Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
A bittersweet story caught my eye this week. Two ill veterans of Communist East River Column (ERC) found themselves admitted to the same ward in a Shenzhen hospital. These two guys fought in World War II against the Japanese. They sustained resistance in Hong Kong and Guangdong after the defeat of the British forces. One, Zhuang Shuifan, lost an eye to a Japanese bullet. The two served in the same platoon as teenagers. They'd lost contact after the war. Only after four days in the same ward did they recognise each other. They are now in adjacent beds.
For political reasons, the colonial government played down the huge contribution that the ERC made during World War II. With the communists out of favour, their efforts didn't receive the publicity deserved. The Column operated guerrilla style, forming up in 1937 to resist Japanese aggression. With the fall of Hong Kong in December 1941, the Column set about aiding the fleeing British personal. In January 1942, the ERC extracted Sir Lindsay Ride and others from occupied Hong Kong. It then mounted a campaign that kept the Japanese forces unsettled. They'd collected weapons discarded by the British to supplement their own meagre collection.
The ERC operated in Kowloon, the New Territories and Sai Kung. They rescued twenty American aircrew, who'd parachuted into Kowloon after their planes were hit. Moreover, they were able to assist escaping prisoners of war, and open lines of communication to prison camps. As the occupation progressed, they attacked Japanese forces in Tai Po Police Station. Later they ventured into Kowloon to sabotage aircraft and equipment at Kai Tak. The harassment of the Japanese extended to the identification of collaborators. Many faced execution when caught by the ERC.
Such was their foothold in rural areas, the Japanese rarely ventured to the Sai Kung peninsula fearing an ambush. All this was achieved by a motley crew of villagers, students and communist officials. At its height, the Column had an estimated 6000 soldiers. After the war, with China in crisis, the achievements of ERC got scant attention. Internal communist disputes further dampened interest in the Column. At the same time, the British, now at loggerheads with Beijing, wrote their version of history. Mention of these hardy fighters was minimal.
Lying in their hospital beds today, Zhuang and his compatriot Lin Shuishou are heroes Hong Kong should recognise. Both are now fighting their last battle. We wish them well.
Well, we are still here. Nuclear war has not broken out. Not yet. On Saturday 30th April, Donald will hit 100 days as President of the Unites States of America. It's pretty much business as usual on most matters, although he’s flipped on some issues. China is not a manipulator of its currency despite the election rhetoric. Meanwhile, in a sudden switch, NATO is a great partner, whilst the influence of his right-wing compatriots appears to have receded.
The wall is still on the agenda, unlike health care reform. That one crashed, with Trump walking away from the car wreck blaming the Democrats. Given that they weren't driving nor passengers, apportioning blame to them is bizarre.
Most notable is that Trump has got China's attention over North Korea. President Xi has made several calls to Trump, which suggests he has them unsettled. His madman routine (copied from Nixon) was made believable by the attack on Syria. That episode also put to bed the suggestion he is Moscow's man. In one swift move, he re-positioned himself, asserted US military authority and put Putin on the back- foot. You can’t fault his timing, plus ability to exploit an opportunity.
Trump and President Xi of China have morphed into playing a ‘good cop, bad cop’ on KIM Jong-un. Trump is ratcheting up the rhetoric, making threatening moves, whilst throwing his weight around. Xi is the good cop, cautioning restraint but asking KIM to be reasonable. Whether this approach will work is anyone's guess.
Let us be honest, Obama fumbled the North Korean issue. Not Trump. He's charged in head-down. It's a high-risk strategy that could go wrong with terrible consequences. Yet, it’s already prompted China to take a more proactive stance. North Korea is getting the message. Coal exports to China are being curtailed. For now, the only ATMs in North Korea, operated by Chinese banks, are switched off. In that sense, Trump has achieved more in 100 days than Obama did in two terms.
