Mindwalk: The Turning Point
Mindwalk: The Turning Point
British Gov’t Silent on Secret E.U. Meetings with Lobbyists*
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) has been investigating E.U. member state permanent representations, finding out to what extent they are a target of lobbying. This article takes certain extracts from that report to focus on Britain’s response to requests for information – the results should raise an eyebrow. This report also provides an insight into the secrecy of British government actions within the E.U. and casts doubt over government integrity, particularly when taking negotiations of TTIP into consideration where the EU Commission, met corporate lobby groups in 88% of 597 meetings.
The member state permanent representations, like the Council and the European Council, are not party to the E.U. lobby transparency rules. In fact, the Council has consistently emphasised that member states’ governments, including their permanent representations in Brussels, should not be covered by E.U. transparency regulations.
However, as the E.U. media outlet Politico, recently wrote,
“Most lobbyists we speak to agree that permanent representations are a soft touch: All you need is the right policy officer and you can come into close contact with the policy formulation at its most influential stage. This is how you get policy input into the Council of Ministers and it’s considerably cheaper than having to deal with member states in capital cities.”
The only two countries who completely refused access to information despite holding the information requested were Malta and Britain.
Permanent representations – the primary link between member states and the E.U. institutions – provide a key avenue for member states to influence policy and legislation at the E.U. level and have long been suspected of being a target for corporate lobbyists keen to get their message across.
In 2015, ALTER-E.U. submitted access to information requests to 17 E.U. member state permanent representations, asking for a list of meetings held with lobbyists in the previous 12 months.
Only four governments (Ireland, Romania, the Netherlands, and Poland) were able to provide all or some information that related to the access to information request, despite the fact that all member states except Cyprus have national legislation governing the right of access to information.
The only two countries who completely refused access to information despite holding the information requested was Malta and Britain.
If the data provided by the Polish and Romanian permanent representatives is anything to go by, it seems clear that permanent representations are more likely to have lobby meetings with corporate organisations than any other kind of interest group, confirming the view that the corporate capture of E.U. decision-making is not confined to the European Commission. Our research found that:
“63 per cent of the 104 lobby meetings held by the Polish and Romanian permanent representations were with corporate interests, whilst only 20 per cent were with civil society organisations.”
The U.K. permanent representation initially rejected our request for a list of lobby meetings from the past year, saying that it would breach the cost limit for the public authority to collect the information. At the suggestion of the U.K. authority, ALTER-E.U. substantially reduced its request to ask for only a month’s worth of lobby meetings. Four months later, following three delays in answering the request, the U.K. replied to say that it would not release the information, using three different exemptions to argue that disclosure would:
The U.K. stated in its reply that,
“The E.U. is a complex organisation and one of the most lobbied in the world; U.K. Rep needs to be able to understand the perspective of those stakeholders, and indeed influence their views and activities, in order to inform and deliver U.K. objectives in Europe.”
This context should favour the disclosure of the information, since access would permit the public to know whether the UKRep is meeting with a broad range of interests.
It is also interesting to note that whilst the U.K. used personal data protection as a reason to withhold information, the U.K. Information Commissioner’s guidance states that where an individual attends a meeting in the capacity of an employee, if the employee expresses the views of the organisation, those views, when recorded in the minutes of the meeting, will not be personal data about the employee.
In our view, it would be fair and lawful to disclose this information because lobbyists are always expressing their organisations’ views – but our appeal on this matter was rejected.
As an example of U.K. government sponsored activity, in January 2014, The Guardian reported that the U.K. had defeated attempts in Brussels to set legally-binding environmental regulations for shale gas. Prime Minister David Cameron led the efforts but was supported by the U.K’s Permanent Representative Ivan Rogers who wrote in November 2013 that “seeing off” the proposals for new laws would require “continued lobbying at official and ministerial level using the recently agreed core script”.
Ivan Rogers appears on Corporate Europe Observatory’s RevolvingDoorWatch project as he has enjoyed a previous career at financial giants Barclays Capital and Citigroup. Conveniently, another area of major importance to the U.K. government, permanent representation and corporate interests alike, is banking reform and regulation, including the Capital Markets Union.
A snapshot of lobby meetings held by the City of London Corporation (between May and July 2015) shows that at least four meetings were held with the U.K. permanent representation by its City Office in Brussels. It also met with the permanent representations from Italy, Sweden, Poland and Ireland. The City Office’s purpose is to promote the interests of international financial services by facilitating contacts between the City and member states’ representatives, amongst other targets.
Read the full report from Alter-EU National Representations in Brussels – Open for Corporate Lobbyists
Farming Pre-School Teaches Kids How to Grow Their Own Crops*
Winner of the AWR International Ideas Competition to design a new nursery school, “Nursery Fields Forever” reimagines what nursery schools could be like. Designed by a team from Italy, composed of Gabriele Capobianco, Edoardo Capuzzo Dolcetta, Jonathan Lazar, and Davide Troiani, the entry refutes the modern notion of shaping a child’s perception of the world based solely on urban environments, accepting children as being inherently curious naturalists. This trait is stimulated and guided to create a unique educational approach, holistically combining nature and food cultivation into its curriculum.
Game, nature and technique are combined with the nursery to create three approaches to learning: learning from nature, learning from technique and learning from practice. The development of children is encouraged through interaction with animals and plants, also encouraging their self-esteem and social interaction with the introduction of tangible goals in their education.
