Monday, July 31, 2006 

Bet they're Young Republicans, too

From The Register comes word that the American white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood have suffered a major setback:
"Bosses of an American racist prison gang have been convicted of murders and racketeering offences after investigators broke the encoded messages they used to order attacks.
The trial, the first of several targeting the leadership of the Aryan Brotherhood, covered 17 murders or attempted murders between 1979 and 1997. Mills and Bingham were convicted on all but one of the counts against them. Two others defendants, Edgar "The Snail" Hevle and Christopher Gibson, lieutenants in the Aryan Brotherhood, were convicted of lesser roles in some of the deadly assaults orchestrated by Mills and Bingham.

Prosecutors hope the trial will limit the power of the Aryan Brotherhood, a gang of around 100 men who use fear and violence to control drug pushing and gambling in jails across the US.
These instructions, encoded using steganographic techniques developed by Francis Bacon 400 years ago, were written in invisible ink, whose contents only became visible when held over a flame. The gang smuggled messages by placing them within mop handles or under recreation yard rocks."
Now these are extremely dangerous men, undoubtedly with the blood of many people on their hands. However, you can't read the following:
"But the prosecution produced a raft of documents, including decoded letters and membership lists, to back-up its case. The government even produced a "mission statement" for the gang setting out an agenda for the Aryan Brotherhood to become "the very best possible criminal organisation"."
...and help but imagine this particular Aryan leadership generation as less like the ruthless, scheming Vern Schillinger (from HBO's superb Oz)

....and more like Cholla from Every Which Way But Loose.


We send an email

From: Free Stater []
Sent: 30 July 2006 21:29
Subject: Údaras Email Firing

"Dear Editor,

On Sunday 30th July 2006 the Sunday Independent ran a piece entitled "State agency forced to apologise in email misuse incident" by a Daniel McConnell, dealing with the firing of a summer student who had been employed by Udaras. The student - one Ultan o hAodha - had sent an email using an Udaras address in reply to a posting by a UCD employee (one Richard Waghorne) on Mr. Waghorne's own online blog.

i) It is not unreasonable to guess that Mr. Waghorne posted his original derogatory comments concerning the Gaelic language using UCD facilities.
Does UCD allow or endorse Mr. Waghorne using their facilities to promote his ideological positions?

ii) Mr. Waghorne has a number of stated policies at his blog, accessible

I draw your attention in particular to the following:

"Quoting policy on Emails
Unless you ask otherwise, emails will be regarded are quotable. However,
unless you state permission, it will be assumed that identity is not to be

Nowhere in the Sunday Independent article in question is Mr. Waghorne's
failure to honour his committment of confidentiality to his email
correspondents noted. I feel that this is a serious flaw in the reporting on this particular incident, and I hope that the Sunday Independent will print
a correction to that effect in the next issue.

Yours faithfully,

Thanks to the reader who sent in the link to the Sindo article. Some related links:

Update 13:28 31/07/06 more links...

Labels: ,

Friday, July 28, 2006 

Lies and the Lying Liars

The BBC:
"Israel says world backs offensive

Israel says Wednesday's decision by key world powers not to call for a halt to its Lebanon offensive has given it the green light to continue.

Justice Minister Haim Ramon made the remarks before Israeli cabinet ministers decided not to launch a large-scale ground offensive."
Oh, really?
Britain and US block call for ceasefire
John Hooper in Rome, Ewen MacAskill in London and Jonathan Steele in Beirut

The split within the international community over the Lebanon war was clearly exposed yesterday when the US and Britain combined at a Rome summit to block a move by European and Arab countries to demand an immediate ceasefire.

In a frenetic last 90 minutes of the summit, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, had to fend off a chorus of calls from foreign ministers demanding that she support a call for Israel and the Lebanese-based militia Hizbullah to declare a temporary truce. Her only ally at the conference was Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary.

A US state department official travelling with Ms Rice denied the US had been isolated, a view disputed by other sources at the conference.

A state department official said: "Whether we call [ the ceasefire] immediate or urgent is semantics. We walked out of that room with the same sense of urgency [ as others]."

The conference ended with a statement fudging the ceasefire issue, with participants expressing "their determination to work immediately to reach with the utmost urgency a ceasefire", but going on to incorporate Washington's insistence that any cessation of hostilities be "lasting, permanent and durable".

British and Israeli sources have said the US was deliberately delaying the diplomatic process to give Israel more time to complete its military operations against Hizbullah.

Lebanon's prime minister, Fouad Siniora, made what Ms Rice described as an "impassioned appeal" to the summit.

"Is the value of human rights in Lebanon less than that of citizens elsewhere?" he asked. "Are we children of a lesser god? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?"

© Guardian Service
Our Mr. Ramon doesn't stop there, though:
"Speaking on Israeli army radio, Mr Ramon - a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - said "everyone understands that a victory for Hezbollah is a victory for world terror".

He said that in order to prevent casualties amongst Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in.

'All southerners terrorists'

He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there can be considered Hezbollah supporters.

"All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah," Mr Ramon said."
Some of those "terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah":
Funding appeal for orphanage with Irish links
John Downes

The director of a southern Lebanese orphanage which has a long association with the Irish Defence Forces and has received funding from the Irish Government, yesterday described how the children in his care and other orphanage staff are running out of food in Beirut.

Hassan Fawaz, a former principal translator with the Defence Forces, also said 28 of his charges had been forced to live for almost two weeks in a small bunker formerly used by Irish troops. The orphanage which he runs is located in the town of Tibnin, close to the Defence Forces' former battalion headquarters at Camp Shamrock.

Mr Fawaz was speaking on RTÉ Radio's Gerry Ryan show, which yesterday initiated an appeal for funds to help Mr Fawaz and the residents of the orphanage.

A fundraising bank account to help Mr Faraz and the children of the orphanage has been set up through Bank of Ireland.
If anyone knows how to contribute to this fund, please leave details in the comments to this post. Much appreciated.

Update 31/07/06: From the comments:

If you want to donate money to the Hussan Sawaz orphan appeal in Beirut, the details are:

Name: Lebanese Orphan Appeal
Branch: Bank of Ireland, Baggot Street, Dublin
Sort Code: 90 14 90
Account number: 44 99 95 22


Just for interest: A story of Dev, Bob Briscoe and Israel/Palestine

This is an article that we've linked to before, but it appears to have since disappeared along with the rest of the Ha'artz Daily site and it's nowhere to be seen on the new one. The following was recovered from the Google cache. It'll hopefully be of considerable interest to readers (the writer refers to a Palestinian arms shipment intercepted by Israel a few years back).
Son of a gun
By Thomas O'Dwyer

I was 13 years old the first time I met a gunrunner. Since he was also the first Jew that I had ever met, that was the identity that stuck - stories of gunrunners were then ten a penny among Father's cronies of the Old IRA. Bob Briscoe was an Irish and Jewish gunrunner, and a hero because of it, and the memory of meeting him came flooding back to illuminate the veil of indignant hypocrisy hovering over all the blustering and babbling about the capture of the "ship of terror" last week.

This greatest military operation since the rescue at Entebbe, and greatest national endeavor since the parting of the Red Sea, failed inexplicably to rouse the righteous indignation of a universe apparently unmoved by the imminent threat to galactic civilization. These deluded foreign fools (anti-Semites one and all) apparently find it unremarkable that a nation under siege and brutal occupation - for no apparent reason other than the bloody-mindedness and land greed of the occupying superpower - try to smuggle in arms from time to time.

