...Views from mid-Atlantic
05 August 2006

When Germaine Greer has a chance to express her opinion on Monica Ali's book, Brick Lane, without Salman Rushdie and others screaming bloody blue murder at the same time, she makes sense. In an article published in the Guardian, she says: "As text Brick Lane is invulnerable, no matter how many copies of the book are burned (so far, none). A writer who hangs the carcass of her invention around the necks of real people cannot expect them to rejoice in a burden that they can now never relinquish. The text will outlast them, realer than life. Generations still unborn will think they know what life was like in the London Sylheti community at the turn of the 21st century - unless a better writer comes along and does a better job, which will be even less forgivable. Writers have a charmed life, rewarded, lionised, premiated and protected against the consequences of their own indiscretion. If reality occasionally bites back, it is no more than they deserve."

Uri Lubrani, an adviser to the Israeli defense minister and formerly Israel's longtime coordinator of activities in Lebanon, gives some interesting answers to the Jerusalem Post's questions. Watching Hizbullah's broadcasts, "my sense is that they are feeling the pressure. It's also plain that the IDF operation in Baalbek [overnight Tuesday-Wednesday] had a real impact. They'll have to explain that to their supporters...

"Turning his attention to the build-up to the current conflict, Lubrani said Israel erred in not raising a diplomatic rumpus over Hizbullah's arms accumulation in the six years since Israel withdrew from the security zone to the international border. 'We let them put us to sleep for six years while they built up an arsenal. And we did nothing, not even diplomatically. That was our screw up.

"'When they built up this array of missiles, this arsenal, they knew it wasn't planned for use against Syria or Turkey. It was clearly for use exclusively against us. They built this up even though they knew we had left Lebanon, that we never had designs on its territory, that we weren't going to carry out attacks there since we were obligated to an internationally demarcated border line. We almost never responded to provocations at the border.

"'We should have prompted an international scandal. The United Nations Security Council passed a binding resolution, 1559, backed by all, celebrated by all, and it wasn't being fulfilled. We should have said [to the UN], 'Either you ensure that 1559 is implemented, or we will.' We should have created the climate to legitimize the actions we needed to have taken.'"

The extent to which that climate is not present was underlined yesterday when an Iranian official almost casually admitted that Tehran had supplied long range missiles to Hezbollah - causing barely a raised eyebrow in the world community.

"Mohtashami Pur, a one-time ambassador to Lebanon who currently holds the title of secretary-general of the 'Intifada conference', told an Iranian newspaper that Iran transferred the missiles to the Shi'ite militia, adding that the organization has his country's blessing to use the weapons in defense of Lebanon."

04 August 2006

Der Spiegel has spent some time interviewing dissidents in Cuba: "Despite their limited influence on the outside world, the dissidents believe that their strength is growing.

"In spring 2003, Castro ordered the most massive wave of arrests in years. Seventy-five political activists were sent to prison. A new opposition group was founded - one that attracted considerable attention. The 'damas de blanco' ('women in white') are the wives, mothers and daughters of those who were arrested. Every Sunday, after the church service, they march down Quinta Avenida in Havana's embassy district, demanding that their relatives be released. They dress entirely in white and carry pink gladiolas and white parasols - symbols of peaceful protest - and hence represent a serious challenge to the state's security forces.

"'Castro hasn't found a way of fighting us yet,' one of the founders of the movement, Miriam Leiva, says cheerfully. Still, some members of the group are regularly harrassed and at times kept from participating in the peaceful protests. The weekly protest has also already become the victim of one of the dreaded 'acts of repulsion' that sees Castro loyalists harrassing regime critics on a grassroots level. 'All of a sudden we were surrounded by 200 screaming people,' Leiva remembers. 'We had to flee into the church.' But they refuse to be intimidated."

The UN's Oil-for-Food scandal has found its legs again, this time in India, where both of the Indian Houses of Parliament were adjourned because an uproarious Opposition was beyond control. India News reports that "The Indian parliament was Friday paralysed over the media leak of a report indicting former external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh for misusing his authority in securing contracts in Iraq's oil-for-food scam, with the opposition refusing to let either house function. While the Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice, the second time for the day, the Lok Sabha was adjourned till 3 pm. As soon as the Lok Sabha met Friday, opposition, Left and Samajwadi Party members were on their feet questioning how the report of the Justice R.S. Pathak Inquiry Authority, submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday evening, was leaked to the media."