Traditional learning environments and more experimental spaces combining learning and farming are integrated, creating a rotating routine for groups of children to experience and learn about the cycles of nature. From teachers, children are taught how to respect and domesticate animals and plants, seeing the way those things affect their lives.
Even passively, infants can benefit from the environment of Nursery Fields Forever. Contact with animals like donkeys promote relaxation and curiosity in babies, as well as developing their immune system against common allergens and bugs.
Nursery Fields Forever reclaims the nursery as a place for children to not only be raised, but “to raise and construct themselves.”
Israel’s Secret Plan for Migration of Indian Jews*
The Israeli regime is under fire for a secret plan to renew the permission for the immigration of members of a Jewish tribe in north-eastern India to the occupied Palestinian territories.
Earlier this week, Ksenia Svetlova, an opposition member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament), wrote a letter to Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin denouncing Tel Aviv’s recent decision to bring 700 Indian nationals to Israel.
Svetlova said the move contradicts the regime’s latest measure to prevent the immigration of members of the Ethiopian Jewish community over budgetary considerations.
“It turns out there is a budget. While the Ethiopian Jews are being left behind, quietly and secretly hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community, who identify as descendants of one of the 10 lost tribes, are being brought over,” she said.
While the Ethiopian citizens are living in dire conditions, the Indians “whose Jewishness has yet to be clarified, are being brought over with urgency,” she said.
The newcomers will be settled in illegal settler units in the occupied West Bank settlements, the Knesset member said, adding,
“And all this is happening away from the public eye.”
The Bnei Menashe say they have descended from Jews banished to India in the eighth century B.C.
A senior Israeli rabbi recognized the community as a lost tribe in 2005 and about 1,700 moved to Israel over the next two years before the regime stopped giving them visas.
A private organization called Shavei Israel, headed by American-born Michael Freund, a former aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, runs the campaign for the Bnei Menashe relocation.
Last month, the Israeli regime halted plans to bring over another 9,000 members of the Falash Mura community from Ethiopia. This is while Ethiopians have repeatedly complained about discrimination by Israeli authorities against Jews of African descent.
Comment: This is not a humanitarian quest, it is a political agenda
Israel Helps Refugee Pawns Migration as Weapons of War in Europe*
IsraAID, the Israeli government’s foreign aid agency, provides food, clothing, medical, and logistical support to the non-white invaders of Europe in Greece, Croatia, and Germany, in “cooperation with the Jewish community of that [latter] country.”
At the same time that it pays the non-white invaders to enter Europe, Israel refuses to allow a single “refugee” into its territory and instead has built a large wall to keep them—and all non-Jews—out of the Jewish country.
Although reports had emerged earlier about the Jewish aid being given to the non-white invasion force as it lands on the Greek islands, the full extent of their promotion of the invasion has been revealed by IsraAID speakers at the recent American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington DC.
A video released by AIPAC (see it in full below) shows three IsraAID speakers, Yotam Polizer, Global Partnership Director; Dr. Iris Adler, an Israeli medical doctor who works on Lesbos in Greece, and Navonel Glick, the organization’s Chief Operating Officer, speaking before the conference.
All three engage in the by now standard extreme Jewish hypocrisy of posing as “humanitarians” helping “fleeing refugees”—while ignoring the fact that these very same “refugees” are barred by walls and military weapons from seeking “asylum” in Israel.
Polizer, for example, tells the audience that the Jews “draw on our own history of tragedy and triumph” as an inspiration to “protect, feed, clothe, and comfort” the invaders—forgetting to add that this “protection” is only applied in European countries, and not the Jewish state.
Adler then describes how they help invader boats ashore and offer immediate free medical assistance to anyone who needs it, as the invaders “arrive daily from Turkey to Europe to what they perceive to be safety.”
This is, of course, nonsense and hypocrisy—nonsense because the invaders are not in any danger in Turkey, where many of them have lived for years, and hypocrisy because it would have been much easier, geographically speaking, to have sought “asylum” in Israel—a nation which shares a border with Syria.
But, of course, the Jewish state does not allow non-Jewish “refugees” in at all, and only supports them when they go to European countries.
Adler said that the invaders “arrive by the thousands every day,” and although “at first it is chaos, we help the people to dry land, we bring them to shore, and we ask them who needs a doctor?”
She adds, to applause from the Jewish lobby, that her team has already this year helped with the delivery on the beach of four babies: “Achmed, Ghassan, Asmal, and Ramadan.”
Glick then describes how his organization provides “aid” to refugees everywhere except Israel—in Jordan, northern Iraq, and, of course, Europe.
“In Croatia, we help them along their journey, handing out food and water,” he says.
“And in Germany in partnership with the country’s Jewish community, we help the refugees cope with the effects of trauma,” Glick says, ending with the claim that “as an Israeli, it is my responsibility to do my part where I can.”
“Doing his part” to help the non-white invaders does not apply in Israel, however—only in non-Jewish countries.
As the New Observer earlier reported, the Israeli government has refused to accept any “refugees” from Syria or Africa—and is building a new wall to keep them out.
An official statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that “Israel is a small country, a very small country, that lacks demographic and geographic depth. Therefore, we must control our borders, against both illegal migrants and terrorism.
Israel’s official view on barring Syrian “refugees” was also detailed in the LA Times of September 6, 2015 (“One country that won’t be taking Syrian refugees: Israel”), where Netanyahu repeated his assertion that Israel’s “lack of demographic and geographic depth” required controlling its borders against both “illegal migrants and terrorism.”