british defence
The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked
A shadowy operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign heavily influenced the result of the EU referendum. Is our electoral process still fit for purpose?
By Carole Cadwalladr

What’s been lost in the US coverage of this “data analytics” firm is the understanding of where the firm came from: deep within the military-industrial complex. A weird British corner of it populated, as the military establishment in Britain is, by old-school Tories. Geoffrey Pattie, a former parliamentary under-secretary of state for defence procurement and director of Marconi Defence Systems, used to be on the board, and Lord Marland, David Cameron’s pro-Brexit former trade envoy, a shareholder.

Steve Tatham was the head of psychological operations for British forces in Afghanistan. The Observer has seen letters endorsing him from the UK Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office and Nato.

SCL/Cambridge Analytica was not some startup created by a couple of guys with a Mac PowerBook. It’s effectively part of the British defence establishment. And, now, too, the American defence establishment. An ex-commanding officer of the US Marine Corps operations centre, Chris Naler, has recently joined Iota Global, a partner of the SCL group.

This is not just a story about social psychology and data analytics. It has to be understood in terms of a military contractor using military strategies on a civilian population. Us. David Miller, a professor of sociology at Bath University and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy. It should be clear to voters where information is coming from, and if it’s not transparent or open where it’s coming from, it raises the question of whether we are actually living in a democracy or not.”


June 15th 1215: Magna Carta sealed

On this day in 1215, King John of England put his ‘Great Seal’ on the Magna Carta (‘The Great Charter’) at Runnymede. The charter required the King to respect the liberties of the barons and, crucially, stated that everybody, even the king, is subject to the law. The Magna Carta was the result of political crisis, as the feudal barons had rebelled against the king - even capturing London - and forced him to accept the charter to ensure their privileges and curtail royal power. However, the charter’s declaration of equality before the law and right to a fair trial makes it a vital piece of the history of British democracy.  It was certainly limited, as its famous provisions securing legal rights of ‘free men’ would only have applied to an elite few. The Magna Carta also failed to cease hostilities between King John and the barons, as John’s reluctance to implement the charter led to civil war between the groups. The charter was largely rewritten by various monarchs through the years, though some of the original clauses remain law today, making it a key part of Britain’s uncodified constitution. Despite its limitations, the Magna Carta remains a crucial piece of British history, marking a defence against tyrannical power and assurance of individual liberties.

800 years ago today

Today 100 years ago the second battle of Arras started

The Battle of Arras (also known as the Second Battle of Arras) was a British offensive on the Western Front during World War I. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front. The British achieved the longest advance since trench warfare had begun, surpassing the record set by the French Sixth Army on 1 July 1916. The British advance slowed in the next few days and the German defence recovered. The battle became a costly stalemate for both sides and by the end of the battle the British Third and First armies had suffered about 160,000 casualties and the German 6th Army 125,000 casualties.

For much of the war, the opposing armies on the Western Front were at a stalemate, with a continuous line of trenches from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. The Allied objective from early 1915 was to break through the German defences into the open ground beyond and engage the numerically inferior German Army (Westheer) in a war of movement. The British attack at Arras was part of the French Nivelle Offensive, the main part of which was to take place on the Aisne 50 miles (80 km) to the south. The aim of the French offensive was to break through the German defences in forty-eight hours.[4] At Arras the British were to re-capture Vimy Ridge, dominating the plain of Douai to the east, advance towards Cambrai and divert German reserves from the French front.

The British effort was a relatively broad front assault between Vimy in the north-west and Bullecourt to the south-east. After a long preparatory bombardment, the Canadian Corps of the First Army in the north fought Battle of Vimy Ridge and took the ridge. The Third Army in the centre advanced astride the Scarpe River and in the south, the Fifth Army attacked the Hindenburg Line (Siegfreidstellung) but was frustrated by the defence in depth and made few gains. The British armies then engaged in a series of small-scale operations to consolidate the new positions. Although these battles were generally successful in achieving limited aims, they were costly successes.

When the battle officially ended on 16 May, British Empire troops had made significant advances but had been unable to achieve a breakthrough. New tactics and the equipment to exploit them had been used, showing that the British had absorbed the lessons of the Battle of the Somme and could mount set-piece attacks against fortified field defences. After the Second Battle of Bullecourt (3–17 May), the Arras sector then returned to the stalemate that typified most of the war on the Western Front, except for attacks on the Hindenburg Line and around Lens, culminating in the Canadian Battle of Hill 70 (15–25 August).

