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Egypt's Christian minority has been abused and victimized by two homicidal bodies. One is a closed, elitist, self-satisfied, utterly corrupt group of criminal power mongers, existing on the extorted protection money taken by force from the mass of the people, fond of murder but really driven by graft and status, and ultimately motivated by a savage underlying hatred of Christianity. The other is the Egyptian army.

Poor Peyo

Sep. 6th, 2011 02:19 pm
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At least he is dead. I have never in my life seen anything that shows so certain a prospect of utter catastrophe as the posters of the Smurfs movie. It is going to be a horror as surely as people breathe air. From the horrendously unsuited Pixar-like three-dimensional animation, that morphs Peyo's charming linework into soapy, rubbery dolls, to the urban setting - all the Smurf stories are set in their little mushroom village, which supplies all the comic and dramatic opportunities they need - to the Smurfette's ghastly sunglasses, everything breathes the spirit of utter misunderstanding, vulgarization, stupidity, and waste. What's the betting that there are vulgar jokes?
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I have lived long enough - nearly to be fifty; more than many people do. And I have lived to see many great evils faced, thwarted, defeated. What I have learned from my life is not that evil is unconquerable and victorious; quite the contrary. I have seen the most wicked and corrupt state in the twentieth century, the Soviet Union, borne down by its own wickedness. I have seen the Sicilian Mafia, apparently invincible when I was young, battered and reeling under blow after blow. I have seen freedom spread across eastern Europe, Latin America, east Asia, mostly in countries that had never known it for long, and endure and take root. I have seen three indomitable countries - Eritrea, East Timor, and now South Sudan - fight their way to independence against all the odds, against overwhelming enemies and universal indifference. Until they won, there had been nobody who did anything to help them; they took all their weapons from their enemies. And if many things went wrong, from the sorry rise of left-wing populism across Latin America to the terrible tyranny that gripped Eritrea as soon as the foreign enemy had been driven out, I am still certain that those evils will not last for ever. Other evils will arise, some which we know, some which we can't even foresee. But I believe that individual evils will always, in the long run, lose.

Which is why I am not very surprised, though I am ecstatic, at the Murdoch scandal. There is one thing that must be understood: to me, finding out about the British popular press was one of the shocks of my adolescence. Coming from Italy, where the Press was generally respected and self-respecting, where the main business of the papers was to investigate organized criminality, terrorism, and public and private corruption, and where every now and then a journalist died because some villain had objected to being found out, the whole world of red-top taploids, sex obsession, huge titles and Page Three Girls was both alien and repulsive. Finding out that this, and not the famous and prestigious broadsheet titles whose names rang across the continent, was the standard British press and the standard reading of Britons, was a shock such as I cannot render to those who grew up with it and find such things natural.

Now Murdoch had invented nothing; before he bought the News of the World, both the graphic horrors of his mastheads and the brutality of its editorial contents had been patented by the Daily Mirror, and the salaciousness and hysteria were the daily fodder of cheaper papers across the board. Murdoch, however, refined it all like a criminal chemist refines coca into crack cocaine, leaving out anything that was wholesome and decent and pushing to extremes everything that was tasteless and addictive. One thing that struck me, for instance, was that while the DAily Express had the great Giles, and the Daily Mail had Mac, and while the Mirror had a wonderful comics page featuring Andy Capp, The Perishers and so on, the cartoons and comics in the Sun were so bad - bad in a technical sense, poorly drawn, poorly conceived, unfunny, forgettable - as to be incredible in what was supposed to be the most profitable newspaper in the country. The same goes for its columnists: the Daily Mirror had Beachcomber and Keith Waterhouse, but no Sun or NotW columnist has ever been worth re-reading, let alone reprinting. It was not only vulgar; it was coolly, deliberately stupid, always in search of the worst, not just in content, but in style.

