Monday, November 1, 2010

CIA Not Very Intelligent

The suicide bomber who killed eight people inside a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan a few weeksago  was a Jordanian doctor recruited by Jordanian intelligence, a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a foreign government official confirmed Monday.

The bombing killed seven CIA employees - four officers and three contracted security guards - and a Jordanian intelligence officer, Ali bin Zaid, according to a second former U.S. intelligence official.  Ali bin Ziad introduced the good doctor to the gulled CIA officers, and that was that. He wasn't even frisked as he entered FOB Chapman.

They said the bomber was Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a 36-year old doctor from Zarqa, Jordan.

(If you remember, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda scourge of Iraq, came from the same town and country). It is an Army barracks town, with some grim industry, and the usual industrial blight.

For more information see: The Black Iris of Jordan /

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Land Crabs

We have several quite different land crabs around here. They're true crabs that have taken to living on land, or at least halfway between land and sea.

They have all managed the transition between water and air breathing, although often in quite different ways. This is a fairly momentous step for a mere crustacean.

Kayabang (Cardisoma hirtipes) live back in the coastal coconut groves, digging large holes, that, like earthworm casts, help circulate and aerate the soil.

Once a month, at full moon, dozens of kayabang come out of the coconuts, and head straight to the beach to mate and lay their eggs. They march purposefully in an almost straight line, often through the town. At the last full moon, one came straight through a group of us sitting outside Lourdes' Food House, only to be trapped by Big Marty's foot. He told me it made a good part of his breakfast. The local people go to the beach at full moon with flaming torches made from dried coconut leaves, and pick them up by the dozen.

Their claws are roughly equal size, but still just as vicious, and they are fiercely defencive.

This is one who came through the house, and finally ended up defending my dish rack.

Kayangjan (Cardisoma armatum) live near creeks and mangroves, and don't have the same mass mating system.

One claw is much bigger than the other. The right hand claw is usually the bigger. This is similar to humans, whose right hand is usually the stronger.

Because of their bright colours, they are known as rainbow crabs in other areas, and are very common all over the Pacific.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Andreas the Asshole - Again

My wonderful next door neighbour has done it again - first he stole the copy from my website and pretended he'd written it himself. Now he's copied a map that I spent a lot of time making (from naval charts, etc). So I'm going to sue him. Not that it will do much good - his wife (Elizabeth) is closely related to the Surigao City legal mafia.

Smoked Eel

You might not think that this is a very appetising looking fish. I can assure you it is, and very much sought after.

This English site sells roughly 100gm portions of vacuum packed smoked eel for £6.45 (that's P450/$10/100gm, or P4500/$100 per kilo)

Viktor (phone (+63 920 287 2450) sells exactly the same self-smoked stuff without all the fancy packaging for P401/$7/kilo. It's the same species as American or European eels (or at least one of the two - you have to count their vertebrae to tell the difference, so good luck to you).

The eels come from the small river that leads up from the mangrove swamps at Pilar, to Maasin in the middle of the island, and they are caught there when they migrate upstream to breed; with fish baskets, and then thumped on the head with a bolo, as you can see.

Eels are becoming very rare in Europe, because of pollution of the major rivers, which is why they are expensive. These local ones are a lot cheaper, but still as delicious.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RIP Herbert

Herbert died last night, just before his scheduled release into the wild (well, my garden). I don't know why he expired so suddenly; I fed him on coconuts, and he seemed very active. There are plenty enough coconuts in my garden to have sustained him.

These crabs never go through a seafood stage; they graduate to a wholly terrestrial lifestyle after only a month's infancy in the sea. The young ones are very common indeed; they are virtually every terrestrial hermit crab you might come across here, and they all have a characteristic large left claw, which closes off their shelter shell..

Piglet Feast

My piglets are now 6 weeks old, so I am going to sacrifice 2 of them as lechon de leche - genuine suckling pigs, and invite a few friends to try them.

Filipinos call anything grill/roasted a Lechon (even a chicken - Litson Manok) so this is just a personal gesture against misunderstood Spanish words.

We're having smoked chicken and various strange pickles as well. Will tell you how they go.

I will be making a stunning pork pate with the heads and feet, plus the livers and hearts. It will be sealed with a mixture of butter and pork fat, and will probably last me a couple of years lke the last one.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crowd 9

Cloud 9 - The best surf break in the Philippines is not doing very much in this photo, which is why there are so many aspiring surfers trying their stuff.

Too many.

When the break is really pumping, and the rollers are coming in huge from some passing typhoon, none but the brave and foolhardy will even try to surf it.

Very Junior Coconut Crab

This is a very junior Coconut Crab (Birgus latro), and almost completely land-adapted, except for about a month in the sea in its extreme youth.

This particular one has been visiting my house regularly over the past few years, but I didn't recognise its species.

This very crab has woken me up at night by scrabbling up my book-cases, and falling off.

It has been using the very same Fox Shell (Pleuroploca trapezium) for all this time, but it's getting a bit battered, mainly because I got fed up with it, and used to kick it into the middle distance every time it turned up on my front doorstep.

