There and back again

June 9, 2007

Well, here I am. I’ve been away for a while – I won’t bore you with my excuses. I’ll just say sorry: “Sorry!” and point out the obvious: I’m back… for now…

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Chavez silences dissent

May 23, 2007

chavez.jpg On 27 May, RCTV, the popular independent TV channel in Venezualia, will be taken off the air.  By order of President Hugo Chavez. http://www.guardian.co.uk/venezuela/story/0,,2085952,00.html

The reason for closing down the channel? Well, its licence to broadcast ends then – though the channel dispute that and claim it still has 20 years to run.  The true reason is because it is a voice of dissent that is heard by the vast majority of Venezualans every day.

When a military coup ousted Mr Chávez in 2002 RCTV and three other private networks backed it. When the streets filled with people demanding the president’s return the channels ran cartoons in a vain effort to ignore the popular will.  Chavez denounced the channels as fascist, but allowed them to continue to run.  And RCTV has continued to loudly criticise the President and his policies.  And now it seems the channel has pushed Chavez too far.  He has said that nothing will prevent the closure of the station.

The people of Venezuela are mostly against the closure – an opinion poll found 70% of people wanted RCTV to stay on the air, and only 16% supported closure.  But these people are not opposing the end of the channel because of ideals of freedom of speech and anti-censorship – they want RCTV to keep going because it carries massively popular game shows and soap operas.

Despite the protests in the streets of Caracas, RCTV will come off the air on 27 May – the channel hopes to continue operating on cable, but the future is uncertain.

Chavez is making a mistake.  Sure, RCTV paint him in the worst colours possible – but so what?  There are enough TV channels, radio stations and newspapers loyal to him to counteract the criticism.  But he is going to be directly responsible for many Venezuelians’ favourite TV shows disappearing.  Don’t come between a Venezuelan and her soap!

Guilty… of being related to a terrorist

May 19, 2007

In today’s Guardian, Ian Cobain, a relative of 7/7 ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan, tells Eric Cobain about his ordeal at the hands of the police, accused of being involved the plot. http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondon/story/0,,2083416,00.html  

He was arrested 10 days ago on suspicion of “commissioning, preparing or instigating acts of terrorism”, along with his cousin Hasina Patel, the widow of Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers, and her brother Arshad. All three were released without charge after seven days.  They had been under covert surveillance for a year, then questioned for seven days, yet the police were unable to find anything to charge them with.  That tends to make me believe Imram Motala’s claim that he was persecuted because Mohammad Sidique Khan had married into his family.

Look at the “evidence” the police had to justify the arrest – a number of phone calls between Khan and Motala.  But Khan was now a member of Motala’s family, and in Muslim culture extended family is more important than it is to us.  So phone calls like theirs are not unusual.  The police were very intersted in  a flurry of telephone contacts early in May 2005. Motala explained to the detectives that most of the conversations were about a trip he was planning to Dewsbury, where Sidique Khan lived, after another cousin living there gave birth. While there, he said, he went out night-clubbing, stayed out all night, and Sidique Khan rang his mobile repeatedly to enquire after him.

Motala likes night-clubbing, break dancing, and he likes a drink.”But the police told me they thought my western lifestyle was just a cover,” he says. “Once I was at Paddington Green police station, they said: ‘It’s all there in the training manual for jihad.'”  So, if you’re an Asian, you’re fucked both ways – whether you grow a beard down to your ankles and pray five times a day or you hit the town every Friday boozing and dropping ecstasy, you fit the terrorist profile.  Hell, you don’t even have to be Asian – even Brazilians can’t go for a ride on the tube without being shot repeatedly in the head.