I came to Britain just in time to watch Murdoch at the height of his power and success; and coming where I came from, it was, to me, a terrible shock. In Italy, at the time, press and pornography were two wholly separete things; in spite of a few timid efforts on state TV, broadcasting was incredibly decorous by today's standards - there was no Berlusconi yet - and in general sleaze was the one thing that the Italian media had not yet experienced. Something like The Sun was wholly impossible to imagine to me, from my background; I could not believe that the English press amounted to this. Of course, the English themselves had grown up with the slow evolution - or devolution - of their press, and were used to it to the point of not noticing it. They had become used to the monstrous in their daily lives. I have never yet managed to get one Briton to fully understand my revulsion at their media; not even when Berlusconi developed his own Italian counterpart formula, for TV rather than for newspapers.

But as I regarded the Murdoch and Maxwell press as a complete evil, I was sure, by my own beliefs, that they could not endure. Maxwell is long gone, and I have long wondered whether Rupert Murdoch would die like him - he is old enough - before the fruit of his crimes came back to destroy his creations. That sooner or later that fruit would ripen I had little doubt: Murdoch is and has always been the kind who makes scandals, like Richard Nixon or his old enemy Maxwell. His methods demand, not collaborators, but accomplices, and accomplices have to be paid off and protected. There never was any hope that what he had built would outlive the criminal methods used to build it.

Now his methods have caught up with him. The closure of the NotW is Rupert Murdoch's last desperate throw to avoid being personally involved in the scandal. In fact, nobody has any doubt that the moving power behind the illegality and corruption - as Peter Oborne called it, a criminal enterprise - was Murdoch himself. And if his former allies in Britain hope that the scandal can be controlled and kept away from the core of the company, they are deluding themselves. This is no longer restricted to Britain: Murdoch has mighty enemies abroad, especially in Italy and in America, and Berlusconi and the US networks are not going to miss the opportunity to trash Fox and Sky.

And finally, I have said that the Republicans would regret allowing Fox to effectively take the American conservative movement over (remember my article on the Glenn Beck rally?) and the time is coming even faster than I had foreseen. Nobody involved with Murdoch is going to come out of this with his hands clean. Or hers - alas for Sarah Palin and everyone who supported her.
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I have long noticed that certain aspects of the BBC's notoriously monolithic and change-resistant mind are not, as is universally assumed, "progressive" left, but profoundly and even viciously reactionary. One that has stuck in my craw for a long time is their reporting of union matters and strikes. Anyone who is suprised at the BBC's constantly negative and deliberately obtuse treatment of, say, Israel, either has not studied the way the BBC reports strikes at home, or is himself so savagely against the very principle of unionization and workers' solidarity as to believe that there is no device too vile to beat the unions with. Their approach to Israel and to British trades unions is one and the same, practically brand-marked. Whenever there is a strike, the BBC spends the least possible time, if it does at all, explaining the cause and setting out the union's reasons; most of its reports are always - this is something you can test, if you pay attention - taken up with bits of heavily edited street interviews with supposed members of the public who are supposed to have been incommodated by the strike. These are usually three - three members of the public, after all, make a proper sample for hundreds of thousands or tens of millions of people, just as thirty seconds are a sufficient time to express the whole range of their views. Very often the sample of three ends with someone who expresses the vilest and shabbiest of views, which can be summed up as: "Well, I have been screwed by my boss, so how dare they try not to be screwed by theirs?" If things go bad for Mr.Smith, it is an outrage that Mr.Jones should dare to fight to make them better for himself - and perhaps, in the long run, for Mr.Smith too. As I said, this is often the concluding volley in this profound televisual dive into the depths of the national spirit; and as such it has a concluding, even summing-up value. Since we all have it tough, it is wrong for unionized labour to try and improve matters for any reason.

