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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of 20 or 25 per cent of the votes cast in the previous election for the politician that electors are seeking to have withdrawn.To remove the Californian governor, a petition must be signed by 12 per cent of the number of votes cast in the previous election for governor.This can mean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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Security fears after airport screening manual released online

WASHINGTON: Closely guarded secrets regarding airport passenger screening practices have been revealed inadvertently by the US Transportation Security Administration when it posted a document online when soliciting a contract, the agency said.The 93-page TSA operating manual details procedures for screening passengers and checked baggage, and it reveals technical settings used by X-ray machines and explosives detectors. It also includes pictures of identification cards used by members of Congress, CIA employees and federal air marshals, pointing out what elements determine their validity, and it identifies 12 countries – Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, and Algeria – whose passport holders are subject to added scrutiny.TSA officials said the manual was posted online on a federal procurement website, but computer users were able to highlight and copy inadequately blacked-out passages and paste them into a new document or an email.The TSA said the manual, dated May 2008, was outdated and was never implemented.Security officials said the breach was troubling, and exposed TSA practices that were implemented after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and which were expanded after the August 2006 disruption of a plot to destroy transatlantic aircraft using liquid explosives.Checkpoint screening has been a fixture of the TSA’s operations, as well as a lightning rod for criticism of its practices.A former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Stewart Baker, said the manual would become a textbook for those seeking to penetrate aviation security, and its loss was serious.”It increases the risk that terrorists will find a way through the defences,” Mr Baker said.”The problem is there are so many different holes, that while [TSA] can fix any one of them by changing procedures and making adjustments in the process … they can’t change everything about the way they operate.”The TSA’s congressional overseers were scathing in their criticism. Senator Susan Collins, the senior Republican on the Senate homeland security committee, called the document’s release ”shocking and reckless … This manual provides a road map to those who would do us harm”.Senator Joe Lieberman, the panel’s chairman, called the breach ”an embarrassing mistake” that impugns the judgment of managers at TSA.The document, dated May 28, 2008, is labelled ”sensitive security information,” stating that no part of it may be disclosed to persons ”without a need to know” under threat of possible legal penalties.But another former Department of Homeland Security official called the loss a public relations blunder but not a major security risk, because TSA manuals are shared widely with airlines and airports and available in the aviation community.”While it’s certainly a type of document you would not want to be released … it’s not something a determined expert couldn’t find another way,” the official said.The Washington Post
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Security sector in chaos after ICAC slams corrupt training provider

EVERY security licence in the state is under a cloud after the corruption watchdog found the biggest training provider in NSW was thoroughly corrupt and the police force and the Education Department had failed in their roles as regulator and auditor.”The evidence of corrupt conduct and poor quality [assessments] raises severe doubts about the legitimacy of all current security licences in NSW and the integrity and competence of all security training providers,” the Independent Commission on Corruption said yesterday.The powerful criticisms are contained in a report and are based upon an investigation into the largest NSW security training organisation, Roger Training Academy.Roger was formed in 2006, and by this year was issuing more than a quarter of all training certificates in NSW, but the commission investigation found its management was engaged in systemic, ongoing corruption.It found that industry-recognised certificates were handed out to people who were willing to pay under the table and trainers were selling test answers to willing students.It recommended that Roger’s owner, Ahmed Moosani, his brother-in-law, Ali Merchant, and eight men from Roger and several other security companies be charged with corruption.The report reserved some of its strongest criticism for the police and Department of Education bodies that were required to regulate and audit the industry.The NSW Police Security Industry Registry and the Department of Education’s training accreditation board, VETAB, had consistently failed to exercise their powers appropriately, the report said.”Regulation is fragmented, without clear accountabilities, consistent communication or any overall co-ordination, and has not ensured the integrity of the process,” it said.The registrar of the registry, Cameron Smith, and the VETAB director, Margaret Willis, gave ”contradictory” or ”confusing” evidence in relation to their roles, the report found. Both bodies were aware of the history of corruption in the industry.The report called for NSW Police to assume ”ultimate responsibility” for investigation and corruption prevention and said the Security Industry Registry should be expanded and improved to allow that. It called on VETAB to improve its audit and monitoring processes.The NSW Police Force welcomed the recommendations contained in the report. ”The report found no suggestion of misconduct or inappropriate behaviour by any [police] officers,” it said.”ICAC’s recommendation that the NSW Police Force should assume ultimate responsibility for security industry integrity-related functions is a vote of confidence in the force.”[email protected]南京夜网.au
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Ranger dead after helicopter crash

