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Archive for the ‘Terror’ Category

100 to 1

is the rough ratio of how many Gazans died compared to the number of Israelis during the latest military operation by Israel called ‘Cast Lead’.

We are, generally, aware of the huge cost that this has wreaked in Gaza and few of us, even when realising we wouldn’t like it if someone was throwing rockets into our back yards for the last three years and our government did nothing, would like the whole operation to go ahead as it has. We hear stories of atrocities, our view of Israeli soldiers is coloured by them and we think worse of them despite the situation they were in, what they were asked to do and how that would effect them.

Sadly the realisation that 100 to 1 is the same ratio of those afghanies killed by the brits to the number of british soldiers killed there came from the Israeli Embassador in London. Why should we not have this information from our own papers? Is it because our soldiers are right and the Israelis are wrong? I think it’s more to do with our dead are our dead and that’s that. Besides the government has been on the ‘offensive’ in trying to root out bad feeling towards the armed forces and this little nugget would hardly help…

We may have committed far less ‘collateral damage’ than the Israelis but then it’s harder to do that in a huge country rather than in densely populated suburbs but we, and the americans, have been able to find wedding parties and, mistakenly, tried our best to wipe out the offending party. Now I’m not saying ‘we’  shouldn’t be there or that afghanistan would be better left to the taliban or whoever…

What I am trying to get at is that modern warfare is brutal and bloody and those who have a high tech advantage suffer radically smaller losses – and we make a fusss over one and we wouldn’t want to take higher losses. But when we think about how the israeli armed forces are brutes dealing out disproportionate casualties we should know that’s what all armed forces do when set to work from the high-tech world…

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Apart from a couple of quick personal asides this ones about freedom and what it means when we loose it.

This evening I’m off to stand outside an emerging church cafe evening because it’s about faith and politics – as a smoker I can no longer just go on in and if segregation isn’t political I don’t know what is. One of my posts has been tagged top mud here on Jabbertags, which I find almost ironic. It was The Blind Atheist which is a critical look at evolutionary theory – I just didn’t go back to the nut of primordial soup or mud…

It seems that the government wants to control our behaviour in new and interesting ways. There’s a guide to how you treat pets, story here, and that contravening these ‘guidelines’ may be a factor over whether or not we’re fined or even imprisonned – so more like laws then… It’s a small thing really as most folk will probably just cave and hand over whatever pet they’ve got to the RSPCA or whoever and be done with the pet, but for those who want to keep their beloved pet despite not being the best owners in the world…

Whilst this may seem a small step and has very little to do with Rule 303 but there is more that’s about at the moment – there’s this about all net visits and email on the net turned into evidence in a ‘black box‘ – for what is it if it is not evidence just waiting to be used – and what does that say about how the government views us as we tap away at our keyboards? Well, luckily for us – the government has been kind enough to tell us, and it isn’t happy. In the form of Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has said that we are ‘witnessing a dangerous corrosion in our political culture’ and that we bloggers with our own views are the problem. True she does have a view on how to get other folk into politics, the article is here, if you’re interested.

This is all well and good but none of this touches our freedom if we follow the law… well, yes, except of course unless you are either part of the 20% of the population who still has the bloody mindedness to still smoke or are married/partnered to one of these 20% and want to foster as now there’s a possibility you might be banned – for health reasons… Of course what level of risk is it? Nobody says… The biggest chance of damage to a child’s health is that they model the behaviour of the smoker (evil as they are) and become smokers themselves (and thereby help contribute more to society than they cost…) Go Here for more… I wonder if it will be one of those many boxes on the ID card that the gutless totalitarian Jacqui Smith is starting to roll out on immigrants and workers in two airports… which of course the immigrants and workers will have to have and have to pay for….

Of course this is not to say that we suffer from any of this raft of legislation, however uncomfortable it may make us feel. Unless, of course you are a parent and your child has become overweight or obese – then you can have your child taken away and put into a smoke free care environment, you can go here, or even watch a news video here! How long will it be before parents who continue to smoke will risk their own children being taken away?

