Pondblog
...Views from mid-Atlantic
29 April 2006

The British Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir Philip Mawer, has made an approach to Tariq Aziz, Iraq's former deputy prime minister, now in US detention in Iraq, to help him with his investigation into allegations that George Galloway received a pay-off from Saddam Hussein's Oil-for-Food programme. The London Times says British diplomats in Baghdad made a secret approach through Mr Aziz's lawyer this week on Sir Philip's behalf. "The lawyer, Badie Izzat Arief, claimed that they offered to try and secure Mr Aziz immunity from prosecution on any charges arising from the Oil-for-Food scandal. Embassy officials want to meet Mr Aziz, 70, in the US-run detention centre where he is held with other top members of Saddam's regime..."

The Clearstream Affair, about which I've posted before, is rapidly developing into a major scandal in France, with M Chirac having to deny yesterday that he was involved. In general outline, it has to do with allegations that M Sarkozy, the bumptious challenger to the Chirac throne, and others, had secret bank accounts at the Luxembourg bank, Clearstream. It turns out that the allegations were false.

There is suspicion that that they were made by or for M Sarkozy's rival in the fight to succeed M Chirac, the French premier Dominique de Villepin. He tried to deny asking the French intelligence services to investigate last week, but was blown out of the water yesterday when a retired intelligence chief accused him of lying. In the wake of that little bombshell, M Chirac was forced to deny that he'd been involved in asking de Villepin to investigate the allegations about Sarkozy. The Telegraph says speculation is mounting that de Villepin's office may be raided, as investigating judges try to figure out who wrote the poison pen communications fingering Mr Sarkozy. The Independent says that material presented to the magistrates suggests a senior business figure close to the Prime Minister might have been involved.

There have been calls for a Cabinet shuffle, and a parliamentary enquiry. Mr de Villepin, who was weakened last month by being forced into a humiliating climbdown over those bungled labour reforms, will probably find himself out of a job very quickly.

I read this excellent Max Hasting piece earlier this week, but lost it, temporarily, in the shuffle. He wrote it for the Guardian, having read Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise, and his premise is that all of us, Brits included, would have collaborated with the Nazis had we been occupied.

"The triumph on bestseller lists of the novel Suite Francaise restores one's faith in popular taste. It is very moving to see Irene Nemirovsky's near-masterpiece achieve success more than 60 years after its Jewish author perished in Auschwitz. Her tale of occupied France in 1941 is all the more chilling because it is written with such generosity of spirit, not only towards the French, but even the Germans who were to murder her.

"Many British people who read narratives of that period find it hard to avoid complacency. The French quit, Britain fought on. Most of their people collaborated with the Nazis; French policemen dispatched Nemirovsky to a death camp. It is not a pretty story, which explains why France, almost alone of the combatant nations, has never published an official history of that experience. Even in the 21st century, it would be impossible to achieve a consensus about the truth.

"Suite Francaise has prompted renewed debate about societies' conduct under occupation. Hearing a recent conversation about collaboration, I made myself unpopular by suggesting that, if Britain had succumbed to Nazi rule, our own people would have behaved pretty much as the French did. Anthony Eden is seldom quoted with respect these days. Yet the former foreign secretary made an impressive contribution to Marcel Ophuls' great film on wartime France, Le Chagrin et la Pitie. He said, in impeccable French: 'It would be impertinent for any country that has never suffered occupation to pass judgment on one that did.' Here was wisdom.

"It is extraordinarily difficult to resist tyranny ruthlessly enforced, especially in a densely populated country with little wilderness. In order to eat and provide for one's family, it is necessary to earn money. All commerce and industry must be conducted according to the will of the occupiers. A man who owns a business will find that he has no business, his employees no work, if he does not accept dictation. Members of a family that owns a house are liable to find it burnt about their ears if they commit, or are even deemed to have acquiesced in, acts of resistance. Some people may feel brave enough to accept such consequences for themselves, but would they inflict them on their children?"

Actually, he could have taken this theme further, to say that we are all collaborators, all the time, but perhaps that's another story.

28 April 2006

Michael Ledeen got his ouija board out again and made contact with the late James Jesus Angleton, counterspy extraordinaire, to try to make sense out of the leaks, and Mary McCarthy and all that. Turns out that...well, let's just say that things aren't what they seem. Not quite, anyway. The story's in the National Review.

