General Politics

European leaders show leadership

My confidence in European leaders has been restored.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, yesterday became the first world leader to decide not to attend the Olympics in Beijing.

As pressure built for concerted western protests to China over the crackdown in Tibet, EU leaders prepared to discuss the crisis for the first time today, amid a rift over whether to boycott the Olympics.

The disclosure that Germany is to stay away from the games’ opening ceremonies in August could encourage President Nicolas Sarkozy of France to join in a gesture of defiance and complicate Gordon Brown’s determination to attend the Olympics.

Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, became the first EU head of government to announce a boycott on Thursday and he was promptly joined by President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic, who had previously promised to travel to Beijing.

“The presence of politicians at the inauguration of the Olympics seems inappropriate,” Tusk said. “I do not intend to take part.”

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister, confirmed that Merkel was staying away. He added that neither he nor Wolfgang Schäuble, the interior minister responsible for sport, would attend the opening ceremony.

I support a full-scale boycott of the Chinese games but this is a bloody good start. China’s glass jaw shouldn’t stop world leaders doing what they’re there for: leading.

Estonia completes online election

Estonia has just completed the worlds first online enabled election. About 61 percent of the 895,000 registered voters participated in the election, including 30,000 who cast their votes over the Internet in a landmark online ballot.

There should be a new centre-right government in Estonia, after Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s Reform Party narrowly won national elections with pledges to cut the country’s flat tax.

There is a good article also about the technology used and how verification was sorted. To vote via the internet, voter needed an Estonian ID card with valid certificates and PIN-codes (bottom left) and access to a computer with a smart card reader (bottom right), a driver for the ID card and a Windows or Linux operating system. A powerpoint presentation is online at the Estonian Government Website.

Great to see they made sure Linux was an option.

This is something that should be seriously looked at here, and trialled at Local Body elections, before rolling out to National Elections.

Car Mate, Car Mate

God some people get their knickers in a twist over insignificant things.

Good ad though. (click on the small car

Good Job

Milosevic has died….should ahve happened years ago.

Good job. 

Oh my God, is that a back bone I can see?

In a small French town the local Muslims asked the town to cancel the reading of a play by Votaire and then proceeded to have a protest about it all.

"This play … constitutes an insult to the entire Muslim community," said a letter to the mayor of Saint-Genis-Pouilly, signed by Said Akhrouf, a French-born cafe owner of Moroccan descent and three other Islamic activists representing Muslim associations. They demanded the performance be cancelled.

So what did the mayor do?

Instead, Mayor Hubert Bertrand called in police reinforcements to protect the theater. On the night of the December reading, a small riot broke out involving several dozen people and youths who set fire to a car and garbage cans. It was "the most excitement we’ve ever had down here," says the socialist mayor.

My word a socialist with a spine, and French to boot, who would have figured. 

Hat tip: LGF 

Soft Europe

Is the Continent willing to fight for anything, besides a welfare check?


After two years of disastrous dialogue, and more of the same in recent days, we can conclude that no diplomatic initiative can stop Iran from getting the bomb. The International Atomic Energy Agency meets again this week to discuss the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions, while Russia floats a plan to get Iran to enrich uranium on its soil. But before we got to this point, we had the Europeans in the starring role. The foreign ministers of the leading European Union countries–Britain, France and Germany–did try for years to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions, most recently at Friday’s meeting in Vienna that ended up in yet another failure. But Iran knew all along that this threesome, formally the "Troika," had no real negotiating authority and would never resort to serious measures.

And yet Britain’s Jack Straw, France’s Philippe Douste-Blazy (and his predecessor, Dominique de Villepin) and Germany’s Joschka Fischer (and his successor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier) talked on, clinging to a postmodern European belief in a world where any conflict can be resolved with enough reason and mutual understanding. The Troika offered the mullahs economic carrots and alternative sources of nuclear power–as if energy had anything to do with it–while Iran did what any football team does when it’s ahead: It played for time. This it used very well to push ahead with its clandestine nuclear program.

Did the Troika know that Iran knew that Europe was weak? Of course. Europe’s posturing was empty from the start. The only weapon that the EU was willing to consider, as a last result, was an economic boycott that would harm Europe’s commercial interests more than Iran’s.

The mullahs also knew that the Troika couldn’t back up its threat of an economic boycott with the threat of military action. If the EU couldn’t muster the will to fight in its own backyard in the Balkans without America leading the way, it surely wouldn’t put any lives at risk beyond the frontiers of the Continent.

Read more.