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#118 - 19th February 2006
Glorification of Terrorism
Did Ireland's President MacAleese break
Britain's new terror
with her 1916 speech?
At the end of January, Mary McAleese, the British-born
president of Ireland for these past eight years, made a presentation about
Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising.
In April of that year, in the depths of World War One, a
handful for Irishmen, led by Pádraig
Pearse, mounted an armed protest against British rule in the streets
of Dublin and proclaimed an independent Irish Republic. By the time
the British Army had put this insurgency down, some 500 Irish civilians,
the vast majority of them unarmed and non-participants in the drama, lay
Ireland at that time was an integral member - albeit a
largely unwilling one - of the United Kingdom with its own parliamentary
representatives in Westminster, not unlike Scotland today. As such,
whilst not an independent country neither was its rule without a
significant measure of democratic legitimacy, and a lot more than any of
the further flung dominions of the British Empire. Moreover,
Parliament had recently passed a Home Rule for Ireland law whose implementation
awaited only the end of the war. So post-war independence of a
united Ireland was virtually assured.
The insurgents however were impatient. Moreover they
completely ignored any concept of democracy, being entirely
self-appointed, and were deeply unpopular among the Irish. But this
changed when Pearse and his fifteen fellow leaders of what mythology now
were executed by the
British for terrorism during a time of war. For many, they suddenly
became martyred heroes, and as such they provided the inspiration for the
IRA (and Sinn Féin) through countless terrorist campaigns over the next
nine decades. Yet their proclamation is also seen as the founding
moment of the 26-county republic which came into being six years later,
detaching from the six counties (Ulster), which remain part of the UK to
this day (and whose assimilation into the republic is the Sinn Féin/IRA
casus belli). The Home Rule law, by comparison, envisaged no such
Nevertheless, whether by the standards of 1916 or those of
today, those insurgents would be seen as terrorists. With no mandate
whatsoever, they burst on to the streets of the capital, guns ablazing,
unmindful of how many citizens they killed, in an attempt to overthrow the
sitting government by force of arms. Try that in Washington DC, and
after you've shot 500 people see how long it takes you to get to Guantanamo Bay, via rendition camps in
Morocco. If you're not yourself dead first.
90 years later, Ulsterwoman Mary McAleese, who has
held Ireland's top job for these past eight years, gave her speech
at a university conference
“The Long Revolution: The 1916 Rising in context”.
In it, she spoke eloquently, at length and without
reservation, of the
“heroes of the Rising”. Much of what she said was
nonsense (eg that Pearse & co were committed to inclusiveness and non-sectarianism,
when his brand of nationalism forced more than 50,000 Protestants to flee
the Republic following independence), and she deftly skipped over the
moral hazard posed by those inconvenient 500 nameless and innocent
dead. Yet there was no doubting the high regard in which she personally held the
Sixteen, terrorists by any other measure. She finished by
small band inhabited a sea of death, an unspeakable time of the most profligate world-wide waste of human life. Yet their deaths rise far above the clamour - their voices, insistent still.”
That was last month.
Last week another significant event occurred across the
After several months of battling, Tony Blair
through a vote in the House of Commons last week approving his Terrorism
Bill, whose central objective is to criminalise the glorification of
terror, with a penalty of up to seven years in jail plus a
To précis the meat of its opening few paragraphs,
“A person commits an offence if he publishes a statement ...
[which] glorifies the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of
“and the public could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified is being glorified as conduct that should be emulated in existing circumstances.”
Now line these words up along side those of President McAleese.
Do hers not exactly fit the characterisation of glorification as described
- and proscribed - in Tony Blair's new Bill?
And being born in Northern Ireland is she not technically
British and subject to British jurisdiction, at least within the UK?
(She is surely one of the world's very few foreign-born
But if she continues to glorify terrorism once the new
Bill becomes law, she better watch her step when she visits her family in
Ulster or cavorts in Buckingham Palace with her UK counterpart.
Actually, over the past year, ever since she likened
Protestant Unionists in her homeland to Nazis, the President has
repeatedly put her foot in her mouth, her January speech being but a recent
example. Three further ones in quick succession are -
her attendance last week at a conference in Saudi
Arabia (the Jeddah Economic Forum 2006) despite the exclusion
of fellow-EU member state Denmark over those cartoons (see next
her false and unsubstantiated claim
that the Irish
the publication of the cartoons”,
when they plainly do not,
her condemnation of the cartoons, but not of the
violence, embassy-burnings and killings that followed.
I wonder whether she is losing her marbles; also she
doesn't look especially healthy any more. Eight years is a long time to be
President. She has six more to go, heaven help us!
But hey, allowing for remission for good behaviour, that's
about the same penalty as a conviction for glorifying (1916)
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in August 2005, Jacques Barrot, a Frenchman with a grey beard, straps on a
pig's snout and big piggy ears and enters the annual French Pig-Squealing Championships in Trie-sur-Baise.
Someone from Associated Press photographs him in colour; the photo is
widely published in a jokey news
item about the competition (which Mr Barrot sadly does not win).
far so normal about weird happenings in the heart of pig territory in
France's deep South.
But then someone faxes the photo so that it comes out in
blurred black and white. Then a notorious and fiery Danish imam, Ahmad Abu Laban,
that this is yet another Mohammed cartoon from infidel Denmark, far more
offensive than the others, because it depicts the prophet as a pig.
another blurry one depicting the prophet as a paedophile
(in fact his ninth-century chronicler Sahih Bukhari
Koran tells us that Mohammed did take six-year-old Aisha as
his tenth wife though thoughtfully waited until the little girl was nine to consummate the union), and
one of a dog raping a Muslim
neither of them the work of Danish cartoonists nor
published in the Jyllands-Posten.
