Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The Bureau of the European Parliament is responsible for matters relating to the budget, administration, organisation and staff. It is composed of the President of the European Parliament along with all 14 Vice-Presidents and the 6 Quaestors (in a consultive capacity). They are elected for two and a half years (renewable term) with the President holding a deciding vote. Elections are usually held at the start, and at the mid-point, of each Parliamentary term.
Hans-Gert Pöttering: President
Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou: Vice-President
Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca: Vice-President
Gérard Onesta: Vice-President
Edward McMillan-Scott: Vice-President
Mario Mauro: Vice-President
Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez: Vice-President
Luigi Cocilovo: Vice-President
Mechtild Rothe: Vice-President
Luisa Morgantini: Vice-President
Pierre Moscovici: Vice-President
Manuel António dos Santos: Vice-President
Diana Wallis: Vice-President
Marek Siwiec: Vice-President
Adam Bielan: Vice-President
James Nicholson: Quaestor
Astrid Lulling: Quaestor
Mia De Vits: Quaestor
Ingo Friedrich: Quaestor
Szabolcs Fazakas: Quaestor
Jan Mulder: Quaestor
Posted by so2374 at 9:45 AM
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Piotr Skarga (February 2, 1536  – September 27, 1612 ; actual name: Piotr Powęski; referred to in some English sources as Peter Skarga) was a Polish Jesuit, preacher, hagiographer, polemicist, and leading figure of the Counter-reformation in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was called the "Polish Bossuet" due to his oratorical abilities.
Educated at Grójec and Kraków, he began life as a tutor to the family of Andrew Tenczynski, castellan of Kraków, and, some years later, after a visit to Vienna, took orders, and from 1563 was attached to the cathedral church of Lwów. His oratory was so successful that he determined to become a missionary-preacher among the people, in order the better to combat the social and political evils of the day. By way of preparation he studied theology in Italy from 1568 to 1570, and finally entered the Society of Jesus. On his return he preached successively at Pultusk, Jaroslaw, and Plock under the powerful protection of Queen Anna Jagiellon. During a subsequent mission to Lithuania he converted numerous noble families, including the Radziwills.
He became the first rector of the Vilnius Academy in 1579, where he wrote the Lives of the Saints (Żywoty świętych), which is still popular reading today. In 1584 he was transferred to the new Jesuit College at Kraków, and in 1588 he became court preacher to King Sigismund III Vasa (a position he would hold until 1611), and thus sometimes preached to the Sejm (parliament). The nobility (Polish: szlachta) ascribed to him a great (and baleful: he advocated strong royal authority) influence on King Sigismund.
Skarga is remembered by Poles as a vigorous early advocate of reforms to the Polish-Lithuanian polity and as a critic of the Commonwealth's governing classes. He advocated the strengthening of the monarch's power at the expense of Sejm, magnates and szlachta.
His name "Skarga", which in Polish means, "accusation", is likely because of this career as a reformer and critic. The loose translation of his name would therefore be "Peter the Accuser".
He established or enlarged many Catholic charitable societies and Jesuit schools.
Lives of the Saints (Żywoty świętych, 1579, 8 editions in his lifetime).
Sejm Sermons (Kazania sejmowe, 1597, published posthumously).
Soldiers' Devotions (Żołnierskie nabożeństwo, 1618).
Posted by so2374 at 7:59 AM
Monday, December 3, 2007
- Russian Revolution
1985–1991 The era of Russian palace revolutions
Catherine II's reign featured imperial expansion, which brought the empire huge new territories in the south and west; and internal consolidation. Following the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War with the Ottoman Empire in 1768, the parties agreed to the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji in 1774. By that treaty, Russia acquired an outlet to the Black Sea, and the Crimean Tatars became independent of the Ottomans. In 1783, Catherine annexed the Crimea, helping to spark the next Russo-Turkish War with the Ottoman Empire, which began in 1787. By the Treaty of Jassy in 1792, Russia expanded southward to the Dniestr river. The terms of the treaty fell far short of the goals of Catherine's reputed "Greek project" - the expulsion of the Ottomans from Europe and the renewal of a Byzantine Empire under Russian control. The Ottoman Empire no longer posed a serious threat to Russia, however, and had to tolerate an increasing Russian influence over the Balkans.
Russia's westward expansion under Catherine resulted from the partitioning of Poland. As Poland became increasingly weak in the eighteenth century, each of its neighbors--Russia, Prussia, and Austria - tried to place its own candidate on the Polish throne. In 1772 the three agreed on an initial partition of Polish territory, by which Russia received parts of Belarus and Livonia. After the partition, Poland initiated an extensive reform program, which included a democratic constitution that alarmed reactionary factions in Poland and in Russia. Using the danger of radicalism as an excuse, the same three powers abrogated the constitution and in 1793 again stripped Poland of territory. This time Russia obtained most of Belarus and Ukraine west of the Dnieper river. The 1793 partition led to Kościuszko Uprising in Poland, which ended with the third partition in 1795. As a result Poland disappeared from the international political map.
