We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Those awful Americans and their guns. Not like civilised New Zealanders.

The Times reports:

Online stalker who flew round the world shot by girl’s mother

A 25-year-old man who flew 9,000 miles from New Zealand to see an American teenager he had met online was shot by her mother as he was breaking into their house.

Troy Skinner was armed with a pocket knife, pepper spray and duct tape when he began battering doors and smashed a window at the family’s home, detectives in Virginia said. He was taken by air ambulance to hospital in a critical condition after being shot twice, once in the neck, but was expected to survive.

Sheriff James Agnew, of Goochland County, said: “The manner in which he attempted to enter that home in the face of a firearm pointed at him and the implements we recovered from him, the only inference is that he had very bad intent. He was not invited here, he was not expected here. He had been told the daughter no longer wished to communicate with him.”

Mr Skinner had struck up a relationship with the 14-year-old girl on a video gamers’ chat app called Discord about four months ago, the sheriff said. The app says that it is a place for people who “love playing games” to share “relationships, memories, and laughs”.

Mr Skinner decided to travel halfway across the world to see her when she tried to break things off. He had taken three flights and a long interstate bus trip to get to her house. “This was not random. This was not spontaneous. This was something very planned,” the sheriff said.

And

The mother told police that she was at home painting with her two teenage daughters when Mr Skinner came to the door. She refused to open it, but he then went around the back and tried to break down a rear door with a concrete block from their garden.

The girl’s mother warned him several times that she was armed with a handgun and she opened fire when he smashed a glass panel and started reaching inside to try to open it by the latch.

My apologies to readers from New Zealand. The sarcasm of my title was just a rhetorical device to make a particular point. Of course I am aware that this type of madman can arise in any country. The roles could easily be reversed, with an American obsessive armed with knife, pepper spray and duct tape trying to break into the house of a fourteen year old New Zealand girl.

Of course given that in New Zealand, as in the UK,

Gun licenses are issued at the discretion of the police in New Zealand provided the police consider the person to be of good standing and without criminal, psychiatric or drug issues as well as meeting other conditions such as having suitable storage facilities. To be issued, they must be issued for a valid reason, which may not include self defense.

…if this had taken place in New Zealand or the UK the mother would have had no gun and the girl would have been raped and murdered.

“If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner”

Remember the mockery that Sarah Palin got for her prediction that state health care might result in “Death panels”?

She was wrong about a few things. There is no need for a panel of bureaucrats to decide when it is time to stop treating old people and those with Downs syndrome. That can be done more conveniently by the doctors and nurses. And while we’re at it, why confine ourselves to stopping treatment? Would it not also reduce the burden on the NHS and its employees to become a bit more proactive and actively shorten these useless lives?

This article by Dominic Lawson about the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal is one of the most powerful I have ever read.

Last week’s monstrously belated report on the Hampshire hospital’s treatment of its patients in the 1990s revealed that at least 450, and probably more than 650, had been killed — sorry, had had their lives shortened — as a result of a policy of attaching them to syringe drivers pumping diamorphine. Diamorphine is medically indicated only when the patient is either in the severest pain or terminally ill, because its notable side effect, when large doses are consistently administered, is respiratory failure. Injections of diamorphine — in 30mg doses — were Dr Harold Shipman’s chosen method of dispatching his patients. But the numbers at Gosport exceed the tally of Britain’s most prolific mass murderer.

You may be thinking, no need for that sort overblown rhetoric. Surely this is a case of misplaced mercy, of overdoing the pain relief? That is what I thought too. It is why I had not paid much attention to this story until now. More fool me. Read on:

The report, led by James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool, reveals that only 45% of those administered terminal quantities of diamorphine were said to be in pain. And in 29% of cases their medical notes give either no reason, or no comprehensible justification, for the lethal dose (most died within a couple of days of being attached to the pump).

(Emphasis added by me, as it is in all the excerpts I quote in this post.)

