Saturday, February 27, 2010

Photo of the Day

Leinster House, Kildare Street Dublin.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Witness to War

I went to see a photography exhibition entitled Witness to War in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar earlier today. The exhibition contains 167 photographs of events that took place in Ireland between 1920 and 1923 during the War of Independence and the subsequent civil war. They were taken by photo journalist WD Hogan. It was simply brilliant and for anyone interested in this period of Irish history the exhibition is a must. Most of the pictures are from Dublin, however the images that stuck me most were of Cork City Center after it was burned by the Black N Tans on the 11th of December 1920 in retaliation for continued attacks on the security forces. I have heard about this incident many times and if I'm honest I always suspected my Cork friends were ever so slightly exaggerating the severity of the attack. I was however stunned by the photos I saw today. I managed to take one snap with my camera phone before an employee scolded me.

Look at this ! Its unbelievable. It looks like London during the blitz. Over five acres of the city were burnt in retaliation for recent attacks, the most famous of which was the Kilmichael ambush that killed 18 British soldiers outside Cork the previous week. In any event this incident caused severe embarrassment for the authorities in London and almost brought down the government of Loyd George. Burning Southern Ireland's second largest city did not do Britain's image much good internationally. Irish America in particular was outraged and began funnelling money to the underground Irish government. The conflict would become increasingly nastier after this until the truce was signed in July 1921.

There is much more to see at the exhibition. If anybody is around the city center over the next two months I highly recommend they take a look.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Plot Thickens ... Big Time

The Irish connection to the Dubai Hamas Hit has deepened. I was listening to security expert Tom Clonan on the Tubirdy show this morning and the former army officer had some fascinating insight into the assassination itself and the Irish connection. On the issue of the assassination method Clonan believes it was a radical departure from normal Mossad tactics. Usually it's a bomb under a mattress or a car. Sometimes it's a double tap with a silencer in a hotel room. But Clonan believes the Dubai hit was deliberately different. In other cases the dead men were afforded martyrdom status. By going out in a hail of gunfire or a glorious explosion the dead men are guaranteed to be worshipped as martyrs. But when they are stalked, smothered and poisoned it is not so glamorous an end. Mossad have always wanted to terrify Israel's enemies. Perhaps this new ambiguous approach is part of that psychological effort. Clonan also believes the use of female assassins is significant. It's a patriarchal thing for Arabs and it adds to the humiliation already inflicted by the undignified manner of death by smothering.

There was a further development yesterday regarding the Irish connection. We know that at least five and possibly as many as nine Irish passports were used by the Mossad team. Now it has emerged that the address provided by one of the assassins when he was checking into his Dubai hotel, is a vacant house in Ballsbridge owned by Jim Reynolds, brother of former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Albert Reynolds, pictured here at a Dubai Duty Free event. When I first heard this news a couple of things instantly struck me. I know from my time in Dubai that the Reynolds family are regular visitors to the Arab emirate. They have financial interests in many projects out there. Might this be in any way relevant ? I also knew once I heard the address of the house in Ballsbridge that it is located a couple of hundred meters from the Israeli embassy. Again, is this relevant ? The fact that the property has been vacant for ten years also struck me as suspicious. It is located in the embassy belt, the most profitable peace of real estate in Dublin. It is inexplicable that it could be lying vacant during the past ten years of celtic tiger Dublin. Some of the papers this morning are reporting that Jim Reynolds bought the property from a Jewish man in the 1960's. I'm not even sure what the insinuation is here. But I guess it is that the Israeli embassy might be the real owners of the Ballsbridge house. In any event the Reynolds family have said they know nothing about it and are horrified that the address was used by one of the assassins.

This is all a bit too cloak and dagger for me. I read the book Striking Back about Mossad's convoluted campaign to track down all those involved in the Munich massacre. This whole episode is in the same league. And there is another twist. It is well known that the Reynolds family have close relationships with many prominent Arab Business leaders and Sheiks, mainly in Horse racing and trading. In 1992 it is believed the then Taoiseach assisted several such people, some of whom were Palestinian, to receive Irish passports. Is it possible that Israeli intelligence have held a grudge against Albert Reynolds for some time because of this and they used the Ballsbridge address to embarrass him. Yes it is possible, but its a major stretch. At this stage all we have is a collection of curious coincidences. We know nothing of consequence at the moment. And like everything in the world of international espionage it is a murky affair. However this is a story about political assassination involving Ireland, Israel and Dubai, all topics I love to discuss. It is not going to go away and you can be guaranteed that Gubu World will be keeping an eye on it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

70 Years Ago Today 23/2/40

Faroe Islands: On this day 70 years ago the British destroyer HMS Gurkha sunk a German U Boat off the Faroe Islands.

