Monday, May 31, 2010

Some Exhibitions to Check Out...

Here's a suggested pick of some local exhibitions that you might like to check out...

The Catcam
Images taken by a cat! Q: What could be cooler? A: Nothing! Centrespace Gallery. 6 Leonard Lane, Bristol, BS1 1EA, Friday 28th May - Wednesday 2nd June 2010.

EDL Photo Exhibition
At The Junction, Stokes Croft until 9th June. 5pm - 1am. its free entry before 8 but may be a small charge after due to gigs.

Street Photography Exhibition
"This is my first photography exhibition, it features over a 100 street photos of Bristol. It is running as part of the Bristol Festival of Photography." 19th May to 19th June 2010 - at Cafe Kino, Nine Tree Hill, Off Stokes Croft Road.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Making the Working Class Support the Ruling Class II

Part 2 in and ongoing series: Making the Working Class Support the Ruling Class... This is a great article about how right-wing propagandists have taken the populist ideas of the rich and powerful and turned them upside down...
Regular middle class folks, he tells us, have been inveigled into leading unsustainable lifestyles. Instead of going to church and home-schooling their children as they once did, they hunker down in their over-leveraged houses and watch porn on the giant screen TVs that they bought on credit. America has lost its way; we are headed over a cliff.

And who is to blame for this sad state of affairs? Not the bankers who supplied our citizenry with mortgages and credit cards and addicted them to debt; not the merchants who sold them the TVs; the advertisers who seduced them away from the pay-as-you-go thrift that was their birthright. Business and businessmen are still the font of everything good. No, the villains are the Statist bureaucrats in Washington who despise everything commonsensical and homely and just. Unregulated commerce is still the ultimate expression of freedom; political Progressivism is the cancer that enslaves and kills.

Indeed - the enemy is not those that led you to this point, but the 'others' - those the rich point you to as the enemy. It's a world turned upside down.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

When Quoting a 'Dr' State His Area of Expertise...

This is a great demolition of the media coverage of the recent hacked climate email hearings:
What really irked me about the BBC piece however is its concluding section in which we find: Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, criticised the panel for producing a report that was “not even-handed” and appeared to be the product of a “rushed job”. He said: “This has produced a very superficial report. The panel should have taken more time to come to more balanced and trustworthy conclusions. They should have heard evidence from critical researchers who have been working in the same field for many years.”

First of all, for those who aren’t familiar with Benny Peiser while he is indeed an academic, simply describing him as a Dr within an article concentrating on science and scientists is somewhat misleading. Peiser is a senior lecturer in social anthropology and sports sociology. Yup that’s right, instead of getting information about climate science from climate scientists, or maybe physicists or atmospheric chemists the Beeb turns to a sports sociologist. Right… Well he has published peer reviewed papers. Three in fact, in the following journals: Sports Medicine, 2006; Journal of Sports Sciences (2004); and, Bioastronomy 2002: life among the stars (2004).

What clearer way could the omission of information allow the reader to form a misleading reading of the text. So to quote again:
Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, criticised the panel for producing a report that was “not even-handed” and appeared to be the product of a “rushed job”.

This clearly gives the impression that the man quoted is some kind of a related expert - else why else call him a doctor. Now add in the area of expertise:
Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation and a doctor of the sociology of sport, criticised the panel for producing a report that was “not even-handed” and appeared to be the product of a “rushed job”.

How does that read now? Truthier, I think.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Israel Offered Nukes to Racist South Africa

Undermining any shreds of moral credibility the state of Israel may have had, is the revelation that it had friendly - as in selling weapons sort of friendly - with the Apartheid era South Africa. If we are judged by the company we keep - this is shocking...
Whether it was intentional or not, the double standard in the UNSC concerning Israel’s nuclear weapons (including the recklessness with which its leaders have hinted they would use them, and the willingness to proliferate) and Iran’s civilian enrichment program, which may well never lead to a bomb has been underlined by Polakow-Suransky’s revelations. The research discoveries make it at least a little more difficult for the US and Israel to persuade other UNO states that Iran is a rogue and needs special intervention, while Israel is held harmless.

And here...
But South Africa and Israel were bound together in their respective battles against the ANC and PLO by much more than a shared anti-communist agenda. In their private correspondences, as Polakow-Suransky documents, leaders from the two countries described their alliance as a holy war against the dark-skinned hordes. As Israel’s former ambassador to apartheid South Africa, a Likudnik named Eliahu Lankin, wrote to his South African allies in 1987, "What the ANC is demanding today is nothing less than ‘one man, one vote’… If the whites were to agree to this in present circumstances, they would be committing suicide, not only politically but physically as well." Eitan made no secret of his fears about empowering the demographic majority, warning before an audience at Tel Aviv University that blacks "want to gain control over the white majority just like the Arabs here want to gain control over us. And we, too, like the white minority in South Africa, must act to prevent them from taking us over."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Axis of Evil: JP Morgan and Exxon

Credit Default Swaps are one of those clever little financial tools that the finance posse came up with to continue buy and selling things that don't exist. There were a major factor in the recent financial collapse that has cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs and homes. What's more they have a murky history: thye were invented by JP Morgan to help Exxon deal with the fall out of a major oil spill:
The Boca Raton meeting first bore fruit when Exxon needed to open a line of credit to cover potential damages of five billion dollars resulting from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. J. P. Morgan was reluctant to turn down Exxon, which was an old client, but the deal would tie up a lot of reserve cash to provide for the risk of the loans going bad. The so-called Basel rules, named for the town in Switzerland where they were formulated, required that the banks hold eight per cent of their capital in reserve against the risk of outstanding loans. That limited the amount of lending bankers could do, the amount of risk they could take on, and therefore the amount of profit they could make. But, if the risk of the loans could be sold, it logically followed that the loans were now risk-free; and, if that were the case, what would have been the reserve cash could now be freely loaned out. No need to suck up useful capital.

