was the rallying cry of uppity colonial English settlers in His Majesty's
thirteen British colonies in North America, from 1763 to 1776. These
rebels considered it fundamentally wrong and unjust that they should have to
pay taxes decided by the Mother of All Parliaments in faraway London without
having any MPs sitting there to represent them. After a lot of blood
and thunder, they eventually broke away from the imperialistic yoke of (Mad)
King George III and in 1776 declared their own little country of 2½
million, which they called the United States of America.
UDI in 1965, the USA is still a country today, with the same 1776
constitution, albeit with a few amendments. That means the USA has
been around as a constitutional state for more years than most European
countries combined (the next most ancient being Britain, Belgium and
Ireland). But I digress.
From its inception, the USA was set up as a democracy
in which elected representatives met in a Congress and a Senate to decide on
laws and, yes, taxation. You would not be taxed unless you were
represented. In those early days you had to be male, white and a
land-owner to get a vote or get elected. But it was a start and over
time the franchise became universal, to the extent that the first mixed-race
president was elected in 2008.
“No taxation without representation”
is still a fundamental principle, not only in America but in all
democracies, but over the last century it has been undermined in a perverse
way no-one could have anticipated.
For fewer and fewer people are actually paying tax.
In the interests of fairness and compassion,
parliaments have long freed those at the bottom of the financial ladder from
the need to pay tax. They have enough burdens on their back trying to
feed and house their families from a small income without extracting further
money from them in the form of taxes. Similarly, those on lower pay
are taxed at lower rates than those whose hefty salaries render them able to
contribute more. No right-minded person can dispute the fundamental justice
of these notions. Sympathy for the less fortunate goes further: many
with very low - or no - earnings are given welfare payments, which could be
viewed as a kind of negative tax.
is to get the balance right:
collecting sufficient revenue to provide the services people need or
want (defence, law-and-order, infrastructure, health, education etc)
through an equitable distribution of tax demands according to citizens'
ability to pay
(while minimising cheating).
one would think - and indeed hope - that those unlucky enough to be so poor
that they are spared tax would be a small minority, and that indeed over
time, they would have a good chance of dragging themselves out of their
financial hole and would want to do so.
compassionate tax and welfare schemes were first established, people too
poor to be taxed would indeed not have been very numerous. But that's
not the case any more.
Over time, the
proportion of people in the prosperous democracies who pay no tax and has
crept up to astonishing proportions.
A couple of
weeks ago, mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York city (pop
observed that just one percent of his city's households, ie 40,000
people, pay half the city's taxes. The Economist
reports this week that in California
“in 2006 the top 1% of earners paid 48% of all income taxes.”
These remarkable figures would be consistent with the
Economist's earlier observation of America as a whole - that only
about 66% pay tax.
mirrors this: any household making under €31,000 pa pays no tax.
Such people amount to an astonishing 36% of all income-earners - a decade
ago, before the Celtic Tiger took off, it was 25%. National
prosperity, which you would have thought would have lifted people out of
penury, seems to have narrowed the tax-paying base from 75% to just 64%.
It is preposterous to suggest people have on average become poorer; the only
explanation is that the state has become more generous, for want of a better
percentages and trends seem to be similar in other Western democracies, and
are giving rise to pernicious effects, that are becoming more visible as the
credit crunch crunches.
revenues from all sources shrivelling and unemployment driving up welfare
payments, Governments now, in order to avoid Iceland-style bankruptcy,
having to take ferocious and unpopular measures to balance their books.
These entail, inter alia, slashing their own payroll costs - meaning the pay
and jobs of thousands of public servants, as well as cutting back on
essential services, and raising taxes for everyone.
everyone hates this and in many countries there have been street protests,
in Greece, France and Lithuania for example. In Iceland and Latvia these brought down the
Government. The strongest and most numerous objections often come from
the lowest paid, for the very understandable reason that they have the least
spare cash. Their universal refrain is that richer people should take
more pain and that the poor should, in effect, suffer none because they're
already suffering enough through poverty.
This line of
argument should be ignored. When pain is needed to correct a country's
financial turmoil, no-one should be exempt. No-one. It is naive
to think that only certain people - ie those who are wealthier than you
happen to be - should be martyred.
there is a certain injustice in people clamouring for changes in political
decisions who simply do not pay any tax; who for whatever reason make no
financial contribution to the running of the state. Of course, it is
not only poor people who pay no tax. Quite a lot of super rich people
employ tax experts who successfully structure their client's wealth in a
manner that they also
pay no tax.
If it is wrong
to tax people without representing them, the other side of that coin is that
it is equally wrong to grant them representation without also extracting tax
for the privilege.
I'm not sure
how a democratic state should deal with this paradox, since the
one-person-one-vote principle is rightly regarded as sacrosanct. Yet
there is something fundamentally undemocratic about a system where perhaps a
third of the population pays no tax yet has a third of the say in how much
tax the other two-thirds should pay and indeed how that tax should be spent.
bigger the non-taxpaying constituency grows, the greater the threat it will
pose to the very existence of state. On current trends, non-taxpayers
could exceed taxpayers within a couple of decades, and thereafter vote for
never-ending payments to themselves funded by the dwindling and foolish band
democratic states build in safeguards to prevent discrimination against
minorities, so perhaps they need safeguards to prevent sizeable
non-taxpaying minorities influencing how much tax should be extracted from
those who do pay tax. This would be very hard to implement in practice
- it would imply two different sets of parliamentary representatives
depending on the subject being discussed.
But at least
the media should keep asking whether advocates who participate in tax
arguments in the public domain actually pay tax. Some may, of course,
not wish to disclose this or indeed lie about it (especially the non
taxpayers). But even asking the question will at least raise the issue
within the consciousness of the public in a manner that will add a measure
of balance to the discourse. Perhaps over time, people will see the
wisdom of ensuring everyone pays something in tax, however small, so as to
become true participants in body of the state.
there should be no representation without taxation. If only putting
this into practice were as straightforward and inherently satisfying as the
American revolutionaries' converse slogan.
In the current
credit crunch, there is one cabinet position that all other ministers must
secretly envy. For, while providing very high status, profile and
glamour, it removes him/her from the depressing domestic grind of trying to
squeeze ever more tax out of newly unemployed citizens,
avoid ejection from office,
while telling everyone this pain is all for their own good - eventually.
So surely the
job of Foreign Minister requires at least a modicum of competence and
But over in
Britain, they have David Miliband. In the past couple of months he has
gone out of his way to demonstrate his incompetence,
He enraged India by
blaming the Mumbai terrorist attacks on India's behaviour in Kashmir
while almost exonerating Pakistan. But the attacks were launched
from Pakistan and the murderous assault on a tiny, obscure Jewish centre
demonstrates that this was above all a Jihadist operation with Kashmir
at best a peripheral consideration. British correspondents in
Delhi were appalled.
