Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Photo of the Day

Another beautiful image of a Howth sunset. Whenever I see a fishing trawler being pursued by seagulls I always think of that interview with French footballer Eric Cantona that just made no sense.

And just for the craic, here it is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Glen Beck Craving Controversy

Norwegian youths being all Nazi like at the Utoya camp in Norway, the day before the massacre.

Most of my readers know my views on the likes of Glen Beck, I believe he is nothing more than an attention grabbing, ratings driven eccentric who will say whatever he can to generate controversy for his own purposes, not matter how hurtful or inappropriate it is. That said I don't feel like ignoring his most recent rant where he likens those attending the Utoya political camp in Norway to the Hitler Youth, a little insensitive I would say, four days after 67 of them were brutally murdered by a right wing fanatic. Below is the clip.

Photo of the Day

A fishing trawler sails between Howth Harbour and "Ireland's eye" as a RyanAir plane flies by, just before sunset on Sunday evening.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oslo Masscare, Muslims, the far right and Twitter

Anders B Breivik, has murdered 93 people in Oslo.

On Friday this man, a right wing fanatic, committed one of the worst acts of individual terrorism ever seen. Earlier today a manifesto of his was published in which he rants about Islamic colonisation and a liberal conspiracy. His fixation with the liberal conspiracy is why he boarded a boat to Utoya island and in a truly brutal and horrific fashion murdered at least 84 youths at a labour conference, people he saw as being responsible for the "Islamo Marxist" alliance to destroy European Christendom. The young men and women had nowhere to run on the small island in what was must have been 45 minutes of unimaginable horror.

Many things about this event, beyond the obvious, disturbed me greatly. I was on twitter shortly after I heard about the initial blast in downtown Oslo. I like many, assumed we were dealing with an act of Islamic terror. I myself clumsily tweeted the following remark.

Murdering butchering Islamic terrorists at it again. This time in #Oslo

My assumption at the time was that Oslo was being subject to the same type of attack that London, Madrid, Washington and New york has seen in recent times. I should not have jumped to that conclusion so early and I do want to apologise to any Muslim readers of Gubu World who were offended. I did however realise quite early on, particularly upon hearing that the second attack was launched against the Norwegian Labour Party that it was likely a case of domestic right wing terrorism.

There were other things on twitter that bothered me. I follow Michelle Malkin on twitter. She claims to be a conservative pundit but is in fact a right wing smear merchant (she spent the 2004 US Presidential election trying to convince people that Democratic candidate John Kerry had shot himself in Vietnam to get a Purple Heart in order to boost his political career). Anyway, in the immediate aftermath of the Oslo blast she began a trend on twitter called #standwithnorway which was extremely active for about an hour. She herself tweeted many comments about standing up to Islamic terror. However, once it became clear the atrocity was not linked to Islamic terror, she stopped tweeting on the subject and the trend dissipated. Presumably she was no longer "standing with Norway"

British Col Richard Kemp, a man I respect, likewise disappointed me. He clearly lost interest in the story, evidenced by his tweets, after the identity of the perpetrator of the massacre became known. Although he did tweet the following interesting remark which I will discuss shortly.

Will those who "understood" motives of likes of Khan London attack on 7/7, ie "despair" of govt policy, also "understand" motives of Breivik's motives?

The reality is that in the hours before the motivation for the attack became known, The hawks hoped the Muslims were behind it where as the Doves (and pro Muslim) wanted it to be domestic. This aspect of the case reminded me of Jared Lee Loughner who in January of this year in Tuscon Arizona, shot and killed 6 people and wounded 14 others including democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Many people at the time assumed that as the victim was a liberal congresswoman in a conservative state, the perpetrator must have been a right winger. It subsequently became clear that he was a psychotic, but as in the Norwegian case, the Tuscon shooting resulted in a frenzied discussion (which lasted much longer) about whether the man had been influenced by right wing rhetoric coming from the more intense wing of the anti Obama crowd. People jumping to conclusions is natural if a little irresponsible. But I find it unfortunate that when facing a human tragedy people actively root for their beliefs to be vindicated.

