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What's the point? If anybody uses this WMD the end is near. I don't want

a Tjernobyl x200. Humanity is so stupid  sad_o.gif

Yeah this world sucks

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What's the point? If anybody uses this WMD the end is near. I don't want

a Tjernobyl x200. Humanity is so stupid  sad_o.gif

Yeah this world sucks

Its not the world, its the twats who live in it.

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A Dollar-Euro Currency War Taking Shape?

Quote[/b] ]

Europe takes the brunt. US Treasury Secretary Snow insists he favours a strong dollar but few believe him

The United States has already taken up the banner of exporting democracy to unwilling victims and it now seems that the US Treasury is trying to export the US twin deficits by insisting that the US national deficits are a global responsibility, in this case primarily a European one.

The US Treasury Secretary John Snow is on a tour of Europe and will be attending the G20 meeting in Berlin today but it is becoming clear that nothing will be done or said at the meeting to halt the slide of the dollar. On the surface the Bush administration is pursuing a strong dollar policy but it has now become clear that the opposite is most probably true in that the dollar will be allowed to fall even further to encourage the sale of US exports on the world market. At the end of the day, non-US consumers will be asked to pull the US out of a hole by buying its goods. John Snow said yesterday that the responsibility for reducing the U.S. current account deficit does not rest with the US alone, adding that European countries needed to foster growth and a more vibrant economy that would consequently import more US goods. Attack being the best defence it seems.

Yesterday the dollar fell to an all time low against the Euro of $1.3065. Some are predicting that the Bush administration is preparing to let the dollar slide even further some say as much as another 20% but this may be excessive as the dollar is already at 83.31 on the trade-weighted index, a nine-year low.

Shifting the blame and financial burden onto Europeans is an easy bet as it has been some time since European leaders spoke with a unified voice and the chances of European central bankers and the ECB working together to prop up the dollar are nil even if such action proved to be effective. Perhaps as a pre-emptive strike, John Snow said that market intervention was "non-rewarding at best." The Yen and Sterling are also being hit with the pound reaching a four-month high of $1.8639 yesterday and the Yen hitting 103.65.

John Snow insisted yesterday that the United States supports a "strong dollar" sending the US currency into a dive and a record low. Currency traders are not fooled by the rhetoric if rhetoric it is. John Snow in a speech given to the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London said that "the history of efforts to impose non-market valuations on currencies is at best unrewarding and checkered," in other words "save your money and hold on for the ride".

European leaders and central bankers are now genuinely worried, talking up the dollar has been singularly ineffective despite Trichet saying that the brusque movements in the dollar were unwelcome. The US Treasury is laying its cards on the table despite its official announcements and it is now the turn of European leaders to take up the gauntlet and retort with unified action or simply live with the grim reality that European exports will be priced out of the market for the next couple of years, something that the Eurozone economy can ill afford. John Snow will say that Europeans need to make themselves more attractive to foreign investors and need to promote growth, the European think that the US has been profligate and reckless and is trying to shift responsibility elsewhere. So a currency war it may well be. The Bush administration has overspent and is shifting the cards on the table, daring its partners to undermine the global currency and the bulwark of the world's economy. Who will call whose bluff?

It's not a simple thing, currency strength. It's an indicator of how well an economy is doing, and the overall confidence in the economy. At the same time it hurts exports badly - at least in areas where there is competition.

But beyond that, there's alse the very real question of the state of the country. It isn't reasonable either to turn yourself into a third-world country, just so that you can export more stuff.

I'm not sure about the exact ratio, but IIRC the EU imports more from the US than vice versa. So while it might be painful for the European export inudustry to have a very strong Euro, it isn't necessarily bad for Europe as a whole.

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Doesn't a strong euro VS the dollar make Oil cheaper for us europeans? I mean we pay for it in dollars but now that that is going down vs the euro shouldn't that get cheaper? In the end cheaper oil is good for the economy smile_o.gif Just as the more expensive oil in the US is hurting theirs (if I am to believe CNN) smile_o.gif

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BBC- MEPs approve revamped Commission

Quote[/b] ]The European Parliament has approved a new team of EU commissioners put forward by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Mr Barroso had to withdraw his original line-up after MEPs objected to the views on women and homosexuality of Italian nominee Rocco Buttiglione.

The vote was passed by 449 votes to 149, with 82 abstentions.

