Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some headlines I liked

First about Cyprus. There really is very little I can add to the avalanche of analysis that has hit the fan in the last couple of days except to suggest that maybe, just maybe those oligarchs knew in time to withdraw their money and take it somewhere else. I am guessing, mind you, but there are other countries near there, such as Turkey and Turkish Cyprus. It's the others wot got caught.

Anyway, here is my favourite headline on the subject: RAF plane flies to crisis-hit Cyprus with a MILLION euros for British forces in case cash machines stop working. Another Berlin air lift, forsooth. Except that this crisis was not created by the enemy outside but the enemy within.

Here, on the other hand, is the story as it is developing with the Cyprus Parliament rejecting legislation on the levy:
Cyprus’s finance minister arrived in Moscow on Tuesday night to try to wrest vital economic assistance from the Kremlin as his country’s parliament rejected a €10bn EU-led bailout that requires €5.8bn to be seized from Cypriot bank accounts.

The 11th-hour attempt to tap funds from Russia as an alternative to the deposit levy stunned leaders in Brussels, who said they were taken aback by the resistance of Cypriot lawmakers to shifting the tax’s burden exclusively on to deposits over €100,000 – many of which are held by wealthy Russians.
What will the Russians demand as guarantee? And should they not try to tap Belarus as well? It seems that some of Luakashenka's cronies may have been caught out. Well, like the Russian ones, possibly. Then again, maybe not. I am still guessing.

As to the other big story, the intended licensing and regulation of the media (not just the press, as the newspapers keep saying), I liked several headlines but this one really takes the biscuit. Peter Oborne has suddenly woken up to the endemic nastiness of the NUS. That's it, he says, he is resigning from the NUS.
It is a sad moment, but today I have decided to resign from the National Union of Journalists. It is the second time I have done so. The first was in the mid 1980s when (as a young journalist who was very proud to be an NUJ member) I was appalled to read in the NUJ newspaper an account of a trip by some union officials to Moscow. They favourably compared free speech in Soviet Russia to free speech in Britain. It was sickening, and showed a catastrophic failure to understand free speech and why it matters. I felt it was morally wrong to remain a member of such an organisation, so I quit.
He then went back, for whatever reason, but has now once again decided to leave.
For some time, however, I have been increasingly disturbed by the NUJ's growing sympathy for state control over the press. If the union represented journalists, as it claimed to do, it would have been up in arms at yesterday's squalid deal which has granted politicians power over newspapers for the first time in more than 300 years. It would have fought all the way. Instead the NUJ has been a largely silent and shamefaced collaborator with Hacked Off and its rich and powerful backers. I tried to warn the union's secretary Michelle Stanistreet about this, but she would not listen. Yesterday she threw her weight behind the stitch up between the political parties.
I should have thought the two attitudes are two sides of the same coin but that is probably why I am not a highly paid hack.

Oh and how can one resist this headline on Guido Fawkes's blog? Among the various donors for that nauseating organization of tenth-rate celebrities outraged that they cannot control their own publicity, there is ... a Russian oligarch, to wit Yevgeny Lebedev, owner of the freebie Evening Standard, where he has a weekly vanity column (well, he is bankrolling the rag and it is no worse than other columns by Polly Filler and her like of both genders) and of the Independent.
The elite club of multi-millionaires with an axe to grind have confirmed however that they are “due to receive soon a grant from the Journalism Foundation of over £20,000″. The Journalism Foundation was former Indy editor-in-chief Simon Kelner’s £600,000 vanity project bankrolled by billionaire Russian oligarchs and Indy owners Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev. The former KGB agent set up the Foundation to promote “free and independent journalism”, pulling the plug on it after less than a year. Seemingly not before they channelled a chunk of the cash to those freedom lovers Hacked Off…
This gets funnier by the minute.

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