Click to access RSS




























































































































To find an archived article, simply click on Index and scroll the subject titles, or do a Ctrl-F search


This archive contains all issues prior to the current week and the three preceding weeks, which are published in 
the main Tallrite Blog (  
The first issue appeared on Sunday 14th July 2002

You can write to

April 2003

ISSUE #35 - 6th April 2003


ISSUE #36 - 13th April 2003


ISSUE #37 - 27th April 2003


ISSUE #37 - 27th April 2003 [123]


An American Ponders Iraq


Unfair American Behaviour


Cheyney Dead, Not Saddam


EU's Qualified Majority Voting Scam


Going Naked for Peace


SARS Cover-Ups


Quote of the Week

An American Ponders Iraq

Richard DeLamarter, an American Fulbright scholar, has written a thought-provoking overview of the mixed feelings of many non-Americans over the liberation of Iraq and the prospect of its democratisation.  It will shortly be featured in Sobota, a Slovenian weekly newspaper; meanwhile with the author's kind permission it has been published on this site here.  

As the war draws to a close, Mr DeLamarter discusses some of those who are especially uneasy and/or hopeful :


There are the 5,000 Saudi princes viewing the looting of Saddam's palaces and wondering if the same could happen to their own.  


The oppressed and restless Kurds of Syria, Iran and Turkey who, while their national masters fret, are enviously watching the Iraqi Kurds building on the decade of democracy that the no-fly zone has permitted them. 


The Syrian opposition are wondering if their opportunity has finally come as the country's ruling Ba'ath party with dismay sees its Iraqi Ba'athist colleagues crushed. 


The Iranian clerics cling on to power in the teeth of a fierce desire for democratic reforms among the populace. 


Meanwhile, Europeans politicians and others, who have been trying to salvage failed careers by standing up to US aggression”, find the vacuity of their behaviour is being exposed to all.  

He outlines some of the dilemmas now facing many people in Iraq, the Middle East, the West : 


How to avoid the “curse of oil”, whose easy money usually leads to dictatorship, while eroding people's productivity incentives.  


The effect of a successful democratic Iraq on those neighbouring Muslims, for whom rage against the West is the only permitted outlet for discontent caused essentially by lack of life-opportunity and abysmal services.  Will their anger turn against their dictatorial leaders,  demanding that they too be liberated ? 


The belief by many that America is driven not by the 21st century's trends towards democracy and markets, but by the 20th century's issues of empire, nationalism and communism (none of which the US ever indulged in anyway).  


The unwillingness to acknowledge America's robust support for Muslim causes, despite its benign record in Suez, Kuwait, Kosovo, Afghanistan, not to mention its tireless (if unsuccessful) efforts to broker an Israel/Palestine peace.  

Mr DeLamarter suggests that the curious opposition of many Europeans to seeing the US toppling Saddam and freeing Iraqis is founded on their own bloody and destructive history, where over the centuries European military power was used unambiguously to subdue conquered peoples.  A well-intentioned invasion is perhaps a concept beyond their understanding.   Added to this is envy at military might which Europe can never match, particularly since it rejects defence spending comparable to America's.  

Those who castigate American imperialism today are the same as those who refuse to acknowledge the left-wing evils of Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Pol Pot, whose murderous regimes they supported even as - until it fell - they supported Saddam's.  Yet it was imperialist America 


who left the Philippines when asked, unlike the Red Army in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and  


who provides a secure future for its workers, rather than the impoverishment of all those “workers' paradises” (such as USSR, Kampuchea, Cuba, N Korea to mention but a few).  

There are no straightforward answers.  One is just left with a sense that, like it or not and despite the suspicions of many, we are forced to trust that America, a free people enjoying the fruits of liberty, wants simply to share these fruits with others.  

Only time will demonstrate the truth or otherwise of this, in the crucible that is Iraq.  

Back to Index

Unfair American Behaviour

Do you remember how the anti-warriors used to say that an Iraqi invasion would result in a never-ending Vietnam-style quagmire involving hundreds and thousands of civilian and military casualties, with Iraq, the cradle of civilisation, bombed back into the Stone Age ?  Well, now that they have been proved so spectacularly wrong, their rhetoric has simply made a U-turn.  Suddenly, the war was just a turkey-shoot of defenseless conscripts, a walkover for the Americans, not a proper war at all, a thoroughly unfair contest.   No credit to military prowess whatsoever.  And anyway, the real battle will be the rebuilding of Iraq where the Americans will fail.  

Of course, they are right about one thing.  America's behaviour has been utterly unfair in not giving Saddam a sporting chance while depriving war-critics of ammunition.  Think about it.  


They tried to decapitate the leadership - twice.  And may even have succeeded.  How fair is that ?


They bombed only Government ministries, Ba'ath party buildings, military placements, aircraft on the ground and command-and-control telecommunications facilities,

instead of carpet bombing the cities and providing civilian casualties in their thousands for the TV cameras.  


The moment the bombing commenced, the ground forces invaded, catching everyone by surprise, instead of 

waiting a month like the last time,


waiting for reinforcements still en-route in the Mediterranean.  


They relentlessly canonballed north through the country, giving the terrified defenders 

no time to think, 


no time to regroup, 


hardly any time to run.  


Without warning, they grabbed the symbolic Saddam International Airport when totally unexpected.  


They liberated the entire country in less than a month (as, incidentally, predicted in the 2nd March issue of this blog)


They left all the looting to Iraqis instead of doing it themselves in the time-honoured manner of conquering armies throughout history.  


They had the temerity to quickly 

organize convoys of food aid and medicines, 


orchestrate restoration of power and water, 


fly out severely injured civilians (such as little armless Ali) for the best medical attention.  


Meanwhile, they upset Hans Blix by discrediting his investigations, prompting him to complain, It hurt us and I felt a little displeased about it.  

Shock and awe indeed.  

But where is the fodder for anti-US propaganda in all this ?  It is all so deeply unfair.  

Back to Index

Cheyney Dead, Not Saddam

Oops !  According to CNN, Dick Cheney, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan, Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro are dead.  They all died in 2001.  

On 16th April last, CNN issued the five obituaries on their website just long enough for a few people to grab them, before they were withdrawn in embarrassment, some 20 minutes later.  

As Mark Twain (not Will Rogers) once famously remarked, Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” 

Back to Index

EU's Qualified Majority Voting Scam

You really have to watch these Eurocrats.  

The Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, current President of the European Council, wrote a round-robin letter to several EU newspapers several days ago to welcome the new members of the EU.  But he took the opportunity to slip in a remark that it is imperative ... to extend further qualified majority voting”.  

Why ? 

Simply because this would make EU law-creation smoother for law-makers by allowing them to ignore pesky national vetos.  

bulletLet's be clear about what qualified majority voting (QMV) actually is and means.  It is a methodology by which a majority of member States can decide on a new law, against the wishes of a minority of States, but the minority will be bound by them anyway. That, of course, is how national democracy works and no-one has ever come up with a better method of governing a country.  
bulletBut are you happy with the idea of other nations' democratically-elected governments compelling your own national democratically- elected government to implement against its will laws it disagrees with ?  
bulletLet's also be clear about why the concept of QMV is so popular among certain EU quarters.  It is because EU law-creation becomes a lot easier if the law-makers can simply disregard those irritating countries that might disagree with them.  A particular target is taxation.  Old Europe, to use that perjorative but useful phrase, wants to force UK and Ireland, against their will, to raise their (relatively low) taxation rates because they attract an unfair share of foreign investment.  Otherwise, Old Europe can compete for such investment only by lowering their own taxation.  And that's painful for a politician as he then has to cut his costs which he hates (though relentlessly urges it on business).  

The EU has more than enough laws already - 97,000 pages of them, for goodness' sake.   If the well paid Eurocrats want to make new ones, let them work harder to convince every member state, not just some. 

QMV is a scam.  

Back to Index

Going Naked for Peace

What is it that prompts women - and only women - to strip off their clothes to support hopeless causes such as the continued wellbeing of homicidal Middle East dictators ?  


Last November, I reported on fifty women from West Marin in the USA who spelt out PEACE, wearing nothing but the afternoon rain. 

 peace_2.jpg (54348 bytes)
Click to enlarge

Making their bodies a figure of speech, they wanted to show solidarity with the people of Iraq”, which meant no war and therefore - as we now know - solidarity with Saddam while he continued  to oppress the people of Iraq.  

bulletFor much the same reason, a group of women in England recently cheered up male police officers by confronting them in the nude, while 
bulletin north-western Ireland, 48 naked women “artists” formed themselves into the shape of the CND logo (but unfortunately without photographers).  

Now, happily, a three-girl Texas country-music group, the Dixie Chicks have joined the bandwagon.  They got into trouble when one of them said, on the eve of war, “We're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas”.  Fans were appalled, insults flew and album sales dropped 40%, so she later apologised.  

Now, in an effort to rejuvenate business, Entertainment Weekly has photographed them for next week's cover wearing nothing but the rich epithets hurled at them for their disloyal remark.  

 dixiechix.jpg (33120 bytes)
Click to enlarge

I'm sure all right-thinking Muslims are delighted with all this prurient un-Islamic nudity.  You don't find them parading up and down the streets of Kerbala with placards proclaiming Not in my name”.  

Nevertheless, is it not curious that men never ever strip off to promote a political cause.  Thank goodness.  

Back to Index

SARS Cover-Ups

From going naked to covering up ... 

