...Views from mid-Atlantic
19 November 2005

The Guardian declares that Claire Fox "is, if not the devil, then someone who hold devilishly unsettling views. In her time, she has stood up for Gary Glitter's right to download child porn, libelled ITN journalists, backed GM technology and attacked multiculturalism. And she refuses to disparage the benighted views of Michael Buerk - who chairs Radio 4's The Moral Maze, on which she is a panellist - about uppity women."

No prize for guessing she's a Brit - one of those dogmatically out-ot-sync-with-the-rest-of-the-world people that country seems to excel at producing. "She was born in north Wales to 'archetypal Irish Catholic parents' in 1960, educated at 'a bog-standard comp in a pretty rough area...One thing I got from my parents was that they talked about politics all the time. They weren't educated or academic but they were interesting about and interested in the world. They made us watch Panorama,' she says grimly. The brutes!"

The Vatican's chief astronomer, who I think can be taken to be speaking for the organisation, says placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs is mistaken. The Toronto Globe and Mail quotes Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, as having said: "Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."

On that subject, Charles Krauthammer ends a column in the Washington Post this morning with this very fine little paragraph: "How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education, too." I'd say that nails it!

Novelist Jonathan Lethem's New York Times essay of praise of Italo Calvino is tidy and logical and nicely-worded. He seems to achive that despite having to hold himself back from shouting with joy about how good he is - his paragraphs are like little waterfalls. This is one of them: "Calvino was more than simply one of my favorite writers, then and still. Gore Vidal, in The New York Review of Books, wrote that 'Europe regarded Calvino's death as a calamity for culture.' I took it more selfishly, feeling deprived of a chance to announce myself to the one living writer who seemed to me to straddle effortlessly the daunting contradictions that my own (inchoate) writerly impulses presented. Calvino, it seemed to me, had managed effortlessly what no author in English could quite claim: his novels and stories and fables were both classically modernist and giddily postmodern, embracing both experiment and tradition, at once conceptual and humane, intimate and mythic. Calvino, with his frequent references to comics and folktales and film, and his droll probing of contemporary scientific and philosophical theories, had encompassed motifs associated with brows both high and low in an internationally lucid style, one wholly his own. As comfortable mingling with the Oulipo group in Paris (Georges Perec, Harry Mathews, Raymond Queneau and others, who spliced the DNA of literature with overt surrealist games) as he was explicating his love for and debt to Hemingway, Stevenson and the Brothers Grimm, Calvino seemed never to have compromised in his elegant explorations of whatever made him curious in nature, art or his own sensory or intellectual life. His prose was ambassadorial, his work a living bridge between Pliny the Elder, Franz Kafka and Italian neorealist cinema. And - I intuited then, I've heard since - he was a kind and generous person to meet, as colleague or student or friend. Had he lived a few more weeks, Calvino probably would have tolerated my effort to waste a few of his shrinking hours on earth listening as I bragged of how much he'd influenced my then-unwritten works."

18 November 2005

I was beginning to think, with all the scornful denials of involvement flying around, that the Oil-for-Food scandal was all a big mistake...that mo one at all had benefited from Saddam's largesse. But just in the nick of time, a Frenchman has confessed. The Telegraph reports that "Jean-Bernard Merimee is thought to be the first senior figure to admit his role in the oil-for-food scandal... The Frenchman, who holds the title 'ambassador for life', told authorities that he regretted taking payments amounting to $156,000 in 2002. The money was used to renovate a holiday home he owned in southern Morocco. At the time, Mr Merimee was a special adviser to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general.

"France has been gravely embarrassed by oil-for-food allegations against senior figures, including Charles Pasqua, the former interior minister. He has denied receiving any benefit from the oil allocations issued in his name. Inquiries have also found that French firms benefited disproportionately from oil-for-food contracts as part of an Iraqi policy to influence French votes on the UN Security Council. Supporters of President George W Bush accuse France of putting its foreign policy up for sale and opposing the invasion of Iraq for commercial reasons. That has been fiercely denied in Paris."

Facing another backbench revolt over his Education Minister's plans to reform schools in Britain for the umpty-umpth time, Tony Blair has taken up a pen himself (!) and published a piece in the Education section of the Guardian, defending what is planned. It's rather a lacklustre piece, claiming simply that he is right and his critics are wrong.

