And the basis for this claim is…?
5 hours ago
Now, UAF has issued what must rank as one of the silliest political statements of the year so far. “We the undersigned welcome the banning of the racist English Defence League’s march through Tower Hamlets,” it says. “But we are appalled to discover that the Metropolitan Police are applying for a blanket ban on ALL marches across five London boroughs… It is our human right to peacefully march in Tower Hamlets.” Wait – how come UAF has a “human right” to march, but the EDL does not? Are EDL members not human? Moreover, it really is spectacularly daft to talk about the importance of the right to march in the same breath as you welcome a government decision to ban a march. What UAF is effectively saying is: “We should have the freedom to march, but they shouldn’t.”Mr O'Neill thinks that UAF has no idea what freedom means. No, of course, not. But, to be fair, it also has no real understanding what fascism means either. Something to do with banning political activity one disagrees with, perchance?
Silver or gilt bowls were used, and English green glass and valuable imported Venetian glass were prized - vessels beautifully etched with mottoes and devices or rolled over water while being blown to produce a fine tissue of lines.Nothing too unusual there: Venetian glass was highly prized and many attempts - some successful, some less so - were made to create local industries that would compete.
Venice protected its lucrative glass-blowing industry by forbidding its artisans to work abroad, on pain of death. Realising the profit to be made from an appreciative British market, and taking his life into his hands, the first Venetian did establish a glass studio in London in 1572.How interesting, I thought to myself, if somewhat badly edited, particularly the note (once an editor, always an editor). Of course, if we had had the European Arrest Warrant at the time, things would have been very different.
During the first hearing for the case, retired police officer Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov appeared as a witness for state prosecutors. Now, however, he has become a suspect. Investigators believe he may have accepted payment from "a person whose identity is still unknown" for organizing the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Russian news agencies on Tuesday.The Moscow Times describes Lt. Col. Pavlyuchenkov as "a mumbling secret witness for prosecutors at a failed trial into her killing".
The suspect is also believed to have arranged for the alleged murderer Rustam Makhmudov to receive money, a pistol and a silencer to complete the act in 2006. Arrested in late May of this year in Chechnya, Makhmudov stands accused of having shot Politkovskaya in the elevator of her apartment building some 5 years ago.
But police remain uncertain who might have commissioned Pavlyuchenkov to arrange the killing, the spokesman said, adding that he appears to be just one link in a chain of those involved.
Investigators believe that Pavlyuchenkov arranged the murder of Politkovskaya, a Novaya Gazeta reporter who was shot dead in her apartment building in downtown Moscow, after being contacted by the mastermind, the committee said in a statement Wednesday.Well, now, I wonder who that "mastermind" could be. The Investigative Committee's statement [in Russian]states that revealing that information is deemed to be premature.
The committee did not specify the price of the contract killing but said it "has information about the alleged mastermind of the crime." No details were available.
The committee said Pavlyuchenkov assembled a team to carry out the killing. Earlier reports said the team comprised three Chechen brothers with the surname Makhmudov — Rustam, Ibragim and Dzhabrail — and a former officer with Moscow police's anti-mafia department, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.
Pavlyuchenkov, who served as chief of a Moscow police investigative unit at the time, ordered his police subordinates to trail Politkovskaya to "determine her daily routes around the city," it said.
He is also suspected of procuring the gun used by the suspected triggerman, Rustam Makhmudov, who spent five years on the run in Europe but was arrested in May upon his return to Chechnya.
The other two Makhmudovs are accused of helping track Politkovskaya, while Khadzhikurbanov is considered a middleman in the case.
The case against the three fell apart when a jury acquitted them in 2009. But the Supreme Court overturned the verdict, prompting a new investigation, which is in progress.
One wouldn't know it from "How to Change the World," but Mr. Hobsbawm wasn't always convinced that the Soviet Union, along with its puppets and imitators, was misunderstanding the essence of Marxism. He never relinquished his membership in the Communist Party, even after Moscow's invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Indeed, he began his writing career with a co-authored pamphlet defending the indefensible Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939. "To this day," he writes in his memoirs, "I notice myself treating the memory and tradition of the USSR with an indulgence and tenderness." There was some ugliness in the socialist states occupied by Moscow, he admitted in 2002, but "leaving aside the victims of the Berlin Wall," East Germany was a pleasant place to live. Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?It is little short of astonishing that Professor Hobsbawm should actually say that "real" Marxism was not practised in those self-described Communist countries. Undoubtedly, back in the old days he would have attacked anyone who suggested such a heresy about Stalinism, Maoism, what have you.
