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UK army unit admits killing policy in 1970s N Ireland

Press TV – November 21, 2013

New revelations show an undercover unit of the British army was sanctioned to carry out a shoot-to-kill policy in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, in the 1970s during conflicts known as the Troubles.

The Troubles refers to the violent thirty-year ethno-nationalist conflict that began in Northern Ireland with a civil rights march in Londonderry on October 5, 1968, and came to an end with the Good Friday Agreement on 10 April 1998. The constitutional status of Northern Ireland is said to be at the heart of the conflict, which spilled over into England, the Republic of Ireland and even into parts of Europe.

The UK army unit, dubbed the Military Reaction Force (MRF), admitted for the first time that they had killed an unspecified number of Irish Republic Army (IRA) members regardless of them being armed or not.

Former members of the MRF made the confession to the BBC’s Panorama programme, saying that they had been tasked with “hunting down” the IRA in west Belfast and that they observed no laws in commissioning their mission.

The MRF, which was disbanded in late 1972, had also killed unarmed people on the street in drive-by shootings without any independent evidence showing they were part of the IRA.

“We were not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group,” said one former soldier.

The force comprised about 40 men hand-picked from across the British army who operated in west Belfast for an 18-month period between 1971 and 1973, including all through 1972.

“The ex-members said their elite status meant they didn’t believe military regulations against opening fire unless their lives were in immediate danger applied to them,” said the report.

The revelations come as the families of victims in the conflict said they are outraged by Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin’s proposal to end the Troubles-related prosecutions.

The offer was made irrespective of the fact that more than 3,000 deaths are being investigated by detectives from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) as part of the peace process.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Religous students found guilty of being Pakistani

By Charles Davis | False Dichotomy | November 21, 2013

When a man shot up a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last year, Barack Obama announced how “deeply saddened” he was that such an attack “took place at a house of worship.” His Republican challenger for the presidency, Mitt Romney, likewise expressed his disgust at “a senseless act of violence . . . that should never befall any house of worship.”

At the time, that was grotesquely funny because, by that point, Barack Obama had himself committed numerous acts of senseless violence against houses of worship. And, being the commander-in-chief of a military fighting a war in Afghanistan and Pakistan that he dramatically expanded upon taking office, he has continued to bomb religious institutions ever since.

As Reuters reported on Wednesday:

A suspected U.S. drone fired on an Islamic seminary in Pakistan’s northwestern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa early on Thursday, killing at least five people, police said. […]

Fareed Khan, a police officer, said the unmanned aircraft fired at least three rockets at the madrassa in the Hangu district, killing two teachers and three students just before sunrise on Thursday.

Now, and this is important: an anonymous official did say a potentially bad person was potentially seen at that madrassa a few days earlier (potentially), so Barack Obama can sleep soundly at night knowing he authorized the killing of a few people who were probably familiar with that bad guy…

Meanwhile Reuters continues:

The attack took place a day after Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying that the United States had promised not to conduct drone strikes while the government tries to engage the Taliban in peace talks.

The United States has not commented on Aziz’s remarks.

I’m really pretty sure that it has.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mummy, The Ocean’s Eaten My Heat!!

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | September 24, 2013

I’ve been meaning to post on this for a while. We often hear the claim that all of the missing heat has been gobbled up by the oceans.

Now, let’s leave aside some of the obvious problems with this theory, such as:

  • How all of this heat has selectively and mysteriously managed to avoid land areas.
  • How warm water has managed to sink instead of rise.
  • How the water at, or near, the surface seems to have escaped this warming.

And get straight to the nub of the matter.

Water has a much higher heat capacity than air. According to NOAA,

The oceans store more heat in the uppermost 3 meters (10 feet) than the entire atmosphere (above it).

So let’s run some very simple calculations.

In the last decade, most models were predicting something of the order of 0.2C global warming. If, instead of warming the atmospheric , this extra heat has gone into the sea, its effects will be much diluted, with the result that increases in sea temperatures will be much, much less than 0.2C.

(Remember, it takes much more energy to warm a bucket of water by 1C than a bucket of air.)

The suggestion is that, as there has been no noticeable warming in the upper 100 meters, this “hidden heat” is as far as 2000 meters down.

So, ocean temperature should have increased by:

2000 Meters Divided By 3 Meters = 666.6

0.2C Divided By 666.6 = 0.0003C

The idea that we can:

  • measure sea temperatures throughout all the oceans of the world
  • measure it throughout the whole depth down to 2000 meters and more.
  • take into account seasonal changes
  • take into account shifting ocean cycles and currents.

and still be able to measure the overall temperature to better than  three ten thousandths of a degree is patent nonsense.

