Showing posts with label #mythsofthewaronterror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #mythsofthewaronterror. Show all posts

Saturday, 1 March 2014

A is for Asbestos

Dr. Cooke testified that his examination of the lungs indicated old scarring indicative of a previous, healed, tuberculosis infection, and extensive fibrosis, in which were visible "particles of mineral matter ... of various shapes, but the large majority have sharp angles. The size varies from 393.6 to 3 µm in length....

[These] originated from asbestos and were, beyond a reasonable doubt, the primary cause of the fibrosis of the lungs and therefore of death"

Dr William Edmund Cooke, 
Pathologist and Bacteriologist,
Wigan Infirmary and Leigh Infirmary, 1927


"For nearly three hundred years, Lloyd's of London insurance policies were backed by wealthy British investors, who came to be known as "Names" because, in the early days, their signatures were written on the face of each Lloyd's policy. The Names participated in one-year venture syndicates, to insure risks, chiefly in maritime insurance. Each Name pledged his entire personal wealth to back up his share in the syndicate's policies. The syndicates accepted business for one year, then allowed two more years for claims to come in and be settled. Each syndicate closed its "year of account" and wound up its affairs after the end of the third year. The Names received their share of the profits, or paid their share of the losses, and their liability ended. If, however, all claims could not be settled by the end of the third year, the syndicate had to remain "open" and the profits or losses could not be shared among the Names until all claims were finally settled. This system was efficient and profitable in maritime business; the outcome of any given voyage was almost always known within the year of account, and settled within three.

As both commerce and insurance grew more complex, and especially as Lloyd's expanded into non-maritime business, syndicates found they could no longer close their affairs after only three years. Staying open longer, however, and thus delaying the distribution of profits, would threaten their financial base: Names might well look elsewhere for more reliable investments with more rapid returns. Lloyd's solution was to have each closing syndicate reinsure its remaining risks with a syndicate from the next year of account. For a premium paid, a still-open syndicate, during its third year, would assume any remaining Incurred But Not yet Reported ("IBNR") liabilities of the closing syndicate from the prior year by issuing it a specialized policy of Re-Insurance To Close ("RITC"). Lloyd's syndicates could thus continue distributing profits after three years, instead of having to radically alter their long-established and familiar business procedure.

When this RITC developed, there were only a few thousand members of Lloyd's, of whom perhaps a thousand, known as "working Names", actually conducted the business of Lloyd's insurance market. The rest ("external" Names) relied on their syndicate managing agents to protect their interests, by carefully evaluating each risk accepted, and by calculating the RITC in such a way that neither excessive profit nor loss was realized by the Names on the old syndicate or the new syndicate. It was extremely important that RITC be calculated fairly, because the individual Names who made up those syndicates were not necessarily the same people.

In order to carve out a share of the U.S. insurance market while a "buy-American" attitude prevailed in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, syndicates at Lloyd's issued many broadly worded policies, without monetary limits, insuring and reinsuring risks in the United States. The loose language of these policies gave Lloyd's a temporary competitive advantage over many U.S, carriers; however, these overly generous policies eventually came back to haunt them. By the 1960's and 1970's it was clear to a handful of the highly placed working Names that claims due to asbestosis, pollution and other health hazards (so-called "APH" losses) were ripening into lawsuits in which unanticipatedly large damages were being awarded by American courts. American companies turned to their insurers, and their insurers turned to their reinsurers, who in very many cases were syndicates at Lloyd's.

An avalanche of claims was thus working its way through the courts and down the chain of reinsurance obligations, toward the Lloyd's syndicates that held the RITC policies issued to the syndicates who, in prior years, had written the original, broadly worded policies. The avalanche was moreover apparently going to continue well past the year 2000. Since the original policies were written without monetary limits, the Names backing the syndicates that had assumed liability for these policies through the annual RITC process were facing financial ruin, and Lloyd's ability to "pay all claims" was in jeopardy. The Names would soon be personally liable for coming claims far in excess of their original investments in Lloyd's syndicates, and apparently in excess of their combined wealth besides. If word got out about the magnitude of the undisclosed liabilities latent within numerous syndicates at Lloyd's, incoming investment would cease, and Lloyd's would go the way of the "do-do" bird."

Friday, 21 February 2014

Daily Reminder

"8a. An aircraft at Eglin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplicate for a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CIA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At a designated time the duplicate would be substituted for the actual civil aircraft and would be loaded with the selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone.

b. Take off times of the drone aircraft and the actual aircraft will be scheduled to allow a rendezvous south of Florida. From the rendezvous point the passenger-carrying aircraft will descend to minimum altitude and go directly into an auxiliary field at Eglin AFB where arrangements will have been made to evacuate the passengers and return the aircraft to its original status. The drone aircraft meanwhile will continue to fly the filed flight plan. When over Cuba the drone will being transmitting on the international distress frequency a "MAY DAY" message stating he is under attack by Cuban MIG aircraft. The transmission will be interrupted by destruction of the aircraft which will be triggered by radio signal. This will allow ICAO radio stations in the Western Hemisphere to tell the US what has happened to the aircraft instead of the US trying to "sell" the incident."