Turkey: A state of emergency is called after rumours spread that the Red Army have crossed the Causcasian border. The rumours turn out to be false.

Helsinki: As the war continues to go badly for the Finns the government in Helsinki repeat calls for assistance from its Scandinavian neighbours.

Moscow. Joseph Stalin sends his final peace terms to the the Finnish government. The terms are even harsher than those offered in December which caused the war. They are demanding large sections of Eastern Finland including the city of Viipuri, Finland's second biggest city. The Finns appear to have little alternative but to accept.
Stalin is putting the knife into the Finns leaving them with few options

Photo of the Day

The view from my back garden, and I can't believe its snowing again.

Monday, February 22, 2010

One State Madness

The center of Dublin city was plastered last week with posters for a public meeting on the future of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Can Palestinians and Israelis live together in one state. I was desperate to attend this but just couldn't get around to it. It attracted me big time, not least because of the left wing Israeli perspective but because I was curious to know how any intelligent person could think that incorporating the one million citizens of Gaza into Israel would bring peace to the Holy Land. To be fair, I wasn't there and they might have come to the conclusion that it would be suicidal for Israel to do this. I doubt it however and I know why. The far left still take the World War One approach to conflict. This simplistic theory basically says that the working class from both sides should unite against their real enemy who is of course their own capitalist oppressors. If they did this then peace would break out. Well good luck getting a working class Jewish settler from the West Bank and your average Hamas supporter from Gaza to come together in the spirit of Marxist harmony. It might have made some sense in the trenches during WW1 but I'm afraid it just won't fly in the Holy Land today.

The truth is there are only two groups of people who want to see a one state solution. The first are Arab nationalist and their left wing sympathisers who simply cannot to this day except the idea of a Jewish state in the Holy Land. As far as they are concerned Tel Aviv and Haifa are Jewish settlements that must be liberated. When they talk about a one state solution, this is what they really mean. The other is the Jewish settler, usually an extremist and often backed by the Christian Zionist in the United States. These people believe that there should be one state, a Jewish state located between the Mediterranean sea and the Jordan river. And as for the millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank, well they can stay, or leave, but staying probably won't prove to be too healthy.

The reality is that a one state solution means victory for one side over the other. The phrase is in fact code for winner takes all. It may be understandable that people directly involved in the conflict have come to this unreasonable conclusion after decades of hatred. But I find it unforgivable that your average leftists in Ireland or elsewhere would take such a hard line position. They should remember how Irish America, behaving more Irish than the Irish themselves ended up complicating the peace process. To be fair I know many of these leftist's personally and I obviously don't think that they want to see Israel destroyed. They believe that borders cause division, so if you take away the borders you take away the divisions in time. It worked in Europe. And who knows maybe in many decades time it could work in the Holy Land, but not I suspect in my lifetime.

The end game in the Holy Land is a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state. All reasonable people understand this. Even not so reasonable people like Yassir Arafat had come to this conclusion at the time of his death. The Irish Anti War Movement might want to ask themselves why they are taking a more militant position on the Israeli Palestinian conflict than someone like Arafat.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vacancy in Defence

I wouldn't sack this guy. I would give him whatever he wants.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Photo of the Day

I took this picture a couple of days ago. It was taken at the junction of Moore Street and O'Rahilly Parade. Why take this picture, two reasons. Moore street is one of Dublin's most famous streets. Known for it's fish and fruit markets, it has been at the center of casual trading in Dublin for hundreds of years. It is an interesting image from any angle but my real interest lay in capturing the name of the little known alley way that lies just off Moore Street. The obscure side street is named after Joseph O'Rahilly (The O'Rahilly), the least well known leader of the 1916 Rising. The reason he is less well known is probably because he was the only leader, other than De Velera that was not executed. He was in fact killed in action on the spot marked in the picture above. Moore street and O'Rahilly Parade are located behind the GPO where the leaders of the rising had their head quarters. On the final day of the rising O'Rahilly led an attempted break out onto Moore street but was cut down by British machine gun fire in the above alley way. Another reason that he is less well known is that he was one of the leaders who along with Eoin McNeil and Bulmer Hobson attempted to have the rising called off after the failed attempt at landing arms in Kerry days before the rising. After driving around the entire country informing the volunteers that the rising was cancelled he arrived back in Dublin on Saturday only to find out that the order had been countermanded and that the Rising was going ahead, in Dublin anyway. He reluctantly took part in the rising uttering one of it's most famous lines, "I've helped to wind up the clock, I may as well here her strike". He later stated that "it is madness, but it is glorious madness".