The new team will now take office on Monday, three weeks after it was meant to have started work.

Bruising row

MEPs also approved a resolution seeking to increase their powers to oust any commissioner in whom they lose confidence.

Mr Barroso opted to withdraw his entire team on 29 October rather than have it rejected by parliament, after a bruising row broke out over the choice of Mr Buttiglione as justice commissioner.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced to replace Mr Buttiglione - who angered many MEPs by describing homosexuality as a "sin" - with outgoing Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

In other changes, Hungary's socialist nominee Laszlo Kovacs was reshuffled to the taxation and customs job and Latvia replaced its candidate.

However, Mr Barroso did not give in to MEPs' requests for him to replace the Dutch nominee for the post of competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes.

Stronger

The three largest groups in the EU assembly voted in favour of the reshuffled team, while the Greens, Communists and eurosceptics voted against.

 We are able to say to the people of Europe that we have come out of this experience with strengthened institutions

Jose Manuel Barroso  

Mr Barroso said he was "extremely happy" to have won the support of 66% of the MEPs who took part in the vote.

"We are able to say to the people of Europe that we have come out of this experience with strengthened institutions, in a better position to meet their expectations," he said.

"I look forward to deepening the commission's relationship with the Parliament," he added, saying that European democracy had become "more mature".

He said his priorities would be economic growth, lower unemployment, and consolidation of the "European model which reconciles reform and economic dynamism with solidarity and social cohesion".

Parliamentary powers

Mr Barroso was embarrassed when his initial attempt to avoid replacing Mr Buttiglione, despite his rejection by the parliament's Civil Liberties committee, fell through.

Correspondents say the European Parliament has been buoyed and strengthened by its success in forcing changes to the commission.

What do commissioners do?  

However, the BBC's Chris Morris in Strasbourg says that in reality member governments of the EU are still the most important players in the Union's political system.

The parliament has the power to reject the entire commission but cannot vote against individual commissioners.

A non-binding resolution approved by the parliament on Thursday says the commission president should either sack a commissioner when MEPs have lost confidence in him or her, or should appear in parliament to explain why the commissioner is being kept on.

Mr Barroso said on Wednesday that this proposal was "perfectly acceptable", but he ruled out giving the parliament the right to force him to dismiss commissioners.

On Thursday he said he was ready to engage in discussions on the matter in a "constructive and positive spirit".

EU member states refused to give the parliament the right to sack commissioners during negotiations on the new EU constitution.

Quote[/b] ]

REVISED COMMISSION TEAM

Out:

Rocco Buttiglione (Italy)

Igrida Udre (Latvia)

In:

Franco Frattini (Italy)

Andris Piebalgs (Latvia)

Moved:

Laszlo Kovacs (Hungary) from Energy to Taxation

Quote[/b] ]

COMMISSION SALARIES

Normal Commissioner: 217,280 euros (Å152, 661 / $283,374)

Vice-President: 241,422 euros (Å169,622 / $314,859)

President: 266,530 euros (Å187,246 / $347,592)

Source: European Commission (Pre-tax figures, from Jan 2004)

---

Reuters-EU urged to stop unfair state contract wins

Quote[/b] ]LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is urging the European Union commission to clamp down on EU states that are bending the rules on the allocation of government contracts, arguing that domestic firms are losing out considerably.

Finance Minister Gordon Brown said he was hopeful the new commission would tackle unfair practice in the awarding of public works contracts, a market he estimated at an annual value of 1,000 billion pounds.

"We're losing out substantially in terms of contracts," Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown told BBC Radio on Monday.

"I'm hoping we'll get a series of market investigations, that the commission will clamp down on this practice that is happening in other countries," he said.

Brown plans to take his battle to the commission at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

He was speaking ahead of the publication of a report later on Monday that is expected to highlight how contracts are awarded to local firms in the EU, even when foreign companies offer a better price or higher quality.

Brown commissioned the report last December from Alan Wood, chief executive of the engineering group Siemens SIEGn.DE .

Brown said Wood found no concrete examples of illegality but found that some states interpreted the rules in the EU single market -- a system intended to ensure goods, services, people and capital are able to move freely within the 25-member bloc.

The report mentions Spain and France, Brown said.

"What the new commission should do is ... publish a score card showing what's happening in individual countries. They should make sure smaller- and medium-sized firms can get access to these contracts and it's not just the big firms," he said.

