You hear plenty of hot air from Westerners worried about the
outsourcing of bits of their industries to cheaper locations - call centres go to
Bangladesh, manufacturing to China, software development to India.
This is said to destroy jobs in the West, though the
theevidence is that by bringing
down costs in this way Western companies can become more competitive, expand their markets and end up
increasing their employment, albeit in different jobs (higher tech and
higher paid) from before. At the same time, we Westerners fret about
the low pay, poor working conditions and, especially, inferior environmental
standards practiced by the faraway outsourcees. For example, you have only to mention
pollution to think of China's one-a-week new coal-fired power stations.
If you've outsourced your manufacturing to China, you've also outsourced
It is curious therefore that there is one area where the
West, particularly America, seems singularly relaxed, even eager to
outsource its business despite the very severe pain it is causing at home
and the increased environmental risks abroad.
For America has not done much in the way of developing and
increasing its energy production capabilities for some three decades.
The last refinery was built in 1976, the last nuclear power plant in 1978.
Though it's true that exploration and production have continued, oil reserves and
production have nevertheless steadily declined since the early 1970s and now
stand at 22 billion barrels and 5 million barrels a day respectively
(from 35 and 9½). Its energy
shortfall has therefore had to be met by imports, mainly of 10m b/d of oil
plus natural gas meeting
some 4½% of energy needs.
These imports are just another form of outsourcing
- getting foreigners to do the work for you. In this case, most of the
foreigners are Arabs and Africans, operating to lower technical and
environmental standards than Americans, and charging outrageous global
prices for the privilege - $145/bbl at time of writing. For America is
competing with the rising demands of the emerging giants of India and China for whatever oil is on
the market. Moreover, much of that oil money bonanza is falling into
the hands of Islamic enemies in the Middle East, the very people who want to
destroy Israel and the West. Other massive chunks are going to Russia
and Venezuela, countries which also hate the freedom-loving democracies.
America imports such huge quantities of oil only because of
its failure to develop its own energy potential.
However this is not for geological but for man-made reasons.
America still has plenty of resources to explore and develop, notably across
the vast expanse of Alaska, in coastal waters and off the continental shelf,
with potential to produce
over a million barrels a day. The US Geological Survey
believes that Alaska alone contains oil measured in the
to drilling is designated as such because of a belief that the distinguishing
feature myth of the modern
oil exploration and production industry is oil pollution. Oil activity
equals black oil all over the sea and ice, with flora, birds, fish, polar
bears and seals dying miserably engulfed in black treacle.
This is so far from the truth as to be laughable. When
Western companies are in charge, serious pollution occurs only through
sabotage, while the rare incidents of minor pollution (a few barrels) are
quickly cleaned up. The pictures you see of oil mess are either many
decades old like this one taken in 1905 Ohio, or the result of someone taking a hacksaw to a
pipeline, or are the responsibility of non-Western companies.
America's environmental lobby, aided and abetted by the
Democratic party, are mainly responsible for putting such vast swathes of
America off limits to oilmen, in the mistaken believe that they are somehow
preserving the world's environment. But in so doing, they are merely
outsourcing and ballooning the pollution problem to other parts of the
world with lower environmental standards. And at enormous cost to the American people in both money and
This chart illustrates how great is the wasted acreage, the
No Zone, and it doesn't even show all of Alaska's waters. And remember
the effect is to enrich America's enemies at Americans' expense.
If Barack Obama sticks to the Democrats' party line and continues to
support the No Zone, that's another reason he will lose in November. And if
he flip-flops on this as he has so recently flip-flopped on several other
matters, can Americans really trust him?
Barack Obama was in the news last week (isn't he always?)
when the 21st July issue of the New Yorker magazine featured this cartoon on
its cover. It depicts the presumptive next president standing in the
Oval Office wearing Islamic dress and turban, his combative wife with a Kalashnikov
slung across her back, the stars-and-stripes burning merrily in the
fireplace and Osama bin Laden gazing contentedly at the scene from above the
mantelpiece. Apparently this is a satire intended to embody all the lies
put about by the vast-right-wing-conspiracy of the Republican machine
(closet Muslim, fiery wife, anti-patriotic, terrorist-friendly etc).
To me it seems more like a jab at Mr Obama than at
Republicans, which is what he thinks too. His spokesman Bill Burton
“most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive; and we
[So do I, but that's why I like it.]
