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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Wednesday, 16 August 2006
More nonsense about online poker.
Topic: Poker

I bought Private Eye this morning and discovered an ad at the back in the 'Eye Bet' section of the classifieds (page 37). It read 'Are you a loser? online poker help. www.get-even.info '

Well obviously I couldn't resist checking the site out. Of course it's a load of bollocks. I feel confident saying that, because it contradicts itself massively. On the intro page, it assures you that it's possible for online players to purchase software to help them cheat. But if you click on the link titled "How to make a six figure income playing online poker" you get to a page written by a 'Danish' online professional, who speaks his mind about online poker on the clickable link (in a mid-West American accent) and he firmly dismisses claims that online programmes can assist players. What a difference a page can make!

I'd love to say that you can take his word for it, but given that he also claims that he can teach you to: 'Win more pots day after day and skyrocket your earnings' and how to 'Never lose to a gambler with lucky cards again', that may not be possible.

PS - the sound file in which 'Kim Birch' claims that online poker rigging software doesn't work is near the bottom of the page, next to his photo and not the one at the top. By the way, does anyone else think that it's two different voices?


_ DY at 4:04 PM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 16 August 2006 4:09 PM BST
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Saturday, 12 August 2006
Guest contribution, from Frode Gjesdal.
Topic: Poker

Poker tournament deals – why take the money off the top?

By Frode Gjesdal

The other day I was in a poker tournament. Ninety two players had started, which meant the nine last remaining players would be paid. The first prize was some £24,000 while 9th would pay just over £2,000. When we got down to 13 or 14 players somebody (from the table with 40 per cent of the chips in the tournament, incidentally) suggested a deal should be made, taking money off the top two prizes to secure places 10-13 the tournament entry of £750. Everybody agreed, except, as is so often the case, the one Scandinavian at the table - me.

Now I don’t have a problem with deals in principle, but I don’t usually make them. For a number of strategic reasons, which I will not get into here, I think they are a mistake for a person with average or above average chips to agree to. But this is not the point I am trying to make.  What I feel was wrong about the deal proposed, and the deals that are normally proposed, is that you should take money off the top prizes to pay for the all the remaining players in the tournament.

Ask yourself this question; who benefits from this deal at this point? Surely most people would agree that the players with short stacks do. They are, after all, more likely than the big stacks to be knocked out before the money. They are also less likely than the players with more chips to go on and win the tournament. If a deal is struck, it secures money for people who are the most likely to finish just off the money or just into the money. Some of the pressure is off.  

Well if this is the case, money to pay every remaining player in the tournament should be taken from the smaller prizes not the bigger ones. I don’t see what is fair about asking the chip leader to give up equity to pay for the shorter stacks. If, as I pointed out above, the shorter stacks are the beneficiaries of the deal, then the shorter stacks should pick up the tab, instead of asking the chip leader for a free ride.


_ DY at 4:30 PM BST
Updated: Saturday, 12 August 2006 4:36 PM BST
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Thursday, 10 August 2006
Guest contribution, from Dominic Bourke.
Topic: Misc.

Are you gambling responsibly?

By Dominic Bourke 

There is a dealer at the Gutshot cardroom in London who is affectionately known as Polish Mike. When sitting down to deal, he invariably greets the punters with the words ‘Please remember to gamble responsibly'. This is inevitably met with much laughter, followed by people betting bottom pair as if they held the holy grail itself. While Mike is a very likeable guy, he has one major flaw, and that is that he is massively underemployed. He should in fact be Governor of the Bank Of England. If the BOE aren’t going to employ him in their top job (he couldn’t do worse than Mervyn King, the present incumbent) then they should at least put him on the payroll. They could buy him a huge megaphone and station him outside large banks and major lending centres and as people entered these buildings he could shout at them ‘Please remember to gamble responsibly!’ Hopefully these punters would be more receptive than most poker players.

Why do I think Polish Mike should be in charge of British Monetary policy? Because the largest threat to the British economy is people gambling, sorry investing with almost psychotic irresponsibility. No one personifies this problem more succinctly than Sayara Beg.  Fortunately the BBC have given this lady her own blog, so I don’t need to go into too much depth explaining her situation, you can read it for yourself:

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4997170.stm  

 

To give you a brief précis:

 

Her husband’s business was struggling, so they remortgaged their house and took out a personal loan. They also have two buy-to-let properties mortgaged up to the hilt, as well as credit card debts. Having decided that they were earning way too much money to service their meagre debts (which as a figure in the air guess, I would estimate are at least £500k) they decided to have a baby. Unfortunately shortly after she got pregnant, she was released from her job.