Abu Laban, who is leader of the Islamic Society of Denmark
(which claims that all Muslims in Denmark are members
whether they want to or know it or not), then prepares a write-up
and sets off with it on a tour of Muslim countries to stir up fury at
the Danish cartoons, citing as his most egregious examples, his own three
faked ones. Indeed without them, it really is hard to find any source of deep insult
in the original twelve
cartoons (A bomb in a hat? Very funny. Very
The fake cartoon story amounts to yet more news - not to mention
more images - not published by the conventional Western print and TV media
because they are afraid of showing up Muslims in a bad light. Actually
they are just afraid, period. Once again,
cowardice, appeasement and dishonesty.
But thank goodness the blogosphere ensures we can know
about such things and thus understand better what is going on in the world
In that ancient pre-Internet universe (where I spent most
of my life), how much of this covering-up and self-censorship went on that
we ordinary people had no idea about? We sometimes hear snippets of
cover-ups of old, where scandalous stories were widely known by
journalists who however honoured omerta - such as
the crookery of former Irish Taoiseach Charles
the promiscuous gaydom of Cary Grant, Burt Lancaster,
Marlon Brando and other Hollywood stars;
the rampant womanising of President John F
But not much.
By the way, in the interests of fair
play, go here
to find a selection of cartoons where Jews are the butt of the jokes
rather than Muslims. Can't understand why those spineless Jews
don't burn down a few embassies. (Hattip
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Chico Simone Stairs
was this Chico Simone who stares out at us in this picture?
He was an accomplished Sicilian musician born in Boston, a
concert pianist who also directed Taormina's Plectrum Orchestra in Italy
for nearly 30 years. Along the way he collected five wives and
But that is not what he is remembered for. He is
remembered and revered as the athlete that always came last.
For sixteen years in a row, he entered and completed the Empire
State Building Run-Up, an annual race up the edifice's 86 flights of stairs, or 1,576 steps
(or 783 if you take them two at a time as the serious racers
do). On every occasion, Mr Simone was both the oldest and last
to finish (of over 100 finishers). It's a gruelling race for anyone,
as fellow-competitor Barbara Hummel painfully describes.
Mr Simone's most recent time, in 2005, was 49 minutes 28 seconds
(four times the winning time). Sadly he missed the 2006 event a
couple of weeks ago because he had passed away last April, aged 93, two
months after his finale appearance.
He will climb stairs no more, except perhaps to
To honour his memory, the Empire State Building, in a most
gracious gesture, lit
itself up in red, white and green - the colors of the Italian
Interestingly, since the destruction of the World Trade
Center, the Empire State Building, built in Depression-laden 1931, is once
again New York's tallest, at 381 metres.
to List of Contents
Week 118's Letters to the Press
Two letters last week, one published, one
Kurdish Refugees |
Why is Ireland taking in 200 Iraqi Kurd refugees, camped for the last
three years between Iraq and Jordan, when their home country, Iraq, is
now a constitutional democracy ...
Breath-Testing and Civil Liberties |
Tom Cooney makes an eloquent case against breath
testing motorists on an utterly random, or "dragnet" basis,
both in terms of civil liberties and of low catchment rates in other
jurisdictions (eg one per 144,000 in Tennessee). But he is
to List of Contents
Quotes of Week
“The decision was taken to
express solidarity with the feelings of anger sweeping the Muslim world as a result of slandering
Prophet Mohammed in Danish newspapers.”
Faycal Batawil, Director General of Public Relations
at Jeddah's Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
proudly explains (on 7th Feb) the decision
to withdraw invitations to two Danish delegates
to attend Saudi Arabia's
Jeddah Economic Forum 2006
Cherie Blair, Ireland's President Mary
Al Gore, Steve Forbes, Gerhard Schroeder
and other prominent Western leaders
nevertheless did attend,
always eager to appease a terrorist-sponsoring dictatorship
rather than support a mild Scandinavian democracy
“The two Danish speakers that were invited to speak apologised sincerely for not attending the forum. Their invitations were not revoked.”
Amr Hassan Enany, Chairman of the
Jeddah Economic Forum 2006,
comes up with a completely different, completely implausible story
three days later.
Blair, McAleese, Gore, Forbes, and Schroeder
breathe a grateful sigh of relief.
The two Danes remain diplomatically silent - and alive
Annan is] just flat wrong ... We shouldn't close Guantanamo. We have several hundred terrorists, bad people, people who if they went back out on the field would try to kill Americans. To close that place and pretend there's no problem just isn't realistic.”
US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
in typical robust fashion,
rebuts Mr Annan's call for closure of Guantanamo
as demanded in a UN Human Rights Commission report
bumper-sticker to buy it
for just $3.49.
rather be Rula Lenska's pussy cat than George Bush's poodle”
Galloway, MP and excruciating ex Big Brother contestant,
talking on BBC Northern Ireland's “Let's
this from 13-year-old Lucian George
speaking in a school debate
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the Archive and Blogroll at top left and right, for your convenience
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#117 - 12th February 2006
Accidents and Root Causes
It is now fifteen years since five men lost their lives in an industrial accident in
West Africa, fifteen years since a slapdash investigation failed to dig out
root causes and key learning points, fifteen years that the five families
have had to struggle both in their bereavement and without their principal
Too often, the lessons of an accident are too difficult to
dig out or too painful to acknowledge or too hard to apply. But failure to
do these things leads inevitably to further accidents. I have
written before about accidents whose cause gets attributed to,
error”, especially when the
particular “human” has been obliging enough to have died.
