458 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009
In Syria, those in the right are the Free Syrian Army, as opposed to the nutbags in the al-Nusra Front or ISIS. Just because it's complicated doesn't mean it's impossible to discern people who we should be supporting over others.
The "democratic opposition" in Iraq, Afghanistan or Saudi are most of the people - they're just cowed by religious fanatics and/or state security. They still deserve freedom. People naturally want freedom. It's just that sometimes you get so habituated to lack of freedom, and the fear and oppression to maintain that state, that most of the population just keep their heads down.
Our system of government (I'm an immigrant to the UK, but ignore that for now) IS better. By every measure. Freedom? Wealth? Health? Environmental care? Care for the poor?
Tell me, when was the last peaceful transfer of power in China?
My wife and I are both immigrants from different countries that just thirty years ago were dictatorships. I get really angry with people who grew up in the West and sneer at freedom. If you think the system in the West is so bad, you're free to move to another country and see what the system is like there.
Re: I guess it's official
When someone's entire raison d'être is that they are a morally superior guide to spirituality and ethics, the excuse "Well, other people rape children too!" doesn't really cut it.
Re: Alternatives, please.
Kiva - www.kiva.org
It's a charity that allows you to make micro-loans to people all over the world, to fund their housing, education and businesses. This is the kind of charity that actually helps people get up the ladder, unlike Oxfam where it helps some rich twat on their gap yah give a bag of rice to a poor family (leaving the family no better off and destroying the market for local farmers).
Re: Interesting that China is forcing them to address this problem
Not even close, alas. China doesn't do consumer protection - this is just another tool to stoke up nationalist fervour. If you have a strong stomach, look up "gutter oil". Or read up on the baby milk melamine scandal, which caused a global shortage of baby milk powder as every parent in China rushed to buy stocks overseas.
Eritrea is known as "the North Korea of Africa". I think the difference is that North Korea actually has a press, which occasionally reports on things that really happened. Eritrea doesn't even have that - there isn't even a single foreign reporter in the country.
Re: Surely it can be changed ?
Disclaimer: I *am* an Army officer (in the Reserves).
The "Ruperts", of which there are many, wouldn't stoop to a dirty technical job like Signals. In WW2 Signals didn't have anything to do with Bletchley, but certainly post-WW2 the Bletchley-style signals intelligence is well within the preserve of the Army, specifically 14 Signals Regiment. I'm not Signals myself, but it was on my shortlist when choosing a Corps, and I visited Blandford (School of Signals) during my officer cadet days. The Corps museum covers all sorts of stuff, including WW2 Enigma stuff.
So in theory Blanden should be a good choice, which makes his actions all the more tragic.
Re: Surely it can be changed ?
I agree that he doesn't seem to have a very good idea of how to run Bletchley Park. However, his bio actually says the complete opposite to what you say - he's ex-Signals, working in intelligence and signals, which is a direct descendant of the wartime work of Bletchley Park. He's also, since he left the Army, worked in battlefield history and tours, so he also apparently has an interest in history and communicating it to others.
That does seem at odds with the Disneyfication of Bletchley, but there's no accounting for one person's ideas on how to do something.
There were diplomatic feathers ruffled over that last year - the Chinese govt was doing the usual "problem? What problem?" thing (regardless of what they were actually doing to fix it). The US consulate was live-tweeting the measurements, and the Chinese govt was muttering about activities not falling under diplomatic cover. Looks like they've bowed to the inevitable.
The UK should sign up now
Since we retired the Nimrods, the UK has no sea patrol aircraft. This is exactly the kind of role that drones should fill - hours and hours of patrolling over mostly empty ocean.
Re: @ BillG You mean like the IRS
If you want the actual details and facts of the IRS issue, there's a pretty funny take on it here:
Short version: 501(c)3/4 "social organisations" aren't supposed to do political lobbying, or they'll lose their tax-exempt status. Following the Citizens United decision, 60% of US political funding switched to anonymous funding through such orgs and PACs. Someone in the IRS noticed that a lot of these were Tea Party groups, and searched specifically for these for a couple of months. The IRS inspector noticed this, and reported it to the US public. None were denied 501 status. None lost tax exemption.
The question is, are YOU happy that 60% of US political lobbying funds could be coming from Vladimir Putin, or the Muslim Brotherhood, and you wouldn't know any better?
Re: Worthless stats
And for both, you can say "I thought they smelt bad on the *outside*!"
Re: You know the ones who make reporters and their families disappear.
The hotel in Baghdad was hit by a single shell, aimed at a person on the roof pointing a long object at the troops on the other side of the river. They had been taking fire for over an hour, and had been trying to pin down where the shooter (or his spotter) was, and where the hotel was, since they knew there were foreign journalists there. They were given a poor description of the hotel, and made a judgement call - which in this case was tragically wrong.
A misdirected shell during a battle is a *little* different from marching into a building, detaining a journalist, and then disappearing him. That you cannot see the difference makes your argument pretty weak.
They should sack the civil servants involved - say, from the most senior down, one sacked per £million over budget and week late. That might focus the minds of the useless chair-warmers in Whitehall and produce an IT project that worked for once.
