Muslim Community Lobby Ireland is an independent organization established 1st May 2007. Its motto is TO USE THE VOTE RIGHTLY AND TO RAISE THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY AWARNESS WITH THEIR RIGHTS AND TO PROMOTE TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF OTHER EXISTING GROUPS. لترشيد استعمال الصوت الانتخابي ولتوعية وتعريف المسلمين بحقوقهم في ايرلندا وان يعيشوا بتفهم للواقع وللجماعات الاخرى الموجودة على الساحة

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Irish CEOs say rejecting Lisbon Treaty was 'damaging'


84% of business leaders in Ireland believe last year's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by popular referendum damaged the country's international reputation.

The survey of 300 Irish CEOs by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) also found that over 98% of respondents believe EU membership has been important for the success of Irish business.
Among companies with over 50 employees, the figure was 100%, while for companies with fewer than 50 staff, the figure was 97.6%.
This comes as Ireland gears up for a vigorous debate on the Lisbon Treaty ahead of a referendum scheduled for 2 October. The electorate rejected the treaty in June 2008, with 53.4% voting against its adoption.
Commenting on the survey,
IBEC Director of EU and International Affairs Brendan Butler said a 'yes' vote would represent an essential step on the road to economic recovery, and would "send a very positive signal to our European and international partners".
"The treaty will protect key national interests and reform the EU to face the challenges ahead. Our ability to set our own tax policy is guaranteed along with arrangements concerning foreign direct investment. This means that Ireland will remain among one of the most attractive places in the world to invest," Butler said.
The Irish government came in for criticism for failing to sell Lisbon to its people last year during a campaign blighted by confusion. This time around, leaders and civil society are promising a more focused campaign, and Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has expressed optimism in the wake of securing several guarantees from EU leaders on Irish neutrality, corporate tax and ethical issues (
EurActiv 19/06/09).
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Irish Farmers Association also back the treaty, along with the two governing parties and the two main opposition groups.
Vocal opponents of the Lisbon Treaty – including Socialist MEP Joe Higgins, the Sinn Féin party and pro-life groups – have been critical of the content of the treaty as well as the decision to re-run the referendum despite it being rejected just last year.
Bookmakers in Dublin are offering good odds (10/1 on) that the Lisbon Treaty will be passed, although the betting fluctuated dramatically ahead of the last year's referendum and the full-blown campaign is not expected to kick off until September.

Euro Activ

Friday, July 24, 2009

Opinion: Justice Department's fear of Google book publishing is misplaced




Afraid of Google taking over the world? The Justice Department seems to be. It recently confirmed its antitrust investigation into the Google Book Search Settlement, citing "public comments expressing concern" as impetus for the inquiry. European Union officials have also started sniffing around.

These concerns are misguided, and outmoded antitrust regulation will stunt the growth of the emerging book search market.
Google launched its Book Search project in 2004 with the worthy goal of digitizing and indexing the world's books. Litigation promptly ensued. In 2005, the Authors Guild filed a class-action copyright infringement suit on behalf of all owners of book copyrights.
In a settlement proposed last year, Google negotiated a license to digitize these books. Google would pay $45 million upfront, pay royalties on all book search revenues going forward, and create a registry to enable authors to receive payment. The settlement must be approved by Judge Denny Chin, who is presiding over the case and has slated a hearing for October.
The most contentious issue concerns "orphan works," copyrighted texts that are no longer in print and whose owners cannot be found. Without the aggregation of copyrights by the class-action lawsuit, Google would not have been able to obtain a license to these works. Some critics have argued that granting Google a license in this manner will exploit the rights of orphan works authors, which they claim should

be in the public domain. Perhaps, but this is not a matter of antitrust concern.

Many of the public comments decrying the settlement come from Google's largest competitors. The Internet Archive, which has scanned 1.5 million books to date, claims that Google will monopolize the market for orphaned texts. But the comments by the Archive and others ignore a crucial fact.
The fact that orphan works are out of print implies that these books have little if any market value, and publishers do not consider them profitable to sell. Therefore, they are only available at the few libraries that stock them. In this state, orphan works are unlikely to ever be rediscovered by the market or gain popularity.
Digitizing orphan works will make them available, but there is no guarantee they would acquire market value or earn a profit. Google is paying a high upfront cost for this gambit in both infrastructure investment and settlement payments.
Given all that investment, antitrust penalties on Google would allow its competitors to free-ride on its investment. Internet Archive President Peter Brantley has advocated requiring open access to the orphan works. In practice, that would mean that after Google pays to scan all orphan works, its competitors will be able to pick and choose which ones to offer.
Furthermore, the claim that Google will have exclusive access to orphan works is unfounded. The settlement gives Google a nonexclusive license. New entrants can enter the market at will. Even if the only way to license these works is to settle another class-action lawsuit, the $45 million precedent makes litigation inevitable.
The court must consider whether the rights of orphan work authors will be fairly represented under the settlement. Consumer benefit, not pressure from the Justice Department, should guide the court's decision.
Google is creating a market for orphan works and is making them available for widespread access. Antitrust interference will only distort market incentives and hinder the growth of this nascent sector.JONATHAN HILLEL is a policy fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. and a contributor to OpenMarket.org. He wrote this article for the Mercury News.


