Blogging the news

There are a couple of English-language blogs that people might find interesting, given some of the events of the weekend.

First, Mary Neal’s Living With Caucasians ‘A journal from Tbilisi, Georgia’ – has reports from the streets on what happened during Georgia’s ‘Velvet Revolution’ over the weekend (link via Jon and Ryan)

Cinderella Bloggerfeller also has some good coverage of events in Georgia.

Also, there were elections in Croatia over the weekend. Dragan Antulov’s Draxblog has lots of detail on the results and what they mean for Croatia.

“An officially licensed Euro-nut”

Today’s Guardian has a brief interview with Denis MacShane MP, the UK’s Minister for Europe. There are no stunning revelations in there, but it’s an insight into the path the British Government is walking on when it comes to European matters. He also has an interesting description of the Anglo-French relationship:

MacShane says: “I would liken it to a marriage in which two partners often think of killing each other, aren’t quite sure of the meaning of the word ‘fidelity’, but never contemplate divorce.”

The Kettle Called Conrad Black

Slate has a delightful piece on the board of Black’s company, Hollinger International. It seems the directors, such as Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle, had little serious business experience and basically rubber-stamped Black’s plans.

Daniel Gross writes, “Most of these more or less honorable folks were basically idle directors. They showed up at meetings, ate lunch, rubber-stamped corporate plans, and cashed their checks.”

And the business types weren’t necessarily top notch either: “But Black seemed to have a genius for recruiting CEOs with legal issues, as Steven Pearlstein noted in Wednesday’s Washington Post. A. Alfred Taubman, the former CEO of Sotheby’s, remained on Hollinger’s board even after he had been convicted of violating antitrust laws. Dwayne Andreas, the paterfamilias of Archer Daniels Midland, the agri-business giant that in 1996 pleaded guilty to price-fixing, was also a longtime board director.”

“Given this cast of characters, it should come as no surprise that over the years the stock of Hollinger International has failed to keep pace with the broad market indexes and many of its peer media companies. After all, putting a bunch of right-wingers with occasionally dubious foreign policy credentials in the position of directing a profit-making business seems almost as illogical as putting a bunch of right-wingers with occasionally dubious business credentials in charge of foreign policy.”

Istanbul, again

More bombers struck in Istanbul, killing the British Consul General and, at present reports, 25 others, with more than 450 injured.

Will there be more bombings in Istanbul?

Turkey already withstood suicide attacks by the PKK during that group’s campaign for Kurdish independence, and later after the capture of PKK leader Ocalan. Political and criminal bombings are also all too common in the country’s recent history.

Still, Istanbul is a vulnerable hinge between east and west. Turkey’s borders with the heartlands of jihad are porous. Home-grown Islamists may be more likely to take up arms, now that a government with Islamist roots is energetically pursuing Turkey’s European vocation.

Turkey is a living refutation of the fundamentalists’ belief that the only Islam is a medieval vision of Islam. Every step that Turkey takes along the path of modernity, democracy and liberality is a step away from superstition, fanatacism and mayhem.

Though the hardest work will have to be done by the Turks themselves, Europe should do all it can to help. Now more than ever.

The dashing of surprise

Earlier in the week, I had planned to write a piece on the Euro 2004 playoffs, celebrating the surprise results in Saturday’s games and wondering if this marked a new equality in European international football.

Luckily for me and my predictive reputation, I didn’t get the time to write it, so I’m not left with egg on my face after 4 of tonight’s results.
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The World in 1856

A few months ago I came across an old book that my grandmother had been left by her grandmother. Called ‘Geography for Children On A Perfectly Easy Plan’ it dates from 1856 (first printed 1848) and is a British geography school textbook, educating children on each country in the world, its inhabitants and its economy. What follows is presumably therefore how British schoolchildren viewed Europe and Europeans in the mid-19th century. It bares a remarkable similarity how the British tabloid press views Europe and Europeans today.
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Sometimes, the bad get their comeuppance

Conrad Black – quite possibly the worst newspaper owner in the history of Canada – has agreed to resign from his chairmanship at Hollinger International, essentially ending his career as a political figure and opinion-maker. Hollinger, the owner of the Daily Telegraph, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post, used to own a number of Canadian newspapers, including the fishwrap known as the National Post.

As an unending source of American right-wing propaganda abroad, Black had a reputation as a blowhard who was largely out of step with the actual residents of the places he published newspaper. Mark Shainblum, author of the Canadian political comic Angloman, one portrayed him as one of the triumvirate ruling Torontorg, a parody of the Star Trek aliens the “Borg”, along with his wife Barbara “feminism is totalitarianism” Amiel. “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.”

Conrad Black, a British-Canadian dual citizen prevented temporarily from receiving royal honours by his nemisis Jean Chrétien, has been forced to resign because of his involvement in US$32 of “informal” executive pay outside of the knowledge of Hollingers’ audit committee.

He is survived by his creation, the Hollinger Group. Hollinger, once owner of much of Canada’s print media, suffered a debilitating crisis in 2001 which saw the loss of Black’s personal project – Canada’s National Post and the bulk of the newspaper group’s assets. Hollinger stock is up 18% on news of his departure.