Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Terror panics and the war imperative

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  • tussock,

    I've always preferred the mirror of Islamic fundamentalism to the Christian fundamentalism of the reformation wars. Those thrice-damned protestants with their assassination of political leaders, visceral hatred of music and art and fun, destruction of ancient religious monuments, and strait up genocide of regions who refused to follow their one true way of worship.

    The insistence that all must be taken from the Word of God in His book, and none from a contemporary examination of it, the expulsion of it's prominent leaders from the stable states into more loosely governed areas, the theocracies they set up, the peasant rebellions they inspired so ruthlessly crushed by the great imperial states, the mass executions (by the thousands) to stop the spread of the radical ideas.

    The following fragmentation of the great empires along religious lines, the endless wars between their successor states as each great noble family tried to save the souls of their neighbours or kill them off to stop the rot. The depopulation of vast chunks of Europe as a result.

    And the peace it eventually codified into. First that each mini-state ruler would be allowed to chose the faith of their people, and not be bound to that of the emperor. Then that all churches would persist in each state as leaders changed. The first codified rules of war to forbid pointless attacks on non-combatants in all Europe, treaties that eventually became our modern laws against war crimes, as each new horror was forbidden by cooler heads after the fact.

    16th and 17th centuries. The same time period as the scientific revolution, the green revolution, the growth of modern cities, founding of universities, Newton's laws, the great water and wind powered pre-industrial states with endless canal construction, river diversion and land recovery from the sea, ever-deeper mines with great Rube-Goldberg pumps and sumps.

    It's not modern by a long way, but it's no closer to medieval. The founding of the American colonies was by religiously fanatic puritans hounded out of their homelands for being associated with horribly violent killjoys.

    The reformation was an attempt to cleanse the church of the influence of money, how it's influence had corrupted the heads of state into lawless abominations. The Salafi movement in Islam is pretty similar. Brutal puritanism in response to the corruption, legal immunity, and cruelty of the heads of state bought by great wealth, and accompanying rejection of everything the modern nation-state brings with it. Which is naturally captured and directed by various heads of state for their own Machiavellian ends, as the protestant reformation movement was.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to tussock,

    Insightful. Thank you.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to 81stcolumn,


    A mention may have helped.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Marc C,

    In loyal support of all such noble values, New Zealand's government is "leading the way",

    Heck no, Nobody likes a smartarse, eh. Best wait until one of them first-world fellas gives us the nod.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to Sacha,

    Then and there I had to double check the defintion, I totally understand where Craig’s coming from: my post here was bad faith, pretty much the worst. As you said; Good faith earns good faith.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • 81stcolumn,

    A problem which is not helped at all by various Western discourses* that actually limit the scope of the Saudi government, which may be imperilled when seen to be giving in to Infidels. Indeed the current witch hunting does seem to look like that similarly political vehicle of Catholicism The Inquisition.

    Which took place in the 12 and 13th centuries

    Apologies I was a bit lazy in making my point. It always amuses me that Saudi Arabia is referred to as an absolute monarchy as this would imply relatively simple rules of succession and authority. In reality the king has to propose a successor and can only pass laws/decrees* with the approval of the Ulema under the terms of the agreement between Saud and al-Wahhab. Ulema are Islamic scholars, who run the judiciary and advise the king. The most influential group amongst the Ulema are the Al ash-Sheikh family, descendants of al-Wahhab. Hence the king is surrounded and to some extent contained in his authority by Wahhabi scholars. A critical point of local control and influence is the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. When I lived in Saudi these were known to me as Mattawa - the religious police. Though they report directly to the King they are by nature an extension of clerical authority. In the past we all knew not to upset the Mattawa, but were not deeply fearful of them. As pointed out, their activities of late have taken a sinister turn for the worse. It was this that drew a comparison with the Inquisition and invited my own speculation that this change is politically driven and not necessarily with the complete blessing of the King or the Consultative Assembly * *. It may be pushing the point a little to suggest that this alarming regression is a reflection of the dissonant politics of the country and the region as a whole.

