Canadian PM Stephen Harper criticizes the planned coalition which is likely to replace his minority cabinet.
My friends, such an illegitimate government would be a catastrophe, for our democracy, our unity and our economy, especially at a time of global instability.
What Mr. Harper refers to as “an illegitimate government” would in fact be a coalition backed by the majority of the parliament. I am not quite sure about Canada but in the rest of the World it would be called democracy.
The New York Times writes that Florida may screw the election again like they did back in 2000. Unlike many other states, Florida seems to have made the voter registration and voting subject to more restrictive set of rules.
Which reminds me of this utterly funny video clip from 2004. Remember the Florida voting machine?
Tags: Tony Blair, web petitions
I almost never sign a web petition, no matter whether I like the idea behind a particular petition or not. Web petitions do not echo the opinion of the general public, they just reflect who is able to generate more web traffic for (or against) a cause than somebody else. Petitions are seldom written so that I could support every word in them: people can often reach same conclusions for totally different reasons.
Also, I do not believe that the intended recipients of web petitions take them as an expressed opinion of the exact number of persons that appear to have signed a petition. There is seldom any convincing authentication of signatures. Open-ID could be used more often than it is used but would the organizers of petitions really be interested in proving that the signatures in their petition are real?
I am not at all enthusiastic about the perspective of having Tony Blair as the president of EU. He made a long career as the PM of Britain but I think that most of his outstanding achievements happened during his first term. I also think that the best thing he could have done would have been to step down rather a year before than a year after the latest election in Britain.
If somebody wants to boost their web ego by collecting a million signatures to this web petition that is fine with me. Only, they will have to do it without my signature. I find that just stating that I am against Tony Blair as the president of EU makes more sense than signing that petition.
Besides, I do not even regard Blair’s ingagement for the Iraq war as the most important reason for having somebody else as the president.
via Margaret Marks
Tags: benazir bhutto, pakistan
As I see it, Benazir Bhutto was the only hope for Pakistan to reach anything even resembling democracy. Her assassination served the interest of those who would rather have terror and chaos than freedom and democracy.
While I understand the anger of the people, I must put the question if looting, demolishing cars and setting up fires is the best way to express that anger. Is that what Mrs. Bhutto would have wanted? Ultimately, the accelerating violence is in the interest of those who murdered her. There must be more peaceful and sensible methods for the people to speak up their mind.
Tags: burma, cambodia
Borin in Cambodia has received a letter from upstairs. It is a notice from the authorities telling him to be present at the airport and cheer the Burmese dictator who is arriving for a visit. Apparently, 1000 citizens have been “honored” with a similar “invitation”.
Borin is less than enthusiastic to comply:
To me Burmese leaders is not in the position where people should give respect, but they are just a gang of criminals, who will do every thing to hold on to power. Help me: Should I join them or not?
That is a hard question, baring in mind that Borin may very well face persecution for not showing up. While I am in no position to advice, I want Borin to know that he is in my thoughts whatever he may decide to do. And since it is appropriately Friday, I am going to put on a red shirt.
If you happen to be in Cologne on Saturday 24th November 2007 attending a civil right demonstration against increased government control would be a good idea. More info at Freiheit ist Sicherheit.
I just received a news letter from Team of Belarusian Freedom Day Online saying that a demonstration is about to begin in Minsk. Real time on line reporting on the scene at Kolas Square has started for half an hour ago.
The police have closed a nearby subway station and the square itself. Demonstrators are not allowed to the square.
An extract of the news letter:
Lukashenka regime holds on the ability to hide the oppression of the civil society by creating an information vacuum. The website 25 Belarusian Freedom Day Online is created to publish uncensored news about the event this year and thus resist the propaganda of Belarusian state media. You can help bringing democracy in Belarus by spreading the information about the website http://en.belarusy.eu in order to show the international community how Belarusian regime treats peaceful demonstrators and to draw more attention to the problem of democracy in Belarus.