And here we have a government that is willing to get ever more personal with us in a legal fashion – forcing us to have ID cards and to try to keep as much DNA as possible on record, although it has run into trouble with that just recently, in the unelected house of Lords, here, and by the unelected information commissioner, here. These records are damaging as they show up where they are no longer relevant and DNA travels almost as if flapped about on the wings of that darn butterfly – I shake your hand, minute traces of my DNA rub off onto your hand, you shake hands with someone I’ve never met, my DNA rubs off onto them, they rub their hands somewhere I’ve never been and if a crime goes down there – I have to provide an alibi…

So for me, so for you, dear reader.

And another personal restriction is the rising of the marriage visa age for foreigners. Whilst a good aim is to try to stamp out forced marriages – how bluntly does this go?

At a time when we can actively contemplate Honeymoons in space within the next 50 years and a stop off by the end of the century we still have to live with the problem of Jean Charles de Menezes – with the pathologist now chipping in about how he was lied to by the police. Of course we also have the problem of closed ranks, however understandable, which led to an unofficial strike amongst firearms officers – so They Know they can rely on each other…

This is where I draw in the old Rule 303, if we lose our freedom to live our own lives, even within our family units are we not being made to live in a drastically real ‘prison in the community’? And if we somehow get on the wrong side then everything will be stacked up against us, no matter how little or large we’ve been infringed upon. Of course, if we have no freedom left, what is to stop us from either thinking, rightly, we may as well be physically imprisoned or feeling, depending on how strongly you feel, that the state might as well just get it over with. Because without freedoms what life do we have?

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well, alright it’s a rather tacky way of sticking a review of The Kingdom and The Narnia Chronicles: Prince Caspian together in one title…

I think both films are both fantastic and gritty. The idea of a large bomber that causes such damage as to eventually let the FBI have permission to send an investigative team to Saudi Arabia – we all know bombings happen but the construction of the piece is fictional and that shouldn’t be forgotten. And then there’s the ‘appearance’ of Abu Hamza – the bogeyman, this would be possible given that the first blast was factual… but it shows a certain desperation to both lend credence to the film’s basis and remind us that this could be a genuine flash point. [ie they do have the knowledge to commit things like that and there are real people like that…] After these two things, the second being fairly minor The Kingdom is a fairly realistic down to earth grit fueled film – which takes the opportunity to show the Saudi Arabian lifestyle and conditions [I can’t be sure that women are allowed to drive yet…] Despite some bad reviews on this side of the pond {in the UK} I listened to an interview with a BBC correspondent from the area that the film is set within and he argued that, whether or not you like it, the film was realistic and it was, in the end the saudi officer assigned who does some of the hard, grizzly work as the americans just stand around bewildered…

So, how does it tie in with Prince Caspian and Narnia? The entire reality behind the book and now the film is based on a fantastic realm called Narnia and a Big Lion called Aslan. Once that has been accepted it does become quite gritty in the sense of having one usurper, betrayals, courage and cowardice…

At the end of The Kingdom ‘Abu Hamza’ ie the architect of the bombings [and just to be clear here – the film has been out for awhile… and the claim for Abu is that the americans keep asking about him and then assume that they may have found him.] whispers in his last breath to a child that he shouldn’t worry becuase they will kill them all…

And grotesque and hopeless as that seems it is revealed that the leader of the FBI agents comforted a mourning fellow agent by those very words – ‘We’ll kill them all.’ High King Peter declares as he prepares for battle that they will ‘crush them all’ [which is not in the book]…

Kill them all, Crush them all – no room for quarter or mercy from any – be they FBI, bomb manufacturer or, now, Knights of Narnia. To quote a line from Lethal Weapon – There are no heroes anymore… and it is this moral ambiguity that in the end underpins the reality of The Kingdom whilst also shading the characters of C. S. Lewis from our modern point of view – in the end though after the ‘bad guy’ had said those words in Lethal Weapon – Mel Gibson broke threw into the room to prove the point wrong.

