A Nation Gets The Parliament It Deserves. But Enough Is Enough

May 30, 2009

A Nation Gets The Parliament It Deserves. But Enough Is Enough

Thomas Mathew writes: Were British politicians to have morals, integrity and dignity, then they and the whole country would not be in such an appalling state. Many politicians are, in fact, failed lawyers and some have never had a proper job in their whole lives. And there is not one member of the cabinet who has served in the armed forces. The fact of the matter is that people no longer go into politics in order to give their time to the nation to try and make a positive contribution with a view to improving the quality of life of people. Sadly, politicians now see it as a means to try and have a similar lifestyle as members of the aristocracy used to have many years ago, without having to do an honest days work for an honest days pay. Our politicians seem to have learnt nothing about human... 

China’s Arms Sales Rise While Those of Russia Fall

May 30, 2009

China’s Arms Sales Rise While Those of Russia Fall

Martin McCauley writes: Despite the world economic downturn one industry keeps on expanding: the arms industry. The world leader is, of course, the United States followed by Great Britain, France and other developed economies. But now a new competitor has entered the race: China. Its expanding economy has a voracious appetite for raw materials and hydrocarbons and its state owned companies have been planting themselves round the globe.When it comes to arms sales, China has a great advantage over its rivals. It can accept payment in kind. For instance, Zambia can exchange copper for weapons. Kenya is even negotiating with China over fishing rights to pay for more guns and bullets. One would not, of course, expect China to publish accurate statistics about its arms sales. Information has to be... 

Muqtada Al Sadr Wants To Become The Next Ayatollah

May 28, 2009

Muqtada Al Sadr Wants To Become The Next Ayatollah

Martin McCauley writes: Remember Muqtada al Sadr? The Shia cleric commanded of the Mahdi army in Basra and al-Sadr City who made life hell for British troops in the south. They were even confined to barracks in an attempt to save themselves. The days of winning hearts and minds by patrolling without heavy armour and equipment were long past. The British found that the local police were unreliable and had no intention of taking on the Mahdi army. Since Britain was not willing to take the army on, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a fellow Shia, decided he would. The Iraqi army launched an attack, with some help from the Americans, and blew the Mahdi army away in the spring of 2008.Muqtada al-Sadr had already moved to the Iranian city of Qom in 2007 to pursue theological studies which would eventually... 

A Cynical Look At Politics. And At Geography

May 27, 2009

A Cynical Look At Politics. And At Geography

Adam Lovejoy writes: So, North Korea is at it again: testing the world’s patience with its nuclear tests. That madman Kim thinks that he can starve his nation while blowing money on nuclear bombs and missiles. Why on earth do we tolerate that scumbag? Why don’t we send our crack troops to Pyongyang and whack the bastard? It would be a lot cheaper than introducing sanctions and monitoring them. And the people of North Korea would be eternally grateful to us. If President Obama has any metal in him this is the time to prove it. And speaking of President Obama: don’t you get a feeling that he is not doing very much? How, for example, is he tackling the economic crisis in the U.S.? All that stimulus money seems to be wasted on silly things. The bankers are playing games and not... 

Turkey And Brazil To Search For Oil and Gas In The Black Sea

May 27, 2009

Turkey And Brazil To Search For Oil and Gas In The Black Sea

Martin McCauley writes: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has recently visited Turkey. Before that he had visited China and Saudi Arabia as part of his world tour. His main aim was to expand bilateral trade. President Lula da Silva told Turkish businessmen that the two countries had so far failed to realise their full potential for cooperation. Brazil, he said, would welcome increased Turkish investment. Trade turnover this year will be about $1.5 billion. Areas in which there was great scope for cooperation included energy, construction, the automobile industry, production of household appliances and tourism. The Brazilian President also stressed that the multibillion stimulus package which is underway in Brazil at present would ensure continued rapid growth and ensure its recovery... 