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Syria Report: One is Reminded of Nazi Germany - by Robert Fisk

The pictures are horrific, the torture details revolting, the numbers terrifying. And the integrity of the three former prosecutors who have effectively accused the Syrian government of war crimes, are without blemish. Shrivelled, blood-spattered corpses provide unstoppable evidence of regime cruelty – just as the videotapes of Syrian rebel executions tell us what kind of Syria may soon exist if the insurrection against Bashar al-Assad succeeds.
Besides, everyone knows that the Assad regime – from father Hafez onwards – has employed torture and executions to preserve the doubtful purity of the Baath party. So why not, indeed, talk of war crimes? Well, let’s just remember that the 11,000 prisoners reportedly done to death by the Syrian regime is only just over half the total number of Syrians – 20,000 – reportedly killed by Hafez’s brother’s troops in the besieged Syrian city of Hama in 1982.

So how come we are not demanding war crimes trials for those responsible for that even greater massacre, whose perpetrators – reported at the time and recounted in numerous books afterwards — came from the ranks of the special units commanded by Rifaat al-Assad. Could it be that we have just forgotten this even more terrible massacre? Or could it be – since Rifaat, who has denied any role in the Hama operations, now lives in safety in Paris and sometimes in London, protected by our own European security services – that we don’t have the inclination to pursue that particular bloodbath?

No, that’s not to say that the evidence from Qatar – and we shall come to the matter of Qatar shortly – is not true. But we should be asking a lot more questions than we have been asking about this portrait gallery of pain, unleashed only hours before an international conference in Switzerland in which we in the West – but perhaps not Qatar – hope to end the civil war in Syria.

How long, for example, have the Qatari authorities been in possession of this terrible eye-witness material? A couple of weeks, just enough time to rustle up the lawyers for the prosecution? Or a couple of months? Or six months? And, more to the point, why now? For it would be difficult to imagine a better way for Qatar – whose royal family viscerally hates Bashar al-Assad – to destroy his hopes of a future role in Syria, even in a ‘transitional’ Syrian government, than by releasing these snapshots of terror just before the Swiss talks.

Indeed, one is reminded – in terms of political purpose rather than historical parallel,of course — of Nazi Germany’s disclosure of the mass graves of 22,000 Polish officers and civilians murdered by the Soviet secret police in 1940 at Katyn, in that part of Russia newly occupied by German troops. The Nazis claimed the Soviets were responsible – in the hope that this would divide Stalin’s alliance with America and Britain. The Allies denounced the Nazis for the massacre – although it was indeed committed by the Soviets. Does Qatar now hope to divide Syria’s alliance with Russia and Iran with similar evidence of Syrian government mass murder?

There are other questions to ask, of course. How on earth did the Syrian police operative who brought the incriminating photographs out of Syria, acquire the code-name ‘Caesar’. True, the real Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and set the Empire on the path to civil war. But who called him ‘Caesar’? And why? The real Caesar – a moment of incongruity here — was stabbed to death in the Roman senate, an act which led directly to the execution of Cicero – which was the codename of Nazi Germany’s top spy in Istanbul, the top Middle East espionage centre in World War Two.

But seriously… How come Qatar’s brilliant plaything, al-Jazeera – the Arab satellite channel to beat them all – didn’t get the exclusive on the Syrian execution story? I’m told that al-Jazeera didn’t even get advance warning of the revelations, which were handled by a lawyer acting for the Qatari authorities in London.

The involvement of solicitors Carter Ruck – may their name be praised, as every journalist would say at once – may seem quite obvious, but how come the Qataris didn’t involve the obvious NGOs in such disclosures. Human Rights Watch, it turned out, knew nothing about the photographs – had not even time to identify them – and Amnesty International fared no better. If you really want to point the finger at a dictator, why not bring in the heavy guns of HRW and Amnesty?

And Bashar’s reaction so far? Zilch. His delegation in Switzerland can sit down to chat about the need to destroy ‘terrorism’ and offer a few local ceasefires, humanitarian supply convoys and prisoner releases to mark time. The regime’s enemies can parade those terrifying pictures which Qatar has made available. But war and peace in Syria will not be decided by this horror show.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Myths of The War on Terror : "Just Look at The Way They Treat Their Women"

"Our photo editor realized the significance of this historic moment, and published the picture, but in his haste he did not read the "fine print" that accompanied the picture, forbidding any changes. 

We should not have published the altered picture, and we have conveyed our regrets and apologies to the White House and to the State Department.

The allegations that religious Jews denigrate women or do not respect women in public office, is a malicious slander and libel. 

The current Secretary of State, the Honorable Hillary R. Clinton, was a Senator representing New York State with great distinction 8 years. She won overwhelming majorities in the Orthodox Jewish communities in her initial campaign in '00, and when she was re-elected in '06, because the religious community appreciated her unique capabilities and compassion to all communities. 

The Jewish religion does not allow for discrimination based on gender, race, etc. We respect all government officials. We even have special prayers for the welfare of our Government and the government leaders, and there is no mention of gender in such prayers.

In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status. Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board. 

Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. 

We apologize if this was seen as offensive."

..Jewish Week's Rabbi Jason Miller points out that the altered image violates a central tenet of the faith,

"Der Tzitung edited Hillary Clinton out of the photo, thereby changing history. To my mind, this act of censorship is actually a violation of the Jewish legal principle of g'neivat da'at (deceit)."

Meanwhile, in America, where they respect their women and stuff....

Twilight: Breaking Dawn blew right through the $500 million mark in domestic grosses alone. 

Half a billion dollars, for a movie in which a vampire procreates and bites the demonic parasitic fetus out of his skeletal bride's belly and then a man who can turn into a wolf falls in love with said newborn infant.

You go, girl.