A few egregious examples.
1994, an RAF chinook
killed 29 of Britain's top intelligence and security officials.
Yet the RAF - with no witnesses, no radio calls, no radar and (extraordinarily) no black boxes
to provide evidence - blamed the two deceased pilots and entirely exonerated
the RAF management system that set up the flight and put the two in
In 2003, two trains on a single-track stretch crashed
head-on in Albacete, south-eastern Spain, killing 22. Miguel Corsini, president of Renfe (Spanish Rail)
immediately blamed human error on the part of the chief of rail
traffic. This provided an instant, easy
and popular “solution”:
fire the chief of rail traffic. But it left dozens of unanswered
questions, concerning organization, people, training, supervision and
audit, which all point to the (mis)management of Renfe, rather than a
mistake by one individual.
To this day, blame for the Exxon Valdez, which ran aground in 1989 in Prince William Sound off Alaska spilling 232,000 barrels of oil, is placed squarely on the drunk captain. Yet he was such a known
and habitual drunkard that the local police
in Alaska had confiscated his car driving licence. Even so, Exxon had
put him in charge of a supertanker.
Does this not reek of extraordinarily incompetent, negligent
Preponderancy to jump to the first convenient conclusion
failure to seek out root causes mean that lessons will not be learnt,
and more catastrophes of a similar or related manner will
occur. It is essential to look beyond the obvious. For
example, what is this a picture of? Don't trust your original judgement.
Think. Look again.
Here is the true story of that other fatal accident from
which the true lessons were never drawn because of the slipshod, “blame
nature of the investigation. Names and dates have been changed to
protect the guilty; the facts are correct.
Sunshine was a huge offshore drilling rig,
almost half the size of a football pitch, and the pride of
its Arab owners. No expense had been spared in its construction which cost
a record $85m. It was a “jack-up”
rig whose modus operandi was to be towed floating on its hull to a
drilling location, where it would jack down its three legs until they
touched the seabed, and then continue jacking until the hull was raised up
above wave levels, as in the photo. The derrick would then slide out
on a cantilever to enable the well to be drilled.
Sunshine had worked only a few months in Arabia when it won a major contract in
West Africa. Two days after arrival, having hired African crews from
local villages, and in water depth of 80 metres and 100 km out to sea, it
began to drill an exploration well.
36 hours later, in the middle of the night, disaster
struck. At a depth of only about 200 metres, the rig drilled into a
pocket of so-called
a phenomenon that was rare for the area and which had not been planned
for. Special procedures had nevertheless recently been written for
dealing safely with just such an eventuality.
Within minutes, gas blew up through the derrick and caught fire (probably
due to a spark). Flames soared up through the derrick, where the
“derrickman” stood, two-thirds of the way up, whose job was to help manhandle the drilling
pipes from above. The unfortunate man was killed instantly in the conflagration,
burnt to a crisp.
Meanwhile, down on deck, panic ensued everywhere as people tried to evacuate into the
safety boat that was standing in readiness nearby, 24 hours a day, in case of any
emergency. In the chaos and flames, no-one was able to launch the
rig's own lifeboats.
People climbed down the scramble nets hanging down the
side of the hull, so that they could jump into the water, but others were climbing back up again out of fear of the leap into
darkness. The two groups obstructed each other and many fell
haplessly into the water. Some simply jumped off the deck with their life jackets
on - and two of these broke their necks when they hit the water, as their
lifejackets snapped back up under their chins.
Many in the water couldn't swim and so, in their panicky efforts to get to the rescue
boat, clambered over each other and pushed other people underwater. Two more drowned in this pandemonium.
The Sunshine burnt down and collapsed onto the seabed, a
In all, five unfortunates lost their lives.
Big bosses flew in from Europe and Arabia to conduct the
investigation, and concluded that the drilling supervisor (equivalent to
the captain of a ship) was to blame for the disaster. He was
fired. They then flew home.
Yet they had completely missed the three massive learning
points that cost those five men their lives, lessons that if not learnt
were to jeopardise more lives.
It turned out that the geologists - who had chosen the
location at which to drill - knew that there was a high likelihood of
encountering shallow gas there. But they never told the drillers, and the drillers
didn’t ask. This was part of a long-term
institutionalised feud between the two groups of specialists in which each
despised the other, leading to many other breakdowns of
communication. In this instance, it meant that the drillers had under-designed
the well to withstand shallow gas.
Those with knowledge must
push that knowledge.
Those needing knowledge must pull that knowledge.
No-one should assume the whole story has been transmitted without checking and rechecking.
through integrated teamwork can you ensure that knowledge
communicated and shared. It is not only amongst Mafia
families that feuds can led to death.
An excellent shallow gas procedure had been written just two months
earlier. The scale of the tragedy would have been avoided had it
simply been observed. But it was merely mailed to recipients
- with no roadshow, no training, no assurance that it was being put into
practice. As a result, it just collected dust on a shelf, unread, unstudied, unapplied.
A procedure, no matter how wonderful, is of zero
use unless it is
actively “injected” into the targeted user community;
verified that it is known, understood, applied.
