Rally in Dublin - and a Drone - 11th June 2013|
Under a glorious blazing sun, Ireland's biggest public demonstration of the year took place last Saturday 8th June. But if radio, TV and newspapers are your source of information you would scarcely have known that it was coming, nor that it had taken place.
That is because it was a pro-life rally whereas Ireland's media are wildly enthusiastic for abortion and more abortion, and don't want people to know there are other widely held viewpoints.
The organization of the crowds was superb as was their behaviour; the visuals and sound systems were top-class. Big screens and speakers meant that wherever you stood you could see and hear exactly what was happening in the massive stage that had been set up.
Packed into two sides of Merrion Square, the turnout looked huge, though estimates vary.
The few newspapers that made passing mention talked of “thousands”.
The police said there were 15-20,000 though didn't say where they got such numbers.
The official organizers put the number at over 40,000.
I did my own counting and calculating and came up with a figure of 30,000 +/- 20%, ie between 24,000 and 36,000. Here is how I did this:
Along Merrion Square West, where I was situated, I counted:
35 heads from one side of the road to the other,
50 heads between large, distinctive lamposts,
7 lamposts along the area occupied by people.
Thus 35 x 10 x 6 = 10,500 people filled this stretch of road. The South side of the square which was also jam-packed, is twice as long as the West side.
Hence the total was 31,500, say 30k to be safe. This would not include any overflow into adjacent streets.
This is all a bit academic, but it is important to demonstrate that the estimates of the media and the police are undoubtedly far too low, because it illustrates their prejudice on the subject.
The reason for Ireland's vigorous pro-life campaign is that its government, a coalition of a rightish party Fine Gael and a strongly leftist Labour party, is gung-ho to introduce abortion into Ireland for the first time ever, supposedly only to save the life of mothers. However, Fine Gael made a pre-election promise not to introduce abortion, but under pressure from Labour its leadership has made a complete U-turn. By
steadfastly ignoring not only its pro-life promise but all medical and psychiatric evidence that shows beyond doubt that it is never necessary to directly target the baby's life in order to save the mother's life,
while avoiding every opportunity to debate or to explain why it is so keen to abort and
whipping party members,
the Coalition is doggedly pushing through its legislation.
I won't use this post to argue the pros and cons. I only want to tell people what I can remember about the rally.
Four speakers stood out as far as I was concerned. It was not only the content of what they said, but the clarity, passion and brevity with which they delivered their message, which I imagine were the result of much coaching and rehearsal.
Maria Steen, a brilliant speaker and debater for the pro-life cause,
went through the main points of the so-called
of Life during Pregnancy Bill”,
exposing each as a deception, such as that this will help the health of
pregnant women, or that the European Court of Justice is demanding
abortion. She had a great line as she systematically demolished
each such falsehood: “It does no such thing!”.
She saved her best for last when she pointed out that the title of bill
most certainly does not “do what it says on the tin”.
Adele Best spoke movingly of her own
two abortions. The first she willing chose; the second her
boyfriend coerced her in to. In each case she was stricken
afterwards with extreme depression and mental issues, adding up to some
fifteen years of misery in all, until she received help from
Women Hurt, an
organisation for post-abortion women. Subsequently she gave birth to a
child, who has become the light of her life. She now wants to warn
other post-abortion women not to stay silent about their suffering and
not to harbour shame.
Another woman spoke of having her
unborn baby diagnosed with a serious and rare illness (whose name I
forget). Her Irish obstetrician immediately advised her
“to go to England” [for an abortion].
When she refused, she was given extremely frosty treatment from him and
from other maternity staff for the rest of her pregnancy for having
failed to follow his admonishment. Nevertheless, the little girl
survived, was born, and thanks to some wonderful heart surgery is now a
fully functioning healthy three-year-old. Who was delighted to
smile and wave at the cameras (Minute 0:31-34 in the above YOutube clip,
with her daddy).
John McA, whose beautiful new wife Michaela was murdered while on honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011, spoke movingly of the need to protect the unborn, no doubt thinking of the unborn children he and Michaela never would have. Michaela was the only daughter of a highly successful and popular GAA football coach.
But the coolest thing of all was this “SpiderSkyCam” drone, powered by eight rotors with an HD camera in the middle, which buzzed and hovered overhead in the bright sky taking video and stills of the event, some of which feature in the video above. Contracted in by the rally organisers, it buzzed around and up and down the crowd throughout the meeting, controlled by some unseen technician, while giving some of us a crick in the neck.
