Quote of the Day (5th October
Surrogate motherhood “is and will be banned in France; it is an intolerable commercialisation of human beings and commodification of women’s bodies”.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls of the
Falsely Inferring that Israel Targeted Children in Gaza - 30th September 2014
Evidence and threats combine to redress an anti-Semitic calumny
Repeatedly, during the month of August, World Vision Ireland, the Irish branch of an international charity, broadcasted a 15-second radio advertisment seeking donations, which included a grievous calumny against Israel relating to the Hamas/Israel war that was then raging in Gaza. Initially I assumed this was just a careless mistake, but after lodging a serious of complaints to WVI that were effectively ignored, I had to conclude that WVI wanted its false inference to be believed. After all, it made Israel and Jews look bad (as usual).
My complaints to WVI pointed out that its
advertisment opened with a declaration that "Children should not
be a target". No-one can argue with this.
To add force to my complaint, I prepared this short Youtube clip, which I think is pretty damning:
However it was only when I eventually upgraded my complaint by directing it to the broadcaster Newstalk itself that there was finally some action. I accompanied this renewed complaint with reference to formal guidelines published by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, on the basis that the advertisment contravenes Article 3.2 (Offence, Harm and Human Dignity) of the BAI General Commercial Communications Code, and threatened that my next step was an appeal to the BAI itself.
I kept stressing that the deliberate linkage of child-targeting to the Gaza conflict is an anti-Semitic calumny that should not be broadcast.
Very quickly, Newstalk responded, saying the WVI had reworked the ad to exclude the remark inferring that Israel was targeting children. It was broadcast in this form on 22nd August but entirely withdrawn shortly afterwards.
The lesson I take from this episode is that if you are polite no-one will pay attention to you . But if you are direct, evidence-based and threatening, you can be surprised at how quickly people will respond.
Anyway, I am pleased at the small way I have helped to redress an anti-Semitic wrong.
Non-Future of ISISstan - 6th September 2014
ISIS will continue rampaging across
fresh territories until militarily stopped,
ISIL, ISIS, IS or whatever they choose to call themselves on whatever day of the week, have been rampaging across huge swathes of first Syria then Iraq over the past few weeks, striking terror into the hearts of all those they come into contact with as well as great chunks of people observing from afar.
Their carefully choreographed and videographed decapitations of the unfortunate yet indescribably dignified and courageous US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff have only served to remind the world that there is no depravity to which they will not unhesitatingly descend.
Their religious cleansing of
the wrong kind of Muslims (Shi'ites),
the wrong kind of monotheists (Christians) and
the wrong kind of worshippers generally (Yazidis)
is of a scale, ferocity and brutality scarcely seen since that murderous thieving paedophile warlord Mohammed first launched his bid to conquer and destroy the world in the Seventh Century.
As of now (September 2014) ISIS have effectively dissolved portions of the Syria/Iraq border and created a new caliphate, which for convenience I will call ISISstan. It is not only territory that ISIS are seizing.
They are breaking into the banks and removing billions of US dollars, Syrian pounds, Iraqi dinars, bullion and other valuables.
Where there are oilfields (eg in Deir Ezzor in Syria) and gas fields (al-Shaer), they will of course grab those and the resultant revenues.
The Iraqi army, lavishly equipped by the Americans with the best in uniforms and weapons, fled at the first onslaught of ISIS into Iraq leaving all the US matériel behind as they tried to melt back into the civilian population. Thank you very much; ISIS now have their hands on that too.
So with enormous reserves of cash, oil and military equipment, not to mention tremendous motivation and sense of righteousness as they carry out to the letter the depraved word of Allah, ISIS now looks unstoppable.
Of course the successes of ISIS have been predicated on
the massive power vacuum created by the craven flight from Iraq of US forces under the benighted leadership
of Barack Obama, unarguably the worst, most malicious, ahistorical
president the US has ever seen. The rise of ISIS was entirely
foreseeable. Indeed George W Bush described it very precisely way back in
Right now, it is very hard to predict where this is all going end, other than to state with great confidence that the valley of tears that ISIS are causing to fall is far from being filled. This hell will go on for years, or decades.
But, even if ISIS is as unstoppable as it seems, will it be able to create and run an ISISstan Caliphate that by any recognizable definition is some kind of functioning state that would secure at least a chance for even medium-term survival? I very much doubt it, for these reasons.
Firstly, it is great to have at your disposal countless up-to-date US Hummers, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery, small arms, maybe even aircraft etc. But these items have to be operated and maintained, for which they will need expertise, spare parts, and of course ammunition. Especially expertise. Where is all that going to come from once the first tank breaks down?
A body such as ISIS whose whole philosophy is centred on Islamic destruction in the name of Allah is psychologically ill-suited to the grind of technical maintenance and administrative organisation needed to keep complex equipment in tip-top working order.
Its wonderful US arsenal is going to steadily degrade and certainly the chunkier items are going to pretty quickly become unusable.
Secondly, it is one thing to follow your Prophet's example and instruction by rampaging across territory mercilessly killing, crucifying, abducting, enslaving or converting every child, woman and man you encounter, and stealing everything you can lay your hands on. But what do you do then, once you've set up your Caliphate?
Are the boys from ISIS really the type of people who can set up Ottoman-style vilayets each run by a governor reporting back to Caliph al-Baghdadi?
Yet without an organization along such or similar lines, how is Mr al-Baghdadi to ensure both that he both holds the land he has conquered and that they continue to be run, over the long term, along strict Islamic lines?
How will he ensure that the oil revenues, for example, do not dissipate among rabbles of warlords that will inevitably spring up,
For that matter, how is he going to run those oilfields and gasfields? Who, with access to the necessary large-scale expertise and complex equipment, is going to dare get involved with the constant, looming threat of beheaded foreigners, reneging on deals and simple looting? The multi-nationals? The independents? Russia? China?
Saddam's oilfields were in constant decline, so are Iran's. Yet their problems with gaining access to expertise and technology were as nothing compared with those that ISISstan will encounter.
Thirdly, if ISISstan is to survive as a state, it must do so economically. There is no way round that central constraint. Oh, for a while the plundered billions will be sufficient to keep things going, assuming ISISstan has figured out how to safely store the stuff (I doubt a numbered Swiss bank account is the answer). But ultimately, some kind of commerce will need to re-emerge, some semblance of civic services (water, electricity, hospitals, schools) to be re-established, all of which requires the engagement of the ordinary populace.
Yet how can such activities reasonably be facilitated by an outfit that holds its cowed people - those it doesn't kill or incarcerate - in such utter and obvious contempt?
And will the excitable young ISIS lads really be interested in such boring administrative stuff that includes very little killing or pillaging?
How can an ISISstan cope with economic realities when it is mired in Seventh Century thinking?
In conclusion, an ISISstan is doomed to implosion from the very start. That does not mean it doesn't pose an existential threat to millions of people, merely that it is unlikely to become a state.
ISIS can continue only for as long there are fresh areas to attack, murder, rape, terrorise and plunder for that is all it knows how to do.
ISIS will stop only when it is stopped and effectively exterminated as Naziism was exterminated, and this will happen only through determined military action with boots on the ground. In other words another Middle East ground war is almost inevitable, if not under Obama's baleful watch then under his successor's.
Under no scenario, is the future in that benighted region other than ugly.
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Impressionist/comedian Mario Rosenstock takes off Joan Burton singing Miley Cyrus's infamous "Wrecking Ball", without doubt his best ever performance. At least it always makes me crack up, and Mario's certainly better than Miley.
For those unfamiliar with Irish politics, Joan was till recently deputy to Eamon Gilmore, leader of Ireland's Labour Party, whom she sought to depose and to whom “she” dedicates the song.
Since 2011 Labour has been the junior
party in a ruling coalition with Fine Gael. Joan has since succeeded in
getting rid of him and stepping into his shoes as party leader and Tánaiste
(deputy prime minister).
|The real Joan Burton||The real Mario Rosenstock|
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Prodigal Blogger Returns - 12th August 2014
I've decided to return to blogging, but on as-and-when basis and in chronological order of writing, rather than trying to publish batches of pieces in a kind of magazine format as I did for over a decade since starting in 2002.
The main reason I have been off the blogosphere for over a year is Facebook. Facebook is also why I am now returning. On the one hand, FB is wonderfully easy for accessing interesting news stories, expressing your thoughts, getting feedback, engaging in discussion. You can spend hours every day, and indeed I often have, to the detriment or exclusion of other more worthwhile activity. So, yes, I have been sucked in by FB, like a junkie after a few heroin jabs. And to a lesser extent by Twitter also.
