I am filled with both admiration and disdain for David
Cameron and his actions since becoming the UK's Conservative party prime
minister, with the Liberal Democrats' Nick Clegg at his elbow.
As the joke goes, the new coalition is
Conservative with a little c.
Mr Cameron's pre-election campaigning and debating were
remarkable for all his dodging, weaving and prevarication whenever
questions about economic policy arose. Never admitting that he
would reduce any spending whatsoever (other than that old chestnut about
eliminating waste), much less would he elaborate on what might
specifically be cut or by how much. It was always a waffly case of
we will not shy away from making the hard decisions, whatever that might
Of course his competitor parties said exactly the same
kind of thing, but since Labour had been in power for the two years
since the economic tsunami struck, it had no excuse for not having
at all, only talked about broaching them. At least you could think
(dream?) that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats were keeping
their powder dry in order not to frighten the electorate.
And so it proved, at least as regards the Conservatives.
Since taking office they have announced draconian across-the-board cuts
in public expenditure of 40%, with however the National Health Service
(probably the entity that accounts for most waste of public money) remaining inexplicably
exempt from the scalpel.
The UK is mired in debt, and as any housewife will tell
you, if you can't pay your bills you must cut your spending at least
until you can increase your income. Housewives know this, but it
seem to be a mystery to many politicians who think the way out of debt
is to borrow more and spend more (president Obama's favourite
solution under the beguiling rubric
Ireland is mired in far worse
person than either the UK or
per person, $
% of GDP
But Ireland's finance minister thinks a significant dent in its
annual deficit of €20 billion can be achieved merely by trimming a
€3 billion from its annual budget (while not firing a single civil
servant despite the decimation of economic activity).
Full credit to Mr Cameron therefore. And not only
for his draconian cuts per se. Because cuts of this magnitude (40%)
will only be achieved by a radical reformation of the way the state is
run. You simply cannot cut 40% of costs from any activity without
having to get rid of a lot of people and then doing whatever stuff you
are able in a completely different and necessarily more efficient
This was Margaret Thatcher's great legacy in the 1980s
when, much like Mr Cameron, she took over a country broken by Labour's
left-wing socialist madness and radically transformed it, largely through savagely
cutting back on the size of the state and selling off state assets from
council houses to corporations.
her watch, Britain turned from the Sick Man of
Europe into one of its most vibrant. She famously remarked that
“the problem with
socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.”
Let us wish Mr Cameron well in this very difficult and painful
project. Provided he and his cabinet do not flinch, he and they
deserve our admiration.
It is interesting, incidentally, to note that
this week's Economist (14th August) seems to have adopted, for its
cover story, a similar approbation to mine of Mr Cameron's radical
But Mr Cameron, please stay at home and concentrate on your
gargantuan domestic economic project. On matters foreign you have
shown yourself, within your first few weeks in office, to be ignorant,
foolish and, frankly, an embarrassment.
Tony Blair was dubbed George Bush's poodle; this was
unfair and not sought. Mr Blair brought Britain into the
Afghanistan and Iraq wars on the basis of conviction, not poodling.
Moreover, far from being Mr Bush's lapdog, Mr Blair forced the Americans
to spend a fruitless and ultimately destructive year trying to convince
the French, the Russians and the rest of the UN to endorse the invasion
of Iraq. These parties already had too much invested, on both
national and frequently also personal bases, in the
continuing health, longevity and prosperity of Saddam Hussein ever to
agree he should be toppled. But that year of delay was long enough
to turn huge swathes of global public opinion against an invasion and
created a climate of hatred that has hardly abated. Were Mr Blair
a poodle, he would have gone along with Mr Bush's invasion immediately,
and it would have happened in 2002 instead of 2003 with, I would wager, far less of an
insurgency that that which actually ensued.
Mr Cameron, on the other hand, went across the Atlantic
precisely to advertise that he was Mr Obama's poodle.
Over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, he sided with Mr
Obama in roundly denouncing BP, Britain's foremost international
corporation. (As I have
certainly deserves opprobrium for causing the blowout, but huge
praise for its remedial methodology which is resulting in a permanent fix to the problem).
