Sunday, November 20, 2005

New home for Chandler

Due to my professional engagement and my general laziness, I unfortunately don't have enough time to run my own blog any longer.

Therefore I have decided to move into Will Porter's (mostly German language-) porterHaus blog.

Thanks Will.

The porterHaus lives under: porterhaus.blogspot.com

Monday, September 19, 2005

German general elections: more of the same

Well. Flying back from two weeks on the Maldives (brilliant) yesterday - I was reading the latest issue of the Economist which emphasized the need for change in Germany.

Yesterday's general elections however, have not brought any change. Even if Merkel's conservatives could secure a disappointing 1 percent victory - the outcome is still a stalemate.

Hence, nobody will be able to form a powerful coalition able to conduct decisive actions to liberalize Germany's rigid labor structures. Even a so called 'grand coalition' formed of the two major parties will probably lead to half-hearted compromise rather than to a policy of progressive change.

So, more of the same it is in Germany and one will see how long this country will bear these political configuration before calling for elections again.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Met Campaign against domestic violence

Read the following advertising by the MET to fight domestic violence, and think what is not right:


No - it's not the fact that the MET is fighting domestic violence. It's the fact that the MET is proud to be able to arrest men without any statement, without any evidence.

And why is it focussing on men only?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Don't blame Bush - Help!

While the Guardian fears that more than 10,000 people have become victims of hurricane Katrina, the media has concentrated all its resources on the disaster.

From accusations about underestimated climate changes onto mismanagement of the emergency itself - we have heard it all. Shocking images of looting mobs have made their way around the world - always mixed with a little bit of schadenfreude - because 'we always knew that this government' can only cause problems.

This way of media coverage, especially in Europe, isn't of any help for the people who are still in the city and the affected areas. It isn't of any help for those who are still fighting to survive and even those who have managed to get out - they probably have lost their existence.

in this situation - do we really need discussions on whether Bush underestimated the global warming or whether too many national guard soldiers have been deployed to Iraq? No, we certainly do not!

New Orleans and the southern states are experiencing one of the worst traumas a civilized society can experience. The society seems to be threatened by rioting zealots and help isn't working as expected. This city needs immediate help and focused planning in order to ease the immediate and long term pain for those who have lost their houses, jobs and loved ones.

This help can be provided indirectly by the international community, by means of money, international oil stocks and economic and logistic management to avoid price increases and shortages of required goods.

The urgent support, as medical assistance, food and shelter has to provided by the US government immediately - they have the resources to do so.

Even the most sophisticated emergency plan could not have prevented the civil unrest - that is not so much resulting from the disaster itself, but from the social tensions which are so inherent to many US major cities (And I have to say many British cities too). Let's not forget that many refused to leave the city - among them those who were hoping for looting and lawlessness. Let's not forget that the same people fired on rescue helicopters and busses who arrived after the disaster.

This is a problem but this is not to blame on the president and the national administration solely. The example of Giuliani's New York has shown how much of a difference a decisive urban strategy can make. And civil unrest could always been found in the recent history of the states.

So please - and this goes out to the European media - please stop to fall for ridiculous connections between the Bush administration and the disaster itself - those arguments are solely originating from a deep aversion against his presidency - not from scientific facts.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina: Blog reports from New Orleans

Well, what can we say. It's like the pictures from the tsunami but this time it hit an highly developed country with enormous recourses available - but the results are not less devastating.

New Orleans is an demonstration on how easily civil order and security can break down, a reminder on the importance and luxury of our daily life, that too often is taken for granted.

The Broken Windows blog reports from New Orleans and shows what the TV and the News cannot show - the feelings of despair and fear among those who are watching their friends, and those who are trapped inside the growing chaos.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Lord of the Rings star joins 24's CTU

Yep. It's probably mainstream rubbish, it's shallow, repeptative and fukkin bloody wicked! So - I like it. Big time.

And good news are to be announced since FOX announced that Sean Astin, previously known as a hobbit from LOTRs, will join Los Angeles CTU in the series' 5th installment. Unfortunately FOX isn't telling much about the plot - so we simply have to wait...

