...Views from mid-Atlantic
09 April 2005

Canada is having a hard time fighting the myth that the 9/11 hijackers got into the US from there. The Washington Post says the new Canadian ambassador calls it an "urban myth" and has been trying to beat it down in television interviews and letters to the editor. Frankly, the reason the myth thrives is that if it were not for the bloody-minded obstinacy of the facts, it would have been true.

Christopher Hitchens reviews a new French biography of Andre Malraux which destroys the reputation of a man who was an adolescent hero of mine. Good thing I didn't learn this at the time, or I'd probably have turned to a life of crime. Hitchens writes "Isaiah Berlin once described someone whom I will not name as 'that very rare thing: a perfect charlatan'. Admit that this ostensibly lethal criticism contains a note of reluctant admiration, and you have the tone of Olivier Todd's newest biography, Malraux: A Life (which has been translated from the French by Joseph West). Andre Malraux was one of the most prolific self-inventors of the 20th century, and it is 'the Malrucian legend', as much as the life itself, that is Todd's subject.

"This is perhaps a pity, since it causes Todd to devote more space to the succeeding stages of Malraux's dazzling metamorphoses - from marginal arriviste to major cultural impresario of Charles de Gaulle's Fifth Republic - than to the novels by which he is chiefly remembered. One might make that 'the novel': La Condition Humaine, or Man's Fate. Published in 1933, it did for fiction what Harold Isaacs's Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution did for scholarship. It pointed up the increasing weight of Asia in world affairs; it described epic moments of suffering and upheaval, in Shanghai especially (it was nearly filmed by Sergei Eisenstein); and it demonstrated a huge respect for Communism and for Communists while simultaneously evoking the tragedy of a revolution betrayed by Moscow. Somewhat lushly Orientalist in its manner, the novel was ridiculed for its affectation by Vladimir Nabokov and hailed as prescient by Arthur Koestler.

"For Todd, the author of several works, including a biography of Camus, all this is of less importance than the knowledge that Malraux had spent almost no time in China itself. Toward the end of this book, he hits on a near-perfect Left Bank encapsulation for his subject. Malraux was, we learn, 'autonomous in relation to facts'. That is to phrase it mildly. One of the characters in Flaubert's Sentimental Education is described as being so corrupt that he would happily have paid for the pleasure of selling himself. Malraux was such a fantasist that he would have paid handsomely for a forged narrative that was designed to deceive himself. He invented a relationship with Mao. He exaggerated his role in the Spanish Civil War. He fabricated a glorious past in the French Resistance."

A fine piece of must-read writing by Hitchens. I just wish Malraux had been more like Gustaf Mannerheim who really was the real deal. The Guardian calls him a man of arms who turned his life into "an exquisite work of art".

David Brooks has another excellent column in the New York Times this morning, suggesting that Republicans are misreading the American population over issues like Terry Shiavo's death and social security reform. "Being conservative," he writes, "the American people don't want leaders who perpetually play it close to the ethical edge. They don't want leaders who, under threat, lash out wildly at beloved institutions like the judiciary. They don't want leaders whose instinct is always to go out wildly on the attack. They don't want leaders so reckless that even when they know they are living under a microscope, they continue to act in ways that invite controversy...All in all, intellectual conservatism is bumping up against dispositional conservatism."

07 April 2005

Hosni Mubarek of Egypt may have opened a kind of Middle East Pandora's Box when he said a few weeks ago that he was going to allow a sliver of democratic election reform in the country. AlJazeera reports that Egypt's judges have now called for further political reforms, asking for a separation of powers between the judicial and executive branches, and threatening to boycott the country's upcoming elections if they don't get what they want. Last month, AlJazeera says, "Egyptian Judges' Club presented a draft law to parliament via left-wing opposition MP Abul Ezz Al Hariri, seeking to amend the current judiciary law and guarantee the judges' independence from the executive branch."

The Well was once a kind of Internet holy grail - an online community that had its roots in the San Francisco of the days of Ken Kesey's magic bus. The Chronicle reports that there was a set last Friday to mark the Well's 20th anniversary. "About 100 die-hard members gathered down the road from the Well's original office for a potluck party at the Presidio Yacht Club at Fort Baker. If ever there was a tribute to yesteryear, this was it. Most were in their 50s and 60s and had let their hair go white. A couple holding hands wore their Grateful Dead T-shirts with the dancing bear emblazoned on their chests. A man in a long beard wore a bandana around his forehead. Tie-dye shirts, Birkenstocks, flip-flops, shoulder bags with fringes. The most modern outfits were a few flannel shirts and a sparkly hot pink blouse from the disco era that the wearer said came from the Salvation Army. The crowd looked like the stereotype of the Bay Area intellectual and creative community. And, indeed, that's what the Well's community has always been: the writers, artists, geeks, activists and freethinkers who personify the Bay Area."

Wanna join? Have a look? Go here.

There's been a lot of talk about the raid on Abu Ghraib prison marking an alarming and dangerous turning point in the terrorist insurgency in Iraq. But James S Robbins, writing in the National Review, has it right: "Terrorists and guerillas have a hard time with stand-up fights. The reason they are unconventional warriors in the first place is that their relative weakness prevents them from fighting symmetrical, force-on-force engagements.

"If they could place effective armies in the field, they would. But for various reasons - small numbers, lack of popular support, no significant heavy weapons, and no possibility of air support to name a few - they lack the capacity to engage in pitched battles. They have to fight hit and run actions, in which running is as important as hitting, if not more so. When insurgents group together, they lose their mobility and present attractive targets. When they attack well-armed troops in strong defensive positions, they risk annihilation. All the guerillas have going for them at that point is the element of surprise, and they can only make these types of attacks a few times before Coalition forces begin searching for signs of preparation and mounting preemptive strikes.

"However, al Qaeda might well change its strategy, since the previous one has clearly failed. The civil war they sought to foment in Iraq has not broken out; the election they sought to disrupt has become a symbol of freedom and resistance to violence and intimidation. A new Iraqi government is forming with a Shia prime minister, a Kurdish president, and a Sunni vice president. Meanwhile 64 influential Sunni clerics have urged their followers to become active in the Iraqi defense forces and police. The overall level of violence in Iraq has plunged back to levels of February 2004 after peaking just before the election, and the foreign terrorists led by Zarqawi will soon be the only ones left fighting.

"Al Qaeda has failed to achieve any of its strategic objectives in Iraq, and Osama bin Laden has allegedly counseled Zarqawi to shift more of his attacks towards Coalition forces, and to hit the American homeland for good measure. But Zarqawi has noted the shortage of 'willing martyrs' for such an operation, and an editorial in his online magazine complained about the 'lack of enthusiasm for jihad'. Small wonder under the circumstances."

So what was the attack on Abu Ghraib all about? Best guess is that it was a Zarqawi miscalculation. Let's hope he keeps on making them.

Bermuda's liquor firm, Gosling Brothers, famous for its Black Seal Rum, has had its toe in the international market for some time, with some modest success. Now, though, they've made a partnership with Castle Brands that may raise their horizons a bit. The trade publication, Just Drinks.com, says the two firms will launch a global export venture, Gosling-Castle Partners, Inc. (GCP), which will hold the global export rights for Gosling's Rum.

Black Seal Rum is the key ingredient in Bermuda's famous drink, the Dark and Stormy, a potent mixture of rum and ginger beer that will make you re-consider what you understand by the words habit and forming. CBI was already the exclusive US importer for Gosling's rums, and has recently launched the brands in the UK.

The Washington Post cautions that is too early to be complacent about political advances in Iraq. In an editorial, the Post says "To reach this week's accord Shiite and Kurdish leaders put off potentially explosive problems that soon must be defused, like the future of the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk. They still are at the beginning of their efforts to reach an accommodation with Sunnis and prepare a national army that can turn back the insurgency with less help from U.S. troops. Failure remains a distinct possibility, and the skeptics may eventually be proved correct. For now, however, the situation in Iraq looks better than it has since that first flush of military success two years ago - and President Bush surely has learned enough since then not to mistake progress for 'mission accomplished.'" Ouch.

Washington lawyer Bruce Fein is also warning in the Washington Timesthis morning that Iraq is entering a tricky phase, especially where Kirkuk is concerned. Once, it was a Kurdish city. Saddam Hussein used forcible population relocation to change that. Now that he's gone, the Kurds want Kirkuk back, some say perhaps as the chief city in an independent Kurdistan. Fein warns: "If Kirkuk succumbs to Kurdish domination, Iraq will ineluctably fragment along ethnic lines. The United States should exert maximum cajolery and incentives to make resolution of Kirkuk a standard to which all Iraq may repair."

An extraordinary development in the special prosecutor's investigation of the Valerie Plame leak. The Washington Post says papers filed in a court case show that the prosecutor completed his investigation months ago, except for questioning two reporters who have refused to testify. Since no one has been charged, this revelation has caused speculation that there may not be sufficient evidence to charge anyone...something that has been suspected for some time. That would put the legal problems of the two reporters in a very odd light - an aimless persecution as opposed to a justifiable prosecution. Press advocates are indignant: "Lucy Dalglish, of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called the special counsel's case 'disturbing', the Post said. 'Boy, I tell you if those two reporters go to jail and there was nothing to this entire investigation, that will be an outrage," Dalglish said.

What is the one thing everyone should know about science? The Guardian uses a feature developed by the website Spiked (online publication "with the modest ambition of making history as well as reporting it"), in which that question was asked of 250 scientists, and the best of their replies used. I was a little surprised, at first, at how unimaginative the answers seemed. But as I read on, I realised that, mundane though some of them might have seemed individually, together they were a most extraordinarily diverse quilt of ideas, well worth reading. And at the very end, a zen-like little reflection from a theoretical physicist: "Is it really true that the world wants to hear only one thing about science? And then continue after that, with its ongoing religious, superstitious and political disputes? Maybe the world wants to hear only one thing from me. What could that be? All the important things that the world has already heard from my colleagues might be incomplete - my colleagues may have forgotten to tell the world something. What could that be? I do not know." Clever feature, cleverly done.

06 April 2005

China is gearing up for its dragon boat races. They're held on the fifth night of the fifth moon of the year, which in 2005 is June 11. The races used to be confined to the Mi Lo river, but are now held all over China, and all over the world...even in New York as I recall. People's Daily has a couple of pictures of an all-female team entered in a race in Zhejiang province in eastern China. Like many Chinese ceremonies, this one has a poetic beginning. During the Warring States period, between 475 and 221 BC, Qu Yuan was a Government minister in the kingdom of Chu. He was greatly admired, because his wise counsel brought peace and prosperity to the kingdom. But when a dishonest and corrupt prince vilified him, he was disgraced and dismissed from office. He threw himself into the Mi Lo and drowned. Fishermen nearby tried unsuccessfully to rescue him. His body was never recovered.

The races represent the attempts to rescue him. A dragon-boat ranges from 50 to 100 feet in length, with a beam of about five and a half feet, accommodating paddlers sitting side by side. A wooden dragonhead is attached at the bow, and a dragon tail at the stern. A banner hoisted on a pole is also fastened at the stern. The hulls are decorated with a design of red, green and blue scales edged in gold. In the center of the boat is a canopied shrine. Behind that sit drummers, gong-beaters and cymbal-crashers to set the pace for the paddlers. There are fireworks, of course, things being thrown all over the place...and a rattling good time is had by all.

There have been calls in Britain to speed up the inquiry into whether MP George Galloway was paid for his support for Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. The Scotsman says the Commissioner for Standards is looking into complaints that Galloway received 375,000 pounds from the former Iraqi regime under the guise of the UN Oil for Food programme - which he had not recorded in the register of MPs' interests.

Forget electric cars, forget distilled ears of corn, or whatever it is the Brazilians are so fond of, fuel cell technology is where it's all going. Rolls Royce is sinking $100 million into it, says the Guardian, which is pretty much the Good Housekeeping seal of approval in the automotive industry.

Canada has finally begun to make some strongly-worded demands of Iran over the 2003 arrest and death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in that country. Its diplomats have been going through the motions, entirely too politely, but found themselves backed into a corner when the Iranian doctor who examined Kazemi after her arrest by security forces emigrated to Canada and told all, saying she had been beaten badly and raped. The Globe and Mail says Canada is calling for an international forensic investigation. They don't mention it in their story, but the Canadians are also demanding the return of Kazemi's body to Canada.

The Mullahs of Iran seem to be having their troubles at the moment. The Washington Times noted this morning (perhaps gloated would be a better word) that "In recent weeks, Iran has been rocked by a series of popular demonstrations against the government. On March 25, at least six people were killed and more than 40 others wounded following an international soccer match at Azadi Stadium in Tehran. According to some press accounts, the deaths resulted from a 'stampede' which began after riot police fired into the air to disperse revelers. Some Iranian commentators, reflecting the government line, claimed that mobs attacked public buildings and damaged public buses in the Iranian capital. Critics of the government tell a very different story. Iran Press News, a Los Angeles-based news service that has contact with dissidents inside Iran, reports that Revolutionary Guards attacked youths in Tehran for singing an Iranian nationalist song that the regime has banned. Demonstrators were beaten in unprovoked attacks, and women, who are barred from attending soccer games, were arrested for protesting against such discriminatory practices."

The UN's General Assembly is to begin debating Kofi Annan's reform package this week, the Christian Science Monitor reminds us. Annan says his reforms are aimed at restoring UN credibility and relevance, and underscoring the link among human rights, development, and security. "Mr. Annan's 62-page reform report, called In Larger Freedom, contains scores of recommendations for the post-9/11 world, though four proposals dominate. Three of them have endured years of contentious, inconclusive debate - expanding the UN Security Council, defining terrorism, and increasing foreign aid. The fourth is the lone fresh proposal - scrapping the UN Commission on Human Rights for a new Human Rights Council. Despite Annan's fall deadline, any change to the 60-year-old body faces an uphill battle. National self-interest and age-old arguments may again derail reform. And critics say changes to the UN need to go beyond process and procedure."

05 April 2005

It is beginning to sound as though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in serious difficulty with his efforts to get control of the monstrous terrorism apparatus created by Yasser Arafat. His visit to the US has been cancelled, reportedly because US authorities are worried about growing resistance to his authority. Now, AlJazeera is reporting that he is about to dismiss his Government, complaining that only two of them were doing their jobs. "The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to dismiss his premier Ahmed Qurei and to ask finance minister Salam Fayyadh to form a new government, press reports said on Monday. The reports also quoted Palestinian sources as saying that Abbas has already informed the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak of his decision two days ago. Abbas claims that Qurei's government is not performing its duties with the exception of the finance minister and the interior minister, Nasr Yousef.

Another sign that the occupation of Iraq has turned a corner - the Telegraph reports that Lt Gen Sir John Kiszely, Britain's senior officer in the country, has predicted that in some parts of Iraq, the coalition will transfer security control to Iraqi forces "soon". Hailing a string of military and moral victories over the country's insurgency, he said consultations on the details of a handover could begin within weeks. The General, who is the coalition's 2IC, said he was now able to believe that "in the long term it's not the insurgents who are going to be ruling this place."

I disagree with the widespread horror that the California farm town of Salinas, so well known as a result of John Steinbeck's writing, should be thinking of closing its three libraries. The Independent is one of many newspapers reporting this morning on efforts to raise money and save the institutions from being closed because the town can no longer afford to pay for them. The fact is that libraries, as they are presently constituted, have struggled to maintain relevance in the modern world. They were really designed to answer the needs of a population of a very different time, without an internet, when books were not as easily and cheaply available as they are today and when reading was much more important to individuals than it is today. The big research libraries, if that's a fair way to describe them, will likely be important for many years to come, but local libraries, which exist to circulate books in small communities, seem to me to be on their way out. Why should that be such a bad thing?

It is a sobering thought that a proposal for a boycott of any Israeli university lecturer who fails to condemn Israeli policies in the occupied territories is not something that was suggested in some wild and woolly Arab country, but in Britain, which could once claim to be the most civilized and sophisticated country in the world. The Guardian reports that the "Association of University Teachers' annual council, which begins on April 20 in Eastbourne, will also debate whether to boycott three of Israel's eight universities - Haifa University, Bar Ilan University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem - over their alleged complicity with the government's policies on the Palestinian territories."

This suggestion, and other recent anti-Semitic behaviour in universities in Britain, makes one think that Britain has morally regressed to the point of being little more advanced than a country like Russia, whose nascent democracy also throws up some extraordinary ethical wobblers...like this one, reported in Sunday's Haaretz.

David Brooks of the New York Times argues that it is a mistake to believe American conservatives do well because they are well organised, and that liberals fail because their approach to political thought is too democratic.

"Much as I admire my friends on the left for ingeniously explaining their recent defeats without really considering the possibility that maybe the substance of their ideas is the problem, I have to say that this explanation for conservative success and liberal failure is at odds with reality. Conservatives have not triumphed because they have built a disciplined and efficient message machine. Conservatives have thrived because they are split into feuding factions that squabble incessantly. As these factions have multiplied, more people have come to call themselves conservatives because they've found one faction to agree with."

The widely-accepted theory of the anti-war crowd is that the problem with US intelligence about Iraq was that Dick Cheney and the Pentagon created a separate intelligence conduit that ignored CIA professionals, or, even worse, pounded them into concluding against all evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But as the Wall Street Journal points out, "The Robb-Silberman panel does the enormous service of exposing all of this as both false regarding Iraq, and dangerous if it colors the future. The problem in Iraq wasn't some rogue Pentagon intelligence operation that ran roughshod over the CIA and DIA. Far from it, the problem was a 'climate of conformity' across the entire intelligence community that firmly believed that Saddam still had WMD. Instead of disagreement, there was almost no internal intelligence debate at all. Everybody believed Saddam had WMD.

"Moreover, says the unanimous bipartisan report, 'on the eve of war, the Intelligence Community failed to convey important information to policymakers.' Remember the story that former Secretary of State Colin Powell has often told of preparing for his February 2003 U.N. speech by demanding that the CIA scrub its data so he could be absolutely credible? Well, says the report, 'serious doubts' about one Iraq source (the infamous 'Curveball') became known months earlier 'within the Intelligence Community.' But 'these doubts never found their way to Secretary Powell, who was at that time attempting to strip questionable information from his speech.'

"This and other errors 'stem from poor tradecraft and poor management' within the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community, the report adds. But 'the Commission found no evidence of political pressure' to alter intelligence findings. 'Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter their analytical judgments,' the panelists unanimously say."

04 April 2005

Australian blogger Arthur Chrenkoff, in another review of the good news from Afghanistan, says that two of Afghanistan's most powerful northern warlords have sworn off banditry in order to run for election in the country's first parliamentary elections, to be held on September 16. His Wall Street Journal summary says the militias of the ethnic Uzbek warlord, General Abdul Rashid Dostam, and his Tajik rival, Mohammed Atta, have stopped fighting with each other and laid down their arms as the two men look to build political power bases. Fifty political parties, many of them run by former mujahideen who fought the Soviets and the Taliban have registered to contest the polls so far.

Good little murder-mystery story from the People's Daily this morning. Wife disappears. Unidentifiably decomposed body of woman is found. Husband is arrested and jailed. Eleven years pass. Dotty wife, dotty no longer, turns up with new husband and son. Husband is furious, sues everyone. It's the classic tale of She and she.

When are English speakers going to switch from describing the year as 'two thousand and something' to 'twenty something'? Well, experts are clashing, according to the Times. "David Crystal, author of the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language, believes that the change will be heard in 2011. He rules out past usage as any guide to the future, explaining that 'logic never enters into language matters. Rhythm counts for everything in something like this,' he said. 'The closer you get to the traditional heartbeat of English rhythm, the more people subconsciously go for it.'

"Thus 'two thousand and five' beats 'twenty oh five' hands down, he explained, because the former sounds like a train trundling gently over railway tracks while the alternative is 'much more abrupt'. For Professor Crystal, the flow of 'two thousand and ten' beats 'twenty ten', but 'two thousand and eleven' loses out to 'twenty eleven'. If not 2011, then what about 2012? An event of international significance might be enough to tip the scales and the team behind London's bid for the 2012 Olympics have already labelled that year 'twenty twelve'.

"For Ian Brookes, editor-in-chief of Chambers Dictionary, the Olympics will come a year too soon. He thinks the change will come in 2013. If it still reigns supreme, the final hurdle for 'two thousand and' to cross would arrive in 2020. If people can have 'twenty-twenty' vision, then surely they should also live in the year 'twenty twenty'."

For ten years in a row, now, the European Court of Auditors has refused to sign off on the European Union's accounts. In 2003, member states reported irregularities, including alleged fraud, valued at over $1 billion. While this was 20 per cent lower than in 2002, it was higher than in 1999, when the anti-fraud office was created. The Telegraph says that's a sort of educated guess, because the real level of fraud is difficult to calculate. The newspaper quotes Edward Leigh, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, as saying "The task of achieving strong audit and accountability arrangements in the European Union is one Sisyphus himself, endlessly pushing his huge stone to the top of the mountain, would not envy. Little has changed because of institutional inertia."