He declared that the UK was America's
“junior partner”, and went further to say it had been so
since 1940. As any Englishman surely knows, especially an Old
Etonian, Britain declared
war on Germany on 3 September 1939. It then stood alone against the Nazi
behemoth for over two long painful years, including the disastrous
Expeditionary Force to Europe, the Dunkirk evacuation, the Blitz and
the Battle of Britain, while America looked on as a benign
Only after the Japanese attacked the US at
Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941 did America deign to join the
war against Japan. And only when four days later (in an
extraordinary display of chutzpah and hubris) Hitler and Mussolini
declared war on America (and not the other way round) could the USA be considered even a “partner”,
much less a “senior partner”. True by 1945,
an exhausted Britain had become a de-facto “junior partner” not just to the USA but to the
Soviet Union also, for without either of them Hitler and Hirohito would
undoubtedly have prevailed. But that was many years and
corpses later than Mr Cameron's “1940”.
“junior” status at war's end was nevertheless streets ahead of the
status of those ruined defeated entities, France, Belgium, Holland,
Italy, Germany, Korea, China, Japan ... need I go on?
Then Mr Cameron went to Turkey, where
he assured its Islamist prime minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
strong advocacy for Turkey's application to join the EU.
Duh! Who told Mr Cameron to say that? What polls or
focus-groups of British public opinion has he been consulting?
Maybe the same ones that caused outrage when Ireland's president
Mary McAleese recently
declared similar sentiments on behalf of the (similarly unconsulted) Irish
Not many citizens of the UK, Ireland or the rest of the EU, with its
European Judeo/Christian/agnostic history and culture, believe it is
a good idea to allow free EU access to 70m Turkish Muslims, most of
them impoverished from Anatolia in the East where Islamism is at its
strongest. Turkish demography (high birthrates in the East, vanishing
rates in the more secular West) is only strengthening this imbalance
and its malign effects are already visible.
Only two months ago, the Turkish government connived in loading and
dispatching a boatload of self-declared Islamists to break the
internationally-recognized Gaza blockade. The so-called
vessel, Mavi Marmara, was in fact
carrying no aid - Jihad was its
sole objective. So the Islamists, many having made
pre-martyrdom videos, attacked a lightly-armed
Israeli boarding party and in the fight that followed nine managed
to get themselves killed by IDF soldiers defending themselves.
The EU would like more of this Islamic extremism, but home-grown within the EU? Mr
Cameron (and Ms McAleese) evidently would.
Mr Cameron then turned his
attentions to India, Pakistan's most hated rival, both of them
nuclear armed. He chose this venue to announce that Pakistan
is two-faced in dealing with Islamic terrorism - one part fighting
it the other supporting it. This is undoubtedly true.
The evidence is overwhelming that the ISI, Pakistan's military
intelligence unit, has been very close to the Taliban ever since,
thanks to American money and weapons, it virtually created the Taliban in
their resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the
1980s. Americans foolishly lost interest once the Soviets departed, but
elements of the ISI still continue to support their close friends in the Taliban, in effect
Mr Cameron was right to say out loud what so many know but fear to
enunciate. But what kind of idiocy caused him to choose India
of all places to say so? A diplomatic blunder of the first
order, which allowed Pakistan to take umbrage at the venue of the
accusation rather than squirm at its veracity.
After that it was Israel's turn, as he blithely
condemned the Israeli attack on a Turkish
ship bound for
Gaza as "completely unacceptable" and described Gaza as
prison camp”, with by implications the hated Jews as jailers.
He failed completely to acknowledge
either that Israel had the right under
international law to enforce the marine embargo on Gaza,
or that the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara,
was found to contain
no aid at all, but several avowed jihadists who had made
pre-departure martyrdom videos. Their objective was
clearly not to provide aid, but
to fight Israel. As mentioned, nine of them paid with their lives.
Mr Cameron also seems to be blissfully unaware not only of
excellent living conditions for most people in Gaza (as Melanie
remarks, Gazans are the only refugees in the world who drive
Mercedes), but that the privations are primarily imposed by Hamas
And so to his next foreign-policy
blunder, where in a Q&A session with citizens back in England he
has got a nuclear weapon” when as far as anyone knows it has
not, but is desparately seeking one in order to wipe Israel off the
map. Taken in isolation,
this could be seen as a slip of the tongue. But with all his
other gaffes, you have to conclude that ignorance and insensitivity
over foreign affairs are an inherent part of his make-up, and that
he is too stupid to realise it, as are his colleagues, advisers,
script-writers and minders.
The New Bill
He reminds me of Bill Clinton as
president. Mr Clinton managed the domestic economy with great
presided over a 50% economic expansion
(America's largest in history), brought unemployment down from 7½%
to 4%, raised average wages by over 6½% in real terms, kept inflation
below 2% and left behind a
$4 trillion budget surplus. One of his finest achievements was
to place a
five-year lifetime limit on
Federal benefits which, though highly
unpopular among the left, did more to
encourage the unemployed back to work than any other single measure.
only a few exceptions (eg peace in Northern Ireland), his foreign policy
was dreadful. The US trade deficit ballooned to $400 billion, he
helped to collapse the international trade talks in Seattle in 1999, but
above all he slept soundly through the rising tide of Islamism.
