BRITISH OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS OF RUSSIAN ARMED THREATThe Telegraph report is here.
Britain's "Daily Telegraph" reported on November 29 that Conservative Party leader David Cameron argued in Washington on November 28 that "Western forces, which could include British troops, must be sent into the Balkans to prevent Russia sparking a new European war" over Kosova. Cameron said "let me make it clear: there could be a new crisis in the Balkans by Christmas.... That [would be] a direct threat to our national security, and we must therefore take decisive action now to prevent it. We need to reinforce the military presence in the region now, by drawing on some of NATO's dedicated operational reserve, to prevent trouble later." The daily suggested that "British diplomats privately share Mr. Cameron's fears of a Balkan crisis, but ministers have stopped short of proposing a further military deployment, and the Tory leader's call could dramatically increase the diplomatic stakes over Kosovo." PM
Friday, November 30, 2007
From the RFE/RL Newsline:
An "information and guidance document" (pdf) for British state schools, issued by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), demonstrates with graphic clarity why the religion of Islam will never be accepted or integrated into the British education system on the terms it demands - the strictures and regulations it seeks to impose on the social environment of its hosts are simply impossible to accommodate within a liberal and pluralistic context.
In the Spectator, Ayaan Hirsi Ali discusses why the West is at war, not with "terror", nor with "Islamism", but with the religion of Islam itself. On the other hand,she says on parting from her interviewer: "Yes, I am at war with Islam...but I am not at war with Muslims."
In Chechnya Weekly, Andrei Smirnov looks at the role of Kabardino-Balkarian rebel leader Anzor Astemirov in the founding of the "Caucasian Emirate", and concludes:
It looks as if Astemirov, following Basaev’s death, gave Umarov an ultimatum in an attempt to force him to “bury” Ichkeria and to declare the Emirate. Umarov, who needs the support of non-Chechen fighters in Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and Dagestan, had no alternative but to agree.
The declaration of the Caucasian Emirate clearly demonstrates the rising influence of non-Chechen rebel leaders inside the Caucasian insurgency. For non-Chechen fighters, Chechen independence means nothing, and they do not want to fight any longer under the Chechen flag. Indeed, from the very beginning, the Caucasian insurgency, unlike the Chechen separatist movement, showed more signs of being a radical Islamist movement than a nationalist one.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
As Anders Aslund points out in the Moscow Times this week, the view held by some in the West of President Putin as "an authoritarian reformer who has brought economic growth and stability to Russia" does not bear up under scrutiny. Not only has Putin presided over a staggering growth in corruption in Russia - to levels that far exceed those that prevailed under President Yeltsin - he has also visibly failed to introduce law and order in the country. Aslund makes reference to a recent analysis by Syracuse University professor Brian D. Taylor, and it may be useful to review that here. An excerpt from a Kennan Institute briefing follows:
The highly centralized system Putin has put into place has improved the state’s ability to conduct certain actions, according to Taylor: “It is clear that the central government can mobilize large numbers of police to deal with opposition protests, or to bring criminal cases against political and economic adversaries.” The police can function as a tool of foreign policy, Taylor observed, in cases such as Russia’s recent dispute with Georgia. During the height of tensions, police harassment of Georgians in Moscow ranged from document checks to tax police raids. “Whether that came from the Kremlin, I don’t know,” said Taylor, “but certainly the police felt that they were able to engage in such an operation during this foreign policy dispute.”
In terms of enforcing society’s laws, Taylor continued, Russia’s law enforcement structures are still very weak, both in specific and general terms. Specifically, in cases of high-profile assassinations or terrorist attacks, there are doubts about police capacity to solve or prevent such incidents. In general terms, such as fighting overall crime, the police are not sufficiently effective, as evidenced by consistently high murder rates under both Yeltsin and Putin.
Taylor questioned why law enforcement structures have not done better, given the centralization reforms that were designed to improve their effectiveness, and given the growing economy that is providing significantly greater resources to those structures. The key, he emphasized, is the “commercialization” of the enforcement structures, which was not undone by Putin’s reforms. In fact, Taylor said, there is little evidence that Russia’s law enforcement structures are getting any cleaner—the police remain one of most distrusted institutions in Russia.
