Within the past week or so, Ireland has kicked off its
campaigning for and against ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by popular
referendum, scheduled for Thursday 12th June. This is evidenced by a
proliferation of posters on lamposts everywhere. Within central
Dublin, I counted roughly two YES posters for every NO poster, and outside
Dublin you see even fewer NO posters, though you can't hide from the
lampstands festooned with YES posters. On the other hand, the NO
posters are twice as varied.
I have been struck by the utter insipidness of the slogans
on these posters, which amount to little more than platitudes. Indeed
most of them are so meaningless you could apply the YES posters equally to
the NO campaign and vice-versa.
“People died for your freedom - don't throw it away”
“The new EU won't see you, won't hear you,
won't speak for you”
is an Irish word with a bewildering array of
translations: crime, due, fair,
justice, suited, right, proper, treatment. Used adjectively,
it can mean body-odour, toilet requisites, tax-payer, office
accommodation, an unwelcome guest, engine capacity, super-heated
As a non-scholar, I can't tell you which of these translations is
most proper, or most cóir.
What is striking is that none of these posters and almost no-one on radio,
TV or print, seems to want to quote directly from the actual Treaty of Lisbon
in support of their arguments.
This is understandable because the text is, as I have
pointed out previously, so impenetrable, and deliberately so in order to
There is also a curious dynamic in play. Apart from the incessant,
vacuous slogans, the Naysayers are a lot more vigorous in voicing their
objections to specific bits of the treaty than the YESsirs are in explaining
exactly why Lisbon is good for Ireland.
It's all very well for the YESsirs to proclaim - incessantly - that Ireland
has gained huge benefits and profits Ireland through membership of the
EEC/EU, which no-one disputes. (Indeed as a Naysayer I am wildly
enthusiastic about both the EU and the €uro). But this is an argument
for the current EU not the post-Lisbon EU, which will be a very different
The other main campaigning approach used by the YESsirs is to try to shoot
down the Naysayers' objections, calling them myths or whatever.
So the YESsirs tell the voters they
shouldn't worry about the Naysayers's fears of
the EU forcing Ireland to raise its competitive
corporation tax rate of 12½%,
Irish youngsters being conscripted into an EU army to be
killed in foreign adventures,
the introduction of EU-sponsored abortion-on-demand,
loss of protection for Irish workers from EU-induced
Of course, some of the Naysayers arguments are so difficult
to refute that they have to be ignored. For example, Ireland will
(supposedly) be safe from EU tax-meddlers and army recruiters because it
will retain its vetoes in these two areas. However, if these vetoes
are so important, why is the surrender of vetoes in
32 other areas
(including international trade) something to be welcomed? Indeed,
Britain thinks it will lose no fewer than
61 vetoes. Surely vetoes are either worth having or they're not,
and it's not easy explaining why it's in Ireland's interest to give away
this crucial element of its decision-making. So the YESsirs stay
In other areas, they skate over the hard bits. For
instance, Lisbon will turn into law the EU's
Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is full of good stuff like
“human dignity is inviolable”
“everyone has the right to life”
“the right to marry and ... found a family is guaranteed” (I-9).
(And needless to say, not one of these rights
is accompanied by any duties. Rights without duties? Pure
But the hard bit is that the EU Court of Justice will rule
on these rights and definitions and the constituent countries (eg County
Ireland) will have to meekly obey. So, distant unelected judges can
decide, for example, what dignity means, when life begins, whether the rights
of marriage/children extend to partnerships of gays, triples or other
combinations. They could thus oblige County Ireland to embrace
euthanasia, embryo technologies and fatherless conception, without regard to
the wishes of its people and with no right of appeal to Ireland's own (now
demoted) Supreme Court.
But, frankly, all this should be irrelevant. Under any
system of justice worth the name, it is up to those who want to make the
change to make the case for change. This the YESsirs are patently
failing to do. Of course, unless voters are prepared to take them at
their word, their task is insuperable because it is almost impossible to
back up statements with relevant clauses from the impenetrable treaty.
Quite apart from those mindless, platitudinous posters, it's
true that there is a ton of Lisbon explanations in websites, newspaper
columns and leaflets, and a
consolidated version of the relevant treaties - of Rome (1957),
Maastricht (1992) and Lisbon (2008) - has been produced. But who is to
say they are not all stuffed full of lies and distortions designed to push a particular view
of Lisbon? How can you know the information is correct? After
all, none of these documents are what the various EU ministers have signed.
