Yesterday is the New Tomorrow

Location: London, United Kingdom

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Trouble in Macedonia

A repeat of the Kosovo crisis is brewing, this time in Macedonia. It’s a many-faceted affair, and ethnic Albanian Muslims in Macedonia are only one component of it.

Part of the trouble is caused by the name “Macedonia”. The Greeks claim a proprietary interest in the name as a reference to the northwestern province of their own country. Macedonia attempted to placate Greek opinion by making the country’s official name “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, but that wasn’t enough to assuage Hellenic national sentiment.

Map of the Central Balkans

The UN is mediating without success between Greece and Macedonia over the issue during talks in Vienna:

[UN mediator Matthew] Nimetz’s latest proposals — Republic of Upper Macedonia, New Republic of Macedonia and Republic of Macedonia (Skopje) — have been already rejected by disputing parties. [Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola] Gruevski sees the proposals unacceptable.

The stalemate over the country’s name is significant, because Macedonia is hoping to join NATO at the upcoming summit in Bucharest on April 2nd. Greece is threatening to veto Macedonian membership over the issue of the country’s name.

To make matters worse, Macedonia is the throes of a political crisis over the issue of Kosovar independence. Croatia, Hungary, and Bulgaria have recognized Kosovo, ratcheting up the pressure on Macedonia to do the same. But any recognition of Kosovo by Macedonia would incur the enmity of neighboring Serbia, and possibly trigger sanctions and other actions damaging to the Macedonian economy.

The crisis came to a head a week ago when the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), a key part of the ruling coalition in Skopje, decided to leave the government. According to Maxfax:

The Democratic Party of Albanians left the government after the Prime Minister did not respond on the party’s six ultimatum demands, including resocialization of NLA’s fighters, making the Albanian language and flag official, urgent recognition of Kosovo, increasing of representation of Albanians in the public administration and closing of the four Hague cases.

One can see why the Macedonian government might choke on some of these demands. Even if it can be pushed to recognize Kosovo — and it looks like the pressure may be so strong that it will have to — the rest of the demands set the stage for a reprise in western Macedonia of the bloody conflict in Serbia over Kosovo.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Macedonia’s troubles are deeper and more difficult to resolve than Serbia’s because of the ethnic mixture within Macedonian territory. Out of roughly two million people, the ethnic breakdown (as of 2004) looks like this:- - - - - - - - -
Macedonian 66.6%
Albanian 22.7%
Turkish 4%
Muslim 2.3%
Roma (Gypsy) 2.2%
Serb 2.1%

I’m not sure what “Muslim” means in this context — possibly Bosniak or Arab — but if you add it to the Albanians and the Turks, Muslims make up 29% of the population. Assuming that the relative demographics are the same as in other parts of Europe, with the non-Muslim population decreasing while the Muslim birthrate remains high, the political paralysis in evidence now seems likely to continue indefinitely.

The centuries-old conflict with Greece makes matters worse. The region was originally ethnically Greek, part of a larger territory that included what is still called Macedonia in northwestern Greece. During the second half of the first millennium A.D., as Byzantine strength receded, the region was invaded by Slavic tribes. The largest ethnic group in the country is Slavic and closely related to the Bulgarians.

The Macedonians share responsibility for the ongoing dispute with Greece, since some of the more militant Slavic nationalists draw the map of Macedonia to include the ethnically Greek areas of the province Macedonia south of the border. Greek intransigence over NATO membership for Macedonia is motivated partly out of a long-term resentment and fear of Macedonian irredentism.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Like the Bulgarians and the Serbs, Macedonia had to endure five centuries of brutal Ottoman rule, and the non-Muslims in the country are understandably chary of granting special rights and autonomy to the Albanian minority.

The situation is a recipe for disaster. Watch the dominos lining up here: First an independent Kosovo, then the demands for special rights for Albanians in Macedonia. Next comes a failure to gain NATO membership, then ethnic unrest, violence, UN action, peacekeepers, and an eventual push for a Kosovo-like solution in western Macedonia. We all know the drill.

This long slippery slope leads towards a Greater Albania on the eastern shore of the Adriatic and extending into the heart of the Balkans.

What comes after that?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rule Britannia
Details have been released today regarding Britain's next generation of fighting ships.

The Royal Navy is proud of the cutting edge capability of the fleet of Type 45 destroyers. Each one costing a shade over £750 million, they have been designed to meet the needs of the 21st century; in addition to state of the art technology, weaponry, and guidance systems, the ships will comply with the very latest employment, equality, health & safety and human rights legislation. They will be able to remain at sea for several months at a time and positively bristle with the very latest facilities.