THE small town of Dorrigo is in shock after a 41-year-old National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger, Aaron Harber, was killed and a pilot seriously injured when their helicopter crashed.Tributes were flowing for Mr Harber, who had been performing firefighting duties.Police said the helicopter crashed about 11.40am yesterday in dense rainforest on a private property on Dome Road at Dorrigo, about 50km west of Coffs Harbour. Emergency personnel arrived at the scene to find the pilot suffering critical head, chest and back injuries. Mr Harber was already dead. The pilot was taken by ambulance to Dorrigo Hospital.Les Bravery had worked with Mr Harber. ”He was just a great guy to work with,” he said.”He was doing something he enjoyed doing.”Another friend, Peter Carter, said Mr Harber loved cricket and trail biking. ”He enjoyed life,” he said. ”It’s a bloody shock. I was told and I didn’t want to believe it.”He was an easygoing sort of bloke and he would do anything to help you.”The National Parks and Wildlife Service head, Sally Barnes, said the service was devastated by the loss of the well-respected member of his community.”Our ranger was killed while protecting the lives and homes of others,” she said. “His sacrifice cannot be understated.”We are all still in a state of shock and dealing with our grief both as individuals and as an organisation.”Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family, NPWS colleagues, friends and the local Dorrigo community.”The incident was the third in 24 hours involving aircraft being used to fight about 110 fires burning across the state, caused mainly by lightning strikes and fuelled by extremely dry bushland.On Tuesday, a helicopter operating at a firefront about 40km south-east of Tamworth suffered engine malfunction, causing the aircraft to land heavily. The pilot suffered minor facial injuries but the helicopter was extensively damaged.At Bathurst about 7pm on Tuesday, two helicopters clipped each other in heavy smoke and landed safely, one aircraft sustaining minor damage. There were no injuries to personnel.The Premier, Kristina Keneally, expressed her sympathy for Mr Harber who had been with the service for 12 years and who left behind two small children.”This has been a tragic day and a very sad day for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service,” she said. ”Today is a reminder of the dangers those personnel face every time they go to work.”We face one of the most difficult seasons of bushfire conditions that NSW has seen for some time.”The chief pilot of Bankstown-based company Helitreck, Todd Wilson, has had over 15 years experience firefighting with the Rural Fire Service and knows the dangers involved.”You could say that flying helicopters is inherently dangerous,” he said.”The bush firefighting environment, due to lack of visibility and winds, can increase the pilot’s workload. Also, the concentration of aircraft in the area – sometimes you can have five or six helicopters in the area.”with Jessica Mahar and Angus Thompson
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Rich countries asked for cuts and money