Even that is not the worst. Read on further:

The ones most likely to get the treatment appeared to be not the sickest, but the most “difficult”. As the stepson of one of the victims remarked: “If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner.” This was clear from the testimony of Pauline Spilka, an auxiliary nurse. After the local newspaper in 2001 reported the complaints by relatives of Gladys Richards, (whose life had been “shortened”), Spilka went to the police. In an interview with Detective Chief Inspector Ray Burt of the Hampshire constabulary, Spilka said: “It appeared to me then and more so now that euthanasia was practised by the nursing staff. I cannot offer an explanation as to why I did not challenge what I saw at that time . . . I feel incredibly guilty.”

Spilka was especially troubled by the fate of an 80-year-old patient (his name is redacted) whom she described as “mentally alert and capable of long conversations . . . able to walk . . . and to wash himself”. He was, however, “difficult”. She told the policeman that this patient was “always making demands” and that “I remember having a conversation with one of the other auxiliaries [Marion] . . . we agreed that if he wasn’t careful he would ‘talk himself onto a syringe driver’.”

So it came to pass: “One day I left work after my shift and he was his normal self. Upon returning to work the following day, I was shocked to find him on a syringe driver and unconscious. I was so shocked and angered by this that Marion and I went to confront the ward manager.” They were told to put a sock in it. Nursing auxiliaries are at the bottom of the chain, without any medical qualifications. What was their word worth, against that of the formidable (and formidably well connected) Dr Jane Barton

Whereas a word from Dr Jane Barton was literally enough to sentence a woman to death. Lawson continues:

Perhaps the most upsetting case — at least, as the father of an adult with Down’s syndrome, I found it so — was that of 78-year-old Ethel Thurston, admitted with a fractured femur. She was described in the report as having “learning difficulties [and] the mental capacity of a 10-year-old”, though she “once held down a job in a bank . . . and had been able to travel across London independently”. The nurses’ notes took a different tack: “Willing to feed herself only if she feels like it . . . her behaviour can be aggressive.”

On July 26, 1999, Dr Barton made her recommendation: “Please keep comfortable. I am happy for nursing staff to confirm death.” Happy? The following then appears in the nursing notes: “Syringe driver started diamorphine 90mg. Midazolam 20mg.” These huge doses were administered at 11.15am. At 7pm a nurse confirmed Miss Thurston’s death.

Ça ira toujours

Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
Les aristocrates à la lanterne!

That is the famous song sung by the female revolutionaries storming the gates of Versailles in this clip from a 1953 film called “Si Versailles M’Etait Conté” (If Versailles Told me its Story).

Neither the voice of Edith Piaf at the head of the mob nor the glorious technicolor in the film can suppress the thought that “Les aristocrates à la lanterne!” (The aristocrats to the lamp-posts!) is a murderous sentiment. If that was the song of the Revolution, it is hardly surprising that it soon became the Terror.

Only those were not the words sung at the time of the Revolution. The film is peddling a myth. Today I learned, first that the words “ça ira, ça ira” do not mean “Thus it will go, thus it will go” as I had thought but “It’ll be fine, it’ll be fine”, secondly that they were originally said by Benjamin Franklin to express his confidence that the American Revolution would work out OK, and thirdly that the original words of the song are revolutionary but not murderous.

Here are a couple of extracts:

According to the precepts of the Gospel
Of the lawmaker everything shall be accomplished
The one who puts on airs shall be brought down
The one who is humble shall be elevated
The true catechism shall instruct us
And the awful fanaticism shall be snuffed out.

and

The aristocrat says, “Mea culpa!”
The clergy regrets its wealth,
The state, with justice, will get it.
Thanks to the careful Lafayette,
Everyone will calm down.

Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
By the torches of the august assembly,
Ah ! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
An armed people will always take care of themselves.
We’ll know right from wrong,
The citizen will support the Good.

