...Views from mid-Atlantic
03 December 2005

Victor Davis Hanson on who's winning and who's losing in the tug-of-war for public opinion about Iraq. In the National Review, he writes: "The Left now risks losing its self-proclaimed moral appeal. It had trashed the efforts in Iraq for months on end, demanded a withdrawal - only recently to learn from polls that an unhappy public may also be unhappy with it for advocating fleeing while American soldiers are in harm's way. Another successful election, polls showing Iraqis overwhelmingly wishing us to stay on, visits by elected Iraqi officials asking continued help, and a decreasing American footprint will gradually erode the appeal of the antiwar protests - especially as triangulating public intellectuals and pundits begin to quiet down, fathoming that the United States may win after all.

"The administration realizes that as long as it stays the course and our military remains confident we can win, we will - despite defections in the Congress, venom in the press, and cyclical lows in the polls. In practical political terms, only the administration, not the Congress or the courts, can choose to cease our efforts in Iraq. Rightly or wrongly, the Bush administration will be judged on Iraq: If we lose, the president will be seen as a tragic LBJ-like figure who squandered his initial grassroots support in a foreign quagmire; if we win, he will be remembered, in spirit, as something akin to a Harry Truman, and, in deed, an FDR who won a critical war against impossible odds, and restored the security of the United States.

"George Bush may well go down in history as a less-effective leader than his father or Bill Clinton; but unlike either, he may also have a real chance to be remembered in that select class of rare presidents whom history records as having saved this country at a time of national peril and in the face of unprecedented criticism."

I watched Barack Obama sail without the slightest difficulty through some really rather difficult questioning on a television talk show the other night, and was struck, before too many minutes had passed, by the thought that he could well be the first black US president. He and the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard Lugar, have joined forces to write (well, maybe they really did, who knows?) what I thought was politically a pretty astute piece for an up and coming young Democratic Senator, about the dangers posed by an insecure weapons dump in an out-of-the-way corner of Ukraine. It's headed Junkyard Dogs of War, and it was published this morning in the Washington Post. It begins this way: "Donetsk, Ukraine, weeds grow along a rusty rail spur that winds among World War II-era warehouses and factories. Little security is evident, and the facility looks like a giant junkyard.

"In a way, it is - except the 'junk' consists of thousands of tons of live military munitions. When we went there last summer, we saw mortar rounds, land mines and artillery shells of all sizes stacked in huge piles and strewn carelessly about."

According to the LA Times, the FBI has reopened an inquiry into who forged those documents linking Saddam Hussein to an attempt to buy yellowcake in Niger. Already-published reports have taken the trail back as far as the Italian Secret Service, and one report I read recently suggested the Italians were fed the documents by the French intelligence services, an idea which seems a little hard to swallow. I seem to be alone in believing that the documents originated with the CIA, in one of those we'll-use-it-if-we-need-to operations that organisations like that are so fond of.

When the documents surfaced, the CIA sent that clown Joe Wilson to Niger, where he had once been US Ambassador, to investigate whether Iraq had, as alleged, tried to buy the materials there. On the face of it, Wilson is barely equipped to investigate where he left his lost glasses, and cynics said his work in Niger involved having tea with a couple of officials and asking them whether they'd seen any Iraqis trying to buy yellowcake. Their answer was predictable, and Wilson wrote a report that said he had found no evidence that Iraqis had been looking for yellowcake in Niger. (Actually, intelligence services now believe that the Iraqis were guilty as charged, but that's another story.)

Even though there was talk at the time that the documents were forged, the Bush administration was not warned about that by the CIA, and the result was that Colin Powell included the yellowcake allegation in the summary of evidence he gave the UN. When he heard that, Wilson did something surprising and out of character. Instead of contacting the CIA to find out what had happened to his report, or the State Department to protest being contradicted, or even the White House to have a moan about it, as you would expect of a diplomat (he was the US's ambassador to Iraq until the American invasion), he jumped right out of the box and wrote a pugnacious and highly political piece for the New York Times. That led to the White House damage control effort which resulted in Wilson's wife being named as a CIA spy, which led to...well, all of that stuff.

If you cut all the crap out of the story, the only explanation for Wilson's behaviour that makes sense, and doesn't demand as much faith as the Narnia Chronicles, is that he didn't stop working for the CIA, whose hostility to the Bush administration is well-known, when he handed in his Niger report.