COPENHAGEN: The bloc of developing nations insist rich countries, deemed responsible for today’s warming and best placed to tackle it, commit to legally binding reductions of their emissions by at least 40 per cent annually by 2020 over 1990 levels.They refuse to make binding emissions targets of their own, arguing that they need to keep access to cheap, plentiful fossil fuels to haul themselves out of poverty. Some, though, have agreed to announce voluntary measures for reducing their growth in emissions by 2020.Developing nations are also asking for money to help shore up their climate defences and support the switch to low-carbon energy. Industrialised countries are being urged to earmark 1 per cent of their annual gross domestic product, or $US400 billion ($437 billion).Within the developing world, fast-growing countries with large populations are under pressure from rich nations to show they are prepared to tackle emissions that started to soar at the start of the century.Many analysts give high marks to measures already announced, while adding the caveat that these are voluntary measures unlikely to be policed by internationally enforceable compliance measures. China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter in terms of volume, says it will cut the intensity of its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels.India, ranked No.4 in emissions, says it will voluntarily reduce its emissions by 20-25 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels, but this depends on support from the international community. Brazil has promised a voluntary reduction of 36-39 per cent by 2020, mainly from tackling deforestation in the Amazon, as opposed to its forecast level of emissions in 2020.Indonesia says it could reduce its emissions by 26 per cent by 2020 from forecast trends mainly by tackling deforestation, with international help. South Korea, still categorised as a developing country under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has promised what it says is a 30 per cent reduction by 2020 over ”business-as-usual” trends.South Africa has yet to put specific proposals on the table. It is taking a hard line on demanding Kyoto-style commitments for rich countries.Rich countries are divided both in their offers for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their enthusiasm for the approach, enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol, for legally binding emissions targets backed by tough compliance mechanisms.The United States, the world’s richest country and No. 2 carbon emitter, remains outside the Kyoto framework and is seeking an accord that would not have Kyoto’s compliance teeth.It says that compared to a 2005 benchmark, it would reduce emissions by 17 per cent by 2020, 30 per cent by 2025, 42 per cent by 2030 and ultimately 83 per cent by 2050.The US target for 2020 means only a fall of 4 percentage points compared to 1990, the benchmark year widely used as the interim target in the UN process.The European Union, which saved Kyoto after the US walkout in 2001, is unilaterally cutting its emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, and offers to go to 30 per cent if other industrialised parties play along.Japan has offered 25 per cent, but there are conditions. Canada sees a reduction of 20 per cent by 2020 compared to 2006, equivalent to a fall of 3 per cent compared to the 1990 benchmark.Australia’s Parliament has rejected a bill for reducing carbon pollution by between 5 and 25 per cent by 2020 from 2000.Russia, the third largest polluter, has a target of reducing emissions by 15 per cent by 2020 from 1990. As for climate funds, Britain and France have called for help of $US10 billion a year between 2010 and 2012. Britain has committed to $US1.3 billion of this, while the US has said it will pay a ”fair share.”Agence France-Presse
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British to review data on weather after scandal

LONDON: The British Meteorological Office is to undertake a three-year reanalysis of its temperature data and has asked 188 nations – including Australia – for permission to release raw weather data in the wake of the climate-change email scandal.The decision comes in the wake of the theft – and publication on the internet – of thousands of emails and text files from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.The emails, many of them written by its director, Phil Jones, appeared to suggest that there had been attempts to stymie the public release of information on raw data. The university has announced an investigation and Professor Jones, who denies the claims as ”rubbish”, has stood down during the inquiry.The Herald reported on Saturday that a 247-page text file by one of the university’s most senior computer programmers has also revealed frustration and anxiety about the integrity of the raw data provided from weather stations around the world. The Australian data came in for particular criticism, with the programmer saying it was riddled with entry errors, duplication and inaccuracies. He described as a ”bloody mess” attempts to homogenise information and entries.His log, known worldwide now as the Harry-Read-Me text file, logged the programmer’s four years’ work as he documented his attempts to make sense of the reams of raw historical data used by the Climatic Research Unit, the British keeper of global temperature records. He said the global information he had to work with had ”no uniform integrity”.His criticisms related solely to the construction of the database and did not question the validity of historical temperature records nor analyses that suggest the impact of human activity on global warming trends.Michael Coughlan, the head of the National Climate Centre at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, has said it is unlikely the data came directly from the centre because unchecked, raw data was rarely requested for climate analysis.The Times reported that the decision to review data may now ”add to fears that influential sceptics in other countries, including the US and Australia, are using the controversy to put pressure on leaders to resist making ambitious deals for cutting CO2”.The investigation of temperature and global weather information by the Meteorological Office in Britain is also significant because its database is one of three main sources of the temperature analyses that the United Nations climate change science body relied on for its assessment that global warming poses a serious threat to world safety and wellbeing.The British decision to call in data from around the world came within hours of an announcement by the United Nations that it would investigate the claims of data manipulation.Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the BBC at the weekend that the allegations were serious: ”We certainly don’t want to brush anything under the carpet,” he said.Climate sceptics have exploited the controversy to suggest that researchers have exaggerated the case for man-made global warming. However the scientists, as well as the British Metereological Office, are believed to be confident that any reanalysis of data and patterns will show that their conclusions were correct.
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