For instance, the new user friendly crow's nest comes equipped with full wheelchair access. All live ammunition has now been replaced with paintballs to reduce the risk of anyone getting hurt and to cut down on the number of compensation claims. Stress councillors and solicitors will be on duty 24hrs a day, and each ship will have its own onboard industrial tribunal. The crew will be 50/50 men and women, and finely balanced in accordance with the latest Home Office directives on race, gender, sexuality and disability. Sailors will only have to work a maximum of 37hrs per week in line with Brussels Health & Safety rules - and that includes during wartime. All bunks will be double occupancy, and the destroyers will all come equipped with a maternity ward and creche, situated on the same deck as the Gay Disco. Tobacco will be banned throughout the ship, but cannabis and crack cocaine will be allowed in the mess. The Royal Navy is eager to shed its traditional reputation for "Rum, Sodomy and the lash"; out goes the occasional rum ration which is to be replaced by Perrier water, although sodomy remains this has now been extended to include all ratings under 18. The lash will still be available but only by request. Condoms can be obtained from the Bosun in a variety of flavours, except Capstan Full Strength. Saluting officers has been abolished because it is elitist, it is to be replaced by the more informal "Hello Sailor". All notices on board will be printed in 37 different languages and braille. Crew members will no longer be required to ask permission to grow beards or moustaches, even the women. The MOD is working on a new "Non specific" flag based on the controversial British Airways "Ethnic" tailfin design, because the white ensign is considered to be offensive to ethnic minorities. Sea Trials are expected to take place soon, when the first of the new destroyers HMS Everybodysequal, sets out on her maiden mission it will be escorting boat loads of illegal immigrants across the channel to ports on the south coast. The ship is due to be launched soon in a ceremony conducted by Sheikh Abu Hamza (Captain Hook) from the Finsbury Park Mosque who will break a petrol bomb over the hull. The ship will gently slide into the water to the tune of "In the Navy" by the Village People played by the Royal Marynes. The Prime Minister said in one of his utterly moronic Downing Street website videos that "While the ships reflected the very latest of modern thinking they were also capable of being up graded to comply with any new legislation. His final words were " Britain never, never waives the rules!"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The News From Spain

The dog-and-pony show known as “The Second Arab-European Dialogue on Human Rights and Terrorism” won’t begin for another couple of weeks in Copenhagen, but the anti-Islamophobia frenzy is already warming up in Córdoba.
The OSCE is gathering there, in the heart of Reconquista territory, to declare its undying dhimmitude.
According to ANSAmed: UNESCO Must Declare Muslim Remains European Heritage
“UNESCO should declare that Muslim remains European heritage of the Islamic civilisations,” Italian Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Vittorio Craxi and Ulivo (Olive) MP Khaled Allam proposed at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference against intolerance and discrimination against Muslims held in Córdoba, Spain. “This would represent a gesture capable of boosting the process of cultural integration especially as regards young Muslims who would see the recognition of their culture as integral part of the historic traditions of Europe,” Craxi said in a statement.
Consider this: Islam came into Europe by conquest between the 8th century and the 15th. Islam was never spread on the continent except by the sword, and by people who were not indigenous to Europe. To declare by administrative fiat that Islam is a part of Europe’s heritage is to twist the truth into a pretzel and then run it through a blender.
The significance of Córdoba as the venue for this claptrap is not lost on me, and I’ll bet it’s not lost on the Arabs, either. The cathedral at Córdoba is, after all, a converted mosque, and the mosque had been built on the ruins of a Christian church at the conclusion of the Moorish conquest in 711 A.D. More than any other place in Spain, Córdoba represents the Reconquista, the succesful effort to expel the Muslim conquerors from Christian Spain. But Islam won’t be satisfied with namby-pamby Multiculturalism and anti-Islamophobic declarations. They want the whole enchilada: they want to get back into the Mezquita at Córdoba. Also according to ANSAmed:
Allowing Muslims and Christians to pray together in the Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba, currently consecrated to Catholic rites. The request presented by the Arab League secretary Amr Moussa at the OSCE conference against intolerance and discrimination of Muslims currently running in Córdoba, which reopens the controversial debate on the shared use of places of worship. During his speech yesterday at the conference, Moussa, quoted by the media, stated that “all the churches and mosques are built for praying, so that the devotees can use them” and assured that, in the case of the Córdoba Cathedral, “there does not exist any kind of religious clash, at the most the clash might be of political nature”. According to Moussa, “shared prayer is the essence of the coexistence of different religions” and Córdoba, he explained, “is one of the most important places for tolerance”. The arrogance of this demand is simply breathtaking. Are we to expect, then, that mosques in Riyadh will start welcoming priests to say Mass on their premises? Will a Rabbi be celebrating a Passover seder in Mecca? If not, will that change what happens in Córdoba? Without reciprocity, will the Spaniards keep the Muslims from Friday prayers in the Mezquita?
Do you want to bet money on that?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Alcoholics are in charge of the Brewery