British author George Walden claims, in a London Times article, that it you want to understand the United States, you have to understand its Puritan roots. "...Imagine an America with no Mayflower and no New England. The national temperament would be less earnest, less moralistic, gentler. There would be fewer people in jail, and no executions. There might also be fewer Republican presidents and Bible literalists, and because a non-Puritan America would be less mesmerised by sex and introspection, less pornography and fewer psychiatrists' couches.

"An improvement on the America we have got, you may say. But the country might also have been less energetic, less enterprising, less rigorously democratic, less uncompromisingly freedom-loving. A poorer, milder America would be less able to do good as well as harm in the world. More reluctant to become engaged in Vietnam, it might also have been less tenacious in its pursuit of the Cold War generally. It would certainly not have been in Iraq, but that would be small comfort to its French or British critics, because a softer, non-Puritan America might well have resulted in a Europe submerged by Hitler, Stalin, or both.

Walden concludes that "as Alain Minc, the French historian put it, anti-Americanism is the internationalism of imbeciles."

British Government and media organisations have been accused of undermining efforts to tackle global warming by using alarmist language that amounts to "climate porn", according to the Guardian.

"The 'apocalyptic' way in which climate change is often portrayed in the press and on government websites succeeds only in 'thrilling' people while undermining practical efforts to tackle the problem, according to Labour's favourite thinktank, the Institute for Public Policy Research. It analysed reports of climate change in 600 articles, 90 television adverts and news clips, as well as websites run by government and green groups."

03 August 2006

From our As If We Didn't Have Enough Trouble department, via USATODAY, "President Vicente Fox urged Mexico City authorities Wednesday to remove sprawling camps of leftist protesters who want a complete recount of last month's presidential election, saying they are choking off commerce and tourism in the capital. Fox, who previously stayed on the sidelines of the dispute over the left's allegations of vote fraud, said the tent cities that have occupied a five-mile stretch of swank Avenida de la Reforma since Sunday are 'putting jobs and economic activity at risk.'"

The federal government, apparently, hasn't the power to intervene. And Mayor Alejandro Encinas, who does have the power to intervene, says that he won't use it because the protesters are breaking no laws. No prize for guessing he's a member of the Obrador man's Democratic Revolution Party.

Here, it's a holiday for the next couple of days as the East and West Ends of the Island play their annual cricket match, so in the spirit of holiday-making and the wonderfully disgusting excess that generally accompanies it, I offer a recipe for duck burgers, taken from the Los Angeles Times. The recipe was created by Andrea Tamburini of Tower Bar and the Terrace in the Sunset Tower Hotel, apparently. This seems a good sample: "Start the confit the day before, or purchased duck confit can be used. For the Dijon creme fraiche, mix 4 tablespoons of creme fraiche with 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard; refrigerate until ready to use." The perfect dressing for morning cereal, I think.

The recipe is embedded in a longer piece about disgustingly excessive burgers, which you may not be able to prevent yourself from reading.

Stephen Hawking supplies the answer to his own question about the survival of the human race. The Guardian quotes him as having said: "There's a sick joke that the reason we haven't been visited by aliens is that when a civilisation reaches our stage of development, it becomes unstable and destroys itself. In fact, I think there are other reasons why we haven't seen any aliens, but the story shows how perilous the situation is. The long-term survival of the human race will be safe only if we spread out into space, and then to other stars. This won't happen for at least 100 years so we have to be very careful. Perhaps, we must hope that genetic engineering will make us wise and less aggressive."

Through decades of violence and unrest in the Middle East, the American University of Beirut has preserved its reputation as one of the best institutions of higher learning in the regionm according to the New York Times.

"And as the university again finds itself in the midst of conflict and uncertainty, with the fighting in southern Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah, the university's president, on a visit here last week, said he was optimistic that the institution would persevere.

"'I have my moments of pessimism,' said John Waterbury, the president of the university since 1998. 'But we've been in business for 140 years, and I'm sure my predecessors would say, 'Hey, this ain't nothing.' So we will find a way.'"

