What a difference a year makes

A year ago the Ukraine was a stable country, with a democratically elected government and parliament. It was peaceful and orderly. It had profitable trading relations with Russia, the European Union and the United States.   Now the country is...

Attributing blame

A passenger jet is shot from the skies. All the passengers and crew are killed. Washington and London are quick to attribute blame, demanding the perpetrators be held to account. Western corporate news media provide an enthusiastic chorus.   The...

Slick spin

Israeli spin is certainly slick. But then it needs to be. The facts are too inconvenient to be allowed to speak for themselves. Enter Mr Frank Luntz.   Luntz is a well known propagandist. An expert. He wrote a one hundred plus page report,...

Washington, spin and the media

The White House spin doctors repeatedly told the world that it had evidence that Russia was to blame for the downing of flight MH17 over the Ukraine. This narrative has been repeated over and over by the Western media. Yet US intelligence officials...

War and truth

One victim of the current escalation of the conflict in Gaza is freedom of expression. An advertisement by B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, which lists the names and ages of some of the children killed by the Israeli Defence Force has been...

Israeli war crimes

The United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights this morning stated that Israel may be guilty of war crimes. The word "may" deifies belief. There is no need for an inquiry. The merest glance at the situation is sufficient to demonstrate the...

On credibility

When someone has lied to you, not once, but repeatedly, it erodes their credibility. If you have any sense, you will look at any future assertions they might make with some scepticism, to say the least. Yet, this sensible rule of thumb apparently does...

First day in the alps

The high mountain stages are critical in any grand tour. Stage thirteen of the Tour provided an alpine summit finish. The final climb presented a serious challenge; over eighteen kilometres of climbing. Nibali rose to the challenge, magnificently. He...

Who needs evidence?

Yesterday, flight MH17 fell from the skies over eastern Ukraine. Almost three hundred people died in the tragic event. On the basis of those scant facts, the propagandists immediately set to work. The Sun screamed the headline: "Putin's Missile."...

Heroism or just cruelty?

The story of stage eleven of the Tour is, if one listens to the pundits, one of heroism. Andrew Talansky was out the back early on in the stage. It was obvious that he was sufferring badly. The pace and the terrain were easy enough for any reasonably...

Parliament and accountability

Yesterday, the government placed a bill before parliament that will allow the state to lawfully spy on all its citizens. The House of Commons was given nine hours to discuss and vote on the proposed law. It was a depressing sight. One that I can only...

On the right to self determination

The right to self-determination lies at the heart of international law. Politicians are universally in favour of the right and cite it often. They are always in favour of self-determination. Yet, notwithstanding all this universal support, its...

A stage of surprises

Stage ten, the third in a trio of mountain stages, proved to be a day of surprises. One of those was Joaquim Rodrigruez, who started the Tour obviously lacking form and spent the first week sat at the back of the peloton. He got into the early break...

Gallopin into yellow

Stage nine of the Tour saw something of a truce between the main general classification contenders. This provided a perfect opportunity for the break. Tony Martin won the stage by virtue of an outstanding solo time-trial performance. However, it was...

Into the mountains

The first mountain stage of the Tour provided a serious test of the relative strengths of the general classication contenders. Stage eight was virtually flat until the final thirty kilometres, which had three caterogised climbs, including a summit...

A sprint

The seventh stage of the Tour provided a dramatic finale. This was a long, flat stage with two hills in the final twenty kilometres. Sagan's Cannondale team had set the pace for most of the race, in the expectation that sprint specialists would be...

The people's representatives

The European Court of Justice found a European Directive that allowed the states of Europe to snoop on citizens' data unlawful. This happened back in April. Since then, the leaders of Britain's elected representatives have been holding secret...

On expectations

A cycling race can be very predictable. It can also confound the most reasonable of expectations. Sometimes, it can be both, simultaneously. Stage six of the Tour is case in point. Looking at the parcours, one would expect a bunch sprint finish. Given...

On pave

As expected the fifth stage of the Tour de France had a significant impact on the general classification. Nibali retained the yellow jersey and took serious time out of his rivals, who were only two seconds down at the start of the stage.   The...

The devil and the pope

Pope Francis gets a great deal of positive coverage by the media, including the liberal media. So much so, one might be forgiven for thinking that he was some kind of font of Enlightenment values. Yet, nothing could be further from the true. Just like...

In Flanders Fields

Eurosport stepped up its commentary on the Tour from the merely inane to the surreal for stage four. The programme's theologian (no, I am not making this up: Eurosport has a resident theologian for its coverage of the Tour) decided to treat the...

Le Tour and television commentary

One might be forgiven for thinking that ITV and Eurosport are competing to see who can produce the most inane commentary on the Tour. As the riders swooped through a village, ITV treated its viewers to the claim: "This is a medieval village, it goes...

On tactics and expert opinion

The terrain of the second stage of the Tour was so challenging it split the peloton to pieces. By the time the leading group reached the last climb, it was down to a mere twenty riders; the best of the general classification contenders and classics...

Le Tour comes to Yorkshire

Perhaps a million people lined the route to see something of the first stage of the Tour de France in Yorkshire. That is something like one in five of the population. The media commentators have of course made much of the crowds, claiming it shows how...

On fear, le Tour and the BBC

As the Tour de France is about to come to Yorkshire, the BBC has commissioned a poll on cycling. The results make for depressing reading. Over half of the respondents claimed that the roads are too dangerous to cycle on. Of course, the usual suspects...