In the history of occupations, it has been a singularly commonplace occupation of the occupied - as the Jewish state should well remember. Occupied countries like Algeria, Cyprus, and Mandate Palestine did it all the time. The Irish were the world's most incorrigible arms smugglers in the struggle for independence.

Maybe the story of the Karine A just wasn't startling news. After all, the Palestinians are in a fight for independence from Israel, just like Jews were in a fight for independence against Britain not too many years ago - as aging hypocrites like Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Shamir, and the other old gunrunning nationalists know only too well.

The contempt of the international diplomatic community in Israel for the cynical timing and inept presentation of the arms ship story was undisguised this week. "The usual circus performance for Zinni," one European envoy told me. "If they were tracking this ship for months, why didn't Sharon do something really clever and ask the U.S. Navy to intercept it in the Strait of Hormuz as it was about to leave the Gulf with the arms? The Americans could have done so in the context of the war on terror, and they would have handled the publicity much more skillfully, and maybe even have delivered Israel a free propaganda coup."

This envoy had politely declined the government's kind invitation to "freeze my butt off in Eilat while officials babbled at us in Hebrew," but his report home on the stage-managed fiasco was no less scathing than the rest.

The star of the whole show was probably the affable captain of the "ship of terror," Omar Akawi. His frank and relaxed interview with the television stations and Reuters from his unenviable position in Ashkelon jail reminded me once again of Bob Briscoe's accounts of his daring gunrunning for the IRA and later for the Irgun, before he settled down to a respectable job as Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1956. Make no mistake - the gunrunning of the Karine A and others like it will one day enter the folklore of how the State of Palestine struggled for its freedom.

"A nation in desperation will find its ways," Briscoe later wrote. He described the curfews and closures on the Irish people in 1919 and 1920 that drove him willingly into the fight for Irish freedom alongside Michael Collins - the man whose name Yitzhak Shamir later adopted as an underground nom de guerre. "Frightfulness was their official policy," Briscoe wrote of the British occupation, as it is of the Israeli one.

"As the citizens go to bed, the barracks spring to life," Briscoe recalled. "Tanks and searchlight cars muster in fleets, lists of `objectives' are distributed. Through the dark curfewed streets the weird cavalcades issue forth to attack. The `objectives' for the most part appear to be held by women and children. Thunder of knocks on their doors and in charge the soldiers in full war kit. No warrant shown on entering; no apology on leaving when, in nine cases out of ten, suspicions proved groundless."

In the midst of the brutality, Collins summoned Briscoe, "our blessed jewman," (unlike the wretched Zvi Hendel MK today, Collins could then use the term with affection for the only Jew of senior rank in the IRA.) He dispatched Briscoe to Germany, with the cover of a Galway wool merchant and the swashbuckling operational name of Captain Swift, to buy arms. "From a secret underground of German ex-naval officers called Orgesh, I bought large quantities of automatic pistols called Peter the Painters and Parabellums, and variants with detachable stocks that converted them to small rifles, as well as considerable quantities of ammunition," wrote Briscoe.

When the arms had piled up in a Hamburg warehouse, Briscoe bought an old tramp steamer, the Karl Marx, and a seagoing tugboat, the Frieda. He loaded the Karl Marx with cement and had the Frieda tow it out to sea where it sailed north and south and north again shadowed by the suspicious Royal Navy. Meanwhile the arms-laden little Frieda slipped away and made a daring and successful run to Waterford.

Briscoe also ran the City of Dortmund, to and from German ports, with an all-IRA crew. In one of his finest operations, just before a peace treaty was agreed with Britain, Briscoe landed a haul of machine guns and a million rounds of ammunition in Ireland from the gunrunning ship Hannah.

Briscoe was always more reticent about his work for the Irgun. He became an enthusiastic supporter of Zionism after meeting Vladimir Jabotinsky when he visited Ireland to study the tactics of the IRA against the British and was fully briefed by Briscoe: "I appointed myself to a full professorship with the Chair of Subversive Activity against England." During the war he went to South Africa and raise considerable funds from its Jewish community to help ferry Jewish immigrants past the British and into Palestine.

But he conceded laconically: "Most of the immigrant work was organized by the Haganah. I naturally was drawn to the Irgun."

But after the sinking of the Irgun's gun-running ship, the Altalena, in Tel Aviv, Briscoe became horrified at the prospect of a Jewish civil war, like he had witnessed in Ireland. At a meeting with Menachem Begin in Paris, he urged Begin to abandon the Irgun as a physical force movement and convert it to a constitutional party, as the IRA had done.

In 1950, this old son of a gun traveled to Israel with President Eamonn De Valera, who had become his close friend. De Valera was impressed with Israel's progress but disturbed by the plight of the Arab refugees. And so was Briscoe - IRA man, Irgun man, Collins man, Jabotinsky man, Zionist, Irish nationalist and gunrunner. "De Valera sympathized with the Arab people in their hopes for independence and prosperity," he wrote. "So do I. I want to see all people this way - a world where every human being is of equal dignity and equal importance."

Too bad. Fifty-two years later, Mr. I Have Defeated Terror is still too busy listening to his own stupid propaganda.


A thirty-year lie unravels

About time that some attention was paid to intimate Unionist/Loyalist links.


UNIFIL/UNTSO Update 28/07/06

OGL - the part of UNTSO assigned to Lebanon - is withdrawing to the protection of UNIFIL positions (UNIFIL is armed, UNTSO is not):
""These are unarmed people and this is for their protection," said Milos Struger, a spokesman for UNIFIL, the peacekeeping force whose 2,000 members have light weapons for self-defense.

UNTSO has about 50 observers in four posts along the border, two of which have already been abandoned - the one that was destroyed at Khiam and a second near the village of Maroun al-Ras, which was abandoned after one of the observers was seriously wounded by Hezbollah gunfire on July 23, said Milos Struger, spokesman for the UNIFIL peacekeepers.

Staff were being removed from the remaining two posts to be placed at UNIFIL posts along the border, Struger said. He would not say whether the move had been completed."
A lot of smoke-and-mirrors has been deployed by Right Blogistan - at least, the parts not glorying in the deaths of UN peacekeepers - claiming that Hezbollah were operating from the UNTSO position. In part, this is based on deliberate misinterpretations of an email sent a few days earlier by the Canadian UNTSO fatality which mentioned that the outer edge of the zone of Israeli bombardment had been falling near to the UNTSO position, which is indeed fair enough in a hot warzone. But what happened on the day the position was destroyed was that it was deliberately attacked, with four hits in what one pro-war Israeli blogger says the IDF claims was mistaken identity:
"Kofi Annan has now exhibited his most blatant anti-Israel bias ever. Yesterday Israel accidentally shelled an IDF post in south Lebanon, killing four soldiers. Annan said it was deliberate, although he has since retracted this. The diplomatic response from Israel was one of horror. Said Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gillerman, Annan is a seasoned diplomat, one who should not be making such inflammatory and regrettable statements. The IDF has apologized, saying the post was mistaken for an Hezbollah outpost."
The Israeli Defence Forces themselves haven't claimed that they were firing at Hezbollah fighters "near" the UN position. The IDF line is that they 'mistook' the UN observer position for a Hezbollah one, which Tom Clonan noted yesterday is an insultingly bald lie, and is also a very real war crime. But how many of the pro-Israel 'instapundits' even in the Irish blogging world have picked up on any of these points?

Israel is of course extending the kind of co-operation in investigating the bombing of the UNTSO position that one would expect:
Israel rules out United Nations role in peacekeeping force
Israel's ambassador to the UN ruled out Thursday major UN involvement in any potential international force in Lebanon, saying more professional and better-trained troops were needed for such a volatile situation.

