Friday, November 28, 2014

A message to those who have abused immunity privileges . . .

. . . in recent days, here:

A gentle reminder. END

PS: If that does not suffice, ask yourself why Jamaica's Parliament building bears this particular name:

. . . and stands on that particular site.

Before we draw too firm a conclusion on Ferguson . . .

. . . let us read here. END

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11:11:2014 -- In Flanders Fields . . .

Let us watch, and let us reflect:

And, let us learn from history hard bought with blood and tears. END

PS: Ghosts of the Somme:


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Remembrance Sunday, 2014 -- 1914 + 100 years . . .

  . . . is this about lions led to the slaughter by donkeys, for no good reason?

A few days back, I had reason to reflect on how the lessons of the past were often paid for in blood and tears. So, that, if we refuse to learn them soundly and heed them well, we are doomed to pay for them over and over again, at the same price.

I will not hide, that the state of our civilisation c. 2014 deeply troubles me.

But, what were the true lessons of 1914 - 18?

It does seem to me that the world had then been playing with fire for years, and the bomb went off in July and August. Whereupon, the British found that the ruthless German armies brushed aside Belgium's neutrality to outflank the French defenses on their mutual frontier. (As they would again do in 1940.)

That meant that Britain would confront its main naval rival across the narrow English channel. 

So, Britain had but little choice but to stand with Belgium and France.

Where, as the Russo-Japanese War of a decade earlier and even the US Civil War and Crimean War warned, the advances in firepower meant war was now much more devastating and deadly. Railroads, Machine guns and rapid fire artillery meant, only siege tactics could work, and without the breakthrough engines of effective tank units with high mobility and attack aircraft of adequate power, it was going to be a long, hard, blood-soaked war of attrition to break Germany's back.

And indeed the Russians would argue that in the 1940's they bled and caused Germany to bleed at fully comparable levels. 

Of course the consequence was, collapse of Germany, Austria and the Ottomans, as well as of Russia, leading to the bloodiest century in human history.


However, let us take some time to come to a fresher appreciation of General Haig, principal leader of the British Army:

Let us learn, let us weep, let us understand that sometimes we can only postpone the day of reckoning in the face of determined aggressors (as happened with Hitler who exploited post WW I war-weariness), let us try to re-balance the world towards sanity. END

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sci-Tech watch, 23: Identity theft warning on a political outing of personal info in Kentucky, USA . . . a wake-up call

Identity theft is a serious issue, which makes all too commonly seen "outing" tactics used by unscrupulous online advocates a serious matter indeed.


Let us take due note, next time a web or blog troll pretends he has a right to broadcast personal information. 

Anti Intelligent Design trolls, this warning is for you. But then, you know what you are doing so scratch that: this warning is for the naive who don't realise the danger of outing tactics or may be naive enough to divulge personal information online. END

Sci-Tech watch, 22: KABOOM, a NASA rocket explodes on takeoff . . . U/D, appar command detonation

Video (HT, CNN):

It seems that a NASA supply rocket for the space station has tipped over, broken and blown up [U/D: began disintegrating, gone out of control and been command destroyed] takeoff from a contract facility in Virginia, reminding us that a rocket on launch is first and foremost the dynamic equivalent of an inverted broom balanced on a finger-tip, making for a difficult control problem indeed. 

As in, it's Rocket Science!

US$200 mn up in smoke.

(Most expensive firework of this Guy Fawkes season!)


Developing. END

PS: U/D ABC News . . .
6:22 p.m. EST: The Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to lift off. Thousands of space buffs gather along the coast to watch the launch.
6 seconds later: The rocket starts going awry.
14 seconds later: The range safety officer sends a self-destruct command. The rocket explodes into a fireball over Wallops Island, Virginia.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Abby and Brittany Hensel -- twins sharing a common body

Abby and Brittany Hensel are dicephalus conjoined twins (having two heads and sharing one body) born in 1990, who have now completed College and teach Math in grade school. Thanks to Buzzfeed, here they are driving a car -- they have one driver's licence each:

Wikipedia notes:
Abigail Loraine Hensel and Brittany Lee Hensel (born March 7, 1990) are dicephalic parapagus twins, meaning that they are conjoined twins, each of whom has a separate head, but whose bodies are joined. They are highly symmetric, giving the appearance of having just a single body with little variation from normal proportion. In fact, several vital organs are doubled up; each twin has a separate heart, stomach, spine, and spinal cord.

Each twin controls her half of their body, operating one of the arms and one of the legs. This means that as infants, the initial learning of physical processes that required bodily coordination, such as clapping, crawling, and walking required the cooperation of both children. While each is able to eat and write separately and simultaneously, activities such as running and swimming must be coordinated and alternate symmetrically. Other activities as diverse as brushing hair and driving a car require that each twin perform a sequence of separate actions that coordinate with the other.

The following video was made when they were in high school:

A reminder of the human spirit and ability to triumph in the face of adversity. Food for thought, especially on a day that may have you down. END

PS: Anatomically:

Asia Bibi to appeal High Court ruling

According to an NBC report:
A Pakistani Christian mother-of-five who was sentenced to death for blasphemy will appeal her sentence in a last-ditch effort to escape a judgment that has been condemned around the world. It was “a victory in itself to get a hearing for this appeal, as no judge was interested judging this case,” said Sardar Mushtaq Gill, Aasia Bibi’s lawyer, referring to the Thursday decision. The 46-year-old was convicted in 2010 of making derogatory remarks about the Islamic Prophet Muhammad during an argument with coworkers at a farm in the Punjab province, home to most of the country’s four million Christians.

