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FROM: FRANK GANI CHAMBERS:
SOLICITORS AND ADVOCATES OF THE
SUPREME COURT.FINANCIAL ACCREDITED BANK
ATTORNEYS/ORGANIZATIONAL REP.
Rue 4410 Jaime Platz Avenue
, LOME- TOGO.

Dear  Malachi O’Doherty,

I must solicit your confidence in this transaction; this is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and top secret. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. There is no doubt that trust conceptually is a conundrum which leads itself to deferring interpretation, I have decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction.

I am Barrister Frank Gani Akim, a solicitor at law, personal attorney to Mr. A. T.  O’Doherty, who used to work with shell Development Company in Lome Togo. Here in after shall referred to as my client. On the 21st of April 2004, my client, his wife and their only daughter were involved in a car accident along Nouvissi express Road. All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives. Since then I have made several enquiries to embassy here to locate any of my clients extended relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful.

After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to track his last name over the internet but to no avail to locate any member of his family, hence I contacted you.

I have contacted you to assist in repatriating the fund valued at USD18.5 Million left behind by my client before it gets confiscated or declared unserviceable by the finance organisation where this huge amount were deposited. The said Bank has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have his account confiscated within the next twenty one official working days.

Since then, I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for years now. I seek the consent to present you as the next of kin to the deceased since you have the same last name, so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to you. Therefore, on discuses the sharing ratio and modalities for transfer. I have some necessary information and legal documents needed to back you up for claim. All I require from you is your honest cooperation to enable us see this transaction through.

I guarantee that this will be executed under legitimate arrangement that will protect you from the law. Please get in touch with me immediately for more details.

Best regard.
Barrister Frank Gani Akim. + 228 902 3661
.

(Attorney at law)

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It’s not hard to imagine the jaws dropping onto desktops when the
letter arrived from Culture Minister Nelson McCausland asking museum
heads to pay a bit more attention to matters of vital concern to him
like the Ulster Scots heritage, the Orange Order and the origin of the
universe.
On reflection, museum managers might have considered a range of
options short of telling him to get stuffed.
Mr McCausland’s view is that a museum should reflect the culture and
beliefs of the community it serves. In seeking to refute this, the
museums might seek to actively explain the world to a community with
reference to the gaps in the understanding of even its leading
cultural funders.
In short, if Mr McCausland wants the university to offer discussion of
Intelligent Design theory, let them do it. There are a lot of people
among us who believe that religion can still hold out against
scientific discovery. They would have been on the side of the Pope
against Gallileo and they still think they can refute Darwin. They
want to retain the conviction within scientific institutions like
universities and museums that God created the world in seven days.
Well, let them try.
The first comfort for museum heads is that Intelligent Design theory
is already a concession to science. It is a relaxation of the demand
by religious creationists that the Book of Genesis be taken as a
sufficient account of the emergence of the universe, life and
consciousness.
The court cases in the United States, around the demand for the
teaching of Intelligent Design , were attempts by religious
fundamentalists to argue science with scientists, conceding in effect
that there was no point in trying to impress them with scripture.
Scientists and secularists saw this as a threat. It was in fact, the
movement of religious fundamentalists on to ground on which scientists
can defeat them, if they are confident of the strength of their case.
Why shouldn’t we have an exhibition on Intelligent Design
incorporating a discussion of the arguments around it in the museum?
People like Nelson McCausland might soon discover that there is no
comfort in it for them. If they are hopeful that Intelligent Design
restores the Christian explanation of the Universe to them, then they
may be well served by having the full case and its implications laid
out for them.
The problem for creationists is that their argument, if won, might
only establish that an intelligence initiated the Big Bang.
For all they know, that intelligent being might have been killed in the blast.
He, she or it may reside still in another universe and have lost all
interest in this one. There are no grounds for supposing that that
being knows about us or has any benign intentions towards us. There
are no grounds even for supposing that it is an infinite Deity. There
may be another universe in which children spark off Big Bangs with
their chemistry sets. They may not even know that they are doing it.
They will live in a different time frame so our whole span of
existence in this universe may be just a blink to them.
The problem for Intelligent Design freaks is that they don’t read
enough science fiction.
Rationalists might say this is absurd. But we are already making black
holes under Geneva ourselves with the CERN project, so what is so
implausible about an intelligence more advanced than our own
conducting similar or more radical experiments elsewhere?
What Intelligent Design believers do read – some of them – is the
theories of John Polkinghorne, a scientist and minister of the Church
of England who won the £1m Templeton Prize for research that
reconciles science and religion.
The usual experience of religion in the contest with science is that
literal interpretation of scripture loses every encounter. Then those
who continue to insist that religion retains lost ground begin to
sound more desperate and absurd in the secular world. Scientists feel
little need to go on arguing points that they feel that they have won,
like natural selection. Some scientists like Richard Dawkins continue
to wave the victory in the faces of the religious defeated, but there
is no scientific need for them to do so.
Polkinghorne said that the universe looks like a ‘put up job’. If the
pull of gravity was fractionally greater than it is, the universe
would compact into a hard ball; if less, it would scatter like vapour.
It has to be just right if you are to have solar systems and planets.
Look at the Earth. Without a wobble in its revolutions there would be
no seasons and without seasons no cycle of nature. Without our
unstable crust there would have been no volcanoes and we would be a
ball of ice, but the instability has to be just enough to allow life,
not enough to destroy it.
So, what is the scientific answer to the perfect ‘just-rightness’ of
this universe for life? One answer, seriously put forward, is that
there are millions of failed universes, or universes that turned out
differently, and that this is the one that by chance is just suited to
us. That explains our survival agains the odds.
In other words, the answer is a call to faith in the existence of the
unknowable; the sort of thing that religious people come up with.
The difficulty in this debate is that both the religious and the
scientific contenders have cranks on their side; adamant Christians
who think the Bible tells them everything they need to know and ardent
rationalists who fantasise that the job of explaining the universe is
complete.
What about an exhibition at the Ulster Museum that acknowledges the
mystery of our being here as mortal but self conscious beings in an
unlikely universe?
Would Nelson be happy with that?
I suspect he would want to see models of humans hunting dinosaurs, but
it is easy to deny him myths for which there are no evidence.
But just because we have a crank for a culture minister doesn’t mean
that the unexplained universe shouldn’t enthrall us.
And some smarty pants in the museum is bound to agree that a serious
discussion of intelligent design theory would tick the right box to
get Nelson off his back.

