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LIFE OR DEATH GAMBLES
Not everyone was dismayed by the North Korean missile test in July. In mid-June, the Dublin-based online betting exchange TradeSports had created a market on whether Korea would launch a missile test by the end of July. The winning punters’ joy, however, was short-lived, as it soon turned out that the speciﬁc criteria on which TradeSports had determined the market would be settled—an ofﬁcial conﬁrmation of the launch by the US department of defence—had not been satisﬁed. The rise of online gambling has led to a number of markets on current events; one of the most lively has involved guessing the likely date of Fidel Castro’s demise. Another new market, on house prices, allows wary homeowners to hedge against house price falls by betting on them.
DANGER OF “ISLAMOFASCISM”
Has George W Bush been spending too much time with intellectuals? asks Peter Neumann. Following the thwarted London terror plot, Bush declared that the world was at war with “Islamic fascism.” Christopher Hitchens coined the phrase “fascism with an Islamic face” after 9/11. But it was Paul Berman who developed “Islamofascism” into a mature intellectual concept in his book Terror and Liberalism, in an attempt to make the “war on terror” more attractive to the left. There are many reasons why Bush should drop the term, the most important being that many moderate Muslims will ﬁnd it objectionable. Islam is not just an ideology like communism or Nazism; it is also a religion that millions of people consider a source of spiritual fulﬁlment. People in Poland didn’t mind when Reagan called communism an “evil ideology,” because very few identiﬁed with communism. But even the most fervent Polish anticommunist would have been upset had Reagan referred to “fascism with a Polish face.” Bush is not referring to moderate Muslims, but many will get the impression that he is lumping together Islam and fascism and thinks they are the same. If the “war on terror” is a war of ideas, as we are told, then language matters. The concept of Islamofascism should be quietly dropped.
enigmas & puzzles
A league of two halves
“Football season’s started again, then,” said David Kickham. “Yup,” replied Robby Fouler. “I’ve just been sorting out the ﬁxture list for the Tackleham league. A right palaver, I’ll tell you. Every team plays every other team once. There’s too many teams to have a home game and an away game.” “How many teams are there in the league?” asked David. “I don’t entirely recall,” confessed Robby. “I do know that there are three more teams this season than there were last season.” David thought for a moment. “Well,
BY IAN STEWART
then—how many matches do they play altogether? We can work out how many teams there are if you can tell me that.” “Well, that’s kind of difﬁcult too, you know… I’m, not too good with numbers. I remember that it’s twice as many as it was last year.” Robby paused, and shook his head. “No, sorry, not quite. It’d be twice as many if there was one more ﬁxture.” “Twice as many as last year, less one, then,” said David. “That’s right.” “Then I can tell you how many teams there are this year.” What is the number of teams?
COMPETITION Prospect invites you to solve the puzzle and send us your solution. Correct ones will be entered into a draw. The winner will receive The Dangerous Book for Boys (HarperCollins, £18.99) by novelist Conn Iggulden and his brother Hal Iggulden. How many other books will help you thrash someone at conkers, race your own gocart, and identify the best quotations from Shakespeare?This essential compendium of information is for boys aged 8 to 80. Chapters include Laws of Football, Timers and Tripwires, Secret Inks, Skimming Stones, and Making a Periscope. Send answers to firstname.lastname@example.org by 8th September. The winner will be announced in our October issue. The answer to last month’s puzzle and the winner are on page 76
The ﬁrst ever reality show
6 PROSPECT September 2006
THE MOONIES ARE UNHAPPY
The Republican right may be losing its most devoted media ally. The Washington Times editor-in-chief Wes Pruden and managing editor Fran Coombs, who have yanked the Reverend Moon-owned paper to the far right, are in trouble. Word is out that the leftist Nation is preparing an exposé on racism and sexism at the paper. The Times has published pieces by Coombs’s wife Marian Kester quoting BNP chief Nick Grifﬁn as an expert on Muslim culture. And Pruden is the son of the chaplain of the Citizens’ Council in Little Rock, Arkansas, a segregationist group. When Eisenhower sent troops to protect nine black teenagers attempting to enrol at the local high school in 1957, the Reverend Pruden told the mob, “That’s what we gotta ﬁght: niggers, communists and cops.” The Moonies, who have spent over $1.1bn on the lossmaking Times in the 25 years they have owned it, have been fretting about the newspaper’s attacks on the UN (which they like) and on North Korea, where the South Korea-based Moonies have big investments. They have now quietly set up a search committee to seek replacements. A strong contender is said to be Maggie Thatcher’s former aide John O’Sullivan.
Drivers called Ben are most likely to crash their cars; Ians are the safest. [The Guardian, 8th July 2006]
q New q q
Zealand’s child murder rate is 0.9 per 100,000 children, the third worst in the OECD and more than twice the British rate. The overall murder rate is 2.5 per 100,000 people, compared with 1.5 in Britain. And New Zealand has 50 per cent more rapes. [The Times, 7th August 2006] 81 percent of British Muslims consider themselves Muslim ﬁrst and British second. This is a higher proportion than in Jordan, Egypt or Turkey, and exceeded only by Pakistan. [The Guardian, 11th August 2006] Fidel Castro’s fascination with Alexander the Great led him to name three of his sons Alexis, Alexander and Alejandro. [New Yorker, 31st July 2006] The average Dutchman is 6 feet 1 tall, around four inches taller than British or American men. [MSNBC, 22nd July 2006]
One in three schoolaged girls in Turkey does not attend school; in the Kurdish region, only 14 per cent of girls attend secondary school. [The Economist, 29th July 2006] Explosions from the battle of the Somme could be heard on Hampstead Heath. [Somme: The Heroism and Horror of War by Martin Gilbert] Tony Blair is the ﬁrst sitting prime minister to visit California. [The Guardian, 28th July 2006]
China is now the third largest international food donor in the world, largely because of its cereal shipments to North Korea. [Financial Times, 20th July 2006]
Reﬂecting inside (p14) on the 50th anniversary of Tony Crosland’s The Future of Socialism, Denis MacShane compares the intellectual giants of bygone Labour cabinets with today’s pygmybrains. With, he says, one exception, who remains unidentiﬁed. Who is the mystery egghead of Blair’s cabinet? Send suggestions, with a few lines making the case for your man or woman, to email@example.com. Three copies of Stefan Collini’s Absent Minds to be won.
OUT OF TUNE
Trouble brewing at the Musicians’ Union, where a cabal of dissenting members have signed a motion expressing “extreme dissatisfaction” with the union’s response to last year’s Licensing Act. They claim the act constitutes a threat to jobbing musicians’ livelihoods by placing onerous restrictions on venues that wish to host live music. Some members even suggest the union is deliberately muting criticism of the act in order to keep intact its relations with Labour ofﬁcials.
Since 2001, US federal spending has risen 45 per cent. Education has increased 137 per cent and international spending by 111 per cent. Next year nondefence discretionary spending will be up 42 per cent since 2001—double the increase enacted in Clinton’s ﬁrst six years in ofﬁce. [The Heritage Foundation]
JACK STRAW’S IRAQ REVISIONISM
Jack Straw has come up with a new justiﬁcation for the Iraq war. Interviewed on the BBC News 24 show Hardtalk, he said that the current sectarian conﬂict showed how “fragile” the Saddam regime was and how it had been on the point of imploding prior to the invasion. In which case why invade at all? Why not just wait and help to pick up the pieces? Surely the case for invasion was the opposite—that Saddam had established a brutal, closed system capable of lasting decades.
“We can operate, of course, risking the alien’s wrath; or simply allow it to lay its eggs and move on”
PROSPECT September 2006 7