Archive for September, 2005

The Orwells…No.6

Given that I landed in the UK from Singapore this morning, you wouldn’t think I’d have any difficulty coming up with a good Orwell or two. After all, the place has built up a hell of a reputation for being, ah, Orwellian – corporative state in all but name, puppet press, caning, hangings every time the bell strikes, LOTS of evil mass surveillance tech (of which more anon)…and as far as I saw, at least one splenetically hostile article on the Dangers of Blog in every edition of the Straits Times.

But then, there’s always our own dear government. The 84 year old German emigre and lifelong Labour member who got manhandled and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for saying “Nonsense!” to Jack Straw – well, the story’s been done to death by every other blogger and his or her troll. Meh.

One thing that caught my eye from the Labour Party conference, though, was Tone’s latest nugget of policy brilliance. I give you the Instant Asbo: according to the Grauniad, these interim Asbos would be “granted to the police without evidence or witnesses having to be heard or the defendant informed.” So, you could soon be wapped with an Asbo to force you to stop doing anything at all, even if it’s not against the law, or go to jail – without even being told about it first. George would have loved it. The really nasty thing about thoughtcrime, if you remember 1984, was that you didn’t know you were going to do it until it happened to you and the damage was done. (Incidentally, this idea he developed by way of the essay Such, Such Were The Joys, about his schooling – the key point was that the strictures of society were both absolute and impossible to meet..)

This raises interesting possibilities. The range of activities that could possibly fall into the category of anti-social behaviour must be not far off infinite, allowing for future inventions and changes in the law, which by their very nature are unpredictable. Far better to assume that criminality is a quantum phenomenon, and that in much the same way as Schrödinger’s cat was both alive and dead until it was observed, we are all in both the states “guilty” and “innocent” until our arrest. Obviously, it would be a needless layer of bureaucracy to have the police request them individually, seeing as they don’t need to offer evidence or inform the subject.

So – why not universal Asbo conscription? At the stroke of a pen, everyone in Britain – hell, in these globalised times, why not the entire world just in case? – could have their very own Asbo covering any and all antisocial behaviour they might engage in. Then, if you went to the bad, your local bobby on the beat could instantly tear you off an on-the-spot jail sentence and have you blued into the Brideswell like a shot. Securing Britain’s future.

Can somebody please tell me this was a malicious fabrication by some disgruntled sub-editor?

Meanwhile, if you do want a Singapore Orwell candidate, the nameless hack whose news-in-brief on Lynndie England’s conviction ended “..who was photographed abusing detainees in an area of the prison where the administrative clerk had no official business” does it for me.


Right – I know this is slightly late, but whilst at least something of the post-Basra Jailbreak atmosphere of debate about Britain’s role in Iraq is hanging around, I thought I’d dig into this a bit.

For a start, there’s “that” John Reid “withdrawal plan” that was quietly sent to what the army calls File Zero (the recycle bin). Now, I think it’s worth pointing out exactly what the plan would have achieved even if it had been put into operation. Depending on which version of the story you read, it foresaw either that British forces in Iraq would be reduced to 3,500, or that 3,500 British troops would be withdrawn in the first lot. I suspect this is either Chinese whispers editing, confusion between the number withdrawn and the remaining force, or perhaps a reflection of two different planning options. Why? Because, basically, there are currently 8,500 squaddies in Iraq.

This is significant because the British occupation force was never meant to be that big. The initial invasion, Operation TELIC, included 4 army brigades under the command of 1 (UK) Division, not counting RAF or Naval units. Those were 7th Armoured, 3 Commando, 16 Air Assault, and 102 Logistic Brigades. After the Iraqi collapse, 3 Commando and 16AAB were withdrawn to the UK as quickly as possible. This is because, as the so-called “elite” force, they are specialised in deploying very quickly in unusual ways – respectively by sea over the beach and by air, either by parachute, helicopter assault or airlanding – and therefore represent the UK’s emergency reserve force. Once used, they need to be rolled up again quickly.