But Mr Obama protests too much. His self-love makes him
It never much troubled him when his beloved pastor of 20
years the Rev Jeremiah Wright kept preaching about God damning America,
America inviting 9/11, America inventing aids to kill black people and so
When his wife Michelle was called to
account for broadcasting her apparent
lack of pride in her country, he said “if they (Republicans) think that
they’re going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should
be careful. Because that I find unacceptable”, though notably he never -
unlike many Americans - found his wife's public utterances unacceptable.
His supporters have set up a special site,
Fight the Smears,
to counter the negative stories about him, even the ones that are true (eg
as the son of a Muslim he was automatically born a Muslim).
Contrast this self-absorption and
ultra-sensitivity with the moron George W Bushitlerhalliburton. He has
been relentlessly, mercilessly ridiculed, lampooned, belittled, cartoonised, insulted,
libelled for the past seven years. Michael Moore's anti-Bush movie
riddled as it is with personal invective and nastiness, is but one of the
more egregious examples of the public Bush-hatred that has become the staple
of liberal American commentary. Another is the
“Death of a President”
that has him assassinated, seemingly by an Arab, to widespread approbation
among many audiences.
Yet how often has W issued a complaint?
Not once in all his presidency. He just stands up and takes the
punches and keeps smiling.
Smiling. Now that's another thing
the touchy, narcissistic Sen Obama doesn't indulge in much outside set-piece
rallies. It might puncture his self-importance.
Arabs frequently proclaim their brotherhood and solidarity,
and it has sometimes led to improvements in the lot of the ordinary Arab.
Even then, however, its is often expressed in stirring words rather than
concrete action. For instance, the Arab League
pledged $717 million to help its Palestinian brothers as part of the
current so-called Middle East peace process, but has so far disbursed only
21%, compared with the West which has already delivered 60% of its promised
Solidarity is much more robust when it is about driving Jews
into the sea, whether through the Arab brotherhood of 1948 which attacked
Israel (and lost) the moment the UN gave birth to it, or when in 1967
Egypt's Gamel Abdul Nasser briefly reunited almost the whole Arab world to
wage war on and be defeated by (in just six manic days) the hated Zionists.
Indeed, throughout Israel's sixty years of existence it has
faced pretty much constant harassment and low-level attack from its Arab
neighbours, interspersed with hot wars which they never win and which
The general rule seems to be that Arab unity in the cause of
Arab betterment results in Arab betterment at least to some extent.
But the far more popular Arab unity in the cause of Jew
annihilation merely result in further loss of land, opportunity and
The disputed territories (which are neither Israeli nor
Palestinian because Palestinian leaders have repeatedly refused them as
a Palestinian state) are now dotted with Israeli settlements;
a sturdy barrier (of course
declared illegal in 2004 by the International Court of Justice) keeps
not just suicide bombers out of Israel but hampers many ordinary
Palestinians from going about their lawful business;
The Gaza Strip, occupied first by the Egyptians till
1967, then the Israelis till 2005 and now under the ruthless thumb of
Hamas, has become a prison state much like Cuba or North Korea.
yes, Gaza. The world blames Israel, the security barrier and its few
checkpoints for effectively imprisoning a million and a half Gazans,
half of them children. The knot tightens, in what the world labels
disproportionate action, whenever Hamas's rocket attacks from Gaza into
Israel become intolerable.
Just last week there was a
news story about the Israelis preventing Gazan students from entering
Israel in order to take up scholarships in America and Europe.
some called it.
But as quiz show hostess Anne Robinson would be quick to
point out, a chain (or fence) is only as strong as its
This is where Arab brotherhood should kick in, because the
south-west of Gaza borders not on Israel but on the former occupier Egypt
74 million fellow-Sunnis. But this border, with only one check
point (Rafah) is sealed even tighter than the Israeli side. Except
that is for the numerous tunnels that permit weapons to be
in to Gaza whilst the Egyptians turn a blind eye. Rather, the
Egyptians ensure that neither people nor normal trade may easily cross the
border; nor may scholarship students. Arab solidarity is limited
strictly to weapons to be deployed against Israel (with which Egypt
nevertheless has a peace treaty).
was real consternation in Egypt last January when Hamas blew a hole in the
wall and Gazans in their
hundreds of thousands poured through the breach, mainly to spend some
$250m on food and provisions, an unexpected bonanza for Egyptian traders.