"They should also clamp down on state aids. That is the battle we'll be fighting with the new commission," Brown added.

But he said there was no question of Britain retaliating by returning to old practice. He said contracts awarded under single market rules could be 30 percent to 40 percent cheaper.

The Times newspaper earlier said Wood will describe the market as too complicated, dogged by national preferences and lacking in open competition.

"We found a fairly consistent picture of British firms finding barriers and difficulties in their way," Wood was quoted as saying in the Times.

---

And for what its worth: BBC- BBC- Chirac and Blair stress unity

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I cant say i regard this a particularly postive development:

Quote[/b] ]Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development - Mariann Fischer Boel, 61 (Denmark) _40117476_992boesl66.jpg

Former Food, Agricultural and Fisheries Minister.

Concerns have been raised about conflicting interests as she owns three farms in Denmark. These include a property she inherited from her grandfather, Marius Boel, who reportedly invented Danish blue cheese.

She has promised to defend Europe's farming model and push for more policy reforms. She said Europe had no alternative to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to govern the use of rural land and ensure quality of the countryside and environment.

Or this for that matter-

Quote[/b] ]Commissioner for Trade - Peter Mandelson, 50 (UK)

No wonder the EU isnt taken as seriously as it should be in the UK if its where all our washed up, loser politicians go.

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Or this for that matter-
Quote[/b] ]Commissioner for Trade - Peter Mandelson, 50 (UK)

No wonder the EU isnt taken as seriously as it should be in the UK if its where all our washed up, loser politicians go.

Dont worry, we dump our political wast.. err veterans there too. Our ex female PM that was forced to resign and the former failed conservative coalition chairman for example. ghostface.gif

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That's the ultimate problem with commission appointments. They're always some form of political deal. For instance the only reason why Berlusconi appointed Buttiglione in the first place, was because he was having trouble at home with a Christian party in his coalition. It was a 'gift' to them.

As the commissioners are supposed to represent common union interest, and not the interest of the individual countries, I think it is very wrong to let the local governments appoint them. I think that the system with one commissioner per country is good, but that they, like the EP should be elected directly.

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Denoir- What happens when the EU expands? Do we have to invent new subjects for the new commissioners to legislate on?

The commission is not a federal executive but more of a devoted legislature. I find it interesting that you who complain about 'democratic fundamentalism' think that commissioners too should be elected. Do you mean by the EU electorate at large?

With the level of apathy at the moment good luck in many of the member states getting more than 10% of the population to vote on commissioners. I dont think most people even know who commissioners exactly are or what their role is (im damned if i understand all the intricacies of the current EU system or how the different committees and the commission and the parliament and councils interlock). Without some great change in education and understanding of the EU (and preferably simplification of the structure itself) i dont a popular vote would be a good a idea.

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Denoir- What happens when the EU expands? Do we have to invent new subjects for the new commissioners to legislate on?

The new constitution reduces the number of commissioners (to 10 or 15 IIRC).

Quote[/b] ]The commission is not a federal executive but more of a devoted legislature. I find it interesting that you who complain about 'democratic fundamentalism' think that commissioners too should be elected. Do you mean by the EU electorate at large?

Nope, by the population of the states they represent.

As for the commission, it is the executive body of the EU. What can be discussed is if the double majority principle in the EP is enough, or if we need a dedicated legislative body where each state gets an equal vote (Å• la the US Senate).

Quote[/b] ]Without some great change in education and understanding of the EU (and preferably simplification of the structure itself) i dont a popular vote would be a good a idea.

That is a valid point, but we do need somehow to overcome the shady busniess that it is today. At least for now, the states are more concerned about making a deal that will work in their favour at home than actually sending competent people to the commission. (An unfair generalization, as there are indeed competent commissioners - but the problem is widespread)

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Quote[/b] ]The new constitution reduces the number of commissioners (to 10 or 15 IIRC).

Sure, but thats the constitution which is more than likely going to get vetoed.

The Commission has executive powers of course, though it has often delegated execution to member states and probably lacks necessary means and resources, but there is also the european council which as far as i know still exercises some executive powers (such as the ability to 'impose requirements' on the commission) and that same constitution says that the council president will also be 'elected' (by the heads of state that is) and so exist on a more permanent (and potentially important) basis.

