Friday, June 23, 2006

Petnajst let samostojnosti Slovenije

V nedeljo bomo praznovali petnajst let osamosvojitve. 25. junij 1991 ostaja najsvetlejša točka naše zgodovine, ki nas še vedno osrečuje in nas obenem navdaja s ponosom. Vsem nam se pa zastavlja pa se vprašanje ali je bilo teh petnajst let zgodba o uspehu? Ni dvoma da se v Sloveniji živi dosti bolje, kot se je živelo ob osamosvojitvi in da imamo veliko zgodbic o uspehu, s katermi se lahko hvalimo pred svetom. Tako lahko rečemo, da je bilo prvih petnajstih let zelo uspešnih, čeprav jih ne gre opisati kot odlične. Zato kaj takega bi se morali znebiti vseh čejev, ki spremljajo javno življenje slovenske družbe vse od osamosvojitve naprej. Prav ta težnja k odličnosti pa nam v slovenski družbi zelo manjka. Matej v svojem postu zelo dobro ugotavlja, da smo Slovenci trenutno na najvišji točki v vsej naši zgodovini, vendar ni razloga, da ne bi težili še k večji zrelosti naše družbe in njene konkurenčnosti navzven. Ko nas tujci povprašajo kako se živi v Sloveniji, se Slovenci radi pohvalimo, da je pri nas kvaliteta življenja zelo visoka. Da se da v enem dnevu smučati na Krvavcu in namakati v Jadranskem morju ter enako mogoče v istem dnevu osvojiti naše vršace v Julijcih in se potem namakati v termalnih vodah naših zdravilišč na drugem koncu Slovenije. Slednje verjetno drži, vendar se človek vpraša ali je to ista država in družba, kjer je bilo po podatkih iz zdravstvenega statističnega letopisa leta 2003 opravljeno 6873 splavov, pri čemer se je istega leta rodilo samo 17.066 otrok. Da ne začnemo razprave o samomorih, ki jih je bilo 562. Iz teh golih podatkov tako izhaja, da bi bila kvaliteta življenja pri nas ne more biti kdo ve kako visoka. Večina prebivalstva podobno kot v prejšnjih desetletjih in stoletjih trdo dela za svoj vsakodnevni kruh. Stanovanjsko vprašanje v mestih posebej še za mlade družine ostaja skoraj nerešljiv problem. Tretjina prebivalstva je v pokoju, kar povečuje pritisk na mlade generacije, ki so res nekakšno žrtveno jagnje za razvoj Slovenije, saj morajo loviti stik z Evropo, ki so ga stare generacije izgubile, ko so se klečeplazile pred totalitarnimi komunisti. Če k temu dodamo še povsod navzoče obtožbe o korupciji in nepotizmu raznih političnih, gospodarskih in družinskih kartelov, postane vsakomur jasno, da nas v tej prelepi deželici čaka še ogromno dela in točenja čistega vina, da prekinemo vezi in navade iz preteklosti, in zadihamo neobremenjeni in motivirani v prihodnost. Pravičnosti ne smemo nikomur odreči!

Nazadnje še, prijatlji,
kozarce zase vzdignimo,
ki smo zato se zbratli,
ker dobro v srcu mislimo;
dókaj dni
naj živí
vsak, kar nas dobrih je ljudi!; France Prešeren, Zdravljica, 8. kitica

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Slovenia's 15th Anniversary of Independence

This weekend Slovenian cities, above all the capital Ljubljana, will be wrapped into joyfull colors. Slovenia is celebrating the 15th anniversary of its independence won from Yugoslavia on the 25th of June 1991.

In many ways Slovenia in which we presently live is an utterly enjoyable place, with a great quality of life, green and unspoiled environment... For a visitor Slovenia is a marble bellow the Alps.

However, there is another darker side to it. As a legacy of the totalitarian regime and as a legacy of ever lacking genuine liberalism, Slovenia is a close-minded place, with monopolies ranging from all sides particularly hindering the development and welfare of its young generations.

It is the latter problem that Slovenia and its stakeholders will need to face and tackle seriously in order to make our Homeland a real flurishing place in all terms: social, intellectual and personal...

Long live Slovenia!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Celebrando el 'sí' en la Cataluňa

Los catalanes han dicho "sí" a un estatuto que habla de nación en referencia a Cataluña. El 73,9 por ciento de los electores que acudieron a votar lo hicieron a favor del nuevo texto que ha supuesto un empeño personal de Maragall y del propio Zapatero. El "no" defendido por razones diferentes por el Partido Popular y Esquerra Republicana se quedó con el 20,7 por ciento de los votos.

