Demented Tony Blair recites the Saudis’ creed in his latest speech
World View: The former prime minister’s intervention on radical Islam was aimed at all the wrong targets
PATRICK COCKBURN Sunday 27 April 2014
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the core group of al-Qa’ida, may well chortle in disbelief if he reads a translation of Tony Blair’s latest speech on the Middle East delivered last week. If Blair’s thoughts are used as a guide to action, then the main beneficiaries will be al-Qa’ida-type jihadist movements. Overall, his speech is so bizarre in its assertions that it should forever rule him out as a serious commentator on the Middle East. Reading it, I was reminded of a diplomat in Joseph Conrad’s Secret Agent called Mr Vladimir who fancies himself an expert on revolutionaries: “He confounded causes with effects; the most distinguished propagandists with impulsive bomb throwers; assumed organisation where in the nature of things it could not exist.”
How social media gives new voice to Brazil’s protests
Street protests continue to rock Brazil and, frustrated by mainstream media coverage, a new group of citizen journalists is using digital tools to tell a different side of the story
The Observer, Sunday 27 April 2014
When the battered body of a young Brazilian professional dancer, Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, was found in the Pavão-Pavãozinho favela in Rio de Janeiro, local people refused to believe the police statement – that his injuries were “compatible with a death caused by a fall”. Instead, many residents of the community – which is located only a mile or so from Copacabana beach, one of the main backdrops to global coverage of the World Cup – took to the streets to express their anger. They set fire to barricades and even exchanged gunfire with the police, during which one man was killed.
Pavão-Pavãozinho was one of dozens of favelas that have been subjected to a police “pacification” programme, designed to seize back control of the areas from drug traffickers and make them safer for the tournament and the 2016 Olympics. The family of Pereira, who was known as DG, believe that the police mistook him for a drug trafficker and beat him to death.
The French economist forcing America to wake up to the end of The Dream
Out of America: Thomas Piketty’s tome which skewers the idea that anyone who works hard can make it in the US seems to have hit a nerve
RUPERT CORNWELL Sunday 27 April 2014
This spring America belongs to a Frenchman. Not some world-weary actor, voluble television chef or suave and elegant wine-maker, representatives of trades that on this side of the Atlantic are seen as France’s prime contributions to civilisation. No, the Anglo-Saxon superpower is in thrall to a tousled, left-leaning, Parisian economist, aged 42, named Thomas Piketty, and his doorstop of a tome on income distribution in the western world.
Capital In The Twenty-First Century, all 685 pages of it, is the No 1 best-seller on Amazon – apparently the first time that anything published by the venerable Harvard University Press has attained such dizzying celebrity. No self-regarding dinner party in Washington or New York is worth its salt without a discussion of it. Last Friday, came the ultimate accolade of a multiple coronation on the op-ed page of The New York Times.
The Downfall of Rome: Can a New Mayor Stop the City’s Decline?
Pilgrims from around the world are expected in Rome this weekend for the canonization of two former popes. They will find an Italian capital that is increasingly squalid and close to bankruptcy. The city’s new mayor is hoping he can turn it around.
By Walter Mayr in Rome
The Leonardo Express rumbles from Rome’s airport right to the city center. After 32 minutes, it arrives at its final destination, Termini, the city’s central station. An ad in a pedestrian tunnel at the station reads, “Roma Termini — a Place to Live.” Some have taken the message quite literally.
It’s 11:10 p.m. Stranded people from around the world are wrapped up in their sleeping bags as they lay in front of the exit on the north side of the station. On some nights, up to a hundred homeless huddle together like freezing people in front of a fire. Many of those who sleep here are African refugees. During the daytime, Roma from Romania represent the majority in and around the station. Left largely unchecked by the local authorities, they aggresively try to squeeze money out of foreign tourists.
North Korea says army must develop to be able to beat U.S.
BY NICK MACFIE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged the army to develop to ensure it wins any confrontation with the United States, the reclusive country’s news agency said on Sunday, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama warned the North of its military might.
Kim led a meeting of the Central Military Commission and “set forth important tasks for further developing the Korean People’s Army and ways to do so”, KCNA news agency said.
“He stressed the need to enhance the function and role of the political organs of the army if it is to preserve the proud history and tradition of being the army of the party, win one victory after another in the confrontation with the U.S. and creditably perform the mission as a shock force and standard-bearer in building a thriving nation.”
Inside India’s ‘Hotel Death’
By Moni Basu, CNN
A 10-hour journey on Indian roads can be difficult and this one, fueled by faith, was more so.
Dinesh Chandra Mishra packed moth-eaten woolen blankets for the trip along with muslin and cotton quilts that had once been crisp and white. He also brought a single-burner kerosene stove, kitchen utensils and a rough estimation of clothes — though he could not possibly calculate how long he would be away from home.
He spent one-fourth of his monthly schoolteacher’s pension to hire the car that carried him and his belongings as well as his mother, sister and ailing father from their village of Gopalganj to Varanasi.