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by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:40:13 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Europe | Basques set for landmark handover

The Basque region of Spain is set to swear in its first non-nationalist government in three decades.

The Socialist Party (PSE) and the centre-right Popular Party (PP) agreed last week to govern together.

The deal came after Basque nationalists failed to win an absolute majority in an election in March. The PSE's Patxi Lopez will head the new government.

Security in the Basque capital Vitoria is tight, as Eta separatists have threatened the incoming government.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:43:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Socialist to lead first non-nationalist Basque government | France 24
Socialist Patxi Lopez is expected to become the head of a minority government in the Basque Country following last month's elections. It's the first time since a regional parliament was set up in 1980 that a non-nationalist heads the region.

AFP - The regional parliament in Spain's Basque Country will Tuesday elect Socialist Patxi Lopez as the head of the region's first non-nationalist government since the chamber was set up in 1980.
   
While the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) won the most seats in the 75-seat chamber on March 1, the Socialists and the conservative Popular Party and the tiny UPyD party have a combined majority of 39 seats.
   
The PNV has ruled the wealthy northeastern region bordering France, which has been wracked by decades of violence by the armed Basque separatist group ETA, since it got its own regional assembly.
   

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:48:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Greek PM reprieved by bribe vote

The Greek parliament has voted against indicting an MP from the governing party, in a corruption probe that could have triggered early elections.

Aristotle Pavlides, a former minister, was alleged to have solicited bribes in return for granting shipping contracts.

His opponents were five votes short of the 151 needed in Greece's 300-seat parliament to indict him. Not all his party colleagues supported him.

Mr Pavlides denies any wrongdoing and has refused to resign his seat.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:43:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU wants 'Internet G12' to govern cyberspace

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission wants the US to dissolve all government links with the body that 'governs' the internet, replacing it with an international forum for discussing internet governance and online security.

The rules and decisions on key internet governance issues, such as the creation of top level domains (such as .com and .eu) and managing the internet address system that ensures computers can connect to each other, are currently made by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private, not-for profit corporation based in California which operates under an agreement with the US Department of Commerce.

Commissioner Reding wants internet governance fully privatised but overseen by an international forum

The decisions made by ICANN affect the way the internet works all around the world.

EU information society commissioner Viviane Reding on Monday (4 May) suggested a new model for overseeing the internet from October this year, when the Commerce Department agreement runs out.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:50:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, I'm governed (and badly) enough at the moment. I'm not wild about a major means (my only means for some years now) of communication subject to anyone's political and/or budgetary controls. So, "no thank you."

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 05:17:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Before I would be willing to accept ANY change I would want to see a discussion as to if and how it would improve anything.  What I would like to see is a public trustee administering the internet and paying for that service out of revenues derived from the internet.  We really need an amendment to the Constitution in the USA to guarantee the right of citizens to the communications medium of the internet subject only to the constraints of technical realities.  We especially need protection for the rights of free communication and freedom from censorship, but also laws that prevent the use by governmental agencies of any information concerning individuals and groups obtained from monitoring internet use that is not the result of a court order.

Furtherance of these goals are the only real reason to support any change in internet governance.  Given the directions taken by so many governments towards control of the internet, I think it is imperative that any change be opposed until and unless these concerns are fully addressed.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 07:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A tangled web by any other name...

So, salient data point one is that the Commerce Department of the United States, a trusted friend in all things both specifically and generally, has a contract with a non-profit named ICANN which expires soon.

Just like the issue of the GPS system, I imagine that some feel that the control of the internet by the US is akin to watching a potential runaway nightmare unfold. Every nuance that might otherwise be innocent turns into a molehill which might be well founded. I do not insinuate by this that the US has claimed the same rights for shutting down the internet should war break out as it has of its GPS system (notwithstanding its DARPA roots.)

So, Europe wants some control. This is logical. They want less US control. Sounds logical too.

Perhaps though, you are insinuating that letting the contract expire, without assigning it to anyone, to test the theories of Anarchy...let's go for it. I will get out my old Proudhom and Bakunin and we can have a real go at this.

