I have long felt uncomfortable about the slew of Human Rights legislation
that has cropped up in recent years, and even more uncomfortable about
admitting this. Of course I support - as I suspect most of us in the
West do - the notions that ...
there are certain intrinsic wrongs that should not be
perpetrated on people, such as killing, torture, slavery,
other things are intrinsically wrong unless there has been due
judicial process, such as imprisonment and other punishments,
certain intrinsic human freedoms should be respected: of thought, conscience, religion, expression, marriage,
This is the perfectly reasonable essence of the
human rights convention, first drawn up by the Council of Europe back in
1950, which many EU countries have incorporated into their national law.
Therefore anyone who objects must ipso facto be a cretin of flog-'em and
All kinds of people have won
cases by applying human rights laws of either their own country or the
EU. Recent rulings in the UK (which adopted the convention in 1998), based on
human rights laws, have
The selective privacy of
celebrities who routinely seek out publicity for their own career and
financial advancement has been protected from paparazzi (think
Ministers have been prevented
from influencing the punishment meted out to killers.
Terrorist suspects have been
freed when evidence against them has been insufficiently robust.
Evictions of gypsy travellers
from public lands have been overturned.
Deportation to country of
origin of aircraft hijackers has been prevented.
A schoolboy' expulsion for
arson was overturned because it would have denied his right to
A rapist was given £4000
compensation because his second appeal was delayed.
In my view, many of these cases look pretty odd, though since I'm not privy to the
nitty-gritty, I am not really in a position to say the decisions were as
wrong as they instinctively feel.
But it seems to me there is one gaping void in all modern legislation of
rights, court-cases concerning rights, popular debate about rights.
Where do you ever hear about people's responsibilities and duties?
Is that a deafening silence that roars?
For example, that
convention contains 59 articles, divided up as follows
18 articles on rights of
various shades and nuances,
33 articles on judiciary/enforcement
of those rights,
8 miscellaneous articles
dealing with administrative issues.
Not a word about an individual's responsibilities or duties is anywhere
to be found, other than a passing mention in Article 10 related to freedom
Moreover, rights as set out in such a document quickly became regarded as
only the starting point. Pretty soon, thanks to populist legislators
and liberalist judges, rights-creep sets in. Here in Europe, we are
today told that everyone has a
“right” to all kinds of things: a house, a job, a minimum wage, a
livable income even if not working, an education, medical care, maternity
(and even paternity) leave, and the one that Sinn Fein has adopted and that
trumps everything else, a right to “equality”, whatever that means.
It all sounds wonderfully warm, fuzzy and
In each case, the “right” releases me from any real obligation to
do anything about it myself. More than that, if my behaviour prevents
me from enjoying one of these rights, for example I get fired for
incompetence from the job that is my “right”, I have a “right”
to get another job if I want one, and a “right” to still get paid
even if I don't.
such “rights” come free of charge, unencumbered by any sense that people
must give something commensurate in return, or indeed when people are protected from
whatever unpleasant consequences might derive from their freely taken
actions, it leads to the ultimate, utopian, welfare state and the infantilisation
of the populace.
Everything is gratis.
There is no connection
between cause and disagreeable effect.
I'm OK, because it's always someone
else who pays for my mistakes and foolishness, whether in money or misery or both.
Time to change my diaper.
Examples abound. Here are just a couple.
When housing is considered to be a
and thus without a concomitant duty to pay for it, this leads to the creation
all over Europe of
state-funded council housing leased at uneconomic rent. Such houses then
entrap their occupants for evermore in a bricky embrace of dependency,
provided at enormous cost by the tax-paying, productive end of the
workforce, who don't live there.
Meanwhile, such housing fosters the development of an entirely separate
housing market for the less poor only, with those in council houses never able to
participate. If large-scale council housing did not exist, a market in housing
to meet the limited means of the less affluent millions would undoubtedly
spring up, both for purchase and for rental. And this would slot seamlessly into
and also moderate - the higher-end housing market, thus providing a path open to everyone
for both upgrading and downgrading.
Thus if the State believed in personal
responsibility and adulthood, its role in providing housing would not
extend beyond meeting emergency needs and only on a strictly temporary basis.
Margaret Thatcher is the only major politician in recent times to have
recognised this, when she sold off millions of such homes to their
occupants in the 1980s (to their delight).
State Welfare Payments
Apart from charming every woman who ever met him (and almost every
man), Bill Clinton left office with one huge and wonderful achievement
to his name, which he pushed through in the teeth of opposition, not
least from within his own party. In 1996 he signed a
welfare reform bill that very much targeted single mothers utterly
dependent on state aid, most of them undereducated from underprivileged
Thenceforth, if such mothers wanted the benefits, they had to look or
train for work, and even then there would be a five-year lifetime limit
on receiving them. At the time this was regarded as unbelievably
brutal to an especially vulnerable demographic. Think tanks
predicted it would throw a million more children into poverty.
Yet because the bill demanded responsible behaviour and eliminated
the something-for-nothing-forever principle, it has been outstandingly
successful in terms of encouraging single mothers (and other welfare
recipients) to become self-reliant. They and other welfare
dependants have risen to the challenge. In just nine years,
Americans on welfare dropped from 12 million to 4½m;
teen birthrates also dropped dramatically. Incomes, work
capabilities and personal self-esteem all rose. While poverty was
reduced, it was not eliminated. But its persistence was no longer
because the same individuals remained eternally in penury, but because
as they got richer, poor immigrants poured in to the US in search of a
more prosperous life and future.