The Gazans' brothers in the Egyptian security forces eventually rounded them
up and sent them home. With tear gas, clubs, water
cannons and live ammunition, they manage to
injure ninety Palestinians, mostly women, in the process or sealing up the border once again,
as it remains to this day.
Rafah is no longer Anne Robinson's Weakest Link. The
unanswered question is why? Why is Egypt imprisoning 1½m Gazans? Do
the Egyptians fear and hate their Palestinian fellow-Arabs that much?
For make no mistake, it is Egypt which holds the key to the Gazan's
incarceration or freedom. The Israelis at least have the excuse of
fighting existential hostility and terrorism.
Earlier this month Britain's £12 million a year National
Children's Bureau issued 366 pages of guidelines to kindergartens to clamp
down on three-year-olds when they choose to reveal what nasty little racists they are
by, for example, saying
“yuk” to foreign food. Neither do racist babies with their
“name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group
relationships” escape the NCB's righteous ire. Nurseries are, quite
rightly, instructed to report the horrid little tykes to the local council
who will presumably administer appropriate punishments and maintain lifelong
records for the protection of victim minority groups far into the future.
After all who wants to hire someone who has been documented as a proven racist ever since
he was a toddler?
For some reason, however, Beijing is now moving in the opposite direction by
kow-towing to grown-up sports fans of similar racist tendencies. These
Olympic-watchers would be the kind of despicable racists who don't hesitate
“yuk” to a
bowl of Jack Russell ragout or a Doberman steak, thereby expressing their
contempt of Orientals, particularly Chinese and Koreans, for whom such dog
meat delicacies are part of their rich cultural heritage. But rather
than condemn these odious foreign racists, the Beijing tourism politburo is
going to pander to them and has issued
an edict ordering all
dog meat from their menus for the duration of the games. They are
thereby emulating the grovelling behaviour of the Seoul city council during
the Olympics in that city back in 1988, when dog meat was likewise removed
from the city's menus for the same fawning reason.
The one part of China where, Olympic games notwithstanding,
dog meat is already banned and has been for over a century is Hong Kong,
thanks to the British colonialists. Many would see this as a further
example of racist suppression of native customs in the name of white
imperialism, but actually it's not. The reason the British rulers
banned dog meat was because of the manner of killing the dog. In order
to ensure the meat is tender, succulent and sweet, the unfortunate creature
must be beaten slowly to death with sticks, his heart to the last valiantly
pumping blood around his rapidly bruising body. For some reason, the
Brits found this practice sickening, and by now so do the native Hong Kong
So if you are at the Olympics (which as I argued earlier I
hope you aren't), know that any dislike of dog meat is due to your moral
superiority rather than your racist tendencies.
Unlike those racist little kids saying
“yuk” to a plate of curry back there in Blighty.
No Regret or Sympathy for Ahmad Batebi To The Economist
Sir, - It was moving to learn of the tribulations, torture and eventual
escape to America of the courageous young Iranian student Ahmad Batebi
after his photo appeared on the cover of your issue of July 17th 1999
protesting against the regime. But you were ungracious to express ...
Poverty in Ethiopia To the Irish Independent Kevin Myers’ observations about Ethiopia and
the ineffectiveness, if not reverse effectiveness, of the decades of aid
that has poured in there (and elsewhere in Africa) are perspicacious if
Still singing the same sad old
[climate-change denying] song Comment in a climate-change site called Think or Swim
I would question your disparagement of the two writers. Bjorn
Lomborg is a scientist of considerable weight. The way you write of him,
I have to conclude you haven’t read his books, certainly not the
Skeptical Environmentalist. It is built on the most solid of scientific
foundations, with every statement backed up with ...
Quote: “I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering
the victims have endured and I assure them that, as their pastor, I
too share in their suffering. I would like to ... acknowledge the
shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of
minors by some clergy and religious [order members] in this
Pope Benedict XVI in a speech to Catholic bishops, seminarians and novices
in Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral.
It is the first time a pope has apologised
for the egregious sexual crimes of some Catholic clerics
against children over recent decades.
- - - - - - C H I N A - - - - - -
“China's greatest Communist icon, chairman Mao
Zedong, will be dropped from six million new 10 yuan [93 €urocent]
banknotes to mark the Olympic games.”
The People's Bank of China, its central bank.
Oh joy! Chinese Communist authorities finally sense some
over their founder, humanity's
most vile mega-murderer.
