Monday, July 28, 2003

Sometimes it's better not to know your sources

We had our increasingly common experience of saying What? upon reading Andrew Sullivan today. He approvingly quotes from a Conrad Black tirade about the BBC:

The BBC is pathologically hostile to the Government and official opposition, most British institutions, American policy in almost every field, Israel, moderation in Ireland, all Western religions, and most manifestations of the free market economy.

At the simplest level, we wonder, how is it possible for one organisation to be against so much stuff? Where do they find the time? How does an organisation even manage to function, riddled as it is with such contempt for everything around it?

But let's focus on two specific things. First, the Beeb is against moderation in Ireland? Black's own tirade provides no specific on what this means, but he does cite a source: an Eoghan Harris tirade in the same paper a few days earlier. As it happens, we had posted about Harris a few days ago: it's clear that his utter hatred of the IRA has now extended to a contempt for anyone who tried to deal with them with part of the peace process. Note to Eoghan: peace-making generally involves having some words with once nasty people. But Eoghan is clearly very influential: he helps Michael Barone out with a little Clinton bashing, and now he helps Conrad Black out with a little Beeb-bashing.

Enough about Eoghan Harris -- who is Conrad Black? When the books are being written about how the vast right wing conspiracy really did exist, he'll be there. Leave his politics aside a second, and just contemplate the sillyness of his passionate defense of Britain against the evils of the BBC(sadly it has become the greatest menace facing the country it was founded to serve and inform), written by a man who was a Canadian citizen until he renounced it so he could take the title of Lord Black of Crossharbour (the name under which his tirade is actually published). And in your next (and hopefully infrequent) tour around the reactionary blogs, watch out for approving links to articles by Barbara Amiel, also known as Lady Black of Crossharbour.

Anyway, Lord Black's media empire goes beyond the pro-Unionist, pro Liz Hurley rag that is the Daily Telegraph, to a bunch of Canadian papers, to participation in the amazingly dumb New York Sun. So we wallow in the irony of the homegrown BBC being described as a rogue and putschist organisation by a blow-in title chaser who shamelessly uses his cash to promote reactionary drivel in foreign countries. But at least he's for "moderation in Ireland."

NOTE: The BoBW team will be stranded amongst the wild natives of County Meath for a few weeks, so the blog will most likely be quiet until Aug 20 or so.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Those pesky American tourists

It seems to be something of a tradition on blogs, especially the conservative ones, that when you're stuck for material, one just trolls through the letters pages of newspapers looking for inspiration (usually in the form of a fringe opinion from a letter writer that is then taken as representative of all of one's opponents). Anyway, finding ourselves stuck for material we did indeed decide to take a look at that redoubt of fringe opinions, the letters pages of the Irish Times, and sure enough, there is a nice "controversy" underway, prompted by a letter by an American tourist a couple of days ago:

As an American student of Irish history, I am enjoying a summer in Ireland visiting its many historical sites and monuments...It was while on a walkabout in the town of Trim that I spotted a huge column at the top of one of the main streets...I was greatly amazed to find that the person commemorated by this imposing monument was none other than Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington...Now, while recognising the importance of the Trim connection with this British prime minister and conqueror of Napoleon, I think it very odd that modern Ireland retains this opponent of Catholic Emancipation and Repeal of the Union in such a prominent position in a major Irish town.

I have read of how Nelson was removed from O'Connell Street in Dublin in the 1960s. [The IRA blew it up]
...Surely in Ireland, 2003, you could find a more peaceful means to remove this reactionary figure from the Trim monument, and replace him with a son or daughter of your country.

Inevitably, such a letter was just begging for a response and indeed we had posted about the Duke and his Trim monument ourselves around the anniversary of his victory of the Battle of Waterloo. For the present purpose the basic issue is that the Duke was an Irishman. One letter today notes his birth in Dublin and goes on to suggest (we think sarcastically):

Perhaps we should move the monument to Europe as they may be more appreciative than the people of his native land.

The writer goes on to note that it is incorrect to say that the Duke opposed Catholic Emancipation as PM -- he in fact came around in its favour and was disgusted when the King undermined it by conspiring with opponents to water it down; Catholics with assets were given the vote but then the monetary threshold to have the vote was substantially raised, undercutting much of the impact of the reform. As for the Duke's monument, our view is that it should stay right where it is, as a reminder of the complexities and ironies of Irish history. There's also the practical matter that parking in Trim is so bloody difficult as it is, without having to work around the elaborate project that would be removing the monument.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

George, meet my good friend Cliff

We learn from the London Times website that Tony Blair will be taking a vacation from all those pesky WMD questions in Barbados. And that he'll be staying at the home of Sir Cliff Richard. Who?, our millions of American readers ask. Well, he's one of those people that your trendy British friends won't be mentioning in conversation anytime soon.

It's a favourite occupation of the lazy British or American journalist with an expense account to do a sneering story about aging French rocker Johnny Hallyday, who (a) hasn't ever really gotten over Elvis and (b) has never really made it big outside France. Johnny is never out of the news in France, most recently for having played a birthday concert for Bernadette Chirac, wife of Number 3 in SPECTRE (he has Osama on one side and Kim Jong-Il at the other at the big meetings). But anyway, the tone of the UK/US stories is always something along the lines of: guy still doing late 50s rock, now in his 50s himself, loved at home but almost unknown abroad, those silly French.

Well then, step forward Cliff Richard -- who matches this profile in most respects, with an additional overlay of now being a born-again Christian and having that reflected in many anti-septic albums of recent years. The British adulation only grows. If you're planning on driving yourself into insanity, we recommend this album, but any of the later ones should do the trick. And finally, it occurs to us that maybe Cliff could finally get that big break in the US. Someone whose cultural references never really moved beyond the 1950s, and now a born again Christian: if it's good enough for Tony, then surely it's good enough for Tony's best pal Dubya. DC to Barbados is a shorter flight than DC to Crawford. It's all too easy to visualise.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Those reserved Brits

"We regard the matter as now closed" -- Fleischer/McClellan making another attempt to move us all on from the falsehoods in the case for war? No, Buckingham Palace commenting after a streaker ran through a garden party for the Queen yesterday. There is less alarm about this incident than when a stunt comedian, dressed as Osama Bin Laden (or so he said, it wasn't a very good costume) crashed the Prince William birthday party last month. The streaker was an invited guest, so there were no security implications. The Queen was saved from embarrassment when he was tackled by the Beefeaters (i.e. like the dude on the gin bottle). Reading reports on the incident, like this one from today's London Times online, makes it clear that sometimes with the Brits, it's hard to tell the difference between comedy and the real thing.