Although the partitioning of Poland greatly added to Russia's territory and prestige, it also created new difficulties. Having lost Poland as a buffer, Russia now had to share borders with both Prussia and Austria. In addition, the empire became more ethnically heterogeneous as it absorbed large numbers of Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Jews. The fate of the Ukrainians and Belarusians, who primarily worked as serfs, changed little at first under Russian rule. Roman Catholic Poles resented their loss of independence, however, proved difficult to control, staging several uprisings against the occupation. Russia had barred Jews from the empire in 1742 and viewed them as an alien population. A decree of January 3, 1792, formally initiated the Pale of Settlement, which permitted Jews to live only in the western part of the empire, thereby setting the stage for anti-Jewish discrimination in later periods. At the same time, Russia abolished the autonomy of Ukraine east of the Dnepr, the Baltic territories, and various Cossack areas. With her emphasis on a uniformly administered empire, Catherine presaged the policy of Russification that later tsars and their successors would practice.
Historians have debated Catherine's sincerity as an enlightened monarch, but few have doubted that she believed in government activism aimed at developing the empire's resources and making its administration more effective. Initially, Catherine attempted to rationalize government procedures through law. In 1767, she created the Legislative Commission, drawn from nobles, townsmen, and others, to codify Russia's laws. Although the commission did not formulate a new law code, Catherine's Instruction to the Commission introduced some Russians to Western political and legal thinking.
During the 1768-1774 war with the Ottoman Empire, Russia experienced a major social upheaval, the Pugachev Uprising. In 1773, a Don Cossack, Emel'yan Pugachev, declared himself as the re-emergent tsar Peter III. Other Cossacks, various Turkic tribes that felt the impingement of the Russian centralizing state, and industrial workers in the Ural Mountains, as well as peasants hoping to escape serfdom, all joined in the rebellion. Russia's preoccupation with the war enabled Pugachev to take control of a part of the Volga area, but the regular army crushed the rebellion in 1774.
The Pugachev Uprising bolstered Catherine's determination to reorganize Russia's provincial administration. In 1775, she divided Russia into provinces and districts according to population statistics. She then gave each province an expanded administrative, police, and judicial apparatus. Nobles no longer had to serve the central government, as the law had required since Peter the Great's time, and many of them received significant roles in administering provincial governments.
Catherine also attempted to organize society into well-defined social groups, or estates. In 1785, she issued charters to nobles and townsmen. The Charter to the Nobility confirmed the liberation of the nobles from compulsory service and gave them rights that not even the autocracy could infringe. The Charter to the Towns proved complicated and ultimately less successful than the one issued to the nobles. Failure to issue a similar charter to state peasants, or to ameliorate the conditions of serfdom, left Catherine's social reforms incomplete in some eyes.
The "westernization" of Russia continued during Catherine's reign. An increase in the number of books and periodicals also brought forth intellectual debates and social criticism of the Russian Enlightenment. In 1790, Aleksandr Nikolaevich Radishchev published his Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow, a fierce attack on serfdom and on the autocracy. Catherine, already frightened by the French Revolution, had Radishchev arrested and banished to Siberia. Radishchev later gained recognition as the father of Russian radicalism.
Catherine brought many of the policies of Peter the Great to fruition and set the foundation for the 19th century empire. Russia became a power capable of competing with its European neighbors in the military, political, and diplomatic spheres. Russia's elite became culturally more like the elites of Central and West European countries. The organization of society and the government system, from Peter the Great's central institutions to Catherine's provincial administration, remained basically unchanged until the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 and, in some respects, until the fall of the monarchy in 1917. Catherine's push to the south, including the establishment of Odessa as a Russian port on the Black Sea, provided the basis for Russia's nineteenth-century grain trade.
Despite such accomplishments, the empire that Peter I and Catherine II had built remained beset with fundamental problems. A small Europeanized elite, alienated from the mass of ordinary Russians, raised questions about the very essence of Russia's history, culture, and identity. Russia achieved its military pre-eminence by reliance on coercion and on a primitive command economy based on serfdom. Although Russia's economic development almost sufficed for its 18th century needs, it remained no match for the transformation the Industrial Revolution was causing in Western countries. Catherine's attempt at organizing society into corporate estates early faced the challenge of the French Revolution, which emphasized individual citizenship. Russia's territorial expansion and the incorporation of an increasing number of non-Russians into the empire set the stage for the future nationalities problem. Finally, the first questioning of serfdom and autocracy on moral grounds foreshadowed the conflict between the state and the intelligentsia that would become dominant in the nineteenth century.