These two examples - council housing and
welfare - illustrate a basic truth: where there are incentives for
certain types of behaviour, you will get more of it, good or bad.
are offered without responsibilities or
duties, demand for such
will go up without limit and
willingness to suffer consequences will disappear.
This dearth of responsibility and duty is the main reason I have strong reservations about the
“rights” climate, but there are two other grounds:
Brussels is making these
“rights” laws and doing its best to cram
them down the
throats of EU member states, with a high degree of success.
Why can't member states
make their own laws?
What's happened to
subsidiarity, the notion that decisions
should be taken at as local a level as possible?
“rights” regime does not adequately discriminate between the rights of, for want
of a better word, perpetrators and the rights of victims.
The sharp end of this
aspect comes into focus when
Tony Martin defends his home by shooting two
burglars, killing one and wounding the other.
Tony Martin goes to jail
for manslaughter and is sued for
injuring the surviving burglar.
Whose rights are being given precedence? Those of the victim of
criminal behaviour (Mr Martin) or of the perpetrators (the
“rights” have proven to be a very slippery legislative slope, in
which the notions of “right” and “wrong” seem to have been
turned on their heads. Untrammelled “rights” are like a car
which has an accelerator but no brakes: it can never slow down, and most
likely just speeds up until it crashes with untold bad consequences.
The missing brakes are the missing responsibilities and duties. Only
when these are allowed to countervail the associated “rights”, can a
modicum of balance be restored and the concept of “rights” regain
credibility and public support. (Or at least, my support.)
In my previous issue, I carried a post
“Never Trust the
prompted by the BBC's fraudulent calumny of Queen Elizabeth by
switching round video tape sequences to make her look bad. Things just
couldn't get worse, but then they did. The snivelling Auntie was caught
cheating again - at least twice.
Early in July it was
fined £50,000 after its
TV programme for kids faked the
winner of a phone-in contest, dragooning in a young girl as
co-conspirator in the scam. The BBC first tried to cover it up,
then blamed a junior employee. No fewer than 40,000 children who
had innocently entered the competition last November had been defrauded.
Richard Deverell and Richard Marson, respectively the BBC's
children's controller and the programme's editor, are still in their
But this is apparently quite normal behaviour by the BBC. For an internal investigation revealed
a week later a
fresh batch of six programmes
featuring fake phone-ins, including charity collections for
Children in Need
and Sports Relief.
Production staff would pass themselves off as viewers or listeners, or
invent competition winners.
Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, accepted that the
buck stopped with him, but naturally insisted he would not resign.
Nor, naturally enough, would his deputy Mark Byford
With these latest revelations, BBC management were quick to
“zero tolerance approach” to any future lapses,
“totally ... utterly unacceptable”
“deep disappointment at ... evidence of insufficient understanding among certain
staff of the standards of accuracy and honesty expected”,
blah-blah-blah. Meanwhle, everything continues unchanged.
A few unnamed executives were eventually suspended, but the five big men
- Messrs Thompson, Byford, Deverell, Marson and Peter Fincham (Controller of
BBC One, responsible for the Queen fiasco) - remain steadfastly in place.
Remember what that arch-villain Auric
Goldfinger once said to his foe 007, who was getting
too close for comfort:
“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times it's
enemy action, Mr Bond.”
In the BBC, after being caught out three times, the enemy action is in
the hands of the Corporation's management itself. The senior managers
should be fired and the corporation broken up and sold off by public auction
for the benefit of the Treasury, and no longer forcibly funded through
a special tax on ordinary citizens on pain of imprisonment.
An excellent remedy for any State broadcaster, come to think of it.
Other TV channels have been found guilty for similar frauds. For
instance, Channel 4's
Richard and Judy Show was fined a
record £150,000 for misleading viewers over their chances of winning
competitions. But the big difference is that these miscreants are
private companies, which will have to confront the full brunt of their
scandal and their executives the fury of shareholders if their stocks drop.
Just a month ago, the Economist magazine started publishing an
version of its weekly edition, the first leading international
publication to do so. For subscribers it's free, for others it costs
For this, you can listen online, or else download as MP3 files discrete
articles or the entire issue, adding up to about 130 Mb in all.
The articles are read out, word for word, by professional broadcasters
and actors, male and female, and the quality is superb. To get a feel,
listen to the latest edition's leader on demography,
to deal with a falling population”
(which I hope they forgive me for ripping and providing free publicity).
This new service has been a marvellous addition to the life of an elderly
friend of mine who is blind, partly disabled through a stroke, but of
wonderfully alert mind. It is about the only thing that gives him
intellectual stimulation where he can be in control and not depend on
someone else, and at the same time gain a good grasp of what is going on in
He now has two MP3 players. With the press of a single button, he can listen
at his own pace to one of them during the week, starting and stopping when
desired. Meanwhile I load up the other with the following week's
edition, and then we swap at the weekend.
This is yet another example where technologies developed for one set of
the MP3 audio compression
format was invented for
downloading music files onto hard drives, to listen to or make
into conventional CDs,
MP3 players were created
for youngsters to listen to music
while on the go without bothering with CDs,
the audio-Economist is
for those of a more serious bent who
are too busy to stop and read their favourite magazine.
