...Views from mid-Atlantic
04 February 2006

Remember Walk Like an Egyptian? Here's new meaning. "MP George Galloway has been refused entry into Egypt by security officials, his Respect party said.

"The politician flew to the Middle East after being invited to take part in an event against the war in Iraq organised by Egyptian campaigners."

Der Spiegel is using a quote from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty to make its point about Muslim cartoon protests - "Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being 'pushed to an extreme'; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case."

I think it works rather better in the the context of the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections. The Washington Post editorialises: "Opponents of U.S. policy in the Middle East have described Hamas's victory in last week's Palestinian elections as a disaster that proves that President Bush was wrong to insist on elections in the West Bank and Gaza. The result, they say, has been the destruction of the peace process and the empowerment of a movement inimical to Israel and the United States; the lesson is that Mr Bush should stop pressing for democratic change elsewhere in the region.

"While the consequences of the Palestinian vote remain highly uncertain, this rush to condemnation is nonsensical. It ignores the collapse of authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip before the elections, and it ignores the opportunity democracy created to remedy it."

More to the point, it is an argument that has as its basis a lack of trust in democracy, something rather odd in Americans. Democracy is like fire - give a box of matches to a man who has never used them before and he's going to set his little grass skirt on fire. Cut him some slack, though, and he'll soon be dining nightly on roast mammoth and chips.

Victor Davis Hansen, in the Washington Times thinks there are other advantages: "Here in the United States, we should express relief rather than anxiety. None can accuse America of propping up right-wing puppets that do our bidding. We not only supported the elections, but also subsidized them. So now, with perfect consistency, we can accept Hamas's victory, but keep our money and distance from such creepy characters.

"What we are witnessing are the aftershocks of removing Saddam Hussein and the messy Middle East democratization. These left pro-American autocrats in the Gulf and Egypt and hostile dictators in Syria, Libya and Iran trembling. The upheaval is as dangerous and unpredictable as it is honest, since at last America has a consistent Middle East policy: We will encourage free and open elections, but need not always be friends of the subsequently elected governments.

"We are in a new age in which the failed realist policy of bankrolling autocrats who pumped oil and kept away communists has run its course. The old slurs about American imperialism and CIA-engineered coups can now be put to rest. The Middle East will need to get a life - and move beyond the stale half-century-old blame-America rhetoric that we propped up some corrupt Saudi royal in the 1940s or ruined an Iranian reform in the 1950s - and thus forever set them back.

"In the meantime, the U.S. must itself adapt to the new honesty, as we encourage the democratization of the Middle East and, for the foreseeable future, the likely emergence of grass-roots anti-Western Islamic governments."

The Guardian seems to have found someone quite as mad (and I mean that in the nicest way) as Blake and Fuseli were to tell us about the Tate exhibition, beginning this month, called Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the Romantic Imagination. The result is captivating. Audrey Niffenegger writes: "Since I was a child I've maintained a secret, night-time life in which I can fly, mutate, converse with the dead, speak French fluently, drink nitric acid without ill effect, and see the future. These are all useful skills and I'm sorry every morning when I wake up and discover that they don't carry over into daylight. I make art and write stories to bring all of this odd stuff into the waking world, to give it a solidity and realness it can't have otherwise. Blake did the same with his visions. Any artist who works from their imagination shares this desire: make the unreal, real. Bring the night things into the daylight."

03 February 2006

For once, Prince Charles and I are of like mind. He's been championing the return to our groaning boards of mutton, which disappeared from my experience some time in the 1950s. It has a most wonderful flavour, which even allowing for the exaggeration of memory, is up there with the best on offer. Mutton disappeared from meat markets for economic reasons, as far as I can remember. Farmers used to shear and sell the wool from sheep as they grew to maturity, but a fall in prices made that uneconomic, so lamb was all she wrote. The Guardian and other English newspapers covered the inaugural dinner of the Mutton Renaissance Club, an organisation whose precise connection with the Prince is a little vague. However, he was there, and it's worth mentioning, as the Guardian does, that "Last October the British Academy of Gastronomes awarded the prince the Grand Prix of Gastronomy 2005 in recognition of his efforts to put mutton back on the culinary agenda."

As long as he leaves grey goo alone...