"The reason for more change is that, yes, we have done a lot to improve education - but we need to do more. A quarter of children aged 11 still don't pass their tests. At 16, more than 40% still don't get five good GCSEs. Staying-on rates are still among the lowest in the developed world. There are too many coasting schools, too many pupils underperforming in good schools. And children in our poorest areas, though doing better since 1997, still get a worse deal than those in more prosperous ones. Who are the victims of this underachievement? Here we come to the biggest myth of all: that all this change is designed to help the middle class at the expense of the working class. The truth is that middle-class pupils are not disadvantaged by the present system. Most parents, one way or other, get a good deal for their kids. They exercise choice. They always have. It's the eternal privilege of the better-off. If wealthy enough, they send their children to private school. Otherwise, they just move house.

"The victims are the very people Labour exists to help: those the present system should do most to help. Today, thanks to eight years of Labour government, far more of those children are getting the breaks. But we have to do more."

The Guardian is reporting that that strange man Iran has elected as President seems bent on re-making the political landscape in his country by firing anybody he thinks disagrees with him. "Mr Ahmadinejad's mixture of confrontationalism and inexperience is increasing ructions at home. Several rows have flared about his nominees for key ministries - in particular the oil ministry - with MPs complaining about a failure to consult. His purge of dozens of senior ministers, officials and diplomats brought an unusual rebuke this week from Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president whom he beat in this year's presidential election and who chairs the Expediency Council, a government oversight body."

In an associated story, the Guardian says "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's clearout of his opponents began last month but is more sweeping than previously understood and has reached almost every branch of government, the Guardian has learned. Dozens of deputy ministers have been sacked this month in several government departments, as well the heads of the state insurance and privatisation organisations. Last week, seven state bank presidents were dismissed in what an Iranian source described as 'a coup d'etat'."

I'm one of those who can't get enough of Walt Whitman, so I'm a sucker for things like the Whitman exhibition at the New York Public Library to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Leaves of Grass. The New York Times's piece on it this morning was written by someone called Michael Frank, who describes himself as a short story writer and book critic. Having read it, I have to say I'm not sure he knows much about Walt Whitman, or even about poetry generally. He falls back on a recitation of every cliche there is in what is, it must be said, a remarkably flat review, hidden behind little flourishes. His third paragraph is this: "To the credit of Isaac Gewirtz, curator of the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library, the exhibition he has mounted on the 150th anniversary of the first edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass is commemoration with a point of view. That is a good thing, because Whitman's poem is one of those literary mazes, with passages brilliant and tedious, through which it is possible to follow dozens if not hundreds of ideas. Even when the book is regarded merely as an object, with its nine (or more) separate editions and countless other issues in Whitman's lifetime alone, the story is a dense one." It never, really, gets much better than that.

17 November 2005

Bob Woodward's admission yesterday that he had been told of Valerie Plame's identity by another White House official some time before Scooter Libby is alleged to have mentioned it, has put the cat among the pigeons, rather. As two prominent Washington lawyers argue in the Washington Times this morning, "...Perjury is not just lying under oath; it is lying under oath about something material. The other counts against Mr. Libby similarly depend upon a material misrepresentation of fact. In this case, the critical fact was that Mr. Libby heard of Mrs. Plame's CIA employment from media, as well as from government, sources. The precise media source is irrelevant.

"Mr. Fitzgerald could, of course, insist on proceeding with a criminal trial. However, in the interests of justice, and especially since the identity of a covert agent was not revealed in this case, he should simply drop the prosecution now. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, it is increasingly evident that there is just no there there."

In an editorial, the Times says it agrees: "...Under the US Attorney's Manual provisions, no prosecution should be commenced unless the attorney representing the government believes that he has evidence that will probably be sufficient to obtain a conviction. Accordingly, Mr. Fitzgerald should do the right thing and promptly dismiss the indictment of Scooter Libby."

UPDATE: Just in case you're in too much of a hurry to read the comments, friend Middle-aged, Middle-of-the-road, Mid-Westerner has had a full transcript of Woodward's testimony leaked to him, he says, by a Rove-ing reporter. Read it here, at his blogsite, Bob Woodward Tells Grand Jury Who Leaked First. It's a bombshell.

