It seems no one’s told the hyperactive Nicolas Sarkozy that he ceased to be President of the EU at the end of last year. Either that or the Commission has decided to neutralise the eurosceptic new president from the Czech Republic by simply ignoring him and having Sarkozy act as if he were still in charge. It’s hard to see this sort of thing happening in any democratic state. Other than Russia, of course.
Tutored by the Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson, Gordon Brown seems to be doing an excellent job in convincing the British public that everything is the fault of the Americans and that the Opposition are a bunch of cruel bastards who’d let everyone in the country go to the wall. Mind you, opinion polls here suggest President Zapatero is having even more success with this strategy in Spain. Possibly because there’s more anti-American sentiment here than anywhere else in Europe and so any politician criticising the USA is kicking at a wide-open door. But, as regards the UK at least, there’s evidence that the Bank of England – and therefore the government - knew exactly what risks were being run by those who controlled the British economy. In particular the astonishing levels of personal and corporate debt that many of us thought unsustainable. Click here for an interesting insight. Or here for a prediction that the UK recession will be far worse than the British government is admitting. I fear the pound has further to fall before it bounces back. Unless the euro-zone’s performance over the next year or so is even worse. Which is not really something to wish for, even if you’re living on the Continent and dependant on a UK pension.
I occasionally express more sympathy than I used to with nationalist parties, seeing them as part of the universal nation-oriented zeitgeist. And hard to counter in a democratic framework. An ex British ambassador goes as far as to assert that ethnic and nationalist rivalry is not only ‘as old as sin’ but also ‘as inextinguishable’ “For here” he says “is the paradox of the modern world. Money, people, culture, business and electronic information cross porous frontiers in ever-increasing volume. But as national boundaries dissolve in cyberspace, so everywhere the sense of nationhood and national interest strengthens. Five minutes in Beijing, Washington, Tehran or Moscow will tell you that.” Or Santiago de Compostela even.
Incidentally, I often question whether the EU doesn’t run counter to this zeitgeist. In contrast, the author asks:- “What is the European Union if not the 21st-century arena for the intense and competitive prosecution of the national interest by its 27 member states?” A nice question, as we ex-lawyers say.
One treads with trepidation in the minefield of Israeli-Palestine affairs but here’s a thought-provoking article from a sad rabbi. Would that his recipe for lasting peace were feasible.
My border collie, Ryan, is coming up for 15, which is quite old by canine standards. Although he shows few signs of advanced age, it’s pretty clear either that he’s now hard of hearing or that he’s smart enough to give a convincing impression of deafness. Either way, as he’s been ignoring my calls and whistles recently, today I lashed out 9 euros on a special high frequency whistle. Results so far suggest either I should have done some research about which end of the sound spectrum is lost first or that the bugger is even more fly than I thought.
Finally, here’s a decent article on northern Spain from the New Zealand Herald. I got it via Google’s Alert service, which - incidentally - continues to fail to pick up my bog.