Finally, this excerpt from that wiki place
ICANN

On May 17, 2004, ICANN published a proposed budget for the year 2004-05. It included proposals to increase the openness and professionalism of its operations, and greatly increased its proposed spending from US $8.27m to $15.83m. The increase was to be funded by the introduction of new top-level domains, charges to domain registries, and a fee for some domain name registrations, renewals and transfers (initially USD 0.20 for all domains within a country-code top-level domain, and USD 0.25 for all others). The Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR), which represents the Internet registries of 39 countries, rejected the increase, accusing ICANN of a lack of financial prudence and criticising what it describes as ICANN's "unrealistic political and operational targets". Despite the criticism, the registry agreement for the top-level domains .jobs and .travel includes a US $2 fee on every domain the licensed companies sell or renew.[5]

Along with the successful negotiations of the .travel and .jobs namespace, .mobi, and .cat are some of the new top-level domains introduced by ICANN. The introduction of the .eu Top Level Domain to the root in violation of RFC 1591[nb 1], and the introduction of .asia are developments to watch.

After an extensive build-up that saw speculation that the United Nations might signal a takeover of ICANN[6], followed by a negative reaction from the US government[7] and worries about a division of the internet[8] the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia in November 2005 agreed not to get involved in the day-to-day and technical operations of ICANN. However it also agreed to set up an international Internet Governance Forum, with a consultative role on the future governance of the Internet. ICANN's Government Advisory Committee is currently set up to provide advice to ICANN regarding public policy issues and has participation by many of the world's governments.



Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 07:23:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have had a fond spot for Bakunin since I read the E. H. Carr biography ~ 1962, my second year in college.  I would probably get a lot more out of it today.  :-)

I agree that what to do next with ICANN is problematic.  I am generally not a fan of privatization nor of US hegemony, especially given how it has been exercised.  The only thing that has been a positive to date is that the tech community and interested companies in the USA have succeeded in fending off most heavy handed attempts at government intervention.  Posts about proposed regulation in Europe combined with what we have seen from China, Vietnam etc. and what we know about mid-east countries such as Saudi Arabia, Syria etc. do not leave me all warm and fuzzy about the prospects for international control either.  Any suggestions?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 10:41:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I knew what I was talking about, I would first look for what would be the ideal situation, what we would imagine would be best given a perfect planet and perfect wonderful open and responsive governments around the globe (and beyond if those little critters weren't so dang'd obnoxious all the time.)

But I don't know the details of this. Probably the net is pretty immune to one group grabbing it, since there are so many interconnected repeaters built into the systems already.

I suspect that the only thing at this point is to keep ICANN but keep it on its toes. Make it absolutely open and much more responsive. I can only imagine that the US protection and influence is making them more clever then they need to be.

But, I am not an expert.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 01:30:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Troop mutiny now 'under control', Saakashvili says | France 24
Troops staged a mutiny on the eve of NATO military exercises, prompting the government to accuse Russia of backing a coup attempt. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says the situation is now "under control".

AFP - Georgian troops mutinied Tuesday on the eve of NATO exercises in the ex-Soviet republic, prompting the government to accuse Russia of backing an attempted coup, including a plan to kill the president.
   
President Mikheil Saakashvili said the situation was "under control" after an attempt at a "large-scale mutiny" and the defence ministry said it was in talks with the rebellious troops.
   
Defence Minister David Sikharulidze said troops of a tank battalion at the Mukhrovani base had launched a "rebellion," just as Georgia is due to host NATO exercises starting this week.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Georgia 'foils Russia-backed coup' on eve of Nato exercises - Times Online

Georgia claimed today to have foiled a Russian-backed plot to stage a military coup on the eve of joint exercises with Nato troops.

An Interior Ministry spokesman announced that the special services had uncovered a plot to topple the Government involving a former high-ranking officer at the Defence Ministry.

A tank battalion had mutinied at a base in Mukhrovani, 20 miles east of Tbilisi, and was refusing to obey orders, the Defence Ministry said.