By Jonathan Hillel

Muslims and Jews From Europe Size Up U.S. as a Model for Coexistence

Can visits to Ellis Island, Yankee Stadium, Manhattan’s 96th Street Mosque, Yeshiva University, the White House and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — among other American landmarks — give Jewish and Muslim leaders from Europe a model that not only will help them combat antisemitism and Islamophobia, but also instill within them a vision for religious integration and interfaith dialogue?
As a delegation of European rabbis and imams toured the United Nations as part of a visit on the morning of July 20, Swiss interfaith activist Hafid Ouardiri took to the General Assembly’s famous lectern and delivered an mock message of how easy it could all be.


“Now, peace is a reality!” he bellowed, to laughs and applause. “This is the peace of the rabbi and the peace of the Muslim together to help the world to live better.”
But shortly after he took the stage, event organizers whisked away Ouardiri and the other delegates. Time was of the essence, they said, and the lectern was off-limits to visitors.
It was a moment that underscored the tenuous nature of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s inaugural conference of European religious leaders. For four days in New York and Washington, the group of about two dozen clerics would attempt to balance lofty ideals with complex religious and political realities.
But some participants recognized that not everything was easily translatable.
“The dynamic in the United Kingdom is different,” said Sheikh Muhammad Al-Husseini, a British imam who teaches at Leo Baeck College, a rabbinic seminary in North London.
Rabbi Jackie Tabick of North West Surrey Synagogue echoed her British delegation colleague, citing the lack of a shared assimilation narrative common to both American and British Muslims.
“The historical experience has been terribly different,” she said. “It would seem that the [British] Muslim community does not equate with the societal experience in America.”
In England, Al-Husseini said, Muslims tend to be less educated and less likely to occupy the middle class. In addition, Jews in the U.K. probably would feel “a little more hesitant getting involved,” Tabick said, because of population ratios: Her synagogue has 300 family members, while the local mosque has nearly 3,000.
Still, most conference participants — Tabick included — said that the mere existence of a forum for interfaith communication represents some measure of progress.
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, who serves as chairman of the foundation, said, “Dialogue and tolerance leads to love” — a sentiment he said is grounded in the scriptures of each of the world’s major religions.
“It’s written in different languages by men of different colors, but it’s always the same rap,” he told the Forward. “These men of faith… for them it’s simple. Getting them in the room is such an obvious step and such a simple idea.”
Rabbi Marc Schneier, the foundation’s president, said he hoped the interfaith mission can serve as a springboard for continued communication. The conference also may contribute to the extension of the Twinning Project, a year-old foundation effort that pairs mosques and synagogues in the hopes that Jewish and Muslim congregants will experience, and thereby demystify, the other religion’s culture and house of worship.
Schneier said his organization has focused on Muslim-Jewish relations in only the past two years, after 17 years of centering on black-Jewish relations. To expand that focus globally, he said, has been a foundation goal for only about half a year.
Even so, European participants said they appreciate the outreach effort.
“We in Europe are in dire need for dialogue between Muslims and Jews. We need to, through dialogue, show and struggle for our rights, our freedoms, our status,” said Senaid Kobilica, a Norwegian imam. “We have much to learn from America. Problems of racism, discrimination, marginalization… that’s our problem in Europe, and America can definitely be the model for that.”
Though differing colonialist histories and immigration sagas have made the experiences of North American and European Muslims vastly dissimilar, Canadian diversity activist Karen Mock said that the trick to truly using the United States as a model for interfaith engagement is to avoid viewing America as a panacea.
“I don’t think any model is totally applicable when you move to different contexts,” she said. “What is important is building relationships, getting to know the ‘other,’ building on what is applicable.”
Speaking to the conference after a roundtable discussion at the U.N., Rabbi Reuben Livingstone of England’s Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue, said he understood that bringing up some issues wasn’t worth the drama the discussion would cause.
“There are some things I’m aware we won’t be talking about, and some things we shouldn’t be talking about,” he said. “Primarily, we need not put any stumbling blocks before us in the simple process of talking about those things we can talk about.”
Having the conference based in New York and Washington further aids that effort. Unlike the Old World or the Middle East, where “history weighs heavily on our shoulders,” America serves as a symbol of change and innovation, Livingstone said.
“This is America, where history is not so heavy, and where new beginnings are the ethos and order of the day. We need that sense of new beginnings more than ever,” the rabbi continued. “It’s all well and good to talk of the great lessons. It’s rather another thing to have the strength to carry them forward.”
Contact Alex Weisler at weisler@forward.com