Han dado un amplio respaldo al "sí" , un 73,9 por ciento de los catalanes ha votado a favor del nuevo Estatuto, aunque la participación no ha llegado ni si quiera a la mitad de los electores. Sólo un 49 por ciento han ejercido su derecho. Cifra que queda lejos de la anterior consulta del 79. Entonces casi un 60 por ciento de los votantes acudió a las urnas para refrendar el Estatuto de Sau. Más de un 20 por ciento de los catalanes ha dado la espalda al texto que les define como nación. Y cinco de cada cien han votado en blanco.

Texto aprobado por las cortes.

Texto aprobado por la Cataluňa.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What Future for Kosovo ?

2006 is the year in which the final status of Kosovo is to be decided. Direct talks have begun between Belgrade and Prishtina to work towards a negotiated settlement covering aspects ranging from the protection of cultural heritage to local government reform which should empower Kosovo-Serb majority municipalities. Independence for the territory, however, seems to be a foregone conclusion.

German Law Journal’s November issue (Vol. 7, No. 11) will focus on a number of international legal issues connected with the final status determination of Kosovo, such as the legal capacity of the Security Council to impose territorial boundaries absent a negotiated settlement, the implications of Kosovo’s independence for the future of the law of self-determination, as well as problems related to the legitimacy of ‘guided sovereignty’.

Anybody interested? - Call for Papers

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Football wars

In last days our globe has been literally bombarded by football euphoria. Not that we would have anything against three world cup matches a day, to the contrary, it is entertaining to watch Angola play Portugal or Trinidad and Tobago drew with Sweden. For that fact, it is certainly better than what happened on July 14, 1969, when Honduras and El Salvador went to war because of football. The whole drama have been marvellously recaptured by Ryszard Kapuscinski in The Soccer War.

_________

The bitterly contested first match played at Tegucigelpa, Honduras saw the Hondurans beat the El Salvadorans during the last minute of play, giving them a 1-0 win. The populace went wild. Fights broke out between the respective loyalists. The stadium was set afire. Newspapers on both sides before the match waged a campaign of hate, slander and abuse, calling each other Nazis, dwarfs, drunkards, sadists, spiders, aggressors and thieves.

In the return match that took place in El Salvador, things got quickly out of control. The hotel where the Honduran team was sleeping was put to the torch during the early hours of the night. Luckily, everyone got out unharmed. After escaping from a burning hotel, the visiting team took to the field like a bunch of zombies. Needless to say, Salvador won the game.
After the game, cars were set afire in the streets. Store windows were broken. Local hospitals set new attendance records. Miraculously, the Honduran team slipped back across the border without actually losing a single man.

With Salvador and Honduras having won one game apiece, there were no illusions about what was going to happen when they met in Mexico City for the final confrontation. Radio, television and newspapers in both countries screamed for blood. In the end, that’s exactly what it turned out to be — a war.

Early on the morning of July 14, 1969, concerted military action began in what came to be known as the Soccer War. The Salvadoran air force attacked targets inside Honduras and the Salvadoran army launched major offensives along the main road connecting the two nations and against the Honduran islands in the Golfo de Fonseca. At first, the Salvadorans made fairly rapid progress. By the evening of July 15, the Salvadoran army, which was considerably larger and better equipped than its Honduran opponent, pushed the Honduran army back over eight kilometers and captured the departmental capital of Nueva Ocotepeque. Thereafter, the attack bogged down, and the Salvadorans began to experience fuel and ammunition shortages. A major reason for the fuel shortage was the action of the Honduran air force, which--in addition to largely destroying the smaller Salvadoran air force--had severely damaged El Salvador's oil storage facilities.

A ceasefire was called by the OAS the next day but El Salvador resisted the call and the war went on. Finally, with the Salvadoran army bogging down, a cease-fire was arranged on the night of July 18; it took full effect only on July 20.

The causal aspects of what is now called the Soccer Wars is complex but the manifestation took place in the most overtly nationalistic setting, a series of soccer matches between both countries. It was the effect of a deteriorating situation between Honduras and El Salvador that had gone on for a long time and involved the lack of land reform and trade imbalance, primarily on the part of El Salvador with its small size, high population density, and relatively developed economy. The fuedal structure of El Salvadoran society saw land in the hands of a few prominent families. The rest of the populace was largely landless. The years saw an influx of thousands of illegal Salvadorean immigrants into the border areas of Honduras where land was relatively unclaimed.

The 100 hour war took 6000 lives, 12,000 were wounded, and 50,000 people rendered homeless The cause was ostensibly the World Cup matches between Honduras and El Salvador qualifying for Mexico '70.