    Witch-hunts and snatching apostates however limited in numbers isn’t in keeping with the country I left behind and really very unpleasant. The old agenda was “reform in our own time”; this sadly seems to have gone. I make this point in the knowledge that the nation state that describes itself as Saudi Arabia is only 82 years old. Like much of the Middle East a coherent national identity still comes second to an array of regional and tribal interests. By way of contrast, it took America more than 50 years to grant female suffrage and another 40 or so years to grant universal suffrage. My point being that the world expects a great deal of a new nation in terms of modernisation, democracy and rights.

    And John Key is looking forward to going to Saudi Arabia next year to negotiate a free trade agreement.

    I mean, can we get even a little condemnation up in here?

    I have no problem at all with western democracies being very critical of their own duplicity. Indeed I wish it would happen more often. After all when you see two kids scuffling in the yard do you throw them each a knife? Because it is worth remembering that USA, Russia, Britain and France have happily armed just about everyone in the region at different times; making substantial profits from a regional arms race that is proving to have dire consequences.

    I also sometimes wonder what difference it would make if the world just consumed less oil………

    *As noted in the programme Sharia is a living interpretation of “gods will”. The important implication here is that there is no common law, no constitution or bill of rights. Basic human rights are determined through clerical interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah. In the absence of case law, courts can be very political and somewhat arbitrary in judgement. This is problematic, but then again so is the 2nd Amendment of the US constitution.

    ** The consultative assembly is a 150 person council made up largely of overseas educated technocrats 30 of whom are women.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report

  • tussock, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Which took place in the 12 and 13th centuries.

    The Troubles in Northern Ireland are rather more recent. The Bosnian war, an ongoing extension of the Balkans Muslim purges dating back to 1812. The foundation of Israel. The Russian pogroms. The Holocaust. The Armenian Genocide. Manifest Destiny in the Americas.

    They all had their witch trials. Special courts for the lesser people, with less care for evidence or stated charges or rights to this and that, eventually falling to death for guilt by association. It was just enough that you were Catholic, or Muslim, or Orthodox, or Jewish, or NOTA.

    What are the thousands of drone strikes but yet another witch trial? Secret evidence, secret charges, guilt by association, no right to a defence, and the sentence is death (but only for Muslims, naturally).

    There's been this thing in our press for years now, that radical Islam is somehow unique in the modern world it's barbarity or factionalism or power of the church, or anything at all. Some reason to "other" them and not feel their bones crushed under the weight of imperialist bombs.

    But really? George W. Bush, a man who hinted that he regularly talked to his lord Jesus about which countries he should invade, and then dredged up a bunch of bullshit as evidence to support that, refused to hear any defence, and went on to murder a "we don't count enemy casualties" worth of people. Set up a secret court with secret evidence for all those "terrorists" who fought back. Supported by a bunch of crazy religious zealots in the US.

    It just doesn't seem very 13th century to me, that someone would take religious offence at other people and send tens of thousands of armed men out to save them all or kill them in the attempt to stop the spread.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report

  • Farmer Green, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    I also sometimes wonder what difference it would make if the world just consumed less oil………

    Funny that you should mention oil . . . . :-)


    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report

  • Farmer Green,

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report

  • mark taslov,

    A “domestic beheading” inspired by foreign fanatics is one of several threats New Zealand potentially faces from the so-called Islamic State, John Key said this morning.

    Which is exactly why instead of cancelling imperatives like project SPEARGUN Mr Key should be taking New Zealand’s domestic security seriously.

    Prime Minister John Key admits mass surveillance of New Zealanders and collecting their electronic metadata was considered but rejected

    Key’s previous statements on the issue strongly indicate that any data collection being carried out by New Zealand intelligence agencies is scattered, lacking, and or failing to meet the international standards set by our allies. We need security from these very real and very dangerous domestic threats Mr Key and sending our armed forces around the world doesn’t even begin to fully address them.

    If as Key has stated, the US offered the ‘gold standard’ to help protect ordinary New Zealanders, then why has Key repeatedly refused to take the US up on these offers? Employing this technology to protect citizens from beheadings is what New Zealanders deserve.