Those were the words as first written by a former soldier turned street singer by the name of Ladré. It was not so much the song of the Revolution as the song of the Fête de la Fédération that took place a year later. This event was meant to be a symbol of national reconciliation. Wikipedia says:

At this relatively calm stage of the Revolution, many people considered the country’s period of political struggle to be over. This thinking was encouraged by counter-revolutionary monarchiens, and the first fête was designed with a role for King Louis XVI that would respect and maintain his royal status. The occasion passed peacefully and provided a powerful, but illusory, image of celebrating national unity after the divisive events of 1789–1790.

As we all know, that did not last. Unlike their American counterparts, the French revolutionaries had no intention of stopping just because they had achieved their ostensible aim. Ladré’s optimistic words about everyone calming down and the state “with justice” taking the wealth from repentant aristocrats and clergy were replaced by a new version of the “Ça ira” propagated by the sans-culottes:

Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
aristocrats to the lamp-post
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
the aristocrats, we’ll hang them!
If we don’t hang them
We’ll break them
If we don’t break them
We’ll burn them
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
aristocrats to the lamp-post
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
the aristocrats, we’ll hang them!
We shall have no more nobles nor priests
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
Equality will reign everywhere

The hangings, the breakings and the burnings all came to pass, as they always do when Equality reigns. Thus it did go, but it was not fine.

Tomorrow the People go forth

If you find yourself in London tomorrow, you can go on the March for a People’s Vote.

On the 23rd of June, we will march to Parliament Square to demand a vote on the final Brexit deal. Join us, for this historic event!

Remember this is the march for a People‘s Vote. The last one didn’t have enough proper people taking part.

Two days before the EU (probably) votes to end the free internet. Should we care?

In two days, on 20th June, the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee will vote on the proposed Copyright Directive.

By design the process by which the European Union makes laws is opaque. They would have been quite happy to slide this past the slumbering European public, but some people have woken up to the fact that it is an ill-drafted and authoritarian piece of legislation.

Opposition within the EU is being led by Julia Reda, a German Pirate Party MEP. Here is her summary page on the proposed law. Article 11, popularly called the “link tax”, and Article 13, popularly called “censorship machines”, are particularly sinister.

As it stands Article 11 would mean the end of blogging:

Anyone using snippets of journalistic online content must first get a license from the publisher. This new right for publishers would apply for 20 years after publication.

And if you think that sounds bad, wait til you see Article 13:

– Freedom of expression limited: Upload monitoring software cannot tell infringement apart from legal uses like parody, specifically enabled by exceptions and limitations to copyright. Filters also frequently malfunction. As a result, legal content will be taken down.

– Independent creators harmed: Platforms will receive instructions as to what content to automatically remove from large commercial rightholders. When independent creators have works removed by filters that are covered by exceptions or otherwise misidentified as infringing, they will effectively be deemed “guilty until proven innocent”, having to fight to have their legal creations reinstated.

– Surveillance risk: The proposal requires the installation of what amounts to surveillance technology. Due to high development costs, content monitoring technology will likely end up being outsourced to a few large US-based providers, strengthening their market position even further and giving them direct access to the behavior of all EU users of internet platforms.

– Startup killer: This requirement places a huge burden on internet companies and discourages investment in user-generated content startups, preventing EU competition to the targeted dominant US platforms from arising, effectively locking in YouTube’s dominance. (See Allied for Startups)

– Unintended targets harmed: Community projects like Wikipedia would likely need to implement such filters, even though they only accept freely-licensed uploads. Code hosting platforms would also be affected, “undermining the foundations upon which Free and Open Source Software is built”. As would scientific repositories, “undermining the foundations of Open Access”.

Interestingly, this proposed law is bitterly opposed on the usually pro-EU Reddit Europe. See this post currently “stuck” to the top of the subreddit.

There and elsewhere I have seen commenters – particularly the young, computer literate generation that are more usually seen rolling out pro-EU banners at Labour party events – state that this issue alone has turned them against the EU. At a time when both Government and Opposition waver in their resolve to stick to the result of the referendum it is at least arguable that we should be glad when the EU’s velvet glove slips to show the iron fist underneath.

