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by autofran (autofran@mac.com) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:11:25 PM EST
EU officials to begin work on treaty - EUobserver.com
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU diplomats are to start work in the coming days on clearing up the loose ends in the new EU treaty so that it can come into force without any technical glitches once it has been ratified.

An internal document circulated by Slovenia, the current holder of the EU presidency, and seen by EUobserver sets out 33 areas that need to be examined this year if the treaty is to come into force on 1 January 2009 as planned.

The document says it takes into account "the legimate concerns of the institutions and member states that all the necessary preparations be ready in good time to allow for a smooth entry into force of the Treaty."

It notes that EU ambassadors are to start "examining the technical and legal aspects" at the end of January, while Slovenia will assess whether "different arrangements are necessary at a later stage for some of the more sensitive and political points."
by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:14:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't look for democracy in the EU presidency - International Herald Tribune

BRUSSELS: Exactly a year from now, the United States will be swearing in its 44th president. He or she will shoulder the weight of the world. It comes with the territory.

Very much less certainly, but just possibly, Europe may have its first president in January 2009. He - there is no she on the list of likely candidates - would be a man who at least in theory embodies the best shot anyone since Charlemagne has had at representing European unity.

Tony Blair, who's a political Formula One racing team, but not consensual, gets mentioned a lot. At a considerably lower horsepower rating, so does Jean-Claude Juncker, the workaday prime minister of Luxembourg, who may not turn out as consensual as some people think. Other hopefuls lounge or skulk in the wings.

The selection process runs parallel with the American presidential race during the second half of the year (and probably into 2009). But its stage is the closed conference halls of the European Union, whose successes and inadequacies have always reflected its reflexes for deals and ambiguity.

The choice of the European president is true to the EU's historical character. Rather than a popular vote, the selection process will belong to the council of chiefs of state and government created by the Lisbon Treaty, whose ratification must be complete before their choice is made.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:16:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
WaPo

Don't Look for Democracy in the US Presidency

Exactly a year from now, the US will be swearing in its 44th Resident.  She or She will stage manage the appearance of shouldering the weight of the world, in order to deflect attention from the financial gnomes buried under the Alps in their command and control bunkers.  EU human rights campaigners will once again point to the lack of democracy in amurka, where the one dollar, one vote ethic has been lost to the one million, one vote perversion of the process.

(I'd like to continue this farce, but i'm choking at the demagoguery of insulting the highly competent world of Formula One by comparing it to T. Poodle Bliar.)  Plus i must get some work done.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:20:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe we need a ((Neobabble Alert)) sign for WaPo drivel like this.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:03:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rail fares in Britain are the most expensive in Europe - Times Online

Rail travel is more expensive in Britain than anywhere else in Europe, according to research.

For £10, a train passenger in this country can travel 27 miles. In France the same amount would get them 50 miles by rail. In Latvia, which has Europe's cheapest train travel, passengers could get 383 miles on the equivalent sum.

The figures, which were released by the Liberal Democrats, also disclose the scale of fare increases in this country. Six years ago rail passengers could travel 55 miles for £10.

The figures were compiled by comparing European fares published in this year's Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:17:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely you are not suggesting that privatisation could in any way fail to reduce prices out of sight?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 02:00:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it does keep the little people rather close to home, doesn't it?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Privatisation was never inteneded to have any (downward) impact on fares, it was intended to provide another conduit for public money to slide into a few private pockets with least resistance.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 11:48:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brussels to unveil EU green strategy amid strong criticism - EUobserver.com
The European Commission is set to table on Wednesday (23 January) a highly controversial set of legislative proposals designed to fight global warming and the EU's dependence on imported energy.

The package has already attracted a lot of attention and criticism, as it will extensively shape future energy and industrial policies in all 27 EU member states.

As part of the proposals, each country will face a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions and a mandatory target for the share of renewable energy in its total energy consumption.

In addition, the commission will overhaul the emissions trading scheme - a cap and trade system designed to curb pollution from industry - as well as the bloc's current state aid rules for funding green projects.
by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:18:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy promises French fleets he will loosen EU fishing curbs - Independent Online Edition > Europe

President Nicolas Sarkozy has blown up a storm in the troubled waters of European fishing policy by promising to push for the abolition - or weakening - of national catch limits, or quotas.