The BBC treatment of a recent strike in the London Underground is a classic of its kind. A couple of union activists were sacked under various pretexts, and the unions called a strike. As a matter of fact, the strike was only a threat, and when it eventually took place, it was on the last legally possible day, and lasted, IIRC, from ten in the evening of one day till six in the morning of the next. Some terrible, damaging strike this was. Nonetheless, the BBC did not even try to be fair between the contending parties. That the men had been sacked, whatever the excuse, for being union activists, was fairly evident and was confirmed by the fact that the labour disputes court found for them; and everyone knows - or ought to know - that the sacking of union activists for being union activists is and has always been ground for striking the world over. Anyone who made the imaginative effort to try and understand the reasons of the union ought to have understood that; but the BBC would not, and would not allow its public to make the effort either. From the beginning to the end, the London public was spoon-fed anti-union propaganda, including the calls from some more than usually vile Tory backbencher for anti-union legislation even more severe than Margaret Thatcher already managed.

The unions at the BBC itself have been pretty well emasculated, and it might be said that the company has a good (or quite amazingly bad) internal reason to take this oppressive attitude. A couple of years ago it emerged that the BBC had not paid its share of workers' pension contributions for thirteen solid years, and that the kitty, as a direct result, was empty. The immense power of this corrupt corporation can be measured by the fact that not a single manager was so much as investigated by police or revenue investigators, and that every single one of those who had connived at this atrocious crime kept their own gilded and chromed pension arrangements. The employees? They struck, failed to make an impression, and had to swallow redundancies and massively worsened terms and conditions. One thing that must considered in this context is that, unlike normal corporations, the BBC knows exactly, at the beginning of each year, how much money it is going to "earn" - or rather squeeze from the public - through the so-called canon; and therefore there is no excuse for planning and accounting errors big enough to justify the continuous "contributions holiday" (yes, that is what it's called) that lasted thirteen years.

This, of course, gives the BBC a very good corporate reason to be anti-union in general; but I don't think it begins there. I think that the hate and contempt for the unions was there first, and that the resolution to swindle their own employees was a by-product. I think the BBC simply dislikes the idea of uppity proles. Not, of course, that it is against all unions and all union activity. There is a kind of union activity for which the BBC can never find enough time to report or enough positive overtones and that is what may be loosely defined as the area of political correctness. Every time a union takes any action that can be constructed as feminist, pro-abortion, pro-gays, pro-immigrant or secularist, however small and insignificant, the BBC reports with high approval. One of its favourite unions is the National Union of Teachers, which I refused to join when I was briefly a trainee because I could see from all its materials and rhetoric that it cared nothing for teachers' working conditions and plenty for PC in all its forms. Let us notice, then, that two important conclusions arise: being PC and "progressive" does not imply any sympathy for one's own domestic working classes and their representatives; and that the way to please the BBC (and its shadows in all the mass media) is to bash the one and glorify the other.

This article has been caused by a truly shocking instance, no earlier than this morning. The BBC led - led, mind you! - with a news item about "the culture of compensation" overrunning prisons. Its reporters sounded all shocked and disgusted that, in one year, the UK Prison Service had paid one and a half million pounds in compensations to prisoners who felt they had claims for accidents or mistreatment.

Now I don't expect BBC journalists to be able to count, but I do expect them to have access to a calculator. Mine says that one and a half million pounds, spread over eighty thousand prisoners in Britain's jails, means an average of eighteen pounds seventy-five pence per convict. This means that if one convict out of ten had reason to complain in the last year - hardly an excessive guess in a notoriously overcrowded and naturally brutal environment, and one where, at the same time, the inmates have regular access to lawyers - he might have scored the fantastic, life-changing lottery win sum of one hundred and eighty seven pounds fifty pence sterling. Truly the compensation culture run amock.

