Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Day Of Grand And Meaningless Gestures

The New York Times says: "Timetable Is Set to Revive Climate Treaty" as if it were a great big deal ... but it's not very much at all, really. Big surprise.
In Bali, European delegates threatened to pull out of those talks unless the Bush delegation agreed to keep some semblance of concrete targets in the outline for the next two years of talks.

Those targets remain in the agreement — including a possible cut in rich countries’ emissions of up to 40 percent by 2020 and overall emissions cut in half by 2050 — but they are now a footnote to the nonbinding preamble, not a main feature of the negotiating “road map.”
The BBC says "US sets terms for climate talks" and adds:
The final text does not mention specific emissions targets, but does acknowledge that "deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective" of avoiding dangerous climate change.

Environment groups said they were disappointed by the lack of firm targets for reducing emissions.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, President Musharraf has lifted the emergency, but not before passing a half-dozen constitutional amendments that make the current state of affairs more or less permanent.

So the Washington Post says "Musharraf Lifts Emergency Rule in Pakistan"
The decision to end the emergency had little tangible impact. Numerous top judges remained under house arrest Saturday, the media continued to work under a restrictive new code of conduct and the nation hurtled toward parliamentary elections early next month that are widely expected to be rigged.
The New York Times says "Musharraf Lifts State of Emergency in Pakistan" and provides more thrilling details:
In a clear move to protect himself from future legal challenges, Mr. Musharraf included in his executive order restoring the Constitution that any provision made during the last six weeks of emergency rule “shall not be called in question by or before any court.” A second order revoking the proclamation of emergency allows the president to issue future orders should problems of implementation arise, which also could not be challenged in any court. Presidential orders usually lapse after three months unless ratified by Parliament, but if issued under a state of emergency they automatically become law.

Under Pakistan’s Constitution, a period of emergency rule usually has to be indemnified by Parliament, yet Mr. Musharraf’s order also appeared to pre-empt any future challenge from Parliament. The latest presidential orders do not need to be ratified by Parliament, because they were introduced under the emergency, Mr. Haider said.

Six constitutional amendments were passed late Friday night, strengthening Mr. Musharraf’s legal position regarding his Oct. 6 re-election and his dismissal of the Supreme Court Nov. 3. Two amendments cleared away discrepancies in the Constitution that had been used by constitutional lawyers in their arguments challenging Mr. Musharraf’s eligibility to run for another presidential term. Another constitutional amendment confirms that the former judges of the Supreme Court who had not taken a new oath under the state of emergency could no longer continue in their jobs, and that the newly sworn judges would replace them. Another amendment created a new High Court, based in the capital, Islamabad, in addition to the existing four provincial high courts.

The amendments were immediately criticized by lawyers. Five judges of the former Supreme Court, including the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, remain detained incommunicado in their official houses close to the president’s office. The four senior lawyers, who have spearheaded the campaign to challenge Mr. Musharraf’s Oct. 6 election to another term, are also under house arrest. Lawyers across the country are boycotting the courts and refusing to work before judges who took a new oath under the emergency, virtually paralyzing judicial proceedings.

Concern about the general stability of the country prompted 23 former ambassadors and foreign secretaries to sign a statement this week calling for Mr. Musharraf to reverse all the steps he has taken since imposing de facto martial law. They pointed out the previous Supreme Court ruled the state of emergency illegal before it was dismissed and its judges placed under house arrest.

“These steps which amount to martial law are unconstitutional and illegal,” the statement said. “Besides undermining the rule of law and delivering a severe blow to the independence of the judiciary, they have dangerously destabilized the country. They also have incurred international opprobrium and badly tarnished Pakistan’s image.” The signatories called on political parties contesting elections to make the reinstatement of the former judges of the Supreme Court and provincial High Courts a top priority.
So there you have it. Hooray for nothing! We're having a grand time, aren't we?