Global News: March 2007 Archives

The trouble with Theodore Dalrymple is that he writes so beautifully and clearly about such a tragic topic, the decline of English character. His insight in this piece showing how Prime Minister Tony Blair both reflects and has shaped the nation, particularly the public service of Britain:

I recently met a public servant who had risen up the ranks and had about him a triumphalist air, as of a successful revolutionary. He had arrived in bureaucratic heaven. He travelled to London on the train first class every week (a ticket costs the equivalent of an annual working class holiday in the sun), and attended sumptuous functions there attended by others such as himself, under the impression that by so doing he was working. Had he been a little boy recounting a visit to Father Christmas in a department store, it would have been disarming: as it was, I found it profoundly alarming.

Here was the voice of militant mediocrity, who expressed himself even in private in the language of Health Service meetings, believing that his large salary and high living at public expense were all for the good of those who paid for them. Just as the countries of Eastern Europe once had their little Stalins, so every department of every branch of the British public service has its little Blairs.

Such a development could not have taken place overnight. My wife, who is French, was attracted to the culture of this country because, as late as 1979 or 1980, the people, including administrators in hospitals, were obviously upright, whatever else their failings might have been. A quarter of a century later, all that has changed; deviousness, ruthlessness, an eye fixed on the main chance, sanctimony in the midst of obvious wrongdoing, toadying and bullying have become the ruling characteristics of the British people, or at least those of them who are in charge of something. The old virtues - stoicism, honesty, fortitude, irony, good humour and so forth - can still be found, but only in people who are of no importance, at least in the public administration. If I may put it very strongly, good people are like a defeated class in this country.

Go read the whole thing. The disease is not peculiar to Britain; it can be found in bureaucracies at every level of government, the social services, and academia here in America.


Dubai-ous business

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Lincoln Allison doesn't care for Islam, but he loves traveling to Muslim countries, particularly Dubai, in which he sees hopeful signs for the future:

Is the future of East-West relations to be understood from Iraq or Iran or Algeria? Or is the real clue to be found in Dubai, a place that writers of fiction would not dare make up and academics have great difficulty in theorising. It is the non-society society where religion, ethnicity, culture, nationality are private matters, where more than 90% of the population come from somewhere else. It has the world's fanciest mosques, but also the headquarters of the International Cricket Council and the venues for global events in motor racing, horse racing, golf and rugby. It is the afterthought to empire, duplicating British Indian and Ottoman pluralisms and ethnic divisions of functioning: the Pakistanis do the work, the Brits do the organising and the Arabs collect the rent.

Ex-pats compare it to Hong Kong under the Cultural Revolution and Portugal during the war, a neutral territory where people find that pressing their normal ideological positions does not serve their interests. Rumours talk of protection money going to Al Qaeda, of Osama Bin Laden being treated in the American Hospital and of the property boom collapsing like a burst balloon if there is a single terrorist bomb.

It is a place that everybody ought to see to understand their own era - like Manchester in the 1840s or New York in the 1890s. Where will it all be in 50 years time? Globalisation will stand or fall with Dubai? I would want it to stand because I like the idea of a society where commerce is a higher reality than religion. Most people want it to stand and believe it is going to, judging from the numbers of Westerners who are buying property there, as in other Arab countries. East-West pluralism certainly works better there than it does in Burnley. But there can be no pretense that commerce and religion can be kept entirely apart: witness the recent legal nightmares which occur when the owners of real estate (fully allowed to foreigners only this century) die and their wives cannot inherit under Muslim law!

Commerce doesn't trump deep-seated anti-Israel attitudes either, as Dick Morris reports in his latest column:

But don't be fooled. Dubai, which is one of the seven princedoms of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is anything but tolerant and progressive.

To put it bluntly: They don't like Jews.

In fact, Dubai, like the rest of the UAE, is blatantly anti-Semitic. It bars all Israeli citizens from ever setting foot in the country. People from other nations whose passport have stamps indicating they've even visited Israel must notify Dubai immigration authorities of the stamp before entering.

Dubai is also actively involved in the Arab boycott of Israel: It bans all products made in Israel and even ones with parts made in Israel.

