Monthly Archives: August 2009

I am back at my desk. Nothing much has changed. The weather is still mediocre. The buskers outside my office window are still infuriating me by playing the same snatch of Mozart, a hundred times a day. I now hate Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Still, at least, the world’s leaders have followed my wishes and not unleashed any major wars during my summer holiday.

Of course, I kept reading the newspapers and the internet while I was away – addictions are not kicked that easily. So, in the absence of small wars. what have been the major world events over the last three weeks? The Japanese have finally got rid of the LDP. Afghanistan has had its election and Karzai seems to have won. But US and UK casualties are now running at levels that are threatening support for the war. Read more

I will be on holiday for the next three weeks – and will take a break from blogging. If war breaks out somewhere in the world, I will stagger to the nearest internet cafe and try to post something wise. Last August Russia invaded Georgia and I felt obliged to re-start the blog. So here’s hoping for a peaceful next three weeks that can safely pass without comment.

So Bill Clinton returns in triumph from North Korea, with two grateful female journalists for company on the flight home.

Naturally, there is lots of speculation about what lay behind the trip. Was the release of the imprisoned journalists really pre-arranged? Was Clinton’s mission purely humanitarian, or did he discuss other matters in his long meeting with Kim Jong-Il? Read more

Nothing stirs the blood of the British more than the idea of being unfairly arrested by foreigners. London’s mayor Boris Johnson has used his newspaper column to attack both the UK and the US governments over the extradition of a British computer hacker to the US. Read the piece – it’s both funny and thought-provoking.

Meanwhile, the Eurosceptic website, Open Europe, is railing against what it regards as the misuse of the European Arrest Warrant to persecute Brits. Read more

Pinn illustration

A writer who projects emotions on to the weather is guilty of the “pathetic fallacy”. But, at the risk of sounding both pathetic and fallacious, it was entirely appropriate that the sky darkened and the thunder cracked as I approached the office of the Latvian prime minister in Riga last week. The gloomy atmosphere reflected the dark mood in a small, embattled country of 2.2m people. While business headlines in the rest of the world speak of clearing skies and rays of sunshine, the Baltic states are still in the midst of a howling economic gale. Read more

Ever wondered how long it will take for the drug-related violence and chaos in Mexico to spill across into the US? According to some observers, it is already happening on quite a large scale. A Latin American politician recently pointed out to me that last year there were more drug-related kidnappings in Phoenix, Arizona, than in the whole of Colombia. I have checked the news reports and this factoid appears to be true.

According to some reports, the police in Phoenix are worried that the problem will sooner or later spread from the drug-dealing community into the population as a whole. Certainly once grannies start being nabbed on their way to the golf course, you can expect more of a fuss. Read more

Dispatch from Iran: Some Police Soften on Neda’s Day: Steve Clemons posts an email from an anonymous observer in The Washington Note. A protester describes trying to access the grave of the young woman who was killed during Iranian elections and the trouble that ensued.

Pressing Pyongyang On Rights: Roberta Cohen wonders whether a preoccupation with North Korean nukes is leading us to neglect human rights