 

And guess what? One income, especially an uncertain one such as owning a restaurant, was not sufficient to service their mountain of debt. She is now using a news organization funded by you and I, to whinge and whine about how unfair it all is.

 

What galls me most about this woman isn’t the fact that she has taken a punt and that it has gone wrong. God knows any poker player/gambler could empathise with that. We have all punted a racing certainty and watched it get beat and many people, myself included, are nailed on to do it again (if Vorteeva runs at Tipperary on Thursday, my mortgage will be firmly on the line.) No, the real problem with this woman, and by extension with the British economy is that she refuses to take any responsibility for her situation. None of it is her fault; she feels she should take exactly 0% of the blame. So you have no guaranteed income in your family (he owns a restaurant, she is a freelancer) you rack up what must be a minimum of half a million pounds worth of debt, then you decide to have a baby. Yet when you can’t service your debt it isn’t your fault???

 

She points out in her first entry that she is different from most people who go broke, because she didn’t spend money she didn’t have on a shopping spree. Actually that is exactly what she did, only rather than buy Dolce and Gabbana dresses or Rolex watches, she bought buy-to lets, I guess the main difference is that if you have a cash flow problem you can flog a Rolex on Ebay way quicker than you can sell a studio flat in Bermondsey.

 

Further evidence of her sanctimoniousness comes when she reveals that by contacting her banks with a plan of action, she genuinely believes she has fulfilled all her responsibilities to them. The fact that she offers them the worst financial deal in the world by resolving to take a 6-month payment holiday, during which she will pay no interest nor pay any charges and after which they will simply continue as normal as though nothing has happened, doesn’t seem to be reason enough to her for them turning it down. If anyone doesn’t realise why this is such an awful deal for any bank to agree to, I will quite happily take £10k off their hands, pay no interest or charges on it, and then give them the £10k back in 6 months time. She takes her creditors refusal to countenance such an offer as proof that they simply have no desire to allow her to have her baby in peace, rather than what it actually is, namely commercial companies taking decisions that reflect their desire to act as ‘For Profit’ organisations rather than charities.

 

I don’t want to appear heartless here. I am after all a human being. I think it is nothing short of tragic that someone who is heavily pregnant has got herself into this situation. I really do hope that nothing that is happening at the moment affects the child and the baby is delivered healthy and happy. But the truth is that this lady’s attitude affects all of us. There are so many people who feel that they have a right to borrow unlimited amounts of money, and that any investment they make with that money has a divine right to be risk free. There are so many people out there who delude themselves into thinking they are ‘Asset rich, but cash poor’ when in fact their debts are worth more than their assets, which in layman’s terms means they are skint.

 

The problem is that when enough of these people find their house of cards collapsing around them, it will give not just them, but also the entire British economy a hell of a problem. It is no surprise therefore that the banks have now decided to take action, for example in the last year HBOS have lowered the limits of 600,000 credit card customers. It seems that if the British public are not going to listen to Polish Mike and gamble responsibly, then the financial institutions have decided that they aren’t going to allow the bets to be placed with their money.


_ DY at 2:37 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006 2:51 PM BST
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Tuesday, 8 August 2006
Errors in my Hendon Mob database entry / Weekly competitions in London
Topic: Poker

I've just looked at my Hendon Mob database entry and am surprised to see some glaring errors. The reason I was looking was that I was trying to remember when it was that I came second to Jac Arama in a £50 or £100 omaha comp at the Vic. That was the day that I got to know Allan Engel (aka Fred Titmus), who came third. The Mob doesn't mention it, perhaps because it was not officially a festival tournament, thought it took place on the Sunday when the festival's main event finished and wasn't a regular weekly fixture. Nowadays the same event is a £300 or £500 hold'em freezeout and does count as a festival event.

My database entry contains the following errors:

I didn't start playing poker until summer 1995, so the bottom two entries relating to events in 1993 and February 95 have nothing to do with me. In the case of the former, it's probably Doug Young from Brighton who should be credited.

Doug Young is probably the person who scored in the Dec 2002 and Jan 2004 Brighton comps. I'm fairly sure I wasn't at either of those festivals.

Similarly I have no recollection of being in Atlantic City in March this year (though I was there in December for a few days on holiday).

If anyone in charge of data integrity at the HM forum is reading this, then please feel free to remove the incorrect entries.