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP the Conservative Defence and Security Spokesman wrote the following open letter that I think requires republishing:


There are certainly very serious questions to be asked about the manning, mission and effectiveness of the Border and Immigration Agency of the Home Office, previously the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.
It claims that its role is "securing our borders, enforcing our immigration laws and managing migration to the benefit of the UK".
Its catastrophic failure to perform these functions correctly is plain for all to see.
When I said to a previous Home Secretary that the controls at our ports of entry were "beacons of political correctness", he replied that I had made a demeaning remark. I therefore asked the Home Office what proportion of its staff in the various immigration, identity and passport services were from ethnic minorities. Given that ethnic minorities are estimated to form about 6.7 per cent of our total population of working age, I was alarmed to receive the reply that, of those staff whose ethnicity was recorded, 29 per cent of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, 30 per cent of the Immigration Service and 14 per cent of the Identity and Passport Service were from ethnic minorities.
While it is only right and proper that all law-abiding bona fide citizens, regardless of ethnicity, should have equal opportunities, the manning of our front-line immigration services is curiously disproportionate. It does not promote confidence in the agencies responsible for the control of our borders and therefore the security and integrity of our nation.'
In beautiful British understatement he makes an extremely powerful point. In a roundabout way he might suggest that Ronnie Biggs might not make a terrific CEO of Securicor, that Ian Huntley shouldn't be allowed to work in a school and that the assorted ragbag of late developers should not have been given the keys to the country. For suggesting this he is accused of racism and bigotry - unfortunately these claims don't wash as they are supported by FACTS.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

In the Footsteps of France

Our new Prime Minister has recently outlined plans to give up some of the royal ‘prerogative powers’ enjoyed by his predecessors, including the right to appoint Bishops and Deans. While much of his speech focused on powers that will be transferred to Parliament, it isn’t very likely that we will have a stampede of Bishops lobbying MPs for their support.
In one of the most significant Church-State developments for centuries, the responsibility will probably be transferred to the Church of England. By granting the Church of England operational independence, the Prime Minister simply abdicates his authority to approve or reject the names proposed by the Crown Nominations Commission. The reason given is that Gordon Brown wants his Government to be seen as representing ‘all faiths and all cultures’ (oh, dear) and not tied significantly to the Church of England. This proposal raises the possibility that he might take steps to remove the right of Bishops to take their seats in the House of Lords. ‘Not tied significantly’ is a phrase pregnant with implications, since the tie of the English Church to the English State has been very significant indeed. If the tie becomes no more significant than that enjoyed informally by other faiths, it is a moot point as to who will crown the next monarch, and by precisely what authority.
But there is a more concerning issue which underlies this development, and that is quite simply that the existing hierarchy of the Church of England has already demonstrated its inability to choose its leaders. A further concentration of powers will lead simply to a self-perpetuating cabal which will no doubt lead to a split and potentially a link between the conservative wing of the Church of England joining forces with the Catholics. What goes around comes around....
The reason there are so few Evangelical Protestants in the Church of England hierarchy is that very few are deemed to be theologically, spiritually, or pastorally in tune with ‘mainstream’ Liberal thinking. It is therefore the Liberal wing which will dominate all future appointments, and it will ensure that it retains that power. Interestingly, a Synod report of 2001 foresaw these developments:
Some of those who have made submissions to us have expressed a wish for an electoral system more comparable with those of other Anglican churches to be adopted in the Church of England. The submissions made to us do not, however, suggest that such a change would enjoy widespread support, nor would we favour such a change. What we have said about vocation in paras 1.19–1.26 above means that we would not be happy with a system which allowed public campaigning by or on behalf of candidates, in which candidates were publicly identified, or in which consideration was restricted to those willing to stand for election and appear before the electors… These factors would not apply to an electoral college system such as those practiced in Ireland and Wales, but we do not believe that, at least in the English context, the careful and frank discussion which is possible in a small commission could take place in a meeting of around 50 people.
At the moment, the Commission consists of people who are part of, or are appointed by, the existing hierarchy. The process of putting two names to the Prime Minister, of which one is chosen by him and sent to the Queen, is a relatively recent innovation made by James Callaghan. Prior to that, the Church had very little input at all. The last thing the oligarchy desires is democracy, especially when it comes to appointing those who will work alongside, and one day replace, them.
In actual fact, the appointments process is already almost entirely controlled by the existing Bishops. The Commission draws up the names that will go forward for 'preferment', but the hierarchy itself draws up the list of clergy who are considered to be suitable. Most diocesan Bishops are already appointed from existing suffragans, and suffragans are appointed by diocesan Bishops. The system is already a self-perpetuating oligarchy. If one takes a view which is contrary to the ‘mainstream’, potential suffragans are simply informed that they are not suitable, or ‘not ready’ for preferment. Mr Brown may simply want to be rid of an inconvenience or an anachronistic anomaly. Being a Presbyterian Scot, he wouldn’t mind too much at all what befalls the Church of England. But that other meddlesome Scot, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said: ‘I am deeply disappointed at the statement from Gordon Brown. I remain deeply concerned that the Act of Settlement will continue to exist and believe it constitutes state-sponsored sectarianism… I wrote to Gordon Brown in April 2006 following comments he made on the role of the Prime Minister in the selection of Church of England bishops to say that the terms of the Act of Settlement were anachronistic and that it was an outstanding example of bigotry and sectarianism in the United Kingdom…but did not receive a reply.’
Ties between Church, the Monarchy and State need to be strengthened right now, not weakened.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Sentence or Two on Education...