Intel Cuts Nearly 300 Employees in Ireland

Intel yesterday announced that the company will cut 294 jobs from its Irish plant in Leixlip, County Kildare.
Zoom
Intel has said that the job cuts are a result of the consolidation of two of its factories on the property which is situated just outside of the Irish capital, Dublin. The chip maker said that the cuts were a direct result of a decline in demand for older 200mm technologies.“The fact of the matter is the older 200mm technologies are coming to the end of their useful life and there aren’t that many customers left for those products. The key is repurposing ourselves; identifying a new transition path and winning new investment is vital,” an Intel spokesperson said, according to Silicon Republic.Intel has begun a three month consultation to determine which staff will be the first to go come October. The compulsory layoffs are the first for Intel Ireland following the company's request for 300 voluntary redundancies at the beginning of the year. Intel has invested more than $6 billion in its Irish facilities since it first set up shop in Ireland back in 1989.
Source :
Tom's Hardware US

Majority of Irish believe economic crisis will get worse

TWO-THIRDS of Irish people believe the worst of the economic crisis has yet to come with almost a quarter saying they are not confident of having a job in two years’ time.
These are two of the key findings of a new Eurobarometer survey on employment and the economic crisis, which highlights the prevailing pessimistic mood among the public.
The survey, which will be published by the European Commission today, shows that just 21 per cent of Irish people say the economic crisis has now reached its peak and things will start to recover.
In contrast, two thirds of respondents say that the worst is yet to come.
Almost a quarter of people, some 24 per cent, say they are not confident of having a job in two years time while 19 per cent say they are not confident of holding on to their jobs in the coming months.
This represents a major drop in confidence since the last major Eurobarometer survey on employment was conducted in June 2006 when just 5 per cent of Irish people said they were not confident of keeping their job in the coming months.
Across the EU the mood is marginally more optimistic with 28 per cent of Europeans saying they feel the crisis has reached its peak and things are recovering little by little. Some 18 per cent of EU respondents to the survey fear they won’t have a job in two years time.
Irish people hold a more positive view of the EU’s impact on employment and social affairs than other Europeans – a statistic that may have some bearing on the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in October.
Some 62 per cent of Irish people surveyed say what they see, read or hear about the union’s activities in the area of employment is positive, compared to an EU average of 52 per cent.
However, this represents a slight fall on the 65 per cent of people who told the 2006 Eurobarometer survey that the EU had a positive impact in the area of employment and social affairs. The number of people who view the EU as having a negative impact has jumped to 18 per cent, up from 9 per cent.
The survey also highlights a trend toward a more flexible workforce in the Republic with 82 per cent of people saying lifetime jobs are now “a thing of the past”. Some 86 per cent of people say work contracts should become more flexible to encourage job creation, which is significantly more than the European average at 73 per cent of people.
Irish people cited: increasing childcare facilities (85 per cent); increased care facilities for elderly people (81 per cent); regular training at work (87 per cent); and supporting people who want to start their own business (86 per cent) as some of the key ways to get more people into work and help them to stay in work longer in the survey.
Research for the Eurobarometer survey was conducted via 1,007 face-to-face interviews in Ireland in late May and early June this year.
Irish attitudes to economic crisis Two-thirds of Irish people believe the worst of the crisis is yet to come 24 per cent of Irish people are not confident of having a job in two years’ time 19 per cent are not confident of keeping their job in coming months 62 per cent view EU action in employment area as positive 18 per cent see EU action in employment area as negative Three-quarters of Irish people have not participated on a training course in last year 82 per cent say lifetime jobs are now a thing of the past 85 per cent say increasing childcare facilities is effective in increasing employment