Attacks on American interests were met with at best a few token,
desultory (mis-targeted) missiles, at worst with relative
indifference. For example -
car-bombing of the underground carpark of New York's World Trade
Center killed six and threatened to collapse the buildings. Though
ten Islamicist conspirators earned hefty jail sentences, this was
treated merely as a crime, albeit a bad one.
truck-bombing of Khobar Towers near Dharan in 1996 killed 19 US
servicemen, for which fourteen Iranian-trained terrorists were
eventually indicted (excluding the two leaders who live happily in
Iran); this was despite the administration's own efforts to
suppress knowledge of Iran's involvement.
The American embassies in Dar es
Salaam and Nairobi were
bombed in 1998, killing 257 people. The response was a few
cruise missile strikes (one against a pharmaceutical factory), some ineffectual economic sanctions against
Al Qaeda (yes!) and the
conviction of just four perpetrators.
boat-bombing in 2000 of the USS Cole whilst refuelling in Aden
killed 17 sailors. The main response was the
targeted assassination of a single suspect by a CIA drone in the
Yemeni desert two years later.
These provocative attacks were
largely regarded as mere criminal matters
rather than acts of war by Islamists against American interests.
The CIA knew that Al Qaeda was responsible for at least two of them and
had Osama bin Laden within its sights. Yet, because Bill Clinton
several opportunities to capture him and would not authorise his
assassination, he survived to perpetrate 9/11.
Clinton's disinterest in the Islamic threat that grew so alarmingly
under his watch bred such a sense of security and invulnerability in the
hearts of the Islamists, that they were finally emboldened to perpetrate
the successful 9/11 outrage on those same Twin Towers bombed in 1993, and other targets.
Mr Clinton 's reviled successor to recognise that America had a war on
Moreover, In April 1994
he committed what was probably his presidency's most despicable abdication
of humanitarian duty. For although he was fully briefed about the
unfolding genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda, he chose
not a finger to prevent what in a few short weeks became the worst such
crime since the Holocaust.
Cameron gives the impression of being the new Bill Clinton.
competent as the former president in domestic affairs, he is however every bit as incapable as
Mr Clinton was (and arguably Mr Obama is) insofar as confronting the
global Islamic threat to the West is concerned, which is the pre-eminent
international policy issue today. However his ignorance of history
is closer to Mr Obama's than Mr Clinton's.
as possible, therefore, Mr Cameron should stick to his domestic agenda
and, at least until he develops some knowledge, expertise and backbone,
venture as little as possible into the foreign arena. It is safer
for all of us that he keep out than that he make matters worse.
Meanwhile, long may he continue to make matters better at home.
Exxon Valdez oil killed seabirds in their tens of
thousands compared with Macondo's dozen or so pelicans,
and deposited thick crude across
eighteen hundred kilometres of Alaskan coastline compared with, well, almost no
coastline ruined by Macondo.
And even the Ixtoc and Exxon Valdez disasters
resulted in no permanent damage thanks to the concerted clean up efforts of
both humans and nature.
remember the president's first visit to the Gulf of Mexico in a vain
search for an oil-blackened beach when this pristine strand was the best
photo-opportunity he could come up with.
It is clear that the president and many
others are deeply disappointed that, with the well now capped, they can't find Macondo oil coming
ashore, killing the wildlife, devastating the fishing industry. In
fact three-quarters seems to have just disappeared (evaporation,
biodegradation etc) which is clearly infuriating.
Come back BP!
All is forgiven!
You really can
find worse things on
the beach than a bit of black oil ...
various definitions of
“developed world”, but they all roughly boil down to the United
States, Canada, Western Europe, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong
Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, which have
annual GDPs per person of between $20,000 (Portugal) and $50,000
Is it not remarkable that not a single Islamic country is a member this
exclusive club, and that they are nearly all mired in penury? The
exceptions are the super-wealthy states of the Gulf, but their riches
virtually all derive from their sole dominant industry - the export of
oil and gas using almost exclusively Western technology (augmented by
tens of thousands of Western engineers). If it wasn't for
those fossil fuels, they would be as poor as Egypt (GDP
$6,000 pp) or Indonesia ($4,000).
