As thoughts turn to the problem of getting our politicians to think about something other than themselves tomorrow night, here are four things that are happening in places other than Stormont, Conway Mill, and Antrim Borough Council… Please feel free to add your own suggestions…The big one at the moment is the discovery of radio active material on board two British Airways flights. Forty staff at Barnet General Hospital and University College Hospital, where former KGB man Alexander Litvinenko was treated for poisoning are to undergo tests. There may an Irish link too, in that former acting Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar’s collapsed in Kildare at the weekend presenting his book Death of the Empire to a conference on Irish-Russian relations. It is thought to be linked to Litvinenko’s death, possibly through a former bodyguard of Gaidar’s who met with Litvinenko before his poisoning on or about 1st November.
Religion was big this week. The Pope has started his tour of Turkey in something akin to a penitent mood after his remarks stirred a maelstrom of controversy in September. And after the Veil controversy, Nadia Eweida won her battle with British Airways for the right to wear the Christian symbol of the cross, (possibly) following Tony Blair’s advice that you should never pick a fight you can’t win (hey ho Tony). Echoes of Fiachra Gibbons. And there is the question of the role of religious courts and their relationship with state law.
Good News, Bad News for the Murdoch empire. He put the cat amongst the pigeons, when he bought 17.9% of ITV, the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster, for £940m, the Economist reckons so that Sky can prepare us for pay-television, as in America, rather than settling for the free kind. More immediately, one his journalists, Clive Goodman, on the News of the World was convicted for plotting to intercept private phone messages of Prince William and Prince Harry, amongst others. It follows on from an embarrassing climb down over two of his News International subsidiaries’ (Regan Books and Fox News) plans to roll out OJ Simpson’s hypothetical confession of double murder, If I Did It. In the end an interview with Simpson for Fox News conducted by publisher Judith Regan was pulled, and the book mostly pulped.
To get really obscure, there is the question of who gives more. According to a new book published in America religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals. It accords with our exceeding quick and dirty poll of Big Issue sellers in Bournemouth who look forward to the Compassionate Tories coming each year, as opposed to the stingy radicals of Labour and the Lib Dems.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty