16 September 2011

Al-Qaeda: The Terror Organisation That Never Was

I've just read "Ricin! The Inside Story of the Terror Plot That Never Was" by former juror Lawrence Archer. The book is well worth reading; it explains, from the perspective of a member of a jury, how people were put on trial for plotting to kill people using ricin: except, there wasn't any ricin, nor any plot.

It explains, in part, how preliminary tests of apparatus seized during a police raid tested positive for protein - which could have been ricin - but two days later, an ELISA assay (for ELISA read very sensitive) showed that no ricin was present. Yet for months everyone was mislead to believe that ricin was present in apparatus seized by the police.
"Gould's evidence that no ricin had been positively identified showed that the ricin-plot hare had been set running by a false positive test result and a decision taken by a non-scientist employee at Porton Down. What's more, no one had sought to calm public fears by correcting the wrong information which had been given to police until three months later, despite the raft of alarming and inaccurate press stories the false reports of a ricin find had generated."
Other threads in the book describe what life is like for an illegal immigrant: petty thieving, poor housing, fear of authorities, exploited by employers. The illegal immigrants in this story were from Algeria, a western friendly dictatorship, that seems not to be a part of the Arab Spring. A place where the security forces are feared, where torture is conducted and who send spies to London, not to spy on the UK gov, but to spy on the illegal immigrants so that they can find reasons to attack their families back in Algeria. Against this background everyone has false documents and everyone goes under a number of different names.

The other thought that came to mind as I read the book was that, if it's possible to be so mislead by the fear of the ricin plot when none exists, couldn't the same be said of Al-Qaeda itself?

Salvador Dali was fascinated by Vermeer's painting, The Lacemaker: he copied the painting and discussed it in lectures. His fascination was for the tip of the lacemaker's needle in the painting since, the needle is visually suggested but not actually depicted. Like the Lacemaker's needle, everything suggests that Al-Qaeda is there but do we really know that it even exists?

Update 3rd October 2011. It appears from the wikileaks 'cablegate' that I'm not the only one who has these sorts of difficulties. A cable titled, "Ergenekon: it all depends on where you sit" where ambassadorial ace, Sandra Oudkirk writes,
""Ergenekon" remains an all-encompassing term after nearly a year of indictments, investigations, arrests, and search warrants. There seem to be as many perceptions of the reality of Ergenekon as there are agendas..."
Transpose Ergenekon with Al-Qaeda and the statements make as much sense.

06 September 2011

Homeless People Ensure High Property Prices Campaign Dealt A Blow

The Telegraph newspaper reports that its campaign to maintain property prices at the expenses of homeless people has been dealt a blow. Under the headline, "Squatters could be good for us all, says judge in empty homes ruling" the newspaper explains,
"Squatters are not criminals and could be good for society, a judge has ruled in ordering a London council to make public a list of empty homes in its area."
The newspaper doesn't give us any of their analysis of Henderson J's words, instead, it goes on to report,
"With police backing, Camden Council argued that disclosing the list risked unleashing a wave of criminal damage, arson, drug-related crime and organised “stripping” of vacant properties.

But Judge Fiona Henderson emphasised that squatters were not law-breakers and said official concerns were outweighed by the “public interest in putting empty properties back into use”.

The tribunal ruling means Camden Council must now comply with a Freedom of Information Act request by Yiannis Voyias of the Advisory Service for Squatters for a list of empty council-managed and private homes in the borough."

One would hope that this ruling would go some way to stopping the Telegraphs campaign of trying to criminalize the homeless who seek the remedy of adverse possession.

Note, the newspaper article is about Voyias v IC & London Borough of Camden (Freedom of Information Act 2000) [2011] UKFTT EA_2011_0007 (GRC).

Update 27th September 2011

Another smack in the face for boy blunder Grant Shapps' campaign to ensure that homeless people remain homeless even though empty properties abound. This time the put down comes from 160 leading legal figures explains the Guardian under the title, "Squatting law is being misrepresented to aid ministers' reforms, claim lawyers".
"Solicitors, barristers and legal professors have accused the government of misrepresenting the law and misleading the public to push through reforms on squatting.

The 160 lawyers, who represent tenants and landlords across England and Wales, say the housing minister, Grant Shapps, and justice minster, Crispin Blunt, are "obscuring" the law and accuse them of "sensationalist misrepresentation" during recent debates on squatting legislation.

The letter, published in the Guardian, says that ministers' obfuscation and media misreporting have created "fear for homeowners, confusion for the police and ill-informed debate among both the public and politicians on reforming the law. [In] failing to challenge inaccurate reporting, ministers have furthered the myths being peddled around squatting"."

The article and the letter are worth reading in full. Put simply, you're being lied to. No one from government is correcting these lies.

By no one from government, that'd be Grant Shapps,

the man who has the look of someone who'd be willing to make people homeless just to maintain the excessive house prices for his constituents.

Quoting from the letter linked to above, we have
"By making misleading statements and failing to challenge inaccurate reporting, ministers have furthered the myths being peddled around squatting.
We want it to be clear that it is already a criminal offence for a squatter to occupy someone's home, or a home that a person intends to occupy, under the Criminal Law Act 1977. A homeowner will be a displaced residential occupier, or if they are intending to move into the property, a protected intended occupier. In either case, it is a criminal offence for a squatter to remain in the property as soon as they have been told of the displaced occupier or a protected occupier. The police can arrest any trespasser who does not leave. The displaced or protected occupier can use force to enter the property and reasonable force to remove the trespassers."
If Grant Shapps didn't know the above, he's not fit for purpose and should resign.
Update 5th October 2011. The truth doesn't seem to be setting me free, it's just bringing me despair and a feeling of imprisonment. Another squatting story has been written up, this time in the Independent (It isn't, Are You?), "Plea to ministers on squatting law". To be fair to Amy, our intrepid reporter, she does a reasonable job: it's just the commentators under the piece that are troubling. They keep peddling the lie that has been scotched by the letter in the Guardian which I reported above on the 27th September 2011 with regard to squatting family homes. It's despairing to think that people only get their news from one source, I just hope the contributors are shills.

03 September 2011

'S truth Bruce

Currently reading Albion Dreaming by Andy Roberts. Fascinating stuff, the book is a 'popular history of LSD in Britain' and is well worth the investment of time to read it. At p162, the background of one of the Free Festival Organisers, Bill Ubi Dwyer, is being described. Dwyer used to sell LSD at a club in Sydney called the Cellar, the book explains,
The police sent undercover officers to the Cellar but this did not seem to bother Dwyer. ...he was buying LSD directly from the police, who largely controlled the Sydney LSD trade at that time.20

Following Andy Roberts' reference takes us to a Parliamentary speech by R L S Jones, which gives many other examples of police corruption. I found the following particularly amusing,
"The other day a solicitor told me that some time ago one of his clients was busted at Terrey Hills for amphetamine possession. He was taken to the police station and the police officer behind the counter was the one who had sold him the amphetamines, so his case never came to court."

02 September 2011

You'll Never See A Nipple

The headlines in the Daily Express (beware perpetual pop-ups) said,

Should we applaud this crusading newspaper for drawing attention to the fact that our economy is so crap that four million families are reduced to beggary? I haven't read the article too closely, so I don't know what remedies are suggested in the article so that these people aren't reduced to living a life which consists of transferring capital from State to supermarket and from State to landlord.

Or perhaps I'm reading the headline wrong?

Anyway, as for my headline, here's John to explain,

(Remember that this is but mere weeks since the country was blighted by riots).