Here's something not to be missed - Michael Gambon, who I think is one of the best actors alive, playing Falstaff. Henry IV, part one, is previewing at the National's Olivier Theatre in London this month. Part two will follow. The Telegraph talks to Gambon about the role: "'There's something fundamentally attractive about him,' says Gambon. 'He's like a child, actually. He f***s about all day. He's also a victim. People take the piss out of him. Deep down, he is tragic because he's going to have nothing at the end. He'll end up in a bedsit in Clapham. But no one will ever conquer his spirit.' By Part 2, Falstaff is tetchier and more brittle. 'He's sick and lonely,' says Gambon, 'harder, less exuberant. Play two is more serious.'"

I mentioned a few days ago that some containers of what had been described as clean waste paper on their way from Britain to be recycled in China had been found not to be clean at all, but to be full of plastic, batteries, cans, old clothes, carrier bags and wood. The Guardian says these containers have now been returned to Britain, and the firm which sent them in the first place is now under investigation. More and more stories like this are surfacing - there was another (in Haaretz) this morning suggesting that Israel plans to dump garbage in the West Bank, despite international treaties prohibiting an occupying state from making use of occupied territory unless it benefits the local population. Garbage, and what happens to it, really is the Achilles heel of the human race. As far as I know, although there are plenty of reports quantifying the problem by country, there are none quantifying the problem internationally. I'd guess such a report would be shocking, unpleasant reading.

03 April 2005

Claudia Rosset writes in the Weekly Standard of what she calls this week's "moment of high farce" in the UN Oil-for-Food scandal. She was referring to a moment after Kofi Annan summoned the media to the blue-curtained UN briefing room to announce his great releif at being "exonerated" by Paul Volcker's second interim report. It "will surely be remembered as Kofi Annan's 'Hell, no' press conference," she writes, "named for the secretary general's belligerent answer on March 29 to a reporter who, quite appropriately, wondered if Annan shouldn't think about resigning sometime soon." Annan apparently answered a grand total of three questions before saying he had a lot of work to do and leaving abruptly.

Rosset argues, correctly, that the Volcker report is not at all an exoneration, as do many others this morning - Anne Applebaum in the Telegraph, for example, and Robert Winnett in the Times to give just two examples.

But I think of the latest revelations not as a make-it-or-break-it incident in Kofi Annan's life. I think a better way to see it is as the straw that broke the camel's back. The UN Oil-for-Food scandal and all its baby scandals are not by any means the only thing for which Kofi Annan should be judged, they are simply the latest in a long line of ugly events, any one of which might have sunk a different man without trace. The one that stands out in my mind was the memo in which he forbade General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian serving as the head of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, to do anything to save thousands of people who had put their lives in the hands of those wearing the blue helmets.

In the Observer this morning, former UN human rights lawyer Kenneth Cain asks how many people have to die before Annan is seen for what he is - a walking disaster. I think he overwrites his story a little, and I would not have used Annan, in the circumstances, as a bludgeon with which to beat the political left over the head. The failure to see Annan clearly is broader than a simple political difference. To all of us, he has the appearance of such a quiet, humble man that he seems not capable of failure on a monstrous scale...he wouldn't have been given a Nobel Peace Prize if that weren't true. And yet, he is capable of failure on such a scale. There is absolutely no reason to believe he will not continue to fail on such a scale.

And so at the risk of making people like Robin Cook think I'm in on the neocon plot (see Friday's post), I think Kofi Annan needs to be made to leave his post at the UN now. I believe he has immunity from prosecution for any wrong-doing as long as he is there, and that immunity needs to be removed. If Volcker, in his final report this summer, finds that his behaviour was in any way criminal, he should be prosecuted and sentenced as an example to the other walking disasters who appear to populate the UN from one end to the other.

An exhibition of the Nimrud Gold, that cache of ancient jewellery which was rescued from a Baghdad bank vault, is to open on 23 October, at a venue in Europe to be announced next month, according to the Art Newspaper. The show will then tour to 11 other cities in Europe, North America and the Far East, raising over $10 million for Iraq's National Museum.

Hurricane expert William Gray announced on Friday that during this year's hurricane season, there are likely to be 13 named storms, seven of them hurricanes and three of those severe hurricanes. According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, that's a considerably more severe season than normal. Last year, the Bermuda High protected Bermuda from hurricanes, but exposed southern US coastal regions more than usual. This year, that ridge of high pressure seems to be weakening, according to one meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Miami. Forecasters do not know how to tell whether the ridge will rebuild.


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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