Mere distribution is never enough
Crews, drilling rig, support services – all were new.
Yet no survival (or other) training/exercises whatsoever
had been conducted.
For example, no-one was taught anything about evacuation,
launching of lifeboats, use of life-jackets, how to safely jump into the
water, swimming, joint manoeuvres between rig and safety boat.
As a direct consequence, all was fear, pandemonium and
death in the middle of a black night.
In any operation, everyone must be trained to deal with the
hazards he/she may encounter (in this case, how to keep a well
under control, how to evacuate the rig, how to swim).
This needs to be backed up with checks, drills and exercises to ensure that people really have learnt what they need to know.
Everyone must participate. That
all operational players (eg subcontractors, contractors, client, safety-boat crews, office staff),
any third parties (eg emergency services, logistics),
that they also know what expect and what to do.
and similar such lessons are not rocket science. In fact they are so
blindingly obvious that it should not take five fatalities to learn them
in heavy industry they are what often make the difference between whether
a worker lives or dies.
Procedures, Training - and of course Supervision. It is rare indeed
that a serious accident is not the direct result of failures in one or all
of these areas, areas which are strictly and exclusively the
responsibility of management.
can be sure that the dreadful Titanic-scale
sinking of the Al Salam 98 in the Red Sea earlier this month is
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I saw this picture in an article about Muslim protests against those
cartoons, I assumed the child had been injured in the chaos.
Wrong. He is ritually cutting his own head with a cut-throat razor
held in his right hand, which an adult will have given him.
He is taking part in Ashura,
the Shi'ites' annual commemoration of the death of their most revered
personage, Imam Hussein, who was the grandson of the prophet
Mohammed. He was killed in the Battle of Karbala in AD 680.
Ashura involves a parade in which men cut and beat
themselves until the blood flows. However as illustrated in the
photo, they also encourage their sons to do the same. And for the
even smaller children, and even tots, the cutting is done for them,
despite the screams, as depicted in this gruesome video
(which is not for the faint-hearted).
Other faiths also have blood-letting ceremonies. For
example in the Philippines on Good Friday, certain devout Catholics have
themselves nailed to a
cross to commemorate Christ's crucifixion, some of them year after year.
Self-flagellation is also popular. Hindus also have bloody
As far as I'm concerned, adults can do what they like to
themselves - they own their own bodies.
But can you imagine a more overt and depraved form of
abusing children than what the Shi'ites do to theirs during Ashurah?
Yet it is done in public and proudly and in front of cameras.
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Cartoonish Protests Reinforce Anti-Islam Prejudices
Over the past week, the TV, print media and bloggers have
been almost as busy propounding various ideas about those notorious
cartoons as the protestors have been burning down embassies. The
cause of Islam has been enhanced not a whit.
A number of issues caught my eye.
Last week I was one of many who asked, “what
took the objectors so long?”,
since the cartoons had been originally published back in September.
I came across two
plausible-sounding explanations, which may however be no more than idle
first is that the high dudgeon was fomented by the Saudi government to distract
outrage over this year's annual Hajj death toll (346
pilgrims), attributed once again to the regime's organizational
second puts the blame on Iran. It is about to be reported to the UN
Security Council for trying to build (and hide) a nuclear bomb, and Denmark is, conveniently,
a member worth trying to intimidate. It
will chair the UNSC in June.
there been any more cartoons?
as far as I am aware, but there has been an outbreak of jokes about
cartoons, and cartoons about cartoons, and all of them a lot wittier than the
originals. But none of them depict or satirise Mohammed.
you know that “the
Danes don't do insults, but if they did they would probably be the best
insults in the world”?
to see about a hundred cartoons about cartoons? Click on the one
Who has published the cartoons?
The original Danish cartoons have been published
by a select few (very few) media outlets in Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Fiji, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the United States, Ukraine and Yemen.
More interesting, however, is the weasely words used by
the majority Western publications that have chosen not only not
to publish the (puerile) unfunny images, but not even to
tell readers where they can find
them. Their explanations switch between
“respect” for Islam and Muslims, and
not wanting to add fuel to the flames.
not one has expressed the true reason for the reticence. As Mark Steyn pithily
puts it, what these publications are really respecting is the Muslim
wild men's “ability to locate the executive vice president's home in the suburbs and firebomb his
garage”. In other words it is cowardice and appeasement that
keep them silent - and dishonesty in trying to hide this
explanation. Nothing else can explain why they keep under wraps the
central issue of a huge global story. I can forgive them the
cowardice and perhaps the appeasement, but not the dishonesty.
who don't have access to the internet generally have no idea what the fuss
is about. Not even the protesting Muslims.
Whom do the protestors represent?
With a few moderate exceptions, the media have reported on only the more vocal, visible, radical and violent
Muslims demonstrating, placarding, desecrating, burning and in some cases
Though the protestors give the impression that they are
acting out the feelings of Islam in general, are they? Is there
perhaps a silent majority that utterly deplores the reaction?
Certainly, and creditably, some Muslims have mounted peaceful
demonstrations within the West, deploring the violence.
But finding out what the majority of Muslims want or feel is,
of course, something
scrupulously suppressed by every regime in the Middle East - bar Iraq, Afghanistan
and Israel. This is for the simple reason that the respective
dictatorships do not want confirmed what they already know: that they are
thoroughly hated by their people.