It would be handy to deploy one of them to the Cabinet meeting room to eavesdrop on the abortion “deliberations” such as they are.
The purpose of the rally was to get the attention of the ruling politicians, to demonstrate that there is a huge pro-life constituency passionately opposed to the proposed legislation and that there will be a bitter electoral price to pay if it is passed.
Time will tell how successful the overall pro-life campaign will be. And how many tiny, innocent lives will be saved - or snuffed out.
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Rugby referees have at their disposal four grades of punishment for errors or foul play.
In addition, however, a player may be cited, meaning further action is warranted, in respect of behaviour that has been viewed on television, whether or not the referee has spotted it or imposed his own punishment. If cited, a player is called up before a panel of rugby judges, the evidence is reviewed, he is allowed to present his defence and a verdict reached. If guilty, further punishment is often administered, usually a ban for a fixed period, which involves shame for the player involved but also, for a professional, loss of earnings.
Recent such bans have highlighted a curious anomaly in regards to punishments meted out to top European rugby professionals:
Ireland's Cian Healy earned a three-week ban for stamping on the leg of Dan Cole in an Ireland/England game on 10th February 2013 (which Ireland lost 6-12)
The sanction for Ireland's star Brian O'Driscoll's was a penalty, a yellow card and a three-week ban for stamping on the stomach of Simone Favaro in an Ireland/Italy game on 16th March (which Ireland lost 15-22)
Munster's captain Paul O'Connell was neither penalised nor cited for a brutal, albeit accidental kick on Dave Kearney's head, in a Munster/Leinster game on 14th April (which Munster lost 16-22); Kearney had to be stretchered off with concussion and couldn't play for nearly five weeks. (Yes, the victim received the punishment of an effective ban, not the perpetrator!)
Stade Français scrum-half Jerome Fillol was awarded a fourteen-week ban for spitting in the face of his opposing scrum-half Peter Stringer of Bath on 6th April; Bath lost 20-36.
Dylan Hartley, captain of Northampton, brought upon himself a penalty kick, a red card and an eleven-week ban on 25th May for calling referee Wayne Barnes “f*****g cheat”; unsurprisingly, with Northampton a man short went on to be soundly beaten by Leicester 17-37. The timing of the ban was such that he was kicked off the much cherished Lions tour of Hong Kong and Australia, which began a few days later.
The reason I am bringing these recent cases up is to highlight the difference is punishments that the citing committees award for what might be termed virtual violence as compared with actual violence.
No-one doubts that virtual violence needs to be vigorously stamped out, as it were. As does actual violence. Young children (and their mums) must never be given the impression that such behaviour is acceptable, or else rugby's reputation will crash and fewer and fewer will play it.
Nevertheless, it is exceedingly odd that spitting and rudeness should be deemed to be FOUR TIMES as serious as the stamps and kicks that in these particular cases could have broken, respectively, a leg, some ribs and a skull, and in the latter case have even caused brain damage.
I would think that mums would far prefer to see their precious sons spat and sworn at than kicked in the head.
Rugby alikadoos seem to believe the opposite.
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Russell Brand Diagnoses “Severe Mental Illness - 27th May 2013
A third rate
“comedian” decides he knows
what drives certain types of people to murder.
There seems to be a lot of this particular affliction around.
The renowned international psychiatrist, Islamic scholar and philosopher Russell Brand concluded on 26th May in his Sunday column in the Sun tabloid newspaper that the Jihadist beheaders of Drummer Lee Rigby are in fact “severely mentally ill”. Why? How so?
Because they’d just murdered a stranger in Woolwich, London. QED. The act is the diagnosis.
Absolutely nothing to to do with Islam at all because, as he gravely informs us,
“the main narrative thrust of ... the Koran is:
Be nice to each other because we’re all the same”.
Nice? All the same? Who knew?
No doubt the eminent Dr R Brand listened intently to decapitator Michael Adebolajo’s own words:
“Allahu Akbar [Allah is the greatest]”
while slicing up his victim.
And later, in front of a bystander's cameraphone,
“Surat at-Tawba through .. many, many ayat throughout the Qur’an that ... we must fight them as they fight us ... We swear by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. The British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
Ayat means proof or evidence.
