As OPEC+ showed its muscle today, cutting its output and spitting in the face of the US which was seeking lower oil prices, one was reminded of how this organisation first flexed its muscles – 49 years ago, in the wake of what is known as the Yom Kippur War or the Ramadan War.
It was on Saturday, October 6, 1973, that the combined forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan launched an attack on Israel at two minutes to two in the afternoon.
In 1991, the US, aided by a number of other countries, waged a war given the moniker Operation Desert Storm, to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, after demanding billions from that tiny country which it claimed it was owed because the Kuwaitis had stolen oil from wells which were on the Iraqi side of the border.
After viewing the film Death on the Nile which was released this month, one just has a single question: why was this film ever made? It is a terrible effort, one that takes the plot of a well-written book by a famous author, makes ludicrous changes to suit Hollywood’s woke agenda, and then compounds that with terrible acting, hoping that the so-called big names in the film will attract a crowd.
Kenneth Branagh released one film based on an Agatha Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express, in 2017, and chose to play Hercule Poirot himself, giving a truly terrible performance. But it looks like he wasn’t satisfied with that; he’s back as Poirot again in Death on the Nile, making one long even for the bumbling Peter Ustinov to rise from the grave and reprise the performance he gave when the same book was adapted to the big screen in 1978.
Death on the Nile tells the tale of a couple who are on their honeymoon; the husband was formerly in love with his wife’s best friend. This woman is extremely wealthy and ends up as the first of three people murdered during a cruise down Egypt’s most famous river. The best friend tails the woman and her husband, annoying the hell out of them. Poirot happens to be on board and is given charge of the case; he solves it, with the story ending with one of his well-known denouements.
Twenty years after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the mastermind of the attack, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, has still not been put on trial despite having been arrested in March 2003.
KSM, as he is known, was picked up by the Pakistani authorities in Rawalpindi. Just prior to his arrest, the other main actor in the planning of the attacks, Ramzi Binalshibh, was picked up, again in Pakistan, this time in Karachi.
A report says KSM, Ramzi and three others appeared in court on Tuesday, 7 September. KSM was reported to be confident, talking to his lawyers and defying the judge’s instruction to wear a mask.
National Bird is a disturbing documentary. It isn’t new, having been made in 2016, but it outlines in stark detail the issues that are part and parcel of the drone program which the US has used to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and a number of other countries.
The use of remote killing was even seen recently after a bomb went off at Kabul Airport following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. There were boasts that two people responsible for the blast had been killed by a drone – only for the truth to emerge later.
And that was that the people killed were in no way connected to the blast. Using faulty intelligence and an over-quick finger, America had pulled the trigger again and killed innocents.
There’s a common element to much, if not most, of the news that flits across the TV screens: lies.
People attempt to add a touch of sophistry to lying, by trying to create classes of lies, but in the end it all adds up to the same thing: saying one thing when knowing that the opposite was correct.
One well-known example: the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, came to office promising a US$15 minimum wage for the country. He also promised to provide medical services for all and forgive at least a part of the billions in student debt.
The Saturday Paper — as its name implies — is a weekend newspaper published from Melbourne, Australia. Given this, it rarely has any real news, but some of the features are well-written.
There is a column called Gadfly (again the name would indicate what it is about) which is extremely well-written and is one of the articles that I read every week. It was written for some years by one Richard Ackland, a lawyer with very good writing skills, and is now penned by one Sami Shah, an Indian, who is, again a good writer. Gadfly is funny and, like most of the opinion content in the paper, is left-oriented.
The same cannot be said of some of the other writers. Karen Middleton and Rick Morton fall into the category of poor writers, though the latter sometimes does provide a story that has not been run anywhere else. Middleton can only be described as a hack.
The veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk died recently at the age of 74, and his death means one of the Western world’s journalists who best understood the region has left the scene.
Fisk lived in Beirut for most of the 30-plus years he covered the region and reported the troubles in Northern Ireland before venturing out of the country.
He reported on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the continuing woes in that country. Fisk interviewed the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden thrice and also covered the US invasion of Iraq.
Some questioned his approach to journalism; he did not believe in getting opinions from both sides, so-called balanced journalism. Rather, it was his belief that the job of a reporter was to provide an outlet for the underdog.
His famous example was that of the liberation of a concentration camp. And he asked whether one should be expected to get a quote from a SS guard for balance, a query which nobody has attempted to answer.
As America marks the 19th anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Centre towers by terrorists, it is a good time to ask when General Michael Hayden, head of the NSA at the time of 9/11, will come forward and explain why the agency was unable to detect the chatter among those who had banded together to wreak havoc in the US.
Before I continue, let me point out that nothing of what appears below is new; it was all reported some four years ago, but mainstream media have conspicuously avoided pursuing the topic because it would probably trouble some people in power.
The tale of how Hayden came to throw out a system known as ThinThread, devised by probably the most brilliant metadata analyst, William Binney, at that time the technical director of the NSA, has been told in a searing documentary titled A Good American.
In 1987, I got a job in Dubai, to work for a newspaper named Khaleej (Gulf) Times. I was chosen because the interviewer was a jolly Briton who came down to Bombay to do the interview on 12 June.
Malcolm Payne, the first editor of the newspaper that had been started in 1978 by Iranian brothers named Galadari, told me that he had always wanted to come and pick some people to work at the paper. By the time he got the oppotrunity to do so, he had been pushed out of the editorship by both the Pakistani and Indian journalists who worked there.
For some strange reason, he took a liking to me. At the end of about 45 minutes of what was a much more robust conversation than I had ever experienced in earlier job interviews, which were normally tense affairs, Payne told me, “You’re a good bugger, Samuel. I’ll see you in Dubai.” Continue reading “History lessons at a late stage of life”