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5/23/15

Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna, Austria : Sweden Wins

It's happening! It's happening! Come join DW for a wild evening of musical madness - Eurovision 2015 in Vienna.

To watch go to: http://www.eurovision.tv/page/webtv?program=132913

For the recap of all the songs : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwqDObiQrMY

Read and see more: LIVE - Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna, Austria | Culture | DW.DE | 23.05.2015

Turkey: Upcoming Elections - Dark Clouds Over Turkey

With two weeks to go before a crucial parliamentary election in Turkey, tensions are rising and some critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fear a new crackdown is starting to ensure that his Justice and Development Party wins.

That kind of brute manipulation of the political process would be a serious mistake, further weakening the country’s battered democracy and tainting whatever victory might emerge.

After more than a decade of amassing power as Turkey’s leader, Mr. Erdogan could be on the verge of realizing his dream of changing the Constitution to make the president, rather than the prime minister, the leading political authority. His party, known as A.K.P., would have to win 330 seats in Parliament on June 7 — a three-fifths majority — to take a proposed constitutional change to a referendum.

The party won only 326 seats in the last election in 2011, and on Friday Reuters reported that the most recent poll by the research firm Konda suggests that support for A.K.P. has declined. 

Mr. Erdogan has a long history of intimidating and co-opting the Turkish media, but new alarms were set off this week when criminal complaints were filed against editors of the Hurriyet Daily News and its website over a headline Mr. Erdogan had objected to.

Read more: Dark Clouds Over Turkey - NYTimes.com

Gay Community: Ireland Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage in Historic Referendum

Ireland became the first country in the world to vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage Saturday after a resounding victory for "Yes" campaigners.

At final count, 62 percent voted in favor of legalizaing gay marriage in the country, while 38 percent voted against it. Nearly 2 million people voted, with more than 1.2 million voting "yes" and 734,300 voting "no." 

A celebratory mood had come over Dublin even before the official results were announced around 7 p.m. local time, with tallies for each constituency displayed on big screens to thousands watching from Dublin Castle's sun-soaked central square. 

The large crowd spontaneously broke into Ireland's national anthem as they awaited the final tally.
Earlier, David Quinn, the director of the conservative Iona Institute and leader of the "No" campaign — which sought to prevent Ireland's constitution from being amended to permit same-sex marriage — conceded defeat and congratulated the 'Yes' side. 

The poll pitted liberal forces against Ireland's conservative Catholic foundation.

Read more: Ireland Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage in Historic Referendum - NBC News.com

Suriname Elections: (Poll) Party Suriname president Bouters,former dictator and convicted drug fugitive,seems to have upper hand

Desi Bouterse the colorful dictator-turned-president who has ruled Suriname ( a former Dutch colony) on and off since 1980, is looking to consolidate power when the small South American country holds general elections on Monday.

A convicted drug trafficker who has been a coup leader and an international fugitive, Bouterse is seeking to dispense with his alliance with one-time nemesis Ronnie Brunswijk and preside over the first non-coalition democratic government in Suriname's history. 

Bouterse's National Democratic Party (NDP) formed a government after the last elections in 2010 by forging a motley mega-coalition, returning him to power for the second time since his 1980-1987 military government.

But after the coalition fell apart, the NDP decided to go it alone this time, buoyed by strong standings in opinion polls.

The party needs to win at least 26 seats in the 51-member National Assembly to govern alone, and 34 seats to re-elect Bouterse -- the president is chosen by a two-thirds majority of parliament.

The main opposition is the V7, a coalition of six parties that accuses Bouterse of massive corruption and has a broad ethnic base in the racially diverse country whose 500,000 people have roots in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

The third main group, and possible power-broker, is the Alternative Combination alliance led by Brunswijk, a former guerrilla leader who fought a civil war against Bouterse's military government before teaming up with his former foe in 2010.

The party's base are the Maroons, the descendants of fugitive slaves who set up settlements in the Surinamese interior.

The smallest country in South America, Suriname was colonized by the British and Dutch and gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975.

Five years later, a group of sergeants led by Bouterse overthrew prime minister Henck Arron and installed a military government.

Whether in his dictator's fatigues and sunglasses or his sharp president's suit, Bouterse, 69, has loomed large over the country's politics ever since.

His regime put down two counter-coups and rounded up and executed 15 opponents in 1982, an event known as the "December killings."

Bouterse stepped down in 1987, but returned to power in 1990 in a second bloodless coup.
After leaving power a second time, Bouterse was indicted and court-martialed for the December killings, but his coalition passed a controversial amnesty law in 2012 that aborted the trial.

The president and his family have faced a host of other legal woes, adding to the country's reputation for drug running, money laundering and graft.

The Netherlands convicted him in absentia of cocaine smuggling in 1999, but he remained free because Suriname does not extradite its citizens.

Earlier this year, a Dutch court rejected his third bid to have the conviction overturned.

In March, a US court sentenced his son Dino, who had served as his father's top counter-terrorism official, to 16 years in prison on charges of trying to aid and arm Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.

Bouterse has shrugged off these scandals and bolstered his popularity with expanded social welfare programs, free university education and lavish spending on infrastructure projects such as bridges, schools and housing.

The V7, formerly known as the New Front, accuses him of corruption and populism, and warns the tab for these projects will hurt when it arrives.

It also blames the NDP for an energy crisis it says was caused by shady deals with US-based aluminum giant Alcoa for the Afobaka hydroelectric dam, which generates most of the mineral-rich, upper-middle-income country's power.

In all, seven parties and four coalitions are vying for the ballots of 350,000 registered voters, who will also elect their district and local representatives.

Polls open at 7:00 am (1000 GMT) and close 12 hours later.

The first, partial results are expected at 10:00 pm, with a projection of the full results early Tuesday.


