RSS

Category Archives: Europe

Who killed the prime minister? The unsolved murder that still haunts Sweden

On the last night of February 1986, the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme and his wife, Lisbet, were strolling home through downtown Stockholm. They had taken an impromptu trip to the cinema and decided, as they often did, not to bring bodyguards. Palme made a point of living as much as possible like an ordinary person; he did not want the fact that he was running the country to come between him and his countrymen. “You saw him in the streets all the time,” says the Swedish ethnologist Jonas Engman. “You could speak to him. There was an intimacy to it.”

At 11.21pm, as the couple walked down Sveavägen, one of Stockholm’s busiest streets, a tall man in a dark coat walked up behind them. The man put one hand on Palme’s shoulder, and with his other hand fired a single round from a gun into the prime minister’s back. He grazed Lisbet with a second bullet before fleeing up a flight of 89 steps that links the main street with a parallel road above.

It was a Friday, and Sveavägen was packed with people ambling between bars and restaurants. Bystanders rushed to try to revive Palme, who now lay on the pavement in an expanding pool of blood. Six minutes later, he was taken to the nearest hospital, where, shortly after midnight, he was officially declared dead. It was later determined that the bullet had severed his spinal cord and that he had died before hitting the ground.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/may/16/olof-palme-sweden-prime-minister-unsolved-murder-new-evidence

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 7, 2019 in Europe, Reportages

 

Tags:

Shocked by the rise of the right? Then you weren’t paying attention

The morning after both Donald Trump’s victory and the Brexit referendum, when a mood of paralysing shock and grief overcame progressives and liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, the two most common refrains I heard were: “I don’t recognise my country any more,” and “I feel like I’ve woken up in a different country.” This period of collective disorientation was promptly joined by oppositional activity, if not activism. People who had never marched before took to the streets; those who had not donated before gave; people who had not been paying attention became engaged. Many continue.

Almost three years later the Brexit party, led by Nigel Farage, is predicted to top the poll in European parliament elections in which the far right will make significant advances across the continent; Theresa May’s imminent downfall could hand the premiership to Boris Johnson; Trump’s re-election in 2020 is a distinct possibility, with Democratic strategists this week predicting only a narrow electoral college victory against him. “Democrats do not walk into the 2020 election with the same enthusiasm advantage they had in the 2018 election,” said Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, the largest Democratic political action committee.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/24/country-racist-elections-liberals-anti-racism-movement

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

The Eagle, the Bear and the Dragon

Once upon a time, deep into the night in selected campfires across the deserts of Southwest Asia, I used to tell a fable about the eagle, the bear and the dragon — much to the amusement of my Arab and Persian interlocutors.

It was about how, in the young 21st century, the eagle, the bear and the dragon had taken their (furry) gloves off and engaged in what turned out to be Cold War 2.0.

As we approach the end of the second decade of this already incandescent century, perhaps it’s fruitful to upgrade the fable. With all due respect to Jean de la Fontaine, excuse me while I kiss the (desert) sky again. – Advertisement –

Long gone are the days when a frustrated bear repeatedly offered to cooperate with the eagle and its minions on a burning question: nuclear missiles.

The bear repeatedly argued that the deployment of interceptor missiles and radars in that land of the blind leading the blind — Europe — was a threat. The eagle repeatedly argued that this is to protect us from those rogue Persians.

Now the eagle — claiming the dragon is getting an easy ride — has torn down every treaty in sight and is bent on deploying nuclear missiles in selected eastern parts of the land of the blind leading the blind, essentially targeting the bear.

All That Glitters is Silk

Roughly two decades after what top bear Putin defined as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,” he proposed a form of USSR light; a political/economic body called the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/The-Eagle-the-Bear-and-th-by-Pepe-Escobar-Aircraft_America_Bear_Carrier-190507-197.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Asia, Europe, North America

 

Tags: , ,

The Uncanny Power of Greta Thunberg’s Climate-Change Rhetoric

During the week of Easter, Britain enjoyed—if that is the right word—a break from the intricate torment of Brexit. The country’s politicians disappeared on vacation and, in their absence, genuine public problems, the kinds of things that should be occupying their attention, rushed into view. In Northern Ireland, where political violence is worsening sharply, a twenty-nine-year-old journalist and L.G.B.T. campaigner named Lyra McKee was shot and killed while reporting on a riot in Londonderry. In London, thousands of climate-change protesters blocked Waterloo Bridge, over the River Thames, and Oxford Circus, in the West End, affixing themselves to the undersides of trucks and to a pink boat named for Berta Cáceres, an environmental activist and indigenous leader, who was murdered in Honduras. Slightly more than a thousand Extinction Rebellion activists, between the ages of nineteen and seventy-four, were arrested in eight days. On Easter Monday, a crowd performed a mass die-in at the Natural History Museum, under the skeleton of a blue whale. In a country whose politics have been entirely consumed by the maddening minutiae of leaving the European Union, it was cathartic to see citizens demanding action for a greater cause. In a video message, Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, compared the civil disobedience in London to the civil-rights movement of the sixties and the suffragettes of a century ago. “It is not the first time in history we have seen angry people take to the streets when the injustice has been great enough,” she said.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-uncanny-power-of-greta-thunbergs-climate-change-rhetoric

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 26, 2019 in Europe

 

Tags: ,

Zelenskiy’s election proves Ukraine is a healthy democracy. Putin hates that

On the night of Ukraine’s presidential election last weekend, Vladimir Putin did not pick up his phone to congratulate the winner. Nor has he since. Putin is in waiting mode. Perhaps that’s because what Ukraine has achieved – a free and fair, genuinely pluralistic election, and the prospect of a democratic transfer of power – is something the Russian president has trouble getting to grips with in his own country.