In late 1994, Blythe Masters, a member of the J. P. Morgan swaps team, pitched the idea of selling the credit risk to the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. So, if Exxon defaulted, the E.B.R.D. would be on the hook for it—and, in return for taking on the risk, would receive a fee from J. P. Morgan. Exxon would get its credit line, and J. P. Morgan would get to honor its client relationship but also to keep its credit lines intact for sexier activities. The deal was so new that it didn’t even have a name: eventually, the one settled on was “credit-default swap."

You could not make it up...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Climate Denial Mish-Mash

There's a fun article on the BBC about the denial-o-palosa event that is worth a read...
The final word of this conference - part counter-orthodox science brainstorm, part political rally - was left to a man who is not a scientist at all, Christopher Monckton, former adviser to Mrs Thatcher, now the darling of climate sceptics worldwide.

In a bravura performance he had the audience roaring at his mocking impersonation of "railway engineer Rajendra Pachauri - the Casey Jones of climate change"; hissing with pantomime fury at the "scandal" of Climategate, then emotionally applauding the American troops who have given their lives for the freedom that their political masters are surrendering to the global socialist tyranny of global warming.

His closing words were delivered in a weeping whisper, a soft prayer of praise to the American constitution and individual liberty.

As the ecstatic crowd filtered out I pointed one delegate to a copy of the Wall Street Journal on the table. A front page paragraph noted that April had been the warmest on record.

"So what?" he shrugged. "So what?"

Denial in a nutshell.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Man Accusing Climate Scientists of Fraud, is Talking Money from Man Accused of Fraud

Roll up! Roll up! It's the full of shit event of the year! A right-wing nut-job by the name of Cuccinelli has started a witch-hunt against climate scientists Michael Mann, asking for every single paper and email he produced while working at a the University of Virginia so as to cherry-pick and quote-mine for evidence of fraud:
[The] Virginia attorney general has filed papers against the climate researcher, Michael Mann. Mann had worked at the University of Virginia for 5 or 6 years, doing climate studies that cost the state about a half million dollars over that time. (To put that in perspective, that's a middling sized grant; big biomedical researchers can get much more than that.) Cuccinelli is claiming that Mann committed fraud, and wants to demand all that money back.

There are no grounds to consider Mann to have committed any breach of ethics. The sole foundation for his legal attack is the hacked email messages from the CRU, which contained no nefarious revelations…other than that some scientists are really pissed off at clueless denialists like Cuccinelli. Most annoyingly, Mann was already subjected to an ethics review, again driven by people complaining about the CRU emails, and was completely absolved of any wrongdoing.

Note that that while Mann has been accused of fraud by this prick Cuccinelli without any evidence and despite a review concluding he did nothing wrong... Cuccinelli himself got over $55,000 in funds from somebody who is under investigation for fraud and there is evidence of wrong doing - and yet Cuccinelli says his donor is innocent until proven guilty:
The second largest individual contributor to Cuccinelli's campaign for Virginia attorney general last year was Bobby Thompson, a Florida man who is the founder of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, and who donated $55,500 to Cuccinelli.

A lengthy investigative report in the St. Petersburg Times raised numerous red flags about USNVA. For example, the paper could not confirm the existence of 84 out of 85 listed officers for the group. The only one they could find was Thompson, who moved out of his Tampa bungalow, leaving no forwarding address, soon after being questioned contacted by reporters. The group is now under investigation in three states.... But Cuccinelli has refused, with his camp saying he'll give up the money if Thompson is convicted of a crime.


Monday, May 24, 2010

G8 Cops Found Gilty

Finally, after almost a decade, the police who attacked innocent protesters, beating them savagely then planted fake evidence to incriminate them - reports lapped up the the right-wing press globally at the time - have been found guilty of their crimes...
Some of Italy's most senior police officers have been given jail sentences of up to five years for what the prosecution called a "terrible" attack on demonstrators at the 2001 G8 meeting in Genoa and an attempted cover-up.

Except that this isn't real justice:
It is highly unlikely that any of the officers will go behind bars. The case has taken so long that most of the offences of which they were accused have been "timed out" by statutes of limitations.

Nice - want to beat the shit out of people and get away with it? Join the police!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

BP Policing the Media

I blogged about Apple's police force. Next in the corporate cops rosta we have BP:
Emerging reports are raising the question of just how much of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill journalists are able to document.

When CBS tried to film a beach with heavy oil on the shore in South Pass, Louisiana, a boat of BP contractors, and two Coast Guard officers, told them to turn around, or be arrested.

"This is BP's rules, it's not ours," someone aboard the boat said. Coast Guard officials told CBS that they're looking into it.

As the Coast Guard is a branch of the Armed Forces, it brings into question how closely the government and BP are working together to keep details of the disaster in the dark.

Mre example of state-paid policing serving not the citizens, but a corporate agenda. If there was justice the cops would be busting in the doors of executives from the companies involved in this eco-clister-fuck...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Science for Non Scientists: Part 3 - How to Read a Scientific Paper

As we've discussed so far, the main thrust of science is built around the peer review process. Put simply this demands that any claims made need to show their proof and how they arrived at this proof so anyone else can replicate it. To make this process easier scientific papers are presented in a specific format. Most scientific papers tackle one question (or hypothesis). Some seek to collate the findings of multiple papers on the same subject area, these are called Literature Reviews. It is the normal papers I'm going to focus on for now. These papers take the following form:
- Abstract; a short statement that outlines what the paper is about, what it found and what the conclusions are. This is a quick way to digest the papers findings. Also while lots of papers are not freely available to read (boo!) without a subscription, these always are.
- Introduction: This section lays out the case as to why the question under study needs to be studied. It also reviews the current research and sets the stage for the current research.
- Method: How the scientist/s propose to try to answer the question. This is a description of what they did and how they got their results. It is also the instructions for others to recreate the results.
- Results: The findings. What the scientists found as a result of their experiment.
- Conclusion: What these findings mean, including how much they can be applied and what research they suggest needs to be done next.