Micheál Martin is the lucky minister
to hold the Foreign portfolio and regularly escape these fiscally wrecked
shores. In his previous jobs, he has been singularly competent and
effective. One of his main achievements was the introduction, as
Health Minister in 2004, of the world's first national smoking ban, since
copied by countless other countries.
happened to him now? He has never separated himself from the ruling
Fianna Fail party's
visceral hatred of - along with much of the rest of Ireland - Israel and
Jews, but at least that's not something new.
What is new is
his recent embrace of the tyranny that runs the prison state known as Cuba.
In a shameful effort to legitimise it and its current dictator Raul Castro,
he visited Havana for three days last week. He stood smilingly
the under a
mural of Che Guevara while a band of Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces
played Amhrán Na bhFiann, Ireland's national anthem (annoyingly, I can't
find a photo). He also did his best to rubbish the US embargo, making
it plain that he considers it to be unjustified.
Does Minister Martin not know that the Castros'
Cuba remains a prison state
Does he not know that Fidel's murderous
homophobic buddy Che was, among many other
things, Fidel's chief executioner, sending
thousands of Cubans to their deaths during just the first year of
While a legitimate case can be made that dropping
the US embargo might hasten the collapse of the Cuba regime, does he not
recognize the folly of undermining Ireland's own most important ally and
military defender? Moreover, America has to live with the volatile
Cuba next door; Ireland does not.
Minister Martin says he discussed human rights with
his Cuban counterpart, Felipe Pérez Roque, but only behind closed doors ...
yeah, right, Mr Roques must have felt very chastened. Conversely,
Minister Martin was not shy about publicly promising Minister Roques trade
co-operation in telecommunications, biotechnology and software, as well as
€100,000 of Irish tax money that he thinks will go to hurricane relief.
One of the things I personally find most upsetting
about this visit is the total lack of outrage from the Irish citizenry.
So perhaps what he is doing is not really the matter of incompetence and
(lack of) integrity that it seems to me. Maybe he is merely reflecting
the instincts of many Irish voters to cosy up to any old blood-soaked
tyranny they can find.
Last June the
Irish voted in a referendum to soundly reject the Lisbon Treaty
53%:46%, in defiance of all the main political parties. The
Government immediately decided that rather than convey the democratic will
of its electorate to the EU Magisterium in Brussels, which would have killed
the treaty, it should instead devise a way to
“solve” the problem that Paddy the Pesky Voter had created.
Eventually it announced that a second referendum would
be held in October in the hopes that Paddy would get it right this time
around. And no doubt successive referenda would if necessary follow
until the penny finally dropped. In return, the Magisterium would
gracefully issue certain guarantees that were of concern to Paddy, relating
to his EU commissioner, military neutrality, abortion and taxation.
meantime, there has been a continuous low-level campaign from the Yes side
“Yessirs”), while the “Naysayers” have been pretty much
silent - though they haven't gone away. One of the subliminal if
deceptive messages is that if Ireland doesn't vote Yes in the new
credit-crunch era it will follow the bankruptcy path of non-EU member
Last week the Irish Times published a
poll it had commissioned, which reported that support for Lisbon had now
switched to 51% in favour versus 33% against, or 61%:39% if you exclude the
33% who were Don't Knows. This was a bit of a wake-up call for the
silent Naysayers (like me).
But like so
much in life, the devil is in the detail. Pollsters did not ask a
straightforward question such as
“do you support the Lisbon Treaty?”.
Rather, they asked a thousand
people across the country how they would vote in the light of the
commitment to allow Ireland to retain a European Union commissioner along
with legal guarantees on other Irish concerns about neutrality, abortion and
This is a phoney question because the
guarantees” are phoney.
They cannot be
unless written into Lisbon or else forming part of another new treaty
because that is the way EU rules work. And such a change will need be ratified by all 27
members, who have very little appetite to try and smuggle through
either a new version of Lisbon or an additional treaty, given their
restive populations and the rocky path to get thus far in the Lisbon
All the EU Magistgerium can say is that they will do their best to get
“legal guarantees” into place in due course. Not
question asked whether in the light of the current economic crisis, it was
better for Ireland to be in our out of the EU (unsurprisingly, 80% want to
remain in, which would include me).
Another phoney question,
clearly designed to put the frighteners on wavering Naysayers. No-one is talking about
Ireland leaving the EU should it again vote no, and there is no legal or other basis to force it
to do so. The EU has been marvellous for Ireland, including the €uro,
and you'd be mad to want to bail out.
EU-wide poll came to a slightly different conclusion - that Irish
support for EU membership dropped from 77% in 2006 to 67% after last
year's referendum. I guess this probably just illustrates how the
wording of a poll question can influence the outcome of a poll.
You have to give credit to the
Yessirs for trying every stunt they can think of to
convince the electorate of the merits of their case, especially during the
Naysayers' current period of silence.
it would be really astonishing if they can indeed pull this particular
rabbit out of the hat when campaigning begins in earnest later this year and
the Naysayers marshal their own formidable forces.
To me, the single biggest selling point
of the Lisbon Treaty remains also the single biggest reason to vote it down.
Lisbon will make EU decision making
Easier law-making means only one thing: more laws being made.
Does anyone really want the rate at which the EU already issues new laws -
responsible for 70-80%
of domestic law-making across the EU - to go up even further?
How many new EU laws do you want?
Ireland's Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche
was clearly close to panic at the thought of another rejection when
remarked last week,
“[Did] we have a kind of death wish in this country in
to the Treaty on June 12 last year?”
If we did, it was a wish that death would come swiftly to Lisbon.
maintain that the human imagination knows no bounds. If you doubt this,
just look at everyday technology and then try to put yourselves into the
shoes of an educated, knowledgeable, observant Victorian. What would
s/he make of paintings that move and talk, vehicles that fly through the
sky, encyclopaedic answers instantaneously available at the touch of a
button. I have also written that oil, for example, is found not in the
ground but in the
human brain, which is why fossil fuels refuse to run out.
arrogance, people today sometimes think that imagination and ingenuity are
our exclusive preserve. But they're not. Human brains have
always defied the
but nearly always by building on the work of those who went before them.
There are occasional exceptions such as Charles Darwin and his discovery of
evolution or Albert Einstein with relativity, though even they drew to some
extent on the work of their forbears. Who can doubt the imagination
and ingenuity that went into building, with the most primitive of tools and
measuring instruments, the mighty Egyptian pyramids five thousand years ago,
or the Ancient Greek's intricate
Imagination takes many forms. I remember being
struck by imaginative fertility when I visited a museum in London called the
Britain at War Experience and
looked at some of the inspiring posters and slogans that were created to
warn and rally civilians. They were created by people who - the few
that survive - might today be disdained as old codgers just because they
might no longer be quite as sharp and agile as they were seventy years ago.
Regardless of whether you like what it is conveying, the 41-second video ad below
falls into the category of an extraordinarily imaginative message. Without the
ad even articulating what it is advocating, it is unmistakeable. And
by cleverly linking its message in a primal, intimate way to a massive
celebrity who happens to
vigorously, in a manner which maligns no-one, an instant dilemma is created in the minds of all antagonists.