The behaviour of the Chinese authorities was disgraceful in suppressing for so long the spread of the SARS virus in Guangdong province and other parts of the country, until the coughs and sneezes, not to mention deaths, became so rife that the disease became impossible to hide.  At least now they are trying to do something about it.  They have fired their health minister and the mayor of Guandong so that the newcomers to these posts can start with a clean slate, reliable statistics are being issued and suspected and actual SARS sufferers are now being quarantined.  

From the time Mao Tse Tung conquered China in 1948 until the 1980s, Hong Kong was the reluctant recipient of millions of unwelcome refugees fleeing from the communist regime in neighbouring Guangdong.  

So it was to be expected that Hong Kong would also be on the receiving end of the unwelcome coughs, sneezes and breathing difficuties that come with the migration of SARS.  Its simultaneously-launched tourism campaign, however, provided unfortunate irony.  


SARS is not only an unpleasant and sometimes deadly virus, but one that is already costing affected economies millions of dollars.  

And of course it wasn't just a foul communist dictatorship that concealed it.  There is a liberal western democracy that did exactly the same, but for even longer, and with millions at stake.  

SARS symptoms first appeared in September of last year, during an intense examination of a potential sufferer.  After two days of close scrutiny, it became clear that he was not exhibiting the classic SARS symptoms.  But what was concealed for a long time was that another man seated nearby in the waiting area was clearly a sufferer, unable to control his coughs and sneezes.   It then slowly emerged that vapours in his coughs were so toxic that they were causing mental derangement in the original suspect, whose thought processes simply seized up.  He couldn't tell Berlin from Paris, a megatron from a gigabyte.  His wife, who was close by, was also affected, primarily evidenced through her eyeballs which would switch back and forth and roll uncontrollably in their sockets.  

The authorities were so alarmed by all this that they paid the original suspect a massive seven-figure sum to go away, though later had second thoughts and took it back.   Meanwhile, the record of the curious two-day interview was kept well hidden from all but a few prying eyes while officialdom tried to figure out exactly what had been going on.  

It was only after China made its full confession about covering up its SARS, that Britain - yes, for that was the liberal western democracy - owned up to its own coughing and sneezing scandal, and Her Majesty graciously decided to provide the three suspected sufferers with 12-18 months of quarantine at her generous expense.  

In a 1½-hour televised exposé last week, the truth was finally released.  The coughing and sneezing SARS sufferer turned out to be a university lecturer, using the alias Tecwen Whittock.  His virulent coughs had caused not only derangement in the original suspect, a retired Army major Charles Ingram, but also deafness because the good major says he is unable to hear coughs.  His wife Diana still seems to suffer from the eye-switching.  

It is believed the various symptoms will have disappeared by the end of the trio's well-earned year-plus of quarantine.  

Of course, this is not the first time that Her Majesty has had a brush with a deranged Charles and a Diana with out-of-control eyes .... 

Back to Index

Quote of the Week

Quote : "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability" 

Gorgeous George Galloway, British Labour anti-war pro-Iraq MP, 
addressing Saddam Hussein in person in 1994, 
rebroadcast by Sky TV on 22nd April 2003.  
Iraqi foreign ministry documents revealed that 
Mr Galloway was paid £375,000 a year by the regime.  

Back to Index


ISSUE #36 - 13th April 2003 [172] 
NOTE : No blog issued on Easter Sunday 20th April 2003


The UN Must Re-earn its Right to be Involved


Long Live Looters


Gordon Divorces Prudence


Demoting European Culture


Love Saddam Hate Rugby


Comical Ali


Quote of the Week

The UN Must Re-earn its Right to be Involved

In a stunning military performance of unparalleled virtuosity by America and Britain, the Iraq war is now virtually over, and with an unprecedentedly small number of their own and of non-combatant casualties, regrettable though each of these is.  

What now needs immediate resolution is who is going to take responsibility for rebuilding Iraq, physically, humanitarian-wise and institutionally.   

Most people, in their hearts, and all things being equal, would probably want this to be led and undertaken by the international community as a whole, namely the United Nations, until such time as Iraqis themselves can take over.  The UN exists for just such a purpose.  

But, of course, things are not equal.  

In the recent few months, as in the past decade or so, the UN has shown itself unequal to meeting its responsibilities - unless they are easy.  This incompetence has killed innocent people in the hundreds of thousands.  In Somalia, in Rwanda, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, to name just recent examples.  At least in the latter two, American firepower came to the rescue to stop further carnage - against the UN's wishes.  

And of course UN incompetence has prevailed in Iraq, where for 12 years it failed to deal with Saddam beyond issuing 17 high-minded Resolutions, which it then failed to implement.  As a result, Saddam was able to continue murdering his civilians at a rate of 5,000 per year as well as financing every suicide bomber in Israel and hanging on to his WMD.  The final UN resolution, 1441, declared that he was already in material breach and if he didn't immediately disarm serious consequenceswould follow.  When he didn't disarm, the UN pretended that serious consequences” didn't mean war - in other words it meant more resolutions, more inspections, more troops on the border with orders not to invade.  

