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At the schoolhouse gate

I was a little kid when the US was disfigured by people like Orville Faubus barring the entrance to a Little Rock school and troops being required to protect the first black students at the University of Mississippi.

But these were the images yesterday’s appalling sectarian troubles in Belfast recalled. Girls as young as four had to have a heavily armed police escort to protect their walk to a Catholic school in a Protestant neighbourhood.

Apparently, all will be calm if the children come to school down a side road, rather than through the main entrance. Is there anyone who can understand the thinking behind people who will scream abuse at little children because of the route they take going to school?

As in Little Rock and Ole Miss, the forces of the state have been ranged to protect civil liberties. And I remain optimistic that, as in the US south, the day will arrive when these images become history rather than news. But today that seems a distant prospect.

Down in Durban

In the brouhaha over the US and Israel quitting the World Conference Against Racism, some important developments are in danger of being lost in the shuffle.

The Financial Times reports that the imprecise wording of resolutions in Durban could weaken existing international human rights conventions, rather than strengthen them. And the conference’s focus on recompense for past slavery seems to be obscuring the slavery that still exists. The International Labour Organisation reckons slavery and abduction exist in Liberia, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Sudan.


The always irreverent Register reckons “if you could pick a Fantasy Bad Deal out of the ether, you couldn’t come up with one worse than HP and Compaq”. Certainly the record of m&a deals like this is woeful in terms of value creation.

My heart sinks

An interesting article in the Financial Times discusses the impact of the Guggenheim on Bilbao. You won’t, however, see the photo that runs in the newspaper on the website. It is of the Guggenheim, but it is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim in New York, not Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim that is illustrated.

Incidentally, the article also discusses the “hot banana” of economic prosperity that apparently stretches from London, through Paris and Frankfurt, to Milan. When I was at World Link, we looked at doing a feature on the hot banana, but I recall it was meant to be an arc from Barcelona through to northern Italy. These promotional phrases are a moveable feast, as the wonderful Siliconia demonstrates.

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