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Monday, 25 November 2013

Iran, Fukushima and Haiyan: The before, during and after of catastrophe

It is very rare that we get the opportunity to analyse three events that each appear completely independent and yet share similarities that allow us further insight than we would otherwise be able to obtain.

As you will be aware, a recent agreement has been reached between The UN and the Iranian government allowing the Iranian Government to continue to enrich uranium up to 5% (as well as sell more oil) and in return they have made a number of concessions supposedly aimed at indicating that their desire for uranium is solely for the generation of electrical power and not for the development of weaponry. The agreement itself is yet to be published however two documents have been, one by the UN (The P5+1 Almaty 2013 Confidence Building Proposal) and one by the White House (First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program).
Let us all be very clear that Iran does not need or desire Nuclear Power for electricity, it is already considered an energy superpower having the the worlds largest reserves of Natural Gas and the 4th largest of Oil. Do not be under any illusions that Iran is after Nuclear materials for any reason other than to develop a bomb. They have used lots of clever ploys but I can assure you that no-one in the international community is being fooled. Let us also remember that this is the same Iran that executed a 13 year old for "Sodomy" and to this day being Gay in Iran is punishable by one year imprisonment and 99 lashes at a minimum, at a maximum the punishment is death by Hanging. This is a theocracy, religiously opposed to the existence of one specific nation, they believe that it is their divine duty to "drive Israel into the sea"! In all likelihood, if they did ever obtain nuclear capability they would first use it against Israel, I repeat that this is a theocratic state who's rulers are devout in their belief that every one of their actions is sanctioned by God and that God wants them to blow up Israel.
This is the "before" or "preventable" catastrophe. If we, instead of lifting sanctions, continued to increase them cumulatively each time Iran tried to progress its Nuclear dream, the international community would be in a far stronger position both politically within the middle east (no-one wants a nuclear Iran) and with regards to the people of Iran (people do not like to suffer for their politicians dreams, which is exactly what is happening in Iran). We would also be in a clearer political position with regards to destroying Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, which is probably the only time when bombing is both most practical and most moral. As for the workers within these facilities, I have no problem with the blowing up of people who are trying to build, for use against others, atomic weapons.

Now we move on to Fukushima, seemingly a catastrophe that is over... right?... oh how wrong we would be in believing such.
On the 11th of March 2011 The Tohoku earthquake struck off the east coast of Japan causing a massive Tsunami that led to devastation across the region. It was this Tsunami that flooded the Daiichi Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant leading to cooling failure and subsequently the meltdown of nuclear reactors 1,2 and 3. What you may not be aware of is that reactor 4, which is structurally unstable due to these events, still houses 1,500 Fuel assemblies that each contain 50-70 spent fuel rods. These are highly dangerous, highly explosive radioactive rods all in close proximity.
The reason that this is important is that today, on the 26th of November 2013, Tepco (the so called managers of the Plant) are to attempt to remove the second of these 1,500 assemblies. This needs to be done manually as the structural damage has compromised the original mechanical system. This is, without doubt, the most dangerous operation ever attempted in Nuclear history and it needs to be repeated (if successful) 1,498 more times.
Other ongoing issues at the plant include radiation leaks, leaks of contaminated coolant water into the pacific (estimated at about 300 tonnes of water having leaked into the sea, radioactive materials from the plant have been recorded as far away as British Columbia) and radio active debris in the sea.
To compound this further still, there has been a near complete media blackout regarding the ongoing issues at the plant with very few outlets continuing to report on the plant and none in depth.
Fukushima is most certainly firmly within the "during" phase of catastrophe, with continued leaking, faults and so much that could still go so very very wrong.

When comparing Iran and Fukushima we need to consider that they are both nuclear situations. The issues regarding both stem from responsibility. We do not trust Iran with Nuclear capabilities because we believe Iran wants to build a weapon. Iran wants us to believe that they only want Nuclear materials for a Nuclear power station. The question is can we trust Iran to run a nuclear power station better than the Japanese even without consideration of possible ulterior motives. Iran seems to be under the belief that Nuclear Power Plants bring fourth a more peaceful trusting image than talk of Nuclear Weapons. I am not sure if this is so and I am certain that it is not with regards to companies such as Tepco, which has falsified documents and admitted to lying to the Japanese government with regards to safety at the plant.

