Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Power Crisis

More power crisis headlines in the papers yesterday, with dire warnings of power-cuts and brownouts. And of course, more calls for domestic users to save electricity. The problem is, we're not the problem.

Domestic users are ~35 to 40 percent of the electricity market. Calling on them to save power isn't going to do squat unless the people who are using the other 60% or so likewise cut back. People like ComalCo, for example, who reportedly use most of the power from the Manapouri hydro scheme. Or, if we're looking at people who can reduce their usage without having to chip aluminium out of their production line with jackhammers, the wankers in Wellington who light up every floor of their high-rises all night when there's noone there.

Domestic users are small fry, and there's simply no point in targeting them. The demand is fairly inelastic, and the possible savings are tiny. Turning your TV off at the wall will save a Watt or two on standby mode; turning off the unnecessary lighting in a twenty-story building saves thousands of times more. Unfortunately, the wankers will continue lighting up their buildings, while grannies freeze to death because they think they shouldn't turn the heater on...

Hell in a handbasket

The US occupation of Iraq is getting very dirty very quickly. Firstly, they've started arresting their political opponents. Then last night jumpy US soldiers shot at a protest in the town of Falluja, killing at least a dozen people and injuring over fifty. Jonathan Steele has an account of the aftermath in the Guardian. And then, to make things worse, they went and did it again this morning, injuring another two. Regardless of whether the Americans were shot at or not, it looks very very bad, and is not exactly going to endear them to the locals. But of course, they have no understanding of that at all...

Bloody Belgians

A Belgian lawyer is apparantly preparing to prosecute General Tommy Franks in a Begian court for war crimes. The US is threatening "diplomatic consequences" if it even hits court.

I guess this is the first step in the postwar process.

Monday, April 28, 2003

"Life and physical integrity have no supremacy over economic interests"

Those are the words of an Argentinian judge evicting workers from a factory they'd expropriated (and were running profitably) after it had been abandoned by its legal owners. It's a scary summary of current econodwarf thinking, and something we should reject utterly.

(As for the factory workers, they were driven out by police, then shot at with tear gas, water cannon, rubber and then real bullets when they tried to go back to work. Naomi Klein has the complete story in the Guardian.

New Fisk

Did the US murder these journalists?

The Independent has started trying to charge a Pound an article for Fisk, so we'll all have to read him elsewhere.

Clutching at straws

Bill English is again accusing Helen Clark of upsetting the US, this time over remarks that she made at the European Policy Centre. According to Stuff, the supposedly damaging remarks were:

"New Zealand as a small nation depends on the international rule of law," she said.

"In a world where might was right, we would stand to be the loser - and so would every other small nation."

English is clutching at straws here. The above has literally been the core of our foreign policy for the last fifty years. The US knows this, and knows that it's not going to change, hegemon or no hegemon. If Bill English is actually concerned about our national interest, then perhaps he should consider how we would fare in a world with no framework of international law, where our fate would depend on the whims of the powerful.

(And BTW, the European Policy Centre has a summary of Helen Clark's comments online.)

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Review: Perfect Copy

I read this book a few weeks ago, and I've been meaning to blog about it ever since. Perfect Copy: Unravelling the Cloning Debate (Ikon, 2002) is an exploration of the ethics of cloning by Nick Agar, who lectured me in Bioethics and the ethics of genetic technologies when I was at Vic.

The first chapter lays out "the rules of ethical engagement" - principles which are (hopefully) shared by all participants in the debate, and should provide some common ground from which to work. The second of these principles - that we should be consistent - is unproblematic. The first - the intrinsic value of human life (or "people matter") - isn't, because while it's something that everyone will agree to, it means very different things to different people. In particular, it matters a great deal whether you interpret that intrinsic value in terms of "personhood" (as done by people like Peter Singer) or e.g. in terms of biological life (usually as a mask for an immortal soul granted at conception - the religious conservative POV). This unfortunately comes back to bite us later.

After a chapter covering the science of cloning, we get to start applying those ethical rules. Currently cloning is very much an experimental technology with a high failure rate and a propensity to produce sickly, short-lived clones. Does this mean we shouldn't be cloning people? The prospect of using abortion to winnow out the failures gets us straight into the abortion debate, and thus brings those disputes about what "human life" means into sharp focus. Religious conservatives will be appalled at the prospect of having to abort 276 foetuses to get one clone. Personhood theorists will shrug their shoulders and say "they're not people, and so don't matter". So much for our common ground...

Nick adopts the personhood interpretation, but points out that the technological problems mean that a clone which survives to birth may still fail the welfare test (lead a life which is worse than no life at all - another principle that religious conservatives would probably object to), and that if we adopt a precautionary stance, we shouldn't be cloning people. There's an unstated "yet" on the end of that conclusion, as it depends on technological problems which will (hopefully) disappear as the technology matures.

Chapter four is a brief diversion into "therapeutic cloning" - cloning to provide stem cells or even entire body parts. The former is essentially identical to abortion, and thus really only a problem for religious conservatives. The second is more interesting. While it's entirely morally unproblematic to grow an organ in a vat (or at least, no more problematic than harvesting the stem cells in the first place), the easiest and most technologically feasible way to get parts is to grow an entire human being. Provided that human is not a person, then this theoretically poses no problems for personhood theorists. (Un?)fortunately, all but the most hardened of them shy away at the thought of deliberately inducing a persistent vegetative state in an embryo so you can later harvest them for parts. It's too much like the Epsilons of Huxley's Brave New World, or Michael Marshall Smith's Spares. Personhood is a remarkably useful moral theory, and so the challenge is to find a way to have our cake and eat it too (or, I suppose, to find a way to be comfortable with some of the implications of our beliefs).

Chapter five addresses the questions of cloning and identity, and the idea of achieving immortality through cloning. Nothing much to say here, except that those who think that their clones will be them (such as the Raelians) or that they can somehow replace a dead child or pet by cloning it are deeply misguided people, and are likely to be horribly disappointed.

Chapter six covers the use of cloning as a reproductive technology, primarily in the context of allowing infertile couples to have children who are genetically related to them, but also using several other examples (lesbians reproducing without needing men; providing an organ donor for another child). There's a hodge-podge of moral issues here, but the main questions seem to be about the psychology of a potential clone's parents rather than the morality of cloning itself. Given the hassle involved in cloning, the obvious answer would be counselling, just as for IVF.

