...Views from mid-Atlantic
17 June 2006

Here's one of those articles that are so hard to resist - the Guardian asks a score or so of well-known literary-type figures what books they're going to read on their summer holidays.

It's actually quite a complex business, this summer holiday reading thing. You don't want to be reading a book beside a swimming pool that you get through too quickly, or that takes you too far out of yourself, or that requires too much sustained concentration. What you want is something frivolous, naturally, and exciting. But you have to be careful about the nature of the excitement. It can't be excitement that grows as the book progresses, because that will keep you from being in the moment, there beside your swimming pool. It should be exciting in a sustained way - like a good history book, or the Thousand and One Nights. That's my theory, anyway.

One or two of the people the Guardian asks fall into the trap of pretentiousness - 'I shall be reading the five-volume Early Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer - I find it so relaxing' sort of stuff.

But there is a lot of poetry mentioned, which is refreshing, and a good choice for sitting by the pool, because poetry requires great concentration, but only in bursts.

And I should also mention a little revelation, buried in the middle of this thing. George Monbiot is a well-known, very left-wing Guardian columnist who has caused untold damage to my back teeth. Until today, he was on my list of people to be shot on sight. But...read this:

"I bought The Apple Grower by Michael Phillips (distributed by Green Books) to learn how to manage my orchard organically. But I was soon lost in its riveting complexity and began to read it almost as I would a novel. The wonderful thing about fruit trees is that you never reach the end of the story. Every variety has different requirements - sometimes quite unexpected. People who have devoted a lifetime to the art still make strange discoveries. Phillips draws on centuries of knowledge about planting, pruning, pollination, propagation, pests and picking, and adds his own novel observations. But he finds time too to allow the quiet beauty of running an orchard to shine through."

Won't make me stop grinding my teeth, but I'll take him off that list, and I'll read the book, which sounds a great pleasure.

A couple of days ago, I posted something about a British study that reported an increased number of people in the media who had been to what the Brits call public school, and I joked that the Brit preoccupation with class would cause them to respond by wanting to close public schools. The reaction, indeed, has been to treat this as a problem with the influence of those from 'elite, privileged backgrounds'. The chairman of the group that produced the report asked what he thought was the key question: Is it healthy that those who are most influential in determining and interpreting the news agenda have educational backgrounds that are so different to the vast majority of the population?

It's a completely specious question. In passing, the report confirmed that the trend in journalism was paralleled in some of the professions. It's almost certain that Britain is experiencing what other countries around the world are experiencing - people who have hoisted in the lesson that there is a direct relationship between education and income, are investing in education in a big way. There is no point in going to a lousy school, so people try to go, or to send their children to the best they have access to. The best schools in England are public schools. Those who feel that there is somehow something evil in wanting to be part of the best need to understand they are trapped in an argument that was settled a couple of generations ago. It is perfectly natural...an empowering thing...to recognise the best, and to want to get a piece of it for yourself. It's how humans evolve.

You can't argue that a population busy improving its education and its standard of living is engaged in an unhealthy enterprise. And that question in the report, "is it healthy for well-educated people to set the news agenda for not-so-well educated people" is just too footling to deserve an answer (unless, of course, you happen to be one of those Brit class yobs who are more interested in hearing the thunk of an axe into bone than they are in understanding the argument).

But in Britain, it isn't done to say things like that. Here's an educated man, writing in the Guardian on this issue like a man on tiptoe, with a noose around his neck. Peter Wilby, former editor of the New Statesman, writes under headlines which I'm sure were written for him by a sub who enjoyed being in a position to make him squirm: "All you need to succeed in our meritocracy is privilege. Britain's elites are more ferocious than ever in defence of their rewards because they think they won them through ability."

Wilby says nothing of the sort, of course, but defends the privilege of his education and his talent in such muted and convoluted terms that the first time you read it, you almost think his piece really does belong under that headline. He ends with this rather cowardly sentence: "All this shows why we so badly need a revitalised social-democratic politics, based on ideals of equality of worth and not just equality of opportunity."

Horseshit. Arm the elites! Down with the poorly dressed!