The Government Accountability Office handed in its report on the UN to Congress yesterday, and for the first time, committee chairman Henry J Hyde makes sense to me. As the Washington Times reports: "During yesterday's hearing, committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, repeated his call for the US to withhold its financial contributions to the United Nations until reform is achieved. 'There will be no reform until funding is withheld from the United Nations,' said Mr. Hyde...'Waiting for the United Nations to reform itself is a fool's errand.'"

"It is not entirely true that the White House press corps gave George Bush an easy ride on the road to war in Iraq," according to the Guardian. "There was one significant exception. Almost every day the administration had to face the furious questioning of an octogenarian woman from Detroit who at times seemed to be the sole sceptical voice in the building.

"At the age of 85, Helen Thomas is a little frail and her voice does not carry as well as it once did, but she cannot be easily overlooked. She has been reporting on the White House longer than most of her fellow journalists have been alive."

The Toronto Globe and Mail's technology section says that USB wires may well be a thing of the past by the end of the year. Assuming, that is, that rival groups of companies can settle their argument about which type of technology to use.

27 April 2006

Aljazeera reports that: "Cuba's most prominent female dissident says she was brutally beaten at her home by a pro-government mob of people who knew she was heading to a meeting at the home of the top US diplomat in Havana.

"'I see it as a (government) message to the opposition,' ailing economist Marta Beatriz Roque, 60 said on Wednesday at her home, where she showed injuries to her eye, knee and elbow which she said were from the assault a day earlier.

"Roque, who opposes the Americas' only one-party communist government, leads the Assembly for Promoting Civil Society. She was released from prison in July 2004 due to her failing health after she had been convicted and sentenced to 20 years behind bars along with 74 other dissidents following the government's 2003 crackdown, which was the largest in years."

It has been a rough week for the UN. It confirmed yesterday that the US Attorney's Office was investigating suspected wrongdoing in the office that handles procurement for UN peacekeeping operations. Today, according to the Washington Times, a report by the Government Accountability Office to be delivered to Congress describes the procurement office as understaffed, poorly trained and badly lacking the oversight that would uncover corruption, fraud and waste."

Also today, the New York Sun reports that the second most powerful man at Turtle Bay, Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, has angered internal UN investigators by asking that they take into consideration the political needs of the organization when they carry out independent probes into wrongdoing by top officials.

Mr. Malloch Brown's attempt to influence officials of the UN watchdog, known as the Office of Internal Oversight Services, as well as his intervention in one of its high-profile investigations, came to light just as the GAO was completing the report it will deliver to Congress today.

And yesterday, the National Review reported that the United Nations Environment Programme gave out one of its 2006 Champion of the Earth awards to "Screaming Mary", so called for her role as press spokesman for those Iranians involved in the 1979 hostage crisis. Screeaming Mary is apparently now vice-president of the country, and was head of the department of the environment there from 1997 to 2005.

Tony Blair's Labour Government has been in trouble before, but never like this. The Telegraph says: "Tony Blair's Government was in turmoil last night after scandal and crisis left three of his most senior Cabinet ministers fighting to save their careers.

"On the most chaotic day since Labour came to power, John Prescott became an object of ridicule over a two-year affair with a civil servant; Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, was under intense pressure to resign over the foreign prisoners scandal; and Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, was heckled and slow-handclapped by nurses."

The timing of these issues is about as bad as it gets - there's a Council election on May 4, with 350 of these regional bodies up for grabs. The Times editorialises: "Once the painful local election results have been returned, Mr Blair will have surely his last chance to re-organise the Cabinet. He cannot afford another mistake." I think that's generous. This is the mistake he couldn't afford to make.

Britain is to honour one of its finest poets, John Betjeman, on the centenary of his birth in August. According to the Guardian, it's going to be "a very English affair. Radio 4 will have a Betjeman Day, and Joanna Lumley, Ronnie Corbett and Judi Dench will gather to recite his work at a gala performance in the West End. There will be a Cornish Birthday Party, with donkey rides and cream teas by the sea at Polzeath. Also in Betjeman's beloved Cornwall, at Trebetherick, there will be the John Betjeman Centenary Golf Trophy."

Betjeman was an unorthodox man, though far from an unorthodox poet. The Guardian says "in 1974, at the age of 67, Betjeman launched an extraordinary new recording career. He released the album Banana Blush on the Charisma label - then best known for Genesis and other prog-rock travellers such as Van der Graaf Generator. Banana Blush was followed by three similar albums, with the poet reading his works over a musical backing that includes tea-dance jazz, brass bands, rock guitar and, yes, the occasional fat and funky bassline.

