The Forgotten Referendums?

With all the focus on the Presidential Election on October 27th, the two Referenda on the Constitution seem to have slipped under the radar. At home we received the the Referendum Commission’s booklet to the referenda and much like their website I was very disappointed in the the information given.
While they give the basic information on the actual changes to the Constitution as set out in the 29th Amendment to the Constitution, regarding Judges Pay, and the 30th Amendment to the Constitution, regarding Oireachtas Investigations, as they do not give much of the possible limitations or possible consequences to

the changes.

The media attention focused on the Presidential Election has allowed the Government to slip these amendments under the public noses and there seem to be no focus on getting to explain the need or the changes they wish to make.

One source I have found to be quite good is the Journal.ie’s guide to the Referenda which does a far better role then the traditional media or the Referendum Commission itself.

So take the advice of the Referendum Commission and be informed when you go to vote on October 27th and not just what you are voting on but why!

Boycott Hungary?

Logo of the EU-ACP Joint AssemblyAn interesting possibility has arisen from ALDE MEP’s. They want to move a meeting of the EU-African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Joint Parliamentary Assembly to Brussels according to Euractiv (original in French and English) thereby boycotting Hunagary. This is seen as a democratic protest against the recent media law in Hungary. This law has met with opposition from within and without Hungary.

The idea of this boycott came after Belgian MEP Louis Michel, co-chair of the EU-ACP assembly, called a special meeting after receiving a letter from Luxembourg colleague Charles Goerens MEP, who wrote that the law ”violates democratic principles recognised by EU member states”.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly brings together MEPs and elected representatives from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that have signed the Cotonou Agreement.

MPs from the ACP states meet their European counterparts for two plenary sessions a year, focusing on democracy and human rights. The 2011 meetings are scheduled for 16-18 May in Budapest and 21-23 November in Sierra Leone.

This is an interesting tactic by the liberal MEPs and is a constructive way to voice criticism of Hungary’s media. If the meeting is moved it will mean some loss of face for the Hungarian Government.

Related Posts

Hungarian Media Law Translated

P icon with a newspaper
Image via Wikipedia

The National Media and Infocommunications Authority Hungary (Nmhh) have published the Act on Media Services and Mass Media on their website in PDF format.

It is nearly 200 pages long and is a tough read.

Article 187 is what sets out the fines which has a lot of people worried

(3) The Media Council and the Agency — with due heed to paragraph (7) — shall have the right to impose the following legal consequences:
a) it may exclude the infringer from the opportunity to participate in the tenders put out by the Fund for a definite period of time;
b) it may impose a fine on the infringer in line with the following limits:
ba) in case of infringement by a JBE media service provider and the media service provider under the regulations on the limitation of media market concentration, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 200,000,000;
bb) in case of infringement by a media service provider falling beyond the scope of item (ba), the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 50,000,000;
bc) in case of a newspaper of nationwide distribution, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 25,000,000;
bd) in case of a weekly periodical of nationwide distribution, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 10,000,000;
be) in case of other newspaper or weekly newspaper or periodical, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 5,000,000;
bf) in case of an online media product, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 25,000,000;
bg) in case of a broadcaster, the fine shall be an amount not exceeding HUF 5,000,000;
bh) in case of an intermediary service provider, the fine shall be of an amount not exceeding HUF 3,000,000;

Do read the full text! Now the Commission have something to work on.

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Presidency won’t hold back the Commission

Press room of the European Commission inside t...
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EUBusiness is reporting that the fact that Hungary is the current holder of the rotating EU Presidency will not hold them back from launching proceedings if the new media law is found to be in breach of Community Law.

“If there’s an infringement of community law, the Commission will launch proceedings and the fact Hungary presides the European Union will have no bearing,” Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said.

Bailly said EU legal experts would scrutinise the media law once they had received the translation.

“At this stage we are in talks with the Hungarian government and following clear procedures,” he said.

“But either it is in compliance with community law or there are doubts on its compliance and the Commission meets to decide to launch proceedings with a letter of warning,” he added

The entire Commission will be in Budapest on Thursday to meet with the Hungarian government, and more then likely these new media laws will come up either during the meeting or on the side of it.

It will be interesting to see where this will lead. It could definitely drag on through the entire 6 month presidency!

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Hungary Digging in its Heels

Special keys of a Hungarian keyboard. Such key...
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It was has not been a great start to its Presidency, Hungary is now digging its heels in response to criticism of its controversial media law.

“It isn’t necessary to change a Hungarian law just because it is subject to criticism from abroad,” Zoltan Kovacs, state secretary for communication, told national radio.

“Before criticising, let’s wait and see how this law works. We are confident it will be up to the task,” he added.

Source

This and the fact that it hasn’t been fully translated into English are the reasons that the Hungarian Government have not responded to EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes letter from before Christmas.

This is despite criticism from home and abroad of the new law. France stated that the new law was “incompatible with the application of a certain idea of the freedom of the press, endorsed by all the European treaties.”

The largest Daily newspaper in Hungary Nepszabadsag, declared on its front page “The freedom of the press in Hungary comes to an end,” in the 27 languages of the EU.

This issue isn’t going away on the Hungarians, they may want to look at the law again or else find their Presidency being distracted by it.

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YFG Conference Coverage – Irish Indo

Continuing my search through the papers from yesterday for coverage of the YFG Conference at the weekend, the only paper with articles about the conference is the Irish Independent and they have two articles.

The first article is on Simon Coveney’s speech and his promise to give up his ministerial car if he is appointed a Minister.

“If I become a minister, I will not accept a state car. I’m telling you that now. You can quote me on it,” he said at the Young Fine Gael national conference in Charleville, Co Cork.

The second is a wide ranging article on many of the motions and speeches at the Conference. I like that they picked up Eric Keane’s comment’s about Labour and I think he does have a point.

… a perception existed in Fine Gael that the party “can’t touch Labour”, according to Young Fine Gael’s new president Eric Keane, from Clare.”Yet they get up on every occasion and criticise us. The Labour Party claims to be more pious and principled than the Pope,” he said.

Mr Keane said two interviews with Mr Gilmore revealed he was in favour of “not cutting anything, spending everything”.

“Lies and deception and hypocrisy,” he said to rapturous applause.

They also cover some of the criticism of senior party policy, namely NewERA

Fine Gael’s much-vaunted job-creation policy also came in for criticism. Tadhg O’Donovan, from University College Cork, questioned why the party was proposing to sell state assets in a depressed market.”The price you get for something like the ESB will be less than five years ago or in five years time,” he said.

They also covered the motion on cancelling mortgage debt.

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Cabinet Meetings: Under Water and on top of Mountains

A post from the Thinkaboutit.eu Blog!

Last month the Maldives Government held a Cabinet meeting under waterto highlight the threat of global warming to the island nation. This month Nepal’s Government will hold a Cabinet meeting at the Mount Everest base-camp to highlight the threat to glaciers. While both of these events are being reported around the world, will they do anything in the lead up to the talks in Copenhagen?

While both events can be used to place moral pressure on other states to do something at the COP15 summit, I don’t very much if it will be a clincher to a deal. These events have great media potential and both Governments have created a brilliant media event around these meetings and have gotten headlines. But whats the point if they don’t produce a deal in December?

The Maldives will still be at risk of flooding and Nepal’s glaciers will still be in danger of melting even faster.

There is a lot of razzmatazz and drama being built up around the COP15 conference, for the benefit of the World’s media. Some of it is by poor countries, and more of it is by NGO’s in various countries. While in some cases this media around the conference us good as it raises the awareness around the conference and things we can do to lessen our impact on the environment. Will it have any effect on the Governments that represent us?

Will Merkel, Obama, Brown and Cowen become converted to the cause of what is actually needed due to the actions of the Maldives and Nepal Governments? I frankly don’t think so.

Something more needs to be done to convince them of the right path. But I fear it will take an environmental catastrophe for them to be convinced. I fear it will be too late then.

"Color-coded causes"

Via PersonalizedCause.com

When Chris Vance, the chairman of the state Republican Party, pinned on an orange ribbon during a rally opposing the confirmation of Christine Gregoire as Washington’s governor, he could have been signaling his support for cultural diversity, calling attention to the tragedy of world hunger or taking a stand against lupus.

He was doing none fo these, of course.

Vance and several other Republican lawmakers wore orange ribbons to make the connection between this state’s close gubernatorial contest and the fraudulent Ukrainian election that resulted in nationwide protests last fall. In November, supporters of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko took to the strees of Kiev en masse, waving banners and the orange flags of his party.

“There’s a real sense that what happened in the Ukraine happened here,” Vance said in a recent phone intervview. About the protests and the subsequent second election in that nation, Vance said, “We’re hoping we can do the same thing here, in a more civilized fashion.”.

