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Rosemary Bechler

Rosemary Bechler is a mainsite editor at openDemocracy

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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Bolton: There's no such thing as the UN

Just when we were getting used to the bizarre idea of Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank, Citizens for Global Solutions remind us it's last chance to oppose the nomination of John Bolton for American UN Ambassador. It's one of those internal US decisions, which could become a real headache for the whole world. Democracy Arsenal offers top ten reasons why Bolton should not be named. And here are some of the interesting comments Bolton has made throughout his career:

Is the UK more Creative or Common?

openDemocracy's Becky Hogge writes another great article. On O'Reilly, she welcomes the Creative Commons copyright license to the UK. She explains the legal difference between the US and UK licenses, which allow freer use and re-use of copyrighted material.

She says adoption of the license is likely to be more painfree in the UK, where there is a stronger tradition of public service media than in America. Certainly, the BBC are supportive, as are OfCom, Research Councils UK, JISC, the Museums Libraries and Archives Council, The National Health Service, and the British Library who have all promised to consider CC licenses for future projects.

Pretend-blogger Blair

Apropos the UK election on the Web and trusting Tony, does anybody really believe Tony Blair's Campaign Diary (written in the first person) is really written by him? Robin Grant doesn't think so either. Pretending to blog doesn't seem like a very effective way to be cool.

I was trying to remember what the candidate blogs were like in the US election heyday. I didn't find any archives. But I did find this old nifty comparison survey. Apparently Kerry wasn't much of a blogger, but Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean were. Maybe because they knew they wouldn't get elected. Bush? As the authors conclude, "It’s probably not fair to expect the Leader of the Free World to post blog entries." But maybe the Leader of Britain should.

New report: Arab world is democratic "black hole"

The third Arab Human Development Report was released this week after three months delay, allegedly due to American and Egyptian objections to the report's criticism of the war in Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank (download it here).

The French Republic and "papolatrie"

A new sin has sprung up in France: "papolatrie", or pope worship. Today's IHT describes the debate sparked by the government marking the pope's death.

"The government is giving the impression that it is an advocate for one religion, and that religion is Catholicism. And that's an abuse of power," argues Yves Contassot of France's Green Party.

62% of French people describe themselves as Catholic, the article notes, "but the country also is struggling to shore up its secular identity after banning religious symbols from schools, including Muslim headscarves, Jewish yarmulkes and large Christian crosses".

New Tango

Astor Piazzolla is widely regarded as the most important tango musician in the latter half of the twentieth century. His creation "New Tango/ tango nuevo" changed the face of traditional tango music. Tony Staveacre, who recorded Piazzolla's last live session, pays tribute to the man "who took no prisoners".  

The five minutes of Pope John Paul II

As millions gather to witness the Polish pope’s Rome burial, Ariel Dorfman recalls the five minutes in Chile that define his life’s paradox.

Nick Herbert - Conservative choice

The public row over the choice of Nick Herbert to be the Arundel and South Downs constituency candidate for the Tory Party is only half of the story. It is who they did not select that says much more. Herbert is by all accounts a shallow, virulent anti-European: regressive not just on taxation, but on national identity and relations with the world. Up against him in the short-list of three who spoke to 400 odd local party members last night, was Laura Sandys. Among Laura's wide and lively range of interests, she Chairs the Board of openDemocracy on which I sit. So praise her I can't. Read her for yourself on openDemocracy, on Europe, on Iraq and especially her star essay on the nature of US politics, written before 9/11.

Saddam TV-tortured

In an innovative form of punishment, Saddam Hussein's jailkeepers specifically asked to have a colour TV placed in his cell so he could watch a video recording of the election of the new Iraqi president.

A new paradigm for the fight against terror

'One of the most surprising political developments since the attacks of Sept. 11. 2001 has been the extent to which the fight against terrorism has divided the democratic world' writes Fernando Cardoso former president of Brazil in today's International Herald Tribune.

But Cardoso has faith. The 'seemingly unbridgeable gulf' between those who wanted to counter terrorism through 'taking the battle to the enemy' and those who 'tended to minimise the threat' is not so unbridgeable after all. It is the Madrid Agenda, Cardoso believes, that may prove to be our golden gate.