Heres what the BBC has on- REFORM OF THE COMMISSION

Quote[/b] ]What it says:

The Commission, the body which proposes and executes EU laws, "will consist of one national from each Member State" for its first term of five years starting in November 2004. After that it will be slimmed down to "a number of members... corresponding to two thirds of the number of Member States, unless the European Council, acting unanimously, decides to alter this figure."

What it means:

As a transitional measure to reduce the fears of small states that they will be ignored, each member state will have a Commissioner (only one each) from November. The idea after five years is to slim down the Commission from 25 to 18 (or one or two more if there are more member states by then). It is felt that the current Commission is too big with not enough jobs to go round.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2950276.stm#reform

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Groan. They sure know how to pick 'em.

Quote[/b] ]

Fresh row threatens top EU body [bBC]

A fresh row is threatening to mar the first day in office of the new European Commission on Monday.

France's commissioner Jacques Barrot is under fire for failing to disclose a previous conviction for embezzlement.

Mr Barrot, the transport commissioner, was given an amnesty for his conviction in 2000, but a top European lawmaker says he should quit or be suspended. The 25-member commission starts its work three weeks later than planned, as it was initially rejected by MEPs.

Last month, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso had to withdraw his original line-up after some lawmakers in the European Parliament objected to Italian nominee Rocco Buttiglione's views on women and homosexuality.

The vote was finally passed last Thursday.

'Serious damage'

Mr Barrot received a suspended prison sentence for party funding offences, but French President Jacques Chirac later gave him an amnesty.

However, a growing number of MEPs say that that is not good enough, the BBC's Europe correspondent Tim Franks reports.  Graham Watson - who leads the third largest group in the European Parliament, the Liberal Democrats - has called for Mr Barrot to be suspended until the matter is fully resolved.

"To avoid serious damage to the standing of the new commission, I call on Mr Barrot to resign, or at the very least to ask to be relieved of his duties until this matter can be discussed and resolved," Mr Watson said in a statement.

Meanwhile, members of the second biggest group, the Socialists, have been talking of betrayal of trust, our correspondent says.

Mr Barroso says he still has confidence in Mr Barrot, but that the commissioner must now provide a full account to the parliament of his past activities. Mr Barrot did not do that before his confirmation hearings two months ago. As ever, it is not so much the crime as the perception of a cover-up, our correspondent says.

Reshuffled body

Mr Barroso opted to withdraw his entire team on 29 October rather than have it rejected by parliament, after a bruising row broke out over the choice of Mr Buttiglione as justice commissioner.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced to replace Mr Buttiglione - who angered many MEPs by describing homosexuality as a "sin" - with outgoing Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

In other changes, Hungary's socialist nominee Laszlo Kovacs was reshuffled to the taxation and customs job and Latvia replaced its candidate. However, Mr Barroso did not give in to MEPs' requests for him to replace the Dutch nominee for the post of competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes.

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What's the point? If anybody uses this WMD the end is near. I don't want

a Tjernobyl x200. Humanity is so stupid  sad_o.gif

Yeah this world sucks

Its not the world, its the twats who live in it.

Yes...

This world is wonderful...

but the people

goddamn i hate the people

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Or this for that matter-
Quote[/b] ]Commissioner for Trade - Peter Mandelson, 50 (UK)

Weak, I dont think its so much a washed up politician being "dumped" as getting a golden handshake in the form of a new job. And best of all the British tabloids wont care one way or another what he does, so he cant really go wrong in this job.

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bbc-Ukraine cities defy poll result

Quote[/b] ]Officials in several Ukrainian cities have refused to accept the outcome of Sunday's presidential election.

Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied to contest the official victory for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, amid Western concern over the vote.

Opposition challenger Viktor Yushchenko has told supporters to stage a civil disobedience campaign.

But central security authorities are warning that they are ready to put down any lawlessness "quickly and firmly".

"We appeal to the organisers of mass protests to assume responsibility for their possible consequences," the prosecutor general and the interior ministry said in a statement.

The central electoral commission said that, with more than 99% of the vote counted, Mr Yanukovych had 49.4% support while Mr Yushchenko had 46.7%.

But the opposition says it has recorded many thousands of irregularities - including very high turnouts in government strongholds.

By late evening on Monday, thousands of opposition supporters had left Kiev's Independence Square after demonstrating for more than 12 hours. But several hundred people planned to spend the night in tents in the area.

The opposition told people come back on Tuesday morning for a protest outside parliament, when MPs are due to discuss the contested election result.

