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8926  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Christopher Hitchens on: December 06, 2007, 04:17:44 pm
Neither here nor there, he's interesting for sure.

His brother is nuts though.

Well Pretty much.

Though I often find with Christopher that what he likes to do is to find a fashionable POV in certain popular circles (The war in Iraq was for oil, Mother Theresa was a saint...) and then try and to demolish it to show what an iconoclast he is. I don't know much about his militant Atheism; other than expressing such a view puts him way down on my pedestal of writers and thinkers I care about.
8927  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Which of the two preceding posters is more like Barry Goldwater? on: December 06, 2007, 12:37:58 pm

3001 Posts! I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad.
8928  Election Archive / 2008 U.S. Presidential Primary Election Polls / Re: Rasmussen: Clinton at several month low, Huckabee leads on: December 06, 2007, 09:31:45 am
Historically, racist voting in the States has been every bit as common in affluent suburbs as working class areas. Just saying.

I never said it didn't. (nor with religious voting; that is why specifically I didn't mention North Carolina or Florida on my list.)
8929  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Is the individual pictured in the preceding post closer to fascist or communist? on: December 06, 2007, 09:29:19 am
Fascist. Obviously. The number one enemy of the Irish state - apart from those in power of course. Tongue

8930  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Though Christopher Hitchens sucks it up in debate, D'Souza still doesn't get it. on: December 06, 2007, 09:26:08 am
Apart from agreeing pretty much entirely with Al (and to point out what he is describing is pretty much the opposite of rational, logic and scientific thinking. So much for using science...)
I have only one thing really to say...

Who really cares what those two blowhards think?
8931  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Teen births up for first time in 15 years on: December 06, 2007, 05:43:25 am
From general observation as well as statistics it is true in general that most teen pregnancies occur among the "lower classes" in society.

This should not be understood to mean that the poorest are having more sex than those who are "middle" or "upper" class.
8932  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ireland General Discussion on: December 06, 2007, 05:30:39 am
Here is the rest...

His wife, Patricia, an accountant, was also on the bank's board. Whenever John Ellis flew to Karachi for a bank meeting he was accommodated in the five-star Sheraton Hotel and accorded the normal courtesies extended to a member of a foreign parliament. In 1999, the last year it traded, Indus Bank was listed 17th in the Banker's Almanac and had total assets of about $59m before Musharraf 's military coup.

Ellis and his two brothers had seen the collapse of their meat factory in Donegal a decade earlier, leaving creditor farmers unpaid in the northwest of Ireland. In December 1989, Charlie Haughey, then Taoiseach of a Fianna Fail/PD coalition with a majority of one Dail seat, gave Ellis 12,400 from the party leader's account to cancel out bankruptcy proceedings initiated against him by Manorhamilton Mart.

Around the same time, National Irish Bank wrote off a 260,000 debt, sparking a flurry of allegations in the Dail about possible Fianna Fail influence in the bank's decision. John Ellis issued a public statement saying he did not have the wherewithal to discharge the debt and that he was acutely conscious of the fragility of the government's majority; knowing that, if declared bankrupt, he would lose his Dail seat.

He said he informed the then minister for finance, Albert Reynolds, of his predicament and added: "I understand that at the same time, Albert Reynolds was informing the bank of my dire circumstances and, in effect, pleaded for leniency for me." Reynolds denied having interceded on his behalf and the bank's boss, Jim Lacey, confirmed that the finance minister had not made representations to him on behalf of Ellis.

Less than two years after that controversy, John Ellis was invited to sit on the inaugural board of Indus Bank in November 1991 by its chairman, Khurshid Sohail. Ellis has said he first met Sohail in 1980 when the Karachi-businessman came to Ireland scouting for an investment in the textile industry.

According to Shahid Izbal, a financial journalist with Pakistan's biggest-selling Englishlanguage newspaper, Dawn, the application for the banking licence was made by Sohail's brother, Tariq Sohail, then a leading member of Benazir Bhutto's People's Party.

