Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Kennedy’s Speeches Revisited

As good as Kennedy’s inaugural was, the speeches that define him historically were given within just over 50 hours in June 1963, one of them prepared secretly over months, the other practically ad-libbed.

JFK’s Eloquence, 50 Years Later

E.J. Dionne, Jr. | Truthdig | Posted on Jan 19, 2011

It’s remembered as a day chilled by “a Siberian wind knifing down Pennsylvania Avenue” and illuminated by “the dazzling combination of bright sunshine and deep snow.”

On Jan. 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy began his presidency with a speech at once soaring and solemn. Fifty years on, we have not heard an inaugural address like it. Tethered to its time and place, it still challenges with its ambition to harness realism to idealism, patriotism to service, national interest to universal aspiration.

What It Was Like to Be John F. Kennedy

Richard Reeves | Truthdig | Posted on Jan 18, 2011

Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president of the United States. He gave a stirring inaugural address and then took over a job for which he was unprepared. No one is ever prepared. The presidency is essentially a reactive job, with a man standing alone facing crises unforeseen.

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By Yasmin Qureshi, ZNet, June 12, 2010

I had wanted to go to Kashmir ever since I visited Palestine in 2007. There are many similarities in the nature of the occupation as well as the struggles, both being nearly 63 years old. One difference is that while Israel is seen as an external occupying force in Palestine, the Kashmir issue is considered an ‘internal’ matter or a conflict between Pakistan and India and the voice of Kashmiris is often lost. As a result there are fewer international organizations monitoring the region and little information about the extent and impact of the occupation gets out.

Continues >>

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May 29, 2010, 2:56 pm

Dennis Hopper, in the film “Easy Rider,” which he directed, edited and starred in.

Dennis Hopper, whose portrayals of drug-addled, often deranged misfits in the landmark films “Easy Rider,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Blue Velvet” drew on his early out-of-control experiences as part of a new generation of Hollywood rebel, died at his home in Venice, Calif., on Saturday, The Associated Press reported. He was 74.

The death was announced by Alex Hitz, a family friend, according to The A.P. A cause of death was not immediately given, but Mr. Hopper was recently being treated for prostate cancer.

Mr. Hopper, who said he stopped drinking and using drugs in the mid-1980s, followed that change with a tireless phase of his career in which he claimed to have turned down no parts. His credits include at least  six films released in 2008 and at least 25 over the past 10 years.

Most recently, Mr. Hopper starred in the television series “Crash,” an adaptation of the Oscar-winning film of the same title. Produced for the Starz cable channel, the show had Mr. Hopper portraying a music producer unhinged by years of drug use. During a promotional tour last fall for that series, he fell ill; shortly thereafter, he began a new round of treatments for prostate cancer, which he said was first diagnosed a decade ago.


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Once asked what his favourite joke was, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party and now Prime Minister, replied, “Nick Clegg”.

Nick Clegg is the leader of the Liberal-Democrat Party and is now the Deputy Prime Minister.

Constructive talks between teams representing their two parties lasting a mere five days (it took the Germans 40 days to form their most recent government), and in which both made huge concessions to the other in order to form a stable government at a critical time in the nation’s history, have resulted in the first coalition government in this country in my lifetime.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg News conference – part 1

David Cameron and Nick Clegg News conference – part 2

Cameron hails ‘shift in politics’

Virgin Media

David Cameron has hailed “a historic and seismic shift” in Britain’s political landscape as he launched the country’s first coalition government since the Second World War.

The new Prime Minister marked his inaugural day in office by handing two major economic portfolios to his Liberal Democrat allies, anointing Vince Cable as Business Secretary and David Laws as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

He also promised “very early legislation” to establish fixed-term Parliaments, effectively enshrining in law the Conservatives’ five-year coalition deal with the Lib Dems.

At a joint news conference with new Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – held in the garden of No 10 – Mr Cameron said the award of a total of five Cabinet jobs to Lib Dems underlined the parties’ “sincere determination” to work together.

Read more…

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It never ceases to amaze and move me the grace with which the losing girls make their exit from Over the Rainbow — a grace which Gordon Brown also displayed as he made his final departure from Number 10 Downing Street.

Last Thursday, the British electorate went to the polls to elect a new government. Although there were still 53 seats to declare, it was clear, by the time I got up on Friday morning, that there was no clear winner and that we were well into “hung parliament territory” — where no party has an outright majority and either the largest party has to seek to govern alone or two of the three major parties form a coalition.