The final chapter, "Fear itself can be frightening" is the most curious. Nick argues that popular misconceptions about cloning could cause people to stigmatise and discriminate against clones; applying the welfare test, we could conclude that a life of prejudice and stigmatisation is worse than no life at all, and therefore under the precautionary principle we shouldn't clone anyone until more liberal attitudes prevail. To his credit, Nick recognises the danger in this "bigotry is its own justification" argument, and attempts to draw a distinction based on the presence of communities of racial or sexual minorities, which insulate members of those minorities from prejudice. The first clones, on the other hand,

"...will be coming into a world incapable of supplying them with the goods of community that might ward off some of the harmful effects of stigmatisation. They will be truly alone."

To me, this seems akin to saying that discrimination in the pre-Civil Rights American South justified their laws against miscegenation.

Quite apart from pandering to bigotry, the community argument is a perfect example of one of those popular misconceptions which Nick is worried about: the belief that clones will be fundamentally different from other human beings, and incapable of bonding with or receiving emotional support from them. This simply doesn't gel with the no-nonsense approach he's taken in the rest of the book, which would lead us to regard clones as ordinary people with unusual circumstances surrounding their birth. We have ordinary people who are under the media microscope practically every day from birth (children of celebrities or politicians), or who are the only member of a persecuted minority in their local area and thus effectively excluded from the community (e.g. the only gay guy or atheist in a small Alabama town). They get along, so why wouldn't clones? As for the argument that people shouldn't be enlisted in the fight against bigotry without their consent, it happens all the time - bigots ensure it.

Overall, Perfect Copy is an interesting book, and provides a good introduction to the topic. It's biggest flaw (apart from the shockingly illiberal chapter seven) is that the "common ground" it adopts as a starting point for ethical argument isn't. The reason for adopting "the intrinsic value of human life" as a guiding principle is to avoid disputes such as that between atheists and theists over whether there are such things as immortal souls; unfortunately it is simply papering over these differences. What you define as "human life" is crucially important to the debate, and leads to very different conclusions - and that "what" is in turn informed by people's beliefs about why human life is important in the first place. Unless we have agreement on these questions, we have no common ground at all.

Baghdad blast

Some clever person fired flares into an ammunition dump in Baghdad, setting off a chain of explosions which demolished four houses and killed at least twelve people. It's also set off anti-American demonstrations, and US troops have been stoned by Iraqis who blame them for storing weapons in a residential area (or at least not moving them).

According to the BBC, the latest chant in Baghdad is "America's no better than Saddam".

So, is this a one-off, or is it the start of serious opposition to the US occupation? I guess we'll have to wait a few months to find out.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

I hate yuppie-restaurants... especially those that don't do bookings and make you wait for over an hour before being seated, in order to prove that they're popular and happening.

North Korea watch

Talks between North Korea and the US don't seem to be going well. The US wants North Korea to dismantle its nuclear programme and accept inspections, but the Koreans have seen what happened to Iraq, and aren't playing ball. And now they have apparantly not only threatened a weapons test, but to export the bombs as well.

The US has fucked this one up right from the beginning. They reneged on their original agreement, and didn't build the nuclear reactors they were supposed to. They refused to talk, when delays simply strengthened North Korea's hand. Now they're talking, but refusing to move from their original position - and treating the Koreans with contempt into the bargain.

You do not do that to a crazy guy with nuclear weapons.

At the moment, Bush seems to be doing everything possible to encourage the Koreans to do a missile or weapons test, which will escalate the crisis even further. You'd almost think that he wanted them to nuke California or something... perhaps its because they're democrats?

Friday, April 25, 2003

Population target?

United Future's Peter Dunne thinks that NZ needs five million people by 2015. All I can say is why?

Does Dunne feel inadequete as a member of a society with a mere four million people? Does he need the extra million to restore his self-esteem, and help him stand proud in front of people from Denmark, Finland and Ireland? This seems like the same sort of silly penis-size war we play over OECD rankings - "Look! We're in the top five countries in the world for population growth!" (along with Niger, Somalia and Yemen).

Currently Statistics NZ thinks that the population will peak at 4.8 million in the mid 21st century. I really see no reason to hurry this along, and certainly no reason to charge towards some imaginary try-line as if population growth was a competition.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Just when you thought the Bush administration had reached rock bottom

Its bad enough that America has seen fit to deny more than 600 "enemy combatants" from the war on terror their basic human rights by detaining them at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. It turns out, according to this ABC report, that they are also holding a number of Children there - for as long as they like, without trial. Just heart warming that isn't it?

John Pilger Article

John Pilger is actually pretty good when he isn't throwing his toys out of the cot, and he is certainly much better in print than he is on TV as this article shows. Unfortunately, for all John Pilger's outrage, the sort of people who need to have the uncomfortable truth about Iraq rammed in their faces are never ever going to read this.

US to punish France

Colin Powell has said that the US will be reviewing all aspects of its relations with France, and that there will be "consequences" for the French stand on Iraq. At the same time, the Department of Defence is reviewing the contract of an American firm involved in the reconstruction of the Pentagon - because their paint is made in Germany.

But then again, did we really need any further evidence that the current US administration are a bunch of petty bullies who will accept nothing less than total subserviance from the rest of the world?

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

NZ to play part in Iraq mine clearing

The shooting has stopped, they're under the UN (rather than US) flag, and they're not going to be waving guns at Iraqis, so it's fairly acceptable. Still, we're helping to clean up the American's mess, but it's the decent thing to do.

OTOH, you'd think that having made such a mess of the place, the Americans would clean up their own unexploded bombs. I guess that none of the President's cronies is in the demining business, or that there's no money in it or something...

US corporate lobbying, on a global scale

A consortium of large US corporations is attempting to monster the World Health Organisation over its latest health guidelines. Their objection? WHO says that excessive sugar consumption contributes to obesity, and that a healthy diet shouldn't be more than 10% sugar. Their response? Threatening to lobby their tame lawmakers in Congress to cut off US funding for WHO.

Their tactics are reminiscent of those used by American religious conservatives to cripple the UN Pupulation Fund. But in this case it's not a matter of misguided moral beliefs - it's just that proper health advice threatens their bottom line. If people got the outrageous idea that sugary foods made them fat, they might stop eating them - and then where would Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and all the other producers of crap junk food be?