The Irish Times

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Independent says

NOTHING pleases Irish politicians more than complimentary remarks from distinguished foreigners, and Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, excelled in that sphere when he addressed the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, praising our contribution to peacekeeping and the other parts of our good record in international affairs.
They could have written the script themselves. Given the chance, they certainly would have written it. For our public representatives' talent for self-congratulation fully equals any praise we might get from an eminent individual -- or an influential organisation.
Trouble is, self-congratulation easily shades into self-delusion and has frequently done so in recent Irish political history, with catastrophic results.
Round about the same time that Mr Ban gave his hearers some momentary warmth and comfort,
Taoiseach Brian Cowen addressed the Dail on the subject of our financial and economic crisis, with special reference to the latest report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The IMF had some nice things to say about the Government's performance. They had some less agreeable things to say as well, but the Taoiseach did not mention them. Instead, he reverted to his "default position" -- criticism of the opposition parties.
Oh well, this is politics, specifically politics as practised in
Leinster House. But did something more, and worse, than politics enter the reckoning here? Was there a tinge of that awful Irish capacity for self-delusion?
Let us stick for a moment with the IMF. It has long been unimpressed by Irish economic and fiscal policy. Its criticisms and warnings go back almost a decade. They cover Mr Cowen's own tenure at the
Department of Finance and that of his predecessor, Charlie McCreevy.
In addition to the criticisms and warnings, there has been no shortage of specific recommendations. In August 2000 the IMF directors said that "private sector wages should be fully market-determined and public sector pay aligned with wages in comparable private sector jobs." In subsequent reports, this theme made further appearances, along with predictable recommendations about restricting public spending.
So far from taking any notice,
Bertie Ahern's two governments made sure that private sector wages were not "market-determined" and public sector pay was not "aligned" with anything remotely comparable.
It is hardly necessary to emphasise the contribution these failures have made to the present crisis. Less obvious, perhaps, is their connection with the psychology of the politicians, especially
Fianna Fail backbench deputies. These are unable to accept that they are overpaid; that the ministerial jobs to which they aspire carry even more unjustifiable salaries; and that by the time this crisis ends, politicians will have to swallow much more nasty medicine.
Last Friday they went back to their constituencies, this time not so much in the usual hope of glad-handing the voters as of avoiding them. The voters have suffered more than the politicians. They know they will suffer worse, but they do not yet know how much worse.
The leaks of the report from An Bord Snip Nua confirm what anyone could have guessed: that
Colm McCarthy and his team recommend massive public service cuts, as well as cuts in social welfare. But this is only an instalment.
Over the next few years the economy and the administration will have to change radically. There will be a steeper decline in living standards, and the lower standards will become a long-lived feature of the scene.
The public service will become leaner. Unfortunately, that does not necessarily mean that it will become more efficient: far more likely, deep cuts will apply to front-line services and reform of the administration will once again be postponed indefinitely.
The process of changing the system of "universal" benefits began with the affair of the pensioners' medical cards and will continue with the restoration of third-level fees. There will be a great deal more on these lines.
Meanwhile, there is no guarantee that the measures taken by
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan -- recapitalising the two main banks, nationalising Anglo Irish Bank and setting up the National Assets Management Agency -- will work. But there is no alternative, unless one counts further nationalisations or the "good bank" proposal put forward by Richard Bruton. (Whatever Mr Cowen may think, neither of these is incompatible with existing government policy.)
Anything else is an illusion, and the most dangerous mirage is an early economic recovery which might remove the necessity for harsh measures.
Evidently Mr Lenihan wants to dispel it. In a speech yesterday, he asserted "it is too early to talk about recovery, but we do have a clear strategy to lead us out of our current difficulties." That was, if anything, too mild and reassuring, but it attracted immediate attention because it appeared to conflict with Mr Cowen's optimism.
It brings us back to the question whether what the Taoiseach says is "only politics" or whether, like the Fianna Fail backbenchers, he engages in denial about the nature of our economic plight and self-delusion about our chances of getting out of it with relative ease and in a relatively short time.
If Fianna Fail deputies (or deputies of any party) are so far out of touch as to mount a mini-rebellion over their expenses, that is worrying but bearable. If the Taoiseach engages in self-delusion, that is terrifying. If there is any self-delusion about, can the Finance Minister put paid to it by outlining the facts of economic life to his colleagues at Wednesday's Cabinet meeting?
If not, future IMF communications may affect our lives far more intimately than the messages ignored in the past.
- JAMES DOWNEY

