Tony
Blog
Click to access RSS
Archive

Q4/14

Q3/13

Q2/13

Q1/13

Q4/12

Q3/12

Q2/12

Q1/12

1/12

12/11

11/11

10/11

9/11

8/11

7/11

6/11

5/11

4/11

3/11

2/11

1/11

12/10

11/10

10/10

9/10

8/10

7/10

6/10

5/10

4/10

3/10

2/10

1/10

12/09

11/09

10/09

9/09

8/09

7/09

6/09

5/09

4/09

3/09

2/09

1/09

12/08

11/08

10/08

9/08

8/08

7/08

6/08

5/08

4/08

3/08

2/08

1/08

12/07

11/07

10/07

9/07

8/07

7/07

6/07

5/07

4/07

3/07

2/07

1/07

12/06

11/06

10/06

9/06

8/06

7/06

6/06

5/06

4/06

3/06

2/06

1/06

12/05

11/05

10/05

9/05

8/05

7/05

6/05

5/05

4/05

3/05

2/05

1/05

12/04

11/04

10/04

9/04

8/04

7/04

6/04

5/04

4/04

3/04

2/04

1/04

12/03

11/03

10/03

9/03

8/03

7/03

6/03

5/03

4/03

3/03

2/03

1/03

12/02

11/02

10/02

9/02

8/02

7/02

Indexes
>Time
>Alphabet

Letters
Blog
To find an archived article, simply click on Index and scroll the subject titles, or do a Ctrl-F search

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
(Clumsy form of my address to thwart spamming software that scans for e-mail addresses)

For some reason, this site displays better in Internet Explorer than in Mozilla Firefox
November 2006

 


 Time in Ireland 

  

ISSUE #141 - 26th November 2006 [600+2300=2900]

Nigerian Oil Industry in Costly Disarray

The oil industry in Nigeria is in disarray.  In terms of its enormous proven reserves (36 billion barrels) it lies in 10th place in the world.  With a production capability of 2½ million barrels a day (more or less steadfastly since I first worked there way back in the 1970s), it should be the world's 12th biggest producer.  But, due to the dreadful security situation, it's only able to produce around 75% of this, which at around $60/b represents a daily shortfall in revenue of some $35m. 

Wells and fields are being voluntarily shut in by the producing companies either because they have been attacked by militants and criminals or attacks are threatened.  Big companies like Shell and Chevron, the bulk of whose production takes place onshore or in the swamps, are especially vulnerable to direct assault compared to, say, Exxon-Mobil most of whose production is offshore.  The companies refuse to restore production until they are reasonably confident there will not be a problem. 

In most jurisdictions, if your property is attacked by outlaw elements, you call the police.  Not in Nigeria.  Because calling the police almost certainly leads to lethal force, often augmented by army units, and that lethal force may not stop at the installation that's been attacked.  There have been instances of the state forces then moving on to attack the village where the outlaws live, killing men, women and children and then burning it to the ground.  In the court of international public opinion, it is the capitalistic greedy imperialistic rich multinational oil company that gets blamed for ordering the massacre to protect its profits, not the out-of-control police and army . 

So the oil companies won't ask for help; they take it on the chin (and the balance sheet). 

The security issue is pervasive in the oilfields.  Whilst, as noted, fields located onshore and in the swamps are especially vulnerable because they are easily accessible, the hugely more expensive offshore operations are not immune.  For if the fields themselves are not being attacked, the workers are, which almost amounts to the same thing. 

And it all adds up to a huge cost premium that the oil industry has to bear, in addition to losing that 25% of its production potential. 

Less skilled black workers from the locality are attacked without compunction, and if necessary murdered, simply because they have jobs and therefore (a pittance of) money for the taking.  The hours of darkness are the most dangerous.  Therefore, they understandably don't want to set out for work before daybreak and want to be safely home by nightfall.  This places a major constraint on the hours available for work and thus imposes a big premium for getting the work done. 

For the skilled (often white) workers, the risk is kidnap.  They are being kidnapped almost daily (though only a few make the international headlines).  The reason is simple: ransom.  And despite official denials by employers, negotiations with the kidnappers nearly always take place, money changes hands and the captives are freed unharmed.  They are in fact treated quite well by their abductors, not only because they are worth nothing dead, but because there's nothing personal about the kidnaps - it's pure business.  And lucrative business.  The going rate for an expatriate worker is $500,000.  That's US dollars, not Nigeria Naira (NN130=$1).  This risk in turn fosters a huge and expensive private security infrastructure to protect each expatriate worker, while each worker in turn demands ever higher remuneration to stay in the country. 

Nigeria's oilfields are located in the Niger Delta, with roughly half on either side of the river (map).  Thus Warri and Port Harcourt have grown up as the country's major oil towns, where workers live, and from where supplies are warehoused to be dispatched to the oilfields, whether overland by truck, or by watercraft through the swamps, or by supply boat to offshore locations.  However, in recent years, Warri has become so dangerous that it can scarcely fulfill its role any longer.  Port Harcourt (PH), in the centre of what the 1960s secessionists used to call Biafra, is becoming the sole oil service centre, taking over much of Warri's business. 

But even PH is struggling.  It's main seaport is no longer safe from attack, so offshore supplies are now arranged though Onne, 30 km south east of PH.  Onne was set up a few years ago as an international Free Zone for the industry both within Nigeria itself and along the West African coast. 

 South-Eastern Nigeria, showing Port Harcourt and Onne

But while the Onne facility itself is well protected from intruders, it is not without problems because the waters beyond are crawling with pirates in fast boats. 

There is a green buoy some ten kilometres offshore.  To avoid the pirates, ships wishing to enter Onne must arrive there at 8 am precisely, to be piloted, in full daylight, up the Bonny River (part of the Niger Delta) and into Onne port, tying up at maybe 10 am.  If they're not ready to sail again by 4 pm, ie well within daylight hours, they're stuck in Onne for the night.  Coming or going, they must ensure that in the darkness of night, they are far out to sea, beyond easy reach of the pirates.  Meanwhile, with only six working hours available to offload and reload, and the stevedores anxious to get home well before dark, it is impossible to run a normal, efficient logistics operation.  Once again, this translates into higher costs for the industry. 

Then there's Port Harcourt's international airport.  For some months, it has been shut down after a fire and due to potholes in the main runway, which remain unrepaired.  The rumour is going round that the President's son plans to start an airline in January and would like to use PH airport as its exclusive base.  Therefore, current users are being obliged to get used to making other arrangements, so as to pave the way for the new airline.  The story may be apocryphal, but people are certainly having to learn to do without PH airport - though again, at a cost. 

For oilfield operations, Owerri has stepped forward because it has a big runway at its Imo Airport.  Owerri was Nigeria's major oil town in the 1960s, but was gradually overshadowed as the more conveniently situated PH grew, 120 km to the south.  Thus to bring oil workers to offshore or other distant locations, they must today pick up a helicopter in Owerri, fly the 30 minutes or so to Port Harcourt, refuel and then fly offshore, and the same for the reverse journey.  Those extra helicopter journeys add significantly to the cost of moving people. 

Then there is the perennial corruption problem, where people have their hand out at almost every step of the supply chain.  Sometimes it is blatant bribes, sometimes kick-backs or commissions, sometimes the use of agents to arrange things, sometimes the hiring of unnecessary extra staff.  Whatever form it manifests itself in, corruption amounts to a hefty additional tax on doing business. 