Let us spread the news, folks!
Estonian member of Parliament Silver Meikar was not allowed to enter Belarus early Saturday morning. He was traveling together with a Belarus support group activist to observe the celebration of Belarus Freedom Day on Sunday. The Freedom Day, celebrated by the opposition, coincides with the first anniversary of mass demonstrations after the fraudulent presidential election in Belarus. A tent camp raised by oppositional demonstrators on October Square in Minsk was brutally bulldozed by the KGB a year ago.
Silver Meikar was driving to the Lithuanian Belarus border at 2.30 a.m. local time on Saturday. Although he and his travel companion Jelena were issued valid visas by the Belarus consulate in Tallinn, they were stopped at the border quoting “problems” with their passports. After two hours of waiting, a high ranking officer told Mr. Meikar that he was suspected of having contacts with local politicians and an order not to allow him to Belarus had been received through “diplomatic channels”.
According to a Third Way Newsletter I received on Friday, a freshly opened web site at en.belarusy.eu is going to cover the demonstrations and celebrations on the Freedom Day in practically real time. The coverage is scheduled to start at
8 a.m. Sunday morning local time, that is at 0500 GMT 0800 GMT on Sunday.
According to Estonian daily Postimees, Moldovan an Belarus observers monitoring the election in Estonia yesterday were satisfied that the election was fair and honest although they noted that in some polling stations children seemed to enter the boots with their parents. Aleh Hulak from Belarus was surprised to note that police were nowhere to be seen in the towns he visited. Nobody was even arrested, according to Hulak.
Some countries manage to fulfill a democratic process without input of law enforcing officials.
Independent courts of law are an essential part of a democratic society. The judiciary branch of government is a part of the classical separation of powers. In ideal the courts of law complete and balance the influence of legislative and executive branches.
In order to fulfil its functions as a part of a democratic society, the process of law must be open and transparent. The citizens must have access to legal proceedings. Describing and commenting issues around legal proceedings falls under freedom of speech which is one of the fundamental civil liberties in a democracy.
In this context I found extremely odd that a German court (Landgericht Berlin) issued the following court order against Rolf Schälike:
Einstweilige Verfügung vom Landgericht Berlin (Az.: 27 O 1264/06).
identifizierend über privatrechtliche Auseinandersetzungen zwischen dem Antragsgegner und dem Antragsteller zu berichten und/oder berichten zu lassen, wie auf der Internetseite http://www.buskeismus.de unter der Überschtrift “Fall Helmuth Jipp” geschehen.
Antragsteller war Anwalt Helmuth Jipp, vertreten von Anwalt Dominik Höch von der Kanzlei Schertz.
The court order essentially places a mouth gag on Rolf Schälike to comment a civil dispute between him and lawyer Helmuth Jipp. From what I have learned from my sources, the original argument could be more or less described as peanuts. Mr. Jipp was apparently not happy that Mr. Schälike disclosed in the web that the lawyer has his office at his home.
So what? Publishing something like that should not constitute an infringement on privacy. On the contrary, I would find a detail like that symphatetic. Working in a home office shows an environmental concern and a capability to take advantage of modern office and communication technologies.
While the issue as such is not of a great importance, it is extraodinary that a mouth gag like that is sought and issued in a court of law. It does seriously limit both the transparency of the legal proceedings and ultimately also freedom of speech. It is a serious indication that the balance of powers is out of scale in Germany since the judiciary branch does not seem to be eager to protect freedom of speech.
Tags: e-voting, George W Bush
President George W Bush in Tallinn yesterday, addressing the Estonian prime minister Andrus Ansip:
It’s an amazing country you have here. They’ve got an e-government system that should be the envy of a lot of nations.
Now, that sounds a bit funny, coming expressly from his mouth. I take it that the president is aware that Estonian voters were able to cast their vote through the Internet in the municipal election of 2005 without a single serious complaint against legitimacy of the e-vote. I take it he knows that e-voting is going to be an option in the parliamentary election in March 2007.
