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Next blog, #147, came out
on 8th April 2007; nothing in March
ISSUE #146 - 18th
US Embassy bombed, Beirut, 1983 (63 dead)
Beirut barracks bombed, 1983 (298 dead)
US Embassy annex bombed, 1984 in Beirut (2 dead)
William Francis Buckley kidnapped and murdered, 1984 (1 dead)
Restaurant attacked in Torrejon, Spain, 1984 (18
Kuwaiti Airlines flight hijacked, 1984 (4 dead)
TWA Flight 847 hijacked, 1985 (1
Col. William Higgins
kidnapped and murdered, 1988 (1 dead)
Hezbollah announcement of Jews murdered, 1986 (7
Israeli Embassy bombed, Argentina, 1992 (and
here) (29 dead)
Argentine Israelite Mutual Association bombed, Argentina, 1994
here) (86 dead)
Khobar Towers bombed, Saudi Arabia, 1996 (20 dead)
Northern Israel rocketed, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998,
1999, 2002, 2003 (3 dead)
Israel raided, 2000 (3 dead)
Amongst some 30 Westerners whom Hezbollah kidnapped
though eventually freed were
And then there is the still-valid
death fatwa (with bounty) imposed by that
paedophile Ayatollah Ruholla Khomenei on Salman Rushdie in 1989
for writing the Satanic Verse, because it is irreverent towards the
prophet Muhammad. It has not (yet) been carried out, though a
number of publishing staff have been killed or injured.
Meanwhile, in case we are
still slow-learners, Iranian president
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told us that
Israel must be wiped off the map, and
Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani
would like to
This is today's Iran under its depraved theocratic dictatorship.
Given this utterly amoral track record, if its openly-expressed
nuclear ambitions do not constitute a threat to Western civilisation
(not just Israel), I don't know what does. If there is one
thing we should have learnt since 9/11 (indeed since Karl Marx's
Das Kapital and Adolf Hitler's
Mein Kampf), it is that when totalitarians threaten bad things,
you cannot afford not to believe them. It's the one area where
they don't tell lies (unlike many democratic
politicians issuing empty threats!).
Some say Iran is bluffing, that it is nowhere as near to completing
its bomb as many in the west fear. If so, it is playing a very
dangerous game. For it was Saddam's subterfuge in allowing the
west to believe, wrongly, that he had WMD ready for immediate
deployment, which triggered the invasion of Iraq, his ousting,
the violent death of his only sons and eventually his own execution.
So back to George Bush, the weakest president any of us can
He has said in the past that he feels he should not leave the
to his successor. Just this month he
“It’s an important issue whether or not Iran ends up with
nuclear weapons. People are going to look back and say, you
know, how come they couldn’t see the impending danger? What happened
If you think about it, his is a very moral position to take, because
it is unthinkable that in America's new anti-war climate the next
president will ever be in a position to attack Iran. Good,
some might say. But it also means he will never be able to use
the threat of force in his negotiations, which will make him far
less effective than otherwise. (Or her, if it's Hilary.)
A recent EU report, written by
the staff of Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, leads
analysts to suggest that Iran may need only
two more years to produce its first crude nuclear bomb, which
happens to be the time remaining to Mr Bush. It's no
good waiting until Iran drops such a bomb on Israel to be
convinced of its capabilities plus malign intent.
So Mr Bush is tightening up the rhetoric and screws on Iran.
Week 146's Letters
to the Press
Two letters this week. To my surprise the one on
Iraq was published but not the one about an attempted food price cartel;
I would have expected it to be the other way round.
Food Price Rise Warnings
Madam, - Ibec's Food and Drink Industry
Ireland group and the grocers' federation Rgdata
us of impending food price rises. How very thoughtful, but it sounds
awfully like a cartel is kicking in to soften up consumers prior to co-ordinated
price increases, in order to swell its members' profits ...
Krauthammer's View of Iraq
Because Charles Krauthammer supports the freeing of Iraq from Saddam
Hussein, Alan Barwise asks, "why does The Irish Times persist in
publishing Mr Krauthammer's articles?". For the same reason that
it publishes a letter from Mr Barwise who patronisingly believes Iraqis
are not ready for freedom and deserve only authoritarian rule ...
to List of Contents
Quotes of Week 146
- - - - - I R A Q
S U R G E - - - - -
“I can say with certainty that the Quds force, a part of the
Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed
our troops. And I'd like to repeat: I do not know whether or not the Quds
force was ordered from the top echelons of government.”
cranks up the rhetoric against Iran.
