Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Should voting be compulsory in European Parliament election?

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As people across the European Union vote in a European
Parliament election
, is it perhaps time to consider making voting in each country compulsory by law?

The build-up to the election has been dominated by talk of voter apathy and how low the turnout will be at the polls. This has drowned out discussion of policies and how to bring about changes in government.

As an Irishman living in Belgium,  I must vote in the elections or face a hefty
fine. My first response to this five years ago was: How dare they
tell me what to do ? But on further reflection, it may make sense.

It is annoying to listen to people who haven’t voted for
years trying to put the world to rights by complaining about
their government or engaging in a bit of “Euro bashing”.
The only way they can make a difference is to vote.

European Parliament campaign gets tough

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By Caroline Linton

The gloves are off in the run-up to this week’s European Parliament election

The Party of European Socialists (PES) has published a list of 11 rival candidates it describes as terrible and invites readers to complete the list by adding a 12th candidate of his or her choice. The PES’ centre-right rivals, the European People’s Party (EPP), has hit back by calling it ”cheap populism”.

Turkey, the EU and a love-hate relationship

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    French President Nicolas Sarkozy opens a jack-in-the-box  decorated with the EU flag, a boxing glove springs out and  knocks out the teeth of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan .

     “No more empty promises to Turkey,” a snickering Sarkozy  says.  The cartoon in daily Milliyet darkly panders to what most  Turks feel these days are the European Union’s true intentions  towards Turkey’s EU quest — no matter how many obstacles thrown  at its wheels Turkey surmounts on the long and winding road to  Brussels, it will ultimately be denied entry at the gates of the  promised land .

Fanfare but little substance at orchestrated EU-China summit

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By Tamora Vidaillet and Darren Ennis

Reporters at a long-awaited summit between the European Union and China in Prague Castle learnt more about the art of stage managing set-piece events than about the state of the EU-China relationship.

The Czech Republic, which holds the EU presidency until the end of next month, pulled out all the stops to ensure security was tight for Wednesday’s fleeting visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and a handful of ministers, who were kept away from journalists by barriers.

Ushered into a stuffy holding room hours before the meeting, journalists were kept from stepping outside even for a smoke for fear of escaping into the sprawling compound of the castle.

Back-slapping at the European Parliament – but also concerns

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Members of the European Parliament engaged in some mutual back-slapping at their final session this week before an election next month.

“Nowadays very few decisions are taken in the European Union without the express consent and participation of the European Parliament,” said the parliament’s president, Hans-Gert Poettering

ASEAN seeks to create one big village

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ASEAN/ A pink dragon-like alien from outerspace (who for some odd reason is called “Blue”) is driving through space one day when he gets into a traffic accident with some space debris and falls to earth. The creature lands in Southeast Asia (where bizarre traffic accidents are commonplace) in a place called “ASEAN Village”. It is here, waiting for his spaceship to be fixed, where Blue learns about ASEAN and its acheivements over the past 40 years, and its aspiration to become one big happy ASEAN Community.

Environmental activists dressed in orangutan suits at the ASEAN summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, Feb. 28, 2009. REUTERS PHOTO/Adrees Latif

Everybody’s doing it

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Few politicians so far are calling for protectionism.

Among economic and diplomatic policy-makers, openly advocating protectionism is about as socially acceptable as promoting child pornography.

So how to explain the slew of tariff hikes, export subsidies, non-tariff barriers, stimulus packages and bailouts — highlighted in a report at the World Trade Organisation – which all have the effect of slowing imports, boosting exports and generally promoting jobs at home at the expense of competitors?

from Africa News blog:

Can world now stop Somali pirates?

With the naval might of the United States, Europe, China and others now lined up against Somalia's pirate fraternity, shippers are hoping the nightmare year of 2008 will not be repeated.
 
Somali pirates -- mainly gangs of poor young men seeking a quick fortune under the direction of older "financiers" and boat leaders --  reaped tens of millions of dollars in ransoms last year in a record haul of 42 hijacks, 111 attacks, and 815 crew taken hostage. 
 
That pushed insurance prices up, persuaded some ship-owners to go round South Africa instead of through the Suez Canal, and prompted the unprecedented rush of navies from 14 different nations to the region. Even China is in on the act, deploying its navy for the first time beyond its own waters. And Japan is considering following suit despite its post-World War II pacifist constitution.
 
There have been some early successes from all the deployments - half a dozen pirates arrested and a series of attacks blocked, by helicopter and boat. Bad weather, too, has given the pirates some real problems, drowning five of them when their pockets were stuffed with dollars after taking their share of the ransom from the release of a Saudi super-tanker.
 
Yet the pirates have still managed two new hijacks and 11 attacks in the first half of January. They are hanging on to 11 ships with 207 hostages - most notably a Ukrainian ship with tanks on board
 
And with such a vast area of operations -- plus fancy new speedboats that have taken them as far as Kenya and Madagascar, and GPS equipment to keep away from the warships -- the pirates are confident of keeping their business going. So who will win this modern-day battle of the seas? Will the shipping industry lose as much to the pirates this year as they did last? Should they keep paying huge ransoms like the $3 million paid for the Saudi boat?

Maybe, some argue, it will never really be possible to eradicate such a lucrative business which, in one of the world's most failed states, offers an opportunity for poor and hungry men to become millionaires after a few successful raids. As one pirate told us, they will carry on until there is government again in Somalia.

Three little words that kept Europe in the cold

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The difference between Europe having Russian gas as normal and not having it came down, in the end, to three words. They were hand-written next to what looks like the signature of Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Hryhory Nemyrya and they were: “With declaration attached”.

That was enough to undercut a deal hammered out by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country holds the rotating EU Presidency, to deploy monitors along the gas pipeline route — Russia’s condition for turning the taps back on.

“Deja vu all over again” in struggling Hungary?

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Hungary has negotiated a $25 billion economic rescue package with the IMF, the EU and the World Bank. What else is new? As that non-Hungarian philosopher of gamesmanship Yogi Berra put it, it’s ”like déjà vu all over again”.  

 

Consider the words of historian Paul Lendvai who wrote: ”Its economy in tatters, Hungary accepts a loan of 250 million gold crowns.” “Fiscal stability was restored, a currency reform was introduced…and after a modest upswing the value of industrial production stood 12 percent higher…”

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