So step forward Professor Ted Shepherd, a leading atmospheric scientist and recently installed as Grantham Chair in Climate Science at Reading University.

He had this to say to the Guardian.

The heat is still coming in, but it appears to have gone into the deep ocean and, frustratingly, we do not have the instruments to measure there,”

Or to put it another way, we have no idea whether it is or not, but in the meantime we’ll still cling to our theory.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | 7 Comments

Western allies seek permanent inclusion of Israel in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | November 21, 2013

Following Israel’s resumption of ties with the United Nations Human Rights Council, six Western countries; the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States are pressuring the United Nations to allow Israel to permanently join the Western European and Others Group (WEOG). The text of the letter, which has been made available online, states: “we, the undersigned, would like by this letter to recall Israel’s long standing request to join the WEOG regional group in Geneva. We are strongly supportive of Israel’s membership at the earliest opportunity.” The letter also exhorts a sense of urgency, requesting inclusion of the matter in the next meeting to be held in Geneva.

Exclusive treatment in Israel’s regard, ostensibly in return for its continuous human rights violations, remains a priority for the colonising power’s allies. Israel’s return to the Human Rights Council was characterised by negotiated leniency, including a concession preventing countries from criticising Israel’s human rights violations – a stipulation valid for the next two years during which any comments relating to Israel’s infringements on human rights will be deemed ‘empty of content’.

Discourse regarding political and regional isolation applied to Israel has been propagated, depicting an ongoing contrivance to enhance Israel’s victimised stance. In 2007 Canada deemed Item 7 as specific targeting of a particular country in a “politicised, selective, partial and subjective” manner which breaches the United Nations’ objectivity. In 2010 the US echoed similar sentiment, declaring the stipulation as a “disproportionate focus on Israel … the Council has too often been exploited to unfairly single out Israel, while ignoring significant human rights situations elsewhere”. This stance has been described as “working constructively on aspects that need change”. The hypocrisy within human rights discourse is easy to decipher – it is inadmissible to challenge Israel’s human rights violations. Instead, the international community should devise the means through which Israel is allowed to oppress with impunity – a trend which it has been perfecting for decades.

There is no justification for the removal of Item 7 – the only requirements are flawed reasoning, international complicity and oblivion. Claims that Israel fails to achieve support for its actions are erroneous and should be examined within the exclusive impunity bequeathed to Zionist ideology prior to the establishment of the illegal state. The depiction of Israel as a politically disadvantaged country has been utilised to the point of exhaustion, yet the deceitful reasoning is still upheld as inviolable, thus diverting attention from the problems faced daily by Palestinians whose rights have yet to be acknowledged, let alone implemented. According to conventional rhetoric, equality should only be applied when the issues at stake do not restrain Israel’s ability to perfect its oppression. Any objectivity and justified impartiality is vehemently rejected, lest Israel should declare a fictitious and detrimental isolation. Far from remaining isolated within the international community due to a degree of extra scrutiny, the coloniser has been embraced by world powers on account of its compatibility in maintaining the exploitation of land, people and countless human rights charters.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Karzai: Security deal with US should be signed after Afghan presidential poll

RT | November 21, 2013

The Afghan President says he will not sign a crucial security pact with the US till after presidential elections next year. Hamid Karzai backs the deal, but does not trust the US.

“The agreement should be signed when the election is conducted, properly and with dignity,” Karzai told the Loya Jirga grand assembly that began on Thursday.

The unexpected statement comes just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry said the two sides had finalized the wording of the agreement.

Karzai said that his deferment would show America’s assurance “that we are moving on the path to security and they are accompanying us on this path.”

A spokesman for the United States Embassy in Kabul declined to comment on Karzai’s plan as it was an on-going diplomatic discussion.

President Karzai told the gathering in Kabul that President Barack Obama had sent a letter assuring him that a security pact between the two states was in Afghanistan’s best interest.

The five-day long 2,500-member national consultative council is set to debate the draft and decide whether US troops will be permitted to stay in the country post-2014.

The deal indicates that up to 15,000 US troops could remain in the country until 2024. But both sides still want final details to be clarified.

One of the main stumbling blocks in reaching the bilateral security agreement was the legal status of American troops on the ground.

On Wednesday the Afghan foreign ministry released a draft security deal, which said that US forces remaining in Afghanistan after 2014 will be under the jurisdiction of the US and not be subject to Afghan courts.

The Loya Jirga’s decision on the 25-page “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” is expected by Sunday.

The council can revise or reject any part of the draft agreement. After Loya Jirga amendments, the Afghan parliament is set to review the agreement and also make more changes before it is approved.

Despite his statement, Afghanistan’s President said he backs a security deal with the US, but at the same time he acknowledged there was little trust between the two sides.