Now, after all those years and dredged into wars that don’t seem to have a clear end, even after Vietnam, the film industry doesn’t think there are heroes anymore… Just folk trying to protect their own folk with whatever means they have to hand.

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or Blame Somebody Else

Whilst I don’t think anybody should plot to blow folk up, actually blow folk up or even help folk to blow other folk up there’s been an interesting spin on the ruling against Yeshiemebet Girma, the wife of Hussain Osman one of the 21/7 bombers and plotters and that is it’s her fault Jean Charles de Menezes was shot by police in the head more than once…

I can still remember the argument in the House of Commons as they debated whether it was right to change the long standing legal tradition of recognition that a spouse’s first loyalty was for the ‘other half’ and then denied that. Which says that in terms of loyalty – the state comes before spouse, nevermind anybody else. Now not only has she been found guilty of not treating the state with greater love than her husband but also for the police shooting an innocent man. This is an extreme case and I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had ‘informed’ on her husband to the security forces – but it does show this in harsh relief: Who would think that their loyalty to the state trumps their loyalty to their spouse?

15 years tells that story.

Unfortunately she’s now being cast as the scapegoat for the police’s grievous error and shoddy treatment [ie the lies, the ripping off of the cctv footage that told the tale (which is what the IRA did after the shooting of Robert McCartney), the holding up of the enquiry into the shooting…] after they had killed an unrelated party – Jean Charles de Menezes – this is a shoddy attempt to justify the police’s mistake.

To be honest, I don’t like the fact that she’s been convicted of not ‘telling’ on her husband – I think that there is enough evidence to convict her of conspiracy of various things – helping a criminal escape and evade being the most obvious and frankly that shouldn’t have any lower or higher penalty… and that the state should not demand such loyalty – it should realise that individuals have to decide where their loyalties lie.

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addition to the family I was musing that when I was a youngster – back in the 70s the high end of dog walking/training etiquette was that if the dog being walked needed to ‘go’ -yes this is my early warning we are going to use ‘dirty’ words… then the dog would be trained to squat in the gutter and leave the steaming remains off the pavement but clear of the path of the tires to be slowly broken down and taken into the drains…

I even knew one or two of these high class dogs and you may be surprised that they were miniature poodles – our dog which eventually came along had no chance of being so well trained [we were satisfied that he got on with everybody – two legs and four, true he picked a fight or two after he’d been attacked but with a bit of care he merely returned to his friendly self – and that was over two decades of life…] and now we have a rescue dog and we’re busy trying to teach him some ‘road discipline’… but way back then my Grandad and Nanna thought that it wasn’t safe for a dog to be trained to have a dump in the gutter any more… Oh the heady days of freedom, oh the 70s!!!

Now as dog-walkers we have to carry bags and scoop any ill-placed dog excrement. How the times have changed – from training the dog to training the dog owners… part of this drive has been because we’ve left, as a society, nature behind – we may have parks for us to play in but we don’t have any more wild life that may have been raised and nurtured on ‘the common’ and tragic though it is some are scared of pets – in any particular size and sometimes for a good reason… but what isn’t is the under-handed campaign that some are running to do all they can to drive pets and their owners away.

Now, to be fair I’m going to admit that some dogs carry bugs that if a child (yes, they have to be around 5 or younger) plays in an area with wet dog pee (yes it does have to be wet) or in fresh dog excrement (yes it does have to be fresh) then they may contract a strange infection that could well leave them blind. Now I’m not about to decant my dog’s bladder and go round squirting it into childrens’ faces but I do wonder how many think it is perfectly safe to put a child on a plane? because statistically it’s probably more likely that boarding a plane offers a greater chance of something dire happening to a youngster than a dog’s offerings…

