KING HUSSEIN OF JORDAN'S FUNERAL
International comment on the gathering of world leaders in Jordan to attend the funeral of King Hussein
THE SUPPORT and expressions of solidarity that Jordan has received on both the regional and the international fronts yesterday has certainly been reassuring. While Jordanians expressed their grief over the loss of His Majesty King Hussein, they equally rallied to pledge allegiance to his chosen heir, His Majesty King Abdullah. Both the Arab World and the international communities wasted no time in demonstrating their support for Jordan in its moment of sadness. It can genuinely be said that King Hussein's legacy as the champion of peace humbled even the mighty yesterday as Jordan laid its King to rest.
The New York Times
IN DEATH, King Hussein was able to do once more what he often did while living - draw together divided men. What mattered in Amman was the keen emotion of the moment and, no less, the spectacle of seeing such an unrivaled array of powerful faces. Behind a military band and an honour guard, the extraordinary group walked together through the cold, bleached light of Amman. They did not succeed in giving the funeral pomp. They were captured instead by its silent, eloquent modesty, more powerful in its way than pomp could ever be.
PRIME MINISTER Mian Nawaz Sharif's visit to Amman, to pay homage to the late King Hussein of Jordan and join his funeral procession along with heads of states, prime ministers and representatives of more than 40 countries, was an occasion of some political importance, not only because Pakistan has had a long history of friendship with Jordan, but also because it provided an opportunity to the Prime Minister to establish personal contacts with the new King. As happens on such occasions, however, with so many heads of other governments also being there, it was a golden opportunity to meet at least those aware of Pakistan's problems and exchange ideas with them about the ways of resolving them.
Turkish Daily News
DURING A period in which there are speculations about many kingdoms reaching their end, it is a significant accomplishment for a family to retain power in a country that is not their soil of origin and that was manufactured to fit a purpose. It is also a great success for a king to die in his sick bed after remaining in power for 46 long years, particularly in a region that experienced four major Arab-Israeli wars, one regional war and a series of clashes and uprisings. Let's wait and see if the young King Abdullah will sustain the success achieved by his father, and will receive the support of his uncle who, until only a week ago, thought he himself would be the one to assume the throne.
KING HUSSEIN is dead. The world paid an unprecedented tribute to a man whose impact on the Middle East and on the world will be evident for some decades to come. The funeral procession was not pompous. It was not meant to be. What mattered was the emotions. The gathering of leaders and representatives was impressive. Most of them cherished memories of King Hussein in their hearts. Many had lukewarm relations with him. Nevertheless, they all wanted to pay homage to the man who, even in his death, could bring divided people together.
THE PRESENCE of four American presidents at Hussein's funeral was a dramatic demonstration of the respect the US had for Hussein, and the importance it attaches to Jordan as an ally. Jordan is more than an ally of convenience. There are strong ties with America; Abdullah attended prep school and college here; and the Jordanian people enjoy rights the US espouses. We are a generous benefactor of Jordan; and US diplomatic, financial and political support should be mustered to insure that King Abdullah is able to continue his father's policies. Jordan's origins may have been artificial, but it has become a very real and very positive presence in the Mideast.
The Times of India
EVERYONE IN the Middle East - and in Washington, London and Moscow - was furious at Hussein at one time or another, but he proved as skillfully evasive as a hummingbird, always darting to safety just as the pressures of the day seemed about to overwhelm him. He stayed in power longer than any other Mideast ruler because of his unsurpassed ability to balance the competing pressures on him.
CHRIS WOODHEAD'S GAFFE
Comment following the remark of the Chief Inspector of Schools about affairs between teachers and pupils
THE REASON for the emphasis given to Mr Woodhead's remark - Government proposals for a one-year prison sentence for teachers and other "figures in authority who have sexual relationships with 16- or 17-year-olds in their care" - is the legislative equivalent of a knee-jerk response designed to appease the questioner. In his original comments, Mr Woodhead declared that "human beings can get themselves into messes"; the furore his remarks created are proof enough of that. The real mess, however, lies in the Government's readiness to create a dog's dinner by legislating without any apparent forethought.