Let us try and suppose that, once a man is jailed, his health and welfare actually become the responsibility of those who are holding him. Let us try to imagine that these men - I mean the jailers - might represent the community; and that the community might even have some notion that the jail service, as a public service, in some way represents them, and that its standards reflect on them. What does this mean - that the BBC finds a yearly compensation budget of one and a half million pounds (less than a couple of its criminal but unjailed top managers cost the canon-payer!) a shocking thought? What does it mean, except than to propose that people once convicted - for whatever reason - should not be recognized any rights, and that if anything bad happens to them in jail, compensation ought to be denied? What does this mean except to declare that convicts cease to be members of the human race? And does this come well from a company whose top brass ought by rights to have been jailed for financial crimes years ago?
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Bear in mind that this man and his followers were much worse than Pinochet. They are said to have accounted for a minimum of 20,000 victims.
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I spent most of the nineties in a quiet working-class district in East London, called Leyton. Today I heard that a car repair shop a few block from my old address, and which I knew very well by sight, had been turning out illegal weapons including somes - like guns disguised as pencils and cigarette lighters - that would look well in a movie. I always did wonder how that shop managed to stay afloat.
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Calabria is the Italian region most affected by organized crime. (There it is called, not Mafia, but 'Ndrangheta.) This has repercussions in all sorts of areas you would not imagine, such as the struggle for the rights of disabled persons. There has been an attempt on the lives of two disabled leaders, one of whom, Nunzia Coppede', noticed on time that the brake cables in her car had been severed. If she or the other (unnamed) person had taken their car, they would probably have suffered a grave accident as soon as they needed to brake. The reason seems to be that their voluntary group has been given the use of a building confiscated from local villains. Anyone who wanted to show support to these good and threatened people can write to one of these two e-mail addresses: fishcalabria@gmail.com, or info@superando.it.
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Years ago, I saw a couple of homosexual friends of mine coming home beaten black and blue, the victims of a gay-bashing assault. Now I read of a whole string of assaults on homosexual tourists and prominent gays in Italy, and of the gay-bashing murder of the captain of the women's national soccer side - a known homosexual - in South Africa. And I am told that queer-bashing is normal in the poorer areas of Washington DC.

In a different moment, one might debate why this poison is spreading. Here and now, I will only say that one does not have to have a San Franciscan outlook to find this revolting, unacceptable and to be suppressed.
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Why is it that every teen-age starlet turned out by Walt Disney turns out, as soon as she turns 16 (or even sooner) to be a committed public tart?
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So the murderous moron who killed 32 innocent people because he felt like it sent a video detailing his rotten little excuses before he did the only right thing and killed himself. All right. But can anyone give me any reason why TV and radio news broadcasts should subject us to extensive excerpts from his ugly screed, from which we can draw neither education nor pleasure?
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From today's Sky News:

An Independent councillor who sold a woman with learning difficulties for sex has been given a 12-month suspended jail sentence.Read more... )
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A few days ago I wrote an entry about the problems that my tendency to rage caused in my relationships with others. I have no doubt that a lot of people will have read the last entry - about the abomination that is Dutch law, especially on euthanasia, and about the atrocious behaviour of the Dutch government in the matter of Ayaan Hirsi Ali - and thought of that. Except that in this case, this does not apply.

Everything is right in proportion. It is wrong and silly to burst into fury over some fandom quarrel - such as the Blaise Zabini affair a while back - even though I may feel that I am in the right, or at least that I have a good argument that other people insist on refusing to understand. But when you are dealing with mass murder under the most obscene conditions and for the most obscene reasons, then exactly the opposite is the case. Then what is wrong is to yeld to the temptation of politeness; and speak and act as though mass murder were a reasonable, sensible, civilized alternative to be discussed in courteous tones - instead of a foul abomination whose very mention ought to make us shudder with disgust and wonder at a world where such things do not bring down fire from the sky.