__________

Leaving the football war between Honduras and Salvador aside, we can now reveal our favourite for winning World Cup.

Vamos, vamos, Argentina... **

Vamos, vamos, Argentina,
vamos vamos a ganar...
que esta barra quilombera
no te deja
no te deja de alentar...

Vamos, vamos, Argentina,
vamos vamos a ganar...
que esta barra quilombera
no te deja
no te deja de alentar...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

United States (CIA) and 14 European countries - ‘spider’s web’ of detentions and transfers

The United States has progressively woven a clandestine “spider’s web” of disappearances, secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers – spun with the collaboration or tolerance of Council of Europe member states, the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) said today.

The report by Swiss Senator Dick Marty follows a seven-month inquiry.

“It has now been demonstrated incontestably, by numerous well-documented and convergent facts, that secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving European countries have taken place, such as to require in-depth inquiries and urgent responses by the executive and legislative branches of all the countries concerned,” the committee said.

Read the full draft report here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Can a cat own internet domain name?

Very interesting blog Opinio Iuris recently discussed very bizarre internet domain dispute. The case involves a claim to the domain name "mymorganstanleyplatinum.com" brought by Morgan Stanley against respondent "Meow, Respondent Penelope Cat of Nash DCB, Ashbed Barn, Boraston Track, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, WR15 8LQ, Great Britain."

Below is the key section of the opinion holding that a cat cannot in good faith own a domain name that is confusingly similar to the name Morgan Stanley:

Respondent maintains that it is a cat, that is, a well-known carnivorous quadruped which has long been domesticated. However, it is equally well-known that the common cat, whose scientific name is Felis domesticus, cannot speak or read or write. Thus, a common cat could not have submitted the Response (or even have registered the disputed domain name). Therefore, either Respondent is a different species of cat, such as the one that stars in the motion picture “Cat From Outer Space,” or Respondent’s assertion regarding its being a cat is incorrect.

If Respondent is in fact a cat from outer space, then it should have so indicated in its reply, in order to avoid unnecessary perplexity by the Panel. Further, it should have explained why a cat from outer space would allow Mr. Woods to use the disputed domain name. In the absence of such an explanation, the Panel must conclude that, if Respondent is a cat from outer space, then it may have something to hide, and this is indicative of bad faith behavior.

On the other hand, if Respondent’s assertion regarding its being a cat is incorrect, then Respondent has undoubtedly attempted to mislead this Panel and has provided incorrect WHOIS information. Such behavior is indicative of bad faith....

Respondent cites Morgan Stanley v. Michael Woods, FA 604103 (Nat. Arb. Forum Jan. 16, 2005), in which the Panel found that Complainant had failed to prove bad faith registration and use. But that case must be distinguished from the present case, because in that case the Respondent was Mr. Woods, and not a cat or someone who has misled the Panel by pretending to be a cat.

The Panel finds that Respondent’s assertions that it is a cat provide sufficient evidence to conclude that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. And this despite the fact that the Panel, unlike Queen Victoria, is amused.

The backstory is that one Michael Woods, the owner of the cat, is a business consultant who does management seminars for small and medium-sized businesses regarding the failure by large companies to register obvious domain names. As the case notes, "[h]aving the domain name registered by me allows Mr. Woods to introduce some humor into his presentations."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Open Society and Its “Housewitzes” – in Defense of Democratic Realism

“Housewitz” case can be seen as a symptom of ever recurring enemies of open society. Leaving free speech issues aside, central question remains how rigorously should state comply with the principle of neutrality between the different conceptions of the good and whether it may use its legal system to propagate certain values while hindering others. In aftermath of “Housewitz” I’m discussing here only a particular exemption of due neutrality principle, namely that of fostering patriotism, which includes promotion of civic-humanist values and national culture with language.

In response to my post, Avbelj takes a principled position: “Let the public discourse, free speech fully value laden and pursued by autonomous individuals striving for their conceptions of the good decide the course, the direction of our societies.” Noble goal, no doubt, but with a minor flaw: “Housewitz” is not merely a production of a student with too much time and bad taste respectively – it’s the repetition of a bad dream from deep beneath European subconsciousness. Repetition of a nightmare that is one of central experiences of today’s Europe, to quote Jürgen Habermas and Jaques Derrida in a rare joint public intervention, and an experience that at the same time binds us to reflect on moral basis of politics:

"Das heutige Europa ist durch die Erfahrungen der totalitären Regime des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts und durch den Holocaust - die Verfolgung und Vernichtung der europäischen Juden, in die das NS-Regime auch die Gesellschaften der eroberten Länder verstrickt hat - gezeichnet. Die selbstkritischen Auseinandersetzungen über diese Vergangenheit haben die moralischen Grundlagen der Politik in Erinnerung gerufen."

Having this in mind, it is even more disturbing to see a recent increase in racial violence in many parts of Europe. One would like to think that Jörg Haider’s tremendous election success few years ago was more or less anecdotal and isolated event, but we have seen most recently huge problems and even violence linked to unsuccessful integration of large immigrant communities in France and Germany and other parts of Europe. This indicates fragility of European democracies, perhaps not yet an extreme fragility but certainly more serious as we liked to believe. Even European Constitution referendum campaigns that took place last year turned in many EU member states into platforms for far right and far left demagogies to which not insignificant parts of population are becoming increasingly vulnerable. It’s a European weakness on at least two levels: on one level we have seen difficulties of social cohesion while on the other chauvinist forces of both left and right persuasions are sporadically gaining momentum using economic uncertainty as a launching pad.

The ontological argument, regarding the factors that account for social life shows that, at least in contemporary European democracies, patriotism must be an exception to due neutrality of the state. European states are not only entitled to, but simply must propagate democratic values as well as historical set of institutions, national culture and language. A principle, even a neutrality principle is not an idée fixe, to quote from Philip Selznick. It is not an instrument of ideological thinking; not a prejudice; not a rule to be applied mechanically. It belongs to a larger whole, which includes textured meanings and concrete understandings as well as abstract ideas. Only if that whole is implicated there can be genuinely principled judgment.

Learning from the Weimar experience, postwar European policy makers understood this very well. They knew that rhapsodizing about neutrality and moral autonomy is not enough. Not just by reading Machiavelli, they also learned from experience that in democratic politea patriotism provides for the necessary strong allegiance from its citizens while in tyranny a raw force is sufficient. In free society something more than Habeas Corpus or Bill of Rights is needed. Since such a society relies on this allegiance there must be identification around the sense of common good - or around democratic values vested in the Constitution if you will. After the war, it was natural for democracies to give incentives to newly found democratic cultures. At the same time it was self-evident that it is not always necessary to tolerate intolerance. Typical examples of such sound democratic realism are two landmark cases by German Bundesverfassungsgericht, namely SRP-Verbot (BVerfGE 2, 1) and KPD-Verbot (BVerfGE 5, 85) in which postwar(!) German communist party and nazi party were banned due to their authoritarian agendas. No particular violent actions were required to justify the ban - an abstract “fundamental and longstanding tendency to fight free democratic order” was sufficient for the Court.

As regards to necessary civic allegiance to free society, strict neutrality may be applicable in USA where there has always been enviable, almost exact fusion between nation's democratic values and free institutions. In such a stable environment there is much smaller threat to civic values even if society has moved more towards procedural form of liberalism. But in Europe, with its dark past and in many respects troubled present, this is not the case. Sometimes lawmaker or courts must intervene in order to secure democracy. There is nothing paradoxical in this - if we only understand a simple truth pointed out by Richard Rorty, saying that due »respect for difference« does not require you to »respect every human being, and every human culture - no matter how vicious or stupid«.

Zbor za boljso Ljubljano

Zbor za Ljubljano je v sredo, 24. maja 2006 predstavil izjavo "Skupaj za boljšo Ljubljano" in s tem stopil na pot k spremembam v glavnem mestu Republike Slovenije. Izjava Zbora za Ljubljano je dostopna tu.

Podpisniki deklaracije se zavzemajo:

da Ljubljana končno postane enotno mesto, ne pa sestavljanka iz petih delov;

da Ljubljana postane center evropske regije in bolj konkurenčna Trstu in Gradcu, torej prestolnica v Evropi;

da Ljubljana uveljavi sodoben gospodarski koncept, ki naj privede do »na znanju temelječe družbe«, ne pa da se utaplja v netransparentnosti in korupciji;

da Ljubljana razvozlja nemogoč prometni vozel, uredi svoje industrijske predele, se razvije v mesto z upravno-gospodarskim delom in postane prijetno, kulturno ter čisto bivalno okolje z visoko življenjsko ravnijo. V Ljubljani ne sme biti ne socialnih ne verskih getov! Zato spoštujemo kulturno in versko svobodo in sožitje;

da se v Ljubljani opravi kvalitetna ekološka sanacija – ohraniti moramo dobro pitno vodo, odvesti odpadne vode na neoporečen način, trajno rešiti problem odpadkov ter poskrbeti za kvalitetno in racionalno ogrevanje;

da Ljubljana dobi čim prej sodobno avtobusno in železniško postajo;

da Ljubljana zlasti mladim zgradi dodatno športno in rekreacijsko infrastrukturo ter posodobi obstoječo;

da Ljubljana postane bolj varno mesto in napove boj preprodaji drog in kriminalu;

da mestna oblast končno prisluhne svojim prebivalcem in oblikuje mesto v naš skupen, prijeten in varen dom!

Essay Competition on Population Politics and Human Rights

An International Working Paper/Essay Competition and Workshop of the Irmgard Coninx Foundation, the Social Science Research Center Berlin and Humboldt-University Berlin February 15th – 20th, 2007.

Workshop Participation in Berlin, February 15th – 20th. Successful applicants to the competition will be invited to Berlin to discuss their research and ideas with prominent scholars at one of Europe's leading research institutions. Deadline for incoming papers: July 30, 2006.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

"Your uncle?" Horatio said, startled by his friend's words. "Murdered his own brother? I don't believe it."

"You didn't believe in ghosts either," Hamlet said. "But there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. I tell you, something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

It sounds as if Prince Hamlet’s remark about his native kingdom is ringing true, especially in the last decade. Having known Denmark in its society in the last five years, one cannot escape from commenting on the present wealth and health of Danish society and nation. On this blog, we already dealt with the foolishness of cartoon controversy, which was triggered by free speech demagogy by Danish daily Jyllands Posten. In the country where police randomnly stops cars only because of the skin colour of its drivers, one cannot high expectations with regard to human rights. In the country, where asylum under 1951 Refugee convention is as difficult to obtain as now to buy Danish diary products in the United Arab Emirates, human rights are left hanging in the dressing room. Danish politicians say since the respect for human rights is so high, that does not need to ponder about them anymore. Denmark as one of Nordic good Samaritan abroad has a self-image and also international reputation of excellence. Or at least it had such a reputation. One may acquire a refugee on the basis of humanitarian standard and get permission to stay only if one has one of life-threatening diseases. Last year Danish government provided temporary protection to certain individuals who fall outside the definition of the 1951 UN convention and the 1967 protocol and provided protection to approximately 315 persons during the year. So that one can die here in Denmark and not at home. Most of refugees travel rather over the Oresund to Sweden, which only in the last year admitted more than 46.000 of them, either on refugee convention basis or on the humanitarian basis. Another fact is that. Danish governement and its prime minister never apologised for xenophobic cartoons and their aftermath. Beyond daily politics and criticism of few academics, it appears that no one really gives much attention to what is going on with health of Danish society. It appears that majority of people has an excellent living standard and they do not want to bother with miseries of minorities of Danish nation who struggles alongside them.

New technology for security or interference with privacy rights?

Scandinavian airlines plan to introduce the technology know as biometrics later this year, first in Sweden and later at other Scandinavian airports. This technology means that when you check your baggage, you will be asked for your fingerprint. The distinguishing print features will be then temporarily stored in digital form. At the boarding gate, your fingerprint will be verified and matched against the data on your checked baggage. After the aircraft departs, the digital data will be erased.

The process has been approved by the Swedish Data Inspection Board. However, the question remains whether such a process is necessary in democratic society?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Peter Handke's Play Retracted from Comédie Française Theatre Programme

World class Austrian author makes headlines again. The director of Comédie Française retracted Handke's play titled "Das Spiel vom Fragen oder Die Reise ins sonore Land" from theatre program, due to Handke's role in Milošević's funeral. Handke delivered a eulogy there. The premiere of the new play was planned for January 2007.

In Slovenia, Peter Handke is - beside his plays - best known for his Slovenian ancestry (his mother is Slovene), his opposition to Slovene independence in 1990, his funny affection to former Yugoslavia, his passionate siding with Yugoslav forces during the war in Bosnia and his adoration for Slobodan Milošević.

In short: for his art and for his irrational politics.

Here's a brief report by German paper Die Welt:

Die Comédie Française hat ein für Anfang 2007 geplantes Stück von Peter Handke vom Spielplan genommen, weil der österreichische Schriftsteller zum Begräbnis des ehemaligen jugoslawischen Präsidenten Slobodan Milosevic eine Rede gehalten hat. Handkes Stück "Das Spiel vom Fragen oder Die Reise ins sonore Land" sollte im Januar und Februar 2007 aufgeführt werden. "Peter Handkes Anwesenheit bei Milosevics Beerdigung ist eine Beleidigung der Opfer", sagte der Verwaltungschef des Theaters, Marcel Bozonnet, der Zeitung "Le Monde" zur Begründung. "Selbst, wenn Handkes Stück kein Propagandawerk ist, so verschafft es dem Autor öffentliche Aufmerksamkeit. Ich hatte keine Lust, ihm diese zu geben."