In comments to French trawlermen in Boulogne-sur-Mer, M. Sarkozy said it was time to "get out of" the quota system which has ruled EU fisheries policy since it was created 25 years ago. He suggested that France would grab the "opportunity" to change the system when it takes over the presidency of the European Union in the second half of this year.

M.Sarkozy's comments - dismissed by opposition politicians and some French newspapers as "demagoguery" - were heavily modified yesterday by his Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Michel Barnier. He said that France did not want to scrap national catch quotas but to "improve" them by fixing the limits for several years, instead of 12 months.

EU officials and British fishermen's leaders complained yesterday that M. Sarkozy's comments were "crowd-pleasing" rather than helpful. They said that EU quotas, although often criticised, were essential for the management of threatened fish stocks and to organise a fair division of catches between national fishing fleets.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:19:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy never stops blundering like this. He is:

  1. ignorant;
  2. beset with an inferiority complex that makes him say anything he thinks will please.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 01:48:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But as spectator sport, it's better than "Dangerous Housewives" or whatever that show is.  (This comment ignores the significant follow-on effects of the disaster that is Sarko.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 03:46:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarko is the last example of France having to follow US tendencies (albeit protesting a lot against americanisation/globalisation - these words are insults in french - while doing so).

On a lighter note, this reminds me the endless critics against "big brother" a few years ago. A typical US product of media shit, according to (french) critics at the time. The famous last stand resisted for less than one year before the program was on french TV.

Sometimes, it is infuriating, but more often it's just ridiculous.^_^

by Xavier in Paris on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:07:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Desperate Housewives, sadly.  Dangerous Housewives might be interesting.  Just think of the possibilities . . . four suburban housewives start a jihadist terror cell, or go on a cross-country bank robbing spree to pay off their ARMs, or start an armed revolutionary movement to tear down the oppressive class system that restricts their ability to buy overpriced junk.
by Zwackus on Wed Jan 23rd, 2008 at 01:58:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin to revive Soviet muscle-flexing parade | Russia | Guardian Unlimited
It was one of the highlights of the Soviet calendar - a chance for the communist superpower to show off its military might and for ordinary citizens to check that their gerontocratic leaders were still alive, perched on top of Lenin's tomb.

But 17 years after the last hammer and sickle tanks trundled through Red Square, the Kremlin is to revive on May 9 the Soviet-era practice of parading its big weaponry, the Russian defence ministry confirmed yesterday. As well as 6,000 marching soldiers, it will show off its latest tanks and rockets - such as the new intercontinental ballistic missile, Topol-M.

"Under the plan adopted by the president, land and air military equipment will be involved in the parade on Red Square," General Yuri Solovyov said. The parade will include the new S-300 missile defence system that Russia has just sold to Iran.

The decision to revive this symbol of the cold war is likely to provoke criticism from opposition parties, which accuse Vladimir Putin of turning Russia into a pastiche of the Soviet Union. The parade might also raise a few quizzical eyebrows inside the British embassy in Moscow. Last week, Russia closed the British Council's two regional offices in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg using what UK officials described as "classic KGB tactics".

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:20:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm, big parade seems like he's compensating for something lacking somewhere...... :-))) Those missiles are pretty phallic looking aren't they ? Harking back to those gay porno pics of Putin chopping wood, working out (the sweat, the sweat).

Ya don't think he's trying to admit to say something do you ? he hee heee {evil chuckle}

...sorry poemless...couldn't resist

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:12:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We Americanskis should have one of these every July 4th.

Think of the crap WE could roll out.

"We're number one, we're number one!"

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 02:13:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland to consult with Russia on U.S. missile shield - International Herald Tribune

MOSCOW: The Polish foreign minister pledged Monday that Warsaw would consult with Moscow about the missile defense facility that the United States wants to install in Poland.

Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, visiting Moscow, also signaled that Warsaw could soon unblock partnership talks between Russia and European Union.

The new Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, has said he will resume talks with the United States on accepting a missile defense base in Poland but only after consulting with NATO and other neighboring countries - indicating a greater hesitancy over the plan than had the previous government, which firmly supported the U.S. move.

Sikorski, who held talks with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said that missile defense consultations did not signal any concessions to Russia.

