...Views from mid-Atlantic
31 January 2004

Know the saying "words that come from the heart enter the heart?" Read this.

30 January 2004

A majority of Britons, reeling from the damage done to the BBC by the publication of the Hutton Report, think Lord Hutton whitewashed the Goverment's part in the death of Dr David Kelly, according to this report in the Telegraph. Perhaps when they have the time to read the damned thing, they'll see that the British Government behaved a more honestly and honourably than even the most optimistic observer might have expected. Hutton got all of it exactly right...the Government's part, the BBC's part and Dr Kelly's part.

One hopes the British public will also realise that in his conduct of the enquiry, Lord Hutton set a new standard for such proceedings, not just in Britain, but around the world.

The speed with which he was able to move was a revelation. It took him about six months from start to finish. By contrast, Lord Saville's enquiry into Bloody Sunday was begun in 1998, but his report isn't expected until 2005. Lord Hutton had no power to compel evidence, yet the moral force he was able to bring to bear was such that every single person or scrap of paper that might have been of assistance to him was placed at his disposal. And the website that he and his staff set up ensured that every scrap of evidence given to the enquiry was available for public scrutiny, normally within about four hours. It was an absolutely flawless performance.

The same cannot be said of the BBC's performance...before the enquiry, during it or after it. This rather pathetic demonstration of ethical myopia from Andrew Gilligan, the man who set the whole thing in motion, seems typical of the whole organisation's inability to get to grips with what it should be about.

A brace of Belgian botanists have used some off-the-beaten-track sources to compile a Compendium of Symbolic and Ritual Plants in Europe. Ancient Europeans apparently took their plant-life so seriously that Germanic tribes punished those caught stripping bark from a sacred tree by cutting out their navel and nailing it to the damaged trunk. The accused were then made to walk around in ever-decreasing circles until their intestines wrapped the trunk. Hmmm.

In the past, war has been fought between states. The legal difficulties of fighting a war against a terrorist 'virtual state' are explored in this last of a series of columns, published by the Washington Times, that have explored the relationship of the law and terrorism.

Most of the time, I admire R Emmett Tyrell's skills as a commentator. Equating Rush Limbaugh and H L Mencken, however, is so over the top that I have to wonder if he hasn't been sipping at the old OxyContin jug himself.

The efforts being made by members of Caricom to calm the troubled political waters of Haiti are continuing this weekend, but seem to have little chance of success.

Haitians protesting against the regime of Jean-Bertrand Aristide have been spoiled. "We all want to tell Bush to meet his responsibility," said Herve Santilus, of the Student Federation at Haiti University, who, like many here, reasoned that because the United States helped restore Mr. Aristide to power in 1994 after a coup three years earlier, it should also assist in resolving the current crisis.

"We're just going to keep demonstrating to push Bush and the State Department to come get this toxic garbage out of here as fast as they can," Mr. Santilus said.

Being a priest and a journalist at the same time sounds a bit of a rough row to hoe, but the late Guyanese Jesuit, Fr Andrew Morrison, not only managed that, he had a material affect on the development of Guyana during a thoroughly turbulent period of its history. The Barbados Daily Nation reflects on his influence.

There seems to be a rapidly-building international consensus that a settlement of the disagreement that resulted in the partition of Cyprus for 30 years is possible, given the softening attitude of Turkey's military. US secretary of state Colin Powell is trying to strike while the iron's hot.

The Associated Press's bureau chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kathy Gannon, suggests that all the fuss about greedy scientists in the Pakistani nuclear-secrets-for-sale scandal may be obscuring the fact that members of the military are likelier suspects. When the US cut off aid to Pakistan in 1990, because of concerns over its nuclear weapons programme, the military got very broke very quickly.

"With no U.S. aid money coming in, what was the military to do? According to Mirza Aslam Beg, who was army chief at the time, Iran approached him, offering upward of $10 billion for nuclear arms technology. Beg told me in 2003 that Iranian emissaries contacted him and then-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. According to Beg, but never confirmed by Bhutto, the two played a game with the emissaries, sending them between the military chief's house and the prime minister's. One would say the other had the authority to decide whether to share the technology, but neither would give the Iranians an outright refusal.

"When Bhutto's successor, Nawaz Sharif, came to power, Beg was still talking to the Iranians, according to a former senior Cabinet minister who is now back in government with the opposition. The minister recalled a conversation in which Beg told him, 'Iran is willing to give whatever it takes, $6 billion, $10 billion. We can sell the bomb to Iran at any price.'"