A Subaltern's Love Song is the sort of thing (of which these are just two verses) he read:

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I'm engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.


One of the albums he did after Banana Blush was called Late Flowering Love. The BBC years ago made a film of it, called Late Flowering Lust (an entirely sensible alteration, I thought), in which Nigel Hawthorne (of Yes, Minister fame) played the leading role. It was really quite jaw-droppingly good, but so odd, so hard to characterise, that it must have been difficult to know how to air it. In the US, Ovation carried it for a short time some years ago, I think. But since then, it has dropped from sight and, for some reason, is not on sale as a DVD. The BBC would be doing a public service to resurrect the show, and sell it as a centenary tribute to Betjeman on both sides of the Atlantic.

26 April 2006

Max Hastings, who has written a couple of fairly decent books about war, and so ought to know a little about it, calls for a reality check, in the Washington Post, for those who are surprised by the revolt of the generals over Donald Rumsfield's interfering.

"If commanders are denied the power to manage campaigns as they think right, it is unjust to allow them to accept blame when these go awry. In the new world, the generals' revolt seems a legitimate response to political mismanagement of operations. If a civilian such as Donald Rumsfeld seeks to exercise, from Washington, functions that were traditionally those of soldiers, he should take the customary consequences. The most conspicuous historical example of a politician presiding over a military fiasco was that of Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty. He sponsored the 1915 Dardanelles campaign - and was forced to quit."

In London, the Asian Dub Foundation is putting on Gaddafi: The Opera, co-written by the playwright Shan Khan and the ADF's Steve Chandra Savale. The Guardian doesn't seem to know whether to take that seriously or not, and their confusion seems confirmation that maybe they're not quite as switched on as they like to think they are. "The opera is a huge gamble for English National Opera, who are staging it at London's Coliseum - not just because of its incendiary subject matter, but also because of the experimental nature of the music. It's not often the venerable opera house plays host to an alternative electronica collective like Asian Dub Foundation, who specialise in breakbeat, dub, bangla and ragga. More challengingly, the opera will feature Egyptian and Libyan musicians alongside the ENO orchestra - who may well find the Arabic orchestrations that ADF are planning more demanding than an umpteenth run through Rigoletto."

"The opera starts with Gaddafi's coup d'├ętat in 1969, when Gaddafi was 28 years old, and follows his career right through to March 2004, when Tony Blair visited his tent for tea, thereby endorsing a man reviled by the west for more than three decades. But will it include topical showstoppers along the lines of 'I'm gonna wash Saddam right outta my hair', or 'Nasser, he's my baby. No sir, don't mean maybe'?"

See what I mean? Geezerism disguised behind bad punning. You'd need to be a complete cultural clod to miss this.

The Wall Street Journalnotes a dichotomy about leakers in the liberal press: "There is little doubt that the Washington Post story on alleged prisons in Europe has done enormous damage - at a minimum, to our ability to secure future cooperation in the war on terror from countries that don't want their assistance to be exposed. Likewise, the New York Times wiretapping exposw may have ruined one of our most effective anti-al Qaeda surveillance programs. Ms. McCarthy denies being the source of these stories. But somebody inside the intelligence community was.

"Leaving partisanship aside, this ought to be deeply troubling to anyone who cares about democratic government. The CIA leakers are arrogating to themselves the right to subvert the policy of a twice-elected Administration. Paul Pillar, another former CIA analyst well known for opposing Mr. Bush while he was at Langley, appears to think this is as it should be. He recently wrote in Foreign Affairs that the intelligence community should be treated like the Federal Reserve and have independent political status. In other words, the intelligence community should be a sort of clerisy accountable to no one.

"The press is also inventing a preposterous double standard that is supposed to help us all distinguish between bad leaks (the Plame name) and virtuous leaks (whatever Ms. McCarthy might have done). Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie has put himself on record as saying Ms. McCarthy should not 'come to harm' for helping citizens hold their government accountable. Of the Plame affair, by contrast, the Post's editorial page said her exposure may have been an 'egregious abuse of the public trust.'

"It would appear that the only relevant difference here is whose political ox is being gored, and whether a liberal or conservative journalist was the beneficiary of the leak. That the press sought to hound Robert Novak out of polite society for the Plame disclosure and then to reward Ms. Priest and Mr. Risen with Pulitzers proves the worst that any critic has ever said about media bias."