The rest are certainly mine. It's nice to be reminded of some of them. My record doesn't look that exciting once the bogus entries are removed, but I don't actually play that many festival comps like those recorded. There is less need to than ever before. Living in London I have access to the following weekly comps:

Monday

£250 Freezeout at the Sportsman

Tuesday

£100 Freezeout at the Western (new fixture, website shows a £3k guarantee)

£250 Freezeout at the Palm Beach

Wednesday

£100 rebuy comp at the Palm Beach

£30 with one add-on at Gutshot (I would treat this as a £60 freezeout)

Thursday

£250 Freezeout at the Palm Beach

£50 Freezeout at Gutshot

Friday

£100 rebuy comp at the Sportsman

Saturday

£100 Freezeout at Gutshot

Sunday

£300 Freezeout at the Palm Beach

My track record at the Sportsman is very strong - three top 3 finishes in only 5 visits. Sadly I've never made the money in the Saturday Gutshot comp, which I think I've played about 7 or 8 times. Played three times at Palm Beach and never got anywhere.


Friday, 4 August 2006
Interesting reminder from Christopher Hitchens.
Topic: Politics

Here's an interesting article from Christopher Hitchens reminding readers of something that has been forgotten in the current conflagration in the Middle East - that Palestinians were likely to be given a referendum on the issue of recognition of Israel.

http://www.israpundit.com/2006/?p=1857

I'm normally a bit sceptical of people who say 'the timing is suspicious'. I recall lots of people telling me that the timing was suspicious when the coalition announced the capture of Saddam Hussein. Many were of the view that he'd been captured beforehand and the news only released when ... ... well that's the point. I can't remember why December 2003 was so important and I doubt any of the people who said it was suspcious at the time can remember now either.

But Hitchens asks the question:

Does it not seem obvious that the intention of the various provocations launched from Gaza, from the missiles to the first abduction of an Israeli soldier, were designed precisely to make this referendum impossible? And does it not seem at least very likely that the Hezbollah operations on Israel’s northern border have been implicitly coordinated to assist Hamas in this respect?

And I think it's certainly a possibility. But I've also heard people claim that Iran wanted to distract the UN from its nuclear programme. Of the two explanations, I find the Hitchens' rationale more convincing, but both could be false. Whatever the case, a referendum would have been very interesting. It would be interesting to know whether Palestinians accepted Hamas for its social programmes, but rejected its warlike intentions. Alas we won't know any time soon.

 


_ DY at 6:52 PM BST
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Wednesday, 2 August 2006
Gryko - falling in my estimation
Topic: Poker

It doesn't get much more ironic than this.

A few years ago, Rob Hollink was chip leader at the end of day one of the WSOP championship event, back when there was only one day 1! Lots of people piled on to the European poker forums to congratulate him. A rare dissenting voice came from Richard Gryko, who said that Rob had fallen in his estimation, because he was sure that anyone who was chip leader at the end of day one must have played badly.

It was at that point that Gryko truly rose in my estimation. I thought it was a brilliant insight that nearly everyone else had missed. So just what am I to make of the news that this year, Gryko was chip leader at the end of Day1C, with over 125,000 chips?

Embarassed

ps - I've been showing some American friends around London for the last few days and therefore have been too busy to sit down and compose a response to the comments you've sent in about Mark Steyn. I will write a thorough defence of his/my position once their brief trip is over. I will just say that I took them to Gutshot on Monday night and they had a brilliant time. There's nothing like it in NYC!


_ DY at 2:15 AM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006 2:19 AM BST
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Friday, 28 July 2006
The no-state solution.
Topic: Politics

Excellent piece by Mark Steyn on the involvement of Iran in the Middle East:

http://www.nysun.com/pf.php?id=36587 

The money quote:

Saudi-Egyptian-Jordanian opportunism on Palestine has caught up with them: it's finally dawned on them that a strategy of consciously avoiding resolution of the "Palestinian question" has helped deliver Gaza, and Lebanon, and Syria, into the hands of a regime that's a far bigger threat to the Arab world than the Zionist Entity. Cairo and co grew so accustomed to whining about the Palestinian pseudocrisis decade in decade out that it never occurred to them that they might face a real crisis one day: a Middle East dominated by an apocalyptic Iran and its local enforcers, in which Arab self-rule turns out to have been a mere interlude between the Ottoman sultans and the eternal eclipse of a Persian nuclear umbrella. The Zionists got out of Gaza and it's now Talibanistan redux.The Zionists got out of Lebanon and the most powerful force in the country (with an ever growing demographic advantage) are Iran's Shia enforcers. There haven't been any Zionists anywhere near Damascus in 60 years and Syria is in effect Iran's first Sunni Arab prison bitch.


_ DY at 3:22 PM BST
Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006 4:35 PM BST
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Night time quiz shows.
Topic: Television

I'm astonished that I haven't seen much media comment on the new breed of night-time call-in quiz shows on TV, which offer substantial prizes in return for charging callers premium rates. Today I watched one for a few minutes in which viewers were presented with this:

"Fourteen plus six times three minus two"

along with the instruction 'Add all the numbers'.

I only watched because the presenter said that he would reveal the correct answer at 1am if nobody got it. And indeed nobody did. When he then ripped open the envelope it said 4642.

Do you of you who have jobs and office air-conditioning have the time or energy to work out how on earth this figure is derived? When I was at school I was taught the acronym 'Bodmas' - standing for 'brackets, of, division, multiplication, addition and subtraction' as being the correct way of calculating numerical expressions. But that doesn't exactly help here.

Meanwhile, does anyone know why these shows have only appeared in the last year? Has there been a change in the law or was it always legal but nobody thought of it until now? I'm all for gambling liberalisation. But it should always come with transparency. There is nothing transparent about the way that these shows are done. For a start we don't know how the right answers are derived and we don't even know that any winners aren't people connected to the companies producing the shows.


Tuesday, 25 July 2006
Scenes from the Vic.
Topic: Poker

 

If there is one puzzle that will torment me until my dying day, it's not 'Why are we here?' or 'What is the meaning of life?' or the riddles of the pyramids or quest for the unified field theory. Long after those mysteries have been sold, mankind will still struggle with the eternal question 'How does Michael Arnold get paid?'

Michael knows how to play, of course, but what marks him out above all others is his incredible ability to get paid off by the occasional visiting stars to the Victoria's hold'em games. If you spot someone who's never played before and they are sitting in a nine handed game with £1,000 in front of them, it's about a 50/50 shot that Michael will take the lot off them. Last night, there was one such individual, who managed to outdraw people for large sums of money and at one stage flopped a straight against my trip sixes (which cost me over £500 because he would have played bottom two the same way). Sure enough having built his stack up to four figures, this happens. He calls a raise from his right and the rest of the table calls. On a flop of 6 8 9 rainbow, he calls the preflop raiser's bet of £125 and Michael raises £500. The preflop raiser folds and our hero now reraises Michael £470 more all-in. Michael calls with his second-nut straight (5-7) and if he had any doubts at all, was soon reassured that the two grand in the middle of the table was rightfully his when the next two cards came runner-runner diamonds to give him a flush.

We weren't shown what the other fellow had but another Vic regular was standing behind him and later told us that it was King-Eight! Is it any wonder that some of us have considered extreme measures like the idea pictured above? It could be the way forward.


Saturday, 22 July 2006
My correspondent in Beirut.
Topic: Politics

Several of you have written in this week asking me to comment on the Israel/Lebanon situation. Sorry I've not said much lately, but it's very hot in my flat and I've not felt motivated to sit down and compose fresh thoughts. I'm not going to start from scratch today either, as there is no need.  I have a close friend (and former flatmate) who's half-Lebanese, half-British. He's in Beirut now and naturally I'm concerned for him. His chances of being bombed are relatively light, as he lives in the Christian areas. But his family business is sure to be harmed by the conflict and he's got a muslim girlfriend (don't ask).

He does not share all my views about the Middle East. He despises American Zionists jews for instance, believing that they have a nostalgic impression of Israel that doesn't reflect demographic changes in the last few decades and his view on Neo-Cons is 'I prey for their deaths'. Earlier this week, I asked him whether he would use his UK passport to get evacuated. He told me that he would stay put. Despite not sharing my views, he didn't launch into a diatribe against Israel.

Here are some things he did say. I won't add much to them, except to note that he's not as critical of Israel as all of the people who've written in and it's HIS country getting bombed not theirs! In fact, he barely expresses any criticism of Israel at all.