In any accounting of the first 100 days, it is important to register the notable failures. There have been many. Trump's disastrous attempts to impose controls on migrants tops the list. Essentially an anti-Muslims move the Courts were never going to accept it. Further, the drafting of the executive order affirmed the view that Trump's team is inept. Following this, the ham-fisted execution with chaos at airports reinforced that view. Amateur night, clumsy with a dash of hubris, this deadly cocktail caught fire to singe Trump. He's now stepping away from the fire as lawsuits are pending.
As mentioned, Obamacare is still there. Nothing happening on that one. His cabinet remains unfilled. The much-trumpeted wall is nowhere to be seen. The likelihood of getting funding approval is extremely remote, never mind the Mexican's paying for it.
A stupid idea from the outset is now hanging like a millstone around Trump's neck. Even conservative Republicans from border states acknowledge the wall is a bad idea. It makes no economic sense, as a combination of a fence, increased patrols and effective intelligence is more cost effective. No doubt he’ll blame democrats for that too.
So where do we go from here? The good news … it is evident that Trump can change direction and is capable of compromise. That's encouraging given his failures, reversals plus the confusion in his team. It is also fair to say his National Security Council is now in safe hands. The same cannot be said for all his cabinet posts. Also, his buffoon Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, continues to flounder. The man has done more than Trump to reinvigorate satire. He’s God's gift to comedians.
Looking to the future, Trump will continue to stumble around. He will have a bash at certain issues, then abandon them when he fails to get traction. He's already finding out that the US needs friends to get things done. China is the best example. He will eventually need to make friends with Mexico, if he wants progress on NAFTA. Could he grow into the job? It’s possible.
An alternative future is a sullen Trump, isolated in the White House. At war with everyone, including the Republicans. Government at the highest level could slump into inertia. Trump sits in stasis except for the occasional lashing out through Twitter. Think Hitler in the bunker …final days.
And yet, this makes little difference. The consequence of no government leadership is something that should not cause too much concern. Nation states can function, sustain themselves, and even thrive without the strong hand of government. Bureaucracies have their own momentum. Things trundle along.
It has been an entertaining 100 days. And yet, the future is looking stranger. As I finish writing this piece, Trump is announcing he won't pull out of NAFTA. Another compromise, twist and pivot. No wonder his hair is all over the place.
All good friendships come to an end. Mine with Bob Dylan has had a bumpy ride. I've excused many things he's done. We tend to treat any new work with sympathy because of his past achievements. Let us give the master the benefit of doubt. Unfortunately, this position cannot stand with his latest series of albums. We’ve now entered old man karaoke territory.
The early protest stuff defined a generation by giving voice to discontent. His words captured, then shaped the mood of the 1960s. Whilst his singing was at times off the mark, the same could not be said of his poetry.
His songs made the connection with what people felt - fears and desires. The poet created a moving and unusual song-scape that embodied dreams, ideals and questioned the meaning of life. Shaping the zeitgeist was no mean achievement for a scrawny nasal kid with a guitar.
Although he asserts he never sought to be a protest leader, and he rarely turned up at demonstrations, that was the role thrust upon him. Then he lost his way. He'd come under the influence of a Christian cult, who’d sought to exploit his fame to their ends. By the 1980s his relentless sermons drove away many. He was booed on stage, something he didn't take kindly to. We shouldn't be surprised as Dylan had always had an undercurrent of religion in his work.
That's not to say that Dylan wasn't a willing convert. On the contrary, the collapse of his marriage made him vulnerable, open to exploring redemption. At a low point in his life, he embraced Jesus, only to confound later by worshiping as a Jew. This confusion spread to his music.
The high watermark for me was 'Blood on the Tracks'. This 1975 album is Dylan confessional as his marriage fragments. Although he disingenuously denies this, contradicting his own son. Jacob Dylan described the album as a 'conversation between my parents'. Getting a mixed reaction from the critics, it later became recognised as some of his best work.
The preaching that manifested itself in 'Saved' - a 1980 album- marked a low point. It coincided with the rumbling aftermath of his first marriage. At Earls Court, London, in 1981, his preaching proved too much. After three religious songs, an audience member snapped. A bottle hurled on stage struck Dylan’s guitar. He’d poisoned the well of public affection as word of his evangelical stance spread.