No wonder it has caused a furore in the USA, with NBC and other networks
refusing to run it. Its opponents can find no answer to it.
The ad is
Imagination is what has created it.
I am told a new seat belt system is to be introduced, with
effect from 1st March 2009.
The Road Safety Council has apparently conducted extensive
testing and their results have shown that, when the belt is properly
installed, accidents can be reduced by as much as 45%. And divorces by
a similar percentage.
Barack Obama as an exemplar of competitiveness and ethics
To the Sunday Times Sir, - Christina Lamb is absolutely right when she
says "There is no conflict between being competitive and having a
proper sense of right and wrong". But she then cites Barack
Obama. Would that be the highly competitive Obama who won the US
presidency against formidable opposition? Or the Obama who associated
closely with the racist Rev Wright ...
Canada vs Free Speech[P!] To Mark Steyn, international columnist Mark, - Congratulations on your
stellar performance in front of Ontario's Standing Committee. In a
couple of the commentaries
to which you link, much is made of the name of the Irish bar to which
you later repaired with some of your admirers, the "Pogue Mahone",
as this is also the alias used by Richard Warman when posing in
cyberspace as a neo-Nazi ...
How did they [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]
ever get away with this? Comment in the
Spectator-hosted Melanie Philips Blog Melanie, I am with you on this topic.
I have analysed in some depth data published by the Energy Information
Administration, which lists the CO2 emissions of every country in the world
each year from 1980 to 2005. I have compared the emissions performances of
Kyoto ratifiers (eg the EU) with non-ratifiers (eg the USA), over the period
1997 (when Kyoto was formulated) to 2005. And guess what ...
“I ask your forgiveness, I ask your forgiveness.”
To his victims, Cambodian torturer-in-chief
Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch,
and ex-commandant of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison
gets maudlin, having converted to Christianity (or something).
He is finally on trial in Phnom Penh for
crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and homicide,
three decades after his atrocities.
- - - - - - A U S T R A L I A -
- - - - - -
“What do you say? What do you say about anyone like
that? What do you say? I don’t know. Just. There’s no words to
describe it, other than it’s mass murder.”
Kevin Rudd, Australian prime minister,
on reports that some of the fires which have ravaged Australia,
killing up to 200 people and destroying 750 homes
in the country's worst peace-time disaster,
may have been started deliberately.
- - - - - - J I H A D - - - - -
“Obviously, this is the worst form of domestic violence
District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III
comments on the beheading of the
beautiful Aasiya Hassan, 37
in Buffalo, New York by, allegedly,
her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44,
after she dared to demand a divorce.
Mr Hassan gained prominence when in 2004 he launched
Bridges TV, a network whose stated aim was to counter
negative stereotypes of Muslims (as wife-killers, beheaders, etc).
Mr Sedita seems blind to (or more likely is terrified by) the irony,
and the press refuse to give the murder any prominence.
After all, decapitations are nothing to do with Islam
and happen all the time in New York.
“There are many problematic things [such as
that happen in our community and we have to make choices because
we can't respond to everything [such as
She was explaining why she chooses to hound
(Judeao-Christian) journalists such as Mark Steyn
“promotingharmful Islamaphobic stereotypes”,
while smugly ignoring young women murdered
by Muslim men in so-called
She certainly knows her
“If you don't believe in free speech for people you hate,
you loathe, you revile, you don't believe in free speech at all.”
Columnist Mark Steyn being grilled at a legislative
of Ontario's Standing Committee on government agencies.
The purpose of the meeting was
to gather information for a report to the Attorney-General
on the Ontario Human Rights Commission,
which had tried (unsuccessfully)
to censure Mr Steyn over some of his writings
critical of the influence of Islam on Western societies.
“Great Britain is sacrificing
freedom of speech. You would expect something like this to happen in
countries like Saudi Arabia, but not in Great Britain. This cowardly
act by the British government is a disgrace. I was invited by a
British member of parliament.”
Dutch MP Geert Wilders comments
on his banning by the British Home Secretary
from visiting Britain for a meeting with the House of Lords
and a screening of his short film
which shows how Koranic verses have
fostered Islamic terrorism, including 9/11.
He was invited byUK Independence Party peer Lord Pearson
British peer Baroness Caroline Cox,
who is honorary vice-chairman of the
International Islamic Christian Organisation
for Reconciliation and Reconstruction.
Mr Wilders showed up at Heathrow Airport anyway
and was promptly deported.
I have written to him suggesting he make another attempt,
this time through Ireland
which has an uncontrolled frontier with Britain.
“F**king Israelis, f**king Jews
... [Israeli soldiers should be] wiped off the face of the
Rowan Laxton, a senior mandarin in Britain's foreign office,
screams his comments in his local gym at a TV showing scenes from the Gaza war.
He is head of the South Asia Group at the Foreign Office,
a former Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan and
before that Head of Chancery in Islamabad.
Let's await the (in)action of the Foreign Office and Foreign
at this outburst of rank anti-Semitism
within exalted levels of seniority inside their hallowed ranks.
Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's new chief of staff
relishes the credit crunch as an opportunity
to push the Democrats' ideological agenda,
much as Tony Blair's Jo Moore
told staff that 9/11 was
“a good day to bury bad news”.
Every cloud has, it seems, a silver lining for
unburdened with ethical faculties.
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi describes Barrack Obama
Negro” Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez describes Mr Obama
Strange how Mr Berlusconi was
for his supposedly insulting description, clearly given in jest,
whilst only silence greeted Mr Chavez' far more disparaging epithet
Quote: “I'm proud to have big ears ... I mean,
look who's the most powerful man in the world. Barack Obama. Big
ears are in fashion.”
Dev Patel, the auricly-over-endowed slumdog
of the multiple award winning movie
- - - - - - I R E L A N D - - - - - -
“What Europe really needs is a bit more veritas and
a lot less Libertas.”
British Liberal MEP Andrew Duff,
after it emerged that Libertas,
the anti-Lisbon treaty party created by Ireland's Declan Ganley,
which had claimed to have seven big European MEP backers,
had in fact only six, or perhaps five.
It needs seven to secure EU funding.
“I think my total disclosed compensation in the report on
accounts, I think, was €2.9m [in 2008] ... this year it will
be less than two million.”
Accountant Brian Goggin,
chief executive of the Bank of Ireland
has difficulty remembering small numbers,
and draws our tears when we learn of
the massive cut in compensation he must endure in 2009.
This is part of a long, miserable decline.
Back in the halcyon days of 2007 he was paid €4m.
Since my first blog nearly seven years ago, I have been
regularly moaning about the
Kyoto Protocol, that multi-country agreement to cut green house gas
emissions - mainly carbon dioxide - by 5.2% from 1990 levels, by the
year 2012. This will supposedly delay a 1.9ºC rise in global
temperatures from 2094 to - wait for it - 2100. These are some of the arguments I (and others) have made.
