Saturday, June 28, 2008
A few days ago the Scotsman ran this short 29 line piece
A FRENCH television company yesterday won a libel case over accusations that it faked a report into the killing of a Palestinian boy whose death in 2000 became a symbol of the uprising known as the second intifada.
....Media Ratings accused France2 of using staged footage in a report on the death of Mohammed al-Durra, 12, which accused Israeli troops of shooting the boy as he took cover with his father during a gun battle between Israelis and Palestinians.
Harrowing footage showing the pair crouching in terror behind a wall apparently seconds before he was shot, was screened around the world.
The Israeli army initially apologised for the boy's death, but later said Palestinian gunfire had probably killed him.
Which is considerably less coverage than several articles they have produced over the years about how dreadful this was for example. & even so plays down the degree of deliberation in this fraud.
Melanie Philips elsewhere says "....court to order France 2 to produce the evidence it had hitherto refused to make public — the untransmitted 27 minutes of footage that Abu Rahma claimed he had filmed.
I was in the Paris court on the day France 2 reluctantly complied and I saw the footage (minus a few minutes that Enderlin had excised and which are said to be even more explosive). This showed clearly that the whole thing was a set-up from start to finish.
The cameraman said the Israelis had fired continuously for 45 minutes. Yet the footage did not show people falling under fire. It showed instead Palestinians demonstrating, throwing rocks and so forth, in a positively carnival atmosphere. Youths strutted about, giving declamatory interviews and grinning at the camera; boys rode by on bicycles. And no one showed any sign of injury. There were no wounds; there was no blood. From time to time, demonstrators were pushed on to stretchers and into ambulances — but with no evidence of any disturbance to their anatomy.
Enderlin said he had cut out the scenes of al-Dura’s actual death agony because ‘it was unbearable’. But when the footage was shown, it became clear no such scenes existed. There was no agony and no death. Al-Dura and his father showed no sign of any wound or injury throughout. Supposedly riddled with bullets, their bodies remained totally unmarked. There was no blood anywhere. A red stain on the child turned out to be a piece of red cloth, which suddenly materialised.
You see the boy slumping to the ground. But before he does so, while he is still hanging on to his father and screaming, a voice shouts in Ara bic: ‘The boy is dead! The boy is dead!’ Asked to explain this astounding prescience, Enderlin’s team replied that the Arabic in fact meant: ‘The boy is in danger of dying.’ At this, the courtroom laughed out loud.
After Enderlin pronounces the boy to be dead, the corpse mysteriously assumes four different positions. You see the cameraman’s fingers making the ‘take two’ sign to signal the repeat of a scene. And then you see the lifeless martyr raise his arm and peep through his fingers — presumably to check whether his thespian services are still required or whether he can now get up and go home.
This extraordinary footage was first uncovered by Nahum Shahaf, a physicist in Israel’s defence establishment, who was at the centre of the Israeli army’s own investigation of the incident. Shahaf analysed frame by frame the untransmitted rushes from many TV crews.
....This extraordinary footage was first uncovered by Nahum Shahaf, a physicist in Israel’s defence establishment, who was at the centre of the Israeli army’s own investigation of the incident. Shahaf analysed frame by frame the untransmitted rushes from many TV crews.
He observed, from pictures of al-Dura’s autopsy, that the state of the body suggested he had been dead for at least a day; that this boy was older than 12; and that although there were bullet holes in his forehead, there had been no blood on the ground nor on the wall behind him. He also noted, from pictures of the boy’s funeral on the day of the shooting, that shadows indicated this took place around midday. He was told by two doctors at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital that al-Dura’s lifeless body was brought to them before 1pm. But the incident at Netzarim had not started until 3pm.
Shahaf then discovered from al-Shifa’s records that a dead boy named Rami Jamal al-Dura had been brought into the hospital the day before.
There have been previous occasions of apparent fabrication of Palestinian film & of Hamas pictures during the Lebanon war. This compares with the "marketplace bombings" of Sarajevo, 2 of which were found by the UN forensic scientists to have come from mortars located within Moslem lines & the 3rd that there was no actual evidence of an explosion & that the bodies had been dead before the time of the alleged explosion.
Probably the best known is ITN's allegedly accidental faking of a concentration camp video (orchestrated without Moslem administration help). In that case the judge summed up for ITN by saying that though LM magazine had proved their claim that the video was faked was "essentially true" that "didn't matter" & the jury obediently did their duty. Fortunately French courts are more trustworthy.
Also there has been proof that photos produced by our media of Tibetan rioting were in some cases cropped to distort & in some cases actually were of Nepalese police.
