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ISSUE #160 - 19th
Click here for Word
Version of Issue #160
What Is Morality?
Last week's lead post was about illegality and immorality in
Iraq. But what actually is
For most of us it means, in broad terms, a distinction
between right (“moral”)
and wrong (“immoral”).
In practice, we tend to concentrate on
what is wrong, and conclude that if it's not wrong it's right.
For instance, eight of Christianity's
Ten Commandments begin with negatives: “Thou shalt not [kill, steal etc]...”
Perhaps there are many more good acts
you can do than bad ones, so it's easier to concentrate on the bad.
However, I (unlike, evidently, God) am reminded of author
admonishment never [sic] to use the words
not and no”
because their negativity not only fails to convey what is actually required,
but also draws attention to the unwanted.
(Admit it - what picture does “Thou shalt not commit adultery”
conjure up in your mind? Be honest!)
But, returning to the bad stuff (that we all enjoy, in the
movies at least, if not so much in real life), this seems to fall into two
Into the first category fall what I would call natural
wrongs. These are things that
intrinsically evil, regardless of your culture, religion or upbringing.
I can't prove it, but I think there must be no groups of (sane) humans
anywhere that think it is OK to steal from or kill other people within their
own community on a whim. I mention
“own community” and “whim” because these can often provide
excuses or reasons to justify actions that would otherwise be considered
wrong. For example,
I killed him, but this wasn't wrong because he was from another tribe or
I executed him, but only as a punishment for his
I stole from him, but purely because my children had no food.
Take away the excuse, and I very much doubt that the individual would
consider the killing or stealing to be acceptable.
Such natural wrongs don't seem to be
very many in number. I reckon if I can only desist from
killing, injuring, raping, robbing, defrauding and deceiving people,
I can start living to a pretty high moral standard. The key
determinant that makes these things wrong is one ingredient: other human
beings. In every case they inflict harm, to varying degree, on another
Maybe I should
also put a stop to my habit of needlessly killing and injuring animals.
This would certainly be virtuous, though I am not sure I would consider such
acts to constitute
wrongs (after all, foxes in chicken houses don't).
Nevertheless, apart from the animal thing, I think we can
all agree about the natural wrongs.
But for many, including Christians, Jews and Muslims, the
moral code extends equally to other matters. Well, just two other
The first is suicide. Is this a natural wrong? I
don't think so. No-one is harmed but yourself (although your family
will be pretty upset), but if you don't have the right to your own life,
then who does? An intrinsic right to life surely includes a right to
And yet we all hate the idea. Certainly, from an
evolutionary point of view it makes sense to abhor suicide, especially if
you are of child-bearing/rearing age, as it damages the survival chances of
your genes. But this is a dangerous argument because, without a moral
dimension, it would then advocate raping any and every woman you
could find in order to maximise your DNA propagation.
Which brings me to the second other matter
- sex. It's both right and
marriage, wrong outside it (remember
“Thou shalt not commit adultery”?).
Right when it's consensual, wrong
when it's forced.
Right when it's heterosexual, wrong when it's gay.
Right when it's the missionary position, wrong when any other variation
Right between the same races, wrong between
Right without birth control, wrong with a condom.
I could go on, but a couple of things
stand out. Firstly, not everyone would agree with this list (no,
really!). Secondly, assuming we're talking consensual adults, who -
other than the cuckold's feelings - is getting hurt? Why, then, should
any non-adulterous sex be classified as wrong? Or suicide?
The answer is that there is no reason
based on logic. Rather, one or both of two things intervene.
People throughout history have always agglomerated
themselves into groups (family, gang, tribe, country, race etc), which
then draw up particular codes of acceptable behaviour, sometimes backed
by legal measures and punishments.
Most people have always believed in the existence
of God(s) and certain rules that he/she has [have] laid down, for
instance those Ten Commandments. This is called religion.
These agglomerations/religions then adopt a schedule of
in my illustration, that proscribes not just those natural wrongs, but
several other types of behaviour to be frowned upon. However they make
no distinction between the natural wrong and the imposed wrong, and therein
lies much of the confusion over what we call morality.
The source of morality, as we understand it, is a mixture of
religion, culture and nature, of which religion claims the lion's share,
followed closely by culture.