But there humanitarianism doesn't stretch to Tibet ...
“We must clean out the monasteries and
strengthen the administrative committees. After that we will
absolutely control them [the Buddhist monks].”
Lie Que, China's head of propaganda in Tibet,
continues the process of
Tibet from Tibetans,
especially Tibetan monks.
- - - - - - E U - - - - - -
“Ireland will have to vote again on Lisbon.”
“Ireland must hold a second referendum on whether to
approve [the Lisbon] treaty designed to reform the European
It hasn't taken long for French
president Nicolas Sarkozy,
currently also de-facto EU president,
to put his foot in his mouth,
with this remark which will enrage the Irish
who have convincingly voted the treaty down.
We will watch with amusement
as his foot continues to disappear down his throat
during the coming six months while France holds the EU presidency.
“I am convinced that [Ireland's rejection of the
Lisbon Treaty] was not simply because they wanted to keep the
Mr Sarkozy, based on no evidence
That's precisely why the Irish voted no.
They want Lisbon buried - which means keeping Nice.
“I see idiots all day long. You can’t
imagine the amount of idiots I have to see.”
Mr Sarkozy shows his irritable side
after France takes over the rotating presidency of the EU.
You can be sure that the Irish are part of his list.
“A Member of the European Parliament earns on an
average more [at €14,727 a month] than the German Chancellor
Frau Merkel and one wants to hide this from the electorate.
Therefore, one obviously must get rid of reporters investigating
One-man crusader Hans-Peter Martin, MEP from Austria,
who bravely campaigns against the corruption of his colleagues.
His remark was in response to this
showing MEPs collecting a daily allowance of €284
early on Friday morning 23rd May 2008,
before promptly disappearing for the weekend,
a long-standing practice.
One of them, Ireland's Kathy Sinnott, threatens the reporter,
“be very careful about using this and what you
report about me.
I have worked seven hours already up to seven o'clock.”
The expenses are not for hours worked
but for the costs of attending the parliament,
which she didn't attend that day.
Later, consumed by embarrassment, she
explains with touching sincerity,
“I really welcome putting the focus
on the expense regimes of the Parliament, of MEPs.”
- - - - - - U S A - - - - - -
Quote: “Children without fathers in their lives are
five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine
times more likely to drop out of school, and twenty times more
likely to end up in prison. They also are more likely to have
behavioral problems, to run away from home, and to become teenage
Unrelated to the preceding quote,
the Reverend Jesse Jackson,
man of God and presidential candidate in 1984,
lets escape on live TV what he really feels
about that upstart Barack Obama
with not an ounce of slave blood coursing through his half-white
when/because he realised he had been filmed.
Right-wing radio chat-show host Rush Limbaugh
has an amusing
- - - - - - S L A V E R Y - - - - - -
“I think in football there's
too much modern slavery in transferring players or buying players
here and there, and putting them somewhere.”
Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA,
laments the unreasonable expectation that Cristiano Ronaldo
should honour the £100,000 per week contract he freely signed
to play soccer for Manchester United.
“I completely agree with the FIFA president”
the oppressed slave himself.
We have all been shocked and horrified
by the recent goings-on in Zimbabwe. In his desperation to cling to
power at all costs during the
process of the past few months, its despot Robert Mugabe has starved, beaten
and killed Zimbabwean citizens for the
affront of not supporting him. The run-off
has seen a
further hundred murdered, thousands beaten and tens of thousands
evicted from their homes.
And the violence continues even though
Mr Mugabe was now
an umpteenth term as president. He is clearly bent on punishing
and destroying anyone who ever had the temerity to vote or speak against
Of course, the man has form.
Within a few years of coming to power in a popular
vote, Mr Mugabe, a Shona, sent in his personal military hit
squad, the notorious North Korean-trained 5th Brigade, to perpetratewidespread massacres in Matabeland, stronghold of his political
opponent Joshua Nkomo.
20,000 died from the rival Ndebele tribe (which, descended from
proud Zulus, historically regarded Shonas solely as a
source of slaves, women and cattle)
It was in the
2000 parliamentary election, which Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party
lost by only four seats, that Mr Mugabe first learnt, to his shock,
he was no longer adored by his people.
