Weird goings-on in Massachusetts

An hours-long standoff between a group of heavily armed individuals and Massachusetts State Police on an interstate ended with 11 taken into custody.
The situation was resolved “through negotiation and tactical maneuvers,” Massachusetts State Police Colonel Christopher Mason told reporters.  The standoff began nine hours prior when police said the group claimed to “not recognize our laws.”
Video shot along the interstate shows men in military-style gear holding the Moroccan flag. Police communicated with the group through a hostage negotiation team. A Massachusetts State Police trooper was traveling northbound on Interstate 95 in Wakefield when he came upon two vehicles stopped in the breakdown lane around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday.   The men were attempting to refuel their vehicles.

The occupants of the vehicle were dressed in military-style tactical gear. Some had long rifles, some pistols and “some had a combination of both,” Massachusetts State Police Colonel Christopher Mason told reporters.

The trooper asked members of the group to produce licenses for the firearms and members of the group indicated they weren’t licensed or didn’t have copies of licenses on them. “You can imagine 11 armed individuals standing with long guns slung on an interstate highway at two in the morning certainly raises concerns and is not consistent with the firearms laws we have in Massachusetts,” Mason said.

A man who identified himself to police as the leader of the group said on a video recorded after the encounter that he “instructed my men to get out peacefully. I greeted your man with a handshake,” he said, of speaking with the trooper. He claims in a series of videos the group was following federal law and should be allowed to travel across state lines with their weapons.The trooper requested backup and additional state police as well as local police responded.  The head of state police applauded the actions of the responding trooper who he said was “very patient, very understanding with them,” which kept the situation from escalating.

Hostage negotiators were brought in to speak with the men and at about 10:15 a.m., police announced 11 individuals were taken into custody. A pair of individuals were arrested earlier in the day and nine more were arrested late morning.

The individuals are members of Rise of the Moors, a group who identify as Moorish Americans. “The Moorish sovereign citizen movement is a collection of independent organizations and lone individuals that emerged in the early 1990s as an offshoot of the antigovernment sovereign citizens movement, which believes that individual citizens hold sovereignty over, and are independent of, the authority of federal and state governments,” the Southern Poverty Law Center says of the movement. “Moorish sovereigns espouse an interpretation of sovereign doctrine that African Americans constitute an elite class within American society with special rights and privileges that convey on them a sovereign immunity placing them beyond federal and state authority.

Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey is identified as the Moorish American Consular Post Head for the so-called Rise of the Moors. His biography on the group’s website lists him as having served in the United States Marine Corps previously.

In a statement on the Rise of the Moors website, he wrote of his military service. “I truly believe that most of the skills that have been instilled in me through military training can be used to uplift our nation and all Moorish Americans. Honor, Courage and Commitment are the Marine Corp Values. Those same values that every Marine is held to, fit perfectly with the High Principles of Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom and Justice that our Prophet, El Hajj Sheriff Abdul Ali instructed us to live by.

“I joined the military thinking I would be helping our people, who at that time I was trained to think we were ‘Black’. I now know of the ‘King Alfred Plan’ and its objective to use our men as the tip of the spear for European World Domination and Imperialism. I will continue as the Prophet did, to work day by day, in public and in private to continue his great Missionary work to uplift fallen humanity and reinforce the foundation of the Moorish Movement – The minds of the People.”

“Wakefield Police Department said the men claim “to be from a group that does not recognize our laws.”. The department added, in a statement. “No threats were made, but these men should be considered armed and dangerous. We are asking residents in these areas to lock their doors and remain inside their homes. A heavy police presence will be in this area as well.

The group disputed that they are “anti-government” both in recorded statements and conversations with police. “We’re not anti-government, we’re not anti-police, we’re not sovereign citizens, we’re not Black-identity extremists,” Bey said during a livestreamed video posted to YouTube Saturday morning. He believes the group is traveling legally by abiding by federal laws, though not acknowledging Massachusetts laws, which he does not believe apply to the group as they did not intend to stop in Massachusetts.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says Moorish Sovereign Citizens have come into conflict with federal and state authorities over their refusal to obey laws and government regulations. “Recently, Moorish sovereign citizens have engaged in violent confrontations with law enforcement. They have also been known to retaliate against government authorities through financial means — a process called ‘paper terrorism.’”The Rise of the Moors filed multiple lawsuits against Providence Police in 2019 claiming their right to bear arms and right to assemble were violated. They accused police of interrupting a lecture the organization was hosting, which was being livestreamed. According to the lawsuit, Bay was teaching the class while armed with a Glock 22 and a semi-automatic weapon, the Providence Journal reported in 2019.   During the recorded lecture, he read from the Koran and spoke of the group’s right to bear arms. “We’re teaching our people not to be criminals,” Bey said.
( Michelle Williams,  Mass Live.com)

Oldie but goodie

The only cow in a small town in Ireland stopped giving milk.

