Saturday, July 16, 2016

No evidence yet that Mohamed Bouhlel was a terrorist

The horror of the #NiceAttack is made worse by the widespread assumption that it was an Isis attack. Everywhere the commentators and pundits are interviewing terrorist experts and worse. The "quality" programme Newsnight gave a French right-winger airtime on the back of it.

Terrorism is defined as the use of violence against civilians for political ends.

The fact is that the evidence for terrorism in Nice is just not there, yet. True, Isis claimed Mohamed Bouhlel as one of their own, but they would, wouldn't they? There is no evidence that Bouhlel was religious or political. He was an unpleasant, violent person, a violent criminal who was in a divorce and had a row with an acquaintance the previous day, who told him he had no significance. Bouhlel responded with a threat to become significant.

If he had been a white man in the USA, it might have been another mass shooting. Because it was a Tunisian in France, it is an Islamic terrorist outrage in the mind of the news media.

There may be evidence found on his computer, of emails to Isis or radicalisers that may yet implicate him in Islamist terrorism. We must wait for this evidence. He may have accessed Isis sites, but this would not be sufficient.

This is important, because terrorist acts tend to boost the far Right. Isolated acts of violence, even ones as horrific as Nice, should not be handed to the Right on a plate.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cameron's parting lie

David Cameron was always prone to issuing untrue statements, understandably because he did not face an effective Opposition, and the media were his slaves. 
Here's his  parting fib : "We have cut the deficit by 2/3rds". 
That's half, not 2/3rds.

Bye, Dave

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

MP letter on Trident

Trident in action

Letter to my Conservative MP about the Trident replacement vote on 18th July

John Penrose MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear John

The Fallibility of Nuclear Deterrence

I will not ask you to consider voting against Trident replacement on 18th July, since you are beyond persuasion on the issue. Instead, I wish to make you aware of the implications of your vote.

If the consequences of the failure of a system would be infinitely destructive, it is reasonable to use that system if and only if the probability of its failure are zero. The probability of deterrence system failure is greater than zero. Therefore humanity should terminate the use of the deterrence system.

By voting for Trident replacement, you are, as you know, weakening the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires nuclear states to work in good faith to abolish nuclear weapons. A weak NPT means that more states like Iran and North Korea will obtain their own nuclear deterrent, and this will make an outbreak of a global nuclear war more likely.

You must admit that nuclear deterrence is not infallible. Even without new states like North Korea, deterrence can degenerate into global nuclear war. Here are 11 historic instances where computer errors brought us close to nuclear war . Nuclear weapons systems are vulnerable to cyber-attack . William McNeilly has produced a dossier which shows that Trident is in a sorry state of neglect both in its human and its physical systems. .

Please do not try to deploy the “Trident is an insurance policy” argument. It is nothing like an insurance policy.

Nuclear deterrence is clearly not infallible. This means that at some point in the future there is a 99.99+% chance of Trident being used. If Trident is fired we have to assume that every working nuclear weapon on the planet will also be fired, because of the counter-force strategy that means “use them or lose them”. Total nuclear war means a nuclear winter, breakdown in human life support systems, and the end of the present human civilisation on this planet.

You will not accept this logic, and will support the Government in pretending that it wishes to work towards global nuclear disarmament, while it continues to acquire, deploy and eventually, to fire these evil weapons.

Richard Lawson

Monday, July 11, 2016

Red-Greens: how far does their redness go?

Ecology and Socialism 

Eco-socialists, aka Red-Greens or watermelons, are influential in the Green Party at the moment.

Let's have a look at what eco-socialism is about, while Corbyn is in the news.

Ecology is the bedrock of Green ideology. Ecology is the study of the environment and the way that plants, animals, and humans live together and affect each other. It is the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings.

Society, our social environment, is an important part of the surrounding of all individuals. Biologically, humans are social animals like wolves, not solitary animals like bears. An ecological relationship exists between individual humans and society, so that society affects the individual, and the individual affects society. Therefore sociology is a sub-set of ecology. Ecology is the larger framework, providing the physical and biological matrix in which human society exists, and it sets limits on what human society can do, how much it can grow in terms of numbers and consumption patterns.

So much for ecology and society. What then is socialism? Definition is important, because there is a strong political, emotional and sectarian charge attached to the word that tends to blur its precise meaning. The dictionary definition of socialism is that it is a political system or theory that aims to create a society in which everyone has more equal opportunities and in which the means of construction, distribution and exchange are owned or controlled by the whole community, usually through the State.

There are two components to the dictionary definition: the softer aspiration towards greater equality, and the harder component, state ownership of industry and state control of the economy.

Ecologists are comfortable with the softer component of increasing equality. There is sound scientific evidence to show that more equal societies are happier and healthier societies, and that they have a less harmful environmental impact.

Do eco-socialists actually subscribe to both components of the dictionary definition of socialism, including the ownership of means of production?

Basically, nationalisation of the total means of production does not look appetising from a green point of view. Certainly, the state controlled industries of Soviet Russia were massively polluting.

Instead of nationalising all manufacturing industry, the state should regulate the way goods are produced in order to minimise pollution and waste, as it does at the moment, but with more enthusiasm and rigour. The state should also provide public transport and mail services, because private provision is energy inefficient. There is also a case for the state to take over some industries like steel in order to maintain an industry that could be necessary in times of crisis.

On the other hand, the central duty of Government is to protect the vulnerable within society from hardship and exploitation, and there is a strong case for the State to provide services for the vulnerable, particularly for health, emergency services, education and social services. There need not necessarily be a monopoly on this provision, but national provision of human services is clearly needed.

Hopefully the eco-socialists in our midst will clarify whether they still thirst for a command economy, or whether they have moved on from the  dictionary definition of socialism.

A Ode on the Short Career of Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom
Got up and said some
Fine words about Brexit,
And people believed her. Next it
Turns out that she's up for PM
Along with, not Boris, but Govey and Liam,
But they got knocked out.
Some called into doubt
Her political clout
So she pulls out, turning defeat into a rout.

But at least we got to read some
Diverting facts about Andrea Leadsom.