Christian Fundamentalist
Over the coming weeks we can expect a debate to take the following form. It is wrong to be overly critical of Islamic fundamentalism when Christian terrorists are prepared to carry out similar acts of extreme violence. It is also wrong to be overly critical of Islam in Europe in case it inspires the like of Breivik (I expect Dutch politician Gert Wilders will come in for some criticism this week). These are understandable points to make given events in Oslo but some realities must be pointed out.

1. In the western world, acts of Christian terrorism are extremely rare where as Islamic terrorism is commonplace.

2. It appears Breivik acted alone. He has no supporters, and in Europe you will not find a single town, village, house, or even a dingy flat somewhere where people will be rejoicing at the deaths of so many innocents.

3. I think it will become clear that Breivik's actions were more motivated by fascist or Nazi thought rather than Christian fundamentalism. And we all know that such ideologies are capable of unbelievably extreme levels of cruelty.

4. Fridays outrage should not prevent people of good will from expressing in a dignified manner their concern at Islamic extremism internationally or of its growth in Europe. People need to be confident in their convictions that to criticise one form of extremism is not to inspire another. Personally I am an anti fascist, anti racist, anti Marxist, anti religious fanatic who detests all forms of extremism including that practised by Irish Republicans.

The Far Right
The far right have always been a reality in Europe, a reality that I thought up until Friday was one which could be largely ignored. Extremism should always be confronted in whatever form it takes. It only needs to be understood in terms of how it needs to be defeated. Col Kemp's earlier tweet illustrates his frustration at how people on the left strive to understand the hatred of those committing acts of Islamic terror but will obviously not do so when it comes to Mr Breivik. And they would be right. Mr Breivik deserves no sympathy, not even in the faintist ideological sense. And neither do the men behind the countless acts of Al Quaeda horror. At the end of it all, if you are prepared to commit a spectacular act of mass murder against innocent civilians, it is not because of the injustices of US/British foreign policy, any more than it was Breivnik's reason to kill so many because he believed in a liberal conspiracy. It was because in both cases, the extremists are consumed by hatred and no amount of placating to them will appease them.

I know that many conservatives in the US argue that the reason Europe is susceptible to far right extremism is because they do not properly address the issue of Islamic immigration and that mainstream European politics isolates and demonizes those who are critical of Islamic ghettoising. I do not accept this. I believe that if Europe restricted significantly the levels of Muslim immigration into Europe, Mr Breivnik would still be a fascist Nazi animal hell bent on murder murder murder. Likewise, If Israel were to be wound up, something which some people argue would appease extremists and bring peace to the world, Islamic terror would not disappear with it. It would in fact be emboldened and increase. Extremism needs to be confronted and defeated, not circumnavigated.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Photo of the Day

I have been away for work reasons for about a week. I have been in Kildare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Roscommon, Leitrim, Mayo, Longford, Westmeath and Cavan, all in that order I believe. I took some interesting photos along the way. Like this one of Marcoom Castle. I don't know much about the Castle only that according to a recent book I read, it was the headquarters of the hated Essex regiment during the Irish War of Independence.

This ancient Castle dominates the West Cork town of Macroom. During the 1919-21 conflict the Auxillary division and the First Batallion of the Essex regiment were based in the castle. The latter was commanded by Major Artur Percival. You can almost see his gaunt face peeking out the window in this photo. Percivial would become a world famous name in 1942 when as commander of British forces in Singapore, he would surrender to the Japanese along with 80,000 of his troops. I wonder, if Percival could not keep the IRA out of West Cork, why did the British think he could keep the Japanese off the Malayan penninsula.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Photo of the Day

While driving yesterday from Ballinalee to Granard (in Co Longford) I passed this memorial marking the spot of the Clonfin ambush in February 1921. On that day two vehicles carrying ten British Auxiliaries was ambushed at this site by a column of 21 IRA men led by the Great Sean MacEoin (future army Chief of staff and Fine Gael Minister for Justice and Defence). Four Auxiliaries were killed, the remaining six were captured, treated for their wounds and released. One month later MacEoin would be captured after a shootout in Mullingar train station in which he was severely wounded. He was taken to Dublin, put on trial and sentenced to death. However, two of the surviving auxiliaries from the Clonfin ambush made statements attesting to his treatment of them as prisoners. This caused enough of a delay of his execution for the truce to come into being in July 1921, thus saving his life. MacEoin died in 1973. I have a very busy week ahead of me folks so I do not expect to be doing much blogging.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

South Sudan, a reason for cautious optimism !