Then the town folk found they could buy a cow in Wales quite cheaply.

So, they brought a cow over from Wales.

It was absolutely wonderful, it produced lots of milk every day and everyone was happy.

They bought a bull to mate with the cow to get more cows, so they’d never have to worry about their milk supply again.

They put the bull in the pasture with the cow but whenever the bull tried to mount the cow, the cow would move away.

No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move away from the bull, and he was never able to do the deed.

The people were very upset and decided to go to the Vet, who was very wise, tell him what was happening and ask his advice.

“Whenever the bull tries to mount our cow, she moves away.

If he approaches from the back, she moves forward.

When he approaches her from the front, she backs off.

If he attempts it from the one side, she walks away to the other side.”

The Vet rubbed his chin thoughtfully and pondered this before asking,

“Did you by chance, buy this cow in Wales?”

The people were dumbfounded, since no one had ever mentioned that they had brought the cow over from Wales.

“You are truly a wise Vet,” they said. “How did you know we got the cow from Wales?

The Vet replied with a distant look in his eye:

“My wife is from Wales”

Epicureanism simply put

Epicureanism was never meant to be a dry academic philosophy. In fact, it is best kept away from academia, where, as usual with philosophy, long words render it dull, if not incomprehensible. Rather, it is a vital way of living which seeks to free men and women from a life of unhappiness, fear and anxiety. It is a missionary philosophy for the practical-minded with common sense.
While Epicureans have written scholarly works, they have always been most interested in explaining Epicureanism in a manner simple enough for anyone to understand and remember.

The following eight counsels are a basic guide to Epicurean living:

– Don’t fear God.
– Don’t worry about death.
– Don’t fear pain.
– Live simply.
– Pursue pleasure wisely.
– Make friends and be a good friend.
– Be honest in your business and private life.
– Avoid fame and political ambition.

I would add some others:

– Be polite and considerate;  
– Try to see the other point of view; meet others half way.
– Take the smooth and pleasant road, as free from stress and conflict as possible.
– But don’t be put upon!

Critical.Race Theory

The American Right has discovered a new bogeyman,“Critical Race Theory” (CRT).
A set of concepts first developed by legal scholars in the 1970s, CRT essentially holds that US racism is systemic, that key institutions are rooted in white supremacy, and that racial dynamics are the outcome of complex social systems.

It’s a toxic theory, say conservatives, that is now being deployed to poison the minds of schoolchildren. Florida recently joined five other Republican-led states in voting to ban the teaching of CRT. “There’s only one small problem,” said Max Boot in the Washington Post – CRT isn’t taught in Florida schools, or anywhere else in the US, outside of a few graduate-level law schools. This whole story is a cynical distraction. (Nicole Hemmer, CNN)

My comment: If it were not CRT they would find something else. The whole point is to sow discord and paint the “other side” as “anti-American. Wish they would just get a life. Epicurus would probably have told his students to treat everyone as equals and ignore the trouble-makers.

Good news!

Arnold Schwarzenegger was recently named in a poll of British adults as the most suitable public figure to lead humanity in the event of an alien invasion. “I am ready to serve,” tweeted the 73-year-old action star and former California governor. (The Week, April 2, 2021)

My moment: Phew!……What a relief. Now we’ll be o.k.

News from Sweden. Nothing is simple or easy.

Southern Sweden may be home to big cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg, but the North is fast emerging as our nation’s industrial powerhouse. The lithium-ion battery cell factory in Skellefrea keeps taking new orders, the State-owned metals company LKAB has made giant investments in its Northern iron mines, and a zero-emissions steelworks has opened in Liguria.

The boom is able to go on even as Sweden is furiously de-carbonizing our economy, because the vast Northlands are dotted with out-of-the-way wind power farms. But factories there are gobbling up an ever-increasing share of that clean electricity, and the South could soon experience shortages, leaving Stockholmers wondering how they will power their dishwashers or charge their Tesla’s. Some Swedish politicians say nuclear reactors could meet that demand. But even if we risk accidents or toxic waste that persists for ten thousand years, building and running those power plants will triple electricity prices for years to come, squelching growth across the country.