The Wall Street Journal editorialises this morning on just what it is about Iran that makes the West so determined to keep it from having a nuclear bomb. The paper quotes former Times of London editori Simon Jenkins as having written: "I would sleep happier if there were no Iranian bomb. But a swamp of hypocrisy separates me from overly protesting it. Iran is a proud country that sits between nuclear Pakistan and India to its east, a nuclear Russia to its north and a nuclear Israel to its West...How can we say such a country has no right to nuclear defense? In other words, what's the big deal?"

Well, WSJ replies, "the deal is the combination of the world's most destructive weapons in the hands of clerical radicals who might use them. And even short of using them, Tehran's rulers could use the leverage of the bomb to dominate the Middle East and limit America's ability to defend itself and fight terrorism. Now that Saddam Hussein is in jail, the Iranian bomb is the gravest threat in the world to U.S. interests."

The Weekly Standard is on about the same thing: "We care whether or not a country has WMD capabilities only because of its record on human rights. This is why we did not worry when India tested its first nuclear device in 1998. It is why we would not be panicked if we learned that Jordan or Oman was on the verge of entering the nuclear club.

"And it is why we should be terrified at the prospect of a nuclear Iran. Joseph Akrami, an exiled Iranian filmmaker, has recently produced a documentary about human-rights abuse in Iran called A Few Simple Shots, which makes plain this point.

"Many scenes in A Few Simple Shots are worrisome, but familiar: photos of dozens of street executions; testimony from former political prisoners who endured terrible torture. One woman, Roya, recalls seeing the scarred back of her cell mate, a young girl. Her skin was pink and shriveled from the base of her skull to her lower back, as if she had been set on fire. The girl had been flogged for 12 continuous hours."

That leads us on to those cartoons which are creating such a fuss in the Muslim world. It is the Muslim religion's understanding of human rights, or the lack of it, to be more precise, which leads to this terrible clash at those points where the two cultures intersect. Actually, I have to revise that a little. This morning, al-Jazeera is running an opinion poll in which readers are asked to respond to the question "Do you back Muslims' calls to boycott products in response to blasphemy cartoons?" To my surprise, 73% of readers answered that they did not. Only 27% would back such a boycott. So it is not correct to assume that those who are violently protesting the cartoons are speaking for all Muslims, any more than Pat Robertson can be said to be speaking for all Christians when his tongue outruns his slowing brain yet again.

Yet when Pat Robertson does say something stupid, there is a loud chorus of voices from the West, pointing out the difference between what he thinks and what most Christians think. There is no such chorus from the Muslim world when its lunatic fringe gets to work. We are left to assume that its silence is approval.

About the first time there was a clash like this was two decades ago, when a price was put on Salman Rushdie's head for writing something disrespectful of Muslims. This affair of the cartoons begain when a Danish newspaper published a drawing (not a very good one, by all accounts), of the Prophet, Mohammed, with a bomb in his turban. When radical Islamist groups threatened people's lives in reaction, European newspapers reprinted that cartoon, or others like it, in solidarity with the Danish newspaper. In Paris, the front page of France Soir ran a banner headline declaring: "Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God."

Several cartoonists have been threatened with death. In the Middle East, radical Islamist groups are threatening the lives of Danish tourists and diplomats unless the Danish government apologizes. Norway closed its West Bank mission due to mounting threats and yesterday Palestinian gunmen took over the EU office in Gaza.

A Washington Times editorial comments: "While all of this seems like a sad parody of cultural differences, it is deadly serious. Refusing to apologize, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, 'I can't call a newspaper and tell them what to put in it. That's not how our society works.' For whatever reason, the Muslim protesters, gunmen and governments don't understand this fundamental element of Western civilization, even as their own news outlets consistently portray Christian and Jewish icons in a derogatory manner.

"Freedom to say what you please, as long as the disrespect is peaceful, is a freedom that must be defended without caveat or footnote. The sooner the Muslim world appreciates this, the sooner they'll be fully accepted in the community of civilized nations."

There is a note of impatience, not to say anger, in what the Times says, and in the action of European newspapers. It's not the impatience that is a surprise, but that Christian values so permeate Western values, still, that it surfaces so seldom.