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Best of the Blogroll

Some interesting stuff on the web from my favourite bloggers include the following. Paul over at A Modern Liberation has written a brilliant piece about the trial in Holland of Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who fiercely criticises the increasing influence of Islam in Europe. Like myself, P O'Neil at Best of Both Worlds has been covering the Irish connection to the Dubai Hamas hit. Also watch out for his piece on Andrew Sullivan, creator of The Daily Dish, also on my blogroll, who has been accused of anti Semitism by the New Republic's Leon Wieseltier. Democracy Arsenal and Understanding War have been covering Operation Moshtarak, the recent NATO offensive in Southern Afghanistan with great effect. More to come shortly, there is only so much of this I am willing to do from my iPhone.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Photo of the Day

The Mansion House Dublin, residence of the Dublin Lord Mayor. Note the registration of the Mercedes. One perk of being Dublin's Lord Mayor is that you get the first car of the year. Hence the reg number 10-D-01

70 Years Ago Today 15/02/40

Finland: The vicious winter war is beginning to turn in favour of the Soviets as the Finnish Army struggle to cope with massive reinforcements sent by the regrouping Red Army. On this day 70 years ago the Finnish town of Summa falls to the Red Army forcing the Finns to retreat to the second line of the Mannerheim Line

London: The admiralty announces the sinking of two more German U Boats in the Atlantic.

Copenhagen: Representatives from the Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish governments have met to discuss the ongoing naval crisis which has seen merchant ships from neutral countries traveling to Britain, targeted by German U Boats. The previous day a Danish merchant ship was sunk in the English channel. This policy follows a direct order from Hitler who has ordered all U Boat commanders to " take the gloves off" in the battle to stop essential supplies of food and war materials from reaching Britain.

In February 1940, the Battle of the Atlantic rages. It will arguably prove to be the most important theatre of the whole war.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Photo of the Day

I snapped this on Grafton Street earlier. No its not a windy day, its just a guy standing there in a frozen stance. Street theatre they call it. Its a great way to make a living !

Iran Update

Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of the Iranian revolution. It is usually a day when supporters of the regime attend massive government sponsored demonstrations where they chant death to Israel, death to America and burn effigies and display negative caricatures of the American President. This has not changed with the election of Barack Obama.

However in recent times these occasions have take on another aspect. Ever since last June's disputed Presidential election dissidents have used these occasions such as the anniversary of the Iran Hostage Crisis on the 4th of November or the religious ceremony of Ashura (Dec. 27, 2009), to come out in force to demonstrate their opposition to Ahmadinejad's government and the Islamic Republic itself. There has been sporadic violence on the streets of Tehran for nine months now. I am deeply familiar with the events surrounding the student demonstrations that occurred in Tehran in the summers of 1999 and 2003 as it was the subject of my 2004 M.Phil dissertation. There is no doubt in my mind that the ongoing unrest is more widespread, more organised and bloodier than these previous events. Consider this along with the reality that international pressure on Iran over it's nuclear programme is finally coming to a head. This tells me that 2010 is the year that the Iranian question will be answered. One of three things is going to happen this year.

1. America or Israel will bomb Iran's nuclear sites triggering a Middle East wide war. We can say bye bye to the global economic recovery if this happens.

2. The international community will finally hit Iran with tough sanctions that cripple the country leading to a massive escalation of unrest.

3. There will be a spectacular opening to Iran by the Obama administration (similar to Nixon's opening to China) which guarantees recognition and safety for the Islamic Republic in exchange for complete abandonment of Tehran's nuclear programme.

I am positive one of these three things will happen this year. So watch this space folks.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Photo of the Day

The Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ireland's Muslims, an Analysis

Do we have a problem with Muslims in Ireland ? In my opinion the answer is no. Unlike the British, French and Germans who have serious tensions with their Muslim minorities, who are predominantly Pakistani, Algerian, and Turkish respectively, Ireland appears to have escaped this problem. This is partly because there seems to be no dominant nationality among the 40,000 Muslims in Ireland. This has prevented the type of ghettoising that we see in London, Paris, Amsterdam and other European cities. It is for this reason that I can confidently say that there is virtually no extremism in Ireland and that the Muslim population here contribute to the country in a positive way.