The British Government's attempts to reform the judiciary in England deserve more attention than they've been given, says this editorial in the Telegraph. "...There is no need to destroy what it has taken 1,400 years to create: a clear constitutional safeguard against government attempts to interfere with the judiciary."

Israel is losing the war over the use of language, according to this professor of Linguistics and Hebrew Studies at Dartmouth. Language wars, he says, are messy and laborious. "They also require skills that are not widely taught. A few rudimentary actions may certainly be taken, such as placing questionable words in "scare quotes" (as if to say "so-called"); avoiding certain devil terms; and reconnoitering more positive alternatives for use. But this is hardly enough."

British historian Paul Johnson says the United Nations has become "a mere theater of empty rhetoric and shameless deals supporting a growing tide of anti-Semitism and racism and - let us not be mealymouthed - state crime. It is a place where near-bankrupt dictatorships can sell their votes to the highest bidder.

"It is also a place where well-connected playboy diplomats from the Third World can indulge in an expense-account lifestyle in one of the richest cities on earth, ignoring the pitiful poverty of their home countries and often using their diplomatic immunity to break the law. This is an insult to the dignity of the human race." He thinks it should re-locate to Dar es Salaam.

The article is carried by Forbes, with which you'll have to register.

According to this piece in the Borowitz Report, the French Mars probe has surrendered, only eight seconds after landing on the red planet.

29 January 2004

The BBC's Board of Governors is holding crisis talks today in the wake of the Hutton Report's devastating criticism of their operations. The Board's chairman resigned yesterday. It seems likely that Director Greg Dyke and head of news Richard Sambrook will follow close behind.

Meantime, Tony Blair has repeated his call for the BBC to apologise for so spectacularly calling him a liar.

UPDATE: Greg Dyke has now resigned his post, and the BBC has issued an unreserved apology to the Government.

North Korea offers Nigeria missile technology? What in the world is going on here, and why did this story break in SpaceDaily of all places?

The fourth in the Washington Times' series about law and the war on terrorism is here. This article concentrates on the possibility of innocent people being caught up in the arrest net, there to languish for the duration.

"...Even assuming that the military would hold non-combatants simply to avoid admitting a mistake, this soon would become evident. Like all government institutions, the military is composed of different interests and personalities. A "cover-up" of this proportion would require the cooperation (at least by silence) of dozens of people, who understand that the consequences of wronging are far more serious for them, being subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, than for ordinary bureaucrats. If the past 30 years of American politics has taught anything, it is that such secrets cannot be kept, and cover-ups invariably unravel — sooner rather than later."

Pharmaceutical manufacturers, according to the Washington Times, have long been interested in developing medicines with sugars attached, and are apparently just about to get their wish. I just wish this story had explained why the attachment of sugar is so important.

Like Antonio Gaudi in Spain, Baldasare Forestiere had visions of a world no one else could imagine. In California, the Sicilian immigrant built an extraordinary, idiosyncratic, underground masterpiece. "The visions in my mind, he said, almost overwhelm me." Thomas Curwen's Los Angeles Times' story about Forestiere Underground Gardens is a little idiosyncratic masterpiece in its own right. You'll need to register to read it, but you will be glad you did.

John Keegan, the best military affairs analyst alive, thinks it is a pity Lord Hutton was prevented by his terms of reference from considering the wider value of the intelligence available to the British Government when it made its decision to back the US invasion of Iraq. "Just as many Americans continue to complain that George W Bush "stole" the presidential election, the bitter-enders will persist with their argument that Tony Blair took Britain to war without good reason...The bitter-enders have become so legalistic, however, that it seems they would prefer Saddam to have survived in the absence of a second resolution even at the expense of his monstrous dictatorship over the Iraqi people surviving as well. The legalism that pervades the European world is both baffling - and growing in strength."

Saddam "knew that he stood in little danger while world opinion bowed to the UN...The anti-war party would have a great deal to answer for had its continued denunciation of military action encouraged the Americans to leave for home before Saddam had been brought to book."

Euro-MPs are accusing the European Commission of having allowed an intolerable breakdown of EU financial control, while being vindictive to whistleblowers. In a report, they say that Pedro Solbes, the economics commissioner in charge of Eurostat, has refused to accept the blame for abuses described by investigators as "a vast enterprise of looting".