- References: A list of the other papers and books referred to in this paper so you can go and look them up. They are listed alphabetically with the surname of the scientists first then the date, then the title. If there are a lot of scientists involved it is often shortened to the name of the first scientist in the list then 'et al' for 'and the rest' added.

Got it? Good. So lets take a look at a typical paper...Exceptional record of mid-Pleistocene vertebrates helps differentiate climatic from anthropogenic ecosystem perturbations – Barnosky et al. (2004) (link from AGW Observer)

So the abstract from this is:
Mid-Pleistocene vertebrates in North America are scarce but important for recognizing the ecological effects of climatic change in the absence of humans. We report on a uniquely rich mid-Pleistocene vertebrate sequence from Porcupine Cave, Colorado, which records at least 127 species and the earliest appearances of 30 mammals and birds. By analyzing >20,000 mammal fossils in relation to modern species and independent climatic proxies, we determined how mammal communities reacted to presumed glacial–interglacial transitions between 1,000,000 and 600,000 years ago. We conclude that climatic warming primarily affected mammals of lower trophic and size categories, in contrast to documented human impacts on higher trophic and size categories historically. Despite changes in species composition and minor changes in small-mammal species richness evident at times of climatic change, overall structural stability of mammal communities persisted >600,000 years before human impacts.

So if you read this you can see that that back in the mid-Pleistocene there were lots of species around back then and as the climate changed it did impact them, but overall the communities of mammals were ok. They know this because they looked at 20,000 mammal fossils. The authors suggest that once you add human impact into the mix though - the populations do not do so well.

So how would you refute the findings of this paper? You could read it and identify flaws in the method. You could repeat the examination of the fossils to see if the classification they did were accurate. You could do your own excavations of the site to see if they missed anything. In short, you need to do your own work to counter their work. But to consider how to counter it is the wrong approach - you need to go where the data leads and this is why denailism fails, because they can't accept where the data leads.

Friday, May 21, 2010

International Conference on Climate Change: Many Villages Report Missing Idiots During Event

I wrote about the dumb-ass oil funded 'International Conference on Climate Change' yesterday and I thought I'd take a bit more of a look at it today. Sadly (boohoo) the poor ikle deniers got very little media coverage - what is interested is to look at the coverage they did get... Using Google News I did a search on 'International Conference on Climate Change' to see what there was...

The conservative Faux Fox news covered it (surprise, surprise). It gave solemn coverage to one of the handful of scientists working in the field who don't agree with the consensus, Don Easterbrook. He thinks we're entering a cooling phase, not warming. He said the same thing last year but the predicted cooling has yet to arrive... (Fox didn't mention that.)

The conservative Canada Free Press covered it to complain that the media didn't cover it. But then the Canada Free Press has a regular column by Tim Ball - a well known paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist.

The conservative Newsbusters covered it to complain that the media didn't cover it. But then they were a co-sponsor of the event.

There was a couple of other smaller bloggy things covering it - including the frankly bonkers Prison Planet - the uber-conspiracy website that lauds David Ike, the man who thinks giant lizards are controlling the world - as 'Iconic'. Pricks.

The conservative Telegraph covered it but only because it's resident anti-science blogger was speaking on a panel.

The liberal Guardian covered it - but only to take the piss.

What is also interesting is that most the above media coverage focuses on Don Easterbrook's claim of global cooling. This contradicts many other denialists such as Monkton who thinks nothing is happening because the CO2's ability to push-up temperature is over stated or Ian Plimer who thinks the earth is warming but volcanoes are doing it or Lomborg who thinks that the earth is warming and we're causing it but it won't be a big problem.

But none of the news coverage mentioned that.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Telegraph's Resident Idiot Talks Idioique

The anti-science Telegraph newspaper has a columnist James Delingpole who claims to be 'right about everything' - everything except facts, which he seems to be wrong about. He's written a typical teenager-like rant about climate science having comeback from the latest denial-o-palooza festival of anti-science climate scepticism. Let's take it apart...
Only morons, cheats and liars still believe in Man-Made Global Warming

That and 2,000 prominent U.S. economists and climate scientists, including eight Nobel laureates, 32 National Academy of Sciences members, 11 MacArthur "genius award" winners, and three National Medal of Science recipients. They all signed a letter recently to re-affirm that facts of climate science the denialists have such trouble understanding and accepting.
So paper thin are the AGW movement’s arguments that pretty much the only defences left to them are desperate techniques like the appeal to authority... Consider, as examples of the latter technique, how this conference has been reported in the liberal media. Both the BBC and the Huffington Post have decided to write off the expertise of the dozens of PhDs and professors speaking at this event to concentrate on the issue that really matters: it was funded by Big Oil.

You mean like you decide to write off not dozens, but ten of thousands of PhDs and professors of the scientific community who overwhelmingly accept the science of climate change? So paper thin are your arguments that you have to rely on the paid contrition argument from authority of the tiny handful of scientists prepared to take the shill of corporate money and cash in of their authority. Hypocrite.
Except it isn’t. Unfortunately Big Oil stopped funding the skeptical side of the argument a long time ago. The Heartland Institute is a conservative leaning think tank funded by a number of business donors, and the main funder of the conference is a local libertarian millionaire who just happens to want a bit of openness and honesty in the debate on AGW. But hey, never let the facts get in the way of a libtard story

Except that the Heartland Institute who fund the event don't disclose their funders, so it's hard for us to know, so we'd just have to take James's word for it as he's right about everything (argument from authority again) except that, except that... we do know that the Scaife Foundations gives them money and their money comes from the ownership of the Gulf Oil Corporation. Oh, yeah and the Koch Family Foundations, who get their money from the Koch company, an 'energy' company who get money from - you guessed it - oil (in this case refining and pipelines). James does not like to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

The rest of the article is a blah-balsh of denial - usual stuff with James claiming the science is all dead. Except providing no proof of that what so ever. Do a search of Google Scholar, change the date papramer to 'since 2010' and what do you see?