16 June 2006

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has committed $5.1 billion in grants to more than 130 countries to fight the three diseases that kill more than six million people each year. It seems to have brought out the worst in some countries. The Fund has cut Burma off completely. Local newspapers are reporting that Kenya has "similar problems". And in Uganda, according to the Washington Times, an investigation suggests that of $47 million supposed to have been funnelled to about 400 private, nongovernmental organizations about $37 million of the money remains unaccounted for.

"You could count the number of honest recipients with two hands, and even they were not without sin," according to the man conducting the Uganda investigation.

It's start day for the Newport Bermuda race. Yachting World says is might be a spinnaker start and end with a beat to the finish line: "The current forecast for today's start is predicting sunshine and a developing thermal breeze and there might even be a spinnaker start for the second race in a row. Down the course later today and Saturday, boats should get a shift to the south-west as they make their way down to a ridge running north-east off Cape Hatteras up into the North Atlantic just above the Gulf Stream's path. The ridge appears to be thicker to the east.

"With the present pattern of the Gulf Stream currents, crews appear to have a choice of going east of the rhumb line, the direct course to Bermuda, and getting more favorable current but a wider area of unsettled transition winds. The other option is to go west of the rhumb line in less favorable current, but experience more wind. Winds will be 8-14knots overnight Friday and in the 5-15 range on Saturday...

"Boats could experience south and south-east wind in the 15-25 knt range by Monday that will continue through Wednesday. What started out with a downwind breeze may just finish with a stiff beat during the approach to Bermuda."

Those offended by the almost unbelievable crassness of evangelical Christians may have a nice surprise in store - The Washington Post says they're getting nicer: "The mellowing of evangelical Christianity may well be the big American religious story of this decade. The evolution of the evangelical movement should not be confused with the rise of a religious left. Although the margin of the Republican Party's advantage among white evangelicals is likely to decline from its exceptionally high level in the 2004 election, a substantial majority of white evangelicals will probably remain conservative and continue to vote Republican.

"But the evangelical political agenda is broadening as new voices insist on the urgency of issues such as Third World poverty and the fights against AIDS and human trafficking."

The United States is struggling hard to figure out what on earth is with this World Cup stuff (like the economist disappearing up hiw own waistcoat this morning, struggling hard not to be meanspirited about the entire country of Brazil taking the month off to watch it...can't remember where I saw that). At the LA Times, they're bemused by the vicious war that has broken out between tabloids in Germany and in England. "Where does this hatred come from," asks writer Jeffrey Fleishman, then answers his own question - "Two World Wars, to start with. The Brits refuse to let the Germans forget the past. The word 'kraut' appears in tabloid stories along with headlines such as 'Judgment at Nuremberg'."

Why? He quotes an opinion piece in the Sun: "Well, forgive me, but we did win two World Wars and halt the spread of Nazism. I'm not a racist, but where is the harm in a few jokes about Germany's disgraceful past?"

Haaretz carries a weary, cynical piece by a columnist who is no longer capable of being surprised by what the Palestiniants do. They may become the first side to lose the same war twice, he says: "The damage to the Palestinian cause may already be irreversible. In six years of the most self-destructive rebellion in memory, the Palestinians in general and Yasser Arafat in particular, literally blew to pieces the phenomenal and even one-sided sympathy they enjoyed in the world at large.

"Thanks to the suicide bomber, gone is the David vs. Goliath image of a brave and noble people fighting 21st century weaponry with nothing but stones. Thanks to corruption, mismanagement, macho posturing and, now, intramural killing, gone is the image of the Palestinians as the Jews of the Arab World, the image of a people whose unity, worldliness, intelligence, industriousness, responsibility, resourcefulness, purposefulness, financial acumen, made them natural and preferred candidates for governing an independent state."

15 June 2006

Michael Ledeen of the National Review Online ought to get some sort of prize for the wackiest story involving the World Cup: The Iranian national team wasn't just defeated by Mexico, it was defeated in a manner so unthinkably unpleasant, so evil and menacing, that anything, including doom for the country and everyone in it, is possible as a result. It's all because a Mexican called Omar Bravo. I can say no more.

The ever-inventive Los Angeles Times food section people have caused yet another early morning attack of digestive envy. "Crab cakes can never be about skimping. A pound of crabmeat will serve no more than four for dinner (maybe eight at lunch). Two on a plate will make a meal, but a single crab cake can also be a starting point for something more. It can be tucked into a sandwich or, as Lentz has done at the Hungry Cat, combined with a poached egg, bacon and hollandaise for crab cake Benedict."