Benny Avni of the New York Sun is reporting this morning that the final Volcker report failed to solve an important mystery surrounding the current top anti-terrorism official at the United Nations, Javier Ruperez. The mystery is whether he is the Javier Robert who was named as one of the recipients of oil allocations from Saddam Hussein's government - an allegation that first surfaced in the Spanish press. Javier Robert isn't Javier Ruperez in English, but "transliterated into Arabic, Mr. Ruperez's name is almost identical to 'Javier Robert.' Identified as an official of the Spanish People's Party, 'Javier Robert' received allocations of almost 10 million barrels of oil, according to last month's report by the Independent Inquiry Committee headed by Paul Volcker...

"The name 'Javier Robert' attracted attention in Spain. According to the Volcker report, he received 9,900,000 oil barrels in six separate allocations, through companies based in Switzerland, Spain, Lichtenstein, and France. On three occasions, the notes made by Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization bureaucrats say the allocations were made on behalf of the Spanish People's Party. Knowing no 'Javier Robert' among top party officials, some in the Spanish press speculated that the reference might be to Mr. Ruperez, who had served in various top party positions, and who visited Baghdad in the late 1990s."

Will wonders never cease! A Jamaican Government official - the Deputy Education Minister, Donald Rhodd - has called for a dialogue about homosexuality in that country. If you wonder why that's a surprise, I should tell you that Jamaica has a reputation as the most violently homophobic place in the Caribbean.

The Los Angeles Times reports: "Criticized by Human Rights Watch a year ago for fostering a climate of violent homophobia, Jamaica lately has joined other Caribbean countries in taking steps toward acknowledging that discrimination and denial have proved counterproductive in efforts to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"Still, many in the devoutly religious Caribbean region reject the notion that gays and lesbians should be granted equal protection under the law, including the right to associate openly and receive public services, as well as to marry. At least eight current or former British colonies in the Caribbean retain anti-sodomy laws, including Barbados, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Jamaica. But economic realities and the outside world's scorn of anti-gay violence have begun making inroads in the climate of intolerance.

"European impresarios have canceled concerts by Jamaican reggae artists who incite hatred of homosexuals in their lyrics. A Dutch court recently ordered authorities in Aruba to recognize a lesbian couple's marriage. And in St. Lucia, a top tourism official has been trying to sell fellow islanders on the idea that money is to be made as a destination for gay travelers.

"The most homophobic of the islands, based on Human Rights Watch's assessment of violence against gays, Jamaica suffers one of the highest incidences of HIV and AIDS, with 1.2% of the population infected. Many believe that the consequences of publicly acknowledging that one is gay have hampered government efforts to halt the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS."

Thanks to Brenda for the tip.

The Times seems to be showing its xenophobic slip this morning, albeit in a good cause: "...Many of the problems in Brussels seem to stem from those of, shall we say, a Mediterranean persuasion." Hmmm. "So blatant are the irregularities (in the Commission's budget) that it took remarkly little time for Paul van Buitenen, the auditor, and Marta Andreasen, the chief accountant, to spot them. Both were sacked. Mrs Andreasen queried some of the payments she was asked to authorise, including some for offshore accounts, whose existence the Commission has never satisfactorily explained. About half of her queries were never answered: the cheques simply never crossed her desk again. We must presume the Commission paid up. But Mrs Andreasen could not tell, since she was never given a list of signatories who were authorised to sign cheques on behalf of the Union. No company finance director would stand for such a situation.

"Until now, the laid-back Latin approach has continued partly because the ultimate sanction for accounting failure, the Parliament forcing the resignation of the Commission, is a very blunt instrument. But now the EU is at a critical point. Next month the Commission will be trying to persuade member states to increase its budget. The British presidency, for one, is unlikely to be sympathetic to pleas to throw more cash into a black hole. A new Europe needs an accountant who actually accounts - an idea regarded as outlandish by the Commission but one that has long been embodied, but ignored, in the treaties."

The quisling Galloway is at it again. In a speech at Damascus University he said, among other things, that the US is being defeated in Iraq, and that the assassination of Rafik Hariri was a put-up job, designed to be blamed on Syria. You can read a transcript (or watch a video) here at MEMRI.