This dereliction of resolve meant that the USA has once again had to go to war to rescue others, with the aid of Britain, as it has been doing since it rescued Europe from the Kaisar and the Ottomans in 1918.  

Three decades later, after a six-year war, America, with Britain and its allies, overthrew totalitarian regimes in Italy, Germany and Japan, replacing each with model democracies that prevail to this day.  

The United Nations was then established, in 1946, to prevent future wars, which had been previously been the function of the defunct and discredited League of Nations that had failed to prevent WW2.  

Since then, the UN has risen to the challenge of difficult military action just twice - and with success.  It approved war, led by America :


to prevent Kim Il Sung (father of Kim Jong Il), in the 1950s, from extending his brutal totalitarian regime of North Korea to the South, allowing Southerners to prosper to this day;  


to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991, allowing Kuwaitis to prosper to this day.  

But in all the other major international confrontations with totalitarian regimes, the UN has shirked its responsibilities and left the dirty work to America while simultaneously disapproving and trying to prevent it.  

By such machinations, the UN has demonstrated that it is simply incompetent to deal with difficult situations and therefore cannot be trusted to take the lead in the reconstruction of Iraq, liberated thanks only to the blood, military prowess, determination and money of America and Britain.  

Only America has the ability to lead and co-ordinate this reconstruction, and - through war - the authority to do so.  The UN can serve a worthy and useful rôle by offering to America its services, such as humanitarian assistance.  But as US Vice President Dick Cheney brutally put it, we don't believe that the United Nations is equipped to play [the] central role.”  An understatement.  

Nevertheless, the better the UN performs, the more responsibility it should be given in the months and years ahead. 

And who knows, at some point in the (distant ?) future, it might once again be trusted to take a leading position in a delicate and difficult international situation.  

But not yet.  It must re-earn its spurs.  

The governments of Russia, France and China, who did most to destroy the competence of the UN over Iraq, should take heed.  

Tallrite Blog readers 


like ita pleasant and interesting readand 


hate it - especially the above article such contempt”.   

From the Letters page.  

Back to Index

Long Live Looters

Among the most heart-warming television images last week was the sight of looters rampaging through Basra and parts of Baghdad on Wednesday 9th April, the day that Baghdad fell.  

A car stolen here, a chair there, a vaseful of flowers, a computer, a battered fridge, an electric fan.  Young men joyful in their Manchester United T-shirts as they carry off trophies from buildings until days ago occupied by the hated Saddamite regime.  Of course some trophies are more ambitious - a speedboat dragged along the tarmac by a bus, a generator by a pickup.    

If ever there was a sign of things returning to normality, it was the sight of those looters doing what comes naturally.  On a scale of badness, nothing the looters were doing came anywhere close to the ongoing evil doings of the Ba'athist regime just the day before.  


Oh, and in east Baghdad, though the French Embassy was under French military protection, the unprotected German Embassy and French cultural centre were, according to the New York Times, stripped of furniture, curtains, decorations, and anything else that could be carried away. At the French cultural centre, where looters burst water pipes and flooded the ground floor, books were left floating in the reading rooms and corridors, and a photograph of Jacques Chirac, the French president, was smashedI wonder why.  

It has also been amusing to see the beleagured and intellectually defeated anti-warriors in the West seize on looting as a new and welcome cause célèbre.  The soldiers should, they say, stop chasing the regime immediately and chase the looters instead, to avoid - yes, once, again - a humanitarian disaster.  The lack of humanitarian disaster is, of course, a source of deep disappointment for the anti-warriors, as well as for the UN aid agencies and countless NGOs.  

The Americans and British will complete their rout of the ancien regime in the remaining days of this war.  There will be plenty of time after that to enforce civil law and order under the replacement regime.  

In the meantime, let the looters enjoy themselves.  Long live the looters.  

Back to Index

Gordon Divorces Prudence

When the UK Labour party's Gordon Brown became Chancellor in 1997, he did two things that secured the markets' and the nation's trust in Labour's ability to manage the economy competently.  Having inherited a booming economy from the Conservatives, 


in a pre-emptive strike within days of taking office, he liberated the Bank of England by allowing it to set interest rates, so taking control out of the hands of venal politicians of the day, and


he stuck to the stringent spending limits set by the Conservatives for Labour's entire four-year first term.  

Prudence was his favoured word through six annual budget speeches of economic probity, but it was uttered through gritted teeth.  For at heart, Mr Brown is an old-labour tax-and-spend socialist, masquerading as a New Labour believer in market forces.  He is convinced that problems are solved and the poor made rich by throwing taxpayers money at every problem.  