Gerard Baker, writing in the London Times this morning about the victory of Hamas in Palestinian elections, said something interesting: "If you were to let a classroom of seven-year-olds vote on how they should be allowed to run their lives, you know the result. They would end school, legislate for compulsory chocolate and ice-cream, liberalise fussy rules on TV-watching and computer-game playing and institute a more relaxed approach to bedtime.

"If you give the vote to a few million Palestinians in their current state, they will vote for the equivalent of chocolate, TV and ice-cream. They will endorse the annihilation of Israel, the mass murder of Americans and a holy war against infidels everywhere. That's not to say that Palestinians have puerile minds. But in political-historical-cultural terms they are like children. They have been conditioned entirely for decades by an environment of repression and poverty, pushed around by corrupt leaders poisoning their minds with hateful bile for decades and decades."

It's the same with radical Islam. Present-day civilisation has been developing for centuries. It is a product of adjustment after adjustment made by acceptance of the thoughts of the best of the world's thinkers. Muslims, on the other hand, have been napping for the last couple of millennia. They follow religious instructions that have changed almost not at all in the last 2,000 years. Their radicals want to impose that (by now) dramatically puerile political/historical/cultural structure on the rest of the world without regard to what has gone on while they were asleep. That isn't going to work, and it is a problem that isn't going to go away unless and until Muslims themselves sort it out.

02 February 2006

They call themselves elves, says the Weekly Standard, although I think in this case it would be more correct to say elfs. They are members of the Earth Liberation Front, and their philosophy, says Standard staffer James Thayer, is a mix of Marx, Unibomber, and Beavis and Butthead.

"An ELF communique (why can't these people call them messages?) states, 'ELF works to speed up the collapse of industry, to scare the rich, and to undermine the foundations of the state.' A New York Times article quotes an ELF activist saying that 'It takes all the tools in the toolbox to dismantle the master's machine.' Jeffrey Luers, who calls himself Free, and who is serving a 22-year sentence for torching SUVs at a Eugene, Oregon Chevrolet dealership, and who bears an odd resemblance to Gilligan, lists in a letter to followers those things he fights for: animal rights, gender equality, anti fascism, and eco-defense...

The Earth Liberation Front originated in Great Britain, where in the early 1990s several Earth First! activists decided their organization - with its lobbying and organizing and pamphleteering - was too passive. Direct action - their term for setting fires and tree spiking, which is also called monkey-wrenching - was needed. Judi Bari, an Earth First! leader, wrote, 'It's time to leave the night work to the elves in the woods.'

But when you get right down to it, what they do is indistinguishable from what terrorists do. In the US, they've been busted in a big way.

Paul Aratow, then a UC Berkeley graduate student living in Paris, was so inspired by reading and using La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange that he went home and founded the legendary restaurant Chez Panisse. It is also the book that inspired Julia Child and Alice Waters, the Los Angeles Times says. There was no English tranlation available. But now, Aratow has sorted that little difficulty out by doing it himself.

"Aratow's newly published translation of La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange brings to English speakers for the first time a book that has often been called the French Joy of Cooking."

Gerard Baker is the United States editor and an assistant editor of the London Times. He's taken up blogging, because, as he says in a Times article: "Blogging has simply become an essential component of modern public dialogue. Not to blog is to leave oneself outside that ever-broadening conversation.

"Five years ago I didn't know what a blog was. Today, I hesitate to admit it but I probably spend more hours in a day reading blogs than doing any other single activity. And, though some readers of my regular columns in The Times (Tuesdays on economics and finance, Fridays on everything else) might choke on hearing me say this, I've become better informed for it. I've never written anything in my life that could not have been improved by having had more pairs of eyes on it. Blogs provide the best means technology has yet devised to maximise that scrutiny."

Nice when people like Baker get it.

British and Irish authorities suspect that the IRA might not have turned in all its weapons, as it said it did. The Telegraph says the IRA "continued its involvement in serious organised crime, including counterfeiting and fuel and tobacco smuggling." The difficulty is that many in Britain and Ireland see the IRA as a churchical sort of organisation, doing unpleasant work in the name of a good cause. But that's just romantic nonsense. Really, the IRA is a large-scale criminal organisation which must maintain some sort of revenue stream if it is to survive.

01 February 2006

DEBKAfile says Russia's Foreign Minister has told the permanent UN Security Council members that Iran has developed a large nuclear device, and is now capable of carrying out its first nuclear test.