A little more? "The reason that Syria is facing this crisis is not because of any bad thing which Syria has done or any weaknesses within its democracy, or within its economy, or within its human rights record - and there are weaknesses in all three of these. The reason why Syria is being threatened is not because of anything bad which she did, but because of the good which she is doing. That's the reason why Syria is being threatened - because she will not betray the Palestinian resistance, because she will not betray the Lebanese resistance, Hizbullah, because she will not sign a shameful surrender-peace with General Sharon, and above all - more than any of these others - because Syria will not allow her country to be used as a military base for America to crush the resistance in Iraq. These are the reasons why Syria is being targeted by these imperial powers."

16 November 2005

If you're a James Ellroy fan, as I am, you'll enjoy this interview with the National Review, conducted around the time he was presented with the Los Angeles Police Historical Society's Jack Webb Award. Ellroy is the author of 16 books, including such bestsellers as The Cold Six Thousand, American Tabloid, and L.A. Confidential. A film adaptation of his novel The Black Dahlia, directed by Brian De Palma, will be released in 2006."

Another writer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, is to be the first recipient of the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the Literary Community at the 56th National Book Awards ceremony in New York tonight. The San Francisco Chronicle has details in its story:

"'Lawrence is like a lighthouse. He has been a beacon for poets,' said Peggy Fox, president and publisher of New Directions Books, in a phone interview. 'Since the mid-1950s, he has been an iconoclast, not afraid to take on the establishment by publishing - championing - voices from around the world,' Fox said."

All of which is correct, but wandering slightly off the point. (This is one of those stories that trips over its own good intentions, and fails to deliver key information up at the top, where it's needed.) Ferlinghetti is himself one of the Beat Generation's most important poets (A Coney Island of the Mind) and is no doubt getting the award because, as the proprietor of the famous bookshop and publisher, City Lights Books, he was the midwife at the birth of the beat movement. City Lights has continued to publish new and offbeat talent for more than half a century.

Just about every year for the past decade, newspapers like the London Times have been criticising the European Commission for failing to gain the European Court of Auditors' approval for its budget. Every year, people write things like this: "The public will conclude that the Brussels bureaucracy is incompetent, and possibly fraudulent, and they will be right...No business would get away with merely blaming its contractors for misspending or misappropriating funds on this kind of scale. No shareholders would give such grace to a business whose auditors could not sign off its accounts.

"Yet a sense of urgency is utterly lacking. In June, EU ministers argued that misspent money should be paid back within eight years - hardly an onerous deadline. Yet the Commission insisted on the right to extend the time limit to 12 years. That is hardly the mark of a body serious about restoring its threadbare reputation."

Those are pretty serious charges, but they don't seem to do a blind bit of good.

Few things have raised the hackles of the press and the public, in the US and elsewhere, as dramatically as the proposal that the UN should take over governance of the Internet. Today, a conference on that subject (and others) begins in Tunisia, and newspapers this morning are full of stories like Claudia Rosett's in the Wall Street Journal: "...Never mind the realities, as long as Mr Annan and his entourage see an opportunity for more UN turf, job patronage, global clout and funding (including the prospect of a 'ka-ching' for the UN cash register every time someone logs on).

"Leading the charge, with policy documents posted on the UN information summit site, are such terrorist-breeding blogger-jailing regimes as those of Iran and Saudi Arabia, and such millennial pioneers of backward motion on free speech as Belarus and Russia. China's rulers, who have recently been availing themselves of modern technology to censor the Chinese word for 'democracy' out of Internet traffic, and to track down and punish its users, have been toiling away to add their two cents to this summit.

"Sudan, better known for genocide than free speech, has registered to set up a pavilion. Were Saddam Hussein still in power in Iraq, as Mr. Annan tried to arrange, the odds are good that a front company for his regime, with UN blessing, would be setting up a booth in Tunis as well."

Or this one, in the Washington Times, which takes a slightly less angry approach: "The Internet is the epitome of freedom. It is wild, unregulated and free flowing, like a vast ocean of connections ebbing and waning. Its lightning-fast spread and influence suggest a deep atavistic resonance, a human need to stay connected and the urge to for unrestrained exploration. In many parts of the world, it is a tool for the advance of free speech and for democracy...