It was reported one of Ellis's fellow directors in the Indus Bank was Haroon Rashid Kahlon, a recipient of one of the 11 passports-for-sale infamously processed by former justice minister Ray Burke and personally handed over to Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz by Charlie Haughey in his house, Abbeville, on a Saturday in December 1990.

The Saudi-born sheikh, one of the world's richest men, with banks in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and oil interests in the US and the Middle East and a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, undertook to invest 20m in various Irish businesses in return for naturalisation. Kerry Airport and Butler Engineering, owned by a supporter of Fianna Fail, were among the beneficiaries.

Political instability Sheikh bin Mahfouz is accused by name in a trillion-dollar lawsuit filed by families of 9/11 victims, alleging he financed alQaida. In the early 1990s he and Kahlon, the Indus Bank director, were investigated in the US for an attempt to defraud the Bank of Credit & Commerce International (BCCI) customers of $10bn. The charges against them were dropped in a pleabargaining arrangement that required them to pay $225m in compensation. The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed the men's Irish passports have never been revoked.

Meanwhile, back in Karachi, Indus Bank was floundering by the late 1990s. Pakistan has only had independence for 60 years and decades of political instability had taken their toll on the economy. Despite a current upturn in the economy, a recent report by the Asian Development Bank described Pakistan as a country with "poor governance, endemic corruption and social indicators that are among the worst in Asia".

Conditions were exacerbated by the imposition of US and NATO economic sanctions in 1998 after the country carried out nuclear tests. Amid this turmoil, Indus Bank became the first Pakistani bank to have its licence withdrawn, following an investigation by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). On foot of a formal complaint by the SBP, the chairman, Khurshid Sohail, was arrested on 30 October 2000 and accused of siphoning off bank deposits of more than 1.6m. He was also charged with illegally obtaining loans from Indus Bank in the names of various companies for his personal use. Sohail's son was among three of his co-accused.

John and Patricia Ellis, as directors, were named as corespondents in the early proceedings, though there was never a suspicion of wrongdoing by them. Legal documentation claimed their appointments were "of no legal effect" and that they had been brought in by Sohail despite their apparent lack of banking experience. The case was prosecuted under the National Accountability Bill (NAB), an autonomous wing of the army created by Musharraf, and Sohail was released on 20 December 2002 on two bail bonds of five million rupees ( 56,000) each.

While the denouement of the Indus Bank was in train, a row broke out back in Dail Eireann concerning "a murky tale" of a new honorary consul's appointment in Pakistan. The previous consul, Nadeem Bag, had sued the Irish government for his dismissal in 1998 and his case was settled out of court. He claimed he was sacked after preparing a report for the Department of Foreign Affairs on the Indus Bank affair. In a High Court affidavit, Beg described the bank's chairman, Khurshid Sohail as "a controversial character who does not enjoy a good reputation".

After Beg's dismissal, the Irish ambassador in Tehran (which also covers Pakistan) interviewed 12 candidates seeking the honorary position but the man who finally got the job, Hasib Ahsan, was not one of them. It emerged in a Dail debate on 26 October 2000 that he had been appointed on the recommendation of Fianna Fail backbencher John Ellis. Calling for an examination of the appointment by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Fine Gael's Jim O'Keeffe claimed Ahsan was "a friend and associate of Mr Sohail". (The joint committee never did investigate the appointment. ) Since then, John Ellis lost his Dail seat in the May general election and was appointed to the Seanad last summer by the Taoiseach as one of his 11 nominees.

Just over seven years since the collapse of the Indus Bank, he told the Sunday Tribune he had not been in Pakistan in 20 years and described as "more bull" the allegation that he recommended Ahsan for the honorary consul's job.

"I never had any direct dealings there, " he said.

"But you were a director of the Indus Bank?"

"I had resigned years before anything happened, " said Ellis.

"The owners and directors were all exonerated."

And Khurshid Sohail?

"He was fully vindicated."

Back in Pakistan, journalist Shahid Izbal begs to differ. "I don't think that is correct. Mr Sohail got out of jail five years ago and left Pakistan. His whereabouts are unknown."