The dramatic development comes a day before Georgia hosts three weeks of military exercises with Nato that Russia has condemned as provocative so soon after the war over the breakaway region of South Ossetia in August last year

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:00:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we sure this story is not entirely made up by Saakashvili? Are there third-party reports that a "mutiny" actually occurred?

Where's the evidence?

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 04:30:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The same commander of tank battalion, at the same base, started a "mutiny" back in 2001. That mutiny was "put down" by the then-President Eduard Shevardnadze, who came to the base with several bodyguards only.

VERY bad theater. Repeated again. Couldn't they invent something more original - like that SAM "found" near the flight path of the presidential helicopter, and conveniently destroyed before any outside eyes could see it?

by Sargon on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 04:51:58 AM EST
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It's so damned unimaginative: A sustained opposition to criminalize as Russian-inspired in cahoots with a Russian-inspired battalion- all this while NATO manouvers are in the making. Where's the press on this?
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 05:01:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't seem everyone is buying the story: from Inopressa.ru, comes:

The Times, Georgia's alleged coup indicates that the army is turning on itself

One fact stands out amid the claim and counter-claim over yesterday's alleged coup attempt in Georgia. An army is turning on itself in full view of Nato and Russian troops.
...
Allegations that Moscow is behind a plot to bring down President Saakashvili remain unproven.
...
Yesterday's events have shown that Georgia remains much more fragile than Mr Saakashvili and his team would like to admit. Political divisions are normal in a democracy, but splits within the military are a recipe for disaster in a country with Georgia's recent history.

The Independent, Russia accused after Georgia puts down "attempted coup"
The Georgian government said it had put down a mutiny yesterday, in what it claimed was part of a coup plot backed by Russia on the eve of Nato exercises in the former Soviet republic. Moscow denied any involvement and Georgian opposition leaders called the day's events a hoax designed to distract attention from domestic discontent with the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili.
...
Reaction from the US was muted, with a Pentagon spokesman calling the mutiny an "isolated incident".

The Georgian government has a history of making dramatic claims which it then backs away from. A spokesman for the interior ministry later confirmed to The Independent there was "no direct evidence" of Russian involvement.


Inopressa further reports that this piece mentions it's still unclear if the putsch was real or staged, and here it's said that there's nothing new in anti-Russian rhetoric of Saakashvili, but he has discredited himself doing so. My German and French are insufficient to provide direct translations, though.

Overall, "donor fatigue" is clearly settling in. The only interesting question is whether he'll go in "Rose Revolution" style, or will meet his maker in murky circumstances.

by Sargon on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 06:05:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds interesting. Well, even plausible if the same charade happened in 2001. But what does Saakashvili hope to accomplish by this?

One would think that whatever slim hope Georgia had for NATO membership would now be completely lost. A prospective NATO member that attacks Russia AND is on the verge of a civil war. Not exactly the worlds most brilliant publicity campaign.

On the other hand "failing upwards" was the credo of the Bush regime, so I guess he might just be following the script his mentors gave him.

by Trond Ove on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 06:12:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUROPE: The Right Rises
BRATISLAVA, May 5 (IPS) - Human rights activists have warned of a "proliferation" of far-right groups in central and eastern Europe amid an economic crisis fuelling support for extremist movements and political parties.

They say more and more far-right groups are becoming "paramilitary", carrying out violent attacks on Roma and other ethnic or religious minorities, while extreme right-wing political parties see a surge in voter support.

"There has been a rise in right-wing extremism in eastern Europe, especially in Hungary and the Czech Republic where paramilitary-style groups have been formed," Georgina Siklossy, spokeswoman for the European Network Against Racism told IPS.

"There is a distinct danger that, in times of economic crisis as at present, right-wing extremism and right-wing groups will proliferate."
by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's-In-A-Name?: German Naming Laws Remain Byzantine - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The constitutional court in Germany on Tuesday ruled to uphold a ban on hyphenated last names of three names or longer. Given the frequency of names such as Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, many had expected a different result.

Everyone knows Schroeder, Charlie Brown's buddy in the "Peanuts" comics who pounds out Beethoven tunes on his miniature piano all day. Germans too are Schroeder fans, with Snoopy and friends having been around in the German language for half a century.

