Tuesday, September 27, 2005

CAP still takes nearly half of the budget

Defenders of the CAP in its present form are always asking why another reform is needed. Last year agriculture and rural development allocations accounted for 47.5% (€43.6 billion) of the EU budget, admittedly down from 54.1% (€44.4 billion) in 2003.
France was once more the largest recipient of agricultural largesse, followed by Spain, Germany and Italy. New member state Poland appeared in fifteenth position.

Could a better use be found or at least some of this €43.6 billion? I and many others think so.Any source

Monday, September 26, 2005

Some progress in Doha Round

Some progress was made in Doha Round talks between the 'group of five' (EU, US, Brazil, India and Australia) in Paris at the end of the last week. The secrecy surrounding the talks suggests that concrete proposals were being discussed, particularly on the vexed question of market access.

The US and the EU have now accepted the five tier proposal put forward by the G-20 and the EU has indicated that it will keep its list of sensitive products demanding special treatment to a minimum. It is understood that the EU and the US have put concrete tariff reduction proposals on the table, but much needs to be done before the Hong Kong ministerial in December.

At the farm council last week, a number of member states, Spain being the most vociferous, accused the Commission of 'selling out' to the US after a visit by Mariann Fischer Boel to Washington. However, the doughty farm commissioner was having none of it, retorting that 'We are not a gift shop.'

My current forecast of likely Doha Round outcomes in agriculture is:

• There will be an agreement, but not at Hong Kong (there isn’t enough time to sort out all the complexities)
• Export subsidies and their equivalents will be phased out by 2017
• There will be sharper reductions for high tariffs and a 100% AVE limit with very limited exceptions (essentially rice tariffs in Korea and Japan). There will be exemptions from the formula adopted for ‘sensitive’ products
• Permitted domestic support levels will be reduced but not in a way that will seriously trouble the EU and the US
• Cairns Group countries will be allowed to keep their single desk exporters, subject to undertakings on transparency
• ‘As one gets closer to the final deals that need to be fashioned, the GI issue will no doubt play a significant role in the balance of advantage that countries will seek from the Round.’ (Tim Josling)
• Provision for future negotiations will include a review of which subsidies should qualify for Green Box treatment

Anyone who wants my full paper on the Doha Round should E mail me at w.p.grant@warwick.ac.ukAny source

EU wine lake is forming again

Despite the provision of substantial funds for restructuring and the distillation of wine into industrial alcohol, the EU wine lake is forming again. As is the case with many commodity sectors in the CAP, the underlying problem is a structural one.

On the one hand, consumption levels are down, particularly in 'traditional' wine drinking countries such as France, Italy and Spain where the total quantity of wine consumed has fallen by over 50 per cent since 1980. Wine is not necessarily a popular drink with young people in these countries, with beer, alcopops and spirits becoming more popular. In Italy, there are reports that British style binge drinking is catching on.

On the demand side, there is fierce competition from so-called 'New World' wines, e.g., from California, Chile, Australia and New Zealand. These wines are particularly popular in the British market where the emphasis is on low to medium priced 'drinkable' wines. I know that the Australians keep their best wines for domestic consumption. Chilean wines have been doing particularly well in recent years.

As a consequence, EU wine stocks are rising. In Spain wine stocks are now larger than annual production. Total expenditure in the sector in 2004 was €1.227 billion and is estimated at €1.329 billion for 2005. €450m goes into a far from successful vineyard restructing programme, €387m into wine distillation, €232m for alcohol storage and €67 million for wine storage.

A big problem has been the ineffective management of vineyard grubbing and replanting schemes by national governments. The Commission has ordered France to pay back €14.5m of funds received to restructure and modernise vineyards after the money was allegedly misspent.

The Commission has stated that 'It is possible that due to the great variations in production which are typical of the sector and modifications in domestic and world demand, it may be necessary to resort to special intervention measures on the market, as prudently allowed for by the Council.'

Translated this means 'We have no accurate idea of what is going on here so we may have to bail the sector out again and the Council knew this would be good politics because some powerful member states are involved.'Any source

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

"Screen Door Jesus" Opens in Texas, Holds Hurricane Benefit in Conroe

September 14, 2005

On Sept. 28, moviegoers in the Houston area can help the victims of Hurricane Katrina by attending benefit screenings of the film, "Screen Door Jesus" at the Pine Hollow Cinema 6 in Conroe, TX.

The producers of the film, our clients, have pledged all screening proceeds to The Salvation Army and Neighborhood Centers Inc. for their hurricane relief efforts.

"Screen Door Jesus" is distributed by Indican Pictures. It opens Sept. 30 in Houston at the Angelika Theater and the Pine Hollow 6; it opens Oct. 14 at Austin's Regal Arbor Cinema and San Antonio's Regal Fiesta 16. The film is also scheduled to open in Los Angeles and Oklahoma.

Updates and more information are available on the official website.

Congratulations to our client, writer/director Mark Stouffer, who began shooting the horror film, "Hunter's Moon," starring Devon Sawa. This is the first of five genre features for the independent production company. Read more about "Hunter's Moon" on Fangoria.com.