So actually no-one has any idea how representative the
protestors are. Thus we should not rule out the possibility that the
moderates in fact predominate.
Islam really forbid imagery and humour?
The demonstrators and their spokesmen are claiming, long
and loud, that it is against Islamic principles to represent by imagery not only Muhammad but all the prophets of Islam; and
that the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. This has
been said so vehemently and loudly that it has become the accepted wisdom,
at least among great swathes of ignorant infidels such as
But is it true?
Amir Taheri, learned columnist of the Wall Street Journal,
Tech Central Station and others, says
it is not.
The apparent injunction against images dates from the
invasion in the eighth and ninth centuries of Muslim Arabs into Christian
Levant, where they encountered Christian images in abundance. As
part of their Islamisation campaign, Muslim theologians therefore issued a
fatwa against any depiction of the Godhead, but as an act of politics and war,
not of religion. You will find no such injunction in the Koran, which is why
pictures of Mohammed have appeared in countless Islamic documents through
As for laughing at Islam, this has also never been
proscribed, and has been commonplace. Indeed, Muhammad himself
apparently pardoned a famous Meccan poet who had lampooned him.
Moreover, says Mr Taheri, Islam rejects guilt by association. Just as Muslims should not blame all Westerners for the poor taste of a cartoonist who wanted to be offensive, those horrified by the spectacle of rent-a-mob sackings of embassies in the name of Islam should not blame all Muslims for what is an outburst of fascist energy.
Muslims take the word of infidels
Robert McHenry, a columnist with Tech
Central Station, makes
a couple of interesting points.
Firstly, the outraged Muslim world believes that the
cartoons are depictions of Mohammed only because the
cartoonists say they are, and based on no evidence whatsoever. In
other words, Muslims are freely and inexplicably choosing to swallow
claims concerning their religion, as made by a dozen infidel
Secondly, the taking of insult - and the magnitude of that
insult - are actually free choices by the insulted. Their choice may
bear no, some or a strong correlation with the intent of the insulter, and
indeed the insulted often may have no idea of the original intent.
But taking insult puts the insulted in a morally superior position, at
least in his/her own view.
In other words, the protests are entirely a matter of
choice that bears little or no relevance to the actual
cartoons. The protesting Muslims are actively going out and wanting
to be insulted, so that they have something to protest about.
One thing that has arisen out of these events is the
confirmation and reinforcement, in the eyes of the non-Muslim world,
fairly or unfairly, of all the worst prejudices that they may have held
about Islam, its followers and apologists. Moderate Muslims have
been drowned out in the cacophony.
The protestors have done their universal image and the
cause of Islam no good whatsoever.
In the West, they have strengthened immeasurably the hand
of those who would
restrict Muslim immigration into the West,
impose tighter controls on existing foreign Muslims,
reject Muslim Turkey's application to join the
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EU Security Levels
As you would expect in a unified European Union, its
members each have their own stereotypical and totally different version of what
constitutes a security threat and the appropriate response level.
Gone are the good old traffic-light days of green-yellow-red.
The British are feeling the pinch in
relation to recent bombings and have raised their security level from “Miffed”
to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet
again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.”
Londoners have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940
when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from “Tiresome” to a “Bloody Nuisance”.
The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning
level was during the great fire of 1666.
Also, the French government announced
yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run”
to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Surrender”
and “Collaborate”. The rise was precipitated by a recent
fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing
the country's military capability.
It's not only the English and French that are on a
heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert
level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate
Military Posturing”. Two more levels remain: “Ineffective
Combat Operations” and “Change Sides”.
The Germans also increased their alert
state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform
and Sing Marching Songs”. They also have two higher
levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on
holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO
pulling out of Brussels.
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Letters to the Press
Here are the past week's two letters, one of which was
published, and a forgotten one from January.
vs Race - 9th February 2006|
cartoons are racist”
declares David Manning. Perhaps he would care to state what “race”
he is talking about ...
Offense to Europeans and Danes - 6th February 2006|
Is it not curious that newspapers such as the Irish
Times decline to publish those notorious Danish cartoons out of
sensitivity of offending Muslims, yet don't hesitate to publish photos
of placards saying
“Europe is the cancer, Islam
is the answer”
or photographs showing Danish flags being desecrated by burning or
free to harass - 19th January 2006|
“Left free to harass in Ireland”
Mary Raftery's headline on Thursday. How true, I thought.
Hardly anyone wants to challenge the Left's ideological nonsense ...
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Quotes of Week
Quote: “The cartoons [are] a scandal, particularly as they came
from those who champion civilisation and free expression [and are] part of a
conspiracy by Zionists who were angry because of the victory of Hamas.”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Iran's democratically unmandated
supreme leader shows supreme ignorance of logic
“Copts are not driving Muslim communities from their ancient homelands in Egypt.
“Christians are not forcibly converting Muslims in Sudan.
“Jewish suicide bombers are not wandering into Palestinian cafés on the West Bank.
“London is not hosting anti-Islamic marches, in which demonstrators declare that those who insult St Paul must be beheaded.
“Buddhists are not decapitating Muslim schoolgirls in Thailand.
“Dutch secularists are not ritualistically murdering Muslim artists they disapprove of.
“American Southern Baptists are not flying airliners into Arab skyscrapers.
“Methodist zealots are not blowing up worshippers at Finsbury Park mosque.
“The Israeli President has not said he intends to wipe Iran off the map.
“Hindus in Bali are not massacring the faithful as they gather to pray towards Mecca.
