What a picture.
When the weather turned violent and stormy on Tuesday evening, Lori Mehmen, who lives in the small farming town of Orchard in northeastern Iowa, looked out her front door and saw a funnel cloud bearing down — and evidently had the presence of mind to grab her digital camera and capture this shot before taking cover.
The immediate question for Europe’s leaders after the Irish referendum rejected the European Union’s new “constitutional” treaty by 54 percent to 46 percent is how they will contrive to frustrate the will of the people yet again.
The grandees of Europe do not give up easily, even though their voters have a troublesome habit of saying “No” on those rare occasions when the question of Europe is put. The Danes, the Swedes, the French, the Dutch and the Irish (twice) have rejected the grand European project.
But Europe’s leaders appear determined to press ahead with the Lisbon Treaty the Irish have rejected. France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a joint statement: “The ratification procedure is already complete in 18 countries. We hope therefore that the other member states will persevere with the ratification process.”
The president of the EU Commission, Jose Barroso, declared: “The treaty is not dead. The treaty is alive, and we will try to work to find a solution.”
Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Franco Frattini said: “This is a serious blow to European construction,” but “the path of European integration must not however be stopped.”
So how will they fudge it? The first plan was simple: get the Irish to vote again until they give the right answer. That was what was done the last time the Irish said “No.” Some solemn new EU document that asserted Ireland’s right to set its own taxes and to maintain its official neutrality would meet some of the Irish complaints.
But Plan A foundered on the Irish government’s instincts for survival. Prime Minister Brian Cowen is against a second referendum, fearing punishment by frustrated voters.
So Plan B is to isolate the Irish. The ratification process will continue so that 26 of the EU’s 27 member states will be committed. Then they will cobble the key bits of the Lisbon Treaty onto the new accession Treaty that makes Croatia into a full member late next year or in 2010, and get the Irish (without a referendum) to ratify that. Hey, presto, it is fixed.
Plan B may well succeed, but at a dangerous cost. Doubtless there were local reasons for all the successive “No” votes in the various countries that held referendums in recent years, but there was a common thread. The European voters are suspicious of their leaders, suspicious of the grand European project, and alarmed the whole EU process seems so remote, so bureaucratic and undemocratic in ignoring or fudging or working around other rejections by referendum.
This issue is acute in Britain, where a referendum on the EU constitution was promised to the voters, but abruptly withdrawn when the constitution morphed into a treaty. On Wednesday Britain’s House of Lords is scheduled to give the ratification bill its third reading, which would effectively pass it into law.
“To simply plow ahead on a straight vote to accept or reject the EU (Amendment) Bill is to demonstrate nothing less than a contempt for the democracy on which the European Union is supposed to be founded,” commented Lord David Owen, a former British foreign secretary.
As one of Ireland’s “No” voters asked an RTE radio interviewer: “What part of ‘No’ don’t they understand?”
The European soccer tournament can’t end soon enough, I think…
PARENTS are outraged at a State Government plan to post the profile of every state school student on its intranet, sparking fears pedophiles could find it.
The intranet database, dubbed OneSchool, will profile each of the state’s 480,000 public school students enrolled from Prep to Year 12.
Photographs, personal details, career aspirations, off-campus activities and student performance records are being collected from all 1251 state schools.
Let *all* of the kids enter “political assassin” as a “career aspiration”, and you can fight terrorism at the same time!
But Education Minister Rod Welford has warned the state-wide rollout of the OneSchool database is “non-negotiable” and students could be refused an education if they don’t divulge required information.
Except, the law says the government MUST provide an education…
couriermail.com.au reader Sari, of Brisbane, suggested personal information of our politicians, their wives and children should be posted first.
“Then we’ll see how safe it is before adding school children.”
Sandra of Brisbane said Mr Welford could not stop her children from attending school if she refused to allow them to be part of the database “because by law the government has to provide my children with an education”.
Maybe they should start reading history a bit:
Of the 140,000 Jews that had lived in the Netherlands prior to 1940, only 30,000 survived the war. This high death toll had a number of reasons. One was the excellent state of Dutch civil records: the Dutch state, prior to the war, had recorded substantial information on every Dutch national. This allowed the Nazi regime to easily determine who was Jewish (whether fully or partly of Jewish ancestry) simply by accessing the data.