With 'Modern Times' in 2006, Dylan emerged from the fugue. All his fine gifts were back on display. He followed this with the pleasing 2012 ‘Tempest’. Lyrically back on form, he laid down a series of well-received tracks.
Then in 2015, we get 'Shadows in the Night' - a Frank Sinatra tribute album. The critics loved it. I'm not so sure. 'Fallen Angels' followed in 2016. Dylan is now functioning in the past, as he delivers covers of classics such as 'That old black magic'. Yes, we are now firmly in the land of the old guy singalong. Granted, he can hold a tune but brings nothing new to this genre except a touch of barefaced cheek. Again, the critics were less skeptical.
Now, either Bob is taking the piss or enjoying himself. Or maybe both. I guess the guy can do what he likes at the age of 75. Standing in the pantheon of greats, should we not indulge him for sustaining his verve for some long. And, perchance, the old trickster is having laugh at our expense.
YIP Kai-foon, notorious robber and gunman, died this week. His passing attracted much media coverage. I never met the man, although he had a significant impact on how I did my job. In the early 1990s, whilst attached to Emergency Unit Kowloon East gun crime was an issue. Most of the culprits were ex-military types armed with either black star pistols or AK 47s. The latter was a real worry. A military grade weapon, it could lay down a lot of fire and it out-gunned the Royal Hong Kong Police. Armed with only revolvers, shotguns and the odd semi-automatic AR15, the Police were at a distinct disadvantage.
Tactics, equipment and firearms needed to evolve to address the threat posed by YIP and his sort. He was not alone in bringing gun crime to the fore, yet his escapades caught the public imagination. This was due in part to an iconic photograph. More on that later.
Some of the media coverage given to YIP this week is distasteful. A few sought to portray him as an honourable sort. This is a gross insult to the many people he harmed. It also denigrates the brave police officers who brought him to justice. Don’t forget this is a guy who fired an AK 47 on a busy Hong Kong streets, whilst throwing hand grenades to foil capture. Once wheelchair bound, paralysed from the waist down, and facing years in jail, he got God. Aimless, isolated in prison and profoundly vulnerable, he was easy pickings for those peddling religion. To now laud the man is contemptible.
YIP is thought to have started his criminal career in the early 1980s. A series of armed robberies he staged in 1984 brought him to the attention of the police. Caught in a sting operation in December 1984, he attempted to murder an undercover officer. With his cover blown, the officer had to act fast. YIP was in possession of two pistols. After a fierce struggle, YIP was eventually restrained.
Sentenced to jail, he escaped in 1989 by feigning an illness that meant he was sent to the hospital. From there he fled to resume a life of crime.
By June 1991, YIP was back with his gang. In a daring operation, they robbed five goldsmiths shops in one raid on Mut Wah Street, Kwun Tong. During this audacious crime, they fired 54 shots at responding Police Officers, before fleeing with HK$5.7 million. YIP next surfaced on 10 March 1992, robbing two jewellery shops on Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po. 65 shots were fired at the Police. On this occasion the gang also fired at the public.
It is suspected that YIP masterminded and led a raid in April 1994 on the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Macau that took HK$40 million in gambling chips. By 1995, he was operating in Shenzhen. There is suspicion he killed two people in Shenzhen, one a police informer.
An iconic photograph of a robber standing in Nathan Road with an AK 47 has long been associated with YIP. Yet, that robbery on 6 January 1993, during which 30 shots were fired, was not YIP or his gang. Despite this being common knowledge, the media roll out the picture at every mention of YIP.
In spite of the millions YIP made from his criminal career, he kept at it. Suggesting that his lifestyle was burning through his pile of loot in no time.
