Friday, December 5, 2008

Dutch top list of rich-country donors

The Netherlands is at the top of a list released Thursday that measures rich governments' efforts to help build prosperity in poor countries around the world. The Netherlands is followed by Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Japan and South Korea are at the bottom and the United States also scored low. The US ranks 17th out of the 22 countries on the 2008 Commitment to Development Index, produced annually by the Centre for Global Development, an independent think tank that works to reduce global poverty.

The index uses data to measure and rank governments on aid, trade, migration, technology and investment policies, as well as how they handle environment and security matters.

South Korea ranked last, the group said, because of a "very small foreign aid program, the highest barriers to developing-country exports of all CDI countries, and the low number of unskilled immigrants entering from developing countries as a share of the South Korean population." Japan, second to last, was said to have a small aid program as a percentage of gross domestic product and limited immigration and imports.

The group faulted the United States "because a big chunk of its aid goes to countries that lack the ability to use it well but where the US has geopolitical interests, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq."
The Netherlands was praised for its large foreign aid and strong support for investment.

Some interesting points of view

All the wonders of the world

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Pharos of Alexandria

The Seven Wonders of the Medieval Mind

The Colosseum
The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
The Great Wall of China
The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing
The Hagia Sophia
The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Seven Natural Wonders of the World

Mount Everest
The Great Barrier Reef
The Grand Canyon
Victoria Falls
The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro
Paricutin Volcano
The Northern Lights

The Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

The Belize Barrier Reef
The Galapagos Islands
The Northern Red Sea
Lake Baikal
The Great Barrier Reef
The Deep Sea Vents

The Seven Wonders of the Modern World

The Empire State Building
The Itaipú Dam
The CN Tower
The Panama Canal
The Channel Tunnel
The North Sea Protection Works
The Golden Gate Bridge

The Seven Forgotten Natural Wonders of the World

Angel Falls
The Bay of Fundy
Iguaçú Falls
Krakatoa Island
Mount Fuji
Mount Kilimanjaro
Niagara Falls

The Seven Forgotten Modern Wonders of the World

The Clock Tower (Big Ben)
Eiffel Tower
The Gateway Arch
The Aswan High Dam
Hoover Dam
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
The Petronas Towers

The Seven Forgotten Wonders of the Medeival Mind

Abu Simbel Temple
Angkor Wat
Taj Mahal
Mont Saint-Michel
The Moai Statues
The Parthenon
The Shwedagon Pagoda

The Forgotten Wonders

The Aztec Temple
The Banaue Rice Terraces
The Borobudur Temple
The Inca City
The Statue of Liberty
The Mayan Temples
The Temple of the Inscriptions
The Throne Hall of Persepolis
The Suez Canal
The Sydney Opera House
The Red Fort in India

Dutch senate backs constitutional reviews

At the moment The Netherlands is the only EU member state where judges cannot rule that laws passed in parliament are unconstitutional. This will maybe change.

The Dutch senate on this week Tuesday narrowly voted in favour of draft legislation allowing judges to test laws to check if they are in line with the constitution, despite calls from the government for the upper house of parliament not to back the bill.

The lower house of parliament first approved the bill in 2004. At the time, only the Christian Democrats (CDA) opposed the measure which will remove a ban on such reviews from the Dutch constitution.
The current government, in which the CDA is the biggest party, advised senators to vote against the measure. "The benefits of this change do not outweigh the disadvantages," CDA home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst said last week.
The bill was introduced by Femke Halsema, leader of the opposition left-wing green party GroenLinks, and is supported by other left-wing parties.
Opponents argue that allowing a constitutional review would politicise the judiciary. They add that such reviews can currently be carried out using international treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights.
The narrow majority for the new law - 37 to 36 votes - does not mean the constitution will be amended straight away. To change the constitution, the bill needs to be supported by two-thirds of both houses of parliament in a new round of votes. This will take place after the next parliamentary elections in 2010.

Day Opening - December 5