But religion and culture are erroneous in preaching that
they are the sole authors of morality, since they ignore the natural order
that forbids certain wrongs. Indeed, as the Morality Map shows, they
are obsessed with sex, and to a lesser extent suicide.
are brought up with a huge guilt complex over non-marital sex, yet the
only explanation ever offered is that non-marital sex and solo sex and homosexual sex and
fancy positions sex are all a sin simply because ... God says they're
wrong and/or society says they're wrong. Of course there's usually
a bit of fluff about self-respect or you'll be sorry in the morning or
you'll go blind, but these are not explanations for the wrong.
exception, arguably, is sex which procreates another human being
without providing the full commitment to provide for its upbringing.
This falls into the category of natural wrong since it harms and
deprives another person - the child.
similar non-reasons, are taught to obsess over sex. Women must be
covered from head to toe, and if they step out of line they can be
killed. Men may not meet them before marriage, but on the other
hand can marry and divorce at will (even for just one hour) to create an
aura of respectability for sex. And all the time, there is that
ridiculous lure of 70 or so
and unrestrained sex for all eternity in
the afterlife, that which Mohammed Atta was so meticulous in preparing
for prior to leading the 9/11 attacks.
So what is morality?
In the absolute sense it is sticking to the natural law, ie
avoiding the natural wrongs. This is a code of conduct that applies
universally, to atheists as much as theists, to wildmen in the jungles of
Papua New Guinea as much as to sophisticates on the
Yet the additional sex and suicide morality imposed by
cultural and religious norms have their place too. But that place is
more to do with ensuring an orderly society that the majority of people feel
comfortable living in. But breaking those taboos, if it doesn't harm
another person, is not really
is it? A bit like parking in a no-parking zone.
Back to List of Contents
and Money - An Iraqi's Solution
is the pseudonym (for security reasons) of a courageous Iraqi interpreter
who has been working for several years with the American military.
Journalist and blogger Michael Totten recently conducted an exclusive and
interview with him. It is fascinating on many levels to hear the
words of a young Iraqi man so close to military operations, so aware of the
calamitous state of his country, so in-tune with the thinking of his
countrymen, so patriotic and so astute in recognizing that only the
Americans can help.
But two sets of observations particularly caught my eye.
Knowing the way his people think and behave, he proposes two remarkably
inventive solutions which he believes would go a long way towards
pacification of his sorry country. Electricity and money. Here's
One hour a day is the
average supply in Baghdad and elsewhere, and what do young men use it
for? TV and air-conditioning. That cool hour is spent
watching Al Jazeera, which constantly urges them to fight. There
are plenty of other programmes with different ideas, but no chance to
If a reasonable amount of power were made available to
the population, there would be less heat-induced craziness combined with
an injection of fresh, non-propaganda ideas.
Money: Here the Hammer's ideas is not to
give it but to take it. Levy heavy fines - thousands of dollars -
against the families of every insurgent captured, killed or otherwise
identified. Money speaks louder than words, or it would seem guns,
for he reckons the families would soon put a stop to the violence
perpetrated by their sons.
I wonder is anyone in the Bush administration picking up on
these shrewd ideas.
Read the whole fascinating
interview for yourself. Then see whether you agree that such
interpreters should be
granted residency in the Coalition country they have served.
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Nannies Escape from the Nursery
Ireland introduced the
world's first nation-wide indoor workplace smoking ban in 2004, and it
has been an outstanding success, despite (or more likely because of) the lack of
any exemptions whatsoever other than in prisons.
is observed religiously everywhere - even in late-night illegal drinking
dens, known as shebeens.
universally popular, even among smokers who say it has helped them give
up or reduce their smoke intake.
have shown that non-smoking workers previously exposed to passive
smoking (specifically, bar staff) have exhibited a marked improvement in
their health metrics and respiratory condition.
A major factor in its overwhelming acceptance is the way the ban was
presented, as something to protect workers who hitherto had no choice but to
inhale second hand fumes, rather than as a measure to improve public health.
People respond to an appeal to help their neighbours, but instinctively
dislike others telling to do something
“because it's good for you”.