The money spent to meet Kyoto targets is multiples of what would bring
clean water and sanitation to every person on the planet, which
would give a
firm advantage to humankind a matter of a few years rather than a nebulous one in
a century's time.
is supposed to help the world's poor (not the rich white world that I
live in), you have to wonder whether
the poor would choose six years of cooler climate for their
great-great-great-grandchildren in 2094 or help for their present
families today - not that anyone of course asks them.
molecular physics of global warming being caused by man-made CO2
just doesn't stand up to any kind of scrutiny - which is why the
environmental lobby never dare go close to the subject
abundant evidence that other factors, such as sunspots and cosmic rays,
affect our climate more than anything else and that CO2 levels increase
after temperatures rise, not the other way round
when oceans warm up they release dissolved CO2).
Scientists cannot even forecast the weather a week ahead, so how can any sane
person commit gigantic sums of (other people's) money to predictions a
hundred years into the future?
renowned botanist and green campaigner David Bellamy recently made similar
points in an Irish
TV interview. (He also complained he has been
blacklisted by the BBC since 1992 for his anti climate changeology views).
The world is
today divided between those who have ratified it - three-quarters of all
countries - and the one quarter who haven't. The most notorious among
the latter is the United States under that cowboy Bush. Oh wait, he
wasn't the problem. Bill Clinton had signed Kyoto in the knowledge
that it would
never get ratified.
In the summer
of 1997, the Senate held a vote to advise President Bill Clinton whether or
not to proceed with the Kyoto negotiations, scheduled to be completed later
that year. They voted against Kyoto-to-be by the narrow margin of
zero. That is, every Democrat, Republican and Independent senator
- with Al Gore as Vice President chairing the proceedings - voted not
to proceed with Kyoto. Nevertheless, Mr Clinton, in a show of Alpha-maleship,
went ahead and agreed the Kyoto Protocol the following December anyway,
signing it a further year later, knowing full well the Senate wanted
nothing to do with it. But this petulant little rebellion went hardly
noticed because Bill Clinton could do wrong and anyway the professional
Greens were happy.
But when the
cowboy was elected, what was one of the first things he did? Why, he
publicly stated the bleeding obvious - that America was
not going to be ratifying the treaty any time soon because the Senate
unanimously opposed it. To this day, the opprobrium from the world's
Greens and anyone else with an anti-Bush axe to grind has been heaped on his
head for this dastardly display of honesty. For let no good deed go
Anyway, I have
recently spent many, many hours analysing the ratification situation and
have discovered some stunning facts.
The US Government issues official energy statistics via a body called
the Energy Information Administration. These include an
International Energy Annual 2005, within which there is a
spreadsheet which lists World Per Capita Carbon Dioxide Emissions
from the Consumption and Flaring of Fossil Fuels, 1980-2005, which you
can download, so I did.
I then found a
list of Kyoto ratifiers buried in the site of the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change.
I selected the
eight-year period 1997-2005, because 1997 is the year that Kyoto was
adopted, in Kyoto, and 2005's were the most recent comprehensive data I
It turns out
that 61 countries have failed to ratify, representing 10% of the world's
population . (Other than the USA, Turkey and Ukraine, they're
generally the smaller countries.) And, as you'd expect, these naughty
anti-Kyoto boys and girls have signally failed to control their emissions.
time-frame 1997-2005, far from reducing CO2 emissions by Kyoto's 5.2%, the
non-ratifying rogues have actually pushed them up by almost
like these (there are seven hundred million of them) who deserve criminal
sanctions to force them to cut their carbon footprints and stop destroying
the planet, causing sea levels to rise, glaciers to melt, polar bears to
drown, forests to desertify, children to die.
To look at
what is possible once you have signed up to the modern, low-emissions green
agenda, they should look no further than their wiser colleagues who support
Take the EU -
nearly half a billion well-meaning folk. All 27 countries have
ratified Kyoto. And, as you'd expect, they have cut their emissions by
... hang on a minute, there must be some mistake. Their emissions have
actually climbed, and by over 6½%,
even more than those wretched non-ratifiers. How can that be?
How can environmental virtue send you to environmental hell?
It must just be that the EU figures are some kind
of statistical quirk, not significant in the global scheme of things.
After all, there are five times as many other countries, containing twelve
times as many people, which have also ratified Kyoto. Obviously, if
you take all of them together, CO2 emissions will have gone at least some
way towards reaching the entirely laudable reductions demanded in Kyoto.
So have they? Er, no.
When you add up all 161 Kyoto ratifiers - 6.1
billion people, 90% of the world's population - you find, astonishingly,
that their emissions have increased by almost 30%!
It gets worse. The world's most vilified
non-ratifier is the United States of America under that arch environmental
scoundrel George W Bush. But from 1997 to 2005, America was one of the
few countries that actually reduced its emissions. Not
by much, about 1%, but no other major country came close to meeting this
Not, for example, non-ratifier Australia.
But when it finally dumped that anti-Kyoto war-mongering Bush-lover John
Howard in favour of New-Age
earwax-eater Kevin Rudd last year, one of Mr Rudd's first acts was to
mend the sins of the past by ratifying Kyoto. Australian emissions had
risen by 15%. Let's see whether Mr Rudd's act of piety makes any
difference other than that attributable to the economic downturn.
Here are the figures, summarised.
KYOTO PROTOCOL RATIFICATION
CO2 EMISSIONS PERFORMANCE OF RATIFIERS VS NON-RATIFIERS,
Nmbr of Countries
Total Population, m
If you don't
believe the table, have a look at my
Excel Work Book, which includes all the raw data as well as my
calculations, in seven separate Worksheets entitled
Of course the
table above shows consolidated totals. Within those some countries,
the US was not the only country to achieve reductions.
instructive to look at those whose CO2 achievements were outstanding,
because we can learn from them how easy it is to make progress in this
a handful managed to more or less half their emissions: ratifiers Congo
Democratic Republic and Eritrea plus non-ratifiers Afghanistan, Guam.
exception of Guam, a US military base in the northern Pacific, the common
denominator appears to be war, economic destitution, strife and poverty.
And this is
probably the Kyoto future, if it has one.
strictures, and those of its successors, would require drastic curtailment
of economic activity which would lead to mass impoverishment of populations.
From this, the prospect of new wars does not seem improbable. War, in
addition to the starvation of penury, would kill lots more people, which
would certainly put a smile on the face of the British Government's
environmental guru and the country's leading Green, Jonathan Porritt.
He advocates demographic suicide by
restricting babies to two per couple (the replacement rate is 2.1): he
is convinced people themselves are intrinsically bad for the planet and
therefore should be eliminated.
But hey, if it
means that climate changeologists like Mr Porritt are happy, who am I to
complain. Bring it on I say.
alternative is to do as the ratifiers have been doing all along: ratify and
ignore, or at least only do stuff that makes you feel good but does little
or nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What's a little hypocrisy in today's world?