This is not an isolated instance or even 2 or 3 isolated instances. This is a clear & long term trend of our media either deliberately lying or, at best making no real attempt to distinguish between the truth & a lie. It also shows that when caught out their corrections if any (though the Scotsman ran it I say nothing on BBC or ITN are not only long after the damage has been done but comparatively short & well hidden. Also, obviously, the victims of such allegedly accidental fabrications are uniformly of people the media want us to hate.
They say pictures never lie & it is certainly the case that we have reason to believe stories backed by pictures in preference to simple news stories. However it is quite clear that pictures do lie & that we are being constantly lied to by our media, whenever there is somebody we are supposed to hate.
Friday, June 27, 2008
...the foundation's three-year, $7 million philanthropic deal with Britain's BT telecommunications giant may not rank as high. But the way X Prize founder Peter Diamandis sees it, this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
"The X Prize is going global," Diamandis, the foundation's chairman, told me today.
He explained that until now, the California-based foundation's activities have been mostly U.S.-centric. "We have partnered with BT to take the X Prize to Europe and Asia, and South America, and we have an incredible partnership," he said.
Over the next three years, BT (a.k.a. British Telecom) will be providing $7 million in operating funds to the foundation, and also sharing its scientific and technological expertise as new X Prizes are rolled out.
Diamandis has said that the foundation wants to create two or three new prizes each year, focusing on five areas: exploration, life sciences, energy and the environment, education and global development. Today, Diamandis told me one or two prizes are in the works for unveiling by the end of the year.
The likeliest next X Prize will have to do with cancer research. Diamandis acknowledged that such a prize "is on the horizon," but didn't provide specifics.
It appears BT is putting up money purely to publicise it internationally which seems a good idea - such prizes are to the benefit of the whole world & the more people who here about them, either as possible contestants or donors, the better. Sounds like a very good investment for BT in terms of global prestige & advertising to. I guess the Foundation have, or are on the cusp of having, a bunch of rich donors to put up the £300 million.
If only another British political leader, as well as Alex Salmond, would have the gumption to get their party to stand for funding a British X-Prize Foundation as I have previously suggested.
We have had X-Prizes coming from several different sources now, not all under that name & it really feels like acceptance of the idea is building to a critical mass. Not like it used to be.
What is Gordo up to. Only a few days he said the world needs 1,000 more nuclear reactors & Britain should play a part, though only by allowing foreign companies to build them, definitely with zero government subsidy.
Today he says we need windmills & should subsidise them by £100 billion
Thousands of new wind turbines could be built across the UK as part of a £100bn investment in renewable energy that could create hundreds of thousands of new "green collar" jobs, Gordon Brown announced today.
The prime minister unveiled what he described as a "green revolution" and "the most dramatic change in energy policy since the advent of nuclear power".
He wants to build up Britain's clean power supply in order to reach the EU-imposed target of producing 15% of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2020. This will require £100bn of investment from the private sector, which the government will encourage with financial incentives
This will, we are told, mean higher electricity bills.
No "financial incentives" for nuclear, correctly, because it doesn't need them. But how much more obvious could he be in showing that windmills [hoped to be 14% of our electricity at £100 billion] compared to an unnamed but clearly large part of our power [at zilch] are not a good option. This works out at about £7 billion per GW of windmill power whereas internationally GW nuclear reactors have been built for $1 billion (£500 million) & as
Brown estimated that the renewables programme would generate around 160,000 jobs, and plans for new nuclear power stations around 100,000,proves the running costs of windmills will also be far higher.
This is the time for the Tories to say that they have looked at the figures, done a "serious reappraisal", "been willing to admit past errors" etc etc & accept that nuclear is affordable, CO2 free & actually works & that it is government's duty to ensure the lights don't go out so we should go for it in a big way. Gordon came close to outflanking the Tories on going for nuclear in the first place. Now he is fumbling the ball while being open about how very expensive such a fumble is.
I think this would work partly because people are not as convinced of the infallibility of any politician as long as they never admit an error & even more so because it quite clear from polls that the public themselves are going through such a reappraisal of windmillery & nuclear.