If you want to express your disgust at the sugar association, you can email them. Ditto the US Council for International Business. The latter also has a dandy membership list, if you want to figure out who to send a shit-o-gram to.

(Obviously, the thought that the above email addresses would be harvested by scumsucking spammers has never entered my head)

ICC elects first prosecutor

The International Criminal Court has elected an Argentine human rights lawyer as its first prosecutor. Apparantly they've already had over 200 complaints filed, so he'll have his work cut out for him.

I wonder how many of those complaints concern the American invasion of Iraq?

Monday, April 21, 2003

I'm not dead...

...I'm just moving from Palmerston North to Wellington, and adapting to a nine-to-five suit job with limited web access in the process. So blogging will be light for the next two weeks or so, until I find a new equilibrium, or a compelling reason to vent my spleen.

Though looking at this morning's Dominion-Post, it'll probably be the latter...

Saturday, April 19, 2003

SARS Watch

There's a particularly good series of SARS updates on The Agonist. Scary fact: the mortality rate (proportion of those infected who die) is now estimated to be in the order of 6 - 10%.

Baghdad protesters denounce 'occupation'

Image stolen from BBC

Speaks for itself really.

Update:, More here.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Embedded Photographer: "I Saw Marines Kill Civilians"

The link speaks for itself, really:

A second vehicle drove up. The same scenario was repeated. Its passengers were killed on the spot. A grandfather was walking slowly with a cane on the sidewalk. They killed him too (SEE PHOTO IN LE MONDE). As with the old man, the Marines fired on a SUV driving along the river bank that was getting too close to them. Riddled with bullets, the vehicle rolled over. Two women and a child got out, miraculously still alive. They sought refuge in the wreckage. A few seconds later, it flew into bits as a tank lobbed a terse shot into it.

It's disturbingly reminiscent of this article, and just reinforces my impression that the US Marines are trigger-happy thugs with no concern for civillian lives.

It was all based on lies

"The inspectors didn't find anything and I doubt that we will."

According to Atrios, Donald Rumsfled said this on CNN today. Hopefully a transcript will follow.

New Fisk

For the people on the streets, this is not liberation but a new colonial oppression - pretty damning, and pretty frightning about what's going on now and what the Americans are (and pointedly aren't) doing.


Last night's "Spindoctors" plotline about "Muhammed" (clearly meant to be Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Sa'id al-Sahhaf) was funny, but I wasn't quite satisfied with the ending. Given his obvious skills at putting the best face on a sinking ship, surely a role with the National Party would have been more appropriate?

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Oh, they're good

Syria has introduced a draft UN security council resolution to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction. This would include Syria's supplies of chemical weapons... and Israel's nukes. Daily Kos has an excellent analysis on this, and how it's a foreign policy disaster for the US - they'll be forced to veto to protect Israel, and as a result:

In one fell swoop, Syria has negated the charges of WMDs against it, exposed the US's hypocrisy on WMDs (our allies can have them, everyone else can't), solidified its leadership of the Arab world, and forced the US to veto a seemingly common sense resolution, after blasting France and Russia for threatening vetoes on Iraq.

I have to admire the Syrians for pulling a stunt like this. They may be an authoritarian regime with a really shitty human rights record, but at least they can play politics properly.

And on the other hand, will a US veto really matter? Sure, it will enjoin the US in the court of global public opinion from using WMDs as a pretext to attack Syria - but I think the US has already shown it doesn't accept the jurisdiction of that court. The story will be spun at home, presented as a "cynical ploy" by the Syrians (which it is), the whole hypocrisy angle will be ignored (or drowned in crys of "anti-semitism"), and the war-plans will keep on being made...

A Taste of things to come?

This was always on the cards but I didn't think the American "liberation" of Iraq would begin to sour quite this quickly. American soldiers have killed at least 10 Iraqi civilians and wounded between 60 and 100 when they reportedly fired on a political rally in Mosul. Go those Americans...who was the clever soldier who thought that this would be a good idea?

Interestingly, although you can read all about it in these reports from the Independent and the BBC, a quick search of the American media (CNN, CBS, MSNBC, Washington Post) has failed to find any mention of the incident. Perhaps they are waiting for their masters in the Whitehouse to tell them what to say. Perhaps they are saving the space for some really big bit of breaking news that will shock the world (I did hear a rumour that they'd found either George Bush's brain or Donald Rumsfeld's moral conscience.)

On the other hand perhaps the death of 10 Iraqi civilians doesn't really mean much to them in the grand scheme of things. After all its less than 1% of the total number of civilian deaths incurred in this conflict. They are only collateral damage, and we are dealing with people who are happy to use weapons like cluster bombs, bunker busting bombs or depleted uranium munitions in residential areas.

Still the Americans only got around to signing the Geneva convention about 50 years after the rest of the world so you can expect them to be a little bit slow on the uptake. Especially the really complex parts like the one that goes something like "killing enemy soldiers good, killing enemy civilians bad." Its understandable that they'd have difficulty with that.

The big question is, how will this shooting incident affect the powder keg that is Northern Iraq? and is it a taste of things to come?

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

US Marines raid journalists' hotel in Baghdad

US Marines have searched rooms at the central Baghdad hotel that is home to most of the foreign journalists in the city, apparently taking some people into custody...

In other words, the Americans sent around a squad of gun toting goons to harrass the media and make sure they didn't report anything that the invaders didn't want the public back home to know.

It looks like the Americans just aren't keen on having an independent press keeping them honest. (story here).

They burned the library...

As mentioned in the Fisk story below, looters have burned Iraq's national library, destroying records dating back to the 16th century. Why? What the hell is going on over there?

New Fisk

Library books, letters and priceless documents are set ablaze in final chapter of the sacking of Baghdad
Would President Assad invite a cruise missile to his palace?

Monday, April 14, 2003

Government Inaction Fuels Power Crisis?

The National party is attempting to blame the government for this year's power crisis:

"The issue here is not the market but a lack of generation, and this Government has done nothing to progress electricity generation or gas exploration," says National Leader Bill English.


"Instead, the Government has failed to speed up the resource consents process and reform the Resource Management Act. Right now, two hydro projects can't progress because they can't get consent.