I am not going to spin this out. I think we should care. Letting freedom be significantly curtailed for 450 million people for temporary political advantage and the chance to say, “I told you so” seems a poor bargain. If the EU succeeds in passing this law, Theresa May will be taking notes. Julia Reda has a “What you can do” page. For the sake of our friends in Europe, and for our own sake here in the UK, I think that if you are a UK or EU resident you should do those things.

But perhaps you disagree?

What a bloke!

Today Tory MP Christopher Chope blocked a Private Member’s Bill, supported by both the Government and the Opposition, that would have made “upskirting” a specific criminal offence. Everybody hates him now. Even Guido says,

Tory dinosaur Christopher Chope has plumbed new depths by blocking a bill to make upskirting a criminal offence. Not sure how he plans to justify that to his wife and daughter. Chope has a tedious habit of blocking Private Member’s Bills supposedly on procedural grounds. In reality he just obstructs and prevents good ideas.

Guido then lists Chope’s previous obstructions:

In addition to the upskirting bill, Chope has also blocked:

  • Pardoning Alan Turing (which was supported by The Queen);
  • Same-sex marriage;
  • An investigation into Bercow bullying allegations;
  • The use of wild animals in circus performances;
  • Blocked free hospital car parking for carers;
  • Making revenge evictions an offence.

    What a bloke.

  • UPDATE: Not content with blocking the upskirting bill, Chope just blocked another government-backed bill to make it a specific criminal offence to attack police dogs and horses.
  • So this man Chope has opposed the use of the power of the state to… make what was already illegal under general principles of law doubly illegal by naming whatever crime led the headlines last week, to solidify the belief that the promises made by one person to another need to be ratified by the state, to allow modern “lawmakers” to display their enlightenment in comparison to their predecessors, to hold an investigation to reveal what everybody knows anyway, to ban the last half dozen wild animals from circuses, and to exempt one specially sentimentalised category of person from hospital car park charges thus loading them yet further on to, you know, sick people.

    Eight times. Eight times he has stood alone against the Hydra of therapeutic laws, vote-chasing laws, sentimental laws, virtue-signalling laws and “something must be done, this is something” laws.

    What a bloke!

    “Has the time come to do something?”

    Ah, the eternal question. Retired circuit judge Nic Madge has taken to the august pages of the Times to ask it anew in a way fitting to this age.

    Time to regulate the murder weapons in your kitchen drawer

    Barely a day passes without news of another fatal stabbing or knife attack causing serious injury. For instance, in the past month in Wolverhampton 15-year-old Keelan Wilson died from multiple stab wounds. In Northampton 17-year-old Louis-Ryan Menezes was stabbed to death in broad daylight in a crowded street. In separate incidents in Sheffield a 15-year-old, a 19-year-old and an older man were found dying from stab wounds.

    And so on for a depressing few paragraphs. If anyone had not known that violent crime persists despite the laws against it, they have no excuse for not knowing it now. He continues,

    Much has been done to combat knife crime. Possession in a public place of an article with a blade or sharp point without a good reason carries a prison sentence of up to four years. Possession of blades or pointed items on school premises is a separate offence. Anyone convicted of a second knife offence faces a mandatory minimum custodial sentence.

    Recently a new Sentencing Council guideline with tougher sentences for knife crime came into force. It is illegal to sell knives, axes or swords to anyone aged under 18. The police are taking steps to prevent internet sales to young people. In Bedfordshire many shops put such knives on shelves out of reach of customers. The police have made metal detecting arches available for schools. The police, youth offending service, schools and others are doing excellent educational and awareness work about the dangers of knife crime. The Metropolitan Police are piloting a deferred prosecution scheme for less serious offences.

    So, how is this migthy wave of banning and sentencing and “excellent awareness work”-ing working in the other sense?

    Yet these measures have almost no effect on the availability of knives to youths.

    Oh.

    A few of the blades carried are “Rambo” knives, “zombie” knives or samurai swords. These, though, are a minority. The vast majority are ordinary kitchen knives that are potential murder weapons. It is easy for any youth who wants a knife to take it from any kitchen drawer.

    Why, though, do we need 8in or 10in kitchen knives with points? Butchers and fishmongers do, but how often does a domestic chef use the point of a knife that size? Yes, we need short knives with points to fillet fish or pierce meat, but they are less likely to be lethal. Any blade can cause an injury, but slash wounds from them are rarely fatal: the points of long knives cause life-threatening and fatal injuries.

    Manufacturers, shops, the police, local authorities and the government should consider further regulating the sale of long, pointed knives. At the very least shops should sell alternatives with rounded ends. There have always been stabbings and always will be. The carrying and ready use of large, pointed knives has led to the increase in death and serious injury. Punches, kicks and attacks with blunt objects injure, but the results are less likely to be severe or fatal.

    Young lives are needlessly being cut short. Those who survive knife attacks carry physical and psychological scars. The lives of families, communities, and not forgetting the young offenders who receive lengthy sentences on conviction, are blighted by the ready availability of such knives. Has the time come to do something?

    Time for you to step back from the computer and have a relaxing hot bath to cure this fit of the vapours, m’lud.

    Or maybe not. As a highly recommended Times comment by someone called “Erasure” puts it,

    Next week: The Times makes a case for removing baths from homes;

    “You just can’t be too careful, said an HSE spokeshuman….Baths are filled with water and if you have children in your home under the age of 4 then I’m afraid the danger is too great and the bath must go………….either that or the Council will remove your children from the appalling danger. I think that is a sensible and proportionate sanction and something that I am sure all sensible, well-educated and right-on families living in Islington are in agreement about”

    Anyone know how the new EU internet censorship & link tax law will affect the UK?

    According to Lucian Armasu of Tom’s Hardware, in one week’s time I might no longer be able to link to Lucian Armasu of Tom’s Hardware and quote him like I’m about to do. Or have I misunderstood? I hope I have, because this sounds serious:

    EU Expected To Pass Censorship Machines, Link Tax On June 20

    As soon as June 20, next week, the European Parliament will vote a draft legislation proposed by the European Commission (EU’s executive body). Critics have attacked the proposal as being quite extreme because it could impact many digital industries too severely.

    Censorship Machines (Article 13)

    One of the biggest issues with the new EU copyright reform proposal is the Article 13, which mandates that websites that accept user content (anything from videos to online comments) must have an “upload filter” that would block all copyrighted content that’s uploaded by users. Critics, such as Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda, have also called upload filters “censorship machines.”

    Under the censorship machine proposal, companies would be required to get a license for any copyrighted content that is uploaded to their site by its users. In other words, websites would be liable for any content their users upload to the site. It goes without saying that this could significantly hamper innovation on the internet.

    For instance, YouTube or a site like it, probably wouldn’t even exist today if the site would have been liable for what users uploaded from day one.

    Link Tax (Article 11)

    The “link tax” proposal in Article 11 of the copyright reform directive is another idea that’s not just seemingly bad, but it has also failed in countries such as Spain and Germany, where it has already been attempted. Instead of getting companies such as Google or other publishers to pay for the links, or article excerpts and previews, those companies simply stopped linking to content coming from Germany and Spain.

    To make matters worse, the EC will allow EU member states to decide for themselves how the link tax should work. This seems contrary to the Commission’s “Digital Single Market” objective, because it will create significant complexity for all online publishers operating in the EU. They will have to abide by all the different copyright rules in the 27 member states. Existing fragmented copyright laws in the EU is one of the reasons why services such as Netflix took so long to arrive in most European countries, too.

    Reda believes that a link tax would significantly reduce the number of hyperlinks we see on the web, which means websites will be much less connected to each other. Additionally, the link tax could boost fake news, because real publishers may require others to pay for linking to its content, but fake news operations evidently will not. These groups will want their content to be spread as easily as possible.

    Reda also said that the link tax would be in violation of the Berne Convention, which guarantees news websites the right to quote articles and “press summaries.”

