...Views from mid-Atlantic
16 October 2004

"The United States urged the departure of all nonessential personnel and family members working at its embassy in Port-au-Prince, which was shut Friday. The State Department also upgraded its travel warning for Haiti, saying police were ineffective and peacekeepers were not fully deployed. It warned against 'the potential for looting; the presence of intermittent roadblocks set by armed gangs or by the police; and the possibility of random violent crime, including kidnapping, carjacking and assault.'"

Doesn't there come a time, as there did with Somalia, when people conclude that Haiti is simply not capable of being helped, and decide to leave it to its own devices?

Critics in Britain have reviewed the final volume of Norman Sherry's monumental biography of Graham Greene very harshly. Their scorn does not seem to have spread across the Atlantic, as will be seen in this Paul Theroux review published today in the New York Times Book Review. Theroux says that "For anyone interested in Greene's life and work, this three-volume biography is incomparable; as an intellectual and political history of the 20th century it is invaluable; as a literary journey, as well as a journey across the world, it is masterly; as a source book and rogues' gallery it is fascinating. Sherry is not the stylist Leon Edel was when he wrote his five-volume life of Henry James, but this work can be compared with Edel's achievement. It is as satisfying and as exhaustive, and evokes a much more intimate and physical sense of his subject."

Compare that with Ian Thomson's review in the Observer a couple of weeks ago, which ended with this paragraph: "Sherry's three-volume Life of Graham Greene, running to a combined total of almost 2,500 pages, stands as a warning to biographers: keep a proper distance from your subject. And for Norman Sherry to have begun so promisingly and ended so badly is a personal tragedy."

I'm familiar with Paul Theroux, but not with Ian Thomson. My instinct, though, is that Thomson probably caught his sniffy attitude from the Observer, which has a long and distinguished history of wrinkling its nose at anyone and anything not of its particular ilk. As does most of the British press, of course.

Parti Quebecois, the political party that favours an independent Quebec, is at a low ebb in its political fortunes. Its youth wing is in revolt, its membership is nearing a new low and members don't seem to have a lot of confidence in its leader, Bernard Landry's ability to get where its members want to go. It's a self-inflicted wound, apparently. "The party establishment has bulldozed any aggressive strategy. Threats of expulsion, blackmail, every effort is being made against those who challenge the established order," according to Montreal-area youth member Sasha Gauthier, quoted in the Globe and Mail.

15 October 2004

From our straw-in-the-wind department. Aljazeera has been running an online poll for a couple of days now, that asks "Should Iraqi fighters lay down their arms and participate in a US-backed peace process?"

After 12,000-odd responses, the response has been Yes : 46%.

No : 45%.

Unsure : 9%.

Hebrew hip-hop? I guess it's an equal-opportunity field of endeavour, so meet Hadag Nahash. The San Francisco Chronicle says "Even the name Hadag Nahash embodies the group's spirit. Guy Mar, the band's DJ and one of the first hip-hop DJs in Israel, reveals that the words are a mix up of Nahag Hadash - 'new driver' - a sign everyone must post on their cars' rear windows during the first year of licensed driving. Streett came up with the name as a form of protest. 'This is the great idea they have to reduce car accidents?' he scoffs. 'People either honk at the new driver or stick to (him) or pass him on the right. So actually, posting this sign is stupid and useless. I figured that if we called ourselves Hadag Nahash and got people to put our stickers on the back of their cars, we would help create chaos and confuse the police' - which, he adds mischievously, 'is always a good thing.'"

Pondblog's hip-hop correspondent is expected to consider the implications of this development and report in during the course of the day.

The fox (and he does look like one, doesn't he?) is in the henhouse. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been hinting for months that he was going to take a look at the insurance industry, and now he has made good on his promise. His lawsuit, announced yesterday, outlines business practices involving payoffs and rigged bids between Marsh & McLennan and other insurers.

