Here’s a nice comment from Condi Rice about Gaddafi:
“When he can laugh talking to international journalists, when he is slaughtering his own people, only underscores how unfit he is to lead,” she said, referring to his interview with international news organisations today.
I want to combine that with some footage of, say, Bush talking to the White House Correspondents’ Association. Fat chance, but I like to believe
The Efficient Markets Hypothesis may be looking a bit shabby after the financial crisis. But it’s still looking pretty damn good compared to any other area of public life. Where’s the Efficient Media Hypothesis? The Efficient Academia Hypotheis? The Efficient Politics Hypothesis? The Efficient Courts Hypothesis? Anybody eve proposing them would be laughed out of the room.
The idea of the press as a “Fourth Estate” came to prominence during the nineteenth century. In 1837 Robert Carlyle referred to “A Fourth Estate of Noble Editors” in The French Revolution: A History, and in On Heroes and Hero Worship (1841) stated that “Burke said there were Three Estates in parliament; but in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all”. Carlyle continued: “Literature is our Parliament too. Printing, which comes necessarily out of Writing, I say often, is equivalent to Democracy. Invent Writing, Democracy is inevitable.”
I neverliked the idea of Baroness Ashton running EU foreign policy.
Now blogger and Telegraph journalist Bruno Waterfield is gunning for over her invisibility during her first year in place:
Lady Ashton does not possess the political nous or commitment of an elected politician. Apart from one or two months last year, she has shown herself to be unwilling to travel or work over weekends. Working Monday to Friday might be fine for a jobsworth public official or serial quango/Lords appointee but it’s not good enough for an EU foreign minister. People who want to change the world have to give up prosaic ideas like the work/life balance.
when you are in Brussels, a lot of people complain about the way EU “foreign minister” Ashton works…. I doubt that with her limited amount of involvement into the core Commission work (represented through her participation record) she really was having her voice heard
Granted, this then brings us straight into the global outsourcing debate. If somebody cleaning floors in Sydney is bringing money to Indonesia, wouldn’t an exploitative factory in Jakarta be even more effective?And it’s worth remembering that life for gastarbeiter can be pretty shit — see the recent outrage in the Philippines about torture of Filipino nurses in Saudi Arabia. But…facts, facts, facts.
There are a few reasons why I’ve not seen much German television. One is that I’ve avoided TV since childhood. Another is that, until the past 6 months, I’ve not lived anywhere with a shared television. A third is that in-person recommendations of what to watch in Germany have never been able to keep up with the deluge of English-languag recommendations constantly coming in through livejournal, facebook and the like.
So, when I do encounter German TV, there’s space for me to be pleasantly surprised. So it was with the satire programme Xtra3. Came across it because Chris was channel-hopping, then quickly realised it’s top-notch satire with a political edge I can sympathise with. This snippet (via karohemd) is particularly great, following up on the ludicrous terror alerts and so on:
the ruling class are counting on the street militancy fizzling out as suddenly as it flared up. We have an opportunity here, not only to bring down the government – which is eminently achievable, (keep reminding yourself: this government is very weak indeed) – but of winning a decisive hegemonic struggle whose effects can last for years. The analogy that keeps suggesting itself to me is 1978 – but it is the coaltion, not the left, which is in the position of the Callaghan government. This is an administration at the end of something, not the beginning, bereft of ideas and energy, crossing its fingers and hoping that, by some miracle, the old world can be brought back to life before anyone has really noticed that it has collapsed.
The Alien Tort Statute provided a roundabout method by which US corporations could be sued for their actions abroad, including by non-US citizens.
The US courts have just closed that loophole, in their usual style of walking backwards into significant legal changes. The Second Circuit court of appeals has ruled that the Alien Tort Statute applies only to individuals, not to corporations.
[This](http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/business/24muslim.html?adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1285704334-T8gPa8hwgZaRAu/kL5IIwg) is a goodish article on anti-Muslim discrimination in the US. One aspect I find particularly incomprehensible:
>”In America right now, there are intense concerns about many issues — immigration, the faltering economy, the interminable wars” and the erroneous belief, held by many Americans, that the first nonwhite president is Muslim, said Akbar Ahmed, a professor of Islamic studies at American University.
Do people really feel increased hatred of a group when a (supposed) member is in a position of authority? Why? Wouldn’t it make equal sense to believe that, if a Muslim is running the country, they can’t be all bad? Or is Obama evidence that a vast Islamic conspiracy is poised to overrun the US, enslaving Christians and probably eating their babies?
It’s a sad reflection on the state of our politics that nobody is mentioning how useful redistribution of wealth/income would be from a purely economic perspective, in stimulating increased spending &c. AG touches on it here. but there’s doubtless much better information elsewhere.
Currently reading Tobias Jones’ The Dark Heart of Italy. So naturally I glance online to see what others have made of it. Equally naturally, I find they’re strongly suggesting I find better books on Italian politics. Noting their suggestions, in preparation for the next time my thoughts take a turn bootward:
Paul Ginsborg, Italy and Its Discontents, a history of Italy 1980-2001 (following an earlier book covering the period to 1980):
the 1980s were years of “cynicism, opportunism and fear” – the conditions in which corruption could flourish, and from which Berlusconi would benefit.
Much of the blame lies with the Communist Party. Rather than serve as gatekeeper, filtering Autonomy’s contributions, the party co-operated in the suppression of groups to its left. The result was a weakened political system, the left avid for respectability while the right operated without constraints. If the Italian left is to regain the initiative, it will need to open itself again to influences like those of the autonomists.
I’d recommend anyone interested in post-war Italy to read Ginsborg; his previous book on Italy from Liberation to the 1980s is also excellent, and his short book on Berlusconi is good. Ginsborg’s weak spot is that he doesn’t devote much attention to the conspiratorial side of politics. In that respect David Lane’s book on Berlusconi (the book of the Economist feature) is surprisingly good – he turns over quite a few stones. Philip Willan’s The Puppetmasters is the conspiracist account of post-war Italian politics in English; God only knows how accurate it is, but it’s extremely suggestive. The Dark Heart of Italy… meh. I enjoyed it (Tobias Jones writes well), but it’s a bit Orientalist. [links added]
something stranger still is happening in The Election That Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Every day in this country, two big forces artificially drag the British government way to the right of the British people, making it enact policies that benefit a small, rich elite at the expense of the rest. We are not supposed to notice this, never mind try to change it. Yet suddenly, in this election, those forces have been exposed.
remember, every time Cameron talks about disillusionment with politics, what he’s really saying is “lefties, don’t bother coming out to vote”. I’d bet money that this is a conscious strategy to keep the left home on May 6th.
Certain small post-Soviet states have a tendency to be hooked into all the latest fads among global policy wonks. It’s an outgrowth of their size and history: ambitious young people who left for Western Europe or the US in the 90s, have now returned and found themselves wealthy, skilled, and ready to govern. Georgia and Estonia, in particular, have been quick to dive into every technnical/governmental trend, from twitter to linux to…e-voting.
As regards the latter, Estonia is forging ahead. 14% of votes in the European elections were cast online. 44% in the municipal elections in Talinn — which, to judge by the percentage of Berlin’s technorati vanishing there for mysterious projects, must be turning into something of an electronic mecca.
“In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region.”