November 24, 2009

The Guild Season 3 Episode 12

Filed under: Gaming, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 07:39

<br /><a href="http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/the-guild-episode-12-hero/y0lawenp?fg=sharenoembed" target="_new"title="'The Guild' Episode 12: Hero">Video: &#8216;The Guild&#8217; Episode 12: Hero</a>

<br /><a href="http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/season-3-gag-reel-episodes-9-12/y0vxw27s?fg=sharenoembed" target="_new"title="Season 3 - Gag Reel: Episodes 9-12">Video: Season 3 &#8211; Gag Reel: Episodes 9-12</a>

Friendly reminder to UK readers: you do not have a right to remain silent

Filed under: Britain, Law, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:28

A fascinating story about a case in Britain where the government’s shiny new powers under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) have been used to jail a schizophrenic man for refusing to divulge the passwords to access his files:

The first person jailed under draconian UK police powers that Ministers said were vital to battle terrorism and serious crime has been identified by The Register as a schizophrenic science hobbyist with no previous criminal record.

His crime was a persistent refusal to give counter-terrorism police the keys to decrypt his computer files.

The 33-year-old man, originally from London, is currently held at a secure mental health unit after being sectioned while serving his sentence at Winchester Prison.

In June the man, JFL, who spoke on condition we do not publish his full name, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment under Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). The powers came into force at the beginning of October 2007.

[. . .]

Throughout several hours of questioning, JFL maintained silence. With a deep-seated wariness of authorities, he did not trust his interviewers. He also claims a belief in the right to silence — a belief which would later allow him to be prosecuted under RIPA Part III.

Corruption and imaginary museum thefts

Filed under: Media, Middle East, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:13

Do you remember the reports from Iraq in the wake of the invasion about the mass looting of museums? If any of it happened, it was a small-scale effort, not the major haul that was so breathlessly reported:

Western archeologists are finding that many of the news stories coming out of Iraq about the theft or destruction of ancient artifacts were false. The national museum had preserved nearly all its treasures, and there was no widespread damage to archeological sites. Like much of the reports from Iraq over the last six years, the main intent was to get an exciting headline, not report what was actually going on. Some reporters, especially those embedded with U.S. troops, reported having their stories rewritten, or simply not published, because their editors felt what was actually happening over there contradicted the U.S. medias belief about what was actually going on. Some of this attitude persists.

A recent international corruption survey found Iraq at the bottom of the list (of over 160 nations) in the company of Somalia, Afghanistan, Burma and Sudan. Because of election laws, that force people to vote for “lists” rather than individuals, it’s difficult to hold anyone accountable for corruption. A new election law, that fixed many of these problems, was recently passed, but senior (and often corrupt) officials are still trying to block this reform. Many of the Shia politicians running the government would be happy to see a Shia dictatorship established, with them running things. Most Iraqis are not so sure about that idea.

RN ship stood by, failing to do anything

Filed under: Africa, Britain, Bureaucracy, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:11

Max Hastings contrasts the Royal Navy of Churchill’s day with the modern one:

On February 16, 1940, the destroyer Cossack, acting on Churchill’s personal orders, steamed headlong into neutral Norwegian territorial waters in defiance of international law, boarded the German freighter Altmark and freed 299 captive British merchant seamen.

Legend held that the first the prisoners knew of their deliverance was a shout down a hatchway from a sailor on deck: ‘The Navy’s here!’ The episode passed into folklore, exemplifying the Royal Navy’s centuries-old tradition of triumphant boldness.

On October 28, 2009, the armed Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Wave Knight met Somali pirates transferring the British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler from their yacht Lynn Rival to a hijacked Singaporean container vessel.

When warning shots from Wave Knight failed to deter the pirates, its 100-strong crew stood by and did . . . absolutely nothing.

We know of this sorry incident only because a British sailor leaked the truth. The Ministry of Defence’s original statement declared, evasively and deceitfully, that Wave Knight had encountered the yacht unmanned. Nothing was said about the British ship witnessing the hostages’ removal.

I guess it’s a sign of progress that the Somali pirates were content with just capturing two civilians and didn’t also take the Wave Knight and her crew as well. That might count as a win — no formal inquiry, so the lawyers won’t be sent in to bayonet the survivors.

Today, instead, lawyers reign supreme, not least in the Ministry of Defence and even on Afghan and Iraqi battlefields. No warship’s captain feels able to take action that might breach the rights of others, even when those others are murderous Somalis.

The Royal Navy’s officers in the Indian Ocean know that every shot they fire is liable to be the subject of a later inquiry, possible litigation, even a criminal trial.

Then there is the galling question of human rights. You can almost hear the MoD’s solicitors putting forward the following argument: you have to be careful because any captured pirates might claim political asylum in the UK and that it would be a breach of their rights to send them back to the anarchy in Somalia.

Alternatively, suppose a pirate swims ashore from a craft sunk by the Navy, and uses some saved-up hijack plunder to fly to Europe. He finds a smart human rights lawyer and pleads that he was an innocent fisherman pulling in his nets when British cannon fire killed half his family.

The European Court in Strasbourg might award him almost as much booty as he would gain from ransoming a family of European yachtsmen.

It’s so bad that it may be a serious breach of human rights to refer to the pirates as pirates . . .

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