Tones of new science, all confirming climate change, discussing it, building upon it and going forward. But then James does not like to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spining the Truth as Lies in Climate Change

There is a great, very analytical discussion and dissection of some of the claims of 'proof' of scientific fraud from the hacked climate change emails. What the denialist krew have been doing is quote mining - taking a small section of a quote out of context so it appears to say something it does not. Now I regularly remove bits of quotes, not to change the meaning but to focus on the important bits. When that editing changes the meaning of the original writer, you're in the realm of lies and propaganda. Here's an example. Take this quote:
But the current diagram with the tree ring only data somewhat contradicts the multiproxy curve and dilutes the message rather significantly. ... This is probably the most important issue to resolve in Chapter 2 at present.

So this sounds like the author to the email is concerned that the proxy data (tree rings) are messing with the overall message so need to be resolved. The implication with this is that the resolution needs to 'fix' the proxy so it does not contradict the message. So what does the ... miss out? Here's the same quote with the middle portion restored:
But the current diagram with the tree ring only data somewhat contradicts the multiproxy curve and dilutes the message rather significantly. We want the truth. Mike thinks it lies nearer his result (which seems in accord with what we know about worldwide mountain glaciers and, less clearly, suspect about solar variations). The tree ring results may still suffer from lack of multicentury time scale variance. This is probably the most important issue to resolve in Chapter 2 at present.

Wow - what a difference - now we see that the main aim is the truth; the scientists want to know what the data is telling them. That line, "We want the truth" blows a hole in the denial case of communist conspiracy evil mad scientists scientific fraud - when you read the emails, rather than somebody else's spin on them, you can see this was normal science. No conspiracy or fraud - just normal science that leads to some uncomfortable truths for cultures built on capitalism, oil addiction and hyper-consumption.

Monday, May 17, 2010

PCC Rejects 'World Government' Claim

Christopher Monckton made an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about a column by George Monbiot - and the PCC has rejected the complaint. How here's the bit that interests me:
While the complainant may indeed have read the draft Copenhagen Treaty, he could not have known with certainty, when speaking in mid-October, what precisely would be signed in mid-December. It was legitimate, therefore, for Mr Monbiot to jokingly refer to the complainant as a clairvoyant. As to whether the Treaty referred to ‘world government', the newspaper acknowledged that it did but said it was clear that the Treaty was not envisaging a supranational government to replace national governments. It was fair, therefore, for Monbiot to take issue with the complainant's expressed fears about the creation of a world government.

Now recall the ho-ha the denialosphere made over the PCC's judgement of the climate change adverts - they were happy to accept the PCC's view then - none of them criticised it. So now the PCC has ruled that claims of ‘world government' are bunk are they still going to respect the PCC's judgement?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Global Warming Scandal! (Not) Daily Mail Fail!

The Daily Fail Hate Mail - owner of our local rag and other media outlets such as Venue and the Western Daily Press continues its ongoing war on logic, science and rationality with this fun effort. There is a graph showing lots of different scientific measurements of temperature that shows the current rise (this is from figure 2-21 from the IPCC's Third Assessment Report):

Now zoom in on one small bit of that graph:

What does the green line show? Well it seemed to be going down? Possibly but hard to tell with this quality of image. So in the absence of any further evidence lets fabricate what we'd like the graph to say:

Go for it Daily Mail! Stick it to the scientists trying to lie to us! Woo! Except that... the chart in the original IPCC report does not show the green line going down. Get a better copy of the image and you can see:

Ooops. So what of the graph to the right of Daily Mail's version? Hmmm... We have no idea - because the current version of the chart (if they'd bothered to look rather than simply relying on dodgy pseudo-science, clearly shows the green line follows the others.

Oops. Daily Fail.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The MMR Scandal & Denial

The whole MMR/Autism thing is not something I've blogged about - however I had recently read a few things about it, which I thought I'd share. This is not an area I know a huge amount about, but it does show how the bullshit detector can kick in...

So what does it tell me? It tells me that there is something very fishy about Andrew Wakefield and his claims to a link between the MMR jab and Autism. Why? 'cos he was paid to find a link. Not paid to find out what was going on (as per proper science) but paid to find evidence for a pre-existing position:
Unlike expert witnesses, who give professional advice and opinions, Wakefield negotiated a lucrative contract with Barr, then aged 48, to conduct clinical and scientific research. The goal was to find evidence of what the two men called "a new syndrome", intended to be the centrepiece of (later failed) litigation on behalf of an eventual 1,600 families, mostly recruited through media stories. This, publicly undisclosed, role for Wakefield created the grossest conflict of interest, and the exposure of it by Deer, in February 2004, led to public uproar in Britain, the retraction of the Lancet report's conclusions section, and, from July 2007, the longest-ever professional misconduct hearing by the UK's General Medical Council.

Barr paid the doctor with money from the UK legal aid fund: run by the government to give poorer people access to justice. Wakefield charged at the extraordinary rate of £150 an hour - billed through a company of his wife's - eventually totalling, for generic work alone, what the UK Legal Services Commission, pressed under the freedom of information act, said was £435,643 (about $750,000 US), plus expenses. These hourly fees - revealed in The Sunday Times in December 2006 - gave the doctor a direct, personal, but undeclared, financial interest in the results of his research: totalling more than eight times his reported annual salary, and creating an incentive not only for him to launch the alarm, but to keep it going for as long as possible.

