Well, I might have written something [more – Ed] about the current POTUS (POTUS isn't working very well as a pilate?), he of the Orange hue - as I have mentioned before, a real Orangeman - but there is that much in the mainstream media I will refrain. Except just to say that his grasp of geopolitical realities was probably well defined by his quest while in Europe for a US-German trade deal not knowing that it could only be a US-EU trade deal.... As I write this introduction, news has just come in about the USA withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate – now that really has put him on the wrong side of history – "America First – in stupidity". Enough. Sad.
Are you sitting comfortably?
I hope you are sitting down comfortably? Are you relaxed? I hope so. I hope you are not thinking too much about global warming, refugee issues, 'domestic' violence, sectarianism, the dangers of nuclear and other war, and so on. Well, not thinking about them more than you should, because we all should. But we also need to relax, be creative, tend to our own needs or we will quickly burn out or go around an unpleasant bend.
And then suddenly you have a new thing to worry about, as if you didn't have enough. What might happen to the nuclear plants of our nearest neighbour, Britain, is always a concern. But a new report indicates that Trident, Britain's submarine-based nuclear weapons system is liable to hacking and even release of the weapons; Hacking UK Trident: A Growing Threat, warns that a successful cyber-attack could "neutralise operations, lead to loss of life, defeat or perhaps even the catastrophic exchange of nuclear warheads (directly or indirectly)". The report itself, from BASIC, will be at www.basicint.org
When the submarines are docked at Faslane they are connected to the internet. When at sea they are not but still receive messages or orders. But there is the possibility the report gives of malware being installed while the submarines are docked which then makes them vulnerable, including at sea. The UK has four Trident submarines, due to be replaced sometime (in an incredible and vainglorious act of wasteful stupidity) by a yet undecided new system. So a clever 15-year old computer wizard somewhere, anywhere in the world, could potentially unleash nuclear war. That is certainly discomforting to know. Fixing the problem could cost the British exchequer billions of pounds.
I do hope you sleep soundly in your bed tonight and that 15-year old somewhere isn't staying up late on their computer in their bedroom.......
Renewables now cheapest source of power globally
You learn something every day. Thanks to Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland (No.104, 15th May 2017) I now know the fact as in the title of this item. "A study found that a major reason that installed capacity increased while investment fell was a sharp reduction in capital costs for solar photovoltaics and onshore and offshore wind. Of the total capacity of new power generation added worldwide in 2016, 55.3% was for wind, solar, biomass and waste, geothermal, small hydro and marine power generation."
"The Executive Summary of the study notes, renewable energy used to be called "alternative energy" and was a "niche choice for wealthy countries" only a decade ago. Now, however, renewables represent the majority of new generating capacity installed worldwide, with costs for wind and solar undercutting coal or gas, or both, in many countries. The authors point out that wind and solar remain vulnerable to policy measures such as those designed to protect coal and gas. They also recognize that the structure of electricity markets remains a challenge for renewable energy developers and energy ministries around the world." Oh, and it does quote the generating costs in different countries, justifying the title used.
I wonder what relative costs are in Ireland. Crazily the Republic is still permitting and subsidising the burning of peat/turf for electricity production so nul points for that one. And elsewhere, e.g. Britain, nuclear power is heavily subsidised by the state at every stage....and guess who will pick up the cost of guarding radioactive waste for the next 10,000 years?! Taxpayers of course. OK, different radioactive elements have very varying half-lifes [Is that what people in Direct Provision in the Republic have? A 'half-life'. Oh, sorry, no life at all. – Ed] and some require guarding to what amounts to infinity. When we finally get to a maximum renewable-charged world, and in future generations, I think they will look back on the era of nuclear power and ask "Whatever were they thinking to hold hostage future generations in that way....."
The bombing in Manchester on 22nd May was terrible and those who suffered, and will continue to suffer, deserve all the solidarity and empathy they can get. No one should suffer what people were put through, and the juxtaposition of a big event for mainly young people with a lethal bombing makes it feel even worse. The last big bomb in Manchester was an IRA one in 1996, and although many were injured thankfully no one was killed in that.
However some analysis is needed as to why Britain continues to be a target of military-minded Islamists. In relation to Manchester, the Libyan connection and particularly British support for the overthrow of Gaddafi is particularly relevant. It is also an example of the stupidity of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' thinking because what happens when 'the enemy of my enemy' becomes 'my enemy'? See the Media Lens report.
One quote there is that "The British government operated an "open door" policy that allowed Libyan exiles and British-Libyan citizens to join the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi even though some had been subject to counter-terrorism control orders..." and another that "'Often with the connivance of MI6, during the early years of the Syrian War, hundreds of British citizens were allowed to travel abroad to join jihadist organisations. The reason MI6 certainly approved such involvement was because spy chiefs had taken it upon themselves to meddle in the internal affairs of Middle East countries." – and the latter is a quote from The Daily Mail. See also John Pilger on the same topic.
Other sides of the same situation are the victims of military Islamist bombings in Muslim countries, and US and UK drone strikes that we hear nothing about, the latter killing many men, women and children who are totally uninvolved in military Islamist activity. If we heard about these people in the Western media on even a quarter of the scale that we hear about Paris or Manchester then our screens and newspapers would be bursting at the seams.
I can't sign off without talking about The Weather - we had some very pleasant weather in May, so I hope that wasn't The Summer, though meteorologically speaking the summer begins at the start of June. However also thriving, I find, have been the green fly in the garden, and black fly on my redcurrants and blackcurrants – zillions of them hiding on the dark bark (the bark is worse for their bite) and they have given the currants a shock. I presume the prevalence of these pests it partly the product of a mild winter. There is no pleasing everyone....
See you at the start of July, aye, Billy.
is Billy King? A long, long time ago, in a more
innocent age (just talking about myself you understand),
there were magazines called 'Dawn' and 'Dawn Train'
and I had a back page column in these. Now the Headitor
has asked me to come out from under the carpet to write
a Cyberspace Column 'something people won't be able
to put down' (I hope you're not carrying your monitor
around with you).
Watch this. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman
pass by (because there'll almost certainly be very little
about horses even if someone with a similar name is
found astride them on gable ends around certain parts
of Norn Iron).