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How it works – and if it works

PAID petition workers, electoral commission officials vetting signatures and legal challenges are all part of the ”recall” process in the United States, where elected officials can be dumped before their term in office is due to expire.Sign the petition to reclaim your voteSupporters argue recall elections should form a natural part of democracy, while their opponents argue they make the state ungovernable. Either way, the concept of recall elections has been raised during the past year in countries with a well established democratic system, such as Britain and Australia.Recall election provisions are usually associated with the US, although they have long been a feature of government in a number of cantons in Switzerland, and they have spreading more recently to countries as diverse as Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, the Philippines and the province of British Columbia in Canada.Earlier this year the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, indicated a recall mechanism could be useful when dealing with gross financial misconduct, such as emerged there with the misuse of MPs’ allowances. This prompted a parliamentary debate which failed to win support for the notion, and a subsequent private member’s bill also failed.Even with a recall provision on the books in some states in the US, voters there have succeeded only twice in removing state governors from office, although there have been a number of successful attempts to force the re-election of individual legislators at state level.In California alone there have been 32 attempts to recall the governor since 1911. It has succeeded just once, in 2003 when the Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was installed as governor. The other governor removed was in North Dakota in 1921.Venezuela is one of the few countries whose head can be recalled. It is not possible in the US, nor can any of its federal officials be recalled. While 36 American states allow recall votes for county or city officials, only 18 allow state legislators or governors to be recalled.Requirements for recalling politicians differ from state to state, but typically, for it to proceed, a petition must attract the support of 20 or 25 per cent of the votes cast in the previous election for the politician that electors are seeking to have withdrawn.To remove the Californian governor, a petition must be signed by 12 per cent of the number of votes cast in the previous election for governor.This can mean more people are needed to recall a governor or legislator, than elect his or her successor.Typically, a recall involves two stages: the first to obtain the number of signatures on the petition to force the recall vote, and then the vote itself to decide if the official should be recalled.A further vote is then taken on a replacement, presuming a majority of voters want the politician recalled.Sometimes, the process can be compressed. In the Philippines, for example, a successful recall petition is sufficient to trigger the byelection.This can limit the cost of a recall, but raise the potential level of voter confusion since one of the questions put forward would depend on the outcome of the other.The other cost is that an electoral commission must be ready at all times for byelections, which typically cost several hundred thousand dollars.Supporters of recall elections argue it keeps elected representatives focused on their need to maintain standards of behaviour while giving voters the power to dump politicians who neglect their duties or take unpopular decisions.Opponents argue the converse, that elected officials would be reluctant to take unpopular decisions for fear of being recalled by the electorate.And recalls are open to abuse. For example, organised groups can take advantage of fractured electorates, such as in marginal seats, to gain extra leverage to force politicians out of office.RECALLING THE GLOBAL VOTE California recalled governor Gray Davis in 2003, 10 months into his second term.North Dakota recalled its governor, Lynn Frazier, in 1921.36 US states allowed local officials to be recalled, and 18 extended it to state officials.Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez survived a recall referendum in 2004.
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Campaign ends as India gets 29th state

New Delhi: The Indian Government has started work on creating a new state after giving in to a long-running campaign for a separate jurisdiction in the country’s south.The Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, has announced the state of Andhra Pradesh – with a population of about 80 million – will be split to establish the state of Telangana. The ”process of forming” the new jurisdiction had been initiated, he said.No timeframe has been given for the creation of Telangana.When India gained independence 62 years ago it adopted a state-based federal system with similarities to Australia’s. Telangana will be India’s 29th state and the first new one to be created since 2000.Mr Chidambaram’s announcement came 11 days after a ”fast unto death” was started by K. Chandrasekhar Rao, a popular local politician who has led the mass movement demanding the creation of Telangana.His deteriorating condition sparked unrest in Andhra Pradesh including violent protests and reports of multiple suicides in support of his action. There were fears that Mr Rao’s fast would result in death and trigger widespread violence.Mr Chidambaram said the Government was concerned for Mr Rao’s health and requested him to end his protest immediately. Mr Rao broke the fast by drinking coconut water yesterday as supporters of the Telangana movement celebrated.However, by giving into the demands, India’s central government will now come under additional pressure to agree to demands for other new states.Several parts of the country have similar movements calling for statehood. These include the central regions of Bundelkhand and Harit Pradesh, Vidarbha in the western Maharashtra state and Gorkhaland in the eastern West Bengal state.The announcement about Telangana follows a 40-year campaign for its creation. Advocates for Telangana, which is based on the former princely state of Hyderabad, say their region has faced years of neglect by the state government.
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Clark snub: Lawson slams selectors