And the reason those two hydro projects can't get resource consent is because they are dumb projects. The Dobson scheme involves flooding a piece of prime conservation land, while the lower Waitaki scheme would reduce the river to a mere trickle and destroy it for recreational users. Neither would improve security of supply in dry years, the former because it's in an area with lowish rainfall, and the latter because it includes no storage lakes (which is what hydro generation is really good for). So what's the urgency?

The government is blameworthy, but not because it refuses to void the RMA whenever an energy company comes up with a crackpot scheme. The problem is that the market model implemented by the previous National government doesn't exactly encourage investment in new generation capacity, and doesn't provide security of supply in dry years. In fact, it does exactly the opposite, with generators hoping for (and even exacerbating) a shortage so they can cream it on the spot market. The government can do two things: it can reform the market to provide some capacity for long-term planning, or it can encourage new generation which adds security of supply and doesn't compromise our commitments to conservation or the Kyoto protocol.

The government is in fact doing the latter, by using Kyoto credits to encourage the construction of windfarms. While 115MW is a fraction of the size of the proposed lower Waitaki scheme, it's twice the capacity of the Dobson scheme - and it can be built far quicker. This isn't quick enough to save us from problems this year, but it might help in the future.

And Terry Jones too...

Welcome aboard the Iraqi gravy train
Tony and the pixies
Poor Tony Blair wakes up

New Fisk

A Civilization Torn to Pieces
Saddam is airbrushed out by the city that bore his name

"We believe there are chemical weapons in Syria"

From the sound of it, Bush has already settled on his next target, and is preparing the American public for a future war. Maybe while he's at it he'll go for Iran, Libya, Egypt, and of course Israel. Maybe he could work his way through this handy chart. But I think not.

This isn't about chemical weapons; it's about redrawing the map of the Middle East in a way which is favourable to the US. Unfortunately, I doubt there's much anyone can do to stop them.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Peacekeepers to Iraq?

I've seen some idle comments on blogs today suggesting that UN peacekeepers should at some stage assist or replace the US/UK forces in reestablishing law and order. While I'm generally in favour of the UN doing this sort of job (and it's certainly preferable to the hash the Americans are making of it ATM), I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon.

There's two big obstacles in the way of the UN sending peacekeepers to Iraq. The first is the utter contempt the US has shown for the UN and world opinion. The second is that the job doesn't look like "peacekeeping", but serving as a de facto army of occupation for the US invasion (which is both a different mission and against the whole spirit of the UN).

UN peacekeeping depends on soldiers being contributed by member-states. But given the above, why should anyone contribute to any "peacekeeping" force in Iraq? There's a feeling in the rest of the world that the Americans made this mess, so we should let them clean it up. Besides, while the US is occupying Iraq, they won't be able to invade anywhere else...

It's a similar problem with humanitarian aid and reconstruction. While UN member states are more likely to want to contribute in these areas (if only to make up for not helping out with peacekeepers), the way the US has talked about reconstruction contracts is turning them off. Do you really expect the rest of the world to cough up for what is effectively a giant corporate-welfare scheme for the President's cronies?

Basically, unless the Americans change their whole approach to postwar political control and reconstruction, other countries are going to be extremely reluctant to help.

The war in Iraq is not over: A StratFor report on the wars aims and probable aftermath. Interesting reading.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

New Fisk

Flames engulf the symbols of power
I sat on Saddam's throne and surveyed the dark chamber where terror was dispensed
Who is to blame for the collapse in morality that followed the 'liberation'?

More on Winston

One other comment from the Winston Peters thing: during the questions, Mr Peters was asked "apart from immigration policy, how can we rebuild our national identity?" His answer was that we needed national symbols we can be proud of - starting with a flag that can be distinguished from that of Australia. He also thought that we need a new national anthem; he asked people to try and think of the last time we saw someone stand up in a pub or at a party and sing "God Defend New Zealand". For some reason he thinks people should do this more often (apparantly the Scots do it all the time).

To me, this seems, well, fundamentally un-New Zealanderish - we just don't do those sorts of overt displays of patriotism, except in the context of sport. I don't know why - colonial reserve, recognition that we can't sing, desire to avoid an unhealthy flag cult like they have in the US - but we just don't. This doesn't mean New Zealanders don't feel pride in their country, but we just don't express it - at least not until we leave.

Or maybe I'm just weird, and everyone else is bursting to spontaneously demonstrate their love and alleigence to the nation...

Perle warns Syria

Richard Perle, one of the chief U.S. ideologists behind the war to oust Saddam Hussein, warned Friday that the United States would be compelled to act if it discovered that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have been concealed in Syria.

There's been similar talk in the US media about Iraqi WMDs "flowing over the border to Syria" for the last week or so. But what I don't understand is why Syria would have any interest at all in Iraq's (alleged) missiles or chemical weapons - after all, they have plenty of their own.

Unfortunately, I suspect that the American public is generally ignorant of this fact - or else believes the US administration's fantasy of a secret Iraqi nuclear program carried out in the back of a volkswagon somewhere. Either way, the NeoCons are in an excellent position to build public support for an attack on Syria and continue their plans of redrawing the map of the Middle East.

It's like a game of "pass the parcel", with US tanks and cruise missiles following behind. One wonders where they'll claim the WMD parcel has gone after they've knocked over Syria - Iran, Libya, or France?

Late, but not forgotten - Winston Peters

Last wednesday I attended a lecture by Winston Peters, the leader of New Zealand First. The lecture was given as part of an ongoing series by Massey University, for a course on social policy. Previous speakers have included Richard Prebble, Jeanette Fitzsimons, and Don Brash.

Winston was late, and arrived with a pair of flunkies plus a police escort. Since he appeared sober and didn't look like he'd just been hauled out of a bar ("time for your lecture, Mr Peters"), I can only assume the latter were for his protection. In other words, he was scared of us. Woo-hoo!