The final piece of this puzzle is Haiyan. The Mother of all storms. Deemed the most powerful storm to ever breach land, on the 3rd of November 2013 it formed and by the time it dissipated on the 11th, more than 5,200 people have had their lives taken by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines alone. Reports are still coming in regarding communities that have received no aid to date despite a massive international response, providing supplies, food and temporary shelter, as well as providing and paying for the skilled workers required to rebuild. Bearing in mind that New Orleans is yet to be completely rebuilt and they were hit in 8 years ago, I do not expect the Philippines recovery to be swift.

Why is Haiyan relevant to this debate? I shall remind you that it is written in Iranian statute that they endeavour to "Drive Israel into the sea". This is exactly what Typhoon Haiyan did to many families, villages and communities. It drove them, their homes, their only means of transport and many of their loved ones into the ocean. This devastation, without cause, Iran wish's too cause. This is not a moral aim of a sane nation. Rouhani may appear on the surface to be an integral world leader but his end desire is to inflict upon every citizen of Israel the same suffering as is being experienced now in the Philippines.

In other words we can see the worst case scenario of a Nuclear Iran through these current tragic events and it paints a pretty bleak and dire picture. I sincerely hope that the agreement signed has not hasted this.

Trust is earned, and Iran has a lot of earning to do.

Mr Magic

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A fun Hacktivity for everyone

If I were to ask you, bearing in mind the levels of publicity that the hacking scandal has had, what significant precautions were now put in place to stop people hacking into your mobile voicemail, most people wouldn't know.

You might ask how I could make such a bold statement. The answer is simple. There haven't been any new significant precautions on several major mobile networks, with at least two (they would be O2 and Tesco Mobile) still leaving customers just as vulnerable to "hack attacks" as they ever were.

You can test this yourself if you have an O2 or Tesco mobile Sim. Simply turn your phone off, take a friends phone and dial in your number then hold down the *key. You will now need to add in the default security pin (assuming, like most people, you have not had this changed it should be 8705) and tadaa you now have access to your voicemail... as does potentially everyone who knows your mobile number, which, if you have a facebook app, is more than likely all of your friends... and some acquaintances.

Now you might think that this is quite bad bearing in mind that O2 plus Tesco mobile account for about 30.5 million phone users. If they were all in the UK, that would account for nearly half of all 63,705,000 people living in the country.

You might be thinking that this is bad because, in fact, it is bad.

It is also about to get worse for you because this blog is very very public. By the simple act of reading it you may have, thanks to social blogging networks and certain blog readers that you maybe using, informed all your blog reading friends that you have read this. This may in turn lead them to reading this... and they likely know your mobile number.

Don't worry too much because if they have read it, by the same means you shoukd know that they have read it and you probably also have their mobile number as well. Thus either a hacking war will ensue, or a truce, or you will change your pin.

I would suggest that you do the very latter, at least thats what I would do if I were a spokesperson for either of these networks. Thankfully, I'm not and so can suggest to you an even better option. Simply follow along the above procedure until the point when you have to input 8705. Do not input 8705. Put something else in, anything else, random numbers, over and over again until it says that this function is blocked. Do not unblock it. Done.

If you are someone who uses this function for its intended purpose of accessing your own voicemail from another phone because your phone often runs out of charge... buy a spare charger and carry it with you, or get a battery extender (some cases can even do this), or use the power save settings... anything is better than the choice of either essentually posting your voicemail messages publicly on facebook or typing in a confidential pin into someone elses phone, no matter how well you know the owner of that phone as a person. What is to say that that phone hasn't got a virus? Or an anti-virus with a keylogger even the owner is unaware of?

This is a basic privacy issue. And it has little to do with Rebecca Brooks and the phones of the parents of Millie Dowler and Madeleine McCann. It has a huge amount to do with you and what people are telling you in a way that they feel is private and only between them and, you guessed it, you.

This should have been the first thing to be resolved, instead it appears to be the last thing, if in fact it does actually get resolved at all.

We may not be able to take away their guns, but we can lock the ammunition store.

Mr Magic

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The great Gay debate

I am sure that we are all aware of the current debates, and of their outcomes, in regards to homosexuality and legal union. This has been a very long time coming in both the united states and the united kingdom, whereby respectively the title marrage has now been legalised as opposed to "partner" (or "Civil partner,") a term just vague enough that children wouldn't immediately understand it and the radical religious could view it in the same way they would a financial partnership, a fiscal union without contemplation of anything "ungodly".