Surat at-Tawba is the Koran’s 9th chapter which takes precedence over all the others and contains this classic line in 9:5:
“Slay the idolators wherever ye find them, even in Woolwich”,
which just about sums things up.
But perhaps Dr Brand is right. For surely you would indeed have to be “severely mentally ill” to swallow such guff.
Meanwhile, world leaders seem to feel the need to utter their own inanities, which only go to show that they too share symptoms of being “severely mentally ill”:
Barack Obama: “The best way to prevent violent extremism is to work with the Muslim American community – which has consistently rejected terrorism.”
Oh yes? Any examples of “consistently rejecting terrorism”? Thought not.
So here, thanks to the inestimable Robert Spencer, are four unchallenged examples showing that 80% of US mosques - ie 1700 of them - teach Jihad, Islamic supremacism, extremist ideology, and hatred & contempt for Jews and Christians:
In 1999, Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, a Sufi leader,
gave testimony to this effect to the Senate
after visiting 114 US mosques
In 2005, the Center for Religious
Freedom made similar
findings in a study,
In 2008 the Mapping In Sharia Project did so also.
In 2011 another study showed that
of American mosques
don’t teach Jihad violence and/or Islamic supremacism.
David Cameron: “There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”
Oh yes there is!
Has the Prime Minister even read the Koran? Sura 8:12, for example, which reads,
“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”.
Clearly, the assassins are nothing if not devout Muslims.
Meanwhile, Drummer Rigby remains dead.
Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, Second Battalion the Royal Regiment of
brutally assassinated in broad daylight on a London street on 22nd May 2013.
R I P
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Frances and the Unknown Hakka Woman Who Saved her Life - 27th May 2013
On 25th May, the
Live Programme on BBC Radio 4
invited my sister Frances to recount an incident in her youth
when a woman stepped into the road to halt her car – and saved her life.
This is Frances' story.
This is Frances' story.
Spoken as broadcast ....
And as written ...
My thanks are to a Chinese peasant who saved my life in June 1966.
I was driving slowly home, up the Peak in Hong Kong, during a tremendous rainstorm – not a typhoon. In Hong Kong we were used to typhoons but this was just heavy and non stop rain. In town the 12-ft deep storm drains were overflowing and water was fountaining up through the tarmac. Time to go home .
In low gear I crawled up the Peak but just as my flat appeared ahead, a Hakka woman (identifiable by her unique headgear, as depicted) stood in front of my car remonstrating that I should stop. She pointed to the road surface. It looked like bubbling pastry and she signed that I must not proceed.
I have great respect for the Chinese (the fishermen always knew more than the Met Office which typhoons were the most dangerous) so I smiled, nodded my thanks, reversed my car down the hill and tucked it into a sedan chair path – these follow the lay of the land so survive bad weather well.
I arrived home absolutely soaked through and put on the kettle for my desperately needed cuppa tea. I never got it – the gas went off. The road I had just walked over had become a giant landslide.
Would the weight of my little Singer Gazelle have been enough to initiate that landslide ? Who knows. We were cut off for weeks until a sort of Bailey bridge could be built to reconnect us to the town and had to have our food delivered by helicopter. But I was alive.
There is no way I can ever thank that wonderful woman but I am forever grateful.
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When Did Nazi German Surrender? - 8th May 2013
An eyewitness account (sort-of) of those momentous days of surrender
Today, 8th May, 68 years ago, Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally, bringing to an end, after six long and painful years, the European part of the Second World War.
Or was it yesterday the 7th? Or tomorrow the 9th?
All three as it happens, as my 98-year-old and still sprightly father Walter, a dental surgeon, relates in the recent reissue of his memoirs. A squadron leader with the RAF, he was part of the Normandy invasion of Europe, storming across France, Belgium and Germany, striking terror into Nazi hearts, with a dental drill in one hand and a forceps in the other:
Q U O T E
Shortly after my orderly Harrington and I had settled near the northern German town of Lüneberg into our spacious, comfortable Luftwaffe quarters (recently vacated by the hastily departing Germans), we heard, to our delight, the news on the radio from the BBC that Germany had signed an Act of Military Surrender at Rheims in France on 7th May 1945, thus bringing the European war to an end.