Of course it's not just Nigeria.  The Africa Union estimates that Africa as a whole loses $148 billion a year, or a quarter of its entire GDP, to corruption; which is why in 2003 it drew up aConvention on Preventing and Combating Corruption”.  Nevertheless, though similar countries such as Uganda and Tanzania ratified the Convention some two years ago, Nigeria has to date failed to do so.   

So what does this all add up to, what's the net result?  Here's a typical example. 

An offshore drilling rigIn today's international market place, a standard jack-up offshore rig, able to work in, say, a hundred metres of water depth, will command in the order of $100,000 per day.  To this you need to add about the same again to cover the cost of boats, helicopters, numerous specialist services and supervision, to give a so-called spread cost of $200,000/day. 

But in Nigeria, you must also cope with the unparalleled security issues, concomitant wage inflation, inefficient logistics forced by external factors, and of course endemic corruption. 

So add 75%.  You need to budget $375,000/day for that jack-up rig. 

Nigeria is a hard and hazard place to do business.  Only the most dedicated and robust need apply.  Yet, at $60/bbl big money is nevertheless being made. 

The curse of Nigerian oil, however, is the manner in which the proceeds are distributed.  The companies pay heavy taxes and royalties (Government Take) on what they produce, leaving them a margin of just a dollar, regardless of how the oil price climbs, as this chart based on Shell data shows.

 

These taxes and royalties go to the Federal Government which is responsible for spending and redistributing them.  Since the birth of the Nigerian independence in 1960, very little has been spent or redistributed  in the direction of the oil producing areas.  As I described in a previous post, the bulk goes to benefit the (Muslim) north who provide most of the leadership and into the pockets of Nigeria's so-called big men

For decades, the local people in the oil-producing provinces thought that penury was their natural, feudal lot.  But no longer.  They now ask, perfectly reasonably,

Why, if there is so much oil under our own feet, aren't we seeing the benefit?  Why are we still poverty-stricken, with no jobs, no schools for our children, no medical services, no electricity, water, sewage or mail services to our villages? 

Most dare not rage at the government which is of course the party that is guilty of withholding their patrimony, because they will be simply gunned down.  Therefore, they rage at the oil companies because, though they scrupulously obey the law to the letter, they are a soft touch and won't shoot, even though those companies, notwithstanding occasional slip-ups, have always done their utmost to be benign neighbours and employers of local people. 

70% of the population lives on less than $1/day, and if you travel around the Nigerian oilfields in the Niger Delta, you have to conclude that's where the 70% are. 

Until the Federal government introduces equity (as if!) to the distribution of oil proceeds, ie directs a lot more than the current nominal 2% to the oil-producing regions, the Nigerian oil industry will remain in disarray, or get worse. 

I am very grateful to my first-hand sources for much of this post;
they wish to remain anonymous.

____________________________

Late Note (May 2007):
In 2007, Imo Airport in Owerri became virtually unusable
because of attacks on the road between it and Port Harcourt. 
Port Harcourt International Airport meanwhile remains closed,
so the favoured airport for the oil industry has become
the NAF (Nigerian Air Force) base in Port Harcourt. 

Back to List of Contents

Defending Your Home, With Force

In 1999 in England, Tony Martin a Norfolk farmer who lived alone, shot dead a teenager (with several previous convictions) who, with another man, broke into his home at night to burgle it.  Mr Martin had been burgled many times before, so was lying in wait and fired his gun at the intruders as they were trying to escape.  The teenager died; the other man escaped with a bullet in the groin.  When Mr Martin was sentenced to life for murder, public opinion was outraged.  On appeal, his sentence was reduced to five years for manslaughter and he was freed on licence after serving nearly 3½. 

In 2004, Padraig Nally, a Co Mayo farmer who was living alone, shot dead an intruder (with a dozen prior convictions for burglary etc) who seemed to be looking for stuff to steal.  Mr Nally shot the man once, then beat him with a stick, and as he tried to escape he reloaded and shot him again.  Mr Nally, too, was convicted of manslaughter, is currently serving a six year sentence, and public opinion is outraged. 

As the law in Ireland and Britain currently stands, if your home is invaded, you are supposed in the first instance to avail of any opportunity to retreat and only as a last resort may you use reasonable force” (an undefined term) to protect your family and home.  Also, you can't own a gun without a licence, which you'll be granted only for hunting and certainly not self-protection. 

Oh, and if you do injure the intruder, he may well be able to secure state funding to sue you for damages.  This is what the surviving intruder to Mr Martin's farm did, since, as mentioned, he had been wounded in the groin.  He was a career criminal serving time for drug-dealing when a judge gave him permission to sue, with potential damages of £15,000.  He dropped the case only when Mr Martin claimed counter-damages

This is all madness. 

  • Criminal intruders have more rights than householders. 

  • You must run and hide from them. 

  • You must do everything to avoid harming them. 

  • They can sue you for hurting them. 

  • They can get their hands on guns but law-abiding citizens cannot.

Americans utterly fail to see the logic of this.  They have a quite straightforward philosophy.  If someone enters your property uninvited, he leaves his human rights at the gate.  You are at liberty to take whatever action you deem appropriate.  Thump him with a baseball bat if you wish, or a five-iron.  Set a booby-trap.  If you have a gun (which most do) you can shoot him.  No law-enforcement officer or court is going to take the intruder's side in such an encounter. 

The result?  A far lower rate of household burglaries in the US than in UK and Ireland, for the simple reason that would-be intruders fear the hostile reception that may be waiting for them. 

 

English burglary rate is double America's

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 English burglary rate is double America's

 

US Department of Justice:
Crime and Justice in the United States and in England and Wales, 1981-96

I remember watching a TV investigative documentary not long ago, featuring the ghastly Janet Street-Porter.  She was trying to track down some dodgy characters, first in England then in America. 

  • In England, she would march boldly up to a front door with her film crew, knock loudly and confront the householder with aggressive questions about his supposed wrong-doings. 

  • But not in America.  There, she stayed well outside the wide open gates to the property, where she spoke to camera and tried to politely telephone her prey.  There was no way she was going to enter his property without permission.  In another clip, she didn't even dare enter the lobby of her quarry's apartment block.   Wise woman. 

The American way is the way it should be.  No unwanted intruder should expect to enter your house and expect to leave again other than in an ambulance. 

It is encouraging therefore, that at long last Ireland's rottweiler Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has promised to rebalance the law to allow householders to repel intruders.  He hedged around this a bit, adding things like “... this would not amount to a 007 licence to kill’”, whilst other have commented along the lines that “there should be a minimum level of threat before the use of force becomes acceptable ... violence should be imminent and life-threatening to justify a lethal response.

However, it seems pretty clear that that is precisely what the new law is intended to permit, ie robust force if the householder thinks the threat so warrants, and rightly so.  Talk of reasonableness and proportionality is ridiculous.  If once you decide to use force, it should be unreasonable, disproportionate and overwhelming, so as to make absolutely sure that you win and the intruder loses, not the other way round.  You are not looking for a fairresult but a decisive victory. 

The only remaining piece of the legal jigsaw is a right for householders to keep a gun for self-protection.  But perhaps, here in Europe, that's asking too much for now (which is not to say householders shouldn't buy a gun anyway). 

I look forward to the enactment of Mr McDowell's new law in the near future, as well as something similar in the UK.  It is bound to result in a fall in residential burglaries to approach American levels (currently around 30 per thousand households, down from the 50 in the 1996 in the chart above). 