It was in
response to this that he began violently expropriating white-owned farms
in order to reward his cronies, and as a direct result the economy began
its precipitous collapse (which I first wrote about in
For the 2002
presidential election he deployed widespread violence and vote-rigging
against the opposition and achieved a
if comfortable victory as his reward.
for the 2005 parliamentary election ensured a substantial
triumph over the MDC by 37 seats.
This was shortly
Out the Filth”
campaign, where by malevolently bulldozing the shanties and markets of
the poorest people in Harare and other towns, he rendered
a million mortals homeless and incomeless and softened up urban opposition.
Throughout all this criminal mayhem
there have been continual calls from the international community for Mr
Mugabe to moderate his behaviour and observe democratic norms. Travel
bans and similar piffling sanctions have been applied. All to no effect.
And in the past few weeks he has happily travelled to
Egypt for conferences. (Surely a kidnap and rendition could have
We are supposed to be encouraged now
because the UN Security Council is for the first time
“discussing” the latest
Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu have condemned it, and even the
African Union (31
of them non-democracies) have mumbled some
vaguely critical words. Radio, TV and newspapers in the West
continue to bleat about the need for sanctions, talks, negotiations,
Tosh, all tosh. Words and mild
slaps have been going on for years. If they were ever going to work
they would have done so by now, at least to some extent, but they haven't.
Mr Mugabe has made it abundantly clear that he will never
leave office - that
can remove him. And this is wise because his lifestyle if not life
will be in immediate danger the moment he steps down. In 2002, Ian
Smith, the country's last white ruler, laid down a
challenge: “If Mugabe and I walk together into a black
township, only one of us will come out alive. I’m ready to put that to the
test right now. He’s not”.
Only direct military action - not
words, not sanctions - will remove him and only the West has the military
capability. It won't be difficult (though no doubt many will scream
In 2000, British prime minister Tony
deployed a crack task force to Sierra Leone, which in just six weeks
defeated rebel forces who had been waging civil war for nine years. A
few months later, he sent in a handful of plucky SAS and SBS commandos who
dramatically rescued a
dozen military hostages from a different group of rebels deep
in Sierra Leone. These two decisive actions were instrumental in
turning the country into one of the African Union's 22 democracies,
persisting to this day.
the first sight of professional soldiery of such ilk, you can be sure the
Zimbabwe army and police, who have no idea how to deal with anyone who isn't
an unarmed civilian or baby, will discard their weapons and uniforms and run
for shelter behind their mothers' skirts. In the name of enforcing the
election results and without anyone's permission, the objective should be to
capture or kill Mr Mugabe together with as many as possible of his senior
colleagues. Survivors would be delivered for trial for crimes against
humanity at the international criminal court in The Hague, to join their
Charles Taylor, once the brutal president of Liberia.
Having handed the administration to
Morgan Tsangvarai, whom no-one but the Mugabe clique doubts was the winner
of last March's presidential election, the invading force should then rapidly withdraw.
This would allow the international community to provide the support it has already
promised to help rebuild the shattered country. No Iraq style
occupation should be envisaged.
In Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwe, words kill,
because by achieving nothing they permit and encourage him to continue his murderous
rampage. Thus those who foreswear military action should just remain
silent. Because such people are ipso facto on the side of Robert
Mugabe. I am not.
On 10th December 1948, in one of its first major acts, the
General Assembly of the then three year old United Nations adopted and
proclaimed, unanimously, a
Declaration of Human Rights. This year therefore marks its
Section of Amnesty International is already
the occasion. This includes a
series of rather abstruse (to me) essays appearing in the Irish Times
linked to various Articles of the Declaration,
starting with Article 1 about all humans being born fee. Irish
Amnesty also publishes its
own foreshortened version of the declaration, notable mainly for its
factually-incorrect, politically-correct, grammatically-incorrect confusion
of singulars and plurals, eg
“Everyone is born free and has dignity because
they are human”;
also it's not
25th June was also apparently designated as an
Day in Support of Victims of Torture”
involving rallies, speeches and so forth.
I pricked up my ears, however, when two days later I happened
to hear a six-minute radio broadcast by Amnesty's executive director, the
O'Gorman, a courageous man noted for his crusade against Ireland's clerical sex abuse of
children, of which he was once an unfortunate victim.
The broadcast, which I have recorded
here, is centred solely on human rights
violations allegedly perpetrated on a teenager called Mohammed by - who
else? - the United States. We are told he was an innocent Chadian
refugee alone in Pakistan who was arrested in a mosque, tortured and beaten by the
Pakistani authorities, handed over to the Americans, tortured and beaten
further, put on a plane to Guantanamo, tortured and beaten still further, and
by implication this treatment is continuing to the present day, seven years on. Some of the claims are
by banging against his cell wall.
