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    "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
    Cesar Chavez




    :: Monday, November 21, 2005 ::

    U.S. House dumps contentious trade law that distributes import penalties - By BETH GORHAM, CP, CBC News
    A yearlong study from the U.S. Accountability Office released in September provided ammunition for critics in Congress, saying nearly half of the $1 billion US in Byrd payments so far has gone to only five companies and two-thirds went to just three industries.

    The report noted some U.S. companies use the money for personal expenses, not to create new jobs. It also found wide gaps in tracking the system, saying overpayments were difficult to recover.

    If the amendment is ultimately repealed, trade experts say it wouldn't affect the operation of American import duty laws. Cases would still go forward but the money would be kept in the U.S. Treasury to be spent on improving the competitiveness of domestic industries.

    Softwood lumber dispute - CBC News Indepth
    The trade war has taken a toll on Canadian jobs. Thousands in the industry lost their jobs, including about 15,000 forestry workers who were laid off in British Columbia.

    How Bush muddied relations with Canada - The Boston Globe
    It would be one thing if Canada were found to be flagrantly dumping cheap products on the US market. The key element in the dispute, however, focuses on a claim by domestic lumber interests that Canadian provinces do not charge a high enough fee for tree-cutting (called stumpage) and that the result is a government subsidy. This isn't a genuine grievance, especially given the fact that that the Bush administration has looked the other way in the face of much larger challenges, like Chinese intellectual piracy, textile products dumping, and currency value manipulation.

    The situation is made even more absurd by another flagrant abuse of international norms called the Byrd Amendment -- after Robert Byrd of West Virginia. This enables the very industries that go whining to Washington to get the extra tariff money that is collected. We're talking about billions of dollars here.
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