7 Armoured soldiered on as the core of the Multinational Division South-East, as did 1 (UK) Division HQ, until both were replaced by 19 Mechanised Infantry Brigade and 3 (UK) Division HQ. (It was this deployment that was accused, both falsely and truthfully, of mistreating prisoners.) To go on from here, a word on 1 (UK) and 3 (UK). The British Army has two division HQs, and these are they. Normally, they swap responsibility for the command of any division-sized operation the army may start every six months. In order to resume this, 3 (UK) was replaced by a new organisation, an ad-hoc HQ called simply MND(SE) HQ. The plan was that the British contribution would be, in essence, our share of MND(SE)HQ and the division support troops, one brigade, and any other fancy bits (special forces, Civil-Military Cooperation teams, specialist engineers and such) that came up.

But it didn’t happen like that. Not only did MNDSE turn out to be less MN and more D than planned, but things failed to get better in Iraq. By the spring of 2004, the generals in Iraq were looking for reinforcements. They were offered first one infantry battalion, the one based on Cyprus, and then another. Both of these were officially “temporary”. Later yet, another armoured regiment (note: a tank unit the same size as an infantry battalion is called a regiment in Britain. Yes, it’s anomalous. But when did that ever stop the British?) was needed. The problem was, though, that, as the Germans say, nothing lasts like what’s temporary. The reinforcements came back all right, but they were always replaced with more troops, just as the brigades were swapped over every six months. Now, what do you get in a brigade? A British mechanised brigade, like 12 Mech currently in Iraq, has three infantry battalions (one with Warriors, two with Saxon vehicles), an armoured regiment with Challenger 2 tanks, a recce regiment, guns, medics, engineers, signals and such.

To be clear: we’ve got 7 battalions’ equivalent in Iraq rather than 4 according to the plan. Almost double the infantry and tank bill. This is why we’ve now rotated through the whole army – the next rotation is – guess who? – the 7th Armoured, going out for a second tour as a formation (some units in it will have already done two tours, and some individual soldiers three, especially short-supply specialists) The “Reid plan” would, I think, only have got back to the original plan, at least at first. To be clear: sending out the 7th is not an “escalation” of the UK presence in Iraq – they are no more troops, and it’s not because they are the Desert Rats. They are the next cab on the stand.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s move on to some speculation. There is a growing degree of support for pulling out now. Simon Jenkins in his rejuvenated Guardian mode is perhaps the most eloquent advocate for this. He recently wrote that he opposed the argument that an early retreat would lead to civil war because its proponents “believe that Western troops do only good whereever they go” (I may be misquoting). I cannot agree with him here, even though I’ve already called the beginning of a civil war (so has Anthony Loyd in the Times, I see. Go read.). The reason for this apparent paradox is that the one thing they are doing is to deter the one action that would push over the limit from a civil war in slow motion to the real all-out mass slaughter Beirut Breakdown – that is, a blatant coup de force attempt in Baghdad.

That may not sound very much, but it is a lot more than nothing. The question arises, though, whether their presence is causing the situation to break down so much faster that it outweighs the gain of a no-coup guarantee. If they were following anything like a sensible strategy of getting control of the streets in Baghdad first, or failing that doing nothing and therefore not shooting anyone, it might be a strong argument against going now. I’ve said before that I’m suspicious of a timetabled strategy – especially a published timetable, which it would have to be to achieve the benefits it’s meant to have. Once the deadline is made public, we lose our bargaining power. (More TYR on this here.) If you don’t like the terms on offer, all you need to do is wait and prepare to take what you want in the civil war – or alternatively crank up the violence in order to either chase us out early, or force us to modify our terms in exchange for a quiet life (not to mention seizing the resistance mythos for your post-occupation political career).

Some people may still think that minimal goals are still achievable in Iraq, perhaps especially in the south. Our forces would move off the streets and out to a convenient airfield (it strikes me, writing this, that the same people were saying so in mid-2003). Rather than trying to rule Iraq, we would be off the hook but still have useful Middle Eastern bases – and the option of reintervening. The model might be Malaysia after the Emergency and independence – the British forces stuck around past independence, and as late as 1976 at one base on Singapore. For that matter, the Aussies still use Butterworth air base in northwestern Malaysia. It’s a crazy notion. The model wouldn’t be Malaysia, it would be Aden – the British forces in the bases ended up spending all their time dealing with mortars flying over the wire, and the announcement of a timetable just invoked all the problems above and the John Kerry principle (“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”).

So – what the hell should we do? Well, we ought to accept and internalise that it’s fucked. I see Kevin Drum quoted Sir Richard Mottram’s legendary conjugation – “I’m fucked. You’re fucked. We’re all fucked. The whole fucking department’s fucked.” There is now no point in doing anything in Iraq but damage limitation. We should have a firm commitment to pulling out, but enough uncertainty to bargain – a hard, hard problem in game theory. And, looking at the increasingly bad relations with the SCIRI and Sadrist authority in southern Iraq – we shouldn’t be looking at the Cabinet Mission’s decision to set a timetable for Indian independence as a model. We should be digging out Field Marshal Wavell’s Breakdown Plan, on what to do in the event of a Shia rising and total loss of cooperation with local authority.

Further reading: US Army in Iskandariyah on the Shia-Sunni demographic frontier,
the cooperators are out of control, What do the Americans think they are doing?, Adnan al-Dulaimi is the Sunni leader who is campaigning for participation in the constitution – and they just raided his house!, Kurds making their own oil arrangements – VERY significant, with Canadian company (Is that the same Heritage Oil as in Tim Spicer/Tony Buckingham/EO/Sandline/Air Leone/our Russian friend?)

Calling Lurkers

Whilst I’m away, I think I’ll pick up on this meme that’s been floating about. If you’re a regular TYR lurker – that is, one of those who read this but don’t comment, why not make yourself known? The usual channels are open.

You may have noticed a lack of blog lately. This is because I’m currently in Singapore on business, covering the 3GSM Asia Congress – blog fodder, perhaps, but I have been extremely busy so far, despite the T1 in our office, and have little opportunity to bloviate here. I will, however, attempt to produce something at least..

Right. I think it’s time to say that this is indeed the Iraqi civil war.

After this post on the 9th of September, I was criticised fairly savagely by a commenteer over at the Fistful of Euros for being insufficiently optimistic about the situation in Iraq, and not giving enough credit to supposed progress in training Iraqi troops. I was pretty venomous about this. It was, though, just the moment that the Iraqi government and the occupation authority were heavily publicising the arrival of Iraqi national guards in Tal Afar, the much-fought over border town hundreds of miles northwest of anywhere in Iraq worth caring about. The week before, there had been reports in the US press that the US Army’s 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment had been fighting through the town – before the Iraqi forces turned up – but nobody mentioned that.

On Wednesday the 14th, some 150 people were killed in Iraq after a wave of 10 car bombings in Baghdad, a massacre by quasi-police just outside the city and much more. On the same day, the Washington Post carried this report on how the 3,000 US and (supposedly) 5,000 Iraqi forces in Tal Afar had nothing else to do but fight among themselves. A sample:

“After months of preparing for a battle with insurgents that never fully materialized and 12 days of running around this city from dawn to dusk, the soldiers of Eagle Troop did what soldiers often do with unspent aggression.

They fought each other.

Squaring off Tuesday evening in the front yard of a home they had commandeered to be their command post for the final stage of the assault on Tall Afar, they grappled one-on-one on the grass for hours. Good-natured taunts flew. T-shirts and uniform pants were torn. And as the sun began to fall behind the stone buildings of this restive city, an audience of hecklers grew…

Now, the day before that, I’d commented as follows on this excellent post of Bobby’s as follows:

I’ll await your “What Now?” with interest. What I would say is, as the insurgents can currently move platoon-sized units to attack the Interior Ministry and get away with it, should we really be retaking Tel Afar for the third time when we could have those troops in Baghdad?

Now, I’m not saying, I’m just saying. Apparently this year’s DSEI arms fair included a stand from some lot called Strategic Communication Laboratories offering propaganda. Perhaps I should set up my own mercenary private risk consulting business? I can think of two possible brand approaches. Whizzy – Blogjelly Deathworks, your first choice for intellytic streativity. Discreet – Wharfedale Partners, registered office PO Box 3753, Sharjah Airport Free Zone, UK representation somewhere handy for Claridges.

Anyway, enough with the snark and ghoulish self congratulation. Some surprising people are in denial that Iraq is now at civil war. Exhibit A is none other than Robert Fisk, who met the 14th September massacre with an indictment of Westerners who “wanted civil war”. He went into a delightful anecdote about a doctor of his acquaintance who, married to a Shia, asked “if you want me to kill my wife”. Frankly, that sounds like the kind of story exiles from nations at war with themselves tell, of the harmony Back Then Before the [enter bastards here] ruined it all. It’s usually shite – after all, if things had been so great the exile wouldn’t be exiled. After all, it’s not as if there were not plenty of Yugoslavs in mixed marriages – not a few of who ended up as quaint exile exhibits of How Things Used To Be. It’s not the good people who do marry across the divides and pursue a decent life without caring for nationalist or religious or tribal glory who make the difference in these times. It’s the vicious bastards who rain mortars on them from the hills around the city, or in Iraq the suicide car bombers and the New-Old Iraqi Army with its RPGs and snipers.

Above Fisk’s piece ran Patrick Cockburn’s report on the massacre. A massacre specifically of a Shia crowd in a Shia district capped by a taped declaration of war on Shi’ism, at the same time that mystery gunmen dressed as policemen (rebels posing as police? police posing as rebels-as-police?) were shooting dozens of Shia a night – and districts of Baghdad with a Sunni majority are shedding Shia at a fearsome rate. This is the beginning of civil war. There is no denying it, and Fisk seems to find it hard to take. Strange he should now be the optimist.

Now, today, we have the Basra crisis. God knows what has happened, but it seems clear that two British soldiers in plain clothes, in the circumstances clearly Intelligence Corps or special forces carrying out surveillance, somehow came to be arrested by Iraqi police. Some reports say there was an exchange of shots. (Whether the police were the real thing, SCIRI men, Sadr infiltrators, or some combination of all three is irrelevant.) Apparently, the MNDSE command found the captors sufficiently untrustworthy that they had to be sprung from prison by driving Warrior IFVs through the jail walls – terribly dramatic, and terribly reminiscent of the 1942 coup against the Egyptian government, which also involved British armour driving through palace walls in a supposedly allied city. The aftermath was predictable – screaming mobs, petrol bombs, RPGs, and a Warrior abandoned on live television (the crew were apparently picked up).

It seems to have had something to do with the arrest of two important imams on security grounds, but the key question must be: are there not-police roaming around Basra who are so dangerous that this show of force was necessary, or were the real police that ignorant of British intentions that they might have locked up the soldiers in error – in which case, why the armour drama? Probably it’s because they can’t be trusted with the information – or the men.

The prevention of blog

Well, there can be few in the blogosphere who still haven’t heard, but John Band’s Shot By Both Sides has gone dark after he was subjected to blackmail over an, ah, controversial remark he made regarding Bob Geldof. And the Board of Deputies of British Jews. And, ye Gods, gas. His point was, as far as I could make out, that anyone who wanted censorship deserved to die, which is excessive but not too bad in principle. But, really..

Send the Board [of Deputies] to the gas chambers, that’s what I say (no, not for their ethnicity; for their fatuous whining. And obviously, the people who complain about Bob Geldof saying ‘fuck’ on the telly should be ahead of them in the queue….

I commented at the time that, yes, it was offensive and it was stupid. I still think it was offensive and stupid. But it did not justify the action Mr Anonymous took. Band received threats that his employer would be sent a demand to sack him over the matter and that the national press would be involved. These threats, of course, came anonymously – did I mention that? – because the person responsible is a coward as well as a bully with no respect for free speech.

Now, there are several important points this raises. For a start, it’s a class issue. If John was rich, he could tell them to fuck off. Freedom of the press is famously limited to people who own a press – what else are blogs for if not to get around this? A second issue is the attack on good behaviour on the internet. It works on trust, mutual respect, and mutual criticism. They could have vented spleen in the comments – hell, that was SBBS’s main function, being the frenzied Ulsteroid interface-area between the rival UK blogging communities. Only there did the Euro-lefties, the Hitchens/Aaronovitch tendency and the libertarian-right wingnuts meet. They could have asked him to pull it down, set up an anti-Band blog…but they decided to go physical. And the only sanction on the net is the right to reply – which means putting a name to whatever you produce.

The most important point, though, was the extremism of their response. They didn’t demand that he erase the offending post or apologise – they set out to efface everything on SBBS. If it was a book they’d have burned it.

Where does that leave us? Some people have been talking about reanonymising their sites (which I doubt will help, and is defeatist anyway). I can’t – TYR started out as semi-anonymous, but any attempt to tack back that way went last summer when an email I sent to Laura Rozen was reposted in full on her website. After that I decided to let it go – some sites even link here with my name.

