On the web: grumbling about world politics, Europe, the US economy, and Palin’s speeches…

– The former British Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, explains why he’s not grumpy about the current state of international politics – perhaps an outside candidate for the role of EU Foreign Minister? Le Monde diplomatique, meanwhile, suggests that the path to Lisbon has emphasised the gap between European governments and their citizens.

– John Gapper takes a look at Warren Buffett’s $27 billion deal to buy the railroad company BNSF, and explores what the “Sage of Omaha’s” latest move says about the basis of US economic recovery. Harold James, meanwhile, assesses the current state of monetary policy following the financial crisis, suggesting that we may be heading towards “international monetary chaos”.

– Elsewhere, the Daily Beast reproduces the “lost” victory and concession speeches that Sarah Palin never gave on election night one year ago – making for interesting reading indeed.

– Finally, over at Oxfam, Duncan Green laments the familiar refrain of NGOs, international institutions and governments alike to the need for “political will” and “good governance” when trying to achieve reform. Greater investment in “political literacy” and deeper “power analysis” instead, he suggests, should underpin attempts to bring about such change.

Ctrl.Alt.Shift: new departures in NGO messaging

Ooh, look at Christian Aid.  They’ve launched a new site called Ctrl.Alt.Shift, which describes itself as “a community for passionate and outspoken individuals, joined in the fight against poverty and injustice”.  Why it’s good:

(1) it looks gorgeous – really fresh design and layout;

(2) it’s clearly trying to move towards a more engaged and participative approach;

(3) Christian Aid have internalised the lesson that making the conversation happen is more important than getting the credit for being the host: the only reference to Christian Aid on the whole site is on the About page; and best of all…

(4) It’s really edgy. Rather than the usual stuff about ‘more and better aid’ etc. – yawn – it focuses on issues like the cocaine trade or ladyboys in Thailand.  Indeed, such is the site’s edginess that it even has a partnership with Vice magazine, who are about as far from being the sort of organisation you’d expect Christian Aid to have as a buddy as you can possibly imagine.  (I exaggerate not: Vice’s website currently sports a how-to guide on anal sex as its top story. Christian Aid – who knew?)