In the whole debate about education - private versus state; grammar school versus city academy; comprehensive versus selection – very little notice is ever taken by politicians of any hue of the root causes of the manifest decline in standards, other than to deny that those standards have in any way declined.
But Civitas has identified a highly concerning trend over the past decade, and that is the ‘hi-jacking’ of traditional academic subjects to promote ‘fashionable causes such as gender awareness, the environment and anti-racism’. Instead of imparting knowledge or inspiring children to want to learn, teachers in the state sector are now shackled and bound to realise the Government's social goals, and to shape a cohesive society according to the new pre-ordained multi-culti blueprint.
In English Literature, the Civitas report shows how issues of race and gender have become pre-eminent in the study of 20th-century poetry: ‘A British pupil can go through the school system and get the top marks in English and English Literature without knowing that Spenser, Milton or Pope ever existed, but having studied Carol Ann Duffy twice, both at GCSE and A-level. With all due respect to Carol Ann Duffy, she is on the syllabus, not because she is a greater poet than Milton, but because she is more "relevant", dealing as she does with very contemporary issues such as disaffected learners.'
In Science, the distinct disciplines of chemistry, physics and biology have been fused into 'scientific literacy', which is more subject to the trivia of the media than with the bedrock of the scientific method: ‘Students are asked to discuss issues such as global warming and GM crops, based on media coverage, and to consider whether or not scientists can be trusted’.
In History, there is no sense of narrative or chronology, but analysis through the lens of politically-correct perspectives: ‘Children jump around in time between, for example, Vikings and Victorians, Ancient Greeks and Tudors… There is no longer any requirement at all to teach about any specific personality from the past. Nor is there any requirement to teach about any specific event - other than within a world history context for one unit.'
One survey is noted in which it was found that half of young people ‘did not know that the Battle of Britain took place in World War II, and thought that either Gandalf, Horatio Hornblower or Christopher Columbus led the battle against the Spanish Armada’. Such ignorance is storing up consequences for the future. Civitas states: ‘To know the history of one's country is a birthright. It tells us who we are and how we got here. It tells how our shared values came into being. A people that does not know its history is a people suffering from memory loss, amnesia - a damaging illness.'
Perhaps the most significant corrosion of the educational imperative may be seen in the hi-jacking of Geography by the advocates of ‘global citizenship’, with ‘environmentalism’ as its core faith: ‘Global citizenship education is tied to specific non-academic values that tend towards the replacement of knowledge with morality as the central focus of the curriculum. Thus global problems are not presented as issues to be interrogated for truth, knowledge and meaning, with a view to students developing ideas about the potential courses of social and political action. Instead, the solution is to be found in the personal realm and is presented as a given: that people need to adhere to a new global values system that encourages them to consume less, have fewer children, take public transport rather than drive their cars, be less money-grabbing, support charities, and so forth. Such an approach is no substitute for educating pupils to interpret the world for themselves.
The report states that 'increasingly, independent schools are refusing to submit to this inadequate curriculum, and are opting for courses and examinations independent of government manipulation. Thus the O-level, the IGCSE, and the International Baccalaureate are increasing in popularity. While some state schools are also opting for these qualifications, the significant disincentive is the realisation that government does not fund them, and schools are left to cope with the financial consequences. Such academically-rigorous qualifications are therefore simply out of reach for many state schools. Issues of pedagogy, upon which civilisations has been constructed for millennia, have been subordinated to social engineering and political expediency. The moulding of the ‘responsible citizen’ has supplanted what Mill called the ‘higher’ pleasures – intellectual and aesthetic enjoyments. The school curriculum has been unacceptably dumbed down, with some subjects (like philosophy and ancient history) being publicly decried by ministers of the Crown, while endless lessons are devoted to obesity, sex education, black history, gay history, and ‘fairness’.
The Civitas solution is simple: to depoliticise education – ‘politicians need to be discouraged from regarding the curriculum as their platform for making statements'.
The question is whether there are any politicians in this country prepared to start making the necessary changes.