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TALLRITE BLOG 
ARCHIVE

This archive, organized into months, and indexed by
time and alphabet, contains all issues since inception, including the current week.

You can write to me at blog2-at-tallrite-dot-com
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June 2007
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ISSUE #155 - 24th June 2007

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ISSUE #154 - 17th June 2007

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ISSUE #153 - 3rd June 2007


Time in
Westernmost Europe
Time and date in
Murmansk & Archangel, Arctic Russia

ISSUE #155 - 24th June 2007 [468+237=1005]

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Do-Gooders Building Buildings in Developing World

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Shifting Sands of the Centre Ground

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What Really Happened in the Middle East

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Escaping from the Boot of a Car

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Week 155's Letter to the Press

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Quotes of Week 155

Click here for Word Version of Issue #155

Do-Gooders Building Buildings in Developing World

From time to time I get accosted, outside a Church, inside a supermarket, wherever, by a young person seeking sponsorship for a trip to the developing world, usually Africa.  He/she plans to go there with a group, perhaps from school, to build facilities for needy locals, such as houses or classrooms or computer rooms or sports facilities.  When I say build, I mean that in the literal sense.  They will take shovels, buy bricks and cement and get to work with the hard graft of construction, under a merciless African sun or tropical downpour, putting up with poor accommodation, malarial mosquitoes and bouts of diarrhoea.  The purpose of the money they raise is to pay their own airfares and subsistence, as well as the building materials they will purchase. 

After their month or so, they will depart, suntanned, leaner, stronger, wiser, leaving behind the fruit of their honest labours, and with a real sense of achievement, having done something for those less fortunate than themselves. 

It isn't just adolescents who undertake such activities.  The Sunday Times recently ran a story about a software entrepreneur, Tanya Goodin, who brought all her 40 employees to Cape Town on a week-long team-building exercise which was spent constructing school facilities for deprived children.  The comment line at the end of the article positively glows with the admiration of readers for this display of philanthropy. 

Undoubtedly team spirit was much enhanced among her staff, and like the youngsters, they all came away feeling they had delivered something worthwhile.  In this case, it was a classroom block, some lavatories, a playground and a basketball court.  The whole enterprise cost the company £100,000 in materials, travel, accommodation and salaries. 

But such enterprises, whether by the young or the old are little more than sanctimonious nonsense. 

Since when did Africa run so short of unskilled - or indeed skilled -  construction labour that unskilled European workers now have to be flown on a 12,000 miles roundtrip for a week or a month? 

For that is what is happening.  On a continent where the average GDP per head works out at barely six dollars per day, or $5 if you exclude wealthy South Africa and the oil-rich Mediterranean states, what is a city slicker who earns several hundred dollars a day doing excavating trenches with shovels? 

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On the one hand, he is depriving an African of the opportunity to earn a pittance doing the digging. 

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On the other, the astronomical cost of that white man's labour is such that twenty or more locals could be employed to increase the work output twentyfold, or probably thirtyfold because Africans, man-for-man, are usually tougher. 

The article in the Sunday Times draws attention to the poverty of the children whose school the software engineers are trying to help, by pointing out that their parents are unemployed and can't even afford to nourish them properly.  The irony of not tapping into Africa's surfeit of unused, ultra low cost, manual labourers too poor even to feed their families properly, in order to allow unskilled Europeans to do the job, seems to escape everyone.   

According to the CIA's World Factbook, Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from unemployment percentages that range from the twenties (Ghana, South Africa) to the eighties (Zimbabwe, Liberia).  So if there is one thing that is really going to help those unfortunate people it is paid work, of any nature. 

If, therefore, we Westerners want to do something to help, we should offer something that is not readily available. 

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Like managing a project using local labour;

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like teaching local people skills that can earn them some money;

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like providing sports coaching or artistic development to help uplift spirits. 

Such activities might seem less exciting than laying bricks, but they are of infinite more value to Africans. 

If, however, all I want to do is have an interesting break in an unfamiliar country and get lots of exercise, by all means I might as well build a schoolroom.  I just shouldn't delude myself that I'm doing it for the good of anyone but myself. 

Note: I wrote a letter to the Sunday Times
on this general theme, but it went unpublished.
 

Back to List of Contents

Shifting Sands of the Centre Ground

Over the last decade or two, appealing to the Centre has become the Holy Grail of political parties throughout the West. 

In the good old bad old days, the political divide was clear.  In that mother of parliaments in Westminster,

bulletto the Right of the Speaker sat those MPs who represented the ruling, land-owning, capitalistic, money-making class maintaining their wealth and privilege by grinding the faces of the working poor into the ground; while 
bulletto the Left were the representatives of those downtrodden masses, struggling to earn a pittance to keep their shivering families from starvation, whilst the main fruit of their labour went to further enrich the élite. 

Of course both pictures were always a caricature, but they helped to mobilise people in the direction of the polling booths, and thus to give MPs the chance of a further five years. 

But gradually, each side began to see (some of) the merits of the other. 

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If workers became a little bit capitalistic (eg by buying their council houses) they got richer and life became a bit easier and more hopeful. 

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If employers paid a bit of attention to their workers' grievances, morale went up and as a result so did productivity and profits.  

This became known as moving toward the centre ground.  With time, voters became exasperated with the extreme policies, whether of the Left or Right, so politicians served up Goldilocks mixtures, a bit of Left, a bit of Right, stealing ideas from each other. 

Today, this has reached such a stage that Europe's main parties are almost indistinguishable from each other from a Left-Right perspective, with their mixture of encouraging enterprise and protecting workforces.  What, for example, are the practical differences between Tony Blair's Labour and David Cameron's Tories?

But that doesn't mean the old Left-Right ideas and passions have gone away.  If you are of one persuasion or the other, the challenge is to shift the balance in your preferred direction.  But these days it must be done by stealth, because if it results in damage you naturally don't want to be blamed, but if it succeeds you also want to stay quiet so that you can continue doing more without stirring up a fuss.  Moreover, while failure is an orphan, success has many fathers, so you will never be able to claim sole credit in any case because so many others will be scrambling to grab the plaudits.   

The last few years have seen an interesting experiment in this process here in that economic success that is Ireland, popularly known as the Celtic Tiger. 

There are two big parties, Fine Gael and Fine Fail, who wander around in the centre without any ideology to speak of, because they are no more than relics of opposing sides in the Civil War of 1922/23, who garner most of their votes from descendents of those ancient antagonists.  All but one of the small other parties are Leftish to different degrees. 

The exception is the Progressive Democrats, which broke away from Fianna Fail in 1985 as an avowedly liberal party committed to enterprise, free trade, capitalism and low taxes.  This caught the imagination of many voters and as a result the PDs found themselves in coalition with Fianna Fail almost continuously from 1989 to 2007.   Punching well above their weight, they had a huge influence in persuading Fianna Fail to encourage foreign investment, open up the economy, cut trade barriers and reduce taxes, all shibboleths of the Right, and to this extent they were largely responsible for the unprecedented economic boom that ensued.  But Fianna Fail naturally claimed all this as its own, while no other party dared rubbish policies that had made the Irish the wealthiest in Europe (GDP $44,500 per person) after oil-rich Norway and miniscule Luxembourg, richer even than the US ($44,000). 