Eyewitnesses described how the youth, who was attending the event with his family, was about ten metres in front of the Queen when he began to streak away from her towards the Royal tea tent.
...Crowds of onlookers cheered as the youth was rugby tackled and apprehended by a Yeoman of the Guard dressed in red and gold ceremonial costume.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the country that was the primary intelligence source on Iraq's nuclear program.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Let the gloating begin...

...But is it too much to ask that the gloating make sense? No-one will miss Uday and Qusay, the geniuses who did such a brilliant job of implementing the Iraqi defence strategy in the early days of the Iraq war. Needless to say, their deaths are taken as vindication of all things Bush on Based on their previous twistings of any event in that manner, we predict they will soon present a new non-revisionist view of World War II, in which the decisive moment was when Hitler committed suicide in the bunker. Two extracts from their gloat-fest merit particular attention:

we can expect this [Saddam's sons] to silence the pack of [critics] about some twaddle involving Niger, a West African nation that will now return to well-deserved obscurity.

Doesn't Niger have enough problems without being unloaded on by a bunch of reactionaries who are essentially mad at the country for not selling uranium to Saddam?

Then they pull a conciliatory quote from Saif al-eslam Gadhafi, son of the Libyan dictator, about how he wants friendship with the US, and add:

Smart boy. He knows what happens to dictators' sons who do seek confrontation with America.

As is so often the case with these guys, all one can do is recite some facts. Back in the days when Libya was seeking confrontation with the US, the US bombed the Gadhafi compound, killing Gadhafi's (adopted) daughter. Was that the end of the matter? The generally accepted motivation for the bombing of Pan Am 103 by Libyan intelligence agents was revenge for the Gadhafi daughter's death. Killing the offspring of dictators makes for good Bring 'Em On chest-thumping. But let's wait for the final bill before declaring Mission Accomplished.

UPDATE: The spin-point has clearly gone out instructing the use of any opportunity to bash the now out-of-favour CIA. From Wednesday's WSJ editorial: The two previous claims of their or Saddam's demise came from CIA sources who have proven to be unreliable.

Monday, July 21, 2003

For soccer fans (especially Man Utd haters) only

Apologies to the rest of you who were subject to excess Becks a few weeks ago; we are making a brief return to blogging about the Evil Ones, aka Manchester United. But to put this issue in a wider setting: we will bring to your attention a state broadcaster displaying naked bias, continually slanting its reporting and presenting "sexed up" accounts that always support a particular point of view. Yes, we are talking about Irish state broadcaster RTE and their shameless boosterism of Manchester United. Exhibit A is this Saturday report from RTE's sports site.

The context is provided MU's disastrous summer of personnel moves, in which Becks inexplicably left the world's biggest football club to play for some scrubs in Madrid, and the spurned club then turned to the chase for Brazilian star Ronaldinho -- who, it was assumed, would view a transfer from Paris St Germain to MU as an irresistible step-up. Sadly for MU, Ronaldinho [and that final 'o' is pronounced 'u', by the way] seems to have liked the pitch (and perhaps also the pitch) from Barcelona (bit players in the Becks move) a lot better. So where to turn now?

As luck would have it, a Russian billionaire buys Chelsea Football Club, henceforth known as Chelski, and immediately embarks upon a spending spree -- most likely with the goal of blowing all his money before Pootie-Poot can get his hands on it. The transfer frenzy thus turns to Blackburn Rovers' Irish star Damien Duff, with three years left on his contract. Chelski successfully get negotiating rights to Duff and look set to sign him -- triggering horror amongst the MU fans at RTE, who realize yet another prize catch is passing up a chance to play at the Theatre of Dreams. There is no other way to read the part mournful, part panicked, tone of this report, written around the MU team's time in transit to the West Coast to begin their US tour:

With Manchester United losing out to Barcelona in the capture of Brazilian wizard Ronaldinho, it has become increasingly likely that United will move swiftly in a bid to lure Damien Duff away from a move to Chelsea.

Manager Alex Ferguson will disembark from a 14-hour journey to the United States later this evening determined to wreck Damien Duff's proposed move to [Chelsea]. By the time Ferguson and his Manchester United squad land in the west coast city of Portland, Oregon, word will have filtered through that their self-imposed deadline for the capture of Ronaldinho has passed without a reply.

Even worse, the Red Devils boss will learn that his major summer transfer target has flown to Barcelona in the hope of concluding a (pounds) 20 million move from Paris St Germain.

Having missed out on Harry Kewell [Leeds to Liverpool] and with David Beckham settling into his new home in Madrid, Ferguson will be eager to bring a big name signing in a bid to boost his squad and appease fans. The word is that Duff would jump at the chance to join the set-up at Old Trafford and link up with former Irish captain Roy Keane.

"The word is..." From who? Because today, without a peep from Man Utd, Duff signed for Chelsea. There's reporting. And then there's wishful thinking. And often the twain shall meet.
For delivery to offices of the Wall Street Journal: A mirror

We usually confine our postings about the deranged editorialists at the Wall Street Journal to material on their free offshoot, It would truly be a full-time job keeping track of the drivel on the main page, but every so often something cries out for a little commentary. Today's lead is about the BBC/Blair/WMD controversy. Some quick points [their quotes in italics]:

Dr. Kelly's testimony, however, clearly indicates that the BBC story misrepresented what he told the reporter.

And the basis on which you are accepting the frazzled testimony of a dead person as conclusive is what?*

But the Conservatives, smelling blood early on, have joined the BBC-led chorus questioning whether the government exaggerated intelligence claims on Iraq. And they have their own media megaphones, the highbrow Daily Telegraph and the tabloid Daily Mail among them. The latter on Saturday grotesquely ran a headline with the story about the Kelly suicide that read "Proud of Yourselves?" above photographs over Messrs. Blair, Campbell and Defense Minister Geoff Hoon. Mr. Bush can thank his lucky stars that he does not have problems of this magnitude.

Where to begin on this one...political parties with media megaphones? Couldn't happen in the US.