Lots more to come on this in the near future as I intend to follow the progress of the worlds newest nation, South Sudan, very closely. It's independence is great thing for its people who have been fighting against the tyranny of the Arab authorities in Khartoum for nearly 200 years. However optimism has to be cautious. We often comment on what a tough neighbourhood Israel lives in well the Southern Sudanese state is in my view, in a tougher one. They have their genocidal neighbour in the north to contend lead by the wanted war criminal Omar Al Bashir. And at the southern border, South Sudan neighbours with lawless northern Uganda, were Joseph Kony and his Notorious Lords Resistance Army (probably the worlds most violent terrorist organisation) still control the jungles and the Democratic Republic of Congo, a hellish place where millions (literally) have been butchered in tribal warfare during the last 15 years. It is not an easy place to be starting a new country. It's economic viability is also in question as the agreements between north and south over distribution of oil revenues has not yet been finalised. It is a fascinating situation which I intend to cover in detail.

Friday, July 8, 2011

70 Years Ago Today 8/7/41

Cologne: 114 RAF Wellingtons bomb the city overnight.

Belgrade: The occupying Germans and Italians announce plans to dismember the nation into zones.

Baltic States: Jews in the newly occupied states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are ordered to wear yellow badges of identification by the Nazis.

Iceland: American troops land on the island to relieve the British garrison. Although the US has not yet entered the war Washington is taking steps to make the North Atlantic safer for British shipping.

Egypt: The Battle of El Alamein, between Allied and Axis forces in North Africa continues to rage.

Eastern Front: The town of Vitebsk, on the border with Belarus and Russia falls to invading Nazi forces. 300,000 Soviet prisoners have now been taken since the Germans attacked the previous month.

Since the Nazi invasion of the USSR in June, 300,000 Soviets have already been taken. Very few will ever see the motherland again.

Photo of the Day

Another snap of the model WW1 German aircraft I came across in the Phoenix Park. Look, the little pilot even has a mini bottle of champagne.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why I oppose the Gaza flotilla

I know I used this picture before but I like it.

I want to make a few points about the flotilla to Gaza. I oppose it. I think it is wrong and reckless. But I do not oppose it simply out of support for Israel or a dislike of the far left individuals who are orchestrating it. I oppose it on the following grounds. The Israeli blockade of Gaza has been completely distorted both in terms of its objectives and what it actually does. Firstly, the Gaza strip is controlled by Hamas. Hamas is a an organisation that is committed to the destruction of Israel. It is completely natural that Israel would want to prevent the economic development of an entity that wants to destroy it. When a nations' economy grows, its military capacity grows with it. I think that is pretty straight forward. Therefore Israel wants to prevent the economic development of the Hamas controlled Gaza strip. I think they are perfectly entitled to do that. If during the northern troubles, the six counties were under the control of the UVF or UDA, I don't think the Dublin government would have done much trading with them.

It is not true that Israel is trying to starve Gaza into submission. Israel’s stated policy toward Gaza is quite simple, they want to see “no humanitarian crisis and no economic development”. This is why the IDF have been sending in truckloads of humanitarian aid on a regular basis while at the same time, preventing the entry of materials that can be used for construction and trade. This from the Irish embassy in Dublin.

While Israel maintains an arms blockade of Gaza, it has maintained a steady and massive flow of humanitarian aid into the territory.
In the month of May 2011 alone, this totalled some 127,353 tons of goods.
That's almost 80 kg of aid per month – including food, clothing, and other supplies – for every single person in Gaza. Nearly 5,000 truckloads entered Gaza from Israel in May. In terms of food alone, this includes:
• 376 truckloads of flour
• 324 truckloads of wheat
• 225 truckloads of fruit and vegetables
• 142 truckloads of dairy products
• 113 truckloads of meat and fish
• 44 truckloads of milk powder and baby formula
• 65 truckloads of rice
• 59 truckloads of cooking oil
• 492 truckloads of other food products
In the other direction, Israel granted permits to 3,612 Palestinians to enter Israel from Gaza in May 2011. Of these, 1,238 were for business purposes and 1,892 were for medical procedures (986 patients and 906 accompanying individuals).

