Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 12:17:31 AM EST
The Guardian: Religion does more harm than good - poll

More people in Britain think religion causes harm than believe it does good, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. It shows that an overwhelming majority see religion as a cause of division and tension - greatly outnumbering the smaller majority who also believe that it can be a force for good.

The poll also reveals that non-believers outnumber believers in Britain by almost two to one. It paints a picture of a sceptical nation with massive doubts about the effect religion has on society: 82% of those questioned say they see religion as a cause of division and tension between people. Only 16% disagree. The findings are at odds with attempts by some religious leaders to define the country as one made up of many faith communities.

(bolding mine)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 01:39:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The findings are at odds with attempts by some religious leaders to define the country as one made up of many faith communities.

this comes from the last census where a significant portion claimed they were christian. Which is probably true, in terms of being culturally christian. As I accept that I am culturally christian myself despite being avowedly atheist, I can see where that comes from. If you've not really got strong feelings either way, most people probably say christian rather than the more emphatic atheist.

I suspect the religionists understand that, but it's too attractive a statistic to ignore.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 11:26:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian Racism, recruitment and how the BNP believes it is just 'one crisis away from power'

Then I heard a recording of a speech Nick Griffin gave to a closed conference of white supremacists in New Orleans last year. In it he spelled out the party's strategy - and made clear that winning votes is not an end in itself.

After his almost-casual denigration of British Muslims - "the most appalling, insufferable people to have to live with" - Griffin revealed his belief that a period of prolonged recession was certain to engulf the developed world as a result of fuel shortages and global warming. This, he said, would happen soon but it would not be a disaster, rather "a once-in-200-years opportunity".

Far-right parties needed to prepare for this moment of crisis by ensuring that enough people were aware of their policies and had discovered that they were "not crazy-eyed lunatics", he said. If people had considered voting for the BNP, he argued, they would be more likely to turn to the party during a time of immense crisis.

"It will be the beginning of an age of scarcity, an age in which a well-organised nationalist party could really make an impact. And that's the key word - organised. In Britain, we are almost there: we have got this solid 5% block [of support]. Other radical movements in the past, far left or far right, whatever, a couple of years before a crisis have had far less than 5%, so as far as I am concerned, that is fairly satisfactory."

The Guardian ran several excellent pieces on the BNP this week.  You should check them out.  The radical right flourishes in environment of economic depravation, because it is much easier to blame the "other" that inamimate forces and economic ideology.  People overestimate the neo-nazi threat from Germany because of history, but ignore groups like the BNP and Le Pen.  I think that the Germans (at least in the old West Germany) have too much historical guilt to get wrapped up with fascists.  But France and the UK?  

It's the ones wearing bowties not black boots that you have to worry about.  They make the whole thing look respectable.  And they feed on economic dislocation.  Like the 1930's.  Like looks to be coming in our own time if we don't address the energy issues facing us.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 02:03:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooona King (ex-Labour MP defeated by G Galloway) made a good point on Radio 4's Any questions that many people who vote for the BNP aren't racists, but are responding to local issues that the BNP use as wedge issues. And very often it is housing on which all of the major parties are weak.

Equally, Johann Hari, on thesame prog, made the point that populist tabloids that go large on issues like immigration and the demonisation of asylum seekers create an enabling climate in which the BNP can thrive.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 11:22:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, the local newsletter of the Lib Dems in my Ward also demonises immigrants and asylum-seeker.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 01:50:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm, why am I not surprised ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 02:01:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I exaggerate (they are casual references almost in passing, but it is the fact that it can be so casual that scares me). It is a definite disappointment.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 02:04:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A Paris court has sentenced Giuliano Ferrara, Great Terrible Architect of Unethical Journalism, to pay a fine of 25,000 euros for having pilfered and published an article from Le Monde written by Antonio Tabucchi, perfidious debunker of Grand Master Silvio.

After stealing his article, Mr. Ferarra, editor of the rightwing political pamphlet, il Foglio, raved against Tabucchi on national prime time. Mr. Ferrara accused Tabucchi of being the moral instigator of  his coming assassination.  Mr. Ferrara continues to enjoy good health despite bouts of bulimia.

It's too bad Antonio Tabucchi's good name continues to be associated with that of Mr. Ferrara.

The sum will not significantly reduce the weight of Mr. Ferrara's Parmalat suitcases.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 02:42:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]

US `has cut too many troops in Europe'

The outgoing head of US forces in Europe says American troop reductions on the continent have gone too far and that plans to reduce numbers further should be re-evaluated.

US troop numbers in Europe have dropped sharply since the height of the cold war. From 315,000 personnel in the late 1980s, numbers have fallen to 100,000 and plans are in train to cut the numbers further, to roughly 70,000.