During the early nineteenth century, Russia's population, resources, international diplomacy, and military forces made it one of the most powerful states in the world. Its power enabled it to play an increasingly assertive role in Europe's affairs. This role drew the empire into a series of wars against Napoleon, which had far-reaching consequences for Russia and the rest of Europe. After a period of enlightenment, Russia became an active opponent of liberalizing trends in Central and Western Europe.
Internally, Russia's population had grown more diverse with each territorial acquisition. The population included Lutheran Finns, Baltic Germans, Estonians, and some Latvians; Roman Catholic Lithuanians, Poles, and some Latvians; Orthodox and Uniate Belarusians and Ukrainians; Muslim peoples along the empire's southern border and in the East; Orthodox Greeks and Georgians; and members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. As Western influence and opposition to Russian autocracy mounted, the regime reacted by creating a secret police and increasing censorship in order to curtail the activities of persons advocating change. The regime remained committed to its serf-based economy as the means of supporting the upper classes, the government, and the military forces. But Russia's backwardness and inherent weakness stood revealed in the middle of the century, when major European powers forced the surrender of a Russian fortress in the Crimea.
Posted by so2374 at 9:51 AM
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Market Square is one of Victoria, British Columbia's oldest landmarks and also one of its most visited tourist attractions.
There are more than 35 shops, restaurants, and clubs in the square. It is home to many concerts, festivals, and other events.
Posted by so2374 at 10:39 AM
Saturday, December 1, 2007
DaimlerChrysler AG (ISIN: DE0007100000) is a German car corporation and the world's fifth largest car manufacturer. As well as automobiles, DaimlerChrysler manufactures trucks and provides financial services through its DaimlerChrysler Financial Services arm. The company also owns a major stake in aerospace group EADS.
DaimlerChrysler was formed in 1998 when Mercedes-Benz manufacturer Daimler-Benz of Stuttgart, Germany merged with US-based Chrysler Corporation. However, the merger failed to produce the trans-Atlantic automotive powerhouse dealmakers had hoped for, and DaimlerChrysler announced on 14 May 2007 that it would sell Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management of New York, a private equity firm that specializes in restructuring troubled companies, effectively unwinding the original transaction. The US company adopted the name Chrysler Holding LLC when the sale completed on 3 August 2007.
DaimlerChrysler produces cars and trucks under the brands of Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, Smart, Freightliner, GEM and many others.
DaimlerChrysler was reportedly in negotiations with other carmakers and investment groups since early 2007 to sell Chrysler. General Motors was reported to be a suitor while Volkswagen, the Renault-Nissan auto alliance, and Hyundai Motor Company had said that they weren't interested in buying the company.
On August 3, 2007, DaimlerChysler completed the sale of Chrysler Group to Cerberus Capital Management. The original agreement stated that Cerberus would take an 80.1 percent stake in the new company, Chrysler Holding LLC. DaimlerChrysler will change its name to Daimler AG and retain the remaining 19.9% stake in the separated Chrysler.
The terms will see Daimler pay Cerberus US$650 million to take Chrysler and associated liabilities off its hands. This is a remarkable reverse in fortunes on the US$36 billion paid to acquire Chrysler in 1998. Of the US$7.4 billion, purchase price, Cerberus Capital Management will invest US$5 billion in Chrysler Holdings and US$1.05 billion in Chrysler's financial unit. The de-merged Daimler AG will receive US$1.35 billion directly from Cerberus but will invest US$2 billion in Chrysler itself.
Sale of Chrysler
Dieter Zetsche has been the Chairman of DaimlerChrysler and the President and CEO of Mercedes Car Group since January 1, 2006. The former President and CEO of the Chrysler Group, he is best known in the United States as Dr. Z from a Chrysler advertising campaign.
Current members of the supervisory board of DaimlerChrysler are: Heinrich Flegel, Nate Gooden, Earl Graves, Thomas Klebe, Erich Klemm, Hilmar Kopper, Arnaud Lagardère, Jürgen Langer, Robert Lanigan, Helmut Lense, Peter Magowan, William Owens, Gerd Rheude, Udo Richter, Wolf Röder, Manfred Schneider, Stefan Schwaab, Bernhard Walter, Lynton Wilson, and Mark Wössner.
The largest voting shareholder DaimlerChrysler is the State of Kuwait, with 7.1% (as at 31 December 2006). Deutsche Bank, with 4.35% (as at 2 May 2007). United Arab Emirates, with 2.0% (as at 31 December 2005).
30.9% Other Europe
8.3% Rest of world DaimlerChrysler shareholders
DaimlerChrysler sells automobiles under the following marques worldwide:
Mercedes Car Group
Commercial Vehicle Brands
- Thomas Built Buses
Mercedes-Benz (truck group)
Orion Bus Industries
Global Electric Motorcars (GEM)
- DaimlerChrysler Financial Services
- Thomas Built Buses
Posted by so2374 at 9:33 AM