Winston's chosen topic was "A New Zealand Identity". Unfortunately his delivery was rambling, repititive, and (in the latter stages) riddled with non-sequiters. Some of the things he said:

  • After an initial joke that the NZ idenity was about "rugby, adventure, and sheep" (with much emphesis on the rugby), he looked back to a period when we led the world in social policy and delivering social equity, using the governments of Seddon, Savage and Fraser as examples. I'm not sure about the former (didn't Seddon oppose women's suffrage?), but I think there's a lot to be proud of in our achievements in these areas. Women's suffrage, old-age pensions, the 40 hour week, a comprehensive welfare state and socialised healthcare and education seem to me to encapsulate a lot of what NZ is all about: an egalitarian spirit and a commitment to providing a decent standard of living for all. He summed it up with the line that "New Zealand is about lifestyle", and again, this seems to capture something important.
  • Policy shifts in the 80's and 90's - Rogernomics and Ruthanasia - were basically an attack on this way of life, and led to an increase in inequality. He particularly pointed the finger at businessmen who benefitted from the free market policies who took their cash and are now living offshore in highly-regulated economies like Switzerland. Again, there's not much to disagree with here.
  • Unfortunately, he then began to talk about immigration. Blahblah wealthy foreigners benefitting from inequalities blah blah Auckland's problems are entirely the fault of asian immigrants blah blah they're taking all the places in the good schools blah blah they don't share our values blah blah threat to social cohesion - the standard Peters screed. This went down like a lead balloon with the audiance. The worst bit was an appalling attempt to set Maori against more recent immigrants by asking why they're not making more noise about "being outnumbered in their own country". For someone so concerned with "social cohesion", he seems to be doing his utmost to divide New Zealand along racial lines.
  • Somewhere in the immigration section, he mentioned that 20% of New Zealand's population was born overseas. He thought this was shocking - all those people who don't share our values and all (apart from the ones from Britain and Zimbabwe, of course) - but my initial thought was that it's probably quite low by historical standards (and certainly lower than Australia's 25%). Does anybody have figures tracking this over the past 50 years or so?
  • Questions were quite interesting, covering NZ First's reaction to MMP, troubles in the National Party, and the obligitory question about student loans. And of course more on immigration. Winston wants to see the number of immigrants reduced to 10,000 a year, and restricted to business migrants and those with essential skils (aren't the former one of his chief areas of complaint, though?) - in other words, "we should take only the people we need". His response to "what about people who need us?" was, essentially, "fuck 'em".

The impression that I came away with of Winston's views was that there's a significant tension between his idea of a New Zealand identity and his anti-immigration policies. In particular, the idea of restricting immigration only to the wealthy, and of turning away refugees seem to be deeply at odds with that essentially egalitarian and welfarist vision. Surely if we're to be true to those ideals, we should be downgrading the current emphesis on wealth in our immigration points system, and accepting more refugees, not slamming the door in their faces?

The Lie Of Liberation

Cheering Iraqis are just a diversion, folks. BushCo's real goal is only just beginning

Friday, April 11, 2003

New Fisk

Baghdad: the day after

US hawks set sights on Iran, Syria as Baghdad falls

"It's time to bring down the other terror masters," Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute wrote on Monday -- two days before U.S. troops swept into the heart of Baghdad -- in a piece entitled "Syria and Iran Must Get Their Turn."

They're not even waiting for the dust to settle. And with four extra divisions of US troops on their way to Iraq ATM, Syria and Iran should be worried.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

God, induction and consistency

More from Kevin Drum, this time on taking the Battleground God quiz. He's surprised by the inconsistency of answering "true" to both of the following questions:

Question 10
If, despite years of trying, no strong evidence or argument has been presented to show that there is a Loch Ness monster, it is rational to believe that such a monster does not exist.

Question 14
As long as there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show that God does not exist, atheism is a matter of faith, not rationality.

The test markers point out that this is inconsistent:

Earlier you agreed that it is rational to believe that the Loch Ness monster does not exist if there is an absence of strong evidence or argument that it does. No strong evidence or argument was required to show that the monster does not exist - absence of evidence or argument was enough. But now you claim that the atheist needs to be able to provide strong arguments or evidence if their belief in the non-existence of God is to be rational rather than a matter of faith.

The problem is basically caused by a tension between ordinary everyday rational standards of evidence, and our desire to be uber-rational.

Basically, in everyday life, we're generally happy to discount the existence of things we don't see evidence for. So for example, we don't think there are little green men (or giant molluscs with tripods) on mars, because there's no evidence for it.

The problem is that this relies on induction. And as philosophers from Hume onwards have been pointing out, induction is irrational - the sun coming up today gives you no rational reason to believe that it will come up tomorrow, and seeing no white ravens doesn't mean that all ravens are black.

The problem for philosophers is that life without induction is pretty intolerable. You can't believe anything at all (which seems to be the case for fundamentalist empiricism in general :). This is probably why, mere pages after saying "induction cannot be relied upon", Hume was relying upon it, and proceeded to do so for the rest of his book.

But back to God: arguments about God tend to descend into a pissing contest of who can be the most rational. Theists will try to trump "I haven't seen God" with "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"; atheists will try to be more rational than theists and bite that bullet because it's no skin off their nose to do so - they generally have a compelling argument for nonexistence anyway (the Argument From Evil works pretty well), and so why not go uberrational?

So Atheists find themselves forced into some weird beliefs about standards of evidence. If they agree that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, they have to admit that the UFO cultists aren't irrational when they say the aliens are among us or whatever. But OTOH if they deny it, the theists get to claim the rational high-ground. It's a bit of the bind, and beating theists over the head with the Invisible Taratan Elephant and other consequences of Hume doesn't really get you anywhere. Besides, few people are willing to really dig into induction anyway. Pretty soon you find yourself talking about grue and bleen, and its all downhill from there...

But on the third hand, does it matter? I'd say no, at least not from the atheist perspective. At the worst, they're demanding extremely high standards of evidence for (some of) their own beliefs, which doesn't seem problematic. However, the shoe is on the other foot for theists - they're caught demanding higher standards of others than they do of themselves, which just looks bad.

And More

Final proof that war is about the failure of the human spirit
A day that began with shellfire ended with a once-oppressed people walking like giants

New Fisk

Is there some element in the US military that wants to take out journalists?
The dogs were yelping. They knew bombs were on the way

How long will it last?

Image stolen from the BBC

The BBC is reporting scenes of jubilation from Iraqis as they greet US troops (consume!). But how long will it last?