However, this may not always be the case and I fear, particularly with the recession that some issues will eventually come to a head. One such issue appeared in last weekends The Sunday Times. A Lebanese man is taking a landmark High Court case demanding that the Irish state recognise his polygamous marriage. Now I am willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt that he is only attempting to rectify a potentially explosive domestic situation. When the man emigrated to Ireland the state only recognised one wife meaning the other was left behind. When the decision to deny the second wife entry into Ireland was successfully challenged it required the high court to rule on the validity of the second marriage. That decision is pending. Like I said, the poor guy might just be trying to avoid and exceptionally difficult family situation, particularly since he has children with both women. It is not so much this case (which will likely find some compromise without recognising both marriages) that has irritated me but the reaction of one particular lobby group, the Muslim Public Affairs Congress, led by Muslin convert Liam Egan. Egan has accused the Irish Government of discriminating against Muslims in polygamous families. This is an absurd claim but to use a highly loaded term like discrimination is highly irresponsible. In 2004 the Justice Department introduced a requirement that Muslims seeking citizenship must sign a form confirming that they had only one wife and would not marry a second. Egan claims that:

Ireland discriminates against against Muslims seeking citizenship by asking them to sign an affidavit. The state should not be interfering in families like this. It is silent on adulterous affairs but the moment you try to to do something honourable by bringing a woman into a marriage, even a polygamous marriage, there is an issue.

I have noticed Liam Egan popping in and out of this debate for some time now. I believe that he is essentially an agitator. He is looking to create tension where none exists. I have even heard him say that the Irish government is discriminating against Muslims because of its failure to build Mosques in the nation's towns and cities, a statement which is truly bizarre. Frankly, this guy is looking to cause trouble, he is not representing the Muslim community in Ireland in a positive way and I highly recommend that they disown him at the nearest opportunity. For now, I am sticking to my belief that Ireland's relationship with its Muslims is sound. I do not see this changing in the near future. However I do fear that the far left in this country are intent on instilling a victim mentality on non nationals, particularly Muslims and that this, in combination with agitation from the likes of Liam Egan could result in an increase in tensions. Gubu World will as ever keep an eye on this development.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Photo of the Day

I know I already used the new Criminal Courts for my "Photo of the Day" but I was walking past earlier and saw this RTE cameraman waiting to film a prison van exiting from the back entrance and I said to myself, hey, there's a perfect Photo of the Day.

Thats all !

Below is the 30 second add that drove the liberal left in America mad. I don't even like American football. But I was looking forward to seeing the half time add that had generated such controversy. I just did and I am highly disappointed. Its neither controversial nor in your face. Abortion is a debate I tend to stay clear of. I am a pro choice man but I didn't find the add at all controversial. I had been led to believe that a right wing church group had managed to purchase the insanely expensive Superbowl air time in order to demonize the enablers of baby murder. As you can see it is totally harmless. I think the "pro choicers" need to chill out somewhat.

To summarise. The woman in the add is a mother of a famous football player. Apparently when she was pregnant with him she took ill and doctors advised her to terminate her pregnancy. She didn't. As a result the pro life lobby see her as having a positive image so the conservative organisation "Focus on the Family" paid for the add to promote their pro life message. Quite harmless I would say, certainly not controversial enough to try to get it banned.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Photo of the Day

I stayed up late last night to watch the movie "Marathon Man", a movie I have always known about but never actually seen. Its a great thriller about murder, secret organizations, Nazi war criminals and diamonds. Its most famous scene is one where the psychotic former Nazi dentist, played by Laurence Olivier and loosely based on the former Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele, ruthlessly tortures Dustin Hoffman's character. It is widely regarded as one of the most frightening scenes in movie history. I snapped it and decided to put it up as Photo of the Day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

70 Years Ago Today 7/2/40

London: On this day 70 years ago an IRA bomb injured four people at Euston Station.