The Tories could now take back the place as economically competent on this subject. It would mean ditching their friendship with the Green party but not with true environmentalism since nuclear can correctly be sold as CO2 free non-polluting & with the advantage that it doesn't disfigure the countryside. They can therefore maintain or even enhance their position as the true environmentalists while no longer leaving themselves vulnerable to the inevitable stab in the back by the Green leaders who are universally unappeasable Luddites & bureaucratic pseudo-leftists.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Promotion of taxes
Promotion of generous tax-funded subsidies for impractical energy sources
Prevention of the development of local realistic energy sources
To bring down a modern state you merely have to deprive it of energy, which is why so much effort goes into propping up the global warming myth in defiance of overwhelming contrary evidence. The ludicrously expensive biofuels project has the satisfying by-product of fostering both inflation and civil disturbance, all grist to the revolutionary mill. In short it is Greenflation
Definition of Greenflation
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
John McCain has said that as President he would put up a $300 million dollar X-Prize:
“I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people,” Mr. McCain said, “by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”
He said the winner should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs. “That’s one dollar, one dollar, for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency,” he said.
I'm for that. I don't think it is as useful as a prize for a reusable shuttle just because the immediate profits to be made on a battery are much clearer but $300 million would still help - indeed for the effect this would have it is probably too low a prize
Up till now I haven't been able to see which candidate I could feel strongly about (except Hilary but not in a nice way). McCain struck me as dangerous, in that he had supported bombing Yugoslavia & generally any sort of military action against anybody. Obama seems to be a complete chancer with lots of image, no sensible policies & unworthy of trust. On that basis, since our minimum interest is more that the US should do no harm than that it be run competently I inclined towards Obama. However if America can play a positive role in human development then that tops everything. By going for this system of encouraging innovation, even though a battery isn't my best target, McCain has shown that he gets the idea.
It is a much better target than Alex Salmond's £10 million ($20M) prize for a commercial sea turbine about which I waxed lyrical though I would like to think McCain had heard of & been influenced by it.
JunkScience rubbished it on the grounds that McCain, at the same time, suggested a massive tax break for electric cars, which is a true criticism but I think ignores political realities.
Jerry Pournelle said
The purpose of prizes is to focus attention on a goal. Lindberg fly to Paris alone for a prize. Prizes did a lot for early aviation. The X Prize got a lot of attention for commercial space. Heinlein left much of his estate to be used for prizes in advance of commercial space. The only obligation the winner of a prize should have is to win it: prize money does n0t purchase the rights to the invention.
Now it is probably true that anyone who wins this McCain battery prize will make a great deal more money for that technology in the market place. Probably true: but the market is uncertain, and raising capital always has to compete with other places to invest. One of the problems we have always had with commercial space is that there are both technical and market risks, and those who understand the one kind of risk generally don't comprehend the other; so they invest elsewhere.
Prizes reduce market uncertainties by providing a floor. If the US were to offer a $1 billion prize for the first American company to fly a ship to orbit and bring it home 6 times in one year, we would probably have reusable space ships within five years, possibly sooner: a billion is a pretty good market incentive. And if the US were to offer $10 billion prize for the first American company to put 31 Americans on the surface of the Moon and keep them there alive and well for 3 years and a day, we would have a Lunar Colony within 7 years and probably sooner.
The neat thing about prizes is that we spend no money unless someone wins. Now surely it would be worth far more than $300 million to have any capitalist have the battery technology McCain describes. Indeed it would be worth far more, and the only real criticism of the McCain prize might be that it wasn't large enough. On the other hand, how does it harm us to have the $300 million offered? This is a very good move on McCain's part, and makes me a lot happier to support him than I was. It makes him something more than the lesser evil...
Which seems to cover all the bases
While Obama said
"When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn't put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win -- he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people -- not just in the private sector but also in the public sector," he said at an event in Las Vegas.
Which shows he just doesn't get it. That is precisely what went wrong with America's space programme. When they got back they were left with no mission & a massive bureaucracy called NASA which has absorbed money ever since.
Now if only he would turn 1/4 of NASA's $16 billion annual budget into funding an X-Prize Foundation for space development. The very worst that could happen is that nobody would win any prizes which would leave a lot of money lying around but there is no way some wouldn't be won. Obama is already on record as saying he would take part of NASA's budget for early education so McCain would certainly have a free run if he decided to do this.
Note also that it is proper to maximise the use you get out of such prize money. Assuming that the first prize would take 4 years (Jerry assumes 5) an initial grant of $4 billion & 4 more annual ones, assuming 10% growth a year which is only slightly above inflation plus economic growth, amounts to $24.4 billion but assuming 6% interest on the money held would increase it to $27.2 billion. If Burt Rutan could get into space on a $10 million prize I think $27 billion would move the world.
What is needed is another Bjo Trimble get people writing to him, indeed to both candidates, to say so.
Jerry has posted in full the except of the above I sent him & replied:
Actually, Congressman Rohrabacher was interested in setting up a US Prizes Foundation to hold prize money. This was when we had lunch perhaps 3 years ago before the forseeable election disaster. And Mrs. Trimble was the recoding secretary of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy back in 1980. We did a bit of campaigning then but SDI took over. The Cold Was was still on...
Further on he gives an expansion of the Obama quote I reproduced. The sentence before what I quoted goes "But I don't think a $300 million prize is enough." which considerably ameliorates his apparent objection to X-Prizes & makes at least a large part of the objection merely to it being to low a figure with which I have can agree.
I said that we are playing around with windmills, only 3% of our electricity, as Scotland moves towards losing half our power. While seeing India industrialising we de-industrialise & in time they will pass us. In answer to a question from Garry I said we should go for as much nuclear as required, at 1.3p a unit & that nuclear at 2 deaths since Chernobyl was far safer than coal at 150,000 a year.
I didn't get as much time as Maf Smith from the SDC but I think I got my point across. The BBC constantly invites guests only from the Luddite side & of course, only ever ask them supportive questions. This is scandalous in what is supposed to be an impartial news service but I suppose we get used to it. Phoners seemed fairly evenly divided on nuclear & generally unsupportive of wind which is an improvement on previous programmes.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I read with regret of the failure of the Scottish economy predicted by Professor Brian Ashcroft (article 19th June). That it would slow to under 2% & still be nearly 1% behind the UK average in 2011. This is the date when the SNP promised, very modestly, to reach average UK growth rates as part of Alex Salmond's much less modest promise to produce a "Celtic Lion" economy matching Ireland's Celtic Tiger (which has managed a long term growth rate of 7%).
While Gordon Brown may claim that economic failure owes much to world conditions & the high oil price Mr Salmond can hardly use either excuse to say why we continue to do worse than England. [By contrast Ireland achieved high growth by 1990, Less than a year after its change of direction.]
The real tragedy is not that the SNP cannot do anything but that they seem no more prepared than their predecessors to do the things they know can be done. If corporation tax cannot yet be cut for constitutional reasons they can make equivalent cuts in business rates which should have very similar effects. So far they have made only a minor cut in rates & even had to be pushed into that by the Conservatives. Our economy remains mired in rules & quangocracy [as the 3 year minimum delay in letting Trump's £1 billion investment here, nominally supported by all parties, proves. The only apparent good news is that house prices aren't falling here as in England but this merely proves how much more stifling our bureaucracy is - nowadays house prices are dictated more by either shortage of land or "planning" constraints rather than the cost of building the things - & Scotland has no shortage of land.] Even Labour & the Tories have belatedly recognised that we will not have an economy if the lights go out yet the SNP continue to pretend that if they talk enthusiastically enough about windmillery it will work.
The promise they made could, without great difficulty, be fulfilled yet while they talk the talk they are abjectly failing to walk the walk.
The bit of the 3rd para edited was probably because it was moving into more controversy & thus blunting my main point, particularly by saying that house prices are largely regulatory, in what is anyway a fairly long letter. but I think it is important not merely to complain but to put forward alternatives.
To be fair Brian Ashcroft is Mr Wendy Alexander & it may be that he is being over cautious about progress but I think not.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The new study, which has been published in the journal Annals of Oncology, was carried out by a team led by experts at Glasgow University and was based on data from 17,363 male civil servants based in London.
Information about their health and habits has been collated since the 1960s in an effort to gain information about health trends and find links between lifestyle and illness. The original link between smoking and lung cancer was found through similar analysis of medical data.
The study found:
• A 43% increase in the chances of dying from cancer of the colon if the person smokes.
• A 40% higher likelihood of dying from rectal cancer.
• An increase of 23% in the chances of losing one's life to prostate cancer.
• A 53% rise in mortality from lymphatic leukaemia among smokers.
The study concluded: "Cigarette smoking appears to be a risk factor for several malignancies of previously unclear association with tobacco use."
Dr David Batty, of the Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, based at the University of Glasgow, said: "What this study shows is that smoking is linked to more kinds of cancer than previously thought.
I put up a reply saying in detail why this is a complete abuse of statistics & thus science. I am pleasantly surprised to see that all most all other commentators understood this too. I am reprinting it here because such "studies" are very common space fillers in the media & the same basic reasons why they are fraudulent apply to most of them.
There is tremendous pressure on researchers to find new & PC causes of death & it is always possible to find blips in statistics since they necessarily have random variations particularly where the numbers are small.
In general good scientists don't declare a result even worth publishing if it doesn't show a change in risk of 100% (known as a relative risk of 1) where the sample is small.
Lets look at the figures.
The study was on "data from 17,363 male civil servants based in London"
" A 43% increase in the chances of dying from cancer of the colon if the person smokes"
How many of those would be smokers - say 7,000
What proportion of people die of cancer of the colon - I'm guessing but say 1 in 2,000.