Barry Rubin of the Jerusalem Post suggests that the Arab-Israeli conflict and anti-Americanism are the opiate of the Arab world, "drugging entire societies into accepting intolerable conditions." "It's like the man who goes to a psychiatrist and tells him there is a bird sitting on his head. "I see your problem," the doctor says. Suddenly the bird pipes up: "How do I get this man off my feet?"

This Guardian review of a documentary film entitled S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, being released in the UK tomorrow, is not for the faint of heart. Someone should sit Noam Chomsky, who was such an apologist for the Khmer Rouge regime (read his 1979 book After the Cataclysm) down in front of a screen and make him watch it.

Unable to attack an EU ruling allowing the sale of genetically-modified maize on the facts, green campaigners have resorted to accusing the commission of caving in to US pressure.

The Nobel Peace laureate and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has called human rights organisations "one of the great curses of this world. They justify terrorist acts and end up being complicit in the murder of innocent victims." The Madrid conference on victims of terrorism to which he was speaking at the time has backed him up. It agreed a declaration calling on "NGOs and other civil organisations that stand for the defence of human rights to make a commitment to defend victims of terrorism and to identify terrorist acts for what they are, regardless of their cause or pretext and without striking balances or blurring the distinction between victims and executioners."

A little storm is blowing up in Canada on the reception the Polish President got at a Canadian airport when his aircraft was diverted there. This Globe and Mail story speaks of the possibility that the Canadian Customs service suspecting he was an illegal immigrant, but I suspect they mean the Canadian Immigration service, which has a reputation for giving travellers a hard time. Even little Bermuda has found it necessary to complain officially in recent years about their propensity for treating people badly.

Some 4 billion years ago, astronomers say, the inner planets endured what has become known as the Late Heavy Bombardment, which lasted roughly 200 million years. During this period, Earth, our moon, and other inner planets would have exchanged material as they took direct hits from asteroids or encountered collision debris from objects striking their inner-solar system counterparts. It may be possible to find relics from that period on the moon, one of the reasons scientists are focusing more and more on moon exploration.

28 January 2004

Lord Hutton, who was asked by the British Government to investigate the circumstances of the death of Dr David Kelly, source of the BBC's sexed-up dossier allegations, released his report to the public at a press conference today. Broadly speaking, he let the Government off the hook, but criticised the BBC for its part in the affair. The Guardian covered the press conference.

A summary of Lord Hutton's findings is here.

A copy of the full report can be found here.

The third in the Washington Times series on the law and the war on terrorism focuses on the checks and balances against abuse of power that exist in the American system of government.

"Overall," according to the authors, "the very fact that the most controversial steps taken in the war on terror, including the detention of American citizens on U.S. territory as enemy combatants, are regularly debated in Congress, the media and elsewhere, and are being reviewed by the courts, suggests that the system designed by the framers is working perfectly well. Merely because Congress has not taken action, as many administration critics would like, to limit the president's ability to detain enemy combatants or to require their immediate trial or discharge, does not mean that we are on the precipice of some new Dark Age."

The United Nations' senior adviser on Iraq warned yesterday that premature elections could do more harm than good by enflaming ethnic and political divisions in a nation reeling from attacks on civilians who cooperate with the U.S.-led coalition.

"If you get your priorities wrong, elections are a very divisive process," says Lakhdar Brahimi, who has just concluded a two-year assignment as the top U.N. official in Afghanistan. "They create tensions. They create competition. And in a country that is not quite stable enough to take that one has to be certain it will not do more harm than good."

The disappearance of languages is a distressing side-effect of a shrinking world. In Chilean-run Easter Island, every day is a linguistic battle for those who want to maintain the language known as Rapa Nui.

Feminist icon Germaine Greer is stirring up a fine hornet's nest in Australia, the land of her birth, by condemning it as a sports-obsessed suburban wasteland devoid of cerebral stimulation. The Aussies say she's pathetic...an astoundingly ignorant, clapped-out intellectual. So, cobbers, at one-all, we'll leave this series and be back as soon as the second round gets under way.

Things in Iraq get curiouser. Claims that dozens of politicians, including some from prominent anti-war countries such as France, were bribed to support Saddam Hussein are to be investigated by the Iraqi authorities. The US-backed Iraqi Governing Council decided to check after an independent Baghdad newspaper, al-Mada, published a list which it said was based on oil ministry documents.

According to this Independent story, British diplomats suspected France's steadfast opposition to the war was driven by something other than the reasons stated by President Chirac. "Oil runs thicker than blood," is how one former ambassador put his suspicions about the French motives for opposing action against Saddam.

Was Bill Clinton a technophobe when he was in the White House? In all those years, he apparently managed to send only two e-mail messages, and one of them was a test.