Monday, July 13, 2009

New European Parliament looks to flex political muscle

BRUSSELS) - The freshly-elected European parliament meets Tuesday for its first plenary session, keen to test the new political muscle it will develop once the EU's new reform package enters force.
In a short session, starting in earnest in Strasbourg, the 736-member assembly will elect its president, but not the head of the EU's executive arm, the European Commission.
Despite pressure to vote this week on the return of Jose Manuel Barroso for a second five-year term as president of the commission, the lawmakers have taken a stand and postponed any endorsement until the autumn.
"We can see even more that the parliament has decided to make its voice heard," said Julia de Clerck-Sachsse, an analyst at the Centre for European Policy Studies think-tank in Brussels.
The parliament is the European Union's only elected body and some deputies, notably the Greens bloc which won extra seats in the June 4-7 polls, believe the return of Barroso would weaken a key EU institution.
Known as the "lowest common denominator" when he was appointed in 2004 as a compromise candidate, the former Portuguese premier has been criticised for failing to react quickly to the financial and economic crisis.
But Barroso was officially anointed by EU nations Thursday after a 48-hour "silence procedure" during which none of the 27 member countries objected to his candidacy.
In the parliament, which sits in Brussels as well as Strasbourg, he has the backing of his own centre-right bloc, but doubts remain as to who exactly will endorse him, and he is reluctant to rely on fringe parties for backing.
The Greens in particular see Barroso as a lackey of the member nations, and have expressed bewilderment that no one else can be found.
"We do not trust him to wholeheartedly implement the policies that Europe urgently needs," Greens leaders said in a statement.
The commission is responsible for drawing up legislation that impacts daily on the lives of almost half a billion Europeans, as well as enforcing the rules already in place.
It will have a budget of 138 billion euros in 2010.
Its president -- who like the commissioners is appointed, not elected and whose term ends at the end of October -- has significant leverage to influence legislative priorities.
The question is: how much will the deputies be emboldened by their impending new powers under the Lisbon Treaty, which is likely to enter force next year if Irish voters back it in a second referendum on October 2?
They rejected the treaty -- meant to facilitate decision-making and create new posts including a longer-term president and a sort of foreign minister -- a year ago but opinion polls suggest the Irish will say 'yes' this time.
The assembly's liberal democrats group staked out clear ground ahead of the session.
"The newly elected European parliament's credibility and standing should be upheld and strengthened by the process" of nominating the next commission president, the group said.
"The stronger the European parliament, the more democratic and transparent the whole of the European Union.
Socialist leader Martin Schulz said EU nations had made a mistake by trying to force an early vote on Barroso.
"They wanted to rush this through, and we have prevented that. We will see and hear in September what Mr Barroso has to say and discuss with him. What I have seen over the past weeks does not make me hopeful," he said.
The assembly's agenda is slim ahead of the summer break.
Poland's Jerzy Buzek is to be the parliament's first president from the former communist east after an agreement was reached between the conservatives and the socialists to share the post over the next five years.
The heads of influential parliamentary commissions will also be named, while the Swedish presidency, which took over from the Czech Republic on July 1, will lay out its priorities for the next six months.
Text and Picture Copyright 2009 AFP. All other Copyright 2009 EUbusiness Ltd. All rights reserved. This material is intended solely for personal use. Any other reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of the copyright owner is strictly forbidden and any breach of copyright will be considered actionable.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama works to undo long legacy of damage in Russia

One of President Obama’s goals of his travels to Russia and the G-8 meeting in Italy this week was indirectly to undo damage done long ago by Robert Strange McNamara, whose errors in judgment colored world history for more than half of the 20th Century.
Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladmir Putin; the two governments announced they would work toward cutting back nuclear stockpiles. At the G-8 meeting, Obama went further — calling for a major non-proliferation summit next year in Washington in which as many as 30 countries would participate.
How does this relate to McNamara, who died July 6? As Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson years, he earned the dubious distinction of being father of the MIRV — multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles — which revolutionized nuclear brinksmanship and made the world a great deal more dangerous.
McNamara’s role had world-changing results, and well-noted in this
Washington Post obituary by Thomas Lippman, published the same day of Obama’s trip. McNamara, late in life recognized his mistakes – and came close to acknowledging them.
McNamara sponsored development of missiles that could carry up to 14 nuclear warheads each, giving the United States the ability to strike more Soviet targets without adding missiles and the capability of launching more warheads than the Soviets could fend off. This, McNamara later acknowledged, was substantially responsible for the nuclear arms race.
“I have no question,” he said in a 1982 interview, “but that the Soviets thought we were trying to achieve a first-strike capability. We were not. We did not have it. We could not attain it. We didn’t have any thought of attaining it. But they probably thought we did.” Their response, he said, provoked a counter-response by the United States, and the cycle became self-perpetuating.
This new president wants to undo that self-perpetuating cycle, although he faces suspicion from some quarters, in part a result of a long-lasting hangover from eight years of the Bush presidency.
Obama calls his presidency a “reset.” After his meeting with Medevedev, Obama said, “The President and I agreed that the relationship between Russia and the United States has suffered from a sense of drift.”
“We
resolved to reset U.S.-Russian relations so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest,” he added.
Obama did get some good reviews for his incipient effort. The British newspaper
The Independent said:
The U.S.-led initiative could pave the way for the world to warn Iran and North Korea that they would be treated as “pariah states” unless they stop developing nuclear weapons. The burden of proof would be on countries that are not yet members of the nuclear club to show they had not breached the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, raising the prospect of attempts to send weapons inspectors in if they refused to comply.
This all has to do with international cooperation and a pragmatic approach, breaking with years of arrogance and an unwillingness to negotiate. The goal is to defuse the drive to war: If you’re talking, you’re not fighting.
War was what McNamara was about. As early as World War II, he was close by when Gen. Curtis LeMay ordered the firebombing of Tokyo — as he famously said, “He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals.” Late in life, he also saw his own errors in Vietnam and beyond. During the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis, we came closer than ever to what became known as MAD — mutually assured destruction.
McNamara was on the front line, facing down the Soviet Union. Again, quoting the Washington Post obit:
McNamara wrote in a Newsweek essay about the crisis that “as I left President Kennedy’s office to return to the Pentagon, I thought I might never live to see another Saturday night” — so great was the threat of nuclear war.
- Peter Eisner

