foreign companies to US companies. The US law was condemned as illegal by the WTO and the US trading partners and relatively minor retaliatory duties have been instated on products such as cigarettes, oysters, pigs and fish. Much harsher duties may be raised later on because of conflict between Airbus and Boeing. Too bad Bush couldn't make Wolfowitz (who was unanimously approved as head of the World Bank) unquestioned leader of the WTO... that would remove these little complications in their trade policy.

Pope John Paul II died today. Catholics around the world are morning and cardinals will be called to the Vatican to begin the process to select a successor. For some reason, US President George Bush Jr. gave a speech about the death of his holiness and his celebrated papacy. Unlike many before him, John Paul II stay apolitical and condemned several acts of US foreign policy and other international atrocities.

The Venezuelan Supreme Court has annulled the decision that let free the four military leaders that carried out the attempted coup against President Hugo Chavez.2 After the initial coup attempt, which failed after 48 hours due to a popular uprising, the 4 men: Army General Efrain Vasquez Velasco, Air Force General Pedro Pereira, Vice-Admiral Hector Ramirez Perez and Rear Admiral Daniel Comisso Urdaneta, were absolved of responsibility by the Supreme Court in Venezuela under the dubious claim that Chavez had resigned willingly. After reforming the courts, which were highly biased towards the US backed right wing, they've repealed that decision. While the poor majority were able to bring Chavez back to power, no one was tried or imprisoned for the coup; a fact the Vice President Jose Vincent Rangel called "a true assault on democratic legality". Charges have also been laid against the corporate and opposition backers of the coup. In a related case charges have been made against former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez. Perez was impeached for corruption in 1993 but during his tenure implemented many harsh conservative policies at the behest of the IMF and also crushed riots and popular uprisings with brutal force.

1. Failing in their attempted appeal the WTO has again recommended the US repeal the Byrd amendment.
2. The US condemned Chavez for loading the courts with his supporters.


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