26 March 2005

In bed, no-one can hear you scream.

Can't get up? Wake up and find the Clocky
It looks annoying, like a furry swiss roll on wheels. Even its name is irritating: Clocky. But that's nothing compared with what it does. Clocky is surely the most infuriating wake-up call ever devised.

Dreamt up by a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it works like this: You hit the snooze button because you are desperate for a few more minutes' sleep. Clocky then rolls off the bedside table and wheels around the bedroom floor bumping into things, before settling on a place to hide.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

25 March 2005


24 March 2004 is the anniversary of the assassinaion of Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Goldámez archbishop of El Salvador. The day before, Romero said in his homily:

Brothers, you came from our own people. You are killing your own brothers. Any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God, which says, 'Thou shalt not kill'. No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you obeyed your consciences rather than sinful orders. The church cannot remain silent before such an abomination. ... In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: stop the repression.

He was shot through the heart while celebrating mass the next day.

After his death the UN Truth Commission reported:
In November 1987, Amado Antonio Garay ...revealed that on 24 March 1980, Saravia had ordered him to drive a red Volkswagen to the Hospital . He had parked opposite the Chapel. His passenger, a bearded stranger, had ordered him to crouch down and pretend to be repairing something. He had heard a shot, turned around and seen the individual holding a gun with both hands pointing towards the right side of the rear right window of the vehicle. He had immediately smelt gunpowder and at that moment the bearded man had calmly told him: drive slowly, take it easy' and they [drove] off. Garay alleged that he had driven the individual to former Captain Saravia, to whom the stranger had said 'mission accomplished'. Three days later, Garay had driven Saravia to a house where former Major D'Aubuisson was and Saravia had said in front of D'Aubuisson: 'We've already done what we planned about killing Monsignor Arnulfo Romero'.

Findings: The Commission Finds the Following: 1. There is full evidence that [F]ormer Major Roberto D'Aubuisson gave the order to assassinate the Archbishop and gave precise instructions to members of his security service, acting as a 'death squad', to organize and supervise the assassination.

No-one was ever charged with the murder. The investigating magistrate fled the cuntry after death threats. d'Aubuisson's party, ARENA went on to dominate Salvadoran politics from 1989 to the present. El Salvador is a member of the coalition of the willing.

How to not support the troops

Leaving British troops open to war crimes prosecutions is perhaps not a brilliant way to support the troops, but that may be what the Blair government has gone. According to the Independnet:

Tony Blair is under mounting pressure to publish the Attorney General's advice on the legality of the Iraq war after the revelation that Lord Goldsmith changed his mind to back the invasion shortly before it began.

Mr Blair faced an angry backlash at Westminster as Labour MPs warned the Prime Minister his leadership was now threatening to damage the party's vote in the forthcoming general election. One Labour MP said some middle-class voters would not vote Labour again until Mr Blair stood down, because of anger over Iraq. The row over the Attorney General's advice now threatens to overshadow the election campaign.

The Independent has also learned the fresh revelations about the Attorney General's doubts over the legality of the Iraq war are being viewed with concern and consternation by senior military figures.

The controversy has been re-ignited after it was revealed the Government blanked out a damning paragraph from a resignation letter by Elizabeth Wilmshurst, who resigned in protest at the war from her post as the deputy legal adviser at Foreign Office. The redacted two sentences, first revealed by Channel 4, said Lord Goldsmith had supported the view of her legal team that the war would be illegal without a second UN resolution, but changed his opinion 13 days before the attack.

The Guardian gives the text of the letter (suppressed paragraph in boldface):
Official version
1. I regret that I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force against Iraq without a second security council resolution to revive the authorisation given in SCR 678. I do not need to set out my reasoning; you are aware of it... I cannot in conscience go along with advice - within the office or to the public or parliament - which asserts the legitimacy of military action without such a resolution, particularly since an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression; nor can I agree with such action in circumstances which are so detrimental to the international order and the rule of law.

2. I therefore need to leave the office: my views on the legitimacy of the action in Iraq would not make it possible for me to continue my role as a deputy legal adviser or my work more generally. For example in the context of the international criminal court, negotiations on the crime of aggression begin again this year.

I am therefore discussing with Alan Charlton whether I may take approved early retirement.

In case that is not possible this letter should be taken as constituting notice of my resignation.

3. I joined the office in 1974. It has been a privilege to work here. I leave with very great sadness.

What they cut out

My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of SCR [UN security council resolution] 1441, and with what the attorney general gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March.

(The view expressed in that letter has of course changed again into what is now the official line.)

Australia has signed and ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC, so are troops are in the same boat. The Australian government has published its legal advice which is just about identical with the British legal opinion. I wonder if anyone in the Blair government made the Howard government aware their legal opinion was bogus? And I wonder if anyone in either government considered the legal limbo into which they were sending their troops?

22 March 2005

opening up Parliament

Scuttle over to Newcopia for a blogfeed of the Australian parliamentary library's research and bill digest service.