Last week, at last, he felt secure enough to let his socialist principles shine through.  He divorced Prudence and married Reckless.  

He built his entire budget around his growth forecast of 3-3½% for both 2004 and 2005.  This is pretty adventurous compared to last year's 1.8% and the 2% that most economists are predicting for this year.  He is, in short, gambling on another boom just round the corner and is spending the proceeds now.  Yet 


the UK's main export markets are stagnating, 


its housing market, which has fuelled much of the recent paltry growth, is slowing and 


take home pay is being chipped away by 

an income tax hike that kicks in this month,


a swathe of stealth taxes that have been sneaked in 
over the past four years, and


yet another raid on tobacco and alcohol.  

His growth forecasts are fantasy.  And when they fail to materialise, this year's £24bn borrowing requirement - forecast to drop by £3bn next year - is more likely to jump by that amount.  

Mr Brown will then raise taxes, because his socialist soul will not let him cut public spending.  This will exacerbate the drag on growth and revenue further. A truly vicious circle.

In the light of the unfounded optimism of yesterday’s performance, it is no wonder that the stockmarket shrugged off the good news from Baghdad. 

Left to his own devices, Mr Brown's continued abandonment of Prudence will cause the unnecessary downward spiral that will result in Labour's defeat at the next election.  

But by whom ?  There's no-one else !

Back to Index

Demoting European Culture

Last week, a bunch of unemployed national presidents, prime ministers, princesses and other dignitaries from Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Finland, the European Commission, the European Foundation Centre and la Fondazione Romaeuropa, wrote a round-robin letter, titled Promoting European Culture”, to a dozen European newspapers.  The only English-language version is in the Irish Times (the UK was excluded) and since this is subscription-only, you can read a transcript here.  

These eminent personages inform us, in the main message of the letter, that, “the essence of a consciousness of common European identity is culture. To protect and promote culture is one of the most important tasks in Europe today.”  

It isn't. It's just one more excuse to skirt around completing the one task that will do most to improve the quality of lives of citizens of the EU.

The EU politicians, bureaucrats, would-bes and has-beens should direct their energies towards removing the remaining protectionist, poverty-creating barriers to the free trade that is the essence and overwhelming success of the EU.

Start with the Common Agricultural Policy, continue with insurance, pharmacology, etc. The list is long, difficult and unglamorous.

But it will do far more good than fluffing around with such things as culture, a constitution, a single foreign policy and so on, which Europe's great and good seem to enjoy so much. 

To my surprise, the Irish Times published my insulting reply along the above lines.  

Back to Index

Love Saddam Hate Rugby  

To be anti-war, you must want it to stop immediately, which as I pointed out last week means you want defeat for America, victory for Saddam.  

However being anti-war is not simply to hate Bush and love Saddam.  You must also hate European rugby.   For all the biggest and best demos have been cunningly timed to coincide with major rugby matches.  

15 Feb

First global protests
110 cities, tens of millions

Opening games of Six Nations tournament


½m demonstrators in London



Protests span the continents

Grand Slam Final (England defeats Ireland)


Global demonstrations
100 cities

European Rugby Cup Quarter Finals begin

So would-be protestors have had to choose : rugby or Saddam.  

Is rugby really that bad ?

Back to Index

Comical Ali

Comical Ali is the nickname given by some to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraqi Minister of Information (currently on administrative leave), for his many pronouncements of impending Iraqi victory. My feelings - as usual - we will slaughter them all”.   

Conn Nugent, who runs an environmentalist foundation in New York, has set up a special website for him.  It contains -  


all the classic quotes from his wartime press conferences, 


as well as those he never said during some of history's greatest battles.  “The Emperor Napoleon, God bless him, has cut the throats of the British mercenary dogs at Waterloo.  We are already, as I am speaking, besieging London.  These are simple truths.  Vive la France !”.  


It also offers souvenir T-shirts, mugs and BBQ aprons for sale. 

It has a wonderful name,  You've got to have a look.  

Meanwhile, on 12th April Irish radio revealed a little-known anecdote about his compatriot, Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, who is believed to have been killed last week.  It seems his son is working as a consultant doctor in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital.  In chemotherapy, perhaps ? 

Late note : I was mistaken.  The Dublin doctor is the son not of Chemical Ali but of Comical Ali himself.  Therefore, I can only assume he's in the anaesthesia department administering the laughing gas.   

Back to Index

Quote of the Week

We don't make it our business to steal other people's wealth and occupy their real estate.