“My trust with America is not good. I don’t trust them and they don’t trust me,” Karzai said. “During the past 10 years I have fought with them and they have made propaganda against me.”

Karzai’s decision, which came as a surprise even for the closest of the President’s aides, means that the long-debated deal will not be signed before April 5, the day when the presidential election is scheduled.

“This may be misconstrued as if the president wants someone specific [to win] in the elections,” Hedayat Amin Arsala, Karzai’s former vice president, said according to The Wall Street Journal. “I hope that is not the case.”

The US had wanted the agreement signed by the end of October 2013 as it would give military planners time to prepare to keep troops in the country after the scheduled 2014 withdrawal.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

20 tips for interpreting scientific claims

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | November 20, 2013

This list will help non-scientists to interrogate advisers and to grasp the limitations of evidence  – William J. Sutherland, David Spiegelhalter and Mark A. Burgman.

Nature has published a very interesting comment, titled Twenty tips for interpreting scientific evidence.  Excerpts:

Perhaps we could teach science to politicians? It is an attractive idea, but which busy politician has sufficient time? The research relevant to the topic of the day  is interpreted for them by advisers or external advocates.

In this context, we suggest that the immediate priority is to improve policy-makers’ understanding of the imperfect nature of science. The essential skills are to be able to intelligently interrogate experts and advisers, and to understand the quality, limitations and biases of evidence.

To this end, we suggest 20 concepts that should be part of the education of civil servants, politicians, policy advisers and journalists — and anyone else who may have to interact with science or scientists. Politicians with a healthy scepticism of scientific advocates might simply prefer to arm themselves with this critical set of knowledge.

Differences and chance cause variation. The real world varies unpredictably. Science is mostly about discovering what causes the patterns we see. Why is it hotter this decade than last?  There are many explanations for such trends, so the main challenge of research is teasing apart the importance of the process of interest  from the innumerable other sources of variation.

No measurement is exact. Practically all measurements have some error. If the measurement process were repeated, one might record a different result. In some cases, the measurement error might be large compared with real differences. Results should be presented with a precision that is appropriate for the associated error, to avoid implying an unjustified degree of accuracy.

Bias is rife. Experimental design or measuring devices may produce atypical results in a given direction. Confirmation bias arises when scientists find evidence for a favoured theory and then become insufficiently critical of their own results, or cease searching for contrary evidence.

Bigger is usually better for sample size. The average taken from a large number of observations will usually be more informative than the average taken from a smaller number of observations. That is, as we accumulate evidence, our knowledge improves. This is especially important when studies are clouded by substantial amounts of natural variation and measurement error.

Correlation does not imply causation. It is tempting to assume that one pattern causes another. However, the correlation might be coincidental, or it might be a result of both patterns being caused by a third factor — a ‘confounding’ or ‘lurking’ variable.

Regression to the mean can mislead. Extreme patterns in data are likely to be, at least in part, anomalies attributable to chance or error.

Extrapolating beyond the data is risky. Patterns found within a given range do not necessarily apply outside that range.

Scientists are human. Scientists have a vested interest in promoting their work, often for status and further research funding, although sometimes for direct financial gain. This can lead to selective reporting of results and occasionally, exaggeration. Peer review is not infallible: journal editors might favour positive findings and newsworthiness. Multiple, independent sources of evidence and replication are much more convincing.

Feelings influence risk perception. Broadly, risk can be thought of as the likelihood of an event occurring in some time frame, multiplied by the consequences should the event occur. People’s risk perception is influenced disproportionately by many things, including the rarity of the event, how much control they believe they have, the adverseness of the outcomes, and whether the risk is voluntarily or not. 

Data can be dredged or cherry picked. Evidence can be arranged to support one point of view. The question to ask is: ‘What am I not being told?’

JC comments:  I really like the idea behind this article:

What we offer is a simple list of ideas that could help decision-makers to parse how evidence can contribute to a decision, and potentially to avoid undue influence by those with vested interests.

I suspect this article will not be appreciated by scientists who are playing power politics with their expertise, or by advocates promoting scientism with cherry-picked evidence.

I picked 10 of the 20 tips that I thought were of greatest relevance to the climate change debate.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | 1 Comment

Why Healthcare.gov Sucks? Because They Hired Political Cronies, Not Internet Native Companies To Build It

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | October 10, 2013

There’s been plenty of talk lately about just how screwed up the launch of Healthcare.gov has been. While any massively large-scale internet launch is likely to suffer some problems, the level of disaster on this particular project has been quite impressive. This has led some to wonder why this happened, especially given the reputation of President Obama’s “web-savvy” campaign team. The answers aren’t too hard to figure out, of course. First off, the campaign team is quite different from the team implementing this — which was handled by the Department of Health and Human Services. But, more importantly: it appears that the federal government basically handed this project over to the same crew of giant government contractors, who have a long history of screwed up giant IT projects, and almost no sense of the “internet native” world.

