Posts tagged ‘eu’

March 16, 2010

Israel gambles away its European allies

YOU REALLY HAVE TO wonder if Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thought everything through. Now that his decision to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, which his government actually announced during a peace mission by Vice President Joe Biden, has led to a serious rift with the U.S. government, Israel’s other so-called allies are also feeling emboldened to tell Jerusalem what they really feel about the Jewish state.

A case in point: On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received Lebanese minister president Saad Rafik Hariri in Berlin. At a press conference after the meeting, Merkel spoke of a “serious setback” for the Middle East peace process. “I hope that in the future the signals from Israel will be constructive and no longer so negative, that they prevent the realization of such discussions,” she said. “We believe that there is a time window that is not endlessly large.”…

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February 25, 2010

Euroskeptic wants Europe’s president “put out to grass”

European Council President Herman van Rompuy

LAST NOVEMBER, WHEN I wrote a post on the appointment of Herman van Rompuy as President of the European Council and the de facto first leader of united Europe, I made some ironic comments about the man’s… shall we say, aura. At least I was polite about it. The same cannot be said for right-wing European Parliament Member Nigel Farage of the anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party, who really had a go at President van Rompuy at the man’s first official appearance today in front of the Brussels assembly. Farage started out by saying that when the Parliament set about appointing its first President last fall, he had been under the impression that the new leader was going to be “a giant global figure” and a “political leader for 500 million people” who would well deserve a higher salary than U.S. President Barack Obama. “But I’m afraid all we got was you,” Farage said to the pale, bespectacled Belgian bureaucrat…

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January 15, 2010

The Swiss Right identifies a new scapegoat – Germans

FOR GENERATIONS, SWITZERLAND HAS enjoyed a global reputation as a place of tolerance, neutrality, democracy, and basic decency. But with an important local election approaching, one major party is willing to trash all of that in exchange for votes.

The center-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP), Switzerland’s largest, captured the world’s headlines last November by pushing through a nationwide referendum to ban the construction of minarets. For years it has also supported initiatives designed to slow foreign immigration and deport “criminal foreigners” on a fast track system. In doing so, it has made skillful use of Switzerland’s system of direct democracy through referendums. Now, with the Muslims at bay, it has identified a new scapegoat for the country’s ills: other Europeans, starting with Switzerland’s neighbors to the north, the Germans…

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September 22, 2009

Pirates in Parliament! A new party is boarding Europe

Demonstration protesting the police raid on The Pirate Bay in Stockholm, June 2006

Demonstration protesting the police raid on The Pirate Bay in Stockholm, June 2006

A SPECTER IS HAUNTING Europe – the specter of piracy. First they raided the Spanish Main, then they boarded Hollywood. From there they have moved on to terrorize shipping along the Somali coast, and now they’re staking a claim on European politics. So break out the rum, raise the Jolly Roger, and enjoy the swordplay!

The Pirate Party phenomenon began in Sweden on January 1, 2006, when computer systems designer Rickard Falkvinge launched a website called www.piratpartiet.se. Within six hours, 75,000 people had joined his new movement, which calls for personal freedom, complete freedom of expression, sweeping privacy rights, increased democracy, and a loosening of copyright laws. Falkvinge traced his new party’s name to The Pirate Bay, a Swedish BitTorrent tracker company founded in 2003 that soon crossed sabres with the Swedish authorities due to illegal downloads of music, videos, and other copyrighted material. As the year progressed, EU authorities tightened copyright and intellectual property rules even further. On May 31, 2006 Swedish police raided and briefly shut down The Pirate Bay, provoking a massive public protest in Stockholm on June 3. (Thanks to this publicity, The Pirate Bay today boasts some 25 million users.)

The Pirates collected signatures over the summer and qualified themselves for the upcoming Riksdag election. In September their candidates received 34,918 votes. While this represented only 0.63% of votes cast, it nonetheless established them as Sweden’s largest non-parliamentary party. At the June elections for the European Parliament, the Pirates polled 7.1 % of the vote and sent their first deputy to Brussels. They likely would have received an even larger share if the other parties had not hastily altered their own positions on Internet copyright regulations in order to drive these pesky freebooters off the high seas. …

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