November 14, 2008
EU Will Discard 100 Pages of Regulations on Food: “New Dawn for the Curvy Cucumber”
EU regulators have agreed to remove more than 100 pages of legislation relating to the size, shape, appearance, and texture of food. The International Herald Tribune reported this week that European Union authorities hope that abandoning these regulations (against curved cucumbers, for example) will soften criticism of the EU. Stores will no longer have to discard food simply because it looks strange. The new measure (which is to take effect in 2009) will eliminate much-criticized rules such as maximum requirements for the curves of bananas and cucumbers (Under Commission Regulation 2257/94, bananas must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature,” while under Commission Regulation 1677/88, Class I cucumbers were allowed to bend only 10 millimeters per 10 centimeters of length, and Class II cucumbers could bend twice as much.)
Not all foods are covered. In a compromise measure, standards will remain on 10 types of fruits and vegetables (including apples, citrus, peaches, pears, strawberries, and tomatoes). But even foods in these categories will be allowed to be sold, provided that they are marked as being substandard or intended for cooking or processing. It was hard to defend the food regulations when food had become so expensive, and stores were being forced to throw away food simply because it curved too much. Stephen Castle, “In EU, It’s a ‘New Dawn for the Curvy Cucumber,” International Herald Trib., Nov. 13, 2008, at 7.
Former President of Taiwan Arrested
Chen Shui-Bian, president of Taiwan from 2000 until 2008, was arrested this week by the Taipei District Court on charges of money laundering, bribery, forgery, and illegal possession of state assets. Chen has reportedly denied the charges, which he says are politically motivated.
Antitrust Enforcment in Europe
Antitrust enforcement in the European Union was in the spotlight this week after the European Commission fined companies controlling the European automobile glass market 1.4 billion Euros for price-fixing over the past five years. Two of the companies fined had been previously charged with price-fixing of flat glass for buildings and homes. At least one of the companies planned to appeal the fine to EU courts in Luxembourg. Some antitrust experts believe that chronic price-fixing raises questions about the effectiveness of antitrust enforcement in the EU, which does not have the threat of imprisonment (as in the United States for similar violations). The fine against the auto glass cartel exceeded the previous record fine against a cartel, which was set last year with a 992 million euro fine against elevator makers.
November 12, 2008
International Day of Tolerance - November 16
November 16 is designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Tolerance. Let's hope that tolerance lasts for more than just a day! Click here to read more (from UNA-USA) about the background of the Day of Tolerance and other activities related to it.
Paraguay is 100th Country to Sign Treaty Against Doping in Sport
The treaty promotes testing of athletes without advance notice, both in competitions and between competitions.
The treaty was adopted unanimously by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2005 and came into force on 1 February 2007 after its 30th ratification.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Goes Into Space
According to the website of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) will travel into space on 14 November to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the most significant human rights document on earth. The UDHR will remain in permanent orbit around the Earth in the International Space Station for years to come. “In recognition of the fact that human beings are at times downtrodden, the Declaration can symbolically find its place 'above' all the peoples of the world," said European Space Agency astronaut Léopold Eyharts, who stayed at the International Space Station for two months earlier this year. Two plaques with the special UDHR 60th anniversary logo and the inscription of the 30 articles of the UDHR, in both English and French, will be on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour when it is launched on 14 November from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to the ESA. The Declaration will then be stored on a permanent basis inside ESA's Columbus multidisciplinary space laboratory in the European module of the International Space Station. In 2007, the United Nations launched a year-long commemoration that leads on 10 December 2008 to the 60th anniversary of the UDHR. The anniversary theme is: Dignity and Justice for All of Us.
November 11, 2008
International Bar Association
The International Bar Association will sponsor a conference on Fuel Rules, Energy, and the WTO on February 12-13, in Geneva, Switzerland. Click here for more information.
November 10, 2008
Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
The United Nations-backed Global Fund announced that it has approved 94 new grants worth $2.75 billion to projects aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Toribiong Elected as President of Palau
Johnson Toribiong appears to have been elected as the new President of the Republic of Palau. He reportedly received a concession phone call from his closest rival, Elias Camsek Chin, who is the current Vice President. Toribiong succeeds President Tommy Remengesau, who was president between 2001 and 2008.
Mark E. Wojcik (who served as Court Counsel to the Palau Supreme Court in 1994, the year that Palau became an independent country. At that time, the population of Palau was 15,122 persons.)
November 9, 2008
AALS International Breakfasts
In addition to the other international breakfasts listed in previous posts, there will be a joint breakfast of the Sections on Africa, Comparative Law, International Human Rights, International Law, International Legal Exchange, Graduate Programs for Foreign Lawyers, and North American Cooperation. It is on the same Friday as the ASIL TILIG group, which is unfortunate but such things happen at an AALS meeting. It's a ticketed event, so buy a ticket in advance if you plan to go (they won't be available at the door).