Dubai is engaged in a massive PR push to attract Western investment. One result was attracting the world HQ of Halliburton. A key agent in their PR campaign is Der Schlickmeister himself:

Dubai's PR machine went into high gear after 9/11 - in part to distract attention from the extensive use the terrorists made of the emirate. More than half of the hijackers traveled to the United States via Dubai. The 9/11 Commission noted that $234,500 of the $300,000 wired to the hijackers and plot leaders in America came via Dubai banks.

Several months after 9/11, Dubai's newest best friend began his public association with the country. In January 2002, Bill Clinton gave his first Dubai speech (for $300,000). He' been legitimizing the country ever since.

Clinton was the rainmaker who introduced the emir to his friend and employer, Ron Berkle, the owner of Yucaipa companies and a major fund-raiser for Bill and Hillary.

Last year, Yucaipa and the emir formed a new company, DIGL, for their joint ventures. So Bill Clinton is now an adviser and member of the board of directors of a company that is in partnership with the anti-Israeli government of Dubai.

The Clintons won't reveal how much the former president pocketed for setting up this deal, except to report on Hillary's Senate disclosure form: "more than $1,000."

A lot more. According to San Francisco Examiner columnist P.J. Corkery, Clinton makes $10 million a year from Yucaipa.

Morris doesn't let prominent Republican retirees off the hook either -- George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John Sununu are mentioned as helping to legitimize the country in the U. S.

Perhaps Dubai is in transition and modernization will encourage them to drop their anti-Israel stance. But it will probably take some pressure in that direction, some encouragement from the Emir's friends in America to make that happen.

Northern Ireland, the part of the island of Ireland which remained in the United Kingdom after the 1922 partition, held an election for its assembly earlier this week and the results are in. The Democratic Unionist Party won the most seats, followed by Sinn Fein. The last time we traveled to Northern Ireland, in 1995, these two parties were the also-rans, the hard-liners for their respective views -- unionist (Northern Ireland should remain a part of the UK) and republican (the Six Counties should be reunited with the Republic of Ireland). The DUP was and is led by its founder, Ian Paisley, who is also founder of his own Presbyterian denomination. But for the DUP's hard-line unionist views, it has never been allied with a terrorist group. Sinn Fein has. Sinn Fein is the political wing of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, which has engaged in terror attacks on civilians and police officers and in Mafia-like organized crime within its own community.

The more conciliatory expressions of unionist and republican views, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party, respectively, have fallen from favor with the electorate. David Trimble and John Hume, the leaders of the two parties, won the Nobel Peace Prize, but the agreement that won them that honor has not lived up to its promise.

Six members of the assembly are elected from each parliamentary constituency, using the "single transferable vote" method. This is similar to instant runoff voting in that each voter ranks the candidates in order of preference. The difference is that the counting in a way that elects multiple candidates, rather than a single candidate. I had hoped to point you to results that shows the count as it progresses, but I can't find that the detailed results on the web anywhere. The BBC has the final results and the first preference counts (how many voters chose a candidate as first choice), but not the detailed count-by-count results. This is a good method for picking representatives when you have widely divergent views mixed together in a single region. It ensures that widely-held perspectives have a seat at the table, but it allows the voters to choose which individual candidates will represent them, rather than leaving the pick to party bosses (as the party-list system of proportional representation does).

Under the rules for the Northern Ireland Assembly established by the British Parliament, the head of the first place party will be First Minister of Northern Ireland, while the head of the second place party will be his Deputy. The two leaders -- Ian Paisley of the DUP and Martin McGuinness of SF -- will have to come to agreement over which assembly member will fill each cabinet position. This is likely to work as well as that movie in which Ray Milland's head is grafted on to Rosey Grier's body.

The alternative to successfully forming a government? Control over local matters will continue to be wielded by a Minister for Northern Ireland handpicked by Tony Blair.

(I should have many more links, but I'm in a bit of a rush. Check Wikipedia to learn more.)

According to a real-time test performed through the website greatfirewallofchina.org, BatesLine is blocked from viewing in China by the Communist government. I'm in good company: So are amnesty.org, cato.org, Drudge Report, Instapundit, Harvard, Princeton, the BBC, the New York Times, myspace, CNN, and the White House, among many others.

(CORRECTED -- I had .com instead of .org, which is what I get for looking at a website on one computer and blogging about it on another one.)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Global News category from March 2007.

Global News: February 2007 is the previous archive.

Global News: September 2007 is the next archive.

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