In a now infamous 1994 interview with journalist Michael Ignatieff, the historian was asked if the murder of "15, 20 million people might have been justified" in establishing a Marxist paradise. "Yes," Mr. Hobsbawm replied. Asked the same question the following year, he reiterated his support for the "sacrifice of millions of lives" in pursuit of a vague egalitarianism. That such comments caused surprise is itself surprising; Mr. Hobsbawm's lifelong commitment to the Party testified to his approval of the Soviet experience, whatever its crimes. It's not that he didn't know what was going on in the dank basements of the Lubyanka and on the frozen steppes of Siberia. It's that he didn't much care.
Readers of "How to Change the World" will be treated to explications of synarchism, a dozen mentions of the Russian Narodniks, and countless digressions on justly forgotten Marxist thinkers and politicians. But there is remarkably little discussion of the way communist regimes actually governed. There is virtually nothing on the vast Soviet concentration-camp system, unless one counts a complaint that "Marx was typecast as the inspirer of terror and gulag, and communists as essentially defenders of, if not participators in, terror and the KGB." Also missing is any mention of the more than 40 million Chinese murdered in Mao's Great Leap Forward or the almost two million Cambodians murdered by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge.
When the bloody history of 20th-century communism intrudes upon Mr. Hobsbawm's disquisitions, it's quickly dismissed. Of the countries occupied by the Soviet Union after World War II—"the Second World War," he says with characteristic slipperiness, "led communist parties to power" in Eastern and Central Europe—he explains that a "possible critique of the new [postwar] socialist regimes does not concern us here." Why did communist regimes share the characteristics of state terror, oppression and murder? "To answer this question is not part of the present chapter."
What of those many left-wing groups that still proclaim the need for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of the working class by violence if necessary? Should they all be arrested?And yet, as Michael Moynihan points out:
Well, of course not. But what of the historians who have been peddling lies about the Soviet Union, denying the horrors of Communism and generally abusing freedom of speech? What of Professor Eric Hobsbawm CH, given that honour by Tony Blair?
Throughout his long and distinguished career Professor Hobsbawm belonged to the CPGB (as long as there was a CPGB to belong to) and refused to acknowledge the Joseph Stalin was not the nicest possible man around, who occasionally got a little bit angry but what can you expect when you have the welfare of the world at heart.
Even in recent books Professor Hobsbawm implicitly denied the extent of Stalin’s and Mao’s mass murders, and was all coy about the victims of collectivization imposed by every single Communist tyrant from Uncle Joe to Colonel Mengistu. Far from being disdained, let alone arrested and imprisoned, the good professor is highly feted (Companion of Honour, no less) and his books are required reading by all university students of history.
All this, despite the fact that every single thing the Austrian judge or the British one in the Irving libel case of 2000 said about that wretched man can be said about Professor Hobsbawm (and numerous other, less eminent historians) with a few adjustments: instead of Nazism, Communism; instead of the Holocaust, the purges and collectivization; instead of mass murder, mass murder.
In 2003, the New York Times declared Eric Hobsbawm "one of the great British historians of his age, an unapologetic Communist and a polymath whose erudite, elegantly written histories are still widely read in schools here and abroad." The Spectator, a right-leaning British magazine, gushed that Hobsbawm is "arguably our greatest living historian—not only Britain's, but the world's." The Nation anointed him "one of Aristotle's 'men of virtue.' "One can exonerate the Queen - she was given his name by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and presumably asked no more. Though, it is possible, that Her Majesty has her own views on people who support vile, murderous regimes and corrupt the teaching of history. But what on earth was the Spectator thinking of by publishing that kind of nauseating comment?
That the 94-year-old Mr. Hobsbawm has long championed dictatorial regimes hasn't diminished his standing among the intelligentsia or within the establishment he so obviously loathes. In 1998, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon him a Companion of Honour—"In action faithful and in honour clear."
Mr Katainen [Finnish Prime Minister] said that if Finland's bilateral agreement with Greece over collateral payments was overruled, the Nordic country could back out of the rescue programme.The problem is, as Investment Week pointed out,
He told reporters that the private collateral agreement, in which Greece agreed to give Finland €1bn (£875m) in cash in return for its suppport, was "our parliament's decision that we demand it as a condition for us joining in".
Finland had agreed a private collateral agreement, in which Greece would give €1bn (£875m) in cash in return for the Finnish parliament's support.Greece would not be able to cope with all those collaterals (any more than it can cope with her domestic economic problems) and they would have to be covered from the bail-outs. This, naturally enough, has annoyed the other eurozone countries.
This sparked demands from Austria, the Netherlands and Slovakia for similar treatment, with both the Austrians and the Dutch criticising the deal.
Though small in geographic area and population, and surrounded by EU member nations, in their unique wisdom the Swiss refrained from joining the European Union. They have thus retained their national sovereignty and hence their own beloved sovereign means of exchange, the Swiss franc. Only eight months ago we cited an EU foreign ministry report that threatened the Swiss with either conforming to EU law or risk being shut out of EU markets: “Switzerland’s current relationship with the EU has ‘clearly reached its limits’ and has to change, the report says. Switzerland cooperates with the EU on a case-by-case basis, resulting in a series of over 120 agreements that give Switzerland similar access to the European Union as an EU member.” The Swiss tenaciously stuck to their guns. The paradox is, having taken that decision, the Swiss are riding on the crest of the waves of today’s economically rough seas, while the rest of Europe is in the trough.Then again, I don't get the impression that the author thinks it is really a paradox.
What a difference eight months can make. As Europe bites its financial finger nails, the Swiss remain confident of their fiscal position. “The Swiss economy is growing, unemployment is low and our country has little debt compared with other countries. We see neither deflation nor inflation risks at the moment. The national bank does not need to act,” stated Philipp Hildebrand, chairman of the Swiss National Bank, last month.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has failed in both of its top foreign policy priorities – “zero problems with neighbors” and membership talks with the European Union, main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Thursday.Under Erdogan Turkey has certainly acquired problems with Israel over the Gaza flotilla, where stalemate has been reached. One can't say that Turkey's relations with Syria have become problematic since just about everybody's relations with Syria (excepting Lebanon) are problematic. In fact, Turkey has called for changes in Syria but not for Assad's resignation, voluntary or otherwise.
“The AKP’s foreign policy pillars were zero problems with neighbors and the European Union – today we have problems with all of our neighbors and relations with the European Union have frozen,” Kılıçdaroğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview.
A statement published after a scheduled meeting of Turkey's national security council in Ankara said participants renewed calls for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, but they stopped short of following the example of the US and other major Western powers in demanding the resignation of Mr Assad.The same, as Mr Erdogan explained, happened with Libya - the calls for change and an ending to the bloodshed were ignored.
The council said "democratic political change in line with the legitimate demands of the Syrian people … has to be implemented following a clearly stated timeframe". The meeting included a briefing by Omer Onhon, Turkey's ambassador in Syria, officials said. The council is chaired by Abdullah Gul, Turkey's president, and includes top government officials as well as top commanders of the armed forces and intelligence chiefs.
Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March, Ankara has repeatedly called on Damascus to end the crackdown on protesters that has cost about 2,000 lives and to implement democratic reforms. Lately, Mr Erdogan's government has grown increasingly frustrated with what it sees as empty promises by the Syrian regime.
For many Turks, a new arc of history now looks clear. The Turks under Atatürk and the Kemalists modernized; now they are returning to their Islamic roots with a unique blend of advanced technology and economic success. This is not about conquest or the restoration of an actual empire — the Turks are subtler than were the Greeks. Where the Ottomans ruled by fire and the sword, the modern Turks will lead Islam by example and inspiration; Turks have achieved while Arabs can only dream. Now Turkey, in this view, returns to lead the Arabs into the light and Turkey’s unique role and prestige among the Arabs will give it new power and stature in the west. One can see why many young Turks are optimistic about the most glorious prospects Turks have seen since Mehmed II (Mehmed the Conqueror) entered Constantinople in 1453.How will this affect Turkey's relationship with the West? Will Turkey really turn to the East and ignore the position it has acquired under Atatürk and his successors?
For Erdogan’s government, the first stages of its “return to the east” were generally pleasant. Strong criticism of Israel’s attack on Gaza and his tough response to Israel’s attack on last year’s Gaza flotilla made Erdogan enormously popular in the Arab world. His reputation for opposing the US war in Iraq also raised his profile. Better commercial relations with Syria and Iran boosted Turkish exports and trade. His intervention into the Iranian nuclear issue had little effect on the course of the dispute but played well at home where voters saw Turkey emerging as a global leader on an issue that mattered to them.In the end, despite the various problems and tensions, the Turkish-American relationship will survive Turkey's growing strength as a Middle Eastern power, rather than just a faithful ally against the Soviet Union, and may even be welcomed.