US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld 
at a TV news conference in Washington on 9th April
when asked about US intentions post-Saddam

Back to Index


ISSUE #35 - 6th April 2003 [106]


Abysmal War Reporting


For or Against the War


Of Arms and Oil


Crazy World


Vatican Dictionary and Gays


Let Your Credit Card Protect You


Quote of the Week

Abysmal War Reporting

From the outset, I have found the reportage of the Iraq war to be pretty abysmal.  Much as our TV screens have been filled with images of 


distant explosions, 


tanks crossing the desert, 


brave frontline reporters,


injured children in hospital, 


outraged Iraqi citizens, 


defiant generals {on both sides}, 

it has been very difficult to get an objective view of overall progress.  

Each reporter reports as best he can what he sees.  But the majority see only what they're allowed to see.  Moreover, they have no idea of the significance of what they are seeing (is it a big important battle or a minor skirmish ?).  And with no access to their counterparts elsewhere in the theatre, they cannot judge where it fits into an overall picture.  Therefore, all they can provide is a thousand pinpoints of light, with no lines to join them up and form an overall picture.  

There are three main categories of reporters on the ground in Iraq.  


There are those who are embedded with individual units of the American and British forces, on whose activities they report but within strict guidelines.  And because they live and move with their units, after a while they tend to bond with them, to go native, to succumb to the Stockholm Syndrome.  Hence no adverse remarks cross their lips.  And that's just how the armed forces like it.  And if perchance a reporter does break the rules, he will be swiftly removed back to Kuwait.  

In the past few days, some army and Marine units have, moreover, forbidden reporters to use a type of satellite phone, called a Thuraya, allegedly because the phone's signal would broadcast troop locations to the Iraqi military, but some reporters suspect they wanted to curtail reporting even further.


Then there are those reporting from Baghdad.  They are all coralled within the same Palestine Hotel, the co-ordinates given to the Americans to ensure it doesn't get bombed.  The Iraqi authorities bus them around en masse to view bombed markets and bleeding children, but never the ruins of military, political or party establishments.  And every single one of them has a Ba'ath Party minder, monitoring every move and every report.  Misbehaviour is rewarded with a banning order, with no reason given, as recently happened to an Al-Jazeera reporter.  Al-Jazeera responded by suspending the work of all its correspondents in Iraq.  

And they too can go native”, like National Geographic's Peter Arnett did in deriding on Iraqi TV the strategy and intentions of the US/British coalition.  National Geographic sacked him for his pains.  


Finally, there are the independent reporters, who nominally roam at will across the country.  But in fact they too only get to those parts that the armed forces will permit.  And their reports seem to stray very little from the turgid stuff served up by the controlled journalists.  Not one seems to be trying - 

to have a look at what it is exactly that those cruise missiles are hitting night after night.   


to interview Iraqi citizens in private to find out what they really think, or 


to find out how many Iraqi military are being killed (100s ?, 1,000s ? 10,000s ?), or


to share with us the contents of those psy-ops leaflets that which we're told America is bombarding them with.  

Well, maybe they are, but the networks won't run them for fear such insubordination will unembed their own reporters.  (Nevertheless, why has no-one, in Afghanistan as in Iraq, attempted to fly cheap model airplanes with a simple TV monitor attached to see what exactly happens when those massive missiles hit the ground ?)  

In any case, the Americans are quite prepared to summarily deal with unruly journalists, even if independent.  RTP Portuguese TV reporters  Luis Castro and Victor Silva were held for four days, had their equipment, vehicle and video tapes confiscated, and were then escorted out of Iraq by the 101st Airborne Division.  No-one seems to know what they did wrong.  

Likewise, the Iraqi authorities seem to have eliminated Salam Pax, the pseudonym of a native Baghdad blogger who gained huge popularity for independently reporting on goings-on within the capital, and from an Iraqi civilian's viewpoint.  His last entry is dated 24th March.   The BBC is suspected of having given him away. 

So in summary, what we are learning from the media is only what the armed forces on both sides allow us to know.  And to that extent we might as well just tune into the official news conferences in Baghdad, Kuwait and Doha and make our own minds up about the fact-to-propaganda ratio.

The reporters on the ground add very little.  

But there is a fourth category of intrepid reporter.  

The BBC has recently had much fun telling us about Radio Swaziland's Baghdad correspondent Phesheya Dubede.  He has been risking life and limb to file daily reports about the bombings and other goings on in Baghdad, while his radio host back in Swaziland has been giving him earnest warnings, such as please find a cave somewhere to be safe from missiles

Except that eagle-eyed Swazi MPs recently spotted Mr Dubede strolling around the parliament building in downtown Mbane, the capital.  It seems he simply relayed to his listeners information he gleaned each morning from CNN, Reuters, the Internet etc.  From a broom cupboard as one wag put it.  

His audience seemed happy enough, though, since the quality of his reporting was no worse than that of, say, BBC's own Scud Stud, the ever-cool Rageh Omaar in Baghdad.  

It illustrates my point about how poor is the quality of reportage.  