It is with regards to this second point that I take extreme contention. It is more often than not stated that the bible is opposed to homosexuality, with specific reference given to Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. In fact these are the only two times that homosexuality is even considered in the whole of the old testament and neither of these verses are opposed to homosexuality as a whole.

Leviticus 18:22

"Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrance"

First, please understand that this is a comandment specified for men, unless you wish to conceed that the bible assumes lesbianism. We know this from the assumption within the commandment that "one lies with a woman", please also note that it says "as one lies with a woman,". As such the next step is to read what the bible means by "as ... with a woman," and indeed there are laws on how one should sleep with ones wives (this is the old testament, poligamy, that great moral evil, is absolutely fine here) which, as good Christians and Jews, I am sure you are all following to the letter, right? Its actually very simple, if you masturbate (or are "masturbated") you must wash and not touch anyone until the evening, if you discharge (yuk, yuk yuk yuk eew yuk) anything other than semen then you must wash for seven day then present a priest with two turtledoves (I would also advise going to see a doctor... ergh *shivers). Most things are in fact acceptable so long as, and heres the kicker, you finish by ejaculating into a vagina. If you pull out and ejaculate, well that is a mortal sin punishable by death (someone should tell the pope, might change his mind on condoms). Consentual anal sex is not considered anywhere in the bible, and certainly is not deemed as part of how one lies with a woman. In fact, the defining factor, as confirmed by the Talmud (you know, that Jewish book that directly explains every line and verse in the old testament, that is older than the new testament and is also completely ignored by most christian priests), is vaginal.

It is, therefore, nearly impossible to lie with a man as one does with a woman because most men don't have vaginas. Trans-sexuality, i.e those men who do have vaginas (in reference to Female to Male transitioners not Male to Female, unless you wish to accept that vaginoplasty produces a biblically recognised vagina and because Male to Female transexuals define themselves as women, not men) and are gay, are the only people that this law applies to in practice aand they can take some comfort in that this law applies to them under the accepted male gender. In other words, to apply it you must recognise this person as a male. This is something which very very few radically religious people are willing to do.

Leviticus 20:13

"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their bloodguilt shall be upon them."

I do not wish to cover old ground other than to say that this is essentually a repetition of the above with a death sentence on the end. If you think this is a moral sentence in modern day society then by all means please do be the first to inform the mother of a gay teen that has committed suicide that he/she was carrying out gods commandment, that its a good thing... or perhaps inform some gay Aids victims that this is a manifestation of their Bloodguilt and god has sentenced them to death.

I am continually impressed by the hypocritical position the fundamentalist Christion movement fills, simultaneously proclaiming moral authority whilst at the same time doing and saying the most evil of things.

If you are extremely religious and want to know where to turn to get a perspective on homosexuality, perhaps we would be better off looking to the book of Samuel:

Samuel 1:26

"I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
    you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
    more wonderful than that of women"

These are the words of king David, a prophet, proclaiming that he preferred the love of Jonathan, a man, than that of women. He is also very much seen as a good guy, by most, in religious terms.

I know its not much, and I know its pretty brief, but its there, and moreover it pre-dates the book of Leviticus by about 400 years. If god (and here im talking about the clearly fictional character in the books) truely was as opposed to homosexuality as is often made out... well why did he choose to speak through one as a prophet? Why not speak through an advisor or another piece of burning foliage?  and why not condemn David instead of glorifying him? It doesn't fit to then, 400 years later, suddenly realised the evils of male with male relationships and forbid them with the penalty of death.

I shall end with the story of Soddem and Gomorrah:

Genesis 19:4-9 "Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. {5} And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”

{6} So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, {7} and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! {8} See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.”

{9} And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. "

It is from this story that the word "sodomy" comes. Let me be clear that everyone, save the most depraved,  is opposed to sodomy. It is evil, sadistic and very much illegal in all countries in the world. For those who have not figured out yet, sodomy is male on male rape. It is un-consensual rape and like all rape, it is a mortal sin in the bible. As this is a comdemnation of rape, and not consentual anal sex, it really serves no purpose in the Gay debate, as everyone is in agreement that rape is bad.

There is one other instance where homosexuality is apparently mentioned and this is in Romans... however the passage is so vague that I cannot decipher where it relates to homosexuality and it is not deemed godly scripture as it was, supposedly, written by Saint Peter. As such its lack of inclusion is two fold, one is that I have limited this post to Jewish scripture, I.e The old testament or Torah, and two is that it is very very long and exceptionally ambiguous. Aside from this, there is no mention of homosexuality at all in the new testament.