    I have heard of Julia Reda MEP before. She sits with the Greens in the EU Parliament but don’t hold that against her; she is actually a member of the Pirate Party. She is fighting the good fight.

    This 1 weird trick will solve your crime problem

    Knives are too sharp and filing them down is solution to soaring violent crime, judge says.

    The wind can blow a smokescreen either way

    Two stories related to freedom of speech are doing the rounds tonight:

    The BBC reports: YouTuber Alison Chabloz guilty over anti-Semitic songs

    Chabloz is a nasty and stupid woman, whose delusions will be given more credibility by the fact that she was persecuted for them.

    The Hull Daily Mail reports: Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson ‘being held in Hull prison’ after arrest

    I do not know what to make of Robinson himself, nor of his arrest. There are some complications about contempt of court and his breaching the terms of his earlier suspended sentence that, frankly, I cannot summon up the energy to investigate; it may not be as simple a case of persecution as it is presented as being in this PJ Media story. The authorities imagine that by placing reporting restrictions on Robinson’s case they will make people think he is as clearly bad as Chabloz is. The actual effect is to make the public wonder whether she, like he, might have something to be said in her favour.

    One day the Times headline writers might figure out what actually helps save rhinos

    The paper edition of the Times that hit my doormat this morning had an interesting headline: “Hi-tech kit keeps rhinos safe from poachers”.

    The online version has an even more interesting headline: “Hi-tech kit and ex-spies keeps South Africa’s rhinos safe from poachers”.

    Neither headline is untrue, both the hi-tech gadgetry and the spies are helping preserve the rhinos, but both are missing something. My use of the “Deleted by the PC Media” tag is a little inaccurate, as is my use of the “Hippos” tag, but we seem to lack a tag for “Rhinos” or for “Never even entered the PC Media’s pretty little heads despite the facts staring them in the face from their own reporting”. See if you can guess what the missing factor is from this excerpt:

    South Africa, home to 80 per cent of the world’s 29,000 rhinos, loses about three a day to poachers, the vast majority in state parks. Private reserves have become essential to preventing the animals from extinction, as long as the owners can afford to protect them.

    Turning the 150,000-acre reserve into a 21st-century fortress in the African bush costs £1 million a year but the investment has paid off. The park has not lost a rhino in the past two years. It is hardly surprising. At each of the park’s four gates, guests visiting its five-star lodges, as well as staff, only enter after systems have checked numberplates and fingerprints against a national criminal database and are tracked and monitored until they leave.

    Kruger National Park is far less secure and the rate of survival among its 9,000-strong rhino population is poor. Sixty per cent of all poaching incidents in South Africa occur there. Too often its rangers, police and officials are in the pay of poachers. Rhino horns can fetch up to £70,000 per kilogram in Asia, where they are imagined to cure a range of ills from hangovers to cancer.

    The spirit of Nongqawuse lives on

    Nongqawuse was a fifteen year old Xhosa girl who in 1856 had a vision in which three ancestral spirits told her that if the Xhosa people showed their trust by destroying their crops and killing their cattle, then on the appointed day the spirits would raise the dead, bountifully replace all that was destroyed, and sweep the British into the sea. Thousands believed this prophecy and slaughtered their cattle. But the dead slept on and the British remained in place.

    Nongqawuse explained that this lack of action was due to the amagogotya, the stingy ones, who had kept their cattle back from slaughter. She urged everyone to greater efforts. A new date was set for the prophecy to finally come true. The rate of cattle-killing rose to a climax.

    Eventually the Xhosa lost patience, and, with remarkable mercy, handed Nongqawuse over to the British. By then famine had reduced the population of British Kaffraria from 105,000 to fewer than 27,000.

    *

    City A.M. reports that John McDonnell says Venezuela is failing because it is ‘not a socialist country’.

    Oh, and our Chancellor-in-waiting says that he will overthrow capitalism.

    If you want to watch the Sunday Politics interview where he said all this, this BBC link will work for another 28 days.