"Who but Americans could have come up with such a concept? Who but Americans could have resisted placing this incredible tool in the control of the government? Grumble as we may about Washington and its ways, a philosophy of limited government still keeps Americans grounded in the world or private enterprise. This is what makes the Internet what it is."

Why this conference is being held in Tunis, of all places, is anybody's guess. Nobody should be surprised by incidents like this one, described in today's Guardian, during which Tunisian plainclothes policemen "were involved in a violent scuffle at the German cultural centre in Tunis on Monday morning, which involved the German ambassador to the UN and representatives of more than 30 local and international human rights bodies. About 70 plainclothes policemen physically prevented representatives from a number of non-governmental organisations from entering the Goethe Institut at Place d'Afrique in central Tunis. They were meeting to review plans for an alternative 'citizen summit' in the capital after their booking at a conference venue was cancelled at the last minute."

At the last minute, though, it looks as if the fight over the Internet was averted. At a three-day bureaucrats' meeting being held prior to the summit proper, according to the Guardian: "...A tentative deal was struck which would allow the US government to retain overall control of the medium for the foreseeable future."

What allowed the deal was backtracking by the EU. They had suggested control be taken away from the US, but declined to follow up in the pre-summit meeting.

The Guardian says: "Internet watchers were puzzled by the EU's backtracking. Recent speculation has centred on a letter from US national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to the EU in the run-up to the summit. Its contents have not been made public but Ms Rice is said to have urged the EU to reconsider its approach."

15 November 2005

The Chinese, according to the People's Daily, believe they have developed a vaccine against human infections of bird flu.

"Clinical testing on people will begin soon, Liu Yanhua, vice-minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology, was quoted by Xinhua as saying. If the tests are successful, it would be the first vaccine in the world to treat human cases of bird flu.

"Experts hailed the progress, saying it demonstrates that China is at the forefront of research to fight the deadly disease."

Good for John Bolton! As the Washington Times reports, he told its staff at a lunch that "the Bush administration requires nothing less than 'a revolution of reform' at the world body, encompassing everything from UN Security Council engagement to management changes to a focus on administrative skills in choosing the next secretary-general. The United Nations, he said, 'has got to be a place to solve problems that need solving, rather than a place where problems go, never to emerge.'

"He added: 'In the United States, there is a broadly shared view that the UN is one of many potential instruments to advance US issues, and we have to decide whether a particular issue is best done through the UN or best done through some other mechanism."

One Pondblog reader last week criticised Bolton for preaching to the UN while ignoring the US's own record on corruption. There is a fundamental and glaring difference between the two. The writers of the Constitution were quite deliberately (and understandably, given the times) trying to design a system capable of correcting its own abuses of power. They were remarkably successful, and can be said to have provided the public platform upon which every complaint about corruption in the US system is made, and the mechanism by which it is corrected. The American system really is self-correcting, and the never-ending debate on abuse of power in the US is proof of that.

What the US is complaining about is that even when really serious abuses in the UN are dragged into the light, the organisation is, by itself, incapable of doing any correcting at all.

Forget all that pooh-poohing about old wives' tales...you really can get a cold from getting cold. The New York Sun's got a good version of the story: "For years, doctors scoffed at folklore that bundling up could help in staving off the sniffles, but British researchers have come out with a new study showing that a drop in body temperature could lead to a cold."

There has never been quite as much distance between the British Government and the British Army as has developed during Tony Blair's reign. All is love when the Army is needed to do something, but all is far from love when the Army is not needed. Nothing typifies that relationship better than the belligerent way in which Army people have been prosecuted for offences in Iraq. The case against the commanding officer of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, Col Jorge Mendonca, is a good example. He has been accused of neglect in the death in custody of an Iraqi civilian, but the details of his part have not been made known, even to him, apparently.

The prosecution appears to result from a political desire to hold COs responsible for the offences of men under their command. One can see that widespread failure in one Regiment might be laid at the feet of its CO inasmuch as he could be said to have failed to train his men properly, but holding the CO responsible for the misdeeds of one soldier seems on the face of it rather an odd thing to do. The case has led to accusations of unfairness being made by many in the UK.

In the Telegraph, Defence expert John Keegan writes: "Nothing known about Col Mendonca's case gives confidence that the necessary standards have been observed or met.