Back to Index

For or Against the War

In the build-up to the Iraq war, people across the world expressed their views, for and against the prospect of war, with extraordinary passion and the antis staged many outstandingly successful public demonstrations.  This debate extended to the politicians and parliamentarians, most famously in the spat between Jacques Chirac (Chiraq ?) and Tony Blair.  

The only area of broad agreement was that the Saddam Hussein regime was vile.  

Assuming they were following their consciences, or at least what they felt was their national interests, these people were right to behave so, and thank God lived under regimes that permitted them to.  My own observation was that the pros argued with more reason than passion, the antis the other way round, and in my view that is because it was very hard for the antis to make a coherent case.  

In the end, the pros won the contest, the antis lost, and the war was launched.  

Naturally, many antis are still unhappy for one can hardly expect them to change their views overnight.  

However the environment of the debate has now changed dramatically and for the first time placed responsibilities and consequences on both sides.  

For no-one any longer has the luxury of saying, as most antis have been, that I'm against the war and against Saddam.

Quite simply, to say you are against the war is to to advocate that the war be stopped forthwith and the troops brought home, as UK ex-Foreign Secretary Robin Cook extraordinarily (and treasonably) did.  This, in turn, is to state quite clearly that you want Saddam to win.  For if the troops do stop and leave, not only will Saddam interpret this as a famous victory, but it will be a famous victory.  Saddam will, unequivocally, have defeated America and its coalition partners.  

And he will never ever be removed.  And when he dies (he is 65), his odious sons will take over, just as Kim Jong Il took over on the death of his evil father Kim Il Sung and perpetuated the dangerous Stalinist regime in North Korea to this day.  

So, those who are genuinely against this war but don't love Saddam should stay silent and eschew public protests.  They should keep it to themselves; say nothing, write nothing, do nothing.  Otherwise, every utterance or action will provide comfort to Saddam, discourage his people from rebelling, demoralise the coalition troops.  And as such it will lengthen the war and increase the casualties.  

But those who want Saddam to continue in power, should by all means say so, and accept the associated opprobrium.  

The stark choice facing all of us is : 


to support Bush and hope for a speedy victory with a minimum of casualties,


to support Saddam and hope for America's defeat, an everlasting Saddamite regime, and all that that entails.  

There is no longer any middle way.  

Anti-war = Pro-Saddam. 

Back to Index

Of Arms and Oil

Where did Saddam Hussein get his weapons ?  The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute tells us that over the period 1973-2002, Iraq, under Saddam's rule, imported its arms : 


to the tune of 82% from those fervent anti-warriors of the UN Security Council Russia/USSR, France and China, 


while the warmongering coalition of the willing” currently fighting in Iraq - ie fellow Security Councillors America and Britain, together with Australia - provided barely 1%.  

iraqarmsimport.jpg (39571 bytes)
Click to enlarge;
click your BACK button to return

The full data are neatly illustrated by another blogger who calls himself the Dissident Frogman.  

Clearly, defeat of Saddam will mean an end to this arms industry gravy train for the three big naysayers.  

But that's not all.  Dr Nimrod Raphaeli, a respected Egyptian economist, advances other economic reasons - particularly centred around the oil opportunities they will lose - why the war is bad for the economies of Russia and France, as well as Germany.  

So that familiar cry that the war is all about oil” may be close to the truth - for it is the opposition of the anti-war countries that is largely “all about oil”.  As it is “all about arms”.  

There is little morality, integrity or humanity about the anti-warriors' stance.  

Back to Index

Crazy World

You know the world is going crazy when


the best rapper is a white guy,


the best golfer is a black guy,


the Swiss hold the America's Cup,


France is accusing the US of arrogance, and


Germany doesn't want to go to war.  

Back to Index

Vatican Dictionary and Gays

The Vatican seems to go out of its way to alienate members of the Roman Catholic Church.  

It's just issued a new dictionary and uses the opportunity to have another go at gays.  The dictionary calls homosexuality a condition without any social value”.  And it counsels against “stigmatizing” as homophobic those who raise questions about homosexuality.  That's like saying don't “stigmatize” prelates who protect paedophile priests.  

The sin is not the sin; the exposure of the sin is the sin.  

The new lexicon reflects Vatican teaching that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”, and Pope John Paul has said such acts are contrary to natural law.  

As I commented last October, Monsignor Andrew Baker of the Vatican's Congregation of Bishops has made extraordinary statements regarding homosexuality, essentially painting it as a curable disease.  Like leprosy.  

Nevertheless, the Church also tells us that gays and lesbians should be treated with compassion and dignity, having repeatedly made the case that they deserve neither.  

They are the only group in the Church for whom celibacy is mandatory who have not taken a vow of celibacy.  

Back to Index

Let Your Credit Card Protect You

According to the Motley Fool, an online investment adviser, credit cards do more than allow you to buy on credit.  