So that, from the star, add bias to the outcome of any evidence. The second thing that kicks off my bullshit detector is the reaction of Wakefield's supporters. In a long statement after he was found guilty of misconduct and unethical behaviour, they state:
We declare that:
1. Dr. Wakefield is a man of honesty, integrity, courage, and proven commitment to children and the public health.

2. Dr. Wakefield’s research is rigorous, replicated, biologically valid, clinically evidenced, corroborated by published, peer-reviewed research in an abundance of scientific disciplines, and consistent with children’s medical problems.


7. We condemn the censorship of science. There are more than enough facts and evidence to support the case of vaccine injury, but the politicization of these issues has made it impossible to publish important and valid science. The debate is rigged in favor of the vaccine industry.


10. We demand recognition of the global autism emergency. We call for investigation into the most likely environmental causes (including vaccines). We cry out for the application of proven treatment practices and for the investigation of other treatment options to help suffering children and families immediately.

So point 2 states that Wakefield’s research is correct and has been proven and verified - so the link between Autism and MMR is established, so they say. Yet in point 7 they say the science is censored - yet the managed to prove the link with peer reviewed studies (point 2)? Then point 10 calls for an investigation into what causes autism - but point 2 has established that - why look for what you have proven? Simply logic fails. This reminds me of the same sort of logic-fail in global warming denial.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Police Storm House over 'Wanker' Poster

This is a typical story of cops acting outside the law they are supposed to enforce. Entering a house without a warrant, arresting a guy without cause, using excessive force to do so and so on. Worth watching the video:
David Hoffman: 'They were a gang of bullies who burst into my house'

On election day David Hoffman had a knock on his door by the police, who instructed him to take down a poster he had in his window of David Cameron with the word 'wanker' written on it. Moments later he was handcuffed and threatened with arrest.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Drones, Killings & Drugs - What a Mix-up

Targeted killings - the policy of assassinating people you don't like rather than say, trying to bring them to justice. Israel does it with fighter jets. The US does it with drone-strikes. Does that actually work? Perhaps not. In the context of a previous post about how targeted killings can make a counter-insurgency situation worse...... now we see the remit of the policy being extended to drug-lords, as Transform notes - and that not only might it not work, but it is illegal:
In 2009, the United States announced that it had placed fifty Afghan drug traffickers with links to the Taliban on a ‘kill list.’ This controversial proposal essentially weds the counter-narcotics effort with the mission to defeat the Taliban, and challenges a cornerstone of international humanitarian law, the principle of distinction. This article argues that drug traffickers, even those who support the Taliban, are not legitimate targets according to the rules applicable to non-international armed conflict. It explores the notions of membership in armed groups, civilian status and acts that result in the loss of protection, and argues that the US plan violates international humanitarian law.

In the US, the debate is beginning around if this policy works or is making the situation worse - after all the fall out of many drone strikes, including those that kill the intended target (and many don't) is civilian casualties.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Climate and the Media

Climate Change is a major issue; it does get covered in the media/blogs etc, but either as a controversy where scientists argue with one another (the media likes controversy) or as just another thing we need to worry about (like scary immigrants or the weather) as if it's something not under our control or influence or as a myth created by communists socialists anarchists environmentalists the NWO evil scientists to increase taxes keep the US economy down implement world government scam research grants.

In practice this manifests itself in a number of interesting ways. First of by over-reporting the 'controversies' and under reporting when those controversies turn out to be bunkum. Here's how much there is on the reporting of the accusations against climate scientists and the exonerations of the same climate scientists:

As can be clearly seen; over-reporting the 'controversies' and under reporting when those controversies turn out to be bunkum. This is also an interesting story; Fox news refusing to run an ad campaign to end US dependency on fossil fuels because it is 'too confusing'. Nice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Election UK:Denial at the Ballot Box

For those reading from elsewhere in the world; here in the UK we've just had an election. The economy was (not surprisingly) the main issue - but also there was global warming. Now it's impossible to unpick that issue from all the other issues, but it is notable that there are 2 political parties that have strong global warming denial positions - UKIP (with Monkton as the science advisor) and the fascist BNP. Both have not done well. While both have slightly increased their votes, I think issues like immigration and dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties had a greater role to play in that. However there was a large turn-out of people who didn't vote for them, which drowned out any gain they might have hoped to make. Plus our first-past the post voting system does not favour small parties. As a result they lost 29 local councillors between them.

In the election the party with the most representatives was the Conservatives - but not enough to take power alone. I know that there are prominent Conservatives (and the supporting press) who are into global warming denial too, however the fact that they don't have the majority means that wing of the party will be held in check by the alliances they will have to make with parties who reject global warming denial totally.

Put simply in the UK denial of global warming has not been shown to be a vote winner.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Afpak: The Eternal War

Here we are, almost 10 years on and the Afghanistan War drags on and on. No wonder it is known as the 'Graveyard of Empires'. So how's the war against the Taliban going? Not good, Not well:
"[The Taliban's] abilities are expanding and its operations are increasing in sophistication, despite recent major offensives by U.S. forces in the militants' heartland. The report… portrays an insurgency with deep roots and broad reach, able to withstand repeated U.S. onslaughts and to re-establish its influence, while discrediting and undermining the country's western-backed government."

In such circumstances there is little point in the Taliban negotiating - but also little point in fighting too hard. In fact the right thing to do from the movement’s standpoint is to avoid most conflict with Isaf troops, and remain ready to escalate their efforts and influence when the time comes. For that reason alone, there may actually be very little fighting in Kandahar later in 2010, after the initial spurt of combat. This might in turn fuel a politically convenient presumption of success in Washington that makes the military withdrawal even more palatable; but the realities on the ground would favour a later resurgence of Taliban power.