Hawk T.1 Red Arrows

The Red Arrows aerobatic team will get new aircraft when their ageing Hawk T1s finally give up the ghost, the British Ministry of Defence said

This 1933 jujutsu tutorial is well worth watching until the end. May Whitely kicks arse!

It is funny to me how so much of the Rip Hunter hate in LoT fandom blatantly ignores half of the character’s actions in any episode.

Like, yes, Rip was pretty much an asshole to Mick in Marooned.  Things had gone to hell, he took it badly, and lashed out at Mick in a way that was pretty awful.  

Two episodes later, he’s reacting with obvious horror to the Chronos reveal, and is the first one to say that they should try to save Mick.  One episode after that, he’s telling Mick that he’s the one who ordered Snart to “deal with him”, and that Mick should only be mad at him (as though Snart has EVER obeyed any of Rip’s orders, ever.)  And after that, Mick’s back on the roster.  Even though if Mick did decide to turn on them again, they’d all be fucked.

Yes, Rip did endanger Jax in a way that wasn’t okay.  In the same episode though, he supported Kendra, (another character that gets way too much undeserved hate), when she didn’t want to kill Savage if it meant Carter would stay brainwashed.  Even though killing Savage would make everything else unnecessary.

Yes, Rip asked Sara to be willing to kill Stein if necessary to prevent the Firestorm-infused future apocalypse.  But he was also very happy that she chose not to do it.  He’s also been a fairly steady support for her against her own bloodlust, fostered the relationship between her and Kendra, and spearheaded getting her back from the League of Assassins.  He also saved Stein’s marriage, not too long before that, even though there was no advantage to him or his quest.

“Rip’s the most selfish character on the show” - which ignores that every single character (except Jax) joined for selfish reasons.  Snart wanted to steal shit.  Mick wanted to create havoc (and go with Snart).  Martin wanted adventure.  The Hawks wanted to stop being murdered.  Even Ray and Sara had some ego and redemption driven reasons behind wanting to be a hero.  That doesn’t make any of them bad people, but it’s pretty fucking stupid to single out “wanting to save his family AND THE WORLD” as most selfish.

Besides, it’s not like the team didn’t know the stakes by the end of the first damn episode.  Rip kept offering them chances to leave, they kept going forward.  Even when he tries to leave them behind for good, they pretty much just abduct him back.  There’s a point where you can let your favorite characters take responsibility for their own damn quest-joining.

(Not to mention: arguably, Rip did sacrifice his hope of saving his family for the world.  When Savage left Vanishing Point, he went to kill Miranda and Jonas, He’d TOLD Rip he was going to do this.  Rip, instead of the mad chase to stop him, leads the charge against the Oculus.)

Personally, I tend to think that a lot of fans get pissy about the family angst because it’s very hard to claim that your favorite character is the angstiest woobie of them all, when there’s a dude with a dead child standing next to him.  Dead kid > any other angst there is.  Sorry.  It’s just the way it is.  

I think most parents would gladly suffer ANY other angsty backstory possible, if it would save their child.

Rip Hunter is an asshole sometimes, he can be cruel, narrow-minded, and has tunnel vision.  He’s also compassionate, supportive, caring, grief-stricken, and broken.  He’s a walking trauma recovery case, and his life is so terrible that my joking list of terrible experiences reached thirteen in fifteen episodes, (I never did update it for the finale, because I’m not sure if “attempted suicide by sun” should be in there.  It’s probably more of an effect than a cause.) He’s a complicated guy, probably one of the most complicated characters in the Flarrowverse.  That’s what makes him so interesting.

This is a very long post that basically just boils down to: if you hate Rip Hunter, then you’ve clearly not been paying attention and don’t deserve complicated and interesting characters anyway.  :-)

Rani Laksmi Bai became one of the leading figures in the 1857 Indian Rebellion against the rule of the British East India Company. She was brought up at the Bithur Court of the Martha Peshwa where her father was an official and therefore enjoyed more independence than most girls of the time. Whilst at court Rani was well-educated. She also studied horsemanship, archery, and became expertly skilled with a sword.

