Friday, 16 January 2009

I am being tortured

We had an expert agree that a Saudi national was tortured by the Americans at Camp Gitmo. She was in a position to know and with a background that supported her assertation.
One would think it was all cut and dried. Torture. Black and white. But, there is considerable argument and debate on what seemed to be a simple statement. Thing is, the accusing fingers may not have the ability to understand the arguments, And a vital part of the WOT is degraded.

(Army) Boot on other foot (throat)

Another opinion at second hand about what is going on in Gaza. I have been putting situations in another framework; rockets incoming into Dover, other operations involving terrorists/freedom fighters in a civilian setting. That sort of thing. I found this where US troops dealt out a lot of death in a short time. It is here in full for those who do not 'do' linking. The original is linked however.
13 Jan 2009 10:48 am
At least nine hundred people, maybe half of them civilians, have been killed in Gaza so far, the overwhelming majority presumably killed by Israel (some people, more than we probably know right now, have been killed by Hamas, mainly Fatah activists in revenge killings). This number, nine hundred, is large, and it brought to mind another conflict between a Western army and a Muslim insurgency, the one portrayed in the book and movie "Black Hawk Down." Roughly one thousand Somalis were killed by American forces over the twenty hours or so of the First Battle of Mogadishu (eighteen American soldiers, of course, were also killed). 

I couldn't get an accurate read on how many of those Somalis were civilians, so I called my colleague, Mark Bowden, who wrote the book. He said that eighty percent of the Somali deaths were of civilian. Eighty percent! Roughly eight hundred people.  I asked Bowden if he thought this meant that American forces in Somalia had committed war crimes. Andrew has been leading an interesting discussion about whether or not Israeli actions in Gaza constitute war crimes, and I've been trying to place Israeli actions in a broader context. Bowden agreed to help me by providing his own understanding of civilian deaths in asymmetric warfare. Here's some of what he had to say:

"If you feel the need to go to war against an enemy that is not as powerful as you are, one of the tactics of the weaker party is to hide among civilians, and use the global media to advertise the horror of the onslaught. People on the receiving end of the bombs greatly exaggerate the casualties and get photographers to take the most gruesome of pictures, and at the same time, the people in charge of the stronger power try to minimize the number of casualties. If you live in a democracy, then public opinion really matters, and reports of dead children swells the criticism of the war. If you live in a dictatorship, then you don't care what the people think. Israel is a democracy and it cares about the way the rest of the world feels.  It gets hurt by killing civilians, so for moral and practical reasons, they're trying very hard to avoid it." 

"I believe that culpability for these casualties is very much with Hamas. Take this leader, Nizar Rayyan, who was killed with many of his children. He knew he was a target. If I knew that I was a target, I sure as hell wouldn't have my children near me. It's a horrible and cynical choice he made. But if your enemy is a sophisticated manipulator of public opinion, then this is one of the many downsides of choosing to go to war. Israel knows that." 

"The parallel with Mogadishu is that gunmen in that battle hid behind walls of civilians and were aware of the restraint of the (Army) Rangers. These gunmen literally shot over the heads of civilians, or between their legs. They used women and children for this. It's mind-boggling. Some of the Rangers shot civilians, some of them inadvertently and some of them advertently. They made the choice to shoot at crowds. When a ten-year-old is running at your vehicle with an AK-47, do you shoot the kid? Yes, you shoot the kid. You have to survive. When push comes to shove, faced with the horrible dilemma with a gunman facing you, yes, you shoot. It's not just a choice about your own life. If you don't shoot, you're saying that your mission isn't important, and the lives of your fellow soldiers aren't important."

Buy lucky white heather?

Damn! 
My dear old Granny would have been a top earner I reckon. 
Source: PA News
A Lithuanian debt collector has hired a witch to hunt down companies and individuals who are failing to pay their debts amid the credit crunch.

"Our new employee will help them to understand the situation, reconsider what is right and wrong and act accordingly," said a company spokesman. Vilija Lobaciuviene, who describes herself as "Lithuania's leading witch", is renowned in the former Soviet republic for providing such "magical" services as predicting the future and casting spells.

Truth is in the fine print

Sometimes one gets more from the comments on a newspaper article or blog than is gained from the root item. Certainly here. Not just the actual words but the way in which a Government minister is shown as having so little in common with those who bothered to respond.

Don't go there then!

The report that Mars is emitting vast clouds of methane is one thing. The scientific conclusion is that it comes from alien bugs is another. I find myself strangely amused by this image of billions of billions of little creatures all farting mightily and, doubtless, in unison. I have seen some damned big ant hills in Africa and that allowed me to visualise this spectacle. Then I came to the bit where they might already be dead and what is surfacing is historic farting. Gawd.........  A soldier's paradise.

Clouds

Good game, good game. This has taken my last post and put it all into a cloud to show the constituents in frequency.  Click on the picture to get a readable size image.
Wordle: Police attitude
Attrubuted to www.wordle.net from where you can create your own. Easy as pie. I like it.
I am, by dint of past employment, biased towards the police view on things. That is why I post the following that came from a serving police officer
“We live in a police state? No such luck… The Idiot Left are wrong: the police are powerless to stop our lives being blighted by rogue males.”


Arterial blood clings to Farrow & Ball paint as well as to any other. I learnt this one recent Saturday night.


At or about 8.05pm, having answered our front door to urgent knockings, I found myself simultaneously applying a tourniquet to a deeply slashed arm, calling 999, trying to keep the blood off ye olde F&B paintwork and attempting to marshall a swooning drunk (whom I knew to be just out of prison for a serious assault) away and on to the pavement, so that he could bleed there rather than in our garden - while all the while shouting to my partner and our three boys, in tones as seasonal and unstressed as I could muster, that no, it was not carol singers actually and that they should all just keep on watching The Incredibles (darling, just keep them inside, it's the neighbours again!)


Now, anyone exposed to the after-dinner jeremiads common at the groaning tables of our chattering classes might be forgiven for assuming that Britain is fast becoming a quasi-police state.


It is an article of belief among certain folk that the cops, given half a chance, would gleefully strip the hapless citizenry of its few remaining liberties (that there is no empirical evidence whatever in our history for this rather thrilling notion is neither here nor there to them).


The much more alarming truth is that in Brown's Britain, there is practically bugger-all that the police, however swift, helpful and sympathetic they are (and they are), can do to stop ghastly neighbours ruining people's lives.


Ours is the perfect middle-class nightmare. When we bought the place (from a smiling C of E cleric, no less), we paid the sort of buck-per-bang that, even in the Home Counties (which we're not), would normally guarantee that all-important child-friendly location, complete with parks, caf├ęs, delis and suchlike in toddling distance.


All that we have.


Sadly, we also have, near by, a nest of bachelor alcoholics “well known to the police”.


Their house is privately owned. If the owner-occupier, a free-born Briton, wishes to lay out his benefits in drinking himself noisily to death there, that is his right. If he chooses the company of violent ex-convicts, who is to say him nay? If they appear at our door, blood-spattered, begging for policemen and ambulances to protect them against each other and their own stupidity, but thereafter elect neither to press charges nor mend their ways, what business is that of the overweening State's?


In less blessed countries, some local version of the Napoleonic Code would be swiftly visited upon them, citing the General Good - but not here.


My consolation is that this may all be poetic justice for the years I myself spent (horrid to admit, but true) insulting policemen, shouting Troops Out, baying at Arthur Scargill's every word and generally lambasting the Bourgeois State that had so viciously subsidised my four years at Oxford. 


Dear God, if there is no special circle of hell reserved for we amoral young trots of the Eighties, divine justice is mocked!


But if our troubles are rare among the middle classes (and in my own case arguably deserved), for millions of decent working people the nasty proximity of rogue males, benefited up to the eyeballs, structurally violent, functionally illiterate and virtually beyond legal sanction, is a daily fact of life.


Pace the Idiot Left, “the Workers” and “the Minorities” are not different moral species, to be idolised or slummed with when the fancy takes one, whether in 1960's Notting Hill or modern Whitechapel (my dear, how unbourgeois, how real, how too, too vibrant!). 


Decent working people of all colours and creeds are treacherously non-entertaining. 


They want exactly the same as you or I would want in their places. 


They want more police in their streets. Lots of them, freed from red tape, backed by courts that will ensure that dangerous males are swiftly convicted and effectively removed.


Well, that Saturday night one of our neighbours was indeed arrested pursuant to the arm-slashing of his ex-con drinking buddy. I doubt the charges will stick. The arterial blood did, though. 


By the time the police left, regretfully but helplessly leaving us to what sounded like a convention in honour of that foul old priest from Father Ted, it had coagulated awkwardly within the mid-19th-century mouldings of our front door. A bugger to gouge out, F&B high-gloss finish or no. Arterial blood is hard to get off your path, too, until swilled and brushed away with copious buckets of hot Flash, when it takes on an extraordinarily neon-like pink colour as it steams away in the midnight gutter beneath the streetlights.


An unusual experience, as I say, for a middle-class person. But one all too familiar to millions of hard-working, child-rearing people living in unentertaining, unthrilling, unexotic communities far from NW3 that are daily blighted by the brutes within them - brutes that our own social policies have engendered and whose alleged rights our idiot commentators are so intent on defending.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Oh Mandy

Is another little cloud forming in the East? Lord Mandelson may be a serial thriller when it comes to transactions re his cottaging.

Truth will out. I hope

I see that some chickens are returning to the roost. The legality of the war against Iraq.

I have recorded my opinion on the whole sad matter. (Troops Out - 18 December) Be nice to see some justice done for a change. Maybe less attention to little old ladies who feed pigeons and some attention to matters which stain the whole nation.

Nearly lost her briefs?

Or should we say that she lost her appeal?

Cannot work won't work

Report of two youngsters and their life sans employment.

So, what is missing? The work ethic or pride in themselves? The history of the chap's parents would be enough to destroy any idea that work is what we were put on this earth to do. They are surrounded by pals in the same state as themselves so shame does not come into it. I cannot see the Job Centre ever finding work for two people so unqualified as these two.

Mind, I did read something very interesting just the other day. I cannot now find it so you will need to trust me and appreciate that the figures are approximate. An economist did some research and found a couple an income of something in excess of £500 a week. This involved the male doing a specialist cleaning job for three days and two nights. She would have contributed money from a carer job that entailed getting an old lady to bed and up again in the morning. Minimal qualifications needed for both of them with training on full pay. Within five miles of where they lived. Neither of them had the confidence (or get up and go) to follow up on his research. That is the sort of thing that Job Centres should be doing with directed labour back-up. Have a genuine go or lose your allowances. Losing the dole is the one thing that seems to motivate people such as the two in the link.

Dead Mum

I have negative thoughts about the preservation of a brain-dead mum until such time as her baby could be taken from her by Caesarean section. It is, to me, an example of medical procedures going just too far. I realise I am just about the only one thinking this way so I'll not elaborate. Put me down as weird.

What it did do was cause me to look up the Caesarean process. I had imagined it to be a relatively modern innovation. Not so:

1794: Elizabeth Bennett delivers a daughter by Caesarean section, becoming the first woman in the United States to give birth this way and survive. Her husband, Jesse, is the physician who performs the operation.

He was pressed into service after Elizabeth, struggling with a difficult labor and believing she would die, requested her attending physician to perform a Caesarean in the hope of saving the baby. The doctor refused on moral grounds, so Jesse stepped in.

Conditions were crude. The procedure was performed in the Bennett home, deep in the Virginia backwoods. A sterile environment was out of the question: The operating table consisted of a couple of planks laid across two barrels. Jesse Bennett resorted to laudanum — lots of it — to knock out his wife.

Despite these limitations, the surgery went smoothly. Bennett extracted a healthy girl and he closed the incision, but not before taking the opportunity to remove his wife's ovaries, saying he "would not be subjected to such an ordeal again." Elizabeth quickly recovered, but her feelings about Jesse's excursion into her ovaries were not recorded.

Although the surgery was successful, Bennett didn't immediately report what he'd done. He apparently feared being ridiculed as a liar, given the primitive conditions under which such a dangerous operation had been performed. Nevertheless, the details eventually came to light and Bennett (not to mention his intrepid wife) entered the annals of obstetric history.

Even in the Bennetts' time, the Caesarean section was not new. What was new was the idea that both mother and child could survive the ordeal. The operation itself dated from antiquity, but with very few exceptions was only performed when the mother was dead or dying. The first recorded Caesarean where both mother and child survived was done in Switzerland, in 1500. That was also a husband-wife affair, although in this case Jacob Nufer was a swine gelder, not a doctor.

Before the 19th century, the success rate for physicians performing C-sections in the hope of saving both mother and child was very low. Even with advances in medicine it remained a relatively high-risk procedure into the 20th century.

Times have sure changed. Now, Caesareans are so routine that some critics believe they are often performed unnecessarily, as the "delivery method of choice" even when natural birth presents no unusual danger.

The World Health Organization agrees, recommending that Caesarean rates should not exceed 15 percent of all live births in any country. In the United States, roughly 31 percent of all births are done by Caesarean section, including an increasing number that are performed as an expedient alternative to natural birth. Now, why would anyone opt for major abdominal surgery without a sound medical reason?

Source: Time magazine

Gaza

I have held off commenting on the situation in Gaza. I am biased.
However, that does not mean that I cannot suggest articles by my betters that - in my humble opinion - do not go a long way to explain how the heck they got where things are now. Both sides of the argument are represented.

Should it not be re-named?


As the Judas Medal rather than Presidential Medal of Freedom?

And just remind me - how many pieces of silver was it the other guy got?

No need to consider War Crimes in Israel all the while these two comedians walk free.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Authors as authorities

Well, the novel 1984 was long on prediction but failed to come about when we saw that year for ourselves.
Do not write all novelists off as seers for the future.