If people want to force themselves into your home, you have a moral right - indeed a duty - whatever the law says, to protect your family, yourself and your property, using force to the extent you deem appropriate. 

Back to List of Contents

Chef Richard Corrigan Witters

Irishman Richard Corrigan is an excellent and successful chef but a dreadful poser.  Last June, he shot to fame for winning a TV Competition to cook the starter in a four-course dinner for 300 hosted by the Queen to celebrate her 80th birthday.  (Smoked salmon with Irish soda bread, woodland sorrel and wild cress, if you want to know). 

Since then, he seems never to have been off our TV screens and newspapers pontificating about this and that, and also wandering far from the culinary field in his punditry.  Only last week, we was on the panel of Ireland's Questions and Answers programme (its equivalent of the BBC's better-known Question Time), where only one of the questions concerned food: Does Richard Corrigan think he is promoting Irish food and tourism when he criticises Irish food products?

Behind this question are various erudite remarks he has recently uttered.  For example,  Irish

  • rashers are pure badness”,

  • sausages are crap,

  • pasta sauce is industrial gloop

  • chicken is shit, it isfull of antibiotics [and] poorly exercised”. 

Why would you put shit in your mouth?” he asked on TV earlier this year, in typical vein(/vain). 

These are the emotional witterings of an ignoramus.  Why? Because he never attaches any factual or quantitative information to them.  What do these kind of remarks actually mean?  How, quantitatively, do such Irish products compare with those produced elsewhere?  How - if at all - does this affect the nutritional value of the food?  Does he mean it will poison you? And what about the taste, how many people prefer Irish food to competitor food? 

Take just the last question.  I have never met anyone, Irish or not, who didn't totally rave about the flavour of Ireland's crap” sausages, unparalleled by any other country.  Riots break out when anyone produces a big dish of Irish cocktail sausages.  Try it.  Maybe they have too much salt, fat and bread and the only pork meat is hooves, scrotums and eyeballs; perhaps they're not very nutritional and they contribute to your cholesterol problem.  But by God, they're delicious!  Any poll would corroborate this, but Mr Corrigan doesn't want to know this lest it challenge his prejudice. 

As a skilled, experienced chef, he relentlessly tells us he is an expert on flavour, but frankly this is a diversion.  The only experts on food flavour are in fact the consumers, and it is consumers (Irish and many others) who are freely choosing, in vast numbers, to patronise Irish rashers, sausages, pasta sauce and chicken.    They do it because they like what they buy, they accept the price and they trust the regulatory authorities to ensure the food is safe to eat. 

Mr Corrigan should spend more time in the kitchen where his undoubted expertise lies, and less swanking about looking for TV cameras for his unsubstantiated nonsense. 

Back to List of Contents

Week 141's Letters to the Press

Two letters this week; neither made it into print.  The Sunday Times wrote to me to say the one about atheist Richard Dawkins, based on last week's post would be published, but in the end it wasn't.  I thought the anti-Catholic sentiment expressed in the Saddam Hussein letter would endear it to the Irish Times, but no; I think I am blacklisted there again. 

  • Richard Dawkins Confronted
    So, professional atheist Professor Richard Dawkins wants to flood schools with atheism propaganda.  He perpetually gets away with his special kind of agitprop because he is charming, mellifluous and articulate, and fits in well with the modern, post-Christian leftishness much beloved of the bien-pensants. Meanwhile, his interlocutors ...

  •  Death Penalty on Saddam Hussein
    Anthony Redmond quotes the Vatican in support of his contention that Saddam Hussein should be spared the death penalty. The Vatican, in its inexplicable endeavours to keep the tyrant Saddam in power, has no credibility in this matter and should be ignored. Who can forget the photo of the late Pope disgracefully shaking the bloodied hand of Tariq Aziz, Saddam's deputy, just before the invasion? Even today, Cardinal Renato Martino seems to continue to regret Saddam's removal ... 

Back to List of Contents

Quotes & Photo of Week 141

Quote: "Today is the beginning of a new history. The doors of peace have been opened and Nepal has entered a new era ... Nepal has set an example in ending the bloody conflict though dialogue.

Girija Prasad Koirala, prime minister of Nepal,
following the signing of a historic peace agreement,
which brings an end to ten years of bloody conflict
 between constitutionalists and Maoist guerrillas
which cost 15,000 lives
 and which emasculates the monarchy.

I believe, and my party believes that today, in a sense, marks the breaking of a 238-year old cycle. But specifically speaking, today represents the breaking of the cycle of the decade long armed struggle that the nation has been mired in over the last decade.

Maoist Chairman Prachanda replies.

Democratic elections will be held next June.

Quote: You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed. You have shown yourself to have no respect for life or liberty. The world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. May God forgive you for what you have done.”

The last words of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent,
who defected to Britain (which granted him citizenship),
who was a heavy critic of
Russia's president Vladimir Putin,
and who was investigating the recent murder of Russian journalist
Anna Politkovskaya, another fierce critic of
Mr Putin. 

Mr Ltvinenko dictated them just before he died
after having been poisoned by the radioactive isotope Polonium-210,
which he blamed on Mr Putin.

The Kremlin denies any responsibility.
(Well it would, wouldn't it?)

Quote: My intention was to assassinate Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

Multiple murderer Michael Stone
explains why he stormed
Northern Ireland's Stormont parliament building,
firing a pistol and throwing grenades,
before being subdued.
No-one was hurt.

Sentenced in 1989 to 684 (!) years for the murders of six Catholics,
he was released under license in 2000
under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement,
to a hero's welcome. 

Having now re-offended,
he has been re-incarcerated to serve the rest of his punishment,
plus whatever extra he gets for the Stormont attack. 

He will leave prison in a coffin.

Photo of the Week

The cast of Mikado take a final curtain call at the Asia-Pacific Summit

The cast of The Mikado take a final curtain call
at the Asia-Pacific Summit in Hanoi on 20th November. 
Karen von Hahn has the lowdown
How many world leaders can you identify?

Back to List of Contents   

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

Back to Top of Page

ISSUE #140 - 19th November 2006 [758]

Measure Yourself Before Drink-Driving            As a Podcast

Ireland kills almost 400 people on its roads each year.  Though detailed statistical data and analysis are sparse to non-existent, the largest group of victims is men under 30, and alcohol is a feature in well over half of accidents.  Naturally, young men under the influence of drink is a major demographic among the mortalities. 

There are legal limits to the amount of allowable alcohol in your system when driving, and they are notable both in people's ignorance of them and in the lack of enforcement.  In Ireland, the limits are

  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, and
  • 107 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine, and 
  • 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. 

These are similar to the limits in the UK and Australia, and some 60% higher than those in most of mainland Europe. 

The lack of knowledge about drink-driving and the law is astonishing, as is the nation's  singular aversion to do anything serious about the drink-driving problem. 

The methodology of enforcement is simple.  The police ask drivers to blow into an electronic breathalyzer that measures alcohol content, and a heavy penalty follows if the reading is over the limit.  Where to do this?  Why at accident blackspots (mainly narrow, winding rural roads, much favoured by young men in fast cars) and outside pubs and clubs at closing time. 

But in Ireland, despite fanfare about the recent introduction of random breath-testing, this has been concentrated

  • on broad urban thoroughfares where few fatalities occur,

  • and also - bizarrely - on mornings-after-the-night-before. 

The unspoken reason for avoiding the pubs is that police cars parked outside at 11 pm would undoubtedly drive away a great deal of trade, whereas very many Irish legislators are themselves owners or investors in lucrative pubs. 

Nevertheless, everyone pays pious lip-service to the zero-tolerance mantra, don't drink and drive

Thus it was that when Tipperary councillor Michael Fitzgerald (50), who has a previous drink-driving conviction, recently said he sees nothing wrong with motorists (including himself) having three or four pints before getting behind the wheel, his enraged party-leader immediately decided to withdraw the whip (ie suspend him).  Mr Fitzgerald wanted to make the point that for many rural people for whom public transport is non-existent, driving to the pub for a few pints is their sole social outlet, without which they would be prisoners in their homes.  The air-waves filled with indignation at the councillor's effrontery: he should obey the law, any drink was wrong, he's setting a dreadful example to the young.  A front-bench spokesman declared that a zero alcohol limit would now be his party's policy. 

All based on ignorance of the law and how the body deals with alcohol, which is different for every individual.  In similar vein, a zero limit is ridiculous because a zero measurement is only as good as the sensitivity of the  machine. 

Your blood-alcohol level at any given moment is a function of five factors. 

  • How much alcohol you have drunk,

  • over what period,

  • your body-mass,

  • whether/what you eat whilst drinking,

  • your personal metabolism.

Clearly, a bottle of whiskey will put me over the limit - or will it?  If I down it in an hour, it certainly will.  But if I take a thimbleful with my cornflakes every morning till the bottle's empty, it won't.  If chunky giant Arnold Schwarzenegger scoffs a can of lager, he's going to have a lower reading than the elfin Wynona Ryder would.  

The truth is that, without actually measuring it, there is no way you can know or calculate your blood-alcohol level.  This puts you in the curious position that you can only find out when a policeman stops you, tells you and prosecutes you.  It's like driving a car without a speedometer and only knowing you've broken the speed limit when the cops pull you over. 

Thus few people are aware that a drink-drive limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is in fact quite generous.  Wall-mounted, coin-operated.  Should be installed in every club, pub and restaurant

A decade ago, I was living in Perth (Australia), where nearly every pub and restaurant had its own breathalyzer on the wall on the way out.  You inserted a dollar and out popped a straw, which you would use to blow into the machine and get a digital reading.  From this, you knew whether you could drive home, or needed to wait an hour or two or should get a taxi. 

I found - to my surprise - that I could have two pints of beer and share a bottle of wine with my wife over dinner, and still be well within the limit. 

In Ireland, the UK or continental Europe I have never seen a breathalyzer in a pub, and I think it is partly because it might suggest drink-driving is OK.    Also, the police sometimes disapprove of a pub installation; maybe they find it unsporting. 

Top of the range, €120 available in IrelandNevertheless, there is no reason for ordinary people to persist in ignorance.  There are now plenty of hand-held personal breathalyzers on the market.  This is one of the most accurate and at an Irish price of €120 is one of the most expensive (these illustrations are hyperlinked to the suppliers).  However it is rather big and clunky, so not convenient to carry round with you in pocket or handbag. 

And, because of human psychology, it is essential to keep it on your person rather than leaving it in the car. 

Imagine a cold, wet February night (OK, August night if you're Australian).  You've had a great time out on the town with your friends and now it's time to go home.  You and your date get your coats, wrap up well and rush into the night to get into the car parked a hundred metres down the road.  You then test yourselves.  You're both over the limit.  What are you going to do?  Are you really going to race back in the rain to the pub (which is preparing to close and all your pals have now left) to wait an hour before taking another reading?  Or are you going to phone for a taxi on a busy Saturday night and sit shivering in your car hoping it will eventually show up?  Or are you going to say, dammit, I'll just drive slowly and carefully, keeping an eye out for the fuzz? 

Alternatively, when the breathalyzer sits quietly in your pocket, you can take unobtrusive readings as the evening progresses, and decide in good time whether to switch to Pepsi or to keep boozingPerfectly adequate; pocket size; €40 (delivered to Ireland) and book a taxi.  You'll have no dilemma and your evening won't be spoiled.  For this, the instrument must be small. 

This is the little device I have carried in my pocket on nights out for the past five or six years.  It sits snugly in the palm of my hand or my top pocket, and at only €40 is pretty much bottom of the range, yet perfectly adequate.  Extreme precision is not required since I want to ensure I am well below the limit, not a bare 5% below.  But I just must ensure I haven't drunk anything for the previous 30 minutes as otherwise I'm not measuring the alcohol in my system but in my mouth. 

Of course, it is true that one sip of alcohol impairs your driving ability and to that extent you shouldn't get into your car at all.  But the law does allow a measure of latitude and imposes a limit based on accident statistics (gained in other jurisdictions).  So if you do decide to drink-drive, measuring yourself is the only way you can ensure you remain within the law. 

One other thing, people who measure themselves are already taking conscious steps to behave in a responsible manner.  They should be encouraged. 

And that Tipperary councillor should buy his own breathalyzer.  I don't know whether his drinking sessions are long or short, but he might find that his three or four pints leaves him comfortably within the drink-drive limit. 

Back to List of Contents

911 In Plane Site            As a Podcast

I was recently lent an interesting DVD, 911 In Plane Site.  It is an hour-long documentary made for TV and shown in America not long before the 2004 presidential election (I wonder why). 

Its central thesis is that all four attacks by civilian aircraft on September 11th 2001 were frauds perpetrated by the US Government. 

Before you scoff, let me outline the documentary's case. 

  • American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757-200, slammed into the Pentagon.  

    • No-one actually saw or filmed the aircraft,

    • no baggage, bodies or engine parts were recovered,

    • the hole it made in the Pentagon was a lot smaller than the dimensions of the plane. 

Therefore it wasn't flight 77 at all, it was something else (I wrote in more detail about this last April, which generated some comment). 

Actually this video clip of an F4 Phantom shows that when a jet plane hits a concrete wall it utterly disintegrates, as Flight 77 must have done. 

  • American Airlines Flight 11 was flown into the north tower of the World Trade Center and United Airlines Flight 175 into the south tower.  However, analysis of the video footage shows that there seemed to be,

    • based on a few shadows (shadows!), a long cylindrical pod fitted beneath Flight 175,

    • according to just one or two distant eye-witnesses, no markings or windows on the aircraft,

    • according to slow-motion close-ups, a flash emanating from the nose of each plane just before its impact. 

Therefore the aircraft apparently weren't flights 11 and 175 at all, they were something different.  We are led to conclude they were military aircraft specially kitted out to cause maximum havoc on hitting buildings. 

Moreover, explosives were said to have been pre-installed in the WTC which ensured the buildings came down in a controlled vertical fashion, at the command of Larry Silverstein who owned them, thereby earning himself a net $500m from the insurance (those Jews!). 

  • As for United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field near Shanksville Pennsylvania, after Tod Beamer and fellow passengers heroically attacked the hijackers and aborted their intended attack on the White House, the black boxes were never recovered.  Therefore there was something fishy about this flight too.  

Assuming the video footage is not faked (which some claim it is), Dave Vonkleist, the presenter, is to be commended for presenting pieces of evidence that raise a number of serious questions with no glib answers. 

However, far from seeking rational explanations, he immediately goes off the tracks in making a giant leap to conspiracy.  That is his only attempt to explain the anomalies.  The US airforce must have sent its own planes to crash into key buildings.  In collusion with Mr Silverstein (clearly part of the Jewish cabal trying to control the world), US secret services set demolition explosives in the WTC to help things along. 

