Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Olympic Logo Causes Fits

by Londonbear Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 09:19:43 PM EST

On Monday the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics unveiled the official logo for the games. For the first time, the same logo is to be used for both sets of games, emphasising the inclusive nature of the bid.

It comes in a variety of colours and is designed to appeal to young people with its hip-hop or graffitti style. The numbers form an outline vaguely similar to the map of Greater London but it is also intended to be used extensively in moving form, where the changing colours and patterns make it a little less strange. That did not stop controversy over the design which appears to have not that many fans.

Unfortunately, one section of the video promotion featuring it has had to be pulled after it induced epileptic fits in some people.

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Disgrace of British Treatment for Ex Soldiers

by Londonbear Thu May 31st, 2007 at 02:01:45 PM EST

Tul Bahadur Pun VC is one of only 12 living holders of Britain's highest medal, the Victoria Cross. He earned it fighting during the Burma campaign in World War II, for the British, as a member of the Ghurka Regiment. Such is the courage of these Nepalese fighters that they comprise one third of the 12 surviving holders of the medal. Below the fold, I reproduce the main part of the citation Mr Pun received.

Mr Pun was an honored guest at the coronation of the current Queen. Now he is elderly and infirm. Like many of his colleagues, is forced to live in Nepal because of the meanness of the pension scheme for the regiment, that gives them less than their equivalent in a purely British regiment. He has multiple medical problems and has only intermittent access to treatment and medication. He has to be carried down the mountains to get to a doctor.

He wants to come to Britain to get the treatment this country owes him for his service to it. The British embassy in Nepal has refused his application to settle in Britain to receive it on the grounds that he  "failed to demonstrate strong ties with the UK"

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The Grand Old Lady Is Singed But Survives

by Londonbear Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 12:23:26 AM EST

Much of my Monday was spent anticipating the loss of an old friend. I live in sight of the Cutty Sark at Greenwich. Like many London schoolkids, I was taken there to get an appreciation of the country's maritime history. One of the joys of moving to my present apartment was the view downriver to see her and the surrounding buildings. I knew the Christmas season had arrived when I saw the tree and its lights lashed to the top of her highest mast.

It was not only to be a loss for me, she was part of a World Heritage site. She was the only surviving tea clipper from the 19th century and was the never quite the fastest but was one of the most beautiful, elegant and functional. A true queen of the seas even if she had become a bit sorry in her dry dock in recent years.  The disaster was even more profound when the police announced that the fire was suspicious. Had vandalism destroyed what wars and  nigh on 150 years of changing economics and wars could not? Would the course for the 2012 Olympic Marathon lose one of its landmarks?

Slowly though, later in the day, better news started to emerge. Hope is starting to rise that she may emerge not quite the same but better than could be anticipated even on Sunday. 

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Bush, Global Warming and the Fallacy of Ethanol

by Londonbear Sun May 13th, 2007 at 09:48:49 PM EST

The more reports come out, the more it is becoming apparent that the use of biofuels in the form of ethnanol (or indeed most forms of bio-diesel) is a false road to prevent global warming. Bush's push for it must therefore be seen as the policy of Mr Micawber, the belief that "something will turn up" to avoid the need for radical changes. Indications are that again he is gearing up to emasculate the outcome of the upcoming G8 discussions on global warming and lay landmines for a future administration.

What I want to bring together are three news items that appear at first to be separate but when taken together must inform future energy policy. That, I would suggest, is not a case of substitution, as in ethanol for gasoline but avoiding usage as in investing in public transport and radically changing infrastructure and work patterns to avoid the current levels of travel for work.

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London To Price Out Most Polluting Trucks and Buses

by Londonbear Sat May 12th, 2007 at 05:02:17 AM EST

Ken Livingstone is probably best known worldwide for introducing a Congestion Charge in the centre of London. This has been highly successful in increasing traffic flow in the area and has had an effect on the air quality. That tho is very much a bonus of the reduction in private vehicle usage.

