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Remembering the Magna Carta

Remembering the Magna Carta

It took a long time for human societies to come up with the idea of universal human rights and the equality of persons under the law. Before 1215, monarchs could capriciously decree “Off with their heads!” and dispatch anyone with impunity. In the short term, leaders were the equivalent of terrestrial gods, acting with the divine right of kings, according to the received wisdom of the times. If mistakes were made, they would be dealt with in the afterlife.

Only in the thirteenth century did the absolute authority of the monarch begin seriously to be questioned. Admittedly, the first attempts were not driven by pure quests for morality or justice on the part of leaders themselves. The first steps taken were rather practical in nature, and there were many false starts before the notions of liberty and human dignity began to take hold. The earliest kings to begin the process of forging what would eventually come to be embraced as human rights were amenable to negotiation on contentious matters, including the meting out of justice, for the self-interested or prudential reason that they needed the cooperation of other people in order to govern their domains smoothly.

Full rights were not extended to all people everywhere for many, many centuries, but it all started with the Magna Carta and the path-breaking idea that the arbitrary justice handed down by monarchs up until that time needed to be moderated. Small concessions led to larger ones and were incorporated in the government constitutions of many Western democratic states, including the United States of America. The ideas continued to be developed and expanded until finally, in the mid-twentieth century, universal human rights were codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the twenty-first century, the idea of universal human rights has taken some serious hits. Ironically, it is the ultramodern technology used to annihilate persons by remote-control which has caused a regression to pre-Magna Carta times in matters of justice. George W. Bush was the first US president to dispatch persons with this technology, but he used it primarily in connection with the already waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Much of the use of drones during Bush’s terms of office involved the protection of forces on the ground. Not all, however, for Bush also used drones, albeit selectively, in places such as Yemen and Pakistan, in a quest to hunt down and eliminate alleged Al Qaeda terrorists.

President Barack Obama deserves even more censure than Bush on the drone front, having effectively normalized the practice of assassination at a distance. Obama thought that he was being a technologically savvy “smart warrior”, but the most cursory glance at the situation in the Middle East reveals that he was sorely wrong. Much of the US populace regards Obama as a cautious warrior, because he has done most of his killing quietly and covertly, characteristically refusing to share his lethal practices and policies with the public under cover of State Secrets Privilege said to be necessitated by national security.

Obama’s decision to execute thousands of suspects without warning or trial using Predator drones is particularly disturbing in the light of the statistics on Guantánamo Bay prison, where the majority of the prisoners were discovered after years of detention to have been erroneously apprehended. The intel just wasn’t that good. Bribed informants are obviously subject to mercenary corruption, and this fact was starkly confirmed by the plight of terrorist suspects incarcerated under the authority of George W. Bush.

One might have hoped that this lesson would be taken to heart by the subsequent US administration, but it was not. Instead, Obama dealt with the problem of suspects by defining them as guilty until proven innocent. Sound familiar? That would be the pre-Magna Carta template of justice. The sovereign power decrees “Off with their heads!” and that is the end of their story.

It was shocking to many people when, in 2011, Obama opted to assassinate even US citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan and, two weeks later, Al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman, in Yemen. Unfortunately, many people wanted to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, so impeachment proceedings were never carried out. In truth, what he started is bound to grow worse under the most likely successors to the US throne. But we did not even have to wait until the end of Obama’s term to see the nefarious potential for harm set by his precedent rolling back the progress made by republican governments over hundreds of years.

Ironically, it was during the year of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, penned in Runnymede, West of London, that UK Prime Minister David Cameron decided to strap on his drone warrior holster and whack a couple of his own countrymen, Ruhal Amin and Reyaad Khan. The British Parliament had already explicitly voted against war in Syria, and yet that was precisely where Cameron carried out the assassinations using unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), better known as “lethal drones”.

It is depressing that the tendency of people to accord Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt has ended by undoing so much good done by so many people who toiled over so many centuries to establish basic protections for all people under the law. When the leader of a nation chooses to execute his compatriots on the basis of secretive intelligence to which only he and his henchmen are privy, then it is difficult to see how this differs at all from what went on before 1215.