"Russian FM Sergei Lavrov put this information before the five permanent UN Security Council and Germany, which...(has) agreed for the first time to haul Iran before the UN body over its nuclear program. Until then, Moscow and Beijing had stood out against the UN nuclear watchdog' referring the Iran dossier to the Security Council. Tehran hit back Wednesday by saying the decision was unconstructive and the end of diplomacy.

"According to Lavrov, Russian intelligence estimates that Iran is now capable of detonating this non-weaponized nuclear device - or in other words carrying out its first nuclear test.

"DEBKAfile sources add: This estimate which Russian president Vladimir Putin passed to President George Bush some weeks ago is challenged by US and Israeli nuclear experts, who do not believe Iran is up to the stage of a nuclear device. However, on Jan. 21, the opposition FDI claimed Iran would carry out its first nuclear test before the Iranian new year, which falls on March 20.

"Ahead of the IAEA's Thursday meeting in Vienna, a leaked report claimed Iran had last week given the watchdog sensitive documents which apparently showed how to mold highly enriched uranium into the hemispherical shape of warheads, in an effort to stave off referral to the Security Council. At the same time, according to the same unnamed diplomats, the agency passed to Tehran intelligence provided by the US that suggests Iran has been working on details of nuclear weapons, such as missile trajectories and ideal altitudes for exploding warheads. When the IAEA asked Iran for an explanation of the documents, Tehran replied they had been obtained from members of a nuclear black market network.

"Still ahead of the nuclear watchdog’s meeting, Moscow and Beijing dispatched diplomats to Tehran to explain that their support for referral to the Security Council did not mean an end to diplomacy.

"Referring the issue to the UN would have a 'very big effect' on oil prices, Libyan Energy Scretary Fathi Hamed bin-Shatwan said Tuesday at an OPEC meeting in Vienna."

31 January 2006

Blogging is going to be very light for the next couple of days as I take care of some personal business. In the light of all the nonsense being talked about the Supreme Court and those who sit on it at the moment, this Wall Street Journal review of a new book by Ralph Rossum, In Antonin Scalia's Jurisprudence, Law professor (Northwestern School of Law) John O McGinnis asks "Does freedom of speech, for example, prohibit government officials from firing contractors who make political contributions to their opponents? The Constitution does not address the question with specificity. For Justice Scalia, the history of political patronage is a guide. It is as old as the Republic and suggests that the First Amendment should not be so broadly construed as to deny such a prohibition. As Mr. Rossum explains, political traditions embody democratic norms; they help to rein in judicial fads and whims...

"Respecting the original meaning of the constitutional text is, for Justice Scalia, the only way of making judicial decision-making consistent with the rule of law and democracy. The greatest threat to both, he believes, is the temptation of judges to substitute their own values for those of the Framers, thereby cutting legal rules free from their moorings and, too often, usurping elected legislatures and the popular will. The constitutional text may at times be ambiguous, he concedes, but the best response to such ambiguity is to defer to American traditions, not to the enthusiasms of the moment."

30 January 2006

This is a disturbing article in the New Yorker suggesting that the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections is the tip of an iceberg in the Middle East. Writer Ari Shavit is quoting Shalom Harari, a former Israeli Military Intelligence officer who seems to have made a career of accurately predicting events and trends that are a mystery to others.

Harari "has been following the rise of Hamas - the Islamic Resistance Movement - for almost a quarter century. An awkward, voluble man of nearly sixty, Harari gained a measure of fame in intelligence circles when he began to tell his colleagues in internal reports that Hamas, founded in 1987, and initially a small outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, would, with its platform of armed resistance, grassroots politics, and Islamic ideology, come to dominate Palestinian politics. Six years ago, while most of his colleagues were anticipating peace, Harari was rightly predicting a second intifada; that uprising led to the decline of Yasir Arafat's creation and power base, the Fatah Party...

"Throughout the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood is the main power with grassroots support. The Islamists are less corrupt. They are the ones with integrity and compassion. They are of the people and they speak for the people. Today in the Arab world, the choice is clear between democratically elected Islamists and Western-leaning dictators."