- are finding imaginative uses never envisaged by their originators.
It is now five years since I
first described that weird but wonderful,
beauty-plus-mysterious-other-qualities annual Irish competition, the
Rose of Tralee.
I couldn't resist returning to it in 2005 because it was won by a
theoretical physicist and there are not many of us of a scientific
who find ourselves (ahem) winning such stuff.
The 47th such event kicks off in mid August, so I am going to pre-empt
the result. It will be won by the lovely Aoife (pronounced Eefuh)
Judge, who has just been selected as the Rose of Dublin against a tough
field of fifty gorgeous women. Most of the eight other
Irish Roses from other parts of the country faced only five or six competitors. The remaining 22
finalists hail from all over the world.
At the finals in Tralee, Co Kerry on 20th
and 21st August, she'll be singing Eva Cassidy's
incredible interpretation of
Over the Rainbow”.
If you don't believe Aoife Judge will win,
you can “judge”
for yourself from these publications (which I will add to as new stuff gets
The Star 18Jul07
VIP Magazine August 07
Detailed View (pdf)
Irish Daily Mail
Detailed View (pdf)
Declaration of interest:
She's my nephew's long-term girlfriend.
So of course she'll end up as the 2007/08 Rose of Tralee.
(But unfortunately she didn't quite.)
Late addition (August 2007):
View Aoife Judge's sparkling TV interview and song
during the final Rose of Tralee sessions
by clicking here.
Three letters this week, of which the one
about Roma was
published. The Roma referred to were deported back to Romania
shortly afterwards after spending three miserable months in tents in almost
Roma on the M50 RoundaboutP!
It is strange that among the many who demand the Irish
Government provide the Roma camping out on the M50 Roundabout with
shelter and food, none seemed to have opened up their own homes to take
them in. Isn't charity supposed to begin at home? When was it completely
outsourced to the State?
Channel 4 and Climate Change
“Don't believe the tabloid rubbish that you hear on Channel 4,
which has raised doubts that climate change is down to humans'
activities. There is an overwhelming consensus that we are driving it.”
So said John Sweeney of the NUI Maynooth, one of the scientists who
contributed to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
Presumably Channel 4's “The
Great Global Warming Swindle” broadcast last March and still
viewable on Youtube is the
programme he declines to name ...
Non-Recognition of Israel by Hamas
Your editorial of July 17th criticises,
“the ill-considered conditions laid down to
ensure Hamas recognises the state of Israel”.
Does the Irish Times now support the non-recognition of a democratic
state created by fiat of the United Nations ...
“Each of you is British. You were born here, your families
live here, you went to school and university here. You hold British
passports. You live under the protection of its laws, which give you
freedom of speech and religious observance. Yet each of you was
prepared to break its laws. Why? Because in my judgment you were
intoxicated by the extremist nature of the material that each of you
collected, shared and discussed – the songs, the images and language
of violent jihad. So carried away by that material were you that
each of you crossed the line. That is exactly what the people that
peddle this material want to achieve and exactly what you did.”
Judge Peter Beaumont
pulls no punches,
as he sentences five young British-born Muslims
to between two and three years,
for downloading Islamic extremist and terrorist material.
Quote: “My name was destined to be on the trophy.”
Padraig Harrington from Dublin,
on winning the
Open Championship, aka the British Open,
golf's oldest (1860) and most prestigious competition.
He is the first European to win it for eight
and the first Irishman for sixty.
“The alternatives before the Palestinian people are stark.
There is the vision of Hamas, which the world saw in Gaza - with
murderers in black masks, and summary executions, and men thrown to
their death from rooftops. By following this path, the Palestinian
people would guarantee chaos, and suffering, and the endless
perpetuation of grievance. They would surrender their future to
Hamas' foreign sponsors in Syria and Iran. And they would crush the
possibility of any - of a Palestinian state”
George Bush in a speech about
the Middle East,
warns Palestinians of the risks they face
by continuing to support Hamas
scenes [in Iraq] are incredible. I have been in Iraq for more
than 11 years, and I have never seen anything like this.
Traffic is everywhere. It's extremely meaningful here. I spoke to a
young boy this morning who said
only our prime minister would learn from the team’.”
Hoda Abdel-Hamid of Al Jazeera
reflects Iraqi's euphoria as their country
wins soccer's 2007 Asian Cup for the first time,
defeating Saudi Arabia 1-0 against the odds in the final in Jakarta.
Not all news about is
Iraq is bad.
“Politics is sometimes
difficult but it is not as difficult as having your house flooded
Tory leader David Cameron,
on the England's recent flooding.
“I want France to live, to grab life with both hands, for
people to want to give of themselves, create, innovate, and hope in
President Nicolas Sarkozy
tries to breath new life into the French, on Bastille Day
father, still going strong at 92, sometimes regales me with tales from
the second world war, where he (voluntarily) served throughout the full six years as a
dentist in the RAF, with the rank of Squadron Leader. He
participated in the invasion of Normandy, then marched all over Europe - gun
in one hand, forceps in the other - fearlessly pulling Allied and Axis
teeth across the length and breadth of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and
into Germany, as the Nazis were driven backwards to the Vaterland. The
years were 1944 and 45.
