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Russia has become dangerous again

Sunday, 20 July, 2014 0 Comments

So says David Frum: “It’s not as dangerous as it was, but it’s more than dangerous enough. Nearly 300 bereaved families in the Netherlands, Britain, Canada, and elsewhere have suffered what hundreds of Ukrainians have suffered since Russian sharpshooters opened fire on peacefully protesting crowds in Kyiv last winter.”

The danger is not abstract, either: “And we are all more vulnerable to that danger because we have let atrophy the institutions necessary to meet and contain that danger. It’s time — past time — to build those institutions back. That’s been the meaning of the Ukraine crisis from the start. The terrible heartbreak of MH17 might have been averted if we had absorbed that meaning early. But better to absorb it now than to leave it any longer.”

Time to act.

Keep Your Head Up

Saturday, 19 July, 2014 0 Comments

That’s what Ben Howard advises. Last night, he opened the Longitude Festival in Dublin and a good time was had by all, according to reports.

“Our flights to Kiev are suspended”

Friday, 18 July, 2014 0 Comments

Yesterday, Emirates flight EK171 Dubai-Kiev returned to Dubai “due to the safety concerns raised with the latest reports on Malaysian flight MH17.” The press release added: “Our flights to Kiev are suspended with immediate effect, till further notice.”

Other airlines announcing they plan to stay clear of Ukrainian airspace include Aeroflot, Air France, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines and KLM. But why were they flying over a combat zone in the first place? The answer is as mundane as it is sobering: Because diverting planes along new routes can add to flying time, which means more fuel consumption.

None of this, of course, excuses the actions of those who targeted the Malaysia Airlines 777.

Johnny Winter RIP

Thursday, 17 July, 2014 0 Comments

He did finger-picking blues and rock-star riffs. Along with his younger brother Edgar, Johnny formed a band when he was 15 and they made an unforgettable impression as both brothers were born with albinism and they grew their white hair long. On his website, he’s described as “the clear link between British blues-rock and American Southern rock.” RIP

The Arab Spring isn’t any one thing

Wednesday, 16 July, 2014 0 Comments

Both the optimists and the pessimists got the Arab Spring wrong says Michael J. Totten in World Affairs. Now that some of the sand has settled, so to speak, “Libya needs state-building. Egypt needs gradual reform. Morocco needs as much diplomatic support from the US as possible. Syria, at this point, needs a miracle. Tunisia doesn’t need much of anything.”

But Totten isn’t offering any easy answers: “There was no other way to get rid of Muammar el-Qaddafi, nor is there any other way to get rid of Bashar al-Assad. You want them out of their palaces? You’re going to have to shoot them out of their palaces. Whether that’s worth the cost is a question with no easy answer.”

Connecting Myanmar

Tuesday, 15 July, 2014 0 Comments

By the way, Sweden’s Ericsson is not the only runner in the race to connect Myanmar. Norway’s Telenor has pledged $1 billion to roll out a modern telecoms infrastructure. TelenorMyanmar plans a 3G service and says it can make a profit even with monthly revenue averaging only $1 a user.

Until recently connecting to the outside world was a crime in Myanmar, and people went to prison for owning an unauthorized fax machine. When it comes to press freedom, the country still has a long way to go. Last week, five journalists were sentenced to 10 years in jail, with hard labour, for writing that the military was making chemical weapons.

Germany were the team of the tournament

Monday, 14 July, 2014 0 Comments

And it was their passing game that won them the World Cup. Having absorbed the central tenet of FC Bayern Munich coach, Sep Guardiola, — hold the ball and attack — they deservedly beat Argentina in last night’s final. Unlike the Brazil or England game, the German approach was never static. That’s why they were the team of the tournament.

Galeano imagines Messi

Sunday, 13 July, 2014 0 Comments

Eduardo Galeano: “The ball laughs, radiant, in the air. He brings her down, puts her to sleep, showers her with compliments, dances with her, and seeing such things never before seen his admirers pity their unborn grandchildren who will never see them.”

The Uruguayan journalist and novelist Eduardo Galeano fled his homeland in 1973 after the military took power. He settled in Argentina where he founded the cultural magazine, Crisis, but in 1976 the Videla regime seized power in a bloody coup and his name was added to the lists of those sought by the death squads. He fled again, this time to Spain, where he wrote his famous trilogy: Memoria del fuego.

In childhood, Galeano dreamed of becoming a football player and this dream is the subject of Soccer in Sun and Shadow (1995), a history of the game. Galeano compares football with theatre and war and while he criticizes its alliance with global corporations, he condemns leftist intellectuals who reject the game and its attraction to the masses.

“Any open net was an unforgivable crime meriting immediate punishment, and Di Stefano carried out the sentence by stabbing at it like a mischievous elf.” Eduardo Galeano

Acapella Ireland

Saturday, 12 July, 2014 0 Comments

Portland, Oregon songwriter Courtney Jones is the voice behind the layered acapella harmonies of “Weightless”, which is taken from her album Awake and Dreaming. The music matches the mood of this clip of Ireland as seen by Jonathan Haring.

Winston Churchill: The Ten Commandments of Life

Friday, 11 July, 2014 0 Comments

Winston Churchill’s top ten sayings about failure, courage, setbacks and success are rendered here, memorably, by Simon Appel. Churchill is never very far from the present as this week’s decision by the Bank of England to switch its £5 and £10 notes to polymer shows. They’ll be more durable and harder to forge and the “fiver” will get the first facelift in 2016 when Churchill will become the face.

Julia Ioffe hates Argentina

Thursday, 10 July, 2014 0 Comments

Well, she wrote the New Republic piece before the Dutch went out on penalties, but her loathing dates not from this year in Brazil but from 1996 in France. Money quote: “And then came the quarterfinals and the Argentines, led by the dastardly dwarf Ariel Ortega. Ortega could not enter the box that game without leaping into the air, gripping a leg or a side, and rolling around, whining for a penalty kick. It was despicable. It was the kind of tactic that even I, a mediocre player who often made up with my elbows for what my feet couldn’t do, couldn’t abide. It was a disgusting sight, and I prayed for Kluivert and Bergkamp to bump a few in the net, and send the Argentines packing.” And then, this: