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May 2006

ISSUE #125 - 7th May 2006

  Dublin, Ireland  

ISSUE #125 - 7th May 2006 [195+761=956]


Why Animal Rights Activists Love Halal (and Kosher)


Good Riddance to Zacarias Moussaoui


Love Will Find a (Technological) Way


A Valediction for Charles Clarke


Week 125's Letters to the Press


Quotes of Week 125

Why Animal Rights Activists Love Halal (and Kosher)

[Sunday Times, 8th March 2009Foreshortened URL:]

How about cutting the neck, arteries and oesophagus, without bothering with stunning or other anaesthetic, and allowing the heart to continue pumping until all the blood has been drained out?  Nice way to die?

That's both the Kosher and the Halal method of slaughter.  Jews and Muslims claim it is painless, unlike the infidel method where the animal is knocked out before being killed.  

According to Hassan Malik, President of the Islamic society in Oxford University, “Halal is the best method of slaughter for animals and humans alike [because] the killing takes less time.”  

Humans, too?

I can only hope that Daniel Pearl and Ken Bigley would agree, though judging from the despairing shouts followed by gurgles during the one ritual IslamoNazi beheading whose video I have viewed - with horror - on the internet, Halal/Kosher does not seem as painless as its adherents claim.  

It's recently become an issue at Oxford University because infidel students have just found out that, for goodness knows how long, they've been unwittingly fed Halal meat at seven of the university's colleges, who didn't bother to tell them.  

And they're pretty mad about it.  Not just for the deceit and for the kow-towing to Islam, but because they don't like the animals having to suffer more than they have to.  In other words, for them it's an animal rights issue, a matter of ethics.    

So where are the animal rights activists who are always getting into the news?  For example, 


those who don't hesitate to dig up corpses of old ladies whose grandchildren are involved in animal testing?  


those who are perpetrating indiscriminate assaults, arson and threats  to prevent the building of an animal testing laboratory at, yes, Oxford University?


those whose terrorist actions and intimidation against staff, suppliers, customers and shareholders of Huntingdon Life Sciences, which used to conduct tests on 75,000 animals a year, caused the near-collapse of the company?

In the UK some 2.7 million creatures, mostly rodents, were used in animal testing in 2002, the latest year for which figures are available.  By comparison, animals killed for food were 6.8m in the first three months of this year or 27m for the full year.  I have no idea how many of these are killed by Halal or Kosher methods, but since Jews and Muslims comprise around 1.9 million, or 3.3% of the UK's population, it's reasonable to assume that a similar proportion of animals suffer that particularly barbaric form of death, or 0.9m.  

The proportion of creatures subjected to testing who actually suffer is a moot point, both in terms of the particular tests to which they are subjected, many of which are pretty benign and do not involve pain, and their individual degree of sentience.  But the prolonged death by knife and bleeding of 900,000 large, very sentient farm-animals is unmistakable; they feel, and they know what's happening to them as their life ebbs away through their open veins.  

Logo of the Animal Liberation FrontSo why the silence from, for example, the Animal Liberation Front (whose logo* is this menacing hooded man in black, with a dog)?  Don't they care about the suffering caused by Halal and Kosher killing methods?  Why do you think they expend all their efforts and energy only on animal testing and none on Halal/Kosher? 

*Logo was changed a couple of months after this post

Well, here's the (convenient) thing.  

Animal testing is confined almost exclusively to Western countries, that is the familiar old white fascist imperialist bugbears of America, Europe, Australia etc, where there happens to be inordinate respect for something called human rights, embedded in the respective governments as well as their populations.  Thus you can be as bad as you like, knowing that, whilst you may risk prison, there will never be a concerted effort, either by the military or the populace, to summarily exterminate you and your kind from the face of the earth.  Why, the West is so soft and fair-minded it has even spared Nine-Eleven's 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui from execution (see next post).  

You can upset, at will, the natives of the Western democracies without any fear of 


personally suffering a bullet-and-Halal-style slaughter with a five-page note knifed into your chest as Theo van Gogh experienced in Amsterdam, or 


riots and burnings across the world's cities with people screaming Death to the Animal Rights Activists- and meaning it.  

On the other hand, Halal killing of animals takes place right across the broad swathe of the Islamic world; around a billion Muslims depend on it for their food, or 20%-ish of the world's population.  (So do the world's Jews, but there are only 15m of them.)  The animals suffering death by Halal far exceed those in Western animal laboratories.  

So Muslims, Muslim livestock-farmers and Muslim abattoirs surely constitute a ripe and plentiful target for terrorist attacks by Animal Rights Activists.  Yet they're doing nothing.  So, again, why is this?  

You may think that such Activist/Terrorists would not want to object to Halal because they believe, in their ignorance, that all Muslims are terrorists and thus feel a certain kinship for their fellow professionals.  Honour among thieves, and all that.  But can their knowledge of IslamoNazi terrorism, and the tiny proportion of Muslims who so indulge, really be that shallow?