But in a television interview to be broadcast on Sunday, Marine General James Jones said he thought the drawdowns had gone too far - and that he had officially reported his views to the Pentagon.


He said the US needed troops in Europe partly so that they could be quickly deployed in trouble-spots in Africa and elsewhere. "I think the emergence of Africa as a strategic reality is inevitable and we're going to need forward-based troops, special operations, marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors to be in the right proportion," he said. The Pentagon had proposed the creation of a new Africa Command to reflect this view, US officials said.


The experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, into which many European-based US troops have been rotated, has raised questions about whether the Rumsfeld vision of a high-tech military with few boots on the ground fits the type of low-intensity conflicts that the US military is now largely fighting.

I could understand US troops welcomed to help defend Europe. But as forward bases to intervene in other countries?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 04:25:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Airstrip One revisited?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 04:30:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that it might do the US some good to debate the utility of such an over-mighty military. Theirs is an incredibly militarised society and I don't think it is to their benefit.

Too much of their budget is swallowed by the Pentagon, something like half of the discretionary govt spending is on the military. That cannot be healthy as it distorts every other priority. And what is it all for ? Might does not make right and they've twice had demonstrated that there are limits to what an aggressive and resisted occupation can achieve in securing assets.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 11:39:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US has been running a War economy since 1940.  

The War economy has been very successful at bringing prosperity, of a sort, to a large percentage of the population here.  Add the benefits of cheap oil and controling 'The Currency of Choice,' both supported and a result of the military machine, to get a nice little Self-Organized System.  Deeply woven into every aspect of American life only a massive disaster - such as World War One did to the British Empire - could start to affect some change.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 12:01:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]

BP under pressure on Kovykta

TNK-BP, the Anglo-Russian oil joint venture, is bracing itself for a full investigation within weeks into its licence agreement for a giant Siberian gasfield as the Kremlin tightens its grip on the country's energy resources.

Russia has used environmental audits and regulatory threats to restore state dominance over oil and gas supplies. This week saw Gazprom take a controlling stake in Royal Dutch Shell's Sakhalin-2 project after months of pressure.

People familiar with the situation said Gazprom's negotiations with TNK-BP were likely to follow a similar pattern to Shell's prolonged battle with state officials and the Russian gas monopoly.

TNK-BP has already offered Gazprom majority control over the Kovykta gasfield, but has insisted that Gazprom should pay for its stake with cash or assets.

Russian authorities have already stepped up pressure on TNK-BP, accusing it of breaking a licence agreement on production levels. The prospect of losing the licence for Kovykta is likely to soften TNK-BP's negotiating position.

Gazprom and TNK-BP have been talking about the joint development of the project for years but have not reached an agreement. Although TNK-BP has a licence to develop the field, expected to supply gas to Asian countries, it cannot do so without Gazprom agreeing to build an export pipeline for the field.

Gazprom, which has a mono-poly over the pipeline network and gas exports, has been stalling negotiations for months. It says it has other priorities.

A deal with Gazprom was required from the start, so BP's position is quite weak in any case, and now they are stuck because, as time has passed, the lack of agreement is making them breach their license.

So I think that this article is actually an attempt to pain the Russians as bullies in the Sakhalin context and try to give BP a bit more leverage. I doubt it'll work, though.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 04:36:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
    That's actually more a response to yesterday's Gazprom/Shell post, but still. Compare the two passages from FT article referred yesterday by Jerome:

The price paid by Gazprom for its control - 50 per cent plus one share - was much higher than many analysts expected. "It is a fair price and it should reduce the shouting about expropriation [of assets]," said Al Breach, chief strategist at UBS Russia.
    In return for gaining control in Sakhalin, Russia approved an increased budget for the project and effectively dropped a series of environmental complaints against it, suggesting these had been little more than an negotiating tactic.

and IHT:

The price Gazprom paid was "below market rate," Alex Kormshchikov, an oil and gas industry analyst at UralSib, said by telephone Thursday.

Analysts said the price valued Sakhalin 2 reserves at less than $4 a barrel of oil equivalent, a benchmark in valuing oil and gas deals, compared to an average of $4.90 a barrel at large Russian oil companies like Lukoil or Rosneft.

Still, Shell's chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, said he welcomed the stability that an agreement implied, after a turbulent few months when a Russian regulator threatened to halt work on the pipeline, claiming illegal logging and damage to salmon streams.

So, FT emphasizes risk reduction, while IHT found an analyst looking at price only. Tell me more about selectivity in reporting!

by Sargon on Sat Dec 23rd, 2006 at 09:32:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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