As the smoke from Sudan's long civil war starts to blow away, hard questions emerge. For example, can a country that has been an ethno-religious killing ground for so many years turn itself into a modern, religiously tolerant melting pot? In Africa, where growing numbers of people are converting to both Islam and Christianity, the answer is going to be highly significant.

27 January 2004

I'm not sure "shout" is quite the right way to describe what a star does. Would "burp" be better?

The Martians have evidently denied rumours circulating on that planet that an alien spacecraft landed in the desert near Ares Vallis over the weekend. They say that what...uh, Martian beings saw was really a high-altitude weather balloon.

You could say that members of the Acid Generation were the inheritors of the energy of the Beat Generation, and might have had more of a run at US culture if Vietnam hadn't made everyone so bad tempered. Ken Kesey author of Sometimes a Great Notion, the novel on which One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was based, was the great, shambling shaman of the movement. He was a better character of literature than he was a creator of literature. After Great Notion, his published work never quite came up to the same standard. Tim Appelo of the Seattle Weekly recalls Kesey's appetite for drugs, and for vodka martinis, which eventually did him in.

The effect on the police in the US of recent court actions against them for unlawful or overly violent arrests has been horrendous, according to this column in the San Francisco Chronicle. "We might as well just pay our cops to sit in Krispy Kreme doughnut shops, the writer says "the people couldn't care less, and the criminals would hardly notice."

To Iraqis, the return of the United Nation means a return to UN waste, ineptitude, bureaucratic bungling and even corruption, suggests this op-ed in the Washington Times.

"The UN track record in Iraq," says Hiwa Osman of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting in Baghdad, "is ruinous. The image of Kofi Annan shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in 1998 and crediting him with being the builder of modern Iraq is still fresh in the minds of many Iraqis, who were more likely to see his 'modern' mass graves and torture chambers.

"Furthermore, UN implementation of the massive oil-for-food program was disastrous. The mismanagement of funds by their pro-regime Arab staff is the stuff of legends. In the Kurdish north, where the Kurds had a 13 percent share of the oil revenue, there still is $4 billion unspent that no one seems to be able to account for. In Baghdad, one hears horror stories of UN contracts awarded to people who were acting as obvious fronts for companies owned by members of the former dictator's family."

A federal judge has declared unconstitutional a provision of the Patriot Act that bans providing expert advice to terrorist organisations.

US District Judge Audrey Collins said the prohibition on giving "expert advice or assistance" to designated terrorists is so vague that it could improperly bar even innocent contacts with the foreign terrorist groups in question.

Meantime, the Washington Times series on law in the war on terror continues with a discussion in part on the capture and detention of irregular combatants.

Before Pele, there was Leonidas. The top scorer in the 1938 World Cup, he was credited with having invented one of the most spectacular sights in football, the bicycle kick. The Brazilian player died over the weekend, aged 90, after 30 years lost in the fog of Alzheimer's disease.

What Dennis MacShane, Britain's Europe minister, called "outrageous" lobbying by conservative German members of the European Parliament has scuppered long-running attempts to clean up the European parliament's "gravy train" image. A new pay deal designed to stop the EU's no-questions-asked expenses reimbursement policy failed because the German EU paymaster refused to fund the new deal. MacShane said the EU "must move decisively now to implement a regulation that stops the abuse of travel expenses that allow MEPs to claim huge amounts of cash for travel without producing re ceipts for their airline tickets. I urge MEPs to send out a clear signal to voters that the European parliament is the cleanest parliament in the world and to end their unacceptable and indefensible abuse of travel expenses."

It now appears that dissident Labour MP Clare Short might have had something to do with the BBC's decision to air Andrew Gilligan's "sexed-up Iraqi dossier" story. Kevin Marsh, the editor of the Today programme, met with her for lunch the day before the broadcast and was told by her that no intelligence had been produced to the Government showing that Iraq was an imminent threat. Until she resigned a short time before the meeting, Ms Short had been the British Government's international development secretary.

In a related development, the Telegraph is reporting that the BBC is in the process of drastically cutting the number of journalists involved in producing the Today programme. "BBC sources said the restructuring reflected the fact that Greg Dyke, the director-general, and Richard Sambrook, the director of news, appear to have lost the appetite for investigative journalism after a number of legal cases such as the Hutton inquiry."