They removed evidence and suppressed video of all the crashes to hide the truth.  And, by implication, the CIA, FBI, USAF or whatever are so internally disciplined that not a word of the plot has leaked out to this day, despite the dozens if not hundreds of operatives that must have been involved to ensure such a complex, wide-ranging operation ran so smoothly and to plan.  Makes you wonder how they ever allowed those Abu Ghraib photos to slip past their iron security. 

Substituting three flights with other aircraft is one thing.  But Mr Vonkleist spares not a word about the original flights 11, 175 and 77, with all passengers and crews lost.  Their fate clearly does not interest him; they just disappeared.  Perhaps they were flown to a secret airbase, where the CIA gassed everyone on board and quietly incinerated the bodies, baggage and planes.  And, once again, not a hint of this has leaked out.  You've got to admire the CIA's impregnable omertà.  Pity they couldn't extend that to their infamous rendition flights. 

Then there is Lucius Cassius Longinus's famous question, cui bono?, who benefits?  Well I suppose it is those born-again, amoral, ruthless, neocon, Zionist, bloodthirsty warmongers Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, who needed an excuse because God told them to ignite a new killing crusade against Muslims.  And what better way to do God's will than by murdering some 3,000 of your own innocent, God-fearing citizens within a few months of taking office having been elected by those citizens. 

There are two types of court of law where prosecutors and defenders make their case to juries. 

  • In a criminal court, the prosecutor must prove his case beyond reasonable doubt”.  Defense counsel merely has to pick holes in the arguments to get his client off.  I think I've shown that's easy to do in the 911 In Plane Site” documentary. 

  • In a civil court, the prosecutor's job is easier because he only has to prove his case on the balance of probabilities”.  But there again, the conspiracy theory doesn't stand up.  Notwithstanding certain pieces of evidence which are hard to explain, what is more probable?  

    • That the US government under a newly-elected president planned and mounted a massive, complex, military operation of quite unprecedented depravity, savagery, immorality and treason against itself and its people?

    • Or that the attacks were perpetrated by Islamicist terrorists who had trained for the mission, were seen boarding on CCTV, whose names were on the manifest and whose actions were confirmed contemporaneously in numerous telephone calls by passengers to loved ones? 

Yes, the documentary raises interesting, and in some cases troubling, questions.  But if you want to be convinced there was not a conspiracy, watch it and follow the so-called logical trail it tries to lead you along by the nose. 

Back to List of Contents

DawQuinn: Atheism Nil, God 1            As a Podcast - Part 1 of 2

I mention on the right-hand panel that I have started reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, a distinguished biology professor, who has carved out an additional career for himself as an articulate professional atheist.  As a practicing Catholic, I reckon it's healthy to have my beliefs challenged. 

The professor is a wonderful man to listen to in terms of his mellifluous voice, flowing English, carefully explained arguments.  However, because he subscribes to the modern post-Christian values of leftish atheism that nearly all the bien-pensants in the media so love, not to mention many/most political leaders in Europe, for whom the practice of (the Christian) religion is, frankly, an embarrassment, he is never seriously confronted.  Perhaps like that charlatan Noam Chomsky, he ensures that he always has an easy ride; I don't know. 

The closest I have seen to challenge is this ten-minute interview by Jeremy Paxman, the BBC's noted rottweiler who is usually sneeringly merciless in eviscerating politicians who want to dodge difficult issues.  Yet he is decidedly soft on Mr Dawkins.  (It is rather typical, in the discussion of how excessive religious zeal can be lethal for humankind, Bush and fundamentalist US Christians are trotted out as the examples, with not a word about Kohmeini, Osama, Ahmedinejad, Hamas, Hezbollah, Wahhabism, etc, for whom - unlike Christianity or Judaism or Sikhism or Hinduism - wielding the sword in the name of God is the central, driving philosophy.)  

As a Podcast - Part 2 of 2

However In October, Prof Dawkins came to Ireland on the standard book-promotion tour, which naturally include a number of radio interviews. 

But wow!  Did he find himself ambushed! 

RTÉ, the state broadcaster, invited him on to a morning radio show hosted by Ryan Turbridy to discuss his book with David Quinn.  Mr Quinn is a (Catholic) writer on religious and social affairs, reasonably well known within Ireland but almost unknown elsewhere.  He writes incisively, but prefers to use common sense rather than dogma to put across his largely orthodox views. 

Well, Mr Quinn had clearly read The God Delusion and researched the professor in careful detail, and discovered a multitude of flaws. 

Richard Dawkins didn't know what hit him.  With his smooth talking and charismatic presence, he is accustomed only to respect and adulation from the elevated circles he mixes with, as he experienced with Jeremy Paxman, who in fact appeared slightly intimidated.  If people do oppose Mr Dawkins, it is usually in the careful, friendly, modulated tones of people like the Archbishop of Canterbury, or other religious people who are innately polite and deferential. 

Mr Quinn's approach was totally different.  His arguments were well-focused and articulate, whilst his demeanour lacked any deference to the great man and was in fact thoroughly aggressive.  There was nothing the professor could say that was not immediately repudiated.  He was aghast. 

His total defeat was embodied in his final despairing sentence, I am not interested in free will.  Extraordinarily, he denies that humans possess free will because he fears this might suggest the existence of God.  Rather, he prefers to argue - though without much conviction - that we just do what we do solely because our genes and upbringing force us to (so it's my DNA writing these words, not my free will). 

It will be a long time before Prof Dawkins ventures into the public arena in Ireland again, for fear of a similar mauling. 

You can listen to or download the (17 Mb MP3) interview here (or, for easy memorisation, http://tinyurl.ie/qd06, with qd06 standing for Quinn Dawkins 2006).  It's generated loads of debate around the world, including this thoughtful piece by fellow-atheist Mark Humphrys.    And there's very lively comment on the professor's own site, with comment nbr 60 by yours truly. 

Late Note:
See also my letter in the Sunday Times on 26th November, based on this post

 

Back to List of Contents

Little Mean Green Sumo Machine            As a Podcast

Two months ago, I included in my quotes of the week the words of Colin Carroll (35 years and 75 kg), Ireland’s first-ever sumo wrestler, who was about to depart for the Sumo World Championships 2006 at Sakai in Japan. 

I wear my nappy with pride.  My nappy is Ireland's nappy ... Japan will soon know all about the little mean green sumo machine.

Well the competition has been and gone and so has Mr Carroll.  Having signed a compulsory death-waiver, the little mean green sumo machine’s journey to world glory was brought to a swift end in two brutal bouts.  In the first, Ukranian thug Vitaly Tikhenko swatted him like a fly and he collapsed in a heap.  Next, he was flung out of the dohya towards unsuspecting spectators by a mighty Russian, Igor Krunninoy (85kg), in just two seconds, as YouTube have wonderfully captured.  

But the indomitable Mr Carroll escaped relatively unscathed, with just a burnt backside, slight concussion and a broken baby toe.  (With some prescience, the bookies had been offering odds of 2/1 that he'd come home with one broken bone, 100/1 that he would end up as world champion).

The Cork born thrill-seeker commented that,

Igor looked like a deranged man on day release from a high security jail.  I smelt the stench of death off him.  He seemed born to kill! He knocked me out of the ring with a lethal move, pulling one of my arms, reaching for my jugular and with his other hand he swivelled me and sent me flying off the raised dohyo and sent me flying.