He finally met his match on the evening on 13 May 1996. Trying to sneak into Hong Kong with an AK 47, a pistol and explosives, YIP encountered a Police patrol. When challenged, he produced a pistol and began shooting at the officers. He then fled with the officers chasing. The Police returned fire with YIP hit twice. He sustained injuries to his spine that left him paralysed from the waist down. Serving 40 years in jail for his crimes, YIP had cancer. This ended his life.
The real heroes of this story are the cops who pursued Yip. The officers who put themselves at risk to bring this guy down. YIP's supporters, including a politician, have spoken of a caring man. That does not tally with the individual who indiscriminately fired an assault weapon at the Police and public. Those who utter such sentiments betray the victims of his crimes.
YIP's conversion to Christianity is late and perplexing. The detail is not incidental. It is sanctimonious rubbish to embrace a God when your whole life up to that point was about visiting evil on others. This statement no doubt dismays the religious zealots. They'd claim we are all born sinner, with redemption through embracing God. I take the position that basic human integrity must trump any doctrine.
This conversion is a conceit, supplementing the misplaced hubris that surrounding YIP. Plus, if mental and physical torture is required to effect a conversion, what does that say about religion. Lets not forget he spent his final years paralysed, confined to a wheelchair, wearing an adult diaper. Only then did he seek solace. Perhaps had he taken the Lord earlier his grubby ending may be different.
In a stunning reversal of her stated position, British Prime Minister Teresa May has called a snap election for 8th June 2017. But why? The answer is simple and complex at the same time. The simple answer is she seeks a mandate to pursue Brexit. She was not Prime Minister at the last election, thus her legitimacy is questioned. A victory in this election would secure her that mandate.
The complex reason is that she senses that her main opponent, the Labour Party, is struggling. Under the leadership (or lack of it) of Jeremy Corbyn, a split party, unpopular with voters, is in a state of disarray. May is taking a gamble that she can deal a knock-out blow that will see Labour over the ropes. Out of the ring. Such a victory would provide her government with a solid majority. It could put Labour in the wilderness for a decade. It’s a gamble, yet the omens are good for her.
With only seven weeks to the election, she wrong-footed Labour, who will now struggle too get their election machine up to speed. As a tactical move, May’s timing is faultless, especially after her pretense of no election until 2020. Sun Tzu (孫子) would be proud. She has exploited her advantage. Chosen the best battleground, whilst leaving her opponent little time to prepare his defences.
To be fair, Labour lost this election when they elected Corbyn. They reinforced that loss when they failed to replace him last year. A decent man of principle, he lacks all the qualities of a leader. Corbyn does not connect with voters. His wishy-washy style is not a vote winner. Its probable that he's too nice, too caring and too principled to be a Prime Minister. François Mitterrand, the former French President when asked what’s the most important quality in a political leader. He replied, “I perhaps should say integrity but on reflection it's indifference”. Corbyn has integrity, too much and it's a distraction.
Corbyn has discredited the left of the Labour Party, turning people off the whole movement. He and his cohort see racism and xenophobia in everyone who disagreed with them. A party infected with 'kill all white men' feminism is not going to carry the working class. The laughable 'Rhodes must fall' movement, alienated the intellectuals.
So, the Labour can scream and rant all they like, but they only have themselves to blame. They care too much about dogma and are not ruthless enough. The same can’t be said of Mrs May. Unless something dramatic happens, Labour is about to trashed.
Watching Britains political scene has always enthralled me. The big characters, the rhetoric, the positioning. All topped with a degree of civility not seen in many other jurisdictions. That last point may be less pertinent these days. Brexit has unleashed emotions and bile that before remained under wraps.
The other startling change is the collapse of the once formidable Labour Party. Growing up in a northern English town in the 1960s/1970s, the Labour Party formed a robust presence. Labour, the bulwark for the ‘working class’ ensured that folks got a fair deal. A party held in high regard with leaders of stature. Ramsey MacDonald, Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson all built and consolidated a strong movement. Attlee sweeping to power in 1945, set up the National Health Service. It remains the sterling achievement of the British nation.
