Dubai and China: The Camel Meets the Dragon

April 30, 2008

Dubai and China: The Camel Meets the Dragon

(This article has been provided by a leading expert on international affairs.)The funfair or the circus is where you would expect to see a camel and a dragon measuring up to one another. However, there is a new version of this encounter: Dubai is the camel and China is the dragon. They are now embracing and getting along just fine. The recent visit of the ruler of Dubai to China was a landmark. Not only did he get to meet President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao – and that means he was of serious interest to the Chinese – but he set in motion lots of business deals. He was accompanied by a who’s who of Dubai’s business elite, all eager to get a slice of China’s booming economy. Besides business, there was another important aspect to the visit. It strengthened... 

I’ve Got News For You About Have I Got News For You: It Sucks

April 29, 2008

I’ve Got News For You About Have I Got News For You: It Sucks

It was an accident. Honest. I switched on the TV at 10 o’clock in the evening to watch the news on BBC1 but somehow ended up on BBC2, and suddenly the hysterical intro started playing and it turned out to be the current affairs ‘quizshow’ Have I Got News For You hosted by, of all people, Julian Clary. I’ve stopped watching HIGNY a long time ago. I thought then, and still think now, that it is biased towards Labour and that the two regular panellists, Paul Merton and Ian Hislop, aren’t very funny - even though they know the answers to questions in advance and all their guests are terrified to overshadow them in any way. And, let’s face it, once they got rid of Angus Dayton after it had been revealed that he took cocaine and slept with prostitutes –... 

Now That Lord Levy’s Book Is Out, Tony Blair Should Have The Book Thrown At Him

April 28, 2008

Now That Lord Levy’s Book Is Out, Tony Blair Should Have The Book Thrown At Him

Now that it has been revealed by Lord Levy in his memoirs that former prime minister Tony ‘five times a night’ Blair knew all the Labour lenders and donors and personally decided which ones should receive peerages I would like to ask this: is the police going to question him again and bring charges against him for lying during the previous investigation into the peers for peerages scandal? Because now that Lord Levy’s book is out, the book should be thrown at Blair for abusing his position and breaking the law on party funding. Make no mistake, the loans for peerages affair was much bigger than the ‘watergate’ scandal because it allowed Blair to influence the democratic election process after he had so arrogantly dragged Britain into an illegal war with Iraq. There was... 

Beware Of Retailers Fixing Cigarette Prices. And All Other Prices Too

April 27, 2008

Beware Of Retailers Fixing Cigarette Prices. And All Other Prices Too

The British Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has accused eleven big retailers and two tobacco companies of conspiring to fix prices on cigarettes. Big supermarket chains like Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, along with Imperial Tobacco and Gallagher, stand accused of price fixing. The OFT is saying that these companies have been colluding in raising prices on popular brands of cigarettes and exchanging information about the rate of price increases and the timing. Huge fines are looming on the horizon for breaking competition rules, we are told. The supermarkets and the two tobacco giants say they’ve done nothing wrong and that they can’t understand what all the fuss is about. And I agree with them. Because it has been known for ages that all retailers and producers have been working... 

The Lessons Of Chernobyl. It’s Not Just About The Dangers Of Radiation

April 27, 2008

The Lessons Of Chernobyl. It’s Not Just About The Dangers Of Radiation

Dan Majestic writes: I’ll be honest, I didn’t really plan to mention the 22nd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. I thought that most people have already forgotten about it and the ones who still remember don’t really want to be reminded of it. I noticed that hardly any coverage in the press and in the TV news bulletins in the West had been devoted to the biggest catastrophe in the nuclear power industry in history. I also reckoned that as many Western governments have already decided to give priority to nuclear energy in the future any reminder that something can go seriously wrong at a nuclear power station wasn’t exactly a welcome one. And April 26 fell on a Saturday this year anyway and who would want to hear about unpleasant things on a weekend? But then... 

US Reveals Syria’s Nuclear Secrets. What’s The Game Behind It?

April 26, 2008

US Reveals Syria’s Nuclear Secrets. What’s The Game Behind It?

So now we know: the reason why Israeli warplanes flew into Syria’s airspace in September of last year and bombed an instillation on the banks of the Euphrates River was to destroy a nuclear reactor which had been built there using North Korean technology. At least that’s what the CIA Director Mike Hayden reported to Congress recently and produced photographs of the instillation in question, before and after the bombing. He insisted that the design of the ‘nuclear plant’ in Al Kibar was very similar to the North Korean facility at Yongbyon. Hayden stressed that the Syrians were getting very close to the stage when they could have started producing weapons grade plutonium, if not for the Israelis who had destroyed the reactor. The Syrians denied these accusations as absurd... 

Russia Talks Tough Again. But Doesn’t Really Mean It

April 26, 2008

Russia Talks Tough Again. But Doesn’t Really Mean It

The Kremlin is at it again: talking tough to the world and issuing threats without really meaning it. Russia knows that it’s not going to do anything, the West knows it, Russia knows that the West knows it, and the West knows that Russia knows that it knows it. And only the poor Russian people are being once again fooled into thinking that their leaders – because there are two presidents now, you see – are prepared to do whatever it takes to defend Russia’s national interests. This time Moscow is threatening to use ‘military methods’ to protect its citizens who live in the two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the territory of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The fate of these two enclaves, which have declared their independence from Georgia... 

Open Letter To John Bird Of The Big Issue

April 25, 2008

Open Letter To John Bird Of The Big Issue

Dear Sir, I have been buying The Big Issue for quite some time now but it is only recently that I actually started reading it. Yes, not just buying for the sake of helping out the people who were selling the magazine on the streets but also having a glance through and reading some of the articles. To get an idea of what your magazine is about, that is. Because you have been on the scene for many years now and because, as I’ve heard, there are now similar magazines published in other countries, including Russia, based on your pioneering concept. And it is a great concept, I must say: putting out a magazine and allowing the homeless to make some money selling it. What can be not good about it? But I have a point to make about the The Big Issue, well, actually several points which I wanted... 

Gazprom Is Moving In On BP-TNK. That Is Certain Now

April 25, 2008

Gazprom Is Moving In On BP-TNK. That Is Certain Now

I have recently promised British Petroleum in my article posted on this website (See item ‘It’s An Old Russian Custom: Keep Your Business Partner Guessing’, March 27 in section ‘Russian Graffiti’) that I would ask my sources in Moscow to investigate rumours that the state owned gas giant, Gazprom, is planning to buy a 50 per cent stake in the joint venture BP-TNK. Well, I can report today that, unfortunately for BP, these rumours have proven to be correct. Yes, Gazprom has already even set a time table for the conclusion of the deal – end of this year beginning of the next – and offered to pay the three Russian business groups that own the stake $20 billion for it. When I say ‘offered’ I obviously mean that just like in the film The Godfather it was... 

European Championship Semi Finals: Nothing To Cheer About

April 24, 2008

European Championship Semi Finals: Nothing To Cheer About

So what was so great about the first leg semi-final matches of the European Championship between Liverpool and Chelsea and Barcelona and Manchester United? Where was all that excitement and tension that we’ve been promised during the build up? Considering that these are top European teams with some of the highest paid players in the world the spectacle in both cases was, quite frankly, pathetic. Let’s look at the first semi-final match at Anfield with its 1:1 result. To listen to all those football commentators before the game we were all in for a big treat. Liverpool was supposed be in top form and Chelsea players were allegedly roaring to show what they were made off. Well, guess what? It was a disappointment. The first goal by Dirk Kuyt was scruffy, to say the least, and was... 

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