Dan Gillerman also said Israel would not allow the United Nations to join in an investigation of an Israeli air strike that demolished a post belonging to the current UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Four UN observers were killed in the Tuesday strike.

"Israel has never agreed to a joint investigation, and I don't think that if anything happened in this country, or in Britain or in Italy or in France, the government of that country would agree to a joint investigation," Gillerman said.
His refusal to conduct a joint investigation will be a slap to UN officials, who have specifically sought to partner with Israel to investigate the bombing.

Gillerman was highly critical of the current UN peacekeeping force, deployed in a buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon since 1978, saying its facilities had sometimes been used for cover by Hezbollah militants and that it had not done its job.

"It has never been able to prevent any shelling of Israel, any terrorist attack, any kidnappings," he said. "They either didn't see or didn't know or didn't want to see, but they have been hopeless."

Gillerman even mocked the name of the force - the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.

"Interim in UN jargon is 28 years," he said.

The flaws with the UN force make it imperative that any UN force come from somewhere else, though it could have a mandate from the United Nations, he said.

"So obviously it cannot be a United Nations force," Gillerman said. "It will have to be an international force, a professional one, with soldiers from countries who have the training and capabilities to be effective."
It should be borne in mind that UNIFIL was also unable to forcibly eject the occupying Israeli Defence Forces down through the years, or to subdue their DFF goons. Why? Because it's a peacekeeping mission, and as such (in theory and in practice) reliant on the good faith of all parties pursuant to a diplomatic settlement. UNIFIL is armed only for self-defence, and only authorised to use force in self-defence.

Israel, of course, really wants America or NATO in south Lebanon to fight their war for them. One good compromise might be for international diplomats to give them a quid pro quo - unilateral Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories - the Shebaa Farms which Hezbollah claim they fight to liberate, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip - and for a similar peacekeeping force to go in there, too. Fat chance of the Likudniks accepting that, though.

In other UNIFIL-related news from the UN:
"UNIFIL's mandate is due to expire at the end of this month and on 7 July Lebanon's Government asked that it be extended for a further six months. But, given the worsening situation, Mr. Annan recommends that the Security Council extend it only for one month to give time for all "possible options" for south Lebanon to be worked out."
Now this is rather less dramatic than it sounds, as the UNIFIL mandate has been regularly renewed for one- to six-month periods since its establishment in March 1978. But it's extremely unlikely that the same status quo will be in place in south Lebanon by the close of this year. Watch this space.


Armageddon gets postponed?

A good news week for the wingnut community both at home and abroad, we see. First, four of the hated UN peacekeepers get killed by the Israelis as part of the continued bombardment of Lebanon, then the discovery of a well-preserved Psalter in an Irish bog gets intimated as a message from God by the ever-excitable Likudnik demographic. But as often happens, once actual experts weigh in there's a different story:
Museum plays diplomatic role on psalm's 'warning to Israel'

In a week in which it secured one of its most remarkable artefacts, the National Museum yesterday found itself intervening in an unlikely international quarrel over global geopolitics and Biblical prophecy, writes Ruadhán Mac Cormaic.

As news of the discovery of a 1,000-year-old psalter in a bog in the midlands made its way briskly around the world this week, keen eyes fell on an ostensibly peripheral detail: while most pages had yet to be carefully studied, the museum had said, there was one that was legible. Psalm 83.

And with that, the news websites and blogs began to hum, each one honing in on Psalm 83 and its supposed reference to "the wiping of Israel from the map".

On Wednesday, under the title An Amazingly Timely Discovery, a writer with one Israeli news magazine devoted an entire column to the find, which he regarded as "nothing short of a phenomenon".

"I don't want to take it any further than I should, but time may show that the discovery of the Irish psalm book was a warning," he wrote.

However yesterday, before it all got out of hand, the director of the National Museum, Dr Patrick Wallace, issued a statement saying the text visible on the manuscript found in the bog does not refer to the wiping out of Israel but to the "vale of tears".

"This is part of Verse 7 of Psalm 83 in the old Latin translation of the Bible [the Vulgate] which....would have been the version used in the medieval period.

"In the much later King James version the number of the psalms is different, based on the Hebrew text and the 'vale of tears' occurs in Psalm 84.

"The text about wiping out Israel occurs in the Vulgate as Psalm 82" which equals Psalm 83 (King James version), he said.

"It is hoped that this clarification will serve comfort to anyone worried by earlier reports of the content of the text," Dr Wallace added.

© The Irish Times

If we were to tout our knowledge of both Christianity and Latin on a regular basis, and yet hadn't caught this, we guess we'd be pretty embarressed right now. Oops.

Thursday, July 27, 2006 

Because I'm still too angry to post on this

Israeli agenda may be to drive out the UN
The attack on the UN post in south Lebanon is a very sinister development, writes Tom Clonan

Tuesday's destruction by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) of the UN observation post at Khiam (OP Khiam) - occupied just 48 hours prior to the attack by Irish officers - is a very sinister development in the conflict in Lebanon and raises serious questions about the integrity and intent of Israeli military commanders in the area.

Any objective inquiry - however cursory - by the UN or the IDF into OP Khiam's destruction and the death of four unarmed UN observers deployed there will of necessity bring IDF claims that the destruction was "accidental" under sceptical and hostile scrutiny.

The UN OP at Khiam, like all UN positions in south Lebanon was very clearly identifiable as a UN post. It would have had the letters "UN" clearly painted - several feet high - on the north, south, east and west facing blast-walls and sides of the compound.

The UN designation would also have been clearly visible on the roof of the white-painted installation. This lettering would have been clear to the naked eye for many miles around the Khiam compound.

In addition, as an OP, Khiam - sited on high ground - would have been a very prominent, high-visibility feature on the landscape. Having been in situ for at least three decades, OPs such as Khiam are referred to by the military as "Known Points" or "KPs".

UN posts such as OP Khiam have served as visual reference points in south Lebanon for UN troops as well as Hizbullah fighters and the IDF for almost 30 years. As a consequence, all such UN posts are clearly marked on UN and IDF tactical maps of the area, and are considered to be invaluable visual aides for the orientation of ground and airborne units in the vicinity.

At night, all UN posts are illuminated by searchlight powered by diesel generators located within the positions. During the current shelling, with most villages and the surrounding countryside in complete darkness, the UN posts are all the more clearly identifiable as the only illuminated structures in the area.

In addition, all IDF artillery units have 12-figure grid references for each UN position.

All Israeli Air Force squadrons would have similar detailed information on UN locations to include both grid references and electronically programmed GPS co-ordinates.

Having adjusted and bracketed missile and shell fire into this terrain for the past 30 years - from ground, sea and air - the IDF are fully aware, to the nearest metre, the exact location of each UN post in south Lebanon.

From eyewitness accounts, it would appear that OP Khiam was destroyed from the air - most likely by a F-16 fighter deploying a laser-guided 1,000kg bomb. During the previous 48 hours, OP Khiam had reported at least 14 "firings close" or direct hits on its position from Israeli forces. These incidents were brought to the attention of the IDF and emphasised by UN Force Commander Gen Alain Pellegrini to his Israeli military counterparts.

To claim - as the Israelis are currently claiming - that this attack was accidental stretches credibility to breaking point. The deliberate targeting of such a high profile and clearly identifiable UN post - the eyes and ears of the international community in south Lebanon - by guided missile, speaks of another agenda. This agenda is perhaps to drive the UN out of its OPs and to blind the international community to IDF activities in south Lebanon.