The Wilson government of 1960s/1970s drove social reforms, but the economic tide was turning. Meanwhile, trade union power blocked progress. By 1978, widespread strikes led to the ‘Winter of Discontent’. The Unions pushed for higher wages in the face of a struggling economy. In 1979 the voters made their views known, with Labour out of power. In the face of the transforming Margaret Thatcher, Labour remained in opposition until 1997.
Bitter rivalries led to infighting, splits and a string of party of leaders. This turmoil shackled the party as unelectable. With Thatcher striding across the world stage, the likes of Micheal Foot and Neil Kinnock looked out of touch. Foot a part-time Worzel Gummidge impressionist, dressed and spoke like a dotty RE teacher. Sound familiar.
Only in 1997, did the fresh-faced Tony Blair manage to wrestle control from the Conservatives. This young dynamic chap was ‘New Labour’ with the initial omens looking promising. He had a clear vision, communicated it with panache, whilst hanging out with the cool people. Labour looked relevant and the future bright.
Blair's record is remarkable. He won three elections, sealed the peace in Northern Ireland, secured LGBT rights and implemented the minimum wage. But, his legacy is Iraq. It’s a toxic legacy of over 100,000 dead, a country in ruins that still struggles to keep any sense of order. He led the UK to war in the wake of 9/11 on false information. His unquestioning support of President George Bush II is a stain on his record. It taints everything else. In this terrible enterprise, he was aided and abetted by his press secretary and master deceiver, Alistair Campbell. Both are now reviled, although active public figures.
Labour’s current troubles can be partially laid at the door of Blair and Campbell. Yet, in fairness, other factors have had a significant impact. The rise of UKIP and the Scottish Nationalists ate into Labour's vote. UKIP had an immediate resonance with the white working class in a good part of Britain. Their fear of immigrants and the condescending attitude of the Labour elite came into focus with the 2010 Gillian Duffy incident. Then Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown got caught condemning a 65-year-old Labour supporter. He decried her heartfelt opinions over immigration as ‘bigoted’. The die was cast. Labour leadership, a metropolitan elite, had lost contact with its core vote.
UKIP exploited that narrative. Whilst the neglect and patronising attitude towards Scotland fed into the hands of the nationalists. Thus, in short, Labour’s support collapsed on all fronts. In response, the party elected a London lad who’d never done a real job and who stepped over his brother to get the role. Ed Milliband proved incapable of getting the party re-elected. It swung left with a new leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
This is a man so unsuited to the role that many argued he is the opposition's best friend. Corbyn, a dogmatic left wing ideologue, is the best thing to happen to the Conservatives in decades. His sheer incompetence guarantees them a majority. Alastair Campbell, a demonic presence, who stained Labour with his deceit, is right about one thing;
“How do you get strategy or vision without leadership?”
Corbyn appears incapable of leading. Thus, a coherent strategy from Labour is wanting. At a time of Brexit, when the country should be having a robust debate, Labour is distracted with an internal struggle. The party is beating itself up over what Ken Livingstone may or may not have said about Hitler. And here’s the thing, the public doesn't give a toss. Yet, that hasn’t stopped Labour tearing itself apart in public.
A strong opposition, holding the incumbent government to account, is a cornerstone of British democracy. Labour is not fulfilling that role. Nor does it appear capable of turning the corner with Corbyn in charge. For what it's worth, the deputy leader Tom Watson looks more promising. But beyond that, the next great Labour leader has not emerged.
Reverting to Campbell again, Labour needs to make itself relevant. Its current insider ideological battles don't get you elected. I’d add that in this image-conscious age the faces of Labour look like throwbacks. Corbyn has the image of a hung-over geography teacher dealing with a difficult class. In a remarkable achievement, he manages to be earnest and condescending in the same moment. Diana Abbott, his main cheerleader, comes across as a shrill hypocrite. She talks down to people. Plus, playing the race card at every opportunity just alienates people from Labour.
Labour looks sets to remain in the wilderness for some time as the UK is going through a fundamental change. It has forfeited the right to influence that change.