Yes, alright, it is something that can be avoided but then so are most flights. It’s a matter of risk. The argument about ‘It’s for the children…’ is so much more about emotional blackmail you might as well say ‘It’s for Charity…’ we can reduce the risk even lower than it was before we started down this path and there are play areas for children that dogs are banned from but there are other things we are also doing that reduce risk when the risk in the first place was all but zero… Now, it is tragic if/when something happens to a youngster but one of the risks that we aren’t addressing is the risk of institutionalising our children before they even hit school and also the rest of the population as well because whilst dog walkers have had to adjust so have smokers if they want to have a drink and then a smoke [note the satisfied smugness of anti-society folk who believe that smoking is an erroneous choice that needs to be ‘corrected’] – hunters have had to give up their past time [which generally resulted in ‘a grand day out, shame no kill…’] and now folk are being herded into areas where they can no longer drink [I was always told that we shouldn’t let the minority spoil the fun for the majority]…

It seems that over many issues of our behaviour we have accepted a slow walk into institutionalisation as we became more fearful for ourselves as the papers and news focused ever more on the tragic stories of a few and even the soaps have been able to terrorise some of their watchers – I remember by Nanna saying how dangerous the streets are, what with all the crime you see in x (no, I’m not even going to name the darn thing [unless challenged]) nowadays. We have lived off torturous stories and as we lived through them precariously we have turned ourselves into fearful characters that could be the next to be attacked by the villains of the pieces…

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Is Brown Mad?

Now those over 16 can expect a court appearance if found with a knife – much wrangling has been done so that carrying a pocketknife as millions peacefully do from being caught in this net – the ‘hope’/’plan’/’child’s scheme’ is that the fear of a court appearance will put the wind up youngsters so much that they’ll feel compelled to leave their knives [or their parents’ kitchen knives] back home and go about their business without carrying a weapon, of any kind… Unfortunately this misses one or two points. To start with the figures are relatively consistent with 5% of ‘youths’ carrying knives over the last stretch of a decade or more – so we are talking about one in twenty which isn’t huge but the other point is most telling – those who are part of this minority are so scared of being attacked that they feel they need a form of defence…

So isn’t the fear of death going to trump the fear of court? And how can that be changed? Well, disarming the fear of belligerent behaviour seems the only way forward and making the police seem belligerent and uncomprehending of the youngsters’ version of reality is only going to add them to the list of bullies to be avoided. Nevermind that this might be an underhanded pull to gather ever more DNA and fingerprints from a wider variety of folk – or to put it another way – as soon as possible… because the data sweep of 5 yr olds isn’t here yet.

And if they don’t reform and become suspect the powers that be are considering putting folk away for 42 days without charge. Other countries can lock folk up and continue to question them after charging – Italy is the ping-pong ball in this debate – it is wrong to be able to hold folk for a year [maybe two] before trial but at least there are lawyers and they know where the questions are going. For 42 days someone who has fallen suspect could be lifted off the streets and have their lives gone through with a vengefully fine-toothed comb. Think of the question ‘When did your son become a terrorist?’ and what damage that would do to someone’s relationship with a parent and indeed you could broaden it out….

Russia was known for it’s gulags wherein political prisoners where sent with little hope of either trial or release and whilst it may seem harsh beyond comparison to relate this to the ‘terrorist’ but think for a moment…

Once someone has been picked up it will never end. If they are guilty then they will have the shorter time of ‘trouble’ from the state – they can be punished and after you check that their old ties have been broken you can stop watching them – true their DNA and fingerprints will forever be on record [gained by a professional beating or not]… but someone who’s been tried and found innocent or even released without charge {How can they then clear the smear of ‘suspect‘ from their lives?} – then their DNA and fingerprints will forever be on record [gained by a professional beating or not] and there will always be the lingering thought that once so wronged by the state they may become targeted as ‘sympathetic’ by terrorist – thereby needing a good watch for however long someone deems necessary… and of course – it could make them, their friends and/or relatives sympathetic to the cause of the terrorists…

We found this out when ‘we’ the UK where holding folk in Northern Ireland and it took too long to disband the gulags there but now we are thinking a good short term gulag here is fine.