"Lebanese politicians universally rally around hizbollah in short term. Longer term it could lead to a escalation of issues relating to the role of hizbollah as an armed militias group, this could be a positive as the status quo preserves their existence as an armed force. Local politicians don't have the political will or power to stand against syria in insisting on hizbollah's disarmament. If you do, they tend to kill you.
Hizbollah is a combination of a font of political expression of the disaffected impoverished shia population in the south, and a tool of iran/syria foreign policy. Israel provokes syria with a presidentioal palace flyby. Syria reacts by encouraging hizbollah. Israel bombs lebanese infrastructure. Hizbollah gets what it wants-an escalation of violence and a pseudo justification for their existence as armed force. Syria & Iran gets what they want-political capital in threatening israel without suffering the consequences. Israel gets to make a show of force.
Lebanon gets fucked. The truth is, no one really gives a shit because as long as Lebanon is weak, than the chances of enforcing the nationalisation of the Palestinian refugees within Lebanon is greater. And everyone, bar the Lebanese, wants this.
 
I made the following point at the time the syrians were evicted from Lebanon....
The only military force capable of disarming hizbollah is the syrians, and i preferred that that the US & International community found a way to make them do this by making concessions on other issues first, before asking them to leave Lebanon. If the US had done this, than they could always turn the heat up on the syrians afterwards on other issues. Asking the syrians to leave without forethought as to how to ensure hizbollah's disarmament was not good forward thinking by the US. This kind of conflict is inevitable if you allow armed militias to roam around the country."
In a later e-mail:
"This isn't a very nice thing to say, but I do hope the shia that are leaving the country get settled where they go. I'm not leaving this country for Hizballah."
In another later e-mail:
I was a lone voice of dissent when the Syrians were asked to leave the country, because, as ever, the US will never commit itself to long term solutions to the region. Their policy is always to react to events with a hopeless short term Israeli bias.
My point then, as now, is that
1 The Leb Army can't and won't disarm Hizballah. They are not strong enough militarily and 75% of army is Shia.
2 Hizballah will never voluntarily disarm.
3 Once Syria leaves they would inevitably encourage Hizballah since they could claim innocence and Israel couldn't retaliate against their positions in Lebanon.
4 The only ground force capable of disarming Hizballah is Syria.
What was needed, was concerted International pressure on Syria to disarm Hizballah. The Syrians usually do what the US tells them. Afterwards, they could step up the pressure and get the Syrians to leave altogether. Given the right carrots, they may well have done this. However, facts are facts and The Lebanese Gov was never going to be in a position to implement 1559 and disarm Hizballah. It was ridiculous to expect this after the Syrians withdrew.
The game now, is that Israel is determined to destroy hizballah's military capability, especially since it is more potent than they first imagined. This could result in Leb Army deployment in the south, as the Israelis are asking. I believe Bush/Blair want this. Hizballah won't back down because they don't care what happens to the rest of Lebanon, they just want war. Whatever happens we need decisive action, preserving the pre-war status quo is unacceptable.

_ DY at 1:42 PM BST
Updated: Saturday, 22 July 2006 1:48 PM BST
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Monday, 17 July 2006
Questions for Andy Ward.
Topic: Poker

Andy, I'm delighted that you have time to roam the blogosphere when not too busy getting the lot in the one-tables in Las Vegas. If it's not too much trouble, can I ask you about something you wrote on Secrets of the Amateurs?

http://secretsoftheamateurs.blogspot.com/2006/06/down-but-not-out.html

In which you explain why you would pass with a marginal holding when very shortstacked in early position. My questions are:

'Have you considered the cost of this approach if you would have won both that hand and the next one?

Does the fact that winning both pots would increase your stack much more than only winning the second one make much difference?


Sunday, 16 July 2006
Five reasons why we're fatter.
Topic: Misc.

I found an interesting article on Slate yesterday on a subject close to my heart or perhaps I should say "close to my stomach" -

Why we're fatter.

http://www.slate.com/id/2145689


_ DY at 5:31 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 16 July 2006 5:33 PM BST
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Saturday, 15 July 2006
Where's the value?
Topic: Poker

I've had a lot of people ask me whether I'm going to Las Vegas for the WSOP. I'm not. There are a few reasons for this, including the fact that some American friends of mine are coming to Britain to see me at the same time as the championship event. But even without that, I don't think I would go. The rake in many of the events is quite high. The structures for the cheaper events are poor. I'm stunned to read about the problems that some British players are having with back-taxes. From the sounds of things Harrah's is just plain incompetent. Andy Bloch got a time penalty for pointing out a marked card and destroying it!

Andy Ward appears to have the right idea - just chugging along in the one-table competitions. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

Meanwhile I'm playing in a $200 competition on Paradise that has a $250,000 guarantee. It only got 1,078 runners. That's a shortfall of $34,400.