He followed closely behind the British front line as it advanced over
Europe, liberating it town by town from the hated Germans, and was able to
witness at first hand what happened next, as indigenous administrations were
installed to replace the Nazis.
Once inside Germany, of course,
towns gave way to
them and occupying them. Then came the interesting part, once the
Allied airmen and soldiers had finished their shooting and captured the
The German armed forces (those who had not fled) had their weapons
removed, were taken prisoner and put into camps. Then, a British army
major would arrive who would be appointed Town Major, a de-facto pro-consul, with absolute
power and authority over the town. He would summon the (trembling)
local mayor and instruct him to resume his mayoral duties and re-activate
the civil administration in the town, including policing, with a
line-reporting relationship to the Town Major. Within a short time, normal
service and order resumed, civil servants were relieved to still have jobs
and be able to support their families, the town's citizens could start
picking up their lives again. Coupled with the exhaustion caused by
years of all-out war, this meant there was little stomach for insurgency.
Indeed, my father remembers how calm and orderly everything quickly became within
successive German towns, once defeat and occupation had taken place.
He remarks that, driving northward through German conurbations, signs had already
been erected advising Allied forces that they must apply to the Town Major
before taking over accommodation in the town. It gave them quite a cosy
feeling - could be Bournemouth or Southend-on-Sea. Nevertheless, they didn't
dare leave the safety of their vehicles on the main roads when needing a pee
for fear of roadside bombs. (Sound familiar?)
It turned out that hundreds of such majors - mainly but not only British
- had been meticulously trained
in Britain for their future roles as Town Major, at the same time as the
more visible and glamorous preparations for
Operation Overlord were underway. The Americans adopted a similar
methodology for the (separate) sectors of Europe and Germany that they
In other words, from the very earliest stages of preparation for the
invasion, careful provision for the post-conflict phase was integral.
No-one imagined that once Germany was conquered, all would be sweetness and
light, democracy would flower all by itself and the victors could just go
home. And six decades later, the invaders have still not
gone home. Today, there are
US troops on German soil and successive German governments, for all their
moaning about America, like it that way. And those German governments
(excluding the Eastern half when under Soviet Russia's tyrannical thumb) have been
impeccably democratic and peaceful throughout this period.
Meanwhile, over in the Far East ...
just finished reading
“A Doctor's War”, outlined in the panel on the right. It is a
moving account of an RAF doctor's brutal experiences as a prisoner of war of
the Japanese, ending up in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb went off.
Aidan McCarthy escaped harm from it because he was in a bunker.
Despite the human suffering and material devastation the bomb inflicted and
he witnessed and to some extent doctored to, it carried great joy for him
and his fellow captives because it brought the war to an abrupt end by
forcing Japan to unconditionally surrender.
Emperor Hirohito and his cosseted war planners, so brave in sending young
kamikaze pilots out to die, did not want to find themselves fried at the
receiving end of a third atomic bomb - dropped on Tokyo.
So, with surrender,
of Western prisoner and Japanese jailer were suddenly reversed, as the Westerners
rounded up their tormentors with a view to having them put on trial for war
crimes; some were summarily dispatched.
I was particularly interested to read how the
Americans organised things from the moment of surrender, even before they
arrived in large numbers. Their first act was to air-drop food,
clothing, medicines and radios. They then contacted the (now ex)
POWs by radio, appointed leaders (usually the senior officer in a given
camp) and gave them daily instructions. They were to commandeer
vehicles, work with local police chiefs to organise civilians and urban
services in the area (water, electicity, sewage etc), to seek out and catalogue armaments and food stocks.
Meanwhile, the Japanese army was disbanded (or disbanded itself).
Eventually regular US troops began to arrive and took over these tasks from
the ex-POWs, freeing them to be taken home.
Again, the conquerors of Japan quite clearly had a
plan for what was to follow their success, and they put it into immediate, and
successful effect. And they did not expect it to be a rapid and
easy job to convert Japan to the stable, democratic state it became.
Again, the Americans are still there today,
more than 40,000 of them, at the invitation of successive Japanese
governments, which have been as impeccably democratic as Germany's.
Dr McCarthy writes these prophetic words about the
methodology of America's occupation in those early days ...
“On the whole, the
[Japanese] police were helpful
and cooperative and can be credited with maintaining law and order.
If this had broken down the disbandment of the army would have meant
looting, anarchy and eventual civil war.”
And so to Iraq ...
wrote at the time,
the invasion of Iraq and defeat of Saddam's forces represented a stunning military performance of unparalleled virtuosity by America
and Britain, with an unprecedentedly
small number of their own and of non-combatant casualties, regrettable
though each of these was.
My favourite saying, usually applied metaphorically to non-combat
“the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in battle”. It was clear that an enormous amount of such
“sweat” had gone into preparing for the Iraq invasion, because such
success could never have been achieved without it.
But how did we get from that heady time to the
present where indiscriminate bombings by insurgents, whether Sunni or
Shi'ite, are perpetrated on an almost daily basis?
A civil war rages between these two religious
factions in all but name. Three free elections have taken place to
install the first legitimate constitution and government in the history of
Iraq, a feat achieved only by Lebanon in the Arab world. Despite
appalling intimidation, an astonishing
74% of Iraqi adults voted in the third, definitive election, proving
beyond all doubt that they genuinely desired a reborn, democratic Iraq.
