Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Burma-It is now or never.

According to the Irrawaddy "More than 100 monks in Pakokku Township in Burma’s Magwe Division marched in a peaceful demonstration through the town on Wednesday morning. The monks paraded through the streets chanting the “Metta Sutta” (the Buddha’s words on loving kindness). ...................." This provides clear cut evidence that resentment continues to smoulder.
The junta can kill people but not ideas.
The Burmese Government is finding it difficult to recruit adult soldiers. In addition large numbers are deserting. Increasingly the gaps are being filled by child soldiers as young as ten. Children are kidnapped by the military and forced to fight. It maintains its grip on power by brute force, torture and terror. The power structure is crumbling from within. The tyrants are at war with the people.
It is time for the younger officers in the Burmese army to rebel. There are indications that many of these officers are unhappy. They must put this tottering regime out of its misery.

The US and EU have imposed sanctions. Unfortunately China, India and Russia continue to support the Butchers of Rangoon. Without this support the regime would crumble.

Junta leaders must realise that eventually the guns will be turned on them. They may face a lynching as pent up resentment of the population seeks retribution. China India and Russia should offer political asylum to Burmese leaders as a means of transferring power to Aung San Suu Kyi.

Western nations should threaten to withdraw from the Beijing Olympics in 2008. In the unlikely event of this happening Western athletes participating could draw attention to China's activities in Burma by protesting at opening and closing ceremonies. This would certainly spoil the party for the Chinese.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Daily Kos and the Democratic Party

The Daily Kos is an American Liberal Blog which features activists who seek to influence and strengthen the Democratic Party. It wishes to push the Democratic party further and further to the Left. It launches withering attacks on the GOP.

The Daily Kos carries an article headed "A Simple Way To End The War On Terror". It is written by Yacka Jah Yacka. This is a brief excerpt ".....All in all, converting to Islam would be a small price to pay for an end to the killing and maiming of our sons and daughters, not to mention the billions of dollars we could put to better use than fighting this perpetual war.
So let’s do away with our religious pretences, adopt Islam as our new faith, add a few extra holidays to our calendar, and get down to the real business at hand: pumping oil....."

This is an indication of how far The Kos has drifted from the mainstream. The second annual gathering of the Daily Kos political blog at Chicago, was attended by five top Democratic presidential candidates including front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama. These politicians lacked the metal to stand up to left wing extremists.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rugby Union-Jake White may be the next English coach

According to World Cup-winning Springboks coach Jake White has started some astute lobbying for the international job he covets the most – the No 1 role with England................
Jake White has not reapplied for the position of coach of South Africa. Great credit is due to White who overcame a tempestuous relationship with the SARU to guide South Africa to victory in the World Cup. South Africa was successful in spite of the SARU.

South African rugby may be about to go into sharp decline. Political interference and attempts to impose racial quotas are the straw which may break the camels back.
We will now have a form of reverse discrimination against white players as politicians insist on a fixed quota of coloured players irrespective of ability. This is a recipe for stagnation and mediocrity. Some ANC leaders probably wish to destroy Rugby Union-a form of retribution for its former links to apartheid. These individuals live in cloud cuckoo land and are blinded by ideology and hatred. Perhaps they would like to drive out all whites and create a second Zimbabwe. South Africa needs white capital to develop the economy.

It is to Jake Whites credit that he stood up to political interference. The next coach will be more amenable to the wishes of politicians and may drive South African rugby over the cliff. A flood of the best white talent will head North driven out by racial hatred and the lure of a stable Sterling.
The portents are not good.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ireland-Provisional licence rules deferred until June 30th 2008

Minister Dempsey said on RTÉ's This Week programme that he was deferring the introduction of the accompanied driver provision until 30 June 2008. The original announcement-allowing provisional drivers four days to put alternatives in place- provided clear cut evidence that the Government was out of touch on this issue. The incipient revolt frightened the Minister and Government.This is a major blow for Noel Dempsey's leadership ambitions. Perhaps he should heed the following advice: Festina Lente.

Sir Anthony O'Reilly laments the lack of running rugby.

Sir Anthony O'Reilly in a fine article in Independent Online South Africa (© 2007 Independent Online. All rights strictly reserved) laments the lack or running rugby in the World Cup Final.

This is an excerpt from the article: ".................But there are other aspects that rugby should put in to place to solve this problem of penalty kicks winning matches, and games being dominated by kicking. To kick the ball away is now an accepted trend, surely an absurdity in the sport.As O'Reilly says: "William Webb Ellis was lauded not for picking the ball up, placing it on the ground, stopping the whole game and taking 60 seconds to kick it through a set of posts. Nor was he acclaimed for dropping a series of goals."He picked the ball up and ran with it.

We need to remember that fundamental point. Therefore, it seems to me, the points scoring needs to be changed. "The game today is a victim of the need for success at the expense of beauty and poetry within the sport. The World Cup final said it all. It was a slugathon. To have a final with no tries clearly points to the need to increase the value of a try. "You should be given six points if you score a try, while the value of the penalty goal and drop goal should be reduced to two points. People are playing for penalties now........................."

The Stellenbosch Laws are designed to address some of the problems and to free up the game. These evolved from trials with students at Stellenbosch University South Africa. SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby - which governs the Super 14) at the behest of the International Rugby Board (IRB) may agree to the use of the experimental law variations (ELVs). So far this year there have been trials in South Africa, Scotland, Australia and the New Zealand .
Major changes proposed include the following:
  • Downgrading most penalty offences to free-kicks .
  • Allowing handling in the ruck.
  • Backs must be 5m behind rear foot at scrum.
  • Removing corner flags.
  • Permitting defending teams to collapse rolling maul .
  • Ball cannot be passed back into 22 and kicked out on the full.

Since the advent of professionalism there is a greater emphasis on defence often under the influence of Rugby League coaches. The crash bang approach is spoiling the game as a spectacle. Amateur Rugby Union Internationals were usually more open and exciting. It is now time for change.