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another roadblock for the EU’s treaty, a German court

The EU’s drive to get any sort of a constitution, defeated in France and the Netherlands when it was rejected by voters in 2005, and kicked back in its new form last year in Ireland, has run into a new obstacle after Germany’s top court ruled that the Lisbon Treaty is compatible with German law, but said parliament’s role must be strengthened before it can formally be ratified. German opponents of the treaty, which is designed to streamline the running of the European Union, challenged it in the constitutional court, arguing that the document undermined German sovereignty. Both houses of the German parliament have endorsed the treaty, which was signed by EU leaders in 2007. But President Horst Koehler withheld his signature pending the decision by the top court. “The Basic Law says ‘yes’ to the Lisbon Treaty, but demands a strengthening of parliamentary responsibilities at the national level,” said the court’s Vice President, Andreas Vosskuhle. Only when this happened could ratification be completed, Vosskuhle said in reading out the 150-page judgment. “The court is optimistic the final hurdle before ratification will be cleared quickly,” he added. In response to the court decision, the German lower house, or Bundestag, agreed to meet in August to draft a law giving parliament more powers in matters related to EU affairs. A second reading of the bill is scheduled for September 8, less than three weeks before the nation goes to the polls on September 27. Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was optimistic the ratification process would be completed before the general election. The legal challenge to the treaty was mounted by more than 50 federal legislators, among them Peter Gauweiler, a maverick deputy in the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. The Left Party also sought an injunction against the treaty, claiming it breached parliamentary rights. Outright rejection of the treaty by the German court would have sounded a death knell for the future of the 27 EU states’ reform process. In addition to Germany, three other countries - Poland, the Czech Republic and Ireland - have still to approve the treaty before it can come into force at the start of 2010. The biggest hurdle is likely to be a second public referendum on the treaty in Ireland, after voters there rejected it in June 2008. The Lisbon Treaty replaced the earlier proposed EU constitution, which was vetoed by French and Dutch voters in referendums in 2005. The treaty would, among other reforms, create a post of president of the European Union, and a permanent high representative for foreign affairs, and bring in more qualified majority voting. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, welcomed the German court ruling, but couldn’t explain why.“I am confident that, with this judgment, the court has cleared the way for a swift conclusion of the German ratification,” he said in a statement released in Brussels. “I am confident that we can complete the process of ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon in all countries by the autumn,” he added. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country took over the EU presidency on July 1, told journalists in Sweden that the court decision “is not a big sensation.” He said it would not influence the presidency timetable and that it was “not necessarily a bad thing” to strengthen the role of parliament. In its ruling, the court noted the German parliament had “not been accorded sufficient rights of participation in European lawmaking procedures and treaty amendment procedures.” It said the process of European unity should “not be allowed to undermine the ruling democratic order in Germany.” Members of the EU should have sufficient scope for political decision making in relation to economic, cultural and social living conditions, it said. In particular, this applied to criminal law, police issues, the military, tax matters, social expenditure and family law, the judges wrote in their ruling. But the treaty, which beefs up governing structures in the 27-nation European Union from next year, still faces hold-ups in four nations with only half a year left to go until it is targeted to take effect. Besides the new German problem, Ireland is expected to hold a fresh referendum in early October. Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in June 2008 by a majority of 53.4 percent, but polls suggest that EU assurances of no interference in key Irish policies will sway voters to vote yes this time. Ratification by the Czech Republic is being held up by President Vaclav Klaus. The Eurosceptic president has said he would not reconsider unless all the other nations have ratified. He described the recent verdict by Germany’s top court that the stalled EU Lisbon treaty was compatible with the country’s constitution as both “toothless and predictable.” Klaus, probably the most Eurosceptic head of state within the EU, slammed that verdict in a first-person editorial piece. “I do not believe that it is possible to annul the known defects of the Lisbon Treaty by an accompanying law,” Klaus wrote in the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily. “That would have been too simple,” the op-ed continued. “The vast shift of competences and decision-making mechanisms in the EU cannot be changed by this law.” The Lisbon Treaty has been stalled since Irish voters rejected it in a June 2008 referendum. The EU hopes that a new Irish vote in October would bring the pact back to life. All 27 members must ratify it before it comes to force, but only Ireland has put it to a plebiscite. Klaus, whose signature is required to complete the Czech ratification, called the verdict “a result known in advance.” He also wrote that the judges based their decision on “the dominant paradigm of beneficial influence of deeper European integration.” Klaus, who rejects the treaty as a threat to national sovereignty and an inconvenient deal for small EU countries, is dragging out its ratification in the Czech Republic. The Czech bicameral parliament finished voting on the accord in May. But Klaus said that he would make up his mind on whether to ink the pact only after all other EU members complete ratification. In Poland, another Eurosceptic, President Lech Kaczynski, has held off putting his signature on ratifying legislation. He says he is waiting to see whether the Irish vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty in their referendum. While January 1, 2010 is not legally prescribed as a deadline, it is politically important as a target to stop the process unraveling. The majority of national parliaments have approved the treaty without holding any referendums. After years of wrangling, the European Union has been hoping it can end this year in a more upbeat mood. The plan so far has been to hold a summit in late October celebrating the Irish yes to the treaty.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty

The Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has set October 2 as the date for the country's second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, reports RTE.

Irish voters rejected the Treaty in the first referendum last June, 53.4% to 46.6%.

RTE reports that the first election was marked by debates over issues which were not included in the Treaty text.

The Irish Independent reports that Mr Cowen said that legal guarantees had been given for Ireland on issues which concerned voters ahead of the first referendum, such as abortion, military neutrality, taxation, and the retention of a European Commissioner per EU member.

According to the Irish Times, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs today published a guide to the treaty and said it was in the interests of both Ireland and Europe to vote 'yes'.

Critics of the government's decision to hold a second referendum on the Treaty have questioned the legality of the move.

Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance told the Irish Times, "it must be open to question the constitutionality of forcing the people to vote again on exactly the same treaty since they have already given their final decision."

AP writes that a second refusal by the Irish electorate could doom the Lisbon Treaty, as it requires unanimous ratification by all 27 EU member states.

All of the other 26 EU countries have approved ratification of the treaty.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fears of property price nosedive

Property prices will nose-dive in NI if the Irish Republic's new toxic assets agency dumps developments on the market, Stormont ministers have warned.
Finance ministers from both sides of the border are to hold emergency talks over fears the north could be swamped with repossessed homes and offices.
The issue was raised at a North-South Ministerial Council meeting in Dublin.
An agency has been set up in Dublin to recoup debt run up by banks on property bought in NI and in the Republic.
The National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) will attempt to recover nationalised bank losses for the Irish government through the selling-off of developments that collapsed during the property crash.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said there were concerns about the number of Northern Ireland properties which will be taken over by NAMA.
'Implications'
"Obviously some of these assets are located in the Republic, in Northern Ireland and other jurisdictions as well," Mr Cowen said.
"It's important that we fully agreed in our discussions that both finance ministers would meet to consider the implications over the period ahead.
"It's obviously a matter of co-ordinating policy decisions."
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said Finance Minster Sammy Wilson would meet with his counterpart in the Republic, Brian Lenihan, in an attempt to stave off any threat to Northern Ireland's house prices.
"There are assets which are being held by NAMA which impact upon Northern Ireland, those disposals need to be handled in a way that don't swamp the property market and impact adversely on property prices in Northern Ireland," he said.
It is estimated that Irish banks hold anything between 60bn and 90bn euros of so-called toxic assets, the money loaned to property developers and others which might never be repaid.
Around 30bn euros worth are thought to be outside the Republic and as many as 15bn to 20bn euros worth of bad property-related debts are thought to be in Northern Ireland.