Yet still the carnage continues. Every day
Omagh style atrocity, with up to a hundred children, women and men
slaughtered indiscriminately by their fellow Muslims.
Few must doubt that the planning that went into the
post-invasion phase of the Iraq adventure was virtually nil. The army,
the police, the Ba'ath party were all disbanded, with no attempt either to
give the suddenly unemployed people some alternative work, income or hope,
or to collect their weapons. That left youths armed and angry, ordinary
people wondering how to feed their families, normal services (water,
electricity, sewage, schools, hospitals) in disarray.
In retrospect, it is perhaps not surprising that
matters descended into chaos in parts of the country (thankfully not most of
What is surprising, however, is that the Americans
and British seemed to have been utterly oblivious to the brilliant manner in
which they had handled the post-invasion occupation of Germany and Japan six
decades before and within living memory.
There is clearly an enormously rich vein of information about how it was
done, what worked and what didn't. But above all, how could the
planners have so quickly forgotten that lesson from the past, that the same
“sweat” you need to plan an invasion, you also need to expend in
planning the aftermath?
Readers of this blog will be aware that I have
always supported the invasion and still do. I cannot see how a
retreat, however dressed up, cannot fail to be a defeat, which will give
fresh gloating heart and a free hand to the world's Islamicists to continue
their wicked unGodly work of converting, enslaving or killing infidels
everywhere. And such a defeat will have been inflicted not militarily
but by American and British people and politicians back home.
However, the lack of planning for how the
post-invasion phase was to be managed is absolutely unforgivable, when our
fathers and grandfathers had so clearly laid out both the need and the
methodology, and proven to be so effective themselves. The
lessons were there for the taking.
It is an old cliché, but those who fail to learn
from history are condemned to repeat it. Sadly, it is invariably other
people who pay for such failures with their lives, as in Iraq today.
Every year, celebrations are held to commemorate the
Battle of the Boyne when in 1690 at the site of that pseudonymous river
close to the border that
today divides Northern Ireland from the Republic, brave English and Irish
Protestants under an
banner defeated, for once and for all, a motley rabble of scurrilous
Catholic Papists from Ireland and Scotland with all their
and ridiculous talk of an independent Hibernia.
So on 12th July, people march in bowler hats and
orange sashes, pipe bands
play, bonfires are lit, Taigs (ie Catholics) are taunted, beer is drunk.
What fun everybody has.
This year several absolutely monumental bonfires were prepared, using old
tyres. Here's a picture of one in Co Antrim.
These days everyone who's not a Protestant fundamentalist seems
to be a
climate changeology fundamentalist. So in homage to Saint Al Gore, I did a few calculations to estimate
how much CO2 this pile would
generate. Turns out it is equivalent to flying about a thousand people
to New York.
Assume an average tyre diameter of 65 cm, thickness 25 cm (per my
own car) and weight
to get an average tyre density = 4w/pd2t
= 108 kg/m3.
Diameter at the base of the cone in the photo is, by
counting, about 35 tyres, ie 35 x 0.65 = 22.75 m.
Height of the cone is 26 tyres, from the ground to the colour
change, which when scaled up works out at 60 tyres in total, ie 60 x 0.25 = 15 m.
volume of cone =
= 2,032 m3,
weight of cone = 108 x 2,032 = 219 tonnes,
approx 70%, ie 153 tonnes is more or less pure carbon.
Relative atomic masses tell us that 12 gm of
carbon generates 44 gm of carbon
dioxide, so the conical pyre will have spewed out 153 x 44/12 = 561 tonnes
of CO2 into the night air.
According to the
CarbonNeutral Company a flight from Belfast to New York produces 0.6 tonnes of CO2 per person on
Thus this bonfire did the equivalent environmental
of flying 935
Orangemen clad in sashes and bowler hats to New York, say about three airliners.
It seems that in Ireland you just can't be
green as well as
But the Irish always knew that. That's why there's a neutral white
band to keep them apart.
The Irish Times kindly published
a letter from me based on this post
It is hard to imagine a greater, more public, less defensible, indeed
less necessary, betrayal of public trust than that just wilfully undertaken by the
The BBC had been following Queen Elizabeth around for about a year
for a fly-on-the-wall documentary. This included a photoshoot with
renowned photographer Annie Liebowitz, in which there was a sharp exchange
of words when the Queen was asked to remove her crown.
In a short video about the documentary that the BBC released to
journalists to garner a bit of free advance publicity, this altercation was
shown, followed by a shot of the Queen storming out and muttering darkly, in
an apparent hissy fit at Ms Liebowitz's effrontery.
Yet this was an utter, deliberate FRAUD. The clip of the Queen was
taken on her way in to the photoshoot, not after it.
Switching clips around in this way totally changes the essence of the story by
maliciously portraying her as apparently having a teenage tantrum.
this clip (clicking on
“BBC clip that sparked Queen row”),
where you can see the original “incident”, followed by the true
sequence of events. Listen also on the same link to the audio item “BBC's
shabby treatment of the Queen”.
It is inconceivable that the short publicity video was not constructed
with great care and approved at a high level within the BBC. The Queen
is far too important and revered a personage to treat superficially.
