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All the news that fits

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 12, 2007

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What? No front page story on Paris Hilton’s latest travail?

Well, it is the Guardian Weekly after all. I just wanted to highlight a few items in this week’s edition (June 8-14 2007, Vol. 176 No 25).

— Jean-Jacques Bozonnet has a fascinating story on the Italian state. (“Torrent of criticism has Italian politicians fearing implosion”) Apparently, the Italian political apparatus is ten times the size of its neighboring European countries. A local business leader is quoted as saying: “The cost of political representation is equal to that of France, Germany, the UK and Spain together. The party system alone costs taxpayers 200m euro a year, compared with 73m euro in France.”

— A day in the life of an anonymous private security contractor in Iraq entitled “It’s the wild west: we’re a taxi service with guns.”

— A reprint from the Washington Post by Steven Pearlstein entitled “US middle class doing just fine.” I think I’ll run down a copy of the study in question as it flies in the face of most things I’ve experienced about the American economy.

— “Danger: upheaval down under,” an opinion piece by Will Hutton of the Observer, details striking parallels between the political climate in Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, with an emphasis on the state of the social-democratic Left. Here’s two salient quotes: “One answer is being provide by a nascent Australian progressive think-tank, Per Capita. The left has to invest in people, design markets so that companies deliver public-interest outcomes, extend the polluter-pays principle to every form of economic activity where private companies do not pay for the damage they generate and start to develop a story about promoting individual wellbeing. It is a fine wish-list, and the ambition can hardly be faulted. The question remains: how?” And there’s Hutton’s concluding paragraph: “It is not that the right has a better or even good answer to the questions of our times. It is that the modern left, unless it is prepared to say something concrete about how it wants the economy to look in the future and takes steps to shape it, has little to say either. And if it’s the incumbent government, the consequences is staring it in the face.”

— A whole secti0n on the “G8 and the world.” It asks the rhetorical question: “Developed nations’ leaders have promised to give poorer states a better deal. Are they delivering?” The answer is, no.

— A cyberpunk flavored story about how RFID tags are being used to help make sense out of the baffling confusion that is Tokyo. (“Tagging Tokyo’s streets” by Michael Fitzpatrick) “The city with no street names.”

— A well-deserved savaging of Don DeLillo’s latest novel which I think applies to most of the man’s pretentious oeuvre. (“An inevitable DeLillo, an unoriginal DeLillo” by Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post)

It’s still probably on the newsstands, in case you’re interested.

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