Public Enemy Number One in wired Tokyo? Nesting crows. The Times reports that "Their destructive and unpredictable behaviour during the annual May to June mating season is always highly problematic for the Japanese capital. But this year the aggressive ink-black birds have created a new headache by developing a seemingly insatiable taste for fibre-optic internet cable.

"Tokyo has become a victim of its own rush to go broadband. In the past six weeks, hundreds of homes and offices have reportedly been left without high-speed internet service after the crows discovered that broadband cable can be pecked into usable strips more easily than power cables or telephone copper wire ever could. Crows have discovered that the broadband cables, which are strung from telegraph poles across Tokyo, are the perfect consistency for building nests."

British newspapers are reporting this morning (this is the Guardian's version) that "54% of the top 100 newspaper editors, columnists, broadcasters and executives were educated privately, despite fee-paying schools catering for 7% of the school population. That figure has increased from 49% in 1986, when the research was last carried out. Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said the study confirmed a pattern evident among top lawyers and politicians. 'This is another example of the predominance of those who are privately educated in influential positions in society,' he said."

Anywhere else in the world, this kind of statistic would cause a run on admission to private schools. But the Brits are so phobic about class that they'll have a hue and cry instead about shutting private (really called public) schools down for promoting elitism.

14 June 2006

Anna Somers Cocks, the general editorial director of The Art Newspaper, is talking about what she says is "a moment of truth" for those in the antiquities business: "The documentary evidence discovered by the Italian authorities in the Giacomo Medici antiquities smuggling affair and now coming out in the trial of the former curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Marion True, has made museum professionals and collectors come face to face with the criminality of parts - large parts - of the trade in antiquities. The prospect of being arraigned and facing the humiliation of a criminal trial is also concentrating the minds of curators and directors more accustomed to being considered pillars of enlightened society.

"No longer should museums be able to buy antiquities or accept them as a gift while turning a blind eye to the question of where they come from. Nor will it be credible for museums to go through the legal farce practised by the Getty and other US museums in the past of asking the authorities in possible source countries whether they knew that a potential purchase had been illicitly excavated or exported, and then acquiring the item when the answer was in the negative. The museums have been forced to recognise that, by their very nature, illicitly excavated or exported items have a concealed history, so of course the authorities know little or nothing about them."

A Sam Shepard play, Fool for Love, opens at the Apollo Theatre in London tomorrow, and to mark the occasion, the Guardian sent its man, Joe Penhall (who's written the odd play himself, I seem to recall) along to interview him. Does a nice job...his English is as clear as a sheet of glass.

"Shepard is my favourite playwright, and his plays are probably the reason I started writing. When I don't know why I'm doing it any more, it's Shepard I turn to. People have remarked on the influence of Pinter and Mamet on my work - because everybody admires Pinter and Mamet - but for me, Shepard's always been the boss, no question.

Read La Turista, about two bewildered tourists in Mexico, or Silent Tongue, about native American Indians, or A Lie of the Mind, with its damaged female protagonist affecting a European accent, and you will begin to understand the eclecticism of the real Sam Shepard. The product of an impoverished, peripatetic childhood, moving as a teenager from Illinois to southern California, with frequent sojourns across the border to Mexico, he dropped out of agricultural college and ran away to New York with plenty of spleen to vent in plays that embraced mainstream American culture and gave voice to those outside of it.

"To me it was just the condition of being an outsider," he says, "being literally, geographically from somewhere else. I don't mind being part of the mainstream, but there was nothing to be part of. I guess there was an anger about that, but at the same time I'm glad about it - it gives me my vantage point as an artist."

The Wall Street Journal is disturbed, as are many, by the mean, dribbly results of the Special Prosecutor's investigation of the Plame outing. "The tragedy of this episode is that a political fight over the war in Iraq was allowed to become a criminal matter. Mr. Wilson spun his false tale in an effort to discredit the war and deny Mr. Bush a second term. The liberal media put partisanship above their own interests in demanding a special counsel probe of 'leaks' - until that probe turned on their own sources. The Attorney General at the time, John Ashcroft, passed the buck to Mr. Comey by recusing himself on flimsy grounds - an act of political and legal abdication.