There are both internal and external methods of monitoring law enforcement structures that can help reduce corruption, Taylor noted. External monitors—such as the media, non-governmental organizations, and opposition parties—have been consistently weakened in Russia over the last seven years, he noted. Taylor cautioned that exclusive reliance on internal monitoring and self-policing by the Russian state will make it more difficult to weed out corruption. So long as state officials are able to exploit state institutions for personal gain, he predicted, Russia will have persistent corruption and weak rule of law. “Recentralizing coercion does not reduce illegal state activity, and thus does not strengthen the state,” Taylor concluded.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
"The way the British think of the teddy bear - as far as Christmas is concerned, and toys are concerned - we don't have any teddy bears over here, so in Sudan, for us, it is a fierce and dangerous animal."
Dr Khalid al Mubarak, a spokesman for the Sudan embassy in London, quoted by the BBC in the case of Gillian Gibbons, incriminated by the Sudanese government, and facing a possible jail term or lashing for allowing the schoolchildren in her care to name a teddy bear "Mohammed".
Monday, November 26, 2007
In the pages of the Caucasus Times, a well-known Russian commentator writing under a pseudonym examines the problem of Euro-Ichkeria Against the Emirate (my tr.). The article is simultaneously published by Prague Watchdog.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Reuters has an updated report on the forcibly dispersed Nazran rally. Excerpt:
A senior Russian rights activist said he and a television crew had been abducted and beaten by security agents in the southern region of Ingushetia, just hours before a protest against police brutality.
Oleg Orlov of rights group Memorial told Reuters he and a film crew from the REN-TV channel were snatched from their hotel rooms in the Ingushetian town of Nazran by a group of masked and armed men who said they were from an anti-terrorist unit.
Posted by David McDuff at 5:57 pm
Jussi had a difficult time for a week or so - he developed an inflammation in the lining of his bowel, but it has healed now, and he's quite returned to his old self. Life in the cat shelter and before was hard, and he didn't get much of a diet there. The food I was giving him was too rich. Now after a couple of visits to the vet he's on dried food and water, and is doing much better.
RFE/RL notes that if the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg agrees with the complaint now being brought by the Litvinenko family, Russia could face expulsion from the Council of Europe.
According to some reports, Ingush police have opened fire on demonstrators taking part in an unauthorized rally in the Ingush city of Nazran. For the background to the demonstration, see this article.
Friday, November 23, 2007
On the eve of today's first anniversary of the death of Alexander Litvinenko, who was murdered by polonium poisoning in London, Akhmed Zakayev gave a memorial tribute to the former FSB officer at an event hosted by Lord Pearson of Rannoch. From the conclusion of the speech:
As a man of strong moral principle, Sasha embarked on an irreconcilable struggle against that criminal [Moscow] regime, and found natural allies in the Chechens, who for many years had been confronting the Kremlin terrorists in almost total isolation. Alexander did not opt for the hypocritical but far more comfortable stance of a Russian patriot, instead openly declaring his support for the Chechen people, whose resistance he saw as a beacon of freedom for everyone.
His enemies were scared of Sasha and mobilised all their resources, even nuclear resources, in order to physically take revenge on this hero. A year later we see those directly involved in his murder being celebrated throughout Russia in much the same way that, in Soviet times, the first cosmonauts were feted for having carried out what was described as an important state mission.
Despite all this, Sasha managed to make an incalculable contribution to the inevitable downfall of these terrorists, which will surely come, no matter how sure of themselves they may feel today.
The noble memory of Alexander Litvinenko will live on not only in the hearts of his friends. It is no exaggeration to say that he has already gone down in history as an ideal of human courage and nobility, a man who dared to challenge one of the most inhuman regimes the world has ever known.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Today MI5's Jonathan Evans will brief British members of parliament on the current security situation and terror threat in the UK, as part of the parliamentary inquiry into the subject. The BBC notes that particular emphasis will be given to railway security, with the announcement that "from next year there will be new security barriers, vehicle exclusion zones and blast resistant buildings, and rail travellers face having their luggage screened at large stations."
Recently, Evans pointed out that in Britain children as young as 15 are being recruited for terrorist-related activity by al-Qaeda, and that resources that could be devoted to counter-terrorism are instead being used to protect the UK against spying by Russia, China and others, as espionage by these countries is now at Cold War levels.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Kelam: The European Union must oppose the politicizing of human rights by Russia
(via Mari-Ann Kelam)
In his speech at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg November 12, Tunne Kelam of the European Peoples’ Party and European Democrats faction sharply criticized an idea to create a Russian-European institute for democracy and human rights as proposed by Moscow at the recent EU-Russia summit in Mafra.