Even if, as it has suggested, a mere contractor put the short film together,
it still would have obtained the imprimatur of the BBC's highest bosses
before being released to the squalid hacks.
Even the BBC's
“apology” when caught out is a miserable and deceitful one.
“The clips shown were not intended to provide a complete picture of
what actually happened ... The BBC would like to apologise to both the
Queen and Annie Liebowitz for any upset this may have caused.”
was no failure to
“provide a complete picture”.
What was provided was a picture that was both wrong and
The Queen and Ms Liebowitz “may” have been caused upset?
Can the BBC envisage any circumstance where its nasty little charade
that would not have upset them?
And what about the rest of its long-suffering financial backers, those
who are forced to pay its licence fee?
Don't they deserve an apology for the deliberate misuse of the money
strong-armed out of them?
This affair proves for once and for all something that many of us have
suspected for a long time. The BBC is perfectly prepared to use its
unique, precious, global reputation of utter trustworthiness to manipulate
and deceive in order to put across its own preferred version of events and
Its anti-capitalistic, atheistic, pro-dictator, anti-Semitic bias has
been evident for a long time. Now we have proof-positive that it
regards the distortion of facts and images to reinforce its bias as a
thoroughly routine way of conducting its business.
And remember that British people, whether or not they watch or listen to
the BBC, are forced to fund it through a special tax (euphemistically called
a TV licence fee), on pain of imprisonment, no less. This completely insulates
it from the rough and tumble of market forces.
From now on, nothing the BBC ever says or portrays can ever again be
assumed to be true, without cross-checking.
At least not until it is privatised and forced to survive in the real
world of competition, transparency and accountability.
Meanwhile, I hope that other state
broadcasters, funded by special taxes and which model themselves on the BBC,
such as Ireland's RTÉ, take
What a great song this was as recorded
back in 1978 by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. She reprised it
in a €500-a-seat chaotic, rain-sodden, mudbath of a concert in Co Kildare last week where, ever the diva,
demandedtwo hundred of the
“fluffiest peach-coloured bath towels”
be placed backstage for her use (how do you use 200 towels in one
evening?). Funny girl.
The ukulele is probably the most ridiculous
stringed instrument ever invented, good only for comic performers like
George Formby with his
I'm Cleaning Windows”.
The idea of a ukulele orchestra is even more
ridiculous, and using it for a lyrical love song utterly so.
But then, by way of disproof, watch this great
effort by the
Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, a name as clunky as the
instruments they play. It'll bring a smile to your lips.
One letter, and it was actually published.
I guess slagging off Protestants always goes down well in the south of
Twelfth of July BonfiresP!
On Wednesday night, the eve of the Twelfth, several
monumental pyres of tyres were set on fire in Northern Ireland as part of
the annual celebrations of the Orange community. From the photographs of just one of these massive cones in
Co Antrim, you can count the tyres involved and from this estimate the
... spewed into the night air 575 tonnes of carbon dioxide ... This is of course based on the
“When I started in the States, my sister said to me,
‘Rule number one: smile at everyone 24/7’. She said because I was
wearing the hijab everyone would think I was a terrorist. I took her
advice – grinning at everyone like crazy.”
Wise advice for Rajaa Alsanea, a youthful
but better renowned as Saudi Arabia's first ever chick-lit author.
Victoria (Posh Spice) Beckham, on moving to the US,
seems to have listened to similar advice:
“I think they have
this impression that
I'm the miserable cow who doesn't smile.
But I'm actually quite the opposite.
I'm going to try and smile more for America.”
(Hattip: Graham in Perth)
“I don't call myself a hero. Heroics had nothing to do
with it. [The would-be bombers] got what they deserved. I
think the judge was chillingly accurate with what he said and I
don't think [at 40 years without parole] he gave them a day
The indisputably heroic old soldier Arthur Burton-Garbett (72),
who pursued Ramzi Mohammed, one of the failed London bombers,
through the Oval underground station with, in the words of the
“determination and fearlessness, to say nothing of
“To be honest, the
French gave us the medical report, that stated that the cause of Abu
Ammar's [Yasser Arafat's] death was AIDS. I am not
saying this, they did.”
Ahmed Jibril, Secretary-General of the
Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command,
recounting, on Hizballah's Al-Manar television, a conversation he
with Arafat's successor as Palestinian president and head of Fatah,
Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) and his entourage.
That Arafat was gay and probably died from AIDS
has been an open secret for a long time.
This is the first semi-official confirmation.
“The first lady [Maria Kaczyńskiais] is a witch, who
should be submitted to euthanasia ... Lech Kaczyński [her husband,
the president] is a conman surrendering to the Jewish lobby.”
Fr Tadeusz Rydzyk,
head of Poland's ultra-Catholic Radio Maryja,
withdraws support for the country's president (and prime minister),
the Kaczyński twins, for not tightening up on abortion
So he's finally made it. He's now Prime Minster Gordon Brown.
He's waited ten long years, or thirteen if you start counting from that
Granita lunch in 1994, when he foolishly
ceded the Labour Party leadership to Tony Blair.
And everyone hates him, so I hope he enjoys the new job in the few years
allotted before he's booted out either by his own party or the electorate.
Hadrian's Wall, where most of the voters live, they hate him because he
is dour, they hate him because he's Scottish. And he has no answer to
the West Lothian question: why should Scottish MPs pontificate and legislate
on English-only matters when English MPs, thanks to Scottish devolution,
can't return the compliment on Scottish-only matters?