Hardly a day goes by when a Catholic priest is not before the Courts for child related sexual offences. Today, Father Michael Higginbottom was found guilty of the "cruel and sadistic" abuse of a teenage boy at St Joseph's College in Upholland, Lancashire, UK. Convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of four counts, the 74-year-old faces 17 years in jail. Two other deceased priests escaped justice. The Catholic Church paid out a paltry £35,000- to settle a related case at the same institute.
All this begs the question, what is the scale of abuse within the Catholic Church and does it continue today? The first question is difficult to answer, in part, because of the reluctance of the bosses in Rome to share information. Their attitude remains secretive, uncooperative and evasive. In other words, they continue to cover up.
Yet, we are fortunate that the extent of the criminality in the Catholic Church is coming to light. This is proving uncomfortable for the lay faithful, who cannot ignore the scale of deprivation.
A Royal Commission in Australia reporting on 6th February this year revealed a scale of abuse that is staggering. In the six decades since 1950, nation-wide up to 15% of priests were alleged to be involved is sexual abuse. In one order, 40% of the priests were engaged in abusing children, male and female. Across Australia, over 1,900 individual perpetrators were identified, whilst 500 remained unidentified.
And, the toll continues. Between 1980 and 2015, 4,444 alleged incidents of abuse were recorded. The average age of the victim is around 11 years old. This is the data for Australia alone.
In the United States over 3000 civil lawsuits have been filed against the Catholic Church. In one case the Dallas Diocese paid $30.9 million in compensation to twelve victims of a single priest. It is known that by 2009, in the United States a total of US$2.6 billion in settlements for abuse was paid by the Catholic Church.
The scale of the abuse is adduced from this data. It is horrific that the Catholic Church as an institution facilitated, covered up and propagated crime on such a scale. Every ordinary Catholic who donates funds or supports the church played a role in allowing this to continue. Now, I know other organisations have similar issues. But none of the scale of the Catholic Church. None can claim to have permitted or covered up so much child rape and indecent assault. Within the Catholic Church, child rape and abuse took place on an industrial scale.
In the face of this willful criminality, how did Rome respond? With a mix of indifference and concealment. Offending priests got moved on, to spread their depravity to pastures new. In the process, the Catholic Church made the situation worse. Only when the civil lawsuits started hitting the Churches bottom line … its income, did things start to change.
Yet, change is slow. The Catholic Church sought to distance itself from offending priests. Asserting it could not be held responsible for their actions. Moreover, it failed to share information on abuse and obstructed investigations. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, in 2014 held that the Catholic Church had failed to protect children. It noted the Church appeared more concerned about image.
My second question, at the start of this piece … does abuse continue today? Given the predatory nature of pedophiles, the opportunity that religion gives to get close to children plus given the failure of Churches to be transparent, I’m certain it does go on. The reluctance of Catholic Church to address this issue provides cover for the pedophiles and abusers. So, its a resounding yes! I have no doubt that the abuse continues behind the doors of various religious orders.
Even today the Catholic Church appears focused on protecting its reputation rather than addressing the evil at its core. Given it record of cover up, obstruction and denial it is hard to think of a more despicable institution in the modern world. Every Catholic should hang their head in shame. The next thing they should do is stop funding this evil enterprise. Keep your faith, but don’t be party to the funding of child abuse. Then the bosses in Rome will take note and take action.
It’s a public relations disaster of massive proportions. A self-inflicted wound that is going to take a long time to heal if it doesn't bring down the company. If you don’t know the story you’ve either been off-planet or isolated from all forms of modern communication. The videos of the incident have gone viral. So, United Airlines overbooked a flight from Chicago.
Then they asked for volunteers to leave the plane. None came forward. A random selection was then carried out. A Chinese American Doctor and his wife were picked to be off-loaded. He declined, stating he had commitments with patients. Enter the security guys.
The Doctor was then extracted and probably beaten up in the process. In a bizarre twist, this poor blooded guy came back on board the plane. Clearly, United now realised they’d messed up big time.