So we keep coming back to the text of the actual treaty
which the 54 of them have signed. If you can't understand it in its
totality, and I guarantee you can't (which is why the authorities have made
no hard-copies freely available to the public), then it would be mad to vote
It would be no different, no less insouciant, no less irresponsible than
Ireland's current EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy
“I have not [read the treaty]. I don’t think there’s anybody
in this room who has read it cover to cover. I don’t expect ordinary
decent Irish people … will be sitting down spending hours reading
sections about sub-sections referring to other articles and
sub-articles. But there is sufficient analysis done and people
have put together a consolidated text which is quite easy to read.
People such as the Referendum Commission have done explanations.”
But he doesn't set forth how a 269 page
treaty can be
“explained” in a few pamphlets even in the unlikely
event they are honestly and
competently written, for which there is no guarantee at all. And if
they can, then why didn't the ministers sign the pamphlets instead of the
The British parliament last week shamefully
approved a new piece of legislation, the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which
failed to reduce
the abortion-on-demand limit from 24 weeks to 20 (the age at which a
baby is said to be sometimes viable outside the womb),
creation for research purposes of human/animal hybrid embryos (to be
killed at 14 days),
selection of so-called saviour sibling embryos to provide body parts for
a stricken brother or sister, whilst killing the remaining embryos,
requires artificial insemination procedures to require prior
consideration of the resultant child's right to and need for its father.
This appalling and morbid bill, combining both killing and
creating, emphasises the secular amoral direction in which modern Western
society in some countries such as Britain is wandering. Moreover,
experience shows that once something is permitted, the scope of this
permission steadily expands. When Britain first introduced abortion in
1967 it was principally in order to
“save the mother's life”. Nowadays it can be merely to “save
the mother's lifestyle”, in other words abortion on demand.
Likewise, reasons for divorce have drifted from strict criteria such as
proven infidelity to unproven incompatibility, which is effectively divorce
So we can expect, for instance, that
the stricture that human/animal embryos be destroyed at 14 days will be
steadily loosened and the role of biological parents in their children's
lives will be similarly suppressed over time.
Much of this new legislation, moreover, flagrantly breaches
EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, destined to become law once the Lisbon
Treaty is smuggled through
ratified. For example, there is supposed to be
the right to
condemned to death (I-2.2);
the right of a
child to have
interests as a primary consideration (III-24.2),
relationship with both its parents (III-24.3).
But this is of no concern to British legislators because the
court of last resort will no longer be the House of Lords, but the far-away
judges of the EU Court of Justice, who can be relied upon to rule in favour
of the modernist secular consensus that privileges abortion, divorce, gay
adoption and suchlike.
One of the more ghoulish details that came to light during
the British debate is that for late-term abortions, the living child must
first be killed - the polite word is foeticide - by lethal injection to the
heart before being removed (sometimes piecemeal) from the womb. If it
were killed after delivery, the abortionist would lay himself open to a
charge of murder.
It's hard to see
why a mere journey of some centimetres through the birth-canal should turn
legal foeticide into illegal infanticide.
from 18 weeks, many doctors
agree that babies are sentient, that is to say conscious and able to
feel pain. Scanned pictures show them thumb-sucking and the kicking in
typical baby fashion.
Nevertheless, this way of killing the 24-week old baby got
me thinking about capital punishment in the US, which is usually also
carried out through lethal injection, as this is considered the most humane
way of taking a life. Strapped down on a gurney in sight of an array
of witnesses, the murderer is given
a series of three injections via an intravenous catheter spiked into his
The first is sodium thiopental, a barbiturate
anaesthetic, in a dosage some 40 times greater than a hospital would use
Then comes pancuronium bromide, which stops breathing by
paralyzing the diaphragm and lungs.
Finally toxic potassium chloride is introduced which
delivers the coup de grâce by causing cardiac arrest.
You are supposed to die within a couple of minutes of the
final dose, but the whole grim procedure takes between five and eighteen
But over the last couple of years, following some botched
executions, fears have arisen in America that death by lethal injection
might in fact
“result in a terrifying, excruciating death”.
This would put it in contravention of the US Constitution's
Eighth Amendment which prohibits “cruel
and unusual punishments”. As a result, a
seven-month moratorium was imposed across the US last year until a
Supreme Court decided this month that executions could resume.
The USA is indisputably the world's
technological leader in pretty much any sphere you care to mention, which
includes pharmacology. I have no expertise in killing people, but I
would warrant that the three-injection approach, notwithstanding the
misgivings, is indeed the most humane that anyone has been able to dream up,
even though the journey to death might last a few minutes longer than the
guillotine or the gallows or the firing-squad.