“Spanish Catholics are not leaving bombs to slaughter Muslim commuters.
“And the entire non-Muslim world is not burning Saudi embassies in capitals everywhere because of the racist and sectarian filth that is promulgated about Christians and Jews in the
madrassas answerable to the royal house of Saud.”
Columnist Kevin Myers in the (subscription-only) Irish
illustrates that claims of global Islamaphobia are rubbish
“I recently found your bottle while taking a scenic walk on the beach by Poole Harbour. While you may consider this some profound experiment on the path and
speed of oceanic currents, I have another name for it, litter. You Americans don't seem to be happy unless you are mucking about
Henry Biggelsworth writes back to Harvey Bennett
after finding on a beach in Dorset UK
a message in a bottle launched by Mr Bennett
off Long Island, USA five months earlier.
have always thrown bottles in the sea. In the age of e-mails and satellite phones, I think it is such a wonderful way to communicate.”
Bennett, a US Coastguard, responds
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#116 - 5th February 2006
I hate anti-religious hatred. By that
I mean I hate the behaviour of those who allow their hatred of religious
hatred to boil over into violence.
But there is a God/Allah/Jehovah after all, and His sense
of humour and skin are robust enough to withstand plenty more jokes and
ridicule at His expense, at least in Britain.
I have been a great supporter of Tony Blair
over the years, but have felt
contempt for most of his Labour Party (top of my C-list being that shallow
prima donna soon-to-be one-term prime minister Gordon Brown).
For once though, my sympathies are the other way
round. Last week, Mr Blair proposed to overturn brakes that the
House of Lords put on his new religious hatred law, but was narrowly
defeated in the Commons - by his own party. So cheers for the
party (and the Lords) and boos for Mr Blair.
DVDs can continue to appear in Amazon and
| British rental stores with
impunity, and anti-Allah Danish
cartoons published at will ... (unlike in say France where
Soir editor was sacked
for reprinting them). And notwithstanding craven
self-censorship which seems to be the British (and Irish) media's
we're all being caricatured here”
Just two days after that British vote, Nick Griffin of
the (fascist-leaning) British National Party got off the hook for
allegedly having incited
religious hatred. A principal piece of prosecutorial evidence
was that he had dared to suggest,
14 months before it actually happened, that “sooner
or later there’s going to be Islamic terrorists letting off bombs in
major cities ... and ... the perpetrators will be asylum-seekers or
second-generation Pakistanis living in somewhere like Bradford”.
He's not out of the woods yet, though, because they now want to re-try
him for calling immigrants “cockroaches” and Islam a “wicked, vicious
Nevertheless, these two episodes do suggest that
British public opinion may once more be leaning in the direction of
free - rather than politically correct - speech.
And if anything will confirm that free speech is a
precious commodity that the West must cherish, it is surely the huge
global kerfuffle over those twelve Islamically offensive cartoons that
the Danes put out back in September (what took the objectors so
Under Britain's newly watered-down law, publishing them
is no offence unless there is a deliberate intention to stir up
religious hatred. But it's OK to deliberately stir up religious
ridicule, rather than hatred. Indeed, I would argue that, as a
general principle, religious ridicule is to be encouraged because it
forces believers to question and challenge their own
And when you really think about religion ...
For example, the Islamic religion, with Allah as the
top being, is a ludicrous concept, invented based on no evidence by
some weird guy a lot of centuries ago, which today has a completely
irrational global following, convinced they are the sole possessors of
Wait a minute, wasn't that Christianity and
No, of course not, it was Buddhism and Siddhārtha Gautama.
Sorry, Judaism and Jehovah.
Wrong again, it was Hinduism and Brahman.
You have to laugh. Billions of people in awe of
abstract unproven notions that drive them in their daily lives.
What a joke. What a con job. It invites satire and
contempt. Except for my religion, of course, which contains the
one and only true truth. Yours on the other hand is just
make-believe bunkum. As for those atheists, words fail
Everyone religiously offended now?
The riots and violence over a dozen lampooning
cartoons are only likely to strengthen that libertarian feeling
re-emerging in the West Including - to their credit - Old Europe
countries such as France and Germany. This of course is the
opposite of what the protestors want, as succinctly enunciated
Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, who declared that the
cartoons showed “there
should be a limit
to press freedom” (which will not help his EU
Many people say that the religions of others should be
If someone else's religion teaches things that
others regard as deeply immoral (eg “slay
them wherever you find them”), why on earth
should that be respected? It should not. It should be
decried for its intrinsic inhumanity and if ridicule adds to the
offense, so much the better.
Northern Ireland's veteran Protestant politician, “the
Ian Paisley, far from showing respect, has regularly and
gratuitously poured scorn on Catholic beliefs, notably the transubstantiation.
This amuses Protestants no end whilst greatly offending
Catholics. But it does make you ask in your heart, “What
if the old devil is right, and it's all a fraud?” - just
like his own fake qualifications.
my religious faith can't withstand a strong dose of such lampooning,
maybe it's time to switch to a different one I feel more confident
about, or none at all. (Or will that consign me to hell?)
