Archive for the ‘Events in Foreign Places’ Category

When Expensive Projects Fail



A $5 billions uniform redesign by the US Army was intended to introduce a pixellated grey and black universal uniform which was even cooler than the newly introduced USMC uniform.

From the Daily Mail:

‘Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,’ an Army specialist who served in Iraq told The Daily. ‘The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.’

Maybe a 1970s episode of Doctor Who, then.

He continued: ‘As a cavalry scout, it is my job to stay hidden. Wearing a uniform that stands out this badly makes it hard to do our job effectively. If we can see our own guys across a distance because of it, then so can our enemy.’

Rather like the British Army after the First Boer War.


Dubai In the Mist



On the Scottish East Coast, this would have been haar.

As with every time a heavy sea fog rolls in from the Arabian Persian Gulf into Dubai City, so come the photographs of those buildings higher than 500 metres sticking above the cloud.

You Can Say She Is a Dreamer


But the yogatastic Googoosha is a practical dreamer.

As if the knock to their self-image as above reproach in foreign matters following revelations of underwriting debts with North Korea and turning a blind eye to the latter’s narco-diplomacy was not bad enough, the Swedish press now is dealing with reports that the partly State owned telecommunications firm, TeliaSonera has paid backhanders to Tashkent.

From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli


Far from an uncoordinated outbreak of violence following a minor online film, it became apparent in whole hours that the invasion of the US Consulate in Benghazi and subsequent murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three colleagues was pre-planned; either in revenge for the drone strike in Pakistan in June which killed al Qaeda regional commander, Abu al-Libi or vicious synchronicity to coincide with the anniversary of 11/9.

(Likewise, immediate and entirely unverified claims which could be seen to be wafer-thin by the MSM that the producer of said minor film was an Israeli Jew with the backing of over a 100 other Jews have been refuted by, amongst others, Jeffery Goldberg.  The cast of the film also appear to have been duped; believing that they were participating in a production about an unnamed Egyptian figure.)

No doubt aware of the fate of the last PotUS to have been in office during an embassy invasion, Obama has dispatched 50 US Marines to Libya to seek-out the perpetrators of this attack and, presumably, give them the “knock knock, your dead” treatment.

Scottish Waters Used to Carry Russian Attack Helicopters to Syria?


BBC News is reporting that the MV Alaed has been halted off the Western Isles, with suspicions that her cargo includes Russian attack helicopters for Assad’s forces in Syria.

Over one year on from the start of the uprising in Syria, and with 10,000 dead before the massacre at Houla, an observer would be at a loss as to why reasonable people have not mobilized on Western streets in revulsion.

The Gentlemen of Hereford Complete a Little Task


On the one hand, you have lifestyle activists and human rights campaigners who restrict their activities to the path of least resistence against Western Government and security force agencies and whose tough moral decisions include whether or not to accept massive donations from Gaddafi fils (they – and by that I mean, Shami Chakrabati – do, but manage to forgive themselves).

Or, when the step outside their comfort zone, they – and, by that I mean, the Fools Crusade, Viva Palestina – are sure to do so under the protective gaze of Syrian Baathist forces.

On the other hand, there are aid workers to the such countries as these activists cavil about. Andi Parhamovich or Gayle Williams or World Vision workers in Pakistan or Karen Woo and colleagues at the International Assistance Mission or Linda Norgrove or Khalil Dale to name but six.  They work quietly and unceremoniously in zones where the threat of lethal violence against them is – as can be seen – intense, with or without lifestyle activists securing asylum for those who would direct this violence, such as Abid Nasser and Ahmad Faraz Khan.

Into the second more worthy group now come Medair workers, Helen Johnson from Britain and Moragwe Oirere from Kenya who, along with Afghan colleagues, were abducted in the same area of Afghanistan in which Karen Woo and her colleagues were murdered. This time, however, after some minor difficulties in reaching the cave in which they were being held hostage, the Gentlemen of Hereford managed to effect their release.

Johnson (shown above, on her arrival in Kabul) is reported to have said simply “thank you for saving me”.

The Amazing Dancing Juche Bear


Say what you like about this North Korean animal circus, but the animals appear to be better treated than almost all the 10 millions North Koreans (which itself is perverse).

And rabbits.

Scum Who Turn-Up At Rape Clinics To Jeer At Victims


It happened when Lara Logan suffered multiple rape in Tahrir Square. It happened when Mona Eltahawy endured serious sexual assault and physical attack at the same location; including from thick thugs who, not only showed less compassion than the Daily Mail but also jeered that she should not have gone there, seemingly unaware that is Egyptian.

Now, British journalism student, Natasha Smith is witnessing it in response to her blog piece about an attack in Tahrir Square which was initiated by the announcement of Morsi’s victory:


Men began to rip off my clothes. I was stripped naked. Their insatiable appetite to hurt me heightened. These men, hundreds of them, had turned from humans to animals.

Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way. So many men. All I could see was leering faces, more and more faces sneering and jeering as I was tossed around like fresh meat among starving lions.


Quickly followed by certain commenters who, after waving about a talisman marked “I’m sorry for your hurt”, proceed to inform her that she brought it upon herself and, besides, did not know or care about violence against women in Egypt. Quite apart from the fact that she was there to file reports about violence against women in Egypt, her piece indicates she was not a callow tourist [hint, not that it would be relevant if she were] taking cheap holidays in other people’s misery.

Instead, she had gone to Tahrir Square with male companions and did not purposefully seek-out part of the crowd which offered no escape route. As soon as the mood began to change, she recalled attempting to peel off immediately and seek sanctuary.

Without luck.

All of which has presented an opportunity for anonymous Internet users to inform a traumatized victim that she brought it upon herself. Utter, utter filth.

Fukushima Daiichi and Windscale/Calder


With conflicting reports of the state of the reactor at Fukushima Daiichi following an explosion this afternoon, my mind went to the 1957 fire in Pile No. 1 at Windscale and Calder (now known as Sellafield).

Already in use as a production site for plutonium to use in Britain’s covert atomic weapons programme, the facilities were jury-rigged to produce tritium for the next generation of nukes: required higher temperatures at the piles (primative nuclear reactors). Because of this Heath Robinson style conversion programme, hot spots in the pile went unnoticed during the testing phase.

When the annealing process began on 7 October 1957, localized overheating would have begun almost immediately with the scientists relying on overly optimistic readings from the sensors. It was not until three days later that scientists realized all was not right, and a visual inspection revealed the horrifying sight of fuel rods glowing cherry red.

At the time, Thomas Tuohy was the deputy to the General Manager, and at home a few miles away. On being recalled to the site, he discarding his dosimetry badge so no-one could say he had exceeded his recommended dosage.

His efforts to subdue the fire culminated in his, in full protective gear, being perched atop Pile No. 1 as he directed firefighters below.

The subsequent Penney Report concluded that the fire was due to “an error of judgement” by Windscale workers. Alexander Macmillan, however, has stated that his grandfather and then Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan had arranged with President Eisenhower to cover-up the root cause in the untested and flawed attempts to produce tritium. Had this been known, the US Congress may well have vetoed the pair’s joint plans.

For the 2007 documentary Inside Windscale: Britain’s Biggest Nuclear Disaster, Tuohy was asked for his views on this. “They were a shower of bastards” he replied, and it is hard to disagree.

He died in 2008, more than half a century after, by his own recollection, looking into a naked nuclear reaction for an extended period.

I bet he smoked as well.

The Best Newspaper Headline Ever