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Showing posts from February, 2012

Time for the Sun to set on the Murdoch Empire

The fall of the News of the World was a curious affair. It seemed to me at the time to be something of an over reaction to close the newspaper, even in the face of public outcry over the phone hacking scandal. It only made sense in the context of launching a seven-day version of The Sun, the NoTW's daily stable-mate. Of course that is now what has happened. However the "sacrifice" of the NoTW begins to make far greater sense now that we understand the seemingly far greater level of corruption that was going on at The Sun itself . In now seems quite clear that the closure of the NoTW was a diversionary tactic by Rupert  Murdoch in order to protect his most popular title and even extend its franchise to seven day publishing. However it is now not just Vince Cable who is on the warpath against Murdoch. Every new revelation makes it quite clear that Murdoch has presided over a totally corrupt system. He has relied on corrupt payments to public officials and covert pres

Putin = Mugabe

Yet another demonstration in Moscow has  attracted tens of thousands of people  to take a stand against the idea that Vladimir Putin can return to the Presidency of Russia that he only vacated in 2008. The fact is that whatever the expressed will of the Russian people, it has already been overruled by the will of Vladimir Putin himself. Mr. Putin is determined to maintain his power, even in the face of determined protest. Some, including the gaoled tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky , suggest that change is inevitable in Russia, but to me this underestimates the tenacity of Putin- a man who glories in the name of "Chekist" and continues to lament the fall of the USSR. The Cheka was the extraordinarily brutal secret police established after the Bolshevik seizure of power which inflicted mass murder upon the population of Russia and beyond in order to impose the will of Lenin and Stalin. The founder of the Cheka, a Polish nobleman, Feliks Dzierzynski, was a man of twisted inte

The Low IQ of American Politics

In the United Sates as much as in Britain, the idea of a political elite attracts fear and loathing in equal measure. "Elitist" is a political insult in both political cultures. It is important for aspiring politicians that they sell themselves as normal plain folks. So it is that we get the uncomfortable spectacle of various politicians trying unconvincingly to mix it with the proles. Yet what are we to make of the latest twists in the bizarre saga of Sarah Palin? It becomes clear that as candidate for the second highest office in the United States, she knew so little about international affairs, even of the closest ally of the US, that she proposed talking to the Queen in order to ensure continued British presence in Iraq . This doltish woman could have been a heartbeat away from supreme power in the United States- the worlds most powerful state! Now of course we can say that she was an exception- but she isn't. Stupidity seems to be no hurdle to gaining political

Speaking for a Federal Britain

The past two years have been brutal for the Liberal Democrat brand.  It is understandable.  Liberalism is rooted in a clear set of principles, and yet as the coalition has become established we have discovered that we have either been forced to abandon key elements of our agenda- such as the tuition fees fiasco- or have discovered that we have not sold our ideas well enough to the electorate- the fiasco of the AV referendum. The result is that we have lost about half of the voters who supported the party in 2010. The party has assumed a grimly determined approach to repeated setbacks. It has been the only realistic response to the battering that we have taken. Yet we have also lost many fellow travellers and and long term supporters. The party is clearly weaker than we were.  Only the creation of a proportionally elected House of Lords may keep the Liberal Democrats in a position to retain influence at the national level. That is clearly why the party leadership is investing so

Freedom and the meaning of Latvia

The three Eastern Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are relatively new constructs. Their languages are among the most ancient spoken in Europe, but their national identity was only slowly constructed, culminating in the late nineteenth century. Their political identity might have remained bound up in the Russian Empire had not that entity collapsed into murderous barbarism under the hammer blows of the evil of Lenin and Stalin. As a result of the collapse and the simultaneous fall of the German Empire in 1918, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania together with Finland and Poland were able to construct independent states- in the case of the Baltic three, for the first time in 700 years.  Yet within twenty years of their creation they were subject to a monstrous conspiracy between a Russia under the rule of the psychopath Stalin and a German under the rule of the no less wicked Adolf Hitler. The first consequence of the Nazi-Soviet pact was their joint attack on Poland. The s

Putin... *shakes head in disbelief*

After the huge demonstrations in Moscow over the weekend against the rule of Vladimir Putin, it is clear that the regime is plotting a come back. Although the bused-in supporters of the regime were heavily outnumbered by the spontaneous opposition, it is clear that the supporters of the regime are trying to respond to the growing contempt for the current government with manufactured anger against "outsiders"- chiefly Americans- who they profess to believe are seeking to undermine the return of Vladimir Putin. Given the assistance that Moscow is offering to the brutal and discredited regime in Damascus , one could hardly blame the Americans if they did not feel well disposed towards the nihilist regime in the Kremlin, however, if anything the US appears to be desperately downplaying the challenge to the Putinista regime. Despite the veto that Russia placed on action by the United Nations, the Americans have expressed little stronger than disappointment. Yet increasingly

A Salmond Summer of Sport

Alex Salmond is not a man to stand on dignity. Despite rumours that he would restore the title of "High Excellency" to the sovereign's first minister in Scotland, it would be unfair to accuse our corpulent chief of taking himself too seriously. So surely there must be more to the story that he accused a BBC producer of being a "gauleiter" when he refused to allow our dear leader to participate in a debate between Rugby pundits . Personally I wasn't aware that the first minister had so much interest in the game that he could comment on the technical bravura of the Scottish loose forwards or the (alas too strong) skills of the English back line. However since we all know that Mr. Salmond has a great enthusiasm for the turf, perhaps his skill in picking horseflesh could be extended to the flowing game of Rugby (though, alas, last Saturday's game did not provide a good example). Well, just shows how wrong can you be. I mean who knew that a First minis

Wislawa Szymborska 1923-2012 RIP

On Death, Without Exaggeration It can't take a joke, find a star, make a bridge. It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming, building ships, or baking cakes. In our planning for tomorrow, it has the final word, which is always beside the point. It can't even get the things done that are part of its trade: dig a grave, make a coffin, clean up after itself. Preoccupied with killing, it does the job awkwardly, without system or skill. As though each of us were its first kill. Oh, it has its triumphs, but look at its countless defeats, missed blows, and repeat attempts! Sometimes it isn't strong enough to swat a fly from the air. Many are the caterpillars that have outcrawled it. All those bulbs, pods, tentacles, fins, tracheae, nuptial plumage, and winter fur show that it has fallen behind with its halfhearted work. Ill will won't help and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d'etat is so far not enough. Hearts beat inside eggs. Babies&