CHRIS WOODHEAD stays. That is both proper and right. He will never be popular with teachers but that is no fault in a chief inspector. He could be more diplomatic, but better his bluntness than the discretion of earlier inspectors which helped cover up unacceptable faults. Woodhead's image is not all his own fault. He does praise teachers too, but that does not get reported.
ON THE one hand Labour is arguing that boys of 16 are adult enough to make their own sexual choices; on the other hand it concedes that they can be exploited by adults and need protection. Yet when the Chief Inspector of Schools appears to suggest that teachers who have affairs with girl pupils need not be sacked there is a justifiable outcry. Truly we live in confusing times.
DESPITE BOTH making stupid comments, Glenn Hoddle and Chris Woodhead have suffered very different fates. In Hoddle's case, an ill-considered remark about the disabled cost him his job. Yet Woodhead is clinging on to his post as head of Britain's school inspectors despite his comments about teachers sleeping with pupils. The reason why one went and the other has stayed in easy to spot. It is because Tony Blair stuck his oar into the Hoddle row, but so far he has kept out of the Woodhead affair. For someone who claims that education is his top priority, his silence in the Woodhead affair is mystifying. This strange set of priorities comes only a few days after he attacked the media for focusing on trivial matters. In future, he would do well to look to his own record before making such accusations.
I HAVE no view on what Chris Woodhead's fate should be. But would his comments have been treated with such forbearance by Tony Blair if, instead of saying that sixth-formers should be sexually available to their teachers, he had said something genuinely irresponsible, such as calling for the abolition of the charitable status of private schools?
MR WOODHEAD has battled against vested interests in the effort to improve standards. He has proven himself to be a man of courage and integrity who has fought for every child to receive a decent education. It has been tough but he does it because he values good education. That is what he should be judged on, not an off-the-cuff remark. Mr Woodhead has given a full explanation of himself and has apologised. If he is willing to display more reticence on issues other than the nuts and bolts of schooling, that should be the end of the matter.
DAVID BLUNKETT is right to back Chris Woodhead.The chief inspector of schools has been tireless in raising standards. His affair with a former pupil is ancient history. And he has admitted his remarks about teachers having relationships with pupils were wrong. Woodhead is NOT another Glenn Hoddle.
British views on the success of the British film industry in this year's nominations for the Academy Awards
THE OSCAR nominations may have been a huge hit for our actresses - but they are a slap in the face for the men. But for all that, it's still set to be a superb Oscars for the Brits. Way back in the middle of last year, everyone and their dog new the Best Picture nomination was always going to include Saving Private Ryan. But for Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love to make it is extraordinary considering the American competition they have seen off.
IF ANYONE is tempted on Oscar night to make another of those "the British are coming" speeches, please don't. The reason is simple. Yes, there is a heavy flow of films and other programming from Hollywood and, yes, the size of the USdomestic market helps explain the cost advantage American shows enjoy overseas. But there's a strong counter current. British Equity may apply some restriction on movement but the flight of actors and expertise in both directions runs thick and fast; witness the made-at-Pinewood battle scenes in Private Ryan. Nobody stands on Broadway and says the British are coming because they have been a strong force in US drama for ages.
It's shaping up as a good Oscar year for films made in Britain - if not for British film. There is a difference. The nominations highlight the depth of talent among casts and crews here. Yet, for all its apparent Englishness, because of its financing, Shakespeare in Love can justifiably be called American. Its subject matter is quintessentially English. Most of its cast, director and co-writer are British. It was shot near London. But there is not a penny of British money in it.