The Daily Telegraph is "highbrow?" This from the paper that introduced the world to the phrase "pure theatrical Viagra", with its theatre critic's drooling review of Nicole Kidman on the London stage.

A grotesque headline about a suicide. Wasn't there some paper that just wouldn't stopping spinning grotesque conspiracy theories about the Vince Foster suicide? Can't remember which one it was.

Mr. Bush can thank his lucky stars that he does not have problems of this magnitude.

This prompts us to ask, like Trent "all these problems" Lott was asked: what problems, exactly? An uppity media?

*UPDATE: Kelly could of course have been telling the truth. But the WSJ has no way of knowing that. In addition, there's a messy little detail that will have to be confronted if the BBC reporter Gilligan is be blamed for "sexing up" what Kelly told him: another BBC reporter, doing an separate report from Gilligan, got the same story. It just got less attention. This is made clear on a London Times online Q&A today:

Q: A BBC Newsnight reporter covered the same story as Andrew Gilligan. Why has she come under less criticism?

A: Susan Watts, Newsnight's Science Editor, whose source has also been confirmed as Dr Kelly - filed her report four days after Mr Gilligan's and it was seen by relatively few people. Mr Gilligan's report was on the Today programme, which is widely listened to and is expected to set the media agenda for the day - in this case it set it for six weeks.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

When in doubt, blame Clinton

While we normally leave the Irish Nationalist oriented blogging to other blogs that do it better, our hackles were raised sufficiently to post ourselves upon reading Michael Barone's column in US News and World Report this week. We'd been on the lookout for this since reading in last week's (Irish) Sunday Independent that Barone had had dinner with Eoghan Harris while in Ireland, and we suspected that Harris's view of Northern Ireland, in which a hatred of the IRA drives out all rational thought, might soon infect a Barone column. We therefore make the following observations:

The column reads like an excuse to bash Bill Clinton. Clinton is invoked several times as the driving force of the Northern Ireland peace process, and yet even by the article's own telling, the peace deal was a consensus reached by NI politicians and the British and Irish governments -- did Bill hold a gun to someone's head and force them to sign?

Second, all his evidence of the failure of the peace process is in fact drawn from a crisis within Unionism, which looks likely to realign with anti-agreement extremist (and anti-Catholic bigot) Ian Paisley becoming the dominant force on the Unionist side, but with most shades of nationalism having enjoyed the taste of devolved power and wanting it back as soon as possible. And, by the way, Barone seems upset that Gerry Adams got a few invitations to the White House. Well, Ian Paisley has good currency there too, via his long-time association with Bush's favourite institute of higher learning, Bob Jones university in South Carolina. [To call Paisley a "Unionist" is inaccurate anyway, since his preferred governance model for Northern Ireland owes more to the separatist Ian Smith Rhodesia model, in which a privileged colonial minority would govern the masses without any pesky interference from the Colonial Office in London.]

Finally, that photo caption (in the print edition). It fails to note that the marcher is carrying a drum with the emblem of a terrorist group, the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). And it recites the standard explanation of those marches..."Protestants commemorate a battlefield victory over Irish Catholics in 1690." DUDES! Get out your 17th English history books. The issue in this battle was the defence of King James as ruler of Britain and Ireland against an illegitimate usurpation of the throne by his daughter and a Dutch interloper. These marchers are essentially celebrating the fact that the current crowd of royals in Britain are a bunch of in-bred Germans, with the odd bit of Scottish blood thrown in to keep things afloat. And Clinton was supposed to make progress with people who want to celebrate that?

Friday, July 18, 2003

If we had a choice, we'd walk out too

There is chaos at Heathrow airport this (Friday) evening because of a surprise walk-out by ground staff from the airport's Terminal 1. The walkout is a protest against the introduction of a tighter work time monitoring system in the Terminal. This BBC story gives the basic details, although we were surprised to read in it that

Flights from Terminal One serve destinations in the UK and mainland Europe.

Where that leaves the many flights from T1 to the Republic of Ireland, we're not sure, but it perhaps confirms the recurring suspicion of the Shamrockshire Eagle that the Republic has been creeping back into the UK anyway.

Leaving aside the little problem with national boundaries, it is true that Irish and domestic UK flights leave from the same part of T1. Which at least relieves us Irish of the burden of thinking we are being discriminated against by the longest, most dispiriting walk to the most poorly ventilated and shoddily constructed part of the airport. We think most Irish emigrants have at had least one experience of trudging from the outer reaches of Terminals 3 or 4 at 6am, wondering if the bags will make it, and with the options for refreshments reduced to a vending machine that may or not be working. The Dublin flight is always one of those gates in the upper 90s, where the cigarette smoke conveniently clusters. Most likely to save their sanity, the workers probably do indeed take the odd unofficial break. Here's hoping that a condition of settling the strike is a proper terminal.

UPDATE: the strike is over, for now. But if you want to visualise a truly ugly summer airport crowd scene, check out the picture in this BBC story.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

With enemies like this, who needs friends?

You know that Tony Blair is on the ropes when a story in the London Times online, which by British media standards has been relatively pro-Blair, leads off with:

Tony Blair has not gone "potty" the Prime Minister's official spokesman insisted today.

Nor, the spokesman continued, is he a "psychopath." These denials were prompted by a stunt story from the left-wing New Statesman magazine, which got some shrinks to analyse Tony's behaviour. Now, Tony made a choice to sink or swim with Dubya on the Iraq war so he deserves whatever fallout comes from that decision. But the more we read about the New Statesman story, the less it said about Blair and the more it said about the long shelf life of certain spin points. The story itself requires a subscription but the Times has some key quotes:

One view [from the expert shrinks] emerged strongly: there appears to be something worryingly adrift in the mind of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, a man who doesn't really know who or what he is.
More technically, he is diagnosed as a psychopath capable of reinventing himself with remarkable dexterity, like an actor.

Now, anyone who was following the 2000 Presidential election will recognise the key phrases here: doesn't know who he is, reinventing himself -- exactly the favoured pundit narrative to describe Al Gore. We can think of a number of different explanations for the overlap, the most likely being that the Gore spin points were just a convenient bit of amateur psychobabble put into the ether by Karl Rove, and, as Daily Howler would say, pundits who were deeply troubled by Al Gore's personality rushed to type up this pleasing diagnosis of his problems.