Probably the most important reason I oppose the flotilla is because it is reckless and dangerous. It is dangerous for the people on board, dangerous for the IDF and dangerous for the Israelis and Palestinians. This effort has the potential to spark a clash between the IDF and Hamas. It could even lead to a renewal of the the 2009 war between the two. These so called peace activists would be much better served promoting reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians instead of this irresponsible action. Instead they appear intent on taking this provocative action which makes me wonder, do these people want to see peace between Israel and Palestine, or victory for Palestine.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July to all my American readers. I hope you enjoy this video of morphing US presidents to the sound of Hooked on America.

And on a personal note America, Thanks very much for all of the following:

Thanks for beating the fascists
Thanks for Las Vegas
Thanks for beating the communists
Thanks for Jimmy Carters Smile
Thanks for Richard Prior
Thanks for the Simpsons
Thanks for Elvis
Thanks for not being any good at soccer
Thanks for JFK visit to Ireland in 1963
Thanks for the Rockford Files
Thanks for John Wayne
Thanks for Jessica Simpson
Thanks for Harry Truman
Thanks for the Godfathers
Thanks for Columbo
Thanks for Cowboys & Indians
Thanks for Brad Friedal
Thanks for gangster movies
Thanks for presidential debates
Thanks for Star Trek
Thanks for Air Force One
Thanks for Family Guy
Thanks for letting the Taoiseach come to the Oval Office every St Patricks day
Thanks for the southern accent
Thanks for Bruce Spingston
Thanks for The Sopranos
Thanks for D-Day
Thanks for The Shawshank Redemption
Thanks for the Inchon Landings
Thanks for Chuck Berry
Thanks for 24 hour news
Thanks for peanut butter
Thanks for Rambo
Thanks for fast food
Thanks for Lady Gaga
Thanks for Coen brothers movies
Thanks for Sylvester Stallone
Thanks for Ronald Reagans humour
Thanks for the Ford car
And finally and most importantly, thanks for being the arsenal of democracy !

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Interesting Random Piece of History 9

The crew of the Lady Be Good.

Anybody ever hear of the American World War Two bomber the Lady Be Good. Not quite as famous as the Enola Gay or the Memphis Belle, the Lady Be Good was a B-24 Liberator that suffered a particularly tragic end on its first mission but unlike the fate of most downed bombers, what happened to the Lady Be Good and its nine crewmen remained a mystery for many years. On the 4th of April 1943, the Lady Be Good took off, along with 24 other American bombers from Soluch Air Field in North Eastern Libya. Incidentally the runways of the same airport were bombed in February this year by Col Gadaffi's Air force in order to prevent Libyan rebels from using it. The target of the 25 bombers that day was Naples in Southern Italy. The Lady Be Good was the last of the 25 planes to take off and because of bad conditions it never managed to catch up and assume formation with the other planes. On the return journey from Naples she continued to lag behind the rest. It is not exactly clear what happened but it appears a catastrophic navigational error was made somewhere over the Mediterranean by the inexperience crew. It was night time and in the darkness the crew were unaware that they were approaching the North African coast. The captain contacted Soluch air base by radio and stated that his "automatic direction finder" was not working and asked for a location of the base. He was apparently given a bearing but it is unknown if Lady Be Good received the transmission or not. In any event they did not see the flares at Soluch airbase and the bomber continued over the coast and into the Sahara desert. The plane eventually ran out of fuel and the crew were forced to bail out. The men were expecting to land in the Mediterranean sea, instead they landed 400 miles inland. Initially the men were most likely pleased that they were not stranded in the water and they probably assumed they were not far from the coast. Eight of the crew survived the bail out, the other mans' shoot did not open properly. The eight men began walking northward. None of them would survive.