If on the other hand a single injection
directly into the heart were more humane, you can be sure the American
Supreme Court would insist on it in place of the triple injection into the
arm. Since it doesn't, you would have to conclude that were execution
by cardiac injection ever tried, it would quickly be classified and
“cruel and unusual punishment”.
So if this is unacceptable as a means
for permanently removing convicted multi-murderers from the face of the earth, why
is it OK for killing innocent, sentient 24-week-old babies?
No amount of euphemisms such as
termination, woman's choice etc can hide the ugly fact that the deliberate
slaughter by cardiac injection of thousands of unborn children, fully
capable of feeling pain and perhaps even fear, is
“cruel and unusual abortion”.
Last year, I shared with you the essence of what I modestly
called my (ahem) new crime novel, a colourful story set in Ireland and the
Czech Republic, which
involved armed robbery, amputation, screaming schoolgirls, a
commandeered bicycle, post-traumatic stress disorder and a liberal dose of
pimping. Somehow, at the last minute I seemed to have been pre-empted
in my storyline so had to abandon my work of fiction.
So I am now having another go.
My latest crime novel will take place mainly in
Limerick (aka Stab City for its numerous murders). How about this as an imaginative if preposterous narrative?
A winsome blonde, by now in her mid-40s, let's call her
Sharon, goes to work for a much older boss, PJ, who is a wealthy property
magnate. He has two grown sons in the business, but is separated from
his wife. Sharon and PJ have an affair and in due course she shacks up
with him. Most conveniently, after a few short years his wife dies.
Sharon then wonders what would be the easiest way to get her
hands on her boyfriend's wealth and dreams up a cunning plan.
She decides to marry PJ. But he is not eager because
this might complicate his inheritance, since his two sons also work in his
business which he wants to pass to them and a pre-nuptial agreement to
protect their interest would not be valid in Ireland. He does however
agree to pretend to have married her in Italy, and on their return they host
a fancy wedding celebration for forty guests, including wedding cake and
Meanwhile marries him anyway, using an obscure Mexican website,
proxymarriages.com (now defunct) to
facilitate the process. For a thousand US dollars she procures a valid Mexican wedding certificate,
without the inconvenience of having to involve - or indeed inform - the
lucky groom, and no further expense for a white gown or honeymoon. She
uses the certificate to procure a Irish passport in a her newly married
Then, again via the internet, using the mysterious internet
name of LyingEyes98, she contacts an Egyptian poker-dealer and hit-man
in his mid-50s who lives in a ménage à trois with both his first wife Lisa
and his second wife the fuzzy-haired brunette Theresa in Las Vegas, where he
works at the snazzy Bellagio casino. He employs the (very Las Vegas) name of Tony
Luciano for his proper job and HitmanForHire for his
moonlighting. Sometimes describing herself as
“the devil in the red dress”,
she offers him a triple contract on her new husband and his
pair of sons, stipulating that the sons'
deaths be “accidents”
and her husband's a
The boys would by chance end up poisoned in a country pub and their
distraught father would then
off the roof of his holiday penthouse apartment in Spain. The
whole family needs to be eliminated to avoid any difficulties over the
substantial legacy to be inherited by the grieving widow.
€70,000 package deal is agreed and she sends her HitmanForHire (later to become
yet another of her amorous conquests) a down-payment of €15,000 in cash via
The Egyptian flies to Limerick as a tourist in order to carry
out his assignment and checks into a modest hotel on the outskirts.
But he evidently forgets to read the small print in the contract, because
when he goes to visit the first of the sons, Robert, instead of killing him he
offers to spare him, his brother and his dad, in exchange for €100,000.
Oh, and as a sideline he can't resist the temptation of breaking into the family business and stealing some
computers and other items.
However Robert then further spoils the narrative by informing the
police who set up a surveillance operation and sting. In due course,
the plot unravels, the Egyptian and Sharon find themselves in court charged
with all kinds of crimes and the news media get wind of the story.
Do you think anyone would buy my book? What's that?
This isn't fiction? It's actually true?
No, not again! ...
Late Note (6 July 2008):
And, like my earlier novel, this too is a
story that just keeps on giving. LyingEyes98 and HitmanForHire
on trial in Dublin and denying everything.
It seems Sharon's internet pseudonym, LyingEyes98,
comes from the
eponymous song by the Eagles about a beautiful young woman moving in
with a rich old man and cheating on him.
