|I am able to edit only intermittently until further notice, and may not respond swiftly to queries.|
With grateful thanks to PJ Harvey
A commendably restrained response
- Robert A. H. Cohen, "Archbishop Justin, you need some new Jewish friends", Writing From the Edge, 7 December 2019.
- "The annexation of occupied territory is a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions, and contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly that the acquisition of territory by war or force is inadmissible. The international community has prohibited annexation precisely because it incites wars, economic devastation, political instability, systematic human rights abuses and widespread human suffering." For the full statement, see:
- "Israeli annexation of parts of the Palestinian West Bank would break international law – UN experts call on the international community to ensure accountability". United Nations Human Rights: Office of the High Commissioner. 16 June 2020.
"The current hysteria engulfing the British Labour Party resolves itself into a pair of interrelated, if discrete, premises: Anti-Semitism in British society at large and the Labour Party in particular have reached crisis proportions. If neither of these premises can be sustained, then the hysteria is a fabrication. In fact, no evidence has been adduced to substantiate either of them; on the contrary, all the evidence points in the opposite direction. The rational conclusion is that the brouhaha is a calculated hoax—dare it be said, plot?—to oust Jeremy Corbyn and the principled leftist politics he represents from British public life. But even if the allegations were true, the solution would still not be to curb freedom of thought in the Labour Party. At its worthiest, the Left-Liberal tradition has attached a unique, primordial value to Truth; but Truth cannot be attained if dissentients, however obnoxious, are silenced. Given the fraught history of anti-Semitism, on the one hand, and its crude manipulation by Jewish elites, on the other, an objective, dispassionate assessment could appear beyond reach. Still, it must be attempted. The prospect of a historic victory for the Left might otherwise be sabotaged as, thus far, Corbyn’s supporters, whether it be from fear, calculation, or political correctness, dare not speak the name of the evil that is afoot."
- Source: Finkelstein, Norman G. (17 August 2018). "The Chimera of British Anti-Semitism, and How Not to Fight It if It Were Real". Information Clearing House. Retrieved 17 August 2018. Also available on Finkelstein's blog, dated 25 August 2018.(The advantage of the version on Finkelstein's blog is that the links to, and backlinks from, the footnotes work correctly.)
As always, Finkelstein is well worth reading. A long article, but essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what is really going on.
- Here's a quote from Helena Cobban on Syria, written in April 2017, but even more relevant today (my emphasis is in bold; italic emphasis is in the original; I've also corrected a small spelling mistake):
The erosion of the whole memory/immediacy of the question of imperialism and the need to counter it, as I understood it back when I was young in the UK, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many younger people in the west today think that imperialism/anti-imperialism is “tired old dogma” or whatever. Or, they talk glibly, in re Syria, about “dual imperialisms”– that is, Russian along with US/Western– without any appreciation of the relevance of the history of western imperialism in the M.E. region or the significance of the fact that Russia is in Syria as the invited ally of the legitimate government of Syria while the US/Saudi/western forces are there to disrupt, hobble, or topple the country’s entire governing system, in the continuation of plans that the Zionists and Americans have pursued for many decades now.
- Full article here. In addition, Cobban has been writing for many years on Syria (and the Middle East in general). Link to all her blog posts on Syria here.
- on YouTube. Ortiz makes it very clear how ridiculous is the picture painted by western media of the current situation in Syria. Not surprising really, when said media are ignoring the crucial point identified by Cobban. Note especially what she has to say about the White Helmets, the liberation of Aleppo, and the treatment of women in Syria
If anyone is in any doubt about the obscenity of immigration detention (see About me below), please watch last night's (4 September 2017) BBC Panorama here (58 mins). A shorter version is here. GDWG statement here.
Follow up. Worth noting that the BBC avoids assigning higher-level responsibility for this horror. Usually I prefer cool, contemplative thoughts, but sometimes things are so vile that only a rant will do. And if you want a rant, they don't come much better than this (2min 20sec).
- Bulman, May (22 May 2018). "Brook House: High Court rules immigration detainees abused by G4S staff can seek public inquiry". The Independent.
- Taylor, Diane (22 May 2018). "Former immigration detainees can seek public inquiry over abuse claims". The Guardian.
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I have a degree in mathematics from the University of Warwick and am an Associate of the Institute of Actuaries. I am retired from actuarial work but still maintain my membership of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries as a retired member.
I am also a volunteer visitor with the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group and support several other organisations which help refugees and asylum seekers. I think the practice of imprisoning refugees or asylum seekers, who have committed no crime, is an obscenity. Updated: I have been a volunteer visitor since 1996, but am no longer visiting, as I finally found the experience so emotionally draining, and depressing, that I needed to take a break.
For more about help to Jewish refugees, see Peter F Kurer, "Thoughts for the Week: A helping hand", 8 March 2018.
I'm a sucker
... for unsung heroes. Here's an article by a sports journalist (a rugby specialist, which probably explains the headline):
- Aylwin, Michael (18 November 2016). "Wellington's unrivalled feats boot 'who's the greatest' debate into touch". Sport 500. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
Aylwin's piece is obviously heavily based on Chrissie Wellington's Wikipedia article, which I wrote. Aylwin has done a good journalistic job of paraphrasing and condensing Chrissie's article (with some useful additions of his own) into 500 words. So if you're willing to pay for access to the Telegraph's site (or already have access), please do go and vote for Chrissie. She won't win, of course (the unsung hero again), but it would be nice to see her getting some recognition. In any case, it's good to see that there exists at least one journalist who actually gets the point about Chrissie. As Aylwin wrote,
The trouble with Wellington is that you’ve either never heard of her (most people), or you see her as, well, the greatest sportsperson quite possibly in the world ever, but certainly in the UK. No Brit has dominated their sport like Wellington.
Update: Chrissie came 64th (out of 100). But the main point I draw from this exercise is that the result is more dependent on the media coverage, than on any objective assessment of the athletes' achievements. Andy Murray is indeed a deserving winner; at least as far as I can tell, he is the only one who comes close to (but still doesn't quite reach) the standards of fitness and determination shown by Chrissie. Also note the lack of women: only 3 in the top 20, the highest being Jessica Ennis-Hill at #12, and only 17 in the entire shortlist of 100.
It baffles me that people still believe, or are so easily swayed by, what they read in the press or broadcast media. In the case of sport, it's relatively harmless, except for the systemic bias against women; but when the exercise of military force is involved it's quite a different matter, the most obvious example being the invasion of Iraq, and the results have always been catastrophic.
The wisdom of youth
“What I can't work out about this place,” she says, “is whether they're genuinely oblivious to what their policies are doing, whether they're so out of touch that they honestly don't see how much damage it's doing, or whether they just don't care.”
— Source: Mhairi Black (age 20), quoted in Cadwalladr, Carole (12 July 2015). "The SNP 56: a breath of fresh air… or a timebomb at the heart of Westminster?". The Observer. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
- Helen Bamber - Borders of the mind :"They still wait for the knock at the door." For more details, see Helen Bamber.
- Honest Government Ad | Julian Assange. "Authorized by the United Bitches of America". (v funny, but true, like all the best comedy)
- The World Today with Tariq Ali - The Propaganda Wars (28 mins) examples of how news is distorted in mainstream media
- CBS News. Excellent 9-minute interview with Noura Erakat on the "lethal use of force against noviolent protesters who did not pose a threat to Israel".
- Read Fisk's excellent article for more on this massacre:
- Fisk, Robert (17 May 2018). "How long after this week's Gaza massacre are we going to continue pretending that the Palestinians are non-people?". The Independent. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Propaganda Another excellent 9-minute video, on how propaganda originated and how society is manipulated.
- Abby Martin on the Importance of Challenging Corporate Media, München, 17 May 2018 (28 mins)
- Caitlin Johnstone: "This is what war propaganda looks like in the era of social media. It will never look ugly. It will never directly show you its real intentions. If it did, it wouldn’t work. It can’t just come right out and say “Hey we need to do horrible, evil things to the people in this country on the other side of the world in your name using your resources, please play along without making a fuss.” It will necessarily look fresh and fun and rebellious. It will look appealing. It will look sexy."
- Gaza. Una mirada a los ojos de la barbarie (directed by Carles Bover and Julio Pérez, 18 mins) Don't watch if the sight of blood, or spilled intestines, or heads split open, or dead bodies makes you faint.
... and non-essential viewing
|“||I watched American Sniper the other night and it really is the most puerile propaganda imaginable.
Reading the US reviews of American Sniper is a good way to remind ourselves not only of the critical role Hollywood plays in popularising lies about the West’s recent history and in sanitising our crimes, but also of the vital role the mainstream media play in giving these simplistic and duplicitous fables an aura of ethical complexity and intellectual respectability.
... more non-essential viewing
- Wonder Woman is a hero only the military-industrial complex could create at Mondoweiss, 7 July 2017. As usual, another brilliant analysis by Jonathan Cook. Even better than his review of American Sniper.