25 April 2006

I've posted before about the trial of a former Premier of Trinidad and Tobago, now the Opposition Leader, on charges of failing to declare millions of TT dollars he held in a bank account in London. These aren't huge sums of money, because a TT dollar is worth only 16 US cents, but it does show Bermuda up by comparison, because the financial disclosure we demand of our politicians is so toothless as to be disclosure in name only. Our Government, which has been accused often of financial impropriety, takes the view that if the behaviour of politicians and other public servants isn't criminal, it should attract no sanction...and takes absolutely no interest in tightening up existing lax legislation and codes of behaviour.

Caribbean Net News reports that Basdeo Panday, talking with reporters before the ruling, said he was willing to abide by the court's decision. "The day we lose respect for the law the society will degenerate into anarchy and chaos. I am prepared as one can be, that is to respect the law, and to respect the courts," he said. The day one of our people behaves quite so nobly as that will be a day the sea runs red and fizzy.

Guardian critic Adrian Searle says he likes, but is confused by Chinese artist Yang Fudong's video installations, being shown in London's Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art. "The story seems to have no definite beginning, no conclusive end. It just starts, then stops. A great deal is condensed within its eight minutes, the whole thing measured out to the steady rhythm and beats of Wen Wei Wang's multilayered score. Eight screens line the walls of the room, with two more on either side of a freestanding wall in the centre of the installation. It is impossible to see, let alone follow, the 10 scenes unfolding at once.

"The pulse of the music, and the ambient sounds of the work - an axe skating on the ice, crows and magpies, the rumble of the train, all coming from different parts of the room - suggest that the way to watch is to keep on the move oneself, circling the room to the walking-pace tempo of the score. I took a long, circuitous walk, on a floor lain with dull, reflective metal. Perhaps we are supposed to imagine that we too are walking on the ice, on our own journey.

"What Yang's art adds up to is hard to define. Sometimes he overcomplicates his work, to a point where the result is unwieldy. The two-room installation Jiaer's Livestock, for instance, doesn't know whether it wants to be riotously comical, or gratuitous and cruel. It doesn't work, except as a series of beautifully choreographed fragments.

"More often, though, the sense of lostness Yang creates is a good place to be. In the short, single-screen film Lock Again, there is a marvellous sequence in which two young men in sailor's uniforms - both of whom look as if they have been in a fight - ferry an imperious girl across a pond thick with duckweed in a rowing boat. The journey continues, in the next shot, across an indoor swimming pool, where they eventually flounder. Such unexpected turns are extremely engaging and pleasurable, even though they leave us floundering in our own incomprehension."

If he could simply find it within himself to abandon his demand for meaning, he'd really begin to enjoy himself.

Britain's Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, who is under heavy fire in the UK for spearheading drives to make it legally easier to deal with terrorists, is accusing the UK's strident liberal media of hysteria, stupidity and disregard for the truth. He named the usual suspects, the Guardian, the Observer and the Independent. The Guardian reports reports that: "Mr Clarke claimed that in the absence of many genuinely dangerous totalitarian dictatorships to fight, some liberal commentators were rhetorically targeting the US and the UK for having dictatorial tendencies.

"'Some commentators routinely use language like 'police state', 'fascist', hijacking our democracy', 'creeping authoritarianism', 'destruction of the rule of law', whilst words like 'holocaust', 'gulag' and 'apartheid' are regularly used descriptively of our society in ways which must be truly offensive to those who experienced those realities. As these descriptions and language are used, the truth just flies out of the window, as does any adherence to professional journalistic standards or any requirement to examine facts and check them with rigour.'

"Mr Clarke, who yesterday issued a nine-page reply to charges against him by Simon Carr, an Independent columnist, said such pieces were 'symptomatic of a more general intellectual laziness which seeks to slip on to the shoulders of modern democratic states the mantle of dictatorial power.' He singled out two Guardian columns by Jenni Russell, who had argued that Tony Blair's administration was engaged in a 'furious power grab' and removing the safeguards that protect everyone from the whims of government.

"'These are ridiculous assertions, unsupported in a long article by any hint of understanding the balance of powers which currently exist in our society, whether legal or political,' claimed Mr Clarke. His attack followed an unprecedented exchange of emails over the weekend between Tony Blair and the Observer columnist Henry Porter.

"He also focused his anger on a recent lecture by Lord Steyn, the former law lord, reported in the Guardian as an attack on the government's creeping authoritarianism. Mr Clarke said that Lord Steyn had accused him of seeking to 'nobble the judiciary' - an accusation he found offensive and absurd."