The crew of the Lady Be Good were:

1st Lt. William J. Hatton - pilot - Whitestone, New York
2nd Lt. Robert F. Toner - co-pilot - North Attleborough, Massachusetts
2d Lt. D.P. (initials only, also seen as "Dp") Hays - navigator - Lee's Summit, Missouri
2d Lt. John S. Woravka - bombardier - Cleveland, Ohio
T/Sgt. Harold J. Ripslinger - flight engineer - Saginaw, Michigan
T/Sgt. Robert E. LaMotte - radio operator - Lake Linden, Michigan
S/Sgt. Guy E. Shelley - gunner - New Cumberland, Pennsylvania
S/Sgt. Vernon L. Moore - gunner - New Boston, Ohio
S/Sgt. Samuel E. Adams - gunner - Eureka, Illinois

At Soulch Air Base it was assumed the Lady Be Good crashed into the Mediterranean, The war continued and as far as all were concerned it was just another in a long long list of lost bomber crews. The next chapter in the story begins in 1958. In November of that year a British Oil exploration team spotted the wreckage of an aircraft. In May of 1959 a US military team was sent out on land from Wheelus Air Base in western Libya to investigate the wreckage. It was the Lady Be Good. It was 440 miles from the coast. Quite unbelievably, the abandoned aircraft managed to land the right way up, although it did break in two just before it came to a stop. Despite the crash, the plane was in remarkably good condition. In February 1960, the US Army conducted a formal search for the bodies of the Airmen. Eight of the nine bodies were found. From all the diaries recovered with the bodies the following conclusions can be drawn. This from wikipedia.

After parachuting to the desert floor, eight of the nine airmen had managed to meet up by firing their revolvers and signal flares into the air. They had not been able to find the ninth crewman, bombardier Lt. John Woravka, because unknown to them his parachute had only partially opened and he likely died on impact. Thinking they were fairly close to the Mediterranean coast, the eight surviving crew members walked north, leaving behind footwear, parachute scraps, Mae West vests and other items as markers to show searchers what their path had been. They survived for eight days, sharing only a single canteen of water while walking over 100 miles (160 km) in searing heat before perishing. Remains of five airmen were found in a group nearly 80 miles (130 km) from the crash site. The other three (Guy Shelley, "Rip" Ripslinger and Vernon Moore) had set off to try to find help while the other five waited behind. The bodies of Shelley and Ripslinger were found twenty and twenty-seven miles further north, respectively. Moore's remains were never found, although it is possible that in 1953 his body had been spotted and buried by a British desert patrol, unaware that any air crews from the war had ever gone missing in the area.[5]

A diary recovered from the pocket of co-pilot Robert Toner told of much suffering on the walk northward and indicated the crew were unaware they were over land when they bailed out. There has been speculation that whatever airborne glimpses they may have caught of the empty desert floor in the darkness looked like open sea. It seems the crew never understood they were more than 400 miles (640 km) inland.

Some believe that the crew could have survived had they known how far inland they were and had their maps shown the area where they bailed out. Going north, the distance they walked was slightly less than the distance needed to reach the oasis of Wadi Zighen that was south of them, but they were wholly unaware of this. Additionally, if they had headed south they would have very probably found the wreckage of the Lady Be Good with its water and food supplies, however meager, along with its working radio, which they might have used to call for help.

There is no avoiding the fact that the men of the Lady Be Good died horrible deaths. I can't help think of all those survival movies we have seen where you know there is going to be a happy ending, for some of the characters anyway. But this is not the way it happens in real life. When Guy Shelley, "Rip" Ripslinger and Vernon Moore decided to leave their comrades and try to walk further on, the script should have raid that they would be rescued just as they could go no further. But it wasn't to be. In fact, they never had a chance. Harold J. Ripslinger, the man who walked furthest, over 100 miles, was still 300 miles short of the coast when he finally collapsed and died on the eight day. It is an exceptionally poignant story. To me it emphasises all the stories that can never be told, because there were no survivors. The unknown heroes of World War Two who will never have books written or movies made about them. But you can be sure, their stories are the most real and harrowing of all.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Photo of the Day

How cool is this. While walking in the Phoenix Park yesterday I came across a guy about to begin flying his model World War One airplane. Love the detail.