Might there be a reason for universal Islamic poverty and might that
reason be rooted in Islam itself? After all it self-avowedly is
supposed to dominate every aspect of a Muslim's life so it would be
reasonable to theorise that Islam influences the outcome of Muslims'
I first heard of entropy when I was taught about it during my
engineering studies many years ago. Entropy has various formal
definitions, most of which are unintelligible -
a measure of the uncertainty of an outcome;
a thermodynamic quantity representing the amount of energy in a
system that is no longer available for doing mechanical work;
a measure that increases as matter and energy in the universe
degrade to an ultimate state of inert uniformity;
a measure of the randomness collected by an operating system or
application for use in cryptography or other uses that require
But there is a simpler way to understand entropy.
Ever since the Big Bang, the universe, left to its own devices, has
tended and continues to tend away from order and inexorably towards
chaos. This movement is said to represent an increase of entropy.
It is only by inputting energy that you can reverse the process,
turning chaos into order such that entropy is reduced.
you drop a china plate it will always shatter, thereby increasing chaos
Yet no matter how many times you drop the fragments they will
never re-form into a plate or anything else useful.
For that you
need to apply some form of energy (eg hours of painstaking work with the superglue).
Human development has been and remains entirely predicated on dragging
down entropy - fighting nature to create order out of chaos. Thus
it is through human labour and thought that hunting and gathering - which is how
wildlife still feeds itself - progressed to farming, to better diets,
to longer lifetimes and
hence to the opportunity to dream up further improvements in life. There is no
betterment in humankind's condition that was not brought about by human
effort, and humans have also learnt how to augment this with external energy:
domesticated animals - for draught and transport;
wind - using sails for ships and rotating vanes to drive machinery;
burning fuels - firewood, coal, oil, gas;
other power - from hydro, nuclear, the sun, the tides.
Underlying all such development is that inexhaustible inexplicable
resource capable of solving all problems: the liberated human mind.
What drives it is two things - the urge to stay alive and propagate, and
once these are reasonably assured the desire to be personally free and content.
The US founding fathers were indeed prescient when they
that every person has an unalienable right to
liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
When one or more of
these is denied, human progress slows or stops allowing entropy to rise.
Through history you can more or less correlate human development with
the extent of realisation of these three simple concepts. But
America is the only country to have put them on a constitutional basis,
which largely explains why its has outstripped all other societies past
or present in its rate of innovation and development leading to the
creation of wealth.
Which brings us to
Islam. Apart from its strictures on religious observance (praying,
fasting, visiting Mecca etc), it is extraordinary that the Koran seems
to have only one external focus: the irreversible conversion of the world to
Islam, where necessary by coercion, which is the source of all Islamist violence. Under Sharia, coercion
comes in three forms: subjugated infidels must either (eg
second-class status (“dhimmitude”)
(infidels' tax), or
Of course the prospect of option 3 provides a great incentive to
for option 1. But so does option 2; indeed many defeated countries
(eg in once-Christian North Africa) did indeed convert to Islam
“voluntarily”, but only slowly - sometimes
over centuries - as Christians, Jews and others would gradually decide to give up on the burden of jizya and the other
ritualised humiliations reserved for dhimmis.
This Koranic focus is entirely destructive. The Jihad that it spawns makes
a virtue only out of defeating and subjugating enemies of Allah wherever
they may be found and destroying their property - this comprises
over 60% of the Koran. Even within Islam, the principal emphasis is to
ensure, via heavy often lethal penalties, that Muslims remain true to
the demands of the faith. Islam provides no place for creativity,
only conformity and violence. Even when it lives close to
infidels and has dominance over them, the infidels' own creativity is to be staunched through the
punitive jizya and restrictions on what business activities they are
allowed to engage in.
there should be no wonder that there has been so little original
development in the Islamic world other than a brief period in the 8th to
11th century, when unaccustomed freedom allowed Muslim scholarship to
flower. Even this, however, was largely a matter of absorbing
existing Greek thought and outside technology rather than engaging in
disinterested enquiry. The latter is
(forbidden) because the source of all knowledge is of course the Koran.
