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#86 : Miscellaneous Posts During September 2004 
Lack of Mistakes
What a cracking story about US TV Anchorman Dan
Rather's forged documents, apparently signed by George Bush's (now
long dead) commanding officer Lt Col Jerry Killian. They purportedly
demonstrate George Bush's flaky service with the National Guard in the
1970s, and efforts to use influence to facilitate him. They were
apparently written in order to be filed away rather than sent to
Dan Rather is, of course, America's most revered
newscaster, the equivalent perhaps of the BBC's David Dimbleby or
Channel 4's Sir Trevor MacDonald.
his story on CBS's flagship 60
programme, whose equivalent in the UK is the BBC's Panorama
and in Ireland RTÉ's Prime
of evidence that the four memos he presented, such as this
one, are phony is astonishing.
The memos use military phraseology and abbreviations
that were not in use in the 1970s (eg grp for group - should have
Killian did not use the
customary form of his own
rank and position
There are doubts about the veracity of Killian's
signature and handwriting
The memos were typed in New Times Roman, a font not
available to the public until the 1980s
They include the superscript
th, as in 111th,
which Microsoft Word produces automatically, but which no typewriter
in the 1970s was capable of typing
The formation of the letters, the variable pitch,
the spacing, the word-wrapping and the overall layout correspond exactly
with the default settings of Microsoft Word - an impossible
The wife and son of Killian say that he never
typed, rarely even wrote, relying instead on his memory
Various events and people do not match up date-wise
(eg Col Staudt had left
the service 17 months before he supposedly pressured Bush's
Not a single document-expert has supported the
genuineness of the documents
The mistakes are so obvious - many spotted by bloggers
within an hour of publication - that the the forger was undoubtedly
someone too young to have used the mechanical or mechanical/electric
typewriters that pre-dated personal computers.
I am not; I've been touch-typing since 1962, and until PCs came along
never went anywhere without my trusty portable. And for this
reason, I have observed one further piece of irrefutable evidence that
no-one seems to have picked up on.
The memos are
not a single spelling mistake or
no black squares,
no overwritten letters,
no double spaces,
no missing words or letters hand-inserted with a
nothing manually scratched out.
Believe me, that is impossible for any but the most
skilled and dedicated typist, carefully and meticulously wielding those
white correction pads and prepared to retype entire pages when the
corrections could not be adequately disguised.
Could a non-typist have produced such perfect
documents ? NO
Would a non-typist, or even a skilled typist have
bothered with such perfection for memos destined only for his/her
own files ? NO
This piece of evidence alone is enough to prove
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the Beslan Murderers
Dominic Bryan is an academic with Queens University Belfast.
on 7th September in the (subscription-only) Irish Times on the evil terrorist
murder of countless children, teachers and others in Beslan, he
accuses America and Britain of terrorism, and says terrorism is anyway
nothing new, so what's the big deal. And he ends with this
outrageous apologia for the conduct of the murderers.
have to attempt to understand why non-state actors commit such
terrible atrocities as that in Beslan. We need to understand why
they use certain tactics. And we need to change the political
contexts in which these activities are legitimised. Just calling
them all terrorists helps no one.
On 9th September, the Irish Times, to my surprise, printed my
Madam, - Dominic Bryan of QUB's Institute of Irish Studies (September
that we have to attempt to understand why non-state actors commit
such terrible atrocities as that in Beslan. We need to understand why they
use certain tactics...
Actually, we need to hunt down such non-state actors and kill them. No
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The following two posts are based on letters I
wrote in response to articles which appeared in the subscription-only
Irish Times (and elsewhere), but which the editor chose not to publish.
Not sufficiently anti-Bush, perhaps.
Howell Raines, the prestigious New York Times' former editor, who was fired for protecting the plagiary of reporter Jayson Blair, has a problem with facts.
In a recent article
in the Guardian (naturally!) and other newspapers, he repeats a variety of
assertions about President Bush's mental abilities.
President George W Bush is
| of low IQ, |
| stupid, |
| a village idiot, |
| thick, |
| dumb, |
| not smart enough, |
| of questionable mental capacity, |
| of questionable imagination, |
| intellectually weak.|
He asks, Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I'm sure their SATs and college exam papers would put Kerry far
But if he had any facts to back this up, you can be sure he would trumpet them.
It's because he hasn't that he's spoofing.
So here are a few facts in the public domain.
| Mr Kerry was awarded a bachelor's degree by Yale 1966 shortly before he joined the US Navy. |
| Two years later, so was Mr Bush. |
| In 1976 he earned
a law degree from Boston College (where?)|
| But the previous year Mr Bush had earned an MBA from Harvard. |
So Kerry is a double-bachelor graduate from Yale
and Boston; Bush is a bachelor+masters graduate from Yale and
Harvard. On this objective evidence, the score is Kerry 2-,
So, Mr Raines, who's the dumb one?
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The Accidental Hero and
the Swiftee Smears
In an article
published in several newspapers, Professor David Gergen, erstwhile
adviser to four US presidents, recently decried the anti-Kerry ads by
the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Andrew Sullivan, who
has recently turned
anti-Bush, also considers the ads an unworthy smear.
They are just not cricket.
But such commentators would be more convincing if they were to
address the actual issues raised by the disaffected Swiftees.
John Kerry himself has not faced reporters in a serious interview
since August 1st, apparently for fear of questions about these
It's worth summarising in one place the main things in the public
domain that he needs to clarify:
|Mr Kerry claimed
before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 that
thousands of US soldiers in Vietnam were war criminals; he
|He claimed on
the floor of the Senate in 1986 that he had spent Christmas 1968 under
fire on a gunboat (illegally) inside Cambodia, which his campaign has now
admitted was false
|In respect of Mr Kerry's wounds that earned him three purple hearts
and an early exit from Vietnam, Senator Bob Dole recently remarked, three Purple Hearts - he never bled that I know of ... they
were all superficial wounds ... he never spent one day in the hospital
|His campaign has effectively admitted that the first of his purple-heart
wounds, which according
to his doctor required only a band-aid, was self-inflicted
|For his silver star, there are, extraordinarily, three
separate citations, signed by three different officers, over
a 12-year period, with two very different accounts; moreover his website
claims the medal includes a V for valour which it doesn't
|In 1971, he threw his medals away in an ostentatious anti-war protest, but in
1984 they mysteriously reappeared
in his office
|In the early 1970s, as a leading anti-warrior and whilst still a US
Navy officer, he consistently took the North Vietnamese
negotiating positions, so much so that to this day he is honoured
with a photograph in the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
(Saigon), which shows him meeting the General Secretary of the
Communist Party of Vietnam. |
Andrew Sullivan also considers it underhand that the Swiftees
started preparing their case (and their book, Unfit
well before Mr Kerry declared he was reporting
at the Democratic Convention. In fact, he embarked upon his
Vietnam re-journey months ago during his primary campaign, which is when
and why the Swiftees began preparing their case. Why, the issue
was so well known that even I was commenting on Mr Kerry's accidental
heroics back in February.
Unless the Accidental Hero can provide sensible answers or allow the
release of his full military records, he will prove to have been most
unwise to make his paltry four months service in Vietnam the centrepiece of his
to List of Contents
Equestrian Cian O'Connor,
Ireland's Olympic Gold Medallist (its eighth ever).
Did you ever see such a happy face?
Update November 2004
Sadly, it looks like he's going to have to hand it back because his
horse, Waterford Crystal, tested positive for a banned substance, albeit
one that could not have enhanced performance in any way.
to List of Contents
Don't you just love this curious headline
dated 25 August 2004 ?
Think about it ...
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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