Just remember scientists are claiming that once you get over 6 million DNA profiles the number of false positives will grow exponentially and don’t forget that we’re now over 4 million on that database…

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The Police State

Whilst the police may or may not have a genuine gripe about their pay – they do have lots of muscle and when you go to collect a composer at the ripe old age of 61 – you obviously need it. The story is here, I found it flicking through The Daily Telegraph to find an article about the government’s ever greater desire to creep into our lives but, unfortunately for that one I had to buy The Times (What is journalism coming to – The Independent led on front page with a bunch of puppies…)

I did however squirrel the story away for a brighter day. I know I argue sometimes that the state is not for our own good but for it’s own perpetuation and for that it needs to at least convince some of us that it is there for our own good but then what kind of a state is it  –

One where it is ‘procedure’ to have four policemen to one ‘criminal’, one where he now has his DNA on record for the rest of his life (and possibly longer if they forget to wipe it thus creating ever more possibilities for false positives…), one that if you resist having your DNA taken you can be charged with assault, one that takes finger prints to go with the DNA, one that can haul someone out of bed and interrogate them for six hours [NB in the web page it says several hours but in the small cutting in the paper I remember the number six – unless I’m wrong of course.] and is now ‘Out’ on bail until June! and these are the general powers the police have and use…

And Why? What crime had he committed? He had exited a Sainsbury’s car park without his ticket, without the right form of ID – and make no mistake the car park card is a temporary form of ID control – it identifies you as leaving your car there from such and such and if you want a pass to let your car out you’ll need the ID… but it gets better – the car park is supposed to be ‘free’ for customers and that’s why it’s regulated – not so that Sainsbury’s can charge for parking if you don’t enter their shop and buy stuff (which is what Charles Lucy, with spouse did – the weekly shop) not that a manager can be understanding of a regular shopper who’s made a mistake – Oh NO – you loose your ID and that’s that and then you have the audacity to raise the barrier {possibly causing approx. £4,000 damages – it’s that moment of the ‘click’ Charles describes – they’re either making a mountain out of a mole hill, the barrier has had it’s insides damaged or they’ve got a system so expense that to open it up and have a look is going to be costly…} you are on your own – a wild vigilante with an axe to grind…

So then the police storm your house two days later – giving you time to calm down and think that the whole thing was a nightmare but at least it’s over now… Well, it’s not going to be over for Charles – it’s now the rest of his life really as he’s on the criminal database and once there – always there.

But it does shed light on why there are almost no folk who protest at having their DNA taken – I listened to a report of a mother with her under 16yr old son and though I can’t remember what the whole thing was about they, the police, asked her for her consent to take his DNA – when asked what would happen if she didn’t she was shown a group of police all smiling and ready to pounce on her child with the byline that they are used to doing it… So, protest and be beaten [professionally] and then charged with assault, or have your child beaten [professionally] and then charged with assault… Just like the good composer found out. Small wonder virtually everyone gives their consent. Who Wouldn’t?

Of course I used the word ‘criminal’ to describe Charles in the third paragraph and we all know that we are innocent until proven guilty, right? Right. That’s why he’s out on bail – because he’s only a ‘suspect’ and a dangerous one at that – throwing ID away and breaking through Barriers, this sort of behaviour shows no respect for The Rules, Dammit. But who is going to look innocent when dragged in front of a judge after being woken up and then interrogated over some time – I’m not saying everybody’s innocent, I’m saying that once in the grip of the machine you are Suspect- at Best, Guilty at worst. And then you are at their mercy until you can escape the grip of the machine…

There are of course more questions here that aren’t answered – did the police turn up all in body armour or was there one who could try the human approach? How did they know who it was and where he lived? Charles ‘The Criminal Mastermind’ may have given it to the manager of the Sainsbury’s in question whilst arguing over the whole thing or did they just decide they had enough to go straight to the DVLA and have them say, ‘Oh, sure, we can tell you where that car lives…’ As the situation is so strange – did Charles get a lawyer or not and as we, as in almost all of us, don’t find ourselves needing a lawyer normally shouldn’t we just be assigned one to start with? Otherwise who knows what other crimes we may commit ourselves to in the presence of The Law…

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