So at the minimum, the New Statesman was dealing with very lazy shrinks, who either pulled their diagnosis straight from wherever Rove got his Gore points, or perhaps worse still, the shrinks still had the Gore points living somewhere in their subconscious and just dragged them back out to "explain' Blair. We almost feel sorry for him. Almost.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

(Fact)Check Please!

If you've spent as long as veteran freeloader New York Times writer R.W. "Johnny" Apple has consuming fine food and drink, then it's only to be expected that the decades start to roll into each other in terms of one's memory of other events. Sure, he can likely tell you the date of every meal at Lucas Carton (or if not, he can dig up the statements of expenses to find it out), but then there's this whole genre of music called rock and roll that seems to have come out of nowhere over the last fifty years. Example: today's installment from his trip to Scotland deals with Scotch. And, we are informed that

The smokiest, peatiest, most iodinic malts come from Campbeltown, on a West Coast peninsula known as the Mull of Kintyre, whose mists were celebrated by the Beatles

Our advice to Johnny -- if you're going for the image of the above-the-fray bon viveur, then when discussing the Beatles, it's best to adopt the attitude and tone of James Bond in Goldfinger:

My dear girl, there are some things that just aren't done, such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!

Because by trying to sound like he's actually familiar with the band, unlike the contemptuous Bond, he gets it wrong. Mull of Kintyre is a 1977 Paul McCartney/Wings song, co-written with non-Beatle Denny Laine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

You bombers all look the same

Resolved: that a clear signal that something is not true is provided when that something is preceded by the words "the British government has recently learned that..." Saddam wasn't shopping at the Mall of Africa's Nukes'R'Us, and there wasn't a Real IRA bombmaker in the West Bank teaching Palestinian extremists how to make bombs. Frankly, we are kicking ourselves for attaching the remotest credence to the original story, knowing its provenance in the English Sunday newspapers. But we did note at the time the convenient distraction the story would have provided from the Real IRA trial in Dublin [latest claim of star witness: he was forgetting some of the key details of the people he was spying on, and suggested that the FBI/MI5 hypnotise him to improve his memory].

Anyway, the English Sunday newspapers were making an accurate statement about the Real IRA bomber, if you follow the White House definition of accuracy -- because the source of the tip to the Israelis to arrest him (and presumably the leak to the papers) was British Intelligence. It turns out that the arrestee has a completely credible explanation for his activities: he's a member of an Irish-Palestinian solidarity group which organises peaceful cultural exchange activities. He's also (not that this explains why he'd be in the West Bank) an Irish language enthusiast, which seems to have contributed to some confusion about his name: Sean O Muireagain. [in evidence of blatant anti-Irishism, Blogger won't print the accents on the letter a in his name]. The British media have been using the English version of the name, John Morgan.

Sean's only real mistake was to carry the passport of his official country of residence, the United Kingdom. This put him in the position of being locked up in a foreign country on the word of his country of citizenship, which as one can easily see, somewhat undercuts the rights that a citizen overseas would normally have. He is eligible for an Irish passport, and if he had been carrying it, then Irish diplomatic officials would have been notified about his arrest. It's an open question what would have happened next: seeing the Northern Ireland residency, our lads could have just phoned Belfast, asked what's the story with this Morgan lad, and taken their word for it. But after the fact, the Republic certainly gets to look good, as a focal point of efforts to get him released.

Update: Sean has been deported. And the GUBU blog cites newspaper reports that Sean did have an Irish passport.

Monday, July 14, 2003

CIA to Support Corsican Separatists!

Well, maybe not yet, but if the tone on today's OpinionJournal is anything to go by, that day may not be far off. How long more can the Wall Street Journal tolerate putting its name to this deranged outfit? Doubtless feeling the pressure of a weekend of Condilesque* spinning by the White House [*recommended Daily Howler word], Opinionjournal has resumed its attack on those evil French. It's a three part complaint:

The Daily Telegraph says the French intelligence service "is believed" to have refused to allow Britain's MI6 to share the [Niger] information with the U.S.:

US intelligence sources believe that the most likely source of the MI6 intelligence was the French secret service, the DGSE. Niger is a former French colony and its uranium mines are run by a French company that comes under the control of the French Atomic Energy Commission.

US sources also point out that the French government was vehemently opposed to the war with Iraq and so suggest that it would have been instinctively against the idea of passing on the intelligence.
[then follows discussion about American protest group organising pro-French activities]
A recurring theme in antiwar commentary is that there's nothing unpatriotic about dissenting from your government's policies. That's true enough, but siding against your country and with its adversary is another matter.

Let's just spell things out:

Note the blame attribution for the unsourced Niger intelligence to an unsourced article in the (London) Daily Telegraph. And dudes, if you think British intelligence is weak on sourcing, just try investigating the sourcing of any of their newspaper articles (a read of the Street of Shame column in any issue of Private Eye will give you the general idea). One thing we can specify about this source: the Daily Telegraph is the sister newspaper of the reactionary New York Sun, via the common participation of media conglomerate Hollinger.

Second, there's the classic spin of omission in the clause its uranium mines are run by a French company . Now do like the White House claims it didn't, and read Joseph Wilson's report:

Niger's uranium business consists of two mines...which are run by French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Nigerian interests

So why single out the French as the most likely source of intelligence on the mines?

Third, the idea that the French would have been instinctively against passing on the intelligence? Oh yeah, like that crazy Moussouai dude that they never told us about (except that they did).

And what can we say about their final sentence, except to note its Coulter-esque equation of liking France with treason. Which is why we expect to see them advocating support for the Corsican resistance fighters any day now.
Poet's Delight

In recent posts, we've mentioned poets from Northern Ireland and rappers. It therefore seems appropriate to point to a funny item in this fortnight's Private Eye magazine (sadly only with limited web availability and on a few newstands around the USA). This builds on a story from a couple of weeks ago in which Irish poet and Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney praised the work of Eminem, and in particular the verbal energy that he has brought to the language. The Eye's parodic response to this:

Seamus Heaney’s 'Beowulf'
as translated by Eminem

Big f*cking monster givin everyone sh*t
Along comes Beowulf and he ain't taking it
Kills the motherf*cker Grendel with a big f*cking sword
Then kills the motherf*cker's mother cos he's so f*cking bored.