Classic insurgent stuff: they don't need to win, all they need to do is not loose. A draw is a win for the insurgent - especially when the cost of each occupation solider from the US in country is a staggering $1 Million per year. Yup - for a single solider.

And the fallout of the war is hitting Pakistan and the US too.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Putting the 'Bias' into Bias Media

Still, at least it is more visible now the media has to hawk for cash more. Here's a polluting industry sponsoring a political news website...
The Washington Post this week launched a new politics homepage,, with a helping hand from the dirty coal industry.

According to the press release announcing the launch,
“The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity is the Washington Post's exclusive launch sponsor of”

While itself is an exciting new tool for fans of political news, it is unfortunate that the Post had to partner with coal polluters to fund the launch.

Wonder how good their coverage of climate change politics will be? I'd guess shit - but then it is anyway. This way it's shit with dirty clean coal banner ads.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Election UK:No Pasaran!

So the election is over (for now) and the dust is settling. What now? No Pasaran was the battle-cry from the Spanish Civil War of the anti-fascist fighters; "They shall not pass". It's a great quote and important to celebrate the huge effort that people put in to flyering, campaigning and more to stop the BNP. This is a fight that has borne fruit, even though that was a small increase in vote for the far-right:
I do think such a tiny increase in the vote is a huge loss for the far-right. This was their 'perfect storm' - immigration was polled as the no.2 issue, the right-wing press pushes out anti-immigrant hate and scare stories day-after-day to millions of voters, the expenses scandal robbed the mainstream parties of any credibility (the BNP's election broadcast actually said "get your own back, vote BNP") and the economy is in trouble plus we're still locked in a seemingly endless war that both the main parties support - this was a once in a generation opportunity for the far right - and they blew it.

They blew it partly because the oxygen of publicity backfired exposing them for the incompetent racists they are (witness Griffin's incoherent rambling about the BNP's immigration policy on Radio 4, the one area he should know his way around and he came across like a petulant 4 year-old).

Partly because the high turn-out brought out the huge numbers of the majority who reject he far-right, and partly because people pounded the pavements distributing information that exposed the moral and political bankruptcy of the far-right.

The vast majority of the people have spoken - and they might not agree in what they do want, but there are clear in what they don't want - fascism.

Indeed. It is brought in to even clearer focus when you consider the words of Führer Griffin of the eve of the election:
This election, regardless of the results, is the watershed for this party.

This is the last election the British National Party fights as a large small party - we are now a small large party.

What's more, our enemies know this.

So how do we measure our success tomorrow morning? Yes, it would be fantastic to gain our first MP, but the fact that we have mounted our biggest ever parliamentary election campaign and fielded over 330 candidates a mere 11 months after the super-human effort we put into our successful Euro election campaign is just incredible.

Our growth and resilience is truly inspiring.

The BNP has arrived and will be knocking on the doors of power sooner than some ever imagined!

Ooops! Big fucking fail there. No MPs and 26 less local councillors. Plus all the lost deposits have cost the fascists a staggering £131,500!

The Corporate Cops of Apple

There is an interesting technology story doing the rounds: an Apple guy leaves a new prototype iphone in a bar. Somebody finds it and sells it to an online technology blog, Gizmondo, who report all the new gadgets that it has. Blah blah. Except that Apple goes mental and gets the cops - who bust this bloggers door in like they were raiding the house of some right-wing terror cell. OTT to say the least. But that's not the most disturbing part of it...
So, what happened? This week, Chen's house was raided by officers from California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), a special task force of police officers and federal agents created to combat computer-related crimes -- and which just happens to have Apple on its steering committee. The cops took all of Chen's computer equipment.

Meanwhile, the San Mateo County district attorney is considering whether to bring charges against Chen. It all hinges around whether California's journalist shield law covers bloggers. Well, speaking as someone who was an investigative reporter for one of the nation's top 10 newspapers: Of course it does.

This is appalling. As Instapundit uber-blogger Glenn Reynolds has rightly noted, this is basically "gangland politics," with one side getting to use to the police as its muscle. He's also correct in noting that neither the police nor Apple would ever have tried this against, say, the San Jose Mercury-News (I know because I worked there).

As for Apple, it has been unquestionably the most important and exciting technology company of the last dreary decade in tech, and bless it for that. But big companies are inherently totalitarian (which should give pause to boosters of the current administration's corporatist leanings) and none more so than Apple.

Welcome to the era of state paid, but corporate rule, policing.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Election UK: BNP Wiped Out in Barking & Dagenham

The BNP was hoping to take Barking & Dagenham:
Hope Not Hate held its second day of action in Barking and Dagenham in east London , where the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, is standing against Labour's Margaret Hodge, and the far-right party is also hoping to take control of the council.
The BNP had predicted it would create a "political earthquake" at this week's general and local elections, claiming it was on course to win two MPs.

This would indeed have been a "political earthquake" had it happened - a major London council with an anual budget of £millions under the control of the far-right. But it didn't happen. The BNP didn't even manage to hold the 12 seats they did have - they've got a big fat zero!

Sit back, grab some popcorn and wait for the in-fighting to begin continue...

Election UK: Here Comes the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

The election has come and gone with windbags of pointless speculation (me included) and the great British public has spoken and elected to: not change very much at all, thank you. Poor LibDems, I do feel for them having al that hype and expectation to find out that it's one stop forward and almost one step back. It goes to show that when it comes to political thinking, people are conservative with a small 'c' and don't really go for change very much. The positive to this is that the far-right don't get much traction. The negative to that is anyone looking for rapid social revolution will be disappointed.

So lets pick though the now rotting bones of this election...

-How Danny Kushlick did in Bristol West? Not great. 343 votes or 0.6% - but at least he beat the English Democrats. Tiny yay!

- How the Greens did in vote share in Bristol... Again, not great. Best they did was 2.5% in Bristol South.

- How much we need to be worried by the BNP vote in Bristol? Happily the BNP did not do well. Thy never got about 5% which means in all the Bristol seats they've lost their deposit. Part of the victory here must go to those people campaigning against the far-right across the city - good work people! It's hard to see how the BNP can get a better opportunity - faith the the mainstream parties was at an all time low, scare stories about immigration at an all time high - and yet they still lost their deposit. Still the local election results are not yet and they can expect to do better there compared to the parliamentary elections.

-If the BNP manages to get it's first MP and/or take Barking and Dagenham council? Ha Ha Ha!!! BNP did shit here too! This was their big hope for a breakthrough seat and they only managed a poor third - a looong way off winning. But again, local election results yet to come.

-If the Greens managed to get their first MP in Brighton Pavilion? Can the Greens also make headway in Cambridge? Congratulations to the Greens who won Brighton Pavilion with a solid victory. Note: also standing there was the fab named 'Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality'. In Cambridge the Green's came 4th but kept the deposit.

-How the bonkers proto-Taliban of the Christian Party do? Really badly. Hee hee. 2nd to last in Filton & Bradley Stoke, narrowly beating the Vote Zero None of the Above Party. Rubbish in Bath too with 250 votes (0.5%). Expect the wrath of the Almighty any day for for turning our back on the Taliban The Christian Party.

More news as I get it...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

LIVE! Live Blogging Election Day

1.30AM: BNP loose deposit in Filton and Bradley Stoke with a rubbish 2.7% - Wot a fuck up.

1.23AM: In Northern Ireland the First Minister has lost...and lost to a non-sectarian party. Fucking great! His wife was the anti-gay god-bother who also broke bible rules. BNP also lost deposit in Torbay. Woo! Going to go to bed I think. Night.

1AM: BNP loose 2 more deposits. Hee hee.

Witching Hour: Greens confident of talking Brighton Pavillion says Guardian. BNP seem to have lost deposit in Sunderland Central.

11.41: Bugger - Washington & Sunderland West the vote for fuckwit BNP goes from just over 3% to just over 5% and they keep thier deposit. Shit.

11.23PM: BNP vote down by 2% in Sunderland!!! Not very good start for the master race.

11PM: Watching C4's comedy election coverage. After all, this current system is a bit of a democratic joke. Lancaster Unity is reporting ongoing in-fighting technical problems on BNP's website. Also lots of cops at Barking & Dagenham ready for result in tough fought battle there of coalition of anti-racists vs BNP. First results due through soon...

7.40PM: News websites are reporting a high turnout. Passed by my polling station (Bristol West) and it was brisk but not crowded.

1PM: There are other places also live blogging the election: Lancaster Unity, which is a great sourse of news about the far-right will be starting to live blog from 10pm. They have an interesting story on how the BNP website was down briefly due to in-fighting between the webmaster and the party. The Guardian are also live-blogging today, all day too.

11.54 AM: I'm going to be live-blogging election day where I can until I get bored and go to bed. So thus far I've voted (for Danny) and will be adding news and comment throughout the day.

To update, click the refresh button on your browser. I'll also twitter where I can.

Updating my previous post about what is of interest to me in the coming general election. So far we have:

- How Danny Kushlick did in Bristol West (Vote Danny!)
- How the Greens did in vote share (Bristol is a pretty Green city and I'm often surprised they do do better here...)
- How much we need to be worried by the BNP vote in Bristol (I'd expect a small rise, given the economic crisis, voter apathy and dissatisfaction with the existing political parties, combined with the drum-beat of anti-Muslim and anti-Immigration scare stories in the tabloids.)
- How well the candidates flagged by Ian Bone (and commentators) do.
- What the real outcome of the reported Lib-Dem swing will actually be (voters are often quite loyal to one party).
- If the BNP manages to get it's first MP and/or take Barking and Dagenham council.
- If the Greens managed to get their first MP in Brighton Pavilion.
- Can the Greens also make headway in Cambridge.
- How the bonkers proto-Taliban of the Christian Party do in Wales and in Bath with candidate Stephen Hewett.

And now..

There is also a few nutters in the Filton & Bradley Stoke constituency the hateful Nazi BNP and the bonkers UKIP and Christian Party. Let's see how they do in this newly minted boundary.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Climate Change Conspiracy Troofers

Great article on climate change conspiracies:
When leading climate scientists are repeatedly exonerated after the "climategate" pseudo-scandal, then to climate "sceptics" this simply means that the relevant enquiries were pre-programmed to find nothing wrong. Thus, the U.K. Parliament conspired to produce a whitewash of Professor Jones a few weeks ago, as did Lord Oxburgh when his panel, constituted with the advice of the Royal Society, found earlier this month that climate researchers "... did a public service of great value by carrying out much time-consuming meticulous work on temperature records." The scurrilous thinking of conspiracy theorists is best exemplified by an Australian tabloid blogger, whose "evidence" for a whitewash derived from the fact that Lord Oxburgh ... rides a bicycle! Yes, Lord Oxburgh rides a bicycle. And being a cyclist clearly implicates one in a grand conspiracy designed to deny others the pleasures of life that are seemingly only attainable by emitting vast quantities of CO2.

The same tabloid scribe strayed close to psychiatric territory by hinting that the recent shut-down of European airspace after the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull was unnecessary because the decision relied on data from computer models which — what else! — were the same ones that predict global warming. Never mind that the recent ash clouds were traced by satellites and radar. And never mind that the last time a 747 flew into volcanic ash its four engines stalled and that only considerable skill and luck saved the lives of hundreds of terrified passengers. Never mind that a Finnish F-18 and a Belgian F-16 suffered engine damage from ash earlier this month. Never mind anything by way of actual evidence ... never mind that countless lives might be put at risk by a conspiracy theory.