On the other hand, FB is not an appropriate medium for expressing any kind of deep or detailed analysis, thoughts or ideas. So while I have been chattering away on FB mindlessly, other mentations have been nibbling away at my brain saying come on, grow up, get a bit more depth to your witterings, develop your arguments properly.
So I am back. The itch must be scratched once more, with a mixture of depth, shallowness, prejudice, snarkiness and sometimes even humour.
But first, let us stand for the Argentine Anthem ...
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African Grey Sings Argentine Anthem - 12th August 2014
All rise for the psittacotic anthem
I had intended to publish this clip to celebrate
Argentina's World Cup victory. But with a parrot like this, no-one needs
to cry for Argentina for only claiming silver.
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Gazan Casualties: Who Do/Don't Deserve Sympathy - 12th August 2014
Treat Hamas propaganda as ... propaganda
There are four categories of casualty in Gaza. It is not clear, due largely to Hamas obfuscation, how many fall into each, but only two of the groups deserve sympathy.
1 First, there are the Hamas fighters who have fallen, whom Hamas make every effort to hide or else miraculously turn into post-mortem civilians. At the same time they threaten local and foreign journalists alike who might otherwise reveal the truth about such casualties. Such casualties are worthy only of contempt.
2 Then there are the children and babies. Without doubt everyone of those is an innocent victim, whose loss is unequivocally a terrible human tragedy, whatever the circumstances.
• The other two categories are the non-fighting adults. A free-ish election in 2006 brought Hamas to power with a plurality of votes - 440,409 (45%). A year later, Hamas consolidated its grip through extreme violence against Fatah who had come second with 41%.
• The Gazan population in 2006 was 1.4m of which some 45% were/are under 16. Thus it is reasonable to assume that half, ie 700,000, were 18 or over and thus eligible to vote in 2006. This, incidentally, compares with the 991,000 who actually “voted” (evidently many Gazans subscribed to the Sinn Fein mantra - “Vote early vote often”).
3 Anyway, as noted some 440,000 Gazans voted for Hamas (including Hamas fighters of course). In other words these men and women took positive action to bring the current catastrophe upon their own heads. They are thus unworthy of much sympathy as victims and constitute the third category.
4 That leaves in the fourth category: those non-fighting adults who did not vote for Hamas and so as casualties must be considered as genuinely innocent civilian victims. Depending on what electoral or population numbers you want to believe, they number anything from zero to half a million.
• There is also a kind of fifth category: those non-existent victims that are included in the casualty numbers Hamas that release. Bloggers have done some analyses which show the same names popping up on the same Al Jazeera lists. There are probably a lot of invented names there as well.
Think of all this when the media slavishly broadcast Hamas's propaganda casualty figures.
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Saddam's WMD Still There - 12th August 2014
They haven't gone away, y'know.
People still trot out the old saw that Saddam never had any weapons of mass destruction, especially when it came to invasion in 2003, and that WMD were the only reason for that invasion.
But here's the thing Saddam's WMD: they haven't gone away, y'know. And they never did. And with ISIS now running the show they'll probably be back in action before too long.
My (somewhat truncated) letter to the Sunday Times on 3rd August 2014:
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There Are No 72 Virgins! - 12th August 2014
Jihadists - It's all just a scam; you're being conned
We in the West should declare loud and often that there are no 72 virgins for shahids or anyone else, it's all a scam.
They won't believe this, of course, at least not at first. But the idea is simply to sew little seeds of doubt in the minds of the sex-crazed Jihadists hot for martyrdom and an eternity of carnal debauchery unavailable at home. Even a tiny such seed could be enough to deter them at the last minute.
And when one of them hesitates, so surely will another ... then another ... and another ...
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That Sinking Feeling - 12th August 2014
Fancy going down with the ship?
I recently stumbled over an online ad for Stena Lines. How bizarre to expect you to pay good money to join a sinking ship. What were they thinking? I wrote to them to ask, and now await their reply.
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Now, for a little [Light Relief]
Good to report that as at
Atlantic Blog (defunct)
My Columns in the
What I've recently
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,