Thus I think the point has been shown that homosexuality is not as opposed in the bible as many would make out in terms of both lesbianism, which is completely absent from mention, and gaydom, which is only forbidden if you have a vagina.

Here endeth the lesson.

Mr Magic

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Curious Incident of the Man on the Run.

Let us be under no false delusions regarding the importance of raw data. It is, by far, the most important asset for any human being, anywhere, ever. and I do not say that lightly. If you do not know how to drink, water becomes useless, if you do not understand the most basic elements of commerce it is very possible that you could starve within a grocery shop.

The attainment of knowledge such as this, and much much more, is the reason that we educate children for so long, so that they not only know things that they need to, but also know where to obtain more information as and when they require it, as well as how to understand the information that they receive.

This contextual starting point, the narrative thoughts regarding the importance of information, information attainment and information understanding/de-coding, is imperative to being able to understand the controversy regarding the release of classified cables, documents and files.

If, for example, we are unaware that governments communicate with their embassy's overseas via cables, then finding out that secret cables have been released really means nothing to us. We wouldn't know what they were, as many of us didn't until quite recently. Before Wikileaks and Bradley Manning, communications between Embassy and State was not even considered by the public. In the same way as before Edward Snowdon, policies of GCHQ and the extent of their filtering algorithms to penetrate web-user generated content was so far out of the public focus that even when we were in up-roar regarding SOPA and ACTA, at no point did we drift to even being curious about data capturing.

Data capturing, which is to say the collection and storage of our created information, of information we have made such as telephone conversations, emails we have written, facebook chat conversations and online profiles. Why, you may ask, would anyone be interested in the often banal and mundane conversations that we have day to day on the telephone or via the internet? Most of it is complete drivel spewed by teens to attempt to fragment the boredom of their everyday existance. Imagine, if you can, having the inordinately monotonous task having to cypher through endless teenage messages regarding everything from adolescent arguements regarding what x said about y to z... all the way to an almost infinite pile of internet pictures affectionately called memes. 

Under the circumstances of such a vast and boring collection of data, I personaly do not think it that surprising that GCHQ and the NSA wrote an algorithm to filter the information instead of subjecting some poor soul to this wretched form of mental torture. I would also be very surprised if the filter was as limited as has been expressed by several military figures. Bere in mind that available to the general public are computer memory components capable of storing several hundred terabytes of information and some of these components are smaller than a box of cigarettes, I cannot see the worlds largest intelligence agencies having too much trouble storing a few billion messages.

So should we be worried? In short, no. We have known for a long time that internet surveillance was taking place, this is why people started posting anonymously, why browsers such as TOR and other proxy bouncers were created and when sites such as megashare and Silk Road get taken down and their owners "traced" we see more evidwnce still. I hold reservations as to whether this is a good thing or not however I am accutely aware of the high unlikelyhood of uncovering anything relevant to stopping crimes or terrorism using the methods revealed by Mr Snowdon, or in fact of getting any information at all save for an intolerable amount of raw, uselessly innocent data.

Obtaining the data is merely half of the process, as I mentioned at the beginning, the other half being de-coding/deconstructing/understanding of the data. It is here where the problem truely lay for our intelligence communities in that the larger the intial data set, the harder/longer such de-coding becomes. A few hundred messages can, in fact, become very difficult if we take into account the traits of human fragmented discourse such as in jokes, multi-platform communication streams (conversations that start off in person (talking) then evolve onto facebook and then ends with an email, for example) and mis-communications. There are so many variables that the task of content deconstruction becomes more and more unlikely to yeild accurate results and so deconstruction based upon content is probably not the most likely method used. Indeed Mr Snowdon points towards Meta-data being the primary deconstructed element (not what the person is saying but who they are saying it too).

However, this is not entirely true. The arguement posed, not just by Mr Snowdon but also by many military officials is that the only information available to the agents of the NSA or GCHQ is the communication webs, I.e who is talking to who, but they are not allowed access to content (unless they get a warrant issued by the courts). However they do know at least one element of the content, which is the word or words that the algorithm is filtering for. They know that at least that one word/words is present in the text and so the arguement (which still needs to be resolved) is how much partial content can you filter/fish for before it is deemed that content is being actively accessed? I will not focus too much on this as it is an active conversation, however my own answer would be that it very much depends upon the size of the initial data set so I would have to put it at a percentage of accessed content, and I wouldn't want that to be much more than 25% else I would consider it the beginning of the deconstruction of content and content analysis.

