Wednesday, March 28, 2012

70 Years Ago Today 28/3/42

France: On this day 70 years ago today the left wing French Resistance group Franc-tireurs et partisans was formed in Paris.

New Delhi: On a visit to India the Lord Privy Seal Sir Stafford Cripps announces that India will be granted dominion status after the war. The offer appears to be conditional on continued Indian support for the war effort and was apparently vigorously opposed by Winston Churchill who only agreed to it after American pressure.

France: On this day 70 years ago perhaps the most audaciuos commando raid of the war was launched by the British against the German dry dock at St Nazaire in North West France. The British Destroyer the HMS Campbeltown was converted into an enormous delayed action bomb which rammed into the dock at 20 knots. Over 600 commandos then stormed the port sabotaging it with further demolitions. 169 commandos were killed and 200 were captured. The remaining commandos made it home on the smaller escort vessels that participated in the raid. When the charges on the Campbelltown finally exploded 12 hours later 380 Germans who were searching the ship were killed and the port remained unusable for enemy warships for the remainder of the war.

An artists impression of the St Nazaire raid which occurred on this day 70 years ago.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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Welcome to Obamaville

And in case you haven't seen it, here is the Tom Hanks narrated 17 minute video ad to reelect President obama entitled:

The Road We've Traveled

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Etch - A - Sketch Gaffe

Poor Mitt Romney. In much the same way Barack Obama never used the phrase "leading from behind" Mitt Romney never used the phrase "Etch E Sketch". But in both cases members of their staff did and the phrases have stuck. For those who haven't seen this yet, a senior Mitt Romney aid named Eric Fehrnstrom in an interview on CNN made the following comment, "well I think you hit a reset button for the Fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch a Sketch". Already Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have been brandishing the Etch A Sketch toy during speeches criticising Romney. This could go on for a while. Remember the John Kerry flip flops at the 2004 Republican convention. While this will likely pass soon enough it does demonstrate that Romney is struggling to convince people that he's not an opportunist politician by nature who has been telling crowds all his professional life, what he thinks they want to hear.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Toulouse Murders

French Police escort Children from the scene of the shooting outside the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse.

Like every normal human being my stomach turned at the news that a man opened fire at a Jewish school in Toulouse killing three children and one adult. It is very rare in the field of human conflict that a sane person can aim a gun at three year old "enemy" and pull the trigger. Such savagery could only be inspired by the most depraved of ideologies which can only be either Nazism or Islamic fanaticism. Of course this incident is likely to cause associated controversies. I believe Baroness Catherine Ashton has already been accused of making irresponsible comments comparing the deaths of the Jewish Children in Toulouse to Palestinians in Gaza. I don't have the energy for engaging in a discussion about that right now. But there is something I want to say that is uniquely important given that at the time of writing, the culprits and their ideology remains unidentified. Why is everybody on the left hoping that it turns out to be the Nazis and why do people on the right want it to be the Muslims? Surely nothing additional needs to happen for reasonable people to recognise the perversion of Jihadists and Neo Nazis.

Glitch Watch

If people have had problems attempting to comment on Gubu World in the last few days could they please let me know by sending me a quick email

Thursday, March 15, 2012

St Patrick's Weekend

St Patrick's Day, Mothers Day and Ireland V England in the six nations all in one weekend. This could get messy.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wind of Change

Following on from my last piece of "Political Music" I have decided to keep the trend going. I love this historic song from German band The Scorpians, written in 1990 about the wind of change that was sweeping across Central and Eastern Europe.