Prince Charles is speaking up in support of his ancestor, King George III. He says that the King, who lived from 1738 to 1820, was one of Britain's most dutiful, cultured and misunderstood rulers, who studied the arts and sciences and was involved in agriculture, astronomy, architecture and clock-making, as well as collecting books, medals, paintings and drawings.

Another slavery reparations suit has been dismissed in the US. A Federal judge in Chicago ruled that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing, their claims went beyond the authority of the court and that the statute of limitations relating to wrongdoing in the 19th Century had long passed. "This determination is consistent" he said, "with the position taken by numerous courts which have considered the issue over the last century." Don't expect the suits to stop, though.

There's a new virus on the loose, called W32.Novarg.A@mm or W32/Mydoom@MM, that sometimes disguises itself as a postmaster-returned undeliverable email. It has replicated itself quickly, and is now all over the place. But if you'll keep your anti-virus software up to date, you'll be fine.

This is progress - it's OK not to have to suck on a novel through a political nightdress any more. Academics say that postmodern theory is on the way out altogether and that the heady ideas that once changed the way literature is taught and read will soon be as extinct as the dodo and the buggy whip.

26 January 2004

The Chicago Tribune has joined the debate, stirred up when Stephen King was given a lifetime achievement award by the National Book Foundation, over whether lowbrow art ought to be considered as important as the highbrow variety. Julia Keller, the Tribune's cultural critic, says snobbery creates the difference. I don't think that's true at all. The two extremes of art obviously exist, and "culture" has always been large enough to embrace both of them. But it is true with art, as with many other things, that what you get out of it is in proportion to the work you're prepared to put into understanding it. Easily-accessible art is great for a quick fix, but if you're in a mood for something a little more substantial, you need to look elsewhere. The more difficult and challenging art is, the deeper and more satisfying the reward the art-hungry soul can obtain from it. That doesn't mean that Stephen King's writing is not a contribution to culture, though, and he should have as much access to recognition and acclaim as anyone else.

Garbage disposal as a spin-off of space technology? Those involved with the Japanese space programme think so. Japenese lawmakers have passed an Intellectual Property law to allow JAXA to protect their system and to encourage its industrial development.

A once-homeless unemployed musician has forged an extraordinary relationship with San Francisco's Telegraph Hill parrots, and in doing so has turned his life around.

"The funny thing is," he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "that this was just a diversion at a time when my struggle was painful and slow. Then they started taking over my life.

"Now I have a girlfriend, a book and a movie -- it's hilarious, really," said Bittner, looking out at the view of San Francisco Bay from the window of a rustic cottage he shares with his new love. It's right next door to the Greenwich Steps address where his parrot story began, in 1994.

The Washington Times today begins a weeklong series of articles, written by two members of the prestigious Washington law firm of Baker and Hostetler, about how American law will affect the war on terrorism. This first article deals with whether the United States can be said to be at war with an entity that is not a nation-state. Useful stuff.

Painters and composers in the US are doing what bards would have done in Celtic days, celebrating the adventures of the heroes of the space age. NASA's little-known fine arts programme was begun in 1962 and now includes about 800 relatively recent works on display. Another 2,000 works that pre-date the country's bicentennial are housed in the National Air and Space Museum.

Grey wolves are more than just poster critters for the environmental movement in Yellowstone National Park, where their presence is allowing riverside cottonwoods, willows and aspen to return. For the first time in 70 years, say researchers, the park has a complete suite of predators and prey.

Benny Morris is a controversial writer and teacher of history at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva. His third book about the history of the Zionist–Arab Conflict, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, is being published by Cambridge University Press this month in the UK. He writes, in his books, about things that neither Arabs nor Israelis want to be reminded of. In this Los Angeles Times article (you'll need to register to read it), he describes himself as someone not seeking to take sides, but as someone "simply trying to describe what happened".

"...After looking afresh at the events of 1948 and at the context of the whole Arab-Zionist conflict from its inception in 1881 until the present day," he writes, "I find myself as convinced as ever that the Israelis played a major role in ridding the country of tens of thousands of Arabs during the 1948 war, but I also believe their actions were inevitable and made sense. Had the belligerent Arab population inhabiting the areas destined for Jewish statehood not been uprooted, no Jewish state would have arisen, or it would have emerged so demographically and politically hobbled that it could not have survived. It was an ugly business. Such is history."

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, promised the World Economic Forum in Davos that he would rid the world of spam within two years. Glad to hear it. My purpose in calling attention to this particular story about his promise, though, is to wonder aloud how a man who seems to understand the internet as poorly as Charles Arthur of the Independent can be billed the newspaper's technology editor.