Every monarch throughout history who decreed “Off with their heads!” believed that he was doing the right thing. Often they felt entirely justified in what they were doing, primarily protecting their own domain and shoring up their power against threats. What reason can the US and UK governments possibly have for not observing the most basic protections guaranteed by the laws of the land, and codified in Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

The claim made by Obama has always been that capture is “infeasible”, but the cases of the unarmed Osama bin Laden, who was shot and killed in cold blood, and Anwar al-Awlaki, who was released from a prison in Yemen only to be hunted down and slain, reveal that “infeasibility” has now come to mean “undesirability”. In some ways the execution of British nationals authorized by David Cameron is even more shocking, because the death penalty is prohibited under both British law and the EU Charter. (Oddly enough, Cameron himself opposes Brexit!)

Political leaders can generally be depended on to try to outdo their predecessors, just as Obama did vis-à-vis Bush on the drone front. That is precisely why the legacy of Barack Obama will be none other than the increased propensity to “strike first, suppress questions later,” to prove that whoever the new president ends up being is “tougher” on terrorism than Obama was.

Let no one be fooled by the fact that for most of his eight-year term Obama resolutely recited “no boots on the ground” in the manner of a mantra. After years of covert operations, drone strikes, and weapons provisions to “appropriately vetted moderate rebel forces”, the Middle East is a morass of lawlessness and homicide. We reap what we sow. Now even Obama has sent combat troops to most of the several lands where he has ruthlessly used drones to kill persons whose names are not even known, along with “high-value” targets who became enemies of the state only because of the US invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria using implements of mass homicide, Special Forces, intelligence operatives, and regular combat soldiers.

The Magna Carta was the beginning of the full recognition of human liberty and dignity, and an acknowledgement that no mere mortal possesses the divine powers of omniscience. Mistakes are made. Politicians and bureaucrats are sometimes corrupt and sometimes amoral. That is precisely why we have laws to guard against the very tyranny which Obama and Cameron have chosen so myopically to embrace and hold up as an example for leaders all over the world, in both democratic and nondemocratic states.

The road to liberty and universal human rights was long and tortuous. The road to tyranny, thousands of victims have now learned at the hands of the US and UK governments, is short and direct, rather like driving down a street which terminates off the edge of a cliff. The fact that most US and UK citizens have not suffered summary execution has persuaded many to believe that nothing has really changed. In fact, everything has changed, but not in the way which any of the early supporters of Obama might have hoped.

To freely forsake one’s right to be indicted and tried for a capital crime before being annihilated by the state is a luxury enjoyed only by already free people. To condone the drone warriors’ willful denial of the historical and political significance of the Magna Carta is to prevent that same liberty from being shared by all people everywhere.

https://thedroneage.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/remembering-the-magna-carta/

Posted in Human Interest, Serious Commentary, War Zone1 Comment

Hawaii woman wins $10.7 million on slot machine: how does this compare to the biggest slot wins in history?

Hawaii woman wins $10.7 million on slot machine: how does this compare to the biggest slot wins in history?

Everyone has read stories about people becoming multi-millionaires as a result of winning the lottery – but winnings on this sort of scale from playing the slot machines are a much rarer occurrence. That is what makes the story of a mystery woman from Hawaii who won an astonishing $10.7 million jackpot through playing the slot machines at the famed Wynn Hotel Casino Complex in Las Vegas all the more remarkable.

The precise identity of this lucky woman remains unknown, as she has specifically asked the casino not to reveal it, but what is known is that she hails from Oahu and was playing an IGT Megabucks Wynn Wheel slot when she won this gigantic sum. What makes all this that little bit more extraordinary is that she was betting just $3 a go at the time she scored this jackpot win. News of her astounding good fortune was released to the world via the official Wynn Las Vegas twitter account. The tweet didn’t make it appear as if the company was that upset at taking such a huge financial hit – as it playfully asked followers what they would do to celebrate a win of that magnitude – although there is little question that the news will get more people visiting the casino and playing the slots, so it’s probably a win all round. One downside for the lucky woman though is that she will have to pay tax of around $1 million, under the terms of Hawaiian law, although $9 million-plus is still none too shabby. Of course, although people don’t always associate them with big payouts, the slots do deliver the cash sometimes.

Two-time winner

Securing one mega-win on the slots is unlikely, but two is just ridiculous. That is what happened in the case of Second World War veteran Elmer Sherwin however, as he claimed a jackpot of $4.6 million playing the Megabucks slot at the age of 76. He used this windfall to see the world, but kept his slot action going and went on to win an eye-watering $21 million on the same slot game two decades later – donating much of it to various good causes.