The Sunlight Foundation (link above) figured out the list of contractors who worked on the site, and noted that the big ones not only are well-known DC power-player insiders, but they’re also big on the lobbying and political contributions side of things. You’ve got companies like… Booz Allen Hamilton, famous for promoting cyberwar hype and employing Ed Snowden. There’s defense contracting giant Northrup Grumman. Then there’s SAIC — which I can’t believe can still get government business. This is the same firm that famously was given a $380 million contract to revamp the FBI system, on which it went $220 million over budget, and then saw the entire system scrapped after it (literally) brought some users to tears, and the FBI realized it was useless in fighting terrorism. SAIC is also the company that NYC Mayor Bloomberg demanded return $600 million after a city computer project (budgeted at $68 million) actually cost $740 million. SAIC has a long list of similar spectacular failures on government IT projects.

As you look down the list put together by the Sunlight Foundation, it’s all companies like this: giant monstrosities which are simply tied in closely with the government. All the large consulting firms are listed: Accenture, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, McKinsey. What’s missing? Basically any company with even the slightest smidgen of experience building and maintaining large-scale, public-facing web-based apps. The list has no “internet native” companies.

Many, many years ago, I worked for an e-commerce startup here in Silicon Valley, and I ended up (sort of by default) in charge of trying to open up the government market for what we were doing. It involved meeting with a slew of all-too-slick, ex-politician, ex-military “consultants” with no technical knowledge whatsoever, who, for $15k to $25k/month retainers plus a (large) cut of any deal, would drink hard liquor and promise to “connect” us with big companies with government connections, and then help us sneak past the government bidding process to get no-bid contracts. It was an eye-opening experience that highlighted for me that getting government contracts in the tech world was very much about who you knew, rather than any actual knowledge, skills or experience. While this was quite a long time ago, it would appear that little has changed.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite | Leave a comment

US Working Overtime Behind The Scenes To Kill UN Plan To Protect Online Privacy From Snooping

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | November 21, 2013

The UN has apparently been considering a proposal pushed by Brazil and Germany, to clarify that basic offline rights to privacy should apply to online information and activities as well. The proposal is targeted at attempts by governments — mainly the US — to ignore privacy issues in spying on people around the globe. Not surprisingly, the US is (quietly) working hard to stop this plan. Colum Lynch at Foreign Policy has the scoop, noting that publicly, the US is pretending to support this in some form:

But privately, American diplomats are pushing hard to kill a provision of the Brazilian and German draft which states that “extraterritorial surveillance” and mass interception of communications, personal information, and metadata may constitute a violation of human rights. The United States and its allies, according to diplomats, outside observers, and documents, contend that the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not apply to foreign espionage.

In recent days, the United States circulated to its allies a confidential paper highlighting American objectives in the negotiations, “Right to Privacy in the Digital Age — U.S. Redlines.” It calls for changing the Brazilian and German text so “that references to privacy rights are referring explicitly to States’ obligations under ICCPR and remove suggestion that such obligations apply extraterritorially.” In other words: America wants to make sure it preserves the right to spy overseas.

The U.S. paper also calls on governments to promote amendments that would weaken Brazil’s and Germany’s contention that some “highly intrusive” acts of online espionage may constitute a violation of freedom of expression. Instead, the United States wants to limit the focus to illegal surveillance — which the American government claims it never, ever does. Collecting information on tens of millions of people around the world is perfectly acceptable, the Obama administration has repeatedly said. It’s authorized by U.S. statute, overseen by Congress, and approved by American courts.

While none of this creates any binding requirements, it does put tremendous pressure on countries to comply — and could lead to more specific language in various treaties and other agreements as well. It also allows other countries to stand firmly on the moral high ground that the US pretends to stand on, in order to scold the US for its activities.

The US, of course, likes to pretend that it needs to violate everyone’s privacy to catch a few bad guys. There is little reason to suggest this is true. Nothing in the proposal appears to stop legitimate law enforcement, espionage and surveillance efforts, targeted at actual people involved in criminal or terrorist activity. The issue is scooping up everyone’s data “just because.” That’s not what US negotiators are saying, obviously. Instead, they argue they need to scoop up everyone’s data to make the world safer by going after “international terrorists.”

The US’s stance here is fairly obvious. It wants to pretend to retain the moral high ground on this issue, and the way to do that is to try to stop the rest of the world from pointing out that it’s been on the low road for quite some time. But trying to redraw the map doesn’t change the reality.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment