Daily Archives: March 4, 2009

Tony Barber

So this is it! The adventure begins. Hillary Clinton has just arrived in Brussels on her first trip to Europe as US Secretary of State, and as of a few minutes ago I’ve become officially “embedded” as a blogger with the State Department press corps that’s travelling with her. I’m pretty self-conscious about this. These guys have just flown in with Clinton from Ramallah after several days’ hard going in Egypt, Israel and the West Bank. I, by contrast, have simply hopped on the Brussels Metro, strolled off after three stops and made my way to …

Whoops, I almost broke the rules. You see, for perfectly understandable security reasons, I’m not allowed to say where I am. I am, for practical purposes, nowhere. Nor can I identify the person who is at present briefing us on tomorrow’s agenda, except to refer to this person as a “senior US official”. This official is, for practical purposes, nobody. Read more

Tony Barber

Back in November I drew attention to the path-breaking research of the genealogists who had discovered that Barack Obama was 1 per cent Belgian. Now it seems Belgium’s contribution to the good of the world goes even further than that.

Two academic researchers, one Australian and one German, claim that a 16th-century English poem proves that the game of cricket originated not in England but, you’ve got it, in Belgium – specifically, in the northern, Dutch-speaking region of Flanders. The poem, attributed (perhaps erroneously) to John Skelton, a humanist writer in Henry VIII’s reign, contains the lines: Read more

Tony Barber

The European Parliament’s internal market committee voted this week for a strict ban on the sale and trading of seal products. The ban would cover not only meat and fur skins but certain types of hats, boots and gloves worn by skiers and motorcyclists, as well as products such as Omega-3 fatty acid supplements. There remains a question, however, about whether such a ban – if agreed to by European Union governments – would violate international trade rules.