UPDATE

I added up the prize pool and noticed that it only came to $227,500. I wrote to ask Paradise where the other $22,500 was and was sent this reply:

thanks for your email. In the event that one of our guaranteed tourneys does not meet the guarantee amount through buyins, we will add money to the pool to top it up to meet the guarantee. Please note that the guaranteed prize pool will be raked at 9% as per our T+C's Good luck at the tables and thanks for choosing ParadisePoker! Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.  

So it's not quite as good as I thought, but they have still lost $11,900. Alas I won't be getting any of it after my KK got busted by AQo all-in preflop. Amazingly over 300 people were knocked out before the first hour was up. I don't they can all have been as unlucky as I was.


_ DY at 11:01 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 16 July 2006 12:17 AM BST
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Tuesday, 11 July 2006
Who armed Saddam?
Topic: Politics
I went to a comedy gig on Friday last week with Jo Haslam, Steve Bartley, Steve Bennett, Dom Sutton and Peter Birks. I had no idea you could pay a mere tenner to see decent acts (Jeff Green and Rich Hall) test run their Edinburgh material. It's weird paying money to be a guinea pig but it was entertaining and that's all that counts. The club was packed - a clear sign that the comedy market is a healthy one. And coming in the same week that Jim Davidson declared banktuptcy, it's matured too.

Pete wrote about the gig the next day on his site and in the course of his 'review' mentioned something I'd said about the political tone of most comedy being slanted to the left. Using an example of something that Rich Hall had said I wrote back:

I did enjoy Hall's act very much. His delivery is excellent. But when for instance he says things like 'The rest of the world is looking at America in Iraq and thinking "what the fuck are you doing?", is it too much to hope for that he could mention that one reason for this is that much of the outside world was selling Saddam weapons and that they were furious at America for deposing a major creditor? Of course it is. No comedian ever approaches it from that angle. But it would make a refreshing change for me.

Someone named 'geoffchall' replied the rest of the world is 'looking at America in Iraq and thinking "what the fuck are you doing?"'and one of the reasons is that America spent so many years selling weapons to Saddam only to then have them fired back at themselves.'

It reminded me of something I'd forgotten. That many people think that the US was a major arms supplier to Iraq. It's not true. Scott Burgess of the Daily Ablution shows the real figures:

Who Armed Saddam?

For a breakdown of what the US did sell him, see the list at the bottom of this page:

http://ussneverdock.blogspot.com/2005/06/iraq-who-armed-iraq_07.html

_ DY at 9:16 PM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006 9:33 PM BST
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Monday, 10 July 2006
Iraq.
Topic: Politics
Over at Iraq the Model, there's an interesting piece about the different attitudes towards Islamic extremism, the Palestinians, Hamas and Israel held by Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs:

Singing out of the flock.

It's based on comments made on the BBC arabic forum. The difference between the attitudes of Iraqis and non-Iraqis is striking. Omar, one of the brothers who runs the site, says:

What was written in that thread stands as one example of the change in the Iraqi way of thinking since the day we got rid of the dictator and shows that logic and facts are gaining more ground at the expense of emotions and conspiracy theories.

Many of the Iraqi contributors to the thread are openly sympathetic to Israel and critical of the Palestinans, while the non-Iraqi readers are horrifed by this. It's genuinely fascinating reading.

UPDATE

As promised in comments today, I've located an article that Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent on June 6th. In an interview with the cousin of a Palestinian who blew himself up in Iraq on a 'martyrdom operation', Fisk says

"As for Saddam's oppression of Iraq's Shia Muslims, Maher Oweydah has little sympathy. 'The truth is that Saddam was a Sunni and his struggle was with the Shia. Then after the invasion of Iraq, the Shia clerics and intellectuals and politicians entered the country on the American tanks'.

Fisk continues: "Extended members of the Oweydah family - those who are waiting for further 'calls' to Iraq - nodded at this narrative".

Later on Fisk tells us that the mother of the dead boy says to him 'I will meet him in heaven - in the higher heaven. I am happy he will be married in the spring of heaven'.

Now I ask skeptics like Roger Kirkham, who don't think that the postings on the BBC arabic forum are genuinely from Iraqis, whether they still think it unimaginable that by now there are Iraqis who are hostile to Palestinians. Well?

Full article here

_ DY at 3:42 AM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006 12:58 AM BST
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