Sooooo mean.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Binge-Spin

Whatever the government wants to tell you - we Brits are not the only ones that have a nice old binge drinking problem.

The IHT online features an interesting article on our South Corean fellow drinkers:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/08/26/news/drink.php

Animal Rights Terrorists

Animal Rights activists might have a case when it comes to cosmetics.

But even that is debatable since cosmetic and medical evidence is often intertwined.

Saying that - there are no justifications whatsoever to applt violent measures and terrorism against operators and workers of animal research facilities.

It's not an easy business, and despite its importance not really appreciated in public.

IIn my opinion the government should apply the full power of the law against mindless zealots who have nothing better to do than sabotaging valuable research - aimed at saving lives and fightig deseases.

Further information:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,564-1748664,00.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/animalrights/0,11917,687263,00.html

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Davi Brent goes to Hollywood

Ricky Gervais aka Managament Guru David Brent is about to kick of his Hollywood career in a film named 'For Your Consideration'.

Word on the street is that he will play a producer having problems to get his film successfully throug to the awards.

Great news I say - Brentism will spread around the world and become the new school of everything.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Spin Doctors

As the International Herald Tribune announces, Bush and his allies are starting a pr campaign to boost support for the Iraq engagement.

Since there might be a need to do so in the US, this certainly is the case in the UK where support - despite the London bombings, is continuously decreasing.

It's unsure however, if Blair will be able to explain the good causes for the war to Britain's critical public and if not the mere attempt to do so might have negative drawbacks for his popularity.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

"Why buy a book when you can join a library."

R. Gervais

Saturday, August 20, 2005

V for Music

All the hype around the Live8 concert for a really crappy day of C-rated music. The real deal probably is the V festival - with a line up that leaves Glastonbury crying in shame:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/4166524.stm

No alternative to 'shoot to kill' practice

The unfortunate death of Jean Charles de Menezes has not highlighted, as many suggest in these days, the failure of the shoot to death policy employed by the police when it comes to stopping suicide bombers.

Rather it has shown how delicate and fragile the human decision making process works - especially situations with a high level of stress. Mistakes have been made because the human element failed to act in rational ways - and humans will continue to fail in those situations.

Granted, for the family and also the shocked public the de Menezes incident might be hard to believe - but it merely emphasizes how important it is to continue a high level intelligence operation to collect as much information as possible on potential terrorist threats.

It emphasizes that we cannot construct a perfect protection and that security always is an illusion. However, using this tragic case of human failure to build a case against the shoot to kill practice would be a major mistake.

Shoot to kill might be the only way to stop a person - determined to kill himself and others - from detonating a device in a crowded area. Certainly - it is the last resort, but without this option - what should we tell the police men who are pursuing a man who might have the power to kill them at will? Why should we care about protection at all?

So whom to blame for the de Menezes death? The officers that fired the bullet? Not if they really believed that Menezes was a suicide bomber. The intelligent officers who provided the wrong information? No - because the same argument applies for them. The police, who issued the shoot to kill order in general? Certainly not!

So whom - in my opinion there is only one answer - the terrorists who attacked and tried to attack London.

Guardian: Police rethink shoot to kill policy

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Nuclear Crisis - Will Tehran succeed?

Iran is pursuing the nuclear bomb - that goes without question. The middle-east country has ignored the requests of the European Union not to re-start the processing and enrichment of uranium as long as the negotiations are going on. This is undermining Iran's assertions to continue talking to the UK, France and Germany about a diplomatic conclusion of the situation.
Iran is claiming to strive for the peaceful use of nuclear technologies only.

But how can one believe in this hollow statement since the Isfahan site is fully equipped to process yellow cake for the production of nuclear bombs? How can one sincerely believe that a nation steered by hardliners will resign from its well known and established plans to get the bomb that is regarded so highly in order to establish a level playing field with the countries two great enemies - Israel and the US.

The election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the pressure to re-start the countries nuclear programme (if it was ever fully stopped) coincides with the progress of Iranian scientists . This is worrying news and it is not unlikely that Tehran may be successful in preventing the US and the European Union from taking its worries in front of the security council.