Whether or not Vance and his fellow protesters, many of whom bore orange balloons, succeed in getting the revote they desire, they will certainly have sent a message, even if it wasn’t a clear one at first glance. With the increasing identification of colors with political or social causes, it’s a challenge to find a color that hasn’t been adopted by one organization or another.

“We’re using color coding and color symbolism now to an extent we never have,” said Margaret Walch, director of the New York-based Color Asssociation of the United States, a nearly 90-year old color forecasting organization. The facts would seem to bear her out: Almost every color has multiple causes.

More than 500 years ago, England was racked by a 30-year civil war between the House of Lancaster, represented by a red rose, and the House of York, represented by a white rose. A similar contemporary polarity might be the concept of the red and blue states, an entirely media-created visual metaphor – neither party has officially embraced red or blue as its defining color, according to Republican Vance and Paul Berendt, the chairman of the state Democratic Party.

Like the red state/blue state phenomenon, many of American culture’s most well-knwon color-cause associations have risen to prominence only in recent history:

THE YELLOW MILITARY RIBBON
Perhaps the oldest of the bunch, the yellow ribbon (seen these days on cars and bedecking the I-5 overpass near Fort Lewis in support of faraway soldiers) can trace its history back at least 50 years.

The Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center uncovered a folk tale from that time telling of a released convict whose family was to tie a ribbon to a tree in their front yard as a way of letting him know whether or not they wanted him back.

That tale morphed into the popular 1970s song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” which inspired Penne Laingen to do just that in her yard in 1979 as a symbol of hope that her husband, Ambassador Bruce Laingen, held during the Iraninan hostage crisis, would return home safely. Thus, a national craze was spawned. The folklife center’s Web site notes that there’s no real evidence to support the commonly held believe that the yellow ribbon has its roots in the Civil War.

THE RED HIV/AIDS RIBBON
In 1991, an offshoot of New York organization Visual AIDs decided to create a symbol to indicate support for people living and coping with AIDS and HIV.

Capitalizing on the popularity of the yellow-ribbon campaign backing soldiers serving in the first Iraq war, the group decided on a red ribbon, to indicate “passion – not only anger, but love, like a valentine,” according to Visual AIDS’ Web site.

Actor Jeremy Irons wore a red AIDS ribbon while hosting the 1991 Tony Awards ceremony, pusing the symbol into the limelight and making it a cultural icon.

THE PINK BREAST CANCER RIBBON
This can be traced to the early ’90s as well, according to the national organization Breast Cancer Action, when 68-year-old Charlotte Haley began distributing handmade peach-colored ribbons and urging people to wear them to “wake up our legislators and America” to the need for more cancer funding.

Soon after, Estee Lauder and Self magazine came knocking, hoping to use Haley’s ribbon, but she refused on the grounds that they were too commercial. Of course, that merely meant that Lauder and Self would create their own ribbon, the current pink one, chosen because the color is “soothing, comforting and healing”; Haley’s peach ribbon was soon forgotten.

Those overwhelmed by the rainbow of colored ribbons might do well to ask, “Why color? Why now?”

The Color Association’s color-devoted director, Walch, has a partial answer: “Color is the first thing you see..It’s often used as an identification for people you don’t know, because it’s so visible. Any color has high visibility.”

That might seem self-evident, but it’s worth considering. In this age of information overload, colors provide a simple, easy-to-parse identifier for a message.

All it takes is one look to see and understand a red ribbon. But things are more complicated now that several causes are connected with many colors. The only recourse is inventiveness. For instance, to show support for those coping with autism, pin on a multicolored jigsaw-puzzle ribbon (the puzzle represents the complex mystery of the condition).

Old story i know, but good points raised in it!

Journalists being jailed for internet articles

Nearly one third of journalists now serving time in prisons around the world published their work on the internet, the second-largest category behind print journalists, the US committee to protect journalists said today.

The bulk of internet journalists in jail – 49 in total – shows that “authoritarian states are becoming more determined to control the internet,” said Joel Simon, the New York-based group’s executive director.

“It wasn’t so long ago that people were talking about the internet as a new medium that could never be controlled,” he said, adding: “The reality is that governments are now recognising they need to control the internet to control information.”

When Iranian journalist Mojtaba Saminejad was sentenced to two years in prison for insulting his country’s leader, it was not for an article that appeared in a newspaper. His offending story was posted on his personal weblog.