The Weekly Standard published a piece this week that talks about another of the CIA's little operations to discredit the Bush regime: "In the CIA's continuing campaign against the Bush administration, the agency has found the leaking of classified information to be a potent weapon. This is especially true with regard to the spinning of intelligence connecting Saddam's Iraq and bin Laden's al Qaeda. Consider, for example, the case of Abu Zubaydah, a top al Qaeda operative captured in March 2002.

"On June 9, 2003 the New York Times published a piece by James Risen ('Threats and Responses: C.I.A.; Captives Deny Qaeda Worked With Baghdad') that suggested that the Bush administration was being duplicitous in linking Iraq and al Qaeda. The Times relied on anonymous intelligence officials who explained that the two top al Qaeda operatives in custody (Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) told their CIA interrogators that the terrorist group had rejected the idea of working with Saddam."

Think the FBI's got the stuff to get to the bottom of that little lot?

This is a fascinating story in the Guardian which suggests that people are having success fighting asthma and other respiratory ailments by spending time in the salt mines of western Ukraine. One doctor says that people who have had a number of these treatments have had their asthma go into remission for 15 years or more.

The story is also notable for the expert the Guardian dug up, who sounds as if he had stepped straight from one of Ernest Bramah's pages, and who demonstrates with great style what terrible plonkers experts can be: "Professor Kian Fan Chung, an asthma expert from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College, said he was unfamiliar with the treatment but that it was unlikely to be harmful. 'It sounds rather fun and that may be one reason it produces good results,' he said."

02 December 2005

Here's a guy who should stop digging in that hole of his before he buries himself. The Washington Times reports that Rep. John P. Murtha is continuing his assault on the Bush administration's Iraq war policy, asserting this week that the U.S. Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth".

Political disputes over bribes paid by Saddam Hussein through the UN oil-for-food programme are roiling governments around the world. But as the Financial Times reports today: "One month after Paul Volcker published his report on corruption...anti-corruption campaigners fear the world's governments will sweep its findings under the carpet.

"Some 2,253 companies were accused by Mr Volcker of taking kickbacks from Saddam Hussein's regime, while officials and middlemen around the globe were accused of receiving illicit oil allocations in return for political support. The payments were in contravention of international law and the rules of the oil-for-food system."

The UN is currently debating what to do with the evidence generated by the Volcker investigation. It has no power to prosecute those who were involved, but some fear it may try to put the evidence beyond the reach of national authorities, who can prosecute, by refusing to allow the use of what is, essentially, its property. But the reputation of the organisation at the moment is so poor, that its members will have to calculate whether it can stand the criticism that would follow such a move.

One of the reasons for the odium surrounding the organisation is its almost constant assault on common sense. Reuters is reporting this morning, for example, that it has had to give up hope of finishing the long-stalled comprehensive treaty against terrorism. Reuters describes the reason for the holdup discreetly: "The dispute has centered primarily on how to classify Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli military actions in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza." What that means, in plain English, is that some countries think it's OK to murder innocent civilians if you're fighting Jews and their supporters.

A significant point of disagreement between Israelis and Palestinians involves the extent to which the two sides have historical ties to Jerusalem. The Palestinians dismiss Israeli claims on the city as largely fiction, designed to justify the Israeli annexation of the city during the Six-Day War. But archaeologists now think they have unearthed the palace of David in Jerusalem, bolstering Israeli claims that the city was the center of a substantial kingdom. At issue, as this Washington Post story details, is whether David was the visionary king of Israel as the Israelis claim he was, or just another tribal chieftan who happened to live in the area.

"Some archaeologists believe Jerusalem was no more than a tiny hilltop village when it served as David's capital. The discovery of a palace or other large public building from David's time would strengthen the opposing view that he and his son, Solomon, presided over a civilization grander than the collection of rural clans some historians say made up the Jewish kingdom.

"Whether David was a tribal chieftain or visionary monarch matters deeply to the Jewish historical narrative - the story of a single people, once ruled by kings, and later dispossessed of its homeland until the modern state of Israel was created nearly 2,000 years later following the horrors of the Holocaust.

"Palestinian leaders, who also claim Jerusalem as their capital, dismiss the ancient story as politically useful fiction. But given the palace's location on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, its discovery could be used to bolster the Israeli claim to the East Jerusalem neighborhood and increase Jewish settlement in the area."