I have a little theory about this incident. John is not the first blogger to be blackmailed off the air in the UK. Newton Emerson of the now-defunct Portadown News was forced to leave his job after the strongly Republican-aligned Andersonstown News carried a story accusing him of using his employers’ resources to maintain the site – not coincidentally, shortly after he criticised a certain political party. SBBS carried some pretty venomous comments on both factions from time to time. I wonder if the Bob Geldof post was merely a pretext?

(Dave of Backword has more here, including a list of links.)

I know we’re behind on the Orwell nominations, I was planning to do a Katrina Special Edition with Hitchens, Barbara Bush and others, but this nomination goes to Anonymous, but unfortunately he/she/they/it is too much of a pathetic snivelling dogfucker to give a name, so they will be unable to accept it.

Renewable sources generated more of Germany’s energy than nuclear power for the first time in the first half of this year.

There is quite a lot of confusing (or confused) reporting going on regarding the planned spring deployment of the British-led NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) HQ and 16 Air Assault Brigade to Afghanistan. There, it has been repeatedly announced since mid-2004, they will take over command of the NATO operation in Afghanistan and reinforce its activities in the southern provinces. Now, this was originally timed for the Afghan parliamentary elections which are due to happen quite soon, but it has been put back for various reasons.

Now, yesterday the NATO defence ministers met in Berlin to discuss, among other things, the exact role of the new forces when they finally get to Afghanistan. If you read the first link, from the New York Times, you’d think that the main item on the agenda was to have NATO relieve the US Army’s division currently stationed in southern Afghanistan. Now, the allied effort in Afghanistan has been hindered repeatedly by the division of command – US-inspired – between NATO ISAF in Kabul and now also across the north, with a peace-enforcement role, and the US-led task force “hunting Bin Laden” around the south. If it had been a purely geographic division of command, it might not have been so bad, but it is in fact a functional division, between a (non-US) peacekeeping force and a (hooo-yah!) US-led “warfighting” role.

This is, in my book, silly. Providing security and reconstruction, as well as getting control of the bits of Afghanistan where most Afghans live, is the only way there will ever be either a stable Afghanistan or enough intelligence to finish off al-Qa’ida’s central organisation there (this last point being largely historical now). And the two commands have not necessarily worked in the same direction; big air assaults and AC130 strikes do not go well with peace-enforcement, the US Army tended not to want NATO in the south because they would get in the way, and the categorisation of ISAF as a quiet front distinct from the war tended to let the contributor states keep it on a short leash for equipment, men, and mandate. It’s only been in the last two years that ISAF has moved out from Kabul to secure the northern cities (and incidentally get a grip on their warlord rulers), and only this year that it got its own organic airpower when the RAF’s No.II(AC) Squadron went out with their Harriers.

So, surely a good thing that the unification of command is on the agenda? on. The NYT’s take is that the Europeans are blocking, not wanting to combine the commands (read: cheese-eating surrender monkeys). It’s worth remembering that the split command was established when the post-11/9 “We don’t need NATO/any allies, America cooks and the Euros wash up” attitude was at its height.

If you read the second link, to the FAZ, you’ll see that German defence minister Peter Struck’s objection is actually based (well, he says it is) on a concern for the image of ISAF in Afghan eyes. You’ll also see that NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Schepper has already come up with a solution of sorts, to have a NATO Afghanistan command that controls both the old ISAF and a new strike-force callsign down south. (In the NYT it’s played down and credited to the Pentagon.) And, rather than blocking, the British defence secretary, John Reid, is quoted only as saying that a united command would only happen after discussion and not overnight. And, according to the FAZ, Struck agrees with him – and is ready to up Germany’s troop contribution from 2,000 to 3,500. No mention of that in the NYT.

But the really weird thing is the framing. The NYT version puts NATO as trying to avoid “getting involved in counterinsurgency”. I’m sorry, but if they are not involved in counterinsurgency they shouldn’t be in Afghanistan. Peace-enforcement o the streets of Kabul, deterrence of warlords in Mazar e-Sharif and, yes, perhaps a bit of dramatic airmobile doorkicking in Paktia or Helmand in the rare event we know where the enemy is, are all contributions to it. This is why a single command is needed – it’s always a single battle.

On another point, the British Army has been very clear throughout that the Afghan mission, Operation HERRICK, can be launched without withdrawals from Iraq but can only be sustained for a limited period. Now, I hope if this is true the operation has not been held up for Iraq – what was it about never reinforcing failure?