Imperceptibly, the centre” had moved smartly to the Right, but was still called the centre. 

Things were going swimmingly, everyone who wanted a job could get one, people had money to spend.  Because of the low tax rates, tax revenues were soaring beyond projection year after year, which prompted the Taoiseach in 2005 to declare (somewhat irrationally) that the era of tax-cutting was over.  

Then, last year, the PDs caused outrage among all the other parties by announcing that stamp duty (9%) on house sales was too high, the state didn't need the annual €2.6 billion it generates, and so it should be abolished as it acts as sand in the wheels of house conveyancing (true).  Also, they said, income tax should come down (again). 

But the loss of revenue would ruin public services and victimise the poor, everyone exclaimed in horror.  The PDs were shouted down. 

But guess what?  In the general election a few weeks ago, every single party's manifesto contained pledges to reduce stamp duty and/or income tax.  Even rabidly Marxist Sinn Féin tabled some modest tax-reduction measures and notably avoided proposing tax increases. 

After the election, mighty Fianna Fail once again emerged as the party with most seats, so formed a coalition with its previous partners, the PDs, but also with a newly invigorated Green party.  Within days of taking office, the new team were reducing stamp duty (albeit only for first time buyers) and promising income tax cuts to follow for both rich and poor. 

But the irony is that the PDs, having convincingly won this argument, lost four of their six seats.  Why was this so if their ideas are so popular?  Because their ideas are no longer their ideas; they are now everyone's.  The centre ground, thanks to their inspiring leadership over the past two decades has shifted dramatically to the Right, though everyone still calls it the centre (don't want to frighten the horses).  Thus, the PDs have effectively worked themselves out of a job; their success has made them superfluous.  Their only chance for survival is therefore to develop, once more, exciting new ideas that set them apart from the mainstream and get them noticed again. 

For their part, the Leftwing Labour party has experienced its own epiphany, but from a different perspective.  It has steadily lost the Leftwing argument to the PDs and is thus rapidly becoming a redundant party of little more than bad-tempered protest.  Too many of its traditional trade-unionist cohorts are busy enjoying their new-found, capitalist-generated wealth, to want to upset the economic apple-cart. 

A new dynamic has appeared in 2007, however, because the Greens returned six parliamentarians, making them the new kingmakers in place of the PDs.  As a result, they have entered Government for the first time, and secured three ministerships, including of course that of the Environment.  But in my view, this means we will undoubtedly see them eventually suffer a similar fate as the PDs.  That is because more and more people are becoming convinced by the green agenda, whether it is the big one of climate change and carbon footprints, or less headline grabbing measures such as the need to

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cut down on peat, coal, oil and gas - hydrocarbons are dirty, finite and expensive;

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make greater use of renewables - solar, wind, geo, bio etc;

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preserve and protect the world's natural habitats and wildlife;

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farm in a way that minimises environmental damage;

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recycle wherever possible;

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pick up our litter. 

The Greens are passionate about these things; the rest of us generally support them but with perhaps less enthusiasm and effort. 

Nevertheless, now that the Greens are in government, more and more of their green objectives will be adopted into legislation, while the other parties too will embrace the new, popular greenery wherever they can. 

Of course, the Greens also espouse a lot of socialist and anti-war (ie pro the other side) nonsense, but within government most of this will be mercilessly squeezed out of them by their Right-leaning partners.  So the Greens will perforce turn a shade of blue, while the other parties get a strong tinge of green

And come the next election in five years, the Greens will have so persuaded the rest of us of the errors of our (dirty) ways, that they will have nothing new to say.  Like the PDs, unless they then come up with something radically innovative (and sensible) they will have made themselves superfluous, a victim of their own success. 

The diagram above illustrates, with judicious use of colours, the dynamic of Ireland's smaller parties, as this has developed over the past twenty years and continues in to the future.  Note how the so-called Centre” has slowly shifted with time, silently like a sand dune, to the Right and towards Greenery

One thing is sure.  When the next ballot rolls around in 2012, the ruling Fianna Fail will call itself, then as now as always, a “centrist party of the people, and certainly not a bunch of right-wing greenophiles.  And the other parties will by and large have manifestos that tend Rightward and Greenward, whatever they may say to the contrary. 

However, because of the change of landscape and the widespread support for such leanings, such a mixture will in fact constitute the new centre ground.   

It will then be up to the minority parties - Labour, the PDs, the Greens - to dream up new, distinctive raisons d'etre, or to self-annihilate. 

Such are the perils of the shifting sands of the mythical centre ground. 

Back to List of Contents

What Really Happened in the Middle East

Most public discourse about Israel paints Israel as the oppressor, the human rights abuser, the ruthless over-armed enemy of peace-yearning Palestinians.  The latter are undeserving victims, condemned to live in squalid refugee camps, without jobs, prevented from free movement by the occupier, refused their own state, denied the possibility of returning to their own home towns and villages from which they and their forebears were brutally expelled in 1948 by the ruthless Israeli military machine. 

To those who subscribe to this view, and indeed those that don't, I would suggest studying the high-quality latest video put together by the Terrorism Awareness Project.  It's a pro-Israel organisation, but that does not detract from the video's veracity.  It's called What Really Happened in the Middle East”, and all statements and quotations are backed up with references.

Back to List of Contents

Escaping from the Boot of a Car

Getting thrown into the boot of a car (or trunk, as Americans prefer) is for many abductors the preferred method of moving you from A to B, whether it be by insurgents in Iraq or drug-dealers in Los Angeles.  Why it even happened in a recent episode of a TV soap, the ghastly Coronation Street

So here are some easy tips for escaping.  Of course you must print off this particular post and keep a copy in your pocket at all times, together with a small torch and spare batteries, so you can read it in the dark of the boot ... 

If you are in a boot that has no wall separating the backseats and the boot, try to get the seats down.

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Although the release for most seats is inside the passenger compartment, you may be able to fold or force them down from the boot side. (If not, continue to step 2.)

Check for a boot cable underneath the carpet or upholstery.

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Many new cars have a mechanical boot release lever on the floor below the driver's seat. These cars should have a cable that runs from the release lever to the boot.  Look for the cable beneath carpeting or upholstery, or behind a panel of sheet metal.  If you locate the cable, pull on it to release the boot latch. (If not, continue to the next tip.)

Don't forget to switch on the little torch in your pocket!

Look for a tool in the boot.

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Many/most cars have emergency kits inside the boot, underneath or with the spare tyre. These kits may contain a screwdriver, flashlight, or pry bar. Use a screwdriver or pry bar to pry the latch open. You can also pry the corner of the boot lid up and wave and yell to signal passersby. (If there is no tool, continue to the next step.)

Dismantle the car's brake lights by yanking wires and pushing or kicking the lights out.

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Then wave and yell to signal passersby or other cars. This method is also recommended if the car is moving and you need to signal cars behind you.

But be aware ...

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No car boot is airtight, so the danger of suffocation in the boot is low. Breathe regularly and do not panic.  Panic increases the danger that you might hyperventilate and pass out. Keep in mind, however, that on a hot day the interior temperature of a car boot can reach 60°C (140°F).  So work quickly but calmly.

Just thought you'd like to know this tip from a fascinating little survival manual

Back to List of Contents

Week 155's Letter to the Press

Only one letter this week, to the Sunday Times, and it wasn't published, probably because it was regarded as being nasty to well-meaning people doing stuff in Africa.  This week's lead post, Do-Gooders Building Buildings in Developing World, expands on the theme of the letter. 

bullet Unskilled Labour Flown into Africa
British entrepreneur Tanya Goodin felt pleased to have brought her 40 employees to Cape Town on a week-long team-building exercise spent constructing school facilities for deprived children.  Undoubtedly team spirit was much enhanced among her staff, but she deludes herself if she thinks did anything much for Africa ... 

Back to List of Contents

Quotes of Week 155

- - - - - - - - - - J I H A D - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: This attack was planned and carried out by sick souls.

Sheikh Saleh Al-Haidari, imam of the Shia Khulani Mosque in Baghdad, where at least 78 people were killed and 218 injured
in a bomb attack on his mosque

Quote: “The level of gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence is unacceptable.

John Kelleher, surely commenting on the same bomb
or something similar. 

 But no, he is Ireland's Film Censor,
with better things to worry about than real-life violence. 

He is explaining why he's banned a video-game, Manhunt 2
I thought the days were gone when
adults could be banned from playing games.
Seems Irish grownups aren't considered to have grown up yet.  

Quote: This insulting, suspicious and improper act by the British government is an obvious example of fighting against Islam.

Ebrahim Rahimpour, Iran's foreign ministry director for Western Europe,
castigates
Britain's high commissioner in Islamabad
for the effrontery of awarding Salman Rushdie
a knighthood for services to literature. 

Of course, he said nothing to criticise
those who have put an £80,000 bounty on Mr Rushdie's head,
or
Pakistan's religious affairs minister Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq,
who said a suicide attack would he
right
,
or the still extant death fatwa
imposed by the late unlamented pervert, Ayatollah Khomeini

- - - - - - - - - - G A Z A - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: He is the president of all the Palestinians.  He has spoken out for moderation. He is a voice that is a reasonable voice amongst the extremists in your neighbourhood.

President George Bush, speaking about Mahmoud Abbas,
also known as Abu Mazen. 

Four years ago, I referred to Mr Abbas as A Great Hope for Palestinians because, while hating Israel (which he is entitled to),
he is also a pragmatist who wants the best outcome for his people. 
I think that's still the case,
though delivery of a peaceful solution remains a very long way off.

Quote: If this problem is not resolved, we are facing another nakba, a catastrophe, but this time made by our own hands.”

Raji Sourani, a prominent lawyer and
the Director of the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights,
referring to the Hamas/Fatah conflict.

Quote: That’s not Islam. That’s evil and hypocrisy. How ironic that Israel is rescuing us from our Muslim brothers’”

Zecharia Alrai, 39, an officer in Fatah’s elite Force 17 commando unit,
recovering in an Israeli hospital,
from a punishment shooting in the leg by Hamas

- - - - - - - - - - E U - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: France and the Netherlands voted No.  For the constitution to enter into force, the totality [of European member states] would have to ratify it.  The totality will not ratify it. The constitution is dead. That is clear.

France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, states the obvious,
before proposing to revise it,
with cosmetic changes and no pesky referendum.

It now appears he's got what he wanted.

Quote: Please avoid appearing as blocking. This is not intelligent. This is not in [your] interests.”

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso
tells the Poles, just because of their square root or die declaration, that they're unintelligent,

That must certainly have garnered their co-operation!

- - - - - - - - - - E N V I R O N M E N T - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: To save a tree, remove a Bush.

Droll bumper sticker spotted by Mark Steyn
in
Vermont, just south of the Quebec border

Back to List of Contents

See the Archive and Blogroll at top left and right, for your convenience

Back to Top of Page

ISSUE #154 - 17th June 2007 [604]

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Combustible Demographic Youth Bulge

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Predictable Apprentice

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Five Coin Trick

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Week 154's Letters to the Press

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Quotes of Week 154

Click here for Word Version of Issue #154

Combustible Demographic Youth Bulge

Other than large scale loss of life, what have these events got in common?

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The Vikings' widespread rape and pillage in the 8th-11th centuries

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The rise of the British and other European empires in the 18th and 19th centuries

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Ireland's mass death and emigration following the famine of the 1840s

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The violence of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917

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The violence accompanying the Hitler and Mussolini movements of the 1920s

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The violence of Mao's revolution in the 1930s

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Current mayhem in the Gaza Strip, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia

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Current genocide in Darfur

In each case, there was/is a demographic youth bulge, which can be defined as “30% of the population being between 15 and 29 years”.  In particular it means that 30% of the males are in the prime of youth. 

So far OK. 

The 7/7 London bombers, in order to kill 52 innocents, combined three relatively harmless domestic chemicals - hair bleach (hydrogen peroxide), nail polish remover (acetone), acid from a car battery (sulphuric) - which then turned into the deadly explosive triacetone triperoxide

Similarly, the youth bulge seems to be one ingredient of another deadly explosive mixture.  The other two otherwise harmless (indeed beneficial) components appear to be sufficient food not to be hungry and a modicum of education to give you a sense of the world around you. 

Young men are famously aggressive and full of hormones, each of whom wants some success and recognition in life.  That is, unless he is so hungry he can think only of food, or of such limited mental development that he doesn't really see the attraction of personal advancement. 

But when there is an excess of young men in a society, and they are reasonably well fed and aware, something often - in the absence of sufficient opportunities at home - happens. 

Trouble. 

Thus it was that the Vikings and European imperialists, with famously high birthrates, exported their well-fed excess males to kill/replace/dominate other males in foreign lands. 

The Irish bulge, on the other hand, accompanied as it was by poor nutrition at the best of times and starvation when the potato blight struck, was solved either by death or by flight abroad.  The hungry young males simply didn't have the energy to pick fights or foment serious revolution. 

But the violent upheavals at home that took place in Russia in 1917, in Germany and Italy in the 1920s and in China in the 1930s, that in each place fostered the rise and flowering of pernicious ideologies and foul tyrants, coincided with youth bulges, (relatively) replete bellies and a modicum of schooling. 

In the modern day, the example of the combustible mix that, right now, jumps out of our TV screens every day is Gaza, once an Israeli settlement by the sea, now little more than a terrorist squat consumed by a savage civil war.  The three ingredients?

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The median age there is about 16, with women bearing up to ten children, so the place is awash with unemployed youth-bulgers, half of them of course male.  

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Yet they are not hungry - the UNWRA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), the only UN agency created, in 1949, for a specific set of refugees, makes sure of that. 

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And they all go to school, thanks to the same UNWRA and its 28,000 staffers, as well as subsidies from the US, EU and others. 

So, without the organization or military prowess to successfully invade and conquer others, they are fighting and killing each other in the time-honoured fashion, and will probably continue to do so until the excess of young males has culled itself sufficiently through wanton if rational violence. 

But note how UNWRA and other do-gooders are contributing to the problem with their no-strings-attached, never-ending aid (an annual $127m for Gaza alone, being 46% of UNWRA's total budget).  Meanwhile, not to be outdone, the EU earmarked another €60 million for this year for Gaza and only suspended the giving earlier in the month when the fighting became so ferocious their aid workers had to flee. 

Here is a table of interesting statistics gleaned from the CIA's World Factbook

Country Median Age
of Males
Male
Literacy
GDP+Aid
per head
Babies
per woman
Excitable
Gaza 15.9 yrs 97% $1,784 5.6
Iraq 19.9 yrs 84% $3,300 4.1
Afghanistan 17.6 yrs 43% $856 6.6
Somalia 17.5 yrs 50% $607 6.7
Calmer
Iran 25.6 yrs 84% $9,302 1.7
West Bank 18.4 yrs 97% $1,784 4.2
Zimbabwe 19.9 yrs 94% $2,115 3.1

The low median ages in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia mean they are, like Gaza, basically swarming with aware (largely literate), hyped-up teenagers for whom food is not the overwhelming preoccupation, and who have little to do but cause trouble. 

Iran, on the other hand, passed this point back in the 1980s. At the height of its war against Iraq, the ruling mullahs happily sent thousands of surplus, overactive youngsters to their doom by using them as cannon fodder in the trenches and human mine clearers.  The demographic age-spread is better balanced today and the birth rate has dropped below the replacement level, so it's future looks less excitable, despite the nuclear aspirations of its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  

The figures for the West Bank go some way towards explaining why it is a little calmer than Gaza. 

But I add in Zimbabwe to show that the equation of

youth + food + education = trouble

is not water-tight.  Or perhaps Robert Mugabe, through his iron fist and ruthless willingness to kill his own citizens, is able to keep a lid on an otherwise combustible mix. 

That was certainly Saddam's methodology before his downfall.  Bob Woodward, in his new book State of Denial, quotes Saddam giving deadly advice to Saudi Arabia's Prince Fahd about dealing with troublemakers:

Kill [all of them] ... Every man in this group who has a brother or father – kill them. If they have a cousin who you think is man enough to go for revenge, kill him ... You must spread the fear of God in everything that belongs to them, and that’s the only way you can sleep at night.”

Professor Gunnar HeinsohnThe theory behind the equation is not my own.  I only came across the concept of a youth bulge and what it can lead to when I read a recent English translation of an interview with a German sociology professor, Gunnar Heinsohn of the University of Bremen.  In 2003, he published “Söhne und Weltmacht: Terror im Aufstieg und Fall der Nationen” [Sons and World Domination: Terror in the Rise and Fall of Nations].  It is said to be sensational and politically incorrect, though largely unheard of in the English-speaking world. 

The interview is published on a blog called Gates of Vienna, in a post entitled A Continent of Losers.

I found it breathtaking. 

The professor believes that 80% of world history is about young men in nations with a surplus of sons, creating trouble. This trouble may take many forms —

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an increase in domestic crime,

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attempts at coups d’état,

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revolutions,

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riots and civil wars,

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genocide to secure for themselves the positions that belonged to those they kill,

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conquering new territory, killing the enemy population and replacing it with one’s own. 

I tried to illustrate some of this in my opening paragraphs. 

The brutal conclusions he draws is that we in the West must therefore stop incentivising high birthrates, whether in troublespots such as Gaza or among marginalised immigrant populations, and we should close off much foreign aid to countries with a youth bulge.  This means the young men will either become listless and non-violent through hunger, or else kill themselves off until their numbers match society’s ability to provide positions for the survivors.

And unless Europe's laissez-faire immigration policies shift to a strictly abilities basis, most European countries will hollow out into chaotic immigrants slums with enclaves of elderly natives.  Faced with ever-rising taxes required to support not only their own rapidly ageing populations but also the 30% of immigrants who are unskilled or unwilling to work, the talented native populations will simply emigrate to the welcoming, merit-based Anglo-Saxon worlds of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, exacerbating the problem they are escaping from.  In fact, this is already happening in the Netherlands, Poland, France, Germany and elsewhere. 

And when unskilled people from the developing world try to enter the Anglo countries, where meritocratic points systems assess the suitability of would-be immigrants, they are politely refused but quietly reminded that it will be much easier for them to get into Europe. 

The more this process continues, moreover, the less easy will it be for European countries to attract talent from other corners of the world, such as the Far East.  For what clever person is going to immigrate, knowing the burden he/she will have to bear of a huge and growing non-productive sector? 

It's a depressing scenario, and Prof Heinsohn offers little by way of comfortable solutions for Europeans.  Cut welfare at home, cut aid abroad, exhort native Europeans to produce more babies, discriminate against unskilled immigrants, turn a blind eye to foreign conflict when driven by a youth bulge. 

Imagine how any European politician would be torn to shreds by the media and multicultural élites were he/she ever brave enough to propose some or all of such a programme. 

Meanwhile, the demographic youth bulge continues to work its malign magic, not only in far away places, but also among immigrant communities living within Britain, France, Scandinavia, Germany, Holland and other countries.  Examples? 

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The 7/7 London bombing? 

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Demographic youth bulge
(in a closed Pakistani community within Britain)

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The car-burning riots in Paris in 2005? 

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Demographic youth bulge
(in North African immigrant banlieus in northern Paris)

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The mayhem over the Danish cartoons in 2006?

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Demographic youth bulge
(all over the world)

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Predictable Apprentice

Once again, BBC's The Apprentice made compulsive viewing as sixteen would-be young candidates applied for a senior job with Sir Alan Sugar, boss of electronics giant Amstrad.  Week by week, they were mercilessly whittled down by Sir Alan, until just two remained, Simon (Ambrose) and Kristina (Grimes). 

The bets were all that Irishwoman Kristina would win, as she was undoubtedly the more capable contestant, in terms of maturity, ability, common sense, power of analysis, vision, ambition, courage and above all potential to grow even better. 

But I knew the Cambridge graduate with the posh accent would become Sir Alan's Apprentice, despite the latter's known disdain for anyone who speaks properly (Wot woz you thinking?” as he regularly demands).  And so I was able to collect on all the bets I laid. 

The reason Simon defeated Kristina was twofold.

Firstly, this was the third show of the series.  The first was won by a black guy, the second by a white single mother.  Therefore it certainly wasn't going to be won by another white single mother, so it had to be the white guy, posh accent or not. 

The second reason I backed Simon was due to a personality characteristic of Sir Alan that I described two years ago after the first series ended: 

Sir Alan is a bully who likes to surround himself with yes-men, and yesmanship is a more important quality to him than potential.  He fears “gobby” people like Paul and Saira (to use Saira's own self-description), who are prepared to stand up to him and tell him he's wrong about something and why.  

Like most bullies, he can dish it out but he can't take it.

Simon, bright and capable lad that he undoubtedly is, is respectful and submissive. 

Kristina on the other hand is prepared to stand up for herself when the occasion, in her judgment, demands. 

Sir Alan is afraid of such people, very afraid.  So Kristina had to go. 

It was all so predictable. 

In the same vein, next year's winning Apprentice will be a brown-skinned woman, without children, who has a polite attitude and a regional accent.  Anyone want to place an early bet?

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Five-Coin Trick

Here is a great way to remove money from your friends and relatives. 

Explain to them the five-coin trick described in the video below. 

Tell them what they have to do.  Show them how to do it.  Several times.  Then offer them say €$£20 if they can do it without cheating, but they have to pay you say €$£1 if they fail.  Keep showing them how to do it (though do it fairly rapidly, with no explanatory words).  Keep making the offer.  And watch your €$£s, and their frustration, mount up.  They'll never get it right.  If you don't like the sound of money, use beer as your currency, but eventually you'll be too drunk to remember the astonishingly simple routine yourself. 

It's not even a trick, just a pattern of five easy moves.  See for yourself. 

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Week 154's Letters to the Press

Three letters this week.  One was published (and elicited a private reply from the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland).  The other two were follow-ups to previously published letters. 

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Paisley Remarks on Gays (2)
Ian Paisley Junior said he did not hate gays but was
repulsed by what they do.  I would challenge your heterosexual readers to think long and hard (so to speak) about the act of buggery, in all its detail, and then ask themselves, honestly, whether they find it repulsive.  Of course gays probably find ...

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Debt, Aid and Development (2)
Barry Walsh trots out standard leftwing fare without much regard to realities.  He lectures us that “unscrupulous” multinationals (such as Shell) exploit natural resources through “dubious” contracts with developing country regimes (eg Nigeria); Western governments are “so-called" democratic; their behaviour results in "abject poverty" in the developing world and perhaps civil war.  However western multinationals are so open to scrutiny that ... 

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Debt, Aid and Development   P!
In placing the blame for developing world debt entirely on the lenders with not a word of censure for the illegitimate regimes which actually took out the borrowings, Nessa Ní Chasaide, Co-ordinator of the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland, casually refers to the members of the undemocratic G8 club”.   Other than perhaps Russia, these are not only the most successful big countries ...

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Quotes of Week 154

- - - - - - - - - - A B O R T I O N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: This policy will not be made public at this time.  There is to be no proactive external publication of the policy position or of the fact of its adoption issued. This means no section or structure is to issue a press release or public statement or external communication of any kind on the policy decision.” 

Amnesty International,
which campaigns for
internationally recognized human rights,
issues a secret statement to selected members
not to reveal that it has decided to adopt a pro-abortion position.  
So the human rights of the unborn are not to be defended. 

It also issued a two-page overview of the policy and a FAQ sheet
as damage control materials should the news leak out.

- - - - - - - - - - C O N F L I C T - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: This sets a serious precedent.  This means that every head of state could meet a similar fate.”

Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, dictator of Libya,
nervously contemplates the forthcoming trial of
his protégé Charles Taylor, former dictator of Liberia,
for crimes against humanity committed during Sierra Leone's civil war. 
It will take place in The Hague in the same UN complex
that allowed Slobodan Milosovic to die in custody.

Interestingly, this is the same perspicacious Qaddafi who,
after the invasion of Iraq, surrendered his nuclear progamme,
having told Silvio Berlusconi, then the  
Prime Minister of Italy and President of the European Union,

I will do whatever the Americans want,
because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid.
” 

Quote: The past era has ended and will not return.  The era of justice and Islamic rule have arrived.

Islam Shahawan, a jubilant Hamas spokesman
revels in victory over Fatah at Gaza

- - - - - - - - - - D E M O C R A C Y - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: The elections that brought Mr Yar'Adua to office last month were so badly run and marred by such widespread rigging that they lacked even a pretence of democratic plausibility.

The (subscription-only) Economist comments bitterly
on the latest election in Nigeria that
bestowed the presidency on
Umaru Yar'Adua

Poland's prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski ... or is it the president Lech Kaczynski? Who knows? Who cares?Quote: I would like to clearly state that we are as serious as we can be about the square root proposal. We are ready to die for that.

Poland's prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski
(not to be confused with
his identical twin brother Lech, the president)
argues that the EU should adopt
a curious voting system
weighted in accordance with
the square root of the population. 

 

- - - - - - - - - - P O L A N D - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: What amazes me is all these people who walk around with their mobile phones and never stop moaning.” 

65-year-old Polish railway worker Jan Grzebski
observes, in wonderment, the world of 2007,
as he awakes from a 19-year coma
caused by having been hit by a train. 

Though Capitalism, democracy and prosperity
have replaced Poland's Communism, tyranny and penury,
people still moan just as much as they used to in Soviet times. 

- - - - - - - - - - I R E L A N D - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: This house is sovereign, this house is Pope.”

The rabidly Protestant Rev ” “Dr” Ian Paisley Sr,
Northern Ireland's new First Minister,
finds a peculiar analogy to
defend the integrity of Northern Ireland's parliament. 

The Pope is, of course, in his words, the anti-Christ.

QuoteMatt Cooper, in the Sunday Times on 17th June 2007 - not available online


Delicious opening paragraph
of a print-only article,
by columnist and broadcaster
Matt Cooper, in the Sunday Times on 17th June 2007.

He is commenting on Ireland's
new coalition government between the heavyweight Fianna Fail party and the neophyte Greens,
who enter government
for the first time.

 

 

Quote: It's a wonderful honour and I'm very unworthy of it in view of the distinguished people who have been made Freemen of this great city.”Nine million listeners tune in to Sir Terry's morning radio show, Wake Up to Wogan

Sir Terry Wogan,
everyone's favourite radio broadcaster,
on being conferred with the Freedom of Limerick,
his home city.

Other such Freemen include Pope John Paul II
and US presidents John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

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See the Archive and Blogroll at top left and right, for your convenience

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ISSUE #153 - 3rd June 2007 [420+421=841]

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Chinese Communists Harvest Live Human Body Organs

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Apology to the Russians

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Paisley Pattern of Gay Dislike

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Week 153's Letters to the Press

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Quotes of Week 153

Click here for Word Version of Issue #153

Chinese Communists Harvest Live Human Body Organs

Earlier this year, Canadians David Mata, a barrister and David Kilgour, a member of parliament, published a comprehensive, magisterial,  two hundred page report into a little known perversion of the illegitimate Chinese Communist regime led by Hu Jintao.   Its title is fully descriptive:

Bloody Harvest:  Revised Report into Allegations of
Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China
”. 

I would recommend reading the full report, with all its appendices and references.  But if you don't have the time, I have summarised its main, shocking findings, and added a few titbits of my own. 

Whilst the focus of the report is the invidious extraction and sale of body organs from live Falun Gong practitioners and their concomitant murder, the authors set this crime in the context of the litany of crimes against humanity perpetrated by Chinese Communists throughout their six-decade reign of terror, solely to enrich and defend the Party and its élite.  China’s Communist regime has killed more innocents than Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia combined, 70 million of its victims the result of a single person, Mao Tse Tung, truly the most evil human ever to have walked the earth.  I prepared this chart in 2005 from available data, before Jung Chang published her magisterial Mao: The Unknown Story” and revealed the true, ghastly statistic of 100m. 

Yet even in today's post-Mao era of headlong economic development and globalised trade,

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girl children in China are killed, abandoned and neglected in massive numbers;

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torture is widespread;

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the death penalty is both extensive and arbitrary;

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more people are executed than in all other countries combined;

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religious belief is violently suppressed.

Transplant hospitals are both private and military, in either case run for profit and financed by transplant recipients.  For example, Beijing's Armed Police General Hospital boasts that it makes some 30m yuan ($4m) a year from transplants. 

Their most lucrative market is foreign “transplant tourists” who cannot get, or afford, the operation at home (usually due to organ unavailability).   

China has no organized system of voluntary organ donation.  The immediate source of transplant organs is, apart from a few traffic accident victims, prisoners condemned to death.  But the Chinese system is such that no-one enquires too deeply whether a particular prisoner, whose heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and eyes have been harvested, was in fact sentenced to death.  By definition, prisoners have no human rights in China.  Moreover, you can be sentenced to death merely for non-violent political or economic crimes. 

Nevertheless the temptation to look further afield than prisoners sentenced to death is, it seems, irresistible.  That's where the Falun Gong come in. 

Organ transplant surgery in China over the past few years has become a booming business, with, for example, over 500 liver transplant centres alone (typical price $100,000 per liver).  China reported no fewer than 200,000 organ transplants in 2005, putting it second only to the USA in number.  Where is and who is China's large donor population?  The transplant count far exceeds what is available from the miniscule voluntary donors plus the number of executed prisoners (up to 10,000 according to Amnesty International). 

The overwhelming majority of prisoners of conscience in Chinese prisons are from Falun Gong, which the authorities denounce as an evil cult”.  But it bears none of the characteristics of a cult, not even a formal membership system.  It simply amounts to methods of meditation through exercises intended to improve physical and spiritual health and fitness, without a whisper of ideology or politics.  Its only meetings are when adherents get together to do their exercises.  Its biggest sin seems to have been that in 1999 it had 70 million such adherents, compared to only 60m members of the Communist Party of China.  This fed Communist paranoia, and led to

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legislation which banned it that year as a heretical organization, coupled with

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the poisonous policy of defaming their reputations, bankrupting them financially and destroying them physically”. 

Incitement to hatred, redolent of Jews in Hitler's Germany, became official policy, and indeed has managed to reduce sympathy among the general population

Massive arrests followed, with Falun Gong adherents herded into re-education-through-labor camps with a capacity of 300,000, where thousands of them died. 

When arrested, large numbers of adherents refuse to identify themselves for fear of persecution of their families and friends.  They become particularly vulnerable to abuse - and organ harvesting - since no-one on the outside has a clue where they are or even if they are in custody.  

Falun Gong adherents brought into custody are routinely singled out for blood and organ testing, unlike other detainees.  The purpose is patently not for the sake of improving the adherents' health; it can only be for future organ donation. 

Falun Gongers today constitute a prison population whom the Chinese authorities habitually vilify, dehumanize, depersonalize, marginalize even more than prisoners sentenced to death for criminal offences. 

It is in this environment that China, unlike any other country, finds itself awash in living organs for transplant, as attested by the short waiting times of just a week or a month that its hospitals advertise, compared with 2-4 years in, say, Canada.  This is only explicable if you have a bank of live donors waiting to be killed for their organs.  Why, one Chinese hospital openly admits Our organs do not come from brain death victims because the state of the organ may not be good”.   

Falun Gong prisoners are the obvious, and - with 70m practitioners - virtually unlimited, source. 

The transplant operations are conducted in conditions of exceptional secrecy, often in the middle of the night by surgeons the patients have never met, and this even for wealthy foreign patients who have flown in especially for the operation.  Since the Chinese government has admitted using executed prisoners for organ transplants, why the secrecy - unless live Falun Gongers are being dispatched for their organs? 

The western world seems to adopt a “see no evil hear no evil” attitude. 

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Most western doctors endorse transplant tourism or at least ask no questions;

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no laws that restrict dubious transplant practices at home extend extra-territorially (unlike, for example, anti-paedophilia laws);

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western pharmaceutical companies happily sell anti-rejection drugs in large quantities to the Chinese;

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some western healthcare organisations (government and private) fund Chinese transplants for their citizens/subscribers, as well as their after-care. 

Bear in mind that there is no national network for the matching and sharing of organs.  On the other hand, if you phone a Chinese hospital wanting to talk to someone about getting a transplant for yourself, you're quite likely to be put through to the local prison or court, because that's where harvested organs are distributed.  Sometimes you will be told that there are several suitable, living Falun Gong adherents available.  Under-cover investigators have recorded telephone conversations to this effect across China with hospital, court and prison officials, and even with doctors. 

The methodology appears to be that a Falun Gong prisoner is Wang Bin, after his organs were removed.  He had also been dreadfully torturedselected for his suitable blood and tissue matches.  He is then anaesthetised and, while still alive, his organs are removed to meet the immediate demand of the paying patient.  Of course he does not survive the experience and his body is then cremated, destroying all evidence. 

This image of 44-year-old Wang Bin, in October 2000, just after his organs, including heart and brain, were removed and he was crudely re-sown, is one of the very few pieces of photographic evidence of such crimes. 

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The authors believe that there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures (kidneys, livers, corneas, hearts all command high prices) from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners.

This damning picture emerges not from any one single item of proof, but rather from piecing together a great deal of disparate yet verifiable, usually incontestable evidence, while noting the singular absence of “disproofs”.  

The report ends with a list of recommendations.  They are so pertinent, comprehensive and pithy that I cannot summarise them.  But the list is not very long, so here it is. 