However we also learnt that Germany had already, three days earlier on Friday 4th May, signed another unconditional surrender, of its forces in northern Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. This ensued after Hitler had blown his brains out in his Berlin bunker the previous Monday, and proved to be the first of three surrenders.
At 1830 hours on the Friday, in a large tent at Lüneburg Heath in northern Germany, Field Marshal Bernard Mont-gomery (“Monty”) accepted the unconditional German surrender . It was signed for Germany by Admiral Hans Georg von Friedberg of the navy and General Eberhard Kinzel of the army, both of whom committed suicide a few weeks later by taking cyanide, and by Major Fritz Gustav Friedl of the Gestapo who was tried for Holocaust war crimes and later killed in a car crash.
At the time we ourselves, as mentioned, happened to be billeted outside the town of Lüneberg only a few miles away. That evening, just 2½ hours after the surrender to Monty, I received a signal informing me officially of the order to cease hostilities as from the following morning and directing that work “should continue as usual”. I have kept that signal form carefully as a treasured memento (illustrated below). I recollect as a schoolboy in the 1920s visiting a war museum in France with a party from my south London school, Rutlish, and seeing a similar order among souvenirs of the Great War which had ended in Europe on 11th November, 1918.
Transcript: 4 May Personal for Commanders – From AOC
All hostilities on second army front cease at
0800 hours tomorrow May 5.
It is noteworthy that the Americans continued fighting right up to the formal cessation of hostilities at 0800 hours on the Saturday. We reckoned that many of them – especially the newer arrivals – regretted that they could no longer kill any Germans.
An interesting story emerged in 2012 concerning the date of the second surrender in Rheims on 7th May 1945, known since and commemorated every year, as VE-Day, for “Victory in Europe”. (Actually, depending on what country you are in, VE-Day is commemorated on the 7th or the 8th or the 9th of May. This is because, as explained below, the third surrender was signed late on the 8th which, further east, was already the 9th due to the time difference.)
Edward Kennedy, then the forty-year-old Paris bureau chief of the Associated Press news agency, was one of seventeen journalists secretly flown by the military across France in a C-47 transport plane to witness Germany’s second surrender in Rheims to the Americans and British at 0241 hours on that fateful morning of 7th May 1945. As a condition of this privilege, they were sworn to secrecy under a news embargo that lasted for the following 36 hours.
This was because US President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had privately agreed to keep the historic ceremony covert until the following day, when the Soviet Union would accept the capitulation of German forces in Berlin. As a symbol of Allied solidarity and a sop to the USSR’s tyrant Josef Stalin, the Big Three wanted to announce the end of the war together and declare 8th May to be VE-Day. Thus the third surrender, almost identical to the second, was indeed signed in Berlin on that day, just before midnight, which for the Soviets was of course just after midnight on 9th May. Hence the three VE-Days.
However Kennedy ruined their cunning plan for the surprise announcement that they wanted to make only after the third surrender.
Having forewarned the US military censor of what he was about to do, he then rang AP’s London office to dictate a story on the (second) surrender on 7th May. This broke the embargo and ensured that the bombshell exploded on the front pages of every newspaper subscribing to the agency’s service the next day. Many consider this to be the greatest scoop of all time.
Kennedy was promptly thrice denounced and excoriated –
by the sixteen correspondents who had obeyed the rules,
by the Allied authorities, and
by his boss Robert McLean, then president of AP.
But Kennedy was unrepentant, pointing out that the embargo had been imposed solely for political convenience, not to save lives or protect military secrets. Moreover, Germany itself had alr eady announced the surrender, at 1403 hours on 7th May in a radio broadcast from the city of Flensburg then under Allied control, which was 670 km from Rheims. Kennedy argued that from that moment the embargo was invalid: the news was out and no harm could be done by declaring it to the world. He found it absurd to bottle up an announcement of such magnitude and import.
At the time, however, his arguments fell on furious deaf ears. Kennedy was expelled from France by the Allied authorities and his career with AP was over. He died, still reviled by the establishment, in a car crash at the age of 58 in 1963.
However, in 2012, 67 long years after his momentous scoop, AP suddenly had a change of heart. Its CEO Tom Curley issued a posthumous apology, to the joy of the intrepid reporter’s sole surviving daughter Julia. Curley declared that Kennedy’s dismissal was a “great, great tragedy” and hailed him as a reporter who did the “right thing” and “stood up to power”.
