The Colorado shooting is a Groundhog Day tragedy

Published by Daily Mail

Aurora Colorado vigilIt was a casual midnight massacre in a cinema during a screening the new Batman movie ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. And now, just as with every passing mention of Pearl Harbour, Dunblane, or September 11th , this film will most likely be forever synonymous with the tragedy.

Clad in gas mask, ballistics helmet and body armour, the audience thought the shadowy figure was part of the theatre experience, until he released gas-emitting devices and opened fire. But the story is a familiar one: a lone and unsuspected gunman enters a building and fires indiscriminately, targeting whatever moves – men, women and children, this time including a six-year-old girl.

And so the United States of America is (once again) in mourning. The number of dead and injured makes this incident the largest mass shooting in modern US history: Aurora, Colorado, 2012 (70 victims) now follows Fort Hood, Texas, 2009 (37), which followed Northern Illinois University, 2008 (21), which followed Virginia Tech University, 2007 (59), which followed Columbine High School, 1999 (39), which followed Springfield, Oregon, 1998 (25), which followed Killeen, Texas, 1991 (45), which followed Jacksonville, Florida, 1990 (14)… Continue reading

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Who are you calling a ‘conspiracy theorist’, Home Secretary?

Published by Daily Mail

Theresa May David DaviesIn the midst of euro-economic turmoil, distracted by Leveson and the tedious texts and tweets of Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Government is finalising its plans to monitor and log every website you visit and store every IM, tweet and text you send. The police already have draconian extra-judicial powers to intercept your email and telephone communications, but the surveillance state is an ever-encroaching beast of unquenchable omniscience, scattering all feeble libertarian squeaks in its wake.

In opposition, David Cameron categorically opposed Labour’s Big Brother agenda: he rejected national ID cards out of hand and objected to security requests for 90-detention without charge. Indeed, he said quite unequivocally: “If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront this surveillance state.”

In office, however, he is proving to be as centralising and authoritarian as Tony Blair and New Labour ever were, all under the guise of needing to prevent acts of terrorism and smash paedophile rings. So, if you’re practising shooting zombies on ‘Left for Dead’ or knocking off a few vanity years on Facebook, beware: we are all now suspects; your every move is being monitored. Continue reading

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In Memoriam: Graham Berkeley, January 12th 1964 – September 11th 2001

Published by Dale & Co

graham berkeley 2It was the beginning of another academic year. I was in the staffroom, at the end of the usual sort of frenzied and frantic day which usually greets the first weeks of a new term. The Head came in and mumbled something, but I didn’t take any notice. No-one else seemed to. I was immersed in a sea of admin, data and trivia – student lists, text books, timetabling and staffing. As I gathered my bags to leave, I over-heard one of the English teachers refer to ‘an act of war’, but I assumed he was immersed in Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon or some such, so before I could become embroiled, I darted out to my car. It was sunny and still quite warm: a hint of Indian summer. I had a chilled bottle of wine waiting for me. I liked going home.

I turned on the radio to find some vacuous mood music, but there was none. Instead, as I drove out of the car park, I heard incomprehensible utterances: something about the Pentagon being hit. My mind hazed. I slowed at the junction and signalled left: something about the World Trade Center being destroyed. I paused at the traffic lights, turned up the volume, and listened. Continue reading

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