02 August 2006

In Bermuda, we're concerned that the incidence of violent crime here is increasing quite dramatically. Others seem to be more fortunate. The crime rate in New York, for example, is continuing to fall. Heather MacDonald of City Journal says perhaps the main reason for that has been simply focus: "What did kick into high gear in late 1994, when New York crime began its dramatic dive, however, and what continues today, is the most focused form of policing in history. Zimring estimates that up to half of New York's crime drop in the 1990s, and virtually 100 percent of its continuing crime decline since 2000, has resulted from policing. And credit for keeping Gotham on the path of ongoing crime reduction belongs to Ray Kelly, serving his second tour of duty as the NYPD's commissioner."

MacDonald says key to the NYPD's crime-fighting focus is a process called Compstat. "Policing skeptics rarely bother to study Compstat closely. If they did, they would be hard-pressed to explain how it couldn't have an influence on crime and public order. The biggest problem in police departments is maintaining focus; in New York, Compstat keeps every commander monomaniacally zeroed in on lowering crime.

Commissioner Kelly left in place the previous administration's two hard-charging heads of Compstat, Chief of Department Joseph Esposito and Deputy Commissioner of Operations Garry McCarthy, whose expertise gives the city a crime-fighting brain trust. For each week's session, Compstat analysts pore over every statistic in the precinct scheduled for review - outstanding warrants and wanted cards, fingerprint hits, parolees in the area. They may drive to the precinct in an unmarked car at 3 am to monitor how officers respond to 911 calls, or comb detectives' files to determine if they're tracking down witnesses and perps as tirelessly as they should. A detective who has overlooked an opportunity to nab a robbery suspect at an unrelated court appearance, for example, will face an unpleasant time at Compstat. Have a precinct's domestic-violence officers been visiting high-risk offenders at night and on weekends? If the officers have slacked off, supervisors will hear about it. And before a Compstat session, smart executive officers will go to the scene of every recent shooting to make sure that they know all its details.

"After a thousand meetings since its inception, Compstat still possesses the capacity to terrify even those not on the hot seat. 'I have literally perspired from my armpits to my waist after viewing an acrimonious Compstat grilling,' says one captain. But however grueling, Compstat is an unmatched mechanism for disseminating the department's cumulative knowledge about tactics and for evaluating what does and doesn't work. Theme-based meetings might review how to infiltrate pawnshops during burglary investigations, for instance, or how best to fight subway theft."

I know it's an emotional, unpleasant subject for many people, but whether the deaths of dozens of people in a building in Qana, in southern Lebanon, was a genuine accident of war or a cynical publicity stunt is an important question that, in a sense, has the power to redefine what the war in Lebanon is all about. Questions were raised two or three days ago about the odd timing of events - bombs were apparently dropped at midnight, but the building didn't collapse, killing its occupants, until seven hours later. Now, other questions are being asked. An article in the Jerusalem Post says that among the things observers, especially bloggers, are calling attention to are these:

1. The dead children whose photographs appeared in the media displayed virtually no signs of the blood, bruises or broken bones that one would normally associate with injuries sustained in a collapsing building and, with one exception, were not caked with debris or pulverized cement.

2. Some of those photographed carrying victims showed no signs of having been digging in rubble. Their clothes were clean, especially the black fatigues that would so easily have shown concrete dust.

3. The victims were said to have died in their sleep, though that seems highly improbable, given the thunderous noise that must have bracketed the incident.

4. Though the press was kept away from the building, those who were removing bodies appeared all to be moving in and out of the same opening in the structure.

5. The victims looked to some as if they had been dead for longer than the incident timeline would have suggested, some of them showing signs of rigor mortis, which would not normally have set in for hours after death.

All of this may result from overanalysis - a tempest in a teacup. But it was a pivotal incident in public opinion about the war, and ought to be looked at closely as a result.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has been asked to conduct an investigation, based on data collected by Lebanese Red Cross staffers on the scene, as well as by ICRC representatives in that country. A spokesman said "We are an objective organization, and we want to find out the truth, which we will soon make public. All the information is already in our legal department in Geneva. Everything will be clear, very clear."

Lawrence A. Hunter, a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Innovation and former staff director of the congressional Joint Economic Committee, is raising questions about the odd status of Puerto Rico in the US scheme of things. In an article in the Washington Times, he writes: "People born in Puerto Rico are American citizens with US passports who have all the rights of citizenship, including dying for their country in the American military - all the rights that is except the right of electing voting Members of Congress or voting for the president. Few 'mainlanders' recognize the US has a colony, which they can visit without a passport and whose residents may freely come to the mainland to visit, work or live permanently without presenting a passport, obtaining a visa or a green card or going through customs.