“[He] scared me senseless.  I thought he was going to maim me. I'm a novice. That way it keeps life fresh and exciting.

His sumo adventure may have come to an abrupt end, but Colin is delighted that Sumo Ireland has now been accepted by the International Sumo Federation, which is the world body for amateur sumo.  Thus Ireland will now have a vote on the ISF Council.  As Sumo Ireland's President (and no doubt only member), Mr Carroll said,

Now I am one of the most powerful men in the world of sumo. India has one vote on the International Sumo Federation Executive Council and now so do does Ireland. And I intend to use it wisely.

Brian O'Donohue, from Imag!ne Telecommunications who sponsored Mr Carroll, said

Colin may have been flung out of the ring after 60 seconds but he has provided us with hours of entertainment bringing our tagline imag!ne and anything is possible to life in the most colourful manner possible.

This terrifying man has many sporting talents.  Besides sumo, he has been a tennis coach in Germany, a bobsleigher in Latvia, is today an elephant polo world champion (Nepal, 2005), and his next competitive exploit will be a tilt at the three-legged world record at next year's Dublin marathon.  

Colin Carroll, sumo wrestler and elephant polo world champion, terrifies Cork's citizens as he solicits for solicitor's business

To pay the bills, however, by day he is a boring old solicitor in Cork.  

Back to List of Contents

Week 140's Letters to the Press            As a Podcast

Three letters this week, one of them to the Sunday Times for a change, and it was published, albeit in a watered down form.  As usual, the Irish Times shies away from anything vaguely critical of the left and particularly of the nominally anti-war”, but actually pro-war, crowd. 

  • Left-wing BBC
    In Mary Fitzgerald's interesting review of the new Al Jazeera English TV channel, she contrasts it with the rabidly right-wing Fox News and the sombre, earnest and careful BBC.  Why does she omit the epithet left-wing from the BBC's description, being its most abiding characteristic?

  • Shannon Airport's Contribution to Iraq
    I would hope that when Roger Cole, chair of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, makes an issue in the next general election of the use of Shannon Airport, he spares a thought for the twelve million Iraqis (an astonishing 74% of adults) who only last December bravely voted for a new, liberal, legitimate, democratic Iraq, and who so proudly displayed their purpled fingers to the cameras.  For ranged against them are a deadly minority of ...

  • Mothers Excused P!
    A killer father such as Gavin Hall may indeed see himself as a victim, but society, the media and the courts do not, and there is no compunction in locking him up for the vile crime he has committed ...  

Back to List of Contents

Quotes of Week 140            As a Podcast

Quote: I have benefited greatly from criticism, and at no time have I suffered a lack thereof.

US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld,
who stepped down after the ruling Republican party
were defeated in America's mid-term elections. 

Of course he doesn't mean a word of it. 

Quote: We are sad that he has resigned.  We are very pleased and very grateful for [Mr Rumsfeld's] support for Afghanistan.

Jawed Ludin, chief of staff for Afghan President Hamid Karzai,
acknowledges that Mr Rumsfeld
has been on the side of ordinary Afghanis

Quote: Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed Bush’s defeat in the mid-term elections last week as a victory for Tehran. He has rightly concluded that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is off the agenda.

Journalist Sarah Baxter, writing in the Sunday Times
(though I would question her use of the word
rightly).

If Iran is rejoicing, the West should be worried.

Quote: I call on all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds to forgive, reconcile and shake hands ... Both the prophet Mohammed and Jesus forgave their enemies.

A subdued Saddam Hussein,
two days after his death sentence for crimes against humanity in Dufail,
pleads for forgiveness and reconciliation,
as he appears in court on charges of
genocide against the Kurds
during his 1988 “Anfal operation

Quote: “Although I cried when Saddam fell, it was because I felt dishonoured as a soldier who could not defend his country.  Now I am proud.  The difference is that the Iraqi army under Saddam fought the Iraqi people.  The new army is fighting to protect the people.”

Jamal Ahmed, a general in the new Iraq army,
who served in a similar capacity under Saddam Hussein.

He wants the US to stay.

Quote: Quite pretty, I grant you.

 British Health Minister Patricia Hewitt's view
on Conservative party leader David Cameron.
(More than she can say about herself!)

Back to List of Contents

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

Back to Top of Page

ISSUE #139 - 5th November 2006 [350+382=732]

Quote of 2006

The court has decided to sentence defendant Saddam Hussein al-Majidida to be executed with hanging.  Long live the people. Long live the nation.

Saddam Hussein hears his sentence
for his crimes against humanity,
specifically in Dujail where he had 148 Shi'ites murdered

Down with the invaders. God is great. God is great. God is great.

Saddam Hussein replies

And to remind ourselves where it began...
Quote of 2003 : “Ladies and  gentlemen, we got him !

Back to List of Contents

Iran's Nuclear Threat to be Defanged

There are many threads to the threat Iran poses in its programme to develop nuclear weapons and means of delivery.  Diplomacy to constrain the long-suspected programme, which accelerated after its (secret) existence was confirmed in 2003 following a dissident's revelations, has utterly failed so far, and at present still has no prospect of making substantive progress. 

Recent stories in the media have included ...

  • Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made no secret of his desire to annihilate Israel, and has recently received theocratic clearance that use of nuclear weapons in pursuit of jihad is, er, kosher

  • As he and others have rightly observed, Israel is so small that it can be quickly obliterated with just a few bombs whereas huge, populous Iran can withstand several nukes and still survive.  Hashemi Rafsanjani, his predecessor but one, said five years ago in a sermon that the application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce minor damages in the Muslim world. (Pity the victims, but Iranian leaders don't care about those, even when they're fellow-Muslims.)

  • Few can doubt therefore that unless someone stops him, Mr Ahmadinejad will complete his bomb development and then drop it on Israel.

  • A “security source” in the Israeli Government said last month that, “Israel will not allow Iran to build an atomic bomb, and even if it did, the Iranians know very well that we’ll bomb them back to the Stone Age before they’ve launched a single missile.”

  • Israel has an (officially denied) military alliance with Iraq's Kurds in the north of the country, which enables it to keep an eye on Iran and arguably to use Irbil Airport as an attack base or a refuelling stop. 

  • Turkey's threats to invade Iraqi Kurdistan means that Israel may not have much longer to exploit its position there. 

  • Meanwhile, George Bush has indicated that he does not want to bequeath the Iranian mess to his successor.  In similar vein, he said on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, that we must not leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons, an obvious reference to Iran.  Hate him or love him, Mr Bush, like Hezbollah's Nasrallah Hussein, usually delivers what he promises. 

  • Dick Cheney, his vice president, has made no secret of his distrust of the Iranian regime and his desire to change it.

  • On 7 November, the US will hold their mid-term elections, in which there is a strong possibility the Republicans will lose control of both houses to the Democrats.  This would render Mr Bush a lame duck president for the remaining two years of his term, unable to get his way on any major issue. 

  • The Democrats will have won these elections mainly due to their visceral opposition to the Iraq war, and by extension any further war.

  • Since George Bush cannot seek re-election in 2008, he cannot be electoral hurt any more (though his party can of course). 

  • On 31st October, the US Navy began a massive war game, codenamed Leading Edge, in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea involving two so-called Strike Groups and 23 countries and lasting several days.  It was ostensibly to practice fighting the war on terrorism and not aimed specifically at Iran, though you can safely infer that heavy armaments and delivery systems are in the area.

  • In reply, Iran carried out its own military manoeuvres in the same waters a few days later. 