I can't resist sharing with you this cheeky chart
which I found over at
Not a Fish
However, to me its last line is a bit optimistic. Not that Hamas will
in due course be destroyed - it will. Its business model of killing
Jews to the exclusion of all other activity or consideration, is simply
unsustainable. People have to eat.
But where on the list are Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, Al Qaeda, Iran,
Saudi Arabia, Libya and countless other Islamic organizations and regimes
committed to wiping Israel and Jews from the face of the earth?
I suppose everyone of those existential threats from the past looked insuperable at the
time. Nevertheless, the way even free nations are today quietly
acquiescing in what is now a global Islamic war against Jews and allowing
innate and ancient Jew-hatreds to rule their heads, it is hard to see where
the the Jewish people are going to find their escape route this time round.
But I hope they do.
On a related point, how is it that the Singhalese majority in Sri Lanka are
able right now to do to the the Tamil minority, with a but a smidgeon of the
provocation, ten times what the Israelis did to the Palestinians in Gaza,
without the world batting a bored eyelid? It's true it was the Tamils
that taught the Islamists about suicide bombing.
But in return, the Palestinians have taught the Tamils about fighting from
behind civilians and turning from fighters into civilians the instant they
are killed. In they eyes of the West, this ups your opponent's
while minimising your own losses.
As the Sri Lankan army’s Brigadier Udaya
“the Tamil Tigers have told their cadres to fight in civilian clothes,
and that the moment they get killed, they go into the civilian category”.
So the civilian death count in the current conflict has been relentless -
scores per day for days on end, with few figures for dead fighters.
There is only one reason that there is little Western outrage over Sri Lanka
the way there was over Gaza. It is that no Jews in Sri Lanka, so
that's OK. William Sjostrom has made a
If you think soccer is the number one sport in the
Netherlands, think again.
winter, millions of Dutch, young and old, hope and pray for ten
continuous days of minus ten degrees Centigrade across the north of the
country. For only then can they hold their iconic
the nation's prime sporting event - and passion. Up to 20,000
skaters take to the ice to compete in a gruelling race over frozen
canals and lakes that takes them in an extensive circuit through, yes,
eleven cities, in the Friesland province of the country. Beginning
and ending in Leeuwarden, the route is 200 km long, starts before dawn
and takes anything from seven to eighteen hours to complete. The
winner is a national hero, and makes speeches and opens supermarkets
until the next winner is crowned. And that can be for a very long
For therein lies the issue. The Netherlands rarely
experiences -10ºC for ten long days.
The last time was in January 1997. So the race is very rarely
held, and when the opportunity does present itself it must be arranged
at extremely short notice. This also plays havoc with training
schedules of the very committed. The very cold spell last January
raised hopes for a 2009 Elfstedentocht but they were dashed after
about a week.
For if you don't make sure the ice is solid enough, it
takes only ten seconds, not ten days, for this to happen ...
someone somewhere is out there in the depths of the munching world solving the dilemma facing very
gourmet, every gourmand and everyone else who is neither - except for the
Where can you
sit down and gorge on the best steak in the world?
My wife and I
often argue over this - she favours an obscure restaurant somewhere in the
deep undergrowth of Georgia, near a military base I think. As I happened to be particularly grumpy
that day, I've never been able to conjure up much joy from the bovine memory
of that occasion.
favourite dates back to a couple of magical visits a decade ago in Dubai.
Before the current building boom, the clubby
JWs Steakhouse in the Marriott Hotel was beyond compare if you ordered
one of their prime steaks.
corn-fed beef, they were thick and succulent, aged, matured, marinated and
cooked to perfection. The more the years pass, the better these hunks
of meat age and mature in my own unreliable memory.
We spent much
of January on business in the Netherlands capital of The Hague, a delightful
and picturesque little city of half a million.
It is clean and well
organised, with great public transport and cycle lanes which are so
efficient there is never a rush hour, and courteous people who speak better
English than I do.
If you walk
through and out of the
downtown, a baroque arcade of the most exquisite small shops, and turn left,
you'll come to a singularly unimaginatively named Argentine restaurant
Stroll in and you'll see immediately in front of you a
raging charcoal fire. It is always a good sign when a restaurant is
prepared to do all its cooking in front of you - it means it can have no
you walk through, you see a preponderance of raw wood, designed to make any
ranchero feel at home as he ties his horse up to the parking meter outside.
Even the chandeliers - well, the lamps hanging over each table - are made
from chunky planks that sway threateningly above your head.
You are now sitting in carnivorian heaven. But
forget all that chicken and seafood on the
those are reserved for people who shouldn't really be there. Oh and
skip the starters as well, as they serve only to take up valuable stomach
space for the glories to follow. Except maybe the warm toasted little
loaf of stokbrood (garlic bread), served for you to carve on your own wooden
breadboard - which isn't even on the menu.
For the main event, stick to the lamb, spare ribs,
steaks. Especially the steaks, which are divine, beyond anything I've
ever found in Europe. You can choose from rump, sirloin, fillet,
T-bone, in sizes ranging from 180 to 500 gm. Not one is other than
glorious, both in the quality and tenderness of the meat, just the right
amount of rendered fat, and the way it is seasoned and cooked to order (in
my case, rare) and to perfection. Also remember to ask for the
restaurant's own Argentinean
chimichurri sauce - made from a closely guarded secret of garlic,
peppers, herbs and exotic spices, which they will neither divulge nor sell
you to take home and analyse.
If you are having a rare non-beef day, try the juicy spare ribs. You
get all you can eat, served on your own little charcoal grill brought to the
The average cost for two, including a bottle of excellent Argentine wine and
more beer than is good for me, was around €65 (two-thirds of what I would
expect to pay in Dublin).
Los Argentinos brags that it serves the
“best steak in town”.
It is too modest. My wife and I are unanimous (for once): Los Argentinos is undoubtedly the best steakhouse in Europe, narrowly pipped
only by JW's in Dubai and that mystery place in Georgia.
You can phone it on +31-70-346.8523 and find it at Kettingstraat
14, The Hague. But if you're more modern than that, simply zoom to 52º4'41.22"
N by 4º18'36.44" E.
Only one comment this week. (The
newspaper said it would print it but in the end didn't).
Bodies - and Smut To the Sunday Times (Irish edition), 4th February 2009 I am surprised - and a little disappointed -
to see Brenda Power join the media bandwagon that says the "Bodies"
exhibition in Dublin has no scientific and or artistic merit, solely
because the provenance of the bodies has not been proven to their
It pains me to admit it,
but I approve of and admire President Obama
for saying this publicly.
He was taking responsibility for the mistake of
Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services secretary and
Nancy Killefer as Chief Performance Officer (whatever that is).
Timothy Geithner remains as treasury secretary
though he too has had difficulty in understanding the need to pay
Obama] is a community organizer like Jesus was, and now
we're a community, and he can organize us.”
Susan Sarandon, that well known
movie star geopolitical thinker.
I bet Jesus is surprised to learn he was
a Chicago-style community organizer, whatever that is.
