November 14, 2011

Retired Gurkha soldiers changing the face of security services in Britain

Filed under: Asia, Britain, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:14

An interesting article at the BBC website details how many retired Gurkha soldiers have found civilian careers in security a good follow-up to their military service:

It has been suggested that some Gurkhas are struggling to cope with the cost of living in the UK, with the British Gurkha Welfare Society saying about 25,000 of those who retired before 1997 still only receive a third of the pension of their British and Commonwealth former comrades.

But a recent study suggested that Gurkhas of working age are the most economically active and self-reliant social group in Britain.

The University of Kent research found the employment rates among Gurkha men and women are particularly high, at 95% for men under 60 and 93% for women under that age.

It also showed that security is the most popular job for male veterans. Ex-military people joining the security industry is nothing new, but security companies are capitalising on the Gurkhas’ formidable reputation.

G4S set up Gurkha Services in 2007 and it now employs at least 600 people across 27 contracts.

They are involved in guarding the UK’s “critical infrastructure”, such as power stations and railways, from vandals, protesters and thieves. Rarely a day goes by without some story about how cable theft has disrupted a train journey or caused a power outage. Now Gurkhas are the new front line against the crime wave.

Beating up on the Boomer generation

Filed under: Economics, History, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:03

Walter Russell Mead has a bit of vitriol to spit at the Baby Boomers:

But at the level of public policy and moral leadership, as a generation we have largely failed. The Boomer Progressive Establishment in particular has been a huge disappointment to itself and to the country. The political class slumbered as the entitlement and pension crisis grew to ominous dimensions. Boomer financial leadership was selfish and shortsighted, by and large. Boomer CEOs accelerated the trend toward unlimited greed among corporate elites, and Boomer members of corporate boards sit by and let it happen. Boomer academics created a profoundly dysfunctional system that systemically shovels resources upward from students and adjuncts to overpaid administrators and professors who by and large have not, to say the least, done an outstanding job of transmitting the cultural heritage of the past to future generations. Boomer Hollywood execs created an amoral morass of sludge — and maybe I’m missing something, but nobody spends a lot of time talking about the towering cultural accomplishments of the world historical art geniuses of the Boomer years. Boomer greens enthusiastically bet their movement on the truly idiotic drive for a global carbon treaty; they are now grieving over their failure to make any measurable progress after decades spent and hundreds of millions of dollars thrown away. On the Boomer watch the American family and the American middle class entered major crises; by the time the Boomers have finished with it the health system will be an unaffordable and dysfunctional tangle — perhaps the most complicated, expensive and poorly designed such system in the history of the world.

All of this was done by a generation that never lost its confidence that it was smarter, better educated and more idealistic than its Depression-surviving, World War-winning, segregation-ending, prosperity-building parents. We didn’t need their stinking faith, their stinking morals, or their pathetically conformist codes of moral behavior. We were better than that; after all, we grokked Jefferson Airplane, achieved nirvana on LSD and had a spiritual wealth and sensitivity that our boorish bourgeois forbears could not grasp. They might be doers, builders and achievers — but we Boomers grooved, man, we had sex in the park, we grew our hair long, and we listened to sexy musical lyrics about drugs that those pathetic old losers could not even understand.

What the Boomers as a generation missed (there were, of course and thankfully, many honorable individual exceptions) was the core set of values that every generation must discover to make a successful transition to real adulthood: maturity. Collectively the Boomers continued to follow ideals they associated with youth and individualism: fulfillment and “creativity” rather than endurance and commitment. Boomer spouses dropped families because relationships with spouses or children or mortgage payments no longer “fulfilled” them; Boomer society tolerated the most selfish and immature behavior in its public and cultural leaders out of the classically youthful and immature belief that intolerance and hypocrisy are greater sins than the dereliction of duty. That the greatest and most effective political leader the Baby Boom produced was William Jefferson Clinton tells you all you need to know.