CBS Marketwatch thinks the power of the Greenberg family is being threatened. None of the Greenbergs is implicated directly in Spitzer's civil suit, but the family has been a driving force in the insurance industry and its business practices since the early 1960s. Hank Greenberg presides over the American International Group, headquartered in Bermuda, which is one of the companies named in the suit. His son, Jeffrey, runs another insurance giant headquartered in Bermuda and named in the suit, the Ace Group of Companies.

Newsday says "Two executives at AIG pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal charges and are cooperating with authorities. AIG senior vice president Karen Radke and AIG manager of national accounts Jean-Baptist Tateossian pleaded guilty before New York Supreme Court Justice Michael Ambrecht in Manhattan. AIG officials said the company had asked the New York Insurance Dept. on at least two occasions for 'guidance' on whether the payments complied with state law. A spokesman for New York State Insurance Dept. said, 'The AIG statement did not address the attorney general's charge of bid-rigging.'"

Ace issued a statement last night, saying that it was cooperating with the investigation.

Stocks in the companies named in the suit have already begun to decline in value.

Google has just released a new search tool which users can download, keep on their desktop and use to search for files more quickly and more easily than the Windows-supplied facility. There's a one-time, several-hour indexing process to go through, so I can't yet say how good it is. You can download it here.

The UN's Oil-for-Food scandal, and Russia's part in it, have sparked an unusually critical editorial in the Moscow Times today. "By helping undermine the UN sanctions against Iraq," the Times says, "Russia has weakened the credibility of the UN itself. Why should anyone listen to Moscow the next time it says, 'Let's take this to the UN'?"

Israel believes that much of the Fatah-affiliated armed faction, calling itself the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, is now being controlled by Iran, a country that Israel considers its mortal enemy. Paranoia? Exaggeration? Maybe not. The Telegraph suggests that on this issue, Israel is in unusual agreement with Palestinian leaders. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian "president" who has been confined to his Ramallah headquarters for more than three years, said this week that Hizbollah was trying to infiltrate Fatah. He said Iran was financing radical Islamist groups, and denounced Iran's spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei. He said: "Khamenei is working against us. He is giving money to all these fanatical groups. Khamenei is a troublemaker." Arafat implied that he retains control of Fatah cells. But Israel believes many of his armed followers are being directed by Hizbollah after many cells were broken up during Israel's re-invasion of West Bank cities in April 2002.

Adam Curtis has written a television series for the BBC about the war with terrorists. He's come up with an interesting idea - that we are deceiving ourselves about the strength and cohesion of the enemy. The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear begins airing in the UK next week. The Guardian says "The Power of Nightmares seeks to overturn much of what is widely believed about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The latter, it argues, is not an organised international network. It does not have members or a leader. It does not have 'sleeper cells'. It does not have an overall strategy. In fact, it barely exists at all, except as an idea about cleansing a corrupt world through religious violence."

14 October 2004

DEBKAfile has a go at explaining the ins and outs of the rivalries that led to an attempt to assassinate Moussa Arafat, Yasser Arafat's nephew and commander of the Palestinian security forces. The would-be assassin, it says, was M Arafat's foremost rival, the former Gaza strongman and Palestinian minister, Mohammed Dahlan. "The failed hit was an open declaration of war between the feuding Gazan kingpins and their followers. It is clear to both and to ordinary Gazans that both are determined to fight to the death, their own and those of their loyalists and whoever gets in the way. The crunch will undoubtedly come before Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon gets his Gaza pullout plan endorsed and in motion."

Kofi Annan has announced that Paul Volcker's investigation into the UN Oil-for-Food scandal is to be given $30 million for its work this year. The money will be taken from the now-defunct programme's coffers.

Every day, say collectors of California tile, somewhere in Los Angeles someone is tearing out historic and important California tile. "Either they don't know or they don't care," says one of them. "We could save it. We could come in with the right tools and with enough time, we could save it. But people don't have the time or patience and this truly important part of our heritage is lost." The pictures suggest his enthusiasm is well placed.

Coffee freaks have for years argued over whether kopi lowak, a Sumatran coffee, existed or not. Its smooth taste and lack of bitter aftertaste were said to derive from having spent some time in the digestive system of a civet cat. Crap, some said. And they were right. The Independent says that Massimo Marcone, of the University of Guelph in Ontario, has proved beyond doubt that the beans used for the authentic beans have indeed passed through the digestive tract of the animals, and that it does make a difference to the taste.

France's highest court has approved the extradition to Italy of the terrorist Cesare Battisti, who has lived in France for 15 years. Battisti, a former member of an ultra-left cell, Armed Proletarians for Communism, was convicted in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment in Italy in 1993 for the murders of a prison guard and a neo-fascist militant, and for complicity in two other killings. He is one of up to 100 former far-left Italian guerrillas who accepted an astonishingly short-sighted 1985 offer of sanctuary by the late French president, Francois Mitterrand, on condition that they renounced their past, did not go into hiding, and kept out of politics.

As people argue back and forth about apologising for the invasion of Iraq, and whether the coalition's subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction meant that we had no business there, it is good to be reminded of just what a monster Saddam Hussein was, as the Iraqi president. If the civilised world suspected that mass murder of this nature was occurring (and we did, didn't we?), then we had no excuse for not sorting it out. The Telegraph suggests the dictator might have killed as many as a million Iraqis.

The Wall Street Journal reminds us that France and the US have been at each other's throats for centuries. In a review of John J. Miller and Mark Molesky's new book Our Oldest Enemy says "It is positively amusing to hear John Kerry argue that George W. Bush single-handedly spoiled our relations with 'Old Europe'. The relations were never smooth in the first place. Even Benjamin Franklin, a celebrity in Paris when he later served as ambassador there, contended with the French, who 'murder and scalp our farmers,' as he put it, and claim 'parts of the British territory as they find most convenient.' In his time, Mark Twain bridled over French claims of superiority. 'I can't describe to you,' Twain wrote to a friend, 'how poor & empty & offensive France is.' FDR told Churchill in 1943 that de Gaulle had proved to be 'unreliable, uncooperative, and disloyal to both governments.' Truman would later call de Gaulle a psychopath.

"Of course, the French have had a disagreeable word or two to say about us along the way. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau contended that 'America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.' This was a century ago, long before a farmer named Jose Bove would become a French folk hero for leading a gang attack on a French McDonald's - with a pickax. Good luck to Mr. Kerry if he ever gets a chance to charm Old Europe."

I doubt he will. Meantime, the French have launched their own charm offensive. The French ambassador was on C-Span this week, protesting that France was being made a political football in the presidential race. By that, he meant that charges that the French had fought the war against Iraq because they were making a bundle out of the place in illegal arms sales and Oil-for-Food graft were just a matter of electioneering. For all his urbanity and good manners, it wasn't a particularly impressive performance - facts kept inconveniently bobbing noisily up all over the surface he was trying to oil down. Perhaps as a kind of 'in the alternative' defence, he delivered to Congress - the next day, I believe - a list of 30 American companies that sold goods to Iraq through French subsidiaries during the oil-for-food program. The companies on the list, handed to the House Government Affairs Subcommittee on National Security, include divisions of major U.S. electrical, chemical and pharmaceutical firms that did more than $522 million worth of business with Saddam's regime, according to the documents. So I guess what he's saying is "We didn't do it, but just in case you think we did, then so did you." Charming.

13 October 2004

And Lebanon used to be such a quiet place! The country has begun to seethe a bit since a UN resolution was passed, calling for Syria to withdraw its troops from the country. A few days ago, Lebanon's regular electricity supply was turned off...a shortage of oil, they said. Angry consumers were rationed at one stage to two hours of supply per day, but weren't told which two hours they were going to get. At about the same time, Marwan Hamadi, a Druze from Baaqlin who had resigned his cabinet post to protest President Emile Lahoud's term extension, was gravely injured by a bomb that exploded in West Beirut as his car passed. Western diplomats and Lebanese politicians say privately that they believe that pro-Syrian forces inside Lebanon carried out the attack on Hamadi in league with Syrian intelligence. The Syrians have denied it, of course. This story, in the Washington Post, concerns the arrest of Neameh Qayssamani, a newly elected member of the municipal council, and dozens of other men in the Chouf Mountains, something the Post says is conjuring memories of "a fearful time most people believed had passed forever."

This story, written by an associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, about an attempt to stage Shakespeare's erotic poem Venus and Adonis using puppets, in the style of Japan's Bunraku theatre, would be fascinating enough on that simple basis. But the writer manages also to make a very graceful bow to the Little Angel, the workshop where British puppets are made, and turns his story from an OK preview of his theatrical enterprise into something really worth reading.

Conservative evangelicals flexed their muscles yesterday by denouncing the Church of England and its leader, the Most Rev Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, as sinful and corrupt, and by threatening to refuse to recognise the authority of liberal bishops. They warned that they might seek the ecclesiastical oversight of more theologically congenial bishops from the developing world if the church did not offer them the chance to align with bishops of their own stamp in England. The complaints came in the run-up to next week's publication of an international commission reviewing the structure of the Anglican communion in the wake of the gay bishops dispute."

I posted something about this man's invasion of Petrarch's tomb some time ago. My opinion is the same - there ought to be a law against opening someone's grave, no matter how old it happens to be, unless some compelling reason can be shown. Although these particular tomb-invaders describe themselves as scientists, their purpose was simply to reconstruct the poet's face. It is possible I am making too many assumptions from two very short stories, but there seems no particular reason to distinguish this exercise from simple grave robbery.

New York's City Journal has published a fascinating essay by author Michael Knox Beran on the pros and cons of making school children memorise classic poetry or prose. One's first reaction is that this is a style of teaching that disappeared with gas lighting, and that seems to be the position most teachers take. But Beran makes a good case for this particular kind of learning by rote being an important step in understanding language.

"What the child discovers, in other words, is not only aesthetically pleasing, but important to cognitive development. Classic verse teaches children an enormous amount about order, measure, proportion, correspondence, balance, symmetry, agreement, temporal relation (tense), and contingent possibility (mood). Mastering these concepts involves the most fundamental kind of learning, for these are the basic categories of thought and the framework in which we organize sensory experience. Kids need to become familiar with them not only through exercises in recitation and memorization, but also, as they proceed to the later grades, by construing, analyzing, and diagramming particular verses. In The Idea of a University, John Henry Newman called this close study of language 'a discipline in accuracy of mind,' a 'first step in intellectual training' that impresses on young minds notions of 'method, order, principle, and system; of rule and exception, of richness and harmony.' And of course memorization is a kind of exercise that strengthens the powers of the mind, just as physical exercise strengthens those of the body.

"No less important, memorizing poetry turns on kids' language capability. It not only teaches them to articulate English words; it heightens their feel for the intricacies and complexities of the English language - an indispensable attainment if they are to go on to speak, write, and read English with ease. Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, argues that memorization 'builds into children’s minds an ability to use complex English syntax.' The student 'who memorizes poetry will internalize' the 'rhythmic, beautiful patterns' of the English language. These patterns then become 'part of the student's language store,' those wells that we all use every day in writing and speaking.' Without memorization, the student's 'language store,' Bauer says, will be limited: memorization stocks 'the language store with a whole new set of language patterns.'"

12 October 2004

First it was CBS - now it's ABC stubbing its toe on the politics of the US Presidential race. ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin sent a memorandum around to ABC's News staff last week, saying they must help the electorate by sorting out the relevant facts from the spin, by holding the liars accountable and by openly campaigning for the election of John Kerry. That's what he said, apparently, in glorious black and white. The Washington Times says "Mr. Halperin's memo adds further proof...to the growing mound of evidence that the mainstream media leans liberal. A Pew Research Center and Project on Excellence in Journalism released a report over the summer that found 34 percent of national journalists identified themselves as liberal, while just seven percent said they were conservative. An August New York Times article conducted an 'unscientific' survey that found that by a 12 to one margin, Washington journalists favor Mr. Kerry in the upcoming election. But entrenched liberalism isn't really the problem here; shameless arrogance is.

"The Pew survey contrasted its findings with the breakdown of the American public, 20 percent of which identifies itself as liberal, 33 percent as conservative. No wonder Mr. Halperin thinks ABC News, with all its 'skill and strength', should 'help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying': The poor dolts are too conservative for their own good. In the wake of the Dan Rather uproar, one would think that executives like Mr. Halperin would be a bit more guarded in revealing their bias, especially three weeks before the election...But when someone like Mr. Halperin doesn't think he has a bias, it's particularly difficult to guard against it."

Daniel J Mitchell, a political economist at the Heritage Foundation, is complaining in the Washington Times about pressure on the US from "some foreign governments" concerned about its low tax rates.

"America attracts jobs and investment from all over the world because of our lower tax burden. This upsets some foreign governments, who accuse the United States of 'harmful tax competition'. These high-tax welfare states have even enlisted another leftist international bureaucracy, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, to persecute low-tax nations.

"This is the wrong approach. If high-tax nations are worried investment funds are fleeing to America, they should lower their punitive taxes on saving and investment. If welfare states are worried talented entrepreneurs are immigrating to America, they should lower their income-tax rates. Uncompetitive countries such as France should be allowed to keep their terrible tax systems, of course, but they shouldn't try to drag other nations down to their level. Global taxes and an International Tax Organization are both attempts to undermine America's economic advantage by creating a tax cartel — an OPEC for politicians, if you will."

If, in his article, the word Bermuda were to be substituted for the word America, Mr Mitchell would have done admirable justice to our defence of a tax system that attracts American businesses to offshore financial centres like Bermuda.

A columnist in the Toronto Star makes an interesting point this morning - "Although some analysts in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion suggested that his own generals had misled Saddam about the capacity of his arsenal, it's now clear he was the one organizing the deception.

"'The better part of war,' he told one of his aides...'is deceiving'."

A federal US judge ruled, eleven years ago, that those private conversations that were caught on Richard Nixon's ubiquitous White House taping system did not belong to the nation, and should be excused from the record. The slow, painstaking task of going through 2,800 hours of tape and cutting out the private bits seems to have been handed to one man - Bill Cowell. A former military intelligence officer, Cowell was hired as a kind of historical surgeon at the National Archives, says the Los Angeles Times, at least in part because he knows how to keep a secret.

Roger Kimball is the editor of the highly-respected magazine New Criterion and also author of The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art. In the Wall Street Journal this morning, he is speaking of the death of Jacques Derrida - "Jacques Derrida is dead. Let us not speak ill of him. But his ideas are still very much alive. They deserve unstinting criticism from anyone who cares about the moral fabric of intellectual life."

Derrida's theory of deconstruction, he says, is nonsense. "What is deconstruction? Mr. Derrida would never say. It was a question certain to spark his contempt and ire. He denied that deconstruction could be meaningfully defined. I think he was right about that, though not necessarily for the reasons he believed."

Its appeal to academics, he thinks, was an appeal to that side of them which was attracted to fashionable intellectual radicalism. "Because deconstruction operates by subversion, its evasions are at the same time an attack: an attack on the cogency of language and the moral and intellectual claims that language has codified in tradition. The subversive element inherent in the deconstructive enterprise is another reason that it has exercised such a mesmerizing spell on intellectuals. Deconstruction promises its adherents not only an emancipation from the responsibilities of truth but also the prospect of engaging in a species of radical activism. A blow against the legitimacy of language is at the same time a blow against the legitimacy of the tradition in which language lives and has meaning. By undercutting the idea of truth, the decontructionist also undercuts the idea of value, including established social, moral, and political values."

Race-hate crime in Britain has increased eleven-fold over the course of the last decade, according to the charity Victim Support. The organisation said that it had helped 33,374 people who believed they had been targeted because of their skin colour in the past 12 months. Ten years ago, it handled 3,072 similar complaints.

The UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, has warned the Security Council that equipment once used in the Iraqi nuclear programme has been disappearing from the country. Britain's Independent reports that some industrial material that Iraq sent overseas has been located in other countries, but not high-precision items including milling machines and electron beam welders that have both commercial and military uses."

On a related issue, a report was released in Washington yesterday that claims four countries that secretly built their nuclear programs against the wishes of the international community now possess more than 400 nuclear weapons. Two of these unrecognized nuclear states, India and Pakistan, publicly tested their nuclear devices in May 1998. The third, Israel, is still an undeclared nuclear state but has dropped enough hints to let the world know that it has nuclear weapons. The fourth, North Korea, continues to defy U.S.-led international efforts to shut down its nuclear plants.

11 October 2004

It's a little hard to find, tucked away in all that pork, but the tax bill that has just cleared the Senate does contain some good news for American business. First, it lowers the corporate tax rate for domestic producers from 35 percent to 32 percent. Since the U.S. now has one of the world's highest tax rates on business it is hoped that this cut might help keep businesses from fleeing abroad. The bill will also allow companies with overseas subsidiaries to bring profits home to the US at a one-time tax rate of 5.5 percent. As I understand it, this is a temporary measure, but it will be attractive, I think, to many businesses which have been keeping profits overseas to escape the 35 per cent shellacking they normally get, in addition to whatever corporate tax there is in the country where the profit was made. Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, notes in the Washington Times that "cutting taxes on business helps create jobs. And the homeland investment provision brings hundreds of billions of dollars of investment capital into the US, which means better-paying jobs. Only a Benedict Arnold could be against that."

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is criticising the United Nations this morning, in an op-ed published by the Los Angeles Times. "The U.N. cannot continue on its current course with regard to the crisis in Sudan. Despite the abundance of evidence and outrage, the most aggressive action the Security Council has taken to date has been a resolution giving Sudan 30 days to disarm the janjaweed. Those 30 days expired Aug 30. A feckless Sept. 18 resolution threatening, but not actually applying, sanctions against Khartoum's oil industry has only served to buy more time for the regime, as has Annan's call for an 'impartial commission' to investigate.

"This is a test of the integrity and decency of the U.N. as an institution. Continued inaction against Sudan will only encourage more deaths, not only in Sudan but at the hands of future tyrants who understand all too well the unwillingness and inability of the U.N. to put aside internal politics to stop them."

It is interesting that al-Jazeera is running an on-line opinion poll this morning, asking whether growing accusations of non-compliance with UN resolutions will lead to Sudan's compliance, another UN resolution, or to an emboldening of the rebels. With nearly 5,000 votes counted, the vast majority said it would lead simply to another UN resolution.

It took Norman Sherry 30 years to complete his three-volume biography of Graham Greene, and the critics have fallen on him like lions on limping prey. The Guardian interviews him this morning, noting that "Sherry has devoted 30 years of his life to Greene and has got a monumental pasting for his pains. How is he coping with the verdict of Ian Thomson in the Observer? 'For Norman Sherry to have begun so promisingly and ended so badly is a personal tragedy.'

"'Some of the reviews here have been shocking, a disgrace,' he says. 'Thomson's was so bloody silly, saying it's full of purple prose. When you've spent all this time on it and you're kicked in the arse, that's no pleasure. It's no pleasure for anyone being kicked in the arse.'"