Of course racial ridicule is quite a different matter,
for the simple reason that whilst we can pick and choose and chop and
change our religious beliefs, each of us is stuck with his/her race,
ethnicity, DNA (except for Michael
Therefore, it is singularly dishonourable and timid
that the vast majority of American, UK and Irish media (newspapers,
TV) have been too chicken, despite the acres of newsprint and hours of
airtime they have been devoting to those Danish cartoons, to actually
reproduce them so their customers know what they're talking
about. Obviously they fear offending Muslims or - to be
more precise - their violent reaction, which is understandable if
these same media have had no qualms about publishing photographs of
Muslims desecrating, in a distinctly racist fashion, the Danish flag,
without a care for the grievous offence caused to Danes, and with the
clear objective of stirring up racial hatred against Danes. The
media, of course, have no fear that their staffers will be killed by
Danes as a result. But what abject moral relativism, that even a
trashy jingoistic tabloid such as Britain's Sun
has signed up to. Headline stories all about a dozen cartoons,
yet no-one is allowed to see them.
Thank God/Allah/Gautama/Jehovah/Brahman for the internet.
(Or should that be thank Microsoft/Google?)
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People to Liberate Animals
Rodney Hobson, of the investment adviser Hemscott,
has written a most thoughtful piece about terrorism as practiced to
deter animal experimentation. Since it will only appear on Hemscott's
site for a few more days, here is a transcript.
The attack this week on the home of a director of
Britain’s biggest pharmaceutical company should be taken seriously
– either by the police or by investors. It is impossible to say
how many hard core animal rights activists are out there but they
exist in sufficient numbers to pose a serious threat even to a
company the size of GlaxoSmithKline.
One can argue the rights and wrongs of testing
drugs on animals. Apart from the ethical issue of whether we have
the right to inflict potential suffering on helpless creatures,
opinion is divided on whether humans respond to drugs in the way
that animals do. Those involved are adamant that human lives are
ultimately saved while opponents point out that drugs used
successfully on animals still have to be tested on humans to see if
they work for us.
I do not propose to get drawn into an inevitably
complex argument on whether the experiments should continue. What is
relevant to the investment community is whether the more extreme
activists can inflict serious damage on large companies. Do not be
in any doubt. They can.
GSK is a target because it uses Huntingdon Life
Sciences, which carries out tests on live animals. We have already
seen at Huntingdon that the attacks are well coordinated and can be
sustained indefinitely. We have also seen that those who hold
animals in such high regard have no such consideration for humans.
The latest incident happened at the weekend. Simon
Bicknell, GSK’s company secretary, had a threatening message
painted on the garage door at his home and the website of the Animal
Liberation Front promised to return with something more than wet
paint unless GSK stops using Huntingdon.
This is not the first time that activists have
targeted a GSK director. A device containing fuel was left on the
porch of corporate controller Paul Blackburn in September, causing
minor damage. Although he was abroad, his wife and daughter were in
At the same time, the campaign against Oxford
University has been resumed in retaliation for the resumption of the
building of a new laboratory there. A boathouse belonging to the
university was burnt down last year and a sports pavilion was
attacked with rather less serious consequences on Saturday.
GSK has spent heavily on trying to protect its
senior staff, money, it says, that could have been spent on
research. That will surely serve only to encourage the extremists in
their terror campaign, since their aim is to stop that part of the
research that is carried out on animals.
In an case, GSK cannot protect everyone who works
for it, or buys its products, or supplies items ranging from
packaging to the canteen milk. Huntingdon discovered that everyone
was considered fair game, however tenuous the connection, and that
elderly relatives and babies could not expect immunity.
What is more, the animal rights movement has no
doubt managed to infiltrate GSK while the police have failed to
infiltrate the animal rights movement. It will have plenty of
information on those involved in the operations of GSK. The threat
should not be underestimated. Nor should the potential cost to even
such a large company.
Moreover, these people are terrorists. It
doesn't matter if they are mostly white Christians. The State
should treated them with the same hostility and aggression as any
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the State Fails to
In January 2005, an engineering student called Wayne
O'Donohue put his next-door neighbour eleven-year-old Robert Holohan
in an armlock that killed him. Wayne and Robert were good
friends despite the age difference, but it seems that on this occasion
Robert was throwing stones at Wayne's car, and Wayne put his arm
around the boy's throat to restrain him, though never meaning to harm
him. In his panic, Wayne hid the body in a field, and then took
part in the major search which ensued. It was eight days before
Robert was found, after Wayne had confessed.
Two weeks ago, Wayne was convicted of manslaughter,
not murder, and was jailed for four years. Just before sentencing,
the boy's mother made a series of startling allegations, that were
protected by court privilege but were not presented as evidence, and
which changed the whole tone of the proceedings. She said
semen had been found on her son's body,
he had been in the killer's bedroom at 7.30 am on
the morning of the crime,
the body had been shoeless despite testimony that
he had been riding a bike just before his death,
photos had been deleted from his phone,
the phone had been wiped clean of fingerprints,
a 999 emergency call from the phone on the day of
his death had been ignored,
there was no evidence of stones
having been thrown at Wayne's car.
The boy's parents shouted “paedophile”
as the convicted man was led from court, and a predictable
media frenzy followed.