Under UK law, when you use it for goods of between £100 and £30,000, your contract is with both the trader and issuer, who therefore have equal liability for anything that goes wrong.  Very useful if your purchase is faulty and the seller goes bust, disappears or is just plain awkward.  Card issuers hate this provision and try to keep it secret and to deny it, but don't allow yourself to be fogged off.  

It applies even for a part-purchase (eg paying a deposit) and for items bought from a UK supplier over the Internet. The Office of Fair Trading says it also covers transactions abroad.  



for the sake of the free extra protection, always use your credit card for purchases over £100, and


keep copies of your credit card statements in case you need proof of purchase. 

However, debit and charge cards don't count - only credit cards.  

Back to Index

Quote of the Week

"If they fly they die.  They know that"

US Brigadier-General Vincent Brooks 
at a TV news conference in Doha on 31st March 
answering a question as to 
whether the Iraqi airforce will take to the air

Back to Index

Back to Top of Page

Return to Tallrite Blog


Now, for a little [Light Relief]

Hit Counter

2013 RWC7s Logo

Gift Idea
Cuddly Teddy Bears
looking for a home

Click for details  “”

Neda Agha Soltan, 1982-2009
Neda Agha Soltan;
shot dead in Teheran
by Basij militia

Good to report that as at
14th September 2009
he is at least alive.

ON 18th OCTOBER 2011,

Support Denmark and its caroonists!

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11



Adam Smith  

Alt Tag  

Andrew Sullivan

Atlantic Blog (defunct)

Back Seat Drivers

Belfast Gonzo

Black Line  

Blog-Irish (defunct)

Broom of Anger 

Charles Krauthammer

Cox and Forkum

Defiant  Irishwoman  

Disillusioned Lefty

Douglas Murray

Freedom Institute  

Gavin's Blog 

Guido Fawkes


Internet Commentator

Irish Blogs

Irish Eagle

Irish Elk

Jawa Report

Kevin Myers

Mark Humphrys 

Mark Steyn

Melanie Phillips

Not a Fish

Parnell's Ireland

Rolfe's Random Review


Sarah Carey / GUBU

Sicilian Notes  

Slugger O'Toole

Thinking Man's Guide

Turbulence Ahead

Victor Davis Hanson

Watching Israel

Wulfbeorn, Watching



Awareness Project



Iona Institute
Skeptical Bible  

Skeptical Quran  



Razzamatazz Blog  

Sawyer the Lawyer

Tales from Warri

Twenty Major

Graham's  Sporting Wk


Blog Directory


Discover the World


My Columns in the


Irish Times


Sunday Times


 What I've recently
been reading

The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tol, 2006
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy Tol (2006),
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a household lemon tree as their unifying theme.

But it's not entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz, 2004

See detailed review


Drowning in Oil - Macondo Blowout
examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. 

BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it 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.

Note: I wrote my own reports on Macondo
May, June, and July 2010


Published in April 2010; banned in Singapore

A horrific account of:


how the death penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,


the corruption of Singapore's legal system, and


Singapore's enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship

More details on my blog here.


Product Details
This is nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’s incredible story of survival in the Far East during World War II.

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,


part of a death march to Thailand,


a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),


regularly beaten and tortured,


racked by starvation, gaping ulcers and disease including cholera,


a slave labourer stevedoring at Singapore’s docks,


shipped to Japan in a stinking, closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,


torpedoed by the Americans and left drifting alone for five days before being picked up,


a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic bomb.

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.


Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies
Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies

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.


This much trumpeted sequel to Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment. 

It is really just a collation of amusing little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour and situations.  For example:


Drunk walking kills more people per kilometer than drunk driving.


People aren't really altruistic - they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.


Child seats are a waste of money as they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.


Though doctors have known for centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection, they still often fail to do so. 


Monkeys can be taught to use washers as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.

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.


False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics. 

It's chapters are organised around provocative questions such as


Why does asparagus come from Peru?


Why are pandas so useless?


Why are oil and diamonds more trouble than they are worth?


Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?

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:


Argentina protects its now largely foreign landowners (eg George Soros)


Russia its military-owned businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs


The US its cotton industry comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce

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. 


Burmese Outpost, by Anthony Irwin
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.

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

Rugby World Cup 7s, Dubai 2009
Click for an account of this momentous, high-speed event
of March 2009

 Rugby World Cup 2007
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the Rugby World Cup
scores, points and rankings.


After 48 crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are, deservedly,

England get the Silver,
Argentina the Bronze.  Fourth is host nation France.

No-one can argue with
the justice of the outcomes

Over the competition,
the average
points per game =
tries per game =
minutes per try = 13

Click here to see all the latest scores, points and rankings  
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the final World Cup
scores, points, rankings and goal-statistics

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by