DAY 122: Peanut butter

February 28th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Angela (cont.)

I previewed Angela Davis’ MLK Day speech at Santa Cruz in the last ish. [does anyone outside Marvel Comics still use that word, abbr. of issue? Looking in the Urban Dictionary, » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 121: The Dead

February 20th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

They do go on; indeed, on any day, I could list a mountain of recent corpses. Come to my notice in the last few days: Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 120: Air data

February 8th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the interesting questions you can ask if you have too much time on your hands is this – to go back to texting (remember?): Here’s my text, in my phone; it reads something like ’01001000 01101111 » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 119

February 1st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

It seemed to me as – probably with you, reader, and millions of others – I watched Hilary Mantel’s gripping dramaWolf Hall re-enacted on the television, that history does indeed repeat itself with a vengeance. Just as, in 1527, Charles V’s Landsknechts sacked Rome, kidnapped the Pope and put the kibosh on Henry VIII’s hope of a smooth divorce from his (Charles V’s, are you following me?) niece Catherine of Aragon, so today the Germans under Ms Merkel are in supreme control of Europe, overrunning Athens Wolf-Hall-2kate merkel

rather than Rome, and can prevent the hapless Cameron from attempting the Euro-divorce which he seeks. Fortunately our royal Kate has produced a male heir, so she is not in immediate danger of divorce herself from her prince who seems confusingly to be called William, not Henry. If, though, as my sources would have it, William’s brother Harry is in fact the son of Dodi al-Fayed – in which case what was he doing, one might ask, in Helmand? – he might initiate a revolt or jihad (say in Birmingham) with the intent of establishing himself on the throne. Stranger things have happened in English history. In which case, all bets are off and Merkel will have worse headaches on the horizon than Cameron, Syriza or Isis.

War Crimes and Impunity (cont.)

Activists have accused the UK government and Israeli arms company Elbit Systems of running scared from a court case that would have put their collusion with Israeli war crimes on trial.
This follows the announcement that all charges have been dropped against nine campaigners who occupied the roof

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of an Elbit Systems factory in Staffordshire during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. This means that the UK government will no longer be required to reveal details of the arms trade with Israel, and Elbit will avoid having to testify about the use of its drones during Israel’s massacre in Gaza last summer.
The protest shut down UAV Engines, owned by Israel’s Elbit Systems, for two days from 5-6 August 2014 during Israel’s 50 day assault on the Gaza strip.
The Israeli-owned factory exports engines to Israel for use in Elbit’s Hermes 450 drones that are widely documented as having been used to deliberately attack Palestinian civilians in Gaza, including during Israel’s massacre of more than 2,300 Palestinians last summer.
The activists pleaded not guilty to charges of “preventing lawful activity” on the basis that the operations at the Staffordshire factory were aiding and abetting war crimes and therefore illegal.
Lawyers for the defendants say it appears the case collapsed either because the prosecution had been told either that Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both.
Jessica Nero, one of the defendants, said:
“This news is bitter-sweet for us, as Elbit and the UK government have run scared from having their role in Israeli war crimes put on trial. In order to prove us guilty of ‘disrupting lawful activity’, the prosecution had to show that it is legal to export drone engines to Israel, but they know there’s nothing legal about aiding and abetting war crimes.”
“Elbit’s drones played a key role in Israel’s massacre of more than 2,300 Palestinians in Gaza this summer. UN bodies and international human rights organisations have accused Israel of war crimes during its recent Gaza massacre. What will it take for the UK government to impose a two way military embargo on Israel and hold it accountable for its crimes against humanity?”
The UK has authorised £49m worth of arms to Israel since 2010. Figures from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade show that the UK exported £7m of weapons in the six months leading up to the Gaza war, including components for drones.
Nero added:
“When I visited Gaza at the end of 2013 I talked to people who had lost loved ones to

israeli-drone-attack-650x400Drone attack in Gaza

drone attacks. They all made it very clear that they don’t have any faith in  governments to hold Israel to account. But what they did have faith in was the power of people around the world to organise in solidarity and increase the pressure on arms dealers and politicians, and that is what we will continue to do”
The Staffordshire factory is also part of the Watchkeeper program under which Elbit Systems is leading production of a new generation of drones for the UK military modeled on the Hermes 450.
Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest military company and markets its technology as “field tested”, by which it means they have been tested on Palestinian civilians in Gaza, campaigners say.

Infectious diseases update

In a welcome change from this blog’s over-concentration on misery in the Middle East: at the time of this writing we can report that a total of 32 cases of measles have been linked to Disneyland visits that took place between December 17th and 20th (my birthday, lucky I didn’t decide to go there for a treat).
disneyAbout 75% of the cases identified to date were not vaccinated, either because they chose to forgo vaccines or because they were too young, and at least 6 have been hospitalized. I refer you to my source Tara C. Smith, who points out that measles

measles

is roughly ten times more infectious than Ebola (which isn’t airborne anyway). If we assume – and why wouldn’t we? – that numbers of cases and deaths are Poisson distributed, then the reproduction number Rfor Ebola seems to have been around 1.5ish (higher in Sierra Leone for some reason) against around 18 for measles. And of course Disneyland and its hinterland are packed with fruitcakes (no racism intended) who have chosen not to give their child an MMR shot.

I don’t, as usual, intend to use these tragedies to point a moral, apart from the multiple evils of American fundamentalism and neoliberalism (not quite sure how that comes in except it’s responsible for Ebola, see previous post). As the police chief Marge Gunderson says in Fargo:

margie

There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. [Beautiful? They're surrounded by deep snow, as anyone is in North Dakota for half the year.] Well. I just don’t understand it.’ See the comments by Todd A. Comer of Defiance College (where?), ”Birth as Ethical Sublime in Joel and Ethan Coen’s Fargo”, with usual references to J.-L. Nancy and Lyotard.

Poetry

I’ve often, sometimes tetchily, commented on the difficulty of finding a poem in a foreign language together with its translation – whather as an aid to learning the language or just to satisfy idle curiosity. Today’s bard, Estonian Kristiina Ehin Kristiina Ehin photo US Canada(how about those lampshades!) who keeps a website or kodulehekülg here, has confounded me by coming up with a zingy bee-poem with translation which I post for anyone who’s Estonian is rusty – or simply who digs the language:

                    Olen kärjekujulise universumi
                                        suur unine emamesilane
                                        kes magab üksi
                                        oma taruvaikusest voodis
                                        keset tumedat talve
                                        tunnen selle ilmaruumi rahutuid käejooni
                                        olen roomanud läbi iga ta musta augu
                                        kevade tulekul
                                        toon ilmale tuhat vastset
                                        mu andromeedapiimast purjus
                                        tuigerdavad nad tarust välja
                                        et kiikuda kõiksuse avaneval õiekübaral
                                        et veeretada valgusetolm
                                        öötaeva tuliseks
                                        söeks
                    I am the big drowsy queen bee
                                        of a honeycomb universe
                                        who sleeps alone
                                        in her beehive-silent bed
                                        amid the dark of winter
                                        I feel the restless lines in the hand of this universe
                                        I have crept through each of its black holes
                                        when spring comes
                                        I bring a thousand larvae into the world
                                        drunk on my andromeda milk
                                        they stagger out of the hive
                                        to swing on the opening blossom of the cosmos
                                        to roll light’s pollen
                                        into the hot coal
                                        of the night sky.
Söeks indeed.
Music: Dizi time
This was the shortest piece I could find; a huge instrument, a bass G dizi says someone who ought to know. Sao Tau Hay playing ‘Autumn Yearning’. Unless some reader is better informed.