He was hung up by his hands,
“naked apart from his shorts”
but taken down for mealtimes.
His tongue is
due to thirst (what,
One beating was so severe he suffered from
... a broken tooth.
Not only is no evidence provided to support any of the
allegations, but we are asked to believe that Mohammed, in the midst of his
perpetual torture, was able to tell Amnesty all
about it in detail, down to his broken tooth. Perhaps this was during
some of those thrice-a-day shackle-free meal breaks that so help to pass the
there is one thing Guantanamo is noted for (other than permanent torture of
all inmates, of course), it is that it is the world's only prison camp where guests,
thanks to their
4,000-5,000 daily halal calorie intake and
systematically put on weight
and muscle, enjoy modern
medical care and get
every opportunity to
Deaths have been very few -
three suicides and
one cancer case - which is a better record, percentage-wise, than the
International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague which couldn't even keep
Slobodan Milosevic alive during his trial for crimes against humanity.
Yet even if the abuse stories were all true, it seems
perverse for Amnesty to select for its campaign Guantanamo, with but
some four hundred detainees, as
the epitome of human rights violators, whilst ignoring others who
consistently demonstrate far greater expertise in the violation department,
in terms of both quality and quantity.
North Korea is a
prison state which runs a gulag every bit the equal of Stalin's. It is
currently in the grip of man-made famine, barely a decade after the
one that killed
some three million
people. The Communist regime permits no dissent whatsoever.
Cuba is another
dissent-forbidding prison state, albeit not as brutal as North
Korea, though by 1987 Fidel Castro already had
73,000 deaths to his ignominious name.
regime that runs China
systematically captures followers of the Falun Gong exercise regime,
gives them a full medical, and then offers their
organs for transplant into
desperate patients from the West, and at keen prices.
its Janjaweed proxy, is
committing genocide against its own black Muslim
citizens in Darfur, having claimed
400,000 lives and displaced over 2½ million people, most of whom
have fled, destitute and in terror, to neighbouring Chad
eight million female citizens, and all other women for that matter, to
leave their houses unless accompanied by an adult male relative and
unless wearing an abaya, or to drive cars,
or to leave the country without the permission of
According to the Lancet, the torture of female genital mutilation is
ruthlessly inflicted on young girls across the African continent at a
two million a year, with untold consequences for their
future physical and mental health.
Islam demands that all infidels be converted, or
“dhimmis” (second-class citizens paying
jizya tax to Muslims) or
be killed, and rules that anyone whose father was a Muslim is
automatically himself a Muslim. The penalty for apostates (such as Barack Obama) is
death, preferably by beheading.
Zimbabwe starves, beats and kills its citizens for the
crime of not supporting the tyrant Robert Mugabe. The last
has seen a hundred murdered, thousands beaten and tens of thousands
evicted from their homes (see previous post).
Insulting Turkishness is a prisonable offence in
Oh, and I nearly forgot, every year the Western world
of its own people,
but this practice is protected - if not encouraged - by the law, because the
innocent sufferers are not only voiceless and voteless but haven't yet exited
the womb (what a difference a few centimetres down the birth canal
makes). Five times more are similarly are killed in the developing
world. But since Amnesty is now an enthusiastic
advocate of abortion, it sees no need to complain about these wanton
So why does Amnesty Ireland, in celebrating the UN
Declaration of Human Rights, choose to remain silent when there is such a
fecund reservoir of the world's
monstrous human rights violators from whom to choose?
Why pick on little Guantanamo where there may be or may not be some
violations, but in any case not even a thousand inmates have ever enjoyed
its hospitality, of whom none have been killed? In fact, as
this photomontage shows, this is part of global Amnesty campaign.
We all know the answer, of course.
The monstrous violators are given a free pass because they are
anti-democratic, not white and - especially - not Americans. Like any spoiled teenager, Amnesty
loves to be seen as brave by rebelling against a strong and (mostly though
righteous adult, safe in the
knowledge that this will have no adverse consequences. But its
juvenile antics do nothing to better the lives of the many millions who
truly suffer from egregious human rights abuses.
Like many do-good outfits that have been around for a long
time, Amnesty has allowed itself to become morally corrupt if not bankrupt.