Nannies should remain in the nursery.
fifty countries in six continents have since introduced their own
similar bans, to a greater or lesser extent, most recently England last
July. But it has been notable how less scrupulous about presentation
they have progressively become. By and large, the recent smoking
bans have been unashamedly promulgated purely as a public health matter - to
hell with the workers. As England's official website proudly
“A smokefree England ensures a healthier environment, so
everyone can socialise, relax, travel, shop and work free from secondhand
And some places have gone further and even
outdoor smoking bans such as on beaches (Australia), patios (Canada),
streets (Japan). Just last week, here in Ireland, I encountered an
outdoor smoking ban at a hospital patio. With no pretence that this
will improve anybody's health, it is just a bit of smoking fascism to
promote a no-smoking ideology. Of course, the whiff of other people's
cigarette smoke at the beach is offensive, but so is their boom-box blaring
out the latest hits not to mention their barbecue because you're not
invited, and no-one is talking about banning those.
Now corporations are leaping onto the militant
anti-smoking fascist bandwagon. For example,
[which in 2011 became IU
renowned Indiana hospital chain with
12,000 employees, will from 2009
dock smokers $5 from their (presumably monthly) paychecks. And
if they're also too fat, then, to add insult to injury, they'll lose a
further $30 until they get their weight, cholesterol and blood pressure
Another US company in the
health business, Weyco
stopped hiring smokers four years ago and will
fire you if they find out you're smoking at home.
Moreover, according to
Mercer Human Resource Consulting, such companies are merely trailblazers
for corporate bandwagons to follow in similar vein.
Ireland's smoking ban will long be successful because of its appeal that
we spare the health of downtrodden workers by not smoking in their
In my view, those other, more robust, more ambitious approaches on the
other hand, are doomed to failure, one way or another. There is bound
to be some kind of backlash because people hate to be forced to do stuff,
though they are very amenable to persuasion. I am reminded of
Aesop's fable where, in a trial of strength, the Wind failed to remove
through blustering force a traveller's cloak, whereas the Sun merely by
shining hotly induced him willingly to remove it.
The anti-smoking nannies have,
it seems, escaped from
the nursery after all. But for how long?
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Week 160's Letter to
Just one letter this time, based on a
post from last week. But I was not surprised it went unpublished
as you're not supposed to make jokes about the Palestinians.
From North Pole to West Bank - to the Irish Times
If the Russians get away with their claim to a million square kilometres
of hitherto stateless real estate beneath the Arctic on the basis of
planting their titanium flag on the seabed, and the UN eventually
ratifies it, this could set an interesting precedent ...
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Quotes of Week 160
“I am astonished at those who are afraid of the people:
one can always explain that what is in the interest of Europe is in
the interests of our countries ... Britain is different. Of course
there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent
to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?”
Jean-Claude Juncker, tiny Luxembourg's (pop
makes the eminently sensible observation that
the British people (pop
61m) should be kept in the dark
about the EU's (pop
490m) new would-be constitution,
because they're bound to oppose it.
When it comes to ideas above his station,
Mr Juncker has form.
This is the same man
who famously - and disgracefully -
prior to the French
and the Dutch
in their respective EU constitution referenda,
“If it's a Yes, we will say
‘on we go’,
and if it's a No we will say ‘we
“Is it fair to slaughter enemy spies?”
“Military Teachings - for the Preparation of Mujahideen”,
a new, 144-page, minutely detailed
field manual by the Taliban
on how to spring ambushes, run spies and conduct an insurgency
against coalition forces in Afghanistan.
It includes helpful advice on subjects ranging
from tactics and weapons to building training camps and spycraft.
Don't do jihad without it.
“Scratch a liberal, find a
Kathy Shaidle, Toronto author,
editor, writer and blogger,
comments on the appalling
appeal on Dutch TV of
Breda's Catholic Bishop Martinus Muskens
to Christians to address God as
presumably in the interests of outreach - rather than of grovelling
“[Chief Executive of Aer Lingus] Dermot Mannion can't come
along on a bank holiday Monday and turn into a latter day Oliver
... “[it's an]
Willie O'Dea, Ireland's laughable Minister
<1% of GDP) Defence,
gets laughably worked up, simply because Aer Lingus
is transferring a Heathrow route from Shannon to Belfast.
seventeenth century English republican leader
is synonymous with brutality and wide-scale massacres.
the mythical final climactic battle
between God and Satan
“I don't want a baby drinking from me - the thought of it
makes me feel really funny. I think there's only a certain person
could handle my knockers!”