Now that Saddam is out of the picture, the Iraqis are understandably going to want to control their own destiny. Unfortunately, the US doesn't seem so keen on the idea - at least not until the oil, reconstruction and basing rights agreements have been signed. How long will it be before the Americans wear out their welcome, and the jubilation turns to resentment?

Judging from Afghanistan, about six months.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Hotel attack was deliberate

Via Atrios: the US army's attack on the Palestine Hotel, which killed two journalists and injured three, was deliberate.

Footage filmed by France 3 television of a strike on a hotel which killed two journalists in Baghdad today shows a US tank targeting the journalists' hotel and waiting at least two minutes before firing.

Herve de Ploeg, the journalist and film editor who filmed the attack, said: "I did not hear any shots in the direction of the tank, which was stationed at the west entrance of the Al-Jumhuriya (Republic) bridge, 600 metres north-west of the hotel.

The tank's turret is seen moving toward the Palestine Hotel, where foreign reporters have set up shop, and the gun carriage lifting and waiting at least two minutes before opening up.

The French TV channel had positioned two cameras in two rooms facing the bridge as of 6:30am (11:30 local time).

"It had been very quiet for a moment. There was no shooting at all. Then I saw the turret turning in our direction and the carriage lifting. It faced the target," said De Ploeg.

"It was not a case of instinctive firing," he said.

Information warfare in action.

North Korea gets the message...

...says only massive deterence can avert war. In other words, they've seen what happens to states without nuclear weapons, and have decided to acquire them as quickly as possible. Their 90-day notice period is almost up, and they're officially out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty as of thursday.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

A Question

This afternoon the US attempted to eliminate Saddam by dropping almost four tons of bombs on an apartment block in a residential neighbourhood, levelling it. It's unknown whether Saddam survived, or even if he was there in the first place. The attack killed at least 14 civillians, and there's bound to be more under the rubble (and of course there's the ones they only find bits of - a foot here, a tooth there...)

So, a question: how many innocent bystanders is a chance to kill Saddam worth? And would your answer change if those people were Americans?

Information Warfare

So, what do you do when the foreign media keeps spreading all these pesky stories which go aginst the line you're trying to spin?

Bomb them, of course!

The Americans have taken Iraqi State TV off the air again "to destroy Saddam's capability to disseminate lies" (and who the fuck made the US the arbiter of truth?). But they've also bombed the offices of Al-Jazeera TV. According to the BBC's Rageh Omaar, the bombing was deliberate:

The situation with Al-Jazeera, initially, looks suspect. Their office had given Washington specific satellite references.

We were watching and filming the bombardment and its quite clearly a direct strike on the Al-Jazeera office. This was not just a stray round. It just seemed too specific.

The attack killed one journalist, and injued several others. Abu Dhabi TV was also targetted, as was a hotel where many foreign journalists were staying.

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. But three times is a conspiracy. It's looking as if the US has a conscious policy of trying to suppress the media. And it's obvious what they don't want us to see: the mess created when they drop four tons of explosives on a residential neighbourhood.

A Vital Role

According to One News tonight, Bush and Blair have agreed that the UN will play "a vital role" in postwar Iraq. What "vital role" will that be? Paying for it, perhaps? Or did they just leave out the words "but subserviant" in order to get something they could both agree to?

Excuse my cynicism, but this is hard to square with what numerous American officials have been saying all week (the latest being a statement by John Negroponte that "people shouldn't be surprised if the coalition is going to take the lead in Iraq, given the fact that it's the coalition that has basically sacrificed its blood and treasure to achieve the outcome that now seems to be inevitable.") I know Blair is interested in bringing the UN on board, and will be pressing hard for it as a quid pro quo for his staunch support of Bush. But it's clear that Bush doesn't do quid pro quo, even for lapdogs as subserviant as Blair.

Basically, I'll believe it when I see it.

New Fisk

It seemed as if Baghdad would fall within hours. But the day was characterised by crazed normality, high farce and death
Amid Allied jubilation, a child lies in agony, clothes soaked in blood


I watched The Last Word last night, and regretted it. While billed as a late-night news and comment show, it was more like TV for people with Attention-Defeceit Disorder. Maybe it's just me, but I'd assumed that a show doing interviews and commentry would spend more than three minutes on each one - you know, go into a little more depth than on the normal news. I guess I was mistaken.

"Chemical" Ali is dead, and I don't think anyone is going to mourn his passing.

Liberalism, perfectability, and the "Good Life"

CalPundit has some interesting comments this morning on liberalism and the perfectability of man:

By coincidence, I've run across several conservative commentators lately claiming that the reason liberals are fundamentally mistaken in their worldview is because of their belief in the perfectibility of man. This naiveté, presumably, accounts for our unending efforts to make the world a better place through social legislation.

This strikes me as odd, however, because when I examine my own beliefs, I find just the opposite. I'm a liberal precisely because I have a rather dim view of human nature. I am, I suppose, a neo-Hobbesian of some kind, and I fully agree that life in a state of nature is nasty, brutish, and short.

The thing is, I think that's a bad thing, and, like Hobbes, I believe that the purpose of government (and civilization in general) is to force people to act like decent human beings even if they don't want to...

I'm with CalPundit on this one. OK, so Hobbes's Leviathan leads to Absolutism rather than liberalism, but his account of why we have a State rather than not seems fairly sound (though obviously not historical). And it's easy enough to get Liberalism out of it, if you throw in some ongoing concern for people's happiness, rather than saying "anything is better than the State of Nature".

Where I disagree is the following bit:

To put it as baldly as possible, it seems to me that most people only become better if they are kicked, prodded, and ultimately dragged kicking and screaming to do so. Given this, we agree amongst ourselves to form a government that will force betterment on us since human nature is too weak and frail to expect us each to do it on our own. Thus is human progress slowly but surely made.

This seems to be precisely the point that those aforementioned Conservatives were making: that liberals believe we need a State to force us to be better, to force us to be perfect (or in Rousseau's words, to "force us to be free"). But this is a fundamentally illiberal proposition.

Underlying liberalism is the belief that there is more than one way to live your life. This may or may not be based on value pluralism; it doesn't matter. The fundamental point is that liberals (ought to) believe that there are multiple ways of achieving what the Greeks called the "Good Life", and that which life people choose is a decision best left to them. Human perfectability implies that there is only one "Good Life" to lead, and that all other choices are somehow flawed. Liberals ought to reject such thinking.

