Note: This piece has been updated on 15th December
The Daily Mail seems to have found yet more evidence to persuade its readers that they should be skeptical of man-made global warming. This piece by David Rose has two startling revelations – that both proxy data and an important diagram in an IPCC report were manipulated to make past temperatures appear cooler than they actually were, and that weather station data was also manipulated to show warming in recent times which may not have actually occurred. I don’t have time now to address the latter claim, but you can see a good summary here. However, I would like to address the question of the temperature data in some detail. Continue reading
I have to say that euthanasia is one issue on which I genuinely find it impossible to reach a firm opinion. Still it’s right that the CPS has issued guidelines clarifying the law on assisted suicide – if people really feel moved to carry out such a drastic act they should at least know where they stand legally. What I don’t quite understand though is, given that these guidelines have mainly arisen from people travelling to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end their lives, why citizens of this country should be prosecuted for something they did in a foreign country which is not illegal in that country. While there are some crimes (such as torture) which are so grave as to transcend national boundaries I think in general that people should be expected to obey the laws of whichever country they happen to be in at the time.
Incidentally, watching a report on this issue on last night’s news I was slightly disconcerted to hear my wife wonder aloud how much places such as Dignitas charge. I mean I’ve only got a slight cold FFS.
So Abdelbaset al-Basit al-Megrahi has abandoned his appeal against his conviction for the Lockerbie bombing and will now presumably be allowed to return to Libya on compassionate grounds, to live out his last days there before he finally succumbs to his prostate cancer. And a long and controversial chapter in British legal history somes to an end.
Al-Meghrahi was found guilty by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands with a panel of judges and no jury. The case against him appears to be flimsy – the Crown’s star witness was shopkeeper Tony Gaudi who sold the clothes which were in the suitcase containing the bomb originally gave a description which bore little resemblance to al-Megrahi and eventually only identified him after seeing his photo in a magazine which named him as the suspect. The only hard evidence was a fragment of a circuit board said to come from a timer of a type used by the Libyan secret service. Against that, the bomb is known to have been concealed in a Toshiba cassette recorder of the type previously used by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLB), the group initially thought to be responsible for the bombing.
The other evidence is circumstantial at best – for example there is no real evidence that the suitcase containing the bomb was put on the plane in Malta, as claimed by the Crown. Certainly some of the families of those who died in the bombing are unconvinced.
We don’t know what the result of al-Megrahi’s appeal would have been, and the government was trying to supress certain documents which were crucial to his case. But this outcome suits no-one – for those who believe he is guilty the perpetrator of one of the worst terrorist outrages of modern times will now be free, for those not convinced the questions remain. All in all an unsatisfatory end to a controversial and, of course, tragic saga.
I can’t say I have any strong views on whether Ronnie Biggs should be released from prison. Yes it may seem harsh to refuse him parole given the parlous state of his health, but he refuses to show any remorse for his crime, a normal condition for parole, and if he had stayed and served his time to start with instead of doing a runner to Brazil he would be free by now anyway.
So one can understand to an extent why Jack Straw was not inclined to be lenient towards an old man with failing health. However, as Duncan Campbell points out in today’s Guardian, he hasn’t always been so unsympathetic
A frail old man, barely able to communicate, guilty of a crime committed many decades earlier, but unrepentant about his past, wants only to be released so that he can spend his final days with his family. Some people object, saying that the nature of the crime is such that the old man deserves to die in custody. Enter Jack Straw, the member of the government who must make the onerous decision on the old man’s future. He realises that the old man is barely able to walk and is in a confused state of mind. He allows him to return home.
The old man was General Pinochet. In 2000, the then home secretary Jack Straw declined requests from Spain for Pinochet to stand trial for gross human rights violations and sent him back to Chile. Pinochet was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 people, the torture of many thousands more, the removal of a democratically elected president and the looting of the national coffers. Straw still felt that mercy was appropriate.
Once again Britain’s finest have come under attack after it was revealed that claims that 70 police officers were injured in clashes with climate change protesters at Kingsnorth power station were not quite accurate
Only four of the 12 reportable injuries involved any contact with protesters at all and all were at the lowest level of seriousness with no further action taken.
The other injuries reported included “stung on finger by possible wasp”; “officer injured sitting in car”; and “officer succumbed to sun and heat”. One officer cut his arm on a fence when climbing over it, another cut his finger while mending a car, and one “used leg to open door and next day had pain in lower back”.
A separate breakdown of the 33 patients treated by the police tactical medicine unit at the climate camp shows that three officers had succumbed to heat exhaustion, three had toothache, six were bitten by insects, and others had diarrhoea, had cut their finger or had headaches.
Personally, I think that people are far too hasty to criticise the police, and those that do so should put themselves in the place of our brave upholders of law and order and ask whether they would be so quick to put their own safety at risk by sitting in cars, climbing over fences, braving the threat of sunstroke, toothache and “possible wasps”,
shooting innocent Brazilian electricians in the head, opening doors with their legs and other such dangerous activities.
Two of our finest show no fear by sitting in their car
In my previous post I highlighted the damning contradiction in the account of the police’s actions given by the coroner in his opening statement to the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes. Now I don’t claim that Nick Cohen (or anyone else for that matter) reads Mutantblog but he certainly has no time for the kind of sentiments I expressed and is keen to turn the spotlight from the police onto those who condemn their actions. (Thanks to Aaronovitch Watch). The arguments he makes are essentially a rehash of those which have consistently been made over the last three years by those who defend the police, and we will no doubt hear them again during the course of the inquest, so it is worth addressing them. Continue reading
Reading accounts of the start of the inquest into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes I was struck by two remarks the coroner, Sir Michael Wright, made in his opening statement -
“Both officers said that they were convinced that Mr de Menezes was a suicide bomber, that he was about to detonate a bomb and unless he was prevented from doing so everybody present was going to die.”
“It does appear that by the time Mr de Menezes had entered Stockwell station, no member of the surveillance team had positively identified him.”
The incongruity of these statements is as good an indication as any of the level of incompetence and downright negligence of the police operation. I guess many of us have almost given up hope that those responsible might be forced to actually pay for the consequences of their actions, and the purpose of the inquest is not to apportion blame to individuals, but at least they will have to face Jean Charles’s family and be questioned by their legal team. I suspect it will look very very bad for them and they will richly deserve the opprobrium they will doubtless receive.