If how the railways run is a guide to the state of a nation, then it tells you something that Britain is in the middle of its biggest railway strike since 1994. Not coincidentally, that was the year the national rail network was privatized by the Conservative government of Prime Minister John Major.
A labor dispute has been simmering for nearly a year on the routes managed by Southern, a train operator that, as the name suggests, runs crucial commuter services between London and the South Coast. In December, the crisis escalated when around 1,000 train drivers joined in a strike action against Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway, whose network also includes the Gatwick Express airport line.… Seguir leyendo »
The terrorists are winning. Why pretend otherwise? The crimes of Ankara and Berlin – where families sharing festive joy were deliberately targeted and murdered – should rightly shock and appal. Such atrocities are harbingers. Millions have now watched Mevlut Mert Altıntas, an off-duty police officer who murdered Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, ranting at the camera, a slick and staged political broadcast disseminated to a mass audience. Berlin’s interior senator Andreas Geisel strikes a defiant note. “This is a horrific event,” he says. “But it won’t change the way we live life here in Berlin.” Berlin will indeed prove more resilient to this kind of atrocity than many European cities, but we are deluding ourselves if we pretend terrorism has not already dramatically changed our way of life.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s almost a political cliche. If a country is battered by economic disaster, its ever poorer citizens will turn in droves to the crude xenophobia of the populist right. A lack of secure jobs and affordable homes, plummeting living standards: Johnny Foreigner proves an all-too-convenient scapegoat. This is a script that seems to have been followed to the letter in austerity Britain. Anti-establishment fury has been funnelled into an anti-immigration party led by an ex-City broker who wants to stick it to the man by privatising public services, slashing taxes on the rich, and attacking hard-won British workers’ rights. But, as Spain shows us, it doesn’t have to be this way.… Seguir leyendo »
As CNN’s Diana Magnay reported on the bombs falling on Palestinian heads from Sderot on the Israel-Gaza border last week, a crowd of Israelis whooped and cheered. Watching the missiles and explosions light up the sky was, Magnay declared on-air, “an astonishing, macabre and awful thing”, but these locals had a different slant. “Israelis on hill above Sderot cheer as bombs land on #gaza;” she tweeted after the broadcast ended, “threaten to ‘destroy our car if I say a word wrong’. Scum.” Twenty minutes later, the tweet had been deleted, and CNN later reassigned its reporter to Moscow – actions which, in the social media age, guarantee a story goes viral.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s called the pottery store rule: «you break it, you own it». But it doesn’t just apply to pots and mugs, but to nations. In the build-up to the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, it was invoked by Colin Powell, then US secretary of state. «You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people,» he reportedly told George W Bush. «You will own all their hopes, aspirations and problems.» But while many of these military interventions have left nations shattered, western governments have resembled the customer who walks away whistling, hoping no one has noticed the mess left behind.… Seguir leyendo »