    Mr Key said “it would be very odd for New Zealand” to do nothing when its allies and international partners were involved in fighting back against the IS.

    It would be very odd to send our armed forces without first ensuring the safety of citizens at home.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to mark taslov,

    (disclaimer – The opinions expressed here are not the views of the author but may reflect the views and opinions of any persons who still confer John Key a degree of credibility.)

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to mark taslov,

    There are 40 or so murders a year. A substantial proportion of those will be caused by those with inadequately treated mental illnesses or personality disorders that turn lethal. If the murderer's inner voices involve radical Islam, do we regard this as terrorism and find some other radical Muslims thousands of miles away to bomb? Or do we take the sensible approach and look at imporoving healthcare and support services?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Or do we take the sensible approach and look at imporoving healthcare and support services?

    Now if only you’d been hosting that Nation interview…

    Key was very efficient at extrapolating threats but his argument for joining the offensive ultimately seems to boil down to “it would be very odd not to…”, which is a bit odd.

    There is also a reasonable likelihood that Key is only talking this up right now to influence the UNSC bid.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Farmer Green,

    By now , we are all used to taking all cold fusion stories with a large tablespoon full of salt. And there are always market players who will jump too soon (out of fossil fuel stocks).
    But this report fails to comprehensively debunk the claimed energy output of this device. We'll have to wait for further reports.

    This may be just another "cold" cold-fusion story, or it may be something else altogether.


    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report

  • Alfie,

    Today's Stuff editorial basically outlines four reasons not to trust John Key in any future overhaul of our (his) spying legislation.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell,

    As far as I can tell there’s just one home grown jihadist right? and he’s gone to Syria, torn up his passport and now after a dose of reality he’s had second thoughts about what he’s done and wants to come home.

    Is that a real reason for Key to head off down the police state road? can't we just get his Mum to give him a good talking to?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Well, there is a well established theoretical model of nuclear physics that accounts for everything from the banana* to the H-bomb.

    Cold fusion is hard to reconcile with this model. If it does happen, what is needed is clearly documented, repeatable research that can then inform an improved theory. No such research has ever been produced.

    What Rossi is doing is to make claims about a deliberately obfuscated "experiment" about which he is not providing adequate information to analyse and reproduce his "results".

    I'd conclude that he's either self-deluding or a fraudster.

    * Bananas are high in potassium, including K40, which decays by beta emission. This is why you should not take them on fishing trips.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • BenWilson,

    Thread crosspollination. Graeme fisks Key.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    which decays by beta emission. This is why you should not take them on fishing trips

    what's the mechanism that interferes with fishing?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I’d conclude that he’s either self-deluding or a fraudster.

    That is what most have concluded to date.

    And the authors of the review are . . . ?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    what’s the mechanism that interferes with fishing?

    Having a rotten banana in your lunchbox.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    yes but how does that cause a problem? can the fish sense the radiation or something?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    It's the effect on the passengers that's the main problem. Bananas on board are an ill omen, 'tis said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Farmer Green,

    This is a polite way of saying scam, in LENR technological circles ? :-

    ‘We have a device giving heat energy compatible with nuclear transformations, but it operates at low energy and gives neither nuclear radioactive waste nor emits radiation. From basic general knowledge in nuclear physics this should not be possible. Nevertheless we have to relate to the fact that the experimental results from our test show heat production beyond chemical burning, and that the E-Cat fuel undergoes nuclear transformations. It is certainly most unsatisfying that these results so far have no convincing theoretical explanation, but the experimental results cannot be dismissed or ignored just because of lack of theoretical understanding.”

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report

  • David Hood, in reply to Farmer Green,

    No, that is the polite way of saying "We don't know what is going on but have our doubts"

    This is the polite way of saying scam in general reading

    And this is the detailed way of saying scam in technical circles

    But it is really not worth spending too much time over. If you have someone convicted of fraud claiming to have built a machine that contradicts modern physics, the tests should not be taking place under conditions they dictate with them handling all the equipment.

    Actually running it without it being connected to external power sources would also be a good thing, but the experimental design is another matter entirely.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report

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