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Comment Re:I am not defending the USA (Score 2, Insightful) 325

certainly nowhere near as much as what their strangely negative reputation in the U.S. would lead you to believe

There was a lot of propaganda against Al Jazeera but it really was just nonsense. The US and Allies had grown used to their own media's kid-gloves reporting on their military adventures and were absolutely incensed that a news outlet would question their motives and/or pay too much attention to their victims. Al Jazeera has really been a breath of fresh air in the world of news media. They cover issues that are simply ignored by other outlets and have become one of my primary news sources.

Comment Re:Patriot Missile Propaganda All Over Again? (Score 1) 377

Due to their wild inaccuracy, a lot of these rockets land in the middle of nowhere anyway. Would you really even know if a rocket was intercepted successfully or whether the Iron Dome missile just exploded nearby to one? Are there journalists monitoring every single Iron Dome launch and somehow accurately verifying a success/fail for each missile?

I'm not saying Iron Dome isn't successful, but given that targeting missiles is very difficult and we are relying on official IDF sources, there should be much more scepticism about the system's effectiveness.

Comment Patriot Missile Propaganda All Over Again? (Score 4, Insightful) 377

Some people here may not be old enough to remember all the propaganda about the Patriot anti-Missile system's effectiveness during the first Gulf War. The media/public were fed total lies. Patriot turned out not to be very effective at all. Given that Israeli officials are currently the only information source for Iron Dome's amazing 90% success rate, surely we should be highly sceptical. Instead all I have seen in the media are endless uncritical articles about how amazing Iron Dome is.

Comment Re:Israel has nuclear weapons. (Score 0) 569

All they need to do acknowledge that Israel is a legitimate nation. But you know, Hamas won't do that.

By continuously building settlements in the West Bank in violation of international law, Israel refuses to even recognise basic Palestinian land rights. Yet we expect Palestinians to recognise Israel?

Comment Re:Accuracy (Score 1) 861

I would like nothing better than for the Palestinians to have a normal economy

The Palestinians would like that too, but Israel will not allow it. This all goes far beyond firing rockets at each other. Israel really believes that all the Palestinian land should belong to them, which is why there are so many settlements in the West Bank (in violation of international law). Israel has always viewed the Palestinians as a demographic threat, which is why they never allowed Palestinian refugees to return.

One way to help ease the whole situation in Gaza would have been to allow in a peacekeeping force, but Israel will not allow it. Their excuse in the past has been that a peace-keeping force would "interfere with Israeli security measures". The truth is that a peacekeeping force would remove many of the excuses the Israeli government has for blockading Gaza and preventing it growing economically.

So yes, Hamas are terrorists, but Israel behaves no better and they have their own agenda.

Comment NATO War Crimes in Yugoslavia (Score 1) 525

There were many potential war crimes committed by NATO in Yugoslavia. The problem is that the US/NATO usually manage to scupper any possible investigation by pressuring the organisations involved. After the bombing of Serbia, Carla Del Ponte (Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia), was asked by a journalist whether she was prepared to press charged against NATO for alleged war crimes, she said.

"If I am not willing to do that, I am not in the right place. I must give up my mission"

This was met by a furious response from the US. Some days later her office release the following statement.

"NATO is not under investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY. There is no formal inquiry into the actions of NATO during the conflict in Kosovo"

This is why the US/NATO can get away with bombing TV stations full of civilians, or laying siege to a city and then raising it to the ground (Fallujah) etc. They know they wield enough power to halt any possible investigations of their crimes. They effectively have a license to kill.

Comment We will still need General Purpose Computers (Score 1) 553

The problem with this idea of PCs disappearing is that we will still need general purpose computers with large screens and input devices that are comfortable to use for many hours at a time. Are you going to develop a website on your mobile phone, or your games console? Even if you use a tablet, it would be like sitting at work all day staring at a 10 inch monitor. Tiny monitors are not good for productivity at all. Also, touch screens are not good for entering large amounts of text, a task which is quite common.

Perhaps though, you will be able to plug your tablet into a bigger screen on your desk, and also plug a nice keyboard into the tablet. Also a mouse would be nice. Then you realise that you are basically reconstructing a PC. Welcome to the post PC future that still actually needs PCs.

Comment Re:I see what you did there... (Score 1) 401

the Beeb decided that the overwheling evidence of climate change and global warming rendered dissenting views not only null, but dangerous

The BBC needs to be more accountable. They should only be exempt from FOI requests when it comes to protecting journalistic sources, nothing else. Also, they need to be more accountable when it comes to their articles. We should be able to comment on any article, not just the non-controversial ones.

However, the scientific consensus is that global warming is occurring and that we are contributing to it. So I would expect the BBC to go with the scientific consensus just as it does with other areas of science. I would not expect a BBC cosmology programme to devote 50% of its time to the steady-state theory just to counterbalance the big bang theory.

Comment Re:Must be nice (Score 1) 401

It really isn't independent. The government appoints the Board and the Board appoints the Director General. It's like saying you are not influenced by your department manager despite the fact that he appoints all the line managers. The BBC has really always been pro-establishment. The founder of the BBC, Lord Reith famously said "They know they (the government) can trust us not to be really impartial". That was during the General Stike, where the BBC made sure that strikers voices were not heard.

Comment Re:Well.... really? (Score 2) 152

You're strawmanning the argument. Only the people on the far extreme want patents abolished.

Europe generally does not support software patents. So being in favour of abolishing software patents is hardly extreme. I think Stallman and the EFF have given up too quickly on this issue. The patent office will never do a proper job of rejecting ridiculous software patents so it seems unlikely that reforms will make much difference. Abolition is a sensible way forward. Copyright is all that is necessary for software because the code itself specifies the solution exactly.

Comment Re:Convenient but inefficient (Score 1) 82

The near field Witricity technology can transmit power over a meter or two. Even further with passive repeater antenna which can be disguised as picture frames, table-mats etc.

It's a much better technology than the simple induction pads that you put your mobile phone on and could be quite revolutionary. It seems they have recently released development kits too, so hopefully it won't be too long before its generally available.

Comment Re:The United States of Amnesia (Score 1) 159

We have bases in many countries because of treaties with them. They agree to have us there.

The problem is "They" so often refers to a dictator rather than the people. Particularly in the Middle East, the people of those countries do not want US bases on their soil, but they have no choice is the matter. Then of course there is the case of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Guantanamo Bay was granted to the US by a Godfather-style "offer they can't refuse" treaty with the Cuba while the country was occupied with US troops.

And for the last time, we did not get any of Iraq's oil so stop pushing that big lie

International Oil companies including Exxon Mobile,BP, Shell etc are all over Iraq's oil fields now. If Iraq was never invaded, that would not be the case. Strategic control of oil reserves in the Middle East has been part of US foreign policy since at least World War 2.

Comment Re:Misleading summary (Score 1) 459

They were found guilty not primarily for failing to predict the earthquake, but for releasing a statement saying there was probably not going to be one.

If your job is to decide whether minor tremors indicate something bigger to come, you don't just keep quiet either way. You either publicly announce that you think a bigger quake is on the way, or that the tremors don't seem to be anything to worry about. In this case they did the later and other world experts agree with the decision they made.

Comment Re:Social Media? (Score 3, Interesting) 572

"It was still viewed as wrong to kill civilians just for kicks, but if civilians were killed in the process of destroying an enemy's warmaking ability, that was to be expected."

The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were effectively a terror attack. It was a case of "Look how many civilians we can kill in one go. Now surrender." . It also served as a display of power to the Soviet Union, which is even less of a valid reason to kill over one hundred thousand civilians than seeking a surrender. If either Germany or Japan had dropped an atomic bomb on a largely civilian target, it would have been considered a war crime, not just now, but even then. A number of US officials at the time thought it was criminal too. e.g. Admiral William Leahy

Once it had been tested, President Truman faced the decision as to whether to use it. He did not like the idea, but he was persuaded that it would shorten the war against Japan and save American lives. It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons... My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make wars in that fashion, and that wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

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