Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog action day

From Tara Paris.

In the Mississippi Deltac
children go to bed hungry
as their parents despair.
Living on minimum wage,
just trying to survive
now the factory's shut
and the money's run out.

Forced to rely on charity
and the kindness of strangers.
Trying to hang on,
living hand to mouth:
society's forgotten class.
Struggling to make ends meet
as more government programs cut.

Hard-working, honest people
trying to keep a roof over their heads,
food in their bellies
and their children in school.

Praying nobody gets sick;
health insurance is a luxury
they simply can't afford.

The car went last week;
couldn't keep up the payments
after the mill was mothballed:
a silent brooding sentinel,
waiting for a brighter day.

A day that will never come for their neighbor,
who shot himself in the Wal-Mart parking lot,
unable to face the indignity
of the bailiffs arriving
to auction the family farm,
where four generations worked the land
and earned community respect and recognition.

Unable to weep at the funeral,
his brother put his fist through
the wallof the county clerk's office
raging at the injustice
as news cameras whirred,
recording the drama:
an ordinary life under extraordinary pressure,
no one ever should have to bear.

Helpless and nearly invisible
in a society that rewards achievement,
while shoving aside the needs of the poor.
No longer able to provide basic necessities
in the richest country on earth
where the government once served the people
with responsibility and decency.

In New Orleans
Katrina took their homes and jobs;
two years later
government assistance still thin on the ground
and home is a cot in a cousin's house.

Barbara Bush should see them now.*
On a New Mexico reservation
a group of rusty trailers heat like a furnace
in the desert sun
and the nearest job is a half-tank of gas away.

In Michigan, production is shipped overseas
and entire families are out of work,
out of benefits ,out of time.
Hard to hang onhard to trust
hard to believe
this is America...

*Barbara Bush famously said that those who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina were "doing very well now" in shelters in Houston and other cities.
Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden have plans to assist the 37 million Americans currently living in poverty. Read their Blueprint for Change here.

The new show of Cirque du Soleil

Just herreeeee

The Netherlands... 10 years....

Future of EU treaty still in the air

In June, Irish voters rejected the new European treaty. And the compromise solution that Dublin promised its partners this week has not materialised.

Former Belgian prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene said during a recent EU meeting in Brussels: “The war in Georgia and the financial crisis have demonstrated that we need a more united Europe.”

Other European leaders, such as European Commission president José Manuel Barroso and the head of the Socialist party in the European parliament Martin Schultz, have also complained about the lack of a new European treaty.

Government leaders are meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the Lisbon Treaty for the first time since the Irish rejected it in a referendum in June. The most likely outcome is that Irish prime minister Brian Cowen will be given more time to find a solution.

Diplomats are not particularly concerned about the fact that the new treaty might not be implemented on January 1, 2009 as planned. But members of the European parliament are unhappy with the delay.
Germany’s influential Christian Democrat (CDU) member of the European parliament, Elmar Brok, says “diplomats do not talk to the man in the street”. He believes the treaty still has a chance of being ratified before the European parliamentary elections in June next year. But if it isn’t then the elections will focus only on the treaty and not people’s “real problems”.
His colleague Jean-Luc Dehaene also warns the elections could turn into one big referendum on the EU treaty. “Euro-sceptics from across the continent will attempt to form an alliance. Left and right-wing populists will conduct a concerted campaign against the Lisbon Treaty.”

A more politically sensitive issue arising from the lack of a new treaty is the composition of the next European Commission. At present each of the 27 member states has its own commissioner but the current treaty calls for the number of commissioners to be reduced in 2009. However the treaty does not specify how many and which country or countries would lose “their representative”.

Many observers believe that Ireland will probably hold a new referendum towards the end of 2009, which means the new treaty could come into effect on January 1, 2010 - if the Irish vote “yes”. But Dublin has its doubts about the outcome now that Ireland is facing economic downturn as a result of the global financial crisis.

The Irish government needs a good excuse to organise a new referendum. Changes in the treaty would be a reason but it is unlikely that the EU would be willing to go through the whole renegotiation process. On top of this it would also mean that countries that have ratified the treaty would have to go through that process again too.

One option would be for the EU to draft a declaration guaranteeing that the new treaty would not interfere with the Ireland’s neutrality and abortion legislation - these were major stumbling blocks in the Irish “no”.
Another possibility would be to allow every country to keep its own commissioner. The existing Lisbon Treaty also calls for a reduction in the number of commissioners, but not until 2014. However insiders believe that it will be possible to get around this.
Germany’s European member of parliament Elmar Brok does not think the EU can wait until 2010 to implement the new treaty. “The British Conservatives could be back in power by then,” he warns. He predicts the Conservatives would launch a major campaign against the new treaty if it has not been ratified by the time they come to power.


The Long Path to 'Avrupa'

A really interesting article!

Turkey's push towards Europe, a drive that is older than the country itself, has long to helped to hold the internally divided country together.

And there is more herreee

Day Opening - October 15