"So what we are left with is a three-year political spectacle that has kept the White House under siege during a war, weakened or pushed out of office some of its most important aides, and made liberal celebrities of Mr. Wilson and his wife. And to what public purpose? A prosecutor with more wisdom than Mr. Fitzgerald would have long ago understood he was injecting himself into a political brawl, closed his case, and left the outcome to the voters."

Speaking of jokes, I've been accused of dozing at the wheel by a media duce mate of mine, who noticed what I did not - that the Telegraph claims the world's funniest joke, something about hunters in New Jersey, was actually nicked from Spike Milligan, who wrote it in 1951 for the very first television appearance of the cast of the Goon Show. Glad to set the record straight, but I don't think that's the funniest joke. I like this one:

In Warwaw during that awful war, a Jew is walking down the street and bumps accidentally into a Gestapo officer in full dress uniform, knocking him into the street.

"Schwein," roars the furious Nazi.

The Jew bows, courteously. "Rothstein," he says.

13 June 2006

Anne Bayevsky reports in the National Review Online on the rise of the GONGO - the government-operated non-governmental organisation. They are used, evidently, by UN insiders to convey messages that their own governments can't afford to convey. Bayevsky writes "But there is a much darker side to the UN-NGO nexus than the rise of these obvious interlopers in NGO circles. It is the large number of NGOs that have been empowered by UN-accreditation to spread anti-Semitism, hate, and encourage terrorism from a UN platform. The call for boycotts and sanctions against Israel is a central plank of this campaign.

"The UN accredits NGOs through its Economic and Social Council, the Department of Public Information, or in Israel's case, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Accreditation brings with it a number of entitlements, in particular, the wider dissemination of the NGO's views by way of the UN website, UN conferences, and publications. In Israel's case, the UN website specifically links to so-called 'like-minded' UN-accredited NGOs. Although the UN adds a disclaimer about the content of the non-UN sites, the only way to get on the list - and be granted the enormous benefit of being tied directly to a site accessed by millions worldwide - is to be approved by a team of UN officials."

Former Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam has added to his reputation as the 'most wanted man' in his homeland, accusing President Bashar Assad of having ordered the 2005 assassination of ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Lebanon's Daily Star quotes him today has having said in a telephone interview from Paris: "The Syrian security apparatus doesn't flinch without a direct order from President Bashar Assad."

"Khaddam, a former member of the late Syrian President Hafez Assad's inner circle that ruled for nearly 30 years, has made headlines since he broke away from the younger Assad last year and formed an opposition front in exile to bring about regime change in Damascus.

"'Hariri's assassination and the series of assassinations that followed are all linked,' said Khaddam, who also warned that remnants of the Syrian security apparatus and 'their Lebanese and Palestinians allies' continue to function within Lebanon."

The report ordered by the Israeli Defence Minister into the explosion on a beach in Gaza that killed picknicking members of a Palestinian family has been leaked to the Jerusalem Post some hours before its scheduled release. The verdict? "The leading theory currently entertained, suggested that an explosive charge, buried by Palestinians on the Gaza beach to prevent Israeli infiltration, was behind the explosion.

Furthermore, "Throughout the whole investigation, army officials complained about the lack of Palestinian cooperation. Unconfirmed reports further suggested attempts by Palestinians to remove shrapnel from the bodies of the wounded, treated in Israeli hospitals, thus impeding the investigation.

"The Palestinians originally claimed that the explosion was caused by Naval shelling, but that possibility, as well as the notion of an IAF assault was dismissed early in the investigation."

The most commonly used adjective in British tabloids turns out to be 'boozy', apparently. The man who figured this out is a Brigham Young University linquist called Mark Davies. In an article on the news site Newswise, he is described as a linquist who "loves words so much that he sorts through them for days – tens of millions at a time. He has built a searchable Web site that can spit out exactly how often any word appears in English usage, along with words that most often accompany it and many other factors. Want to know which word is most commonly associated with 'slippery'? Davies can tell you in less than a second...With no fanfare, his site, http://view.byu.edu, has spread to thousands of users in 83 countries, many of them teaching or learning English. Other users include a sitcom writer looking for new puns, a psychiatrist at Columbia University's medical school who is developing cognitive tests for Alzheimer's patients, and a (boozy?) regular at a British pub seeking material for homemade trivia contests.