An military operation seems to be unbearable. To expensive - and especially under the light of the recent terror attacks on London to hard to sell. Iran knows this and sees a glorious end to its ambition to become the most powerful Islamic country - the only one that possesses the nuclear bomb and managed to resist the 'evil' alliance of the infidels.

This is a dangerous situation - especially since time is running out. The European 3 are in risk of continuing fruitless negotiations while at the same time Iran is finishing the job. The US has all reasons to become growingly suspicious on this approach - but on the other hand has no viable alternatives to consider.

A one sided threat - like those of the US and the UK prior to the Iraq Invasion - would be laughed at in Tehran. Furthermore - the discordances between Old Europe and the Alliance has led to a bloody but successful strategy of terror - Al Qaida was no longer trying to hit the main enemy - the US or Israel - but his allies of which it is knows that the war against terror is seen critical in large parts of the public opinion.

But unity and decisive actions are now required to stop a small group of fanatics from laying their hands on the most destructive weapon there is - and preventing a war in the middle east.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Livingstone blames West's appetite for oil for London Bombings

Apparently Ken Livingstone - Mayor of London, whose main job it usually is to expand the c-charge zone up to the Irish Sea, has now fallen to the Spin of radical pacifists and Muslims:

"Mr Livingstone was asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme what he thought had motivated the bombers.

He replied: "I think you've just had 80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil. "

Harsh, isn't it? Especially for a Mayor of a town which is the latest victim of terrorism - which was purely motivated by hate towards the western and Christian way of life. No foreign citizens from poor, exploited Oil countries were involved - just fish battering and Cricket playing Brits - all of them radicalized in good old Blimey's mosques.

But Ken doesn't stop there - he urgently felt the need to express his understanding for suicide bombers in general:

"Mr Livingstone said he did not just denounce suicide bombers.

He also denounced "those governments which use indiscriminate slaughter to advance their foreign policy, as we have occasionally seen with the Israeli government bombing areas from which a terrorist group will have come, irrespective of the casualties it inflicts, women, children and men".

He continued: "Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations, I suspect that if it had happened here in England, we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves." "



It seems fairly obvious that Kenny Boy has neither a clue of his own party's policy nor of history at all - which of course doesn't really for being a Mayor of a city as diverse and multi-cultural as the capital.

But it is certainly highly important to emphasize that those countries, that were exploited under British occupation - such as India - are now completely impoverished - and their only way to get back on track is to bomb commuters to smitherness ;-).

Yes - and of course - it would happen in England - remember the legions of Northern Irish suicide bombers during the height of the Ulster conflict - yeah right, they used only car bombs and were usually polite enough to give the Yard a call... but who cares!

Nice one, Ken!

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4698963.stm

Thursday, July 14, 2005

How to prepare against Suicide bombers

The BBC features an interesting article on how security forces might be able to defend themselves against suicide bombers.

Written by Crsipin Black - an intelligence analyst with Janusian SRM - it provides an unbiased and informed view on intelligence tactics and the phenomenon of the suicide bomber.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Good morning London

Yes, London was the major target terrorist tried to hit so long - at least since the UK's involvement in the Iraq war.

But no, it was not the shining victory for the Islamic terrorist - they didn't paralyse Britain's capital and didn't succeed in spreading the same surprise and horrors as in New York and Madrid.

This is partly due top the fact that no one really was surprised by the attacks - and partly to the high level of preparation and calm reactions of both, the emergency services and the public itself.

London is used to this - the Blitz is long ago but struggles with the IRA in Northern Ireland and the bombs of the 80s and 90s in London have taught us invaluable lessons - plus the increased security training since 9/11.

It is highly likely that the terrorists failed in hitting their main targets - it's hard to believe that the bombs were really scheduled to go off in the tunnel - probably Liverpool Street Station was the only prime target that was hit - other targets may include the big stations like Paddington (probably the explosion on Edgware road), Kings Cross and Bank station - were delays were reported earlier in the morning.

Furthermore the numbers of innocent victims is going down since New York - which is mainly due to the increased security measures which prevent terrorists from attacking high risk targets as airlines, nuclear power plants etc.

That's a good thing - and even if the death toll is still rising - London seems to be back on track. Travelling to work this morning showed the familiar red busses - tube stations are prepared for re-opening Hyde Park was full of cyclists and pedestrians on their way to work.

Terrorist will fail more and more to cause civil disruption. People are getting used to it and the more they do the less understanding there is for the stupid atrocities of the Islamic fanatics.
And then there is the thing with the G8 - probably the terrorists thought it was a clever idea to hit Britain while hosting the world's 8 most powerful man. Nope! It was not. At no other occasion those who should be united in the war against terror had the chance to stand really united behind their words - and those who where doubtful in the past - like Germany's Schroeder or Russia's Putin, will see how important a united answer to such senseless violence is.

There is no room for childish disputes. There is no room for explaining how important it is to understand the causes of the terrorists. There is only room for united, strong and decisive action. And the mere image of the G8 leaders standing behind Tony Blair was not what the terrorist could have whished for.

Since the Madrid bombings their strategy was one of planting schisms between the world leaders - trying to force out countries of the coalition against terror by seeding fear. They succeeded in Spain and Germany and France - but now they achieved something different - they forced the leaders to re-unite.

Sure there will be struggles on the way ahead - but every strike, every bomb will do nothing as strengthening the commitment of the free world to stick to it's values and to fight it's enemies.

Good morning London!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

First Hints on prevented attacks

Only hours after the attacks on the London Transport system first rumours and hints on prevented attacks start to spread.

Eyewitnesses (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4659237.stm) report of delays caused by security incidents prior to the main blasts. It might be that those incidents are due to the normal routine on the underground but it might also be that the increased security levels since 9/11 have prevented further devastation. Especially the Northern Line and Bank Station were subject to delays and closed stations before the explosions took place.

So far an initial analysis shows that:
-Londoners remained calm - panicking was widely avoided
-LU staff and Emergency Services worked together in an outstanding manner
-London probably will not be as traumatised as New York was after the blast

We have to say a big THANK YOU to the work that was done since 9/1. The often annoying security measures (missing bins etc.) are now paying off - even if there are casualties and fatalities which is still terrible and beyond every comprehension.

But the war on terror is not won yet - and it will not only take years or decades but an ongoing investment in the spread of democracy.

London Blasts - How right they were...

In Britain - similar to many core European countries we had and probably still have a broad opposition to the war in Iraq.

Unfortunately we had to learn the hard way how right those were, who emphasized the vital importance of the war against terror.

Now, in front of the eyes of the G8 leaders it has become clear that TERROR is the most important issue on the agenda - not poverty, not Kyoto!

Update:

First information hint towards an al-Qaeda involvement in today's attacks on the London transport system. Also there seemed to be warnings on very short notice from the Israelian gobernment.

We have been warned, though - believing that we are save in a world where terrorists in Iraq can manage to held up strong resistence against the British and American forces show that there is a lot to do - retreat is no option.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Surpreme Court: Live or let Die?

The government's influence on the Supreme Court and therefore America's course of justice is undoubted. The president basically fills the seats of the Court which are available while his administration is in office.

This has proven efficient in many cases, allowing the administration to underline its general way of governing and get confirmation for controversial laws and decisions. Nevertheless it is important to say that the Supreme Court by no means is an disguised instrument of the administration - especially since Judges tend to stay in office much longer than the President itself.

But since I support the current administration - because like Britain's it is without a real alternative - it might be the time to speak about the weaknesses of a system which does not always support a clean cut between the administration and the guards of the law. A good example is the dispute on finding a successor for the vacated Justice Sandra Day O'Connor - a centrist, by European standards liberalist Stanford alumni - who was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981.

The vacancy arose in a time when critical and controversial decisions on rights of abortion and the right to die are on the docket of the Court. Day O'Connor who always supported the protection of the women's health when it came to state abortion rights was very much the only insurance for those rights to survive - it is highly likely that a newly appointed conservative judge will turn the mood within the court towards the government's 'no-tolerance' approach.
While I support President Bush's views on international relations, world trade, and terrorism I firmly disagree with his support for the pro-live campaign.