More, Turkey’s role as the de facto head of western Sunnism looked promising. The state of the Sunni Arab world is deeply depressing. The fall of Saddam Hussein, the ever-tightening relationship of Syria and Iran, the growing Shi’a power in Lebanon and more recently Iran’s success (with Syrian help) at building its influence in Gaza, paint a disturbing picture of Sunni fecklessness and decline. Dominated by corrupt dinosaurs like former Egyptian president Mubarak or ruled by immensely wealthy and not particularly courageous or attractive royal families, the western Sunni world hungered for leadership that Turkey might be ready to provide.
The great idea of a return to the east was looking good.
But Atatürk’s instinct that Turkey needed to turn west was based on more than a sense that the west was where the power and the money could be found. It was also based on a sense that the east was a trap: full of danger and complications that could endanger Turkey’s stability if Turks were sucked into its quarrels.
Turkish daily newspaper Taraf has been at the forefront of exposing the plot, claiming that many of the country's institutions were involved.One cannot help remembering other political systems when these vague accusations were made and people tried and sentenced for ill-defined crimes. (And no, I am not thinking about Senator McCarthy here.)
"It's very important," said deputy editor Yasemin Congar, who believes the trials will lead to greater democracy and reduce corruption. "It's basically about digging out the dirt within the state and digging out all these secret institutions and secret organizations, which are allegedly behind many crimes in this country."
The case is the second trial in connection with the conspiracy. In December, 200 officers went on trial on similar charges.
Prosecutors say there was an elaborate plan to cause chaos in the country, including provoking a conflict with neighboring Greece and bombing mosques in Turkey.
Political analyst and retired Brigadier General Haldun Solmazturk claimed this particular probe is a political witch hunt instigated by a government intent on consolidating its power.Then came the mass resignation of senior Turkish officers, presumably as a gesture of defiance to the government. At the moment it looks like a wasted gesture as the government has been able to use it to strengthen its own control over the armed forces.
"It's aiming for one-party rule. They don't like democracy," said Solmazturk. "Once they eliminate the army there is not any other power that can challenge one-party rule, one-party regime. That is why the government has been so adamant in supporting this unjust justice system."
Questions over the origin of the evidence against the accused are growing. Earlier this year the police were forced to admit that they had planted evidence on one of the accused officers.
Concern has been increasing, both domestically and internationally, over the duration of the investigations. They've gone on for four years now, but still there haven't been any convictions.
Along with army officers, many of those on trial include journalists and well-known critics of the government.
The head of the AKP's parliamentary foreign affairs committee, Volkan Bozkir, has dismissed the idea that the investigations are politically motivated.
"The courts are independent in Turkey. It's the system which decides, and according to the constitution, the courts and the executive power and the parliamentary power are separate," he said.
Palestinian sources told the BBC that four members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a faction in Gaza that is loyal to Hamas but sometimes operates separately, had been killed in the air strikes, including the group's head, Kamal al-Nairab.It is a little difficult to work out whether those Palestinian sources are pleased or upset at the development.
The Court of Justice of the Republic today asked three appeal court magistrates to investigate whether the former French finance minister is guilty of "complicity in forgery" and or "complicity in misuse of public funds".It seems that the IMF executive board has expressed full confidence in Mme Lagarde. If I were her I'd get a very good lawyer. Then again, she probably has one.
If she is brought to trial and found guilty she could face 10 years in prison and a fine of $202,155.
Lagarde, who took up her new post last month, has denied any wrongdoing or illegality in a case stemming from a massive payment to a controversial tycoon out of public funds in 2008 when she was still a minister.
New Labour kids’ have been more flattered, mollycoddled and freed of responsibilities than any generation before them. These days, as young people progress through the education system, they learn that there is a whole raft of medical reasons why they can’t write neatly or behave properly in class. They also know that if their exam grades are slightly disappointing, they can always blame the teachers. And New Labour’s social-inclusion charter also means that schools cannot automatically throw kids out, even in the sixth form, for not working hard enough or for their poor behaviour. Local education authorities can fight to ensure that a suspended child is reinstated and then attack the school for failing to provide ‘adequate support’ to address the pupil’s ‘psychological issues’.Read the whole piece. Well worth it.
Historically, one of the functions of schools has been to teach children the importance of personal responsibility. Punctuality, enforcing homework deadlines and reining in disruptive behaviour are all important mechanisms for socialising young people. School is not about teaching kids to be blindly obedient to authority, of course, but it should guide them towards becoming morally autonomous individuals with a sense of responsibility to themselves and to others. However, New Labour’s therapeutic framework, which has infected a great deal of England’s education system, has effectively destroyed these civilising values. As any teacher will tell you, teenagers are now strikingly adept at screeching from the therapeutic hymn sheet. The ‘how dare you?!’ line they indignantly trot out effectively says: ‘How dare you pass judgement on or criticise me? It will damage my self-esteem.’