The Sierra Club, long the most-respected of the world's environmental groups, is under threat from an anti-immigrant group of members calling itself Sierrans for US Population Stablization. SUSPS are running candidates for the Club's Board of Directors in an attempt to take control of the organisation, in order to promote the need they see to decrease immigration to the US. The club's election is in April.

25 January 2004

Anyone interested in the heavily-nuanced art of writing political speeches will be interested in this analysis of the US president's state of the union address by James Fallows, a former White House speechwriter who now works for the Atlantic monthly. Overall, he thinks that in terms of policy and politics, "the best thing about the speech is its attempt to rebut criticisms of the policy in Iraq. As a matter of craft, the speech was impressive in the series of subtle but effective signals the President sent his base. The worst aspect of the speech is indistinguishable from the greatest problem with the Administration's domestic policy: a laundry list of new initiatives, and no money to pay for them."

I found this, by the way, via the excellent Arts & Letters Daily page.

Anyone who thought David Kay meant that Iraq didn't have any weapons of mass destruction at all before Iraq was invaded needs to read this interview published this morning in London's Daily Telegraph. "We know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials," he said, "that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved."

This is the text of Vice-President Dick Cheney's address to the World Economic Forum in Davos. The media have dwelt on his remarks about the need for European cooperation in the war on terror, but there is a lot of other, so far uncovered stuff on Turkey's bid to join the EU, on getting at the roots of terrorism, on progress in Iraq, on a solution to the Palestinian problem, on NATO, on Libya's decision to give up its WMD programme, on Paul O'Neill and his book, on UN reform and on the choosing of his Christmas card...among other things. It's worth reading.

If you want a sober, thorough summary of developments on Mars, the LA Times can oblige. It contains a particularly good explanation of what exactly caused the problems with the first Rover.

British food critics are known for their heaven or hell approach to describing the food served in restaurants. Normally, staff at the offending eateries take a couple of aspirin and hope for a better day. Now one of them, finding itself described as "the eighth circle of hell" and "among the very worst restaurants in Christendom" is reaching not for a pill, but for a lawyer.

You never quite know whether to believe stories about Robert Mugabe's health problems or not...the last one was a complete fiction...but this one does seem reasonably solid. It suggests he has been flown to South Africa for treatment after a collapse in Harare.

Out of all the froth that the British press have been producing in advance of the Hutton Report's publication on Wednesday emerges one decent story. Lord Hutton has been sending notes to all those who will be criticised in his report warning them that they are about to be mentioned in dispatches. Alastair Campbell's had one, as have Geoff Hoon, Andrew Gilligan, Richard Sambrook and Greg Dyke. Tony Blair, though, hasn't had one.

Bret Stephens, the editor of the Jerusalem Post, had dinner last week in Davos with, among others, Kamal Kharrazi, Iran's foreign minister. He asked whether Iran would recognise Israel if it withdrew to the June 4, 1967 boundaries, and got an answer he didn't expect. "The final solution to the dispute is a one-state solution."

He's not the only one singing from that hymnbook. The Guardian spoke to terrorist leaders in the Middle East this week. Yasser Arafat made a point of warning that time was running out for a two-state solution. Islamic Jihad, Hamas and others agree...sort of.

But this is the Middle East. Don't think that by reading that lot you know anything at all. Here's another take on the story.

The Voynich manuscript, an Elizabethan volume of more than 200 pages filled with weird figures, symbols and writing, has defied the efforts of the Twentieth Century's best codebreakers and most distinguished medieval scholars. Now the code's been cracked. Read this shaggy dog story...I'm not going to spoil the punch line.


Art in Bermuda
Bermuda's Cuban Connection
Death of the Nation State
Helen Lives!
Joe Wilson and Michael Moore
Linton Kwesi Johnson's Dub Poetry
Me and Evergreen Review
Michael Howard's Vision
Miss Lou and Jamaican Patois
More Doomsday Nonsense
Mullah Nasrudin's Lessons
New York Dogs
OECD's Unfair to Competition
On Catullus
On Charles Ives
On Colin MacInnes
On Collecting Books
On Collecting Books - Part Two
On Gambling in Bermuda
On Napoleon
On Patrick Leigh Fermor
Race and Bermuda's Election
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Gift of Slang
The Limits of Knowledge
The Nature of Intelligence
The Shared European Dream
The US Supreme Court's First Terrorism Decisions
Useful Yiddish
Yukio Mishima's Death

Article Archive

2003 Index


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