William Underhill

Stories by William Underhill

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    A Sober Man and True

    The British press might do well to emulate Lord Justice Brian Leveson, the judge presiding over the ethics hearings following the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
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    From Tess to Trishna

    British director Michael Winterbottom takes Hardy’s classic novel into modern-day India.
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    Philosopher of B.S.

    British academic Stephen Law is intent on warning people about the perils of bullshit.
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    Can a New Government Save Ireland?

    Irish voters look sure to punish their political masters in this week’s election. Polls suggest that the ruling Fianna Fáil government, widely blamed for the economic trauma of the past three years, will gain barely 15 percent of the vote, down more than 20 points from the last election in 2007.
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    Swiss Banks Take Aim at Despots

    For decades, a Swiss bank account was the favored hideaway for assets snaffled by the world’s most kleptocratic leaders. The roll of dishonor includes presidents Marcos of the Philippines, Mobutu of Zaire, Abacha of Nigeria, and “Baby Doc” Duvalier of Haiti. But these days Switzerland seems eager to clean up its reputation: last month authorities rushed to freeze the assets of ousted Tunisian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Ivory Coast embattled president Laurent Gbagbo. And just last week a new Swiss law took effect that will make it easier to reclaim cash plundered by Third World tyrants.
  • wizard-of-oz-the-musical-tease

    Andrew Lloyd Webber Brings 'Oz' to the West End

    If anyone could make "The Wizard of Oz" cool again, it’s Lloyd Webber. The production will be much more than a simple transfer to the stage of the classic 1939 movie.
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    British Unions Threaten Strikes for Royal Wedding

    British trade unions have a sure touch when it comes to antagonizing the public. Drivers on London’s Underground are considering strikes to coincide with the royal wedding—blighting the occasion for tens of thousands of well-wishers. Overseas visitors hoping to join Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29 may also face disappointment: British Airways cabin crews have proposed strike action around the same time.
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    Can Europe Help Brits and Americans Control Debt?

    By rights, the careless consumers of the developed world should be in a chastened mood. After all, it was their binge spending on houses and consumer goods—fueled by credit and mortgages from recklessly indulgent banks—that helped bring the world to the brink of financial disaster back in 2008. Americans and the British, in particular, were done in by their free-spending ways. For years, Americans had been saving only 2 or 3 percent of their income, compared with 10 percent or more in European and Asian countries. The British, in turn, amassed even larger amounts of personal debt. By 2008, average household debt had reached 183 percent of annual disposable income, the highest level of any major economy.
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    Latest London Protests Not All About Students

    The demonstration was called to protest government plans to hike university tuition fees, approved yesterday by Parliament after weeks of fierce public debate. But the language and the violence suggest a wider challenge to authority from anarchists and far-left groups looking to hijack the student cause.
  • ireland-sinn-fein-SC11-wide

    Ireland Swerves Left

    Whether the Irish bailout saves the country from ruin, one winner is already emerging. Free-market parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have dominated the country’s politics for more than 60 years, but the economy’s nosedive is now throwing power to the left.
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    British Protests May Gain Sympathy for Cameron

    For the normally passive British public, the specter of political violence is back. In early November, students clashed with police and smashed their way into Conservative Party offices to express their opposition to proposed hikes in tuition fees.
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    Why Ireland Resisted The Bailout

    Why was cash-strapped Ireland so shy about taking aid from the European Union last week? As talk swelled of a bailout, the Irish government insisted that it had no immediate need for aid.
  • Europe Struggles for Relevance Post-Lisbon

    Good news for true believers in the European Union: this week President Obama will make an appearance at an EU-U.S. meeting in Lisbon. Europhiles haven’t forgotten Obama’s previous blow to the bloc’s prestige when Washington canceled a meeting in May: a no-show widely interpreted as a snub at a moment when Europe hoped to reinvent its global standing.
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    The Anglo-French Future

    At the 2004 banquet to mark the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, the grand Anglo-French friendship pact, Queen Elizabeth allowed herself a small example of British understatement. She told her French hosts, “Our historical relationship has not always been smooth.”
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    Britain's Unions Cautious About Austerity Measures

    Union leaders are ramping up the rhetoric, saying such things as "action is inevitable" because of the deep cuts being proposed. A campaign of protest is being coordinated by the Trades Union Congress. But the unions' concern also may take another form. How much public support do they really enjoy?
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    Britain’s Biggest Security Threat

    A new report declares that the U.K.’s greatest potential security threat is no longer armed conflict but cyberwarfare. The revelation could make Prime Minister David Cameron’s sweeping defense cuts more palatable to voters.
  • News for Murdoch

    Media baron Rupert Murdoch is once again setting his sights on London. His $54 billion News Corp., which already owns The Times of London and tabloid The Sun, now plans to shell out $12 billion for a full takeover of broadcaster Sky TV. If the deal happens, media analyst Claire Enders has predicted that Murdoch will control half the U.K.’s newspaper and TV markets within a decade.
  • Britain Squeezes the Affluent First

    From the headlines in London, you might think Prime Minister David Cameron is in trouble. When his government announced plans for a modest first cut in welfare payments last week—higher-earning taxpayers will forfeit their “child benefit” entitlements—the right-wing Daily Mail warned that the possible loss of some $30 per child per week would unleash THE FURY OF STAY-AT-HOME MUMS. It seemed that for the sake of saving £1 billion ($1.59 billion) a year, the Tory leader had risked alienating a powerful segment of his party’s natural supporters.
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    Ed Miliband, Labour's Futureless New Leader

    The Labour Party's new leader has perfectly good ideas. But because he looks like the union candidate, he'll probably be pummeled in the general election.
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    Gloomy Forecasts About British Economy Are Wrong

    Only a year ago foreigners were ready to write off Britain. American financial guru Jim Rogers, cofounderwith George Soros of the Quantum Fund, advised the world not to put any more money in Britain. Sterling was “finished.”
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    How the Party of the Working Class Lost Its Soul

    Britain’s Tony Blair has amassed $30 million since leaving office three years ago. Is he reaping his just rewards—or are he and other Labour leaders ideological sellouts?
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    Why Tony Blair's Memoir Can't Rescue His Image

    Tony Blair hoped his apologia would rehabilitate his image, which has suffered amid various embarrassing revelations since he left office. Too bad his former aides published their books first.

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