Join these red squares together and what do you get?

A rapidly closing window during which Mr Bush can try to stop Iran's nuclear programme through presidential fiat.  We've seen that dialogue isn't working; moreover the chance of an internal revolution to overthrow the mullahs is extremely remote, at least in the short term.  That leaves only a military solution, focused either on destroying Iran's many nuclear sites or killing the top mullahs, or both.   

As Charles Krauthammer has described, the costs will be terrible, in the areas of economics (a soaring oil price), military (terror cells unleashed around the world) and diplomacy (America and Israel as pariahs).  To these should be added the casualties - not just in the attack itself but especially in the rage that will follow.   

But the costs of doing nothing will be even higher. 

  • Iran will instantly become the superpower of the Middle East, imposing its will and its craziness on any trembling neighbour it chooses, which will surely include subsuming Iraq and its oil into its resurgent Shi'ite empire. 

  • Israel will certainly become Iran's test-bed for nuclear weaponry; the resultant casualties on both sides will be measured in their millions. 

  • Iran will not hesitate to use its new weapons in other theatres, nor to make them available to terrorists willing to commit nuclear mayhem against the West. 

  • The West, having failed to prevent Iran from acquiring its weapons when it was (relatively) easy to do so, and having by then witnessed the nuclear devastation visited on Israel, will certainly be too craven to launch an all-out nuclear war on Iran, which would be the only way to bring it to heel. 

It would be the fulfilment of the dream of that revered Iranian, Ayatollah Khomeini, of which he wrote in 1942,

Islam wants to conquer the whole world ... Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! ... There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight [non-Muslims].

Sir Nicholas Stern, in a recent seminal report about the threat of climate change, sternly warns us that the cost of doing something about it is 1% of world GDP, compared with the cost of doing nothing (between 5% and 20%).  Therefore, he concludes, we should do the something. 

I would wager that Mr Bush and his coterie are making a similar calculation as regards Iran's nuclear programme.  And if his Republicans lose the mid-term elections, he has only days left in which to do the something”, to de-fang Iran's nuclear threat. 

I believe therefore that an attack is both certain and very imminent, whether by America or Israel or both. 

We wait in trepidation for the inevitable tempest that will surely follow. 

It is ironic that a Democrat defeat would lessen the chance of this by providing a further two years to seek alternative solutions. 

Back to List of Contents

Murdering Your Own Children
It's OK if you're female and in Britain or Ireland

Here are few recent news stories about parents who have killed their own children ...

bullet

Andrea Yates, a Texas woman convicted three years ago of drowning her five children in a bathtub in 2001, was sentenced to life (though the verdict was this year reversed to not guilty by reason of insanity” but only due to a legal technicality bizarrely connected to a TV programme).

bullet

In 1995, Susan Smith loaded her two sons, 14-month old Alexander and 3-year-old Michael, into her car and rolled it into a lake in South Carolina where they drowned, and then concocted a story about a carjacking.  She was sentenced to life.

bullet

A woman in Japan, who stabbed her two children to death and then stabbed herself ten times but survived, was sentenced to eight years last February. 

bullet

Three years ago, Christopher Crowley abducted and shot dead his six-year-old daughter Deirdre, and then himself.  No pussyfooting about language here, and no blaming the mother either.  Mr Crowley was simply (and rightly) called his daughter's killer, or a killer dad

bullet

In Crete last August, Englishman John Hogan, 32, after a row with his wife, jumped off a 15 metres high hotel balcony, with his two young children in his arms.  His six-year-old son Liam died; Mia his daughter, 2, suffered a broken arm. Mr Hogan himself also survived and, despite claiming mental disorientation, has been charged with murder by the Greek authorities who have him firmly in custody; no-one expects him to escape a lengthy prison term.  

bullet

Gavin Hall, from Northamptonshire, choloroformed his three-year-old daughter Amelia to death, to punish his wife for being unfaithful.  This month he was jailed for life. 

In each case, a parent committed what is probably the most appalling act imaginable - the despicable murder of his/her own innocent young child(ren).  And was (or will be) severely punished for it.

Now here are a few more heart-rending tales ...

bullet

Last year, Sharon Grace (estranged from her husband) drowned her two daughters Mikhala, 4 and Abby, 3 plus herself off the beach in Wexford.  It was termed a tragedy; in addition Social Services were blamed for not doing more.  No-one called it what it was - a foul double murder of little innocents, followed by a suicide.  No-one wants to say that this was either a wicked, selfish act or the woman was criminally insane.  The murders were not tragic; they were deliberate atrocities. 

bullet

In Birmingham during October, a 22-year-old Bangladeshi woman, Musammat Mumtahana, hanged her two sons, Reheem, 2, and Nahim, 1, and then herself.  The papers call this a tragedy” too; none seem to consider it a foul double murder of little kiddies, followed by a, perhaps tragic, suicide. 

bullet

Then, in Newcastle, there was Danielle Wails who set fire to her flat and burnt her infant son to death (what a horrible way to die), apparently to win back tiny Alexander's father.  Despite having first removed the batteries from the smoke alarms, and concocting a story about an attack by intruders, she got off with a three-year community order rather than jail because she was suffering from post-natal depression.  If her mental illness was so bad she was reduced to killing babies she belongs in a lunatic asylum.  And, extraordinarily, it turns out that the infanticide of which she was convicted is a lesser crime than murder.  If anything, it should be worse.   

  • Last January, a court tried Mary Collins for the murder of her own children.  She had pushed a buggy off the quay wall into the sea in Westport, Co Mayo and jumped in after it.  The buggy contained her three-year-old daughter Teresa and one-year-old son Liam, whom she was hoping to drown, along with - apparently - herself.  But due to the fortuitous presence of mind of some nearby girls, all three were rescued; however the boy, sadly, died later.   Mrs Collins then concocted a tale about a wheel falling off the buggy, followed by another story about abuse by her husband.  Once again, her evil, outrageous act was reported as a tragedy with all sympathy for the mother and not a hint that she'd done something, well, wrong.  And though she was rational and smart enough to create fictitious fables, the jury decided she was guilty but insane, in other words that she was not rational and smart enough to be responsible for the atrocity she perpetrated.  Go figure, as the Americans say. 

The difference between these two sets of stories is clear.  In Britain and Ireland, a mother can do no wrong, she is always a victim, indeed the principal victim.  She can therefore commit the most heinous of crimes on her own defenceless little children and get away with it.  The courts and media wring their hands about her tragic circumstances, and, frankly, couldn't care less about the dead kids. 

But it's a different story if the matriarchal killer is in America or Japan.  Or if the murderous parent in Europe is a male.  In these cases, the perpetrator will attract no media sympathy or legal leniency at all. 

Moral of the story.  If you want to murder little kids, get the mother to do it in UK or Ireland. 

I find this utterly disgusting. 

Back to List of Contents

Annual Eight Billion €uro Present for Northern Ireland

Yep, that's right.  That's the plan.  If Ian Paisley for the DUP and Gerry Adams for Sinn Féin sign up to Northern Ireland's new St Andrew's agreement, English taxpayers (never Welsh or Scots) will be forced to cough up yet another €7 bn per year (plus other goodies) in the direction of Northern Ireland, with Irish taxpayers in the Republic chucking in a further billion.  Each year and every year, for the next decade.  That adds up to an astonishing eighty billion €uro

The population of Northern Ireland numbers 1.7 million, so they'll be getting another annual present of €4,700 per man, woman and child, to be added to the £5,000 million the beleagured English have already being paying them, net, every single year, for a very long time.  Tot up the two presents and each Northern Irelander gets the equivalent of an astonishing £6,300, or €8,800.  Wife and two kids?  The family figure mounts to £25,000 per annum.  I know the money will arrive as investment not cash-in-hand, but it still represents a very respectable income, especially in NI's relatively low-cost economy.  So why get out of bed in the morning?