STUART CLARK’S international career suffered a major blow yesterday when he was again overlooked for the Test side, a selection decision former Australian paceman Geoff Lawson blasted as ”bizarre”.Australia retained the same 12-man squad from the second Test but this time the team’s hierarchy can’t say Clint McKay is only there for dressing room experience, as paceman Peter Siddle is in doubt with a hamstring injury that limited his participation in Adelaide to just eight overs in the second innings.Poll: Has Stuart Clark played his last Test for Australia?Clark, the NSW captain, was snubbed for that match when Ben Hilfenhaus was ruled out with injury and rookie McKay was chosen in the squad. Australian coach Tim Nielsen said at the time: ”It’s a chance to get young players around the group to experience it and see what’s going on”, and had Clark been in contention for a starting spot he could well have been picked.But now he’s been overlooked again, and Lawson is bewildered.”If someone was injured in training before that Adelaide Test, you’re going for the work experience boy, are you? That statement was bizarre,” Lawson said. ”And now Stu has been overlooked again – are the public to assume they were lying? If they want to pick Clint McKay, say so, but don’t say that. There is a total lack of consistency.”Clark was leading his side in a one-dayer against Queensland in Brisbane yesterday but would have been well aware his future was heading south.He has been replaced by McKay as the No.1 back-up, and his chances of regaining a Test spot will depend on the recovery of Hilfenhaus and Siddle, and any performance by McKay in the Test arena.Nielsen had said after the squad was selected for Adelaide that Clark was not chosen because they wanted McKay to get a feel for the international Test scene.”He’s [Clark] not so much finished, I wouldn’t have thought, I just think at the moment they’ve gone in a different direction and decided to go with Clint McKay,” Nielsen said. ”My gut feeling would be that the XI would be pretty close to being finalised, it’s a chance to get young players around the group to experience it and see what’s going on.”Stuart’s done that quite regularly. If we needed to play someone in the XI, it may well be a different story.”Chief selector Andrew Hilditch maintained last week that Clark would be considered if in form.”We’d like to win every Test match going into the Ashes because we’re trying to build confidence in the new team, but we have our eye very much on the Ashes,” Hilditch said. ”If our assessment at the time is Stuart’s the best bowler for the Ashes and he’s still going well, then so be it.”Lawson pointed to Clark’s impressive recent performances in Perth – where he picked up 2-86 in the Sheffield Shield and returned 0-15 off eight overs in a one-dayer – saying he was clearly the outstanding replacement choice.
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Doco sets out bottom line on history

PARIS: France’s obsession with the bottom is laid bare this week in a documentary and book charting how ”les fesses” have shaped history.The highbrow study claims to demonstrate the huge contribution the derriere has made to civilisation, mixing the views of top psychoanalysts, philosophers, scientists and artists.The role of ”les fesses” in human evolution has been overlooked, say the experts, who say they have been prominent at every turning point in society and art history – from the ancient Greeks to Grace Jones.”They are ever-present in daily life and yet they have never been considered a serious subject of study in their own right,” say the authors of La Face Cachee Des Fesses (The Hidden Side Of The Bottom). ”They speak of the foundations of our society – in the literal and metaphorical sense – of its taboos and desires. When we talk about ‘les fesses’, we’re talking about ourselves.”The film says that without our gluteus maximus, humans would never have come down from the trees.Claudine Cohen, science historian at the Higher School of Social Sciences in Paris, said: ”The gluteal muscles are unique to humans. [Their] size and strength developed to fulfil an essential human need, erect posture and walking.”The importance of this change escaped Darwin’s notice in his theory on human evolution. He made no mention of the fact that once humans gave up moving on all fours, males no longer knew when a female was fertile. This led to the rise of breasts and buttocks and the art of seduction.”We have a special relationship with this party of the body,” said Allan Rothschild, whoco-directed the documentary on the subject.Rothschild said that the French were more obsessed than ever with the behind. ”They are on billboards, in pharmacy windows everywhere.”But he regretted recent changes in French tastes. ”Only a few years ago, large ones were in fashion. Now they must be small, almost androgynous; there’s almost no difference between male and female. It’s rather a shame.”Telegraph, London
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EU softens line on future Palestinian capital

LONDON: European Union foreign ministers have agreed to a watered-down statement on the Middle East that stops short of an explicit call for East Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state but still criticises Israel.Israel had condemned a leaked draft statement by Sweden, the holder of the rotating EU presidency, that mentioned East Jerusalem as a future capital for the Palestinians.On Tuesday, EU foreign ministers reverted to more familiar wording that said: ”If there is to be genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as a future capital of two states.”Sweden had wanted the EU to provide sufficient support for the Palestinians to encourage them to return to long-stalled negotiations with Israel, but this latest statement from Brussels seemed unlikely to achieve that.The Palestinians say they will not resume talks unless Israel halts all settlement construction in line with the 2003 US ”road map”. Israel has agreed to only a temporary, partial freeze.EU diplomats said they regretted the leak had exposed internal debates but the point was to set out parameters for a final agreement at a time of impasse in the peace process.”There will always be something for everyone to dislike,” one EU official said.Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed it – a move the international community never recognised.Underlining that lack of recognition, the EU said it would accept no change to the pre-war borders without Israeli-Palestinian agreement.That position is a challenge to Israel. Nearly 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem and on the West Bank, even though settlements on occupied land are banned under international law.Israel expects to hold on to its settlements in East Jerusalem and the larger ones in the West Bank in any future peace deal.The EU ministers took ”positive note” of Israel’s temporary, partial settlement freeze, but they criticised all settlements, the Israeli separation barrier and the demolition of Palestinian homes.Guardian News & Media
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