Dr Tom Clonan is The Irish Times Security Analyst. He lectures in the School of Media, DIT

© The Irish Times

(Tom Clonan is a former Captain in the Irish Defence Forces, and as such almost certainly is familiar with south Lebanon and UNIFIL - EWI)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 

Oh, wonderful.

The Washington Times:
"A senior member of Muqtada al-Sadr's Iraqi Shi'ite militia, the Mahdi Army, says the group is forming a squadron of up to 1,500 elite fighters to go to Lebanon.

The plan reflects the potential of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah to strengthen radical elements in Iraq and neighboring countries and to draw other regional players into the Lebanon conflict.

"We are choosing the men right now," said Abu Mujtaba, who works in the loosely organized following of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. "We are preparing the right men for the job." "
One pretty good reason for the US not to escalate a confrontation with Shi'ite Muslims of any nationality has been the tenuous supply chain of the Americans now spread throughout Iraq. Billmon quotes from a former US intelligence officer writing in the Christian Science Monitor:
"American troops all over central and northern Iraq are supplied with fuel, food, and ammunition by truck convoy from a supply base hundreds of miles away in Kuwait. All but a small amount of our soldiers' supplies come into the country over roads that pass through the Shiite-dominated south of Iraq . . .

Southern Iraq is thoroughly infiltrated by Iranian special operations forces working with Shiite militias, such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigades. Hostilities between Iran and the United States or a change in attitude toward US forces on the part of the Baghdad government could quickly turn the supply roads into a "shooting gallery" 400 to 800 miles long."
Billmon points out the eternal failing of politicians and pundits:
"There's a saying: Amateurs talk strategy; professionals talk logistics. "
Indeed. And even the above nightmare scenario for the US - having to bloodily fight their way out of Iraq -assumes that unrest doesn't spread elsewhere across the Middle East as well. The "New American Century" could be over before it's begun.

Monday, July 24, 2006 

Daily IRISH Mail

The Guardian's Roy Greenslade has some comments on the Daily IRISH Mail:
"None of that understanding of the culture, politics and genuine interests of the Irish people is evident in the pages of the Irish Daily Mail. I'm no fan of the Indo's politics but I know where it's coming from and I'm aware of the way it represents a large section of the Irish population. It is one of them, while the Mail is a mere interloper, a foreign publication pretending to be something it isn't. It is professionally produced, of course. It looks like a proper newspaper, as you would expect from the Mail. But a bit of green in the masthead doesn't make it Irish. It is as authentic as one of those terrible Irish theme pubs that have emerged in every capital city across Britain. It's a pretence. It doesn't belong."
We particularly like this recent effort by the Oirish Mail to cash in on the 1916 anniversary, which was certainly a trip down the rabbit-hole for anyone familiar with the Mail's historically rabid anti-Irish views.

What would Middle England think?

(via Maman Poulet)

Postscript: of course, the Greenslade article was prompted by a recent blog post by Adam Maguire, of which the most interesting part is:
Emmet Oliver in today’s Irish Times reports on a massive dive in sales figures for the (Irish) Daily Mail. This follows on from the recent news of huge loses made in the company’s Irish operations.

The newspaper, which launched in February 2006 had figures of over 82,000 in March but this has now dropped down to 54,641 for June.

Interestingly Oliver states that advertisers are looking for a greater emphasis on Ireland before they are willing to part with their cash; something that I suggested is a big part of the problem for the publication last week.
We'd suggest that they can start with taking more care in future with the quality of their 'Oirish' hires. Really, Mary Ellen Synon?

Update 25/07/06 0930:

There's a disagreeing voice in the comments on that last remark. A recent Mary Ellen Synon article was devoted to passing on fashion tips for men... from some dinner party she'd had with Enoch Powell (surprise, surprise). If they had decent regulars, good content would naturally follow. But they don't. The regulars were obviously ideological hires chosen for their ultra-Catholic, pro-Anglo-American outlook. Quality suffered as a result.

The Sunday Business Post clawed its way up to a decent circulation by means of having good reportage and editorial, despite having a somewhat schizophrenic identity as a Republican and Socialist-tinged pro-business paper with a division on the Catholic Church (in many ways, they hit the modern Fianna Fáil demographic). And they did this without having access to the fortunes available to (and wasted by, so far) Associated Papers. Will AP take that lesson to heart, or do they really believe the fashionable revionist notion in recent years that Irish people are naturally Redmondite neo-Unionists?

Are the owners of the Mail fundamentally unable to take off the ideological blinders when it comes to Ireland?


Hola, Digital Rights Ireland!

Any interest in this Amnesty Campaign against technology companies who collaborate with the Chinese government?

(via Howl @ The Moon)


Aer Lingus catches the Ryanair ethic

Via Irish Flight News, comes a Sunday Business Post scoop:
"Aer Lingus sought instant payment for mercy flight

Aer Lingus demanded money up front from the Department of Foreign Affairs to fly more than 80 Irish people home last week, following their evacuation from Lebanon.

Department officials, who spent most of last weekend organising the Irish government’s first ‘mercy mission’, were taken aback by the demand, according to a well-placed source."
Looking good for cottoning-on to the bigger priorities there, boys and girls. Well done.


Another new Irish politics blog

The Cedar Lounge Revolution. Looks good, written (if we're not mistaken) by a small group of refugees....



UNIFIL peacekeepers direct evacuees to the transfer point in the port of Tyre, Southern Lebanon, 20 July 2006. UNFICYP Photo.
Via The Jerusalem Post:
"Jul. 23, 2006 19:20 | Updated Jul. 23, 2006 19:32
UN observer seriously wounded by Hizbullah gunfire in Lebanon


A United Nations observer was seriously wounded Sunday in the crossfire during fighting between Hizbullah and Israeli troops in south Lebanon, and flown to an Israeli hospital for treatment, officials said.

The observer, identified as Italian army Capt. Roberto Punzo, was wounded by "fragments," the office of the Italian chiefs of staff said, adding that the source of the fragments was not immediately clear.

Earlier a UN official said he had been wounded by a bullet, apparently fired by Hizbullah.
Punzo was evacuated by an Israeli military helicopter to Rambam Hospital in Haifa and admitted for emergency care, said hospital spokesman David Ratner.

Ratner said he was undergoing surgery for a stomach wound and was in serious but stable condition.

Punzo is the second member of the UN monitoring team injured in 12 days of fighting. Several UN positions on the border have taken hits from Israeli shells, and Israel said earlier this week that a UN post on its side was hit by a Hizbullah missile - though the observer team said it was a stray Israeli shell."
(There is no mention on either the UNIFIL or UNTSO sites at this time of Sunday's casualty)

Sunday, July 23, 2006 


A pair of fine upstanding Freepers have helpfully ridden in to reinforce Robert Fisk's claim about Israeli propaganda directed against Irishbatt:
"Finally, Israel’s move against Hezbollah has revealed one of the reasons behind every one’s frustration in the region of South Lebanon. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon - known by its acronym Unifil—has a long history of ineptitude, laxity and corruption.

"They are barely able to take care of themselves," said Timur Goksel of the UN peacekeepers. "How can you expect them to do their work?"

The blue-helmeted UN soldiers included a poorly trained and undisciplined Irish brigade.