Fighting for her freedom, she tries to
charm the detectives by addressing them by their first names, and the
jury by winking and smiling at them. Not working so far.
found with deadly Ricin poison, presumably to do in the two sons ...
in his remand cell. (Don't the police frisk people before banging
them up?). Interestingly, Ricin
comes from castor beans which produce castor oil. The sharp
umbrella tip that was used to assassinate the Bulgarian writer Georgi
Markov in London in 1978 with a stab to the foot was tipped with ricin.
got his current wife Lisa to buy some castor beans and a castor bean
over the internet where he also downloaded the Ricin recipe. He
then got his long-suffering ex-wife Theresa to cook them up for him back
home in Nevada and together they flew to Ireland with the freshly-minted
Ricin powder in their luggage. She then had to fly back home to
face an unrelated trial for extortion in California. Incidentally,
that busy girl Theresa had married her previous husband no fewer than
three times - that's 50% more often than Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.
Meawhile, PJ, Sharon's erstwhile paramour, is
also a man with secrets. Sharon had sent an anonymous e-mail sent
to Gerry Ryan, a radio DJ, saying PJ wanted her to accost strangers and
pick them up for sex. She also explained to the court that he
liked to frequent transvestites and wanted her to work as a hooker and
to partake in threesomes with a male escort and himself,
though she claims she didn't much like these ideas.
I will add to this story as further
titbits emerge ...
Actually, just have a look at this great
summary, written after Sharon and the Egyptian are found guilty as
hell in July 2008.
Sharon, aka LyingEyes, wept as she
spent her first night in custody, prompting cruel tabloids headlines of
If you haven't already seen it, you have to watch this
exhilarating five-minute video of Yves Rossy, the Jet-Man, soaring at 300
kilometres per hour over the Swiss Alps, with the help of his £123,000 strap-on carbon-fibre
wings and four model-aircraft jet-engines.
Just a few, varied contributions over the past couple of
If Muslim men like the veil so much, let them wear it Comment in the Irish Independent site in relation
to a column by Martina Devin Without question, there is no culture superior to the Western
liberal democracy we enjoy here in Ireland, and never has been.
Every vestige of another culture dilutes and pollutes this, and that
includes the gross affront that is the hijab ...
Hmmm. Well, how
do you explain the fact that Mohammed married his (favourite) wife
Aisha when she was just five years of age, but with great
self-control did not copulate with (rape) her until she was nine
Enlargement means new rules are needed
because the EU is becoming unwieldy – though all the evidence is that EU
legislation-making has become MORE slick not less since enlargement, so
no new rules are in fact needed. See for example this
Charlemagne article in the Economist,
It reduces our commissioner-count but
we’ll be no worse off than ...
A Buried Truth(about the value of biological parenthood)
Comment in the Spectator-hosted Melanie Philips Blog Many people regularly dispute the claim (self-evident truism) that
“kids have a better chance in
life if reared by their married biological parents”.
So I collated a number of pieces of
evidence for this here, which others might find useful.
“Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with
the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will
persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard
this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in
1939, an American senator declared:
‘Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might
have been avoided’.
We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of
appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”
George W Bush in Tel Aviv to celebrate Israel's
makes an unmistakeable - though instantly denied - rebuke
of Barak Obama's intention to enter presidential talks
with the tyrants who run Iran, North Korea and Cuba.
“Actually we like Mr Obama. We hope he will
[win] the election”
Top Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef
says his terrorist group supports Barack Obama’s presidential
Another reason for Americans to vote for Hillary or McCain.
- - - - - - - - - - B U R M A - - - - - - - - - -
“Our message is to the military rulers. Let the
United States come and help you, help the people.”
In the wake of
Cyclone Nargis, Asia's
deadliest since 1991,
President George Bush urges the illegitimate junta running Burma
to accept humanitarian help from the US Navy nearby,
just as it and the Australian Navy provided immediate, practical
following the 2004 tsunami.
The junta refused. They prefer direct
cash infusions, no questions asked,
and typical UN fact-finding missions
- - - - - - - - - - B R I T A I N - - - - - - - - - -
Quote (Prime Minister's Questions, 21 May, last question): “Does
he [the Prime Minister] agree with me that Labour is
Prime Minister Gordon Brown (Labour) faces
another tough question,
this time from MP
Chris Ruane (Labour),
at the weakly Prime Minster's Questions in the House of Commons.
“It's important to me that the Irish people are deciding
the future of Britain. Now that's a turn-up for the book!”
Britain's veteran, maverick, socialist, former MP Tony Benn
comments on Ireland's
Lisbon Treaty referendum,
which is being denied to the British.