President Putin sees this institute as a Russian Center in the European Union which would be financed from the Russian state budget.
"Russian representatives have openly admitted that this step is planned as a political countermeasure against the European Union’s continuing criticisms of the worsening situation with human rights in Russia,” stated Kelam.
Kelam emphasized that EU leaders have to oppose any and all attempts to politicize the topic of human rights.
"Sufficient mechanisms to develop dialogue between Russia and the EU on human rights already exist," said Tunne Kelam. "These mechanisms have not been adequately used because Russia has not responded to problems pointed out by the EU.”
According to Tunne Kelam it has become clear that Russia plans to finance such an institute and its activities.
"To push this idea to its logical conclusion, we can imagine that tomorrow, for example, President Ahmadinejad would demand the creation on EU territory of an institute financed by Iran to study human rights and the Holocaust,” added Kelam.
Tunne Kelam is convinced that implementing the proposal made in Mafra would discredit the noble cause of defending human rights.
Kelam believes that the hope of some EU representatives that agreeing to the proposal would in turn open the door for financing independent non-profit organizations in Russia is short-sighted and naive.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Robert Spencer has some apt reflections on point three in the "Islam Is Peace" campaign that was recently launched in the UK by the Muslim Council of Britain. As he points out, the MCB's call on the British government to create a "just and lasting peace" actually amounts to a threat, backed up by blackmail: change your foreign policy or face terrorist attack.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
In the IHT, Adrian Pabst argues that what's needed in the uneasy encounter between Islamic and Christian belief is not a "dialogue" where religious texts are placed side by side for comparison, but rather a thorough debate, where the real issues and differences are hammered out. "The fundamentalists on both sides," Pabst says, "will only be intellectually defeated and politically marginalized by reasoned belief and rational argument - not by subjective textual interpretation."
Last month, 138 Muslim scholars addressed an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders in which they call for a new dialogue between Christianity and Islam based on sacred texts.Via Leopoldo
Entitled "A Common Word Between Us and You," the document claims that the shared Muslim and Christian principles of love of the One God and love of the neighbor provide the sort of common ground between the two faiths that is necessary for respect, tolerance and mutual understanding.
The publication of this letter coincided with the anniversary of a previous open letter in response to the pope's controversial Regensburg address on Sept. 12, 2006, when he appeared to link violence in religion to the absolute transcendence of God in Islam. His point was that according to Muslim teaching, God's will is utterly inscrutable and therefore unknowable to human reason - with the implication that divine injunctions cannot be fully understood and must be blindly obeyed.
Against this background, the latest initiative by Muslim scholars marks an attempt to move interfaith dialogue away from debates about reason and revelation towards scriptural reading. Christian-Muslim relations, so their argument goes, are best served by engaging in textual interpretations that highlight shared commandments and common beliefs.
But to suggest, as the authors of "A Common Word" do, that Muslims and Christians are united by the same two commandments which are most essential to their respective faith and practice - love of God and love of the neighbor - is theologically dubious and politically dangerous.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
In Chechnya Weekly, Jamestown's Mairbek Vatchagaev looks at the Caucasus Emirate declaration, and comes up with his own analysis. Excerpt:
There are clear positives and negatives in the current situation. On the positive side, it needs to be remembered that members of the resistance were always of two different minds as to how they saw the future of Chechnya. After Zakaev’s declaration, it will be possible to fully flesh out a separate political wing oriented towards the values found in the 1992 constitution of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The traditions and customs of the Chechen people have made it difficult for those who have opposed reevaluating resistance goals in order to accommodate Middle Eastern allies to find their own voice. This silence has been exploited by those who are oriented towards the Middle East (who themselves used those same traditions that they sought to undermine and condemn). Albeit crudely, Zakaev has managed to do what no one else has dared to do. The fact that Isa Munaev, one of the few leaders still respected and trusted in the broader community, has sided with Zakaev makes the whole situation far easier for the foreign minister (Chechenpress, November 1). Those willing to criticize Akhmed Zakaev are unlikely to criticize Isa Munaev, regardless of Munaev’s views. Zakaev’s statements have also been met with a positive response by some Chechen parliamentarians, as well as mid and high-ranking commanders.
