• Europe,  Labour Party,  Peace,  The Left,  Westminster

    A Nest of Lies

    The story of When Corbyn Met Sarkocy, a Czech spy, during the Cold War has been seized on with glee by the usual press, plus the anti-Corbynites.  My own thoughts are:- 1) Corbyn was a back-bench MP and unlikely to know anything except the price of a cup of tea in the House of Commons café;  Corbyn, though classic useful idiot material, was useless in this case ; 2) this is reminiscent of a Le Carre novel where a clapped out branch of the security services bigs up a bungled operation with a dodgy agent. That’s off the top of my head. Paul Anderson, who knew the milieu, has this…

  • France

    Muslim doctor turned down by Paris hospital because of his beard

    A French court has recently upheld a Paris hospital’s right to reject a Muslim trainee doctor because he wore a beard. This, it was argued, infringed the French policy of secularism.  Some items – the headscarf or skull cap for example – are always going to fall foul of this policy. However the beard, like the long skirts which have been barred from schools in some cases, is not always a sign of unacceptable religiosity. The precise context is taken into account – and I assume that the religious identity of the wearer is a major factor in determining each case. Libération reports: “In these circumstances,” the court saw a…

  • Book Review,  Europe

    The end of Europe?

    Guest review by Karl Pfeifer Yale University Press recently published The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age by James Kirchick, a 34-year-old American journalist. It is a remarkably ambitious, provocative and vividly written account of the dark sides of Europe. It contradicts in 252 pages all the optimistic speeches of European political leaders. It should be must reading for all those interested in European politics. Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Europe is no longer a continent of peace, and the time of stability, prosperity, cooperation, democracy and social harmony seems to be ending. The author describes a “sequence of violently transformative events ranging from Russia’s invasion…

  • History,  Ireland

    Ireland honors Che Guevara with stamp

    Some years ago, I was pleased to receive a postage stamp issued by Sweden honoring the great Swedish-born IWW organizer and songwriter Joe Hill. In the 1960s the late Phil Ochs sang Joe Hill’s story. As deserving as Joe Hill was of the honor of appearing on a stamp, the Stalinist mass killer Che Guevara is not. So I was surprised to learn that the Irish postal service believes he is. The stamp, which features a famous image of Guevara by Dublin artist Jim Fitzpatrick, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the revolutionary’s death on October 9, 1967. Born in Argentina, Guevara helped Fidel Castro overthrow the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.…

  • antisemitism,  France

    France is being mental about anti-Jewish hate crime

    This is a cross-post by Lyn Julius from The Huffington Post On 4 April a 65-year old medical doctor living in a shabby suburb of Paris was woken at 4 am, beaten up for an hour and sustained 20 or more fractures to her body and face. At the end of her ordeal, she was thrown out of the window to her death. The murder of Sarah Halimi, an orthodox Jew,  raises several unanswered questions. The first is  – why was the killer, a 27-year old African convert to Islam named Kada Traoré, labelled a madman with a history of drug abuse and other offences, when all the evidence points to…

  • France,  Russia,  Trump

    Merci, Monsieur Macron

    Calling out to their face authoritarians who try to subvert democracy est toujours dans l’ordre. French President Emmanuel Macron has made an extraordinary attack on two Russian media outlets, saying they acted as “propaganda” organs during France’s election campaign. Speaking at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Macron accused the two outlets, Russia Today and Sputnik, of spreading fake news. He said that’s why he banned their reporters from his campaign headquarters during the race for the French presidency, which he went on to win May 7. Watch & *look at Putin's face* — you do not need to speak French to feel the daggers Macron…

  • Europe

    Eurovision!

    After last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Stephen Colbert decided it was time for an American entry, which he previewed on his show: I have no idea if this song will actually be performed in Kiev this evening, although I would give it deux points (whatever that signifies). I do know Russia’s entry won’t be— which is kind of a shame. Does Israel have an entry this year? Feel free to comment on the action, such as it is.

  • Europe,  Russia

    Will Eurovision produce Putin’s challenger?

    The Washington Post reports that the favorite to win tonight’s Eurovision song contest, Sergey Lazarev of Russia, is an outspoken opponent of the Putin regime’s denial of full rights to LGBTs and its annexation of Crimea. After watching the video of his song, I think I can deal quite easily with missing the whole extravaganza for yet another year. It seems Russians take their Eurovision quite seriously. The Post reports: When Russia won the contest for the first time in 2008, Vladimir Putin himself made a surprise entrance at one of the rehearsals, to reinforce the music competition’s priority status in bringing Russia’s cultural ascendance to the world. And when…

  • Belgium,  Terrorism,  Vote 2016

    The Brussels attacks and the perils of neo-isolationism

    A day after Donald Trump surely gladdened the heart of Vladimir Putin by questioning the need for NATO, terrorist murderers have attacked NATO member Belgium. “At what point do you say, ‘Hey, we have to take care of ourselves?’ ” Trump said in [a Washington Post] editorial board meeting. “I know the outer world exists, and I’ll be very cognizant of that. But at the same time, our country is disintegrating, large sections of it, especially the inner cities.” Trump said U.S. involvement in NATO may need to be significantly diminished in the coming years, breaking with nearly seven decades of consensus in Washington. “We certainly can’t afford to do this…

  • antisemitism,  Europe

    Breaking News

    Nigel Farage holds a Grassroots Out! (of Europe) rally. Special guest:- Not a welcome guest.  Half the audience has left, some shouting he’s an anti-semite. You wouldn’t get that at a Stop the War rally.