Archive

Tag Archives: Politics

Maldives ministers prepare for underwater cabinet meeting

Maldivian-cabinet-members-002

Politics in the Maldives will sink to a new low later this month, when the nation’s cabinet holds its first meeting underwater.

The country, a collection of atolls and islands in the Indian Ocean, stands less than two metres above sea level, and as climate change causes seas to rise it will probably be the first nation to sink beneath the waves.

Under the threat of that looming watery Armageddon, President Mohamed Nasheed has announced plans to hold a cabinet meeting under the sea, ahead of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen this December.

Ministers clad in wetsuits and shouldering oxygen tanks, will meet about 20ft (6m) underwater on 17 October. They will communicate through hand gestures, according to Aminath Shauna, an official from the president’s office.

“It is to send a message to the world. The intention is to draw the attention of the world leaders to the issue of global warming and highlight how serious are the threats faced by Maldives as a result,” she said. “If we can stop climate change, the lowest-lying nation on earth will be saved.” The gathering will take place off the island of Girifushi, which lies about 20 minutes’ journey by speedboat from the capital, Male. One minister has already had to pull out: scuba instructors said the education minister was not fit enough to take on the dive.

()

Political geeks in Europe

Whether you call them politechnorati, eGov geeks or political hackers, they are giving new meaning to the word participatory democracy, which can be much more than “just” voting in an election every forth year. Most of them are working in the outskirts of political institutions, but influencing them by building tools that are vastly better than what the institutions can come up with themselves.

From my base in Brussels, where I work as a journalist who writes about communication technology and EU, I bump into them frequently. I will soon give you an overview of some of the hardworking political geeks in Europe. But be aware, this is just a small selection of them, there are many more, and we will continue writing about them.

Even though they come from different European countries and political cultures, they have a lot in common, such as the fight for:
– access to public data
– improving communication between politicians and constituency through new digital communication tools
– transparency in political processes
– encouraging use of open source
– teach people how to use the internet most efficiently to improve lives

At this point, the most innovative eGov geeks are based in Britain, but that can soon change. ()

J’en ai bien impression !

(For @thanough =)

University of California campuses erupt into protest
berkleyprotest460

The Berkeley protest was one of many held across California in an unprecedented day of action directed at university authorities and state governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger as he attempts to curb the state’s multibillion-dollar budget crisis. Faculty, students and unions from the University of California’s 10 campuses including its two most prestigious, UCLA and Berkeley, joined forces in what was the biggest student protest for more than a generation.

The scale of the protests has come as a shock to state authorities. What began as a marginal dispute in the summer between university faculty and their management over cuts in salaries has in recent weeks escalated into a statewide walkout by students and faculty as well as a day of strike action by campus technical workers against layoffs and diminished terms and conditions.

The turning point came two weeks ago when university authorities warned of savage budget cuts to deal with a $750m (£466m) shortfall and mooted huge increases in the cost of tuition. “UC regents vote next week to raise student fees, already up 250% over the last decade, by an additional 30%,” was how one group of protesters summed up the situation today.

()

____________________

A propos: Free Speech Movement 1964

Questions for Ken

What advice do you have for young people who want to engage with politics and fight the recession?
Noel Hatch, national chair, Compass Youth

Join a political party so that politicians find it harder to ignore you. Argue with your friends that doing nothing is not an option and get them involved. And cause as much trouble as you can.

Why are you getting married at London Zoo?
James Beveridge

It’s great for the kids and it will be poignant for me. I applied for a job there in 1962 and they turned me down – although they did later have me as vice-president of the Zoological Society.

What three things would you do to improve allotment provision in London?
Becky Hogge

One, set aside space in the Olympic Park; two, ban development on allotment land; and three, introduce a London-wide, cross-borough waiting list.

At what stage did you know that Gordon Brown was going to lose the next election?
Peter Bingle

Curiously enough, I think the Tory domination of the polls makes it theirs to lose. They should be treated as the incumbent and subjected to relentless scrutiny. Tory economic policy is so hardline that it has the potential to unite very large layers of society in opposition. If Cameron wins, we may be in for a period of revolving-door government like the 1960s and 1970s.

For which musicians would you dust down your microphone to make a record with, as you did with Blur in 1995?
Jenny Simmons

This answer is based on the fantasy that I have a decent singing voice, which anyone who has seen me do karaoke knows is far from reality. I would work with Blur again, who are both a great band and really good people. And I’d love to duet with Scott Walker.

Is there anything you think Boris is doing better than you?
Tom Daniels

Yes, falling in the river.

In Norway, prisoners take part in TV debates

It was a stunning political debate that would be hard to imagine in Britain. But it was not so shocking in Norway, where a general election is taking place on Monday.

The topic was crime policy and – so far so normal – it featured a panel of politicians discussing the best ways to reduce crime. But the live TV show was set inside a high security prison, the audience consisted exclusively of guards and prisoners, with one inmate, Bjørnar Dahl, taking part in the panel alongside the justice minister and the deputy leader of the main opposition party.

“It was high time the politicians came here to talk about crime policy,” explains Dahl, 43, a few days after the event. “This is about us, what happens in prisons and how we can return to society in a way that is beneficial to everyone.”

Dahl, who is serving a five-year sentence for complicity in smuggling amphetamines, stole the show. When the representative from the populist Future party, Per Sandberg, argued that there was an increase in criminality in Norway caused by gangs of Eastern Europeans organising beggars in the streets of Oslo, Dahl dismissed him as talking “crap” and asked him whether he had any knowledge of the situations the beggars were coming from.

When Sandberg tried to argue that the solution to reduce drug abuse in prisons was to increase the level of control on inmates, Dahl shot back: “We’re controlled from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. I get strip-searched every time I have a visit and all my phone calls are monitored. You can’t have more control than we have now.” ()

Maddow’s “Pizza Parable” Demonstrates Futility Of “Bipartisan” Health Care Reform

Two people agree that the only prescription for their hunger is to order a pizza. But what happens when one of those people doesn’t want pepperoni, doesn’t want sausage, doesn’t want olives, doesn’t want cheese, doesn’t want crust, doesn’t want any of the components essential to making a pizza? Well, if the other person doesn’t step up and act pro-actively to get fed, everyone starves. That’s the parable that Rachel Maddow and her colleague Kent Jones performed on The Rachel Maddow Show last night, and yes: this is an effective demonstration of the strange relationship that has developed between the pro-reform Democratic Party and their Republican colleagues, who say they want health care reform, but who’ve made it clear that they won’t actually be voting for reform, no matter how awesomely “bipartisan” it is.