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UK Startling Statistics

In a column in today’s Guardian by Polly Toynbee, on what would happen if a natural disaster hit the UK: Poor London victims would also have nothing more than the clothes they stood in. Nationally 27% of people have no savings, not one penny; 25% of the poorest have at […]

EU Politics

He’s probably right, but aren’t we the Presidency?

Gordon Brown has today launched a very thinly veiled attack on the European Commission’s trade deal with China on textiles in an article in the FT – summary here. His basic stance is towards those that have appealed for quotas is tough – protectionism is not going to save inefficient […]

EU Politics

What’s going on in Germany?

It’s the economy, stupid. Or this election is stupid. I can’t make up my mind. After 10 days away, I’m back in touch with the world and the level of interest in the German election, even in the UK media, seems to be growing. A stinging attack on Gerhard Schroeder […]

EU Politics

Off to Italy, blog will be quiet

I am leaving London on Wednesday, heading for my yearly late-summer visit to the island of Ventotene. This will be the 6th time I’ll be going to the island, and the last time I’ll be there with any formal JEF responsibility. But it’s always a pleasure to spend time on […]

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Cost offsetting & climate change

A really ingenious suggestion at bowblog has made me think once more about cost-offsetting and climate change. The idea would be to put a small levy on purchases made using eBay to account for the distance that goods would have to be shipped. Read the post here. It has made […]

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The challenges to globalisation

There’s a very lucid and internally coherent column in today’s Guardian from Larry Elliott entitled Edwardian Summer, drawing parallels between today’s economic stuggles (oil prices, flexiblility, worker backlash etc.) and the period pre-1914, the first era of globalisation. You have to take what Elliott says with a pinch of salt […]

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The couch potato, the chav, and the Oxford English Dictionary

Apparently we should not use the term couch potato [Wikipedia definition] any more as this is giving the humble potato a bad image, according to the British Potato Council. Read more here. They are apparently mounting protests outside the offices of Oxford University Press – printers of the Oxford English […]

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Britain’s Dire Houses

An Englishman’s home is his castle. So goes the old phrase anyway. In truth, it’s probably more likely to be a nasty, damp, poorly maintained house on a anodyne street in some suburban area. Oh, and the house will cost a fortune to buy or rent, the windows will let […]

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Science in Kansas

It’s not usual for me to post any US politics news here, but this is a funny way to present the religious fervour in Kansas, thanks to AMERICAblog. The state of Kansas has been determined to press ahead with plans to teach a religious approach to science: In honor of […]

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Schüssel’s Reactionary Carrot

So is this the price we have to pay to keep the European Constitution alive: to slow down the pace of enlargement, as suggested by Austrian Prime Minister Wolfgang Schussel in today’s FAZ, reported by EUObserver? I suppose that such comments from a centre-right leader of a country in which […]

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iBook in the fridge

How do you breathe new life into an old Apple iBook? Put it in the fridge! Seriously, I was about to remove the memory from a 3 year-old and bashed-to-death iBook that had packed up a few months ago and thought ‘Ah, well, let’s see if it turns on’ and […]

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Politics in a field – Björkvik [UPDATED with photos – 15.08.2005]

Every country has its bizarre political traditions. The UK has more in the House of Commons than most countries have in total. But Sweden must have one of the sweetest and very old-fashioned political traditions – Goran Persson’s annual speeches at the Folkets Park in Björkvik, in the countryside somewhere […]