Thousands of anti-extradition protesters block roads surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Thousands of anti-extradition protesters block roads surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters

Protesters block roads surrounding government headquarters to stop the passing of extradition bill. Image from inmediahk.net. Used with permission.

On June 12, thousands of protesters blocked major roads surrounding Hong Kong’s government headquarters and legislature in the Admiralty district to prevent lawmakers from presenting amendments to a controversial extradition bill. The secretary of the Legislative Council announced that the scheduled session at 11:00 am would be deferred until further notice after lawmakers were unable to reach the Legislative Council Complex.

Venus Wu@wu_venus

This is not the 2014 . This is now.

Just after Sunday’s million-strong protest, the HK gov announced it would continue to push the . The parliament is to debate it today & this is the people’s way of stopping it.

Pic: Tanya Chan’s FB pic.twitter.com/UUzeK0tSRp

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The roadblock protests followed a June 9 rally where over a million people took to the streets against proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment)  Bill. The proposed bill would provide legal grounds for the Chief Executive and local courts to handle case-by-case extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. Protesters believe that the amendments would make it easier for mainland China to arrest critics, dissidents, and even journalists in Hong Kong.

Soon after the rally, the government issued a statement stressing that the administration will continue to proceed with the second reading of the bill on June 12. The government’s hard-line stance triggered a round of violent clashes between the police and hundreds of young protesters who gathered outside the Legislative Council on June 10.

Confrontation after midnight on June 10. Image from Stand News. Used with permission.

The police arrested 31 protesters and took records of the identity of 358 protesters who stayed overnight after the rally. About 80 percent of them are between 16 to 25-years-old.

On June 10, Chief Executive Carrie Lam continued defending the bill and stressed Hong Kong is “duty-bound to address that deficiency”. The president of the Legislature, Andrew Leung, decided that Hong Kong lawmakers would have to vote on the controversial bill by June 20.

The organizer of the Sunday rally, Civil Human Rights Front, called for another round of protests outside the government headquarters to paralyze the government starting on June 12. Student unions from seven Hong Kong tertiary institutions, including Chinese University and Baptist University, have called for students to boycott classes and join the rally. Over a hundred Hong Kong employers from across industry sectors have pledged to either suspend business or support employees who choose to strike.

About 2,000 protesters gathered overnight outside the Legislative Council on June 11 and more protesters joined them the next morning. At around 8:00 am, thousands of protesters occupied major roads (namely Lung Wo Road and Harcourt Road) surrounding the Legislative Council Building. Jerome Taylor, Hong Kong/Taiwan/Macau bureau chief for AFP, reported on Twitter:

Jerome Taylor

@JeromeTaylor

The crowds on Harcourt Road — this is a major artery through the island that passes just next to the city’s parliament

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Jerome Taylor

@JeromeTaylor

Pepper spray deployed again pic.twitter.com/1wNCzqrYre

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Although the protester’s blockade was able to push back the scheduled session on the morning of June 12, house rules allow the Legislative Council president to resume the meeting with only one hour’s notice.

Protesters Fill Prague Square Again, in New Struggle for Country’s Soul

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Protesters Fill Prague Square Again, in New Struggle for Country’s Soul

Tens of thousands rallied in the Czech capital on Tuesday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis. Credit David Josek/Associated Press

PRAGUE — In the square in the heart of Prague, where crowds gathered three decades ago in their bid to wrest freedom from Communist rule and where independence was proclaimed seven decades before that, protest songs rang out again on Tuesday night.

Tens of thousands of men, women and children, coming from across the Czech Republic, waving flags and carrying signs attacking the government, gathered for what they said was yet another struggle for the soul of their democracy.

What started six weeks ago as a relatively contained protest — over the appointment of a justice minister many believe will protect Prime Minister Andrej Babis from potential fraud charges — has grown into something broader and possibly harder to control. Organizers said Tuesday that as many as 120,000 people had attended the protest, a count that would make it one of Prague’s largest demonstrations since 1989.

“This is about more than just corruption,” said Tomas Peszynski, 44, holding the corner of an oversize European Union flag. “This is about an abuse of the system of government and a fight to protect the institutions of democracy.”

Mr. Babis has responded with his characteristic bravado — he said the large crowd size was a reflection of the nice weather — and he has condemned those leading investigations into his business dealings as being part of vast political conspiracy.

