Thousands of people killed by drones? Don’t know if I wanna go out today…

October 23, 2012

Here’s a little globule of info that I discovered today and thought I should share with the blogosphere:

Between June 2004 and September this year, according to research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children. (Guardian, 23 Oct 2012).

So many civilians… so many children… and this is supposed to be targeted strikes of known insurgents? We need to stop the use of drones, now. The operators back in America obviously have a problem remembering that they’re killing real people, that it isn’t a video game. Yet the RAF are planning to acquire more drones. Insanity.

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Drones drones drones… Enough already with the effing drones!!!

October 22, 2012

I am sick of drones. The police want to use them… the RAF is buying more Reaper drones which will be deployed in Afghanistan but controlled from bases in Britain… and now France is sending drones to Mali, to help kill insurgents and whoever else is in the target area at the time.

I understand why armed forces like drones – they can carry out dangerous missions without risking the lives of aircrew, and they can patrol huge areas without risking pilot exhaustion. So yay yay, we can do war stuff without risking the lives of our patriotic forces (some people might say that using drones is cowardly as the pilots are safely on home turf. But obviously that isn’t a view I share). But while the drones keep the fighting at arm’s length, the Afghani population are still dying because of the airstrikes. One very obvious problem is that a guy piloting a drone via a TV screen and a PlayStation control pad is going to make errors that a real life pilot in a plane could avoid simply because he is there, seeing stuff with his own eyes. There’s been enough “collateral damage” (ie senseless slaughter of innocents) already. If we want to fight the people of Afghanistan, we should send real live people there,not glorified remote control planes armed with horrific weaponry.

A civilian killed by a drone is just as dead as one bombed by a manned plane. His family is destroyed just the same. Is this how we want our “heroes” to be remembered, as men who fire missiles at civilian targets while relaxed in a base back in Blighty? Because that is how they’ll be perceived if the use of drones escalates – there are enough people around to make sure that is how history written, from bloggers in the West and from children orphaned by a bomb dropped from a drone. Lions and asses.

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Do as I say, not as I do.

October 17, 2012

mitchell

Tory Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell: why don’t they put 50,000 volts up his ass?

In the first Prime Minister’s Questions session since Tory Chief Whip swore at police officers and called them “plebs”, Cameron has defended Andrew Mitchell against calls from the Opposition that his position is now untenable.

Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour party, said in PMQs that Mitchell should be sacked. After all, as London mayor Boris Johnson said in last year’s Conservative convention, anyone who swears at a police officer must expect to be arrested as part of a zero-tolerance approach. One rule for the yobs, another for the elite, pointed out Miliband (though he didn’t really need to point this out – the elite have always enjoyed a cosy relationship with the forces of law and order, as well Ed knows, having been a member of tha t elite for quite some time).

It will be mildly interesting to see what’s done about Mitchell. Only mildly, because whatever is done ain’t gonna amount to a hill of beans. Slapped wrists, grudging “apologies”, then a donkey in Blackpool will bray the National Anthem or something and Mitchell’s tribulations will be yesterday’s news. No one cares, cos everyone knows there’s no point in caring.

Another mildly interesting story in the Guardian today is that a copper shot a blind man in the back with a 50,000 volt taser because he apparently thought the man’s white stick was a samurai sword. WTF? Ch Supt Stuart Williams, of Lancashire police, said the force deeply regretted the incident, in an apology as grudgingly given as Mitchell’s, then went on to explain:

Police had “received a number of reports that a man was walking through Chorley armed with a samurai sword”.

A description of the offender was circulated to officers and patrols were sent to look for the man. One of the officers who arrived in Chorley believed he had located the offender. Despite asking the man to stop, he failed to do so and the officer discharged his Taser.

Colin Farmer, the 61-year old victim of this electrocution said he was taking a slow walk to meet some friends when he became aware of some shouting. Next thing he knew, he had been zapped to the ground and forcibly restrained by an anonymous officer (anonymous cos the police ain’t telling and Farmer can’t identify the dickhead since he’s blind).

Ch Supt Williams said that as soon as officers realised their mistake, they took care of Hunter and gave him a lift to meet his friends. That was big of them, considering they could have killed the guy. Hunter, obviously not a young man, has already had two strokes and lives in fear of a third. And how in heck does a police officer mistake a blind man’s white stick for a samurai sword? I thought the whole point of the white stick was so people would realise its carrier was blind. But now, if I were blind, I’d be too scared to take my stick out with me. Who knows, maybe it’ll be a Heckler & Koch MP5 submachinegun used on the next unfortunate victim of mindless police brutality. Insanity.