Even more disturbing is this, from the same report:

her lawyer claims, all criminal cases pending from 2010 have been heard, except hers. “There was pressure on the court”, said Gill. “It was obvious from the beginning. They were not listening to our arguments. We almost didn’t get a date of hearing.”

It is obvious, there is something seriously wrong with the state of justice in Pakistan, and it is obvious Bibi has no serious case to answer to.

Let us act in her defense:

A petition for Asia Bibi -- let us sign

Just go here and sign. It may help save a life. Don't delay.


Matt 24 watch, 254: Calling for action by Caricom to stop the judicial murder of Asia Bibi of Pakistan on a false charge and dangerous blasphemy law in Pakistan

Pakistan is a Commonwealth member state, and so are many territories in the Caribbean. That is why I am calling on national, legal and media leaders across our region to stand up and be counted on a blatant, potentially murderous miscarriage of justice now under way in Pakistan . . .

Let us act. END

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A petition for Asia Bibi -- let us sign

Just go here and sign. It may help save a life. Don't delay.

Matt 24 watch, 254: Calling for action by Caricom to stop the judicial murder of Asia Bibi of Pakistan on a false charge and dangerous blasphemy law in Pakistan

Pakistan is a Commonwealth member state, and so are many territories in the Caribbean. That is why I am calling on national, legal and media leaders across our region to stand up and be counted on a blatant, potentially murderous miscarriage of justice now under way in Pakistan.

Today, I saw in my inbox, notification that the High Court in Lahore Pakistan has upheld the blasphemy-death sentence verdict against Asia Bibi on a charge that is blatantly false, made under a dangerous but violently upheld blasphemy law.

So, I am following up on my post last year on the case.

The damage to her health and family are bad enough, this desecration of justice and abuse of the good name of God have gone beyond all decency and reason.

Stop, stop, for God's sake . . . STOP!

As a first, public mark of protest, we should publicly refuse to play International Cricket with the team of a nation that has such a murderous, worse than apartheid law on its books.

If boycotting South Africa was important to send a message, this is worse.

If you doubt me, notice the Guardian on the law under which Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death by hanging:
  Blasphemy [under the Pakistani law] carries a maximum penalty of death, yet the law sets out no standards for evidence, no requirement to prove intent, no punishment for false allegations and, indeed, no guidance on what actually constitutes blasphemy.

The accuser can refuse to repeat the offending statement in court, and judges can choose not to hear evidence in case it perpetuates the blasphemy and offends religious sensibilities. This means that in some cases, the accused can go through a whole trial without knowing what they are supposed to have done or said.
The law is open to massive abuse. As such, it is frequently used to settle personal vendettas and to persecute minorities . . .
 In the case of Bibi Asia (and other similar cases), as the article continues:
Bibi’s alleged blasphemous comments were supposedly made after co-workers refused to share water that she had carried; they said it was unclean because she was a Christian (this is a hangover from the caste system, as most of those who converted to Christianity in pre-partition India were members of the lower castes). She has always maintained her innocence, claiming that these neighbours simply wanted to punish her. The British citizen Mohammed Asghar, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, also faces the death sentence for blasphemy. Allegations were made against him in 2010 by a tenant with whom he was having a dispute. No concessions have been made for his mental health condition.

Despite these obvious flaws in the legislation and the way it is applied, reform is not coming. When Bibi’s case came to prominence in 2010, three politicians – Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and Sherry Rehman – all from the Pakistan People’s Party, which was then in power, took up the case and called for reform. The consequences speak for themselves. Taseer was shot dead by his bodyguard in January 2011. In March the same year, Bhatti was killed by Taliban assassins. Rehman was forced into semi-hiding. The then prime minister shelved all reform, cowed into retreat by the potent mix of extremist threats and mob violence.

Blasphemy excites strong emotions among parts of Pakistan’s public like no other issue. Many people accused of blasphemy are killed by mobs before they even make it to trial. (According to the Islamabad-based Centre for Security Studies, at least 52 people have been killed over blasphemy offences since 1990). Taseer’s assassin was showered with rose petals when he arrived at the courthouse for his murder trial. Many took this as evidence of the way that extremist groups have infiltrated elements of Pakistani society, exploiting the public’s strong religious sensibility and pushing it further towards intolerance . . .
So bad is the situation that when the author of this report, while living in Pakistan, authored an article for a leading newspaper there, the editor suppressed it for fear.

I think we in the Caribbean need to pray, and to act:

1 --> Let us call on the political leadership of our region to use our Commonwealth status to protest the patent injustice of this case and the destructive law.

2 --> Let us determine not to support any Test matches or International Cricket series involving Pakistan, making it clear that justice must be done and what is worse than Apartheid must be stopped. (This would use the international stature of the West Indies Cricket team to do a world of good. And, the message would be sent to every city, town and hamlet across Pakistan, that enough is enough.)

3 --> Let us support one or more regional offers of refuge for this poor, oppressed woman and her family. (Italy, France and Spain have made offers, let us make one too. Surely, Asia Bibi and her family would classify as refugees under any reasonable standard.)

4 --> In every international forum of which we are a part and Pakistan is a part, let us send the same message to the Pakistani delegation. Let me sum it up:
Stop the hate, false accusation, corruption of justice and murder under false colours of justice and pretense of outraged religious sensibilities . . . murder of one in the image of God under false colours of law and justice is the REAL blasphemy here.

5 --> Only shame, deep wounding shame will move those caught up in entrenched depravity like this, to act.

6 --> The time for public, persistent shaming has clearly come; and that includes specifically every party involved in this disgraceful case, from accusers to judges and politicians who have stood by or have gone along with evil, though we must note the horrible price paid by those who spoke up for the right.
7 --> The murderous fanatical mobs cannot reach us, so let us speak up for those in fear of their lives.

Enough is enough. END