“We have Babis hysteria again,” he recently told lawmakers. “Try to do something for the people instead, don’t just take a swipe at Babis.”

Mr. Babis has been battling accusations of corruption for years and, in an interview last year, he did not hide his anger, saying it was impossible to defend himself from the constant stream of attacks. But he has proved resilient, having already survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament.

However, the large demonstrations — with organizers promising more in the weeks to come — present a different challenge.

In neighboring Slovakia, months of protests fueled by anger over corruption forced the government to collapse and paved the way for a newcomer, Zuzana Caputova, to win the presidential election this year. The success of the movement there was closely watched by organizers in their brother nation, as the two countries have called themselves since their peaceful separation in 1993.

In fact, Mr. Babis was elected to Parliament in 2013 in part because of a promise to battle corruption.

With a net worth estimated at around $4 billion, he presented himself as someone who could not be corrupted. And as a businessman who came from outside the familiar cast of political elite tainted by years of scandal, he promised a new era.

The voters agreed. In 2017 parliamentary elections, Mr. Babis and his party won a resounding victory, and he was named prime minister.

Image
Mr. Babis in Parliament last week. “Try to do something for the people instead, don’t just take a swipe at Babis,” he has told his critics.Credit Martin Divisek/EPA, via Shutterstock

Now, many accuse him of betrayal, and worse, engaging in an effort to bend the legal system to protect himself as he faces increased scrutiny over how his sprawling conglomerate — which includes more than 200 businesses, from agriculture to media — used funds provided by the European Union.

“We believed what he was saying when he was first elected,” said Dagmar Pavelkova, 27. “But there were just too many stories about his corruption and now he is trying to manipulate the legal system to get off.”

She traveled three hours from Hranice na Morave with her husband, who carried a sign with the famous words of the anti-Communist hero Vaclav Havel: “Truth and Love Will Prevail.”

Mr. Babis has been dogged by accusations of corruption for years, but the recent protests began in April, shortly after the police recommended that he face fraud charges in connection with a European Union subsidy to finance construction of a resort near Prague, called the Stork’s Nest.

The next day, the justice minister, Jan Knezinek, resigned. He was replaced by Marie Benesova, who is close to the country’s president, Milos Zeman, an ally of Mr. Babis. The move set off immediate outrage.

Under the Czech system, while the police can recommend an indictment, only the state’s prosecutor, who is appointed by the justice minister, can file charges.

For his part, Mr. Babis dismissed the police investigation as a politically orchestrated attack.

An audit by the European Commission made public last week has been harder to ignore. It found that Mr. Babis’s company, Agrofert, has benefited from European Union funds. Since he stands to gain from the success of his company — even though he maintains he has divorced himself from its operation — the audit found that his impartiality was compromised, first when he served as finance minister and later when he became prime minister.

“I strictly reject this opinion and I will fight for it to be changed,” Mr. Babis said. “The Czech Republic certainly won’t have to return any subsidies. There’s no reason for that, because I’m not violating any Czech or European legal norms.”

Speaking in a session of Parliament on Tuesday, Mr. Babis stepped up his attacks on his opponents.

“I consider the audit an attack on the Czech Republic, an attack on the interests of the Czech Republic,” he thundered. “It is a destabilization of the Czech Republic.”

While the crowd of protesters on Tuesday was large, Mr. Babis’s Anos party still has a solid base of support. In the recent European Parliament election, affiliated candidates got some 20 percent of the vote, the highest of any party.

But more than anything else, the results showed how fractured the political landscape in the country has become.

The Social Democrats, who were at the center of Czech politics for a quarter-century, are now just one of a handful of parties fighting for the vote of an angry and disillusioned electorate.

Many of those on the square on Tuesday rejected party labels.

Jitka Cvancarova, a famous Czech actress who spoke from the stage in front of the National Museum, said that values should be at the core of any decent society.

“Mr. Babis,” she said, addressing the prime minister directly. “You can probably buy a lot, but you cannot buy our honor, our hearts or our freedom.”

Hana de Goeij contributed reporting from Prague.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A5 of the New York edition with the headline: Crowds Fill Prague Again, Provoked by Corruption. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Romania: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Great People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Romania

Introduction The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia – for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire – secured their autonomy in 1856; they united in 1859 and a few years later adopted the new name of Romania. The country gained recognition of its independence in 1878. It joined the Allied Powers in World War I and acquired new territories – most notably Transylvania – following the conflict. In 1940, Romania allied with the Axis powers and participated in the 1941 German invasion of the USSR. Three years later, overrun by the Soviets, Romania signed an armistice. The post-war Soviet occupation led to the formation of a Communist “people’s republic” in 1947 and the abdication of the king. The decades-long rule of dictator Nicolae CEAUSESCU, who took power in 1965, and his Securitate police state became increasingly oppressive and draconian through the 1980s. CEAUSESCU was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former Communists dominated the government until 1996 when they were swept from power. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.
History Prehistory and Antiquity

The oldest modern human remains in Europe were discovered in the “Cave With Bones” in present day Romania.[15] The remains are approximately 42,000 years old and as Europe’s oldest remains of Homo sapiens, they may represent the first such people to have entered the continent.[16] But the earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of the present-day Romania comes from Herodotus in book IV of his Histories (Herodotus) written 440 BCE, where he writes about the Getae tribes.

The province of Roman Dacia

Dacians, considered a part of these Getae, were a branch of Thracians that inhabited Dacia (corresponding to modern Romania, Moldova and northern Bulgaria). The Dacian kingdom reached its maximum expansion during King Burebista, around 82 BC, and soon came under the scrutiny of the neighboring Roman Empire. After an attack by the Dacians on the Roman province of Moesia in 87 AD, the Romans led a series of wars (Dacian Wars) which eventually led to the victory of Emperor Trajan in 106 AD, and transformed the core of the kingdom into the province of Roman Dacia.

Rich ore deposits were found in the province, and especially gold and silver were plentiful. which led to Rome heavily colonizing the province.[20] This brought the Vulgar Latin and started a period of intense romanization, that would give birth to the proto-Romanian. Nevertheless, in the 3rd century AD, with the invasions of migratory populations such as Goths, the Roman Empire was forced to pull out of Dacia around 271 AD, thus making it the first province to be abandoned.

Several competing theories have been generated to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analysis tend to indicate that Romanians have coalesced as a major ethnic group both South and North of the Danube.[25] For further discussion, see Origin of Romanians.

Middle Ages

After the Roman army and administration left Dacia, the territory was invaded by the Goths, then, in the 4th century by Huns. They were followed by more nomads including Gepids, Avars, Bulgars, Pechenegs,and Cumans.

Bran Castle was built in 1212, and became commonly known as Dracula’s Castle after the myths that it the home of Vlad III Dracula.

In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia (Romanian: Ţara Românească—”Romanian Land”), Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) and Transylvania. By the 11th century, Transylvania became a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary,[33] and became the independent as Principality of Transylvania from the 16th century,[34] until 1711.[35] In the other Romanian principalities, many small local states with varying degrees of independence developed, but only in the 14th century the larger principalities Wallachia (1310) and Moldavia (around 1352) emerged to fight a threat of the Ottoman Empire.[36][37]

By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary became Ottoman provinces. In contrast, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania, came under Ottoman suzerainty, but conserved fully internal autonomy and, until the 18th century, some external independence. During this period the Romanian lands were characterised by the slow disappearance of the feudal system; the distinguishment of some rulers like Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia, Matei Basarab, Vlad III the Impaler, and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia, Gabriel Bethlen in Transylvania; the Phanariot Epoch; and the appearance of the Russian Empire as a political and military influence.

In 1600, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania were simultaneously headed by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), Ban of Oltenia, but the chance for a unity dissolved after Mihai was killed, only one year later, by the soldiers of an Austrian army general Giorgio Basta. Mihai Viteazul, who was prince of Transylvania for less than one year, intended for the first time to unite the three principalities and to lay down foundations of a single state in a territory comparable to today’s Romania.[38]

After his death, as vassal tributary states, Moldova and Wallachia had complete internal autonomy and an external independence, which was finally lost in the 18th century. In 1699, Transylvania became a territory of the Habsburgs’ Austrian empire, following the Austrian victory over the Turks. The Austrians, in their turn, rapidly expanded their empire: in 1718 an important part of Wallachia, called Oltenia, was incorporated to the Austrian monarchy and was only returned in 1739. In 1775, the Austrian empire occupied the north-western part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina, while the eastern half of the principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.

