Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Price You Pay Discussion

For those of you interested in a political theory discussion on the role government has in the murder of its citizens via welfare cuts, then check this out.

I have a piece going up on the same site tomorrow on Russian influence on Kyrgyzstan. Yup, the fun times just keep on rolling....

Friday, 11 June 2010

South Africa 2010: Great goal or Horrible Miss?

Who should play in goal? Will Rooney's groin strain recur? And just how can England be so bad at penalties?

Yes it's that time again. All other news will hardly get a look in during the following month as the country goes mad for the World Cup. If you think it's bad here though imagine what the atmosphere is like in South Africa; the host nation.

This will be the first time the competition will be held in Africa, a continent which has given so much to the game. It is though also a continent which is ravished by war, famine and poverty and often engenders a feeling of pity more than anything else. The World Cup is a chance to begin to move away from this and earn a new-found respect from the rest of the world.

South Africa undoubtedly has a lot to be proud of considering that only 16 years ago the African National Congress (ANC) inherited a formerly apartheid state with no money and a bubbling racial hostility that was ready to explode at the drop of a hat. Now the country is host to a wide variety of private companies, banks and financial markets making it Africa's largest economy and the world's 24th largest. It has even rode the recent global financial crisis with some ease thanks to fantastic mineral wealth.

Some are more critical of hosting the World Cup in South Africa, including some of the most venerable writers of the game such as Brian Glanville. He sees this as an attempt by the feckless Sepp Blatter to foist the competition upon a continent which isn't ready.

Outside of the world of football politics, this argument retains its validity. GDP per person stands at a lowly $10,000, less than a quarter of the American figure, and this is distributed in a less than even fashion. Most blacks are reliant on the pitiful government support meaning they live in shacks located in crime-ridden townships outside the main cities; a murder is committed once every half hour. With poor sanitation and 43% of the population living on $2 a day it is unsurprising that the country ranks a measly 129th on the UN Human Development Index, 12th in Africa.

Unemployment is also a huge challenge with the official rate at 25%; the highest in the world. There is also a clear dividing line on race (30% of blacks are unemployed compared 6% of whites) which only serves to highlight the elephant in the room. After 350 years of white supremacy it would have been foolish to think that the issue would disappear overnight. One only has to think back to the murder of Eugène Terre'Blanche in April and the tension this caused.

Compared with 20 years ago though this is nothing ad people often forget this. South Africa is very much on the up even if it has to make a few mistakes along the way. Many see the dominance of the corrupt ANC as a threat to this but under constant scrutiny from opposition parties, the press, the courts, unions and NGOs it seems unlikely South Africa will go the same way as neighbouring Zimbabwe. This years World Cup should be seen as an opportunity to not only celebrate how far South Africa has come but to encourage it to go further and act as a talisman for her continent. As football correspondent Mark Gleeson puts it: "it is a rare opportunity that would be criminal to miss."

Monday, 7 June 2010

A New Start

Exams are over and school (well uni) is out for summer. I'm hoping to do quite a bit of writing over the summer. This is not only on here though dear reader! I have become once again involved in quite a nice little website called 'The Vibe' and have had an interesting discussion with an ardent Zionist over 'flotilla-gate' which you can see here. I'm also hoping to start work on a couple of my own books including one on the first crusade and a short novel. Exciting times.

Anyway we all know that we've now got a coalition government so it's not worth banging on about all that old news. It's great to have David Cameron as our PM and the coalition represents an exciting change in British politics. Although I felt that the agreement was drawn up rather hastily and Nick Clegg in the end was forced into acceptance by a resigning Gordon Brown I believe that it will last the whole five years.

On the other hand I hope that FPTP remains as our voting system by 2015 and I think this is just one area where the coalition partners will have to agree to disagree!

Hope you are all well and a lot of people who read this are also probably doing exams at the moment so good luck to you. For more regular updates follow me on twitter!