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So what next after Novichok suspects are named?

So what happens next after the suspects in the Novichok poisoning of defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia have been officially named? Whilst it is true that any prospect of the duo standing trial in the old Bailey(personally I think that the the International Criminal Court at the Hague would be more apt as the usage of a nerve agent was arguably a crime against humanity, contrary to the Geneva Conventions of 1925, international agreements of 1972 and 1993) is dim as the Russian Constitution apparently precludes the extradition of its citizens, the Kremlin will undoubtedly realize that until this matter is resolved, its status as an international pariah will only deepen and no amount of blather about "Russophobic hysteria " will or should be allowed to obfuscate the issue.

Anyone think as I do?


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What IS "cultural appropriation"?- the "jerk rice"controversy surrounding Jamie Oliver

Let's get one thing straight- I believe there IS such a thing as "cultural appropriation"( be it the late Elvis "The Pelvis" Presley who was arguably a"white boy who could sing black" or Miley Cyrus "twerking" in her videos or most notoriously Rachel Dolezal claiming to be a black woman when she has NO demonstratable African American descendance. "Twerking" is a form a dance seen in African American culture). Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has been criticized by Labour MP Dawn Butler( the daughter of Jamaican immigrants) for marketing a brand of "jerk rice"( traditionally used in Jamaica) which has NONE of the typical ingredients associated with this dish( see, www., August 20, 2018). I myself have eaten Irish stew, Polish kielbasa,Turkish shish kebab and Italian pizza( mainly from Pizza Hut- ironically founded by two brothers of Irish American descent. If I am guilty of "cultural appropriation", then so are the founders of Pizza Hut), but I certainly do NOT claim to be of Irish, Polish, Turkish or Italian descent!

Anybody think as I do?



Why NOT using terms like "pet" "darling" or "love" in a formal environment is a good thing.

Today's Daily Mirror(, August 10 2018) has an op-ed piece by Coleen Nolan decrying the fact that a business had banned its employees from using terms like "pet" "darling" or "love"- she thinks that it is "political correctness gone mad!"

To my mind, she misses the point. Such terms of endearment may be permissible between family members, spouses or close friends, but I for one would be feel rather uncomfortable if say the girl at the check in desk at British Airway's Terminal Five(or her counterpart at Philadelphia International Airport) used them- she is neither a family member or a friend- never mind a lover!

Context is all- there are individuals from environements(such as the Armed Forces or a religious denomination) where a certain amount of formality is de rigueur- as fond as I am of my parish priest, I would NEVER dream of calling him "Shaju" any more than I would refer to the Holy Father(Pope to those in and outside the Catholic Church) to his face as "Jorge" or to the current POTUS as "Don"(or his predecessor as "Barack")!

If people prefer to be referred to as "sir" or "madam"(although some feminists argue that the term "madam" or "ma'am" is inherently belittling as one definition of a "madam" is a woman who administers a house of ill repute- a brothel to you and me), particularly in a business environment, then so be it!

Anybody think as I do?



So Sarah Sanders(WH press secretary) is refused service at Virginia restaurant

Try as I might, I really CANNOT find it in my heart to feel much sympathy for White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders who was reportedly refused service at a Virginia restaurant apparently because the proprietor disapproved of the fact that she worked for the current POTUS(one Donald John Trump). Absent clearly discriminatory grounds such as racism, homophobia and sexism, restaurant and bar owners have virtually unlimited carte blanche to refuse service to whoever they please( to quote Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California, when he explained his opposition to fair housing laws to a group of black legislators- "if you don;t want to sell your house to a red-headed Kiwanian, then you shouldn;t be forced to do so by the law!")- such as schoolchildren, members of the armed forces, certain biker gangs. Anyway as a (presumably ) straight white woman, it;s not as if Ms Sanders is a member of some put upon minority group!

Anybody think as I do?



(De facto |) amnesty yes, a statute of limitations for the armed forces NEVER!

The matter of the "historic killings" allegedly committed by British troops and RUC (now PSNI) men during the NI"Troubles" continues to rumble on- later this month two former members are due to go on trial in Belfast for the alleged murder of IRA leader Joe McCann in 1972. The departing Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Air Chief Marshal Stewart Peach has voiced his deep unease over the prosecutions of soldiers ( quoted in the Daily Express,, June 6, 1944) from this conflict many of whom are now old men.

To my mind a lot of cant has been written about this issue- firstly it was John Major's Conservative government(NOT Tony Blair's Labour one) that implicitly conceded the point that people were in jail due to the Troubles when it bowed to a scurrilous campaign by the Army and certain self interested tabloids and released three soldiers convicted of murder in the Province- Para Lee Clegg and Scots Guardsmen Fisher and Wright- all Blair did was take this a precedent for the amnesty in effect terms of the Good Friday Agreement of convicted terrorists, Republican and Loyalist.

As for the argument that the individuals concerned are now old men who ought not to be inconvenienced by questioning over long ago killings- My response is : BALONEY! Military service even in peacetime requires many incoveniences- and anyway since when does getting old somehow amount to a "free get out of jail" card? Common murderers and paedophiles are pursued by the law(just last year I read about a man being arrested (and presumably convicted) for a murder committed in 1965) no matter how long it takes.

To my mind the ONLY fair and humane solution is to refuse to prosecute ANYONE for any offence arising out of the NI"Troubles"( there is precedent for this, back in the 1940s, Clement Attlee's Labour Government(evidently anxious to win German support during the Cold War) declared that after August 31, 1948, there would be no more war crimes prosecutions- a de facto amnesty). I am aware that this will be distressing for anyone who has suffered at the hands of either security forces or paramilitaries(Orange or Green) but it is the only fair one I can think of!

A Conservative MP, Richard Beynon has proposed a Private Members Bill that would provide for a ten years "statute of limitations" after a given conflict's conclusion regarding British servicemen- the trouble is that: he wants to extend it to current conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq as well as historical ones like the Falklands War and NI(fortunately this PMB seems unlikely to become law!). The Government should make it clear that this is a"one off"- not a permanent get out of jail free card!

I have my reservations about this aspect of the bill- esp given that the International Criminal Court has announced investigations into the conduct of British troops in Iraq and of EVERYONE(including British troops) in Afghanistan.

What if the ICC indicted and tried a British soldier(or former British soldier) it charged with war crimes despite the hypothetical statute of limitations having expired? Would the latter trump the other? What if another country introduced similar legislation to shield its own soldiers from war crimes charges brought by Britain at the ICC?

I think Mr Beynon(who served in NI during the "troubles") has NOT thought out the consequences of his PMB. It represents to me the crassest form of self centered jingoism.

It now seems there will a mass demonstration of NI veterans against the "hounding"(by whom?) this coming Saturday ). There are even claims that they are being"hung out to dry"(shades of Alexander Blackman!).


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Now that it's official- Russia DID shoot down Flight MH-17- what next?

Funny how topical some things are such as war crimes and their apprehension and punishment-last Thursday I was browsing in Sainsbury's( a British supermarket chain) when I saw the 1961 legal drama "Judgement At Nuremburg", starring Spencer Tracy, Richard Widmark and Marlene Dietrich), a film based on the 1947 "Judges Trial"(it was a DVD of this film of course, VHS having become extinct) and just yesterday an international commission of inquiry concluded that Russian backed forces in the Ukraine( the so-called "anti-fascist resistance" or "little green men" as wags called them) were responsible for shooting down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17.

Predictably the Kremlin huffed and puffed(or will huff and puff) over the fact that there were NO Russians involved in the inquiry and that Ukrainians were involved, but since the Russian Federation was invited to submit its case to the inquiry and pointedly refused to do so, this whole bleat of "bias" or "Russophobia" is not especially convincing, reminding me of Kenneth Williams character in t"Carry On Cleo"- "infamy, infamy, infamy- they've ALL got it in- for- me!"

So what next, my advice is to the nations whose citizens were killed aboard MH-17 to file a class action suit against the Russian Federation, preferably at the International Criminal Court( Ukraine has signed but NOT ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC), fortunately many of them including the UK and the Netherlands have already signed and ratified the Rome Statute. Some may argue that this is hardly likely to give the Kremlin (or one Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin) sleepless nights but although the wheels of justice may grind exceedingly slowly, they ALSO grind exceedingly fine- Augusto Pinochet, (Chile) Slobodan Milosevic (Serbia) Saddam Hussein (Iraq) and more recently disgraced Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein(United States) have all found that their power can collapse like a house of cards almost overnight! I mgiht also make the point that war crimes/crimes against humanity have NO statute of limitations(much like common murder)

"His Majesty's Government is determined that these foul butchers will be brought to exemplary justice!" the late Anthony Eden told the Commons in 1944, commenting on the murders of recaptured RAF prisoners of war(shot on Hitler's personal orders) by the Gestapo( see "Exemplary Justice" by Allen Andrews, Corgi Books, 1977, p8) in the infamous Stalag Luft III murders. Their killers may have regarded this threat as a brutus fulmen(empty threat) but almost two years of painstaking investigation by RAF investigators led to the identification and arrest of those responsible, their trial in a British War Crimes Court beginning on July 1, 1947, their conviction on all counts and finally on February 27,1948 at Hamelin Prison, SS Major Johann Post and his cohorts paid the ultimate price for their crimes when they were hanged for their murders.

Some "trolls"(Russian and otherwise- yes I KNOW who you are!) may question the putative fairness of such a trial, arguing that Russia(in common with say Burundi, thePhillipine and the United States) has renounced or repudiated the Rome Statute of the ICC, and why doesn't the Court do anything about say Israel and the recent mass slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, but this "whataboutery" is specious in the extreme- to quote the late Cardinal Cathal Daly- "whataboutery is the most common form of moral evasion"). Anyway the ICC already has investigations opened or cases pending against Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, so it;s hardly a question of Russia(which is NOT an African state) being picked on whilst others go scot free!

Anybody think as I do?



Now it's OFFICIAL- so called "Beatles" to be tried in the US!

As I suspected, the so-called "Beatles" jihadis WILL be tried in the US(possibly later this year or sometime next year), and in a US federal court(NOT a military commission, as was used to try Mary Surratt and her alleged fellow conspirators in the 1865 assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, or the 1942 eight German saboteurs captured in the US- and also some German and Japanese war criminals after WWII;all the aforementioned were executed). Well that puts an end to silly chatter about them being tried here in the UK or at The Hague based International Criminal Court(Given the problematic relationship between successive US administrations and the ICC, it seemed unlikely that these two men would be turned over the Court; many of their victims were Americans and the US "unsigned" the Rome Statute of the ICC as far back as 2002. Anyay given their being stripped of their British citizenship, we can question whether the ICC has any jurisdiction over them). Anyway the Court should NOT be used as a dumping ground for cases Britain fears to prosecute.

Whilst it is true that the Central Criminal Court in London has tried many IRA terrorists during the "Troubles" in NI(beginning with the Old Bailey bombers), IS/Daesh is NOT the PIRA!

It is also true that during the "War On Terror" many jihadis have been tried and convicted by US courts but the upcoming trial of these "Beatles" will shine a spotlight on American justice as no other case has since the O.J.Simpson.

I should admit to a certain schadenfreude on this issue, let Americans who engaged smugly self righteous criticism of whatever Britain did during its fight against the IRA find themselves wrestling with the same philosophical matters we did during the "Troubles"!


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Frederick Forsythe's solution to Syrian Civil War- ASSASSINATE Bashir al- Assad!!!

British readers will be aware that Frederick Forsythe, author of best-sellers like "The Day Of The Jackal" "The Odessa File" "The Dogs Of War"( all made into movies) has a weekly column in the Daily Express every Friday.

I read it myself(if only to chuckle over his absurdities- full disclosure : I own at least three of his novels) and today;s edition( April 13, 2018, was a doozy!

In the conclusion Forsythe advocates(possibly tongue-in-cheek) "slotting" Syrian President Bashir al- Assad( "slotting" being British army/Royal Marine slang for "killing"), presumably using a cruise missile or Predator drone.

Oh great, presumably NO ONE in the UK or US government seriously considered this option!!! There is an old joke: to every problem there is a quick, final and usually dead WRONG solution!!!

Firstly how certain can we be of killing the "RIGHT" Bashar al- Assad( like his fellow tyrants Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Un, he is likely to move around fairly often and to employ the use of "lookalikes" , men with either a natural resemblance to him or enhanced by plastic surgery, the US Secret Service is rumoured to do the same for the sitting US President)???

Secondly wiping out Assad and his coterie would leave a gaping power vacuum into which the more extreme jihadist rebels would be quick to move into.

Thirdly as reprehensible as we find Bashir al-Assad's government we are NOT at war with it in the formal sense. The legality of such a move strikes me as dubious to put it mildly- it would amount to if not a war crime then at least a crime against humanity, amounting to indictment and prosecution at the International Criminal Court at The Hague for all concerned

Fourthly assassination is a pretty questionable way of achieving change in governmental policy. The killing of SS Lieutenant General Reinhard Heydrich by Czech partisans in May 1942,( popularized in films like "Hitler's Hangman", "Operation Daybreak" "Operation Anthropoid" and "The Man With The Iron Heart"), although it shook the Nazi leadership from Hitler downwards to the core, did NOTHING to reverse say the infamous "Final Solution"( genocide of Europe's Jews) and led to ferocious reprisals against the Czech people, culminating in the notorious Massacre and destruction of the village of Lidice. Just as the assassinations of US Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F.Kennedy did not reverse official policy on any substantive matter( in Kennedy's case it put LBJ in succession and reduced Attorney General Bobby Kennedy to being "another lawyer" as his longtime foe Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa gleefully observed)