The Irish UN troops were jokingly referred to as the "whisky army", and Israeli-backed Christian militiamen - known by the Unifil acronym LAUIs (Lebanese armed and uniformed by Israel) – countered any effort by the Irish troops to stray far from their base at Camp Shamrock."
He's wrong on everything, even the plausible-sounding claim about the title of the Christian Phalangist militias. (They were known universally to Irish peacekeepers as "DFF" - i.e. De Facto Forces)


On chickenhawks

Gene Healy, writing for CATO-at-Liberty:
War without End
[...] here’s a front pager in today’s Washington Post about neoconservative anger towards the Bush administration because of its newfound restraint in foreign policy. Prominent Iraq hawks like Max Boot and Cakewalk Ken Adelman are upset that their favored tactic, “bomb today for a brighter tomorrow,” no longer commands the respect it once did in Washington.

Now, you could marvel at the brazenness of all this: the same people who helped lead us into the biggest foreign policy disaster in 30 years trying to push another war (or wars) on us without so much as a prefatory “sorry about the whole Iraq thing, old boy.” But the current squawking also strikes me as a useful reminder of how very, very important war is in the neoconservative vision. It is as central to that vision as peace is to the classical liberal vision.

For the neoconservatives, it’s not about Israel. It’s about war. War is a bracing tonic for the national spirit and in all its forms it presents opportunities for national greatness. “Ultimately, American purpose can find its voice only in Washington,” David Brooks once wrote. And Washington’s never louder or more powerful than when it has a war to fight.
Who we’re fighting is secondary. That we’re fighting is the main thing. To be a neoconservative is to thrill to the sound of gunfire. (From a nice, safe distance, generally.)



UNIFIL is only a shell of its peak strength of 5,600, since the Israeli withdrawal and the collapse of their DFF creation - the UNIFIL website lists a strength of 1,990 UNIFIL troops, and there are an additional 50 UNTSO observers. About a dozen of the total are Irish, if we remember correctly (the mission itself is issuing press releases, which can be seen at the UNIFIL website). Most notable reports in the past few days:

UNIFIL press release, 17th July (PDF):
"There is also a growing concern about the safety of UN personnel deployed in the area. Yesterday, there were 17 incidents of firing close to UNIFIL positions, and two direct impacts inside UNIFIL positions. There was significant material damage, and one member of the Indian battalion with UNIFIL was seriously wounded by shrapnels from the tank fire from the Israeli side.
Following a report about Lebanese civilians killed on the road between Al Bayyadah and Sharma, as their two vehicles were fleeing from the Marwahin village, UNIFIL retrieved 16 bodies and transported them to Tyre. During this mission, UNIFIL medical teams also came under fire. Despite some media reports and statements in the press, these were not the same civilians who had approached UNIFIL for shelter earlier that day.

The Lebanese government requested UNIFIL to provide a humanitarian secort to the villagers seeking safe passage outside of Marwahin. UNIFIL dispatched a patrol to the village the same day, which stayed with the villagers throughout the night. Yesterday, UNIFIL was able to provide a humanitarian escort to 283 villagers from that area to Tyre. During this mission the team came under fire, which endangered the lives of local civilians and UNIFIL troops. Initially, Hezbollah fired rockets from the vicinity of the village and subsequently the IDF fired into village on two occasions.

Furthermore, UNIFIL requested the IDF for a safe passage in order to transport humanitarian assistance provided by CARITAS, from Tyre to the border villages of Rmeich and Ayn Ibil. The response to the request is still pending since 14 July, although it has been repeated by UNIFIL again today.

Today, UNIFIL carried out a small humanitarian convoy between Tyre and Naquora, and will attempt to provide mater supply to a civilian hospital with 500 people in Tibnin"
Nicholas Blanford, writing in Time, 19th July:
"So far UNIFIL, which has been in Lebanon since 1978, when Israel launched its first major incursion into Lebanon, and today numbers around 2,000 peacekeepers, has found itself almost powerless to intercede. "The situation is very serious and the fighting is continuing to intensify," says Milos Strugar, UNIFIL's senior adviser.

UNIFIL'S headquarters runs for half a mile along a broad stretch of rocky coastline in the village of Naqoura, one mile north of the border with Israel. From an old French mandate customs house in the center of the base, UNIFIL's top staff are assessing how to best protect and provide assistance to the beleaguered population of south Lebanon, but also how to keep running themselves.

Supplies — fuel and drinking water especially — are running short, and there seems little immediate prospect of resupply from Beirut. U.N. staff are negotiating with Israel to grant safe passage to a resupply column and also to allow APCs to rescue trapped villagers looking to leave and transport casualties to hospitals. The response from the Israeli military, according to Strugar, "was not forthcoming.""
UNIFIL press release, Friday 21st July (PDF):
"There were seven incidents of firing close to UN positions during the past 24 hours, with three positions suffering direct hits from the Israeli side. Three artillery shells impacted on the building inside the patrol base of the Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) in the Marun Al Ras area, causing extensive damage to the buildings and vehicles, but with no casualties. Four artillery shells also hit this position a day earlier. There are 34 civilians from the village of Marun Al Ras inside the position. One artillery shell impacted inside the UNIFIL Headquarters compound in Naqoura yesterday evening, and one impacted inside a Ghanaian battalion position in the area of the village of Marwahin this morning. No casualties were reported, but there was material damage. UN equipment and vehicles were also damaged by splinters in the Ghanaian battalion position in the area of At Tiri in the central sector, and in the patrol base of the OGL in the Khiyam area in the eastern sector.
UNIFIL provided humanitarian escort from Naqoura to Tyre for the local civilians. UNIFIL also carried out a medical evacuation from Naqoura to the hospital in Tyre of a child who was operated on in the UNIFIL hospital. There are reports of concentration of local civilian population displaced from the border areas in towns further north in the area. At present, there are around 2500 in Kleyaa, over 1000 in Hasbaya, 1000 in Tibnin, some 700 in Ain Quenia, as well as in Marjayoun, El Mari, Rmeich, Bint Jubayil, Deir Mimmes, and Ebl El Saqi. Some humanitarian convoys are planned for today, but the ability to move will depend on the situation on the ground."
Nicholas Blanford (Time magazine), Friday 21st July:
"The southern hinterland beyond Tyre has become a killing zone. Here the dead lie under the rubble of houses destroyed in air strikes and the wounded die in the streets for lack of medical attention. Almost all the roads that criss-cross the hills and valleys of the south have been heavily cratered from multiple air strikes, making them impassable. Even United Nations peacekeepers with their armored personnel carriers have abandoned the effort to resupply or evacuate residents of southern villages because of the conditions of the roads and the Israeli shelling and air strikes. "We are in close contact with the Israelis to request safe passage but their answer has not been forthcoming," says Milos Strugar, senior advisor to the UN force, known as UNIFIL.

Lebanese Red Cross volunteers, young men and women who regularly venture out to the beleaguered villages to rescue casualties, retrieve bodies and hand out whatever medicines and food they can muster, say that starving dogs abandoned by their owners are beginning to eat the dead.

Sami Yazbek, chief of the Lebanese Red Cross in Tyre, claims that even his clearly marked white-and-orange ambulances have been attacked by Israeli missile fire, which blow up the road yards in front of their vehicles. The unrelenting pressure to bring aid to the stranded villagers is beginning to take a psychological toll on his team of 50 volunteers. Distraught civilians in outlying villages constantly call in for help, Yazbek says, but often there is nothing the Red Cross can do. "We hear them pleading on the phone and we can't help but cry. It's very stressful for the guys," he says."
Meanwhile, as Macdara[1] and his caretaker blogger have been pointing out, the United States has been doing its bit for Lebanon too. Surely, Freedom is on the march.