The Best of Mike Huckabee

Saturday, October 27, 2007

US-Mike Huckabee's support rises to 10% nationally

Yesterdays Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll shows Mike Huckabee at 10% nationally, his highest rating to date. Huckabee performed very strongly in the Fox News Orlando debate on Sunday night.

He is strongly anti abortion and is an authentic conservative. He is charismatic and a strong media performer. His campaign has suffered from a lack of funding. With sufficient funding he could be a dark horse. Online donations alone have topped $430,000.00 since Sunday's debate. However he needs millions more if he is to fulfil his potential. He is now securing endorsements. Actor Chuck Norris is the latest to announce his support for the Huckabee campaign. Given Huckabee’s progress in the polls, Rasmussen Reports will add his results to the daily tracking history table starting on Monday next.
  • Giuliani 21%
  • Thompson 19%
  • McCain 14%
  • Romney 12%
  • Huckabee 10%

The race for the Republican Party nomination is wide open.

Ireland-Red C Opinion Poll analysis

According to the Red C opinion poll in tomorrow's Sunday Business Post there is little change in the state of the political parties.
The telephone poll was taken on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This was before the provisional licence debacle and the controversy over Ministerial pay rises. The last poll was taken in September.

  • Fianna Fáil 39 % (-1%).

  • Fine Gael 27% (No change)

  • Labour 10% (-1%)

  • Greens 7% (No change)

  • Sinn Fein 8% (+2%)

  • PD 2% (-1%)

  • Ind/Others 7% (+1%)

All changes are within the statistical margin of error. PD support is abysmal. That party which has been reduced to two TDs appears to have no future at this juncture. The rise in Sinn Fein support is within the statistical margin of error and no firm conclusions can be drawn from the 2% rise. That party has been quiet since September has achieved little of note. The Greens stand at 7%. This is a honeymoon period for them. Much of that 7% is soft and will probably melt away as the Government implements unpopular public expenditure cuts.

A 1% drop for Labour is insignificant. Labour must wrest support from the Greens and Sinn Fein. FG has held firm at 27%. The party will be pleased with this outcome, as it appears to have held its General Election gains. The challenge for FG is to drive its support above the 30% mark. FG will be confident of mopping up Green middle class votes in the long term.The drop of 1% for FF is marginal. However it is down 3% on the General Election result.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ireland-Provisional Licence debacle

Once more Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey finds himself in the eye of a storm. He announced yesterday that all provisional drivers, including those on their second provisional, must be accompanied by a driver who has held a full licence for a minimum of two years.The penalties for breaching this are a fine of up to €1,000 and possible disqualification from driving. The same penalties will apply to provisional drivers who do not display an L-plate.
In principle this is a good idea. However it is impractical and unjust in the short term. The average waiting time for a driving test is eighteen weeks. Unfortunately waiting times of five months or more are not unknown.

Fine Gael Road Safety Spokesman Shane McEntee TD has called on the Government to implement provisional driving licence reforms only when the driving test backlog has been removed, as Martin Cullen argued when he was Transport Minister. Deputy McEntee said the Government had had ten years to implement an overhaul of the driving licence regime but is now telling 400,000 provisional licence holders they have just four days to comply with the new regulations.

"Noel Dempsey's proposals to reform the provisional driving licence regime are unworkable and unreasonable because they give drivers no time to make alternative arrangements, let alone take a driving test..."
This statement from Shane McEntee encapsulates the problem quite nicely.

Today Mr Dempsey has further compounded the problem and added to the confusion. He said today that although the law would come into effect next Tuesday, gardaí would take a measured approach to enforcement "using discretion and common sense as opposed to automatic prosecution".
This is a debacle from which the Minister may not recover.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ireland-Bertie strikes gold

The Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector has recommended that the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern should receive a pay rise of €38k. This will bring his annual salary to €310,000. This makes him one of the best paid leaders in world politics.

It is interesting to compare the salaries of some world leaders:
  • Angela Merkel (German Chancellor) €311,778
  • Bertie Ahern (Ireland) €310,000
  • George W Bush (USA) €284,000
  • Gordon Brown (UK) €268,000
  • John Howard (Australia) €206,000

The Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector has further recommended that around 1600 senior staff including Ministers and Junior Ministers, the judiciary, top gardaí and heads of Government departments and state agencies should receive average increases of 7.3% The total cost of the increases will be around €16m a year.

Minister for Finance Brian Cowen has begun to slash public expenditure which is rising at a rate of 13%. Reductions in front line services at hospitals is further fueling hostility to the Government. There are indications that benchmarking will disappoint many public servants. The inflation rate of 4% remains stubbornly high. Unemployment has begun to rise. This Government has entered choppy waters. These rises will inflame public opinion.

The Taoiseach's salary of €310,000 should certainly add an edge to the leadership ambitions of several Cabinet Ministers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ireland 32nd in latest FIFA world rankings

No surprise that the Republic of Ireland lies becalmed at 32nd in the FIFA rankings. Since the draw against Cyprus a form of hysteria has gripped the Irish soccer world. Some of the criticism meted out to Steve Staunton is unwarranted.

Much of the support for the Republic's soccer team is propelled on a wave of self delusion. There is the mistaken belief amongst the majority of supporters that Ireland is a major soccer power. It is nothing of the sort. It is time to face some facts.
Ireland has never won a major soccer competition at adult level. David O'Leary's penalty in the 1990 World Cup and Pakie Bonner's save against Timofte are replayed ad nauseam on RTE. People still talk about the glorious failure of 1990.

Increasingly club soccer is challenging International soccer for preeminence. The clubs pay the players wages. Naturally enough players feel a greater loyalty towards their clubs. It is in their interests to avoid injuries in Internationals. This explains why strong soccer nations such as Spain often fail to fulfil their potential at International level and may even lose to weaker teams.
On some occasions Irish teams may defeat stronger international sides. The Internationals showcase the talents of Irish players playing in the lower divisions in England. Sterling international performances may result in a contract with a Premier Division side. So generally Irish players are more highly motivated than opponents who already have good contracts with their clubs.

