The polls for the Satin Pajamas will close tomorrow. Vote while you can.

We’re nominated for a Bloggie, but more importantly you can vote for us in the semi-finals of the Koufax awards, in the categories for Best Group Blog, Most deserving of Wider Recognition, and Best Series (for our Ukraine coverage). I will immodestly claim that we deserve to at the least be finalists in each of them.

But even more importantly you should check out all the great nominees, and especially the koufax categories for best post and best humorous posts. The Bloggies have some great ones too, and many of the best are Europeans, like La Coquette, Petite Anglaise and Francis Strand.

And of course all the Satin Pajama finalists are great. Ben Hammersley made the point that our humble little awards had a more impressive roster of blogs than the venerable Bloggies, and I hadn’t thought about it, but I think he’s right.

Guilt and responsibility

Further to Doug’s eloquently silent post of the 27th instant: I’ve only noticed it now, but Amitai Etzioni put up a remarkable essay on his website a couple of days ago. It’s the English translation of an article he published in the S?ddeutsche Zeitung. That article, which you will have to pay money to the S?ddeutsche to read, has a rather better title than the translation does, but never mind that: just go to Etzioni’s site and read the thing.

Etzioni’s themes are guilt and responsibility. That’s all somewhat abstract, perhaps, considered in vacuo, but it is made sharply concrete by the facts that the article appears to have been occasioned by the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and that Etzioni is a Jew. What’s more (and this I had not known), he is a Jew from Germany (a K?lner, in fact), who as a child witnessed the highly civilised country of his birth transform into a ravening beast.

It would be perfectly understandable if Etzioni, as one of the rare Jews to escape the beast’s maw, dismissed his first homeland with a hearty ‘to hell with the lot of you, then’. He doesn’t, though.

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Not Perfect But Good

The debate on the constitution is getting feisty. It’s clear that, at least among our readers, the constitutional treaty has fervent detractors.

Over to Mr Hamilton

The establishment of a Constitution, in time of profound peace, by the voluntary ocnsent of a whole people, is a PRODIGY, to the completion of which I look forward with trembling anxiety. I can reconcile it to no rules of prudence to let go the hold we now have, in so arduous an enterprise, upon seven out of the thirteen States, and after having passed over so considerable a part of the ground, to recommence the course. I dread the more the consequences of new attempts, because I know that POWERFUL INDIVIDUALS, in this and in other States, are enemies to a general national government in every possible shape.

So let us put one question on the table. If not this constitution, then what?

Can the current structure accommodate 25 members? What about 28 in three years’ time? And 33 or more over the next decade? Would another convention produce better results? Why? Or should the EU be scrapped altogether? Would this not have negative consequences?

Keeping Tabs on the Constitution

The Center for Applied Policy Research (CAP) has put up a page detailing the steps on the way to ratification for the European constitution. Green, yellow and red lights mark the status in each country, and the chart can be viewed by country name or by ratification date. Unfortunately, the page is only available in a German version. (Full disclosure: I used to work at the CAP and still count a number of their projects as clients. But don’t think that means I will be able to persuade them to put up an English version.)

Fortunately, the Commission has done something roughly similar. Its page features an interactive map along with the expected list. The CAP’s commentary is more interesting, as might be expected. The Commission has also posted a version in French.

One of the CAP’s experts told me last week that the only significant problem for the constitution is the UK. Sentiments in France appear to be moving in favor of ratification. The other big and medium countries are also expected to have relatively easy paths toward ratification. And as for the smaller ones, well, it’s not like Malta would be truly missed if it opted to leave the Union.

But the UK is another matter. Not only politically and economically significant for the EU, but also home to one of the few fundamental debates about the Union. Normally this is a handicap, but in this case it will air essential issues in a way that probably hasn’t been done since the UK originally voted to join. This will probably be a real roller coaster ride.

Pin the capital on the country

It’s in German, but the idea behind this game should be obvious to everyone – it gives you a capital city and you have to ‘throw’ a dart to hit its location on the map. I was closest to the centre of Lisbon (just 18km out, which is effectively a direct hit, given the scale of the map) and a slightly embarrassing 406km away from Moscow. (found via The Ex-Communicator)

Pink, Orange, Banana

Neglected to note this at the time.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES NO REVOLUTIONS. Alyaksandr Lukashenka said while attending an Orthodox Christmas service in the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk on 7 January that there will be no revolutions in the country, Belapan reported on 8 January, quoting the presidential press service. Lukashenka’s assertion reportedly came in response to a letter from Orthodox clergy who called on him to preserve peace and stability in Belarus. “They draw my attention to what has happened in Ukraine,” Lukashenka said. “I want to assure you that our country, the generations that live in our state, have exhausted the limit of wars and revolutions. I ask you to remember this and not to return to this subject. There will be no pink, orange, or banana revolutions in Belarus.”

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

I’m told that orange is an awfully, and perhaps dangerously, fashionable color in dreary Minsk this winter. No word yet on whether there has been an upsurge in people giving roses. (And absolutely no truth to the rumor that the film “Ray” has been banned because of the prominent role played by the song “Georgia on My Mind.”)

Next presidential election expected in 2006. More on how you can help as we become aware of it.