All entries for September 2006

September 27, 2006

Romania and Bulgaria given the EU nod

Yesterday the European Commision paved the way for the former Warsaw pact states of Bulgaria and Romania to become fully paid up members of the EU on the 1st January 2007. However, underneath the fanfare, the Commision has imposed tougher restrictions than ever before to force the would-be member states to fight corruption and reform their criminal justice system.

The problem is particularly acute in Bulgaria, which the report that was published paticularly singled out, stating, “insufficient progress had been made to tackle corruption and organised crime”. If progress has not been made in both countries by March, “safeguards” are in place to allow member states to completely ignore court rulings and warrants from both countries.

The question of whether to fully open up labour markets to the new countries remains open, and is to be decided by the current 25 member states. No doubt Britain will impose even harsher restrictions than on the 2004 entrants, simply because of the current political climate. Time and again we here report of the 342,000 eastern europeans registered to work after the expansion. What is not said is that is is believed half of these have already gone home by now.

A final interesting point to go along with all this is that the Nice treaty of 2000 had in the fine print that there MUST be another negociated pact if the number of member states exceed 27. The number of members after 1st January: 27. This brings the failed EU constitution right back onto the agenda. No doubt Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, being very pro-constitution, will attempt to push the issue even harder when Germany takes over the presidency on…you guessed it, 1st January 2007.

It should be an interesting year in Europe.


ICA Soc 2006/7, THE place for current affairs in Warwick

Hello one and all.

It’s almost time for the start of the academic year, and what a year it promises to be with the ICA exploding onto the Warwick campus.

Highlights include:

  • informal weekly meetings to discuss world events, backed up by our jam-packed newsletter, which gives suggestions of articles to read to back up your arguments.
  • our (still relatively new) weblog, where ANY member of our society can post, either simply reporting interesting news or submitting more of an editorial.
  • new and improved socials, along with trips out to events hosted elsewhere. If you’re lucky, we may even provide the transportation! In the running this term is a talk in the LSE about the Fairtrade phenomenon. Is it simply “just another brand”?

We have confirmed our weekly meetings and they will be in the social studies building, in S0.13, Wednesdays at 2pm (starting in week 1). Everybody is welcome, so come and let your views be heard.

If you want to know what we will be (broadly) discussing beforehand, just drop me an email (scott.harrison@warwick.ac.uk) and I will make sure a copy of our newsletter comes your way sometime this Tuesday.

Scott
President, ICA


September 16, 2006

Pope's lecture creates disturbance

I’m sure everyone will have seen the reaction to the remarks by the pope which have been continuing since he made an academic speech to a limited audience in Germany on Thursday. What has amazed me has been the sheer idiocy of the reaction by many people, and especially by some extremist Muslims. According to the BBC ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5351324.stm ) there have already been fire bombs on Orthodox and Anglican churches in the West Bank city of Nablus. Great. A double whammy of idiocy; firstly neither Orthodox or Anglican churches accept the authority of the pope, secondly this is tantamount to them saying “I’ll show you that Islam isn’t a violent religion by threatening you and committing acts of terrorism”.

Other worrying things which have been said included comments from the chief cleric of New Delhi’s historic Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. The cleric claimed Muslims should “respond in a manner which forces the Pope to apologize”. I do sincerely hope that this doesn’t lead to any more violence than has already happened.

I’ve not heard the whole lecture and what has been reported were not the pope’s words. On Channel 4 news an Islamic scholar claimed that he had not been offended by what was said so I can only assume that when the whole lecture was heard it was perfectly reasonable.


September 05, 2006

Conservative Party's Statement of Aims and Goals

Writing about web page http://www.conservatives.com/pdf/BuiltToLast-AimsandValues.pdf

Just in case anyone is interested the Conservative Party has produced a detailed statement of aims and goals which has been created through extensive consultation of the members of the party (can be read from the link in the head of this post). This isn’t a completely final document because the Conservative Party believes in democratic choice and discussion, so it will need to be voted on by members, but I do think that it could well be voted through.

If you are a member of the party do consider voting on this. If you are not then you can put your thoughts here. Regardless of your views it is certainly worth a read – there might even be some sections which surprise you.

(I was especially pleased with the section which explicitly noted the link between giving aid and gaining better security in return. Which was a very similar argument to that which I heard Bill Clinton making on CNN over the weekend.)


Desperate killer tries to escape

The title is perhaps misleading, but Ian Huntley, the Soham murderer, was found in his cell after an attempted suicide.

For the second time Huntley has tried to end his life through overdose, even after the first event brought to attention “serious system failures”. Perhaps the problems haven’t been addressed.

Huntley is currently at Wakefield prison, which surprised me, since originally he was based in a secure mental health institute (Broadmoor I think). So, having been declared sane (I hope), he was put into one of the most notorious prisons in the country. Indeed, Charles Bronson, apparantly Britain’s most violent prisoner, is based there.

I was compelled to write an entry on this simply because of my mother’s nonchalent reaction to the news. “Whatever, who cares, he deserves it, let him die” etc. Does he deserve it however? Is it an escape? He undoubtably experiences voilent bullying in prison, with reports of him being attacked with boiling water in an earlier incident. Even though his sentence is “at least 40 years” and not life, there will little or no chance of freedom, especially with him being a criminal of his notoriety.

The danger is thinking that death will increase suffering/punishment, when it will not. In my view, death is a lesser sentence for this man, though this does not mean I support execution, rather I’m referring to suicide. Now, the question, “Does he deserve death?” takes on a whole new meaning.


September 01, 2006

Headline news?

Interesting news headline on the BBC breakfast program…

“Tony Blair doesn’t say when he’s going to leave office”

Wow, spectacular, someone didn’t say something..

Does anyone else find this “Will he, won’t he leave” thing a bit tiresome… Even for the Blair haters, surely they realise he has an army of Blairites ready to take over… What about Brownites? Rubbish.. they’re ideologically identical. Brown said himself he’s commited the Blairite reform of public services, and to pull off any futher radical reform, the resentment in the Labour Parliamentary party will mean he will have to (eventually at least) resort to the arrogant, top down leadership style for which Blair is so infamous.

It’s all pretty insignificant anyway, the tories will win in 2009 and they can start happily start destroying everything Labour has achieved since they came into power.

The Third Way is starting to crumble, and I’m not sure if the imprint will last.


Postal Wars

I’m a bit late on this one since it was a few days ago…

You will probably heard of the postman who was sacked for distributing anti junkmail propaganda (in reality it was simply information regarding opting out of the Royal Mail’s ‘Direct Mail’ service). It dawned on me that by suspending the said postie, the Royal Mail kick started unprecedented publicity for the previously mysterious optout option. So, by trying to stifle the policy, they have in fact done the best thing they could have done to make sure everybody knows about it..

Nice one, 5 stars for effort..


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