Supersize mammalia Jordan makes clear
her giant glands have only one purpose,
and it's not feeding infants
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Archive and Blogroll at top left and right, for your convenience
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ISSUE #159 - 12th
Click here for Word
Version of Issue #159
Illegality and Immorality in Iraq
I have found myself engaged in another tiresome and fruitless debate in the pages of
the Irish Times about the illegality and immorality (or otherwise) of the
war in Iraq, and I am left bemused, befuddled and of course outnumbered.
There is a very large, noisy anti-war constituency in Ireland and many if
not all other countries in the world. Why, in America, not only are a
majority against the war but a whole political party, the Democrats, are
devoted almost exclusively to this cause and are likely to win the next
presidential election on the strength of it.
At least in America, the anti-war crowd are (relatively) honest about it.
They think America is losing, cannot win and so there is no point in
expending further young lives and taxpayers' treasure. So what they want
from America is withdrawal, which is a polite euphemism for retreat, which
is a polite euphemism for defeat. What happens in Iraq after that doesn't
concern or even interest them. Just as they couldn't have cared less
about the South Vietnamese when they abandoned them in 1975, and so allowed
Vietnam to become a Communist dictatorship that prevails to this day, and
set the scene for the rape and genocide of next-door Cambodia by the
Communists of the Khmer Rouge.
Strange isn't it, how their desires line up precisely with those of the
insurgents and jihadists within Iraq and everywhere else on the globe.
They too want those pesky
infidel troops out of the way so that they can get on with the slaughter
of their civilian fellow-Muslims without interference, and spared any
danger to themselves.
And remember how in the last US presidential election the late Osama bin Laden
(ie his Rory Bremner impersonator)
campaigned for John Kerry , who
largely as a result then promptly
Well, he must be smiling now from the
Tora Bora stone
under which his ashes are smeared, as he simultaneously
ravishes his 70
white raisins in Paradise.
“I definitely know he cannot be in Afghanistan”,
president Hamid Karzai helpfully
remarked recently. He's right only if talking about a
living breathing OBL.
Outside America, the anti-war crowd have a slightly different focus.
First and foremost their objective is the unequivocal defeat of George Bush.
Then, it is the pubic humiliation of America. Everything else is
secondary. Actually stopping a war from raging within Iraq does not feature
anywhere, because not even they argue that withdrawal would be followed by
the emergence of peaceful democratic politics in the mold of, say, New
The Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, John Neill, recently
“Many people in Irish society were questioning, and for a
while the Green Party were very much to the fore in questioning it, but
I think as a nation there has not been sufficient questioning of these
rendition flights and the link of Ireland with the war in Iraq, whether
we like it or not ... I feel that the Irish Government have compromised
themselves ... People will say that politics always has an element of
compromise, but I believe one of the chief moral issues of today is the
issue of war.”
This was quickly picked up in Ireland to mean that he was condemning the use of
Shannon Airport not just for CIA rendition flights but for refuelling of US
troop carriers to and from Iraq, which takes place on a daily basis.
case can certainly be made for keeping out rendition flights with their
overtones of outsourced torture, but that was
forgotten in the rush to embrace the archbishop as an anti-warrior who
excoriates all use of Shannon by the US military (even though
he restricted himself to rendition flights).
An assortment of ex-MEPs and councillors from the Green Party jumped to
congratulate the Archbishop for his
[sic!] criticism of the US military and to decry the complicity of the Irish
Government, of which the Greens themselves are - ironically - a part, as
well as the alleged silence of Catholic bishops. This was followed by standard
boilerplate about American illegality, immorality, plus responsibility for
half a million Iraqi deaths (no doubt culled from the
I then pointed out that to object to the current Iraq war was to disdain
the (sainted) UN, under whose
Resolution 1723 - unanimously approved at the request of the legitimate
Iraqi prime minister - the Americans were fighting. Moreover, it
is insurgents and jihadists, not the Americans, who are doing their
best to kill innocent Iraqi children, women and men. The multinational
forces are trying to protect them, in light of the 72% per cent of Iraqi
adults who voted in December 2005 - in the face of enormous intimidation -
for a new, democratic Iraq.
Therefore, Ireland should be proud of its small contribution in
making Shannon available to the brave American soldiers as they try to help
the Iraqis. Those pursuing a policy of obstructionism should be ashamed
of the additional loss of Iraqi life this could entail were they successful
in thwarting the Americans.