Independence and monarchy

During the period of Austro-Hungarian rule in Transylvania, and Ottoman suzerainty over Wallachia and Moldavia, most Romanians were in the situation of being second-class citizens (or even non-citizens)[39] in a territory where they formed the majority of the population.[40][41] In some Transylvanian cities, such as Braşov (at that time the Transylvanian Saxon citadel of Kronstadt), Romanians were not even allowed to reside within the city walls.[42]

After the failed 1848 Revolution, the Great Powers did not support the Romanians’ expressed desire to officially unite in a single state, forcing Romania to proceed alone against the Ottomans. The electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia chose in 1859 the same person–Alexandru Ioan Cuza – as prince (Domnitor in Romanian).[43] Thus, Romania was created as a personal union, albeit a Romania that did not include Transylvania. Here, the upper class and the aristocracy remained mainly Hungarian, and the Romanian nationalism inevitably ran up against Hungarian one in the late 19th century. As in the previous 900 years, Austria-Hungary, especially under the Dual Monarchy of 1867, kept the Hungarians firmly in control even in parts of Transylvania where Romanians constituted a local majority.

In a 1866 coup d’état, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol of Romania. During the Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side,[44] in and in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Great Powers.[45][46] In return, Romania ceded three southern districts of Bessarabia to Russia and acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I.

The 1878-1914 period was one of stability and progress for Romania. During the Second Balkan War, Romania joined Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey against Bulgaria, and in the peace Treaty of Bucharest (1913) Romania gained Southern Dobrudja.[47]

World Wars and Greater Romania
(1916-1947)

In August 1914, when World War I broke out, Romania declared neutrality. Two years later, under the pressure of Allies (especially France desperate to open a new front), on August 14/27 1916 it joined the Allies, for which they were promised support for the accomplishment of national unity, Romania declared war on Austria-Hungary.[48]

The Romanian military campaign ended in disaster for Romania as the Central Powers conquered two-thirds of the country and captured or killed the majority of its army within four months. Nevertheless, Moldova remained in Romanian hands after the invading forces were stopped in 1917 and since by the war’s end, Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had collapsed, Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania were allowed to unite with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. By the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary renounced in favour of Romania all the claims of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over Transylvania.[49] The union of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint Germain,[50] and with Bessarabia in 1920 by the Treaty of Paris.

The Romanian expression România Mare (literal translation “Great Romania”, but more commonly rendered “Greater Romania”) generally refers to the Romanian state in the interwar period, and by extension, to the territory Romania covered at the time (see map). Romania achieved at that time its greatest territorial extent (almost 300,000 km2/120,000 sq mi[52]), managing to unite all the historic Romanian lands.

Romanian territory during the 20th century: purple indicates the Old Kingdom before 1913, orange indicates Greater Romania areas that joined or were annexed after the Second Balkan War and WWI but were lost after WWII, and pink indicates areas that joined Romania after WWI and remained so after WWII.

During the Second World War, Romania tried again to remain neutral, but on June 28, 1940, it received a Soviet ultimatum with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance.[53] Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from Northern Bukovina to avoid war.[54][55] This, in combination with other factors, prompted the government to join the Axis. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was awarded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis arbitration.[56] The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated in 1940, succeeded by the National Legionary State, in which power was shared by Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. Within months, Antonescu had crushed the Iron Guard, and the subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers. During the war, Romania was the most important source of oil for Nazi Germany,[57] which attracted multiple bombing raids by the Allies. By means of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from the Soviet Russia, under the leadership of general Ion Antonescu. The Antonescu regime played a major role in the Holocaust,[58] following to a lesser extent the Nazi policy of oppression and massacre of the Jews, and Romas, primarily in the Eastern territories Romania recovered or occupied from the Soviet Union (Transnistria) and in Moldavia.[59]

In August 1944, Antonescu was toppled and arrested by King Michael I of Romania. Romania changed sides and joined the Allies, but its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947.[60] With the Red Army forces still stationed in the country and exerting de facto control, Communists and their allied parties claimed 80% of the vote, through a combination of vote manipulation,[61] elimination, and forced mergers of competing parties, thus establishing themselves as the dominant force. By the end of the war, the Romanian army had suffered about 300,000 casualties.