Birmingham: On this same day two IRA men were hanged for the Coventry bombings which killed 5 people the previous August. IRA activity during this time naturally led to tension between the British and Irish governments. However Taoiseach Eamon De Valera was keen to show Europe that Ireland's neutrality was real. He viewed the IRA activity as a threat to that neutrality so he spent the war years cracking down severely on the organisation. Several IRA men would be executed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Photo of the Day

I was walking down Blackhorse Avenue earlier today and I came across the perfect Photo of the Day. The landmark Mckee barracks, named after the IRA leader Dick Mckee who was abducted and murdered by the British in 1920. I stopped at the main gate to take a photo but was prevented from doing so by an alert soldier. I walked a hundred or so meters further, turned and snapped a picture of the barracks from across the railway. There is a story about Mckee barracks that I have heard many times but have never been able to verify. The building which was built in the 19th century clearly looks out of place. It is exotic and in sharp contrast to virtually every other building in Dublin. The story I have heard is that during the preparation of the buildings construction the British military mixed up the plans of this barracks with that of another military base that was to be built out in India. Amazingly (if true) they continued to construct the incorrect building all the way to completion. Presumably today, somewhere out in India there is an Irish looking military base standing proud.

Clinton & Obama Praise NI Deal

So it would appear that everybody wins. Policing and justice powers get devolved from London to Belfast, satisfying republicans and the parades commission gets abolished, pleasing unionists. And everybody gets to go to Washington on St Patrick's day to meet the President. It seems like a simple enough trade to me, so why did it take 14 days and nights to get sorted. What don't we know ?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Photo of the Day

Urban decay Dublin, accept I took this photo today on the corner of Sean Heuston Bridge and Park Gate Street, hardly the Ghetto.

Justice, Israeli Style

On January 20th last, Mahmoud Al Mabhoud was found dead in his hotel room in Dubai. It is believed he suffered an electric shock before he was smothered and poisoned. Al Mabhoud was a Syrian based Hamas operative who allegedly was the organiser of a weapons smuggling operation that transported arms from Iran to Gaza. It's pretty obvious that this was not the work of an irate hooker or a rival terrorist group as they will no doubt claim in Jerusalem. This was Mossad doing what they do best, making Israel's enemies terrified for their lives, no matter where they go.

So, was it murder or legitimate war time assassination. In my opinion it was murder and if it happened in Ireland I would expect the Gardai to go after these boys big time as if it were your average gangland "hit". There is in my mind too thin a line between stalking a guy, smothering him with a poison soaked pillow and the world of Tony Soprano. Having said all that I kind of admire the guts (I think the Jews call it chutzpah) and the honesty of the Israelis to say "we can fight dirty too". The Brits participated in dozens of extra judicial killings in the North but rather that do it themselves they merely contracted the job out to loyalist terrorists. At least the Israeli's do their own dirty work even though I am a bit miffed that the Mossad apparently used Irish passports to sneak into Dubai. I can't imagine the Department of Foreign Affairs will be too pleased either. I would say Mossad are dreading that phone call from Micheal Martin.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Photo of the Day

My first photo of the day. The new €140 Million criminal courts just outside the Phoenix Park.

70 Years Ago Today 4/2/10

North Sea: The British minesweeper HMS Sphinx is sunk after being attacked by German aircraft. 54 men are lost.

Helsinki: 14 are killed and 179 others are injured after heavy raids by the Soviet Air Force on the Finnish capital.

Paris: The French War Council announced on this day 70 years ago that a joint Anglo French force would be sent to, believe it or not, Finland, to help the Finns in their war against the Soviets. This is such a weird little chapter in World War Two. It appears that France and Britain were at one stage considering war against both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. By February 1940 Stalin had invaded more countries than Hitler and many in the west believed that uncle Joe was a bigger danger than uncle Adolf. This doubt would not last much longer and the proposed British French force would never materialise in Eastern Scandinavia. However many anti communist volunteers from countries like Norway, Sweden and even America would rush to join a foreign legion in Finland in order to fight against the big red bear.

Its 1940, you live in Eastern Europe, who would you choose ?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Great News

Great news folks . I have purchased a new iPhone. Like most bloggers my biggest challenge is time. I have two part time jobs, a hectic social life and am currently studying to be a solicitor. Finding time to comment on global events can sometimes be too much. But with this new piece of technology I reckon I can pull it off. I am writing this post entirely from my phone. From now on my readers can expect much more regular posts. I can post from trains or planes, buses or cars. No more being out of action every time I go away for a few days. My iPhone will not enable me to write large posts every day. Readers can still expect about three detailed posts a week. But I will be able to update on an hourly basis and can post smaller pieces daily. I am thinking of posting a "photograph of the day", thanks to
my brilliant new camera phone. In any case, gubu world readers can look forward to a lot more.