5/22/15

US Fast Food: the hamburger you eat is produced by people who earn "poverty level" wages

Fast food workers in the US have gained momentum in their struggle for higher wages. But economists warn that the industry could cut some workers out altogether by increasing automation. pauve

More than 1,000 McDonald's employees protested outside the fast food giant's annual shareholders meeting in Chicago on Thursday, where they submitted a petition signed by more than a million people, demanding an hourly wage of $15 and calling on the company to support the right to unionize.

For nearly three years now, a nationwide movement of fast food workers has been demanding higher wages. These workers often earn the legal minimum, which ranges from state to state in the US, but is normally $7.25 per hour or higher.

There are more than three million fast food workers in the US, making them one of the largest occupational groups in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But they are also some of the lowest paid workers.

Read more: Will US fast food workers fight for $15 backfire? | News | DW.DE | 22.05.2015

Freedom of Expression: Russia threatens block on Google, Twitter, Facebook

 Google, Twitter and Facebook face being blocked in Russia after being warned against violating the country's controversial blogging laws.

Russia's media authority Roskomnadzor sent letters to the U.S. tech giants this week asking them to comply with internet rules.

Read more: Russia threatens block on Google, Twitter, Facebook

Iraq: US Voters Remain Cool to Boots on the Ground in Iraq says poll

Regardless of Republican rhetoric a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 35% of Likely U.S. Voters now favor sending combat troops back to Iraq as part of an international coalition to fight ISIS. That’s down from 40% two months ago and from a high of 52% in early February.

Read more: Voters Remain Cool to Boots on the Ground in Iraq - Rasmussen Reports™

EU leaders meet with ex-Soviet partners in Riga

The European Union has gathered in Latvia to meet with eastern countries and bolster ties. Russia has warned that the meeting "mustn't hurt" its interests.

But Donald Tusk, former prime minister of Poland and current European Council president, dismissed Russia's "bullying tactics" after arriving in Riga.

"The Eastern Partnership is not a beauty contest between Russia and the European Union. But let me be frank: beauty does count," Tusk said at the start of the summit. "If Russia was a bit softer, more charming, more attractive, perhaps it wouldn't have to compensate its shortcomings by destructive, aggressive and bullying tactics against its neighbors."

Read more:EU leaders meet with ex-Soviet partners in Riga | News | DW.DE | 21.05.2015

Britain: Explained Cameron and the EU: what does a Brexit mean?

The Conservative Party, led by British Prime Minister David Cameron, beat all expectations to win a parliamentary majority in the UK’s general election on May 7.

It raises the prospect of Britons getting the chance to vote in an in/out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017.

Cameron will be hoping that this gamble will pacify the Eurosceptic wing of his party and finally see off the threat of Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party (Ukip).

Tory infighting over Europe saw the last two Conservative premiers, John Major and Margaret Thatcher, pushed out of office by rebel ministers and backbench MPs.

Cameron says he will only offer the British public the chance to vote on severing all ties with Brussels once he has secured a series of reforms from the 28-member bloc.

Note EU-Digest: Wishful thinking by Mr. Cameron who seems to forget that the only reason he won the election was because he was the best candidate among all the terrible candidates put together. 

Read more: Explained Cameron and the EU: what does a Brexit mean? | euronews, world news

5/21/15

Burqa : Women’s rights overlooked in the name of racial “tolerance” .

If there’s a hierarchy in the hallowed halls of our nation’s tertiary institutions whenever a potential clash of ideology arises, it goes something like this: Muslims and then women. In that order.

This is an environment in which even the most passionate of women’s advocates can be rendered mute by a suggestion they are engaging in anti-Islam rhetoric.

An environment in which the very same people who will argue at length about how female pop stars are coerced into wearing skimpy clothing due to the patriarchy will shy away from a frank discussion about the pressures brought to bear on other women to wear a burqa, niqab or hijab.

Analysing the archaic double-standards and obstacles faced by women across the world is all well and good until you risk offending the sensibilities of Muslim men. And let’s face it, it is only ever the men.

When was the last time you heard a Muslim woman seriously claim to be offended that anyone would dare to suggest she should sit where she wants? Or wear what she chooses? Somehow it’s always a man who steps forward to defend a woman’s “right” to be treated as a second-class citizen.

Last October freelance journalist Alison Bevege wrote an opinion piece for The Daily Telegraph in which she detailed how she was not permitted to sit in the front of the room at a public meeting in Sydney organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir.

“Like Mississippi blacks in the 1950s sent to the back of the bus for the colour of their skin, I was segregated due to my gender,” she observed.

Which is pretty much how events unfolded at the University of Western Sydney last Thursday night when men and women were asked to sit apart at an event organized by the Muslim Students’ Association.

Note EU-Digest : With all respect for anyone's religious believes, but Islam really could do with a face-lift the Christian had back in the 1500's when Martin Luther told the Catholic Pope that he was not God's representative on earth, that God lives within us and not above us, and that Women and Men are both equal in God's eyes.

Women’s rights overlooked in the name of racial “tolerance” | Herald Sun

Middle East: - Syria: ISIL controls more than half of Syria after seizing Palmyra

More than 100 pro-Syrian government fighters have been reported killed as ISIL captured all of the historic city of Palmyra, according to the British-based Syrian observatory for Human rights.

The Islamic extremist group has control of the military airbase, prison and intelligence headquarters, and it has also entered the city’s historic sites, though there are no reports of destruction so far.

The taking of Palmyra means that more than half of Syrian territory is now under ISIL control.

The group already controlled wide tracts of the north and east, though these areas were mostly desert. This is the first time they have seized a large population centre directly from Syrian pro-government forces.

One resident said they had inside help:

Read more: ISIL controls more than half of Syria after seizing Palmyra | euronews, world news