It was gratifying when these observations elicited a torrent of opprobrium, since this
simply allowed me to expose further the venality of many Leftists' antiwar
So enraged do they remain at
“illegal and immoral” invasion that they seem unaware that
a completely different conflict is now in progress. If the
original war was immoral and illegal because the UN failed to endorse it
(though I would argue that there was plenty of endorsement), then the current war
is moral and legal because of
They can't have it both ways.
Then they flip back to
children dying during the sanctions and no-fly zones, conveniently
forgetting that it was the UN which mandated these because Saddam
refused to implement the peace treaty he signed to stop the first Gulf
war, and then ignored twelve years of UN mandatory disarmament
resolutions. Nevertheless, since they blame America for kids dying
a decade ago, how dare Mr Bush try to protect Iraqis today. Yes, I
know. It makes no sense to me either, unless the Leftists actually
prefer that the insurgents and jihadists prevail rather than have Bush
enjoy a success. I guess they do.
The third argument thrown at
me is even more ludicrous. Iraq's democracy (remember those 12m
purple fingers?) is a newly established one and not fully functioning.
These are, apparently, reasons
that America should abandon it, despite
Resolution 1723. One correspondent even advised me that
“there will not be a constitutional democracy in Iraq.
There will be an Islamic state aligned with Iran”.
Talk about wishful thinking.
I have transcribed the whole wretched debate
here (wrong link now corrected).
Sadly, you have to conclude that the white, liberal,
movement, whether here in Europe or across the Atlantic, is so consumed with its hatred of
Mr Bush, America, the West and
indeed itself, that only a rampant global jihad, starting in Iraq, will make
it feel vindicated. And to provide cover for this yearning for
defeat and subjugation, they have to invert the meanings of words such as “illegality”
and “immorality” as applied to Iraq.
In the great scheme of things, we Europeans are
irrelevant since we spend so little on our own defence, always assuming that
when push comes to shove, the Great Satan will once again rescue us from
death and destruction, as it did in the last century not twice but thrice
(don't forget its Cold War victory).
Therefore, we should be grateful that those in the
US who inhabit the Vast Left
Wing Conspiracy - to
coin a phrase - don't (yet) have the reins of power.
But let us fervently hope that in the likely event they do come to power in
the not too distant future, the burden of
executive responsibility, as opposed to the freedom of voluble rhetoric directed at the
galleries of adoring fans, will exercise some restraint from their wilder
That's you I'm talking to, Hilary.
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Menezes, the 53rd Victim
The British recently released a
142-page report into how London's Metropolitan Police Service mishandled
the flow information to the public following the erroneous shooting of Jean
Charles de Menezes on 22 July 2005. He was the unfortunate Brazilian
whom police mistook for a suicide bomber and killed, following failed attacks
the day before, which themselves followed successful jihadist attacks two
weeks earlier, on the Double-Seventh. Those earlier
attacks had murdered 52 innocents and injured or maimed a further 700.
Tensions across the city were running high, the police were jumpy, their
communications systems inadequate. So they chased Mr Menendez onto an
underground train, thinking he was yet another bomber, and shot him seven
times in the head before he could detonate himself. But, sadly, he
turned out to be
an innocent electrician going lawfully (albeit as an illegal immigrant) about his business.
When the news of Mr de Menezes came out, 52 funerals and countless people still screaming
in pain in hospital or learning they had lost limbs or were permanently
crippled or disfigured, were instantly
forgotten. The only story was the police cock-up; public outrage
reserved solely for the men in blue. At least that was the
hysterical storyline of the TV, newspapers and radio.
The very next day, the police
apologised for their fatal blunder, saying that
“for somebody to lose [his] life in such circumstances is
a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets.”
Yet two years later, with the issue of this latest report, the
overwhelmingly Leftist media are still at it. Google
and under News
slammed for Brazilian's killing”
comes up as the secondmost headline. The broadsheets, tabloids, TV and
radio can scarcely conceal their glee that the police have been caught doing
something wrong, exacerbated by a bit of contemporaneous fibbing.
Of course it is perfectly correct to hold the police to account when they
wrongfully kill someone and then dissemble about it. And it was,
moreover, an unspeakable tragedy for young Mr de Menezes himself and his
heartbroken family back in his Brazilian home village of Gonzaga.
But where is the sense of perspective? No-one believes that the
police deliberately set out to slaughter an innocent foreign tradesman. No-one
seriously doubts that the
police were in fact doing their best to thwart further fatal attacks and to catch
the perpetrators, and prepared to risk their own lives to protect the
general public. In such volatile circumstances as prevailed during
July 2005, mistakes made in good faith would have been par for the course
and should be accepted as such. Friendly fire, if you will.
Be angry by all means. But direct the anger at the proper target.
The people to be enraged about are not the police. It is the
jihadists, who cold-bloodedly planned and carried out the attacks on 7th and
21st July, in the adolescent, sexually-perverted belief that Allah would
reward them in heaven with the
nookie they couldn't get on earth. They and their mentors need to
be relentlessly tracked down and neutralised.
Mr de Menenez was simply their 53rd
victim. Those who joyously seek to blame the police for his death are
in fact excusing the true murderers. They behave as if they would
really rather the jihadists won the current war and just got on with their
convert/enslave/kill agenda. Don't they realise that they
themselves are already on the menu just like the rest of us?
With the unbelievable brouhaha over one mistaken death (whilst ignoring
the other 52), you once again have to wonder why the Left seem so keen for jihadists to
win the current war
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Botched 2007 UK Bombings
Two years have passed since the jihadist events of July 2005
But, as someone once said in 1995 about different terrorists,
they haven't gone away, y'know. And they won't, anytime soon.
attempted outrages, thankfully botched, took place at the end of June
2007. Jihadists attempted to blow up London's Tiger Tiger nightclub on
a Thursday evening, and it should have been no surprise to discover that
this was the weekly Lady's Night. The victims were to be not just
infidels, but infidel whores - a double whammy. But the car bomb never
So shortly afterwards two of them drove a Jeep-bomb into the plate glass window of
Glasgow Airport's main concourse, but so pathetically they couldn't even
penetrate the glass. And then the cargo of gas-filled canisters also
failed to blow up. So one of the Islamic would-be bombers, in best
tradition, poured petrol over himself and lit a match.
Now, finally: click for the
unexpurgated inside story about these attempts to do Allah's bidding in
London and Glasgow, by their prime perpetrator and apparent
“diarist”, Dr Khalid Ahmed. After
the events, he took up residence at Scotland's Royal Alexander Hospital,
where NHS infidels treated him for his self-inflicted 90% burns, at a taxpayer cost of
a day. But he succumbed to his injuries a week ago, which was a shame
since he escaped forty years of incarceration.
In the said must-read “diary”,
he seemingly left one comment which was particularly apposite and rueful:
“Well, that didn't work out so great”.
Meanwhile, for selfless courage in helping arrest Dr Ahmed and
his pal Bilal Abdullah, Glasgow Airport baggage handler John Smeaton has been
Britain's highest honour. Forget knighthoods and peerages:
1,400 pints of
beer lie waiting for him at his local pub. Use this link to add to this
total if you wish.
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East Russia; West Bank
Early this month, the Russians
told us they had launched a couple of mini submarines with manipulator
arms, through a hole in the ice not far from the
North Pole, and sent them down 4,261 metres to the seabed. There,
somewhere close to the Pole, they said they had planted a Russian flag, made
of indestructible titanium. Then, providing a photo as
they announced they were
entitled to all the subterranean riches between that point and the Siberian
coast in Eastern Russia, a vast million-square-kilometre triangle formerly considered to be a
chunk of stateless international real estate.
The main attraction seems to be that expert bodies, such
as the US Geological Survey, have
estimated that the Arctic region contains a quarter of the world's
undiscovered oil and gas reserves, along with huge amounts of gold, tin,
platinum and nickel, not to mention fish. Meanwhile, global
are saying that Arctic ice is steadily melting, which would make such
resources easier to access.
Now of course, nobody really knows whether the Ruskies are telling the
truth about their derring-do and the photo could have been snapped anywhere. They could just
as easily be launching the story for a bit of divilment and/or
Nevertheless, the event brought forth a lot of bluster (see
quote below) and hot air from Canada and the
US, which also border the North Pole, but they clearly don't know what to do
about it. Doing nothing may well result in Russia's claim being in due
course accepted on a de-facto basis, which would doubtless be followed by a
rush by the remaining bordering states to claim their respective pieces.
And the UN will provide the rubber stamp.
This could raise an interesting legal situation with a precedent
extending well beyond the frozen, watery, peopleless, barren north.
As far, in fact, as certain sweltering, arid, populated, often blooming
deserts. In the Middle East for example.
For if, by simply staking a claim to a piece of ground on the basis of
statelessness and a flag, a UN state can acquire that soil as part of its own sovereign
territory, it would be hard to deny Israel the same courtesy in the
stateless West Bank. So if ever the Palestinians had a case to
accelerate the creation in the West Bank and Gaza of their own second
state (after Jordan), it should be the thought that the West Bank may have,
thanks to Russian antics, potentially become fair game for any member of the
UN with a Star of David flag, titanium or otherwise, and a camera.
But of course who, in that seething hotbed of
anti-Semitic vitriol known
as the UN, is ever going to allow what many of them fondly describe as the
“pigs and apes”
to get away with any such thing? Certainly not the Russians.
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Week 159's Letters to
Three letters this time, of which two to the Irish Times
about Iraq, were published, as part of a heated exchange (which, naturally,
I think I won). They are also the subject of this week's lead
Time for a coup d'état
Out of Ireland's adult population of 3.4 million, not all
of whom are drivers, there are - as Kevin Myers astutely points out - no
fewer than 400,000 provisional licence holders, and no political party
has attempted to change this arrangement. The reason is that those
people are voters who constitute a potential bloc of some 12%, which
renders the problem utterly intractable for a democratic society. For
you can be sure ...
Role of Shannon in Iraq War
In their attack on my views, your correspondents Fr Declan Deane
and Martin Noone seem to have thrown logic out of the window. Firstly, if the original invasion of Iraq was illegal and immoral because
it did not have UN support, then the current war is legal and moral because
it is scrupulously in line with a UN mandate, Resolution 1723. They cannot
have it both ways. Secondly, even if...
Shannon Role in Iraq War
Madam, - How shocking that Green Party luminaries including former MEP
Patricia McKenna should hold the United Nations in such evident disdain
that they wish Ireland to cease co-operating with the implementation of
one of its most prominent resolutions. They similarly have such little
regard for one of the Arab world's few constitutional democracies that
they likewise would wish to impede its legitimate Government's desire
for foreign assistance in trying to bring security to its beleaguered
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Quotes of Week 159
“Of course I identify with Christian values but what have
those got to do with going to bed with a prostitute? This is a
Are you saying that I cannot be ... a good husband just
because ... I had a little adventure?”
Cosimo Mele, of Italy's Christian Democrat UDC party,
parliamentary deputy for Brindisi,
after admitting adultery with two prostitutes.
The Sixth Commandment,
“Thou shalt not commit adultery”,
is a Christian value.
The Eighth Commandment,
“Thou shalt not steal", is another:
Mr Mele was jailed in 1999 for taking bribes.
“This isn't the 15th century. You can't go
around the world and just plant flags and say
‘We're claiming this territory’,”
Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay gets upset
because Russia has put a claim on a huge triangle beneath the North
See also my own comment
“He's a completely normal five-year-old. Yet he's
completely obsessed with the game at the minute, he loves it.”
Mark Quinn of the Irish
commenting on child chess prodigy Shane Melaugh from Donegal,
who, though he's not yet even learnt to read or write,
is a member of Ireland's Under-12s international chess team.
“I love it [chess] up to heaven”,
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Archive and Blogroll at top left and right, for your convenience
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to Tallrite Blog
“Ill-informed and objectionable as always”
Comment by an anonymous reader
Now, for a little [Light Relief]
Cuddly Teddy Bears
looking for a home
Click for details
Neda Agha Soltan;
shot dead in Teheran
by Basij militia
Good to report that as at
14th September 2009
he is at least
FREED AT LAST,
ON 18th OCTOBER 2011,
GAUNT BUT OTHERWISE REASONABLY HEALTHY
Atlantic Blog (defunct)
Broom of Anger
Cox and Forkum
Carey / GUBU
Thinking Man's Guide
Victor Davis Hanson
Tales from Warri
Graham's Sporting Wk
My Columns in the
What I've recently
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy
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
This 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
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in
refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in
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
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
A horrific account
how the death
penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,
the corruption of
Singapore's legal system, and
enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship
More details on my
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Click for an account of this momentous,
of March 2009
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the Rugby World Cup
scores, points and rankings.
crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are,
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,
points per game = 52,
tries per game = 6.2,
minutes per try =
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the final World Cup
scores, points, rankings and goal-statistics