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The Fifth Column: September 2013

The Fifth Column: September 2013

Now it Can be Told Margaret Thatcher is safely in another place now, but only a sour-puss would deny the late British prime minister made an impression on everyone she met, one way or another. Austria’s then Chancellor Franz Vranitzky found himself in Moscow in 1988 to broach the delicate issue of whether or not Austria […]

Germany most influential

Germany is viewed as the country with the “most positive influence” in the world, according to the BBC’s annual Country Ratings Poll. Interviewing 26,000 people from 25 countries by phone or face-to-face between December 2012 and April 2013, subjects were asked by GlobeScan/PIPA (Program on International Policy Attitudes) to rate 16 countries and the European […]

Snow Job

In Britain, people constantly complain about the weather. In Austria, people complain about everything else. Gleefully embracing every opportunity to throw snide remarks across the channel, we revel in their ineptness at an inch of the white stuff. This year, the heavy snowfall in mid-January was the first test for the £36 million snow removal […]

U.K. Buys Austrian Guns

U.K. Buys Austrian Guns

The British Ministry of Defence has signed a 9 million pound sterling contract to purchase 25,000 Austrian-made Glock pistols. The contract will outfit British forces in Afghanistan with the fourth generation Glock 17 to replace their current sidearm, the Browning L981. After two years of rigorous testing, the handgun has been chosen to replace the […]

Eclipse of British Reason

Eclipse of British Reason

When placed under too much strain, chains tend to break at the weakest link. Figuratively speaking, the same applies to the European Union. So most assumed that any process of EU disintegration would start in the crisis-ridden European south (Greece first and foremost). But, as British Prime Minister David Cameron has now demonstrated, the European […]

United Kingdom Adrift

“Frankly the deal on the table was just not good enough. It wasn’t good enough for Britain, nor was it good enough for a number of other countries.” British Prime Minister David Cameron left no doubt on 26 Nov. how he would like to redefine the U.K.’s relationship with Europe, taking a hard stance against […]

Short-Sighted On EU Expansion

Short-Sighted On EU Expansion

A grim Norbert Lammert, president of the German Bundestag, frowns narrowly from Der Spiegel’s online edition into a point somewhere in mid-distance. The headline: “Lammert Proposes to Suspend EU Enlargement.” The EU has “to take the latest report very seriously,” he said on 13 October. “Croatia is obviously not ready for EU membership… I don’t […]

Portly Police

Portly Police

As Britain debates swingeing cuts to the police budget, commentators lament that the famous “thin blue line” of officers protecting the public from harm is growing thinner. But the slimming of the force may also take a more literal shape following the Winsor Review, a 1,000-page independent assessment of police pay and conditions published in […]

A Dark, Looming Legacy

The clack, clack, clack of crows is a constant in the Calder Valley. The birds wheel about high on the autumnal wind. Perhaps it’s their very ancestors who inhabit so many of the writings of late English poet Ted Hughes. “A black rainbow, Bent in emptiness, Over emptiness,” he wrote of the crow. “His palace […]

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