“When you hear Obama, you can see a big difference
[to president George W Bush in terms of environmental
Savros Dimas, the EU's environment commissioner.
He surely cannot be aware that, over the period 1997-2005,
America decreased its CO2 emissions by nearly 1%
while the EU increased its by 6½%
Ratifiers as a whole increased emissions by 29%
while the non-ratifiers increased by 5%
Conclusion: Kyoto ratification increases CO2 emissions;
that's why Mr Bush's CO2 performance is far better than the EU's.
- - - - - - - U K - - - - - - -
“[In the UK] we’ve got this one-eyed Scottish idiot.”
The BBC's star motoring correspondent Jeremy
tells Australians he doesn't think much of
Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Later he said he was sorry.
But curiously he apologised for the truth of what he
while specifically refusing to apologise for the unsubstantiated
Gordon Brown is indeed a Scotsman who is
blind in one eye following a student rugby game,
but no men in white coats have declared he is clinically an idiot.
When Margaret Thatcher's daughter Carol
was recently snitched on after using the the term
in a private conversation, the BBC fired her.
It did not fire Jonathan Ross or
offensive remarks to 79-year-old Andrew Sachs,
nor Jeremy Clarkson.
for the BBC, it's OK to insult white males
but not anyone
“I think we will work our way towards a position
that says that having more than two children is irresponsible.”
Sir Jonathon Porritt, chairman of
the British Government's
Sustainable Development Commission
and the country's most prominent
Since the population replacement rate is 2.1 babies per
Sir Jonathon is advocating the demographic suicide
of the United Kingdom.
And he's still in his job!
- - - - - - - I R E L A N D - - - - - - -
“Nowadays, in more politically correct times,
[Detective Sergeant James
Brannigan] would probably be abolished by the [Police
Ombudsman] and possibly also prosecuted. Had his unit,
known as Prevention and Detection of Street Nuisances, been
continued rather than disbanded on his retirement [in 1973],
I suspect that the streets of Dublin would be considerably safer
than they are now.”
Justice Paul Carney,
Ireland's foremost - and most outspoken - criminal judge.
He was bemoaning the demise of the instant
that the legendary
an ex-boxer, used to dispense,
with fists, boots and truncheons, to youthful offenders,
at a time
when both Mr Carney and I were Dublin students in the 1960s
(and learnt to keep our heads down when Lugs was around).
You really don't want to be a refugee,
or indeed anyone, under the protection and
administration of the United Nations, better described as the Club of Tyrants
Right up there in
its opening preamble, the 1945 founding charter of the sainted UN
“we the peoples of the United Nations are determined
... to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and
worth of the human person”.
That must be a source of tremendous relief and comfort,
therefore, for anyone who ends up relying on the UN to protect him or
her, to be assured that human dignity and worth are paramount in
everything the UN does.
But of course the UN is only human (“we
the peoples”) and so human failures are bound to occur from time to
time even with the best of intentions. But sadly, whenever you
wield a magnifying glass on what it gets up to, you see stuff you would
rather not. Not just occasional human failures, but systematic,
institutionalised abuse of powerless people and the prolongation of
UN peacekeepers and
other staff were caught earlier this decade indulging in
In Kosovo, children found themselves
poisoned to death or permanently brain-damaged and organ-damaged thanks to lead
emanating from the toxic lands on which the UN had kindly built and
operated three refugee camps for gypsies. This went on for five
years after the problem was first identified in 2000.
The UN is famous for averting its eyes as humanitarian
disasters unfold under the very noses of its forces. Srebrenica,
Rwanda, Darfur, Chad and Congo are blood-chilling names that spring to
“People are being slaughtered and
peacekeepers] did nothing.”
This bitter crie de coeur was referring not to the
unfolding genocide in Rwanda in 1994 as frenzied Hutus slaughtered 800,000
Tutsis under the disinterested gaze of the Club of Tyrants' own
only three months ago by a spokesman for Joseph Kabila, the elected
president of the Democratic Republic of Congo,
as unfettered fighting broke out in the east of his country next door to,
yes, Rwanda and between yes, Hutus and Tutsis. Plus
ça change. There are now
20,000 of these
making it the UN's biggest such operation - and probably one of its least
And then there are
Four years ago I asked the
Are Palestinian Refugees Still Refugees?”
after over sixty years, pointing out that all other refugees throughout
recent history have ended up absorbed into one society or another within a
I posited that Palestinian refugees are still refugees for
Israelis chose not to massacre them in 1946
in the war its Arab neighbours launched on the day the UN proclaimed
Israel's birth in 1948, forced or allowed Palestinians in their hundreds of
thousands to leave Israel, rather than
massacring them, as it was militarily capable of doing (who
doubts that the Jews would have been massacred had they lost?); and
Fellow Arabs want nothing to do with them
Due to the disdain of fellow Arabs for Palestinian Arabs ever since,
the former have resolutely refused to absorb the refugees.
How many ex-Palestinian refugees are now running around
Saudi, UAE, Qatari or Kuwaiti passports? Nil.
this with, for example, the thousands of Vietnamese boat people, or indeed
refugees who today sport American or British passports.
Over the following weeks, this all elicited a furious
response - including anonymous threats - from assorted pro-Palestinian
groups (as if my remarks were anti-Palestinian). But not a single
person was able to refute my basic facts.
Nevertheless I had neglected two other vital factors.
Fellow Arabs welcome the running sore
Non-Palestinian Arabs don't want Palestinians anywhere near
them (why else is Egypt penning them into Gaza?). However, they are
absolutely delighted with the idea of a running sore of miserable
Palestinian refugee camps, providing a permanent rebuke to Israel and all
other compassionate people, and a ready means to stoke up age-old Jew
Hatred. In this regard it's been a fabulous success, which they are
more than happy to prolong through generous funding.
Palestinian refugees provide great livelihoods for the UN
The UN is similarly thrilled to have a long-running, permanent - and
expanding - humanitarian project on its hands, which began with some
700,000 refugees but through high birth-rates and lack or resettlement
now stands at an eye-watering
4.6 million (larger than the population of Ireland). For how else
can the UN demonstrate its indispensability while at the same time providing
fabulous career and promotion opportunities for its lucky, handsomely
remunerated, jobs-for-life, fully pensionable employees?
That is why the UN relief agencies, and in particular UNRWA
(the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the
Near East) whose sole purpose is Palestinian refugees, assiduously court the
most depraved Muslims they can - whether in Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Islamic
Jihad, Hamas. (It's the only UN agency devoted to a single group
According to its Commissioner-General, Karen
AbuZayd last month,
UNRWA's mandate is
“to assist and protect a population of 4.6 million refugees in
Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territory”.
Yet she makes clear that Israel alone is to blame for the Gaza war, and is
entirely silent on
It gets worse. UNRWA's humanitarian facilities (schools,
hospitals, welfare stations etc), whether in Gaza, the West Bank or South
Lebanon, are not only thoroughly infiltrated with proven terrorists of
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah - they knowingly employ such people as
teachers and social workers.
