Category Archives: guns

nelson mandela

This is his full length funeral in Soweto as presented by ITN.

Nelson Mandela is dead.

Father of the Rainbow Nation

Nelson Mandela is dead!

His shadow covers us all.

Nelson Mandela is dead!!

Implacable defender of liberty.

Nelson Mandela is dead!!!

Respected by his enemies.
Nelson Mandela is dead!!!!!

He was magnanimous in victory.

Nelson Mandela is dead!!!!!

Reconciliation the only way.

Nelson Mandela lives on.

New movie: The Long Walk to Freedom.

killer robots are nearly available; they need to be directly controlled by humans who take responsibility for their actions

BNP Red, White and Blue festivalimagesCA7P43XA3robotsimagesCAHC3UVMsans-titreIncreasingly independent automated weapons are becoming possible with advances in technology and computing. Until recently for example it was not possible for a vehicle to travel cross-country autonomously for long periods of time. A problem which has now been overcome although there is still a dependence on a functioning global positioning system.

Potentially robots can come in all shapes and sizes on the battlefield, drones, automatic guns, missiles, bomb detection vehicles, mobile grenades for clearing buildings, miniaturized flying machines carrying video or a bomb.

It does not take much imagination to predict what could happen if an unscrupulous or deranged leader became able to use these autonomous machines. Much literature describes these scenarios, Issac Asimov indeed developed the rules of robotics and examined the possible consequences in his writings. It is not impossible to imagine that the time is near when a robot appropriately programmed could be used as a carer in an old people’s home, a prison guard, a soldier or an executioner.

the clash of cultures: winners and losers, but who wins and who loses? no referees here

A striking photograph of an Inuit girl taken at the beginning of the 20th century made me think of the situation indigenous cultures find themselves in. With the world changing so fast how are they coping?
The Inuit (the appropriate name to be used for the people who inhabit the Arctic is not agreed, see below) at that time were having increasing contact with whalers, hunters and the explorers seeking the north west passage. As always in these situations their way of life was threatened. The conditions they lived in were so extreme that until then there had been virtually no contact with European settlers. There were some advantages for the Inuit to be had from this contact, the acquisition of pots and pans for example made life much easier. However there were also alcohol, guns and infectious diseases like measles which killed many and destabilized their society.
In a real sense these situations present an opportunity for Learning and reflection. We may have much to learn if we accept the opportunity. Because they have arisen haphazardly in the past the first meeting of indigenous cultures with ours has been with adventurers,explorers, hunters and gold miners there has been little exchange and much exploitation. The absence of any valuing of these often fragile cultures continues to this day. The conquest of South America is a classic example. The inhabitants of Madagascar are fighting to stop the unique flora and fauna of the island being exploited by others from abroad.
The languages are important also: It has been said that the death of a language is the loss of a window into the collective history and soul of humanity. In a real sense we all share a common heritage and the differences between us are important to appreciate, value and try to understand.


An eskimo girl, I was struck by this beautiful photograph in the British Museum.

Looking back at me you were a daughter,
Perhaps a sister and a mother.
Koo-tuck-tuck (Qqajuittuq)
You name is strange to my ears and pen.
I had to check a dozen times to spell it right.
You are lovely still there as if alive
After all this time embalmed; a thin
Silver film on view in a museum.

What were you thinking looking so relaxed and cool,
As any top model of today your trusting eyes regard.
But was your heart beating sixteen to the dozen?
So natural yet ephemeral in your Sunday best.
How long did you take to choose your outfit?
Did you have a mother or a brother to advise?
A shining band tied tight around your head,
You wear a braided jacket top thick and warm.

Though appearing fragile you are not frail.
Used to the weather that makes grown men cry.
You follow the caribou and search for seals.
Living in the arctic winter north of Hudson’s Bay.

Then I spent an evening searching the net.

Now I know so much more about you who were
Born deaf and dumb and featured on the cover
Of a book writtn by Geraldine Moodie
Who photographed you with such sympathy
And loving care. From your eyes it seems
This was returned.

Geraldine Moodie was the wife of a Mountie and went with him on assignments to the wilds of Canada during the second part of the 18th century. She became very well known for he ethnological photographs which are now an important record pf the indigenous peoples who lived in the north of Canada at that time:

This site gives an excellent description of the history and life of the indigenous peoples of the Artic:!!

George Comer was a sea captain who was one of the first people to visit and trade with the Inuit peoples of the north of Canada. Several times he overwintered with his boat and crew. He was very sympathetic to these peoples and took time and trouble to understand their ways and to help them cope with the cultural changes this contact wth the outside world brought. Thes changes are still happening.

the arms trade: $10 is spent per person in the world each year on conventional arms. links to resources

The BBC news has stated that $70 billion is spent on the conventional arms trade each year. This was true in 2010 and the budgets have increased since then. Basically it is the rich countries manufacturing and selling most of these arms.

If the global population is 7 billion, that makes it $10 per person in the world, and rising each year that is spent on conventional arms.

Given that over half the world’s population earns less than $1 a day and that we have finite resources on the planet, does this make sense? The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs is meeting this week to try to broker a treaty to reduce this spending. It is getting little publicity because there are so many other news stories running.

Here are some facts and figures:

Amnesty International have published a beginner’s guide:

Which 5 countries buy the most armms?

World military spending is increaind rapidly:

Which 5 countries manufacture the most arms?

Categories of weapons:

World military spending on arms is increasing:

See ‘good news on arms control treaty

Suffer little children

How is it possible to make sense of six year old children being gunned down by a twenty year old with his mother’s rifle?  We know their names and faces…………..

How is it possible to make sense of ten girls in Afghanistan between eight and ten years old being killed by a roadside bomb when they were searching for firewood? Others said they were as young as six.

Can we make sense of a Syrian air force jet bombing a mosque in a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus?  The death toll is unknown but videos show carnage near the mosque and dead and injured being collected by residents…………

The immediacy of coverage of events by the world’s media brings them into focus and allows one to identify powerfully with those involved who become as it were part of one’s family. Naturally there is a sharing of the grief and a wish to help.

For those events that happen in remote areas with little or no news coverage there is not the same identification and the feeling of personal involvement is not evoked.  The story of the good Samaritan remains powerful because it was unusual.  Studies show that often in big cities people are reluctant to become involved even when witnessing a stranger lying on the ground ill.

The killing of the children in Newtown has evoked powerful feelings nationally and worldwide.  Many people are shocked that this could happen in a school in a peaceful community and see it as preventable.

The global under 5 years old child mortailty rate is 51 (the number of children per thousand born alive dying before the age of 5).  In individual countries ranging from 185 in Sierra Leone and 180 in  Somalia to 3 in Norway, Sweden and Finland.  In the USA it is 8.

Taking the global figure of 51/1000 children dying under 5 years old in comparison with the minimimum of 3/1000, 48/1000 children’s deaths world wide could be avoided. Putting it another way, in Sierra Leone and Somalia nearly 20% of children born alive are dead by the time they are five. Of course there are places where no statistics are available……………..