12 June 2006

The San Francisco Chronicle reviews a book written by Dr. Jim Tucker, medical director of the Child and Family Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Virginia, who is researching children who claim to have had past-life experiences.

Tucker's book is called Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives, and in it, he tries to verify statements from children who have made such claims. The work continues the research of Dr. Ian Stevenson, who began studying children's apparent past-life recollections 45 years ago at the University of Virginia.

"It's controversial terrain for a scientist," says the Chronicle, "but Tucker takes his work quite seriously. The book has been heralded as 'a first-rate piece of research' by Harvard biologist Michael Levin, and Booklist described it as 'powerful grounds for credulous speculation'."

It looks as if the British Government, at long last, has realised it's backing a losing horse in continuing to support that awkward, unlucky dork of a Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair. The London Times says: "Mr McNulty (Tom, the Police Minister) was asked whether Sir Ian could continue as Metropolitan Police Commissioner if he was strongly criticised in two investigations being conducted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the shooting of the Brazilian at Stockwell Underground station in South London. Mr McNulty said 'I think we need to wait and see.'

Mr McNulty's words were seen by some politicians as a deliberate attempt by the Home Office to distance itself from Sir Ian after 12 months during which he has been at the centre of a number of embarrassing controversies. One senior politican said: 'That is no endorsement'. He added: 'I think Sir Ian's position is untenable.'"

Kofi Annan (whose team, Ghana, is playing Italy today at 4, Bermuda time) writes in the Guardian today that "The World Cup makes us at the UN green with envy. As the pinnacle of the only truly global game, played in every country by every race and religion, it is one of the few phenomena as universal as the UN. You could say it's more universal."

Also it's an economic powerhouse, it reshapes itself quickly and easily in response to changing need, it keeps its members under manners and nobody's a player for life. You could say.

My blogging colleague Phillip Wells - A Limey In Bermuda has deservedly criticised Bermuda's daily paper for having a lousy internet service. Last week (his piece is here), one of the company's executives told him, in effect, that the reason it wasn't more timely in its internet coverage was that it was too busy getting the paper out.

Phil holds up the Guardian as an example of how it ought to be done, and I agree with him wholeheartedly. As of today, the Guardian is going to be publishing stories first to the web, ending the primacy of its printed newspaper.

The Brits have come to the game a little late - some large American newspapers have been publishing stories (though not all of them) on the net first for quite a long time. Perhaps more than by anything else, the Brits have been spurred into action by a speech Rupert Murdoch (his organisation owns MySpace.com, among other things) made early in March to the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (the text of it is here), in which he acknowledged that the old game's gone out the window, and newspaper executives who fail to learn the new rules will quickly find themselves selling ties (or something to that effect).

11 June 2006

The 100th anniversary Newport to Bermuda Race begins on Friday, and it's attracting a record number of yachts. This is, I think, a Royal Bermuda Yacht Club press release that talks about the entry and some other records. "The start of the 100th anniversary Bermuda race from Newport, Rhode Island is just 7 days away (it was published yesterday), and already, records are being set. The total number of entries is likely to exceed 270 yachts - 88 more than the previous best in 2002. There are also a record 50 yachts entered in the Onion Patch team series. The fleet ranges in length from 32ft to the 98ft New Zealand maxi Maximus whose crew are looking to set a record of their own over the 635 mile course."

If you're interested in sailing - and if you're not, take my word for it, you ought to be. It is the king of sports, even if it is a little expensive. If you're interested in the fine art of sailing, then you'll be fascinated by this article, written by Bill Biewenga, one of the best writers on sailing, which discusses one of the reasons this race attracts the best of the best - it's brains, not brawn, that get you there.

"...The biennial Newport to Bermuda Race is often considered a navigator's race - an event that demands knowledge of navigation, oceanography, meteorology, and how those elements interrelate in a winning strategy...This is a race about doing your homework. Of course luck will always play its part, but there's a surprising correlation between the ones who have done the studying and those who appear the luckiest."

And as long as we're talking about wind and water - our knowledge about the effect the Bermuda High has on the direction hurricanes take has been slowly increasing for the last century, yet it is a phenomenon which few people grasp, and about which there is still much to learn. As the St Petersburg Times in Florida says, "Researchers don't know for sure what causes the high to settle in different locations or exactly why it's strong some years and weak in others."