With this kind of largesse, in return for nothing but normal democratic behaviour as routinely practiced throughout the West, no wonder Northern Ireland is a failed state, and will remain so until its people grow up and start paying their own way. 

And when will the average English man and woman realise how they're being taken for a ride?

Back to List of Contents

Save All Your Kisses For Jihad

Full-on snog, lips, tongues the lot.  Click to enlarge.Wow! 

This image is the concluding entry in a grovelling photographic tribute by the BBC, earlier this year, to the loin-obsessed late unlamented jihadist Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei.  A full-on snog with that other late unlamented jihadist Yasser Arafat, complete with lips, tongues the lot.  Does anyone know what happened next?  I thought you had a wall toppled on to you for this kind of carry-on. 

Since they're both now undoubtedly in Paradise together, do they spend their time continuing where they left off in this pic, or concentrating on their combined 144 virgins? (And once de-flowered do these lucky ladies get replaced, or reflowered or what?)

Back to List of Contents

Week 139's Letters to the Press

Two missives this week, neither one published.  The non-publication of the letter accusing Ireland's Anti-War Movement of being pro-war makes plain the editorial inclinations of the Irish Times. 

  • The Dingle Plebiscite
    Peter Pallas of Ennis finds it inexcusable that the native people of An Daingean/Dingle voted to retain the name of Dingle.  Such arrogance.  Those townspeople think they own the place ...

  • Anti-War Movement Seems Pro-War
    You report that the Irish Anti-War Movement has invited to Ireland Ibrahim Mousawi, who is a prominent member of Hizbullah ... from the pro-Hizbullah television station al-Manar”.  According to Mr Mousawi, Hizbullah will welcome Irish troops so long as they stick to their mission, which he says is to help the Lebanese army to defend the Lebanese people.  However, UNIFIL's remit under UN Resolutions 425, 426 and last August's 1701, is much more specific than this ... 

Back to List of Contents

Quotes of Week 139

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

Quote: It is disgusting that St Andrews university [at 583 years, Scotland's oldest] is conferring an honor on this man.  He is responsible for more than 1,300 deaths during his presidency.  This regime was responsible for the oppression of people that I knew and loved.

Maryam Namazie, of the Iranian Women's Liberation group,
who fled the country in 1980,
on the conferral of a degree on Muhammad Khatami,
the mullahcrat who was Iran's president from 1997 to 2005.

He should be arrested not feted.

That poseur Sir Menzies Campbell, the university's chancellor
and also the leader of Britain's supine Liberal Democrat Party,
had championed the award and planned to do the conferring,
but at the last minute chickened out due to the ethical outcry

Quote: The insurgency [in Iraq] is actually failing in the first and most important of its objectives — to destroy this political settlement. For all the appalling carnage, Iraq’s [democratically constituted and elected] government continues to function. Far from civil war, it has passed a new plan for peace and reconciliation backed by all factions pledging to act together.

Melanie Phillips, astute as ever, and against in the tide,
in the Daily Mail

- - - - - - - - - - U S   E L E C T I O N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

Loser John Kerry disrespects US troops in Iraq. 
At least calling then uneducated is better than
calling them
war criminals, including  himself,
as he did after his Vietnam service.

The senator's suggestion that the men and women of our military are somehow uneducated is insulting and it is shameful.  The senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology.

George Bush responds

Mr Kerry is the gift that keeps giving—to the Republicans.

The (subscription-only) Economist's comment

Quote: When I was a kid, I inhaled [cannabis].  That was the point.

Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama,
has a sly dig at Bill Clinton,
who famously and ridiculously said in 1992
I didn't inhale and never tried it again.

- - - - - - - - - - A S S O R T E D - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: “Unabated climate change risks raising average global temperatures by over five degrees - equivalent to the difference between now and the last Ice Age.

Sir Nicholas Stern gives us a stern warning,
in a 575-page report entitled
Economics of Climate Change”.
He reckons it will cost 1% of world GDP to thwart climate change.

Sir Nicholas is head of the British Government Economic Service
and a former chief economist of the World Bank

Quote: Africa is not badly governed because it is poor. It is poor because it is badly governed.

John O'Shea, chief executive GOAL,
the only major Irish charity worth supporting. 

He was commenting on a $5m bribe
prize to be paid to the first African president
who can show he's not corrupt. 

Irony, anyone?

Quote: I would rather see my grandson dead that see him become an American bastard.

Irishman Timothy Blake, who with his wife Ethel,
visited their daughter in America in 2004,
kidnapped her nine-year old son Dylan and brought him back to Ireland. 
The couple now face extradition to the USA and up to 30 years in jail. 

Back to List of Contents

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

Back to Top of Page

Return to Tallrite Blog
Ill-informed and objectionable as always

 

Now, for a little [Light Relief]

Hit Counter

2013 RWC7s Logo

Gift Idea
Cuddly Teddy Bears
looking for a home

Click for details  “”


Neda Agha Soltan, 1982-2009
Neda Agha Soltan;
shot dead in Teheran
by Basij militia

Good to report that as at
14th September 2009
he is at least alive.

FREED AT LAST,
ON 18th OCTOBER 2011,
GAUNT BUT OTHERWISE REASONABLY HEALTHY

Support Denmark and its caroonists!

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

BLOGROLL

 

Adam Smith  

Alt Tag  

Andrew Sullivan

Atlantic Blog (defunct)

Back Seat Drivers

Belfast Gonzo

Black Line  

Blog-Irish (defunct)

Broom of Anger 

Charles Krauthammer

Cox and Forkum

Defiant  Irishwoman  

Disillusioned Lefty

Douglas Murray

Freedom Institute  

Gavin's Blog 

Guido Fawkes

Instapundit

Internet Commentator

Irish Blogs

Irish Eagle

Irish Elk

Jawa Report

Kevin Myers

Mark Humphrys 

Mark Steyn

Melanie Phillips

Not a Fish

Parnell's Ireland

Rolfe's Random Review

Samizdata 

Sarah Carey / GUBU

Sicilian Notes  

Slugger O'Toole

Thinking Man's Guide

Turbulence Ahead

Victor Davis Hanson

Watching Israel

Wulfbeorn, Watching

 

Jihad

Terrorism
Awareness Project

 

Religion

Iona Institute
Skeptical Bible  

Skeptical Quran  

 

Leisure

Razzamatazz Blog  

Sawyer the Lawyer

Tales from Warri

Twenty Major

Graham's  Sporting Wk

 

Blog Directory

Eatonweb

Discover the World

 

My Columns in the

 

 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:

  • 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.

+++++

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:

  • 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

Rugby World Cup 7s, Dubai 2009
Click for an account of this momentous, high-speed event
of March 2009

 Rugby World Cup 2007
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the Rugby World Cup
scores, points and rankings.

 

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

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,
the average
points per game =
52,
tries per game =
6.2,
minutes per try = 13

Click here to see all the latest scores, points and rankings  
Click on the logo
to get a table with
the final World Cup
scores, points, rankings and goal-statistics

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com