But surely nothing will have struck Putin more than the words Ukraine’s new president-elect, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, uttered on the night of his victory: “To all countries of the post-Soviet Union: look at us. Anything is possible!” That particular call for change, and for an overhaul of old power structures, even beyond Ukraine, will not have gone down well in the Kremlin.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/zelenskiy-ukraine-putin-russian

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 26, 2019 in Europe

 

Tags:

Why is the left blinkered to claims about Assange and sexual assault?

In case you’ve forgotten, or have been confused by politicians who failed to mention it, let me remind you why I believe Julian Assange was in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years before he was ejected and arrested last week. I don’t believe it was for being a journalist or a truth-teller to power, and it wasn’t for releasing evidence of America’s war crimes. He was in the embassy because, in 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant so that he might answer allegations of sexual assault and rape. Assange would not accept extradition, jumped bail in the UK and absconded.

So it was curious to hear Diane Abbott, when answering questions about Labour’s enthusiastic objection to Assange’s possible extradition to the US to face charges of involvement in a computer-hacking conspiracy, say those sexual assault charges were “never brought”. The allegations were made, she generously conceded, but the charges were never brought.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/15/left-blinkered-claims-julian-assange-sexual-assault

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Europe

 

Tags: , ,

You Don’t Have to Like Julian Assange to Defend Him

You do not have to spend a long time in a room with Julian Assange to realize that he will be difficult. It takes a little longer, though, to realize just how difficult dealing with him can be. This was the lesson I learned in 2010, working first with Assange, and then for him at WikiLeaks, as we published tranche after tranche of bombshell material, leaked by Chelsea Manning.

That was the year Assange—and the whistle-blowing website he runs—came to the world’s attention. First it published the dynamite “Collateral Murder” video, showing an attack on a group of people, including two Reuters journalists, by American military helicopters in Iraq.

Though few knew it at the time, this was the first in a series of ever larger and more dramatic leaks of classified documents, shedding unprecedented light on how the United States conducted its wars, its diplomacy, and its detentions: the Afghan and Iraq War logs, the American diplomatic cables, and the Guantánamo Bay files. These were published in partnership with some of the world’s biggest news outlets, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and Le Monde. These organizations quickly learned Assange was not the kind of person they were used to dealing with.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/julian-assange-arrested-journalists-defend/586936/

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Europe, North America

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Julian Assange’s Arrest Should Worry Anyone Who Cares About Freedom of the Press

Julian Assange’s strange seven-year residence in Ecuador’s London embassy has ended, and Assange, thanks to the American president he helped elect, is now in British custody facing a US extradition request. The question now is what the freshly unsealed Trump Justice Department indictment against him means, and doesn’t mean—for Assange, for the British courts, which must decide whether to hand him over, and for American press freedom.

Compared with the worst that Assange and his supporters have always feared—black-hooded rendition, indictment under the Espionage Act, the death penalty—the indictment, filed under seal in 2017, may seem like good news. It’s brief—six pages. He is accused of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to hack one password on a classified government database. There’s no criminal allegation of spying, nothing touching Russia or the DNC, no broader list of WikiLeaks co-conspirators. As for punishment, while hacking a government password is a felony, the charge carries a maximum prison term of five years—less time than Assange’s voluntary confinement in his diplomatic London quarters.

https://www.thenation.com/article/julian-assange-arrest-free-press/

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Europe, North America

 

Tags: , , , ,

Julian Assange Suffered Severe Psychological and Physical Harm in Ecuadorian Embassy, Doctors Say

An American doctor who conducted several medical and mental health evaluations of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside Ecuador’s Embassy in London over the last two years says that she believes she was spied on and that the confidentiality of her doctor-patient relationship with Assange was violated.

Dr. Sondra Crosby, an associate professor of medicine and public health at Boston University and an expert on the physical and psychological impact of torture, has evaluated detainees held by the United States, including at its prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. She quietly began meeting with and evaluating Assange in 2017 inside the embassy where he had sought refuge.

During her last session with Assange on February 23, Crosby says that her confidential medical notes were removed when she briefly left the embassy to get food to bring back to Assange who, she wrote, “had not eaten.” The notes were taken from where she had been evaluating Assange and only later discovered in another space used by the embassy’s surveillance staff.

https://theintercept.com/2019/04/15/julian-assange-health-medical-care/

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 16, 2019 in Europe, South America

 

Tags: , , ,

Brexit has shown up the key flaw in our representative democracy—MPs don’t represent the people

The Brexit referendum poses a double challenge to parliamentary democracy. First, how to reconcile the brute fact of a majoritarian plebiscitary decision with the complex process of negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU. Rival claims to speak for “the people” during this ongoing process—from the government, parliamentarians and unelected Brexiters—have made this question acute. Second, though, there is the problem of how to bridge the divisions between different sections of the voting public that the referendum revealed and reinforced. The problem our parliamentary democracy struggles with is that these divisions cut across traditional party divides.

These divisions include those between generational cohorts—older voters were much more likely to back Brexit than younger voters—and educational cohorts—voters who had been to university were much more likely to back Remain than those who had not. Left/right politics does not capture either the generational or the educational divide. There is no conventional party of the university educated nor a party for the old. Although Labour does its best to be the former and the Tories the latter, neither can afford to present itself in those terms. Moreover, parliament is made up overwhelmingly of university-educated and middle-aged or older representatives. So, the UK’s political institutions stand on one side of these divides rather than straddling them. Who represents the less educated? Who represents the young?

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/what-challenges-does-brexit-pose-to-parliamentary-democracy

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 8, 2019 in Europe

 

Tags: