Marc: most of the problems with release notes translation are my fault. I didn't have much time to work on xml2po lately, and then I recently fixed one bug in it, and unknowingly broke behaviour for some uncommon constructs which appear in release notes.
So, I went on and on with bug-fixing (instead of simply reverting to previous state—my goal was then not to break existing translations, but then there were many other fixes, so I should have done that right away instead).
However, though I agree there were problems with release notes translation, I disagree on what they were. First of all, we need xml2po to be tested and stable, and that's going to happen only when we go through enough of our existing documentation with it: some of the things that many complained about are really trivial to fix, and are only related to the docbook mode of xml2po (which tries to make it a lot easier for translators to do their job).
Next, this is our first attempt at release notes translation, so I didn't want to change directory layout to be suitable for gnome-doc-utils.make rules, which are already tested and working very well. Not to mention that gnome-doc-utils.make is using a switch to xml2po (-e) which would have hidden the bug in xml2po that release notes exposed, so if we had it, we would have not seen any problems using any of the recent gnome-doc-utils tarballs (0.1.*), so there would be no need for CVS HEAD.
Finally, we want our documentation to show in status pages as well: I need to add support to intltool-update for gnome-doc-utils-style docs, because that's currently the simplest way to get it.
As for your problems, there's always an updated release-notes.pot file in CVS, which you can msgmerge with if you're having problems working with xml2po: but this would also be solved with release notes showing up in translation status pages.
I certainly hope you'll help us make the process smoother for the next set of release notes, instead of not translating them at all :)
PS. This was the notice about Dutch, Serbian, Italian and Norwegian translations being "dropped".