“Congress and the American people will continue to support and
protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who
have served bravely and honorably in Iraq ... [but] Congress
disapproves of the decision . . . to deploy more than 20,000 additional
United States combat troops to Iraq.”
resolution saying that
Congress supports all its troops except the last 20,000.
What ever is that
supposed to mean?
Especially since the Democrats plan to approve
the $100 bn needed for the surge.
It is redolent of
John Kerry's famous
words in 2003,
“I actually did vote for the $87 billion [for the Iraq
voted against it.”
“I do believe that if you really believe that this is doomed to
failure and is going to cost American lives, then you should do what's
necessary to prevent it from happening rather than a vote of
... This is a vote of no confidence in both the mission and the troops
who are going over there.”
Senator John McCain
(R) comments on
the Democratic efforts to table a Senate debate
which would censure George Bush's planned surge or 21,500 troops in Iraq,
but not deny the $100 bn needed to implement it
- - - - - U S P R E S I D E N T I A L E L E C T I O
N - - - - -
“I've never seen our country as much as of an international pariah ...
as it is today.”
John Kerry, his treasonous foot once again in his mouth,
as he addresses the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland,
wills defeat and humiliation on America and its armed forces,
just as he did after his Vietnam service
“I don't have any plans to run for president, but I appreciate
hedging his bets.
I think he's lying. No doubt he has not yet made a decision,
but it is inconceivable that he actually has made no plans at all.
- - - - - J I H A D - - - - -
“Yes, I do recognise these books, of course. We have these books
in our school ... the books should not be scrapped ... we don't teach hatred
towards Judaism or Christianity - on the contrary.”
Dr Sumaya Alyusuf, headmistress of the
King Fahd Academy in Acton (London),
which is owned and funded by Saudi Arabia.
She was defending school textbooks which
and Christians as
- - - - - O T H E R - - - - -
“[Britain's] Channel 4 is a supposedly independent
channel: in fact, it is long since a cheap, debased network, being to the
ideals of public service what dysentery is to freshly-laundered underwear.”
Big Brother episode when
nobody-celebrities Jane Goody and other young harridans
harangued Bollywood star Silpa Shetty.
“Hooker Hits New Heights On Borrowed Pole”
story beneath this salacious headline is simply that
pole-vaulter Steve Hooker lost his pole so had to borrow someone else's
Hattip: Tony in Doha and Graham in Perth
to List of Contents
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ISSUE #145 - 4th
(from which you can guess at my bias).
Imperial Ambitions is an easy book to read of
just 200 small pages, with well written sentences. But it's a
lazy, rambling production which randomly jumps all over the world
from topic to topic, because it is simply a series of interviews
with the great man by a fawning radio broadcaster,
David Barsamian, who has produced a dozen such books. Mr
Barsamian lobs up the easy balls and Mr Chomsky whacks them.
In the process, this American Jew makes it abundantly clear that he
despises Americans and Jews, well Israel anyway.
In one sense Mr Chomsky is admirable. Not
only is he extremely articulate and clear in what he says, but he
has an absolutely phenomenal memory for facts, figures, names,
But he is a seething mass of hatred and
resentment at the world he is lucky enough to find himself in, that
is to the say the western, democratic, capitalistic part of the
world which he thinks intolerable and - yes - undemocratic.
On the other hand, he has extraordinary tolerance
for things like
racism by non-whites,
including India's pernicious caste system
(perhaps mankind's most sophisticated racist ideology) (see page
48 of his book),
brutality perpetrated by non-Americans (p47),
flouted UN resolutions such as the infamous
with its threat of
(p77) should Saddam fail to demonstrate disarmament,
Soviet tyranny (p89)
the Vietnamese Communist tyranny
that followed America's defeat and flight, a dictatorship which he thinks
makes the country
He is also perfectly relaxed about peddling
patent untruths provided they denigrate America. For example,
he tells us that the US doesn't want a democratic Iraq (p80),
Halliburton is out to control Iraq's oil (p81), the US wants to
attack everyone (p87), and its major enemy is - wait
for it - its own domestic population (p103), though Europe and Asia
are also it enemies (p112).