Communism
(1947–1989)

In 1947, King Michael I was forced by the Communists to abdicate and leave the country, Romania was proclaimed a republic, and remained under direct military and economic control of the USSR until the late 1950s. During this period, Romania’s resources were drained by the “SovRom” agreements: mixed Soviet-Romanian companies established to mask the looting of Romania by the Soviet Union.

After the negotiated retreat of Soviet troops in 1958, Romania, under the new leadership of Nicolae Ceauşescu, started to pursue independent policies such as: being the only Warsaw Pact country to condemn the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, and to continue diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967; establishing economic (1963) and diplomatic (1967) relations with the Federal Republic of Germany.[68] Also, close ties with the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play a key role in the Israel-Egypt and Israel-PLO peace processes.[69] But as Romania’s foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from 3 to 10 billion US dollars),[70] the influence of international financial organisations such as the IMF or the World Bank grew, conflicting with Nicolae Ceauşescu’s autarchic policies. He eventually initiated a project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt by imposing policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy, while also greatly extending the authority police state, and imposing a cult of personality. These led to a dramatic decrease in Ceauşescu-popularity and culminated in his overthrow and execution in the bloody Romanian Revolution of 1989.

During the 1947–1962 period, many people were arbitrarily killed or imprisoned for political, economic or unknown reasons:[71] detainees in prisons or camps, deported, persons under house arrest, and administrative detainees. There were hundreds of thousands of abuses, deaths and incidents of torture against a large range of people, from political opponents to ordinary citizens.[72] Between 60,000 and 80,000 political prisoners were detained as psychiatric patients and treated in some of the most sadistic ways by doctors. It is estimated that, it total, two million people were direct victims of the communism repression.

Present-day democracy

After the revolution, the National Salvation Front, led by Ion Iliescu, took partial multi-party democratic and free market measures.[77][78] Several major political parties of the pre-war era, such as the Christian-Democratic National Peasants’ Party, the National Liberal Party and the Romanian Social Democrat Party were resurrected. After several major political rallies, in April 1990, a sit-in protest contesting the results of the recently held parliamentary elections began in University Square, Bucharest accusing the Front of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate. The protesters did not recognize the results of the election, deeming them undemocratic, and asked for the exclusion from the political life of the former high-ranking Communist Party members. The protest rapidly grew to become an ongoing mass demonstration (known as the Golaniad). The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence, and the violent intervention of coal miners from the Jiu Valleyled to what is remembered as the June 1990 Mineriad.

The subsequent disintegration of the Front produced several political parties including the Romanian Democrat Social Party (later Social Democratic Party), the Democratic Party and the (Alliance for Romania). The first governed Romania from 1990 until 1996 through several coalitions and governments and with Ion Iliescu as head of state. Since then there have been three democratic changes of government: in 1996, the democratic-liberal opposition and its leader Emil Constantinescu acceded to power; in 2000 the Social Democrats returned to power, with Iliescu once again president; and in 2004 Traian Băsescu was elected president, with an electoral coalition called Justice and Truth Alliance. The government was formed by a larger coalition which also includes the Conservative Party and the ethnic Hungarian party.

Post-Cold War Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, eventually joining NATO in 2004, and hosting in Bucharest the 2008 summit.[80] The country applied in June 1993 for membership in the European Union and became an Associated State of the EU in 1995, an Acceding Country in 2004, and a member on January 1, 2007.

Following the free travel agreement and politic of the post-Cold War period, as well as hardship of the life in the post 1990s economic depression, Romania has an increasingly large diaspora, estimated at over 2 million people. The main emigration targets are Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, UK, Canada and the USA.