The police should not be relying on CCTV but should be present on the ground.This endemic overreliance on technology also deforms policing culture: officers lose any sense that their job is to deter crime by their presence alone, rather than just to react. This attitude was all too apparent after the riots when officers, and then the home secretary, seemed puzzled that the public was not satisfied with assurances that (thanks to CCTV) most of the looters would be caught.The looters are being caught but how much would it have been if the whole sequence had been stopped on Monday night by police action.
The cause of the riots is the looters; opportunistic, greedy, arrogant and amoral young criminals who believe that they have the right to steal, burn and destroy other people’s property. There were no extenuating circumstances, no excuses. The context was two-fold: first, decades of failed social, educational, family and microeconomic policies, which means that a large chunk of the UK has become alienated from mainstream society, culturally impoverished, bereft of role models, permanently workless and trapped and dependent on welfare or the shadow economy. For this the establishment and the dominant politically correct ideology are to blame: they deemed it acceptable to permanently chuck welfare money at sink estates, claiming victory over material poverty, regardless of the wider consequences, in return for acquiring a clean conscience. The second was a failure of policing and criminal justice, exacerbated by an ultra-soft reaction to riots over the past year involving attacks on banks, shops, the Tory party HQ and so on, as well as an official policy to shut prisons and reduce sentences. Criminals need to fear the possibility and consequence of arrest; if they do not, they suddenly realise that the emperor has no clothes. At some point, something was bound to happen to trigger both these forces and for consumerist thugs to let themselves loose on innocent bystanders.Actually, he is not entirely accurate. The lootings were not the cause of anything, they were just that: looting, arson and vandalism on a major scale. Let us not dignify this with the name riot.
But while all three main parties are responsible for flawed policies that have fuelled this growing underclass at a time of national prosperity – 5.5m-6m adults now on out of work benefits, a number that has been roughly constant for over two decades – the argument made by some that the riots were “caused” or “provoked” by cuts, university fees or unemployment is wrong-headed. Just because someone is in personal trouble doesn’t give them the right to rob, attacks or riot.
But this is what happens when the collapsing social edifice is so plainly your collapsing social edifice. The truth is too painful to confront. For starters, let’s not forget that the essential political context in today’s Britain is that we have just come out of 13 years of Labour government, while the new coalition is both in its infancy and overwhelming concerned with bringing down the massive levels of debt bequeathed by its predecessor. It hasn’t had time to leave its mark yet, and it’s hard to imagine any reasonable observer suggesting otherwise.The only problem with that analysis in my view is that the Left is not squirming but is being self-righteous and whiney in turn.
Even more devastating for the Guardian and company is that the high-tax, high welfare-dependency, regulation-saturated, relativistic, multi-culturalist society that we live in bares the unmistakable imprint of the thinking being spewed out of the pages of Left-wing newspapers for decades.
Internationally, the Right may have won the Cold War, but domestically, the socio-political culture war has largely been won by the Left.
To be sure, the riots that have swept London and shocked the world were not led by people with a political axe to grind as such.
Nonetheless, people respond to, and become formed by, the broader physical and cultural environment around them.
And from the crime-ridden council estates in which they were brought up, to the sink schools they went to which taught them nothing, to the courts they have encountered that refuse to jail them, to the welfare departments that stump up cash for them without question and to the prevailing relativism that says concepts such as right and wrong are to be derided and laughed at, that physical and cultural environment was constructed by the British Left.
Shortly before he died Mark Duggan sent a message to his girlfriend: "The Feds are following me." This piece of urban slang presumably derives from the American FBI. Gangs are apparently united with the Guardian classes in their admiration of The Wire.These people can't even invent their own slang. I despair.
It's not just that Speaker of the House John Boehner succeeded in imposing some conditions in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling. It's that the deal has Democrats, including the president, essentially signing on to the Republican framework for defining the Beltway's budget problem: spending that is too high rather than taxes that are too low.And that, dear reader, is what we are missing in Britain - a debate about the size scope, and proper function of the government. Until we do that all our political discussions remain pointless.
For the moment, the press focus remains on the intra-conservative spat between Republicans who favor Mr. Boehner's deal and tea partiers who largely oppose it. These disagreements will fade, however. And come the 2012 elections this deal will help force the debate that all conservatives have wanted all along—about the size, scope, and proper mission of our federal government.