31 January 2008

EU stamps out non rubber

Yesterday, the President of the [European] Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, asked for, and was granted, arbitrary powers to suspend the rules of the institution in order to disadvantage the tiny number of MEPs who want a referendum on the European Constitution Lisbon Treaty.

I have come to expect hypersensitivity to criticism, flouting of rules, intolerance of dissent, authoritarianism. But nothing had prepared me for such blatancy.

Hans-Gert openly admitted that the behaviour of his Euro-sceptic opponents was within the rules. And he wasn’t asking to change those rules – a procedure that would take time. No, he simply wanted permission to disregard them. Permission was duly granted, by 20 committee votes to 3.

[…] the shocking thing about their behaviour is not that they are trying to silence their critics, nor even that they are breaking the rules – after all, they are doing so on a much grander scale by reviving the constitution following two “No? votes. No, the breath-taking aspect of the whole business is that they haven’t troubled to hide the illegality of what they’re doing. They’ve happily put it all on paper.

Daniel Hannan, MEP, via No Pasaran

See, this is what’s wrong with American democracy — people disagree. That complete stifling of any dissent is what makes the EUlite so much better than our ruling class.

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Those numbers all look alike to me

The Boston Globe has just run an op-ed […] The bias of the op-ed speaks for itself, and I won’t even dwell on it. But I do want to call attention to this sentence:
Although Gaza daily requires 680,000 tons of flour to feed its population, Israel had cut this to 90 tons per day by November 2007, a reduction of 99 percent.
You don’t need to be a math genius to figure out that if Gaza has a population of 1.5 million, as the authors also note, then 680,000 tons of flour a day come out to almost half a ton of flour per Gazan, per day. […] an absurd and impossible “statistic” has made its way up the media feeding chain. It begins in an Egyptian newspaper, is cycled through a Palestinian activist, is submitted under the shared byline of a Harvard “research scholar,” and finally appears in the Boston Globe, whose editors apparently can’t do basic math. Now, in a viral contagion, this spreads across the Internet, where that “reduction of 99 percent” becomes a well-attested fact.

Martin Kramer

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