Geography Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Ukraine
Geographic coordinates: 46 00 N, 25 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 237,500 sq km
land: 230,340 sq km
water: 7,160 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 2,508 km
border countries: Bulgaria 608 km, Hungary 443 km, Moldova 450 km, Serbia 476 km, Ukraine (north) 362 km, Ukraine (east) 169 km
Coastline: 225 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate; cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow and fog; sunny summers with frequent showers and thunderstorms
Terrain: central Transylvanian Basin is separated from the Plain of Moldavia on the east by the Carpathian Mountains and separated from the Walachian Plain on the south by the Transylvanian Alps
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Moldoveanu 2,544 m
Natural resources: petroleum (reserves declining), timber, natural gas, coal, iron ore, salt, arable land, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 39.49%
permanent crops: 1.92%
other: 58.59% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30,770 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 42.3 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 6.5 cu km/yr (9%/34%/57%)
per capita: 299 cu m/yr (2003)
Natural hazards: earthquakes, most severe in south and southwest; geologic structure and climate promote landslides
Environment – current issues: soil erosion and degradation; water pollution; air pollution in south from industrial effluents; contamination of Danube delta wetlands
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: controls most easily traversable land route between the Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine
Politics The Constitution of Romania is based on the Constitution of France’s Fifth Republic[131] and was approved in a national referendum on December 8, 1991.[131] A plebiscite held in October 2003 approved 79 amendments to the Constitution, bringing it into conformity with the European Union legislation.[131] Romania is governed on the basis of multi-party democratic system and of the segregation of the legal, executive and judicial powers.[131] The Constitution states that Romania is a semi-presidential democratic republic where executive functions are shared between the president and the prime minister. The President is elected by popular vote for maximum two terms, and since the amendments in 2003, the terms are five years.[131] The President appoints the Prime Minister, who in turn appoints the Council of Ministers.[131] While the president resides at Cotroceni Palace, the Prime Minister with the Romanian Government is based at Victoria Palace.

The legislative branch of the government, collectively known as the Parliament (Parlamentul României), consists of two chambers – the Senate (Senat), which has 140 members, and the Chamber of Deputies (Camera Deputaţilor), which has 346 members.[131] The members of both chambers are elected every four years under a system of party-list proportional representation.

The justice system is independent of the other branches of government, and is made up of a hierarchical system of courts culminating in the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which is the supreme court of Romania. There are also courts of appeal, county courts and local courts. The Romanian judicial system is strongly influenced by the French model, considering that it is based on civil law and is inquisitorial in nature. The Constitutional Court (Curtea Constituţională) is responsible for judging the compliance of laws and other state regulations to the Romanian Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the country. The constitution, which was introduced in 1991, can only be amended by a public referendum, the last one being in 2003. Since this amendment, the court’s decisions cannot be overruled by any majority of the parliament.

The country’s entry into the European Union in 2007 has been a significant influence on its domestic policy. As part of the process, Romania has instituted reforms including judicial reform, increased judicial cooperation with other member states, and measures to combat corruption. Nevertheless, in 2006 Brussels report, Romania and Bulgaria were described as the two most corrupt countries in the EU.

People Population: 22,246,862 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.6% (male 1,778,864/female 1,687,659)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 7,718,125/female 7,791,102)
65 years and over: 14.7% (male 1,337,915/female 1,933,197) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 37.3 years
male: 35.9 years
female: 38.7 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.136% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 11.84 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 23.73 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.81 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.18 years
male: 68.69 years
female: 75.89 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.38 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 6,500 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 350 (2001 est.)
Nationality: noun: Romanian(s)
adjective: Romanian
Ethnic groups: Romanian 89.5%, Hungarian 6.6%, Roma 2.5%, Ukrainian 0.3%, German 0.3%, Russian 0.2%, Turkish 0.2%, other 0.4% (2002 census)
Religions: Eastern Orthodox (including all sub-denominations) 86.8%, Protestant (various denominations including Reformate and Pentecostal) 7.5%, Roman Catholic 4.7%, other (mostly Muslim) and unspecified 0.9%, none 0.1% (2002 census)
Languages: Romanian 91% (official), Hungarian 6.7%, Romany (Gypsy) 1.1%, other 1.2%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.3%
male: 98.4%
female: 96.3% (2002 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 3.5% of GDP (2005)

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Wants to ‘Write a New History’ With South Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM NEWS)

((Commentary: by TRS) Just how foolish is President Moon of South Korea? Yes, it is obvious that Kim Jong Un wants to “write a new history” of the Korean Peninsula with himself as the supreme ruler of all of the peninsula. The only thing acceptable to Kim Jong Un is for the people of South Korea to totally and completely give up all of their freedom. Even China’s Xi Jinping has made it clear that China will not tolerate a “non-Communist” government on their border. So, it is my belief that President Moon is acting like either a total fool, or, he is a total traitor to the people of South Korea!)

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I’D LIKE TO BE OPTIMISTIC.’ DONALD TRUMP SEES SIGN OF PROGRESS IN POSSIBLE NORTH KOREA TALKS WITH U.S.
By FOSTER KLUG / AP

March 6, 2018

(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had an “openhearted talk” in Pyongyang with envoys for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the North said Tuesday.