A little Dubious no doubt (why would Musharraf call Reynolds, of all people, after 9\11?) but still...
8933  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ireland General Discussion on: December 06, 2007, 05:29:44 am
@Jas: Did read the Tribune on Sunday. In particular the article on the relationship between Albert Reynolds, John Ellis (Ex-FF TD for Leitrim) and Pakistan?

There was a whole section of articles dedicated to attacking to FF. And while it was typically sensationalistic, I have to say if half the stuff there is true...

Long time since I went to the bother of getting a Sunday paper (it's not hard to be disenchanted at the choice on offer)...so, no 'fraid I know nothing of the Turbine's reportage of late...but do feel free to enlighten.

I tend to agree with you on Sunday papers; even The Sunday Times isn't much; except the Culture section and Brian Appleyard. I read this just yesterday when I was in the NUIM library skiving off studying preparing for some work.

Found it here:

THE name of Fianna Fail does not trip lightly off everyday conversation in downtown Karachi.

They have enough political intrigue of their own in Pakistan to occupy the chattering salons, what with the Supreme Court being emasculated and the media decimated under emergency rule.

But, in the week when president Pervez Musharraf finally climbed out of his general's uniform, Fianna Fail's links with the south Asian nuclear power grew ever more fascinating.

"I haven't been in Pakistan for a lifetime nearly, " replied the Taoiseach's Seanad nominee John Ellis, when asked about his directorship of a nowdefunct bank in Karachi. In response to an enquiry if Albert Reynolds had ever told him about Reynolds' history-making relationship with Musharraf, Ellis asked: "No. Why would he?"

"Because you're friends."

"It's still being said that we're very close friends. That's newspapers for you . . . tomorrow's fish 'n' chips. We would be political friends. That'd be the height of it, " said the Leitrim senator.

"We're neighbours as well. Our counties are beside each other and I've a lot of his relations living near me."

In recent radio interviews on RTE and Today FM, former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds recounted his kingmaking role in extolling Musharraf 's credentials to an initially hostile White House after a bloodless military coup in Pakistan in 1999.

"A business associate of mine invited me to travel there, to go and see him [Musharraf ] and to talk about becoming his consultant, his advisor, " said Reynolds, who was still a TD for Longford-Westmeath at the time of these events. According to the former Fianna Fail leader, he rang US president Bill Clinton on his private phone and arranged to meet him in Washington. At that meeting, Reynolds assured Clinton that, despite a US policy of not supporting leaders of coups d'etat, Musharraf could be trusted.

He said that on the night of 9/11, Musharraf rang Reynolds at his home in Dublin and asked him to inform the US that he would be "their number-one supporter". On another occasion, the Pakistani dictator invited the former Taoiseach to broker peace in Kashmir and, though that exercise was not realised, Clinton's successor, George W Bush, refers to Musharraf as "my buddy" to this day.

Reynolds said he has travelled to Pakistan three times. He was the Irish government's delegate to an international donors' conference in the capital, Islamabad, in November 2005, after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in the north of the country the previous month.

Five-star Sheraton Hotel He returned six months later, in May 2006, to deliver a speech entitled 'Competitiveness Strategies: Lessons Learned from Ireland' at a conference organised by the Pakistani government and financed by the US Agency for International Development. He was made honorary chairman of the Ireland-Pakistan Business Council when it was launched in Dublin in November 2005. In an address to the council in November last year, Reynolds described Musharraf as "a courageous person" who deserved to be at the helm of Pakistan.

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country on earth, with the world's second-largest Muslim population. Not the sort of place one expects to bump into a distant neighbour from back home. But at the time of Reynolds' first trip to the country . . . the one when he was introduced to Musharraf . . . another Fianna Fail backbencher was already a frequent visitor to Karachi.

Farmer and failed meat-factory owner John Ellis was a founding director of Indus Bank, a private bank established in the Peshawar province in 1992.