All this was avoidable. First, over-booking is dealt with at the gate. Experience shows that with the right inducements volunteers will come forward. It’s done everyday by all airlines and it works. So what went wrong here? Why allow the passengers to board, take a seat then request volunteers? Second, calling security to conduct the extraction was a big mistake. They over-reacted, whilst using excessive force in a punitive manner. Unprofessional and unnecessary. One officer is now suspended.
Twitter and the Internet have exploded in response. The scale of the coverage is unprecedented. In China alone, over 120 million people have viewed footage of the extraction. In outrage, the Chinese are calling for a boycott of United. They are threatening not to service United planes. Other options to disrupt operations are under discussion. Meanwhile, the incident has taken on a distinct racial tone. The inference is drawn that as an Asian, the Doctor was targeted for removal and picked at random. It doesn’t matter what United now says because minds are made up.
Assertions by the United CEO, Oscar Munez, that the passenger was ‘disruptive and belligerent’ are nonsense. Viewing of the footage affirms the guy is a victim of a terrible injustice. I suspect that Mr. Munez will come to regret that remark. Yet, no apology has come from United for the shocking treatment of the Doctor. This silence is feeding the frenzy.
On a lighter note, netizens have taken every opportunity to trash United’s brand. The TV networks have joined in. And again, it was all so avoidable. United staff and the companies bottom line are going to suffer. No doubt the staff will be under pressure from scornful customers. This will make for some unpleasant times ahead.
Also, Mr. Munez is probably for the chop. His handling of the fall-out has been textbook ‘how not to do it’. Either the man was badly briefed or he's incompetent. Either way, the poor Doctor deserves a full and frank apology, plus a great deal of compensation.
United are going to experience turbulence. Time to put on the warning signs, fasten their seat belts ... because it's going to get rough.
Addendum - United saw 4% wiped off its stock value. Meanwhile, the CEO has now issued a full-throated apology in the face of the storm he helped whip up. Without social media this incident may have gone largely unnoticed. So, the power of the internet asserts itself again.
I never thought I’d say this … Donald Trump has earned my respect albeit provisional. I applaud his swift no nonsense response to the use of chemical weapons by Syria. Yes, the damage done to the Syrian forces was minimal. Yes, he rattled the Russians. Yes, he didn’t have prior international agreement. And yes, he is sending a message to North Korea. That's not the point. That's collateral stuff. Trump put the Syrians on notice that attacks on innocent civilians will not pass with empty rhetoric. He’s signalling that the rules of the game have changed. The impotence of Obama is gone.
Obama drew a red-line on chemical weapons, then ignored it. He looked weak. He invited more trouble, more challenges. Trump has just redrawn that red-line, reinforced it with action and put everybody on notice. The attack he mounted was measured, yet appropraite.
Now I know that Trump is also responsible for the death of innocent civilians during a Special Forces raid. The Yemen raid on 29th January 2017, resulted in the death of at least nine children and many other civilians. Yet, there is a distinction drawn between a foul up and the deliberate targeting of civilians. I don’t believe that Trump authorised the operation with the intent of killing children. The same cannot be said of President Assad of Syria. When you deploy chemical weapons in an urban area, the target is everybody.
We can presumably set aside the theory that Trump is 'Russia's man in the White House'. President Assad is 'Russia's man' therefore this intervention does not sit well with Putin and his Kremlin cronies. How this plays out in wider Russia/US relations remains to be seen. In the wake of the US attack Putin must be re-thinking his approach to Trump.
I’m sure the timing was coincidental. The visit by President Xi of China to the US was eclipsed by the US actions in Syria. Xi may be well pleased with that distraction, as it gave some breathing space for him and Trump to assess each other. The ‘100-day action plan’ that resulted from the talks must be taken with a pinch of salt. China takes a long-term view of things. Let's face it, 100-days is a fleeting moment. Some US officials recognised this approach, making noises about ‘tangible progress’. Whilst Zhou Enlai’s famous quote about the French Revolution is now debunked, it remains true that China takes a long-term view. As Trump evolves into the role they’d be wise to wait.