While in custody he learned that he had been under surveillance for a year: he and members of his family had been followed, all of his previous employers had been interviewed, and he strongly suspects that his family home in the Lozells area of Birmingham was bugged when West Midlands police raided the property last year, ostensibly looking for firearms. Despite the lengthy surveillance operation, no evidence was found that would justify charges against him.  But they chose to arrest him anywa along with his cousin Hasina Patel, the widow of Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers, and her brother Arshad. All three were released without charge after seven days. Another man remains in custody.  Hmm…

 Let’s have a look at who was arrested: Motala; his cousin Hasina Patel, the widow of Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers; and her brother Arshad. All three were released without charge after seven days.  I suspect the arresting officers were well pissed off when they were told that being related to a terrorist is not an offense. Another man remains in custody.

When When Motala was finally released, he discovered his family’s home had been raided at the time he was arrested. While his parents, brother and a sister were being driven by police to a hotel, other officers were looking under floorboards, removing photographs, documents, electrical equipment and even two Hoovers. His father, Salem, says the house “doesn’t feel the same any more – doesn’t feel like home”.  This feeling of violation is well-known to victims of burglary – the knowledge that strangers with unspeakable motives have delved through your belongings, have destroyed forever the feeling of being secure in your home.  But it wasn’t a gang of burglars performing this symbolic act
of rape – it was the police, the people who are supposed to protect us from this kind of crap.

In the ongoing “war on terror”, the police have a nice long list of possible terrorists.  If you have a dark complexion, or if you’re in any way related to someone who’s been been possibly involved in terrorism, you can be sure that your name is on that list.

So don’t be surprised if, in the early hours of the morning, someone knocks on your door – with a battering ram.  And be careful when getting onto a tube train.  Mind the gap… and the bunch of armed policemen shooting you in the back.

Gordon Brown’s the man… and that’s official

May 18, 2007

brown1.jpg

 The Succession

So, Gordon Brown has been nominated by 313 Labour MPs http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labourleadership/story/0,,2082653,00.html

 as the next party leader – and Prime Minister – so that’s that.  No contest required.  Blair and Brown’s dodgy little deal made in Granita in 1997 has decided the succession, and if you don’t like it – tough shit.  After all, we’re just the electorate, the people who are supposed to have a say in who rules us.  We’re not God.  Gordon is.

Plenty of people are unhappy about the way this has happened, and I’m not just talking about Labour left-wingers and Tories.  Alastair Darling, a staunch Brown ally, said: “Personally I am all in favour of the ancient British tradition of the prime minister being there one day and gone the next”, referring to the usual way prime ministers bugger off.  But now we have a “two Prime Ministers” situation, Blair hanging around for six weeks getting up to God knows what before Brown takes over properly.

One major problem could arise at the 21 June meeting of EU leaders, where they are to discuss further integration – the “Constitution by any other name”.  It’s fairly well known that Blair is far more keen on European integration than his successor, and some commentators fear that Blair may agree to moves that Brown would oppose.  Anything Blair agrees to here will be binding.  So Brown may find himself having to toe a federalist line that he doesn’t want.

Blair’s premiership has been more akin to US presidential practice than historic UK tradition, and this coronation of Brown and the ensuing “two prime ministers” mess is just more of the same.  Brown’s own aides have accepted that “the transition had parallels with those normally associated with a change of presidency in the US.”  But British Prime Ministers are not presidents.  Any attempt to give the swine US presidential-style powers must be opposed.  But how?  It’s not like we have a vote on this matter – they’ve stitched it up nicely so we won’t have a chance to make our voice heard democratically until the next General Election.

So maybe we should make our opinions heard in an undemocratic way.  Am I advocating revolution?  Armed uprising?  Slaughtering the bastards?  Of course not- that’d be illegal.

Makes you think though.

Beat the goddamned breathalyzer

May 16, 2007

You wanna beat the breathalyzer?  You wanna drive around pissed outta yer skull, giving not fuck nor shit for pedestrians and other “users of the road”, ie the selfish gits who wanna curb yer enthusiasm?  Then read this!! (courtesy of some blogger called KEVIN who blogs on “myspace.com” fer fuck’s sake… HOW TO BEAT A BREATHALYZER!!!!!
Current mood:  contemplative
Want to trick that breath machine into a false reading?Not that difficult: just vary your breathing pattern.