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If you are missing Belfast you might like to take a walk around it with me on my new slideshow, History Behind Bars, currently showing at The Street.

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Tim Brannigan’s new book, Where Are You Really From? recounts the life of a black boy born in Belfast who became a Republican activist.

Is having two identities a freedom or a burden? That’s a question I explored with him and others in similar double identity situations.

http://malachi.podcastpeople.com/redirect/media/38421malachi-o-doherty-38421mp3

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I saw this protest outside the church of St Nicolas in Nantes last week, March 13. The Catholics on the church steps were conducting a service around an icon, the protesters were objecting to Catholic teaching on abortion and women’s rights, and the police were in the middle.

You can hear both the protest chanting and the prayers in this clip below.

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Analyse That!

Here’s a gem you might have missed as a comment on the Contact page:

Hi Malachi, as a journalist from a nationalist background it gives me hope that somebody like yourself can be well known. I think to myself, if a dense little twat like Malachi who acts like a monkey to the unionist gallery by revealing his life `as a teenage catholic’ can make it, then anyone can. I’ve read your articles and, remarkably, they are devoid of anything intelligent to say. Still, you can prance around and they’ll throw you a few bannanas, you twat. Get a life, get a brain, get an identity.

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You have to be up early to catch graffiti that targets Gerry Adams, but it was still on the wall at the corner of the Grosvenor Road and Falls Road one morning at 8.30.

And here is the paint-out job, that afternoon (Feb 2 2010):

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I read a couple of pieces from Under His Roof, my book about my father, at The Wild Geese Literary Festival in Strangford on Feb 6.
It seemed to go down well.
You can hear a recording here:

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A humanistic view of marital infidelity would ask if both partners should take responsibility for one of them wandering. Lucky Peter Robinson; he gets his wife to take all the blame and then forgives her on national television.

Here’s a piece I publish in this morning’s Belfast Telegraph:

Part of the indignity for Iris Robinson is that her disclosures about
an affair contrast with an image which she has presented of herself as
a morally assertive and sexually prim woman.
There have been sexual infidelities in other political families in
Northern Ireland that have not brought people to the extremes of
attempted suicide and public confession.
The striking thing about the confessions we heard last night is that
no clear motive for them was made plain.
Peter Robinson said that part of the motivation was to end speculation
that his personal problems and recent absence from public life were
grounded in illegal financial dealings. And it is clear that he now
wants the media to stop investigating the affair that Iris had.