Now Livingstone is going a stage further. From next year, the whole of the Greater London area becomes a Low Emission Zone. Any commercial vehicle over 1300 Kg not meeting the standard will be charged £200 a day. The scheme will use number plate recognition cameras linked to the National Driver and Vehicle Authority's database to ensure that it was either built after a certain date or has been adapted to meet the standard Euro III. The plan allows that from early 2012, in time for the Olympics, vehicles will have to meet the more stringent Euro IV standard.

In an attempt to reduce the vastly greater pollution in  Beijing, the Chinese authorities are proposing to introduce EuroIV standards to cars in their capital from next year.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Remember Guernica

by Londonbear Thu Apr 26th, 2007 at 03:52:17 AM EST

Seventy years ago April 26 was market day in Guernica. The Spanish civil war was had started the year before but the historic capital of the Basque country was far from the front line. The market carried on as usual.

 The Nazis had sent their airforce to help out the Fascist forces under General Franco. Spain was to be their test bed for the theories of aerial warfare and blitzkrieg. The experiment needed a suitable subject. A city already damaged in the Civil War would not properly show the effects of an attack from the air. The WWI experience of a few crude bombs lobbed over the sides of airship gondolas on cities like London gave no proper information. Guernica, as yet untouched, would be the guinea pig.

At 4.30 in the afternoon the horror started.

From the diaries with small format edit ~ whataboutbob

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Blair's Last 100 Days

by Londonbear Thu Mar 22nd, 2007 at 06:17:33 AM EST

The next two weeks will see the start of Tony Blair's last 100 days as Prime Minister. The provisional timetable was agreed by the Labour Party National Executive over the weekend.

BBC's Newsnight programme suggested that the handover to a new Prime Minister will take place on 2 July but I believe this more likely be the following week on 9 July for a couple of reasons.

Meanwhile Gordon Brown, Blair's likely successor and current Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) presented an overtly "green" budget on Wednesday which put up annual taxes on "gas guzzlers" and reduced it on environmentally friendly measures.

Over from the diaries - afew

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Israel Demands UK Immunity for War Criminals

by Londonbear Thu Feb 8th, 2007 at 11:10:54 PM EST

Israel is not a subject to the International Criminal Court, having signed but not ratified the Treaty. It has a long history of denying that its soldiers, some of who later became senior politicians, commit war crimes. This is despite the blatant evidence of collective punishments in the form of home demolitions which are prohibited under the Geneva Conventions.

Now Israel is demanding that the UK change its laws so that it would become more difficult to arrest such alleged war criminals under the "Universal Jurisdiction" provisions that are part of the ICC. These enable War Crimes to be prosecuted in England or those arrested to be passed on to the Hague as a "court of last resort". This from Haaretz:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked British Foreign Minister Margaret Becket on Wednesday to enact a law preventing the arrest of Israel Defense Forces officers in British territory, during their meeting in Jerusalem.

More on the background to this below.(Crossposted from DailyKos where the usual crown had a ball)

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UK Labour Party Woes Continue

by Londonbear Mon Jan 8th, 2007 at 04:23:20 AM EST

The news for the UK's Labour party was bad over the weekend and on Monday the sorry tale continues.

The Independent on Sunday revealed that the Party is virtually bankrupt following a financial donations scandal. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) and probable successor to Tony Blair gave and interview which separated himself from Blair. On Monday, the traditionally Labour Party supporting newspaper The Mirror has a front page lead about a former Education minister and current Cabinet member Ruth Kelly sending her child to a private fee-paying school. That is a big no-no for Labour politicians who usually, like Blair himself, find ways to get their chldren into the best state schools.

All not good news for what seems like an increasingly embattled Blair. He was forced to finally make a comment about the Saddam execution fiasco after previously smuggly refusing to make a statement. That was made after his foreign holiday. He would not be the first Labour PM to make an unfortunate remark while still off guard and just before their resignation.