"Speaking Peace on the BBC"
|“||Ask yourself – when is the last time you saw an anti-war voice, as opposed to a pro-war ‘military’ or ‘security’ expert, asked by the BBC to comment on a Middle East development? Yet the majority of people in this country are against the war.
There is no doubt at all that when you make anti-war or anti-government points on the BBC the whole body language and line of questioning indicates that you are some sort of isolated extremist.
|— Craig Murray, source: click here (PDF)|
"If truth is the first victim of war ..."
- from the preface to Arrigoni's book
|“||If truth is the first victim of war, it is then Israel's absolute priority to assassinate it, before, during and after the conflict. Our duty as activists, and more generally as human beings, is to document and tell the truth for the sake of freedom and justice, and then bring it to the table of world public opinion, and then serve it as a meal, the more difficult to digest the better.
For tomorrow, so as to stay human.
From the Stephen Cohen Lecture, “The Ukrainian Crisis: A New Cold War?” on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies Program, Fairfield University, February 5, 2015
|“||And there was more: there was diplomacy, but it was an American diplomacy marked by broken promises and concessions made by the Russians that were not reciprocated. Let me give the young people in the room an example they probably don’t know about. After the United States was attacked on 9/11, the first world leader to call President Bush was Putin. He said, “George, it’s horrible. We’re with you. Tell us what we can do. We have major military assets in Afghanistan; they’re yours. We have a fighting force. We have terrific intelligence. We have transit bases; it’s all yours.” And since Bush was going to send a land force to dislodge the Taliban, Bush took this. And it cost Putin a lot at home. His security people didn’t like this, but he did it anyway. And Putin saved a lot of American lives in that war. Mark that down. What did he get in return? Trivia question. Within two years I think, Bush had expanded NATO right to Russia’s borders. And, equally fateful, Bush took the United States unilaterally out of what was called the anti-ballistic missile treaty, which had been the most stabilizing nuclear treaty in the history of the world because it prohibited the kinds of missiles that can eliminate the other side’s retaliatory response.||”|
"Israel will not sign a peace deal"
- I have reformatted and copy edited the following quote for clarity - NSH001
|“||For me two things come out clearly from these painful documents (some of them have parallel data in the US embassy cables on Wikileaks). First it is not that the Palestinian officials are traitors but merely (and this is bad enough) mistakenly and passionately going through motions hoping against all odds that by talking and compromising more they could achieve a tiny fraction of what we are entitled to. The second observation is that Israel will not sign a peace deal regardless of how low and ridiculous the concessions on the Palestinian side:
Some critics asked: if, as the documents show, the Palestinian negotiators were willing to accept all of this then WHY did Israeli politicians hold out?
The answer is obvious to anyone who ever faced Zionism. They believe (rightly or wrongly) they can get 100% so why should they settle for 91% or even 99% especially when the ceiling of the Palestinian requests kept dropping in the past 22 years (since they accepted in 1988 to let Israel keep most of the looted parts of Palestine 1948). Today, Israel's three main sources of income are dependent on a continued conflict and occupation: the $6.5 billion military and security exports, the $6 billion US and other western direct aid, and $3 billion from the captive markets in the West Bank and Gaza. All three would be threatened with end of conflict even if Israel gets to keep most of its stolen loot. Israeli officials are keen to keep negotiations going to avoid an anti-Apartheid scenario and for PR and normalization to keep pumping more money and more settlers into the remaining small shrivelling Palestine because it is economically profitable.
|— Mazin Qumsiyeh, Fear and the Palestine Papers, 30 January 2011|
|“||But look at the statistics and leaf through the pile of demolition orders lying on the table in front of Abed Kasab, head of the village council in Jiftlik, and it all looks like ethnic cleansing via bureaucracy. Perverse might be the word for the paperwork involved. Obscene appear to be the results.||”|
|— Robert Fisk, The Independent 30 January 2010|
|“||In nearby al-Jiftlik village, Israel has refused permits to build a school, insisting that families should either move or bus their children more than an hour each way to Tubas. In peaceful response, the teachhers of al-Jiftlik started holding classes in a large village tent. Last year, al-Jiftlik finally constructed a real schoolhouse, which students will use until Israel tears it down.