On this basis, the purpose of the State is not to make us better, but to allow us to be better - on the grounds that it's bloody difficult to pursue your particular vision of happiness when you have to fight constantly for your next meal.

Monday, April 07, 2003

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Fisk

The twisted language of war that is used to justify the unjustifiable
The Allied grip tightens on Baghdad

Who do we want to win?

According to Upton On-line this morning, the French are very ambivalent (to say the least) about who they want to win, with only a bare majority backing America, and a stunning 33% backing the Iraqis.

Naturally, this has made me think about whose side I'm on.

My sympathies are very much with the Iraqis - I simply don't want George W. Bush to win. But I don't want Saddam to win either - he's a monster who deserves to be overthrown. So I guess I'm cheering for the Iraqi people.

Realistically though, the US is going to win this war, even if they have to turn Baghdad into Grozny in the process. So I guess what I'm hoping for is a quick turnover to an elected Iraqi administration. But that isn't going to happen either; the US has been fairly explicit about wanting political control of postwar Iraq (or, as Condoleezza Rice put it, "after giving life and blood for liberating Iraq, the coalition expects to have the leading role"). Since they're not just going to topple Saddam and get out, I'm reduced to hoping for a messy postwar situation that forces the Americans to eventually pack up and go home.

No, I don't feel particularly good about that, either. It means more death and more destruction, which are not things that I generally approve of. It means more dead American soldiers - and enough of them to change American public opinion and convince them that this colonial dream of Rumsfeld and Co isn't worth it. And, if the West Bank is anything to go by, it means thousands of Iraqi civillians killed for opposing US rule. But damn it, I don't want to see the Iraqis delivered from Saddam simply to have a colonial regime (or worse, another tyrant) imposed on them. They deserve the chance to rule themselves. If the Americans are going to deny them that chance, then they've adopted the mantle of Saddam and deserve everything they get.

Daily cop-out from blogging

The Battle of Baghdad.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

New Fisk, Part III

Allies 'seize most of Baghdad airport'
Where were the panicking crowds? Where were the food queues? Where were the empty streets?

Hmmm... nothing but Fisk today. maybe I should get off my butt and vent my spleen.

New Fisk

So where are the Americans? - about his trip to Saddam International Airport before the US Army showed up.

New Fisk

The ministry of mendacity strikes again - blasting Geoff Hoon for claiming in Parliament that the Iraqis were responsible for the marketplace deaths and had planted missile parts for western journalists to find.

Friday, April 04, 2003


In response to this story, Tacitus asks:

Since when did "cowboy" become a derisive term in the European lexicon? Did they all grow up with movies in which cowboys were loathesome, capricious killers? In the films I remember, the cowboy heroes were upstanding, silent, strong, and moral.

...and ultimately solved every problem with force. Even if the problem was as trivial as someone insulting him, cheating at cards, or just looking at him funny. Is it any wonder non-Americans (who aren't so keen on "frontier values") view cowboys as trigger-happy killers?

Though there's also some aspect of the second use of the word. Down here, a "cowboy" is a fly-by-night operator, someone who does a shitty job then rides (or flies) off into the sunset, never to be seen again. I suspect this usage is common in England as well.

America to ask G7 to pay for Iraq war

That's right - they piss all over the international comunity, ignore the wishes of the UN, and then expect countries which have explicitly opposed their actions - France, Germany, Canada - to pay for it.

Fuck them. They can pay for their own fucking war.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

New Reports from

April 1st - Iraqis are well equipped
April 1st- Coalition losses mount
April 2nd-Battle for An-Nasiriya pt 1
April 2nd -Battle for An-Nasiriya pt 2

Oderint dum metuant

"Let them hate, so long as they fear".

The US has surpassed itself in achieving the first part. They've given ammunition aplenty to those who have always hated them, and driven those who would normally be its friends - people and countries who share the goal of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", albeit in various different ways - into opposing it. From the breadth and depth of antiwar protests, I think its fair to say that much of the world now hates the US.

The second bit is more tricky. Yes, in a sense, we're all afraid of the US, in the same way that we'd be afraid of a fat drunken bully in a bar. And our governments are afraid of them - no nation-state is going to take on the US in a stand-up fight. But that's not what they have to worry about. After all, it wasn't nation-states who levelled the twin towers...

No matter how many countries the US invades and how many people they kill, they'll never be safe from Osama bin-Laden. Sure, they can hunt him down and kill him - he may already be dead - but as long as the US is hated, there will be others to take his place. The only way America can be safe from them is not to piss people off in the first place.

But back to nation-states. Fear of US might may prevent a military attack, but that's not the only thing the US has to worry about. Americans tend to underestimate the degree to which their interests depend on the voluntary cooperation of the rest of the world - the war on terror and the WTO are just two examples. It doesn't take a Machiavellian genius to figure out that people who hate you are less likely to cooperate with you; I'm sure even Americans can figure out the long-term costs of being hated.

Tear gas and escalation

What might happen if the US actually uses tear gas on the battlefield? One possibility is escalation. According to the article I linked to earlier,

In four major uses of chemical weapons in the past — by combatants in World War I; by the Italians in Ethiopia; by the Egyptians in Yemen; and in the Iran-Iraq war — deployment was preceded by use of non-lethal agents

So it's entirely possible that the US using tear gas could provoke Saddam into letting fly with whatever stocks of VX and mustard gas he's managed to hide from the inspectors. Needless to say, this would be a Bad Thing. OTOH, provoking Saddam into using chemical weapons would prove that the US was right all along to be suspicious of inspections, and Rumsfeld and his NeoCon pals might consider it worth the price of a bad precedent and a few thousand coalition soldiers and civillians dead or maimed. And if we want to get really cynical, the US has threatened to use nuclear weapons in response to any chemical attack; provoking such an attack would allow the US to impress the world with its military power (getting the second half of oderint dum metuant) and avoid all that icky high-casualty street-fighting in Baghdad.

OK, so the latter is just cynical and possibly paranoid; OTOH do you really trust Rumsfeld and the Project for the New American Century not to think like that?

I guess the best we can hope for is that Saddam doesn't have anything - then we'll just have to deal with a marauding hegemon tearing up yet another global treaty... business as usual, I guess.