Re: chickens coming home to roost
@thomas k. - "the oligarchy prefers that we *are* subject to terrorist attacks once in a while"
No they don't. They're idiots, not supervillains.
Re: I find very strange that this report is.......
This is possibly a side-effect of governance in China, where no-one knows what's going on.
China is just as much a target for Islamist terrorism as anywhere else. Uyghur militants have fought in Afghanistan (which borders on East Turkestan) and ended up at Guantanamo. They've now been resettled in Albania, Palau, Bermuda and El Salvador, because sending them back to China would be a death sentence.
Re: Working here
@AC 09:18: If you downvote people on the Internet just for being a bellend, you'll never get anything else done.
Pangea broke up into multiple continents about 200 million years ago.
Modern hominids evolved about 5 million years ago.
Modern humans have only walked the earth with the continents in their current locations.
It's not news, it's the latest Twitter scandal
FFS, is this really news? "Someone followed the wrong account on Twitter! Next, our reporter on scene."
Re: A Call to action
Far better to send all the women into exile. In one generation the Saudi problem will be solved.
Re: gawd help us
I think the problem is the type of ex-military people you encountered. There's a certain small subset of senior officers who don't actually have any talent aside from following a process and giving orders - which makes them very similar to most senior civil servants or senior bosses in big gov contractors.
It's this unholy triage - big contractors, senior civil servants and senior brass - which make MoD procurement such an utter, ongoing disaster.
The majority of leaders I have met in the Army are good, by necessity. It's in the civilian world that management seems to be generally awful.
Re: gawd help us
I suspect that's more to do with PRINCE2 and ICL than any military background. I've had good and bad leaders in and out of the military. Granted, a couple of the worst leaders I've had have been in the military, but they ended up in leadership positions through luck; the military process weeds out a lot of the worst. On the other hand, management in IT seems to actively recruit PHBs.
Re: Can't understand why IT became something for "hopeless" people...
"hopeless"? It would be news to most soldiers that they're considered hopeless.
Also, IT is nothing special. It's a big industry that needs lots of people - why shouldn't soldiers (or anyone else) retrain to enter the industry?
Spending four hours stagging on in a sangar on an Afghan winters night is not going to improve CoD ...
Why explore space? It has been answered already, better than I could:
Re: PLSV? What rocket is this?
91% is "very reliable" by rocketry standards.
Re: is this the same Facebook
Not entirely - there was a good article on the people Farcebook uses as moderators. Basically, poor English speakers are what they like, so there's a lot of people in developing countries. They have fairly conservative or traditional views on nudity, sex and abortion, but aren't so bothered by violence.
Not everything in the world is the fault of the US.
.COM (Cyrillic S, O, M) will be a laugh.
Re: Past lives
So what did happen there? Google doesn't seem to have anything interesting to say about Muiderpoort.
Re: Other Uses of Firewalls
One answer: China. China would never firewall off NK. All internet access to NK goes through China, and some of the NK units are apparently even working from China.
China backs NK to the hilt, regardless of the cost. The thought of facing a unified democratic Korea terrifies China, for economic, social and strategic reasons. Also, they still pay lip service to the communist alliance, even though China is now a gerontocratic kleptocracy and NK a dystopian Confucian autocracy.
Kim Jong Un could sleep with Xi Jinping's wife and kick his dog and China would still support NK. Hell, in addition to their worldwide low-key heroin operation, NK runs a massive crystal meth distribution network in neighbouring provinces of China, and STILL China does nothing.
I'm not defending them 100%, but the energy companies only make a small profit percentage-wise. Of course it's billions of pounds - if you provide a service to millions of people you will be making billions.
The lack of foresight and poor short-term planning is not really up to the energy companies, either - that's 100% the responsibility of DECC or whatever they're called these days. DECC under Miliband was really DCC, since they apparently didn't give a shit about energy provision.
Re: Witch woman
If you're at work, do not GIS "Dragons Crown Sorceress". Lessons learned.
One of these is not like the others ;) While I think gold phones are pretty ugly, bad taste is (regrettably) not a shooting offense.
Re: terrorism, not war
The clandestine war has been going on for a while, and in both directions. It's not like Iran is an innocent babe in the woods here - they've been attacking random Jews worldwide for decades:
"We go to war in Syria, but stand idly by in North Korea".
That's because we can actually intervene usefully in Syria (well, we could have), while China will stop any intervention in NK.
Your argument is basically "we can't fix everything, so we should fix nothing".
Re: multiple spacewalks = lots of air?
The ISS is low by orbital standards. Bringing an enormous, irregularly-shaped blob of ice and dust into an orbit that low would most likely see it fall to pieces and then to earth, making a pretty light show for the people below.
The ISS apogee is 418 km, while even a geostationary orbit is 36000 km. With an asteroid, you really want to park it far away, and the moon is ten times geostationary at about 360000, which is nice and far away but still somewhere we have gone before (and hopefully again soon).