There is the flawed assumption that Ireland has an abundance of highly talented young players . There are few young players of exceptional talent in Ireland.It was noticeable in the recent International against Cyprus that many of the Cypriot players had superior ball skills.
Irish soccer needs a dose of realism.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fine Gael Introduces A Private Members Motion On Food Labelling In The Dail This Evening

In a move which has got little media attention Fine Gael is introducing a motion in the Dail this evening to bring in comprehensive food labelling legislation. This move is welcome. For some strange reason Irish consumers expect to secure cheap food in perpetuity. To produce cheap food it is often necessary to import lower quality raw materials than the indigenous product.
In Ireland there is a tendency among consumers to adopt a cavalier attitude to food safety until some health scare emerges.

Fine Gael MEPs Avril Doyle and Colm Burke have called on Mr Kyprianou the EU Health Commissioner to act immediately to protect consumers.
"I am convinced that there is a serious argument and sound scientific case for banning Brazilian beef imports due to the lack of traceability, the availability of veterinary medicines without prescription, and the risk of the use of growth hormones," Ms Doyle said.

According to FG Agriculture spokesman Michael Creed:
"There are inadequacies in the Irish labelling regime and we are attempting to force Government action through a Private Members' Motion in the Dáil this evening. One important issue is a loophole in our labelling laws known as 'substantial transformation' which means that meat which is imported into this country and which undergoes minimal processing, such as the addition of breadcrumbs or seasoning, can be labelled as Irish.

"Government Ministers in the Departments of Health and Agriculture must get their act together to bring in the relevant legislation to protect consumers and support the economically and socially important agri-food sector. The Minister has claimed that legislation is forthcoming but both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste have confirmed to me in the Dáil that no such legislation is promised in the near future.

"It is not acceptable for the Government to keep this issue on the back burner when food safety, transparency and traceability are of massive public concern. We are calling on the Government to act urgently to protect consumers and the agri-food industry and we will support the introduction of comprehensive legislation at the earliest opportunity."

Thankfully one Irish political party is taking this issue seriously.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Orlando Debate- Republican Party candidates emphasise conservative credentials

The Republican Party debate held at Orlando and carried on Fox News was superb with candidates determined to stake our clear cut positions on a wide variety of issues. Each candidate stressed his conservative credentials.

Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson appeared under least pressure on this issue. Both are conservative by conviction and deed. Mike Huckabee is a rising star and oozes talent and confidence. Giuliani was challenged strongly in relation to sanctuary cities and abortion. He tried to turn the tables on Thompson. He was unsuccessful eventhough he stressed his own achievements in controling crime and reducing taxes in New York.

Mitt Romney performed quite strongly as did John Mc Cain. Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo had a solid grasp of the issues. It is unlikely either will make a breakthrough. Ron Paul has no hope of the nomination. The following reference to Hillary Clinton is particularly memorable:"She hasn't run a corner store. She hasn't run a state. She hasn't run a city. She has never run anything," Mitt Romney asserted in a typical comment. "And the idea that she could learn to be president, you know, as an internship just doesn't make any sense." Romney is a master wordsmith.

In conclusion there was an edge and an absence of fudge in the debate. This is in marked contrast to Democratic debates where Clinton appears unable to articulate clear cut positions on issues. Many of her statements lack conviction. Statements are frequently woolly and designed minimise risk of loss of votes at all costs.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ireland-Sunday Independent savages Cowen once more.

The Sunday Independent appears to have a major problem with Brian Cowen. Prior to the General Election it flailed him mercilessly on the issue of Stamp Duty. It then swung in strongly behind FF in the three weeks prior to the election.

The attacks on Cowen have recommenced. Jody Corcoran today in a front page article calls him a "doom and gloom" merchant. Cowen expects a growth rate of 3.5% in the economy whilst NCB brokers expect a 5.5% growth rate. The Stamp Duty issue appears to be at the root of the attack.

When Cowen speaks he has the support of the cabinet including the Taoiseach. He is expressing the Governments view and not just his own. FF is now laying the ground work for the 2012 General Election.

There will be sharp cuts in public expenditure. Within three years the Government will once more have the wherewithal to loosen the purse strings. Public expenditure will once more rocket in the lead in to the 2012 election. A grateful electorate-suffering another dose of amnesia- will once more return FF. That is the FF expectation.

Prior to the 2002 General Election FF allowed public expenditure to spiral out of control. Having won the election Charlie McCreevy slashed public expenditure and introduced a raft of Stealth Taxes. By 2005 the Government was flush with cash. The purse strings were opened and public expenditure reached 13% in 2007. The Government duly won the election. After all the Irish people have short memories. The FF/PD/Green government is now about to adopt the same approach as was used after the 2002 General Election.

The Sunday Independent also carries a front page headline-"State Waste of €10bn in 10 years." FF led Governments are responsible for this. Why did the Sunday Independent support the outgoing FF/PD government?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

South Africa wins Rugby World Cup Final

In a dour but compelling contest South Africa defeated England. There was an awesome display of forward power on both sides. The game featured much high kicking also. The Springboks line out was superb. Nevertheless South Africa failed to score a try. Ferocious tackling by England kept them out.

Mark Cueto crossed the line for England but television match official — Australian Stuart Dickinson- decided that Cueto's knee grazed the touchline as he dived over.

Best for South Africa were: Victor Matfield, Percy Montgomery, Francois Steyn, Butch James, John Smit and Bakkies Botha . Os du Randt at 36 years deserves special mention. He is probably finest loose head prop of all time.

English players to a man gave it their best shot and lost no caste in defeat. All in all a fantastic effort by the Red Rose.

Springboks coach Jake White may now coach either Australia or New Zealand.

Part 1: Waterford vs Cork, Munster Championship 2007

Dynamic Dan Shanahan on top of the hurling world

Congrats to Dan Shanahan who - last night- was selected as Hurler of the Year. The Waterford scoring machine certainly set the championship on fire with some stunning goals and points. Thankfully Dan has kept his feet on the ground and is a fantastic role model for young hurlers not alone in Co. Waterford but also throughout the country. Surely the GAA could usefully employ Dan's talents in the coaching sphere throughout Munster. Even in Dublin Dan has a huge fan base amongst young sports enthusiasts. Hopefully the GAA authorities will exploit Dan's potential to promote the greatest field game in the world.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bush Imposes New Sanctions on Burma

According to VOA President Bush is imposing additional sanctions against Burma's government and wants China and India must do more to pressure Burma's military rulers......................
Mr. Bush sanctioned most of the top military commanders in Burma last month after at least ten people were killed when security forces opened fire on the largest demonstrations in decades.
The new measures freeze U.S. assets of another eleven members of the military government, tighten export controls to Burma, and allow the U.S. Treasury Department greater authority to sanction those responsible for human rights abuses and public corruption.
"Business as usual is unacceptable," said President Bush. "So I applaud the efforts of the European Union and nations like Australia that have announced targeted sanctions on the Burmese regime."
"I commend nations such as Japan that have curtailed their assistance in response to the atrocities. I appreciate nations such as Singapore, and the Philippines, and Indonesia who have spoken out against the atrocities," he added.
The European Union this week decided to impose an import embargo on timber, gems and precious metals from Burma..............................
Comment: President Bush who has shipped heavy criticism on the Iraq issue has certainly laid down a marker on Burma. For this he deserves much credit. Similarly pressure from the EU Japan and Australia is most welcome.

Unfortunately the irresponsible attitude of China, India and Russia undermines efforts to remove the junta. China has neutered the UN Security Council on this issue through a cynical use of the veto. It is time to reform the Security Council and remove China from permanent membership. After all he who pays the piper calls the tune. The largest contributors to the UN are the US, Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy in that order. The US contributes $423 million, Japan contributes $332 million but China only contributes $35 million. This miserable $35 million contribution is sufficient to render The UN powerless on Burma. No wonder the junta leaders are impervious to realism. Japan should replace China on the Security Council. It is time for the UN to ignore China.

Strangely there is a reluctance to threaten a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. It is now or never.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ireland-All Stars Hurling Team

1 Brian Murray (Limerick)2 Michael Kavanagh (Kilkenny)3 Declan Fanning (Tipperary)4 Jackie Tyrell (Kilkenny)5 Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny)6 Ken McGrath (Waterford)7 Tony Browne (Waterford)8 Michael Walsh (Waterford)9 James Fitzpatrick (Kilkenny)10 Dan Shanahan (Waterford)11 Ollie Moran (Limerick)12 Stephen Molumphy (Waterford)13 Andrew O'Shaughnessy (Limerick)14 Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny)15 Eddie Brennan (Kilkenny)

The county breakdown reads: Kilkenny (6), Waterford (5), Limerick (3), Tipperary (1).
The selection is nicely balanced and from a Waterford point of view most satisfying. Hopefully Ken McGrath will recover from a career threatening injury. There are seven first time winners.Brian Murray (Limerick), Declan Fanning (Tipperary), Jackie Tyrrell (Kilkenny), Michael Walsh (Waterford), Ollie Moran (Limerick), Stephen Molumphy (Waterford).

No doubt counties such as Cork Galway and Wexford will feel disappointment. The selectors appear to have opted for the best players irrespective of geographical location. This is a welcome development as in previous years there was the suspicion of tokenism.

God Help The Middle Class if Hillary Clinton is elected President

Hillary Clinton is all things to all men. She has an Agenda For Working Families. There will be Retirement Security, Scientific Integrity and Innovation, a Health Choices Plan and a Progressive Economic Policy.
Each speech is tailored to suit the demands of her audience- a mish mash of generalisations, half-truths and aspirations. The US will become an economic Valhalla if Hillary is elected. A Socialist Utopia.

As a Socialist Hillary’s half-baked economic policies smack of Voodoo economics. "Hillarycare” in 1993/1994 is a graphic illustration of her incompetence. She will sharply increase the tax on capital gains from the current 15 percent to at least 25%. She will probably increase the tax rate on dividends by 100%. She refused to rule out a big increase in Social Security (FICA) taxes. The list goes on and on.....So far she has managed to skilfully conceal her plans for tax increases, which are built into her economic, and health policies. But for how long.

Bill Clinton promised big tax cuts to the middle class. They never materialised. The message to the Middle Class is clear: Beware of a Clinton Presidency. Hillary will attempt to buy you with your money.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ireland-Health Service Executive is a bureaucracy which must be reformed

During Dáil Questions today (Wednesday), the Minister for Health admitted that the number of Grade Eight Middle Managers in the health service had grown by 37% and said she hoped there was scope for voluntary redundancies, according to Fine Gael Health Spokesperson, Dr James Reilly TD. Dr Reilly highlighted the plight of patients awaiting admission to the National Rehabilitation Hospital which cannot now discharge patients because of the health cutbacks.

Interesting to note the use of the word hope by the Minister. The Minister has expressed no concern for frontline staff laid off. No talk of voluntary redundancies for them. No concern for the patients. What are her proposals to halt this madness?

As Minister for Health, Mary Harney must take hard decisions to reduce administrative costs of the HSE. The HSE bureaucratic monster was established by the last FF/PD government to streamline the health service. It could shelter the FF/PD politicians from the backlash which would inevitably occur when hospital closures and cutbacks occurred. Whilst front line services are being cut in places such as Sligo,top executives may get bonuses of around €20,000. The number of Grade Eight Middle Managers has grown by 37% . Can she justify this? Of course not.

The Health Minister is unwilling to admit that patients will be affected by Government-sanctioned health cutbacks. With the onset of Winter the crisis is likely to escalate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sir Menzies Campbell forced to resign in Lib-Dem bloodletting.

The Lib-Dems have long sought to portray themselves as somehow different and superior to the Conservatives and Labour. However when it comes to dispatching leaders they are just as cold blooded and ruthless as Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell will testify.