Or it might be their view that anything a Muslim does, or a Jew (ha!), is by definition OK, including torturing animals to death.  So for this reason it should be ignored.  

Alternatively, is it possible that the Animal Rights Activists are just the teeniest bit nervous about criticising a key practice of one of (all right, two of) the mighty Abrahamic religions, in case it brings blood-thirsty retribution down upon their own heads?  


Can these old-lady-disinterrers really be so craven that they fear a genuine fight-back?  


Is it simply that they can dish it out (terrorism, that is) but not take it?  


That they believe that tolerating the suffering of animals is far preferable to actually experiencing it yourself?  

But then, isn't that the whole purpose of animal-testing in the first place?  No wonder Animal Rights Activists love Halal (and by association Kosher) killing methods.  

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Good Riddance to Zacarias Moussaoui

It came as a surprise to many of us non-Americans that Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th Nine-Eleven hijacker, has escaped with his life.  America, and Virginia in particular where he was tried, have a well-earned reputation for executing killers at a rate unmatched in the democratic world (though far behind the judicial killings of totalitarian utopias like China, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, Belarus ... need I go on?).  

The six life-sentences-without-parole are notable for two aspects.  


Firstly, though Mr Moussaoui by his own admission fully intended to join in the Nine-Eleven outrage had be not then been under lock and key for immigration offences, he was not actually convicted of killing anybody, only of failing to tip off the authorities.  That is a somewhat thin reason to take someone's life, notwithstanding the highly extenuating circumstances.  


Secondly, the jail sentence denies the defendant the death that he apparently sought.  As a punishment, judicial execution would doubtless have been celebrated with grim satisfaction across much of America.  

But it would also have caused delight - for diametrically opposite reasons - across the IslamoNazi world, who would be celebrating a famous martyrdom.  As for the man himself, he would be demanding that Allah furnish the 70 virgins pronto, which are likely to be in thin supply at his high-security Supermax federal penitentiary in Colorado.  

I am on the side of the jury who decided not to execute, like for instance Froma Harrop of Clear Politics.  I disapprove of the death penalty in all circumstances, because (a) it is morally wrong to take a life if you don't need to and (b) there is always the chance of a mistaken conviction.  (Mark Humphrys disagrees.)  

Moreover, as I've argued previously in  respect of Amrozi Bin Nurhasyim, the Bali bomber sentenced to death by Indonesia in 2003, a lifetime in jail is probably a worse punishment.  Imagine.  Day after monotonous day, devoid of companionship, family, stimulation and purpose, with no end in sight other than your own slow deterioration and death of old age many decades into the future.  

So let Mr Moussaoui, prisoner 51427-054, rot away in permanent confinement, to become a forgotten nobody, the ennui relieved perhaps only by the occasional bouts of prisoner-on-prisoner violence for which US jails are renowned.  

And when the end eventually comes, let him be cremated and his ashes scattered somewhere obscure, so that there can never be a Yasukuni-style shrine to him. This should form part of his sentence.  

Good riddance.   

Back to List of Contents

Love Will Find a (Technological) Way

Last week we learned that Dr Patricia Rashbrook from Sussex in England is to give birth at the ripe old age of 63 - thanks to IVF treatment costing her 50,000.  She and her husband John Farrant are delighted, and seem not at all concerned that they will be in their mid-eighties by the time their child reaches the age of maturity.  I say their”, but “his” would be more accurate because the baby was conceived using a donated egg, and thus to misquote an old Jamaican song, “your mommy ain't your mommy but your mommy and everyone else don't seem to realise”.  

Many have reacted with horror at the selfishness of bringing into the world a child with such ancient parents, although once conceived you have to say the child, indeed any human being, is lucky to be getting born at all, even if his/her parents are antediluvian.  This constitutes quite a moral dilemma even if you abhor the idea of elderly parents.  

Moreover, since the natural mother is someone else altogether, and by definition is of child-conceiving and child-bearing age, you have to wonder why the 63-year-old Dr Rashbrook didn't go the surrogate route, which would be safer and easier for both her and more importantly the baby.  

Nevertheless, many older couples will undoubtedly be cheered at the thought that technology is now able to nurture new life out of aging female bodies.  

Not least the starry-eyed Malaysian newly-weds Muhamad Noor Che Musa and his blushing bride Wook Kundor.  Muhamed is a strapping gentleman of 33 in the prime of his fatherhood days and this is his first marriage.  Wook, by contrast, already knows a thing or two, having - how can I put this delicately - been around the block a few times.  That is, twenty times.  So this makes it her 21st trip down the aisle.  (Her parents' views are unknown and her 20 exes are judiciously keeping out of the limelight.)  