_40554123_ukrainecrowdnew_ap203b.jpg

Quote[/b] ]'Splitting Ukraine'

Mr Yushchenko, seen as the pro-Western candidate, earlier told his supporters in the capital not to leave their rally "until victory".

"We are launching an organised movement of civil resistance," he said, denouncing what he called the "total falsification" of the vote, which followed days of acrimonious wrangling over the results of the first round.

Kiev city council refused to recognise the results, and urged parliament to follow suit.

Thousands of people also turned onto the streets in the western city of Lviv, where the city council said it would only take orders from Mr Yushchenko.

Three other cities in opposition strongholds in western Ukraine have said they considered the opposition candidate the legal president.

The city councils' move is likely to be seen as a symbolic moral victory for the opposition - although the councils have much less power than the central authorities, observers say.

Mr Yanukovych has called for national unity and criticised the call for public protests.

"This small group of radicals has taken upon itself the goal of splitting Ukraine," he said in comments reported by AP news agency.

_40552381_crowdyu_ap300.jpg

Quote[/b] ] 'Concerted' fraud

Observers for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Sunday's run-off vote fell far short of European democratic norms.

The organisation, which also reported serious irregularities in the first round, said violations included a continuing "media bias" in favour of Mr Yanukovych and intimidation of observers and voters.

 

The US' official observer, Senator Richard Lugar, alleged "concerted and forceful" fraud and the EU called on Ukraine to review the election.

However, Moscow, which backed Prime Minister Yanukovych, recognised the result.

Exit polls earlier suggested that Mr Yushchenko had been on course for victory with a lead of at least six percentage points.

His supporters say they do not believe the official turnout figure of 96% in eastern Ukraine.

During the campaign, Mr Yushchenko, prime minister between 1999 and 2001, claimed to have been the victim of intimidation and dirty tricks, including an alleged poisoning attempt.

His critics portray him as an American puppet who will do anything to gain power, including inciting civil unrest.

bbc-Ukraine's east-west showdown

Seeing as the choice is between a leader who favours closer links with Russia, making Russia the second official language, possible future union etc and one who favours closer links with the west, and possible future EU membership, it might be worth watching here.

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Gurkhas set for legal action on pensions

New right to stay in Britain opens way for challenge to 'discrimination' in conditions of service

Richard Norton-Taylor

Tuesday November 23, 2004

The Guardian

Gurkha soldiers in the British army are planning legal action against what they regard as discriminatory treatment in their conditions of service and pension rights.

Discrimination against Gurkhas is all the more irrational, they say, given that they are now to be given the right to live in Britain. They also point out that soldiers from Commonwealth countries - notably Fiji, where the army is actively recruiting - enjoy the same conditions as British troops.

Discrimination in the treatment of Gurkhas applies only to the ranks, not to officers commissioned after attending Sandhurst.

A list of grievances has been sent to the government by Public Interest Lawyers, a Birmingham-based firm which has taken up the Gurkhas' case. Unless the government responds in 21 days, they will issue a challenge in the courts demanding a judicial review of its refusal to end the discrimination.

Tony Blair announced last month that Gurkhas with more than four years' service, and who retired after 1997, would be allowed to remain in Britain once discharged, and receive citizenship after a further 12 months' residence.

This received a mixed response in Nepal. There are fears that the country's economy will suffer, because Gurkhas will have no incentive to send any of their pay home. Senior military sources have also been concerned at the prospect of Gurkhas turning their attention to a future in Britain after serving for just four years.

The lawyers said yesterday: "Both Gurkhas and Fijians could live in the UK, but while a Gurkha would be on a pension of approximately Å90 a month, the equivalent Commonwealth soldier would be on a pension approximately five times that amount."

Even if a British soldier and a Gurkha soldier of equivalent rank and service were to be hit by the same mortar bomb and suffer similar injuries, their disability pensions would be very different, the lawyers added.

Claims that Gurkhas were discriminated against were rejected by the court of appeal last year - mainly on the grounds that they retired to Nepal. The change in immigration rules makes that argument redundant, say their lawyers.

The issues of pay and pensions caused "deep-seated grievance", says Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, in a letter to the Treasury solicitor. A fundamental review of Gurkhas' pay and pensions is long overdue, he says.

Some 230 Gurkhas and 800 dependants would be eligible for citizenship each year under the measures announced by the prime minister last month.