Iraq, as you might expect from a
fervent anti-warrior (translation: an
“ABA” who wants Anyone But
America to win), gets a lot of attention, some of it bizarre, some
Marxist, much of the rest simply dishonest.
Iraq is guilty of limiting tax to 15% and trying
to encourage foreign investment (p81) - which is far too
capitalistic and wealth-creating for Mr Chomsky's Marxist taste.
Indeed, his meandering case for an American
welfare state (only government systems, it seems, can be highly efficient)
devoid of personal responsibility for anyone, and how this utopia is
impossible unless you get rid of free capital movement and
investment (p145-7) only underline his commitment to Communist
principles. No wonder he loves dictatorships.
Bizarrely, he criticises America for using both
too much and too little force in Fallujah (p102), yet
dishonestly gives the
murder and mutilation of the four American soldiers that
triggered the battles not even a mention. On the other hand,
the moderate damage inflicted on Fallujah with
hundreds of fatalities is likened to Grozny (p123), the capital
of Chechnya utterly flattened by the Russians with
He makes clear he fears a sovereign, democratic
Iraq because this would legitimise the Iraqi leaders, police and
army and thus prevent him from likening them to the Vichy government
in Nazi-occupied France (p140). He goes on to say it is
that the US will ever permit one to emerge (p148-9), though
subsequent events demonstrate it has done everything in its power to
create precisely that. How disappointed he must be.
As far as America is concerned, he supports a
view that an attack by America is justified only when planes are
“flying across the Atlantic to bomb the US”
(p135), which most non-nutty people might think is a bit late,
especially if they are nuclear bombs.
Thus Bill Clinton is in trouble for bombing that
pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (p108), thinking it was an Al Qaeda
munitions dump, because he apparently killed
“tens of thousands”
of people through lack of medicines. Of course Mr Chomsky
fails to note that the attack was in (relatively mild) retaliation
for Al Qaeda's bombing of
two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 257
innocents, nor that the Sudan dictatorship was harbouring Al Qaeda.
Britain, as America's ally, gets a lot of
opprobrium. A subtle device he often uses is to call it
especially when being critical. I don't know why, but I
imagine it is because “England” sounds more
Anglo-Saxon-Protestant which seems to be one of his most hated
racial stereotypes. One example is his excoriation of the
Hutton Report, an independent investigation into the BBC's
allegation that the British government had “sexed
up” the case for invading Iraq. He reckons this shows
“the very low commitment to freedom of speech in England”
(p151). Apart from the extraordinary non-sequitur of his
conclusion, presumably everything is fine in Wales, Scotland and
Anyone can prove anything by
selecting only facts and references that support the desired
conclusion. Mr Chomsky is a master at this. He
castigates the Washington Post for telling children (no reference
provided) that the root of the Palestine/Israel conflict is the
Palestinians' desire under Arafat for part of Israel
It is interesting - but not
surprising - to deduce that Japan bore no responsibility for the two
atomic bombs dropped on them - it was of course the sole fault of
those American imperialists, who didn't care about the suffering
they caused (p182). Though Mr Chomsky is careful to note that
100,000 Japanese died, he fails to mention how quickly the war then
ended and how many Allied servicemen's lives the bombs saved by
avoiding a ground invasion of Japan. (My fully alert,
91-year-old, ex-RAF father is in no doubt that for this reason dropping those bombs
was the right thing to do.)
either to books and
publications not available online or subscription-only, so
difficult for most people to verify,
or to articles which are freely
on line (such as newspaper reports from the Daily Telegraph, the
Guardian, the Washington Post) but he makes it hard by requiring you
to do your own hunting.
Oh, and a significant number of references
are to the writings of ... Mr Chomsky himself, as if that makes
There can be only one reason for all this: the
author provides copious references to convince readers that what he
says is trustworthy, but strongly discourages them from doing their
own authenticating. So you have to conclude that he
knows much of what he says cannot be backed up.
“Bullshit baffles brains”,
as someone once said.
Sometimes he goes beyond
parody: like when he quotes, approvingly, John Steinbruner and Nancy
Gallagher in Daedalus, the journal of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences. They hope that
But America is, of course, a
Action and Imperial
tells you all you need to know about this
rather silly book. Don't waste your money buying it or your time reading it.
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to Tallrite Blog
Ill-informed and objectionable as always
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
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the final World Cup
scores, points, rankings and goal-statistics