- - - - - - - - - - B U S I N E S S - - - - - - - - - -
“I am not getting a bonus. I felt it would be
inappropriate in the context of the very disappointing opening of
Terminal 5 in March ... despite the fact it was a record year in
terms of our financial performance.”
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways,
voluntarily declines the £700,000 bonus he is entitled to
for having led BA to record profits of £883 million.
The other 42,000 BA staff members
will share a bonus pot of £34 million.
Mr Walsh's honourable precedent will make him
extremely unpopular among his peers in the FTSE 100,
and also among those in his native Ireland where he once headed Aer Lingus.
I get a little weary about the Orwellian double-speak that is so
popular in these politically-correct these days. People should be more
WHAT THEY SAY
WHAT THEY MEAN
I am not a racist, I just think there are too
I am a racist,
meaning I think no race is
superior to my own
I prefer immigrants to be as similar to
me as possible
I don't hate Jews, I just hate Israel or the
current Israel government
I am an anti-Semite
Anti-Israelism is just a proxy
I don't hate America or
Americans, I just hate the current (ie Bush) administration
I am anti-American
The hated Bush administration
represents the American nation and people, who have elected
I support our troops but
not what they're doing (in Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever)
I don't support our troops
How can I, if I abhor what they're doing?
I don't hate Islam just the
things Islamic extremists do
I am an Islamophobe
They're just doing what
Islam tells them to
People are especially cautious when they dance around the first two of these
Fear of being called a racist is almost guaranteed to shut down any
discussion; it's even considered vaguely racist to draw attention to someone
else's racism if he happens to be non-white (eg accusing Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe or Barack Obama's Jeremiah
Wright). The true meaning of racist has been lost in the genocidal fury and
criminality of the 20th century, for all it really means is that someone
prefers his/her race over another, or put another way it means that in your
view no-one else's race is better
than your own. It may not be true (and probably isn't!), but you'd be
odd if you didn't deep down feel it. Why would anyone think his own
race is inferior to another's?
Hitler's legacy is such that people are terrified to use the word
anti-Semitic with its Holocaust overtones, even when the evidence for
overwhelming. For example, it's bad enough to label Hamas as
anti-Semitic even when its
covenant specifically fosters hatred and murder of Jews, but
few want to use the word against anyone else.
But there is one undoubted old anti-Semite wandering round the world sowing
Jew-hatred wherever he can. He is the ex American president responsible for
allowing, unchallenged, the launch by Iran of Islam's current war on the West. Back
in 1989 (oops, 1979), Iranian
(including a certain Mahmoud Ahmadinejad)
invaded sovereign American
territory and captured 52
American diplomats, the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor
nearly four decades earlier.
Jimmy Carter's response was to launch an ill-prepared ill-fated military rescue
mission that ended in conflagrations and eight American deaths in the Iranian desert.
I don't really blame him for this, because at least he was trying to
do something that was right, however ham-fisted. However, there is no
excuse for following this humiliation by meekly accepting the invasion of the US Embassy in Teheran
(legally, embassies are their country's sovereign territory). An
ultimatum to the new Khomeini regime, followed if necessary by a military
strike at its heart, would have brought the crisis to a swift end
- if not Khomeini himself - and laid down an
entirely different marker of American intent for the years ahead.
Instead the marker was ... do what you like; America will always be too timid
to respond or to fight back. And so it continued, with
ever-worsening Islamic attacks on Americans and their interests, until 9/11
finally provoked America to retaliate and call a halt.
Jimmy Carter's insouciance has cost thousands of lives since he left office.
You'd like to think that was due merely to his incompetence, ignorance, cowardliness
(and perhaps greed, because his Islamist friends - the Saudi royal family,
the bin Laden family, the Sheikh Zayad Centre in UAE to name but three
contribute mightily to his
Center and lifestyle).
But his behaviour on the world stage since leads to a different conclusion
that may or may not have had an influence on his negligence in 1989
For example, Iran's terrorist proxy Hezbollah felt emboldened enough to step
up its murderous attacks on primarily Jews but also Americans.
Israel twice raided, summer 2006, precipitating wars against
Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza
Did all that please him? After all, he recently came out with his
Peace Not Apartheid”
outrageously suggesting that Israel's efforts to protect itself from
death-cult neighbours amounts to legalised subjugation of citizens purely
for reasons of race. This is unsubstantiated calumny of the highest
Nowadays he is trying to
conduct negotiations with the Hamas Politburo, which is sworn to
Israel's annihilation. And of course it is Israel he will blame for
any violence in Gaza, criticising it for not talking to Hamas, whilst
levelling virtually no disparagement at Hamas who are uniquely responsible
for the eight thousand rockets fired from Gaza which provoke the self-defence actions of
Israel. Oh, and Israel is also at fault
closing its border to Gaza - which is precisely what Egypt did before and
after its own wall was breached last January, and to this day. But
only the Jews get damned for such action.