Over the years, he has made many pathetic attempts to show he cares about
England (as if any Scot ever did!).
The subtext of all this
phraseology that he has become so fond of uttering is
“I mean England too, not just Scotland, honest”.
Last year he made a bit of a
pretending to hope that England would win the soccer World Cup.
It was a perfectly safe aspiration since England never had a
chance of winning, but Mr Brown was the only Scot who expressed such
treason. Scotland's teenage tennis prodigy Andy Murray, for
example, instantly lost England's support at Wimbledon forevermore after
he pronounced that he was an ABE supporter -
Anyone But England. But he was only saying what every one of
his countrymen was fervently hoping.
Mr Brown's latest wheeze to try to woo Englishmen is to change his
accent. Have you noticed how decidedly less Scottish, softer, slower
and quieter he is sounding these days? In other words how he is
attempting to become English? Of course he might be trying to emulate
the way the Duke of Wellington famously
denied his Irishness by observing, in impeccable Oxford tones,
“Being born in a stable does not make one a horse”.
But somehow, I don't think Mr Brown is really trying to abnegate that he is
Scottish, just bamboozle ignorant English voters into thinking so.
of his first speech as prime minister, outside 10 Downing Street.
Ignore the switching head suggesting he is watching Tim Henman
lose at Wimbledon, and the self-conscious smirk that fleetingly flashes
(at Minute 3:50) and as quickly vanishes. Concentrate on the accent
and the language. Isn't he very much the serious Englishman?
You can contrast this with earlier clips of speech
recorded over thirty years ago as illustrated in a recent
article in The Times ...
I’m Gordon Brown
Ah’m Girrrdn Brrn
Eye ahm G-oh-don Bw-oww-n
Prudence for a purpose
Prroodns frra a prrpus
Pw-ooo-dens fow a puh-pus
Tony’s removal van
T’nees r’moovl vn
T-oh-nee’s ri-moo-vul van
See you, Jimmy
See-eh yooo, Ji-ih-me
As prime minister, he said he would, as his school motto demanded,
“try my hardest” in his new job, and I have no doubt he will, and
trying his hardest to make himself seem English is probably the biggest
single challenge. His
nervous performance at his first Prime Ministers Questions on 4th July,
with his plaintive “I've only been in the job five days!”,
are marks of someone doing his best, albeit a little out of his depth.
But I'm sure he will be better as a prime minister than as an Englishman,
though this will not save him from the electoral wrath of genuine
Englishmen. Meanwhile, let him enjoy his honeymoon, his calm before
Ever since Hamas, to everyone's relief,
engineered the release, after four months captivity, of kidnapped BBC
journalist Alan Johnston in Gaza, it has been enjoying a degree of
unaccustomed respectability in the West and Arab worlds. Soft comments
by politicians are accompanied by equally soft pieces in organs such as the
BBC. The word has gone out: go easy on Hamas. Don't mention
their de-facto coup d'état in Gaza last month,
the Fatah bureaucrats they gaily flung from high buildings or beat to
death on TV or kneecapped,
Israeli soldier Gilud Shilat whom they still hold, having kidnapped him
a year ago, triggering a nasty little war.
This comes to the considerable relief of many
uncritical Palestinian apologists, who argue that since Hamas were
democratically elected in Gaza and the West Bank, in a fair ballot blessed
by the sainted Jimmy Carter, the West
should deal with them, uncritically and unconditionally, as the legitimate
representatives of the Palestinians. You wanted
democracy, they cry, you've got it, and now you don't want to respect the
result because you don't like the winners.
This is to completely miss
No-one has to
the result of any fair election anywhere. Indeed, in most
democracies, a huge minority do not
“like” the result because they voted for a rival (and sometimes,
as in George Bush's first election, even the majority dislike the
outcome). The point is one not of “liking”
but of legitimacy, which is why we accept electoral outcomes even if we
don't like them. For example, in the US the perennial political
mood music is one where many Republicans bear an abiding hatred for
Democrats, which is lustily reciprocated. So opponents spend their
time trying to disparage and dislodge and discredit incumbents, or
sometimes simply ignoring them in malice, which is all part of the daily
fun of democratic politics everywhere.
Hamas' legitimate election has
had a profound affect on how the world views the Palestinian people.
Hitherto, a strong case could always be made that the destructive
behaviour of the Palestinians was in reality that of its self-declared
dictatorial leaders rather than of the people themselves. Thus
their support for the Nazis, anti-Semitism, suicide bombing of
civilians, and their failure to grasp serial offers for a second state
of their own (1937, 1948, 1967, 2000) in addition to Jordan, could be
laid at the door of their venal presidents (Yasser Arafat and co).
The popular election of Hamas,
however, changes that. Hamas openly
the violent obliteration of Israel and Jews through Jihad.
Moreover, it refuses to foreswear violence or to honour previous
agreements made by the Palestinian Authority. Thus, since the
Palestinians voted for Hamas, it is for the first time the majority of
the Palestinian people themselves who are now demanding the destruction
of Israel and repudiation of previous concords.
So of course the rest of the
(civilised) world cannot accept this, and it is utterly logical and
proper that the West's free gifts of vast amounts of money cease, and
that any talks with Hamas be conducted extremely tentatively if at all.
