“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for September 2008

Far Right Yet Again.

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If there is one constant in politics from the 1930s, it is how we all (and I include myself) tend to underestimate the Far Right.

We often think “how can anyone vote for those xenophobic cranks ?” or “who would trust those dressed up knuckle scrapers ?”, yet people do and the appalling results from Austria bear that out, the Indy reports:

“The Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache, gained more than 18 per cent of the vote – nearly doubling its share of support – after running a vitriolic campaign against “foreign criminals” and “asylum cheats” and pledging to take Austria out of the EU.

A second right-wing party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, headed by the veteran far-right populist Jörg Haider upped its support from 4 to 11.5 per cent. A spokesman for Mr Haider’s party described the result as a ” historic success” yesterday. “It will completely change the political landscape in Austria,” he said.

A triumphant Mr Haider went on Austrian television last night and insisted that both right-wing parties should now work together. “Voters now expect us to do something for Austria. They do not want us steeped in animosity and fighting each other,” he said. Mr Haider broke with the Freedom Party in 2005 after a row and subsequently formed his breakaway Alliance.

The combined vote of both rightist parties equalled that obtained by Austria’s Social Democrats, who picked up just over 29 per cent of the vote. The conservatives won some 26 per cent. However, final results are not expected to be known until the beginning of October, after postal ballots have all been counted. “

Written by modernityblog

29/09/2008 at 01:34

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John Wight: Bang To Rights.

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Fresh is Grass has a superb post on the Kitsch British anti-imperialism and John Wight’s strange interpretation of the US/Israel relationship:

“John Wight is prone to compare Israel to various fearsome beasts. The “hydra-headed monster” was a good one. This time Israel is a “vicious bulldog” towing its master along on its leash. Idley contemplating the sort of creature John Wight reminds me of has been quite interesting.”

Read the rest.

Written by modernityblog

28/09/2008 at 01:09

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More Internationalism, Viva!

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Surprisingly in the age of globalisation I find that a lot of blogs are rather parochial and overtly concerned with national matters, so it was a pleasant surprise when I found out that Andrew Coates, renowned internationalist and Francophile, had started up Tendance Coatesy.

Andrew is a fervent secularist, is very knowledgeable on France and has a good sense of humour.

Viva la Revolution at Tendance Coatesy.

I am not much for national anthems, but topically I have a certain weakness for La Marseillaise. It is a very nice tune and the history behind the music is intriguing, according to Internet Modern History Sourcebook:

“La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, was composed in one night during the French Revolution (April 24, 1792) by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, a captain of the engineers and amateur musician stationed in Strasbourg in 1792. It was played at a patriotic banquet at Marseilles, and printed copies were given to the revolutionary forces then marching on Paris. They entered Paris singing this song, and to it they marched to the Tuileries on August 10th.

Ironically, Rouget de Lisle was himself a royalist and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new constitution. He was imprisoned and barely escaped the guillotine.. Originally entitled Chant de guerre de l’armeé du Rhin (War Song of the Army of the Rhine), the anthem became called La Marseillaise because of its popularity with volunteer army units from Marseilles.”

Anyways, this is the version that I like:

Update 2: Andrew suggests this site,

I preferred the Russian version of Le Chant des Partisans, just sounds a bit more nature:

Written by modernityblog

24/09/2008 at 19:36

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Engage Down and Up, Again.

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The Engage web site is an indispensable resource for antiracists, antifascists and those interested in an intelligent discussion on the problems of antisemitism.

Sadly, it is down at the moment due to a server problem. Regular readers shouldn’t worry, or think that it has been attacked as with Harry’s Place, it hasn’t.

Once the particular server problem is resolved Engage will resume service.

They are up again.

Written by modernityblog

23/09/2008 at 22:32

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Palin and the Moose?

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I can’t comment much on the American Presidental election, but Lefthawk’s use of a cartoon made me laugh.

Unrelated, but I wish that WordPress would create a widget to copy Blogger’s BlogList thingie. It is smart and handy, come on WP, more widgets.

Written by modernityblog

22/09/2008 at 03:03

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What About Ethiopia?

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According to reports, the Ethiopian government is deliberately manipulating food aid to use against separatist rebels in the Ogaden region, which results in mass starvation and famine, The Times has more details:

“Ethiopia has been accused of deliberately underestimating the scale of a deadly drought facing millions of its people, some of whom are being deprived of emergency food aid by the country’s military.

The humanitarian crisis, caused by three years of failed rains, currently affects about 4.6 million people, though the official number could jump to as high as 6.7 million this week.

United Nations agencies say that the real number at risk is above 8 million, an estimate disputed hotly by Addis Ababa, which is insisting on publishing a much lower figure.

“The figure has risen very substantially, maybe even doubled,” said Sir John Holmes, the UN’s emergency relief co-ordinator, who visited Ethiopia earlier this month. “Any government doesn’t want to be perceived as always in the position of receiving aid.”

Nomadic tribes there are resorting to eating dead leaves and cactus fruit to survive the worst drought since the famines of 1984-85, when an estimated one million Ethiopians died.

A twenty-mile trek on foot into the bush revealed mediaeval mud-hut villages, where ethnic Somali herdsmen say that their children have died after eating poisonous buds from trees, for lack of anything else to eat. Others say that they depend on camel milk and meat because cattle, sheep and goats have perished in their thousands.

“I am ill and hungry,” said one man, removing his shirt to reveal his rib cage visible through taut skin. “Because of the drought we have nothing to eat. The only people who receive food are the military forces.”

The UN has raised about 60 per cent of $325 million (£181 million) it is seeking in emergency relief for Ethiopia and says that it is suffering a shortfall of about 300,000 tonnes of aid.

The WFP has told donors that it blames Ethiopia’s “delays in recognising the extent of need” for causing the rapid depletion of existing food stocks. But a Channel 4 News investigation tonight claims that the army has withheld food from villages in the Ogaden deliberately as part of a “scorched earth” policy against separatist rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)

Written by modernityblog

21/09/2008 at 02:28

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Naughtie but Nice and What a Palin?

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James Naughtie presents an informative series called American Dreams on BBC World Service, Part One’s audio is here at WMV or Real Audio.

It starkly contrasts with the coverage of Sarah Palin’s hacked Yahoo account at Gawkers, which leads to valleywag’s story on Did Sarah Palin destroy Yahoo Mail evidence? and that brought me to an amusing story on Wonkette, Todd Palin Interview Sharply Lowers World’s Collective IQ

Personally, I thought Naughtie did a better job of portraying the American people.

Written by modernityblog

18/09/2008 at 03:37

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