Irishman John Ging, Hamas's UNRWA front-man in Gaza, when
asked last month whether UNRWA has been infiltrated by Hamas, said he is
not going to answer”
the allegation, which is as close to a bald admission as you can get.
Minister Said Sayyam, responsible for Hamas terror operations, was a
teacher at UNRWA schools for 23 years;
Awad el-Kik, the
principal of an UNRWA school in Rafiah, was also head of weapons and
rocket manufacturing for Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
With such members of staff, UNRWA schools specialise, it
teaching youngsters terror tactics and the virtues of suicide-bombing,
augmented by children's
in South Lebanon, the UN is as bad, as exemplified by its flag and
Hezbollah's flying side by side within a UNIFIL compound before the last war there
as this pair of photographs illustrates.
UNIFIL stands for
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which since 1978, early in
1975-90 Civil War, has been supposed to have been keeping the peace
between warring factions.
continue to protect Hezbollah from Israel as, with Iran's help, Hezbollah rebuilds
its military capability ready for the next futile war there against the
Meanwhile, as UNRWA (and indeed the UN) steadfastly eschew
any action that might deter Palestinians from terror, and incline them
towards, for example, education, science, engineering, business, entrepreneurialism,
keep them dependent, simply by relentlessly feeding and
By happy coincidence, this keeps all the UNRWA boys and girls
safely in their jobs.
Their mission is effectively to infantilise their Palestinian refugees the same
as Australian Aborigines and American/Canadian Indians. Confined to
reserves, they are given money and sustenance, with nothing demanded in
In Australia and North America, the result is unproductive,
directionless, miserable human beings who depend on alcohol to make life
interesting. Among Palestinians under UNRWA's tender mercies, Jihadism
replaces the alcohol.
Unless and until UNRWA is disbanded - and all it takes is for America,
paying 22% of the bills, to walk away from the UN to found, as I've argued
previously, a new
United Democracies - the Palestinian refugee problem will grow and grow
and get worse and worse.
And perhaps the new UD can then start spelling out to the
Islamic world the open secret that the 4.6m Palestinian refugees are never
ever going to return to Israel. That's not a judgement of what is
right or wrong or fair, just what is blindingly obvious. So the
Islamic world better forget about it, and set about fulfilling its moral
obligation to absorb their unfortunate fellow-Muslims, in the way other
countries have throughout history provided homes to displaced people .
It's not has if there is a shortage of space (vast open
deserts) or money (petrodollars). And the Gulf countries in particular
are actually short of workers, which is why they import millions of Asians,
who then export their earnings out of the host economy.
Until, in the name of humanitarianism, the UN is destroyed,
who Wants to Be a Million UN Refugees?
The biggest headline-grabber during my hiatus was, of
course, President Obama's inauguration. I have made no secret of my
dislike and distrust of the fellow. However, as a non-American who is
virulently pro-American, I wish him every success as America's new
president, as only success will improve the world not just for Americans but
for the rest of us as well.
about him, I commented that once in office, and he has access to all the
details and is accountable for his decisions, his actions might be more what
I would call
than what he has been proclaiming on the stump over the past two years.
And indeed his early behaviour, at least in terms of foreign affairs, seems
to support this.
Many of his
senior appointments have been sombre and sensible, such as
Gates as Defence Secretary and
appointing the basically level-headed Hilary Clinton as Secretary of
(After 12 years without a white male in the job, will one ever
again be appointed?!).
It's also encouraging when Obamaniacs like
Katrina vanden Heuvel,
editor of the Nation, a lefty magazine
fumes that “Mr Gates [is the] wrong man for the job ...
Not a single member of Obama’s foreign-policy [and]
national-security team opposed the war”.
He is also supporting America's latest Surge into
Afghanistan under General Petraeus, the brilliant victor over insurgency
He has wasted no time in
bombing Talibanis in Waziristan, Pakistan, killing 22, letting them
know there is plenty more to come.
His vow to immediately close Guantanamo has been
“within a year”, as he realises the risks of releasing dangerous
killers back into the wild. He is clearly relying on Western
governments to save his blushes by taking the inmates off his hands.
Indeed, they seem clamouring to do so, clearly pandering to
Over the past two years, those same governments persistently refused
whenever the Bush administration asked them, even though that would
have strengthened the case to close Guantanamo. The desire to
hurt Bush/America clearly exceeded any so-called concern for
It will be interesting to see how Western populations react when
they realise they have insufficient violent criminals and terrorists
of their own, so their Governments have arranged to import a few
What is curious is why no-one is putting
pressure on the likes of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Indonesia,
Egypt, Pakistan and other Muslim states to take these people, since
that's where they mostly come from. The refrain is that they
will be persecuted if returned to their home countries; in that case
they should be sent to one of the others. Saudi can take
Yemenis, UAE can take Egyptians, Pakistan can take Indonesians, and
“bipartisanship”, the holy grail of all presidents when they start
out. Like his predecessors, Mr Obama talked about “reaching out
across the aisle” so as to develop policy in a spirit of cooperation
with his opponents rather than striding out unilaterally (à
la Bush). But what all presidents forget is that bipartisanship is not
remotely within their power. Only the opposition can deliver
bipartisanship, by agreeing to collaborate with the administration, and the
chances of that happening within a few weeks of being brutally defeated in
an election is slim to zero.
Actually there was some unexpected (and
unwelcome) bipartisanship over Mr Obama's massive
bn bailout (to be added to Mr Bush's own
$700 billion bailout). Mr Obama's bill was
carried in Congress by 244 to 188, with not a single Republican voting in favour of it.
However, in a show of political friendship and co-operation, no fewer than
eleven Democrat congressmen reached out across the aisle to vote No, in
solidarity with their Republican opponents. How bipartisan was that!
Change you can believe in! But not quite what Mr Obama had in mind.
So all in all, a promising start to America's glamorous new
chief executive. Will it last?
However, having just been nice and respectful towards the
new president, I need to counteract that with another side of him, when he
decided we needed to see his nipples.
to show us chief-executive tits, however, was Vladimir Putin, Czar of the Russian Empire. No
doubt this Sun-Page-3-style display was intended to bolster his attempts to
expand his empire through absorption of territories containing diaspora
Russians (South Ossetia, Eastern Ukraine ...) .
He also doesn't want us to think
President to Prime Minister means he is somehow less of a man. Hence
this topless photo-shoot
while river-fishing somewhere in the wilds of
But in case you are wondering about his target audience, here
on the right is
a Viagra ad from the
same webpage, right alongside where Mr Putin is shown with that long
thing in his firm, manly grasp.
not to be undone, the President-elect (as he then was) wasted little time showing that he has
man-boobs as well, and he's maybe even fitter than the Czar.
I mean, who needs Viagra?
Mark Twain once
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no
influence on society.”
But what did he know?
Are these two the world's best Presidential Ladyboys or
But here's a hint for Mr Putin. Evoking erotic dreams
among Russia's hidden gay community is no way to reverse your country's
catastrophic demographic decline caused, as it is, mainly by a plummeting
birth-rate which lusty gays are doing nothing to reverse.
