Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

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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Part II: A Survey of Attitude Change in 2009-2010

by Elizabeth Woodworth
Global Research, February 15, 2010


In the past year, in response to emerging independent science on the 9/11 attacks, nine corporate, seven public, and two independent media outlets aired analytic programs investigating the official account.

Increasingly, the issue is treated as a scientific controversy worthy of debate, rather than as a “conspiracy theory” ignoring science and common sense.

This essay presents these media analyses in the form of 18 case studies.

Eight countries – Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Russia – have allowed their publicly-owned broadcasting stations to air the full spectrum of evidence challenging the truth of the official account of 9/11.

This more open approach taken in the international media – I could also have included the Japanese media – might be a sign that worldwide public and corporate media organizations are positioning themselves, and preparing their audiences, for a possible revelation of the truth of the claim that forces within the US government were complicit in the attacks – a revelation that would call into question the publicly given rationale for the military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The evidence now being explored in the international media may pave the way for the US media to take an in-depth look at the implications of what is now known about 9/11, and to re-examine the country’s foreign and domestic policies in the light of this knowledge.


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When Argentine troops invaded the Falklands in the summer of 1982, I was a twenty-five year old teacher of English as a Foreign Language, living and working in northern Italy. Like many Britons, many of whom had never heard of the Falklands, let alone be able to tell you where they were, I was outraged that these islands should be taken over by the Argentine Junta, in a bid to shore up its faltering popularity at home. Many Italian friends and aquaintances were against the war, some thought it evitabile (avoidable), one or two were with us.

My attitude to the war changed after the sinking of the General Belgrano, a former United States cruiser, the USS Phoenix (CL-46), which had survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was known as the luckiest ship in the US Navy. Hit by torpedoes from a British submarine, she proved not so lucky after her change of name and ownership. 323 Argentines were killed, many of them boys, and controversy still rages today as to whether she was a legitimate target. (more…)

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Daniel and Patricia Ellsberg. (Courtesy of Daniel and Patricia Ellsberg)

Four decades later, Ellsberg again powers a moral drama

Ty Burr | Boston Globe | February 12, 2010

Toward the end of “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers,’’ you begin to realize just how much four decades of history owe to one man.

If Ellsberg, a Defense Department-contracted policy analyst, hadn’t leaked 47 volumes of top secret CIA documents to the press and Congress in early 1971, the Vietnam War might have continued indefinitely. Broad public sentiment wouldn’t have finally turned against the conflict, and the Nixon administration wouldn’t have adopted a paranoid bunker mentality. The president wouldn’t have formed his dirty-tricks squad of White House “plumbers’’ to stop the leaks, wouldn’t have sent them out to dig up dirt on Ellsberg by burglarizing his psychiatrist’s office. The Watergate break-in wouldn’t have happened. Nixon wouldn’t have resigned.

And so on, and so on – no historic 1971 Supreme Court First Amendment case, no politicizing of the nation’s press for better and worse – and all because one stiff-backed ex-Marine refused to ignore his conscience. “The Most Dangerous Man in America’’ – the epithet comes from Henry Kissinger – is hardly evenhanded: It views Ellsberg as a hero and a genuine patriot and allows him, at a grey and dignified 78, to narrate his own story. But evenhanded is one thing and fair is another, and directors Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith make their case that if you or I had known what Ellsberg did – the secret story of US involvement in Southeast Asia and the cynical misleading of the American public by five presidential administrations – we would have, or should have, done the same.


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Until this week, Paul Adolph Volcker, the 82-year-old architect of President Barack Obama’s latest assault on Wall Street, was not so much yesterday’s man as the man of a couple of decades ago.

Paul Volcker: the 'big man' behind Barack Obama's bank reform Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Tracy Corrigan | Daily Telegraph | 22 Jan 2010

After all, the pinnacle of his career was being chairman of the Federal Reserve, a job he held from 1979 until 1987.

Mr Volcker, who currently heads the President’s external panel of advisers on economic recovery, has consistently advocated a more aggressive approach to fixing the financial system that has not, until now, found favour within the administration.

In September, Mr Volcker told the House of Representatives banking and financial services committee: “As a general matter, I would exclude from commercial banking institutions, which are potential beneficiaries of official (ie. taxpayer) financial support, certain risky activities entirely suitable for our capital markets. Ownership or sponsorship of hedge funds and private equity funds should be among those prohibited activities… There are deep-seated, almost unmanageable, conflicts of interest with normal banking relationships.”

But his advice appeared to fall on deaf ears. “Volcker fails to sell a bank strategy,” ran a New York Times headline just three months ago. The big man – he stands six feet seven inches tall – was unfazed. According to the report, he scoffed at the notion that he was losing his clout, remarking: “I did not have influence to start with.”


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Rahm Must Go!

James Brett | OpEdNews | January 20, 2010

Here at OpEdNews Rob Kall posted an article from CNN’s “Politics Ticker” about Progressives digging in to unseat Rahm Emanuel from his job as Chief of Staff in the Obama White House. This is the best news I have heard in months! How long does it take Democrats to understand that the Obama we see is the result of heavy-handed manipulations by a person whose qualities of character are so negligible as to call into question the character of those who associate with him. Rahm Emanuel is bad for Obama, bad for Democrats, bad for America because he is an arrogant, slithering, cockroach of a politician, one whose chief claim to fame is that he can brow beat members of Congress both sides of the aisle.

Rahm works through fear. He is supposedly a centrist in an era where the center is where the media says it is, but not where the hearts and minds of the public are. The center is functionally sterile. This suits Rahm because he actually has no program or values other than himself.

Rahm demands obedience from everyone, cabinet secretaries included, and one wonders how he gets away with this. So, wonder. When you are finished wondering, you have to understand that Obama lets him.


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By Rob Kall | OpEdNews | January 20, 2010

Coakley has lost the seat long held by Teddy Kennedy to a far right extremist and pundits will spin the reasons it happened.

I’m particularly interested in those who are using this Democratic debacle to attack progressives.

Right wingers, like Mitt Romney, spin it as attributable to Obama’s extreme left-wing, progressive agenda.

Some Democrats are going to do something similar– blame the loss on progressives efforts to affect the healthcare legislation. They’ll say that progressives did not compromise enough, did not buy Obama’s message to not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Those Democrats are looking a lot like members of the Republican party. They’re looking a lot like tea partyers.


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