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International News: November 11

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Issue: 10 Section: International News Geography: USA Iraq, Argentina, Buenos Aires Topics: labour

November 10, 2003

International News: November 11

Argentinian lawmakers vote to turn over the Buenos Aires Brukman factory to its workers. photo: Indymedia Argentina

Brukman Factory Turned Over to Workers

After a two year battle with police, owners, and the government, workers at the Brukman factory in Buenos Aires celebrated a government decision to turn over the factory to the workers. The Argentinian legislature voted to recognize the workers' control of the factory following the bankrupcy of Jakob Brukman, the factory's owner.

Following Argentina's economic collapse of 2001, Brukman shut down production. The workers subsequently occupied the factory and restarted production, this time operating as owners of a cooperative. Along with hundreds of similar factory occupations across Argentina, the new collective was able to find enough business to keep the mostly-female workforce employed.

Since then, the Brukman factory was subject to two police blockades and street battles. After a massive solidarity campaign from other factory occupations, workers, and unions, the turnover is seen as a major symbolic victory for widespread radical workers' movements in Argentina.

» Americas.org: Brukman: Snapshot of a Worker-Occupied Factory in Argentina

» Naomi Klein: The Brukman Battle

» Workers Online: Brukman Evicted

» Indymedia Argentina photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

* * *

Iraqi Money Missing

British humanitarian group Christian Aid released a report charging that the US-controlled Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had only accounted for $1 billion out of $5 billion of Iraqi oil revenues and funds siezed from Saddam Hussein's government. The report quoted one "senior diplomat" as saying: "We have absolutely no idea how the money [from Iraqi oil revenues] has been spent. We know that more than US$1 billion has already been transferred from the UN escrow Oil-for-Food account and we don't know how this money has been spent, and this is Iraqi money." The report says that $5 billion have been reported as spent, but "at least $4 billion are unaccounted for."

L. Paul Bremer III, head of the CPA, brushed off the accusations, and insisted that "we are going to be fully transparent." Christian Aid and other NGOs have called on governments to withhold aid until the Iraqi money has been accounted for.

A recent Newsweek report raised numerous issues of accountability concerning the Iraq reconstruction effort itself. A USAID official was quoted as saying, "Saddam had better accountability [in his economic affairs] than the CPA does." (Newsweek, Christian Aid, Oneworld)

» Oneworld: Billions Unaccounted for from Iraq Accounts, Charge NGOs

» Foreign Policy in Focus: The Madrid Donors Conference: A Cover for Maintaining U.S. Control

» Christian Aid: Iraq: the missing billions - Transition and transparency in post-war Iraq

» Newsweek: The $87 Billion Money Pit

» Associated Press: A Private Army Grows Around the U.S. Mission in Iraq and Around the World

* * *

If the US does it, so can we: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed his position that it is entitled to launch preventive strikes to maintain national security, after the precedent set by the United States in Iraq. "If the principle of preventive use of force continues to develop in international practice, then Russia reserves the right to act in an analogous manner to defend its national interests."

Preventive strikes differ from preemptive in that they refer to a perceived rather than imminent threat. Preemptive strikes are conducted against an enemy that is about to attack. The "principle of preventive use of force," as adopted by the US government in its invasion of Iraq, involves striking an enemy that may attack in the future.

Putin did not follow the US precedent of developing "battlefield nukes," maintaining that Russian nuclear weapons would only be used as "a means of political deterrence." "All nuclear powers are improving their nuclear potential and Russia will do the same," he said.

However, Putin claimed that the Russian SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile would be "perfect" for breaking through defensive systems like that currently being backed by the Bush administration. "These rockets could easily break through any missile shield for decades to come," said Putin. (Agence France-Presse)

» Agence France-Presse: Putin reaffirms Russia's right to preemptive strikes

» Dominion: Readings on National Missile Defense

* * *

US Reinstating the Draft?

A recent push by the Pentagon to fill vacant draft board seats across the United States has provoked speculation that the draft will be reinstated for the first time since the Vietnam war. The Pentagon insists that there are no plans to draft young men into military service, but many experts have speculated that the US is already running low on troops for its continued occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We've failed to convince our allies to send troops, we've extended deployments so morale is sinking, and the president is saying we can't cut and run. So what's left?" US Democratic representative Charles Rangel was quoted as saying.

Observers say that it is highly unlikely that a draft will be called before the election, but many others point to the lack of another viable source of soldiers to maintain the costly military occupations.

» US Govn't: Serve Your Community and the Nation

» Salon: Oiling up the draft machine?

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