It’s the first time South Korean officials have met with the young North Korean leader in person since he took power after his dictator father’s death in late 2011 — and the latest sign that the Korea’s are trying to mend ties after a year of repeated North Korean weapons tests and threats of nuclear war.

North Korea’s state media said Kim expressed his desire to “write a new history of national reunification” during a dinner Monday night that Seoul said lasted about four hours.

Given the robust history of bloodshed, threats and animosity on the Korean Peninsula, there is considerable skepticism over whether the Koreas’ apparent warming relations will lead to lasting peace.

North Korea, some believe, is trying to use improved ties with the South to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions and pressure, and to provide domestic propaganda fodder for Kim Jong Un.

But each new development also raises the possibility that the rivals can use the momentum from the good feelings created during North Korea’s participation in the South’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics last month to ease a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and restart talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

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I’D LIKE TO BE OPTIMISTIC.’ DONALD TRUMP SEES SIGN OF PROGRESS IN POSSIBLE NORTH KOREA TALKS WITH U.S.

The North Korean report sought to make Kim look statesmanlike as he welcomed the visiting South Koreans, with Kim offering views on “activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange.”

He was also said to have given “important instruction to the relevant field to rapidly take practical steps for” a summit with Moon, which the North proposed last month.

Moon, a liberal who is keen to engage the North, likely wants to visit Pyongyang. But he must first broker better ties between the North and Washington, which is Seoul’s top ally and its military protector.

The role of a confident leader welcoming visiting, and lower-ranking, officials from the rival South is one Kim clearly relishes. Smiling for cameras, he posed with the South Koreans and presided over what was described as a “co-patriotic and sincere atmosphere.”

Many in Seoul and Washington will want to know if, the rhetoric and smiling images notwithstanding, there’s any possibility Kim will negotiate over the North’s breakneck pursuit of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can viably target the U.S. mainland.

The North has repeatedly and bluntly declared it will not give up its nuclear bombs. It also hates the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises that were postponed because of the Olympics but will likely happen later this spring. And achieving its nuclear aims rests on the North resuming tests of missiles and bombs that set the region on edge.

Photos distributed by the North showed a beaming Kim dressed in a dark Mao-style suit and holding hands with Moon’s national security director, Chung Eui-yong, the leader of the 10-member South Korean delegation. Chung’s trip is the first known high-level visit by South Korean officials to the North in about a decade.

The South Korean delegates have another meeting with North Korean officials on Tuesday before returning home, but it’s unclear if Kim Jong Un will be there.

Kim was said to have expressed at the dinner his “firm will to vigorously advance the north-south relations and write a new history of national reunification by the concerted efforts of our nation to be proud of in the world.”

There is speculation that better inter-Korean ties could pave the way for Washington and Pyongyang to talk about the North’s nuclear weapons. The United States, however, has made clear that it doesn’t want empty talks and that all options, including military measures, are on the table.

Previous warming ties between the Korea’s have come to nothing amid North Korea’s repeated weapons tests and the North’s claims that the annual U.S.-South Korean war games are a rehearsal for an invasion.

Before leaving for Pyongyang, Chung said he would relay Moon’s hopes for North Korean nuclear disarmament and a permanent peace on the peninsula.

Chung’s delegation includes intelligence chief Suh Hoon and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung. The South Korean presidential Blue House said the high-profile delegation is meant to reciprocate the Olympic trip by Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who became the first member of the North’s ruling family to come to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim Yo Jong, who also attended Monday’s dinner, and other senior North Korean officials met with Moon during the Olympics, conveyed Kim Jong Un’s invitation to visit Pyongyang and expressed their willingness to hold talks with the United States.

After the Pyongyang trip, Chung’s delegation is scheduled to fly to the United States to brief officials about the outcome of the talks with North Korean officials.

President Donald Trump has said talks with North Korea will happen only “under the right conditions.”

If Moon accepts Kim’s invitation to visit Pyongyang it would be the third inter-Korean summit talk. The past two summits, one in 2000 and the other in 2007, were held between Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, and two liberal South Korean presidents. They resulted in a series of cooperative projects between the Korea’s that were scuttled during subsequent conservative administrations in the South.