Senegal's president has called for Africa to set up its own tribunal to hear cases involving crimes committed by African dictators, such as that levelled at Chad's former President Hissene Habre, according to BBC News. Mr Habre is wanted in Belgium for alleged abuses committed under his rule. He has lived in Senegal for 15 years, but a Senegalese court has said it does not have the power to decide whether he should be extradicted or not.

01 December 2005

I'm a little disappointed by a major inaccuracy in the stories - this one's from the Washington Post - about the slowdown of the ocean currents called the Atlantic Conveyer. All of them (that I've read, anyway) treat the publication of a recent study by British scientists as if it were a new discovery. Actually, it has been the subject of public reports since the 1990s, a rash of them published in 2002. In that year, Dr Robert B Gagosian, President and Director of the much-respected Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, for example, made a well publicised speech about it, in which he predicted that temperatures in the north-eastern United States might fall by as much as ten degrees in the winter months because of it.

It is not an unusual phenomenon. Past warm-to-cold transitions have taken between three and ten years to set in (scientists are careful not to be making precise predictions about when such a cold snap might start this time), and have lasted for between 500 and 1,000 years. About 12,800 years ago, the waters in the North Atlantic, and the land around that region, cooled quite dramatically. The process took about a decade to complete, and the resulting cold spell, called the Younger Dryas, lasted for about 1,300 years.

Gagosian said "The key to these climate shifts is that Earth's climate is created and maintained by a dynamic system of moving, interacting parts. Earth’s climate system has two main components. The first one you are all familiar with by watching your local TV meteorologist or The Weather Channel. It is the atmosphere, which circulates heat and moisture around the globe. But, in fact, the atmosphere redistributes only about half of the energy that the earth receives from the sun. The other half is transported around our planet by a circulation system that is equally important, but far less understood—the ocean. The ocean isn't a stagnant bathtub. It circulates heat around the planet like the heating and cooling system in your house.

"The atmosphere and oceans are equal partners in creating Earth's climate. The atmosphere is a rabbit. It moves fast. Rapid changes in atmospheric circulation cause storms, cold spells, or heat waves that play out over several days. The ocean, on the other hand, is a turtle. It may take years or decades or even millennia for similar 'disturbances' to circulate through the ocean. But the ocean is a big turtle. It stores about 1,000 times more heat than the atmosphere. So changes in ocean circulation can set the stage for large-scale, long-term climate changes."

The British poet laureate, Andrew Motion, has set up a website giving people access to recordings of poets reading their own work. The Guardian, in an editorial says it has grand ambitions: "It aims to be a national archive of poets reading their own works. It already has an impressive back catalogue with Kipling, Yeats and, from 1889, Robert Browning reading a poem at a dinner. The treasure chest of modern poets includes Harold Pinter, Seamus Heaney and Margaret Atwood."

While we're on the subject of poetry, here's something I would have no hesitation recommending as a Christmas present for people who like poetry, sight unseen. It's The Penguin Book of Caribbean Verse in English, reviewed here in the New York Times. Its editor, Paula Burnett, says the Times, "separates several centuries of poetry into two traditions, the oral and the literary. Writers like Derek Walcott and the Dominican novelist Jean Rhys are included in the longer literary section, while the dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Jamaican-language poet Louise Bennett are put in the oral, along with the song lyrics of Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley."

Forget the lyrics by Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley, which I think are just a fashionable add-on to make the book more "accessible". Dub poetry, though, is something else. It may be difficult for people not used to listening to West Indian patois to grasp, but it is, I think, a really significant contribution to literature. The fact that it comes from the Caribbean, normally thought of as a cultural backwater (with some important exceptions), adds to its significance.

Dub poetry is not yet well-known. In Toronto, a city with a big Caribbean population, there is around this time of year an annual International Dub Poetry Festival. There is something about it today in Jamaica's Daily Gleaner, although the headline is mistaken. Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados have contributed most to the dub canon, but it was good to read that Bermuda's contribution to the form, an excellent young man who calls himself Ras Mykkal, was there and had his contribution noted by the Gleaner.

If you're interested, start with Linton Kwesi Johnson, a Jamaican-born Brit who I think is just superb, and whose recordings are widely available (albeit not at Amazon). I wrote a piece about him for Bermuda's daily paper a couple of years ago which you can access from the list on the right hand side of this page.