No Banks for us

Just when he was about to visit NZ for a writer's festival, Iain Banks has burned his passport. The story repeats all the good bits of his letter to the Guardian, but if you want to read the original, click here.

Bush Approves Use of Tear Gas in Battlefield

And they're claiming that this is in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. I guess they're ignoring the bit which explicitly outlaws the use of riot control agents on the battlefield as a "method of warfare". But then, signing up to a treaty and then flat-out lying about what it says seems to be a standard American diplomatic tactic now.

The irony of using chemical weapons to fight a war against chemical weapons is probably completely lost on them.

New Fisk

Saddam's masters of concealment dig in, ready for battle
Wailing children, the wounded, the dead: victims of the day cluster bombs rained on Babylon
Final countdown for Baghdad
Children killed and maimed in bomb attack on town

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Another blog landmark

Our first mention on another blog. Next goals: hate mail from rabid Americans, being linked on Atrios, and being denounced by Sullivan or on Free Republic.

Should he stay or should he go?

So, according to Three News last night, and the NZ Herald this morning, National is sharpening the knives for Bill English.

The problem is, who can they replace him with? The only two contenders mentioned are Don Brash and Gerry "Bruiser" Brownlee, and both are less than inspiring. The public hate Don Brash for his continued advocacy of the failed policies of the 80's and 90's, while Brownlee is a thug whose claims to fame are calling for an end to our nuclear-free policy and having to fork over $8500 after being privately prosecuted for throwing a protester down some stairs.

Brash claims to want the job of finance minister, which probably rules out leadership (too many bad memories of Muldoon), so really that only leaves Brownlee. And while he's likely to be a louder and more obnoxious leader of the opposition than Bill English, he's likely to be even less popular with the public.

New Fisk

Cows and armed guards on a college campus. Where is the truth amid all this subterfuge?.

It was the Americans

The Independent seems to have proved that the explosion which kiled over sixty Iraqi civillians in a marketplace on friday was caused by an American HARM missile. The missile was identified from serial numbers found on missile fragments by Robert Fisk.

Unfortunately the Americans are still refusing to own up to their mistake. According to The Independent, an "official Washington source" has already claimed that the missile fragments were planted by the Iraqis...

New Fisk

Iraq is littered with graves of Britons killed in another colonial war.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003


Figures so far, from The Agonist:

Killed: 200 1,500
Wounded: 300 3500
Tanks: 32 87
Other armored vehicles: 33 52
Helicopters: 14 0
Artillery pieces: 0 172

New Fisk

The monster of Baghdad is now the hero of Arabia - This is now a nationalist war against the most obvious kind of imperial power.

Childish name-calling

NZPundit is back to childish name-calling again. Highlights of his current vocabulary include referring to Helen Clark as "Cupid Stunt", calling the NZ media "Fisk-wits", and referring to all New Zealanders who disagree with him as "shit-eating surrender Kiwis". Stunning rationality from the right...

Another arbitrary detention

Via TalkLeft, news that another US citizen has been detained without charge as part of the "war on terror". At least he has access to a lawyer...

New Fisk

A quiet Baghdad night of occasional air raid sirens and mysterious explosions.

Trigger happy

US soldiers killed seven women and children when a van refused to stop at a checkpoint. That'll make the post-war occupation so much easier...

Addendum: More information in this story syndicated from Times Online (where it has disappeared). Reading the actual article shows that this isn't the only civillian vehicle they've shot up:

Next morning, the men of Alpha company talked about the fighting over MREs (meals ready to eat). They were jittery now and reacted nervously to any movement around their dugouts. They suspected that civilian cars, including taxis, had helped resupply the enemy inside the city. When cars were spotted speeding along two roads, frantic calls were made over the radio to get permission to "kill the vehicles". Twenty-four hours earlier it would almost certainly have been denied: now it was granted.

Immediately, the level of force levelled at civilian vehicles was overwhelming. Tanks were placed on the road and AAVs lined along one side. Several taxis were destroyed by helicopter gunships as they drove down the road.

A lorry filled with sacks of wheat made the fatal mistake of driving through US lines. The order was given to fire. Several AAVs pounded it with a barrage of machinegun fire, riddling the windscreen with at least 20 holes. The driver was killed instantly. The lorry swerved off the road and into a ditch. Rumour spread that the driver had been armed and had fired at the marines. I walked up to the lorry, but could find no trace of a weapon.

This was the start of day that claimed many civilian casualties. After the lorry a truck came down the road. Again the marines fired. Inside, four men were killed. They had been travelling with some 10 other civilians, mainly women and children who were evacuated, crying, their clothes splattered in blood. Hours later a dog belonging to the dead driver was still by his side.


As night fell again there was great tension, the marines fearing an ambush. Two tanks and three AAVs were placed at the north end of the third bridge, their guns pointing down towards Nasiriya, and given orders to shoot at any vehicle that drove towards American positions.

Though civilians on foot passed by safely, the policy was to shoot anything that moved on wheels. Inevitably, terrified civilians drove at speed to escape: marines took that speed to be a threat and hit out. During the night, our teeth on edge, we listened a dozen times as the AVVs' machineguns opened fire, cutting through cars and trucks like paper.

Next morning I saw the result of this order - the dead civilians, the little girl in the orange and gold dress.

Suddenly, some of the young men who had crossed into Iraq with me reminded me now of their fathers' generation, the trigger-happy grunts of Vietnam. Covered in the mud from the violent storms, they were drained and dangerously aggressive.

Then there's this bit:

"I was shooting down a street when suddenly a woman came out and casually began to cross the street with a child no older than 10," said Gunnery Sergeant John Merriman, another Gulf war veteran. "At first I froze on seeing the civilian woman. She then crossed back again with the child and went behind a wall. Within less than a minute a guy with an RPG came out and fired at us from behind the same wall. This happened a second time so I thought, 'Okay, I get it. Let her come out again'.

She did and this time I took her out with my M-16."

But the worst bit is the attitude displayed by some of the US Marines to what they're doing:

Martin's distress was in contrast to the bitter satisfaction of some of his fellow marines as they surveyed the scene. "The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy," said Corporal Ryan Dupre. "I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him."

They're not just trigger-happy, they're trigger happy thugs.