This week, two clients, Craig Brewer and Amir Mann each began production on their films.

Brewer's "Black Snake Moan," a Paramount Pictures release. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake and shoots in Memphis.

Mann's "The Fifth Patient" is being distributed by Shoreline Entertainment. The film stars Nick Chinlund and shoots in Mexico.

Congratulations, Craig and Amir!Any source

Saturday, September 10, 2005


ELIOT WEINBERGER. What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles. New Directions, 2005. Crossing all the conventional boundaries which distinguish verse from essay from political analysis from myriad other genres, Weinberger’s highly stylized portrait of America is at once elegy and prophecy, contemplative meditation and testimony charged with rage. He writes “in the limbo between the action and the reaction,” from a country where people are “marooned on the island of CNN” and trapped in a miasmic matrix of skillfully crafted misinformation.

Although the pieces contained in the book were largely written for publication outside the US—“to demonstrate that the US was not a monolith of opinion”—the essays, in English, “tended to circulate via e-mail among individuals, turning up on blogs, websites, chat groups, and listservs. For writing of this kind, it is a happy way to publish: the readers vote with their forward buttons.”

While the Bush Dynasty is the tie that binds each essay to one another, Weinberger’s point of departure lies between the Tigris and Euphrates, in the emergence of Baghdad as a cultural center of the world. Weinberger reminds us that:

The poets of that city — particularly in its first three hundred years — were noted for their rejection of traditional verse forms, their unembarrassed hedonism in many varieties, their scorn for religious and social orthodoxies, their sycophancy in court and their bitter polemics outside it, their elaborate prosodic techniques and increasingly pedantic literary criticism.

The literary culture which emerged in ninth century Baghdad bears a remarkable likeness to that of contemporary literary culture in the US. The similarities are chilling. Weinberger humanizes Baghdad, something American media has conspicuously avoided doing. The foreignness, the distance between Iraq and America slips away. Rather than a city which threatens democracy (hegemony) in the region and poses a threat to the world at large through possession of WMD, Baghdad unfolds as a city of immense beauty and immeasurable depth, the omphalos of a centuries-old culture clearly worth preserving.

Just as Dante takes the reader by the hand, leading the reader through Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso, Weinberger reverses the order and leads us first through a luxuriant culture, a paradise. Then we are lead through the attacks of September 11, a confusing limbo where the earth beneath our feet is unstable, uncertain, a limbo where the breath of consciousness is held. Here time stands obstinately still amidst the threat of further terrorist attacks, the anthrax scare, an open-ended war in Afghanistan and the looming, imminent threat Saddam Hussein’s Iraq poses to the whole of western civilization. Weinberger, throughout these essays, reveals the inexplicable connections which bind media to government to the corporate world, all of them coming together in perfect accord under what he calls the “Bush junta.” As is well known now, Iraq never possessed WMD or even the resources needed for manufacturing WMD. The culture of fear Americans have, since 911, been held hostage in is demystified. And, in exposing this culture of fear as a smoke-screen manufactured by the Bush junta for the purpose of expanding its own interests, Weinberger carries us into an inferno where the very institutions responsible for protecting and informing American citizens (government and media) have recklessly compromised the safety of American citizens, as well as people throughout the world at large.

BASIL KING. Learning to Draw/ a History: Twin Towers. Skanky Possum, 2005. Like Weinberger, King’s most recent written work explores September 11, 2001 from the epicenter of the attacks—NYC—and then reaches outward, toward the possible causes of the attacks and lasting consequences to his own consciousness as artist and poet. The frame of reference through which he approaches art is the very same he uses to confront the attacks:

I insist light abstracts the smallest thing.

And because I believe this I believe the miniature is as powerful as the mural.

In abstraction miniature detail is carried into a larger conceptual understanding of the event, an event bound to a much larger complex of events. King is positioned at the center, apprehending this experience through the people, places and memories that connect him to it, to the Twin Towers, “capitalism’s welcoming committee.”

JOHN MORITZ. Cartography: Selected Poems, 1968-1998. First Intensity, 2001. There is a straightforwardness and grit in Moritz’s verse which, unlike conventional narrative poetry, does not reduce or compromise the sophisticated structure of the work. In many ways the writing leads back to Olson via Dorn, in very much the same way a person might bear some resemblance (say, in nose or eyes) to a grandparent. While cut from the same stone, the work is distinctly unique:

So kill your father
get nine more
railing in the big oak limbs
& walk out from under
all that shade

Much of Moritz’s writing is rooted in and around Kansas—his Kansas something of an idea formed by and bound to temporal and spatial relations, a plot of soil enriched by ideological and socio-political compost, a plot of earth nurtured by centuries of idea and subsequent action. His is “A narrative written over all past narratives/ recounting the crossing”.

The praise his work has received from writers like Tom Clark, Anselm Hollo and Ed Dorn is not at all surprising and much deserved. Nor is it surprising that Moritz’s work has not yet commanded the readership it richly deserves. That this is not surprising, however, doesn’t make it any less criminal.
Any source