The Court, including Day O'Connor ruled out some state laws which didn't include an health exception - allowing women who would evidently suffer from not ending the pregnancy - e.g. raped teenagers - to consider abortion after reasonable consultation - with a ratio of 5 - 4. Since government appeals against this verdicts are pending - it is expected that Bush will seize the opportunity and make sure that the right minded candidate will be in place to turn a 5 - 4 vote into a 4 -5.

Furthermore - the verdict would be seen as a role model for the other states who could jump on the conservative bandwagon in order to avoid hassle with the opposition and the strong religious lobby.

Other pending issues on the docket include the right-to-die laws and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy practised by the military during court hearings. While my personal opinion would tend towards the governments view on this cases - the weakness system is apparent.

Instead of being an neutral instance - according to the constitutional principle of checks and balances - the court's opinion tend to lean strongly towards the government's view - especially if one administration manages to remain in office of if one party manages to fill the President's seat successively.

As stated above, this might not be a bad thing for smooth law making and by no ways a threat to democracy - but a in any case it's a good occasion to value the work of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and say thank you to a balanced decision maker - free of ideological prejudices.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Why Bob (really) did it again...

"Most people get into bands for three very simple rock and roll reasons: to get laid, to get fame, and to get rich."

Bob Geldof

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Europe: Blair's highlights the need for change

Considering that the European Union is a slow, over-bureaucratic organisation Tony Blair's speech in front of the European Parliament is somewhat refreshing. We can just hope that some other member states will realise the urgent need for change - otherwise the Union is doomed.

Tony Blair's speech to the European Parliament:

It is an honour to be here in the European Parliament today. With your permission, I will come back after each European Council during the UK Presidency and report to you. In addition, I would be happy to consult the Parliament before each Council, so as to have the benefit of the views of the European Parliament before Council deliberations. This is a timely address. Whatever else people disagree upon in Europe today, they at least agree on one point: Europe is in the midst of a profound debate about its future.

I want to talk to you plainly today about this debate, the reasons for it and how to resolve it. In every crisis there is an opportunity. There is one here for Europe now, if we have the courage to take it. The debate over Europe should not be conducted by trading insults or in terms of personality. It should be an open and frank exchange of ideas. And right at the outset I want to describe clearly how I define the debate and the disagreement underlying it.

The issue is not between a "free market" Europe and a social Europe, between those who want to retreat to a common market and those who believe in Europe as a political project. This is not just a misrepresentation. It is to intimidate those who want change in Europe by representing the desire for change as betrayal of the European ideal, to try to shut off serious debate about Europe's future by claiming that the very insistence on debate is to embrace the anti-Europe.

It is a mindset I have fought against all my political life. Ideals survive through change. They die through inertia in the face of challenge. I am a passionate pro-European. I always have been. My first vote was in 1975 in the British referendum on membership and I voted yes.

In 1983, when I was the last candidate in the UK to be selected shortly before that election and when my party had a policy of withdrawing from Europe, I told the selection conference that I disagreed with the policy. Some thought I had lost the selection. Some perhaps wish I had. I then helped change our policy in the 1980's and was proud of that change. Since being Prime Minister I signed the Social Chapter, helped, along with France, to create the modern European Defence Policy, have played my part in the Amsterdam, the Nice, then the Rome Treaties. This is a union of values, of solidarity between nations and people, of not just a common market in which we trade but a common political space in which we live as citizens. It always will be.

I believe in Europe as a political project. I believe in Europe with a strong and caring social dimension. I would never accept a Europe that was simply an economic market. To say that is the issue is to escape the real debate and hide in the comfort zone of the things we have always said to each other in times of difficulty. There is not some division between the Europe necessary to succeed economically and social Europe. Political Europe and economic Europe do not live in separate rooms. The purpose of social Europe and economic Europe should be to sustain each other.

The purpose of political Europe should be to promote the democratic and effective institutions to develop policy in these two spheres and across the board where we want and need to cooperate in our mutual interest. But the purpose of political leadership is to get the policies right for today's world. For 50 years Europe's leaders have done that.

We talk of crisis. Let us first talk of achievement. When the war ended, Europe was in ruins. Today the EU stands as a monument to political achievement. Almost 50 years of peace, 50 years of prosperity, 50 years of progress. Think of it and be grateful. The broad sweep of history is on the side of the EU.