Excalibur score

That still isn’t the biggest casino slot win ever though, as a software engineer on holiday from Los Angeles won $40 million at the Excalibur Hotel Casino in Vegas in 2003. Like the latest big winner, he valued his anonymity and his identity remains a secret, although he may be the person living in a solid gold castle.

Speculate to accumulate

When a former flight attendant opted to go over her allotted $100 budget at the Palace Station slots, by a further $200, she ended up walking away with a cool $27 million-plus jackpot. Again, she chose not to have her identity revealed to the general public, but what this demonstrates conclusively is that sometimes you absolutely do have to speculate to accumulate.

Of course, slot machine wins on this scale do not come along very often, but it is these life-changing stories that keep us returning to popular games like Cleopatra slots and trying our luck.

Posted in Society0 Comments

Why I’m on a Mission to Save Endangered Languages

Why I’m on a Mission to Save Endangered Languages

When I learned that Buryat, the northern-Siberian language of my grandparents, was in danger of dying out, I knew then and there that I had to do something. But from a remote part of the Mongolian steppes, I felt powerless to act. I was lucky enough to come to the UK to study modern languages and subsequently focus on language policy and revitalisation during my master’s degrees.

5 years on, I am now founder and CEO of a newly-formed Cambridge-based EdTech startup, Tribalingual, which is pledged to rescue endangered languages from the brink of extinction. Continue Reading

Posted in Education, Human Interest0 Comments

Man Discovers Awful Truth, Shames Mass Media

Man Discovers Awful Truth, Shames Mass Media

WASHINGTON, D.C. 2017—Gerald Humphrey’s profound discovery began when he realized the American mainstream media’s treatment of Donald Trump’s Republican campaign for the presidency contrasted sharply with reality.

“CNN, the Associated Press, the New York Times, and all the other major news outlets in the United States kept taking Donald Trump much more seriously than I would have thought any curious and sane investigator would have a right to do,” said Gerald. “They kept listening to what Trump said at rallies or on Twitter and then they talked or wrote about it a lot, without ever mentioning the obvious truth. It dawned on me that a vast cover-up was unfolding.” Continue Reading

Posted in Politics, Society0 Comments

They’re Coming for Your Car Keys. Welcome to the World of Self-Driving Cars

They’re Coming for Your Car Keys. Welcome to the World of Self-Driving Cars

One of my favorite jokes goes like this: “I got really drunk last night, so I decided to take the bus home. Now that may not sound impressive to you, but I’ve never driven a bus before.” Stop the Presses! Drunk drivers may soon not need to drive the bus – or their car – anymore. Welcome to the world of self-driving cars. They’re just around the corner.

Several tech companies like Tesla, Google and Apple are driving ahead with plans to mass-produce “autonomous” cars. Continue Reading

Posted in Science & Technologizzy, Society, Travel0 Comments

Autism: Advantage with Women & Aphrodisiac? Autism Can Land You a Hot Girlfriend

Autism: Advantage with Women & Aphrodisiac? Autism Can Land You a Hot Girlfriend

Autism diagnoses started to soar in the 1990s and those new cases are now adults in their early twenties.  Society and the media have noted the need for employers to hire those on the spectrum.  This has lead to major media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times publishing articles on how autism is an advantage in the workplace and how it can land you a job.  Continue Reading

Posted in Health, Human Interest0 Comments

Autism and the Single Life:  Humorous Quotes to take the Sting out of Celibacy

Autism and the Single Life: Humorous Quotes to take the Sting out of Celibacy

Celibacy is a real problem for many autistic males. You don’t get to hear about it much because the powers that be only publicizes writings of successful autistics like Stephen Shore who can get married and Temple Grandin, a female who claims to be celibate by choice. The problems of the invisible autistic adult are ignored and people act like autistics remain Peter Pans.

Most of the internet autistics do not write much about this problem. Trust me, it is there, it exists. Continue Reading

Posted in Health, Human Interest, Society0 Comments

The Peace Criminals Project is Going Great! But Will You Write for Us?

The Peace Criminals Project is Going Great! But Will You Write for Us?

The three Peace Criminals sites have been going well.

But we all have limited time.

Can you help by contributing some articles?

New ones are best of all, but some republications are certainly of use too.

