Sunday, July 8, 2007

Just so you know, I have gone to Europe for the next month or so, to live amongst the Europeans and try to understand their far-out and frankly wrong way of life. With all the traffic signs and noodles with cheese and the rest. So see you when I return!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Un-elected Leaders Assume Office

Israel's Presidential Saga Ends

The President of Israel resigned yesterday, which is a bit surprising considering that he only had 14 days left in his term of office. President Katsav has been battling lawyers for the last couple of months over sexual harassment suits with several women. It brought great disgrace to the presidency, but Katsav was afraid to resign, lest he open himself up to formal persecution. After the parliament failed to impeach him, he "temporarily" delegated his presidential powers to the speaker of the parliament, Ms. Dalia Itzik, in late January of 07. Since then, President Katsav has not been seen or heard of much, and was expected to quietly ride his term into the sunset.

But no, he has now evidently resigned as part of a plea bargain with his accusers. According to the Associated Press:
Under [the plea bargain] Mr. Katsav agreed to step down and plead guilty to charges of sexual harassment, indecent acts and harassment of a witness. He will pay damages to the complainants but he will not serve any time in prison.
I still don't entirely understand why the resignation was necessary this late in the game, but oh well. Acting President Itzik is now just plain ol' President Itzik, and is now officially the first female president of Israel, full stop.

Here's a nice picture of Israel's leaders. On the left we see Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then in the centre we see President Itzki kissing Shimon Peres, the man who will replace her as president in two weeks.

New Nanny Appointed

The Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina is a country that was was created by the Dayton Peace Accords of 1995 to stop everyone in the former Yugoslavia from killing each other. Their constitution is an extraordinarily elaborate maze of institutions designed to equally appease each ethnic group in the federation. Instead of one president, for example, they have three, so no one group is favored more than the other.

Anyway, B-and-H's sovereignty is not absolute. Since the country was established it has been actively supervised by the United Nations via something called the "Peace Implementation Council," which basically meddles in the country's politics as it sees fit, in order to ensure the terms of the Dayton Accord are honored. The Supreme Head of the Peace Council is the High Representative, who is appointed by the UN Security Council. The High Representative can fire anyone he likes, even the presidents if they are deemed to be acting improperly.

Since 2006 the High Representative of B-and-H has been Herr Christian Schwarz-Schilling, a former German cabinet minister. There was hope he'd be the last one ever, since the international community is getting tired of playing nanny. But no, the Bosnia-and-Hercegovinan politicians have failed to make some of the necessary reforms the Peace Council has been recommending, so more supervision is required until they finally do.

Today Miroslav Lajcak became the new High Representative. He's a former ambassador and bureaucrat from the Republic of Slovakia. Let's see if he'll be the last one.

Here's Mr. Lajack shaking hands with Herr Schwartz-Schilling. The flamboyant one is the German.