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Alfred Gusenbauer's Social Democrats (SPÖ) defeated the governing conservatives in Austria's national election on Sunday. His 2006 campaign was headlined "New Fairness". But what did they mean by "New Fairness"? Less government intervention, and thus more freedom and prosperity? Come on, you know that the social democrats always have had a strange understanding of the word "fairness":
Addendum: The longer I think about it...

pollstat“Subtle environmental cues can influence decisions on issues of real consequence,” write Jonah Berger and Marc Meredith, two doctoral students at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, and S. Christian Wheeler, a Stanford marketing professor, in a paper (summary) reported in July's SER. The “environmental cues” are surprising indeed: according to the authors, the polling places used by voters may influence their choices. One study showed voters in Arizona in 2000 were more likely to support a measure to increase the state sales tax, with the proceeds going to public education, if they voted in a school. Following up, the authors showed subjects images of a church, a school, or a generic building and asked them to “vote” on certain measures. Not only were the respondents more likely to support education measures if they had been shown pictures of schools, but they were also more likely to vote against stem-cell research if they had been shown pictures of churches. American polling places have usually been assigned by state officials on the basis of convenience; this research suggests they could become political battlegrounds in a whole new manner.

via The Economist

People's Daily Online: If academic corruption in China can not be curbed, scientific and technological development in the country will be delayed by 20 years, world-known mathematician Shing-Tung Yau warned recently. Yau, who is the only Chinese American winner of the Fields Medal, lashed out at... continue reading.

Telegraph: Bavarians [and Austrians] are hot under the collar over an EU directive that will force their barmaids to cover up, supposedly to protect them from the sun.

Brewery owners, politicians and most of the women themselves have condemned the legislation as absurd, claiming the "tan ban", as it has been nicknamed, will destroy a centuries-old tradition. Click here to read the story.

via liberalismus.at

Wearing a dirndl is a most feminine allure,
and the décolleté a very important part of the glamourous view of these dresses

J-Walk Blog: Seen on the MARC commuter train (between Baltimore and DC) today, this picture pretty much sums up the new "National Security":

Is this a hoax??

related items: MARC Rail

VoIP and ENUM, Richard Stastny:

From some feedback I received on my post on NON or NEE, it may not be completely clear: I would have voted YES to the European Constitution, for two reasons:
  • As born Austrian you get educated over the time that if you feel oblidged to partizipate in democratic elections, you never have the choice to vote for the best choice, only for the least worse. In this case it was the choice between the less flawed draft constitution and the seriously flawed Nice treaty.
  • I do not want to be seen anywhere near the camps of the core opponents, being a weird and dangerous melange of far-right (xenophobists) and far-left (antiglobalists), the unions and the useful idiots. Both left and right wings are known to be anti-democratic by history.
I wonder why the left wing still chants the Socialist International. Nowadays it would be more feasible if they would drop the "Inter" part and rename the hymne to Socialist-National, going back to the roots: "Die Fahne Hoch" aka "The Horst-Wessel-Lied", to be chanted together in the common demonstrations.

arbeitsamt_neuWSJ Europe, Opinion Section: Can you spot the difference between the two images reproduced here? No? Well, we have to admit, it's really not easy.

arbeitsamt_altIt is much easier to spot the hole in the budget the German labor office's attempt at corporate redesign will cause. While the office itself is tight-lipped about the price tag, advertising experts estimate that the design and introduction of the new logo (right) will cost taxpayers about 10 million euros. Apparently, that kind of money buys you a white stylized "A" (for Arbeit or labor) on a red background replacing the old red stylized "A" on a white background. Thanks to this ingenious reversal of colors, the new logo reminds some people of a stop sign. The message to the country's five million unemployed appears to be: don't enter, don't bother.

It all started in 2002 when it transpired that the labor office, known as a rather sleepy bureaucracy, had shown unusual initiative. Unfortunately, it had used its new-found energy not to find work for the unemployed but to inflate the number of successful job placements by roughly 70%. This scandal forced the government to finally try to turn this behemoth of almost 100,000 civil servants into an efficient job-search machine. A new name was to signal this reorganization and the dynamic Federal Agency for Labor was born, laying to rest the old and ineffectual Federal Institution for Labor (the German word for "institution" being plagued by the same double-entendre as in English). This subtle rebranding now also has its equally subtle logo redesign.

Unfortunately, it will take more than a color reversal to reverse the trajectory of German unemployment. Removal of the stop sign that labor law represents would work better.

EUobserver: French farmers, workers and public servants showed the strongest hostility to the EU constitution, while students, professionals and wealthier people were more keen to support it.

According to preliminary analysis by the Ipsos agency, the majority of citizens in the voting categories rejected the treaty with an overall turnout reported at 70.5 per cent. Frenchmen gave a louder "non" to the constitution than women, with 57 per cent voting against, as opposed to 53 per cent of female opponents. The result differs from the previous vote on the Maastricht treaty, where the women’s no was slightly more prominent.

Within the various age groups, the oldest citizens – 60 years and more – were the only ones to reach a majority in favour. On the other hand, middle aged people voted against on an almost 2 to 1 majority. More data.

EUobserver: A longstanding disagreement between the EU and the OECD about how the international economic organisation reports European Commission policies is slowly coming to a head. Non-EU countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are getting irritated by the fact that OECD reports may not include the impact of EU policies on agriculture, competition and trade.

When the OECD in February this year published an economic survey of Denmark the report for the first time included a disclaimer saying the examination of the country’s economy may not be complete. An evaluation of EU policies’ effects on the economy was not included, the note said. Since February five reports in total have been published including similar disclaimers. The latest appeared in the survey published about Italy’s economy:
"This Economic Survey may not include an examination of certain policies that are relevant to the country but fall within the competence of the European Community"
Click here to read the story.

projectionsHerald Tribune: Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany said Sunday that he wanted to hold early elections in the autumn after his Social Democrats were ousted from power in the crucial western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The surprise announcement on prime-time television was made after the opposition Christian Democrats were swept into power in North Rhine-Westphalia, ending nearly four decades of rule by the Social Democrats. |Source|

CDU party leader Angela Merkel:
"If the SPD thinks there is a need for early elections, I can only say that every day that the SPD-Greens are not ruling is a good day for Germany"
I couldn't agree more! (And I don't think that they will turn back the clock even further by undoing the labour market reform...).