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a) General

1) The current form of dialogue between Canada and China over human rights should cease.  In hindsight, the Canadian Government erred in agreeing to the talk fests in exchange for Canada no longer co-sponsoring the yearly motion criticizing China's government at the then UN Human Rights Commission.

2) All detention facilities, including forced labour camps, must be opened for international community inspection through the International Committee for the Red Cross or other human rights or humanitarian organization.

3) China and every other state now party to the Convention against Torture, including Canada, should accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

b) Organ Harvesting

4) Organ harvesting in China from prisoners should cease.

5) The military in China should get out of the organ transplant business.

6) Organ harvesting of unwilling donors where it is either systematic or widespread is a crime against humanity.  Criminal authorities in China should investigate the charge of organ harvesting from unwilling donors for possible prosecution.

7) Foreign states should enact extra-territorial legislation penalizing participation in organ harvesting without consent.

8) State medical funding systems should deny reimbursement for commercial organ transplants abroad and aftercare funding for those benefiting from such transplants 

9) Any person known to be involved in trafficking in the organs of prisoners in China should be barred entry by all foreign countries.

10) Until China stops harvesting organs from prisoners of any sort,

          i) foreign governments should not issue visas to doctors from China seeking to travel abroad for the purpose of training in organ or bodily issue transplantation,

          ii) foreign medical transplant personnel should not travel to China for training or collaboration in transplant surgery,

          iii) contributions to scholarly journals on transplant research drawn from the Chinese experience should be rejected,

          iv) medical professionals abroad should actively discourage their patients from travelling to China for transplant surgery,

          v) pharmaceutical companies should not export anti-rejection drugs or any other drugs solely used in transplantation surgery to China,

          vi) foreign states should ban the export of anti-rejection drugs or any other drugs solely used in transplantation surgery to China.

11) The onus should be on foreign professionals to determine beyond any reasonable doubt that the source of organ donation in China is voluntary before there is any referral to China or any cooperation with China relating to organ transplants. 

12) The medical profession in every foreign country should set up a voluntary reporting system to accumulate aggregate data about patients who have travelled to China for transplants.

13) Chinese hospitals should keep records of the source of every transplant.  These records should be available for inspection by international human rights officials.

14) Every organ transplant donor should consent to the donation in writing. These consents should be available for inspection by international human rights officials.

15) The Government of China should promote voluntary organ donation from its own population.

16) Foreign states should issue travel advisories warning its population that organ transplants in China are sourced almost entirely from unconsenting prisoners, whether sentenced to death or Falun Gong practitioners.

C) Falun Gong

17) The repression, imprisonment and mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners should stop.

18) The harvesting of organs of Falun Gong practitioners should cease. 

19) Governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental human rights organizations should take seriously the charges this report addresses and make their own determinations whether or not they are true.

______

The Chinese of course deny everything in the report.  But they have apparently managed to disprove only two items in an earlier edition of it: that two cities mentioned in the report are attributed to the wrong provinces. 

______

It is a truly harrowing report. 

I am grateful to a Chinese gentleman in Australia who stumbled upon my site. 
My Pet Hate, the
unlawful killing and harming of humans,
seemed to appeal to him. 

Having read a post about China's Great Famine, the handiwork of Mao,
he kindly provided me with the link to the report
but wishes to remain anonymous.
 

______

Late Note (6th June 2007)

This story just gets worse and worse the more you research it.  The Epoch Times is an international newspaper that provides uncensored coverage of events in China.  It has described in further detail not only the grisly process of organ harvesting, but also that China exports live donors, overwhelmingly Falun Gongers, who are harvested, killed and cremated in other countries.  The key to all this is that fake identities are created, and donor consent forms are signed in the fake names, which  presumably satisfies the sensibilities of the foreign hospitals and recipients. 

Primary responsibility for organ harvesting and trade rests with the Chinese military, who not only seem to be very well organised compared to the State, but also maintain a strict and effective omerta with death for those who break it.  .

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Apology to the Russians

The lead post in Issue #150 a month ago was entitled Offended, Vindictive Ruskies”. 

It described how Peter, a veteran of the second world war's Arctic Convoys, which shipped - at great peril from German U-boats - war materials, food and liberated POWs to northern Russia, had been denied a Russian medal recognizing his bravery in 1944.  At least six other Irish veterans of the Arctic Convoys had been so honoured some years previously. 

The reason, conveyed to him unofficially, was that he had caused offence by writing three uncomplimentary accounts of some of the things he had observed during his voyages to Murmansk and Archangel, within the Arctic Circle in Northern Russia. 

I concluded my post by observing that

though Peter also writes much that is complimentary about Russia, particularly its artistic prowess, this counts as naught compared to the offence [the Russians] have taken.  As does his long and supportive involvement with the Ireland-USSR Society.  Also of no value, in their eyes, is the fact that he risked life and limb helping their countrymen in their hour of need, and as a volunteer not a conscript ... Hell hath no fury like a Russian confronted with an unflattering truth. 

Last week, however, the Russian Embassy wrote to Peter inviting him to be presented with a medal recognising what he had done and risked in 1944 to help the USSR.  In the Embassy, following a small speech by the First Secretary (the Ambassador happened to be overseas), who accurately and with gratitude described Peter's contribution during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45”, he pinned to the lapel of Peter's jacket a gold medal on a red, gold and black ribbon.  On one side, it bears a big “60”, to commemorate six decades since the war ended.  Peter was undisguisedly thrilled at this gracious gesture.

For my part, I unreservedly withdraw and apologise for my disparaging comments in Issue #150, and salute the Russian Embassy for their courteous action. 

And I congratulate Peter for the well-deserved recognition of his courage. 

 

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Paisley Pattern of Gay Dislike

Rampantly Protestant Ian Paisley Junior is a junior minister on the staff of senior minister Ian Paisley Senior, who runs Northern Ireland in tandem with his hated nemesis Sinn Féin. 

Senior also runs

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the DUP which he founded,

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the Free Presbyterian Church which he founded, and

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the European Institute of Protestant Studies,
which he founded.

Last month, Junior got himself in hot water with the press in an interview with (subscription-only) Hot Press.  He's clearly off-message when it comes to homosexuality:

I am, unsurprisingly, a straight person.  I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong.  I think that those people harm themselves and – without caring about it - harm society.  That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do.  I think they should just free them[selves] from being gay.”  More details here

That great champion of human rights, Sinn Féin, was first out of the block in condemning him for his dangerous homophobia, and potentially breaking equality legislation.  Comments such as this cause great harm and distress. They feed into the attitudes that fester and lead to homophobic violence”, sobbed one of their lady MLAs. 

Northern Ireland's other republican party, the SDLP was quick to add its righteous anger to the bandwagon, with its Equality Spokeswoman (shouldn't that be Spokesperson?) expressing her own outrage in similar terms. 

Then the Alliance Party chair moaned that the comments were disgraceful and extremely irresponsible.