"Between 1950 and the mid-1970s, Puerto Rico was considered by many a showpiece of economic growth and educational advancement. Since then, however, Puerto Rico's economy has been stagnant, its standard of living has lagged, and the educational system has deteriorated. Unemployment persists at 11 percent, and labor force participation (60 percent) is less than two-thirds the rate in the States, much lower than any member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including Mexico (82 percent). Nearly half of Puerto Rico's residents still live below the US poverty line, and the gap in income relative to the mainland continues to widen...

"Puerto Rico's lack of prosperity derives from flawed tax policy and a bloated welfare state stimulated and perpetuated not only by the government of Puerto Rico but also by very smart tax lawyers who designed fatally flawed tax policy for the US government, which benefited large multinational firms with territorial tax credits but barely benefited the people of Puerto Rico."

He's being almost mocked for it in the British press, but I listened to Tony Blair's speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council yesterday, and thought it was first-class. It's the West v Radical Islam big picture that so many people, including many people in the British press, just can't seem to get their heads around.

"This is war," he said, "but of a completely unconventional kind.

"9/11 in the US, 7/7 in the UK, 11/3 in Madrid, the countless terrorist attacks in countries as disparate as Indonesia or Algeria, what is now happening in Afghanistan and in Indonesia, the continuing conflict in Lebanon and Palestine, it is all part of the same thing. What are the values that govern the future of the world? Are they those of tolerance, freedom, respect for difference and diversity or those of reaction, division and hatred? My point is that this war can't be won in a conventional way. It can only be won by showing that our values are stronger, better and more just, more fair than the alternative. Doing this, however, requires us to change dramatically the focus of our policy...

"What is happening today out in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and beyond is an elemental struggle about the values that will shape our future. It is in part a struggle between what I will call Reactionary Islam and Moderate, Mainstream Islam. But its implications go far wider. We are fighting a war, but not just against terrorism but about how the world should govern itself in the early 21st century, about global values."

He may well be out of step with his backbench, as the British press charges, but that's because his understanding of what's going on is so much better than theirs - he's leaving them behind, in a sense. I suspect that one day, when the dust clears, he'll be understood as having played a vital, visionary role in the West's battle against radical Islam.

Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri, in a guest article in the London Times, echoes what Blair says: "Many in the Middle East are alarmed by these shifts of power and dread the prospect of the region entering a new dark age under radical Islamist regimes. For this reason, there seems to be much less hostility towards Israel in the wider Arab world than we might expect in the West. There may be no sympathy for Israel as such but many Arabs realise that the current war is over something bigger than a Jewish state with a tiny territory of 10,000 square miles, less than one per cent of Saudi Arabia's land mass.

This war is one of many battles to be fought between those who wish to join the modern world, warts and all, and those who think they have an alternative. This is a war between the West and what one might describe as 'The Rest', this time represented by radical Islamism. All the talk of a ceasefire, all the diplomatic gesticulations may ultimately mean little in what is an existential conflict."

01 August 2006

If you want to know why France has been so quiet on the subject of Lebanon, remind yourself of the 1980s, when Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, gave the French a series of bloody noses. Olivier Guitta, a foreign affairs and counterterrorism consultant in Washington, observes in the Weekly Standard that recently, "Only on the matter of putting Hezbollah on the EU's list of terrorist organizations has France continued to drag its feet. Hezbollah is a political party, say the French, and to declare it a terrorist organization could destabilize Lebanon.

"Yet France is edging toward linking the T-word with Hezbollah...last year, Iran threatened to reactivate its deadly proxy, Hezbollah, if France were to take a harsher stance against it at the UN Security Council. This may explain why President Chirac delivered a speech on terrorism on January 19, 2006, in which he declared that in case of a terrorist attack against French allies (most likely the Gulf monarchies) and/or national interests (including oil facilities), the French response might be nuclear. The message was clearly intended for Iran - and Hezbollah.

"Since the current fighting in Lebanon began on July 12, after Hezbollah fighters killed eight Israeli soldiers and abducted two more, France's reactions have been a mixed bag. While Chirac has criticized Israel for using 'disproportionate force', he has also said there is 'no other long-term solution' than to disarm Hezbollah 'as soon as possible'.

