Antimedia

10 top things about foot and mouth

Happier days at Pirbright: The Surrey County Vaccine Farms

The 10 top things about FMD 2007.

10. Never mind the disinfectant, send the whitewash. A dramatic improvement in government media/presentational skill, mirrored by no raising of the game by editors, compared to 2001. See 8, 7 below.

9. Scientists are often psychotic, in the clinical sense meaning they have lost touch with reality. Any reality. Ground reality. System reality. Media reality. The award goes to Sir Brian Follett for his sagacity in the Sunday Times: “The reason we slaughter animals is because, in island countries, it works. We can keep the virus out.” A healthy debate in the bioscience community about vaccination would be welcome but it is so odd that those who obstruct vaccinations use arguments that are simply ludicrous and false.

8. Journalism in Britain is quite dramatically terrible as anyone can tell you when they observe the coverage of something they know plenty about. The absence of scientifically trained journalists is very apparent as it was in 2001. Rolling news channels by far the worst – torrents of drivel, 24 by 7. This is the syndrome that we saw with the media in the run-up to the war in Iraq. A dependence on authority to timetable events and establish the agenda, ignoring all contrary evidence or burying it on page 94. The BBC is consistently mediocre.

7. The media tropes are identical. Terrible disease. Tragedy for farmers. A threatened cow named Mabel in a petting zoo. The editors cover every big story by habit. This is why they prefer stories that “come back” so they can order the clips and cover them like last time. A dirty media secret is that editors do not like anything too new – they don’t understand it and have no precedent to inform their decisions.

6. Mediocrity of civil service. By which I mean the the glamorous chief vet who frankly wasn’t that hot, though she will now get a K. Not as sinister as Scudamore but she did everything she could to keep the approach NFU friendly, and I predict the vaccination kits will not be used. She pretended vaccination is an option while never intending to use it unless someone put a bullet to her head. So far, she’s got away with it. I think it’s a cynical tactic. I exempt the local field Defra office in Surrey who have distiguished themselves by being actually human. It has been my own experience as the owner of a registered farm (currently on the very edge of the surveillance zone) that the worker bees at the local Defra office do try to be helpful, despite the insane orders they receive from headquarters.

5. NFU more digusting than ever and why they are taken seriously is a disease of public policy. Literally. The government is required to consult them under a 1947 Act passed by a Labour government that idiotically thought they were empowering a union. What we have, despite recent reforms, is a monster in which not all members even get to vote, and the last five bosses have been knighted. This is a corrupt relationship in the sense of mordant decay. It produces terrible public policy. They are so unbelievably slippery and unconvincing. They are probably reading this wondering whether to sue me but some one is reminding them of MacDonalds.

4. Internet has dramatically improved networking and communications for us “troublemakers” who object that government policy is unscientific, brutal and disgusting. But while the networks are activating quickly, frankly we lack real political clout. We do not have a clunking great fist. The challenge is to convert our command of the facts and superb intelligence into meaningful pressure. I admit this is a tough problem when our democracy is so intangible, and note that it is a problem not unique to this issue.

3. This time around there is some interesting potential for lawyers. I imagine there are going to be some rewarding issues of liability and indemnity to fight about. This will pay for some very beautiful houses in France and a lot of very good claret.

2. Pirbright should be closed and the entire operation moved to a rocky island off Scotland, preferably.

1. Gordon Brown has been bloody lucky. So far.

This is my best guess at the moment. If the outbreak gets much worse then this list becomes inoperative, of course, and I will have to do it over.

Matthew Weaver is back today in The Guardian. Not to be missed. Ditto Warmwell. Rapidly improving Sheepdrove blog has good piece on “vaccinate to live.”

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Killing with impunity

Posted in Britain, de Menezes, Legal, London, Media, police, tantrums, Terror, Terrorism by Deputy city editor on August 3, 2007

Sanitised image of Menezes after being killed by the British police. British TV pictures are routinely heavily edited/censored.

How is it possible that an entirely blameless and innocent man should be killed by shots to the head in a public place, with scores of witnesses, and that nobody seems to be responsible? Multiple intelligence failures, command failures, communication failures, obstruction of investigators and the specific dishonesty and incompetence of senior officers have characterised the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station in July 2005. But nobody is to blame or will be punished. A trivial and insulting charge has been laid that Menezes’s killing was a “health and safety” violation.

The failure of the British legal and political system to hold anyone to account for the killing of Mr de Menezes means the police in Britain are entitled to recklessly shoot dead whosever they want and nobody is responsible.

De Menezes was killed by the police force run by Tony Blair’s favourite cop, Sir Ian Blair, who remains in his job for reasons that nobody can explain.

He is either the thickest cop in England, the most incompetent, or the best ass-coverer in a long tradition.

How do you believe a police complaints commission report that finds that it took Blair 24 hours to find out what everyone else knew in the first two minutes – that Menezes was not a terrorist and that his armed police (aided by soliders) had killed the wrong man? Even if this is true, it is ridiculous.

The police complaints commission report which you can read about here doesn’t even try to point the figure at those responsible for organising this killing, but only looks narrowly at one aspect of the aftermath. The whitewash commission had earlier failed to hold anyone responsible for the killing itself. Indeed Cressida Dick, the aptly surnamed police”gold” commander in charge of the control room that presided over the killing of deMenezes, has subsequently been promoted.

The police complaints commission, an organisation as intentionally useless as any in existence, has produced a conclusion so ridiculous that it would be laughable, were not the subject matter so deadly important. Evidence that the police had hidden evidence and changed logs in the case was swept under the carpet earlier.

Harriet Wistrich, my former neighbour, who represents the family of the killed man, is right to be incredulous.

The police complaints commission criticises the head of the anti-terrorist branch, Andy Hayman, not for the killing of de Menezes but for failing to tell his boss, even though everyone else in London (including crime reporters) knew this a day earlier. Hayman had even briefed the Scotland Yard crime reporters’ association (a press club for whom membership is contingent on never straying too far from the Scotland Yard press office) that they’d killed the wrong guy. The idea that Blair was too busy to ask is simply and literally incredible.

Apparently, implied criticism of other officers was removed from the report because they threatened legal action, which is a favourite tactic of police officers when they are cornered and further evidence that the PCC is a toothless watchdog.

Everyone comes out of this stinking. Ministers for creating a dysfunctional monster in the Metropolitan police, and putting in charge the worst policeman in London, a knighted rozzer who should never have been trusted with anything more sensitive than points duty. The police, who are not merely incompetent but dangerous. The police complaints commission, which is a joke from which any members who still have a sense of honour should have resigned long ago.

When they are not busy arresting people for reading out the names of Iraq war dead at the Cenotaph, the Metropolitan Police is primarily concerned with itself. Senior officers are in thrall to a “system reality” constructed by consultants and information systems, driven by targets and the self-aggrandisement that comes to those who preside over them. The police force, not just in London, is divorced from the reality on the ground: that Islamic terrorism is simply not the existential threat it has been presented as. Individual officers are powerless to make much or any difference.

This has not been the first time that British police have killed completely innocent people, as this excellent page notes, and there has been no responsibility assigned or accountability demonstrated. A state in which the police can murder innocent men with impunity is a police state. With the publication of this latest whitewashed report, this fact now stares us in the face, and it is only British hypocrisy that prevents us from seeing it.

Bush the merciful

Posted in Bush, capital punishment, Death penalty, Law, Legal by Deputy city editor on July 3, 2007

Karla Tucker – Bush sneered at the request to show mercy

George Bush has not commuted a single one of the 155 death sentences for which he has been responsible as governor of Texas and president of the United States. Not that he is without mercy. Scooter Libby, a political crony of the vice president convicted of obstruction of justice and sentenced to prison, will not spend a day in jail, thanks to Bush’s intervention.

Bush smirked as he sent Karla Tucker, the cutest of his victims, to the lethal injection chamber, accounting for nothing the horrendous circumstances of her life and what seemed subsequently to be genuine remorse for her actions. Crowds outside the prison cheered as Karla Tucker was killed. Karla Tucker was of course merely a former drug addict and prostitute who used to hang out with the Allman Brothers band, whereas Libby was a graduate of Andover Academy and Yale.

An excellent contribution here from Antigram.