"The United States is our ally, and this decision is to be made by the United States and Poland," he said.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:20:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland to consider lifting veto on Russia-EU partnership talks - International Herald Tribune

MOSCOW: Poland's foreign minister signaled Monday that Warsaw could soon unblock Russia-EU partnership talks, and pledged to consult with Moscow about the missile defense system elements the U.S. wants to install in Poland.

Radek Sikorski, visiting Moscow, said the removal of Russia's ban on Polish meat last month has paved the way for Poland to consider lifting its veto on talks between Russia and the European Union.

"I'm very glad that the trade embargo is gone," Sikorski told reporters after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. "I think it would allow us to resume talks on providing a mandate for the continuation of Russia-EU contacts."

He later said Russia-EU talks on a new cooperation agreement would likely begin within six months, the Interfax news agency reported.

"I would be very surprised if negotiations on a basic agreement between the EU and Russia do not begin in the first half of the year," Interfax quoted Sikorski as saying.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:25:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this is a very positive move. Poland has gone from being a genuine impediment to progress in the EU to being a positive influence. Wish I could say the same for UK.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 11:50:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So much for all of those Pollack jokes my older brother used to tell.

How many Pollacks does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Any takers?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 01:57:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Prodi to speak on cabinet crisis
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi is set to address parliament after the departure of an ally threatened to topple his fragile ruling coalition.

Speaker Fausto Bertinotti said the centre-left PM had asked to address the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, on the "general political situation".

There had been speculation he would resign on Monday after a former ally ruled out rejoining the government.

Clemente Mastella, the former justice minister, called for an early election.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:21:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For details of the developing crisis see yesterday evening's open thread.

I will try to keep you abreast of the news here when possible. For background information on Mastella's case, I brought it up in my recent diary on papal shenanigans.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 01:44:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Prodi's discourse in parliament will begun around 11:30 this morning. He will then ask for a confidence vote. He remarked that he wants to look into the eyes of those who vote against him. The procedure of confidence vote implicates that each member of the parliament must walk up to the government bench and voice their vote.

A fitting ritual. With the Pope's god on his side, Mastella may muster the courage to trash a government over his wife's arrest.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:35:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Stranded migrants saved in Alps
Six Ukrainian asylum seekers - some without shoes - have been rescued after getting lost in the snowy Swiss Alps.

The mother and her five children ran into difficulties while trying to cross illegally from Italy into Switzerland.

They were saved late on Sunday after a local radio enthusiast picked up their walkie-talkie distress signals.

"Some of the children were just wearing socks," Ticino regional police spokesman Marco Bordoli told the BBC.

Frostbite

The mother and her children, aged nine to 21, got stranded near Monte Lema - a 1,600m (5,250ft) mountain in the canton of Ticino, Mr Bordoli said.

They were saved because the mother was carrying a children's walkie-talkie - a device capable of sending radio signals, he said.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:21:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PM sets out vision for life after Bush - Independent Online Edition > World Politics

Gordon Brown is preparing the world for "life after Bush" by seeking an outline agreement this year on major reforms to international bodies and eventual moves to dismantle nuclear weapons.

Although aides insist the Prime Minister has a good working relationship with George Bush, the outgoing President is seen as an obstacle to reform.

Mr Brown discussed his plans with Chinese and Indian leaders during a four-day visit to their countries which ended last night. He will raise them privately at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week and with his French, German and Italian counterparts at joint talks in London next week.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:23:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Life after Bush will consist of Brown racing Sarko across the Altantic to plant a great big kiss on the butt of the new Pres.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:13:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's this "after Bush" crap.  Jeb Bush is just waiting in the wings.

ONWARD, the Bush dynasty!  Take that Europe!  WE have royalty now too.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 02:16:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Musharraf begins European visit in Brussels - International Herald Tribune

BRUSSELS, Belgium: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, responding to what he called the West's "obsession" with democracy, pleaded Monday to be allowed time to achieve higher standards of human rights and civil liberties.

Addressing another international concern, Musharraf, told an audience in Brussels that despite the turmoil in his country, Pakistan's nuclear weapons were secure under his rule and would not fall into the hands of the terrorists and extremists that plague the country.