Researchers at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition are working towards trying to be able to give commandos superhuman senses similar to those of owls, snakes and fish. The Globe and Mail's technology section (have I mentioned how good they are?) says that by routing signals from helmet-mounted cameras, sonar and other equipment through the tongue to the brain, they hope to give US Army Rangers, for example, 360-degree unobstructed vision at night and allowing US Navy SEALs to sense sonar in their heads while maintaining normal vision underwater - turning science fiction into reality.

"The device, known as Brain Port, was pioneered more than 30 years ago by Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, a University of Wisconsin neuroscientist. Dr. Bach-y-Rita began routing images from a camera through electrodes taped to people's backs and later discovered that the tongue was a superior transmitter.

"A narrow strip of red plastic connects the Brain Port to the tongue where 144 microelectrodes transmit information through nerve fibres to the brain. Instead of holding and looking at compasses and bulky hand-held sonar devices, the divers can process the information through their tongues, said Dr. Anil Raj, the project's lead scientist."

24 April 2006

My Mexican friend, Miguel Antonio, points me to an article in the Washington Times this morning, written by Richard W. Rahn, who is director general of the Center for Global Economic Growth, a project of the FreedomWorks Foundation. He's explaining why Mexico seems to be in a constantly mouldy economic state: "The 2006 Index of Economic Freedom (by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal) ranked Mexico 60 out of 157 countries evaluated. There is a very high correlation between the degree of economic freedom and economic prosperity. Mexico has been improving, but it has a long way to go. Its economic growth rate is about half what it should be in its stage of development and its potential.

"For instance, Mexico has many state monopolies that should be abolished, the most notorious of which is PEMEX, the famously inefficient and corrupt state monopoly petroleum company. Mexicans are not even allowed to own subsurface rights on their property, unlike both domestic and foreign property owners in the US. Hence, there is little incentive to explore for additional oil and gas or minerals - which Mexico has an abundance.

"This is just one example of the many ways Mexico keeps itself unnecessarily poor. Mexico does not produce enough jobs at its current growth rates to keep up with the growth of the labor market; hence it 'exports' its 'excess' labor force to the US. Many Mexican politicians explicitly, or at least implicitly, advocate sending Mexican workers to the US. People are most productive in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, and most Mexican emigrants are in these age groups, while the less productive and dependent young and old are left in Mexico. Few seem to understand Mexico's labor export policy is an enormous drain on Mexico's economic potential."

I posted something a day or two ago about Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who has challenged Vatican views on the use of condoms, among other things. The Guardian says the Catholic Church is taking him seriously: "Pope Benedict has asked senior theologians and scientists to prepare a document discussing the use of condoms as a means of preventing the transmission of HIV, a Vatican official has revealed."

In London's Times this morning, columnist Lord Rees-Mogg gives an approving little history of the dissident cardinal: "He was the leading liberal candidate at the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. By then he had retired as the Archbishop of Milan, the largest see in Italy, and was in poor health; he now lives in retirement in Jerusalem...

"There are still strong pressures for change in the Roman Catholic Church. Benedict XVI was an old Pope when elected; the election of his successor can be only a decade or two away. Ten years is a short time in the Vatican. Benedict XVI is a conservative theologian, but he does not seem to have a radical conservative agenda; he is certainly not proving to be a reactionary."

The Guardian says that behind a facade of normalcy, Zimbabwe is falling to bits. Consider these statistics:

"20 minutes: Frequency that a child dies of Aids and another is orphaned, according to the United Nations children's agency, Unicef, which estimates that 1.6 million children, almost one in three, are orphans.

"3,000: Number of people estimated to die of Aids-related illnesses each week, despite an apparent slight decline recently in the HIV rate.

"4.3 million: Number of people receiving food aid after several poor harvests blamed on drought and chaotic land reform.

"34 years: Average life expectancy for women - the lowest in the world. For men it is 37, according to the World Health Organisation. The government says the figures are exaggerated.

"3.5 million: The number of Zimbabweans said to have emigrated, mostly to South Africa, Botswana and Britain."

Beginning to think Dubya's as bad as they make him out to be? There's another point of view - Natan Sharansky says he's the dissident president. In the Wall Street Journal, he writes: "President George W. Bush...is a man fired by a deep belief in the universal appeal of freedom, its transformative power, and its critical connection to international peace and stability. Even the fiercest critics of these ideas would surely admit that Mr. Bush has championed them both before and after his re-election, both when he was riding high in the polls and now that his popularity has plummeted, when criticism has come from longstanding opponents and from erstwhile supporters.