The final point that I shall consider is the difference between Mr Manning (or is it Miss Manning? Tough to know what is true or not in that case) and Mr Snowdon. The biggest difference is the type of data revealed. Manning revealed diplomatic cables, what the USA was thinking and feeling about other countries and what it was doing to them in terms of military actions, infiltrations and negotiaions. In other words, (s)he revealed truths, truths which america itself viewed as truths. In many cases (s)he revealed information regarding the US breaking international law, in others just it breaking decorum. Either way, it was actual information, not information generated by manning but distributed by him(/her).

This is in stark contrast to Mr Snowdon who has not revealed direct information but methods of information obtainment and partially revealed the NSA and GCHQ's methods for de-coding gained information. What makes this really interesting is that Snowdon was also partially responsible for the development of these methodologies. He was a systems administrator and developer. In other words, instead of revealing direct data, he revealed systemic methods he helped develop for use by the NSA. Moreover, he has evaded capture (for the time being) and so once more has defied the US.

Their similarities should also be considered. That they both feel they acted from conscience, that they both still stand by their decisions and that since their actions the world has not come to an end are all points in their favour. Add to this that they made some very nasty people panic and worry makes them, perhaps not heros, but on the right side.

Mr Magic

Friday, 20 September 2013

Joseph Kony: The Governments Reply

It may have taken two Governments, 19 months and one hell of a lot of noise but please behold below a reply from the British Government regarding Joseph Kony and the LRA. In short, whilst it maybe a quite conquest... we, and all other anti-LRA groups, are winning.

Please note this email has been reformatted and my real name omitted, no other content changes have been made.

Dear Mr Magic

Thank you for your letter of 31 July to the Prime Minister about the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). I am replying as a Desk Officer in the Central Africa Team.

The UK Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the atrocities carried out by the LRA. Although much reduced in numbers, the LRA remains an unprincipled and violent threat to civilians and regional security. According to the most recent UN estimates the LRA now numbers around 250-300 fighters operating in small groups in remote parts of South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic.  This is considerably fewer than the number that used to adhere to the LRA, particularly at the height of its activity in 2002 when we believe there were approximately 3,000 active LRA fighters.

We are particularly concerned that the inhuman actions of the LRA have caused enormous suffering to children, including through the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, abduction of children from families and communities, and sexual violence against children. The UK strongly supports efforts to stop the use of child soldiers in LRA- affected regions and internationally. We work at the highest political levels to protect children affected by armed conflict, including through the European Union (EU), the United Nation’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and the African Union (AU). Through protecting children from the threats posed by the LRA, we can make them feel safer within their communities. The UK is giving half a million pounds to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) programme that will help improve the capacity of AU forces to protect children and women in LRA-affected areas. We are providing this money over a period of two years.

In addition to the efforts outlined above:

  • The UK leads the work in the UN Security Council on LRA matters. The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Central Africa presented a regional strategy to the UN Security Council in June 2012 aimed at combating the LRA, and it was endorsed in a UK-drafted Presidential Statement. The UK has continued to encourage the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) to coordinate the anti-LRA work of the UN, the EU, the AU and the LRA-affected states. In our most recent statement on the LRA at the UN Security Council in May 2013 we welcomed the finalisation of the strategic documents for the operationalisation of the AU Regional Task Force (RTF) against the LRA. We see the full implementation of the UN regional strategy on the LRA and the operationalisation of the RTF as key in seeking to defeat the LRA.

  • The UK acknowledges the important work of the UN peacekeeping missions in the region in protecting civilians. We have stressed the need for continued and improved coordination and information sharing between these missions, and with the broader international community and local stakeholders, to enhance these efforts further. This is why the UK currently funds the deployment of a British Military Officer in an information cell in the northern part of the DRC, who has strengthened the capability of the cell to provide useful intelligence with which to counter the LRA and has assisted with the improvement of information exchange between the missions.

  • The EU, with UK financial and political support, has helped fund the establishment of the AU Special Envoy on the LRA, who has made progress in co-ordinating the response from the four LRA affected countries. The UK has welcomed the work that the AU has undertaken towards the implementation of its Regional Task Force and, whilst we understand that there are technical challenges to implementation, we have urged the full deployment of troops across the region as soon as possible.

  • The UK continues to make significant contributions to programmes to disarm and demobilise combatants and reintegrate them into their home communities. These programmes have helped to remove a steady stream of members from the LRA and other armed groups by encouraging defections.