Re: Can't do the time, don't do the crime @ Bumpy Cat
Don't try that one on me. I did a tour of Afghan three years ago, and worked closely with the ANP and ANA. My team coordinated reconstruction with the provincial governor's office.
The guys shooting at us, meanwhile, were a mix of Afghans and Pakistanis, with a smattering of Chechens and Arabs. They beat, shot, imprisoned and extorted the local people - basically a cross between bandits and mafia. The "hostile force" was the Taliban.
Re: What was revealed
Bradley Manning's wikipedia page has links to summaries of what was released:
Re: Can't do the time, don't do the crime
Civilians carrying weapons and shooting are no longer civilians. They are now legitimate combatants, and can be targeted with lethal force. In fact, if those civilians are not wearing insignia, carrying weapons openly during combat and obeying a chain of command then *they* are war criminals.
The people who abused prisoners went to prison. Remember that? Yes, maltreatment of prisoners is a violation of the Geneva convention and a war crime, and people from both the US and UK military have rightfully been locked up for that.
Guantanamo Bay is a bad solution to a worse problem. We are fighting a global organization of people who target civilians, hide in civilian clothing and don't themselves obey the Geneva conventions or follow a chain of command. What do we do with the prisoners? Bear in mind that they are war criminals themselves for the reasons in this paragraph. Technically, in a formal war, people who behave like Al Qaeda can legally be shot out of hand on the battlefield.
Can you cite any specific incidents that were actually war crimes? Because surely Manning's lawyer would have used those in his trial.
Can't do the time, don't do the crime
The guy violated his military oath. He didn't take it up with the chain of command. He didn't take it up with the Inspector-General. He didn't contact his Congressman/woman to initiate a Congressional investigation, which has awesome power and would have quickly found any war crimes.
Of which, incidentally, there weren't any. There were no actual, honest-to-goodness drag-them-to-the-Hague war crimes in the entire Wikileaks haul. There were plenty of unpleasant things, like people being shot up by helicopter gunships - but war is unpleasant, and hopefully we all know that.
Copies of his leaks were found in Bin Laden's compound. As a trained intelligence officer, Manning knew - he knew - that this information could lead to the death of people he was supposedly protecting. Hopefully no-one here is going to defend Bin Laden.
Transparency is good - but Manning didn't do the right thing, nor did he do it in the right way. If you break the law, you go to court and then to prison. Given the diplomatic and possibly the security damage he did, in explicit defiance of a military covenant that he willingly entered into, he has secured a reasonable sentence. Think how many Republicans are choking on their cornflakes at "out in ten years", if it's any consolation.
Re: Poor Julian
It sounds like the problem is that the actual council of the party, which is supposed to direct things, was making decisions which were ignored by people on the ground. It would be like the Cabinet making a decision to do X, and the Civil Service deciding to do Y anyway ... oh.
Re: I'll say it, since nobody else has the guts to
"I bet the Jews did this!" That's pretty blatant racism there, Steven. The guy is a US citizen, but because of his ethnicity you assume that he did this evil deed. It also fits the classic anti-semitic trope of Jews controlling things. Moreover, as others have pointed out, it's a stupid suggestion too. Do you think there's some special flag in the reporting process for reports from Palestine?
As for getting on watchlists - get over yourself. A stupid comment on a random website doesn't warrant attention from the security services, or you'd be watching most of twitter.
Broadly speaking, where does this hostility and suspicion of Israel come from? Sure they're not perfect, but what country is? Right next door there's a civil war raging that's killed more people in two years than all Arab-Israeli wars in history.
He was travelling from a meeting with Edward Snowden's contact, to a meeting with Glenn Greenwald, paid for by the Guardian. Whether this was appropriate or proportionate is up for debate, but he was not stopped just for being associated with Greenwald.
Tango chat app? Never heard of it.
Keep going, Syrian Electronic Army! Another unknown chat app down! Surely that will drive the infidels from their strongholds!
Re: Passion is one thing
It was marked as stable. If he didn't believe that and ran tests/compiled it all himself, (1) he'd run out of time, (2) he'd be criticized for not trusting his devs.
You're not going to disappear into prison for posting something bad about the state?
I like the idea, but you might find yourself detained and beaten with a rubber hose until you provide the plaintext. I'd hate to have to make a breakthrough on Linear-A while being interrogated. They'd probably steal the credit too.
It's better than a real war I suppose.
Never has this been more appropriate ...
"If you like it so much, why don't you go and live there."
Re: Novel tactics and surprise @murph
Indeed - the armoured/motoized spearhead was a novel concept in 1939/40 and punched deep into the opposing forces lines, fracturing the resistance and allowing the footsloggers to mop up.
By 1943/44 everyone had got it, though, thus the stunning failures of the German Army in 1944. At Falaise they tried their usual armoured attack, and the US/UK said "Haha, nope", sidestepped the attack, and attacked on the flanks, leading to the cheery sight of a quarter-million Germans trying to run away down one road. The Soviets, meanwhile, launched Operation Bagration which utterly demolished the German Army's eastern front, and this time it wasn't at the cost of a hundred thousand Russian lives.