We don’t claim any copyright over your work, so you can do whatever you like with it.

Neocon Surveillance

The flagship site: Continue Reading

Posted in Human Interest, War Zone0 Comments

Derailing & Fallacies Masterclass: Graduate from Yahoo Answers to Topix!

Derailing & Fallacies Masterclass: Graduate from Yahoo Answers to Topix!

Pol Pot’s Pleasure PWNK

I can’t stand Pol Pot because he’s really nasty. I don’t think he is my leader.

OMG!!!

Yeah but isn’t his adversary Ho Chi Minh nasty too? Would you protest if Ho Chi Minh was in power instead? Continue Reading

Posted in Education, Opinon/Editorial0 Comments

Infiltrator Song (BNP Bugger Up Blues)

Infiltrator Song (BNP Bugger Up Blues)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9FtrxKQNA0

I ‘ave a well good country
That there’s us England lad, y’know
It were a proper well good country
Till ‘em ‘as changed it, long ago Continue Reading

Posted in Human Interest, Internets Tubes0 Comments

The Night Before Chilcot (A Poem for the Children)

The Night Before Chilcot (A Poem for the Children)

Twas the night before Chilcot, when all through the nation
The people were pondering the Iraq abomination
Our hopes were all pinned to a gallows in London
Our desire was that Chilcot would damn, with abundance! Continue Reading

Posted in Kidz Zone, War Zone, World News0 Comments

Do We Know How to Spot the Dictator’s Pronoun? (Just No Idea, Have We!)

Do We Know How to Spot the Dictator’s Pronoun? (Just No Idea, Have We!)

The glorious Fuhrer has brought each one of US peace and stability…

Comrade Lenin inspires US all to move forward to win our freedom, under the banner of proletarian scientific socialist Marxist-Leninist thought.

But the evil Arab Muslim tyrant Assad is killing his own people, WE can’t just sit there!!!

Look, WE made a few mistakes in our foreign policy but well hey, what can I say! Shit happens, gotta go with the flow, right?

Continue Reading

Posted in Education, Human Interest0 Comments

What Will YOU Do?

What Will YOU Do?

Live your life as though everything you did

Was eternally decisive.

Live as though the survival and destruction of Daesh and of all Daeshis

Depended upon you, and upon you alone.

Continue Reading

Posted in Human Interest0 Comments

How Monsanto REALLY Makes GMOs

How Monsanto REALLY Makes GMOs

So much controversy about GMOs, but there shouldn’t be because they really are great, as this exclusive GlossyNews video will show you.

GMO foods done do a hot topic. So where is it come from?

Inside the laboratory

To get GMO wheat, they start with fresh-banked artisanal breads. Then place it in this re-cookifier to reconstitute the parts. Continue Reading

Posted in Health, Technology, Video News0 Comments

Ebook Update 2/2: Amazon Ebooks PLUS Free Ebook deal until 19th April!

Ebook Update 2/2: Amazon Ebooks PLUS Free Ebook deal until 19th April!

I hope you enjoyed my post an hour ago about my various free ebooks on non-Amazon outlets. I will now tell you about my Amazon ebooks, including an amazing offer in relation to one of my books!

Firstly, I will tell you that I already have two ebooks out on Amazon (Foaming the Optics & Graveyard of the Pieties) with one more already scheduled: Tarquin Binnett’s Sound Englishman’s Common Sense Jamboree, which is Book 1 in the forthcoming series Gang of Sneers.

Continue Reading

Posted in Books, Newspapers & Misc, Human Interest0 Comments

The Vast ‘Neoliberal’ Conspiracy… Is the Current Debate Too Limited?

The Vast ‘Neoliberal’ Conspiracy… Is the Current Debate Too Limited?

Is it it possible to confirm or deny being a #neoliberal, if the term is infinitely elastic?

Was Stalin a #stateneoliberal, just like he was a #statecapitalist?

Will the end of #capitalism be the end of #neoliberalism, or is the end of #neoliberalism the end of #capitalism?

If Pol Pot was a #fakesocialist, and hence a #fakeanticapitalist, was he also a #fakeantineoliberal?

If #capitalism invented nationalism and militarism, did #neoliberalism also invent nationalism and militarism?

If so, how did the world manage to fall from its Edenic glory and pristine state into #thevastneoliberalconspiracy?

Continue Reading

Posted in Politics, Society0 Comments

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