30 November 2005

Hurricane season next year's not going to be any better than this year's, says China's People's Daily, quoting the administrator of the US National Weather Service. "'This hurricane season shattered records that have stood for decades - most named storms, most hurricanes and most category Five storms. Arguably, it was the most devastating hurricane season the country has experienced in modern times,' said NOAA administrator Conrad Lautenbacher, Jr.

"'I'd like to foretell that next year will be calmer, but I can't. Historical trends say the atmosphere patterns and water temperatures are likely to force another active season upon us,' he cautioned in a statement. The Atlantic Basin is in the active phase of a multi-decadal cycle in which optimal conditions in the ocean and atmosphere, including warmer sea-surface temperatures and low wind shear, enhance hurricane activity."

Claudia Rosett isn't about to loosen her grip on the UN oil-for-food story. In the Wall Street Journal this morning, she writes: "Paul Volcker's findings on Oil for Food have been widely received as the final word on the United Nations relief program for Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Far from it - as Mr Volcker himself has admitted. In reporting that Saddam, along with his smuggling and oil graft, diverted $1.8 billion in kickbacks from UN-approved relief contracts under the program, Mr Volcker underestimates, quite probably by billions, the amount the UN allowed Saddam Hussein and many of his favored business partners to graft out of Oil for Food deals for goods such as oil parts, milk, laundry soap and baby food. In low-balling the total, Mr. Volcker understates the negligence of the UN, and overlooks some of the most potentially virulent links in Oil for Food.

"The most urgent implication of Mr Volcker's incomplete findings is that his huge and expensively assembled archives must be preserved intact well beyond the December 31 deadline by which Mr Volcker now plans to start disposing of them. Above all, they must not be handed back to the UN, where too much related to the corrupt Oil for Food program has already vanished - including, to a fascinating extent, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's own powers of recollection. The former head of the program, Benon Sevan, alleged to have taken bribes from Saddam, was allowed to skip town, UN pension in hand. Mr Annan is even now resurrecting, via a new $4 million UN program called the Alliance of Civilizations, the career of his former chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, who officially retired earlier this year after it came to light that during Mr Volcker's investigation Mr Riza had overseen the shredding of three years' worth of documents that might have better illuminated the oil-for-fraud shenanigans of the UN's executive 38th floor.

"As it happens, Rep Henry Hyde, who has led the main investigation into Oil for Food in the House, introduced a bill on November 17, urging that the US withhold $100 million from its UN dues for each of the next four fiscal years, or until the secretary of state certifies to Congress that the Volcker investigation's archives have been transferred, intact and uncensored by the UN, 'to an entity other than the [Volcker] Committee or the United Nations' - and made available for public inspection, at the very least by law-enforcement authorities."

Two stylistically different takes on a new building - the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany, designed by Baghdad-born Zaha Hadid. This one is in the Daily Telegraph this morning, and this one was published in the New York Times a couple of days ago.

The two make an interesting contrast. The NYT's is hands-down better. Part of that has to do with the pictures that accompany it, which have been intelligently chosen to illustrate the story. But much of it has to do with the fact that the NYT's Nicolai Ouroussoff is a very gifted writer on architecture, who is interested in trying to draw readers in to share an intellectual understanding of what he is describing. There is no such intimacy from Giles Worsley of the Telegraph, who writes for his readers across a divide as wide as the distance from Wolfsburg to London.

Worsley's take on architecture, and on this building in particular, seems to have been rented from a branch of Central Casting: "Where long ago the Cubists strove to break the constraints of two dimensions in painting, so Hadid strives to break the conventions of the box. For generations the constraints of technology and the inherent conservatism of a world dependent on the goodwill of clients and planners, on vast sums of money and the building industry, meant that architecture was unable to achieve the ideals promoted by the other avant-garde arts, particularly painting and sculpture. Only now, almost exactly a century later, is architecture finally catching up. Hadid's buildings may not be as scary or unintelligible as her designs make them out to be, but they are no less intriguing."

By contrast, Ouroussoff's come from an understanding of exactly what Hadid was trying to do, and why: "Ms. Hadid's design flows directly out of Wolfsburg's history. The center - housing physics, biology and chemistry exhibits - rises on a site just east of the city's train station and north of a sprawl of generic 1990's office and shopping developments. High-speed trains ramble by on tracks to the north, with the canal and factory towers just beyond.