Promoted by Colman

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Blair to Resign This Month?

by Londonbear Thu Jan 4th, 2007 at 07:27:58 AM EST

This is one of those "I feel it in my waters" speculations that are sometimes good indicators of a mood and sometime just insubstantial musing but here goes.

I have a suspicion that we may see a Blair resignation as  Labour Leader within the month.

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To Romania and Bulgaria, Welcome and Sorry

by Londonbear Mon Jan 1st, 2007 at 05:36:16 AM EST

To the peoples of Romania and Bulgaria I wish to say welcome. The stroke of midnight welcomes you to Europe. Of course you have always been Europeans, but now you become the latest members of the European Union family. The star-circled banner that has been increasing seen on the infrastructure projects in your countries will be yours. Now we share our anthem of the "Ode to Joy" with its words of friendship and brotherhood sung in the universal language of music.

You will enrich us with your culture and history. Your Accession takes our borders to a new sea. Above all, your countries bring their most valuable assets, you. Your populations take the home market of the Union past one and a half times that of the USA. But you are also owed apologies.

from the diaries. -- Jérôme

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Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN and France 24

by Londonbear Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:51:49 AM EST

In terms of getting international news in English on TV, the choice used to be effectively between CNN and the BBC either domestically through News 24 or internationally with the World Service news, both sharing the same facilities and in many cases the same programming. Murdoch's networks in Africa and Asia sometimes draw on Sky News but its main service is to the British Isles, with others in Europe able to access it due to the satellite footprint.

Now we have two new kids on the block. Al-Jazeera English from Doha and the latest, France 24. (That's most decidedly "France Vingt Quatre", not "France Twenty-four".) Both are available unscrambled from the Astra digital satellite used by Sky.

I have had a chance to drop in to the new stations and offer a few observations.  

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The Three Little (Green) Pigs

by Londonbear Tue Dec 5th, 2006 at 09:26:09 AM EST

Once upon a time there was a mother pig who had three little pigs.

The three little pigs grew so big that their mother said to them, "You are too big to live here any longer. You must go and build houses for yourselves. But take care that you do not damage the planet"

The first little pig went out and built his house of bricks. When his mother saw it she said "Your house is so cold and getting those bricks cost so much in fuel. And it is so tiny". "I could not afford many bricks" said the first little pig sadly.

The second little pig went out and built his house of wood. His mother never saw it. The rain came and washed it away because he had removed all the tree cover from the hill.

Cold and wet the two pigs went to see their brother. He had made his house out of straw and old car tires. It was so warm and so big that the three brothers could all live there with their mother.

A fairy tale? Not quite...

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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Blair Wants New Penis Extension

by Londonbear Mon Dec 4th, 2006 at 12:57:58 PM EST

Pathetic middle aged men with a potency anxiety buy a fancy sports car as a penis extension. Pathetic middle aged impotent British Prime Ministers commission a new nuclear weapons system as their's. Today Blair demonstrated his lame duck status by proposing a replacement to the submarines carrying Britain's so-called independent deterrent.

In his youth Blair was a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament but as is well known he sheds principles faster than his hair and his head is getting a pretty big bald spot these days.

Blair is not the first PM to initiate a new nuclear programme and it does seem to be a peculiarly Labour Party trait to have to show their masculinity in this way. Throughout the history of the UK's nukes it seems to be that party in charge when significant developments are initiated. Blair does not even have the balls to openly make a decision, instead he had now started the charade of a "consultation". The pathetic ponce cannot even chose his own strap-on. He is asking his acolytes to chose how the British treasury should be shafted.  


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Multilingualism is Good for Business (and Minorities)

by Londonbear Wed Nov 29th, 2006 at 06:48:43 AM EST

Crossposted from Kos, hence the obvious US target reader language  

Part of the right-wing agenda at the recent US mid-terms was to exploit the race card by disguising it as a question of "immigration" or "language", with the clear target of both being the growing visibility of Hispanic speakers. The question is not going to go away with the likelihood that more referendum questions will be put on ballots next year.