"...The impact of the Hamas victory, he said, is not local but regional. 'As we speak,' he said, 'there are growing fears not only in Israel but in Jordan, Egypt, and even Syria. The Hamas victory is a Middle East earthquake. Its shock waves will be felt in every town between Casablanca and Baghdad.'"

Fidel Castro is such an attractive figure that it's sometimes hard to imagine him running anything but the most avuncular and kindly regime in Cuba. But stories like this one in Caribbean Net News continue to pop up from time to time to remind us that actually, he's a villain running an ugly, totalitarian state in which personal freedom is constantly endangered.

Ripples from the publication of the exhaustive Volcker report into the UN Oil-for-Food scandal are being felt around the world as criminal investigators use his documents to probe the involvement of their own nationals. India is perhaps the best-known example, but the Australians are also involved. The Financial Times says this morning that "The official investigation into whether Australia's monopoly wheat exporter paid 300m Australian dollars in bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime has widened and unearthed evidence drawing John Howard, the prime minister, into the alleged scandal...

"The Commission of Inquiry, which is probing allegations that AWB paid huge kickbacks to Iraq under the discredited UN oil-for-food programme, released a letter written by Mr Howard in which he sought to work 'closely' with the wheat exporter, just weeks before the company's chief executive visited Baghdad to negotiate illicit payments to the Saddam regime."

In his desperation to make a deal over the EU's budget, Tony Blair seems to have gone too far for British environmentalists. The Telegraphsays: "Tony Blair was so desperate to do a deal under the British presidency that he has done the worst kind of deal of all - which sacrifices the environment. It flies in the face of Government policy and its warm words about green farming.

"Sue Armstrong Brown of the RSPB said: 'This deal has to be one of the greatest cock-ups of our time. These are huge cuts. We need a clear signal from Government that it will continue to invest in sustainable agriculture and deliver the vision they outlined.'

"Farming experts say that the Government twice attempted to fix the problem last year, and partially did so by allowing countries voluntarily to cut standard farm payments by 20 per cent. But Gordon Brown secured an agreement that a maximum of five per cent would be 'match-funded' by the Treasury."

The Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, has admitted to the Guardian newspaper that "his force should have corrected false reports in the media that seemed to justify police suspicions about Jean Charles de Menezes, but failed to because it was 'transfixed' by the hunt for four men who attempted to carry out bomb attacks in London the previous day."

I've said before that Sir Ian is out of place in this job...whether his men were transfixed or not seems to pale in significance beside the fact that he wasn't told they'd screwed it up until after he'd contributed substantially to public confusion about what happened to de Menezes. If his men didn't think enough of him to tell him the truth quickly, then he is exposed as a failed leader and should step aside.

He's in trouble in Britain, too, for remarks he made which appeared to downplay the significance of the murders of two children, and which pointed a finger of blame at the press for being racist in their choices of which crimes to play up and which not. It seems apparent now that his accusation actually stemmed from his lack of understanding of how his own press office worked. The Guardian comments: "As he approaches the end of a bruising first year as Britain's top policeman, Sir Ian Blair is in trouble once more, this time over an ill-judged remark about the Soham murders. In a few short months he has become one of the most controversial public figures in the country."

Sir Ian is what in Yiddish is called a klutz, which I once saw defined as a man who falls on his ass and breaks his nose. This is not a good thing in a policeman. He needs to be in some other profession.

29 January 2006

Katrina seems to have been an equal-opportunity hurricane, in the sense that it chased crooks as well as honest people out of town. Some of the crooks are finding that it isn't as easy to be crooked outside Louisiana as it is inside. The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, is reporting that "Eight gang members who moved (to Houston)from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina have been arrested as suspects in 11 slayings...The arrests follow a surge in violence in and around Houston, which police attribute partly to Katrina evacuees. A police gang unit formed two weeks ago to investigate the crime wave has linked the killings to rival New Orleans gang members trying to get a foothold in Houston."

Louisiana does have an extraordinary reputation for corruption and crime. The Los Angeles Times quotes a Washington official as having said: "'Frankly, the reputation in Washington is, if we send money down there, it will just get stolen...It is a caricature of Louisiana politics that is not entirely undeserved but is grossly exaggerated. No one cared about it much before Katrina. But right now, it's hurting the state enormously.'