I've produced a few pathetic comments to cyberspace over my
long blogging hiatus.
“Is George W Bush the worst
president in US history?”
Comment in the Irish Times
in response to a poll question, Yes dammit, he WAS the worst ever. When was the last time any US president overthrew two
vicious dictatorships, replaced them with democracies however flawed and
liberated 50m people? I am appalled that he has finally achieved
victory in Iraq - yes, victory ...
Some bigots you just can't please(post about Amnesty International and Gaza)
Comment in William Sjostrom's Atlantic
Blog On 7th January, Amnesty did me the (dis)honour of inviting
me to join their anti Gaza war protest in St Stephen's Green on 9th January. FYI, this is what I replied ...
Lisbon Treaty not some Guide is the Treaty Letter to the Irish Independent
Fionnan Sheahan ends his otherwise admirable 13-step guide to
getting Lisbon II passed by saying,
“If people want a copy of the
treaty, give it to them. But what people really want is a legible guide”.
Wrong. They don't want a
they need a legible treaty. For it is the actual, deliberately
unintelligible treaty that ...
Happy Days Comment in William Sjostrom's inestimable Atlantic Blog
Sorry to disappoint you, William, but Éamon Ó Cuív is a member not
of the Greens but of Fianna Fail, and a grandson of the revered Eamon de
Valera. He is one of the most useless members of the cabinet, superseded
in uselessness only by ...
Ruling by a radical Comment in the Spectator-hosted Melanie Philips Blog It appears Obama is simply delivering on the solemn promise he made
to ACORN before the election, when he said, “Before I even get
inaugurated, during the transition, we’re going to be calling all of you
in to help us shape the agenda. We’re going to be having meetings all
across the country with community organizations so that you have input
into the agenda for the next presidency of the United States of America.”
See for yourself on
Hamas militants step up rocket attacks on Israel To: The Times (of London) Alex Hogg comments that malnutrition amongst Gaza's 1.5 million
population is due to "Israel's blockage of the ghetto". Excuse me, but
it is equally Egypt which is enforcing the blockade against its fellow
Arabs. It keeps the Gazans locked up and won't let food in through the
“The president-elect is ... announcing the
strictest, and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team
Well, maybe the leopard can change his spots
ethical slipperiness of Barack Obama's successful campaign
(eg non-use of federal funding, fraudulent voter registrations,
disabled online donation credit-checks)
and earlier life in Chicago
(eg nobbling political rivals by leaking sealed details of their
the introduction of ethics rules on anything will be a welcome
Quote: “All I can tell you is that it is just
The response of an Obama Campaign spokeswoman
when asked to produce Barack Obama's birth certificate
to prove he was born within the United States,
which he is required to be
under Article 2 Section 1 of the Constitution that states that
“No person except a
natural born citizen of the United States,
at the time of adoption of this Constitution,
shall be eligible to the office of President.”
Why not just produce it?
Unless, of course, it doesn't exist ...
“We ask you [God] to help us work for that day
when black will not be asked to get in back,
when brown can stick around
when yellow will be mellow ...
when the red man can get ahead,
when white will embrace what is right.”
So white is currently embracing what is wrong, eh?
(Unlike black, brown, yellow and red.)
In delivering President Obama's
Reverend Joseph Lowery shows the deeply racist nature
of the new administration.
Racist Rev Jeremiah Wright was, it
appears, no mere aberration.
“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges
is staggering. They allege that Blagojevich put a
sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself
personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman
meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an
effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”
US federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald
on the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich
for trying to auction Barack Obama's newly vacated Senate seat
with himself as beneficiary.
Rod Blagojevich, governor of Illinois, accused
of trying to
Barack Obama's shortly-to-be-vacated Senate seat.
(Of course Mr Obama claims he knew absolutely
of such a dastardly plan. Yeh, right.)
This expletive, with its variants, appears no
fewer than nineteen times
as direct quotes from the lips of Mr Blagojevich
in the Federal criminal indictment.
- - - - - - - J I H A D - - - - - - -
“It was a big mistake to end the
war this way. The fact that Hamas is still in power is bad for all.
There's no room for these Hamas thugs in the
West Bank. We won't
allow Hamas to turn the
West Bank into another
A Palestinian spokesman for Fatah - yes, Fatah
bemoans that Israel withdrew from Gaza too early,
without finishing off Hamas.
Osama Bin Laden
“is putting a lot of energy into his own survival, a
lot of energy into his own security. In fact, he appears to be
largely isolated from the day-to-day operations of the organisation
he nominally heads.”
CIA director Michael Hayden continues
with the CIA's mysterious myth
that Osama Bin Laden lives on when all the evidence,
not least that he has not been verifiably seen or heard from
since December 2002,
demonstrates that this is false.
- - - - - - - L I S B O N T R E A T Y - - - - - - -
“A multicultural society is a multi-conflict society.”
Viscount Philippe Le Jolis de
Villiers de Saintignon,
who has long campaigned against abortion, gay marriage, immigration
and every European treaty including Lisbon.
He also equates Islam with terrorism.
He led the referendum campaign in France
which defeated the would-be EU Constitutional Treaty,
prompting it to be re-written as the Lisbon Treaty
“I will now meet an EU dissident [Declan Ganley]
and I regard myself as such as well.”
During a State visit to Ireland,
Czech president Vaclev Klaus severely irritates the Irish Government
by having dinner with Declan Ganley,
Ireland's leading anti-Lisbon Treaty campaigner
Batt O'Keeffe, Ireland's Minister for Education & Science,
justifies budget cuts - which have still (Feb 2009) to be defined
“Today we have 1,800 legal handguns [and] in
three years' time that number could exceed 4,000 and rising. This is
Minister for Justice, in a bid for
wants to cut down on legal ownership of handguns
even though not a single legal handgun has ever been involved in
But, hey, banning legal guns is so
than eliminating the illegal guns that the criminals actually use.
- - - - - - - M I S C E L L A N E O U S - - - -
- - -
“... Jade-like girls in the spring of youth,
beauties from the north who have a distinguished air of elegance and
allure, young housewives having figures that will turn you on ...
Their enchanting and coquettish performance will begin within the
next few days.”
The front cover of the prestigious
Planck Institute's Q3/2008 journal
inadvertently advertises a strip club in China.
That's what happens when you show off
by using fancy Chinese characters in your magazine
without carefully checking their
subtler meanings and double-entendres.
[viewable by UK surfers only]:
“I think it's disgusting that drunken people leaving pubs
throw up on the pavement; it should be stamped out.”
When he encounters the vomit of drunks,
Jeremy Hunt MP, Conservative Shadow Secretary of State
for Culture, Media and Sport,
likes to put his foot down.
tip Graham in Perth):
“It matters not whether you win or lose; what
matters is whether I win or lose.”
Wisdom from a recent issue of
“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