Photo of the Day

I took this picture recently in Dunmanway Co Cork. It is a statue of Sam McGuire of GAA fame. McGuire who was born in Dunmanway would become a crucial figure in the growth of the GAA and an important member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Get Kony 2012

This thirty minute video has been watched by 52 million people since it was uploaded on youtube on Monday. I have been blogging about Kony for many years and have long recognised him as the worlds most evil man. I fully support the #getkony movement and have been irritated by some who are trying their best to find a way to delegitimise it. The objective of the movement is simply to put Kony out of business before the end of the year. The worlds worst terrorists and dictators have been meeting their makers at an astonishing rate of late, either at the hands of Navy Seals or of vengeful masses. Hopefully a similar fate awaits the worlds worst warlords. I will be keeping an eye on this story as it progresses.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tim Marshall on the Arab Spring

I had a brief chat with Tim Marshall after his recent talk in Trinity College

Last week I attended a lecture given by Sky News foreign correspondent Tim Marshall in Trinity College Dublin. The lecture, hosted by Trinity's Philosophical Society took place in a small room and was conducted in an informal manner. The comfortable atmosphere was the ideal setting for the round table discussion as we all sat on couches listening to Marshall's take on the tumultuous events that have engulfed the Middle East during the last year, much of which he witnessed from close up. The gist of his views were as follows.

1. He believes that Tunisia has by far the best chance of having a successful transition to democracy because of the lack of a sectarian element in that country and because the Ben Ali regime fell before a significant number of armed and uncontrollable rebels groups took to the streets.

2. He is much less optimistic about Libya. He believes that the new regime will inevitably be dominated by undemocratic Islamists. Even more worrying was his view that the main stream media are dramatically understating the level of crimes being committed by the new regime. Marshall believes that as many 10,000 supporters of the Gadaffi regime have already been murdered and another 20,000 imprisoned.

3. According to Mr Marshall Egypt is up for grabs. The Muslim Brotherhood are well organised and will undoubtedly have a significant say in the future of the country but the deeply ingrained military influence on the state will be impossible to sever. Marshall’s personal recollection of events in Egypt was fascinating. His description of the movement as being largely upper middle class surprised me. He also claimed that it was never as large or as grass roots as the media portrayed.

4. Marhsall spent more time discussing events in Syria than anywhere else. I was relieved (and I told him so) that an expert like Tim Marshall could not accurately define what a Alawite Shia Muslim was. I was relieved because I have tried so hard to find this out for myself but always just ended up confusing myself more. Marshall is absolutely convinced that Bashar Al Asssad is done for. The simple fact is that a dictator whose supports base comes from a minority sect representing 10% of the population cannot survive. He also stressed the regional hostility to Syria which many see as the conduit with which Iran can spread its influence throughout the Arab world. He informed us of the quite starling fact that since the fall of Sadam Hussein in Iraq, an Iranian convoy carrying men and equipment can drive over land from Iran to Lebanon via Shia dominated Iraq and allawite Syria. The fall of Assad will put an end to this.

Inevitably when it came to question time many of the students present were more interested in asking Tim Marshall about the nature of his dangerous job. Marshall admitted that there was an element of bravado in it. There was added significance to this discussion because earlier that day the news had broke of the death of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin (pictured) who was killed during the shelling of Homs. Marshall knew her well and described her with a smirk as "a lot of fun". I have read many books on war journalism and understand that a bond and a sense of comradely often builds up between conflict journalists regardless of who they work for. No doubt Marshall and Colvin shared many intense situations in dilapidated hotel lobbies, drinking and joking as the world seems to be coming to an end around them. This warped sense of humor is something that many war correspondents seem to develop as a way of coping with such madness.

He finished off the lecture with something that really resonated with me. He spoke about the need for the western world to "speak with confidence" when it comes to the Arab world. He put our unwillingness to do this (although not for the Irish) down to post colonial guilt. What I'm sure Mr Marshall means is that at a time when Arab dictatorships are crumbling we in the west should be outspoken and unapologetic about the nobility of the democratic model that we in the west practice. Free elections, free speech, free media and separation of powers is what the Arab world should aspire to and we in the west should not be sheepish about it. It was an excellent talk by Marshall and I was glad to meet a man whose ability to logically analyse rapidly unfolding events I have come to admire very much.