About 4,500 Palestinians live in Fasayel and al-Jiftlik combined. That's nearly the total population (6,300) of Israeli settlers in the whole of the Jordan Valley. And yet, that small number of settlers, living in 36 settlements, controls the land where tens of thousands of Palestinians reside. ... Just 4% of the valley remains for its 50,000 Palestinian inhabitants. That includes the city of Jericho and a few built-up Palestinian villages, but leaves next to nothing for agricultural use. This has been devastating for the agriculture-based society and explains the mass exodus of Palestinians even after Israel's overtly violent expulsion tactics ceased.
|— Anna Baltzer, 12 April 2007 in|
In Gaza, children,
|— Michael Rosen, January 2009|
I have dreams.
|— Immigration detainee, quoted in GDWG newsletter, Summer 2009|
- on the joint U.S.–Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, commonly (but inaccurately) known as the Gaza War
- from here, for easy reference before it gets archived (15:53, 24 January 2009 (UTC))
- Anthony H.Cordesman, ‘The War in Gaza: Tactical Gains or Strategic Defeat,’ Center for Strategic & International Studies, January 9,2009
- Henry Siegman, 'Israel’s Lies,' London Review of Books, 29 January 2009
- John J. Mearsheimer 'Another War, Another Defeat,' The American Conservative, January 26, 2009
- Richard Falk, ‘Winning and Losing in Gaza,’ The Nation, February 9, 2009.
- David Bromwich, 'Self-Deception and the Assault on Gaza', Huffington Post, January 16, 2009
- Gideon Levy, 'The next step,’ Haaretz 24/01/2009
- Avi Shlaim, 'How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe,’ The Guardian, 07/01/2009
- Tom Segev, ‘Cruel and meaningless wars,’ Haaretz, 23/01/2009
- Eric Hobsbawm, 'On Gaza' , London Review of Books, 15/09/2009
- Geoffrey Wheatcroft, 'How Israel gets away with murder,' The Independent, 11/01/2009
- Gershom Gorenberg, 'The Ignored Choices in Gaza,’ The American Prospect, January 7, 2009
- updated and expanded version here
- follow up
- Hass, Amira (6 January 2011). "Gaza on the edge of no return". New Statesman. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
- "Gaza "More Dire Than Ever"". Institute for Public Accuracy. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- and not just Gaza
- Reading list on the (even worse) 2014 atrocities in Gaza
- Chomsky's recommended reading list
- Brings tears to my eyes to see the very best in the world in action, whether it be Paula Radcliffe, David Rudisha, Chrissie Wellington, or this guy:
- The Voice of Freedom (صوت الحرية), inspiring song from Midan Tahrir in Cairo here.
- Oh this world (يا هالعالم). Some highly talented Palestinian children playing musical instruments and singing.
- 15 February 2003 anti-war protest. One of the most inspiring days of my life, to be among around 2 million people (my estimate) doing the right thing. If you want to see a picture of me on this march, buy a copy of this book: Hurndall, Tom. The Only House Left Standing: The Middle East Journals of Tom Hurndall. Trolley Ltd. 2012 ISBN 978-1-904563-51-8.
Scientists on Wikipedia
My late father was a scientist, and my education had an emphasis on science and mathematics, so my editing includes biographies of scientists.
- Wikipedia:WikiProject Biography/Science and academia/Science Hall of Fame
- Wikipedia:WikiProject Biography/Science and academia/Science Hall of Fame 2
I also edit biographies of Quakers and peace activists. Note that there is significant overlap between all three groups.
Other subjects I edit
Some of the main topic areas I edit, besides the biographies listed above, include:
- Scottish articles, especially those relating to the area where I grew up. (Note that, although I grew up in Scotland, and have a Scottish first name, I come from an English family and consider myself English.)
- Triathlon, especially biographies of women triathletes.
- Aboriginal Australians (mostly technical fixes)
- Templates and other technical stuff (mostly from my NSH002 account, see below)
- Articles on the Basque Country, the Basque people and their language.
But I will also edit almost anything interesting that I happen to come across.
Bias categories discussion
Credits - click on [Expand] for details →
- I also own an alternative account, NSH002, which is intended to be used for repetitive edits (for example, with AWB) to avoid cluttering up my contributions record on this account. I also use this account for more technical edits.
- There are 5 more accounts at NSH003, NSH004, NSH005, NSH006 and NSH007. The first two of these are now-blocked vandalism-only accounts that were used by someone else in an attempt to vandalise Wikipedia while appearing to do so in my name. The last three currently act as doppelganger accounts to prevent this happening again, but it is possible I may in future use one of them to test what happens using Wikipedia's default user settings. I might create a few more accounts in this series, just to be safe.
- NSH001 is my Single Unified Login (SUL) identity. I have user pages on the following wikis:
I satisfy nine out of the ten reasons why my contributions to Wikipedia mght increase its bias. Here's a reminder of how to do something about it:
- See also WP:BIAS
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