With the Conservative revival under David Cameron it was inevitable that the Lib-Dem vote would be squeezed. Certainly 11% in the polls bodes ill for the party in the next election. Lib Dem problems go deeper than the leadership issue. There is tension between the Left Wing and Right Wing. There is a lack of a clear cut identity. The party is usually a temporary abode for disaffected Conservative and Labour voters. Efforts to replace Charles Kennedy were clouded in controversy and farce as some leadership campaigns imploded. This was grist to the mill of party enemies who have long argued that the Lib-Dems are amateurish and out of touch with the main stream. The party has not recovered from the loss of Charles Kennedy. The ugly whispering campaign against Sir Menzies Campbell has further damaged the organisation. The reality is that he was dispatched by the men in white coats. It is nauseating to listen to the tributes paid to him by some Liberals. It smacks of hypocrisy.

The new leader will probably come from one of the following four MPs: Vincent Cable, Nick Clegg, Edward Davey and Chris Huhne. The Lib-Dems need a clear cut identity and an end to bloodletting.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dr Muravchik in staunch defence of US foreign policy on Newstalk FM

This morning Karen Coleman conducted a fascinating interview -with neoconservative Dr Muravchik-on US foreign policy.

Dr. Muravchik made a strong defence of US foreign policy.
He stated that it led to the defeat of Nazism , Fascism and Soviet Communism. Certainly the arms race which formed the cornerstone of Ronald Reagan's foreign policy helped bankrupt the Soviet economy and probably led to the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.
He argued that with the weakness of the UN, US strength,generosity and self interest helped to prevent a Third World War. He stated that -depending on your point of view- we were either in the midst of a war on terror or in the initial stages. He stated that after 9/11 the US decided to wage war on terrorists. This fight back is making the war more intense.

He stressed that when -US invaded Iraq -that it was at war with Saddam Hussein but not with the Iraqi people. He agreed that the war in Iraq had not gone well but predicted that- if there were not a premature withdrawal of US troops -the world would be a safer place.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rugby World Cup-England rise phoenix like from the ashes and shock France

In a dour game devoid of much quality Rugby England defeated France. Two weeks ago Brian Ashton and his players were the subject of biting sarcasm and criticism for an insipid performance against South Africa. Now the team has got its act together and each game shows an improvement in performance over the preceding one.

Tonight England played to its strengths and utilised its forward power to the full. English players exploited the leniency of referee Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa) by consistently turning the ball over illegally and playing offside. France with a strong pack and a more talented back division blew the game. Les Bleus consistently chose the wrong option when close to the English line. Brian Ashton won the tactical battle.

England is almost entirely dependent on forward power and the boot of Wilkinson. This may not be sufficient against South Africa or Argentina in a World Cup Final. Great credit is due to an ageing team which is brimful of experienced players and is battle hardened. Brian Ashton's team cannot be ruled out. South Africa are now favourites to win the competition. The underdog tag will suit England fine.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Burma-UN Security Council in a shameful abdication of responsibility

The UN Security Council has “strongly deplored” the use of violence by the military junta against peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators. In a compromise wishy-washy statement, the Council called for “genuine dialogue” between the Burmese junta and Opposition, including detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But the formula of words was much watered down from the one proposed by the United States, Britain and France after opposition from Russia and China. It reeks of insincerity.

According to the statement “The Security Council strongly deplores the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators in Burma.” The statement also emphasised “the importance of the early release of all political prisoners and remaining detainees”. The US and others endeavoured without success to include the word condemn in the statement and sought the immediate release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi. China and Russia refused to accept the word condemn so this was replaced in the statement with the words “strongly deplore”. A reference to “immediate release” of political prisoners was dropped.

The milk and watery statement is a graphic illustration of the relative powerlessness of the UN Security Council. It could not even condemn the slaughter and brutality in Burma. Russia and China have combined to protect the butchers of Rangoon. The junta can continue the crack down on the pro democracy group happy in the knowledge that its worst excesses will go unpunished in the short term. The UN is a toothless tiger. It is a waste of tax payers money. Russia and China continually abuse the veto at the UN and allow war criminals in Burma and Darfur to murder and torture with impunity.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Burma crisis-Shatter and Higgins condemn Government and EU

Today in the Dail, Deputies Alan Shatter (FG) and Michael D Higgins (Lab) condemned the lack of Irish government and EU activity on the Burmese crisis. Their condemnation is justified.
UK Socialist MEP Glenys Kinnock has said that the EU commitment to human rights will be questioned if foreign ministers 'backtrack' on Burma next week.
Kinnock urged EU governments to support Burma's pro democracy movement and called for stronger sanctions on imports of gems timber and metals. She also said that an investment ban should not be ruled out.
Unfortunately the international response is too little too late. The UN Security Council-constrained by Russian and Chinese objections - has been pussyfooting around the issue. The brutality of the junta has gone unpunished. The reign of terror continues. Is there any politician of stature on the world stage who would propose a military force and ensure that such a force came into being? A ban on investment in Burma by EU and US companies is a sine qua non if the junta is to be removed from power. Of course Chinese and Russian companies might try to fill the vacuum.
In summary severe sanctions, a ban on investment by EU and US companies, and a threat of military intervention by the international community might serve to concentrate the minds of junta leaders. Unfortunately sanctions may be a double edged sword and might impact too severely on some of the poorer elements in Burmese society. This is a risk which must be taken.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Suu Kyi ally dies in Myanmar after torture, says rights group

As the UN Security Council- because of the Chinese opposition- has failed to ensure an adequate international response to the monsters of Rangoon, pro democracy groups are more and more dependent international news organs to highlight murder and torture. Unfortunately the media is now beginning to avert its gaze and move onto the next crisis. The brutal regime in Burma is busy subjugating the pro democracy groups by murder rape and torture happy in the knowledge that in general international attention is no longer sharply focused on the country.
Fortunately some media groups continue to expose the corrupt regime's activities. AFP carries the following story:
Win Shwe, a 42-year-old member of the opposition National League for Democracy, was arrested on September 26 near Myanmar's second city of Mandalay, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said in a statement.
He was held along with four other people for joining anti-government protests led by Buddhist monks in Mandalay.
"He died as a result of torture during interrogation. However, his body was not sent to his family and the interrogators indicated that they had cremated it instead," the Thailand-based watchdog said.
AAPP is run by former political prisoners who now live in exile in neighbouring Thailand. The group monitors conditions in Myanmar's notorious prisons.......

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ireland-Reserve Defence Force should act as Coastal Watch on Drug Smuggling - Stanton

Cork East FG TD David Stanton has long been recognised as a very able public representitive and creative thinker. He has now turned his attention to the problem of drug smuggling along the Irish coast.

The coastline of the Republic Ireland is 5100 kilometers long. Policing this is a nightmare .The bays and harbours and coves in the South West and West provide favourable terrain for drug smugglers. Drug seizures by the authorities are probably only the tip of the iceberg.
The following is the text of a press release from Fine Gael:

Fine Gael East Cork TD, David Stanton, said today (Tuesday) that with vast amount of drugs being smuggled ashore in Ireland, especially in remote areas, the Reserve Defence Force, formerly the FCA, should be used as a coastal watch.
Deputy Stanton made his proposal in the Dáil last week to the Minister for Defence and received a response that it would be discussed with the appropriate authorities.
"4,731 Reserve Defence Force personnel took part in annual training to date this year according to a response made in the Dail to me by the Defence Minister.
"This is a massive untapped resource and, if a fraction of these soldiers were used around our coast in remote areas to keep watch and to alert the Gardai to suspicious activities, a blow could be struck in the fight against drug smuggling. Using the Army Reserves for such a task, I believe, would be helpful in uncovering smuggling activities that are undoubtedly going on and would also act as a deterrent to such activities in the long run.
"Appropriate training would have to be given to the soldiers and their role would be strictly to observe and to report to the Gardaí. Such intelligence that might be gathered would be of immense use in the fight against drugs being smuggled into the State at remote locations.
"I am delighted that the Minister has agreed to discuss my suggestion with the authorities and I look forward to a further report from the Minister on the matter."

Monday, October 8, 2007

EU must ban Brazilian beef imports.

According to Farming Life "ANGER at news that the Brazilian government is seeking even more time to get its house in order on traceability has been expressed by Irish Cattle and Sheep Association beef chairman, Robin Smith.
Reports indicate that Brazilian Agriculture Minister, Reinhold Stephanes, is travelling to meet with the European Union this month to seek more time (beyond the end of the year) to conclude the implementation of their traceability system, known as Sisbov. "ICSA cannot believe that any more time can be given to the Brazilians – they are due an FVO inspection on November 5, and either they have things right or they don't. "If, after many years off broken promises on animal traceability, they still can't get it right, then it would be an outrage and highly negligent if the EU bails them out once again,'' said Mr Smith.................

The EU Commission has imposed stringent regulations on traceability for farmers within the community. This is laudable and in the interests of the consumer. Unfortunately the Commission is adopting a different approach to Brazilian Beef imports. Whilst all cattle in Europe must be individually identified from birth, retain two ear tags throughout their life and have all movements recorded on a central computer database Brazil fails to meet this requirement.

In addition the rain forests are cleared with slave labour. According to the Telegraph "In remote areas where Brazil's forest is being hacked out of the way for cattle grazing, David Ismail, a Perthshire farmer found conditions among the homeless labourers and their employers "like the worst scenes in apartheid". He said: "I was shocked when I found how the growth into Europe of Brazilian beef was causing so many problems in Brazil."

His report says that illiterate, landless labourers, housed in shacks, were deprived of medical assistance and sometimes chained to trees. The labourers, mostly from the poor north-east, are brought in to cut down the forest of central Brazil with rough tools and are unpaid, bullied, brutalised and sometimes shot. They are promised high wages, only to find that their board and rations exceed what they are paid.
The workers are described within Brazil as slaves. The Ministry of Labour's Special Anti-Slavery Enforcement Team, set up to hunt down some of the world's last true slaves, managed to release 11,946 of these individuals between 2000 and 2004...."

The EU Commission is complicit in the destruction of the rain forests-a major contributory factor to global warming. It appears to have turned a blind eye to slavery on cattle ranches in Brazil. It does not insist on the same level of traceability for Brazilian farmers as EU farmers. It stands indicted by EU consumers and farmers.

It is concerned with opening up the Brazilian market to European industrialists. As a quid pro quo European agriculture is to be sacrificed on the altar of political and commercial expediency.

Brazilian beef imports must be banned until such time as the same levels of traceability obtain in Brazil as in EU countries.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Rugby World Cup-New Zealand in despair after defeat by France

Today New Zealanders woke up to the realisation that an elusive World Cup victory is out of reach for four more years.
Headlines in Stuff.Co.NZ (carried below) convey an appalling sense of gloom and despair. Graham Henry and the players and coaching staff face a firestorm of criticism. Henry will be consigned to the dustbin of New Zealand Rugby history notwithstanding the fact that he is an outstanding coach.
In addition the outflow of star players to France and England is a threat to New Zealand dominance in the Southern Hemisphere. However it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise as new talent is thrown in at the deep end. This talent would have four years to establish itself. The All Blacks host the 2011 World Cup. This in itself is probably a double edged sword. Pressure to succeed at home may be overbearing. However if channeled correctly it might propel the All Blacks to victory.

All Blacks plead for mercy
Heartbroken Richie admits – French rattled us
Our darkest hour - ever!
History repeats for Kelleher: The pain is chronic
Haka inspires French
Nightmare continues: ABs fried by French
It ain't all bad!
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Only the French cheering in NZ
Our Gods fall to earth
French guillotine hovers over Henry's future

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rugby World Cup-France poleaxe New Zealand, England defeat Australia.

Today was a day of shocks in the World Cup. In the first game England surprised Australia with an awesome display of forward power.

The Aussie front row has long been the Achilles Heel of the team. Today England exploited this weakness to the full. Englands forwards starved the Aussie backs of possession. Andrew Sheridan Nick Easter and Lewis Moody and Simon Shaw were outstanding whilst Jonny Wilkinson and Andy Gomarsall were a thorn in the side of the Wallabies. Andrew Sheridan was man of the match. Chris Latham Stirling Mortlock and Lote Tuqiri were best for Australia. Englands biggest weakness is the lack of creativity amongst its backs.

In the second game France stunned New Zealand. In the first half the French tactics of just kicking the ball into the New Zealand half played into the All Blacks hands by conceding possession. The French line -out was poor. In the second half Les Bleus varied tactics and kept the ball in hand more and spread the ball to the wings . This stretched the All Blacks. Luke McAlister was sin binned for an off-the-ball tackle. In those ten minutes France scored ten points. This was one of the turning points of the game. Bernard Laporte's use of the bench played a major role in fashioning this victory. That the French defence withstood the New Zealand onslaught is a tribute to coach Dave Ellis.

Why did New Zealand lose this game?
  • Excessive pressure on coach and players in New Zealand creates a mental block.
  • New Zealand won its group without one hard game. France was battle hardened in the Group of Death.
  • Possibly the failure to select Chris Jack and Aaron Mauger.
  • Too many All Black players are heading to France and England after the World Cup. This is undoubtedly a distraction.
There will certainly be much soul searching in New Zealand and Australia over the next few months. Australia must find good forwards. New Zealand must find some way of overcoming a mental block where the World Cup is concerned.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Burma-International community fails pro democracy movement

The UN Security Council has once more displayed its powerlessness in the face of tyranny. Ibrahim Gambari, addressing the U.N. Security Council after a four-day visit to Myanmar said that the Burmese government must recognize that what happened there "can have serious international repercussions." Interesting to note the use of the word can. This illustrates clearly the ineffectiveness and relative powerlessness of the UN. Once more China has intervened to protect the junta. China opposes the sanctions on the basis that that the measures will impact on the population more than the government. This is a cop out. It is not in the least concerned with human rights violations in Burma once its economic interests are protected. The same applies to India and Russia.
China and Russia are major obstacles to world peace and are neutralising the UN Security Council through the use of the veto.

Detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party dismissed the Burmese junta's offer of talks as a surrender demand on Friday. Her steely determination is an inspiration to all who seek justice There is an interesting contrast between her approach and that of the
lily-livered leaders of China and Russia.

The obduracy of the Junta is buttressed by the support it is receiving from China and Russia. It is time for the international community to boycott the Beijing Olympics of 2008. The international outcry at the brutality of the junta has been negatived by the absence of worthwhile action by the major powers to cripple the tyrants of Rangoon.
Citizens in the US and EU countries must keep up the pressure on their governments to take meaningful action to remove the Butchers of Rangoon.

Abortion-Hillary Clinton tries to have her cake and eat it

Hillary Clinton is "Seeking Shared Ground Over Abortions," according to the front page of the New York Times. "Hillary in the middle on values issues," announces the Washington Times.
So Hillary Clinton is in the middle on value issues and is seeking shared ground on the abortion issue is she?
Hillary has spoken clearly about the necessity to respect such landmark Supreme Court decisions as Roe v. Wade. There is no middle ground on the abortion issue. You either respect the right to life of the unborn child -in the mothers womb- or not. Clinton has embarked on a complex strategy founded on a formula of words to somehow convey the impression that that she is not at all in favour of abortion.
Clinton scores 100% by NARAL on her pro-abortion voting record . That is the real Hillary Clinton . Clinton is endorsed by EMILY's list, a pro-abortion political action committee:
EMILY’s List operates as a donor network and recommends pro-abortion Democratic women candidates to its members. She Voted NO on criminal penalty for harming unborn foetus during other crime. In April 2007 Clinton criticised the Supreme Court's Gonzales v. Carhart ruling that upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. She would nominate pro-abortion judges to the Supreme Court.
She has said "I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion" Nonsense. If you are pro choice you support the provision of facilities to abort the unborn. There is no "common ground on this issue". There is no middle way.
Hillary Clinton is the master of subterfuge on the abortion issue.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Fox News- Fred and Jeri Thompson interview on Hannity and Combes is a huge success

Fred and Jeri Thompson-together with their two young children- made a very impressive debut on Hannity and Combes. Sean Hannity was the interviewer.
Jeri is the perfect foil to Fred.
She explained how they met in line at a grocery store. Both emphasised the centrality of their two children in their lives. We get a picture of a happy family which is attractive to GOP voters and Independents and conservative Democrats. Jeri was quite shrewd in her pronouncements and avoided any personal attacks on political opponents. Instead she emphasised the plight of poor women in countries such as Afghanistan and the necessity for those women to have equal rights. She spoke most eloquently.

Fred spoke of his desire to make the world a better place for his children and for the next generation. He stressed his conservative credentials by mentioning the necessity for sound finances. He said that we must not eat the seed corn. He spoke of his determination to contain terrorism.

He came across as someone with strong conservative beliefs-in short a conviction politician who will not be deflected by criticism. This is in marked contrast to Hillary Clinton who flip flops on a regular basis.

In March Focus on the Family founder James Dobson had criticised Fred by saying "I don't think he is a Christian". Last night Thompson stated “I’m not going to dance to anyone’s tune.”
He said that he was very happy in his relationship with God.

This interview should boost Fred Thompson's poll ratings. He is a strong candidate who would more than match Hillary Clinton in debate. His innate conservatism is more attractive than Hillary's Socialism and flip flops.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Burmese Government Continues Campaign of Fear and Repression

This report in its entirety is taken from VOA. Further comment is superfluous.
The military government in Burma continues its campaign of fear and repression against its citizenry as the world waits for a report from U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari. He met with Burma's military leaders and detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, following violent suppression of pro-democracy protests in Burma last week. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

Ibrahim Gambari (L) with Myanmar's Senior Gen. Than Shwe (2L), and other leaders after a meeting in capital Naypyidaw, 02 Oct 2007Reports of soldiers in military trucks looking for pro-democracy protesters, going into homes and arresting people filtered out of Burma's largest city Rangoon, as the military government continued to quash dissent against its harsh 45-year rule.
Meanwhile, U.N. special envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari briefed Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about his four-day visit to Burma where he met twice with detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and once with Burma's military ruler General Than Shwe.
The Singapore prime minister said it was encouraged by the access and cooperation given to Gambari by the Burmese government. He had been sent by the United Nations to express the world's outrage over the violent crackdown and to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Adding to the international chorus of condemnation was Australian Ambassador to the United Nations Robert Hill.

"We call for the immediate release of those arrested for exercising their fundamental human rights to peaceful protest and for humane treatment of all those detained," said Hill. "Australia is also introducing targeted financial measures against members of the Burmese regime and its supporters to increase pressure on them to engage in genuine political reform and national reconciliation."

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, currently chaired by Singapore, has been seeking ways to respond to the repression in Burma. In an unusually sharp rebuke, it expressed "revulsion" over member Burma's actions last week.
A Singapore government statement said Prime Minister Lee told Gambari that ASEAN is fully behind the U.N. mission.

Gambari, who has refused to comment publicly on his mission, was in Singapore on his way to New York where he will brief the U.N. secretary general later this week.
A steep hike in fuel prices prompted protests against military rule in August that turned into massive demonstrations last month led by Burma's revered clergy.
The government responded by shooting, beating, killing and arresting monks, students, and civilians.

Rights groups fear the official figure of 10 dead during the crackdown is much higher, and put the number of arrests in the thousands.
Independent verification is difficult because foreign journalists are not allowed to enter the country.

Ireland- Eamon OCuiv breaks with Government policy as HSE lurches from crisis to crisis

Speaking on Newstalk Government Minister Eamon O Cuiv has described the Health Service Executive as an "impossible organisation to deal with".
Yesterday the Taoiseach said it must control its overspending.
The HSE is over budget by more than 200 million euro already this year and is now admitting that its recruitment freeze has led to a number of procedures being cancelled, despite assurances that the move would not affect patient services.

Eamon O Cuiv was a member of the FF/PD Government which set up the HSE. At its launch we were promised a streamlined and efficient health service- fit for the 21st century. The HSE has developed into a bureaucratic monster gobbling up tax payers money. Pressure is increasing on front line staff such as doctors and nurses as administration eats up available funds. Waiting lists are stubbornly high.
The HSE is an unmitigated disaster. It was established to shield the Government from unpalatable decisions such as the closing and down grading of hospitals. When hospitals are downgraded FF TDs blame the HSE. The HSE is an agent of the state and is implementing FF/PD/Green party policy on health by stealth. Eamon OCuiv wishes to have his cake and eat it. If he disagrees fundamentally from Government policy he should resign from the cabinet. Is he suggesting that the Health Boards should be re-established?
The Health Boards had defects but they served as a useful vehicle for the articulation of local concerns on health. They have been replaced by an even bigger bureaucratic monster.
Richard Bruton TD of Fine Gael is correct when he compares the HSE to bureaucracies prevalent in Marxist countries.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ireland-Church of Ireland bishop lashes failure to introduce abortion legislation

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Ossory, Right Rev Michael Burrows has attacked the "the systemic spinelessness" of politicians in failing to enact abortion legislation in the wake of the X case. Thankfully FG and FF strongly oppose such legislation. There is not one word from the Bishop about the right to life of the unborn child. Therein lies the problem for the world wide Anglican Communion. Increasingly Anglicans have sought to trim their Christian beliefs to accommodate the increasing secularism in Western Society. This path will lead to the destruction of Anglicanism.

There can be no accommodation between Liberalism and Christianity on the abortion issue.The systemic spinelessness-in relation to abortion-lies within some elements of the Anglican Communion not within the political system in Ireland. The vitality of the Anglican Church is being sapped by an insidious liberalism which ensures the church incapable of taking a firm stand on the abortion issue.

Dr Audrey Dillon of the Pro-Life Campaign said:"there is nothing 'hypocritical and ostrich- like' about seeking as a society to respect the dignity and humanity of the unborn child while at the same time putting supports in place to assist women in crisis pregnancy".
Any attempt to introduce limited abortion in Ireland would be the thin edge of the wedge. It must be firmly resisted.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Burma -Massacre Of The Monks

The following is an excerpt from a shocking report which appears in Australia's largest selling daily newspaper the Herald Sun:
A SENIOR Burmese intelligence official claims thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle.
After defecting from the military junta and fleeing to the Thai border, Hla Win told a reporter from London's Daily Mail: "Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand."
The horrific details emerged as Burma's top general continued to snub the UN's peace envoy, who is in Rangoon on a mission to convey the world's outrage to the junta.
With protests quashed and many monasteries empty, fears are growing for those who have disappeared into Burma's grim jails.
Observers say many detainees have been taken to the city's notorious Insein prison, the Government Technological Institute, the police battalion number seven compound, the Kyaikkasan racetrack and possibly elsewhere.
Mr Win said he fled when he was ordered to help massacre holy men.
Other exiles along the frontier confirmed that hundreds of monks had simply "disappeared".
Pro-democracy campaigners inside Burma yesterday released a graphic video showing the semi-naked body of a badly bruised monk, floating face down in a Rangoon river.
Mr Win, 42, a former chief of military intelligence in Rangoon's northern region, said: "I decided to desert when I was ordered to raid two monasteries and force several hundred monks on to trucks.
"They were to be killed and their bodies dumped deep inside the jungle. I refused to participate in this," he said.
Dissidents hiding along the Burma border said thousands of monks had been locked up and were being beaten inside blood-stained temples.
A Swedish diplomat told the Daily Mail of more reports that monks had been tortured and killed in large numbers. .................

It appears likely that the Burmese Monsters are guilty of more crimes against humanity. The full report indicates a level of barbarism on a par with the atrocities perpetrated by Pol Pot in Cambodia. Bloggers have been silenced. There is a strong suspicion that some have been tortured and may even have been murdered. Burmese leaders who sanction atrocities must be tried for war crimes.
Voters in democracies throughout the world must flood their Departments of Foreign Affairs with demands for coherent International Action. Meaningful sanctions must be imposed. The time for pious platitudes is over. The international community stands indicted for its relative lack of activity in relation to the crisis.
The following is a message from Radio Netherlands:

Hello, People can send messages of support to the demonstrators in Burma via our web page and radio broadcasts. We are Radio Netherlands Dutch international broadcaster and we have Short Wave transmissions into the country our homepage www.radionetherlands.nlbest regards Andy Clark - head English department Radio Netherlands Worldwide