Carter is appeasing
wherever he gets the chance and always has done, since
1979, at least where Muslims rather than Jews are concerned. Other
than paying the Jizya tax, his behaviour has all the attributes of
abject dhimmitude - kowtowing to Islamic masters. And if Jew-hatred does not run through every vein and
sinew his body, then he makes a very convincing simulation of someone for
whom it does.
Jimmy Carter is a disgraceful old anti-Semite. If you're not
convinced, have a look at this shocking
Last month the Irish Times kindly published a column by me, entitled
“CND still on the march to nowhere”,
which points out that in its fifty years of existence the Campaign for
Nuclear Disarmament has achieved nothing at all. Moreover, it has always
concentrated its ire on the nuclear weapons of the West, while tending to
ignore the deadlier menace posed by rogue nuclear powers from the Soviet
Union to Iran.
In this context, I quoted President Ahmadinejad's infamous phrase about “wip[ing]
Israel off the map”. This threat has been widely reported including by
Al Jazeera - no
friend of the West - since he uttered it in a speech in Farsi to 4,000 students in October 2005 at an
anti-Semitic conference in Tehran entitled
“The World without
letters pages, I am accused of
in repeating the phrase, and in support of this am referred to
The objection levelled at me is twofold. One, the
original clarion call comes in fact from that noted old
the late unlamented Ayatollah Khomeini, whom Mr Ahmadinejad was merely quoting, albeit
approvingly, during his speech. Secondly, a more precise translation
from Farsi would read
“The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish
from the page of time.”
The speech goes on to excoriate three other Satanic
regimes which - to the president's approval - have since vanished: those of
the Shah, the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein (though he strangely neglects
to thank America for two of the disappearances).
Therefore, Mr Ahmedinajad and the Ayatollah before him are apparently not demanding that
Israel be wiped from the map, merely that the existing regime vanish, just
as those of the Shah, Gorbachev and Saddam are no more.
actually have no reason to doubt what Ms Norouzi and MEMRI say, as I don't
speak Farsi. But she is being very naive if she thinks that calling
for the Israeli
to vanish from the page of time is somehow different from wiping Israel from the map.
Because since the Ayatollah's day, the Israeli
“regime”has vanished - at least seven times. That's the wonder
of Western liberal democracy - the people can make regimes vanish if they
don't like them. Here are Israel's regime changes over the past three
So when Mr Ahmadinejad repeats his hero's demand that the
“regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”
he must either be absolutely delighted that this has happened so often, or
else he means something else altogether more sinister. Along the lines
of “wiping Israel from the map” with soon-to-be-acquired nuclear
weapons, perhaps. Or, to lift another stirring
phrase from the speech: “This stain of disgrace [ie Israel]
will be purged from the center of the Islamic world – and this is attainable”.
Foolish would be the Jew who believes the totalitarian Iranian theocracy
bestows its seal of approval on Israeli parliamentary democracy, as Ms Norouzi and similar
apologists would seem to suggest.
Last month, I
reported on the blatant manner in which a so-called
on the Lisbon Treaty, hosted in
Dublin Castle by Ireland's taxpayer-funded National
Forum on Europe, had been rigged to favour the YES side. There had
been a very similar - and similarly rigged - meeting three days earlier.
How were these meetings rigged?
Two pro-Lisbon foreigners (Angela
José) were invited to deliver both the opening and closing
addresses (why were they interfering in an Irish constitutional process,
when even Jean Marie Le Pen has
decided not to?);
the “discussion” session was
carefully choreographed in a way that ensured there were two YES
contributions for every NO;
no opportunity was afforded to the
general public at the back of the room (who seemed to be overwhelmingly
against the treaty) to contribute anything.
The plot thickens when you have a closer look at the NFE.
“The National Forum On Europe animates and promotes public
debate on the EU, its enlargement, its future and Ireland's place in it.
The Forum's purpose is not to advocate or promote a
particular course of action. It is to be a politically neutral
public space within which political views and analyses of all shades can
be put forward on the EU, and on Ireland in the EU.”