“The British people have spoken, Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, a former leader of the Liberal Democrat Party declared, “only nobody seems to know what they’ve said.” (The general consensus seems to be that the result is not a repudiation of the Labour Party, which Gordon Brown leads, but of Brown himself, and it is not an endorsement of David Cameron and the Conservatives, who have the largest number of seats.)

The leaders of Britains’s third largest party, the Liberal Democrats suddenly found themselves, therefore, in the role of “kingmaker”, as they opened began negotiations with the party which had gained the most seats, the Conservative Party, while Gordon Brown, the current Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party which has governed the country for the last thirteen years, remained in 10 Downing Street, the UK premier’s official residence, and considered his options. (more…)

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While all this has been going on another electoral contest has been taking place, this time not to decide who will be playing the role of Dorothy, but who will govern the country. The three main contenders for the role of Prime Minister are, as one satirical magazine put it, the “devil you know” (Gordon Brown, leader of the Labour Party and the current Prime Minister), “the devil you don’t” (David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party), and “who the devil?” (Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats).

(Gordon Brown’s ruby slippers on the Yellow Brick Road which leads to Number 10. Will he still be wearing them in a week’s time, or will he have to hand them back to “the Lord”?)

Over the last few weeks, an electoral contest has been taking place in the United Kingdom that has kept the British public enthralled.

Each Saturday evening, the aspiring young hopefuls who remain take it in turns to perform solo before host Graham Norton, Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, who sits on a throne as is befitting of his lordly status, a panel consisting of Welsh songstress Charlotte Church, veteran stage, cinema and TV actress Sheila Hancock, and veteran stage performer and now soap opera star John Partridge, and a televised audience.

After the show the phones remain open for fifteen minutes while the public select which of the remaining contestants they wish to play the role of Dorothy in “the Lord’s” forthcoming West End production of “The Wizard of Oz”. for which he has written a number of new songs.

On Sunday evening, the girls are put through their paces again, this time performing not solo, but as a group. At the end of the show, it is revealed in no particular order which of the girls could still be Dorothy, and which two girls came bottom in the public’s estimation.

There is then a “sing-off” between the two girls, following which the Lord, sitting on his throne, “saves” one of the two girls, who performs the following week, and says goodbye to the other, who leaves the show. The girl who has thus been “ditched so completely”, removes her silver slippers, which are presented by the saved girl to the Lord, while the loser sings “Over the Rainbow” seated on a silver moon which floats over the heads of the remaining contestants, then out of the theatre in London’s West End and all the way home which, unusually for Dorothy, is not where these particular Dorothys wish just yet to go.

It is a process which sometimes seems cruel (see the video of Stephanie’s somewhat lachrymose farewell above), and which is often as harrowing, if not more so, for the girls who remain as it for the girl who is leaving. (more…)

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I made my views on this issue clear in an original article I wrote for Suzie-Q earlier this month. Grace Livingstone, in an article published in The Guardian, shares them. I’ve also posted an article by Rick Rozoff from Global Research explaining why the Falklands is so important to Britain — and it’s not just about “self-determination”, or even the oil!

It’s time to talk about the Falklands

Britain should stop behaving like a 19th-century colonial power and start discussing Falkland sovereignty with Argentina

Grace Livingstone guardian.co.uk, Thursday 25 February 2010 14.00 GMT

A union flag waves over Stanley, Falklands. Photograph: Daniel Garcia/AFP/Getty Images

“We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Falkland Islands,” said Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant this week. But official papers show that, for more than a century, the Foreign Office has had qualms about the merits of Britain’s claim to the Falklands.

In 1910, a 17,000-word memo was commissioned by the Foreign Office to look at the historical dispute over sovereignty. The study highlighted many weaknesses in the British case and can be seen as our equivalent of the Pentagon Papers, the leaked study of US policy in Vietnam.

More here

South Atlantic: Britain May Provoke New Conflict With Argentina

by Rick Rozoff
Global Research, February 24, 2010

On February 22 two major developments occurred in the Americas south of the Rio Grande. The two-day Rio Group summit opened in Mexico and Great Britain started drilling for oil 60 miles north of the Falklands Islands, known as Las Malvinas to Argentina.


Rising Tensions in South Atlantic: Britain Defends Falklands Position

Global Research, February 24, 2010

Britain is standing by its position on the Falkland Islands amid rising tensions over oil exploration.

Sir Mark Lyall Grant, UK permanent representative to the United Nations, said: “As British ministers have made clear, the UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands.

“This position is underpinned by the principle of self-determination as set out in the UN Charter.

We are also clear that the Falkland Islands government is entitled to develop a hydrocarbons industry within its waters, and we support this legitimate business in Falklands’ territory.”


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