If the Palestinians suffer as a result, that is purely the consequence
of their own freely-taken electoral action; no-one else's.
It is by no means unusual that a
democratically elected body be shunned by other democrats who find their
odour offensive. Two examples:
Following a democratic election in 2000,
Jorg Haidar, leader of Austria's right-wing - many would say
racist - Freedom Party became a minister, in a coalition with the
centre-right People's Party. Because of the whiff of
neo-Nazism emanating from Mr Haidar, the leaders of the fourteen
other EU states were horrified and refused to have anything to do
with Austria, even disdaining to shake hands with members of the
Austrian government. America was similarly outraged though
didn't actually do any boycotting.
The following year, it was Italy's turn to
attract the EU's wrath over a general election that looked like
result. With Belgium holding the EU presidency, its foreign
minister, Louis Michel, spoke for
the EU when he
threatened sanctions (without really explaining why) against Italy
should voters dare to support Umberto Bossi’s separatist, rightist
Northern League. Voters, however, had the temerity to ignore Mr
Michel, and promptly propelled the Northern League into a ruling
coalition with Silvio Berlusconi's
“Forza Italia”, which
lasted for five years, far longer than any of the other
fourteen post-war Italian governments. And Mr Michel was
not able to deliver the EU spite he had promised.
Hamas is a political
organization committed to terrorist solutions to its problems, whether
with the hated Jews, or as we have so recently seen their co-religionist
brother Palestinians from Fatah.
Their election to the PA
was entirely legitimate; their rejection by right-thinking people and
countries is equally legitimate. Their enforced, violent,
murderous seizure of Gaza is, however, illegitimate.
My blacklisting in newspapers evidently continues. I
battle on, unpublished, regardless.
Jesus and Social Radicalism
Father Tony Flannery and his defender Karl Deering both suffer from the
same fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus' position in relation to
poverty. They seem to believe that when Jesus praised the poor, he was
in fact praising any economic mechanism provided it would make or keep
people poor ...
Scooter Libby's Conviction Scooter Libby is the only person tried, convicted and sentenced in
connection with the leaking to the press of the name of CIA agent
Valerie Plame, a felony under US law. Mr Libby's crime was perjury.
Yet the men who actually perpetrated the leak, Richard Armitage and Karl
Rove, are not even brought to trial, nor is the journalist Robert Novak
who wrote the story, nor the editor of the Washington Post which
published it in 2003 ...
Americans are Defending Iraqi and Afghani Democracy Various tired left-wingers regularly rant in your letters column about
America's so-called penchant for torture, invasion, terror, civilian
slaughter etc. But may I remind them of a central truth about Iraq and
Afghanistan. It is Islamicists, not Americans, who are ...
High Rises for Dublin
[Columnist] Kevin Myers is right to extol the virtues of
high rise apartments. City-centre high rises make the land-cost per
apartment trivial, since so many people share it, as well as minimising
the construction and maintenance costs. They thus allow for proper,
roomy, well appointed, efficiently sound-proofed units to be built.
Moreover, the reduced costs coupled with increased availability are also
likely to drag down the price of other properties in the city to more
sensible levels ...
Quote: “You had all the civil and military authority
for northern Iraq. You gave the orders to the troops to kill
Kurdish civilians and put them in severe conditions. You subjected
them to wide and systematic attacks using chemical weapons and
artillery. You led the killing of Iraqi villagers. You restricted
them in their areas, burned their orchards, killed their animals.
You committed genocide.”
Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa,
on sentencing Ali Hassan al-Majid,
Saddam's trusted cousin and lieutenant,
otherwise known as Chemical Ali,
to death by hanging
be to God”,
mutters the sentenced man in reply
- - - - - - - - - - J I H A D - - - - - - - - -
“The police and the security services deserve the fullest
support and co-operation from each and every sector of our society,
including all Muslims.”
Less than a year ago, he threatened that
police investigation of Islamicist crimes would result in
Muslim terrorists proliferating in number to
two million, 35% of them in London
“Let's not create a hypothetical
problem … [the Glasgow and London terrorist attacks] can be
the work of Muslims, Christians, Jews or Buddhists.”
Daud Abdullah, the MCB's Deputy Secretary
doesn't seem to be quite on message
- - - - - - - - - - I R E L A N D - - - - - - - - -
“The extreme, female embodiment of that [Fianna Fail
party] culture is the unspeakable Flynn-woman, a proven liar, a
fraudster, a creature of no integrity, and a traitor who, in any
state with a clearly defined public morality, would be in jail..”
Columnist Kevin Myers describes Beverly Cooper Flynn,
Irish parliamentary member for Mayo,
who narrowly escaped bankruptcy
by cutting a dubious, secret, 54% discount deal
with RTÉ, Ireland's state
whom she owed €2.8m for foolishly taking a failed libel case
over her encouragement of others to evade taxes.
- - - - - - - - - - U N - - - - - - - - -
“The way of selecting ‘new seven wonder’ is
not scientific ... It is not sufficient to recognise the emotional
value of certain sites, but they have to be evaluated with
UNESCO (and other critics) dislike the way
Wonders of the
World have been selected
by one million people in an online poll.
They think this honour of
should fall to the high
and mighty of the UN,
not the unwashed hoi-polloi.
“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