As I’ve indicated in earlier posts, these breath machines which determine guilt or innocence

in DUI cases are not exactly the reliable devices that law enforcement would have us believe. Yet another example of that unreliability is the fact that the results will vary depending upon the breathing pattern of the person being tested. This has been confirmed in a number of scientific studies. In one, for example, a group of men drank moderate doses of alcohol and their blood-alcohol levels were then measured by gas chromatographic analysis of their breath. The breathing techniques were then varied.

The results:

Holding your breath for 30 seconds before exhaling increased the blood-alcohol concentration

(BAC) by 15.7%.

Hyperventilating for 20 seconds immediately before the analyses of breath, on the other hand, decreased the blood-alcohol level by 10.6%.

Keeping the mouth closed for five minutes and using shallow nasal breathing resulted in increasing the BAC by 7.3%, and testing after a slow, 20-second exhalation increased levels by 2%.

“How Breathing Techniques Can Influence the Results of Breath-Alcohol Analyses”, 22(4) Medical Science and the Law 275. For another study with similar findings, see “Accurate Measurement of Blood Alcohol Concentration with Isothermal Breathing”, 51(1) Journal of Studies on Alcohol 6.

Dr. Michael Hlastala, Professor of Physiology, Biophysics and Medicine at the ..:namespace

prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />University of Washington has gone farther and concluded:

“By far, the most overlooked error in breath testing for alcohol is the pattern of breathing….The concentration of alcohol changes considerably during the breath…The first part of the breath, after discarding the dead space, has an alcohol concentration much lower than the equivalent BAC. Whereas, the last part of the breath has an alcohol concentration that is much higher than the equivalent BAC. The last part of the breath can be over 50% above the alcohol level….Thus, a breath tester reading of 0.14% taken from the last part of the breath may indicate that the blood level is only 0.09%.” 9(6) The Champion 16 (1985).

Many police officers know this. They also know that if the machine contradicts their judgment that the person they arrested is intoxicated, they won’t look good. So when they tell the arrestee to blow into the machine’s mouthpiece, they’ll yell at him, “Keep breathing! Breathe harder! Harder!” As Professor Hlastala has found, this ensures that the breath captured by the machine will be from the bottom of the lungs, near the alveolar sacs, which will be richest in alcohol. With the higher alcohol concentration, the machine will give a higher — but inaccurate — reading.

This web posting is for general information and does not contain a full legal analysis of the matters presented.  It should not be construed as legal advice or relied upon as legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  The invitation to contact Kevin Mark Wray, Esquire is not a solicitation to provide professional services and should not be construed as an availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction in which Kevin Mark Wray isnot licensed to practice.
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Reid sez: “Kill ’em all… (in)humanely!!”

May 16, 2007

reid-weapons.jpg

Tazers ain’t lethal weapons, claims John Reid.  So what if they kill people?  So does old age – but no one seriously suggests that old folk ought to be culled for their own good!  (Not yet, anyhow…)

The home secretary has announced that many more police will be authorised to carry Taser stun guns – http://guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,,2080760,00.html
John Reid told a Police Federation conference he wants non-firearms officers to have the devices, which stun suspects with a 50,000-volt shock.

Police will also be able to use them in a wider range of situations.

Mr Reid insisted the weapons are a safe alternative to guns and are increasingly needed to deal with violent offenders. However, Amnesty International has opposed the use of the US-manufactured weapons, claiming they can be lethal.
The operative word being “can” – a can of beer kills some people, sometimes, so what the fuck’s the problem?!!

“The police service is facing unprecedented challenges and this government is committed to providing them with the tools they need to meet the demands of modern policing,” Mr Reid told delegates in Blackpool.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The intention, subsequent to medical advice, is to start a trial to extend to the use of Taser to specially trained teams. They provide additional options and are less lethal than conventional firearms.
It may be relevant to note here that “conventional firearms” are usually not lethal.  When a gun is unloaded, and stored in a gun-safe, it is generally harmless.  Likewise, tasers are non-lethal when they’re not being fired at people.

“Tasers are used in incidents where officers are faced with violence or the threat of violence, and used only when they need to use force to protect themselves or members of the public,” said a police spokesperson.  If someone threatens a copper, or makes the paranoid rozzer feel like he’s under threat, steps must be taken.  Like, death-dealing steps.  Yee-hah!

Why phoning the police is a mug’s game

May 16, 2007

The other day, I got home to find that my door had been kicked in.  I had a quich mooch around, and soon sussed that nothing had been taken – it didn’t even look as if the burglar or whatever he was had searched the place.

Now, I wouldn’t normally have bothered calling in the police.  Nothing was missing.  And even if it had, I doubt I woulda involved the filth.  Me and them live parallel lives – the less we have to do with one another, the happier we are.  But in this case I had to call the pigs.  I live in a flat owned by a housing association, and they demand that all criminal damage be reported.  I have to give ’em a “crime number”, otherwise I gotta pay for repairs myself.  Ain’t life grand…

Anyway, I  belled the rozzers.  It wasn’t a 999-style emergencies, so I called their “standard” local number.  Now, in times gone past the cop shop had a normal phone number, and if you called them you got charged standard local rates.  But not any more you don’t!  It had a 0870-prefix, which meant I the call was gonna cost me my first-born son or some-such.  And it didn’t end there…

I got a recorded bint-voice, telling me that operators were all busy circle-jerking or something… then I got a ringing tone.  But I was being charged to listen to the ringing tone.  I was in a public phone box (I don’t have a landline telephone, and I’d rather be buggered by King Dong than call a 0870 number from my mobile…) and I was being charged while the fucking pig-phone was ringing!  This went on for maybe 5 or 10 minutes… if the housing association hadn’t insisted on me reporting this crap to the rozzers, I’d have hung up on the cocks, believe you me!!

Next time I gotta bell the old bill about a non-emergency matter, I’m gonna dial 999.  Yeah, yeah, it’s reserved for emergencies – so fucking what?  You think I got money to waste on this kinda bollocks?  Think again, limpdick!!!

Gordon Brown, get us out of here!!

May 11, 2007

So, Gordon Brown said today that, when he’s Prime Minister, he’ll be “humble” and will “learn from mistakes.” (Read it here: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/05/11/europe/EU-GEN-Britain-Brown.php )
So is he going to learn from the mistake of Iraq? Is he going to pull us out of that shit? Is he going to learn from the mistake of “standing shoulder-to-shoulder” with the crazy-assed Americans? I hope so… but I’ve got this awful feeling that he ain’t got the balls to do it. Licking US behind is an addiction to British prime ministers, they can’t get enough of it.
Sad.

Alan Johnston… kidnapped…

May 11, 2007

Alan Johnston banner Alan Johnston, the BBC’s Gaza correspondent, disappeared on 12 March, presumed kidnapped. A little-known Palestinian militant group has claimed responsibility, but there’s no solid evidence where he is, who has him, whether he’s alive. But a few things are clear: he’s a journalist, so he’s a non-combatant, he’s neutral, and he must be released! His captors probably think he’s a justifiable target because he’s British – the UK govt is very much on Israel’s side. But he’s a journalist, dammit! LET HIM GO!!

… and I stagger back in…

May 2, 2007

Wow! Who’d a thunk it? I wake up, and it’s weeks later! Well, that’s sort of what happened. You could say that really I’ve been too busy having fun to bother writing here. Like how I left writing the 10,000 word dissertation for my degree course until the final week. But I got it done! And now I’m doing this… eventually.
Next I have a novel to write. I’ll let you know here how it’s coming on. So, (I say to myself) what shall I call it…?