Spotlight on Spotlight

The Spotlight programme on BBC Northern Ireland has said that it is
still waiting for answers to a series of questions put to the
Robinsons. Presumably, a good result for Peter and Iris would be that
the planned Spotlight programme would be pulled. The Spotlight team
are now faced with the suggestion that humiliating Iris with further
disclosures would be bad for her mental health, and might cost her
life.
If there is any more to the First Couple’s desire to make this
heartrending public confession, other than to morally constrain
Spotlight, then it is perhaps indicative of a naivete about the rest
of the world’s expectations of them.
Iris, in particular, presents herself as almost legalistically religious.
At the time she was having her affair she was pontificating in the
media about the ‘abomination’ of homosexuality.
She brought heaps of grief upon herself over that whole argument.
She was ridiculed in much of the media and lampooned as a ridiculous
hate figure, most colourfully on the Gay Pride parade through Belfast.
Yesterday, on social networking sites, Iris was being traduced as a hypocrite.
It is hard to escape the sense that her own sexual frailties would not
have brought her such pain had she not succumbed to the fantasy that
she was pure and holy enough to dictate right and wrong to others.
You get a flavour of that smugness in the interviews she gave to
writer Lorraine Wylie three years ago for a book described as ‘An
Intimate Portrait’.
The book included accounts of life lived almost as a soap opera. One
memorable yarn recounts how the Robinsons got so sunburned on holiday
that they couldn’t put clothes on over their tender skin and set up an
arrangement whereby Iris would order room service from under the
bedclothes while Peter hid naked in the bathroom. The outworking of
that, as told in the book, was that Peter ‘glowing like a Sellafield
fish’ misheard his cue to come back into the bedroom and presented his
full glory to the waitress.
Iris also wrote of her fury at the vicious rumours about her marriage
and her husband. She said, ‘it never ceases to amaze me what
imagination can conjure up. I’ve heard my husband accused of
everything from infidelity to domestic abuse and even murder.’
The initial impact of the disclosures on last night’s news appears to
have been highly sympathetic.

God and Conscience

Journalists who were present when Peter Robinson made his statement
were clearly deeply moved by it.
Some will have been reading backwards to the extraordinary flashes of
temper from him in the past year and perhaps concluding that these are
more intelligible against the background of marital stress. And
religious people will note that both Iris and Peter emphasised the
power of God and conscience in their lives. It was guilt which drove
Iris to an attempt at suicide; it is the conviction that God himself
has forgiven her which consoles Peter.

And it is not only sexual indiscretion which Iris has owned up to.

The statement says that she provided financial support for her lover and encouraged others to as well.

But if they talk sometimes as if they are not quite human themselves,
they certainly appear a lot more human to the rest of us now.
Sexual infidelity is human. The grief of a betrayed spouse is human.
And it is human to plead in extremis for mercy from an investigative
media which might drag out the pain, even if it does not unearth more
dirt.
For Iris, now, political life is at an end.
This is a tragedy for someone who was a gifted parliamentary performer.
Sometimes the focus of her interest appears to have been punitive and
moralistic. A reading of the questions that she has asked in
Westminster over recent years shows a primary concern with the
treatment of prisoners and particularly of sex offenders.
She enjoyed politics. There was something almost exultant in the wrath
which she turned on Health Minister Michael McGimpsey in the assembly
and others. Being married to Peter Robinson may have been a political
advantage to her but it may also have carried considerable benefits to
him too. She seemed to soften him a bit. She was one of the more
colourful and intriguing characters. Life will be much more
embarrassing at church and among her own circle now that it is clear
how human and ordinary she is, but there are people who will like her
the better for it.
The other question is whether her marriage to the First Minister will
survive. He himself says that is not guaranteed and it may be that  he
was suggesting that the decision is still more with her.
She described her depressive illness as ‘personality changing’.
If she stays with Peter and accepts his forgiveness and can be happy
there, well and good.
If she moves on, and casts off some of that prissy conviction that she
flaunted so lavishly before, then who knows what she might be?
A potential embarrassment to the party if she no longer feels bound by
loyalty to it?
A wiser better person if she will let herself be ordinary and
vulnerable without feeling the need to expunge your own life when the
ardent facade breaks?
Or will she go into some kind of shameful purda?
Well, now that wouldn’t be the Iris we know at all.

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Talk about Podcasting

This is a conversation I had with Paddy Hoey, editor of Gobshite’s Miscellany, about blogging and podcasting and the future of new media and old.
Mind you, Paddy did most of the talking.

We recorded it over an ordinary BT landline with a SSS RTL-650 from Solid State Sound.

 

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