I had difficulty reconciling these
high-sound phrases with what I had witnessed at Dublin Castle. So I had a
look at the NFE's very small membership, and suddenly all became clear. For
full membership of the Forum is limited to
members of the Oireachtas (ie lower
and upper houses of parliament),
those nominated by parties represented
in the Oireachtas, and
(Irish) Members of the European
There are just 32 appointees of the
Oireachtas plus another 13 MEPs. I did a little bit of research to
find out where they stood on Lisbon. And what a surprise (not).
As you can see, of these 45 members, fully
84% support the Lisbon Treaty and only 16% oppose it.
With such a conspicuously one-sided
make-up, it is thus clear that as far as the Lisbon Treaty is concerned, the
National Forum on Europe is structurally incapable of fulfilling its
objective to be “a politically neutral public space”.
So I have written to the Forum, pointing
out the dishonesty of the Lisbon
it is sponsoring. I have called on it, with immediate effect, to
recuse itself from all future involvement in the ongoing debate about the
I will let you know if it even deigns to
reply (which I doubt).
That said, I believe the efforts of the
NFE will anyway prove in vain. The weight of argument and a sceptical
public opinion seem to moving inexorably in the direction of the NO side. The
onus, after all, is not on the NO camp, but on the YES advocates to make the
case for change to the fair-minded jury which is the Irish electorate, and
they're making quite a hash of it.
The biggest, most convincing single
argument to vote NO remains that the Treaty is (deliberately) utterly
unintelligible, a point taken up by many different commentators since I
It's still difficult even to get your hands
on a hard
copy, undoubtedly because the YES camp don't want to make it easy for you to
They all want you to download a PDF file
and if you want a hard copy you have to wear out your own printer churning
out its 272 pages, which of course they know you'll never do.
The Institute of European Affairs is about
the only outfit that publically offers you a hard copy not of Lisbon but of
“Consolidated Version of the
for €25 while stocks last. This document purportedly combines the Lisbon
Treaty with the Treaties of Rome (1957) and of Maastricht (1992), but I
wouldn't trust that this has been done accurately or honestly - otherwise
why isn't the Consolidated Version the one that's being signed and ratified?
However, to my surprise, I discovered that
you can get the Treaty and the 346-page Consolidated version completely free
of charge just by phoning Ireland's
Department of Foreign Affairs on +353-1-478.0822, and within a couple of
days a clunking two-kilo package arrives on your doorstep. Knowing the
lengths most politicians are taking to smuggle the treaty past the
electorate, that's what I call non-joined-up-government.
I have spent many years of my working life toiling and
living in faraway places: the jungles, deserts and oceans of Africa, the Far
East, Australia, the Middle East - even Europe. Apart from the obvious
advantages of seeing the world, learning about other cultures, enjoying
unfamiliar experiences, soaking up the sun etc, this lifestyle has also
meant that my wife and I have got to know a lot more people than we might
otherwise have done. But most of them remain scattered across the
globe, so it can be difficult to maintain friendships at the same intensity
as during the particular years when we happened to live in the same place at
the same time.
in order to keep these fading acquaintanceships alive, we periodically find
ourselves involved in reunions in places of mutual access. Which is why we
recently wound up in England in a town described way back in 77 AD as Camulodunum by
the Roman philosopher, natural historian and soldier, Pliny the Elder.
Poor old Pliny should have remained in Blighty, for two years later he was
back in the Pompeii area just in time for Mount Vesuvius to erupt and take
his life. Nevertheless, thanks to him, Camulodunum retains the
distinction of being the
first English settlement every recorded in writing. Over the
intervening millennia, the name evolved slightly and today it is Colchester.
Located on Colchester's North Hill, Strada is a lively, cheerful Italian
trattoria, one of a small chain dotted across England. We were a dozen
or so people, who hadn't been together since we all lived in Doha (Qatar) in
the 1970s, and the cosy ambience was ideal for fostering chatter about times
past and what had happened to whom in the intervening decades.
We all started with the same thing: shared baskets of very thin shards of
wood-oven-toasted bread, spread and infused with garlic, rosemary, pesto and
tomato. It was mouth-watering and appetite-inducing. With some bottles of
red Sicilian Torre Solada, a robust red, and a crisp Verdicchio, my personal
favourite white from Castelli di Iesi on Italy's east coast, plonked on the
table, the conversation soon flowed as we broke bread together.
We were less uniform when it came to the main courses. I had probably
the most delicious polenta con funghi I've ever tasted - circles of
delicately-seasoned polenta, sautéed with sliced porcini and chanterelle
mushrooms in a slightly scented sauce of mascarpone, garlic, marjoram and
madeira. Further down the table I spotted:
a sea-bass, skin
crisp and golden, lightly pan-fried, stuffed with thyme and fennel;
labour-intensive risotto ai frutti di mare, replete with squid, mussels,
clams and fat prawns;
a humble but
luscious spaghetti alla Bolognese made from first principles and fresh
a couple of
grateful blokes slobbering over man-sized T-bone steaks calling themselves costate di manzo.