As you can see the conspiracy has to get ever bigger to include all of the contrary data; bigger and bigger with more and more people 'recruited' - so more and more opportunities for whistleblowers and evidence of the conspiracy.... which never seems to come.

One of the commentators alerts us to an interesting point; crank magnetism - that crazy attracts crazy.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Looking to the Election Results (II)

Updating my previous post about what is of interest to me in the coming general election. So far we have:

- How Danny Kushlick did in Bristol West (Vote Danny!)
- How the Greens did in vote share (Bristol is a pretty Green city and I'm often surprised they do do better here...)
- How much we need to be worried by the BNP vote in Bristol (I'd expect a small rise, given the economic crisis, voter apathy and dissatisfaction with the existing political parties, combined with the drum-beat of anti-Muslim and anti-Immigration scare stories in the tabloids.)
- How well the candidates flagged by Ian Bone (and commentators) do.
- What the real outcome of the reported Lib-Dem swing will actually be (voters are often quite loyal to one party).
- If the BNP manages to get it's first MP and/or take Barking and Dagenham council.
- If the Greens managed to get their first MP in Brighton Pavilion.

Plus also adding:

- Can the Greens also make headway in Cambridge.
- How the bonkers proto-Taliban of the Christian Party do in Wales and in Bath with candidate Stephen Hewett.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Right's In-fight over Climate

I've been guilty of seeing much of the right as a single monolithic entity when it comes to climate change policy, so I'm happy to be put right by this excellent post that looks at how the right is busy in-fighting for it's own soul:
One is reminded strongly reminded not to dismiss “conservatives” as fools, ill-informed or incapable of rational debate. It is the extreme fringe that seeks to drown out the voices of moderation. Both sides of the political divide have something to offer to the debate: the pragmatic tradition of Edmund Burke in understanding society as an organic entity and valuing institutions does not need to conflict with an intelligent response to climate change. Indeed, this is what rational conservatism is about.

OK, I reaming to be persuaded, but this at least has some hope of keeping enlightenment values. The article continues:
Science is a four hundred year old tradition worth preserving. Currently it is under “attack” by ideologues. Our democratic institutions and traditions are worth conserving. Conservatism has traditionally been wary of stoking of the “passions of the mob” via ideology. The denial movement is ideologically based. It circumnavigates the scientific process and engages the worst aspects of peoples psychology: fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The denial movement tears down societies trust in science; it provokes individuals to send scientists death threats; it questions Enlightenment values such as the use of evidence and reason in debate.

Climate change represents a major disruptive force in both political and economic terms. That elements of the conservative movement would ignore these threats is a tragedy.

I agree that by allying itself to anti-rational, anti-scientific movements such as Creationism and Climate Denail, the right has re-modelled itself on selling a 'meme product' to it's core audiences. This is a short-term view that will bite it in the ass in the end. After all News Corporation, owners of Fox News, seem to take climate change seriously aiming to become carbon neutral by end of 2010; yet as a business, it is happy to 'sell' denial to consumers who want that sort of thing via outlets like Fox News.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Making the Working Class Support the Ruling Class

American financier Jay Gould, after hiring strikebreakers, famously quipped; "I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half." Indeed. But you can go further - you can get one section of the working class and convince them that it is in their interests to support policies that either don't benefit them or worse still, make their lives worse. We see this with health care in the US, for example. This quote sums this idea up.. (Something to note in elections!)
Thomas Frank has written brilliantly about the paradox of blue collar Republicanism, a politics driven by class resentment which ironically plays directly into the hands of the class oppressors. Two female rock stars share a lascivious kiss on television, Frank writes, and virtuous voters are so outraged that they rush out and vote the rock stars a big tax reduction. They’ve lost their job security, so they elect the handmaidens of the very people who outsourced their jobs and broke their unions. It’s like something that the mythical authors of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion might have dreamed up. “The principal object of our directorate,” its narrator declared, “consists in this: to debilitate the public mind… lead it away from serious reflections calculated to arouse resistance; to distract the forces of the mind towards a sham fight of empty eloquence.”

Enter Glenn Beck, talking.

PS. I'm not quoting the shit that is the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion without irony - the quote was cited by a writer on conspiracy theories, who debunks them over and over.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Bath Christian Party Candidate "is Idiot" Shocker

So there is this bonkers political party, The Christian Party, who are the local Taliban in that they are looking to have a theocracy rather than a democracy - rule by religion. The party has a mish-mash of crap in it's manifesto; and it includes support for the non-science stance of Creationism.

They have a candidate close to home... Stephen Hewett standing in Bath. Here's his bio:
Steve and Jenny have been married for almost 19 years and have 4 lovely kids aged between 7 and 15. They have lived in Odd Down in Bath for the past 13 years where Steve works in a local boys school as the Head of Science. Steve will be standing as the Bath candidate for the Christian Party in the May elections. Steve Hewett with his wonderful wife Jenny and one of their kids at their home in Odd Down

OMG!!! Fuck me he's a Head of Science???!!!! And he's a creationist. That is like being Head of Geography and a Flat-Earther, or Head of Psychotherapy and a Scientologist. Glad I've got no kids that that school. I'd like to remind Mr Hewett of something:
"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution"

Taliban Idiot.

Radical Right, Radical Islam... Same Ideas

'Tis often said that the radical right of politics and the militant version of Islam have a lot in common - despite the claims by both groups to be at war with one another over vales. In reality they are quite similar - both hate homosexuality, both like capitalism and both see a strong role for religion in society.

But the links go deeper - and deeper. A radical Muslim group who issued death-threats to the creators of South Park over showing images of Muhammad, have these images on their site:

Note the left-bar - Obama as Hitler. Now the radical right...

Who'd have thunk it... peas in a pod...