"'What was tolerated before Katrina is not necessarily tolerated now,' said pollster Silas Lee III, a professor at Xavier University here. 'Nerves are raw. People have lost their sense of security and direction. They are living a day-to-day existence, and they have little patience for any politician who is perceived as being corrupt.'"

"A major turning point in public attitude came in 2001 when Edwin Edwards, the former four-term Democratic governor, received a 10-year sentence for taking bribes for riverboat gambling licenses. In the last governor's race, both candidates - Democrat Kathleen Babineaux Blanco beat Republican Bobby Jindal - were considered squeaky clean, and promised government reforms. The distaste for dirty government has really picked up momentum since last summer."

Victor Davis Hansen has been deconstructing Osama bin Laden's last broadcast from the field, and he thinks it is a sign of weakness in more ways than one. In the Washington Times, he writes: "...Examine al Qaeda's plight. Bin Laden's home base in Afghanistan is lost for good. Elites of his terrorist organization are targeted from the air even in the supposedly safe Pakistani borderlands. Plenty of al Qaeda terrorists have been killed in Iraq. Europe is suddenly galvanizing against Islamic fascism. (France even mentions the unmentionable of targeting terrorist patrons with nuclear weapons.) India has no tolerance for Islamic extremism. The terrorist sponsors of Iran and Syria are finally becoming international pariahs. And thousands of Muslims have demonstrated in Lebanon and Jordan against terrorist bombers.

"Because bin Laden has failed to repeat the terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland of September 11, 2001, he oddly feels he must explain to his American targets why he has been unable to kill them. In a 'Wizard of Oz', pay-no-attention-to-that-man-behind-the-curtain moment, he offers us this: 'The delay in similar operations happening in America has not been because of failure to break through your security measures.'

"Second, al Qaeda's talking points seem to derive from American antiwar rhetoric, as bin Laden and Co desperately cling to the notion our resolve may yet crumble. Whether domestic critiques of the Bush administration antiterror policies are heartfelt or gratuitous, accurate or fabricated, an encouraged bin Laden doesn't care: He simply regurgitates these arguments as his own to throw back against us. Either bin Laden can't come up with any more grievances himself, or he figures Americans are better at making his case for him."

Meantime, an author and research associate at USC's Center for Public Diplomacy, Reza Aslan, thinks bin Laden's terrorism is just one facet of an Islamic Regormation. Writing in the "Los Angeles Times, she says: "In 100 years, after the memory of 9/11 has receded and the war on terror is a somber chapter in our nation's history, we may look back on Bin Laden not only as a murderous criminal but as one of the principal figures of an era that scholars are increasingly referring to as the Islamic reformation.

"Indeed, historians may one day place Bin Laden alongside 16th century Christian revolutionaries Thomas Muntzer, Hans Hut or even Martin Luther as a 'reformation radical' who pushed the principle of religious individualism to terrifying limits."

"...During the last century, as Muslims have increasingly been forced to regard themselves less as members of a worldwide community than as citizens of individual nation-states, a sense of individualism has begun to infuse this essentially communal faith. Add to this dramatic increases in literacy and education, widespread access to new sources of knowledge and the rising tide of globalization, and it is easy to see why the authority of traditional clerical institutions over their Muslim communities has been eroding.

"After all, Muslims now have access through the Internet (an invention whose role in the Islamic reformation parallels that of the printing press in the Christian Reformation) to the religious opinions of myriad Islamic activists, academics, self-styled preachers, militants and cult leaders throughout the world who are, for better or worse, reshaping the faith."

Brits are in the grip of another 'save our British heritage' campaign, as a painting of John Donne, owned by the Ancram family for four centuries, goes on the block. The Independent says "the Tory MP Michael Ancram...is being forced to sell to meet liabilities from the estate of his father who died a year ago. The National Portrait Gallery has been given first refusal and five months to raise the cash.

"James Stourton, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Europe, which is representing the family, said they wanted it to go into a public collection if they had to sell. 'But I know four or five collectors who would die to have it,' he added...Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, said it would be a 'catastrophe' if the painting were lost overseas. 'It is self-evidently a very, very beautiful painting and Donne is one of the greatest poets writing in the English language. Let's buy it.'"

Germaine Greer has a piece in the Guardian this weekend, explaining why the portrait is so significant. Actually, her article tells two stories, joined by the flimsiest of bridges, but they're both interesting and worth reading.


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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