My colleagues and I had no idea about these machinations, but certainly the capitulation ceremony to the Soviets never made big news, no doubt because Kennedy had effectively neutered it.
We enjoyed a tremendous VE-Day celebration that Monday evening of 7th May. The fireworks (mostly signal rockets) and miscellaneous pyrotechnics were fired in such profusion that we must have emptied the magazines. Unfortunately we could find very few stores of liquor to empty.
U N Q U O T E
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Quotes for Issue 223 “”
Quote: “Please, as a 16-year-old who has no say in his death sentence, who has no choice in the pain he is about to cause and who would take any chance at even a few more months on this planet: appreciate what you have, know that there are always other options and help is always there.”
Donal Walsh, 16, while dying
at home in Kerry of a tumour in his leg,
pleads eloquently for fellow teenagers to desist from suicide.
Quote: “Abortion is a crime against humanity ... Since Boston College has not withdrawn its invitation and Mr Kenny has not declined it, I shall not attend the graduation.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley is boycotting a
graduation ceremony at
Boston College, a Jesuitical (and thus supposedly staunchly Catholic) institution,
because it has invited as its keynote speaker
Enda Kenny, to whom it will also award an honorary degree.
Mr Kenny is Ireland's Taoiseach (prime
and the invitation reflects the college's long association with Ireland.
The Cardinal is taking this action because
Mr Kenny, who presents himself as a practicing Catholic,
is “aggressively promoting abortion legislation” in Ireland,
which has hitherto been abortion-free.
Quote: “We wanted to send more reinforcement to Benghazi. ... The people in Benghazi had been fighting all night. ... But he told me he had not been authorized to go. The vehicles needed to go. ... Lt Colonel Gibson [commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command in Africa] was furious. ... I had told him to bring our people home. Apparently no one had been authorized to go.”
Gregory Hicks, former top US diplomat in Libya.
He was testifying on 8th May in front of
the House Oversight and
Government Reforms Committee,
concerning the seven-hour Jihadist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi on
the eleventh anniversary of 9-11,
which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens
and three other Americans.
The Obama/Clinton administration refused to
send military help
that fateful night, then lied about the cause of the attack
- and the President went to bed.
As a result of his refusal to support the
about what happened, Mr Hicks, a career civil servant,
was demoted from deputy chief of mission to desk officer.
Mr Hicks is a registered Democrat, who voted
for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries
and for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Yet he chose to speak the truth.
Quote: “This land [the Gaza Strip] has never once been a Jewish land. Palestine is for the Arab Islamic nation.”
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a prominent
Islamic scholar and cleric, based in Qatar,
made famous by his popular TV show
and widely respected in the Muslim world.
Truth, objectivity and overall morality
have never been this cleric's
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Now, for a little [Light Relief]
Good to report that as at
Atlantic Blog (defunct)
My Columns in the
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See detailed review
BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded BP through adventurous acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term technical sustainability.
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in Russia.
The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that had become poisonous and incompetent.
However the book is gravely compromised by a litany of over 40 technical and stupid errors that display the author's ignorance and carelessness.
It would be better to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying.
As for BP, only a wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.
A horrific account of:
More details on my blog here.
After recounting a childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen, Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on Germany in 1939.
From then until the Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror.
After a wretched journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless garrison.
Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in 1941, he is, successively,
Chronically ill, distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life. Only in his late 80s is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this unputdownable book.
There are very few first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical document.
This is a rattling good tale of the web of corruption within which the American president and his cronies operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.
With 75 page of notes to back up - in best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife.
Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett, Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book.
ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine it is.
It is really just a collation of amusing little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour and situations. For example:
The book has no real message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.
And with a final anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in its tracks. Weird.
It's chapters are organised around provocative questions such as
It's central thesis is that economic development continues to be impeded in different countries for different historical reasons, even when the original rationale for those impediments no longer obtains. For instance:
The author writes in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to digest.
However it would benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide natural break-points for the reader.
The author was a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to harass Japanese lines of command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of India.
Irwin is admirably yet brutally frank, in his descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness.
He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved authority of the British.
The book amounts to a very human and exhilarating tale.
Oh, and Irwin describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF Brennan.
Other books here
crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are,
England get the Silver,
No-one can argue with
Over the competition,