The first regiment of Gurkhas was formed in 1815 after the British were impressed by their fighting prowess.

After the partition of India in 1947, Gurkha Rifles regiments remained in both the Indian and British armies.

This month, Gurkhas helped to evacuate Britons from Ivory Coast, the west African state threatened by civil war.

--------------------------------------------------

Even decorated heroes from WW2 get a pension which is barley adequte for their needs, its been going on for a long time and I hope they change it. I might write a letter to my MP, I thought about it when I saw a documantry on Gurkhas who served in WW2, but I heard you go on an MI5 list.

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Seeing as the choice is between a leader who favours closer links with Russia, making Russia the second official language, possible future union etc and one who favours closer links with the west, and possible future EU membership, it might be worth watching here.

I just hope they keep it civilized.

I'm not there but reports I'm reading show a lot of Russian intervention, including Russian special forces guarding Yanukovych and certain locations.

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I dont see what choice the opposition really have if the government refuses to step down, even if there was civil war the Russians would ensure that their guy stays in power. How badly does Putin want the Ukraine as a satellite?

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EU rejects Ukraine poll results

Quote[/b] ]THE EU does not accept the official results of the Ukraine presidential elections, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at the end of a summit between the European Union and Russia.

"The election did not meet the international standards. Therefore the EU is not able to accept the result," Mr Balkenende said.

The US, Britain and Canada have already said they refused to recognise the results of Sunday's run-off poll handing victory to pro-Moscow Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have held four days of protests in Ukraine and the opposition has called for a campaign of civil disobedience in support of its leader Viktor Yushchenko, who the electoral commission says was narrowly defeated in the poll.

And on the other hand:

Putin: election results clear

Quote[/b] ]

THE results of the Ukraine presidential elections results are absolutely clear, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after a summit meeting here today with the European Union.

"I congratulated Viktor Yanukovich", the Ukrainian prime minister, for the "results are absolutely clear," Mr Putin said after talks in The Hague with the EU.

Earlier before the summit started Mr Putin sent a congratulatory message to pro-Moscow Yanukovich, who was the handpicked choice of outgoing President Lenoid Kuchma to replace him.

"The Ukrainian people have made their choice - a choice in favour of stability, the strengthening of the state, further development of democratic and economic transformation," Mr Putin told Mr Yanukovich in the message published by the Kremlin.

Tens of thousands of people have held four days of protests in Ukraine in support of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who the electoral commisssion said on Wednesday had been narrowly defeated by Mr Yanukovich in the polls.

But the European Union emerged from today's summit saying it refused to recognise the results of Sunday's run-off poll.

"The election did not meet the international standards. Therefore the EU is not able to accept the result," Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said. The Netherlands currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

Putin however said the dispute was an issue to be resolved by the courts. "From my perspective, all issues should be addressed within the framework of the constitution and legislation. All claims should go to the courts," Putin said.

"All of this should be adressed through dialogue," he added.

While America seems to take the same line as the EU:

Powell Says Ukraine Vote Was Full of Fraud

Quote[/b] ]

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 - Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Wednesday that the voting in Ukraine's presidential election was riddled with fraud and that the United States could not accept a victory by Victor F. Yanukovich as legitimate.

In an unusually tough statement that some diplomats said could widen a breach with Russia, which openly backed Mr. Yanukovich, Mr. Powell also warned that there would be "serious consequences" to the American-Ukraine relationship if allegations of fraud were not cleared up.

"We cannot accept this result as legitimate because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse," he said. "It is still not too late for Ukrainian authorities to find a solution that respects the will of the Ukrainian people."

Mr. Powell's comments, delivered at the State Department, came as protests have spread in Kiev over an election on Sunday that has been criticized by international monitors, including Senator Richard G. Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as by the European Union.

The State Department said Mr. Powell had been engaging in intense diplomatic discussions behind the scenes to try to avert a showdown with Ukraine, and by extension with Moscow. He has urged both sides to be restrained in handling street protests, an official said.

Worries about Ukraine's election have been a part of Bush administration thinking for months, administration officials said, especially because the balloting had become a test of wills between two candidates over relations with Moscow. Mr. Yanukovich backs close ties to Russia, and his opponent, Viktor A. Yushchenko, has called for closer ties to the West.

