The Guessing Game Continues: Who Is Really In Charge In Russia?

May 31, 2008

The Guessing Game Continues: Who Is Really In Charge In Russia?

It’s a question which is being asked in Moscow more and more often nowadays: who is really in charge in Russia? Because it is getting more confusing by the day. One moment everyone concludes that it is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who is calling all the shots and then, all of a sudden, something happens and people start to wonder whether it is a good idea to write President Dmitry Medvedev off with such haste and whether he might not be actually strengthening his influence.   Last week alone several developments sent completely different signals to the public about the status quo in the Russian leadership. First of all, Mr Putin had quashed all rumours about who is actually going to represent Russia at the G8 summit in Japan next month and confirmed that it is going to be President Medvedev.... 

Nepal Gets Rid Of The Monarchy. But Stability May Be A Long Way Off

May 30, 2008

Nepal Gets Rid Of The Monarchy. But Stability May Be A Long Way Off

I always find it strange to see large street crowds cheering and celebrating election results or downfalls of regimes. I can never really understand how is it exactly that all these people expect to benefit from the forthcoming changes? Are they all close friends of the new president or prime minister and expect to gain some advantages under the new leadership? And do they actually know for sure whether the political changes that they so energetically welcome would be for the good of their country?              I had these same feelings when I was watching on the TV news bulletins the jubilant crowds on the streets of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, celebrating the vote in the constitutional assembly to end the country’s monarchy which is 239 years old. I caught myself thinking then... 

New Book Says White House Resorted To Propaganda To Start War In Iraq. What’s New In That?

May 30, 2008

New Book Says White House Resorted To Propaganda To Start War In Iraq. What’s New In That?

Isn’t it remarkable? Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan acknowledges that the Bush administration resorted to an aggressive propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq to the American people and everyone in Washington behaves as if he has revealed something that no one knew anything about. Of course it was all about propaganda and spin, what else could it have been about? All those satellite photos and charts and intelligence reports that were supposed to prove that Iraq had built up large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that could have been unleashed on the unsuspecting world at any moment. None of this so-called evidence proved to be correct and no weapons of mass destruction have ever been found in Iraq. So it has been widely known that the build up to the war... 

Russia and China: A Cooling Friendship?

May 30, 2008

Russia and China: A Cooling Friendship?

(This article has been provided by a leading expert on international relations.) Last week President Dmitry Medvedev paid a visit to Beijing in his new capacity as Russia’s new head of state. It was his first foreign trip and he had chosen to go to China to underline the importance of the relations between the two countries. It was a calculated slap in the face for the West. However, it is now becoming clear that the main reason for the trip east was to attempt to repair some of the cracks which are appearing in the historic links between Russia and China. Mr Medvedev was effusive about his love of Chinese philosophy, especially Confucius, and Chinese cuisine. President Hu Jintao was more measured in his comments about his northerly neighbour. How things have changed. In May 2003, on becoming... 

Another Space Probe Lands On Mars. What Is The Point?

May 29, 2008

Another Space Probe Lands On Mars. What Is The Point?

Here we go again. Another space probe touches down on Mars and everyone gets all excited about the possibility of finding signs of life on the Red Planet. The Phoenix space probe has already sent back photographs of the barren surface of the planet, covered with rocks and pebbles, but that did not seem to dampen the hopes of NASA scientists at mission control and of the many enthusiasts who get all excited at every mention of life, but not as we know it. The mere sight of cracks and criss-crossed lines on the surface was enough for some to deduct that there must be ice or even water beneath the surface and that could only mean one thing – there is bound to be some sort of life or remnants of life or chemical components of life on Mars. All will be revealed in the next few weeks, we are told... 

Cherrie Blair’s Autobiography Would Have Been Useless. If Not For One Confession

May 29, 2008

Cherrie Blair’s Autobiography Would Have Been Useless. If Not For One Confession

I have read Cherie Blair’s autobiography. All the glorious 407 pages of it, excluding the index which covers an impressive 14 pages. And this is what I would like to ask: how on earth did people like Tony and Cherie Blair ever end up at 10 Downing Street? How in the world has this double act managed to occupy the prime minister’s residence for ten long years without having been caught out as the simpletons and opportunists that they both are? And isn’t it remarkable how during that period the Blairs had managed to surround themselves with people who had absolutely no style or substance. Mrs Blair’s autobiography entitled Speaking for Myself  reveals that she had very limited understanding of politics, or pretty much anything else. So petty and irrelevant is her perception... 

China and Latin America: A Booming Relationship

May 27, 2008

China and Latin America: A Booming Relationship

It will probably surprise a lot of people to learn that China has been big in Latin America since the 17th century. A Spanish cleric remarked in 1669 that one ‘cannot think of an exquisite article in a house which does not come from China’. Along with the goods came many Chinese and they wasted no time in settling down and opening businesses. At the same time as the priest was admiring Chinese jade, barbers in Mexico City were petitioning the government to move Chinese barbers to the outskirts of the city because they posed a threat to their livelihoods. The locals simply could not compete with the hard working Chinese. Under the militant Mao Zedong, Beijing’s strategy in Latin America had changed radically and for several decades Beijing’s goal was to overthrow existing... 

What I Would Advise Mr Berlusconi To Do About Rubbish In Naples

May 26, 2008

What I Would Advise Mr Berlusconi To Do About Rubbish In Naples

Dan Majestic writes: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is sticking to his election promise and trying to sort out the mess in Naples. By ‘mess’ in this case I mean real mess – tonnes of garbage lying on the streets of the city since last Christmas. Mr Berlusconi honoured his pre-election pledge and brought the whole cabinet for a meeting at the Naples central police headquarters, an impressive building that, as I was told, had been actually housing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the Bourbons. Great effect, I must say, especially as the meeting had been guarded by something like half of the police force of the city. Power politics in action. As I understand it, the Prime Minister has signed a special decree at that meeting allowing the army to use special sites in... 

A Royal Wedding In Hello! Magazine. How Sad Is That?

May 26, 2008

A Royal Wedding In Hello! Magazine. How Sad Is That?

I thought it was sad, that royal wedding in the Hello! magazine. Did it seem sad to you? I thought it was very sad. What I personally find amazing myself, apart from the fact, of course, that young minor royals have to go to the press to earn a quick buck, is how common many of the guests looked. You know, very, very common indeed. No style in them, no class, no pedigree. None at all. Take that Zara Philips, for example. Why on earth does she share her name with that Spanish department store chain? And why does always dress like a shop assistant and always shows that flesh of hers? What is it with her? Where is her mother’s influence? Now, I shouldn’t be probably saying this, but I found that the bride, that Canadian woman, Autumn Kelly, did not look classy too. Yeap, classy she... 

Man U Should Sell Christiano Ronaldo. For The Sake Of Football Itself

May 26, 2008

Man U Should Sell Christiano Ronaldo. For The Sake Of Football Itself

I honestly think that Manchester United should sell Christiano Ronaldo to the highest bidder. It was embarrassing to hear him say immediately after the Champions League final in Moscow that he is staying at the club and then, an hour or so later, to find out that he had suddenly changed his mind and said that he could not give any promises about staying on. What is wrong with this guy? What’s he playing at? He has won a double with his club and he gets a hundred and twenty grand a week. What’s there not to like? But no, he gets difficult and starts playing games. Off the pitch, that is. And his agent is saying already that poor Ronaldo would stand to lose a lot of money because some Spanish or Italian giants are ready to pay him much more that Man U. It does look like blackmail,... 

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