But if, as it sometimes does, it settles for the summer in a spot a little to the east of Bermuda, it can push hurricanes towards the west, and that sometimes translates into Florida landfalls.

"In the early 1900s, meteorologists recognized that hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin moved north out of the tropics, unless they ran into an area of high pressure, which tended to move storms to the west. They saw that a large high pressure system, often centered over Bermuda, appeared to dominate the western Atlantic in the summer and fall. When the system shifted, the trade winds shifted with it.

"Hurricanes can't go very far on their own, so they hitch rides on those winds. And just like a hitchhiker, a hurricane's limited transportation options can force it to take a circuitous route.

That's why hurricanes, no matter how powerful, don't take a straight course through the Bermuda High's inner core. Instead, they flow around the periphery, riding the high's strongest winds. Forecasters sometimes describe the storms as logs floating in a river. They go where powerful currents take them."

Interesting article in the Los Angeles Times suggests that radical Islamists "failed in their bid to bring Denmark to its knees" over those cartoons published in a Copenhagen newspaper last fall. "Contrary to the fervent hopes of radical Islamists, the deadly protests over a handful of cartoons published in a Copenhagen newspaper last fall have not brought Denmark to its knees. Quite the opposite. The fiery imam who helped spark the violence has left the country in a sulfurous huff, and the pro-US, center-right government has been strengthened.

Furthermore, "Denmark's moderate Muslims seem to be benefiting from the unrest. Naser Khader, a Syrian-born member of parliament interested in peaceful integration, is a rising political star. And last week, Muslims in Denmark's second-largest city said that the cartoon flap had helped unite them behind a long-stalled mosque project. In the end, a crisis that threatened to split the country could help draw it closer."

All well and good. But the writer mistakes the aim of the exercise. There was no intent to "bring Denmark to its knees", because the aim was global, not local. I thought a couple of things quickly became pretty plain. This wasn't a radical Muslim plot, it was a coordinated attempt by the leaders of all Muslim factions to take advantage of the West's propensity for political correctness to dampen down criticism of Islamic culture, and pressure on Islam to reform. They might have succeeded, in the short term. But there is going to be no success for them in the longer term. Muslim culture is simply too flawed in the context of the way the rest of the world's culture and morality has developed in the last millennium or so, to allow this kind of temporary papering over to succeed. Muslims cannot dodge the need to adjust to the modern world. Not unless they actually do manage to conquer and subjugate the rest of us, that is.

Thanks for the tip, Brenda.

The Times of London bills this article as a review. It's not, though. It is an excerpt from a book called The Wonga Coup, by Adam Roberts, which is being published later this month in England. It's an account of the attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea which earned a lot of people, including Maggie Thatcher's son, Mark, prison time.

The extract unsurprisingly focuses on Mark Thatcher and what it was in his personality that got him involved: "His parties were well attended, especially when his mother was present — as became increasingly frequent after her husband died. But his neighbours and guests were hardly grateful. 'If it wasn't for his mother, he'd be an East End barrow boy,' said one. Another described him as having 'an ego the size of a herd of elephants and the attention span of a gnat'. He was said to be rude to waiters and imperious to everyone."

Don't think, as so many of the world's media seem to, that it's a sure thing that the explosion that killed a family on the beach in Gaza came from shelling by an Israeli ship offshore. First Palestinian reports of the blast did ascribe it to a shell fired from a navy warship that was patrolling off the coast. But the Israeli Defence Force has determined since that no warships or fighter planes had been firing at the time.

As this Jerusalem Post article says, Defence Minister Amir Peretz has set up "an investigative committee, headed by Maj.-General Meir Calify of the Ground Forces Command, and ordered that it present its findings by Tuesday evening at latest. Peretz also ordered a suspension of all artillery fire until the completion of the investigation."

The suspension of artillery fire is an acknowledgment that the likeliest explanation is that the blast was caused by an artillery shell, fired toward a target elsewhere, going astray. But it is also a possibility that it was caused by the Palestinians themselves, possibly with a Kassam rocket which went off target and hit the crowded Gaza beach between Sudaniya and Beit Lahiya. Something like 36 Kassams have hit Israel, fired from Gaza, between Friday night and this morning, so there has been a lot of activity in the area. We'll find out later this week.


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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