We should not underestimate the ingenuity of the LRA, and their ability to survive. However, the capture of senior LRA commander Ceaser Acellam in May 2012, the destruction of the base of a key general of the LRA in the Central African Republic in August 2012, and the death of Brigadier Binani in January 2013 demonstrate that progress is being made in reducing the capacity of the LRA and ultimately bringing Kony and other senior LRA members to justice.

I hope that this letters addresses your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Kerr

Sunday, 4 August 2013

A Voice for The Voiceless

Whilst I have never been one to lend a hand to those who place the lives and rights of animals above, or even at times on par with, humans, I do accept that animals have a nervous system. That they feel pain and to some extent joy. I do not follow on from this that they should thus be under some supreme protection where by we cannot use them (provided that they are not endangered) for experimentation or food, I disagree almost whole heartedly with the vegan utopia that is so often displayed by those standing for "Animal Rights". Simply put, we are also animals and it is clearly within our nature (because we do and as such the point is self evident) to consume meat which means that it is clearly within our nature to kill animals. By defying this very element of our own nature we are defying part of the "natural order" which the Vegan dream so demands that we follow. Thus we end in a dichotomy.
In terms of animal experimentation, which people associate with unnecessary cruelty, what we are killing/using animals for is in essence the same reason that we have always killed them for, which is to consume them to prolong human life, whether that be in terms of an individuals digestion or by a scientist using the carcass/creature to find a cure for some life shortening/ruining disease. Yes there is often animal pain involved but it is (as it should be) minimal and by this I do not mean that special measures are put in place to monitor and reduce animal pain but that the pain is not the focus, the purpose for the experimentation is the focus. In the same way as eating is the focus when we are talking about killing animals for meat. As such, finishing the experiment in as short a time as is scientifically acceptable for the purpose of speedily finding cures also just happens to keep as short as possible the length of time that the animals are in pain. Again, in the same way as when killing for food, the faster the animal is killed the quicker it can be eaten.
What I am opposed too, however, is killing or pain for superficial reasons. Putting animals in pain because you want to look better, killing for the vanity of a Trophy. This is simply an extension of barbarism as far as I am concerned, particularly when we are talking about trophy hunting which, incidentally, is almost totally concerned with hunting animals which are or have been considered threatened. It is this particular issue that this post is designed to address and it is being written for one very particular purpose.


I was unaware of this until I saw an unfortunate video, on an unfortunate website. Now a few facts need to be cleared up. I am yet to have found evidence of this particular range partaking in anything that would be considered illegal, however almost its entire premise and execution is repugnant if considered morally. What is really interesting about this particular safari service is that they (or in particular Frikkie himself) integrates hunting with Christianity. Indeed you can even go on a seven day "Provider for Chris Hunting Adventure" where you may kill and slaughter, behead and mount in the name of your Deity.

I can understand the desire to experience the African plains and to be in the presence of some of the worlds most majestic creatures, I can even go so far as to see how creationists may consider the experience to be godly or religious, however my empathy stops when a gun is then loaded and part of that majesty is blasted into oblivion and its corpse desecrated. I cannot see the morality in this, only the most basest form of selfishness and twisted supremism. This is not an argument to say, as the Vegan dream again dictates, that we should not have any affect on the world, but I would say that we shouldn't go out of our way to have a destructive effect which is exactly what these people are doing actively and without remorse.

There is also a continuous stream of mis-information given by such "outfitters" exaggerating greatly the dangerousness of many of these animals. If they really wanted to hunt an animal based on its dangerousness then how about the mosquito? The animal responsible for the most human deaths in the world (about 2 million a year). Or perhaps the Asian Cobra? Responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths per year. Or The Box Jellyfish? The Black Widow Spider? No, hunted animals are not being hunted because they are particularly dangerous, they are being hunted because they LOOK fierce. They APPEAR to be dangerous but are actually mostly docile. A Great Stag only ruts for around 3 months of the year and the rest of the time lazily grazes. Lions hunt once every few days and spend the vast majority of there time relaxing under the shade or by a pool. If you really are under the impression that a Tiger is a terrifyingly dangerous animal that must be killed lest they mate and grow to such a population that they start eating human children!... then I advise that you consult the following vidoes:

Not the image of the man killing monster you may have previously had of this rather docile animal.

To conclude I will end with one simple truth. That barbarism is a highly transferable skill.

Mr Magic

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Anti-Propoganda Laws!? In Russia?? What!??