Those concerns have mounted as relations with Moscow have grown strained over several other issues, including the crackdown by President Vladimir V. Putin on dissent and on the free press, what is seen as Russia's meddling in the affairs of neighboring countries and the use of state powers to favor political allies.

Despite warnings by the Bush administration to Russia not to interfere in the internal politics of another former Soviet republic, Georgia, Mr. Putin openly campaigned for Mr. Yanukovich. That sent a signal that Moscow preferred Ukraine to be part of the Russian sphere of influence as in cold war days.

It was not clear what sort of "consequences" Mr. Powell was referring to. A State Department official said the United States was not ready to consider any cutoff in aid or economic cooperation, particularly aid that has paid for the dismantling of Ukraine's nuclear weapons left over from the cold war.

Last year, the United States gave Ukraine $227 million to promote democratic reforms, help establish a market economy, support security and provide relief aid. Since the 1990's, the United States has dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to Ukraine's nuclear disarmament.

Mr. Powell called on Ukrainian leaders to explore various alternatives to defuse the situation and added that "one suggestion" was to hold another election. Among other suggestions, a State Department official said, is selective voting in areas where the evidence of fraud was especially obvious, or some kind of power-sharing arrangement.

In pressing for solutions to the problem over the last few days, Mr. Powell spoke on the telephone to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, to President Leonid D. Kuchma of Ukraine and to senior European envoys, including the European Union's foreign minister, Javier Solana, the State Department said.

The State Department's top official in charge of relations with Europe, A. Elizabeth Jones, has also been in contact with Ukrainian, Russian and other ambassadors.

Administration officials spoke to concerns that relations between President Bush and Mr. Putin could be damaged, saying Mr. Powell and other American officials were arguing that neither Russia nor the United States had an interest in an unstable situation in Ukraine.

"We have common cause because none of us wants to see a politically unstable Ukraine," a State Department official said. "It can't serve anyone's interest to have a president who lacks popular legitimacy."

Mr. Powell, asked whether the election results reflected Russian interference in Ukraine, said he preferred not to comment.

"What we stand for is free, fair, open elections," he said, adding: "What I would rather do is concentrate on how we get out of, and how the Ukrainians get out of the difficult situation they find themselves in. At a later time, one can talk about how we got into this situation."

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Just to add on to Denoirs post from BBC:

Quote[/b] ]Court freezes Ukraine poll result  

Yushchenko supporters have kept up their momentum

Ukraine's Supreme Court has suspended publication of the presidential election result until it considers the opposition's complaints next week.

Is this just to try and show people the goverment is democratic, or is it really going to investigate? I'd say the latter as the PM doesn't seem particuly happy this has happened, so dount he's organised it just for show.

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Okay, first thing first, US should be quiet, their voting has been fradulent before, recently, and no one in the senate cared etc. Okay, moving on; just because it is "democracy" does not mean someone really cheated, my advice to all of you conspiracy theorists that may be out there is: seek investigation but do not make stupid assumptions.

More than likely the people are split on the two leaders anyway, as everyone was claiming marginal leads on both sides, so really there is no "MASSIVE FREAKING INJUSTICE" like someone is being murdered by Stalin anyway... I hope Ukranians remain civil and stop crying foul before they can investigate. Seriously.

I have a sneaky suspicion that the results are not a scam, and that he was not poisoned either, just that the opposition supporters didn't come out to vote as much as the others. We'll see hopefully.

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Quote[/b] ]Okay, first thing first, US should be quiet, their voting has been fradulent before, recently,

No official proof... rock.gif

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bn880-

Quote[/b] ]Okay, first thing first, US should be quiet, their voting has been fradulent before, recently, and no one in the senate cared etc.  Okay, moving on; just because it is "democracy" does not mean someone really cheated, my advice to all of you conspiracy theorists that may be out there is: seek investigation but do not make stupid assumptions.

Whilst i think there almost certainly is something behind the allegations of cheating (cant really say for sure who poisoned Yushchenko) There was an interesting analysis in todays Guardian about US involvement in this electoral furore and an apparent policy of such intervention in elections with somewhat authoritarian governments:

Quote[/b] ]With their websites and stickers, their pranks and slogans aimed at banishing widespread fear of a corrupt regime, the democracy guerrillas of the Ukrainian Pora youth movement have already notched up a famous victory - whatever the outcome of the dangerous stand-off in Kiev.

Ukraine, traditionally passive in its politics, has been mobilised by the young democracy activists and will never be the same again.

