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Don’t get your milk out for the lads

Compared to the cataclysmic events unfolding in the Ukraine and throughout the Middle East, the two items that caught my eye in today’s papers may seem insignificant.

But, as the modern banality goes, less is more. Sometimes it’s tiny stories that tell a big one.

One such story involves a Buckinghamshire woman who was banned from breastfeeding her baby in public, by poolside to be exact.

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What Dubya said, Putin does

George W. Bush had a way with words that made Mrs Malaprop come across as a precise stylist.

In one of his more memorable pronouncements, Dubya declared: “Our enemies… never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

Dubya was trying to reassure Americans that his efforts to protect the country matched the efforts of those trying to harm it. Alas, his verbal proficiency wasn’t quite up to the task of enunciating even simple thoughts.

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How to end 2,000 years of Christianity in the Middle East

In common with all sensible men, I’m uneasy about conspiracy theories – this without denying that perfectly non-theoretical conspiracies have been known to exist (bolshevism springs to mind).

In that spirit, and in contradiction to plentiful evidence, I don’t believe Messrs Bush and Blair hatched a plot to drive Christianity out of the Middle East.

Yet I struggle to imagine what they would have done differently had that indeed been their aim.

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One unequivocally positive outcome of the Gaza conflict

Now that the Gaza ceasefire seems to be holding up, post-mortems are the order of the day (no pun intended).

The Israelis credibly claim they’ve achieved their military objectives: destroying the tunnels out of which terrorists crawl like deadly rats, wiping out rocket launchers, killing high-ranking murderers and in general teaching Hamas a lesson that may take some time to unlearn.

Hamas, on the other hand, claims a moral victory, meaning a PR one (morality is these days measured in mass appeal).

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Islamic crusade, masked as ‘tolerance’

The Times refuses to rest on its laurels.

Having set seemingly impossible standards of ignorance and dishonesty, the paper still strives to exceed them, as demonstrated by two articles run a couple of days ago.

One of them supports Rowan Williams’s assertion that Muslims make an invaluable contribution to British life, and he didn’t just mean those corner shops open at all hours.

Alexander's picture

A war to end all civilisation

A hundred years ago the West talked itself into suicide.

All sorts of geopolitical, national and economic reasons have been put forth as an explanation, and an argument could be made for each one.

Prussian militarism was to blame, as was French revanchism, Habsburg stubbornness, Russian yearning for the Straits, British fear of Germany’s ascendancy.

Yet all those were pretexts, not the reason, for the suicide. The sides were simply trying to post-rationalise the intuitive craving they all shared: to finish off Western civilisation once and for all.

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French monarchists and English republicans

French tabloids are screaming in 60-point type that Prince Jean of France has got married.

This must be big news, for otherwise popular magazines wouldn’t give it such prominence. The French then, 225 years after their revolution, are still keenly interested in the Bourbons, and I don't mean the whiskies.

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Compared to Col. Putin, Dr Goebbels was an amateur

No tyrannies, including totalitarian ones, rely wholly on violent coercion.

Violence is merely a default stratagem, used to deal with those in the population who won’t have their brains washed as thoroughly as the tyrants would like.

Such diehards may number in hundreds of thousands, as they did in revolutionary France; in millions, as they did in Soviet Russia; or in thousands, as they did in Nazi Germany.

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Democracy worship is to blame

Plato taught that ‘forms’, which is to say substantial ideas, are more real than anything perceived by the senses.

It may be argued at a moment of levity that Christ came into the world partly to correct Plato by showing how the physical and metaphysical can be one.

Be that as it may, if Plato were able to look at today’s politics, he’d have to revise both his terminology and the underlying notions.

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Poor Richard Dawkins, savaged again

My friend Richard believes in human evolution, meaning that all of us, including the chaps who wrote St Matthew Passion and built Chartres Cathedral, evolved from primitive organisms.

I’ve been known to remark unkindly that in his case this assertion springs from frank self-assessment. My friend Richard is indeed not a particularly complex creature, and he’s fairly easy to understand.

Understanding some of his critics and all of his admirers is more difficult, and I find this task baffling.

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