Questions from the media prompted Republican John McCain to cancel a fundraiser at the home of a Texas oilman who once joked that women should give in while being raped.
The Texan, Republican Clayton “Claytie” Williams, made the joke during his failed 1990 campaign for governor against Democrat Ann Richards. Williams compared rape to the weather, saying, “As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.” He also compared Richards to the cattle on his ranch, saying he would “head her and hoof her and drag her through the dirt.”
McCain’s campaign said it hadn’t known about Williams’ remarks.
“These were obviously incredibly offensive remarks that the campaign was unaware of at the time it was scheduled,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said. “It’s positive that he did apologize at the time, but the comments are nonetheless offensive.”
Sounds about the right response, but check what would have happened without the press:
The Washington Post said the campaign, when it initially was contacted by the Post and ABC News, questioned why the story was newsworthy; later in the day, the campaign canceled the fundraiser, which had been scheduled for Monday.
So if the press isn’t looking, offensive remarks about women are OK.
During the last couple of years, hundreds of people have received letters from lawyers demanding compensation for the alleged uploading of copyright works. Their demands state that if you don’t pay up, you will be taken to court and dealt with severely. However, when people refuse to pay – nothing happens.
It’s thought that around 40% to 50% of people who received letters have paid up, and maybe that’s enough for the operation to be profitable for Davenport. Taking people to court in the UK for such a small infringement is definitely unprofitable. Maybe this is the greatest indicator as to where these cases are going to end up when the defiant, penniless and innocent refuse to pay.
Newsstands carry a whole magazine devoted to “La révolution OBAMA.” The papers are avidly following Obama’s post-Hillary quest to “cherche les femmes,” and on Friday, Le Figaro led with the headline that he had widened his lead over his “rival républicain.”
There was nothing on Le Figaro’s front page about that other American guy who was over here, munching on langoustes at the Élysée Palace with Sarko and the seductress Carla (animated and dazzling with a midnight blue dress and a hopelessly long, thin cigarette).
“You kind of wrote my political obituary tonight,” W. teased the French president after Sarko’s toast Friday night, adding that he still has six months left and a lot of work to do.
In Old Europe, they’ve moved on, assuming that the American president has done all the damage that he can do. The blazing hostility toward W. has faded to indifference and a sort of fatigued perplexity about how les imbeciles de regime cowboy got into office, and how America could have put the world through all this craziness.
Even as the Supreme Court slapped him back for the third time on the suffocation of civil liberties at Guantánamo, President Bush gave the keynote speech of his European farewell tour extolling the virtues of liberty. He celebrated European unity at the very instant it was falling apart, thanks to an Irish donnybrook.
Paris responded with a yawn. (Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to say.) A Bush organizer asked people sitting in the back of the hall to move to the front, so the empty seats would not be visible on TV. The image of the U.S. abroad has improved slightly, according to a new Pew poll, but only in anticipation of seeing the back of this president.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that the Supreme Court decision to allow enemy combatants to challenge their detention could lead to the nuclear destruction of a U.S. city.
What the fuck? Do the prisoners at Guantanamo have a nuke stuffed up their ass that nobody knows about, that they’ll set off the moment they appear in court?
Also on Saturday, McCain issued a statement about the Midwest flooding, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted by the flooding throughout the Midwest. Cindy and I would like to extend our sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones, and stand ready to help those in the Midwest to recover and rebuild.”
In an opening statement at the news conference, Bush said, “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the terrible tornadoes and flooding, especially those who’ve lost loved ones. We’ve been inspired by the stories of heroism, neighbors helping neighbors and communities coming together. It’s a really tough time for the people in the midwestern part of the United States and they’ll have the prayers of the American people.”
That’s all in line with the Republican Party:
An hour later, state Republican Chairman Stewart Iverson issued a statement rescheduling the GOP convention. “Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow Iowans who are suffering and we encourage all of our delegates to check on their neighbors and help in any way possible,” he said.
Enough with the Talk, Grab a Shovel!
(okay, that’s probably just a photo-op, but it’s clear they know how their target audience thinks…)