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#88 : 28th November 2004 
First there was Italy's Rocco
EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security.
Under cross-examination by MEPs as part of the Commission ratification
process, he declared his belief that
homosexual behaviour is a sin but that he would not regulate against it.
Left-leaning MEPs were outraged that a
Catholic should admit his Catholic convictions. His new boss,
Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso loyally offered his full
Barroso maintains his confidence in the whole team, which, of course,
includes Mr Buttiglione,
a spokeswoman), but subsequently dumped him
anyway when the MEPs would not be mollified.
Then it was the turn of France's
would-be EU Commissioner for Transport. When he was cross-examined
by MEPs, he hid the fact that he had been convicted back home in 2000 for
criminal fraud; he hid this also from Mr Barroso, who nevertheless offered
support, which by then we knew means nothing.
When, thanks to an outing by the UKIP
party and the non-French press, MEPs learnt that they had just been
tricked into approving a convicted fraudster, they were outraged.
They demanded an immediate explanation, and when they heard it they
swallowed it whole, giving Mr Barrot the thumbs-up. It turns out
that President Jacques Chirac had granted his buddy Mr Barrot an amnesty,
which means that the conviction was expunged - legally it never happened.
Just like the Catholic annulment (which bastardised his two daughters) of
John Kerry's 27-year
pre-Heinz marriage. And since the conviction never happened, the
French press are forbidden from reporting it, even that it never happened
The upshot of this sorry tale is that conviction Catholics are barred from
high EU office, convicted fraudsters are not. How morally inverted
can you get ? And how incompetent is Mr Barroso to play host to two
Commissioner problems before even taking office ? It all bodes ill
for the Commission. But one the bright side, the loss in public
confidence in the EU that this display of hubris entails may help to kill
off, via national referenda, the pernicious EU Constitutional Treaty.
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I've spent most of my life as a guest in other
people's countries, all over the world. To make an outrageous
generalisation, one of the paradoxes that
I've observed is that racism frequently seems to be proportional to the darkness of
the skin. That is, the darker a person's skin the greater his/her racist
behaviour and views. Thus, you tend to see the greatest attention to
skin colour and associated prejudice in Africa, where people's blackness
often determines their place in society. Lighter-skinned Arabs
from the north (of Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia etc) look down on their
blacker brethren; the black southerners look down on those of their number
who are even blacker. There is little of the embarrassment or
attempt to suppress or at least hide such feelings that you encounter in
lighter-skinned parts of the world. Robert Mugabe is an extreme
example, though of course his racism is directed primarily at whites
(notwithstanding his massacre
of 7,000 Matabelelanders in 1980-88).
I was reminded of this when some months ago Harry
the singer of Jamaican descent, derided
Colin Powell, the soldier-diplomat of Jamaican descent, as a
nigger, a term of abuse that it is inconceivable that a
white person of comparable celebrity would utter in public. Yet,
only because he was himself black, Mr Belafonte
got away with it, despite the undeniably unpleasant and racist nature of
is not alone. Black cartoonist Aaron McGruder
regularly depicts Condoleeza Rice as a stereotype black Aunt Jemima,
complete with characteristic bad grammar, in a manner no white cartoonist
would dare ...
knows all about aluminum tubes
... (correction) ...
I don't know nuthin about aluminum tubes
also calls her a murderer,
and this epithet is endorsed
by Julian Bond who is the chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People, for goodness sake. Meanwhile, a lead article in Black Commentator has
called Dr Rice
the purest expression of the race traitor. No
polite description is possible.
like the other examples, is in fact the purest
expression of racism - no polite description is possible. To such
people, Dr Rice and Mr Powell are unacceptable as Republicans for one
reason only - because they are black.
Racist attitudes are about hating people because of their
race and/or skin colour. Blacks, historically on the receiving end
of such inexcusable behaviour, often do this better than
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Depraved Northern Ireland Demands More English
Over and above what is collected in Northern Ireland
taxes, residents of the province already get
£2,500 per person per year in subsidies from
the British State. British State
in this context means English taxpayer, since the Scots and Welsh also have they own
hands out and thus contribute none of their taxes to NI.
Now the low-life politicians of the DUP and Sinn Fein
are now demanding the gift of another one
billion pounds, or £600
per inhabitant, from the English taxpayers as blackmail money to
form a Northern Ireland government. For infrastructural purposes they say, such as
improving the sewage system. But visit
NI from the South and what do you notice ?
Anything provided by the State - ie
taxpayers - such as roads, schools, hospitals, youth centres, police
station etc are pristine and uplifting, compared to the south (and
indeed compared to much of England). Even chunks of
countryside, such as Divis, the Black Mountains near Belfast, 100 km of Antrim coastline,
Slieve Donard in the Mournes, have
been purchased in order to preserve their
But anything provided by the locals such as
houses, shops, pubs, small businesses etc seems to the outsider to be
rather shabby and dilapidated, compared to the
That is the result of the beggar mentality that
pervades that diseased carbuncle. They don't need more Christmas
presents from Englishmen and Englishwomen to form a government (a body by
the way that will accomplish with fourteen ministers and several
committees what is currently done with just two part-time
Westminster MPs). They
need the will to implement the Good Friday Agreement, endorsed overwhelmingly,
North and South, in an all-Ireland referendum in 1998.
They call the £1
bn ransom demand a peace
dividend, based on being able to reduce the British military presence if
the paramilitaries scale back their activities. There is no sense that such a dividend should go back to
the English taxpayers in return for their forbearance over so many
decades. English taxpayers should rise up and say enough is
enough. But then, since only the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish
have their own parliamentary assemblies, they have no democratic forum for
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Check Out That C-4
Quite a while back, I described
some of the then latest developments in airport scanning technology - the mind-reader,
the blush-detector and the
naked body revealer.
