Monday, May 28, 2007

Apoca-lobbyist Now - Transparency and Lobbying in the European Union

An interesting little development in the political culture in the EU:

The Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) reiterated its commitment to promoting transparency in EU lobbying and a voluntary registry, but highlighted a number of "potential pitfalls" that the group wishes the Commission to avoid.

The Commission's follow-up to the Green Paper on a 'European Transparency Initiative' was published on 21 March, announcing the EU executive's intention to create a voluntary register for EU lobbyists.

This would require disclosure of members, clients, funding details and adherence to a code of conduct. SEAP has recently agreed a set of core principles with other lobbyist organisations, which it hopes will provide the basis for this code - a code that would preferably be developed by the profession itself.

Mmmm... the tastiness of the Lobbying pie. "We will regulate ourselves, it will be better this way.....". The irony is that I'm sickly curious about how much they had to lobby to figure out a deal for not actually being regulated?!

I mean, they're lobbyists - "European Affairs Specialists". Where I'm from we call that special interests, or big business...and the salary for that is alotted in large pork barrels.

I'm impressed, utterly impressed. How deep does the lobbyist infection in the EU go? I smell a research project. I suggest a website like Follow the Money - the most fun you can have if you need a few hours to really distrust your government - only for European MP's.

Any takers?

EU citizens may find it worth their while to find out just how much their vote really counts when it comes to decisions, because it will be a net vote value - with consideration for powerful lobbying interests taxing direct representation of interests and ultimately sapping the Union of credibility if a scandal ever should arise.

So why not make it voluntary right now? Maybe it's too soon. Perhaps some lobbyists will need some time to perfect their accounting magic tricks before letting in a little sunlight. If you have nothing to hide, do it right now. MPs should get hard on transparency. And I find it a little hard to believe that people who base their entire existence on getting things done fasters and smoother than anyone else can, otherwise they should really be replaced with better lobbyists, can't push a little administrative hassle out of the way.

I wonder who the Jack Abramoff of the EU is.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

News in a flash - Beer Power

A joint project between UQ and Foster's to turn beer wastewater into electricity has won $140,000 from the Queensland Government's Sustainable Energy Innovation Fund.

The process also produces clean water and renewable (non-polluting) carbon dioxide.

Dr Rabaey said with the current drought, the smart use of natural resources had never been more important.

“Energy and water supply are among the biggest challenges we will face in the coming decades,” he said.

“Therefore, we must learn how to diversify our portfolio of fuels – and we must learn to reduce our energy and water usage.” - Australian Food News

Oh my.

Blogs Blogs Everywhere!

I stand corrected and pleasantly surprised. Turns out there is a little community-o-blog-o-fun in the second European Union (since I still sort of consider the US the first attempt at a European Union). Now, however, is the question about whether it’s possible to find employment doing what one loves to do…mainly write without concern for editing.

Coming soon, blogroll-a-rama!

Margot Wallstrom on the Blogosphere - EU Politics on the Web

And we're back.....

Well. I'm back. It’s been a hectic week of work and projects, but things have progressed to a point where I can devote some more time for blogging. On that note, as I was surfing around the net in search of tid-bits of information to soothe my pallet, I came across an interesting entry by Margot Wallstrom that probes the little nuances of blogosphere world. This isn’t very new, I saw it a lot when I was in the US working for an organization (now gone under) which totally brought the largest health insurer to it’s knees… that is until their lawyers and army of lobbyists sued the pants off our political strategists and forced the organization to shut its doors.

I completely agree with all the points Ms. Wallstrom makes, however I think there is one things forgotten… propaganda. You see, the world of professional blogging, and yes, there is such a thing. (Clinton embarked on focusing it’s energies in 2004 and I’m sure it’s picked up steam since then), there is a message people are trying to send. Especially the political bloggers. They are the worst of the worst. And by worst I mean that they spend hours and hours researching politicians and stories, picking out points to use, and even (which was my favorite past-time) building a slow case against a particular organization or person. Not lies mind you, cold hard facts, with aggrevated opinions.

It’s a strategy game, and blog-rolls and new aggregators are the weapons of choice. Ultimately it comes down to fear. Some blogs try to hype it up, some try to play it down, some just really care and write whatever they think., with facts. At any rate. The main point is that blogging is real in the US, although I don’t think it’s really taken off in the United States of Europe as much, in fact I know it hasn’t. it is civil media at it’s most grassroots level, and coordinated right, it can really really scare the pants off of anyone who gets caught on the wrong side of it.\

One of the many uses of it, which I personally think should be pursued, is the deliberate and relentless pressure on politicians to respond to the wants of the people, and when big newspapers and media outlets all tell the same story, well...something's up.