The New York Times talks to its sources in the NY Police Department and prosecutor’s office and reports:
The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials.
Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors now do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.
More key phrases include “repeatedly lied” to investigators, “issues involving the asylum application,” and “possible links to people involved in criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering.”
[we have seen a] quiet resurgence of the seductive language of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor”.
Iain Duncan Smith:
With respect to the Archbishop of Canterbury I have never ever spoken about the deserving or undeserving poor. I don’t believe in that concept. All I say is that the system itself has created an undeserving group, that’s what it has created.”
I’m struggling to understand what IDS is saying here. One way we might read him is this: nothing intrinsic to a population group makes that group undeserving; welfare allocation on its own – and nothing else – determines desert. But this takes away desert as a justification for policy: people are going to be getting pie – or not – just because IDS says so. Imagine if this were the stance with respect to taxes: George Osborne says the top rate is going to go up to 60%, well … because, that’s why. And when it does, you’ll deserve it. Or how about this: low Conservative tax rates have created a deserving group: the low taxed. You wonderful people, you.
In response, IDS might say: yes, of course our policies need to be justified, but that justification needn’t have anything to do with who gets what. When I say that welfare recipients are ‘undeserving’, I’m only saying that people oughtn’t to receive welfare because welfare has bad consequences. It has bad consequences if fifty people receive it or if fifty million people receive it. But what are the bad consequences of welfare? Here, IDS might say that when people choose welfare instead of work, they become apathetic and unhappy: welfare erodes self-esteem just as cigarettes erode your lungs. But someone making this sort of argument has to face the possibility that all kinds of unearned wealth have similar bad effects. Inherited wealth, for instance, or windfall profit. And that’s not a place any respectable Tory wants to go. But perhaps IDS can steer the discussion away from such difficult topics by arguing that welfare is bad because it, uniquely, has bad consequences for everyone. Our over-generous handouts are making the public debt unmanageable, and we won’t be caring about who gets what if the entire country goes under. However, if welfare is rejected for a reason like that, then it’s open for people to argue that welfare should be increased as and when things change for the better. Who knows what the future will bring. Take Alaska’s Permanent Fund, for instance. The Alaskans never saw that coming. Yet somehow I seriously doubt that IDS envisages a future of share and share alike, should the nation be so lucky as to run into big patch of oil, or something.
So what else could IDS say when it comes to explaining his position on welfare? All that’s left – it seems – is an argument that appeals to justice. That is, it’s simply unjust that some people get benefit when they’ve never had any intention of working: the responsible people lose out; they’ve lived carefully, they’ve never been slackers, they’ve carried the load. But then Rowan Williams’s accusation sticks.
Winning Eurovision 2011. Apparently the AFOE crew was too sober to liveblog the festivities. In any event, one member of the collective has already observed, “That’ll put off any war over Nagorno-Karabakh for at least a year.”
Eurovision previously at the Fistful:
2009 Slightly depressing follow-up relevant to this year’s winners.
2007 Bonus 2007
Thoughts? Or is Eurovision simply beyond thought?
Removed from a Paris-bound plane.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, was removed from a Paris-bound flight on Saturday afternoon minutes before takeoff after a New York City hotel housekeeper accused him of sexual assault, the police said. …
Strauss-Kahn was being questioned after a 32-year-old chambermaid complained that a naked Strauss-Kahn sexually attacked her in his Manhattan hotel room, the police said. The maid, who said she broke free, suffered minor injuries, police said.
The NYPD expects to bring formal charges Sunday morning, New York time.
Juan Cole sets the stage:
Usama Bin Laden was a violent product of the Cold War and the Age of Dictators in the Greater Middle East. He passed from the scene at a time when the dictators are falling or trying to avoid falling in the wake of a startling set of largely peaceful mass movements demanding greater democracy and greater social equity. Bin Laden dismissed parliamentary democracy, for which so many Tunisians and Egyptians yearn, as a man-made and fallible system of government, and advocated a return to the medieval Muslim caliphate (a combination of pope and emperor) instead. Only a tiny fringe of Muslims wants such a theocratic dictatorship. The masses who rose up this spring mainly spoke of â€œnation,â€ the â€œpeople,â€ â€œlibertyâ€ and â€œdemocracy,â€ all keywords toward which Bin Laden was utterly dismissive. The notorious terrorist turned to techniques of fear-mongering and mass murder to attain his goals in the belief that these methods were the only means by which the Secret Police States of the greater Middle East could be overturned.
I’ve got to think the European militaries will be done with Afghanistan about as fast as is practicable. How much civic and NGO engagement remains afterward is an open question. The SchrÃ¶der government in Germany may have said that the country’s security began in the Hindu Kush, but surely there are ways to secure Germany without soldiers in Afghanistan.
European support for new democratic governments in the Arab world will not be simple, given troubled colonial histories in some places and populist worries about Islam in others. Nevertheless, Europe has much to offer in both managing transitions and models of pluralist democracies that remain true to their varied national and religious backgrounds.
Thanks to everyone who commented on the FinalitÃ© Revisited essay. So much substance in the discussion that I wanted to highlight some of it in a post, instead of just replying in comments.
Shortly after the big round of EU enlargement in 2004, I took a look at future prospects for enlargement. At the time, I called prospective members, “largely a collection of the poor, ill-governed and recently-at-war.” Most of them are much less recently at war, many of them are better governed, and almost all of them are less poor, yet for all but a few prospects for EU accession seem to me more distant than in 2004.
What has happened?
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigns as Germany’s defense minister, regrets heeding career advice from Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky
Helen Pidd of the Guardian writes that the now ex-minister was widely tipped as a future chancellor, but I can’t imagine who was doing the tipping. Bavarians don’t get elected chancellor in Germany: a career at the federal level in Berlin (and previously in Bonn ) takes them too far away from the maneuvering needed to put or keep them atop the CSU, while a stint as Minister-President of Bavaria takes them too far away from Germany’s mainstream to get elected chancellor.
While it doesn’t compare to the turmoil in the Arab world, Ireland is having its own abrupt political turnover this weekend.Â Although the broad outline of the results is clear, confirming a collapse in the vote of the hitherto natural party of government Fianna Fail, there is still significant uncertainty about the seat counts, which in turn will affect the calculations about forming the next government.
Henry Farrell has a post explaining many of the ins and outs of the upcoming (February 25) election in Ireland. Comments are good, too, if sometimes very insidery on Irish media.