The Great Debate UK

from UK News:

Libya crisis could scupper British aircraft carriers once and for all

So the world has unfurled a no-fly zone over Libya, apparently undeterred by the lack of Royal Navy aircraft carriers. Judging by the uniforms gracing the steps of 10 Downing Street on Friday and the attacks launched over the weekend, Britain’s military top brass haven’t been put off either.

Britain's Defence Secretary Liam Fox and the Chief of the Defence Staff General David Richards arrive in Downing Street

Liam Fox and General David Richards in Downing Street

The Libya crisis has, until now, provided a platform for the “Save our Aircraft Carriers Campaign” to champion its cause but in the process they’ve thrown down some whopping red herrings.

First we were told Britain could have done a better job extracting citizens from Libya if it had an aircraft carrier. In the event nature’s own aircraft carrier, Malta (immune to rough seas and mechanical failure) proved a perfectly good operations centre from which to manage rescue efforts. If Britain’s response was slow, that had more to do with the speed of decision making than the available military hardware.

Even if HMS Ark Royal had been in service, victualled, crewed and ready to put to sea from Portsmouth, she would have taken a good four days to reach Benghazi sailing at full steam the whole way, through still waters. Had she been in the Gulf of Oman supporting operations in Afghanistan, it would have taken closer to five days at best. Once in theatre she would have required defence from air attack and even the threat of submarines should any of Gaddafi’s Soviet-era vessels still be operational.

from Global News Journal:

UNsensational? Five more years of Ban Ki-moon

U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman and John Kerry look on as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon addresses reporters in Washington. REUTERS/Molley Riley

U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman and John Kerry look on as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon addresses reporters in Washington. REUTERS/Molley Riley

It's hard to find a delegate to the United Nations who despises U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. But it's even harder to find someone who thinks he has the gravitas and charisma of his Nobel Peace Prize-winning predecessor Kofi Annan, who invoked the wrath of the previous U.S. administration when he called the 2003 invasion of Iraq "illegal." As one senior Western official, who declined to be identified, said about Ban: "It's not as if he's lightning in a bottle, but we can live with him."

from Global News Journal:

Quadriplegic in an age of austerity

Every time I write a story on European countries cutting public spending, I feel a frisson of panic. I can't help but fear my health, lifestyle and liberty could be a casualty of the "age of austerity".peter

On assignment covering the Sri Lankan civil war for Reuters four years ago, I broke my neck in a minibus smash. It left me quadriplegic, almost entirely paralysed from the shoulders down and totally dependent on 24 hour care. I was 25.

Pope’s visit both punctual and provident

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POPE/ – Madeleine Teahan is a speaker for the Catholic Voices project. The opinions expressed are her own -

The Holy See is a sovereign entity which has enjoyed diplomatic relations worldwide for at least 1,000 years and as head of this state, the Pope has been invited by the Queen to visit Britain and address civil society.

from MacroScope:

It’s all Germany’s fault

It is fairly commonplace at the moment for U.S. and UK financial analysts -- what continental Europeans call the Anglo-Saxons -- to predict the collapse of the euro zone,  a project they were mostly sceptical about in the first place.  MacroScope touched on this on two occasions in March.

The latest foray into this area comes from Alan Brown,  global chief  investment officer at the large UK fund firm  Schroders. But he does it with twist,  blaming what he sees as the eventual  collapse of the euro zone not on the structure itself nor  on the profligacy of peripheral economies, but on Germany's response to the crisis.

from FaithWorld:

Strong support to outlaw face veils as France prepares to vote ban

France's plan to ban full face veils, which comes up for a vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday, enjoys 82% popular support in the country, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Its neighbours also approve -- 71% of those polled in Germany, 62% in Britain and 59% in Spain agreed that there should be laws prohibiting the Muslim veils known as niqabs and burqas in public. burqa 1(Photo: French woman fined for wearing a niqab while driving outside court in Nantes June 28, 2010/Stephane Mahe)

The poll, conducted from April 7 to May 8, did not range further afield, but reports from other countries show support there as well. The lower house of the Belgian parliament has voted for a ban, which should be approved by the Senate after the summer. In the Netherlands, several bills to ban full veils in certain sectors such as schools and public service are in preparation. Switzerland's justice minister has suggested the cantons there should pass partial bans but make exceptions for visiting Muslim tourists (the wives of rich sheikhs visiting their bankers in Zurich or Geneva?)

New gateway for British business opens in Asia

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Ash Verma- Ash Verma is Chairman, Gateway Business Consultants Limited and Founder of Gateway Asia. The opinions expressed are his own. -

London has long had a reputation as a city where entrepreneurs from Asia have come to seek their fortune.  From its early 19th century roots when Sake Dean Mahomed opened up Britain’s first Indian restaurant and introduced the city to shampoo, London’s Indian diaspora has now grown into one of the largest communities outside the country. The Chinese community in London, too, is Europe’s oldest and largest.

from MacroScope:

Brit Euro Shock Horror: Part II

A week ago we ran a post on MacroScope noting, in part, that Britons have a strange relationship with the euro, sometimes bordering on disbelief that it exists at all. Some new numbers from the monthly Bank of America Merrill Lynch fund managers poll underline the extent of UK scepticism compared with that of others.

For two months, BofA Merrill has asked fund managers around the world what they think will eventually happen as a result of the Greek debt crisis. Four choices are on offer:

from Photographers' Blog:

A town of grief

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The coffins of six British soldiers killed in Afghanistan are driven though the streets of Wootton Bassett in southwest England November 10, 2009. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Since the early 2000's, the bodies of fallen servicemen and women from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places have been repatriated to RAF Lyneham. They pass through the town of Wootton Bassett on their way to the coroner in Oxford. This has led to family members, friends, locals and mourners from further afield assembling along the route of the funeral cortege. It is an emotionally charged event that garners wide media coverage every time.

from UK News:

Jeremy Hunt unveils Tory technology platform

Jeremy HuntAs the three main UK political parties vie for positioning ahead of a general election to be held by June, the Conservatives unveiled their "Technology Manifesto" on Thursday in London outlining the key issues they would address if they form the next government.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude presented ideas on everything from improving broadband speeds to making government data accessible online.

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