Other noteworthy imprisoned internet journalists include US video blogger Joshua Wolf, who refused to give a grand jury his footage of a 2005 protest against a G-8 economic summit, and China’s Shi Tao, who is serving a 10-year sentence for posting online instructions by the government on how to cover the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

For the second year in a row, CPJ’s annual survey found the total number of journalists in jail worldwide has increased. There were 134 reporters, editors and photographers incarcerated as of December 1, nine more than a year ago.

In addition to the internet writers, the total includes 67 print journalists, eight TV reporters, eight radio reporters and two documentary filmmakers.

Among the 24 nations that have imprisoned reporters, China topped the list for the eighth consecutive year with 31 journalists behind bars – 19 of them internet journalists.

Cuba was second with 24 reporters in prison. Nearly all of them had filed their reports to overseas-based websites.

The US government and military has detained three journalists, including Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, who was taken into custody in Iraq nine months ago and has yet to be charged with a crime.

CPJ recorded the first jailing of an internet reporter in its 1997 census. Since then, the number has steadily grown and now includes reporters, editors and photographers whose work appeared primarily on the internet, in emails or in other electronic forms.

The increase is a testament to the increasing attention of government censors to the internet, media experts say.

“I refer to the freedom of the press as the canary in the coal mine,” said Joshua Friedman, director of international programmes at Columbia University’s school of journalism. “It’s a barometer of the insecurity of the people running these governments. One of the things that makes them insecure these days is the power of the internet.”

The rise in jailings of internet journalists is also an indication that reporters in authoritarian countries are increasingly using the web to circumvent state controls.

Cuban journalist Manuel Vasquez-Portal said he posted his articles on a Miami-based website because: “It was the only way to get the truth out of Cuba.”

Mr Vasquez-Portal, who was jailed for 15 months in 2003, said he had to call his stories in to the operator of the website, though, because Cubans are not allowed access to the internet.

Source: BreakingNews.ie

Read detailed accounts of each imprisoned journalist on the CPJ website

According to the CPJ 51 journalist have been killed this year and 1 journalist is classed as disappered during 2006

Use of the Word ‘Queer’

The issue of the word and its usage has been raised on a few gay Irish forums (www.angrypotato.net and www.usilgbt.org) recently. GCN and other magazines in the LGBT community seam to use the word ‘Queer’ as an all encompassing word for the LGBT community.

As someone who was bullied in second level, the word ‘queer’ became a word that I associated with fear and ignorance not acceptance or something to glorify.

According to www.dictionary.com ‘queer’ is defined as the following
1. Strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different; singular: a queer notion of justice.
2. Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady: Something queer about the language of the prospectus kept investors away.
3. Not feeling physically right or well; giddy, faint, or qualmish: to feel queer.
4. Mentally unbalanced or deranged
5. Slang (disparaging and offensive ).
a. Homosexual.
b. Effeminate; unmanly.
6. Slang. bad, worthless, or counterfeit.
7. To spoil; ruin
8. To put (a person) in a hopeless or disadvantageous situation as to success, favour, etc.
9. To jeopardize.
10. Slang (disparaging and offensive ). a homosexual, esp. a male homosexual.
11. Slang. counterfeit money.
12. Queer the pitch, British Informal. to spoil the chances of success.

Source (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=queer&x=0&y=0 )

Are any of these positive? No!

Magazines such as GCN should not use the word ‘queer’ as it is sending out the wrong message to society and especially young people who are vulnerable and may just be just coming out.

Some people may claim that gay, lesbian, bisexual, or Transgendered does not cover them and they need another word to describe who and what they are. They claim the word ‘queer’ does. To me that is like someone identifying as ‘faggot’ or ‘arse-bandit’ or one of the many words out their that is used to describe the LGBT community. These words are offensive and are words we would not use to describe ourselves outside of the gay community.

Then there is the argument of reclaiming the word. My question is why? We already all use words to describe ourselves there is enough there why do we need another? Why use a that is crass and offensive?

‘Queer’ does not need to be reclaimed it needs to banished for all the hurt it has caused, the labelling, and the harm it has caused. Why do we need one word to describe a community that is vibrant, different and reviles is difference. One word is not enough to describe us all! We are a strong community that is getting its voice heard. We need to banish the stereotypical images from society.

So here’s to not using the word ‘queer’ and getting our tongues around LGBT after a night out!