Writes Seamus Heaney: In this wonderfully energetic recreation of the 8th Century masterpiece, Mr Eminem conveys a sense of spiritual and poetic discovery that we have not known since the work of Bob Dylan and John Lennon. I don’t want to "diss" more conventional poetry, but we must admire (cont. p. 94)
You can take the man of out of Armagh...

...but can you take the man from Armagh out of the Armani suit, as Princeton poet Paul Muldoon would say? And as Paul Muldoon wouldn't have added, if you do take the man out of Armagh, should you put him into the West Bank teaching Palestinians how to make bombs? Most certainly not. But it has happened nonetheless, according to various media reports this weekend; here's the BBC one.

The recurring claim in all the reports is that the person is a Real IRA member. Having them embarrassed by this would be a nice diversion for the Irish government from the fiasco of a trial of the group's alleged leader, in which the star witness David Rupert (in addition to comments we made in our post 2 weeks ago) has also claimed: that he was going to start an offshore Florida gambling operation with Generals Noriega and Pinochet, that he contemplated a career in pro-wrestling, that rumours about him and smuggling and drugs just reflected a persona that he had developed, and then there was some weird business about him and a possible statutory rape case in Alabama in the 1970s. A truly charming character -- with $1.5m of UK and US payoffs to his credit. But anyway, let's see what the Israelis make of their latest dubious visitor entering on a UK passport.

Update: The counterclaims begin. It's a case of mistaken identity and/or he's a peace activist, not a bombmaker. And doesn't everyone know that it's risky to rely on British intelligence as a source for something -- uranium purchases in Niger, Irishmen in Israel:

It was earlier reported that a British security services tip-off had led to the arrest of the man.
The Israeli government is not responding to questions about the case, but it is understood British intelligence had informed them of the man's presence.
[Irish Times Breaking News]

Friday, July 11, 2003

A pint of Diageo and a packet of layoffs, please

The indignities of Ireland's relations with Guinness in a globalised world continue. The stout is served too cold, faux draught concoctions are being developed under the Guinness brand, the company profits on the spread of Bud, and now, with the Irish economy extremely sluggish, they are laying off workers.

As the RTE story notes, the company isn't even called Guinness anymore; instead it's part of a global conglomerate called Diageo, a name that was presumably developed during the management consultant-induced craze for stupid corporate non-names of the 1990s (Altira, BearingPoint). Diageo's website wants us to be impressed that they have all these brands of alcohol under the same roof, but we prefer to think of booze as having some cultural specificity and not just another vehicle for synergy. For instance, Tanqueray and Guinness. What do they have in common other than a corporate parent? How would these fine Snoop Dogg lyrics look if we changed the two products?

Later on that day
My homey Dr. Dre came through with a gang of Tanqueray
And a fat ass J, of some bubonic chronic that made me choke
Sh*t, this ain't no joke
I had to back up off of it and sit my cup down
Tanqueray and chronic, yeah I'm f*cked up now

Not as f*cked up as those laid off workers.

UPDATE: Little did we know in choosing our heading above, referring to a packet of crisps, that they would end up figuring in the bad news too. But now Tayto, the inventor of the cheese and onion crisp, has also announced layoffs. The Celtic Tiger is not just dead, it's been stuffed and hung on a wall.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Bush's Revisionist Historians

There have been some strange appropriations of phrases by the Bush White House recently: discussing the distribution of the monetary benefits of tax cuts across income groups is class warfare, and seeking the truth about Saddam's WMD programs is revisionist history. Judging from today, it now appears that our conventional history of World War II was also put together by those pesky revisionist historians, and thankfully these guys are here to set us straight.

Today's update opens with a standard Opinionjournal tactic: when the Dear Leader has been totally busted on something, they launch into a long tirade about a seemingly unrelated matter, and by the end we are supposed to see the link to vindication of the Infallible One. In this case the argument is something about how the Democrats failed to make the Iran-Contra scandal stick, so they are on a loser about the WMDs as well. By the way, their analysis of why Iran-Contra didn't stick neatly skips over the endless stonewalling by the Reagan administration, up to and including possible lying by Reagan and his Vice-President, whose name escapes us right now.

But leave all this aside and look at their concluding paragraph:

Rumsfeld is exactly right [on how 9-11 affected view of Iraq], and the Democrats will self-destruct unless they grasp the political ramifications of the national epiphany that was Sept. 11. The response that "Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11," though possibly accurate, is beside the point--the equivalent of arguing in 1942 that Germany had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. FDR and Truman knew who America's enemies were, but many of their heirs seem not to.

There is so much insanity here, we're not sure where to begin. Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 is only a possibly accurate statement? And the Pope is possibly Jewish too. But it's the World War II "history" presented here that's most bogus. The supposed analogy is that Pearl Harbor = 9-11, and yet the US also made war against Germany = (Iraq) even though Germany (Iraq) and Japan (al Qaeda) were not connected.

Let's have some facts now:
1. The US didn't declare war on Germany following Pearl Harbor. Germany declared war on the US.
2. Germany and Japan had an explicit alliance, dating from 1940. It's called the Tripartite Pact, and it'll be covered in any decent (but now revisionist?) history of WWII.

In short, America's enemies had made themselves gleefully, and collectively, clear. No lies were required. Finally, note the return to one of Opinionjournal's favourite tropes, 9-11 as an epiphany. Once again, we refer one and all to the meaning of this word.
Keep and bear arms at the World Cafe

A couple of days ago we posted about an apparently growing business fad in which a group therapy methodology has taken over corporate meetings. [we even had an unfortunately apropos title, as you'll see]. Everyone sits around tables in small groups, gets in touch with their feelings, makes sure not to edit themselves, and expresses their anger at numbers, or whatever, by drawing colors and shapes on liberally distributed white paper. This is being flogged to corporations as the World Cafe method.

Maybe this fad has gotten a little closer to its point of logical absurdity. It took 15 years for the stock option craze to reach the point where everyone could see its underlying Heads I Win, Tails You Lose implementation. As far as we can tell from some web searching, the World Cafe method hit its stride in the late 1990s, but it's already at the point where it was being used as a solution for every corporate problem -- like how to deal with the gun-toting racist on the factory floor who liked to bait black workers into confrontations.