European Parliament campaign signs are plastered across Germany these days. Many of the candidates -- such as Silvana Koch-Mehrin, whose poster is seen on the far right -- have a lot of names. Schroeder, though, as it turns out, could never have been named Schroeder had he been born in Germany. The moniker is not allowed as a first name under the country's somewhat restrictive naming directives. Indeed, children must be given names that clearly denote gender and they cannot be given family names as first names. Out-of-the-ordinary designations are likewise verboten. Moon Unit Zappa could not have been German.

The law in Germany, though, isn't just concerned with first names. On Tuesday, the country's highest court upheld a ban on hyphenated last names longer than two names. Which means that Germany's Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul is on safe ground. But were she at some point in her life to tie the knot with SPD politician Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, she could not change her name to Heidemarie Schäfer-Zeul-Wieczorek-Gümbel, or any other combination thereof.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:57:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | UK | UK 'least wanted' list published

The names of some of the people barred from entering the UK for fostering extremism or hatred have been published for the first time.

Islamic extremists, white supremacists and a US radio host are among the 16 of 22 excluded in the five months to March to have been named by the Home Office.

Since 2005, the UK has been able to ban people who promote hatred, terrorist violence or serious criminal activity.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said coming to the UK should be a privilege.

Ms Smith said "the public interest was against naming" the remaining six, for example on the grounds it could reveal the type of information being held about them.

The Muslim Council of Britain says the government should not act against people - whatever their views - unless they have broken the law.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:58:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU politics to be YouTubed

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - With an eye on the grassroots political campaign of Barack Obama, the communications-savvy US president, YouTube has teamed up with a European broadcaster to try and bring a similar 'Yes we can' buzz to EU politics one month ahead of the European elections.

The video sharing website on Tuesday (5 May) announced it is going to collaborate with Euronews to provide an online forum for MEPs and experts to talk about the issues on voters' minds.

The European Commission has a YouTube channel already

Later this week onwards, EU citizens from across the 27 member states can put a question to those running for office via a new YouTube channel called Questions for Europe

"People want to be on a level playing field with politicians," said YouTube political communications director Aaron Ferstman, noting that politics and the internet provide the "perfect marriage."

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Croatia to agree to international mediation for border dispute | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 05.05.2009
Croatia has taken another step towards EU membership by accepting a proposed arbitration body to settle a longstanding border row with Slovenia. 

Croatian President Stipe Mesic announced that his country would allow an international arbitration panel to determine its land and sea border with Slovenia, a proposal put forward by European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

"We have harmonized our views...we are accepting the new proposal," Mesic said, after meeting with Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, cabinet ministers and the heads of the main political parties.

Croatia and Slovenia have disagreed on the border at the coastal town of Piran and access to the Adriatic Sea since the two countries declared their independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:59:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Revealed: 77 trafficked Chinese children lost by home | Society | The Guardian

Organised criminal gangs have exploited a children's home beside Heathrow airport for the systematic trafficking of Chinese children to work in prostitution and the drugs trade across Britain, a secret immigration document reveals.

The intelligence report from the Border and Immigration Agency, obtained by the Guardian, shows how a 59-bed local authority block has been used as a clearing house for a trade in children that stretches across four continents.

At least 77 Chinese children have gone missing since March 2006 from the home, operated by the London borough of Hillingdon.

Only four have been found. Two girls returned after a year of exploitation in brothels in the Midlands. One was pregnant while the other had been surgically fitted with a contraceptive device in her arm. Others are coerced with physical threats to work as street-sellers of counterfeit goods. It is thought that many work in cannabis farms.

The report, marked "restricted", reveals that victims of a trafficking network that has agents based as far apart as China, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia and Kenya arrive at the home just outside the airport perimeter, only to disappear almost immediately.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 03:17:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Czech senate just passed the Lisbon treaty with 54 (out of 79 present). So now only Klaus needs to sign it...
by jv (euro@junkie.cz) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 10:20:16 AM EST
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