the Disillusioned kid: January 2007
| Email | Home | Linkage | Profile |

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Will protest for food. Prices negotiable. (via)


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Like a bloody-great Taser but more sci-fi

Every decent science fiction villain needs a giant ray gun with which to threaten our heroes, so it shouldn't come as a great surprise to discover that the US has developed one which yesterday received its first public test.

According to the Beeb, the "Active Denial System" (ADS) "projects an invisible high energy beam that produces a sudden burning feeling." We're assured by the US that the weapon is harmless. The ray "penetrates the skin only to a tiny depth - enough to cause discomfort but no lasting harm, according to the military," but they would say that, wouldn't they?

The video on the BBC website of the device in use (which should be available here for a few days) includes some perfunctory comments, from "Security Expert" (i.e. not an expert in the science in question) Will Geddes, about the possible risks of long-term harm and the need for extensive testing before the device enters widespread use. Fortunately for you, I have far better sources than the BBC and hence I'm in a position to tell you what happened previously during the development of the ADS:
Little information about [the weapon's] effects has been released, but details of tests in 2003 and 2004 were revealed after Edward Hammond, director of the US Sunshine Project - an organisation campaigning against the use of biological and non-lethal weapons - requested them under the Freedom of Information Act.

The tests were carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Two experiments tested pain tolerance levels, while in a third, a "limited military utility assessment", volunteers played the part of rioters or intruders and the ADS was used to drive them away.

The experimenters banned glasses and contact lenses to prevent possible eye damage to the subjects, and in the second and third tests removed any metallic objects such as coins and keys to stop hot spots being created on the skin. They also checked the volunteers' clothes for certain seams, buttons and zips which might also cause hot spots.
So as long as its only used against naked rioters with 20:20 vision, there's nothing to worry about. Well, not much:
Neil Davison, co-ordinator of the non-lethal weapons research project at the University of Bradford in the UK, says controlling the amount of radiation received may not be that simple. "How do you ensure that the dose doesn't cross the threshold for permanent damage?" he asks. "What happens if someone in a crowd is unable, for whatever reason, to move away from the beam? Does the weapon cut out to prevent overexposure?"

During the experiments, people playing rioters put up their hands when hit and were given a 15-second cooling-down period before being targeted again. One person suffered a burn in a previous test when the beam was accidentally used on the wrong power setting.
Not that battle-weary troops in Iraq or Afghanistan are likely to make mistakes.

The BBC emphasise the military applications of the weapon, noting with more than a little understatement that it "could potentially be used for dispersing hostile crowds in conflict zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan." Don't be surprised if we see them on the streets of Washington or even London in a few years time, though. In 2002, Steven Kerr argued, "'Non-lethal weapons' are the technocrats' latest fix to a social problem they can't solve: our human needs and wants," and warned that "if past practice of the US government is a guide, these new weapons will be field tested on the people of Iraq." There's plenty more fun where ADS came from and once they've thoroughly shared the love with the people of Iraq why wouldn't they bring it home for us?

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Spot the Difference

(1) Indian demonstrators burn effigies of the producers of Celebrity Big Brother in protest against the treatment of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

(2) Pakistani demonstrators burn effigies of the Danish Prime Minister in protest against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

From which we conclude:
I suppose we had better be grateful that the recipient of the abuse [in the Big Brother house] was not a Muslim. If she was, we'd be hearing from many quarters that Muslims are far too sensitive about legitimate criticism. "Ah, complaing about being called a 'dog', is she? What do these Muslims have against canines, I wonder?" Had those who burned the effigy in India been Muslim, we would no doubt be hearing about the sinister Islamic threat to free speech.

Labels: ,

Jim, who I guess would describe himself as a green socialist, has a very nice post about what attracts him to anarchism, culminating in the delightful reflection that "a world without anarchists is a world where paving stones have lost their real purpose." Check it y'all.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Big Comeback

Bush's troop "surge," which will see a further 22,000 US troops dispatched to Iraq, has attracted a great deal of attention. I've been particularly surprised with the finality which commentators have described the plan. The gambit is, the corporate media tell us, "one final effort to pacify Baghdad and the western Sunni badlands"; a "last-ditch" plan; Bush's "final gamble." Somehow I'm not convinced.

Does anybody honestly believe that when surging fails to stem the insurgency (as it almost inevitably will) Bush is simply going to turn around and say, "OK, I was wrong, let's go home now"? This has the same degree of finality as a Kiss Farewell Tour. You know full well they'll be back in a year or two, looking slightly worse for wear - perhaps with one less member of the original band (or coalition), but still wheeling out the big hits.

I suppose hoping it's almost over is rather less depressing.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Struggle Continues

BBC News:
Exiled islanders who have protested outside council offices in West Sussex have vowed to fight on after a court ruled they must quit their camp.