Finally, kindly read this.

Political Comment Spam?

I checked my personal (i.e. blog-related) email this morning on my phone – a small first. A comment had been forwarded by Enetation to me (they all are) which goes as follows:

Comment: Al Gore Says Global Warming is Causing Solar Outbursts

Washington DC – An ongoing series of seven major solar flares, including two on Saturday, could disrupt communications on Earth and generate colorful sky shows for people at high northern latitudes for the next several days. The spate of activity from the Sun is being generated by a large sunspot named 798. Sunspots are cooler and darker regions of pent-up magnetic activity. When they unleash their energy, it\’s a bit like the top coming off a shaken champagne bottle.

In a talk given by Al Gore Friday, he noted, \”the recent disruptions to communications as a result of these solar flares is just another indication that the Bush/Cheney administration is ignoring the facts of global warming. These outbursts from our Sun are the direct result of heightened temperatures here on Earth. If our planet was cooler, then the Sun would be more efficient in generating it\’s energy.\”

oman Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi echoed Gore\’s ideas claiming that \”the Bush administration has ignored global warming. The lack of action by the administration has resulted in increased sunspots on the Sun which caused the increase of energy in Hurricane Katrina. Then, as a result of the hurricane striking the Gulf Coast, the administration failed again.\”

According to NOAA\’s Space Environment Center (SEC), \”there is no correlation between sunspots and activities here on Earth.\” When we asked Gore to respond to that statement, he said, \”Of course the SEC would say that! The NOAA are people that support and answer to the Bush administration. As everyone knows, I invented sunspots and I can tell you that they are definitely caused by increased carbon monoxide here on Earth.\”

Greenpeace also claims a direct correlation between the recent sunspot and solar flare activity and global warming. Greenpeace, through their spokesperson commented that problems i!
n electrical power generating equipment caused by the flares further increases emissions here on earth. \”This circular case and effect will have a huge negative impact on Earth. As greenhouse gasses increase, sunspots increase that results in increased flare-ups that further disrupt electrical power on earth. It is quite possible that the damage done to our Sun is irreparable.\”

While scientists around the world claim there is absolutely no correlation between global warming and solar activity, environmentalists and politicians are quick to claim that the scientists \”don\’t know everything\” and that \”they are most certainly wrong this time\” said Gore.

Not to be left out, Hillary Clinton noted that sunspot activity always increases when Republicans are in office. \”This can\’t be a normal,\” she said. \”Bush claiming that this is the \’will of God\’ and a \’natural phenomena is just more of the religious right using faith and nature to explain awa!
y their mistakes\’.\” Senator Clinton said that she will \”demand a full congressional investigation and will subpoena God to testify before the Congress.\” Pelosi agreed stating, \”this is just another reason why we need to rid this country of religion.\”

DNC Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement, \”Today we\’re faced with the hard facts that the Bush Administration\’s lax attitude towards global warming is now reaching farther than our home planet, Earth. The Sun is now suffering and will have a direct financial impact on all of our planet. If we don\’t get control of these rapidly increasing solar flare-ups, then the whole of humanity may suffer. It\’s no longer just a global problem — Republican actions are now impacting the entire solar system.”

The weird formatting is original. Now, this hunk of wingnut fantasy turned up in the comments on a post from not far off two years ago that mentioned a solar flare. Google tells us that indeed there are some solar flares coming up, and a couple of crazy-right blogs are going on about “who will blame them on the Bush administration?” etc etc. So how did it turn up here – when I’ve only mentioned solar flares once before, two years ago. Typically, no email address or website was given, but the IP address is logged.

WHOIS returns a netblock belonging to Adelphi Communications, a US internet service provider. I’m not quite unpleasant enough to contact them and demand the billing record associated with (it’s a direct allocation, too). But I might. Anyway, I’m deeply suspicious of this. Has someone rigged a spambot to look for posts containing “solar flare” and drop off a payload of Powerlinesque wankology? Note the way it’s written to sound like a typical US newspaper lead. The name given, “Peter Perez”, is clearly nonsense – either a Spanish movie detective or a minor New Jersey politico who went to jail over a corruption scandal.

Anybody else encountered similar spam?

Anyway, he/she/it has 12 hours from 0900 today to substantiate or be IP-blocked.

Hydrogen, again

Storing rather than producing, this time – link.