From today's New York Times, we learn that

On Monday, Mr. Williams [Lockheed Martin workplace mass killer], 48, told his father he was ticked off that he would have to attend an ethics and sensitivity training course the next morning, the authorities say. A few minutes after it began, Mr. Williams left the room, returned from his pickup truck armed to the teeth, and began blasting away at close range at people who had known him, and known of his quick temper and simmering hatred, for years.

An earlier Times story had noted the layout of the sensitivity training session in three round tables -- the classic layout of the corporate group therapy session. It's not entirely clear from the Times story, but it sounds like some of the previous victims of the killer's racist stunts were also attending the ethics and sensitivity training session. Because, as some facilitator doubtless told the group, we're not here to attribute blame. And please, make sure to turn off cellphones, and leave rifles and shotguns in your truck before you come in.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

A better class of global villain

With the way the White House is trying to argue there is a seamless web of international terrorism (Saddam, 9-11, Hezbollah, Hamas), we fear that they view their adversary as being like SPECTRE from the Bond movies: Osama, Saddam, various Saudi princes, Jacques Chirac, and Yassir Arafat all getting together for meetings in a Bauhaus-furnished lair with a mysterious Nehru-suited chairman behind a screen with a white cat in his lap. The truth is much closer to there being a bunch of disconnected bad guys operating out of caves and squabbling over expenses. And definitely with no sense of style.

Not that we want a supervillian of any sort, but in reading the financial pages today, we were struck by the possibilities presented by this story from the Wall Street Journal:

The takeover saga of Cordiant Communications Group [troubled UK advertising firm] took another turn Tuesday after a mysterious Paris-based chess patroness increased her stake in Cordiant to nearly 11% from 2%.

Cordiant, whose board has recommended a proposed takeover by fellow British advertising holding company WPP Group, said late Tuesday that it had received a letter from lawyers for Nahed Ojjeh saying that as of Friday, Ms. Ojjeh owned a roughly 10.75% stake in Cordiant.

Ms. Ojjeh is a Paris-based chess patroness, and daughter of the Syrian defense minister, who surfaced last week as the owner of a 2% stake in Cordiant. Ms. Ojjeh couldn't be reached to comment and her intentions couldn't be learned.

This profile seems to mingle the plots of so many Bond villains: the obscure sporting interest, the sudden rise to prominence in a financial deal, the intriguing background -- want to bet that there are multiple intelligence agency files on the wealthy daughter of the Syrian defense minister? Of course the truth is undoubtedly more prosaic: she's just a member of the educated Arab elite, with a ton of money. And how evil can a chess patroness be?
Irish chefs do it better

We were a little surprised but nonetheless impressed to see the New York Times report today on a noisy but ultimately inconsequential Dublin story from yesterday, namely the acquittal of celebrity chef Conrad Gallagher of the theft of three paintings from the hotel within which his Dublin restaurant was located, and the fraudulent sale of one of the pictures. The NYT put the story in their metro section, reflecting the fact that Gallagher was seeking to relaunch his career in Manhattan. Conrad seems to have dealt with his ordeal pretty well, and for someone facing such apparently incriminating evidence, the same roguish charm that helped his business likely endeared him to the jury as well. He does however strike us as being a bit optimistic about his ability to return to the US -- it's a post 9-11 world for immigrants, and he was arrested on an Irish extradition warrant, spent a night in a Brooklyn jail, and was deported. That'll make for an interesting visa application.

But anyway, visa problems or not, Conrad is in much better shape that some of his celebrity chef counterparts in other countries. He's fairly sane, and alive. French culinary society seemed to take weeks to get over the suicide of chef Bernard Loiseau, and there's an ongoing inquest in London into the death of aspiring celebrity chef David Dempsey, who didn't survive a cocaine-fuelled rampage in Chelsea. A very English verdict of death by misadventure seems inevitable. It's perhaps too facile to speculate whether it's something about the business that especially lends itself to such extreme behaviour.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Naked Savage

True or False question.
The following statements are equivalent:
(a) Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas
(b) You should only get AIDS and die, you pig

If you answered True i.e. that the statements are equivalent, then you are eligible to write for the shock-and-awe zone of incomprehensibility that is We've posted before about some of the strange rhetoric found on this site: 9-11 as an Epiphany; Michigan affirmative action case proves that Bush wasn't lying about WMDs. Our hunch is that these excursions into lunacy are driven by stress, and after all, the guys over there wrote this one with the Bush Infallibility Doctrine crashing around them with the grudging admission there was rien to that story about Saddam getting uranium from Niger.

So what's their "logic" this time? Well, the Dixie chicks said something people didn't like: (a). Mike Savage said something people didn't like: (b). There was criticism of both. Then in the case of the Dixie Chicks, there was criticism of the criticism. So the same people who criticised the Dixie Chicks critics should now be criticising the Savage critics. They are not. QED.

At the risk of spelling it out, an increasingly necessary risk these days, let's just note the essential difference between the political nature of what the Chicks said, and the maliciously personal nature of what Savage said. Or is criticising Bush maliciously personal? Note also that what disturbed people about the reaction to the Dixie Chicks was the extent to which it was orchestrated by a multi-media conglomerate, Clear Channel. Is Mike Savage's career similarly strangled by the vast marketing and distribution power of er...MSNBC?

But above all, why don't the guys at Opinionjournal just let the market render its verdict on the criticism of the Chicks and Savage? Let's see if Savage is selling books and filling arenas in two months from now in the way that the gals were able to recover from their mauling. Or even if he's posing naked for Entertainment Weekly.
First, we kill all the facilitators

P O'Neill is cursed to work for a large organisation. While this provides good Internet connections for blogging, there are some big downsides. Somehow we had managed to escape a heinous trend up until last month but we have now endured three meetings in four weeks which were organised around the same format. We assume that this trend is now all the rage in business schools and in the pages of the Harvard Business Review, so we feel compelled to warn those of you out there who haven't encountered it yet; if you work for an organisation of any size, you will. It's a development of a philosophy that was already used in corporate retreats: large group meets together, then divides into sub-groups for discussion of specific topics, then reconvenes for a plenary session where the sub-group discussions are summarised.