This is why a thousand years ago the mullahs eventually clamped down on the whole idea of seeking the
secrets of nature - a stiflement of scientific discovery that continues
to this day.
more books are translated into Spanish every year than have been
translated into Arabic in a millennium, and
fewer books are translated from other languages into Arabic, which
million speakers, than into Greek spoken by only
With every few exceptions (eg North Korea), it is only non-Islamic
entities that proved themselves to be structurally capable of creating
the democratic capitalistic societies such as those in most of
the developed world,
developing countries such as China, India, Russia, Brazil, Chile;
even the impecunious non-Islamic states Africa like Ethiopia and
When failures of these types of countries
do occur, they can invariably be attributed to specific incompetencies
or greed or criminality, rather than to the overriding bar to or neglect
of constructive behaviour that is characteristic of Islam. For all
their inherent wickedness, even Mao and Stalin attempted, however
misguidedly and irrationally, to develop their countries, to thereby
One can only speculate what the world would (will?) be like when Islam
conquers all, because it will barely have the means to feed itself.
Islam's sanction on the discovery of knowledge makes it entirely
parasitic, dependant on Western technology and the money of Westerners
and others. As any naturalist will tell you, a parasite without a
host will quickly die out; yet it is Islam's intent to eliminate the
very infidel nature which makes its host its host.
free thinking and free endeavour constrained if not haraam, Islam represents a belief
system with an extraordinary affinity for entropy, inexorably pushing it
up, driving the world towards
chaos and away from order. How strange that Allah would create
infidels for construction in this world but destruction in the
while demanding an all-Muslim world which would necessarily be doomed
Maybe since He chose six billion years ago to launch the universe with a
Big Bang followed by ever-increasing entropy, that's actually just the
way He wants it. In that case, it makes for an irrational Allah to
have ever created Man, particularly infidel Man, the one obstacle to unfettered entropy.
I absolutely hate the infantile hugging and kissing and
somersaults that footballers engage in when one of their number scores a
goal. I can never understand why the opposite side does not simply
take its kick-off in the middle of the love-in and catch the enemy
unawares. Not cricket apparently.
However Iceland, so different in so many ways from the
rest of Europe (is it even in Europe?), sometimes has a different more
innovative approach to such celebrations. Have a look at team
Haldor Orri in the 2010 Iceland Football League. It's only
Mapping Dublin's futureP! Letter published in the Irish Times
Aris Venetikidis’s new maps of public transport in Dublin are
absolutely brilliant! But isn’t
it extraordinary that it takes a foreigner to come up with such an idea,
rather than Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann, given that ...
DLCC bins its bin service Letter to the
Irish Times You
report that Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, because
“it could not afford to run the
“losing about €3.5 million a
has sold off its bin collections to Panda. Yet I thought my eyes
were deceiving me when ...
“Build that mosque” Letter to the
Economist Lexington ties himself in knots as he tries camouflage the realities
of the proposed
mosque within politically acceptable convolutions. Firstly,
immigration. It is the responsibility of the immigrant, not as
Lexington infers the host, to integrate him/herself into his/her
chosen new home. Secondly, while the vast majority of the world's
billion Muslims are not terrorists ...
People see me as a terrorist Comment on a Sunday Tribune article about an Irishwoman disparaged for
joining the Israeli Defence Force Well done, Cliona, helping the only true democracy in the Middle
East to defend itself against the surrounding hordes bent only on ...
Tax policy amounting to a free pass for the big boys Comment on Arthur Beesley's Irish Times Opinion piece on
9th August 2010
Question: What group actually creates jobs? Answer:
Private industry; private investors.
Question: What group spends money without creating anything? Answer:
Government. So why does Mr Beesley advocate the discouragement of
private industry and ...
More women needed to represent true democracy
Comment on Senator Ivana Bacik's Irish Times column It's all very well for the National Women's Council chief executive
to howl in outrage because most female TDs reject the idea of quotas.
But where is the NCLRPCC (National Council for Left-handed Red-haired
Purple-eyed Club-footed Castrati), when you need it? ...
Inequity the bedrock of McDowell's 'Republic' Comment on Fintan O'Toole's Irish Times column
republic is constructed around a single, central and immutable value –
statement is pure ideological claptrap! A
republic, as the word's Latin origin - res publica - makes perfectly clear,
of the people”
Seconds out for big fight on
‘pensioners’ Comment on Kathy Sheridan's Irish Times column
“By 2060, there will be only two
people of working age for every person above 65. And, oldies, it’s all your
Despite her obvious derision of this statement, Kathy Sheridan is in
fact spot on. It is irrefutably the pensioners' own fault. They are the
ones who pro-created too few babies ...