[1] we see that Macdara has attracted the attentions of a deranged American wingnut harpy living here in Dublin, whose blog (and you saw this coming) was recently introduced to the world by a certain Irish-Canadian admirer.


Ireland, UNIFIL and the Lebanon

Eamonn Fitzgerald's Rainy Day happily finds itself in the position this week of being able to both bash the UN and advance Israeli policies at the same time:
"UNIFIL, unfit
This is the mission statement: "UNIFIL was created in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore the international peace and security, and help the Lebanese Government restore its effective authority in the area." We're talking about the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Costing $233 million a year, UNIFIL has brought neither peace nor security to the area. Now Kofi Annan is calling for a larger UN force to be sent to the region. Is he unwell?"
The US war in Iraq has cost about 300 billion dollars as of right now, and most certainly provides neither 'peace nor security'[1]. Given that Mr. Fitzgerald has now publicly advocated these criteria to judge miltary deployments on, will he now call for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq? We suspect not. We will, however, let the following accounts speak for themselves as to the truth of whether or not UNIFIL has brought 'peace nor security':

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Jan/Feb 1999:
"As UNIFIL marks the 20th anniversary of its presence in this troubled country, it has a great deal of support from local residents. “After Qana the connection became stronger,” Orsini said. “People saw U.N. soldiers risking their lives to distribute food and other assistance, during the shelling when they didn’t have to. They know the U.N. has taken casualties.”

The connection between the blue helmets and the residents was clear in Aaita al Jabal, where three Irish soldiers sat sipping tea and eating cookies with a Shi’i family within sight of SLA guns, along the “frontline.” The farmers of Aaita al Jabal eke out a living growing tobacco on lands directly under the SLA/IDF positions.
UNIFIL’s Irish Battalion provides daily security escorts to the farmers as something of a deterrent. However, both IrishBatt soldiers and the villagers agree that it doesn’t deter much. There is frequent shooting from the SLA/IDF position, and when the firing comes too close, the farmers have been known to crowd inside UNIFIL’s armored personnel carrier.
Within Aaita el Jabal, the Irish soldiers conduct twice-daily patrols in addition to special protection during harvest time. However, it is perhaps the general assistance they provide that makes their connection with the village so strong.

“People build houses around the UNIFIL positions,” explained Major Ahern. “If UNIFIL wasn’t here the population wouldn’t be here.” IrishBatt works with orphanages, provides medicine to area clinics, and in Aaita al Jabal even helped a farmer get his stalled tractor moving again during a visit by the writer.

As part of its mandate, UNIFIL is providing security for the construction of a school in Aaita al Jabal. When the school is completed IrishBatt will, on its own, donate supplies and equipment. “For 40 years the Lebanese government has promised to build a school. The presence of IrishBatt finally makes it possible to do it,” explained the moktar (mayor)"
And why could UNIFIL not fulfil its original mandate?
"In late Jul and early Aug 78 the Lebanese government attempted to assert its authority in the south by sending a 700-man Lebanese Army battalion into the area of operations via the Bekka Valley. Its advance was halted by the Christian militia de facto Forces on 2 Aug 78 as both the Lebanese Army and UN troops in the area came under heavy fire. The Lebanese government accused Israel of participating in this action. Intermittent shelling in the Kaoukaba, Marjayoun and Beaufort areas continued for two weeks as negotiations continually broke down. Unable to extend Lebanese authority in the South, this regular Lebanese Army unit was withdrawn. During the remainder of Aug and Sep 78 the pattern continued as heavily armed roadblocks in the Christian enclave impeded UNIFIL operations.
The relationship between the IDF and the de facto forces of Maj Haddad, who in essence provides Israel with a buffer zone, is the major factor that has prevented the complete restoration of Lebanese sovereignty in southern Lebanon. During the first six months of operation 11 members of UNIFIL had been killed and 52 injured as a result of firing incidents and mine explosions. On 18 Sep 78 the UNIFIL mandate was extended for an additional four months. "
Just to drive home the point:
"Until now, however, it has not been possible for UNIFIL to carry out in full its original mandate. From its inception, the Force had to operate under extremely difficult conditions. The PLO and the Government of Israel never fully accepted the UNIFIL mandate with all its implications. Given these attitudes, the Force was prevented from deploying fully in the area evacuated by the Israeli forces between April and June 1978. In fact, the enclave along the border was turned over to the "de facto forces" (Christian and associated militias supported and supplied by Israel). Israel thus retained a degree of military power in the area and continued its fight against the PLO and its Lebanese allies. UNIFIL's efforts to implement its mandate in these conditions inevitably met with only partial success and caused the Force to suffer significant casualties.

In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon again. This invasion changed UNIFIL's situation drastically. For three years, UNIFIL in its entirety remained behind the Israeli lines, with its role limited to providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the local population to the extent possible. In 1985, Israel carried out a partial withdrawal, but it retained control of an area in southern Lebanon, manned by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and by Lebanese de facto forces (DFF), the so-called "South Lebanon Army".

The situation in southern Lebanon continues to be tense and volatile. The boundaries of the Israeli- controlled area have not been clearly defined but are determined de facto by the forward positions of IDF/DFF. Within the area of operation of UNIFIL, IDF/DFF maintain 72 military positions. IDF/DFF remain targets for attacks by armed groups opposed to the occupation. For their part, IDF/DFF react vigorously to these attacks, often with heavy weapons and with air support from Israel.

UNIFIL has thus been prevented from carrying out its mandate. In the circumstances, it endeavours, to the best of its ability, to prevent its area of operations from being used for hostile activities and to protect civilians caught in the conflict. In carrying out its tasks, the Force is sometimes hampered by firing in close vicinity to its positions and personnel. On a few occasions, UNIFIL has itself been the target of violence.

UNIFIL's operations are based on a network of positions which are manned 24 hours a day. The Force maintains 45 checkpoints, whose function is to control movement on the principal roads in UNIFIL's area; 95 observation posts, whose function is to observe movement on and off the roads; and 29 checkpoints/observation posts which combine the functions of control and observation. Each is assigned responsibility for ensuring that hostile activities are not undertaken from the area surrounding it. This involves not only keeping watch from the position but also patrolling on foot or by vehicle in its vicinity.

In addition, unarmed military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) maintain five observation posts and operate five mobile teams in the area under Israeli control. The UNTSO observers are under the operational control of UNIFIL's Commander.