Western opinion is in grave danger of misinterpreting the tragedy of Qana, according to the Times of London. "The speed and reach of modern communications give society today more information than any before. This does not mean, though, that we are necessarily always well informed. Perspective is often clouded by the impact of the latest development. This is especially true of recent events in the Middle East.

"The human response to images of dead children and the grief of the bereaved is an emotional one: the sooner this stops, the better. If only it were that simple. This conflict is about much more than a spat across the Israel-Lebanon border.

"There will never be peace in the region as long as Hezbollah, backed by its sponsoring regimes in Iran and Syria, is allowed to threaten Israel militarily."

31 July 2006

For the Washington Times, there is no doubt: "Hezbollah - along with its enablers in Tehran and Damascus - bears full responsibility for the carnage in both Israel and Lebanon...

"Just as Israel tries to move Lebanese civilians out of the line of fire, Hezbollah does its best to put them in danger and peril. In a dispatch published yesterday in Australia, the Sydney Sunday Herald Sun demonstrates just how Hezbollah wages war.

"The photographs, from a Christian area of eastern Beirut called Wadi Chahrour, were smuggled out of Lebanon. One photograph depicts a fighter with an AK-47 rifle guarding 'no-go' zones after an Israeli attack, and another with a group of men and youths preparing to fire an anti-aircraft gun in an apartment block, with sheets hanging out to dry on a balcony. Another shows the remnants of a Hezbollah Katyusha rocket in the middle of a residential block destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. An Australian was standing just down the street when the block was obliterated. 'Hezbollah came in to launch their rockets, then within minutes the area was blasted by Israeli jets,' he said. 'Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then, it was totally devastated...It was carnage. Two innocent people died in that incident, but it was so lucky it was not more.' (The pictures are posted online at www.news.com.au/heraldsun.)"

Meantime, some sites are reporting that there was something odd about the deaths in Qana - The Jerusalem Post puts it this way: "While the entire Israeli political echelon expressed regret for the results of the strike, Air Force Chief of Staff Brig.-Gen. Amir Eshel said Sunday night that the three-story building had been struck by the missiles a little after midnight and that it only collapsed seven hours later, at close to 7 a.m.

"Eshel refrained from specifying what had caused the structure to collapse seven hours after it was hit, but senior IAF officers said Sunday night that the explosion could have been caused by an unexploded missile or by a Hizbullah-planted explosive device. 'It could be that there was something in the building that caused the explosion,' Eshel said."

Britain, always on what might be called the cutting edge of political correctness, has moved well ahead of any rivals by proposing that it stop school teachers teaching the difference between right and wrong. The Telegrahp says: "The move, greeted yesterday with a mixture of disbelief and fury, is outlined in proposed changes to the national curriculum, requested by ministers in an attempt to simplify the system.

"Instead of a requirement to teach right from wrong, schools will only have to ensure that children between 11 and 14 have 'secure values and beliefs' and are 'committed to human rights'."

Miss Lou, who made people in the Caribbean laugh for more than half a century with her poetry, has died in Toronto, her adopted home. The Nassau Guardian said: "For decades Jamaican-born Louise Simone Bennett-Coverly, popularly known as 'Miss Lou,' has made Caribbean people laugh with poems such as Noh Lickle Twang! (Not Even A Little Accent), and Cuss-Cuss.

"But with her death on Wednesday, Jamaicans and their Caribbean brothers and sisters who came across her or even read her poems are saddened by the passing of not only a celebrated poet, but a culture preserver.

"Louise Bennett-Coverly O.J. made significant contributions to the poetry and arts of Jamaica, earning her the title 'Jamaica's Cultural Ambassador.' She became the 'first lady' of comedy and a prolific writer. She published many poetry books using her unique style of writing to highlight topics such as women in society and other issues and giving Jamaica Creole a sense of identity and its own status."

The Jamaica Gleaner, her hometown paper, as it were yesterday republished a pair of fairly recent interviews with her, which give a little bit of a flavour of her life. I wrote a piece about her for the local paper a couple of years ago, Miss Lou and Jamaican Patois, to which there is a link above on the right.

Ernest W Lefever, founding president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, also writes about limericks. His most recent book is Liberating the Limerick: 230 Irresistible Classics. In the LA Times, he writes about the verse form, and gives this fine example:

God's plan made a hopeful beginning
But man spoiled his chances by sinning.
We trust that the story
Will end in God's glory;
But at present the other side's winning.