Countries round the world are coming together because in collective cooperation they increase individual strength. Until the second half of the 20th Century, for centuries European nations individually had dominated the world, colonised large parts of it, fought wars against each other for world supremacy. Out of the carnage of the Second World War, political leaders had the vision to realise those days were gone. Today's world does not diminish that vision. It demonstrates its prescience. The USA is the world's only super power.

But China and India in a few decades will be the world's largest economies, each of them with populations three times that of the whole of the EU. The idea of Europe, united and working together, is essential for our nations to be strong enough to keep our place in this world.Now, almost 50 years on, we have to renew. There is no shame in that. All institutions must do it. And we can. But only if we remarry the European ideals we believe in with the modern world we live in.

If Europe defaulted to Euro-scepticism, or if European nations faced with this immense challenge, decide to huddle together, hoping we can avoid globalisation, shrink away from confronting the changes around us, take refuge in the present policies of Europe as if by constantly repeating them, we would by the very act of repetition make them more relevant, then we risk failure. Failure on a grand, strategic, scale. This is not a time to accuse those who want Europe to change of betraying Europe. It is a time to recognise that only by change will Europe recover its strength, its relevance, its idealism and therefore its support amongst the people.

And as ever the people are ahead of the politicians. We always think as a political class that people, unconcerned with the daily obsession of politics, may not understand it, may not see its subtleties and its complexities. But, ultimately, people always see politics more clearly than us. Precisely because they are not daily obsessed with it. The issue is not about the idea of the European Union.

It is about modernisation.

It is about policy.

It is not a debate about how to abandon Europe but how to make it do what it was set up to do: improve the lives of people. And right now, they aren't convinced. Consider this.

For four years Europe conducted a debate over our new constitution, two years of it in the convention. It was a detailed and careful piece of work setting out the new rules to govern a Europe of 25 and in time 27, 28 and more member states.

It was endorsed by all Governments. It was supported by all leaders. It was then comprehensively rejected in referendums in two founding Member States, in the case of the Netherlands by over 60 percent. The reality is that in most member states it would be hard today to secure a 'yes' for it in a referendum.There are two possible explanations. One is that people studied the constitution and disagreed with its precise articles. I doubt that was the basis of the majority No.

This was not an issue of bad drafting or specific textual disagreement.The other explanation is that the constitution became merely the vehicle for the people to register a wider and deeper discontent with the state of affairs in Europe.

I believe this to be the correct analysis.

If so, it is not a crisis of political institutions, it is a crisis of political leadership. People in Europe are posing hard questions to us. They worry about globalisation, job security, about pensions and living standards. They see not just their economy but their society changing around them. Traditional communities are broken up, ethnic patterns change, family life is under strain as families struggle to balance work and home.

We are living through an era of profound upheaval and change. Look at our children and the technology they use and the jobs market they face. The world is unrecognisable from that we experienced as students 20, 30 years ago. When such change occurs, moderate people must give leadership. If they don't, the extremes gain traction on the political process. It happens within a nation. It is happening in Europe now.Just reflect. The Laeken Declaration which launched the constitution was designed "to bring Europe closer to the people". Did it?

The Lisbon agenda was launched in the year 2000 with the ambition of making Europe "the most competitive place to do business in the world by 2010". We are half way through that period. Has it succeeded?

I have sat through council conclusions after council conclusions describing how we are "reconnecting Europe to the people". Are we?It is time to give ourselves a reality check. To receive the wake-up call. The people are blowing the trumpets round the city walls. Are we listening?

Have we the political will to go out and meet them so that they regard our leadership as part of the solution not the problem?

That is the context in which the budget debate should be set. People say: we need the budget to restore Europe's credibility. Of course we do. But it should be the right budget. It shouldn't be abstracted from the debate about Europe's crisis. It should be part of the answer to it.

I want to say a word about last Friday's summit. There have been suggestions that I was not willing to compromise on the UK rebate; that I only raised (Common Agricultural Policy) reform at the last minute; that I expected to renegotiate the CAP on Friday night. In fact I am the only British leader that has ever said I would put the rebate on the table. I never said we should end the CAP now or renegotiate it overnight. Such a position would be absurd. Any change must take account of the legitimate needs of farming communities and happen over time.

I have said simply two things: that we cannot agree a new financial perspective that does not at least set out a process that leads to a more rational Budget; and that this must allow such a budget to shape the second half of that perspective up to 2013. Otherwise it will be 2014 before any fundamental change is agreed, let alone implemented.

Again, in the meantime, of course Britain will pay its fair share of enlargement. I might point out that on any basis we would remain the second highest net contributor to the EU, having in this perspective paid billions more than similar sized countries.So, that is the context. What would a different policy agenda for Europe look like?First, it would modernise our social model. Again some have suggested I want to abandon Europe's social model.

But tell me: What type of social model is it that has 20 million unemployed in Europe, productivity rates falling behind those of the USA; that is allowing more science graduates to be produced by India than by Europe; and that, on any relative index of a modern economy -- skills, research and development, patents, IT, is going down not up.

India will expand its biotechnology sector fivefold in the next five years. China has trebled its spending on research and development in the last five. Of the top 20 universities in the world today, only two are now in Europe. The purpose of our social model should be to enhance our ability to compete, to help our people cope with globalisation, to let them embrace its opportunities and avoid its dangers.

Of course we need a social Europe. But it must be a social Europe that works.

And we've been told how to do it. The Kok report in 2004 shows the way. Investment in knowledge, in skills, in active labour market policies, in science parks and innovation, in higher education, in urban regeneration, in help for small businesses. This is modern social policy, not regulation and job protection that may save some jobs for a time at the expense of many jobs in the future.And since this is a day for demolishing caricatures, let me demolish one other:

The idea that Britain is in the grip of some extreme Anglo-Saxon market philosophy that tramples on the poor and disadvantaged. The present British Government has introduced the new deal for the unemployed, the largest jobs programme in Europe that has seen long-term youth unemployment virtually abolished. It has increased investment in our public services more than any other European country in the past five years. We needed to, it is true, but we did it.

We have introduced Britain's first minimum wage. We have regenerated our cities. We have lifted almost one million children out of poverty and two million pensioners out of acute hardship and are embarked on the most radical expansion of childcare, maternity and paternity rights in our country's history.

It is just that we have done it on the basis of and not at the expense of a strong economy.

Secondly, let the budget reflect these realities. Again the Sapir report shows the way. Published by the European Commission in 2003, it sets out in clear detail what a modern European Budget would look like. Put it into practice. But a modern budget for Europe is not one that 10 years from now is still spending 40 percent of its money on the CAP.

Thirdly, implement the Lisbon Agenda. On jobs, labour market participation, school leavers, lifelong learning, we are making progress that nowhere near matches the precise targets we set out at Lisbon. That agenda told us what to do. Let us do it.Fourth, and here I tread carefully, get a macroeconomic framework for Europe that is disciplined but also flexible. It is not for me to comment on the Euro zone. I just say this: If we agreed real progress on economic reform, if we demonstrated real seriousness on structural change, then people would perceive reform of macro policy as sensible and rational, not a product of fiscal laxity but of commonsense. And we need such reform urgently if Europe is to grow.

After the economic and social challenges, then let us confront another set of linked issues -- crime, security and immigration.

Crime is now crossing borders more easily than ever before. Organised crime costs the UK at least £20 billion annually.

Migration has doubled in the past 20 years. Much of the migration is healthy and welcome. But it must he managed. Illegal immigration is an issue for all our nations, and a human tragedy for many thousands of people. It is estimated that 70 percent of illegal immigrants have their passage facilitated by organised crime groups. Then there is the repugnant practice of human trafficking whereby organised gangs move people from one region to another with the intention of exploiting them when they arrive. Between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked globally each year.

Every year over 100,000 women are victims of trafficking in the European Union.Again, a relevant JHA agenda would focus on these issues: implementing the EU action plan on counter-terrorism which has huge potential to improve law enforcement as well as addressing the radicalisation and recruitment of terrorists; cross-border intelligence and policing on organised crime; developing proposals to hit the people and drug traffickers hard, in opening up their bank accounts, harassing their activities, arresting their leading members and bring them to justice; getting returns agreements for failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries and others; developing biometric technology to make Europe's borders secure.

