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Italy: Double Standards

'Povera Patria', courtesy of Daniele Muscetta / flickr

'Povera Patria', courtesy of Daniele Muscetta / flickr

A dogmatic society ruled by organized criminals and an antidemocratic populist leader… Sounds like some post-Soviet state? Well actually, I mean Italy.

I don’t understand why the country continues to enjoy such a privileged place in the EU, the G-8, and among the Western elite generally. Italy shows a serious democratic deficit and presents some worrying features of failing governance. » More

ISN Weekly Theme: Failed States

Resting under a galool tree in Somalia / Photo: Somali Nomad, flickr

Resting under a galool tree in Somalia / Photo: Somali Nomad, flickr


What constitutes a failed state? This week, we will examine that question and more as part of our weekly theme:

Japan: Apologetic (Political) Culture

Taro Aso apologizes to party fellows, 21 July 2009

Today, I, Taro Aso, decided to dissolve the House of Representatives and seek a popular mandate.  [I]mprovident statements I have made caused mistrust among the public and damaged its confidence in politics. […]

This is also with regard to the disunity within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). My shortcomings have created mistrust among the public, and as the President of the party, I should like to extend my most sincere apologies.

Thus were the words amplified by apologetic bows the Japanese prime minister uttered at a press conference 21 July. In my ears they sounded like the admission of failure and I expected Aso to announce his resignation the next minute.

He did not. After a coup withing his own party failed, Aso is staying firm and is propping up the party for the upcoming general elections.

Japanese politics of recent years can be read as a history of apologies. » More

The Rise and Fall of “Obamaism” in Israel

Imitation may be the greatest form of flattery, but flattery currently is not an attribute of the Netanyahu-Obama relationship.

Do you remember last winter, when Netanyahu imitated Obama’s campaign strategy?

Netanyahu...Obamafied

Netanyahu...Obamafied

The imitation did not end with the Netanyahu campaign’s copying of the color and design of Obama’s website. The same way the Obama campaign linked Republican presidential candidate John McCain to then president George W Bush, the Netanyahu campaign sought to portray Tzipi Livni as the status quo candidate while portraying Netanyahu as the candidate of change. Last November, Ron Dermer, one of Mr Netanyahu’s top campaign advisers, went as far as to state that “Netanyahu is the real candidate of change for Israel.”

But while Obama actually sought to break with his predecessor’s foreign policy, Netanyahu has so far not given a new direction to Israeli foreign policy.

Obama may have served as a role model of how to conduct a successful election campaign, but that was pretty much it. Netanyahu merely copied the shell of “Obamaism,” but certainly not its content.
» More

EPC: Waaaahhhhhhh

Photo: Addox/flickr

Photo: Addox/flickr

In one of the whiniest tirades I’ve read written by anyone over 3 feet tall, the European Publishers Council released the the so-called “Hamburg Declaration on Intellecutal Property Rights” in June.

The temper tantrum Declaration was signed by around 160 publishers and was meant to prompt the European Commission into action, calling on it to improve the “protection of intellectual property on the [i]nternet.”

Some gems from the document:

Numerous providers are using the work of authors, publishers and broadcasters without paying for it. Over the long term, this threatens the production of high-quality content and the existence of independent journalism.

I won’t even get into how this is totally not true. Oh by the way, signatories included folks from the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times Group, Ringier and Axel Springer….all bastions of independent journalism.

There should be no parts of the Internet where laws do not apply.

Oh really?

Legislators and governments at the national and international level should protect more effectively the intellectual creation of value by authors, publishers and broadcasters. Unauthorized use of intellectual property must remain prohibited whatever the means of distribution.

Yikes. I didn’t ask permission to cut and paste. Sorry y’all.

In any case, Google was one of the first to respond to the EPC’s call with a helpful hint: Exclude yourself from Google.

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