Like most newly-weds, Mohamed and Wook no doubt plan to have a large family, but there are a couple of problems.  Firstly, Wook is poor, which if nothing else demonstrates that it was purely for love that the young buck Muhamad married her.  However, this lack of money wouldn't matter quite so much if they didn't need, as Dr Rushbrook has illustrated, 50,000 per child.  You see, Wook recently celebrated her birthday.  Her 104th birthday.  So the couple are a bit late for the conceiving bit, but as we now know - thanks to medical technology - certainly not for the child-bearing bit.   

When they are not wrestling together with this problem (or in the boudoir), and not watching Coronation Street on the TV like any other married couple, Muhamad apparently spends his time explaining to Wook the intricacies of Roman Script while she teaches him all about Islam.  Though she would be unwise to tell him too much about about those legendary 70 nubile virgins.  

Happy Couple: Patricia Rashbrook and John Farrant 

Let us, meantime, wish the happy English and Malaysian couples a long and, er, fruitful future.  

Happy Couple: Muhamad Noor Che Musa and Wook Kundor

Is there no limit to the ways in which modern technology and attitudes can enhance people's lives?  

Back to List of Contents

A Valediction for Charles Clarke

Jeepers!  I never realised that Tony Blair would be one of the listeners to my Podcast last week about his quadruple quandary (prisoners, peerages, sex and nurses).  It seems my thinly-veiled ridicule of Charles Clarke and his colleagues was the Straw (sorry, Jack) which broke the Dear Leader's back.   


Clarke gets the boot; 


Briskett - oops, Prescott - gets emasculated (appropriate, really); 


Straw is cast to the winds; 


though Hewitt/Blowit somehow survives, at least for now.  

Charles Clarke, the Very Model of a Modern Labour Minister, or ex-MinisterMr Clarke's valiant attempt to introduce anti-terrorist Identity Cards so as to frighten off the bad guys (yeah, right), is one of the big things that Mr Clarke, ex Home Secretary, will be remembered for.  

Of if not that, then at least we should remember last year's magnificent song, which points out that his ID cards were truly the mark of the Very Model of a Modern Labour Minister.  Is that Gilbert & Sullivan applauding?  Click here for a valedictory performance (MP3, 2 Mb); and sing-along with the words here.  

Back to List of Contents

Week 125's Letters to the Press

Two letters this week, neither of them published, the first possibly because it does not sufficiently revere Gay Byrne, Ireland's most iconic broadcaster now turned road-safety tsar.  


Rejoice at Drink-Driving Arrests
Chairman of the Road Safety Authority Gay Byrne finds the increase in drink-driving arrests and continued fatalities on the roads over the May bank holiday weekend terribly depressing. The continued fatalities are of course very disappointing, but he should rejoice at the increase in drink-driving arrests ... 


Ireland is a Success (not a Failure as Fintan O'Toole would have it)
Fintan O'Toole bemoans Ireland's lack of a "national" education system, health system, childcare or pre-school system, telecommunications system, sufficient public housing etc. From the context, it is clear he means "nationalised". He also thinks the Irish should be paid more, to work less and have more holidays ... 

Back to List of Contents

Quotes of Week 125

- - - - - - - - - - N I N E - E L E V E N - - - - - - - - - -



Mr Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr and to die in a great bang of glory. But, to quote TS Eliot, you will die with a whimper.” 

Judge Leonie Brinkema, handing down six life sentences, 
to be served without parole and mainly in solitary confinement, 
at a Virginia court, after a jury said 
Zacarias Moussaoui should not receive the death penalty 
for his role in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001


God curse America. God save Osama bin Laden. You'll never get him

Mr Moussaoi's response.
He's right about the last bit - you can't catch a dead man


“[It was] because of his words, his colour, his race, that he was sentenced to life.” 

In a curious twist, Aicha el-Wafi, 
the unfortunate mother of Mr Moussaoi, 
seems to blame racism for her son not being executed

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

Quote: “We have announced that wherever America does something evil, the first place that we target will be Israel.

One of Iran's senior Revolutionary Guards commanders, 
Rear Admiral Mohammad-Ebrahim Dehqani, 
virtually guarantees that Israel will have to bomb Iran's nuclear sites, 
with or without American involvement

Quote: “This is what we know and this is what we’ll do if you continue to do nothing.” 

Meir Dagan, chief of Mossad, Israel's famed intelligence service, 
gives it to the Americans straight, when in Washington 
to discuss options over Iran's nuclear programme



No one [is] considering military action over Tehran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment and Europe [does] not want to join a coalition of the willing against Iran.” 

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana 
talking to America at a transatlantic Brussels Forum.  
And how can he say no European country will support such a strike?


There is only one thing worse than military action, and that is a nuclear-armed Iran ... The United States [will] not stand by and let Iran wipe out Israel, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [has] called for.” 

Senator John McCain, the hardman, responds

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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
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
May, June, and July 2010


Published in April 2010; banned in Singapore

A horrific account of:


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


the corruption of Singapore's legal system, and


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,


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 Singapore’s docks,


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 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.


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.


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


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 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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