"While we believe in democracy and human rights and civil liberties please allow us time to reach what you have reached. And you have taken centuries to reach it," Musharraf said during an appearance before journalists and analysts at the start of an eight-day European tour.

The Pakistani president, who met with senior European Union and NATO officials, also pledged that Feb. 18 elections will be "fair, transparent and peaceful."

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said after meeting the former military leader that the conduct of those elections would determine the EU's relations and engagement with the country.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:24:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And while he's at it he can shop around for a new home...

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:08:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Prosecutor says former Kosovo prime minister is guilty of war crimes - International Herald Tribune

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: A prosecutor at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said Monday he had "overwhelmingly proved" that Kosovo's former prime minister and two other former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters were guilty of murder, torture, rape and persecution of Serb civilians and called for them to be imprisoned for 25 years.

A defense lawyer countered that there was no evidence of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj being involved in any of the crimes.

Presenting his closing arguments at the trial of Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, prosecutor David Re said at least 40 civilians -- mostly Serbs -- were murdered in 1998 in a region of Kosovo controlled by Haradinaj.

The killings, "could not have happened without Haradinaj's knowledge or his complicity," Re said.

Prosecutors "overwhelmingly proved the guilt of the three accused ... of the crimes charged," he said.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:27:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU data regulator says Internet addresses are personal information - International Herald Tribune

BRUSSELS, Belgium: IP addresses, a string of numbers that identifies a computer, should generally be regarded as personal information, the head of the European Union's group of data privacy regulators said Monday.

Germany's data protection commissioner Peter Scharr leads the EU group preparing a report on how well the privacy policies of Internet search engines operated by Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others comply with EU privacy law.

He told a European Parliament hearing on online data protection that when someone was identified by an IP, or Internet protocol, address "then it has to be regarded as personal data."

His view differs from that of Google, which insists an IP address merely identifies the location of a computer, not who the individual user is -- something strictly true but which does not recognize that many people regularly use the same computer terminal and IP address.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:28:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Universities join battle against terror as guidelines are agreed - Times Online

University leaders have agreed to inform the police of any extremist behaviour by students or visiting speakers that they suspect may lead to terrorism.

A new "tool kit" for universities issued today by Bill Rammell, the Universities Minister, advises universities to draw up a national watch list of guest speakers who should be banned from speaking on campus. It also suggests that universities consider setting up multi-faith chaplaincies instead of separate prayer rooms for different faiths, to promote integration and prevent pockets of extremists forming.

Where they are allowed, Muslim chaplains should be trained to support vulnerable students who are being groomed, bullied or harassed by violent extremists so that these concerns can be passed to the police.

Mr Rammell was adamant, however, that Muslim students - particularly those coming from overseas - did not have the right to demand special treatment from British universities. "Britain technically is a Christian country with many secular features. It's those two things. It's not anything else. If you expect that you would have the same response to your faith needs in Britain as would happen within a Muslim or Islamic country, [you] would be disappointed," he said.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:08:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess that's the new definition of academic freedom - that is, in this day and age, freedom is largely academic.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 05:09:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Typical, he says that "Britain technically is a Christian country with many secular features". It's not. It's a secular post-enlighenment country with considerable tolerance for faith communities.

that may seem like mere wordplay bordering on sophistry, but it isn't. Christians may be the majority faith community and may have played a lrge part in the development of present-day culture, but they don't ge to make the rules any more. Nor does any other religion.

And whenever they try to push their luck with anti-abortion or blasphemy, they'll get a slap from the real majority who don't want god-botherers getting in their face.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:00:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German Minister Criticizes French Nuclear Stance | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 21.01.2008
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has taken a sideswipe at France for exporting nuclear technology. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has placed the French nuclear industry at the heart of his foreign policy.

Gabriel said in an interview with the German newspaper Nordwest Zeitung that he was uncomfortable with plans to construct atomic plants in countries "that are hardly reputed to be repositories of stable democracy."

 

"Anyone who praises nuclear energy as a panacea to energy policy issues should not be surprised if there is a growing danger of the proliferation of atomic weapons," Gabriel told the paper on Monday, Jan. 21.

 

The minister, a member of the Social Democratic Party, said the example of Iran showed that it was not such a big step from civilian use of nuclear energy to the development of atomic bombs.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:11:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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