No, the only way forward is to allow more wind turbines to go up in the South. Yes, even if they interfere with someone’s view of the sea. And we will also have to make it easier to lay ugly, high voltage lines. If we are truly going to be green, Swedes have to stop being NIMBY’S. (Ingvar Persson,
Aftonbadet).
My comment: Nice to hear of some economic success.

The worst inventions of the last 100 years:

– Nuclear weapons

– Corporations as persons. (ridiculous)

– Online financial transactions in general. Unsafe?

– Plastic bags and bottles

– Cellphones (anti-social time gobblers)

– The technology that allows social media, e.g Facebook and most other “social media” offerings, to flourish.

– Availability of mind altering drugs and the violence that accompanies them.

– The constant pestering of (US) voters for money by aspiring politicians.

– Artificial intelligence and people tracking in aid of undemocratic control. (Hoo Flung Dung made disparaging comment about Chairman Xi. 6 years re- education)

Discuss and draw a map.

Lack of sportsmanship is vulgar and tiresome

England’s young lions won praise across Europe after making it to the final of a major international tournament for the first time in 55 years. What didn’t go down so well was the behaviour of some of their fans – or of the British government.

The drunken louts, the booing of opponents’ anthems, the racist abuse of the three players who missed penalties, prompted plenty of continental reflection on a perennial English problem – and on and whether politicians were making it worse.

“Brexit has opened the floodgates, reinforced the feeling – overlaid by a rhetoric of English superiority – that it’s OK to be racist,” wrote Libération. “Of course, if England had won, Boris Johnson would surely have found a way to associate it with victory.”

La Repubblica described Sunday night as “the darkest in English football”. Blick said England “waved goodbye to a lot of respect from the rest of Europe”. For Germany’s Die Zeit, England’s chauvinism was “more visible than its progressive side”.

El País said Sunday’s events and the political posturing that preceded it revealed deeper truths about England, as both a team and a country. “What happens with England when it comes to football happens with other things, too,” it said.

“England is a powerful, advanced and often generous nation, a pioneer in disciplines from science to art and thought. But it is also a petulant country, incapable of accepting its own limitations.”

Is English petulance, meanwhile, to blame for the fact that while many EU countries are already recognising UK vaccination certificates for quarantine-free travel, Britain is still only accepting vaccines administered in the UK, by the NHS?

Whatever, a summer holiday in Britain looks unlikely for EU residents – including British citizens, many of whom have not seen their families for more than a year.

The EU27’s vaccine certificate is now up and running for travel inside the bloc, albeit with a few hiccups. Britain’s government, once more, seems determined to mark its post-Brexit difference. (Jon Henley, Europe correspondent, The Guardian 15 July 2021)

My comment: I couldn’t believe the boo-ing of the Italian national anthem
and the repeated booing of the young black players. But it was always thus – bad upbringing and education from generation to generation. If my sons had been party to this behaviour I would have disciplined them. That’s what father are partly for. But then the fathers probably behaved similarly. Plus ca change…..

American executions

US Attorney General Merrick Garland recently ordered a moratorium on federal executions and a Justice Department review of the death penalty.

The move followed a decision by the Trump administration Justice Department to revive federal executions by lethal injection in 2019, using a one-drug protocol. The federal government then carried out 13 executions from July 2020 to January 2021. During his confirmation hearing, Garland said that exonerations of people wrongly convicted have given him “pause.” He also noted that President Biden is strongly opposed to capital punishment. “A most terrible thing happens when someone is executed for a crime that they did not commit,” Garland said.

My comment:  An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth may have been normal in primitive society, but it is totally wrong for a normal, civilized modern State.   The death penalty should be banned – everywhere.  It is obscene and immoral to see the Federal government involved in killing individuals, no matter what they are accused of, and especially if the victim is mentally ill and the evidence against him is contested.   I believe that Epicurus would agree.

Life expectancy

In 1921 men in England and Wales had a life expectancy of 56 years,women 60 years.  Ninety years on the figures are 79 and 83 years respectively.  Simply living longer is a bit meaningless in itself, but it is a pointer to better health.  The Western world has shared in this greater longevity, thank to national health systems.