The group, from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, is demanding more help towards finding housing.
Regular readers will be aware of the Chagossian struggle in which this is but the latest set-back.
A judge found in West Sussex council's favour after it served a notice telling the group to leave the camp in Crawley.

More than 50 Diego Garcians, all British citizens with British passports, began occupying land at the town's Centenary House social services offices in August...

A judge ruled on Friday that it was not an infringement of the islanders' human rights for the council to stop their protests.

But Yogi Amin, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "Their local council is preventing them from vocalising their views and raising public awareness about the issues.

"We feel this is a clear breach of their fundamental rights... and intend to appeal the decision."
Councillors spouted predictable platitudes, while attenmpting to exculpate themselves:
[...C]ouncillor Henry Smith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said his authority was not to blame for the "second class" treatment which the islanders claim they have been subjected to.

Mr Smith said: "We have every sympathy with their position, and indeed support it, but they have been protesting outside our offices for some months now and it is time for them to move on and to direct their protest at the government instead."
This is an astonishingly ignorant comment. The Chagossians have been directing protests against the British government for nigh-on forty-years, with only limited success. The protest in question was over the specific question of housing. A number of the islanders have travelled to the UK in recent years (on which see here, here, here and elsewhere on this site) hoping to find better conditions than those they have lived with in Mauritius having been expelled from their homes. Now here, they have struggled to find homes. Hengride Permal of the Chagos Island Community Association complains, "We cannot afford private landlords with the minimum wages that people are making."


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I'm currently snowed under with revision, so you can expect posting to be patchy (read: non-existent) for at least the next few weeks.

In the meantime, check out this intriguing article on Somalia (via) which offers a perspective lacking from the mainstream coverage. I had started a post on it, but probably won't ever finish it and I do think the article is well worth checking out.

You might also be interested in the burdgeoning Carnival of the Anarchy (which I've been invited to join, but have thus far been prevented from doing so by gremlins - or possibly Blogger, it's hard to tell). Looks like it could be interesting. The next Carnival is on January 27-28 (when I'll be away from a computer relaxing) on Anarchist Socialism.

That's all for now. Wish me luck.

Labels: , , , ,

Side Projects

Carnival of Anarchy
The Peace Pipe
UK Watch Blog


Against the Current
Culture hits and gendered bits
Daniel Randall
In The Water
Mike Wood
On The Barricades
Pizarro's Sword
Space Cat Rocket Ship
Surveillant Assemblage
TashCamUK FotoPage
The Naked Lunch
The Peace Pipe
The World of the Dynamite Lady


Anarchoblogs Blog
Arte & Lingua
Barker in Valencia
Blood & Treasure
Bombs and Shields
Born at the Crest of the Empire
Chase me ladies...
Chicken Yoghurt
Craig Murray
Dead Men Left
Disreputable Lazy Aliens
Empire Notes
Friends of Al Jazeera
Global Guerillas
Guerillas in the Midst
I Blame the Patriachy
Informed Comment
Janine Booth
Lenin's Tomb
Life of Riley Blog
Media Watch Watch
Neil Shakespeare
NO2ID NewsBlog
One Hump or Two?
Otto's Random Thoughts
Pitch In For Uzbekistan
Run over by the truth
Solidarity With Iraqi Workers
Shut Up You Fat Whiner!
Sudan: Passion of the Present
Talk Politics
The Anthropik Network
The Daily (Maybe)
The Devil's Kitchen
The Disillusioned
The f-word
The Head Heeb
The Killing Train
The Revenge of Winston Smith
The Socialist Unity Blog
The Wicked Truth
Theory of Power
Things I Don't Have Time For
This (Fresh) Gringo
This Is My Truth
Thumping the Tub
Time The Dreaded Enemy
UK Watch Blog
UK Poli Blogs
Under The Same Sun
What Fresh Hell Is This?
Where is Raed? (RIP)
Who Are You to Accuse Me?
Words and Rocks
Z-Net Blog


Asbo Community Space
Eastside Climate Action
Faslane 365
No Borders
Nottingham Student Peace Movement
Refugee Forum
Stop the War
Sumac Centre
The Demo Project

Ivory Towers

Anarchist Studies Network
Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice
Postanarchism Clearinghouse


Anarchist FAQ
Chagos Discussion List
Chagos Support Forums
Electronic Intifada
Future of Iraq Portal
Index of Political Blogs
Indymedia UK
Iraq Occupation Focus
Refuser Solidarity Network
Socialist Unity Network
The New Standard
UK Chagos Support Association
UK Watch
Weekly Worker

The Progressive Blog Alliance

Register here to join the PBA.