“We feel completely and utterly betrayed”

Filed under: Britain, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:37

More on the campaign to grant a specific medal to the veterans of the WW2 Arctic convoys:

They risked their lives again and again on what Churchill described as ‘the worst journey in the world’.

The heroes of the Arctic Convoys ran the gauntlet of German warplanes and U-boats to keep the Soviet Union supplied on the Eastern Front.

Even Russia has awarded commemorative medals to acknowledge its gratitude to the surviving sailors, more than 3,000 of whose comrades were killed.

Yet David Cameron has refused to do the same. Yesterday, as the nation paid tribute to its war dead on Remembrance Sunday, disgusted veterans expressed anger that the Prime Minister had seemingly reneged on a pledge to introduce a specific Arctic Medal.

‘We feel completely and utterly betrayed,’ said Commander Eddie Grenfell, 91, the leader of the Arctic Medal campaign. ‘How can Cameron stand up and support us in public but privately say we don’t deserve a medal? It’s two-faced and wrong.’

In opposition, the Tories pledged to introduce an Arctic Medal if they won power.

Footage from a Russian TV drama series “Konvoi PQ-17”.

Bullying is bad: banning bullying would be worse

Filed under: Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:10

Wendy Kaminer on the District of Columbia (DC) City Council’s proposed anti-bullying rules:

It started on college and university campuses, where repressive speech codes have been teaching generations of students that they have no right to offend someone, anyone, who can claim membership in a growing list of presumptively disadvantaged groups.

Now, this mindlessly censorious movement to force us to be nice to each other is encroaching on public life, off-campus: The District of Columbia (DC) City Council is considering banning the ‘harassment, intimidation, or bullying’ of students in public libraries and parks, as well as schools (including the District’s public university). Bureaucrats in charge of all relevant supervisory agencies are required to promulgate detailed policies that define bullying and harassment ‘no less inclusively’ than the City Council.

It would be difficult to define bullying more inclusively: according to the council bill, ‘harassment, intimidation or bullying’ is ‘any gesture or written, verbal or physical act, including electronic communication, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, colour, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory handicap, or by any other distinguishing characteristic’, which a ‘reasonable person’ would foresee as effectively intimidating or harmful to students or their property, or as effectively ‘insulting or demeaning’ to any student or group of students so as to disrupt ‘the orderly operation of a school, university, recreational facility, or library’.

Don’t bother trying to figure out what this vague and verbose definition of bullying includes. Focus instead what it might exclude — not much. Virtually no speech or behaviour that a student self-conscious about any ‘distinguishing characteristic’ might consider hurtful or that a petty bureaucrat might find offensive is beyond the reach of this ban. Its scope is simply breathtaking; although, sad to say, the ‘inclusiveness’ of this bill doesn’t distinguish it from other state and local bullying laws or campus speech codes. It is, however, shamefully distinguished by its application outside of schools to public libraries and parks. Imposing a subjective sensitivity code on the general public, it displays an astonishing contempt for the most obvious and fundamental freedoms of speech and belief, as well as astonishing ignorance of constitutional rights.

New wargame “ripped from the headlines”

Filed under: Gaming, Middle East, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:57

Clash of Arms games is releasing a new wargame based on a possible Israeli airstrike against Iranian nuclear facilities:

Speculation regarding a possible Israeli air campaign against Iran’s nuclear facilities has been rife for years — a pair of MIT students wrote an analysis on the subject back in 2007, and countless articles have appeared before then and since. Now, however, it’s possible to do more than simply talk about such a battle: should you wish to, you can set aside the Monopoly or the chess set in favour of a rousing boardgame pitting one player as Iran against another as Israel, with preservation or destruction of Tehran’s nuclear capability as the prize.

The game is called — perhaps inevitably — Persian Incursion, and is the brainchild of technothriller writer Larry Bond, formerly well known as a designer of tactical combat games (Bond has collaborated with Tom Clancy, and it’s said that his games were used extensively in development of such seminal Cold War works as The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising).

The CoA webpage for Persian Incursion is here.

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