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UFO hacker Gary McKinnon beats US attempts at extradition

October 16, 2012

So who’d a thunk it?  Gary McKinnon, intrepid UFO-conspiracy theory nut who skilfully hacked into NASA and US Department of Defence (robustly protected with no, I repeat no passwords, has finally won his appeal to home secretary Theresa May.

Then again, a cynic (who, me?) might argue that the government really needed the PR boost this decision has given them.  For a long time people have been protesting the blatantly skewed US/UK extradition.  Britain recently extradited the half-blind (heh) Abu Hamza to America. May says her decision was made solely on medical grounds, but it was obviously a sop for those who say that Britain is just the USA’s poodle.  I doubt very much that America will make much fuss over this – after all, it ain’t like McKinnon is an al-Qaeda operative who beat state-of-the-art intrusion systems to access military secrets – he’s a UFO nut who got into unprotected computer systems looking for evidence of LGM at Area 51 or somesuch crap.  So now May and her successors can point to the McKinnon case whenever someone accuses the UK government of extradition to America on demand.  Because we all know that’s what the US/UK treaty amounts to really, don’t we?  Well, don’t we?  Please don’t tell me anyone’s actually fallen for this theatre!

It’s also important to remember that McKinnon has been under threat of extradition for over eight years!  That’s a long time to sit worrying that you might soon be on the way to Gitmo.  As Gary’s mother wrote in an open letter in September:

My son has now been under arrest for longer than any British citizen ever has. He hasn’t raped anyone, he hasn’t murdered anyone, so can’t understand how this can be happening to him, as no matter how much anyone may choose to exaggerate his crime, the fact is that his crime was tapping on a keyboard in his bedroom in north London in search of information on aliens from outer space.

Gary rarely ever leaves his home as he is traumatised to the core. A boy who cycled, swam, composed music and sang, now sits in the dark with his cats and never wants to see or speak to anyone.

He has no life, and is broken, like a wounded animal with no outlet and no hope, seeing only the dark side and the cruelty that exists in the world. My only child has lost 10 years of his youth and has aged and died before my eyes.

Also spare a thought for the families of Babar Ahmad, and others who have been extradited to the US by virtue of our “special relation” no matter how flimsy the evidence.  Ahmad’s family released a statement:

We strongly welcome the decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon – we would not want his family to experience the pain and suffering we have all been enduring since Babar was extradited.

However, questions do need to be asked as to why, within the space of two weeks, a British citizen with Asperger’s accused of computer related activity is not extradited, while two other British citizens, one with Asperger’s, engaged in computer related activity are extradited. A clear demonstration of double standards.

That Theresa May felt compelled to postpone both the McKinnon decision on several occasions and the introduction of the forum bar (which would have prevented Babar’s extradition) demonstrates her willingness to make vulnerable individuals like Gary suffer in her determination to extradite others.

Many of our supporters are angry at what appears to be blatant old-fashioned racism under which all British citizens are equal but some are more equal than others.

It looks like the McKinnon decision is a victory in a war we’ve already lost.

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Prison for taking the piss out of the cops? So how come they’re allowed to take the piss out of us?

October 11, 2012

Interesting case in Manchester. At Minshull Street crown court, Barry Thew was imprisoned for four months for wearing a t-shirt daubed with jokes about the recent deaths of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes. The court heard that on 18 September, less than three-and-a-half hours after the officers were killed, he was seen in Radcliffe town centre wearing a white T-shirt with the handwritten message on the front and back. He was arrested and taken into custody after complaints from outraged members of the public.

The words Thew had added said “One less pig. Perfect justice” and “Killacop4fun.com. Ha haaa”.

Okay, so Thew broke the law: members of the public were apparently offended by the t-shirt, so he was guilty of a section 4a public order offence – displaying writing or other visible representation with intention of causing harassment, alarm or distress. He pleaded guilty, there’s no question over that.

But what is vile in this case is the fact that Thew was sent to prison for four months (2 four month sentences to be served concurrently). It’s a fact that a lot of people don’t like the police. A lot of people would have been amused by the t-shirt – I certainly am – and if the courts are to jail someone just because of a tastless joke, the prisons would be overflowing with comedians like Roy “Chubby” Brown.

It’s time for the establishment to accept that a lot of people don’t like them. And why not? The ruling classes and their lackeys will need to look to each oher for the answer to that one.

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