So it is sort of funny that the e-government is being praised by a president who was elected back in 2000 under such a controversy regarding the voting system.
The president went on to say:
You’re doing a fine job, Mr. Prime Minister. Proud of you.
I just wonder if Mr. Ansip was proud of George W Bush being proud of him.
Tags: cuba, fidel castro
It looks like the Cuban regime is preparing for a transition of power. They seem to have considered the possibility that dictator Fidel Castro, who celebrated his 80th birthday on Sunday, may not recover sufficiently to take up the day to day business of running the government. On their point of view, it is the logical thing to do since nobody is in a position to know what is going to happen with Fidel.
The communist monarchy is preparing a gradual transition of power to Raul Castro. According to AFP:
Authorities have stressed the handover was only temporary, but they also appear to be preparing Cubans for an eventual transition.
Rolando Alfonso, who heads the Communist Party’s ideological department, wrote in Granma that Cubans were ready to defend the revolution “under the guidance of the party” and “the firm leadership of Raul.”
If replacing the elderly convalescent with his 75 year old albeit healthy brother is the best this regime can produce, they must be aware of that their rule is about to come to an end. That is the wrong kind of transition. Letting the Cuban people decide for themselves would be the decent thing to do.
Then again, excpecting this regime to do that one decent thing would obviously be too much.
The day after tomorrow is the 16th of the month which makes it the international day of solidarity for Belarus. The lights will be turned off in thousands of homes in Belarus and candles lighted and placed at windows. Demonstrations are going to take place in many cities outside Belarus.
I have seen many bloggers (among others Kristjan) call for giving your signature in a web petition to support the release of political prisoners in Belarus. If somebody thinks that signing a petition is a good idea, that is fine. I am not sure it would be the most effective way to show my solidarity.
Those who would read the petition do not know me which is why my name would not have an effect on what they think. Those who are interested in my opinion would be likely to read it in my blogs. The signatures of George W Bush, Angela Märkel or Tony Blair would have a greater effect but they have other means to make their message heard.
So I express my support for those fighting for freedom and democracy in Belarus here in the blog. As from today, this banner is in my sidebar:
Anybody who wants to put up the banner will find it at http://za.nashih.info/files/banners/svobody_88_eng.gif. You should make it link to http://za.nashih.info/eng/. One would obviously not exclude the other but I find displaying the banner more effective than signing the petition.
Tags: cuba, fidel castro
The Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is 80 today. I wish him a happy birthday, a speedy recovery and pleasent retirement days.
Fidel’s birthday would provide a unique opportunity for the communist regime to announce a transition to a normal democratic society. A society with freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and all those other freedoms that are absent in Cuba but taken for granted by most of the people in the World.
I know that my good wishes do not reach the ordinary citizens of Cuba. According to CIA’s World Factbook, there are about 150.000 Internet users in Cuba out of a population of 11 million. The Factbook says:
private citizens are prohibited from buying computers or accessing the Internet without special authorization; foreigners may access the Internet in large hotels but are subject to firewalls; some Cubans buy illegal passwords on the black market or take advantage of public outlets, to access limited email and the government-controlled “intranet”
In terms of access to free and uncensored information, the Cubans are where most East Europeans were for 20 years ago. That did not stop the people in those communist lead countries from dreaming of their freedom and while not all of them are quite there yet, many of those countries are as free as is possible in Europe today.
Cubans are no different. They want their freedom and they deserve it. Not only do they deserve to know who is running their government, they also deserve the right to freely elect that government. A government contested by opposing parties accountable to the people.
The communist rulers can reasonably not look forward to surviving in power for a very long time. The most sensible thing to do would be to recognize this fact and announce a volunteer transition. At the end of the day, that would be the best possible birthday present to Fidel Castro and indeed to the Cuban people.