The clearly negative aspect of the situation lies in the continued tarnishing of the resistance movement’s image. The Beslan tragedy was one huge blow, the death of popularly elected President Aslan Maskhadov was another, and now the third one will be this proclamation of an “emirate,” in the wake of which nothing will remain for Chechens to do than simply give up the political struggle, since few of them aimed to build an Islamic state. Even Shamil Basaev noted in one of his final interviews that the point of the struggle was to achieve independence to give the people an opportunity to decide for themselves how they wanted to live (Novaya Gazeta, August 4, 2005).
The silence coming from the camps of Dokka Umarov and Movladi Udugov has grown suspiciously long, making it possible to assume that Umarov will withdraw his sensational declaration. It is still unclear who passed on Umarov’s speech to radio “Svoboda.” On one hand, it could be Zakaev trying to seize the initiative from his opponents. On the other hand, it could be Udugov testing the reaction to such a drastic change in strategy. One thing is for sure, the coming weeks will be crucial for clearing up this question and showing just what the resistance will be like in the near future.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
"Obviously, in those parts of the world which have not yet come under the totalitarian yoke, this peculiar logic has not had all its implications worked out. The statistical method is, as it were, dumped down well outside the gates of the palace of art, but for how long? It is permissible, at least, to ask whether in this realm, as in many others, the totalitarian countries, with their brutal way of freezing out the nonconforming artist, have not merely confined themselves to drawing the proper conclusions from premises that are, in fact, accepted by everybody for whom statistics provide a sufficient criterion for the administration of human affairs."
Gabriel Marcel, The Mystery of Being, Vol. I (1950)
Gabriel Marcel, The Mystery of Being, Vol. I (1950)
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
"It is not difficult to see who prepared the speech of President Dokka Umarov," writes Chechen journalist Mayirbek Taramov. "They exactly copied down the Kremlin’s strategic program with a difference—they used an Islamic terminology. "
Read it all.
Read it all.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The head of Britain's MI5 has now pointed to the linkage that many people have observed here in the UK during recent months. Via the BBC:
There are at least 2,000 people in the UK who pose a threat to national security because of their support for terrorism, the head of MI5 has said.
Jonathan Evans said there had been a rise of 400 since November 2006.
He said children as young as 15 were being recruited for terrorist-related activity by al-Qaeda.
Resources that could be devoted to counter-terrorism were instead being used to protect the UK against spying by Russia, China and others, he added.
There had been "no decrease" in the number of Russian covert intelligence officers operating in the UK since the end of the Cold War, Mr Evans said in a speech in Manchester.
Monday, November 05, 2007
In his first major foreign policy speech, made at the Fifteenth Ambassadors' Conference back on August 27, France's new President Nicolas Sarkozy created shockwaves when he said that an Iran with nuclear weapons was unacceptable, and warned that Iran could be attacked militarily if it didn't meet its international obligations to curb its nuclear program. What many commmentators seemed to ignore at the time is that these remarks were made within the context of a speech that was devoted almost exclusively to the possibilities and imperatives of the diplomatic resolution of crises throughout the globe - in particular the confrontation beween the West and radical Islam. The speech needs to be read in that light, for it is an important contribution to the debate. And it doesn't underestimate the gravity of the threat:
There's no point in waffling: this confrontation is being called for by extremist groups such as al-Qaida that dream of establishing a caliphate from Indonesia to Nigeria, rejecting all openness, all modernity, every hint of diversity. If these forces were to achieve their sinister objective, it is certain that the twenty-first century would be even worse than the last one, itself marked by merciless confrontation between ideologies.
The Norwegian literary magazine Vinduet is celebrating its 60th birthday. The anniversary issue contains a number of items of interest, including a profile of the Swedish Academy's director Horace Engdahl, who is interviewed by Christian Kjelstrup. The Swedish Academy is, of course, best known for its annual awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Kjelstrup has some searching questions for the director, who is also the Nobel Committee's permanent secretary. At one point in a slightly defensive explanation of the Committee's work, Engdahl claims of himself and the committe members that "we are the last anarchists" - presumably in order to suggest an independence of thought and selection that is removed from current trends and fashions in literary taste.
Kjelstrup is not afraid to point out, however, that one major author who failed to receive the Nobel award was turned down on the grounds of his "anarchism". He was Lev Tolstoy.
Kjelstrup is not afraid to point out, however, that one major author who failed to receive the Nobel award was turned down on the grounds of his "anarchism". He was Lev Tolstoy.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Gates of Vienna has a prognosis: The Coming Third World War
by Paul Weston
When Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History and the Last Man in 1993, it was to argue that Western liberal democracy and free market economics meant an end to warfare within the west, and by default, the end of history.
Fukuyama was drawing on Winston Churchill, who stated: “The history of man is war”, thus allowing Fukuyama to propose that a future consisting of perpetual peace meant an end to history itself, history being simply a narrative of warfare, conquest and re-conquest, rather than which queen succeeded which king and on which date.
This idea that warfare within the West is now a thing of the past seems to be shared by an overwhelming section of Western people, reared as they are on a diet of enlightened tolerance and historical ignorance.
In 1990 it would have been relatively difficult to argue with Fukuyama’s prophecy. The West, excluding the inevitable frictions that came with the break up of the Soviet Union, was clearly not going to engage in the type of politics that led to the two world wars, whilst the demise of Communism meant an end to the global proxy wars between Russia and America.
What Fukuyama failed to realise, however, was that the ingredient for yet another “war to end all wars” was already in place. The cultural clashes between fascism, communism and liberal democracies had simply been replaced with another culture that would inevitably clash with the Western host cultures -- Islam.
Wars do not simply spring out of nowhere. Although the causes may be relatively complicated, they require only a few very basic ingredients which when blended together, placed in a pressure cooker on gas level 5, and left to boil unattended, can have only one result.
The first of these, self evidently, is an enemy, without which a chef cannot even begin to prepare his feast gastronomique. Some may argue that Islam is not our enemy; such an entity being radical Islam, a relatively small component of Islam overall. Possibly so, but this rather misses the point that Western liberal democracy is Islam’s enemy, as they tell us over and over again, through word and deed.
The death and destruction wrought throughout the West in recent years is not because Islam, in some childlike, well-intentioned yet misguided way, wishes to assimilate with us, it is because Islam wishes to take us over. We, obviously, do not wish to be taken over, so we must be prepared to resist an enemy, or be prepared to submit to an enemy, the point being that there is, with absolute certainty, an enemy.
The fact that it is radical Islam as opposed to moderate Islam is immaterial. In WWII Germany was our enemy, not the Nazis, just as Islam is our enemy today and not radical Islam. I am sorry to have to say this, but war entails polarisation of differing races/religions; the pieties of multiculturalism are reserved only for times of peace.
The second ingredient for war is anger and resentment amongst a unified mass majority. Despite the breadth of difference between Christian, post-Christian, Jew, agnostic, atheist, male, female, homosexual and heterosexual, the common thread that unites the people of the liberal West is no longer what we are, but what we are not. We are not Islamic, and -- voluntarily -- never will be.
And we are getting angrier by the day as we watch the television news, read the newspapers and listen to Islamic rhetoric calling for the overthrow of the West; a call apparently supported by our ruling elites who choose to clamp down on their indigenous people who dare to complain, rather than the perpetrators themselves.
Despite the best efforts of the vast state-funded race relations industry, the glaring evidence suggests one stark, unpalatable fact; Islam and the liberal West are incompatible. The utopian multiculturalist view that we can all get along is belied by the fact that as Islam keeps on trying to blow us up, so “Islamophobia” continues, quite naturally, to grow.
When police chiefs speak of “heightened racial tensions” (and in the case of France “low-level civil war”) they speak volumes about our current predicament. When Islam moves into an area and the indigenous inhabitants move out, this too speaks volumes. We do not -- indeed apparently cannot -- co-exist, a parlous state of affairs even whilst Westerners have the means and the territory to move away, but what happens when that escape route is removed?
Unfortunately, the birth rate differentials coupled with massive Muslim immigration and growing indigenous emigration suggest that this escape route is only temporary. Many European cities are on the brink of Muslim majorities already; within the next twenty years this will only escalate with increasing rapidity. At some point in the not too distant future, Europeans will have nowhere left to run.