So that would mean 3.5 dying.
A 43% increase would be 5 people.
Since it is rare for only .5 of a person to die we are talking about 1 death more than average which is obviously well within statistical variability.
The other figures are similarly nonsense.
It is mathematically certain that there will be similar statistically pointless connection to a less than normal death rate from other diseases.
This would not have even been published in a medical journal let alone got its authors newspaper publicity if they had found a similar "connection" between voting Green & dying from falling off fridges (another small but measurable cause of death).
Sunday, June 22, 2008
So only 20% think the case is anything like settled. Sun must be getting to every body's brains.
The Observer (ie the Guardian on Sunday) are clearly sick at having to report this. John Redwood has a piece about it on his blog.
Expect to see a lot more MPs putting their heads above the parapets as Ann Widdicombe did when she voted against the climate bill on the grounds that warming scam wasn't true. She described this as far more important than her decision to vote for 42 days.
HOW MUCH DO WE KNOW ABOUT ZIMBABWE?
This is the problem when you know there is a long history of our media lying. A BBC which described the ex-SS auxiliary & public supporter of genocide, the Bosnian Moslem leader Izetbegovic as a "moderate minded Moslem committed to a multicultural Bosnia", may or may not be slightly more truthful this time.
I don't know that everything they tell us about Zimbabwe is a lie but I don't know that it isn't & I do know that the people saying it are prepared to tell any lie. I also know that we don't get to hear from the people being demonised. The last time I saw some real foreign policy opposition on TV was when the Chinese ambassadress appeared on C4 News to defend their record in Tibet - she knew her facts & took John Snow apart - he was reduced to saying that the guards around the Olympic flame weren't competitively chosen students from across China but secret police because our press had said so.
My problems with the story we get:
- Sir Robert Mugabe used to be a fine upstanding example of how Britain's example could produce moderate successful governments (hence his knighthood). Now he is "another Hitler". When exactly did he metamorphosis & was there any sign of it other than taking over from white farmers, who after all, are the hardly the world's most oppressed minority?
- What else has Zimbabwe done that makes it more worthy of our attention than, for example, Congo?
- How much is the place's economic chaos is down to its own government & how much to western formal & informal sanctions because if the latter then blame does not lie fully with him?
- Is Morgan Tsvangirai & his lot really more democratic than his opponent or are they merely our thugs against their thugs? Is this case merely supporting the leader of 1 tribe rather than another?
- Are we funding his campaign, as we did in Serbia, Ukraine & Georgia among others? If not who is?
- Have we any plan for what to do in the event we move in? For example much of Africa's problems are that state boundaries have nothing to do with ancient tribal/national boundaries but were drawn on maps in London & Paris. I suspect dividing it into 2 countries on ethnic lines would work best - Basuto is about the only successful subsaharan state & is relatively ethnically homogeneous. However I see no sign anybody has even been thinking of this let alone prepared to do it.
- It is clear that Zimbabwe has had a somewhat democratic first round & if Mugabe didn't win he came close. Not like Saudi then, whose leader is apparently a fine fellow. There certainly are a lot of people willing to vote for Mugabe. If everything we are told is true why is that?
My suspicion is that this is merely the current TV war being rolled up for our entertainment & distraction in the best tradition of the Roman gladiatorial games. We also see the public being ramped up to face this week's hate figure. We seem to have had a lot this year - Mugabe, Sudan, the Chinese, the Burmese & of course al Quaeda (though bin Laden himself has almost become an unperson). The problem with gladiatorial games, however entertaining, is that real people die. Are our actions against that country doing the locals any good & is there any prospect that even if successful (looking at Iraq & Yugoslavia perhaps particularly if successful) they ever will?
If not we should abide by the rule of law & mind our own business. Is there any case since Korea when intervention to "help" another country has actually done so? Is there not a long history of it turning out that the "good guys" we were putting in were more corrupt, less competent & no nicer than the "baddies" we were taught to hate? If not we should at least examine how to do it better before killing more.
And in complete contrast to that here is a suggestion I made of how to at least do it while keeping our own hands casualties down - though perhaps the locals would welcome us, a promise I have heard before:
According to the TV today there are 500,000 Zimbabwean "political refugees" in Britain. That must be well over 100,000 potential male soldiers. Why not form & invite them to join a British Foreign Legion which could, in due course, go back there, after training in Afghanistan. I'm sure they would all jump at the chance - at least if they are genuine political rather than economic migrants they would.
Spiked, independently, has done an article on similar lines & their writer has answered several of my questions & the answers are rather as i had expected.