When you have been watching the game play out for as long as we have, it becomes quite clear when something really begins and when something is said to have begun by those doing it. It is true that The Final Solution was made Official in 1942 calling for the Genocide of the Jewish people but it is equally true that over one million Jews were massacred during the war years prior to the decision being officially made. The process to vilify a group of people is actually very simple and does not happen in one great national epiphany. It happens, normally, via the following method:

Pick a minority that is already Culturally different to the majority (Jews, Blacks, Gays, Benefit Claimants)

Then control all information regarding this group (October 1933 all Jews were banned from owning News Media Outlets or being Journalists, June 2013 Russia passes Anti Propaganda Law forbidding the public passing of information regarding Homosexuals)

Now portray this group as different, strange, immoral. Dehumanise them so that the population doesn't empathise with them. (Talliban, Insurgents, The Enemy, Arab, Poly-amorous... anything but nothing that is easily understood)

Now blame them for something (Nazi Germany blamed the Jews for causing the German depression, for causing Germany to lose the First World War, for dragging out the Second World War, for causing WW2, for contaminating German children, etc, etc - Russia is currently blaming the Gay community of damaging the values of Russia and posing as a threat to Russian children)

Now Punish them.

The rest is documented by the volumes of history, from the Genocides in Rwanda and Germany to the Witch hunts and crusades in ancient Israel. This formula is the one being followed by Russia and it is about midway through its completion. Steps three and four tend to last the longest, but sooner or later something always happens that can be used in propaganda against the groups. From a violent protest (never mind who caused the violence, they only focus on those involved in it) to a individuals human error, something always happens because things are happening all the time that can be twisted to fit the desired theme.

The volumes of history also answer for us a question which has recently been hyped up by the press, Will the Winter Olympics be safe for Gay Foreign Athletes? The answer is unequivocally Yes. They will be perfectly safe in the same way that the Berlin Olympics in 1936 were safe for black, Jewish and Disabled Athletes. And in also the same way, the sigh of relief shall be heard by our politicians on a global stage, that the situation is exaggerated, that the rumours of violence and extremist behaviour is nothing more than the reminiscent ramblings of war wishers and conspiracy nuts. Thus the violence shall continue unchallenged.

Fight this now! It is a cancer that spreads slowly by we all know the damage it causes.

Being apathetic, in situation, does real damage. Sitting on the fence is tantamount to endorsement.

Mr Magic

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mr Magic is back. Ready yourselves...

It has been a long time since my last piece of writing, since this time we have had a whole array of controversies, from SOPA and ACTA threatening the safety and openness of internet content, through to the economic devastations of Greece, Portugal and Italy, through to the mass release of secret government information from the likes of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, to the ever increasing cuts to public expenditure by the Coalition Government of the UK including cuts to policing budgets and cuts to local government budgets which in turn have led to almost the complete centralisation of funding for local arts and community projects. We also seem to have forgotten, like so many of the campaigns that came before it, including Make Poverty History and FairTrade, the fight against Joseph Kony, and the fight against Robert Mugabi and the fight against other tyrannical regimes, as if our own financial issues somehow give us the right to forgo our principles on the international stage in regards to the UN Convention on Human Rights. The campaign against Guantánamo Bay, fought so vigilantly by Senator and President-elect Barack Obama, seems to have been forgotten by the now elected second term President of the USA. That we have repeatedly shared the G8 and now G20 platform with countries such as China and Saudi Arabia without any remorse or sign of repulsion for the totalitarian regimes that these countries inflict on their civilians though it were only a few years prior that our liberal minority, which is now part of the UK Government, was calling for those in power to speak out against such regimes. They are now those in power. Where is their voice? Where was the no vote on the replacement of Trident? The no vote on increasing Student Fees? Where was the compassion and fairness when the Church of England was legally forbidden to marry same sex couples though other denominations and other religions are given this freedom?

We seem to live in a world of undulating and cyclical  focus whereby we, as an electorate, are so often distracted by fabricated fears and controversies that, when we begin to unravel them, we find are nothing more than superficial exaggerations designed to distract us from some government policy change or some previous, equally hyped up, superficiality. We have been accepting, for far too long, "steps in the right direction" that repeatedly seem to miss their destination. We want to find renewable energy sources and yet we are now debating fracking natural gas from rocks. We want fiscal security and yet we are STILL borrowing money that we cannot afford to pay back. We want a safer, less nuclear world, and yet we are talking about renewing our nuclear program. When, at what point, will we give up this nonsensical approach of doing the wrong thing and yet expecting the right result?