A Tradition of Tolerance: Welcoming Cordoba House Comment dated 26 July on a column supporting the
Ground Zero Mosque "eddie" like others cites whites/slavery,
Catholics/child-molestors, whites/supremacists to make a moral
equivalence for Muslims/Islamic-terrorists. This is a false comparison
Should State assets be sold to cut the national debt? Comment on an Irish Times poll question
If you or I owe money we have to repay it. If that means selling our
house, its contents, our silverware, our car, so be it. Same with the
state. It absolutely has to do whatever is necessary to get rid of its
enormous debt, however foolishly (or indeed legitimately) acquired.
I [Jim O'Leary] should have been more pushy in opposing risk-taking at bank Comment on an Irish Times apologia by a
former non-executive bank director ‘The prevailing belief during the
boom was that the boom would give way to the much-vaunted “soft
When, in the history of the world, has a boom EVER been followed by a “soft
landing”? This phrase was the most ridiculous ...
“The war against criminality, the war against
terrorism — it’s the terminology of American neo-conservatives and
George Bush, and we know how little they succeeded.”
France's former prime minister Dominique de Villepin slags off his
The only problem is that Mr Bush's war in Iraq
has actually succeeded in not only overthrowing Saddam Hussein,
but in creating a kind-of democracy with a level of illegitimate
now far lower than in Saddam's time.
The only difference is that under Saddam such killings
were perpetrated by the State;
nowadays it is done individuals and by non-State Islamist entities.
I hope it drives Mr de Villepin crazy to be proved so wrong.
- - - - - M I D D L E E A S T - - - - -
Quote: “Security incidents across Iraq remain at the lowest
level since the U.S. has kept records.”
General Ray Odierno, America's top commander in
gives great news to President Obama.
Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister (and
former Prime Minister),
responding to the charge by Iran's illegitimate
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the US and Israel
“have decided to attack at least two
countries in the region
in the next three months”.
Iran meant Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria.
Mr Barak is making it pretty clear where
Israel's primary threat comes from.
me be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change ... Gaza cannot
and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron,
fresh from telling the world that America entered the Second World
Britain's senior partner in 1940 (vs almost 1942),
now calls Gaza a prison camp
and it's all the fault of those damn Jews again.
Firstly, if he wants Palestinians and Hamas let
out, he should demand
that Egypt opens up the Rafah crossing to its fellow Arabs.
Second, he needs to visit Gaza to learn the
wealth of the tiny enclave,
the only place in the world where
refugees drive Mercedes.
- - - - - R U S S I A - - - - -
“I met them [the twelve Russian spies
expelled from America]. We talked about life. We sang, not
karaoke, but to live music. We sang From What the Motherland Begins
[a sentimental Soviet song from the 1968 film Sword and Shield,
about a daring Russian agent who is sent to Germany during the
second World War and infiltrates the SS].
I’m not joking, I am serious. And other songs with a similar
Russian Czar prime
minister Vladimir Putin
welcomes back to the Motherland the twelve spies,
including the glamorous Anna Chapman,
who had been swapped by America
in return for four spies expelled from Russia.
“Let me be clear. It wasn’t my idea to send [Anna] back”,
jokes vice president Joe Biden
- - - - - U K - - - - -
should be treated as less than human.”
Trevor Phillips, chairman of Britain's
of Equality and Human Rights, declares (at a Union meeting back in
2007) his view of
the human rights of humans,
of whose views he happens to disapprove.
I guess this
makes it OK with Mr Phillips to slaughter BNP members
as if they were
“less than human” pests or farm
- - - - - I R E L A N D - - - - -
Quote: “This ‘I’m alright Jill’ attitude shows a
sad lack of solidarity with other women.”
Susan McKay. chief executive of
Ireland's National Women’s Council
howls with outrage when
most female parliamentarians (TDs)
fail to support her demand for quotas
to ensure greater female participation.
Ms McKay evidently thinks the sisters are just
to make it to parliament on their own merits.
Those existing TDs who aren't beg to differ.
Quotas demean not only those selected
by telling everyone they don't possess the necessary abilities,
but also cast doubt on the competence of women who do.
- - - - - W A R M - M O N G E R I N G - - - - -
“The arctic ice is disappearing faster than was
predicted. And instead of waiting until 2030 or whenever it was to
have an ice-free Arctic, we’re going to have one in five or 10 years.”
With prophet Al Gore in disgrace over divorce and
fellow-failed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry picks up
the global warm-mongering cudgel.
Whereas, inconveniently, the Arctic has been re-freezing again
since a low in 2007, as the chart shows,
Senator Kerry declares that the Arctic is in fact still melting,
and catastrophically so,
That is just so Al Gore!
Sources: National Snow and Ice Data
and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
“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.
nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’sincredible 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