It should be abandoned by right-meaning people, or at least ignored.
There are plenty of other worthy NGOs to support,
GOAL for instance.
Ireland's Lisbon Treaty Referendum campaign was a
fascinating exercise which helped me clarify my thoughts about this
(deliberately) complex document.
earlier, I found it distinctly weird, not to
say a bit uncomfortable, to find myself, as a Naysayer, on the same side as
odious organizations such as Sinn Féin, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance,
the Socialist Workers Party, which are singularly devoted to the destruction
of Western society and the capitalism that has made its people wealthy and
free. On the other hand if they wanted to vote No, I didn't really
care about their reasons. I was happier to be associated with more
business-oriented Naysayers such as Libertas or Catholic outfits such as
Coir or the much-reviled newspaper
But some of the objections to Lisbon raised by these various
establishments were in
fact reasons that I would be happy to vote Yes, to the extent that you might
believe their reasons were well founded.
For example, Lisbon requires that states increase
their military expenditure. I am all in favour of that because
defence is the first and most important duty of any government and it is
morally wrong leave this to others. These defence expenditure figures illustrate
the low priority Western Europe has been able to place on its
self-defence, since it has left most of this to the hated Americans,
who have deployed hundreds of thousands of troops within Europe since the end of
the second world war to help foster democracy and to provide
protection. Indeed the Americans with their obscene
nuclear weapons kept those lovely Soviets at bay until their empire
collapsed in 1991.
Ireland goes a step further by effectively subcontracting its
national defence to the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, for there is
no-one else to repel would-be foreign invaders or airliner-borne
So yes, anything that encourages Ireland to defend itself
and its people (look at that shameful 0.9%) is to be welcomed. And it
should he paid for by cutting back on health and education since they are
less important than ensuring everyone stays free and unkilled.
Ending Ireland's military neutrality should also be
welcomed, because it is utterly amoral to regard Western democracy,
liberalism, freedom and culture as being indistinguishable from the various
degrees of autocracy and thugocracy that are their alternatives. In all cases of
conflict, Ireland should take the side of the freedom-lovers and not remain
Many Naysayers fear that Lisbon would open the door to
untrammelled free trade and competition and the tear down protectionist
barriers. Also that privatisation of national health and education
services could be fostered. If only this were true, since the
inevitable result would be improved wealth, health and schooling for
citizens, I would be sorely tempted to join the YESsirs.
However, you don't need Lisbon to bring any of these virtues
into effect. Countries can do it on their own if they have the will
to. That's the beauty of democracy - government by the people for the
And that points to the fundamental flaw in Lisbon - that it
can oblige states to do stuff that they and/or their citizens don't want to.
In the interests of law-making efficiency, there are some sixty areas where
national vetoes will be replaced by Qualified Majority Voting (QMV).
The whole and only point of QMV is to be able to force through future
measures against the wishes of particular states.
Inevitably, Ireland will sometimes be such a state, and since, moreover, its
voting weight will be cut by two-thirds whilst Germany's will be doubled,
why on earth should Ireland agree?
The EU already makes something in the order of 70-80% of the
laws EU residents obey. Last year, for example, it passed
177, whereas the Irish parliament passed
85 and Westminster just
36. Germany's former president Roman Herzog, noting that
84% of his country's laws emanate from Brussels,
“whether Germany can still unreservedly be called a
Yet by making this process even easier
through QMV, Lisbon will facilitate even more law-making, often unwelcome.
Who wants that? Where's the benefit for individual countries such as
Ireland, effectively reduced to provinces or counties? Why can't they make
their own damn laws?
Then there is
the Court of
Justice of the European Union (CJEU). This
unelected body will become the final arbiter on practically everything,
demoting national supreme courts to second place. It is anyone's guess
how it might in the decades ahead interpret Lisbon, deliberately riddled as it is with
loose language, ambiguities, contradictions and cross-references, a
veritable lawyers' nirvana. The issue here is that such decisions will
no longer be part of a country's sovereignty, can lead anywhere and are
The campaign has clarified my thinking.
I am more against Lisbon than ever, but now for
two overriding reasons - QMV and the CJEU. These
create a wholly different EU, far distant from its citizens, and one that
must never be allowed to come into force, regardless of what other laudable
conditions Lisbon might contain.