8934  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Name the ideology of the preceding poster... on: December 05, 2007, 04:33:59 pm
Stalwart of TEH GAYS AGENDA OMG!!!1111
8935  Election Archive / 2008 U.S. Presidential Primary Election Polls / Re: Rasmussen: Clinton at several month low, Huckabee leads on: December 05, 2007, 04:32:46 pm
I agree. If Huckabee is nominated it would be terrible for the GOP in the Northeast. Not only would he lose all 9 states (which is a given at this point) but they'd lose even more Congressmen than last year's wipeout.

I don't even like thinking of a Huckabee victory at this point. A Baptist Minister as our President? The current president is too intrusively religious as it is.

True about the North East (Though should we really count PA among that category? MD is actually a better fit in all but geography.)

Though I was mainly thinking about states like Colorado, Arizona (a little), Florida and Virginia. Under that matchup I would except also to be see big D swings in Alaska and Indiana (though probably not enough to win them either state.)

On the other hand; with Huckabee in the driving seat; The GOP wouldn't have to worry about AR (obviously) or WV. And possibly IA too. Might even do better in MI, MN and WI: Assuming that religion isn't too big a factor.
8936  Election Archive / 2008 U.S. Presidential Primary Election Polls / Re: Rasmussen: Clinton at several month low, Huckabee leads on: December 05, 2007, 04:16:25 pm
Somehow looking at those candidates and assuming that attitudes towards Obama's race (or Huckabee's "jesus juice" ftm.) won't be too big an issue, I'd have to say we will probably see an even greater shift of wealthier more "middle class" states into the Democratic column than we have already.

This is of course just a guess knowing what I do about both candidates and US politics (though I'm still Al and the likes could add more.)

If Huckabee's wins btw it would show that alot of the opposition to GWB has been more "personal" than "political"; supersoulty is right here, a vote for Huckabee is a vote to re-elect GWB; except with more protectionism. From what I can see.
8937  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ireland General Discussion on: December 05, 2007, 04:08:28 pm
@Jas: Did you read the Tribune on Sunday? In particular the article on the relationship between Albert Reynolds, John Ellis (Ex-FF TD for Leitrim) and Pakistan?

There was a whole section of articles dedicated to attacking to FF. And while it was typically sensationalistic, I have to say if half the stuff there is true...
8938  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: What issues matter to you most going into 2008? on: December 05, 2007, 04:02:32 pm
For me the Non-American:

1. A generally loose term I'd call "moral values"; this should not mean as it seems to do OMG TEH GAYS!!1111 or OMG FETUSES!1111 but rather the way the US projects its self out to the world; under Bush it has became more insular, more parochial and much more nationalistic (in these ways Bushs most natural successor is Ron Paul; but that is another matter entirely) at the expense of the other nations of the world. Everything about the Bush presidency stunk of high hypocrisy and criminality. And that Americans can elected him and then re-elected him puts them down pretty low in my list of people with morals. The next president should hopefully return to classical values of America, not home grown intolerance and fundamentalism but the values of the Enlightment and its thinkers - especially Thomas Paine, its classical believe in individualism and choice (but not where that means at the expense of the other guy to get higher up the ladder; the ideology of Bush-Reaganism) and the ability to express one's opinions and views in a truly democratic manner - to restore the culture of Democracy to land of debate and ideas about where America "the light of all mankind" can go from here.

Of course here I am not holding my breath given the candidates...

Everything else is pretty irrelevant compared to the above.
#2: Foreign Policy
#3: Corporate and Business law and regulation.
#4: Income Disparity - Actually that is a pretty unamerican concept; a return to a meritocratic economic system as opposed to the recent Brazilification of American (and thus Western, including Ireland) society
#5: Education
8939  Forum Community / Forum Community Election Match-ups / Re: Another Ultimate Battle on: December 05, 2007, 03:50:48 pm
I voted for Gully Foyle because I live in a suburb, so clearly I have to vote for the ticket containing suburbs. I also kind of like the idea of sharing the position of VP with about 150 million other people.

The big question here is whether you would be part of the Executive or legislative branch.

Personally I don't really understand why BRTD hates me. But *shrugs*
8940  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: are you more conservative or liberal than the preceding atlasian? on: December 05, 2007, 03:49:39 pm
That Depends.

But I'd say liberal.
8941  Forum Community / Forum Community Election Match-ups / Re: Gabu vs. BRTD on: December 05, 2007, 01:32:40 pm
8942  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: What is "Pro-Life" in terms of its philosophy? on: December 05, 2007, 01:26:27 pm
There is no pro-choice and pro-life. There's only pro-abortion and anti-abortion.

Personally, I don't like the term "pro-abortion" either because it sounds like the person is in favor of abortions occurring, as if the person wants them to happen.  A person who favors the legality of abortion need not think that all women ought to go out and get an abortion because they're kick ass.

But, of course, this is politics, and anything over two or three syllables to your average voter might as well be a Ph.D dissertation.

I'm trying to stay user-friendly here. If you make the statement I made, people will nod their heads thoughtfully. If you make the longer statement, which I agree with in principle, people will call you a pretentious douche.

Well, I prefer being a pretentious douche over being what I perceive as incorrect. Tongue
8943  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Fetus' POV on: December 03, 2007, 04:48:12 pm
First two paragraphs represent why I can't countenance abortion.

Yes; but I still don't think it should be illegal.
8944  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ireland General Discussion on: December 03, 2007, 12:34:46 pm
I wasn't saying that you said/implied/felt differently - I was just giving my own thoughts.

I'm just saying I think that this blogger's anger is at least somewhat misdirected.
The people have spoken...they don't care.

(I actually think it's quite remarkable that politics has cleaned up as much as it has in the past 20 or so years given just how often the public are willing to re-elect some of these people.)

I actually tend to agree with that second bit. Actually I reckon the tone of blog is at times so very shrill it reminds people of what is so common about a certain crowd of Irish political commentators who seem to exist to remind people of their own self-importance (not that this blogger nor more Importantly, I - am ever that shrill. Tongue). Just a needed reminder.

Btw, what gives your assertion that politics is much more clean than 20 years ago? (Not hard it has to be said.) Apart from the fact that we all KNOW that corruptions is going on\has gone on and o\c the laborious tribunals. 
8945  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ireland General Discussion on: December 03, 2007, 09:57:12 am


Seems to me the voters are happy enough to laugh along...the vast majority of the matters in the list were well known prior to the election and yet FF were returned with roughly the same proportion of votes as last time.

To me, the more interesting side to all this is not that FF have been involved in all this, but that the voters have implicitly accepted the behaviour and/or FF's response to it.

I never said they didn't. As a matter of fact that is what I have always maintained. Haven't I quoted it before "There is nothing wrong with Fianna Fail that isn't wrong with Ireland, and there isn't anything wrong with Ireland that isn't wrong with Fianna Fail"?

I just found the link Amusing.
8946  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Comedy Goldmine 3: The Mineshaft--SHAFT! on: December 03, 2007, 06:18:40 am



8947  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ireland General Discussion on: December 02, 2007, 07:26:13 pm
Best. Blog. Post. EVER


P.S: Support Digout Day! (see sig)
8948  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Is Russia a Fascist State? on: December 02, 2007, 04:59:42 pm
Putin is not a fascist; he is an old school Russian Nationalist who represents the more authoritian elements of the traditional state Appartus (Such as the KGB\FSB; the KGB were mainly never really communists; just loyal to the state - whoever ran it. Putin is part of that class.)

He reminds me of Napoleon III in strange ways.

8949  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Do you support legalization of heroine? on: December 02, 2007, 10:24:56 am
DWTL, who do you want to regulate the heroin. The government?
8950  General Discussion / History / Re: did the working class ever hold political power in Bolshevist Russia? on: December 02, 2007, 10:23:02 am
did the working class ever hold political power in Bolshevist Russia?

In general, no.

But if you were a loyal Bolshevik, they would love you.

EDIT: Of course talking about a 'working class' in Pre-1920s Russia is somewhat problematic; at the very least that class was nothing like its counterparts in Britain or France. Funnily enough Russia needed the communist to invent a western style working class.
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