A few days ago we celebrated Mother's Day. I have been particularly lucky in my mother - as beautiful as she is intelligent, as brave as she is unselfish, and so full of good things that it took me some time to realize that, like all other human beings, she had her flaws. To be sure, not everyone has my good luck - I could mention my mother's own sister, but I won't. There are indifferent or bad mothers. But having said that, everyone knows this: that only the greatest saints perform, in their lives, as many unselfish and helpful and loving things as a quite ordinary mother does in the ordinary course of her work. She is alwyas the one who takes the bad part of the chicken, who stays up late if the baby cannot sleep, who carves out time in her scarce timetable to take her child to school or to play - who is there a million times, too often to mention, until you realize that you have relied on her all your life and taken it quite for granted. After all, what is the one thing that no man will let pass, what is the one thing that nobody will ever allow to be said in his presence? We all know it: "Don't you dare touch my mother. You can say what you want about me, but, by God, don't you dare touch my mother." Thugs and criminals revere one thing in their filthy lives - their mother - when they revere nothing else. Sane men and women know it instinctively. It is for this reason, for this background of unselfish love that lies like a mountain wall all around the beginnings of our lives, the towering protection and help that has made us born and fed us and kept and helped us grow, that we Christians have come to see in the Blessed Virgin the highest of all saints: if that is what is our mother means to us, how much more - of the same, but how much more - must have been in the mother of the Saviour, in the mother of God in man? It is for this reason, just as any self-respecting man will fight for his mother's good name, that Christians going to war to save their nations and their people from oppression, have many, many times seen above the terror of the battlefield, warm and loving and peaceful in her blue mantle, Our Lady of Victories; and charged in Her name, through terror and pain and death, to victory and salvation.

This is what I, what any person, owes to his or her mother. The intensity of the love of the average person for his or her mother is not commonly realized, for the same reason why we do not stop to think that we look on the world from a walking six-foot tower; that it is fundamental to us. And as for our mother, so for our father. Our father is different - he is the person who comes in from outside, the voice of a strange stern world of work and fatigue and contact with little-known and unsympathetic beings, bosses, colleagues, clients. But he is the one who feeds us and looks after us; the one we go to in trouble or fear; the last bulwark in our need; and, on occasion, the extravagantly generous source of largesse - if mother is the one who will always give us a candy bar or a banana, father is the one who from time to time will slip us, from the apparently infinite resources of his labour and of his sometimes saturnine kindness, the unimagined wonder of a twenty-pound note or of a new bicycle or of a TV. As a rule, it will come as a surprise, and when you least expected it - and you realize that he has heard you talk about god knows how far back, and kept it in his mind. The average human's love for his/her father may not be as intense, as flesh-warm, as passionate, as that for the mother; but it is not less deep. He is the standard of value, the authority whose views are deferred to and whose statements are quoted. He is the first hero we look up to, and the first person in whom we have absolute confidence, even - strange mystery of the human soul - when we rebel against him.

Yes, there are men and women who fall short of this - even very far short. But this is what being a father, being a mother, means. And even those among fathers and mothers who fall far short of the ideal, still can call on us for a debt that cannot be repaid: they made us. Their will is the reason we are here. And in so far as they were father and mother at all, however little that may have been, to that extent they were those great and beloved figures. There is no other fatherhood or motherhood. And there is no human being who does not deserve one, or wish they had when they had not.

And in the course of normal, sane human life, the time comes when we can, if not repay them for what they have done for us - which is quite literally impossible - at least make manifest to them our gratitude and our love. It is when they are old; when they are weak; when they perhaps have regressed, and need - for the first time - our help. This is a privilege that life gives us: that in a forest of unpaid and unpayable obligations, of random events and people we meet once and never again, there are two people in the world to whom we can do something to repay what they have done for us. As a rule, we do not do enough. By the standards of what the average mother has done throughout her life, it would not be too much, when she is old and weak, to carry her around on your back, or, like Solon's two young men, pull her chariot like oxen. Luckily such shifts are rarely needed; but it certainly is our function, once our parents can no longer look after themselves, to look after them. What decent human being would think otherwise?

A Dutchman. A Dutchman would think otherwise. A Dutchman would think that the proper reward for the life his parents gave him is a bullet through the head, or rather, since that is what we are talking about, a lethal injection. A Dutchman would think that the proper reward is not to look after your father after his fourth heart attack, or your mother under advanced Parkinson's, but to let them die. Die with dignity, they call it.

Let us not even speak the base and disgusting reason behind ninety per cent of these displays of love - money; let us leave unmentioned the expense and time that it takes to look after a fragile old person who is never going to get better, because, truly, the only problem with him or her is old age - the weariness of years many of which were spent in your service. Let us assume that the Dutch really mean it, and do not lie like Dutchmen, when they say that what they really dread is the loss of dignity. Do you know what that means? Moral cowardice. It means not to be able to look at the horror of human life in the eye - the horror of illness, the horror of helplessness, the horror of dependency and exhaustion and pain and loss of control. It means taking death as an escape from these facts of life; and taking it, not for oneself, but for others - removing the object of horror from your sight, so that you do not have to be reminded that one day you, too, will be like this - trembling, helpless, weak, dribbling, blind, cold. It means killing people rather than be reminded that people must die. This is the noble, the elevated, the lofty principle of choice - that choice which begins when the doctor marks an old person down for the exit lounge, and ends when the old person, pestered and prodded by eager relatives and heartless medics, weary and sick and tired of life, or perhaps too far gone to understand, gives an extorted consent - and "dies with dignity."

As a Dutch citizen, [personal profile] dreamer_marie will, if her parents live long enough, be eventually asked to consent to their murder; this is certain. I hope that she has enough human left in her - to quote Hagrid - to tell the first, second and third person who make such a suggestion to go jump out the window; but what if she is so stuffed with the fraud of euthanasia to see what it is that she is consenting to? What if I am speaking with a person who, one day, will have her parents killed - because that is the way things are done where she comes from? Should I have been polite about it? Does anyone have such a vile idea of me as to expect me, for a minute, to be polite about it? Now that would be an insult.

And as for the horrendous cowardice of many Dutchmen in the matter of Hirsi Ali, I think it is directly connected. This nation has sold its soul. It has collectively signed its own death warrant, person by person. Each Dutchman or Dutchwoman who lives long enough will be eventually a candidate for the lethal injection. And it has done so on one promise, for one reason: for the promise of having, until the day it runs out, a "high quality of life" - life without stress, without chronic illness, without fear or trouble or hate. And just as those nations in which the relationship between parents and children is still sane will in fact fight for principles and justice and to defend the country, so, conversely, the intrusion of the violence and hatred of the outside world must seem, to the Dutch, the ultimate violation of their pact with the Devil. What, they have signed their own lives away - they have handed themselves body and soul to the State to decide how long they will live - and they cannot even be preserved from the intrusion of Islamic violence and the need to resist terrorism? No, no, no! Too horrible to contemplate. Drive out the cause of contention; drive out the person who draws the hatred with her; and let us hide away from other people's anger, and cradle the only thing that our Devil's pact has given us - that precious, all too precious quality of life.

This is what [personal profile] dreamer_marie defriended me rather than have to defend. Can you blame her? And do you see a pattern there?
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In the last few days, the Spanish State Police have been busy breaking up a gang of Spanish and Rumanian criminals who smuggled prostitutes into the kingdom. In the course of one raid, they retrieved an oldish looking violin.

It was one of about 500 known existing violins by the eighteenth-century maker Stradivari, and literally beyond price.
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Within a few days, and only a few weeks before the World Cup, two legendary former Italian soccer players have been arrested for serious criminal offences and the leading club has been caught cold manipulating refereeing to its own advantage. First, phone taps proved practically beyond doubt that management of Juventus, Italy's most successful club (owned by the Agnelli family, who also own FIAT) had connived with footballing authorities to fix the assignment of particular referees to particular matches, presumably for the purpose of obtaining the right results. Then, the legendary Welsh-born striker Giorgio Chinaglia, who won Lazio's only national title in 1972-73 and is still beloved by all the white-and-blue half of Rome (Lazio and Roma are Rome's two football teams, and obviously the city is split down the middle about them), was charged with fencing stolen goods (in practice, laundering dirty money) for the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia. (I now find that he was already being investigated for market rigging and insider trading on the Italian stock exchange.) And today Michele Padovano, a recent former player who had won several titles with - guess who - Juventus, was arrested along with 32 other people and charged with being a member of a gang smuggling hashish from Morocco. And this was not due to any kind of personal need or distress: as he was arrested, he was employed as director of sport for Alessandria, a respected second-division football club. I said long ago that Italian football was corrupt to the bone and that the best thing might be to let it go bankrupt. Now tell me I am wrong.


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