But while the gains of the orange-bedecked "chestnut revolution" are Ukraine's, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.

Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.

Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.

Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.

That one failed. "There will be no Kostunica in Belarus," the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.

But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev.

The operation - engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience - is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people's elections.

In the centre of Belgrade, there is a dingy office staffed by computer-literate youngsters who call themselves the Centre for Non-violent Resistance. If you want to know how to beat a regime that controls the mass media, the judges, the courts, the security apparatus and the voting stations, the young Belgrade activists are for hire.

They emerged from the anti-Milosevic student movement, Otpor, meaning resistance. The catchy, single-word branding is important. In Georgia last year, the parallel student movement was Khmara. In Belarus, it was Zubr. In Ukraine, it is Pora, meaning high time. Otpor also had a potent, simple slogan that appeared everywhere in Serbia in 2000 - the two words "gotov je", meaning "he's finished", a reference to Milosevic. A logo of a black-and-white clenched fist completed the masterful marketing.

In Ukraine, the equivalent is a ticking clock, also signalling that the Kuchma regime's days are numbered.

Stickers, spray paint and websites are the young activists' weapons. Irony and street comedy mocking the regime have been hugely successful in puncturing public fear and enraging the powerful.

Last year, before becoming president in Georgia, the US-educated Mr Saakashvili travelled from Tbilisi to Belgrade to be coached in the techniques of mass defiance. In Belarus, the US embassy organised the dispatch of young opposition leaders to the Baltic, where they met up with Serbs travelling from Belgrade. In Serbia's case, given the hostile environment in Belgrade, the Americans organised the overthrow from neighbouring Hungary - Budapest and Szeged.

In recent weeks, several Serbs travelled to the Ukraine. Indeed, one of the leaders from Belgrade, Aleksandar Maric, was turned away at the border.

The Democratic party's National Democratic Institute, the Republican party's International Republican Institute, the US state department and USAid are the main agencies involved in these grassroots campaigns as well as the Freedom House NGO and billionaire George Soros's open society institute.

US pollsters and professional consultants are hired to organise focus groups and use psephological data to plot strategy.

The usually fractious oppositions have to be united behind a single candidate if there is to be any chance of unseating the regime. That leader is selected on pragmatic and objective grounds, even if he or she is anti-American.

In Serbia, US pollsters Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates discovered that the assassinated pro-western opposition leader, Zoran Djindjic, was reviled at home and had no chance of beating Milosevic fairly in an election. He was persuaded to take a back seat to the anti-western Vojislav Kostunica, who is now Serbian prime minister.

In Belarus, US officials ordered opposition parties to unite behind the dour, elderly trade unionist, Vladimir Goncharik, because he appealed to much of the Lukashenko constituency.

Officially, the US government spent $41m (Å21.7m) organising and funding the year-long operation to get rid of Milosevic from October 1999. In Ukraine, the figure is said to be around $14m.

Apart from the student movement and the united opposition, the other key element in the democracy template is what is known as the "parallel vote tabulation", a counter to the election-rigging tricks beloved of disreputable regimes.

There are professional outside election monitors from bodies such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, but the Ukrainian poll, like its predecessors, also featured thousands of local election monitors trained and paid by western groups.

Freedom House and the Democratic party's NDI helped fund and organise the "largest civil regional election monitoring effort" in Ukraine, involving more than 1,000 trained observers. They also organised exit polls. On Sunday night those polls gave Mr Yushchenko an 11-point lead and set the agenda for much of what has followed.

The exit polls are seen as critical because they seize the initiative in the propaganda battle with the regime, invariably appearing first, receiving wide media coverage and putting the onus on the authorities to respond.

The final stage in the US template concerns how to react when the incumbent tries to steal a lost election.

In Belarus, President Lukashenko won, so the response was minimal. In Belgrade, Tbilisi, and now Kiev, where the authorities initially tried to cling to power, the advice was to stay cool but determined and to organise mass displays of civil disobedience, which must remain peaceful but risk provoking the regime into violent suppression.

If the events in Kiev vindicate the US in its strategies for helping other people win elections and take power from anti-democratic regimes, it is certain to try to repeat the exercise elsewhere in the post-Soviet world.

The places to watch are Moldova and the authoritarian countries of central Asia.

-Ian Traynor (Guardian)

Something to bear in mind at the very least.

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