"Rather than turn its back on that context, the science center embraces it. By positioning her dynamic concrete shell atop enormous cones, Ms. Hadid allows pedestrian traffic to flow beneath the building. A portion of the pavement ramps up to meet the bookstore entrance; at other points the pavement sinks down to steer visitors to an open public plaza directly under the belly of the building. A sinuous blue strip embedded in the asphalt pavement guides pedestrians through the plaza to a narrow bridge that crosses the canal to the north."

Talented man.

First, go and look at this page of works by a British artist called Jo Self. I don't mean glance at them, really have a look. Then read AS Byatt's piece in the Guardian about Self's show at the Redfern Gallery: "Jo Self says that her flowers are 'initially created in my mind's eye. I see them with my inner eye...' They are visions of vision - both responses to the real presence of flowers, taking note of their forms, and a form of meditation. It is appropriate that her new work was done in the Dalai Lama's private garden in Dharamsala, north India, where meditation is the usual way of life, and robes are bright with saffron.

"In Self's flowers, the recognisable biological forms are strong, simple and brilliant: the rosy cup of a tree peony, the gold and scarlet hoods of nasturtiums, the cream and chalk presence of an orchid, the scattered bright blue diamond shapes of morning glory. The flowers stand alone, and much of their power comes from what appears to be an unerring choice of the right background colour. Single flowers, intense pink or red, loom out of a greenish-black darkness. Complicated antirrhinums, yellow-lipped, salmon mixed with pale brick-red, deepest maroon, stand against a deep sky blue."

The US Transportation Safety Administration, says the New York Times, is about to ease up a little on what you can and can not take aboard airliners. And although there wasn't much fuss made about it at the time, the TSA has also worked with lock manufacturers to get them to produce locks capable of being opened by airline security people, so that passengers can lock their luggage again. Details are on this TSA page.

29 November 2005

People like to be with people they're like, Thomas Sowell reminds us. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he says: "When blacks move into a neighborhood and whites move out, that is visible to the naked eye. But there is nothing unique about such 'white flight'. The phrase is misleading for the same reason that saying white people have toenails would be misleading. It is true in itself but suggests something unique that is in fact common to human beings of all sorts.

"People sort themselves out in many ways, not residential patterns. People tend to marry other people with similar IQs, even when they don't know what those IQs are. They just tend to gravitate to people with similar levels of understanding. Cliques form in all kinds of places for all kinds of reasons. Chess players, jazz fans and gamblers tend to hang out with others who share their interests.

"The fact people sort themselves out in many ways is not usually a big problem - except to those who cannot feel fulfilled unless they are telling others what to do. Government programs to unsort people who have sorted themselves out have produced one social disaster after another."

They acknowledge he's a tough negotiator, but UN officials say John Bolton isn't the monster they were led to believe he would be. Nonetheless, as he told the Wall Street Journal, he is a disappointment to those in the UN who want him to be their ambassador to the US. The Journal says "...developing countries thus far view US-backed reform efforts more as an attack on their influence than a way to strengthen an organization overburdened by demands and deeply stung by the oil-for-food corruption scandal. For that reason they are launching a counteroffensive against the management reforms that are central to Mr Bolton's efforts. The US has responded by refusing to sign off on the institution's two-year budget until it makes more progress toward reforms that a UN summit in September endorsed, including tighter financial and ethical oversight and increased authority for the secretary general to hire and fire and close down programs that have lost their utility."

An important witness in the Syria/Hariri case has suddenly decided that he was bribed by Hariri's son to implicate Syrian officials in the case. Saad Hariri, says the Jurist, denies it. This follows the apparent murder of another witness in the case. Last Saturday, Nawar Dora, the owner of the shop where eight cell phones used in the assassination were bought was found dead Saturday in a deep wadi near the village of Batrin on Mt. Lebanon.

27 November 2005

Umberto Eco, catapulted by the commerciality of Christmas into a philosophical reflection on of God and Mammon? It's in the Telegraph, and I suspect you'll be as drawn to it as I was. A sample? OK, try this: "The pianist Arthur Rubinstein was once asked if he believed in God. He said: 'No. I don't believe in God. I believe in something greater.' Our culture suffers from the same inflationary tendency. The existing religions just aren't big enough: we demand something more from God than the existing depictions in the Christian faith can provide. So we revert to the occult. The so-called occult sciences do not ever reveal any genuine secret: they only promise that there is something secret that explains and justifies everything. The great advantage of this is that it allows each person to fill up the empty secret 'container' with his or her own fears and hopes."