UNIFIL's network of positions and the patrols mounted from them also play a central role in the Force's performance of its humanitarian task. They provide the civilian population with protection and with a source of help if they are subjected to harassment. Within available resources, UNIFIL also provides civilians with medical supplies, water, food, fuel, electricity, engineering work and escort for farmers. UNIFIL medical centres and mobile teams have provided care to an average of 3,000 civilian patients per month and a field dental programme has also been provided."
Irishbatt served with UNIFIL in Lebanon between May 1978 and November 2001, rotating through 30,000 men and women and taking 47 casualties, 18 in action. There's a granite memorial with these names inscribed standing on a hill overlooking Tibnine, left there by the departing Irish troops in 2001. An Cosantóir (the official Defence Forces magazine) is unfortunately still unavailable on the web: there is, however, a short excerpt from the magazine's commemorative UNIFIL edition published in 2001 here (PDF). Some passages from the bits not online:

Robert Fisk, Middle-East journalist and good friend through the years to Irishbatt:
"There was always something very Irish about southern Lebanon. The hillsides around the Irishbatt area looked like Galway, the winter storms might have come off the Atlantic, and the people with their immediate hospitality towards strangers - could have been from Mayo or Cork [...] It was a dangerous time. Saad Haddad's tinpot, ruffian militia quickly decided that Irishbatt was too dedicated, too reluctant to allow the 'Free Lebanon Army' - later transmogrified into the 'South Lebanon Army' - run roughshod over the UN lines. They called them the 'Johnny Walker' Irish; a slur that was as nasty as it was geographically inappropriate. The Israeli press took up the same story; the Irish were pro-IRA, 'pro-terrorist', pro-PLO drunkards [...] I still think that Irishbatt's refusal to hand over the village of At Tiri to the SLA was a formative moment in Unifil. UN missions can succeed if they start well. They will always fail if they start badly. At Tiri was a test of Unifil and of the Irish, and Private Stephen Griffin, just 21 years old, was the sacrifice."
Timor Goskel, UNIFIL Press Officer (1979-2001), on the creation of UNIFIL:
"You must remember that just a few months before the Israeli invasion, President Sadat of Egypt had paid an historic visit to Israel. President Carter of the US didn't want to waste this opportunity to make an important start on the road to peace in the Middle East. The Americans felt that to keep the momentum of the Sadat visit going, they needed to just keep a lid on things in Lebanon. So in a rush, the UNIFIL mandate was created by the UN.
I talked to a lot of UN officials afterwards who said that they opposed the creation of this force. They had asked some very basic questions at the beginning, like who is the national authority? What guarantees do we have that all the parties will allow us to implement the mandate? They'd envisaged staying just six months, maybe a year, and then getting out. I guess this wasn't realistic"
"'At the time of the Israeli shelling known as Operation 'Accountability' in 1993, Irishbatt sent troops down here [to the Tibnine orphanage] to stay with the children for the seven days. Also in 1996, during Operation 'Grapes of Wrath', Irish soldiers remained in the orphanage for the 16 days of bombardment. Just by being there to hold the children's hands and smile at them and be with them when the bombs were going off gave the children confidence and reassurance. It is such kind actions that stay with you. If you talk to some of the children about the Irish leaving, they cry. They can't believe it'
'In 1993 our house was destroyed by a plane, ' [Famte] says. We stayed in the school in the village for the summer [....][UNIFIL interpreter] Hassan spoke to the Irish Battalion officer. The battalion built an entire new house for us, and gave us everything in it.'
'In the war with Israel in 1996, one day amid the 16 days of rat-tat-tat there was quiet. So me and my mother and my sister came from the hospital, where we were sheltering to our house to take some things that we needed. When we arrived at our house, a plane came right down. An Irish soldier saw this, and he knocked on the window and made a sign "don't be scared". I'll never forget'
When Famte, an exceptional student at school, expressed an interest in studying for a law degree in university, Irishbatt were only too happy to pay for Famte's third-level education in Beirut, as well as that of her sister, Malak, who decided to study physics. [...] 'I have this ambition to be a judge, but I will have to go to Beirut.' she says"
This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you carry out peacekeeping and render humanitarian assistance. More than that, it's how you behave as decent human beings - and as a side-effect, win those hearts-and-minds. Israelis and US please take note.

But, back to our featured authority on UNIFIL and the Lebanon:
"Talking of poor form, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is saying that Israel is "opening the gates of hell and madness" on his country. The man must be suffering from schizophrenia, just like his country is. Lebanon is a land with two personalities. One act like a normal state; declares itself to be free, welcomes tourists and property developers and purports to act in moderation. The other persona consorts with an organization that uses terror against civilians, bathes in racist rhetoric and demands the liquidation of Israel. Siniora needs to be reminded that because his governing partner staged a cross-border attack on its neighbour from Lebanese territory (watched over by UNFIL) that resulted in killing and kidnapping, his country is now paying for its duplicity."
Mr. Fitzgerald might do well to note that the same description of "schizophrenia" also neatly attaches to Israel. It was created as yet another ill-fated project of the British Empire; won independence through means which many of Mr. Fitzgerald's fellow travellers of the international anglophone right term "terrorist" in other contexts; established a gerrymandered Jewish state through the forced ejection of a population from their ancestral homes (and still refuses them the right to return to their properties); connived with the US, UK and France several decades ago to complete a secret atomic program resulting in a present-day arsenal of a couple of hundred nuclear weapons; was a principal ally of and collaborator with Apartheid-era South Africa; is still stealing Arab land; is a deeply xenophobic society placing no value on the lives on non-Israelis and with a record of casual murder; and apparently possesses a carte blanche from the US to pursue WMD programs reminiscent of Nazi Germany:
"In January 1999, the British Medical Association (BMA) began warning the world of the dangers of ethnic weapons. Although the report, “Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity,” made no direct charge, it said the BMA could no longer ignore the varied reports that such weapons were currently being developed. The report concluded: “Weapons could theoretically be developed which affect particular versions of genes clustered in specific ethnic or family groups.” The possibilities of producing such weapons have been enhanced with the 2002 completion of the Human Genome Project.

The 1999 BMA study was provoked in part by a 1998 story in the London Sunday Times alleging that Israel already had developed a genetically specific weapon. “Unnamed South African sources,” according to a report cited by the Times, “[say] Israeli scientists have used some of the South African research in trying to develop an ‘ethnic bullet’ against Arabs.” Reported links between Israel’s ethnic weapons and South Africa’s Project Coast are tentative; some would say tenuous. But the possibility of such links is terrifying, and justifies as much scrutiny as was focused on Iraq’s imaginary arsenal. "
The keeping of all these dirty little Israeli secrets from wider public knowledge, of course, necessitates a take-no-prisoners propaganda campaign abroad, principally in the US whose public largely foots the bill for this wickedness through their tax dollars. Thus we get the vilification of any commentators deviating even an inch from the Israeli government line, with even Jewish critics of extreme Zionism labelled as "anti-Semites". But we digress.

Back to Rainy Day:
"But maybe Fouad Siniora is more deluded than we know and maybe his country isn't a country at all. As Austin Bay so lucidly points out: "Israel is being fired upon from a Lebanon that 'is not quite Lebanon' in a truly sovereign sense. The rockets, of course, come from 'somewhere,' but Hezbollah's 'somewhere' is a political limbo in terms of maps with definitive geo-political boundaries. Lebanon is a 'failed state' — a peculiar failed state (it's not Somalia), but nevertheless failed. It will continue to fail so long as the Lebanese government cannot control Hezbollah — and control means disarm." Indeed."
As myriad others have noted, the same spurious justifications could easily have been extended to provide cover for the UK attacking the Republic of Ireland during The Troubles [2]. How does Eamonn Fitzgerald square that circle, we wonder? Onwards to his conclusion:
"It's not going to be easy to make peace with a country that can't make up its mind about what it is. That last thing it needs is thousands more "peacekeepers" for a mission that is doomed to be unfulfilled. Send them to Darfur instead. No illusions or delusions there, at least."
Let's see.
"WASHINGTON The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, met President George W. Bush and his top aides, and, without asking for specific U.S. commitments, made clear that he believed the United States would have to play a significant role in deploying a new kind of peacekeeping force in the Darfur region of Sudan.
But the import of the meeting, said one senior official, is that "the president signed on to the concept and understood that we will need Western assets and the U.S. would have to be part of it."
When the resolution was passed, U.S. officials made it clear that no American troops would be sent to Darfur. "
Looks like somebody else out there has complications with "illusions or delusions" of their own.