The Parliamentary Expenses Scandal: It Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

May 26, 2009

The Parliamentary Expenses Scandal: It Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

Thomas Mathew writes from France: As I watch, from a chateau in France, how the scandal surrounding the expenses of British members of parliament continues to unravel – with more revelations of MP’s expensive habits surfacing every day – I start to wonder whether anyone in Britain actually believes that their elected representatives are only guilty of bending the rules and abusing the system but not of committing any serious misdemeanours. Let me clarify this: does anyone really believe that a member of parliament who can easily put in a claim for interest on a non-existent mortgage or for furniture that went someplace else would not be involved in other forms of corruption? The expenses scandal is probably just the tip of the iceberg. It is hard to accept that anyone who... 

China’s Coal Industry: Production Or Safety First?

May 25, 2009

China’s Coal Industry: Production Or Safety First?

Martin McCauley writes: China mines more coal than any other leading economy. It also is more dependent on the fossil fuel for energy than anyone else. Unfortunately it also has the worst safety record among leading coal producers. This was underlined in February at the Tunlan coal mine in Shanxi province when a methane blast killed 78 miners. Official figures state that since the founding of the People’s Republic, in October 1949, over 250,000 miners have lost their lives. Unofficial sources put the figure much higher. The fatality rate in 2008 was 1.2 deaths per million tonnes of coal mined. The economic downturn now means that there is a coal surplus in China. This may provide an opportunity to review safety procedures and save lives in the future. The coal industry is divided into... 

Silvio Berlusconi Has Decided To Launch A Revolution. Or Is It A One Man Coup?

May 23, 2009

Silvio Berlusconi Has Decided To Launch A Revolution. Or Is It A One Man Coup?

Adam Lovejoy writes from Rome: Say what you will about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi but he is a man who enjoys the trappings of power and is not afraid to show it. He is probably one of the few leaders in Europe who manages to combine his busy official schedule with a colourful private life. One of the young women that he has been linked with, 18-year old Noemi Letizia who calls him ‘Papi’, has landed him in trouble after his wife, Veronica Lario, announced that she was tired of his womanising and was getting a divorce. Although it is quite understandable that young women must be attracted to Mr Berlusconi, what with his rugged good looks, shiny new hair that has settled in perfectly and, most importantly, with all that power that he oozes and the billions that he posses.... 

The Relentless March Of The Taliban: Can It Be Stopped?

May 23, 2009

The Relentless March Of The Taliban: Can It Be Stopped?

Martin McCauley writers: The ongoing battles between the Taliban and the Pakistani army have been provoked by two factors. One is that the power deal brokered with the Taliban in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has been broken by the Taliban. They have attempted to extend their rule into other parts of the NWFP and beyond. The other reason was the pressure exerted by Washington on President Asif Ali Zardari to confront the Taliban militarily. The agreement reached by the NWFP government with the Taliban in February 2009 permitted the imposition of the Sharia’s Nizam-e-Adl (Islamic System of Justice) in the Malakind Division and the Kohistan district of Hazara Division. The deal sounded alarm bells in the international community because it appeared that Islamabad was conceding... 

Morocco Adopts Its Own Counterterrorism Strategy

May 22, 2009

Morocco Adopts Its Own Counterterrorism Strategy

Martin McCauley writes: Six years ago a series of suicide bombings in Casablanca shocked Morocco to the core: the militants, from the slums of the city, left 33 dead. Twelve of the jihadis were also killed. Then came the Madrid train bombings a year later. King Mohammad VI was so taken aback that he requested the Spanish authorities to stop labelling the terrorists who were involved in the attack as ‘Moroccans’. He could not believe that any of his subjects were involved in such a horrific attack. When he was forced to accept the reality of Moroccan terrorism he set out to rid his kingdom of violent terrorism. Moroccan security services link the terrorist attacks to Al Qaeda which is attempting to spread throughout the Maghreb (Arab North Africa). Those accused of being involved in... 

Next Page »