But things are changing.  In the borough we stay in in London life expectancy in the poor north of the borough (where the disastrous fire was a year ago) life expectancy is 14 years less than parts of the borough just walking distance away.  The people burned to death last year’s fire were minorities or migrants.

Instead of a steady improvement in life expectancy of 0.25 years every year, the rate has recently declined to 0.07 per year for men and 0.02 for women.  This change is 80% down on that of the last 90 years.  In continental Europe lengthening lives are still on track , but in the UK are they stalling and in America nationwide life expectancy has declined two years in a row, with those with poor education doing worst.

The pattern seems to be pretty obvious: the lower the position on the social hierarchy, the worse the health.  We know that inequality is having bad effects in America, but what is worrying is that Britain’ changes are regional – the south east is doing well but the North is suffering.  The greater the economic distress and unemployment (or casual employment and short- term contracts). the higher the mortality, with alcohol being an important factor.   Infant mortality has risen two years in a row.

One reason given is the funding of the National Health Service, an increase in the number of old people and a decline in the increase in spending by the Tory government . Expenditure , once reliably 4% annually , has dropped to 0.3%, and going down. Along with this there has been a drop in spending on social care of 25%.

Meanwhile, back to the borough I am living in.  Also within walking distance there are 6 Russian oligarchs and a host of kleptocrats and crooks with London boltholes, some lured with a promise of British passports, few of them, I imagine, paying any tax.  Those of us with an Epicurean outlook have to reject this way of running a society.  It is stupid,

 and short-sighted.

Ironic event

I have had several occasions where my right leg has caved under me, causing me to fall.   My GP referred me to the National Health Service Falls Centre, which trains  people to avoid falls and breakages.

After a session I started on home with my wife, armed with a list of exercises.  Running for a bus ( dumb thing to do!), I tripped over the edge of a paving stone and crashed, face down, on the sidewalk., my arms and elbows taking the hit.

The rest of the day was effectively spent at the hospital, being examined,  patched up and X- rayed.  I felt such an idiot.   Still, I suppose that’s why they have a Falls Centre.

P.S:  I am o.k , just laughing at my own stupidity.

Boredom

“The idea that boredom is good for us – particularly in childhood, because it encourages imagination and creativity – is well established,” writes Jemima Lewis in The Daily Telegraph. She recounts the “massive afternoon longeurs” of her own infancy, during which she would “finally peel myself off the dusty-smelling carpet to read a book… or feed mystery liquids from the medicine cabinet to my little sister”.

Now, though, she says, boredom is harder to come by. “If I want my children to be properly bored – not just fed up and listless, but laid out flat by the certain knowledge that there is nothing to do – I must hide all the screens. In doing so, I create the first of the day’s entertainments: hide and seek.”

My comment: I can’t remember when I was last bored.  As my late father-in-law said, “No one gets bored but a bore himself”.   I don’t  in the least believe boredom encourages imagination and creativity.  Where did that come from?  Educate me.

The British Unexplained Wealth Order

David Cameron might have been a disaster when it came to Brexit, but he did absolutely the right thing with the Unexplained Wealth Order.  This is a government programme to uncover the crooks and thieves who use London to cover up corruption and theft in their home countries and to relieve them of dubious investments, often property, they have bought in the UK.

The idea is to increase transparency, opening up Companies House for free searches, forcing companies to declare their real owners, and convening a corruption summit.  HM Revenue and Customs, the National Crime Agency and the Serious Fraud Office identify people whose lifestyle looks out of proportion to their income.  Property has to be worth £50,000 or more.  

Once an Unexplained Wealth Order is issued the property owner has to show that his or her  assets are clean. If they fail to reply or their answer is unacceptable, .the property is confiscated.  The objective is to have 20 UWO’s a year, enough to frighten the crooks.  If the latter realise that their assets are no longer safe they will move on.  Of course you will have the situation where assets are nominally held by a Cook Islands Trust or a Panamanian shell company, and no one knows how judges will deal with these cases.  

Nonetheless, the UWO is wildly popular.  Foreigners with hot money have forced up the value  of homes, parking places and restaurant bills, in and around London, and most Brits can no longer afford to live there. 

My personal comment: What the UWO failed to achieve has been practically finished off by covid.  Huge numbers of shops, for instance, have closed, theatres and concert halls are struggling.  London is busy, but the sounds of foreign languages on the streets are noticeably fewer.  Is this because of the UWO, covid or Brexit?   Or all of them together in a perfect storm?  Well……..yes!