Greene did hand pick him, though...

Blogger Arthur Chrenkoff publishes another of his good news briefs on Iran in the Wall Street Journal this morning. As always, it is a wide-ranging report, but my eye was caught by some economic news - "Iraq has recently settled a $81 million debt owed the International Monetary Fund, thus opening the way for the fund's assistance. The fund has now approved a $436 million emergency loan to Iraq, the first ever in the IMF's history, hoping that 'its backing would generate additional international economic support, including debt relief.' Switzerland has released $9 million belonging to the former regime and previously held in Swiss bank accounts. The money will be used for reconstruction purposes. The reconstruction effort is speeding up with Iraqis themselves providing direction and resources:

"'The cabinet ministers have allocated two billions dollars or equivalent to 300 billions Iraqi dinars for the reconstruction projects in four Iraqi cities. Dr. Abdul Ukhuwwa al-Timimi the economic committee advisor at the cabinet indicated to the four cities namely Tikrit, Kirkuk, Diyala and Suleimaniya, saying that the priority was given to Diyala. About $720 millions were allocated for the security and economic projects and the remaining sum was distributed on three other cities. Al-Timimi clarified that these prepared projects include repairing water, sewerage and electricity systems.'

"Among the next round of projects financed from American, Iraqi and nongovernment sources, 'more than $900 million [will go toward] assisting in the construction of more hospitals, schools and government buildings throughout Iraq. The figure represents the building or renovating of 150 primary healthcare centers, 19 hospitals including a children's hospital in Basrah and 1,200 schools including 16 new contemporary, secondary schools and five major Iraqi Ministry buildings. Work is slated to begin October 17 on the primary healthcare centers, and more than 30 will be under construction by November 14. Another 30 are forecasted to start by December 12, and each is expected to take nearly nine months to complete.'"

10 October 2004

Clifford May is a former New York Times foreign correspondent who is now president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. In this morning's Washington Times, he writes that when the New York Times gave Michael Tarazi, an American lawyer who advises the Palestine Liberation Organization, space on its Op-Ed Page this week, it was kowtowing to genocidal anti-Semitism. Tarazi made the argument that having failed to eradicate Israel with tanks and terrorism, Palestinian leaders are now "being forced to consider a one-state solution."

May comments that "In the long run, anti-Semites seek a world free of Jews. In the short run, a world free of a Jewish state will do. If they can disguise such extremism as a fight against bigotry, a 'struggle for equal citizenship' and against 'apartheid', and if they can push such boldly Orwellian propaganda on the pages of the New York Times, they would be crazy not to. But people such as Mr. Tarazi are not crazy. They know exactly what they are doing. They just hope people like you won't be able to figure it out until it's too late."

Niall Ferguson thinks the Iraq war is breaking up a beautiful friendship.

Max Geldray's name will be familiar to anyone who listened to the Goon Show on British radio in the 1950s. He wasn't exactly the Charlie Parker of the harmonica, but he was as lively as they come, and could take any joke Sellers, Secombe, Milligan and Bentine threw at him. Geldray, who died recently at the age of 88, was a Dutch musician who went to Britain during the War, intending, but ultimately failing, to leave once it was over.

The New York Times says this morning that "Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film about nuclear-war plans run amok, is widely heralded as one of the greatest satires in American political or movie history. For its 40th anniversary, Film Forum is screening a new 35 millimeter print for one week, starting on Friday, and Columbia TriStar is releasing a two-disc special-edition DVD next month. One essential point should emerge from all the hoopla: Strangelove is far more than a satire. In its own loopy way, the movie is a remarkably fact-based and specific guide to some of the oddest, most secretive chapters of the Cold War." The only thing I quibble with is the phrase "one of" - it is the greatest satire in American movie history. Nothing else comes close.


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

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2003 Index


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