THE PHENOMENAL success of the British film Shakespeare In Love, in this age of supposedly "dumbed-down" public entertainment, seems remarkable. Who would have thought that a movie about an Elizabethan playwright, so often derided as "elitist" or "obscure" by our cultural leaders, would have secured no fewer than 13 Oscar nominations, including best film. (Leo McKinstry)
THE DEATH OF IRIS MURDOCH
Comment following the death of Dame Iris Murdoch after suffering Alzheimer's disease
IRIS MURDOCH wrote with wit and flair about such difficult topics as murder, suicide, incest, blackmail, betrayal and the other strains love puts on morality. But in addition to her literary legacy, her later years made another difficult topic less taboo - Alzheimer's disease. Iris Murdoch and John Bayley have made Alzheimer's that much less of a taboo, and open discussion of a disease is a step toward its ultimate cure.
WE NEED to recall Iris's amazing strength: of artistic ideas, of invention, of charm and intelligence. Those are the things that those who knew her will remember most about her. And they are all there in the marvellous storehouse of her novels, covering so many characters, so many lives, so many affairs, so many fantasies, and so many years - to which we should now do well to return. (Malcolm Bradbury)
WRITER DAME Iris Murdoch dies at 79. Her husband, John Bayley, might fear ordinary folk will forget her quickly. But he would be wrong. Britain still treasures its writers. And she was one of our finest.
A QUIET exit like Iris's is the trend. It was typical of the modest Iris Murdoch that on her death she didn't want any fuss. No grand funeral or aggrandising memorial. A philosopher, intellectual, acclaimed novelist, she had no doubt considered the manner of her passing and decided she would like to go quietly. (Vanora Bennett)
RESTRICTIONS IN GIBRALTAR
Spanish comment on Britain's reaction to restrictions on travel to and from Gibraltar
LACK OF results from a constructive policy on Gibraltar has pushed the Spanish Government into taking extreme measures to restrict the parasitic economy of the Rock, and the lives of those who live there. It's not a case of bending the willpower of the Gibraltarians, but of smashing it. But the problem is not only the Rock, it's also London.
THE BRITISH Government's protest against the measures adopted by Spain over Gibraltar are simply repeating an old error. An error which it now plans to take to the European Union. If Britain values supranational institutions so highly, it shouldn't underrate the United Nations General Assembly's clear doctrine on the legal need to decolonise the last, anachronistic bastion of colonialism on the continent of Europe. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Through the false British argument, always based on the wishes - artificial and heavily influenced - of the Gibraltarians, shine the UN's repeated declarations. It's the Spanish Government which has reason to protest against Britain, and to take any necessary action against it.
SOME BRITISH MPs have asked Tony Blair to send the Navy to Gibraltar. What for? To protect the Gibraltarians against landings by Spanish fishermen who want to take the monkeys hostage until London agrees to revoke the Treaty of Utrecht? It's ridiculous. What's at stake now has nothing to do with grand questions of principle, but with the strange state in which the Rock exists, defying not only the oldest agreements, but also the most current Community law.
Stories from around the world
"There's no there there," said Gertrude Stein, referring to Los Angeles. With the demolition of the old Hudson's building, it's pretty clear that "downtown" Detroit has no there there, either. The urban center is empty, and tumbleweeds blow down the avenues. But a dynamic region has to have some downtown, somewhere. So if "downtown" Detroit isn't downtown anymore, where is it? Some would argue Metro Detroit has no there at all. They come in from cities with a lot of there in their downtowns - and don't see any THERE at the riverfront and figure that there probably isn't any. But they are wrong. Detroit has a huge downtown, but it's scattered all over the place.
WHEN THE members of the school's student board decide to "clean up" a neighborhood, they really clean it up. About 12 of them were on hand to clean up the former site of a funeral home. There were no drug dealers in sight in the violent area as students cleaned. What was in evidence was the product traded with such deadly frequency on the corner. Asked what kind of drugs they found, one junior said "I don't know, stuff. I guess we don't know our drugs very well."
THE VIEWS OF THE WORLD
Philadelphia Daily News