Then there is the whole area of (Common Foreign and Security Policy). We should be agreeing practical measures to enhance European defence capability, be prepared to take on more missions of peacekeeping and enforcement, develop the capability, with NATO or where NATO does not want to be engaged outside it, to be able to intervene quickly and effectively in support of conflict resolution. Look at the numbers in European armies today and our expenditure. Do they really answer the strategic needs of today?

Such a defence policy is a necessary part of an effective foreign policy. But even without it, we should be seeing how we can make Europe's influence count. When the European Union agreed recently a doubling of aid to Africa, it was an immediate boost not just for that troubled continent, but for European cooperation. We are world leaders in development and proud of it. We should be leading the way on promoting a new multi-lateral trade agreement which will increase trade for all, especially the poorest nations. We are leading the debate on climate change and developing pan-European policies to tackle it.

Thanks to Javier Solana, Europe has started to make its presence felt in the MEPP. But my point is very simple: A strong Europe would be an active player in foreign policy, a good partner of course to the US but also capable of demonstrating its own capacity to shape and move the world forward.

Such a Europe -- its economy in the process of being modernised, its security enhanced by clear action within our borders and beyond -- would be a confident Europe. It would be a Europe confident enough to see enlargement not as a threat, as if membership were a zero sum game in which old members lose as new members gain, but an extraordinary, historic opportunity to build a greater and more powerful union. Because be under no illusion: If we stop enlargement or shut out its natural consequences, it wouldn't, in the end, save one job, keep one firm in business, prevent one delocalisation.

For a time it might but not for long. And in the meantime Europe will become more narrow, more introspective and those who garner support will be those no in the traditions of European idealism but in those of outdated nationalism and xenophobia. But I tell you in all frankness: It is a contradiction to be in favour of liberalising Europe's membership but against opening up its economy.If we set out that clear direction; if we then combined it with the Commission -- as this one under Jose Manuel Barroso's leadership is fully capable of doing -- that is prepared to send back some of the unnecessary regulation, peel back some of the bureaucracy and become a champion of a global, outward-looking, competitive Europe, then it will not be hard to capture the imagination and support of the people of Europe.

In our presidency, we will try to take forward the budget deal; to resolve some of the hard dossiers, like the Services Directive and Working Time Directive; to carry out the union's obligations to those like Turkey and Croatia that wait in hope of a future as part of Europe; and to conduct this debate about the future of Europe in an open, inclusive way, giving our own views strongly but fully respectful of the views of others.Only one thing I ask: Don't let us kid ourselves that this debate is unnecessary; that if only we assume "business as usual", people will sooner or later relent and acquiesce in Europe s it is, not as they want it to be. In my time as Prime Minister, I have found that the hard part is not taking the decision, it is spotting when it has to be taken.

It is understanding the difference between the challenges that have to be managed and those that have to be confronted and overcome.

This is such a moment of decision for Europe.The people of Europe are speaking to us. They are posing the questions. They are wanting our leadership. It is time we gave it to them.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Britain is missing out on 'Son of Concorde' plans

Japan and France have announced that they are working on a new supersonic jet - basically a top-notch successor of the recently retired Concorde. Britain who participated in the development of the first generation jet are so far not involved in the aviation plans.
It's know that Britain is not the greatest friend of doing business with the French, even the Airbus consortium is often regarded as somewhat dodgy in good old Blimey. But missing out on this development isn't good for Britain at all.

It is expected that traditional routes for the new plane will feature mainly Japanese and French airports beside the obvious American destinations. Given that Britain has one of Europe's most mobile labour forces which are increasingly deployed on short- to mid-term projects in Asia & the Pacifics we urgently need a better way of managing our human capital. This will increase with consolidation going on in the financial sector of the capital and its strong bonds with Asia.

A London - Hong-Kong or India route would certainly benefit Britain's increasing investment in those economies and furthermore enrich the Europe-wide importance of the transport hub that is Heathrow. Not to speak on the technologic knowledge which still exists as an heritage from the Concorde era.

At least in this regard we should overcome our euro-scepticism and throw our pounds in with the French.