The essence of this was a perception
that justice hadn't been fully served. Perhaps manslaughter was
the correct verdict, perhaps even a sentence of only four years was
justifiable. However there seemed to be a lot more to the story
than what had been aired in court, or than was now ever going to be
now delivering ‘justice’” was a typical headline from columnists
complaining about the publicity that the mother's unproven allegations
provoked. They are right of course, but missing the
we should not forget that in most countries, the State has an
unwritten pact with the citizens. Under this pact,
the citizens forgo the use of violence,
if and when it is needed the State will deliver it on our
the police/justice/prison system against
domestic offenders, and
army/navy/airforce against foreign offenders.
when the State fails to deliver its side of the bargain, the citizens,
quite reasonably, start thinking about similarly breaking their
respect of the Holohan case, it was the perceived failure of the Irish
justice system to deliver appropriate justice which encouraged the media -
egged on by the citizenry - to deliver it instead, in the form of
blackening Wayne's name for life and putting him in peril as a “paedophile”
from fellow inmates in his prison.
justice system could quite easily have brought paedophile charges
against Wayne, which would have lain the matter to rest. This would
have allowed all the evidence to come out in the open and be challenged,
in a just manner that would have resulted in an acquittal or
conviction. But it chose not to do so.
is a grave error. It not only encourages rough justice by the people
as in this case, but by undermining faith in the system will foster more
rough justice in the future.
more the State chooses not to deliver violence when required, the more its
citizens will take over that duty, leading eventually to a breakdown in
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Demand a Post-Mortem
The post-mortem examination is an essential tool not
only in determining the cause of death, but in the furtherance of
medical knowledge generally. However the detail is not very
pleasant to contemplate, either for the dying patient or his/her
relatives: taking a knife and cutting chunks and bits out of your
loved one, juices squirting out of tubes, everyone peering into
the gore for a better look.
So, understandably, many doctors prefer to gloss over
that aspect when seeking permission from the bereaved, although
arguably such sanitization is not quite honest.
However Donald Weir, a doctor in a large Dublin
hospital, proposes an entirely different approach. He believes
that post-mortems are very much in the best interests of patients
If you have the misfortune to have to be admitted to hospital,
he advises that you should sign a document which requests that, if you
happen to die, you want to have a post-mortem
examination carried out, and you want the results to be discussed at the
hospital's monthly so-called “death
Dr Weir assures us that there are few things as nerve-racking for your consultant and his/her staff as having the details of their management of your illness
and demise discussed and dissected by their peers in front of all the hospital personnel and students.
There is no better way of ensuring that you will get the very best
of attention from your medical staff.
In short, at pre-mortem time, demand a
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Letters to the Press
Here are the past week's unpublished letters, including
one that was published but minus the concluding sentence with insulted a
former Irish Taoiseach/Prime Minister, Garret FitzGerald.
Ali - 3rd February 2006|
Dear oh dear, there is that tired old Trotskyite Tariq Ali, almost forgotten remnant of the swinging protesting Sixties, popping up in your pages
and apparently about to grace us with his presence as a guest of the misnamed Peace And Neutrality
"Iranian Agenda" and EU Aid - 31st January 2006|
Your editorial of January 31st states that “for
the EU to close the door [ie cease annual payments of €500m to
the Palestinian government] so quickly would almost certainly
propel the new administration to embrace the Iranian agenda
which as we know from President Ahmadeinejad is that Israel should
be wiped from the map ...
of Nuclear Arms - 29th January 2006|
The nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the
brainchild of Frank Aitken, “has
since been ignored by Israel, India, Pakistan and, most recently,
North Korea, all of which have developed such weapons”,
thunders Garret FitzGerald. But Israel, India and Pakistan have
never signed the treaty, so why shouldn't they ignore it? ...
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Quotes of Week
“7/7 is on its way”
“Kill the one who insults the Prophet”
will pay, your extermination is on its way”
those who insult Islam”
is the cancer, Islam is the answer”
slogans in the UK in response to
the publication of a dozen cartoons lampooning Mohammed
“Palestine means Palestine in its entirety - from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the
[Jordan] River, from Ras
Al-Naqura to Rafah. We cannot give up a single inch of it. Therefore, we will not recognize the Israeli enemy's [right] to a single inch.”
Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar,
interviewed on Al-Manar TV on 25th January
Not much evidence of Hamas
Israel ” policy
“We will teach them [Palestinians] how we can have an industry that is independent of the Israeli enemy. We will gradually get all the laborers back
[from Israel], after supplying them with job opportunities in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, where they will work in small and very small factories which will be independent of the Israeli
The same Mahmoud Al-Zahar demonstrates his
economic ignorance in believing jobs and wealth
can be created by
“In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no
honor in retreat”
in his State of the Union address last week
“Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.”
Bush, in his 2006 State of the Union speech,
appears to set a tough goal.
that oil from the Middle East accounts
for only 20% of US oil imports,
so that the replacement is only 15% and
does not require reduced consumption at all
“In this world full of culturally charged issues I think we should make it clear that Senator McCain and I are not
Clinton at the Davos World Economic Forum,
when the organizer noted that the next US president
“might either be married to Clinton
or listening in the audience.”
“Four years for a paedophile? That’s all you are, you are a disgrace,
boy ... He’s a paedophile. We’ll appeal, we’ll appeal.”
and Majella Holohan, parents of Robert Holohan,
shout at 21-year-old Wayne O'Donoghue,
as he is led away to begin a four year sentence
for the manslaughter of his “friend” 11-year-old Robert
“I think it's, with respect, bullshit of the highest order.”
McGuinness, Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, in response to
the claim by the International Monitoring Committee
that the IRA has retained a significant number of its weapons,
notwithstanding its decommissioning in September
The Independent International Commission on
headed by the Canadian General John de Chastelain,
agrees with Mr McGuinness
“People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.”
Hoffer, an American intellectual.
This is apropros of nothing, I just like the quote
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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