"The British Army prides itself on the care it takes in what it calls 'man management'. What is known about the Mendonca case appears to violate everything the Army means by that. One of its best middle-rank officers is engulfed in uncertainties and contradictions. Having been decorated for what these citations detail as outstanding conduct, he now finds himself marginalised and held under suspicion by those above him, who are precisely the people to whom he looks for approval, support and encouragement.

"The Mendonca case has already done the Army serious harm and can only do more as it goes on. Among the factors doing harm is the widely held suspicion, for which some documentary evidence exists, that the high command has brought the case precisely because Col Mendonca is an officer, following a series of cases in which the accused were all from the non-commissioned ranks. There is an unformulated suspicion, in short, that there is an apotropaic element in the motivation for prosecution, fear of allegations of inequality in procedure that might be made by the media or by parliamentarians.

"Whatever the truth, the conduct of the case has been highly unsatisfactory. There has been no explanation of the reason for accusing Col Mendonca of neglect of duty before the incident at the root of the affair has been identified as a crime and those guilty of it, if guilt is established, have been tried and condemned. The basis of the charge against Col Mendonca therefore rests on a hypothesis, not on established fact.

"The case is unprecedented and the legal base for bringing it and proceeding with it appears to have no foundation either in statute or in case law. Not only in fairness to Col Mendonca, but also out of regard for the welfare of the Army, it can be argued very strongly that the Army Prosecuting Authority, which lacks experience in matters of this complexity and importance, should be relieved of responsibility for carrying it on, until heavyweight legal opinion has decided whether it is both desirable and just that it should proceed.

"The Army's most senior officers are probably now regretting that they authorised the bringing of proceedings and would welcome an exit from the predicament in which they have put themselves and the Army. Not only for that reason, it therefore seems desirable that an independent inquiry should be convened at once to review the matter and a senior and independent civilian lawyer commissioned."

13 November 2005

Richard W. Rahn, who is director general of the Center for Global Economic Growth, a project of the FreedomWorks Foundation, sinks his fangs into the ankles of half a dozen world organisations he thinks are trying to sip at America's precious bodily fluids. Writing in the Washington Times, he thunders: "Do you think your tax money should be given to international bureaucrats who give destructive advice to American policymakers? Well, that is what is happening - and worse yet, some unthinking souls in the news media and Congress have treated some of these detrimental recommendations with undeserved deference...

"Now that the administration and Congress are finally looking for places to cut federal spending, they should begin by sharply cutting the international organizations. US taxpayers should not be forced to be a party to organizations that, in part, undermine both economic growth and liberty."

The other interesting thing about this story is that the page it's on contains an advertisement touting Rudy Giuliani for President in 2008 - first one I've seen.

Here's a perfect example of a government poking its nose into things that are none of its business. I wonder how much the German tax-payer gets soaked for an organisation that polices people's names. Read all about it here. Bermuda must set some kind of record for bizarre name spellings - there was some flake the other day who thought she'd liven up an otherwise rather pedestrian surname by sticking an umlaut on top of one of its consonants! But so what? It's her name.

Hard on the heels of British indignation over the cowboy in the White House, obesity, nanotechnology, genetically modified crops, people who take their religion too seriously and that damn black-hatted American grey squirrel that keeps bullying fine British red squirrels from their stomping grounds, comes fury over another US outrage - the American Red crayfish.

The Observer claims: "An unlikely combination of aliens, economics and Seventies cuisine threatens to change the face of Britain's countryside. In a scenario reminiscent of HG Wells's War of the Worlds, a seemingly unstoppable predator is ravaging the riverbeds of the British Isles, leaving a trail of environmental destruction. Its only opposition is a small group of men and women dedicated to halting its progress. The alien in question is Pacifastacus leniusculus, aka the 'American Red' signal crayfish, whose outsized claws and prehistoric armour plating give it more than a passing resemblance to Wells's fictitious creations."

Overhungry, overclawed and over here. You Yanks can't get anything right, can you?

The Observer tells the story of Andrew Rugasira's Good African Coffee. It's a cracking good newspaper yarn that will undoubtedly be turned into a very bad movie. You should read it while it still has the power to lift you up. And well done, Waitrose!


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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