Moralising does seem a wee bit of a waste of a fine verse form, though. I like a little culture with my limericks - here's a verse from that well-loved series, The Farter from Sparta:

He was great in the Christmas Cantata,
He could double-stop fart the Toccata,
He'd boom from his ass
Bach's B-Minor Mass,
And in counterpoint, La Traviata

30 July 2006

Robert Lee Hotz, who covers science for the LA Times, reviews three new books about intelligent design: "The systematic campaign to make intelligent design part of school curriculums as a scientific alternative to the teaching of evolution has triggered dozens of legal and legislative disputes in 31 states, including California.

"Until recently, however, those scientists most qualified to defend evolutionary biology were strangely reluctant to confront these dissenters publicly. Now, in three quite different books - a collection of essays, a biography of Charles Darwin's intellectual life and a debunker's guide to the debate - some of the nation's most distinguished thinkers step forward as expert witnesses to challenge the ruse of intelligent design directly.

Here's a little sample of the argument: "Let's be clear: This is not evolution versus God,' writes David Quammen in The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution. 'The existence of God - any sort of god, personal or abstract, immanent or distant - is not what Darwin's evolutionary theory challenges. What it challenges is the supposed godliness of Man — the conviction that we above all other life forms are spiritually elevated, divinely favored, possessed of an immaterial and immortal essence, such that we have special prospects for eternity, special status in the expectations of God, special rights and responsibilities on Earth.'

"Quammen does not flinch from 'the horrible challenge' implied by Darwin's idea: 'In plain language, a soul or no soul? An afterlife or not? Are humans spiritually immortal in a way that chickens or cows are not, or just another form of temporarily animated meat?'"

Hotz says "Taken together, these works are essential reading for anyone who sincerely wants to 'teach the controversy' as intelligent design advocates so often urge - or to understand its dishonesty. As distillations of the best thinking on this ploy, they ought to be required reading for every high school science teacher and school board member in America."

Thanks, Brenda.

Before he died, Le Corbusier designed, with the help of a former protege, a small church for a town called Firminy, in France. Now completed by that protege, Jose Oubrerie, the Church of St. Pierre has stirred debate among Parisian academics about the ethics of finishing a work left behind by a legendary architect, writes Nicolai Ouroussoff in the New York Times.

"But the core of Le Corbusier's concept remains intact: a sanctuary that distills the history of architecture from the primitive cave through Modernism. At the same time its warped planes anticipate the fluid architectural forms of today, though with a restraint that shows how so much recent work has been diluted by cheap effects...

"Mr. Oubrerie's triumph lies in preserving the spirit of Le Corbusier's design without treating the project as a shrine. Minor changes are visible - the use of polycarbonate instead of glass in the apertures above the altar, for instance, which slightly distorts the light - but his most aggressive are in the ground-floor museum, where the overscale ducts and pivoting red doors owe as much to the Pompidou Center in Paris as to raw concrete forms of the late-period Le Corbusier. As a graceful base for his haunting dome, the museum is respectful without being slavish, which is just about right.

"It's a creative dialogue between peers, as well as a gift from a student to his master. Le Corbusier's gift to his pupil, one would like to believe, was to trust him with this legacy."

"...Most of all, the world deplores the Jewish state because it is strong, and can strike back rather than suffer," says Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review. "In fact, global onlookers would prefer either one of two scenarios for the long-suffering Jews to learn their lesson. The first is absolute symmetry and moral equivalence: when Israel is attacked, it kills only as many as it loses. For each rocket that lands, it drops only one bomb in retaliation - as if any aggressor in the history of warfare has ever ceased its attacks on such insane logic. "

"The other desideratum is the destruction of Israel itself. Iran promised to wipe Israel off the map, and then gave Hezbollah thousands of missiles to fulfill that pledge. In response, the world snored. If tomorrow more powerful rockets hit Tel Aviv armed with Syrian chemicals or biological agents, or Iranian nukes, the international community would urge restraint - and keep urging it until Israel disappeared altogether. And the day after its disappearance, the Europeans and Arabs would sigh relief, mumble a few pieties, and then smile, 'Life goes on'."

Can anyone explain what on earth the single quotes are doing in this BBC headline: Migrants 'die' on voyage to Italy?


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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