Gay rights campaigner Andrew Muir added that 29% of young people have attempted suicide because of the homophobia that Junior seemed to be encouraging. 

Down in Dublin, not to be outdone, the (subscription-only) Irish Times made its own subtle little contribution in a report which, per this transcription, quoted the offending sentences, but dishonestly replaced the words That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them with three little dots ... The paper clearly feared the original wording might encourage people to draw an honourable inference from Junior's little gay-hatred rant. 

In fairness to it, however, it later published a letter from me pointing out that the omission was dishonest. 

Meanwhile, Junior himself seemed to go into hiding. 

There is pattern to Mr Paisley's behaviour.  For example, he is on the record for disliking pro-homosexual policies such as civil unions, gay parades and, er, pink buses (yes!).  Enunciating such rash views once earned him a formal censure from the Northern Ireland Policing Board, whatever that means. 

Yet look at what he actually said in Hot Press. 

The words which the Irish Times so cleverly omitted make it clear that, in effect, he hates not gays but what they do, which is a perfectly respectable position to take.  Why should someone have to likethe act of buggery, or for that matter why should a gay or lesbian be expected to like” the idea of straight sex? There's nothing reprehensible in disliking, or being repulsed by, other people's actions.  For example I am pretty disgusted by the act of drunken vomiting on the street on a Saturday night, but that doesn't mean I hate the vomiters once they sober up. 

This type of dislike is, moreover, entirely within keeping of, ironically, a long-standing Catholic dictum to love the sinner not the sin”. 

On the other hand, Junior's belief that gays can free themselves from being gay demonstrates profound ignorance rather than homophobia. No-one says people should free themselves from having a club-foot, or Downs syndrome”, so why a congenital condition of homosexuality?

Yet his evident belief that homosexuality is a curable disease, like leprosy, is another bit of teaching espoused by the Vatican. 

Could it be that Ian Paisley Junior is a closet Papist?  Don't tell his Dad. 

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Week 153's Letters to the Press

Three letters to three different publications.  I was surprised that the Irish Times published the one about Ian Paisley Jnr because it accuses the newspaper of dishonest reporting. 

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Paisley Remark Gays P!
In quoting Ian Paisley Junior's anti-gay remarks, you used dots to indicate that some words had been left out.  According to the BBC, the omitted words were "That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them", meaning homosexuals.  Since this changes the whole tone of the what he said, your omission was dishonest ...

See my post above on this subject

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Liberating EU Financial Markets
Though EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy's statement that
there may well be a case for creating a passport for mortgage brokers to enable them to sell and provide advice on mortgage products across the member states is very welcome, it is surely phrased the wrong way round.  No-one has ever made a coherent case for preventing the sale of mortgages across member state lines, or for that matter other financial products ...

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Drab Reviews of Tomes on Religion
You appear to have hired sycophants to review your two religious books.  AN Wilson can find no wrong in Pope Benedict's
Jesus of Nazareth, while NR is similarly transfixed[*] by Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion ...

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Quotes of Week 153

- - - - - - - - - - D A R F U R - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: For too long, the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that is complicit in the bombing, murder and rape of innocent civilians. My administration has called these actions by their rightful name: genocide. The world has a responsibility to help put an end to it ... The people of Sudan are crying out for help and they deserve it.

George Bush, announcing sanctions on the
illegitimate thugocratic regime of
Omar al-Bashir in Sudan

- - - - - - - - - - I R A N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote : Iran and the US agreed broadly that there should be a secure, stable, democratic, federal Iraq in control of its own security, at peace with its neighbours.

US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker,
after his historic first meeting with
Iran's ambassador Hassan Kazemi-Qomi

The US went on to accuse Iran of training and arming
Iraqi militant groups attacking US forces,
and providing Iraqi insurgents with explosive charges,
and sought to strengthen sanctions against Tehran
for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

For its part, Iran accused the US of spying and
encouraging dissident Iranian ethnic groups
to engage in subversion (if only!).

- - - - - - - - - - I R A Q - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: The mess in Iraq reflects the disordered souls of a critical mass of Iraqis who prefer allegiance to tribal loyalties or a dysfunctional faith to freedom and security.

Commentator Bruce Thornton,
professor of Classics at Cal State Fresno,
while advising the US to get out of the World Bank

- - - - - - - - - - W E A P O N S - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: We consider it harmful and dangerous to turn Europe into a powder keg and to stuff it with new weapons.”

Vladimir Putin squeals at the idea of
America positioning parts of its new missile defence shield
in Russia's former vassal states Poland and the Czech Republic. 

- - - - - - - - - - C U B A - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: Bush is waiting for me to die.”

Fidel Castro, seriously ill for the last ten months from a mystery ailment. 

Bush is not the only one. 
How about Cuba's eleven million imprisoned population?

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 What I've recently
been reading

The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tol, 2006
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy Tol (2006),
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
The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz, 2004

See detailed review

+++++

Drowning in Oil - Macondo Blowout
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 technical sustainability.  

Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in Russia.  

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 carelessness. 

It would be better to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying. 

As for BP, only a wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.

Note: I wrote my own reports on Macondo
in
May, June, and July 2010

+++++

Published in April 2010; banned in Singapore

A horrific account of:

bullet

how the death penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,

bullet

the corruption of Singapore's legal system, and

bullet

Singapore's enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship

More details on my blog here.

+++++

Product Details
This is nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’s incredible story of survival in the Far East during World War II.

After recounting a childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen, Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on Germany in 1939.

From then until the Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror. 

After a wretched journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless garrison.

Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in 1941, he is, successively,

bullet

part of a death march to Thailand,

bullet

a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),

bullet

regularly beaten and tortured,

bullet

racked by starvation, gaping ulcers and disease including cholera,

bullet

a slave labourer stevedoring at Singapore’s docks,

bullet

shipped to Japan in a stinking, closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,

bullet

torpedoed by the Americans and left drifting alone for five days before being picked up,

bullet

a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic bomb.

Chronically ill, 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 unputdownable book.

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 document.

+++++

Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies
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 it is.

+++++

Superfreakonomics
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:

bullet

Drunk walking kills more people per kilometer than drunk driving.

bullet

People aren't really altruistic - they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.

bullet

Child seats are a waste of money as they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.

bullet

Though doctors have known for centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection, they still often fail to do so. 

bullet

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.

++++++

False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World
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

bullet

Why does asparagus come from Peru?

bullet

Why are pandas so useless?

bullet

Why are oil and diamonds more trouble than they are worth?

bullet

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:

bullet

Argentina protects its now largely foreign landowners (eg George Soros)

bullet

Russia its military-owned businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs

bullet

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 digest. 

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. 

+++++

Burmese Outpost, by Anthony Irwin
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 India.   

Irwin 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 Brennan.

+++++

Other books here

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After 48 crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are, deservedly,
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