If you're prepared to admit to a taste for gossip, you'll like this piece in the Independent, listing feuds currently under way in Britain - The Good Feud Guide, as it's headed. It's a bit muddy up at the top, but it clears itself out later on. I'm not siding with her, because I admire Camille Paglia, but Julie Burchill's clarity of expression about her was...well, notable.

Christmas is nearing, so book lists are a feature in many newspapers and magazines. The New York Times published one of the best 100 books of the year this week which was far too big and unfiltered to be useful, so I'm not going to provide a link. By contrast, the Guardian asked a bunch (is there a word? A scribble, perhaps...a din?) of critics and writers to name their favourite books of the year, and provided links to enable readers to order every one of them...a much more agreeable way of doing it.

Andrew Motion was one of the writers quoted and, true to his calling, included a book of poetry in his suggestions: "Arthur and George by Julian Barnes (Cape) and Saturday by Ian McEwan (Cape): they both got under my skin and stayed there. So did Alice Oswald's new collection of poems, Woods Etc. (Faber). And the great delight of my year, the book that made me feel I'd been waiting for it all my life, is the magnificently-produced and completely enthralling Birds Britannica, by Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey (Chatto & Windus)."

I pick Motion to quote because he is also the author of a fine piece in the Times Literary Supplement this week, on listening to poetry. It makes a fine Sunday read: "...The present resurgence of public poetry readings is not so much a new phenomenon, but a return to a very ancient tradition - one which runs all the way back to the Beowulf poet in his mead hall, and beyond. And it's not surprising to find, during that long time, many poets writing well about the value and importance of hearing poems aloud. Think of Keats, 'chaunting' his poems to his friends; or Hopkins advising Bridges to 'take breath and read with your ears'; or Robert Frost trading ideas (with Edward Thomas, among others) about 'the sound of sense'.

"The fact that such a comprehensive and readily available resource as the Poetry Archive has only been made possible by the arrival of the Internet only deepens and enriches the paradox. To value the sound of a poem as much as its written meaning may seem like a new thing; in fact it's as old as the hills.

"When Frost said 'the ear is the best reader' he didn't mean to say that he preferred the fleeting voice to the substantial page, but to give them both equal value, and to remind us how they depended on one another. The point can be proved very easily. A poem creates its effects not simply by sharing an explicable meaning with its reader, but by dramatizing that meaning and making it intimate - by the musicality (or not) of the words, by rhythm, by rhyme, by recurring patterns of sound, by disruptions, and by the movement and evolution of tone through a whole piece of work. It is a demonstration of harmonies, in all sorts of ways. More than that, even, the sound of a poem can actually become its meaning, as our ear supplies us with insights and feelings that our other senses might miss.

"Think of a poem like Eliot's The Waste Land - notoriously packed with difficult references, learned allusions and clever compressions. People reading it on the page for the first time are bound to feel they're missing things - perhaps even to the extent of feeling they 'don't understand it'. But when the poem is read aloud, the play of sounds creates an unforgettably powerful effect, expounding sense by other means."

British journalist Leo McKinstry writes for the Telegraph and the Statesman, among others. He's the author of an interesting piece in the Weekly Standard, suggesting that British schadenfreude over riots in France is completely misplaced: "As an Irish-born writer who lives in both France and the United Kingdom, I believe that the British approach to race relations has been disastrous, fostering disunity, tension, and ethnic strife on a much greater scale than anything that has occurred in France. While cars have been torched in large numbers in French cities, Britain has experienced murderous terrorist outrages committed by Muslim men who were born and bred in England. Thankfully, there was only one fatality in the French disturbances. In the London bombings in July, 52 people were killed and over 700 injured.

"Nor has Britain been free of serious race riots. Just before the trouble began in Paris, there were several nights of street fighting between Asian and African-Caribbean gangs in Birmingham, England's second largest city. Two people were killed. And this incident followed years of racial unrest in decaying industrial towns in the north of England, such as Burnley and Bradford, where there are large, radicalized Muslim populations, though the level of disorder is always downplayed by the political establishment and media, anxious not to undermine carefully manufactured images of multiethnic harmony.

"In truth, Britain is now a deeply divided land, where suspicion, intolerance, and aggression cast their shadow over urban areas."


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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