A different culture but the responses of the Commissioner Designate from Romania at his confirmation hearing in the European Parliament(EP/PA) has some relevance to the debate in the USA. Part of his response emphasized the advantages that having a multilingual population has for businesses. As important in my view and in the European context is the vital contribution a nurturing view towards minority languages has in progressing the rights of the people who speak them.

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Out of Africa

by Londonbear Thu Oct 26th, 2006 at 01:59:06 AM EST

Four pieces of news from Africa this week are likely to have significance in the future. One is likely to ignite demonstrations by the religious Right all over the USA from next June.

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by Londonbear Sat Oct 21st, 2006 at 09:54:08 AM EST

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising and the 40th Anniversary of the Aberfan disaster in Wales. The latter is probably little known outside the UK but etched itself into the memory of those who were alive at the time as a sort of British 9/11.

Virtually a whole generation of the village's schoolchildren were wiped out when a coal pit's huge spoil tip became unstable and crashed into the village school. John Humphries, one of the Radio 4 "Today Programme"'s anchors was a young reporter at the time and has written a very moving piece, It was broadcast this morning but is available in written form.

Wounds heal, tyrants die and repressive governments fall. It may take time but good does eventually overcome evil. Light does overcome the dark. And that is the lesson of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain festival of Diwali or "Festival of Lights" which is also today.

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Religious Police Officers Must Be Closely Monitored

by Londonbear Wed Oct 18th, 2006 at 11:21:51 AM EST

Freedom of religion is one of the Fundamental Rights enjoyed by Europeans and  is in the US Bill of Rights. No problem with that, but what happens when the religious beliefs of agents of the state mean that they compromise ordinary citizens exercising their Fundamental Rights?  

In the case of  police officers, this means that it is possible that those who do not share those beliefs and  fail to comply with their observances can be disadvantaged. At worse, it means that their official position is used to oppress or  treat unequally those who dissent with them. This breaches one of the fundamental basis of western jurisprudence, the equality of all before the law. British police are required to do their duty "without fear or favour".  

Absolute religious freedom for the individual officer can therefore conflict with their duties towards society in the equal administration of the law.  In order to retain the confidence of  the public, the yardstick must be that of "Caesar's wife", they must be seen to be above reproach. This principle has been recognised by the British police in respect of Masons who are required to declare their membership of that secret society.

A news report today indicates that the British police may be the target of a group of religious fundamentalists intent on promulgating their particular brand of religion and have successfully infiltrated their ideas into part of it.

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Madrid Airport Wins Architecture Prize

by Londonbear Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 08:01:41 AM EST

Madrid's new Barajas Airport building has been awarded the prestigeous Sterling Prize by the Royal Institute of British Architects. The prize is awarded for the greatest EU contribution to Brotish architecture so it can either go to a building in the UK or to one overseas designed by a British architect.

In this case the prize went for the first time to the Richard Rogers Partnership. The link is to their site for the airport design. Rogers designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Lloyds Building and Millenium Dome in London (the Dome's business failure is mostly down to Blair's decision to exhibit what would excite his son Euan and then putting Peter Madelson in charge!) and the initial design for the Welsh Assembly building in Cardiff. The later was completed and details of the original design such as the fenestration altered to save money after Rogers was removed for a projected overspend. Nevertheless, the design was also on this year's shortlist.

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New BBC Docu-Drama: Blair As Emperor Nero

by Londonbear Thu Sep 14th, 2006 at 06:47:48 AM EST

A new BBC prime time docu-drama has Tony Blair as the Roman Emperor Nero who, while not fiddling as Rome burned as popularly believed, did little to help save the population.

The BBC introduction to the programme describes Nero's fall which has uncanny echoes of these days for our own Dear Leader:

Without anyone to control him, his excesses grew. He killed his wife in a state of frenzy, married his slave boy and became fixated with performing live on stage.

Finally, the Empire rebelled. But it wasn't until he announced he would defeat the rebels by singing to them that Rome finally decided to overthrow him. Those actions would lead to a revolution in the way the Empire was governed.

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