These, to the right, are part of a harvest of shell-bearing crabs from my garden, collected by my neighbour's little boy. You can probably recognise the fox shell shown above at the top centre. I can't be sure, because I didn't recognise them at the time, but I would bet that most of them are Birgus latro wannabes.

In which case, most of them have very little chance of ever making it to monster size. There are simply not enough large shells on land, or washed up to the top of the beach, to give them ways to grow.

Probably many of these shells will be used over and over again, in a crab's vain hopes of growing up. There is a lot of competition for new houses.

Some may well turn into monster terror crabs, if they get a lot more chances, but I think most will have run out of large shells to inhabit in the meantime.

Because of the offshore reef in GL we get very few wavy storms within the lagoon, so very few larger shells get washed up. Most that do end up on land have been harvested by local fishermen. Certain of those, like baler shells, helmet shells, and conchs, are plenty large enough, but have strangely shaped apertures that can't accomodate a crab comfortably. They like a circular aperture that they can easily plug with their major claw and one leg.

About the only local shell that a large Birgus latro can use is a Triton, but these are becoming very rare. If one is seen walking around, the crab is casually sacrificed so the shell can be sold.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tatos the Terror Crab

Tatos is the local name, but we know it better as Coconut or Robber Crab (Birgus latro). It is reputed to be able to rip apart a whole coconut with its formidable claws; (they are very strong indeed, and the only way to get them to let go, is to tickle its belly, I'm told).

Its only real enemy here is human; this one was the first I've seen in 12 years on this island, and my first thought was to eat it.
This was brought to me a few days ago, and the next day, another smaller one.

This is a juvenile; its tail has not yet acquired its armour, and its two claws are not yet 'straight'. It betrays its youth, which was spent as a hermit crab, in a shell.

At first I kept them in an improvised cage made from two thicknessess of coiled chicken wire with a closure of a single thickness over each end. Hearing a noise later in the evening, I found the big crab halfway out of a hole it had cut in one end of the cage, so I up-ended the cage, and put a pastry board and a couple of heavy books on top of the hole.

That night at about 1:30am, hearing a scraping noise in one corner of the bedroom, I saw the big crab trying to climb the bedroom wall. I got it off the wall with the help of my large cooking spoon, and it faced me off about a foot away, so I whacked it on the head with my spoon. It ran, with astonishing speed, backwards under my bed. No way was I going to crawl under there in the dark, so it stayed there until 7:30 the next morning, when I'd accumulated enough courage to tackle it. (Or rather, I'd told Ron to pick it up).

An here's Uncle Dick breathlessly explaining the Coconut Crab.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I've started out making my own bread (Or rather, Tata does the basic mixing, and I finish it off)

Bread is one of my very basic foods, and I haven't yet got it quite right, but I'm getting there slowly. It's as much a question of cosmetics as anything else.

I can get a beautiful semi baguette (like this one) or a total collapsed mess, and I don't understand yet why the same starter dough produces such different results

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Start Out Yet Again

I'm starting out yet again on my 'Paradise Island' blog; about life in a small tropical paradise.

It's a great place, but with one major problem; Food.

Filipino cooking is terrible. It is almost worse than Nigerian food.

So the next few posts will be about what you can do with simple Filipino ingredients

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Monday, February 1, 2010

Wotta Dirty Old Man

Life on a paradise island does have its moments. This was one of them, taken in Nine Bar, a hundred metres from me.

It was a good evening.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Playing for Peace

This is a cooperative musical movement for peace, worldwide, well worth watching, and listening to.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Predator - Hunter - Killer But-Not-Very-Fu**ing-Accurate Dragonfly

Can you imagine how you might feel, when this 21st century robot dragonfly is hovering over your town or village, and may be about to unleash Hellfire Missiles?

Of the 44 Predator strikes carried out by US drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan over the past 12 months, only five were able to hit their actual targets, killing five key Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but at the cost of over 700 innocent civilians.

This is not only immoral, but involves incompetence and carelessness at a gross level.

According to the statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities, the Afghanistan-based US drones killed 708 people in 44 Predator attacks targeting the tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009.

For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities.

The success percentage for the drone hits during 2009 was hardly 11 per cent. On average, 58 civilians were killed in these attacks every month, 12 persons every week and almost two people every day. Most of the attacks were carried out on the basis of human intelligence, reportedly provided by the Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen, who are spying for the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan. (ie people who are waiting their rewards for being snouts).

The drones themselves are based close to their targets (such as at Bandari Air Base, Pakistan), but are controlled by video games players elsewhere

These wallies are sitting comfortably in their 70s style office chairs, looking at a scene maybe 5000 miles away, and using their judgement alone to apply instant death.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Downhill Decade

The Noughties (zero = nought in English English) were fairly traumatic, but especially for America, which is showing definite signs of its final decline as a global empire.

I have essentially ignored my own country, Britain, which behaved, under the governorship of America, exactly like a colony, throughout 10 years. So this is biassed towards America.

Here are 12 events that, I think, defined the decade:

1. Millenium Terror. Known plots to attack Los Angeles International Airport, the Amman Radisson Hotel in Jordan, several religious sites in Israel and the USS The Sullivan Brothers at dock in Yemen; all prevented during the last year of Bill Clinton's presidency

2. Bush election 2000. 'Won' against an opponent who gained a 420,000 majority of popular votes, by shenanigans in Florida, and his father's Supreme Court's final decision.

3. "9/11" I watched this event for 24 hours after seeing views of the first burning tower, and the poor BBC girl who didn't even notice as the second plane.slammed into the South Tower. It was shocking, and it was to define the decade. At the same time GW Bush was sitting, dumbly, in a Florida school, and, later in the day, criss-crossing the country in fear. (Although the Secret Service did absolutely nothing to protect him in the first few moments after the initial news - I wonder why?). In the very first hours, the media were blaming 'Al Qaida' and Osama bin Laden for it, and Dick Cheney was planning attacks on Iraq.

4. Invasion Afghanistan 2001- Bush immediately adopted the cowboy attitude: "Anyone who is not with us is against us". He even suggested he might be a "Crusader". America, and a handful of 'Coalition Allies' invaded, and with the help of massive bombing, and the Uzbek/Tajik 'Northern Alliance' of Afghan warlords, ousted the Taliban government within weeks. America is still fighting this war 8 years later, and losing.

5. Patriot Act 2001- Surprisingly, this draconian Act, with its over-riding widespread restrictions on many American civil rights laws, was already fully prepared for voting and signing, within 6 weeks of the attack, and voted into law, overnight, by traumatised representatives. There was no prolonged discussion in Congress or the Senate.

5. Iraq 2003 - The Bush Bunch set its eyes on Iraq from the beginning, America having already imposed, for a decade, stringent sanctions that killed half a million Iraqi children. The decison was made a year before the initial attack, and a major campaign of lies and half truths mounted to justify it. It was to be a 'cakewalk' with 'Iraqis greeting American liberators with bunches of flowers'. It wasn't. The first weeks between the staged overthrow of the evil dictator's statue and 'Mission Accomplished' announced by flyboy Bush, went OK, but then it went seriously wrong when L. Paul Bremer, a highly over-educated bureaucrat, was put in charge, and de-'Baathised' Iraq, dissolving the Army and sacking most competent government officials.

This led to rapid deteroration, and we have all seen the story of what happened since.The Americans are still there, six years later (but promise, honestly, to leave fairly soon)

6. Abu Ghraib 2004 - The actual photos of American torture at Saddam's former hell-hole prison were a shock to the gullible world, who may have still still believed that Americans could do no wrong. That was only the tip of the iceberg. Much worse things were going on.

7. Election 2004 - With unverifiable and hackable electronic voting machines brought in to replace 'hanging chads' it was a foregone conclusion that George W Bush would win. He did.

8. Katrina 2005 - the major American city of New Orleans was hit by a bit-more-than-regular typhoon, but its levee defences had been neglected for years, and it was inundated. GWB did precisely nothing, except congratulate his man,Michael D. Brown, head of FEMA, for a "Heck of a job"

"In February 2006, documented deaths were tallied at 1,300, with another 2,300 reported missing." These victims of negligence out-numbered the 9/11 dead, by 20%.

The people displaced by the floods were generally neglected, and still are. But then, they are only niggers.

9. Bubble Bursts 2008 - In 2008, the financial shit finally hit the fan; events which anyone with a brain might have foreseen, in view of the obvious bubbles created, and ignored, during the Nineties and the Noughties. Banks collapsed overnight. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers went first, followed closely by Washington Mutual. Merrill Lynch (the famous 'Thundering Herd') was forcibly sold to Bank of America. TARP was quickly organised, in cahoots with the banksters, at gunpoint, and handed over oodles of money ($700 billion dollars) to the remaining banks, to persuade them to ease credit restrictions on real businesses.
Of course, they didn't do this; they kept the money for their gambling pots and splurged out again on new financial 'products', to the benefit of no-one but themselves. The year 2009 brought them rich pickings.

10. First American Black President 2008 - The election of Barack Obama caused instant euphoria, but gradually, over the following year, we've seen him retaining the personnel (Bernanke, Gates, Geithner) and the policies (torture, rendition, domestic spying, bankster bailouts, etc) as used by the Bush Bunch.

11. Hannukah Massacre 2008-9. With exquisite timing, the Israelis launched a devastating and criminal attack on its prisoner population of 1.5 million in Gaza. It was timed almost exactly between Christmas and the inauguration of the new, hopeful, US president. Obama said nothing relevant during the attack, and has since worked against the Goldstone Report on Israel war crimes and crimes against humanity.

12. Decline of America 2009. I'm not absolutely sure that 2009 was a tipping-point in America's precipitous decline as a world empire, but there are certainly suggestions:
- Treasury Secretary Geithner goes to China, cap in hand, to plead that they won't drop buying US bonds.
- China buys a pipeline from Central Asia completely by-passing US war zones.. They didn't go to war. Oil supplies (and the war in Afghanistan) are major objectives of the Bush/Obama this was a set-back.
- China buys a copper mine in Afghanistan, without fighting for it.