"With a dogged determination that any dissident can appreciate, Mr. Bush, faced with overwhelming opposition, stands his ideological ground, motivated in large measure by what appears to be a refusal to countenance moral failure."

23 April 2006

DEBKAfile says Shias are chasing Sunni Muslims out of Baghdad and up into Sunni sanctuaries in northern Iraq, like Samarra and Falujja. They've shifted 35,000 Palestinians, DEBKAfile says, the last of them moved out by the quasi-official Shiite Wolves Brigade, which is regarded as the most effective and savage of the Iraqi militias. "For some weeks, 2,000 - 3,000 Palestinians have been stranded in tents set up in the desert on the Iraqi side of the Jordanian border. Jordan refuses to let them enter...

"Our Iraqi sources add that the expulsion of the Palestinians is part of the Shiite campaign to purge Baghdad of Sunni Muslims without official Iraqi or American interference. The Wolves have now moved to the southern Baghdad's Dora to carry on driving out Sunni residents. This campaign has finally put paid to the four-month effort to establish a national government shared by Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis."

So, a partitioned Iraq?

One of the classic Chinese books is called A Journey to the West. It concerns the 17 year-long trip taken in the 7th Century by a Chinese Buddhist monk, Xuanzang, to India. He studied there with many famous Buddhist masters, especially at the centre of Buddhist learning in Nalanda. When he returned, he took with him over 600 Sanskrit texts, which he spent much of the rest of his life translating into Chinese. Now, according to People's Daily, two Buddhist monks are to retrace his journey. One of them is from the Chinese mainland and the other from Taiwan (think something's being said here?) and they're going to set off on July 19. "Their four-month journey to India will follow Xuanzang's exact route," says People's Daily, "which he took more than 1,300 years ago. The start of the project was marked by a ceremony at the Guangxiao Temple in Guangzhou on Friday.

"The event, organized by the China Buddhism Association, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the China Xuanzang Research Centre, also comes in the Year of Sino-India Friendship."

This quirky, enjoyable review of London's Moro restaurant was written by the Telegraph's critic, Jan Moir: "Moro takes smoky, fresh chorizos, splits them lengthways and tosses them on the charcoal grill until the edges turn crispy black and beg for mercy. S's other Moro favourite, the restaurant's Malaga raisin ice cream, is worth the trip alone. Raisins are soaked and plumped in sweet, nutty Pedro Ximenez sherry before being folded into the cool whip of home-made vanilla-flecked ice cream.

"When you eat it, the raisins burst in your mouth with sweet, fruity sherry. Elsewhere scraps of Pata Negra ham (the stuff Fidel Castro keeps sending people with suitcases full of cash to buy for him in Spain) edged with pearly fat are served with toast spread with garlic puree, and there's almost always lovely roast lamb, splashed with thick herb sauce and served, on this occasion, with an orange, dried fig and potato salad, which has a perfumed, Moorish swagger.

"Moro is one of the restaurants in my hall of fame for many reasons but primarily because, despite many ups and downs over the past nine years, it has emerged with its integrity intact, a menu that still pulses with delicious dishes and with its prices still fair; nothing short of a miracle for a successful London restaurant."

I've never eaten there, but was lucky enough to be given their cookbook by my son for Christmas a couple of years ago. It's spectacular! Some of it is food I remember from having spent a year in Spain when I was 19 or 20, like mushrooms cooked in sherry and served on garlic bread, or pork with Moros y Cristianos - black beans and rice. That's a dish that caught on in a big way in places the Spanish colonised over on this side of the world, like Cuba.

CIA officials, according to the New York Times, are saying that firing Mary O McCarthy "is only the beginning of a campaign to stanch the unauthorized flow of information from the spy agency."

Porter J. Goss, the CIA director, wrote an oped piece for the Times back in February, in which he said damming up the leaks were a first priority (there's a link in the Times story). At the time, he said part of the problem at the agency was that what should have been a sharp distinction between someone breaking the law by willfully compromising classified information and someone blowing the whistle on official misbehaviour had become muddied. The damage that was being done to the US as a result, he said, was immense. For the last three months, the Times says, Goss has "carried out one of the most intensive leak investigations in the agency's history, using polygraph tests to determine who at the agency may be behind what Mr. Goss says is an explosion of damaging leaks to the news media."


Articles

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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