Lets just take a look at Education to highlight this point. Recent changes to the UK Education system have attempted to align it more closely with the Grammar School Model whereby gaining knowledge of large amounts of raw data and remembering vast amounts of this data is deemed the primary purpose of schooling rather than the knowledge of how to interpret/re-encode data or formulate your own data, which is considered the primary purpose of the newer comprehensive model. On the surface this may appear simply to be a difference in approach, two different schools of thought that achieve the same objective, however they are not. One is a draconian system which has already been tried and is opposed not just by those teachers who are new to the profession, but by those teachers who had to follow this prescribed methodology for years and by its previous students who are now the parents of the children for whom this arcane system has once again been prescribed. This system was originally operationalised in 1946 and has since had very little revision. The other method is one of comprehension, whereby focus is put on the understanding of data rather than its retention. This method follows in conjuncture with most modern child psychological theories on learning and behaviour as well as is compatible with other creative learning and phenomenological learning strategies such as the phonetic method of literacy education championed by Montessori and the holistic contemporary methods being developed by Steiner Schools. Sir Ken Robinson has repeatedly spoken about the importance of creativity and innovation in formal educational settings, that in the Grammar model success in examinations relied not on the child's talents and skills but on their regurgitation of trivia. Patrick Awuah goes further to say that creativity and Arts Education in critical to forming the true leaders of tomorrows world, in terms specifically of creative arts and not just the arts history so often excused as art classes under the aforementioned model. Yet is the UK increasing its use and acceptance of the recommended comprehensive model which is advocated by nearly all educators including our own Universities? No. Instead we are blindly following the moronic method condemned by so many because it has been chosen by our own infallible Michael Gove. A man who is not an educator, not a lecturer, not a person for whom any of his decisions affect except maybe the light irritation of the occasional protester. But we must not fret, for whilst he maybe winding the clock back on most mainstream educational institutions to a time of tyrannical cane wielding and the endless recitation of mildly useless information , he is also a great supporter of "free schools" which are schools run by Educators free from the influence of Local government and the National Curriculum, provided they meet the educational standards set by Ofsted. These schools are also advocated by almost all educators provided they are correctly audited and inspected and it is here that we find that over-used cliché "its a step in the right direction"! Really?! Well if you feel that a group of 24 schools, three of whom Ofsted regard as "require improvement" and one of which has been deemed "inadequate", are the saving grace by which the rest of the poorly made educational policies can be counter weighted against it might be worth remembering that there are 3,268 mainstream secondary school institutions in the UK educating  7.2 million students each year that are being plunged back into the dark ages of church-mentality teaching. A "Step in the right direction" is a far cry from arriving at the correct destination and "a miss is as good as a mile".

I now turn my attention to the legal case of Bradley Manning. It is very clearly written in the UN Third Geneva convention that prisoners still have certain rights including the right to adequate food and water, the right to humane treatment including the prohibition of humiliation, public curiosity and intimidation towards them. All of these rights were broken by the US when several members of the Senate, including the speaker of the house, publicly announced Manning as a traitor who should be on trial for treason and killed. By saying "and killed" they had already assumed guilt which people in such legal positions as Senators and House Representatives have no right to do. Furthermore, there are reports from friends with visitation rights to Manning that he was getting thinner and was looking unhealthy. In light of the aforementioned Guantánamo Bay and other prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base Prison and Shebarghan Prison it is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that Mr Manning may have been subject to some loose form of starvation. If any of these claims are proven to be true (which in the case of public curiosity I hold to be self evidently true) any admissions or confessions are thus null and void because, according to the UN Third Geneva Convention which The US has signed in agreement with, they were coerced from Manning. This is a very clear case, this is not speculative theorising, this is universally recognised law which, if this were in any other country, would have Amnesty International crawling all over it. However, instead, Amnesty is supporting free speech not by defending someone who has used this right in one of its most important and intended forms (whistle-blowing) but is instead supporting "Pussy Riot's" right to stage a punk prayer. Whilst it would be counter-productive for me to condemn Pussy Riot to the pit that Vladimir Putin has destined for them, I do think that Amnesty should prioritise Bradley Manning's case as his current sentence could be as much as 136 years imprisonment, which is quintessentially a death penalty. BUT don't worry, at least he hasn't been actually given THE death penalty... and as such once more that ugly phrase rears its semantic face "its a step in the right direction"...

Mr Magic