The banter died down a little as we eager patrons gave our
full attention to the generous contents of our large plates and demanded
more bottles of wine.
By the time of desert, our appetite for culinary adventure
and variety had as it were deserted us. So, having studied the menu in
great detail, only two items were ordered, along with a lot of long spoons
of the sort usually reserved for supping with the devil. These enabled
everyone to dig in, like pigs at a trough, to salvage a tiny experience of the
bread-and-butter pudding and the ice-cream with butterscotch sauce.
Tasty but not memorable.
We ended with a selection of espressos, Irish coffees and
Grappas, probably the most foul liqueur ever made. The bill came to
around €50 per head all-in.
There was a great buzz around the place throughout the
evening, the interior decor was colourful, the lighting subdued without
being dull, and flowers and candles adorned every table. All that was
missing was Pliny the Elder.
All of us agreed Strada had been a great choice of venue for
such a get-together and at a reasonable price. I would score it about
You can find
Strada at 19-20 North Hill, Colchester C01 1DZ, England,
Or you can tune in your Tom-Tom to 51°53'24.17"N by
Want to sound important and impress people? Click
for some rousing music and an uplifting message.
Now you must put yourself in the starring role.
In this URL,
http://www.tallrite-blog.youaremighty.com/, simply delete tallrite-blog, replace it with your own name and copy the revised
URL into your browser. Then, once you've sat back to enjoy your new
product, send the URL to your girl-friend, boss or whomever it is you're
trying to wow!
The Irish Times gave me a rare opportunity to respond to a
reader who had accused me of a
in a column I had written
decrying CND. My rebuttal was rebutted a few days later, so I have
in turn rebutted the rebuttal of my rebuttal in this week's post entitled,
“Wiping Israel from the Map”.
Clinton threat to
IranP! Letter published in the Irish Times on 28th April 2008
Madam, - It is not a
that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to
“wipe Israel from the map”.
This threat has been widely reported, including by
since he uttered it to 4,000 students on Wednesday October 16th 2005 at a
conference in Tehran entitled
“The World without Zionism”. If it were a mistranslation from Farsi, as Coilín Ó
suggests, Mr Ahmadinejad has had over two years to make a
correction, not to mention those 4,000 students. He has not, and neither
have they. - Yours, etc,
It's down to us to halt curse that is the Lisbon Treaty Comment in the Irish
Independent on 22nd April 2008, on a column by Kevin Myers
Eóin Lynch asks Kevin [Myers],
“how can you be against something
you have not read?”.
This is the wrong way round. It is up to those who want the change to
put the case for ratification. They have hardly even tried to ...
“You know, over the last several weeks since she
fell behind, she's resorted to what's called kitchen sink
strategies. She's got the kitchen sink flying, and the china flying,
and the buffet is coming at me
you've always got to measure if somebody throws an elbow
at you, and after three or four times of gettin' elbows in the ribs,
you know, at what point do you sort of say,
‘OK, you know, we, we, we've gotta put a stop to that’?”
Barak Obama moans about Hilary lobbing
remarkable miscellany of stuff at him
Mr Obama explains how he is just as
downtrodden and deprived as America's average voter.
Is there no limit to this unfortunate millionaire's
Quote: “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president
we will attack Iran. In the next ten years, during which they
might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be
able to totally obliterate them.”
Hilary Clinton, when asked what she
if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.
I trust this will be on foot of a cast-iron unanimous vote
from the UN Security Council, supreme authority on all that is
She wisely seems to allow ten years for this to occur.
Israel must be much comforted.
“[I used to work for her when I was a police commander.]
Kate Hoey is bonkers - they make a perfect couple.”
Brian Paddick, defeated LibDem
candidate for London Mayor,
comments on the fact that Labour MP Ms Hoey
is to go to work for the new Mayor, BoJo (Boris Johnson)
“Don't tell people about your problems
because 90% of them don't care and 10% are glad you have them.”
Ollie le Roux, South African prop-forward and
who has just retired from Leinster after helping it win the Magners
a rugby competition between Ireland, Scotland and Wales
“The guy is just like Shakespeare - he makes plays.”
An American commentator sees similarities with the Bard
and Manchester United's star striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
“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.
nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’sincredible 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