Fifthly: why stop at Bashar al-Assad? Why not take out his patron in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin while we're at it? Or Kim Jong Un as well? It's no coincidence that successive US Presidents such as Gerald Ford (1976) and Ronald Reagan (1981) expressly banned assassination by any agency of the US government( the CIA reportedly planned to kill with Mafia help such leaders as the late Fidel Castro, Moishe Tshombe and others)- assassination as JFK himelf rightly observed is "repugnant to our conscience as a civilized people" and Kennedy noted that few non-Communist intelligence services engage in assassination, French SDECE, Britain's MI6/SIS( with their "licensed to kill" James Bond Israel's Mossad and of the "termination with extreme prejudice" CIA, the most notorious was the late unlamented (at least nowadays) KGB, its allies such as the East German Stasi, Romanian Securitate, Bulgatian DS, Hungarian AVH, Polish UB and Cuban DGI.( perhaps mindful of the horrors of Nazism, I don't think the West German Secret Service goes in for assassination)

True in May 3, 2011, Al-Qaeda leader and founder Osama Bin laden was "taken out" by a "hit team" of US Navy SEALS, but Bin laden is NOT a head of state!

Anybody think as I do



So WHAT is to be done over the Syria chemical weapons attack?

(if the tone of my post seems familiar to Russian readers, then it comes from a famous polemical pamphlet published in 1903 by Lenin- "What Is To Be Done?").

I for one admit that I have NO easy answers myself. Firstly let's see WHO is really responsible for this horrifying gas attack, whether it be the rebels or Bashar Al-Assad's government. We can ill afford another "rush to judgement" a la the "dodgy/sexed up dossier" of Iraq notoriety. And after we are certain "beyond a reasonable doubt", then we proceed. The trouble with military action against Bashar al- Assad's government is that runs the risk of a confrontation with Syria's patron Russia and its troops or aircraft. The International Criminal Court? Not applicable(through no fault of the Court's)- neither Syria or its neighbour Iraq has signed or ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC(and anyway Russia- and possibly China- would move to block any attempt by the West to refer the Syrian civil war to the ICC via a Security Council veto).

MORE sanctions on Syria's primary patron, Russia? Last week up to nearly TWO DOZEN prominent allies and oligarches of Putin were sanctioned( including his own son-in-law). Like Mother Hubbard's cupboard, we are running out of things to sanction the Kremlin over.

Anybody think as I do?



"Castle doctrine" and "stand your ground" comes to the UK?

There is an old joke that Britain always tends to imitate America's worst habits.

The recent case of a pensioner who killed a burglar and the media lionizing him as a hero(the pensioner that is not the burglar!) puts me in mind of this saying.

An Englishman's home may very well be his castle, but the idea that a homeowner has the "right" to use deadly force against an intruder(burglar or otherwise) makes me uncomfortable to put it mildly, if only because the line between "have a go hero" and "vigilante" is notoriously subjective( i might also make the point that vigilanteism quickly becomes as bad as the criminality it sets out to oppose- it;s NO COINCIDENCE that criminal groups like the Triads, Yakuza, Mafia(both its original Italo-Sicilian form and now in the US) originally started off as vigilante groups!).

True to quote the late US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes- "detached observation cannot be expected in the presence of a revealed knife!" but it should be realized that unless the prospective victim has valid fears for his or her life(ie a female victim who fears that her intruder might rape as well as murder her), I am suspicious of this exaltation of "taking the law into your own hands"; I prefer due process to self appointed judge , jury and ultimate executioner, esp since formal capital punishment in the UK has been abolished over a half century ago(see Wikipedia entry for "Murder(Abolition Of Death Penalty) Act of 1965")

Vigilanteism may seem "cool" in movies like "Death Wish"(now out in a rebooted fashion with Bruce Willis taking the role of the late Charles Bronson), or with comic book characters such as Marvel's The Punisher, but in reality it would be a nightmare.

"Stand your ground" and "Castle doctrine" laws in the US arguably contributed to things like George Zimmerman's killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin back in 2012) and I would HATE to see such legal doctrines become prevalent in the UK!

Anyone else think as I do?