BBC

Expanding Government Is Destroying Liberty in the European Union

The American republic was connected to Europe at birth. The original 13 British colonies shared the mother country’s classical liberal roots and created a national government of uniquely limited powers. The new nation then drew to it dissenters and entrepreneurs from across Europe, and exported freedom ideals back across the Atlantic.
Now America’s influence may be running the other way — to Europe’s disadvantage. More than a century ago the Civil War subordinated the theretofore sovereign American states to the newly empowered national government. Today a transcontinental elite centered in Brussels is attempting to achieve a similar end in Europe, though through stealth rather than war.
The European Union began small. The horrors of World War II encouraged Europeans to integrate Germany into rather than isolate it from the continent, unlike after World War I. The European Coal and Steel Community came first, which was transformed into the European Economic Community (or “Common Market”). The EC became the European Union in 1993.
The original purposes of a continental European organization were simple: increase economic opportunity and political cooperation. Despite the inevitable quirks of any transnational organization, the EU proved to be a boon: it lowered trade barriers, expanded commercial ties, and sublimated national rivalries. The slow, steady development of the EU was one reason war became unthinkable in “Old Europe.”
An important aspect of the organization’s success was its lack of political authority. The EU was more continental association than continental government. The principal national decisions continued to be made by national governments. There were obvious tensions, of course: creating a continental market inevitably meant limiting national regulations. Nevertheless, there was no pretense that Brussels would supplant the essential authority of individual countries.
That has begun to change, however. The European Commission and European Parliament have taken over an increasing number of “competencies,” as they are called, from member states. Micro-management has become the norm: for instance, the British government prosecuted a grocer for violating EU regulations banning imperial measurements. German bakers fear proposed Commission rules limiting the salt content of bread. London is fighting EU proposals to impose stricter restrictions on work hours and regulate Britain’s financial industry

Doug Bandow Campaign For Liberty

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bush then Sarkosy صارت موضه ضرب رؤساء الدول

It is important to show objection against your leader, but sometimes this leader will go ahead with the wrong plan and opposition have no way of stopping him. some people go a bit further!! Please see the video below.

video


يستاهل هالتعبان وخصوصا بعد استهزائه عالنقاب وقال عنه انه مظهر من مظاهر تخلف المرأه...نييييييييييهههههههههههاههههههاي صارت موضه ضرب رؤساء الدول

Charity plea over kidnapped pair

The head of an Irish charity whose aid workers were kidnapped in Darfur has appealed for their safe return.
Goal chief executive John O'Shea said he was very concerned for Irish woman Sharon Commins, 32, from Dublin, and Ugandan colleague, Hilda Kuwuki, 42.
They were taken hostage by six armed men at a compound in the town of Kutum, northern Darfur, on Friday.
"We have had no contact with the kidnappers and we are very concerned for their safety," Mr O'Shea said.
"We have no indication as to who did this or why and I would appeal directly to the kidnappers to immediately release both these women who are valued colleagues of ours.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Sharon and Hilda at this very difficult and distressing time."
The Dubliner had been working in the region for a year.
Armed men forced the women into a vehicle along with a Sudanese security guard who was thrown from it as local police gave chase, Mr O'Shea added.
An official team headed by the Department of Foreign Affairs is travelling to Khartoum and Darfur to consult with the Sudanese authorities and international organisations.
Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin called for the immediate release of the captives, and said the Irish government would do everything possible to bring that about.
"While the identity and motive of the abductors is not yet known, there have been two recent cases in which kidnapped aid workers were released unharmed after a few weeks in captivity.
"While I very much hope that Sharon and Hilda are freed immediately, my overriding concern is that they come to no harm," he said.
Irish President Mary McAleese has expressed deep concern at the disappearance of Ms Commins.
"The President has conveyed to the Commins family her sincere hope that Sharon will be returned to safety as soon as possible, along with her colleague, Ms Hilda Kawuki," a spokeswoman said.
It is the third time foreign aid workers have been kidnapped in Darfur since March.
The UN says 300,000 people have died and more than two million fled their homes since fighting erupted in 2003 between black-African rebel groups and the Khartoum government.


BBC

Friday, July 3, 2009

Irish Nobel Prize winner detained in Israel

Irish Nobel prize winner Mairead Maguire and compatriot Derek Graham have been detained by Israeli authorities. The pair was onboard the Spirit of Humanity which was bound for Gaza when it was intercepted by Israeli forces.

The two were part a group of 21 peace activists who were detained and Irish Minister for Foreign affairs
Michael Martin is working with his counterparts to ensure their safety and well-being.

The Irish pair were onboard the ship, which was attempting to deliver supplies to the Gaza Strip.

“My immediate priority is ensuring the safety and welfare of Ms. Maguire and Mr. Graham and securing their release as soon as possible," said Martin.

"I have been assured by the Israeli authorities that they are both well and are being properly treated. An officer from the
Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv visited yesterday with Ms. Maguire and Mr. Graham to provide assistance and will endeavor to make a further consular visit today.

“I would again renew my call for the release of Ms. Maguire and Mr. Graham as well as the other nineteen passengers detained on The Spirit of Humanity," he said.

“I would also call upon the
Israeli Government to ensure that the humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza being transported on The Spirit of Humanity are made available as soon as possible to the Palestinian authorities for distribution."


KENNETH HAYNES