Furthermore, if the EU has been so great, why change it into
something completely different? Let it soldier on, within the remit of
the existing treaties, forever. Many of the prominent Naysayers are
calling for a renegotiation. Why? What's to renegotiate?
Seven years of negotiation to bring Lisbon to its current appalling state
have been an utter waste of resources.
The Economist was right when it
“just bury it; the European Union can get along well enough
Death to Lisbon. Long live the EU. And the €uro, by the way.
Meanwhile, Brian Cowen, the Taoiseach who
is now expected by his furious EU colleagues to fix the Ireland
not happy at all ...
Five beautiful young women with high heels, long legs and
short tunics smile happily as they pose beside what looks like a giant
golden garlic, weighing a third of a ton, supported by three sturdy
This is a new,
monument, created by sculptor Svetlana Avakina and erected in the
southern Russian resort town of
Zheleznovodsk (meaning Iron Waters), in order to celebrate the Mashuk
Akva-Term Sanatorium that you can see in the background. The stirring
cry on the banner hung from the building gives the game away:
“Let's beat constipation and sloppiness ... with enemas”.
For yes, the Sanatorium and the town are inordinately proud
of their enema industry. Hundreds if not thousands of the miserably
bunged-up flock there throughout the year to get flushed out with
from the local mineral springs.
“An enema is almost a symbol of our region”,
declares the braggart director Alexander Kharchenko.
And the garlic? Not being Princess
Diana, I am not terribly familiar with the intricacies of enigmatic enematic
procedures. But if you are something like a 400 kilo gorilla I
understand you get the pointy end of the garlic shoved up where the sun
don't shine, lustily assisted by the five beauties in nurse's garb plus the
three boy-angels. And then they connect the high-pressure iron-water
Hopefully the gruesome garlic is scaled
down a bit for smaller, more delicate mortals. But you never know with
Russians. The Americans are of course all pansies, so the biggest
garlic they can manage seems to be a
piffling half-kilo, and in red rubber not gold.
Apparently enemas are good for your
health and people actually part with their hard-earned money to submit to
it. Beats me.
over the past
several years Zheleznovodsk has also become the site of an international hot
air balloon festival. I wonder where they get the hot air, and if the
two industries are related.
Just a handful of contributions over the past month.
Proinsias De Rossa Disrespects Referendum Letter to the Irish Times There should be no surprise that Proinsias De Rossa MEP
is running around screaming in fury at and about his dastardly
fellow countrymen for daring to shout no to Lisbon ...
From a few tiny beginnings the American Dream is born Comment in the Irish Independent site
on a piece by
Kevin Myers Great post, and like "IEH" I never saw it coming either, despite the
give-away title. But poor old Barack; he doesn't stand a chance, and
not merely because some whites, and nearly all Hispanics and Asians,
will never vote for someone blacker than themselves. For Obama is
someone with ...
Is anything sadder than anonymous web cowards? Comment in the Irish Independent on a piece by
Very good piece, and amusing - except for your inexcusably appalling
grammar. You're a journalist for God's sake; writing English is your
stock in trade. Why then do you repeatedly mistake the singular for the
plural in, for example,
“any hack who says they don't want people writing about them
is telling fibs”
“If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then
there is no such thing as torture.”
English Journalist Christopher Hitchens after,
with incredible bravery,
voluntarily undergoing two bouts of waterboarding
by American special forces.
His ordeal has been captured on
video. It's not nice.
“If Iran continues with its program for developing
nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective.”
Israel's Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz
the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran
nuclear technology with bomb-making potential.
- - - - - - - - - - I R E L A N
D - - - - - - - - - -
“Ireland was wrong to hold a referendum, which is a
tool for dictators
It is up to the Government to determine how it could pass the
treaty though either a new referendum or a majority in the Dáil.”
Alain Lamassoure MEP, and a key adviser to French president
on the error of the Irish voters' ways
“The Irish disease is spreading. Everyone feels they
can speak out now since the referendum. Ratification cannot be
taken for granted anymore.”
Piotr Maciej Kaczynski, a research fellow
at the Brussels think tank Centre for European Policy Studies.
“If you want to stay on your knees, by all means,
I'd encourage you ... there [is] a very pretty girl on her
knees there in front of me.”
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, at a press
stirs up the Rape Crisis Centre
with an off-the-cuff joke at the expense of Daisy Ailiffe,
an attractive young reporter
who is looking on the floor for her microphone
“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