Lurking in the 15th November edition of the
Week, I've finally found a bit more information about the last of these
devices, which seems to be pretty effective.
Costing $120,000, it's called the Rapiscan
Secure 1000 backscatter X-ray imager and it scans the body uses low-level radiation, ie
less than 10 microRem per scan compared to typical background radiation of
300 microRem per day in, say, Miami. The device detects non-metallic weapons
and plastic explosives hidden on a person's body, including ceramics,
graphite fibres, plastic containers, plastic weapons, glass vials,
syringes, packaged narcotics, dynamite, bundled paper currency, and even
Apparently, a hundred of the machines are already in operation
in prisons and airports around the world, including Heathrow Airport where a trial
is currently ongoing.
The main privacy safeguards are
that the person who
looks at the image is different from the person who examines the scanee in
that men don't look at women and vice versa, and
are instantly deleted.
But if you believe all that, you belong with
the fairies, especially when Pamela Anderson checks in for her
Nevertheless, I think there's no doubt that this is
the scanning technology of the future, so we better get used to the
By the way, that's some C-4 he's proudly
got on display ....
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Agony Aunt Mailbag
My husband is a liar and a cheat. He has cheated on me from the beginning, and when I confront him, he denies everything. What's worse, everyone knows he cheats on me. It is so humiliating. Also, since he lost his job
four years ago he hasn't even looked for a new one. All he does is buy cigars and cruise around and bullshit with his
pals and play golf, while I have to work to pay the bills. Since our daughter went away to college he doesn't even pretend to like me and hints that I am a lesbian. What should I do?
Grow up and dump him; you don't need him any more. For Pete's
sake, you're a United States Senator from New York! Act like one!
Thanks for this,
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of the Week
: I refuse to die without a chance to live
Kerryman Billy Burke, 27, a victim of cystic
fibrosis, when launching a campaign in April to secure a lung transplant
denied him due to bureaucratic rules. Despite the energy, articulacy
and popularity of his efforts, sadly he was unsuccessful and died of the
condition last week.
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Now, for a little [Light Relief]
Cuddly Teddy Bears
looking for a home
Click for details
Neda Agha Soltan;
shot dead in Teheran
by Basij militia
Good to report that as at
14th September 2009
he is at least
FREED AT LAST,
ON 18th OCTOBER 2011,
GAUNT BUT OTHERWISE REASONABLY HEALTHY
Atlantic Blog (defunct)
Broom of Anger
Cox and Forkum
Carey / GUBU
Thinking Man's Guide
Victor Davis Hanson
Tales from Warri
Graham's Sporting Wk
My Columns in the
What I've recently
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told
through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a
household lemon tree as their unifying theme.
But it's not
entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs
to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
This examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in
the Gulf of Mexico.
BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it through adventurous
acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless
cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in
refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in
The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that
had become poisonous and incompetent.
However the book is gravely compromised by a
litany of over 40 technical and stupid
errors that display the author's ignorance and
It would be better
to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying.
As for BP, only a
wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will
prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once
mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.
Note: I wrote
my own reports on Macondo
A horrific account
how the death
penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,
the corruption of
Singapore's legal system, and
enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship
More details on my
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
Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in
1941, he is, successively,
part of a death march to Thailand,
a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma
railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),
regularly beaten and tortured,
racked by starvation, gaping ulcers
and disease including cholera,
a slave labourer stevedoring at
shipped to Japan in a stinking,
closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,
torpedoed by the Americans and left
drifting alone for five days before being picked up,
a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until
blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic
distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the
British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life. Only in his late 80s
is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this
There are very few
first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese
brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical
“Culture of Corruption:
Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies”
This is a rattling good tale of the web
of corruption within which the American president and his cronies
operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both
a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and
sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.
With 75 page of notes to back up - in
best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing
allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with
the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife.
Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett,
Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris
Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book.
ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community
organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine
This much trumpeted sequel to
Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment.
It is really just
a collation of amusing
little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour
and situations. For example:
Drunk walking kills more people per
kilometer than drunk driving.
People aren't really altruistic -
they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.
Child seats are a waste of money as
they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.
Though doctors have known for
centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection,
they still often fail to do so.
Monkeys can be taught to use washers
as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.
The book has no real
message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and
try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.
And with a final
anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in
its tracks. Weird.
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie
to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics.
It's chapters are
organised around provocative questions such as
Why does asparagus come from Peru?
Why are pandas so useless?
Why are oil and diamonds more trouble
than they are worth?
Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?
It's central thesis
is that economic development continues to be impeded in different
countries for different historical reasons, even when the original
rationale for those impediments no longer obtains. For instance:
Argentina protects its now largely
foreign landowners (eg George Soros)
Russia its military-owned
businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs
The US its cotton industry
comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce
The author writes
in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to
However it would
benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative
points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide
natural break-points for the reader.
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles
of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.
The author was
a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to
harass Japanese lines of
command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide
intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of
is admirably yet brutally frank, in his
descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a
prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing
in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness.
He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of
Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved
authority of the British.
The book amounts to
a very human and exhilarating tale.
Oh, and Irwin
describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF
Click for an account of this momentous,
of March 2009
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the Rugby World Cup
scores, points and rankings.
crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are,
England get the Silver,
Argentina the Bronze. Fourth is host nation France.
No-one can argue with
the justice of the outcomes
Over the competition,
points per game = 52,
tries per game = 6.2,
minutes per try =
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the final World Cup
scores, points, rankings and goal-statistics