Addendum: This post was begun on a Friday, and was still unfinished by the Saturday night/Sunday morning (it's been a busy weekend). So we're able to address here two Rainy Day follow-ups developing on the same Zionist theme. The first is a gimmick that we've seen the pro-Israel right employ before:
SERIAL NO. 3817131: Israel's female soldiers
The photographer Rachel Papo was born in Ohio, but raised in Haifa. At the age of 18, she began two years of mandatory service in the Israeli military. After serving her time, she returned to the U.S. to attend art school, but was drawn back to the Middle East where the subject of the young women serving in the Israeli Army became the focus of her creative energy. The result is a collection called SERIAL NO. 3817131 [...]
[snip blurb. You can catch it here, and we've blogged on SERIAL NO. 3817131 before]
We can draw our own conclusions when looking at the images of SERIAL NO. 3817131.
Indeed we can, particularly seeing how swiftly last year's Lebanese pinup appears to have been forgotten. The infidelities of the Anglophone right-wing male and his principles affections ought to be borne in mind by freedom-loving young women everywhere in the world, we fear. On to our last Rainy Day piece:
Kofi Annan, the UN and Hezbollah
The kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers on Mount Dov on 7 October 2000 by Hezbollah terrorists was witnessed by several dozen UNIFIL troops who stood idly by. An indication of broader UN anti-Israel, anti-Semitic attitudes?"
Even the briefest perusal of the official UN report on the incident in question reveals that no UN personnel were witnesses to the attack in question. We realise that we live in days when even the most ignorant and extremist self-proclaimed 'commentator' can get himself onto the airwaves, but this is a shocking outbreak of wingnuttery even so, and by someone who (as an Irish citizen oughting to be even peripherally aware of the Irish experience in "the Leb") should know better.

The above is an extremely serious charge made by Eamonn Fitzgerald, bearing on the honour of all Irish UNIFIL (and indeed UN) veterans, some of whom have returned in bodybags; and we hope he has the decency to post a swift and full retraction and apology on his blog. We're waiting.
No better place to look for a conspiracy theory than at Volokh Conspiracy. The analysis is anything but hysterical, though, and the conclusion is troubling:
"So there is no anti-semitic conspiracy at the UN, in the sense of a conspiracy directed by people who are deeply motivated by hatred of Jews. Rather, the UN's criminal complicity in the kidnapping of Israelis, like the rest of the UN's anti-Israelism, is explainable as the logical result of a wide variety of UN actors behaving according to their self-interest."
There was no "[UN] criminal complicity in the kidnapping of Israelis", as the UN report makes clear. The Israeli state and their apologists in the pro-Israel right are nothing if not audacious liars, though.
"The Rainy Day position on Kofi Annan is that he has had two terms to sort out the bureaucratic morass that is the UN and he has failed dismally. He failed dismally because he's a creature of the UN bureaucracy and thus incapable of visualizing or implementing reform. It is only right and reasonable that the US and Japan should withhold payment from such an organization. Maybe the next secretary general will try to clean up the UN, but don't bet on it."
These last pious sentiments were brought to you by a blogger who has been an enthusiastic Bush administration supporter from the beginning, right through Enron, Iraq, Katrina etc. to the present day. An answer in itself?

[1] a related piece of trivia is that the Irish State bore the cost of the UNIFIL deployment in the Nineties, due to the GOP-controlled Congress which came in with the Gingrich Revolution refusing to pay US contributions to the UN budget. This marked the start of their campaign (in the post-Cold War world) against the civilising restrictions that the existence of an international body imposes on a lone superpower. The underhanded appointment by the Bush administration - without US Senate approval - of the malevolent John Bolton as US Ambassador to the UN is just the latest step in this war.

[2] or, as Henry Farrell over at Crooked Timber points out, as an IRA apologism for killing innocent bystanders.

Thursday, July 20, 2006 

Barr Report

Catch the day's news over at RTÉ. With the publication of this report into the Abbeylara killing of John Carty - and the continuing shocking revelations from Donegal, with much worse supposedly to come in the Morris Tribunal - the time has come for long-overdue reform of certain powerful sections of the Gardaí. This is a task which Phoenix magazine has recently been claiming McDowell is maneuvering to accomplish with a raft of senior promotions outside of the usual Special Branch gang. We'll see in the next year if McDowell can manage to pull this off, and reverse his image as a blusterer.

Specifically on the ERU, today's report comes as what may be the last straw in a unit history littered with disasters by Dirty Harry-types who have persistently proven to be a danger to the public, to colleagues and to themselves. Certainly within the Defence Forces (long saddled with the unwelcome task of trying to train this bunch) they've been the subject of strong criticism, along with some very dark rumours about past cock-ups which never came to public light. The government taking them firmly in hand cannot come soon enough, if indeed it does occur with this opportunity.


Public Health Warning for Silly Notes

Speaking of Our Man From CATO, it appears that the following Sicilian Notes 'policy':
"Quoting policy on Emails
Unless you ask otherwise, emails will be regarded are quotable. However, unless you state permission, it will be assumed that identity is not to be published." entirely subject to the whim of the blogger in question.
Email From Udaras
Udaras, the Gaeltacht development board, has been in touch. I believe, though I'm open to correction, that this is taxpayer funded body:

Hey there Dick,
You say a lot, but have you any actual reasons or back-up to your article entitled ‘we can do without Irish’, other than your own spurious and totally groundless opinions. In response I simply say, “We can do without Waghorne’.
Go away, and rot, somewhere outside Ireland so your ilk does not pollute any of my Irish island
Sáigh suas do thóin é
Ultan Ó Haodha

Your taxes at work.
Update 1: Impressive. I took a phone call from an extremely apologetic Udaras lady an hour or so ago and this followed in the email shortly thereafter:
[snip apology from summer student]
Ultan, it should be noted, was there on work experience and isn't Udaras staff, something I'm happy to pass on. I fear his career prospects have not been enhanced, but that's his problem [...]
Nice one, Dickie.

It bears pointing out that Mr. Waghorne was in all likelihood using his employer UCD's facilities when he posted that same piece and others. If Richard were this tone-deaf literally (as well as figuratively) he'd make a mediocre musician...

Labels: ,


On the rewards of taking screen-caps

Sicilian Notes early this morning:

Sicilian Notes by lunchtime:

We must say, we're sorely disappointed in Mr. Waghorne's seeming retreat from fanning the flames of bigotry, which is most out of character. We had looked forward to further insights in the same vein of reasoning from this Research Fellow of the UCD School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe). Alas, we can only guess at the wasted future treats:

Murdered by the United States (Abu Ghraib)

Murdered by the Roman Catholic Church

Murdered by Free-market Economics (the Irish Great Famine)

Murdered by Classical civilization

Murdered by Judaism (Qana massacre, 1996)

Murdered by Joe Lieberman, Harry's Place, the "Freedom Institute" etc. (taxi driver shot dead by US forces, Iraq)

p.s. We're vastly amused at someone who routinely posts on the uselessness of Gaelic as a modern language - yet double-jobs as a Latin enthusiast.


"Israel doesn't target civilians"

One unfortunate Fox News reporter discovers the truth otherwise, in spectacular fashion while live on-air.

(via Toirtap)


Safely back in Ireland

MacDara in the Leb, plus wife.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 

The Problem with Joe explained

Duncan Black (Atrios) lays it all out.

Saturday, July 15, 2006 

Psychological Warfare

Some food for thought from Media Matters.

(via Atrios)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006 

Celebrations in the streets last night

Maybe Fústar has the answer?

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)


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