Another positive sign is the removal of Steve Bannon from the National Security Council. His toxic influence on Trump may be receding, although firm evidence for that is yet to be affirmed. Still, this move augurs well and is encouraging.
I don’t think we are out of the woods yet. With signs that Trump is beginning to be shaped by the role and responsibilities, that odour that hung around his presidency is less pungent. If he can harness his enthusiasm and vest that drive for change, then things could go well. Whether he has a clear strategy is the big question that hangs over this action. When that becomes clearer my tentative admiration could become firmer.
Ever walked up Jardines Lookout to look down on sprawling Bomb Disposal Depot? This large facility fills the Mount Butler Quarry. Ever wondered why the site is so large? It has many buildings. But look a little closer. Things are not what they appear to be.
Protected by a state of art security system, with double fencing and motion detectors, the site is intimidating. Besides, many signs warn the public to keep out. You’d expect that given the site's apparent role as the home of Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit (EOD) of the Hong Kong Police.
The EOD Unit moved to the site in 2005. Before that EOD operated out of North Point Police Station. The unit had one floor of the police station. Why does the unit need all that space? That’s the first clue to something odd. The second clue is the two large bunker-like structures located centrally at the site. Each has a massive door. In fact, these structures house portals to an underground complex. An underground complex that houses Hong Kong’s two resident extraterrestrials.
Our story starts in Roswell in 1947. An alien spacecraft crashed in the area next to Roswell with extraterrestrial occupants. The survivors of the crash were housed in the secret US military facility at Area 51. This incident caused a crisis in the senior levels of world governments. Fearful of the psychological impact on mankind on realisation we are not alone, governments acted. They met in secret to agree protocols for handling alien landings, contact and related issues. The result was a secret protocol known as APRIL (Alien Protocol - Reception, Investigation and Living). That first agreement known as APRIL 1, remains in force.
Hong Kong entered the story on 28 February 1985. Residents of Wah Fu Estate, on the southern side of Hong Kong Island, observed something strange. A flying saucer type craft crossed over the estate. Sources now reveal that the craft crashed into the sea east of Lamma Island. The British Royal Navy had a patrol craft in the area. After seeing the crash, two alien lifeforms were pulled from the water.
The government acted to cover up the incident saying the residents were mistaken. The sightings was a weather balloon that escaped its mooring and drifted over the estate. Meanwhile, the rescued aliens were conveyed to the British Military hospital in secrecy and treated. Later, they were housed in a hastily-built containment facility on Stonecutters Island. British scientists studied the aliens, although attempts to communicate with them proved futile. One alien died in 1992.
With the 1997 handover to Chinese rule approaching, the fate of the alien was up for discussion. Applying the APRIL 1 protocol, the nation where the alien lands is to provide care. Britain argued that Hong Kong was under British jurisdiction at the time of the landing. Thus, has UK's responsibility. China objected. It argued it never recognised British sovereignty. So, the alien belonged to China. This dispute was the cause of much of the delay in the negotiations for the return to Chinese rule. Eventually, a compromise was reached. Hong Kong would keep custody of the alien, with both China and the UK having visiting rights.
Then in May 1996, the one remaining alien gave birth. This unexpected event meant a permanent home facility was needed.
In secret, work began at the old Mount Butler quarry. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Government decided that the Hong Kong Police would be responsible for the aliens. The Director of Immigration was approached about the role. He argued that the aliens had failed to clear an immigration point on arrival and should face prosecution.
The EOD unit provides the ideal cover. On 17 December 2005, with Hong Kong distracted by protests against the WTO, the aliens transferred to their new home.
Walkers using the nearby country park have reported unusual activity at the site. Dismissed as nonsense by the government, questions go unanswered. Approached for this article, the government failed to answer emails or telephoned questions.
Concerns are now raised after footage emerged of an alien escaping the facility.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.