So what's new? Well, some unholy alliance of anthropologists and MBAs has hijacked the format, and now market themselves (doubtless for huge consulting fees) as facilitators. Now each group gets a huge flipchart to work with. There's an emphasis on capturing the immediacy of thoughts, so your table is covered with blank paper so any brainwave can be written down immediately. There can be different coloured pens to capture different types of idea. When writing down ideas, shapes and images are preferred to English. Sometimes, the idea can itself be written down on a shape, where the type of shape (or its colour) represents a genre of idea.

To mix things up, the composition of groups is changed frequently. So we all reintroduce ourselves and tell our lifestories again. Which is supposed to lead to more great ideas. After the second set of introductions today, we were thinking: is this a corporate meeting, or a group therapy session? Perhaps it would help the format if someone with no fear of being fired told their story like Dr childhood was normal, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons... at the age of 14 a Zoroastrian named Vilma etc etc. All the while, the facilitator travels between tables to make sure the discussion is proceeding smoothly, and that each group has appointed a rapporteur -- as hierarchical as these corporate BS sessions are allowed to get.

We have several problems with this. First and foremost, it's a total waste of time. What emerges at the end is an unstructured wish list of corporate changes, which managers must inevitably whittle down and edit -- leaving what could have been gleaned from simple everyday office conversations, no pricey consultants required. In addition, like many of its bogus management theory predecessors, the underlying justification for this approach is built on a fallacy. This website describes the technique and justification. Note that the technique is being marketed as the World Cafe, so when you see these words on the memo describing your next corporate retreat, start working on your excuse to get out.

And the justification for the technique, as the name tries to capture, is the claim that many great things have emerged from casual conversations; indeed if we are to believe the website, the cafe style conversation format brought about the American and French revolutions, and the Northern European economic renaissance. But note the complete lack of scientific evidence for any of this. Note too the fallacy: good ideas have come out of casual round-table conversations, ergo, lets have lots of round table conversations and therefore we'll have lots of good ideas. DUDES! What about all the bad ideas that have come out of casual table conversations? Munich beer halls and Laffer curves drawn on napkins? And what about all the non-ideas -- the ones that would be sensibly dropped after two minutes of truly casual conversation, but which live on indefinitely in the flipcharts (and the essential digital photos thereof), coded shapes and colors, and plenary sessions of World Cafe meetings?

Go to the World Cafe website. And weep for a nation that allows the promoters of such trash to make a living.
We'll have what they're having

We posted yesterday about the narrow rejection by the voters of Corsica of the possibility of somewhat greater autonomy from Paris, and noted the analogy with the preference of a small, but perhaps growing, number of residents of Northern Ireland for full integration with the UK as opposed to a greater measure of self-rule, since much of the current political crisis in Unionism relates to how to work within the new self-rule institutions. But full integration with the UK would come with its own complications.

One springs to mind upon seeing this BBC story: the little known fact (outside Ireland) that getting an abortion is just as difficult in Northern Ireland as it is in the Republic. The Republic's travails with abortion legislation are fairly well-known, having attracted the attention of pro-life groups in the US in several heated constitutional debates. The current position regarding abortion in the Republic is a confusing amalgam of 19th century UK legislation and a pro-life amendment to the Constitution that was intended to strengthen the inherited legislative ban but ended up (as was predicted when the amendment was being voted upon) weakening it. In particular, the Republic now has a "health" exception to the ban on abortion, which the courts have read as including the mental health of the mother.

This is all of intense interest to the legal eagles, but it doesn't actually change the position on the ground for a woman with an unwanted pregnancy, who must travel to a clinic in the Britain. Which in fact is exactly the position in Northern Ireland, which is after all, in the UK. But the landmark legislation legalising abortion in England and Wales was passed in 1967, when Northern Ireland had its own parliament, and one point of convergence amidst the general sectarian tensions was the view that NI should not have legal abortion. Of course, medically necessary abortions can be performed, which leaves a substantial grey area, and the BBC story concerns a legal attempt to have this grey area codified. But the subtext, which pro-life groups understand, and pro-choice groups disengenuously deny, was an attempt to get the 1967 legislation extended to NI.

So we can think of at least two groups who would see downsides to governing NI exactly like every other part of the UK: pro-life groups in the North and in the Republic. That depressing trip by ferry or plane for an English abortion would become a more easily concealed depressing trip by car, bus, or train to somewhere in Northern Ireland. One less sin that could be dumped across the water.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Take your autonomy and stuff it

A small island located near a large country, where most people in the small island and the larger country speak the same language and have been closely integrated since the early 19th century despite distinctive cultural traditions, and lingering separatist sentiment on the island. Yes, it makes sense that we Irish should pay at least a little bit of attention to news events in Corsica.

In passing, it's worth noting the little irony that history's most famous Corsican, born there in the days before it was French, went on to lead France into battle against the United Kingdom, whose troops were commanded by the Duke of Wellington, born in Ireland before it was part of the UK. And no, we're not offering some alternative version of Irish history here. Ireland joined the UK in 1801; check out some of the gory details on the Shamrockshire Eagle.

Anyway, as is fairly widely reported today, the voters of Corsica issued a very narrow Non to plans for somewhat increased autonomy from France. The alignment of voters on this issue seems somewhat unusual. The most pro-nationalist groups favoured a Yes vote, bucking the perception that more nationalist would equate to rejecting anything that fell short of complete autonomy. Seeing that nationalists favoured a Yes vote, this seems to have awakened sentiment of if they're for it, we're against it amongst the integrationists. Whose integrationist sentiment could well be explained by the generous French public sector.

It also seems that some swing voters were unimpressed by stunt politics, and in particularly an intriguingly timed swoop late last week to capture a nationalist fugitive, who hadn't gone to especially great lengths to hide himself (e.g. like leaving Corsica).

So as things stand now, Corsica will remain just another department (or rather, two departments) of France. There has always been some element in Northern Ireland that likewise favoured complete integration with the UK and with the bitter infighting in Unionism about how to work with nationalists in governing NI, there could well be a temptation amongst local politicians to view implementing orders from London as easier than looking across the table at Gerry Adams.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Independence Day Update

Today we'll be standing in the sweltering heat grilling burgers and chicken while our guests yell, like Dubya to the Iraqi guerillas, Bring 'em On! But we couldn't help but notice some bits of news about some of our recent topics:

The Irish reality TV show, the one putting the contestants on a ship, except the ship sank? They got a new ship, but one of the contestants has now fled the show, citing seasickness, and the ship itself broke down. Gearbox troubles, apparently.

Those rich fat Oirish guys who are the biggest shareholders in Manchester United? They are thinking about selling their stake, prompting fears of a takeover of the club, by other fat rich guys. We weep for the fans of the world's biggest football club.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

English football: now leased out

Over the last couple of months, the average fan of English soccer has been reminded that as much of the action can be off the field as on it. First, the worlds biggest football club sold its biggest star to some other club from Madrid. And then the fans of Chelsea football club woke up to find out that the club had a new owner, a Russian billionaire. As it happens, the fans seem pragmatically sanguine about this apparent loss of domestic influence in the homeland of Association Football -- perhaps reasoning that if foreigners are falling over themselves to pay huge sums of money for English stuff, then so much the better. In addition, they have plenty of practice of seeing their top clubs as playthings of rich guys.

Check out the cover of today's Irish Times -- it shows three fat rich guys working through a round of golf in County Kildare, one of those tournaments in which the fat rich guys get to play with the top stars. Of the three, two are the biggest individual shareholders in Manchester United, and the other is biggest shareholder in Glasgow Celtic. And if you want an illustration of the difference between "Irish" and "Oirish", these guys are it. They trade on the brogue, but their world of international wheeling and dealing (not to mention tax avoidance) has them outside the country as much they are in it. In fact, we're willing to bet that the Russian billionaire spends more nights in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea than JP Mcmanus (one of the Oirish guys) spends in Ireland.

Within the world of vanity investments, we think the Russian guy actually did a pretty good deal. The reporting of the deal seems inordinantly focused on the fact that in addition to paying 60 million quid to buy the club, he's assuming another 80 million in debt. But Dudes! It's not like the club has no assets! Leaving aside the property, Chelsea has a pretty entertaining fan base to trade on. One of the typically specific details about an early 1990s political sex scandal in the Tory government involved a minister's preference for wearing the jersey of his beloved Chelsea while er...bonking.

More seriously, Chelsea qualified for the Champions League next season. So (pending the minor matter of a play-in game in August), the new owner gets to see his team play the top teams in Europe next season. This BBC interview with him raises (and then dodges) the question of the shady provenance of Russian wealth, but compared to other club owners, can this guy be any dodgier than the owner of AC Milan, Mr Silvio Berlusconi?

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Another tasteful, classy English marketing campaign

Continuing the theme from yesterday, those tasteful Brits are at it again. Wednesday's Wall Street Journal reports (sub. reqd) on an ad campaign that already got a lot of buzz in the UK. It's for the discount airline EasyJet, which engages in brutal price and non-price competition with Irish competitor Ryanair. The WSJ gives a straightforward explanation:

For the past two weeks, ads in newspapers and in outdoor posters have featured a picture of an oversized, bikini-covered woman's chest. In London, the ads got prominent placement on sidewalk poster-stand sites, so it hasn't been uncommon for people walking down the street to suddenly discover a large bosom in their sightline. The tag line, a cheeky nod to the Iraq war: "Discover weapons of mass distraction."

If you're already laughing, then more (unintended) hilarity is on the way via the airline's "defence" of the ad:

EasyJet says the bosom shot is all in good fun. "It's meant to be tongue-in-cheek," Mr. Nicol says. "It's meant to be sexy rather than sexist."

Note the classic Spinal Tap reference in the second sentence. If you must see the ad, then the best we can do is point you to this useful Guardian site, which collects a lot of ad campaign material. Scroll down a bit to see it, and a few other ones too. Remember, they are sexy, not sexist. Sort of like Roxxoff.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

A tasteful, classy, English marketing campaign

We posted the other day about the intertwined relationship between beer giants Anheuser-Busch and Guinness, as reflected in the marketing of A-B's Irish style stout, Bare Knuckle. Well, A-B's rollout of their pugilistically name beer seems like a model of decorum compared to a marketing campaign currently being inflicted on Britain and Ireland. Today's Irish Times reports (may require subs) that the trade association for Irish publicans is warning its members to avoid stocking a soon to be distributed English alcoholic beverage called Roxxoff. Roxxoff is within the class of beverages known in Britain and Ireland as "alcopops", and Americans will recognise the genre by its general description: fruit flavoured beverages containing some (but not much) hard liquor, pre-mixed and sold in bottles.

It's difficult to overstate the tackiness of the publicity campaign for this drink. We're sufficiently out of touch with the current state of English in the land of Shakespeare to be not even sure as to the exact sexual innuendo the name invokes, but anyone can get the general idea. The ingredient list claims to include Chinese herbal aphrodisiacs, and it didn't take long for the English media to christen Roxxoff and similar products as Viagrapops. We doubt that either Pfizer or the drink manufacturers are complaining. But the Irish trade association is unhappy and offers the not unreasonable critique that

The name and marketing of this product is associated with sexual success which is absolutely outrageous and totally unacceptable. It is obviously aimed at young people and it is blatant exploitation without any thought for the serious consequences it could have on their lives.

It's fair to say that this basically correct position is not motivated entirely by altruism, but reflects that the fact that drinking in Ireland is a hot-button issue, with concerns about violence, drunk driving, and under-age drinking, so Roxxoff is arriving at exactly the wrong time in PR terms. We wish them well in their attempts to keep it out, but the media steamroller is already moving -- set in motion by their reaction.

In fact this whole marketing campaign shows just how easy media manipulation is. Roxxoff is being brought to the world not by a large conglomerate (with a global image to worry about), but a small wine distributer in the southeast of England. This stuff probably costs pennies per bottle to make -- vats of cheap vodka, fruit concentrate, and, oh yes, those Chinese aphrodisiacs. Then just fax a few newspapers your sales pitch, and presto, you don't even to have run ads. Note that this Observer article (and by the way, the Observer might think of itself as a paper above this sort of trash marketing) includes a correction saying that the original article falsely claimed that (Kylie sister) Dannii Minogue would be appearing in the Roxxoff ads.

Who told them that she would be? It doesn't say, but we'd guess that little detail was in the original fax, as classic bait for a lazy journalist. Our Google search for this post also revealed that many papers around the world had picked up one of the original newspaper pieces -- without the Dannii correction of course. The company can make a fortune over the summer with the resulting publicity, and then just pull the drink off the shelves when the uproar becomes too much. And then the cycle begins again.