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moldovan christmas beauracracy

This story captured my imagination when it was sent from a friend in Moldova last week – is there no limit to beauracracy in some parts of the world?

I have included an update to the story below it, too.

Moldovan police arrests Christmas tree

The Christmas tree, which the Chisinau mayor ordered to be set on the Great National Assembly Square in the capital, has been arrested by Moldovan police.

Info-Prim Neo, today at 16:30

Chisinau (IPN) The Christmas tree, which the Chisinau mayor ordered to be set on the Great National Assembly Square in the capital, has been arrested by Moldovan police. The incident occurred this morning. The driver carrying the fir tree was halted by police officers in Cojusna, the locality where the tree was bought from a private company, Info-Prim Neo reports.

The City Hall issued a release reading that the police asked the driver to present the acquisition contract and more related documents. The driver was held up for over an hour, since he did not have the ecological endorsement paper. Officials from the Green Spaces Municipal Company say no ecological endorsement was needed, the communique reads.

Later the police instructed the driver to go to Straseni town and stated the fir tree was arrested, the communique informs.

The Chisinau City Hall announced Tuesday it would set the Christmas Tree on the central square at 10.00 a.m. It also announced the way by which the truck would have brought the tree.

Last year, the Christmas tree placed on the central square as ordered by the mayor on December 9 disappeared at night. Several hours later it was placed near the Triumph Arch and then it was placed in front of the City Hall.

And a recent update:

Greceanyi tells reporters to stop making ‘such a fuss’ about Christmas tree

“There shall be a tree, a big, nice tree, which will have its lights switched on at the appropriate time”, Greceanyi said.

Info-Prim Neo, today at 17:34

Chisinau (IPN) Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanyi advised the press to “stop making such a fuss about the Christmas tree, it’s not worth it”, saying that people have other concerns to take care of ahead of New Year’s Eve, like “taking their salaries and pensions on time”.

“There shall be a tree, a big, nice tree, which will have its lights switched on at the appropriate time”, Greceanyi said.

She went on to add that the population would learn later how much the tree cost.

On Tuesday evening, December 16, a 19 meters tall fir tree was erected in Chisinau’s central plaza. The Government’s spokesperson, Vitalie Condratchi, told the agency Info-Prim Neo the tree was brought from Calarasi district and would be inaugurated on Friday, December 19.

Earlier on Tuesday, the municipal authorities reported the tree they bought for the same central square had been arrested by police on its way to the city because the driver hauling the fir failed to produce an ecological authorization requested by the police.

My friend comments: I thought I would stop holding you all in suspense about our Christmas tree – if that story caught your interest at all.  The communist Prime Minister of Moldova told people to stop worrying about the Christmas tree.  The “big, nice, tree” with its light on in the center of the capital city will not be the one purchased by the non-communist mayor of the city (it is still under arrest), but one purchased and set up by the communist national government.  The sad thing is, if people have more important things to worry about as we approach new parliamentary elections, doesn’t the government, too?

Life before the mouse.

I read on BBC News today that the humble mouse is celebrating a 40-year milestone today – can you imagine life without a mouse?

Source: BBC News

The humble computer mouse celebrates its 40th anniversary today.

On 9 December 1968 hi-tech visionary Douglas Engelbart first used one to demonstrate novel ways of working with computers.

The first mouse that Dr Engelbart used in the demo at the Fall Joint Computer Conference (FJCC) was made of wood and had one button.

A day of celebration is planned in California to mark the 40th anniversary; with many of the researchers behind the original demo reunited to mark the event.

europe: climate crunch time


Dear friends,

While the world’s attention is elsewhere, the global negotiations to tackle the climate crisis are finally reaching crunch point. World leaders gather in Poland this week to hammer out a deal that should lead to a new and powerful global treaty, but Italy and Poland are aggressively undermining the talks, while Germany, normally a climate champion, stands idly by.

For our future, we need to urgently influence these 3 European leaders — Merkel, Berlusconi and Tusk — before their negotiators finally sit down at the global climate table. If they don’t change course in these coming days, Europe will fail to reach a unified position, which could literally unravel the entire global process.

That’s why Avaaz has urgently dispatched members of our team to Poland and Belgium, to help stem the tide. We’ve secured urgent face-to-face meetings with key climate negotiators later this week but real numbers are needed to make all our voices heard. Add your name to the urgent global climate petition here and help take our call to action to the heart of the negotiations:

For the last year, the US, Canada, and Japan have been the worst obstructionists in climate talks – as we exposed early in Bali. But now, Bush, Fukuda and Harper are gone or heading out the door. A breakthrough could be near at hand as we approach the final stretch… if only Europe weren’t on the verge of abandoning its ambitious climate program.

Coal and heavy industry lobbies are using the financial crisis as a smokescreen to block progress. Italy and Poland threaten to pull the European Union away from the ambitious goals set last year. Germany is staying silent. As a result, the European Union is deadlocked in Brussels — and ineffective at the United Nations talks. But we must succeed this week to have any chance of building the road map to the final UN meeting in Copenhagen next year.

In all three countries, it’s not too late. We can show these governments that their own citizens and the rest of the world will not settle for anything less than strong climate action. Avaaz is commissioning independent opinion polls on climate in all three countries, building a massive global petition for delivery in meetings and stunts at the UN and EU talks, and launching a major media campaign to shame, cajole, and encourage EU leaders to do the right thing.

Before Obama takes the helm, the next step in the world’s response to climate change depends on European leadership. Here’s what we need Europe to bring to the global table: 30% emissions cut by 2020 if a global deal is reached, 100% auctioning of permits, and a strict compliance regime to ensure targets are met. The EU’s climate policy will electrify or dampen the international negotiations in Poland, while setting the stage for the final meeting in Copenhagen.

For all of us who have ever been concerned about climate change, now’s the time to send a message calling for leadership and vision. By the time we reach the new year, Europe’s policy will be sealed, and with it much of the global response to the climate crisis.

With determination,

Ben, Luis, Iain, Graziela, Brett, Paula, Ricken, Alice, Pascal, Milena, Veronique — and the rest of the Avaaz team

ABOUT AVAAZ is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva.

headington fairtrade

Had a meeting today to discuss some voluntary work I will be doing to develop a website for a new initiative – the Headington Fairtrade Cooperative -

The cooperative are hoping to open the doors to a new shop (their first) in Headington, Oxford, in the new year – possibly in early February. It looks like it will be a fun project to work on, and will mean working with a great bunch of people (my father-in-law included).

I will try to remember to post news on this again once the site is launched, and when the shop is open. I am sure they will be pleased for your custom – as will the communities who rightly benefit from fairtrade.

To find out more about fairtrade, see: