Thursday, August 31, 2006


Two years ago, I was given what quickly became an awful assignment. I was told to visit Cuba. Oh sure, like everybody I thought: dark rum, hot nights, fat cigars, the rumba. The reality was very different. Cuba was wretched. Every day the photographer and I encountered distressing scenes of women, children and ageing Cubans living in terrible poverty....

Elsewhere, we found barefoot children searching through rubbish bins for food. There is a large black population in Cuba - many of them are descendants of sugar-cane cutters - and there were many blacks among the beggars. Women with babies at the breast tugged at our clothes, begging for pennies. In the Western-style bars, beautiful Cuban girls hung off the arms of Western men.

We drove into the countryside and found people living with open sewers and dirt floors, with no food, no coffee, no rum, no pork, no music, none of the things a Cuban needs to thrive. Castro's revolution - free food, free education, free health care for all - was a sad, sorry joke. The classrooms were decrepit, the school books so old as to be useless. Store shelves were empty. It was a police state, too. Nobody would speak ill of Castro (if they did, it was quietly, with a pale, strained face and a furtive glance over the shoulder).

We visited the homes of dissidents and heard that librarians, poets and free-marketeers - good, friendly people - had been taken to prison, some of them sentenced to 20 years or more in a cell no larger than a toilet block, forced to walk around and around in circles, 400km from home in a nation where it's impossible to visit anybody unless you hitch a ride in the back of a creaking, humpbacked truck known as a "camel", made in eastern Europe and liable to break down in the Cuban heat.

It was a terrible shock because, like many people, I'd believed the hype about Cuba: that it was a socialist paradise; that Castro was a visionary leader; that the Cuban people were happy communists. In fact, Castro is a gutless dictator who has never been brave enough to hold a presidential election. Yet across the West he continues to be celebrated as some grand, visionary leader, instead of being derided as a lunatic on his last legs.

More here



In the last week or so, there has been a lot of media hype about the latest "obesity" study -- which purports to show that fat kills you. In my usual pesky way however, I looked up the original academic journal article. The result is what I think is a pretty good slash and burn of the article concerned -- just up on FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC.

Illegal immigrant driver's license bill is back in California: "Legislation to allow illegal immigrants in California apply for driver's licenses was resurrected Monday in a weakened version that's contingent on federal funding. Senate Bill 1162 by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, was approved by Democrats in the Assembly on a 42-34 vote, a week after Democrats derailed its precursor, fearing a voter backlash in November. The emotionally charged measure still requires confirmation by the state Senate, which passed an earlier version, SB 1160. It also faces a likely veto by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed similar legislation last year. Unlike SB 1160, the amended legislation does not require state funding. It would be implemented only after the state receives funding from the federal Real ID Act of 2005, which requires every state to issue licenses that comply with a national standard. The law, passed in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, allows states to provide driving-only licenses to illegal immigrants. But those licenses must have a distinguishing color or mark, a provision that Cedillo -- who has waged an unsuccessful eight-year battle to obtain licenses for illegal immigrants -- once resisted."

Hezbollah lost: "As the scale of the destruction in the Shiite south becomes more clear, the pro-Hezbollah euphoria (much of it created by Western media and beamed back to Lebanon through satellite TV) is evaporating. Reality is beginning to reassert its rights. And that could be good news for Lebanon as a nation. It is unlikely that Hezbollah will ever regain the position it has lost. The Lebanese from all sides of the political spectrum are united in their determination not to allow any armed group to continue acting as a state within the state."

Muslims make Muslims second-class citizens: "I’m with Rushdie and Amis as I read all the sympathetic coverage in the liberal press about the poor, puzzled Muslims who feel that they are being picked on in airports and flights. If the parents of the young men who are attracted to this murderous martyrdom have lost control of their sons, then they must shoulder part of the blame. If the Muslims who choose to live in our society, with all its so-called tempting freedoms, do not protest against those who wish to destroy it, then how can they expect our tolerance? Why are the moderates not, in their hundreds and thousands, standing outside those mosques that are known to preach hatred, shouting “Not in our name” down their megaphones or “One, two, three, four, no more terror anymore”?"

Piggybacking on terror in Britain: "Two days after British authorities broke up an alleged plot to blow up multiple aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean, the "moderate" Muslim establishment in Britain published an aggressive open letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair. It suggested that Mr. Blair could better fight terrorism if he recognized that the current British government policy, especially on "the debacle of Iraq," provides "ammunition to extremists." The letter writers demanded that the prime minister change his foreign policy to "make us all safer." One prominent signatory, the Labour member of Parliament Sadiq Khan, added that Mr. Blair's reluctance to criticize Israel increased the pool of people whom terrorists can recruit. In other words, Islamists working within the system exploited the thwarted Islamist terror plot to pressure the British government to implement their joint wishes and reverse British policy in the Middle East. Lawful Islamists shamelessly leveraged the near death of thousands to forward their agenda.... "

We will MAKE you happy! "A new breed of permanently "cheerful" mouse is providing new hope for treatment of clinical depression, researchers say. The scientists studied a gene called TREK-1, which can affect the flow of a brain chemical called serotonin. This in turn influences mood, sleep and sexuality. By breeding mice without TREK-1, the re-searchers said they created a depression-resistant strain. ... Debonnel's team tested the newly bred mice using "behavioral, electrophysiological and biochemical measures known to gauge `depression' in animals," he said. "The results really surprised us. [They] acted as if they had been treated with antidepressants for at least three week-s." The research represents the first time depression has been eliminated by genetically modifying an organism, he added. "The discovery of a link between TREK-1 and depression could ultimately lead to the development of a new generation of antidepressant drugs."

For more postings, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. (Mirror sites here, here, here, here, here, here and here). Other backups here


"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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