Just as Islam is intransigently opposed to Western liberal democracy, so Western liberal democracy is intransigently opposed to Islam. The West in the case of “within borders” religious conflict is a demographic juggernaut compared to Islam today, but this can change very quickly as I argued in part 1 of a recent article. Within twenty years we will see two juggernauts of equal size, travelling in opposite directions on the same side of the road with the all too obvious result: collision circa 2025 or earlier, depending on their speed.
And it is as simple as that. Western Europe in 1990 did not have the ingredients necessary to bring about another war, but in 2007 we have the only ingredients necessary to ensure it. Two intransigent enemies, one demographically shrinking, the other demographically -- and literally -- exploding, both sides drawing their lines in the sand, and of course the simmering anger, fear and resentment that comes with such a scenario.
This situation reminds me of A E Housman’s words, describing the year 1914:
Europe is a powder keg. The Germans are gripped by fervent nationalism, the British feel afraid of German expansion….the French still remember the bitter defeat of 1870. Germany enters into a pact with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but that empire is being torn apart by ethnic tensions and it will take just one spark to ignite a European war on an unimaginable scale…
Plus ça change plus c’est la meme chose, as they once said over a game of chess and chain-lit gauloises in the avant garde cafes of the Paris banlieus. History repeats itself, a fact not lost on the realists of the “right”, but lost in the fluffy mists of time to the liberal/left.
Perhaps a more recent quote might jolt them from their multicultural reverie, taken from Alastair Finlan’s book The Collapse of Yugoslavia 1991-1999 which details the civil war that killed 250,000 people, the majority of whom were civilians, out of a population of 10 million.
In 1991, almost overnight, an ethnically diverse region that had enjoyed decades of peaceful coexistence descended into bitter hatred and chaos. Communities fractured along lines of ethnic and religious affiliation and the resulting fighting was deeply personal, resulting in brutality, rape, torture, genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Yugoslavia was a small country, and the death toll would have been much higher were in not for the intervention of external forces. Continental Europe has close to half a billion inhabitants. Should war start, there is no way on earth that any external force can stop it. And it need not be constrained to Europe; would a nuclear-armed Pakistan sit idly by? Will Iran or Syria possess a nuclear capability and would they use it against Israel? Would America then become involved? Would our need for oil necessitate the invasion of the Middle East? How would Turkey respond to that?
Unlike the First World War, given our nuclear weapons, this really could be the war to end to all wars.
Such an apocalyptic scenario should give the liberal/left pause for thought. Is such a possibility really worth this peculiar multicultural experiment of forcing two disparate cultures together, in a perverse attempt to prove history (and present day reality around the non-Western world) wrong?
Even the most vacuous multiculturalist would have to admit that religious war is a possibility, but what percentage chance would he admit to? Suppose it was only 1% — is that a risk worth taking? My only question to him would be “would you fly on a passenger jet that had a 1% chance of crashing, and if you would not, why do you think it acceptable that your children will inherit Armageddon based on a statistical chance of death that you yourself would not take?”
The completely unknown Serbian, Gavrilo Princip, provided the spark that ignited the First World War when he assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the little-known town of Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914.
In the Europe of 2007 the ingredients for the Third World War are in place, save for Islamic demographics, an issue rapidly being addressed. Will it be a Dwayne Sproat or an Achmed Al-bubba acting as the present day Gavrilo Princip who sparks it?
At Townhall.com Brent Bozell has a review of The Singing Revolution. The piece opens on an engaging note:
(hat tip: Leopoldo)
There have been a number of stories in the press in recent months about Geographically Challenged America. None tops the report about Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder confessing he hadn't known that people spoke English in London.Read it all
"I couldn't find London on a map if they didn't have the names of the countries," he explained. "I swear to God. I don't know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot."
I suppose we'd all have another chuckle if Crowder were asked to find Estonia on a map, but in truth how many can? And for those of us who can, how many of us know anything of significance about this seemingly insignificant little country?
(hat tip: Leopoldo)
Friday, November 02, 2007
From The Scotsman (October 26):
Council staff claim they are spending so much time dealing with the needs of Polish immigrants they are unable to provide other customers with the attention to which they are entitled.
Information-services workers at West Lothian Council, trying to support Poles who speak little or no English, now have much less time to help local people.
The findings, revealed in a report by Grahame Blair, the council's head of social policy, show a "huge" period of time is spent explaining entitlements and access to local amenities.
The report also says the resulting strain on staff resources means non-Poles are not receiving sufficient assistance from council staff.