In 1842, when only seven years old, Rani married the Rajah of Jhansi who would die eleven years later, leaving no direct male heir. Taking advantage of this situation, the British East India Company seized the kingdom and expanded their already growing empire. It was not long before the Indian Rebellion made its way from Meerut with many supporting the cause in the hope that the old Jhansi state would be restored. Rani was reluctantly forced to take action against the British. She raised a volunteer army of 14,000 men and women, leading them to victory, and then instantly set about strengthening defences. The British struck back on the 24th of May, 1858 with a force led by Major-General Sir Hugh Rose, and besieged Jhansi. Rani stood firm and fought to defend the city, but she was defeated. Jhansi was stormed and looted by the British with many of the rebels hanged for their resistance, including Rani’s father. Rani herself managed to escape with her adopted son and bodyguard. She met up with other rebel forces, including those of Tatya Tope, and advanced to Gwalior where they hoped to defeat the British. It was at this battle that the brave Rani attempted to stop her soldiers from fleeing by charging with a sword in each hand at the enemy with the reins for the horse held between her teeth. As she was charging, however, she was shot. Knowing death was near she ordered her supporters to burn her body.

Rani was an incredible woman who possessed the intelligence to lead armies into battle and rule her kingdom effectively, despite being only eighteen when her husband died. She was a brave woman who earned the respect of her enemies and conquered the hearts of the rebels fighting. In later times she was hailed as the ‘Indian Joan of Arc’ and would be recognised by Indian nationalists as the forerunner to Indian independence. Rani has become a national heroine in India, and in 1943 the Indian National Army paid tribute to her by establishing an all-female regiment in her name. What better way to remember such an inspirational woman who died fighting for independence?

SIERRA LEONE. 2000. A 14-year-old child soldier during the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991 to 2002), which for over more than a decade devastated the country. This proxy war left more than 50,000 people dead, much of the country’s infrastructure destroyed, and over two million people displaced as refugees in neighbouring countries.

Photograph: Adam Butler/AP

More recently, in 2016, a former senior director at the British firm Aegis Defence Services says that it employed mercenaries from Sierra Leone to work in Iraq because they were cheaper than Europeans and did not check if they were former child soldiers.

Contract documents say that the soldiers from Sierra Leone were paid $16 (£11) a day. A documentary, The Child Soldier’s New Job, alleges that the estimated 2,500 Sierra Leonean personnel who were recruited by Aegis and other private security companies to work in Iraq included former child soldiers.

Aegis was founded in 2002 by Tim Spicer, the former Scots Guards officer who was at the centre of the 1998 “arms to Africa” scandal, in which his previous company Sandline was found to be breaching sanctions by importing 100 tonnes of weapons to Sierra Leone in support of the government.

Ellery, Aegis’ director of operations at the time of the Iraq contracts, previously served as chief of staff to the UN’s mission in Sierra Leone, at the time when the organisation was responsible for demobilising thousands of former child soldiers.

Interviewees in the documentary provided detailed testimony of serving as child soldiers, and documents showing their employment with Aegis.

One interviewee, Gibrilla Kuyateh, told the film’s makers: “Every time I hold a weapon, it keeps reminding me of about the past. It brings back many memories.” In extended footage seen by the Guardian he said he was kidnapped at the age of 13 by rebels who also killed his mother.

When Sierra Leone’s civil war ended in 2002, the international community spent millions of dollars giving former militia members the skills to use in peacetime. A UN mission demobilised more than 75,000 fighters, including nearly 7,000 children, at an estimated cost of $36.5m. The total number of children demobilised is understood to be far higher.

Sierra Leone remains one of the world’s poorest countries, and the documentary charts how from 2009 onwards private military firms turned to it, along with Uganda and Kenya, for cheap labour to guard military installations in Iraq.

Extracts of Alice Ross’ article


The Lewis Machine & Tool LM7 was in competiton with the  FNH SCAR-17 (Mk17 Mod 0), the H&K model 417, Sabre Defence’s XR-10 and offerings from Knights and Oberland Arms.  When the competition was over, LMT’s rifle was designated as the L129A1.  It has been several decades since MOD has changed rifles for the longer range duties, and the new L129A1 is geared towards the 800 meter ranges being encountered in today’s combat environment.  The AI .338 bolt action replaced and upgraded the AI L96 7.62mm several years ago.  “Sharpshooter” is a completely new role for the British Army.  Quick reaction, rapid follow up shots, long range, harder hitting than 5.56mm is the idea for the L129A1, but the sniper rifle is still a bolt action making it unsuited for CQC environments. 

My dear Son was afar off, he is placed at a littler further distance from me, who can say had he lived a few years longer, but that the esteem of his Country which he possessed, might have engendered malignity in the breast of individuals and produced envy treading upon the heel of uncommon Virtue.  He dutiful Son, affectionate friend, sensible honest Counsellor, would have fled across the Globe to conduct and to serve his father; I was striving to go to him, he loved his country, he bled and died for it.  I shall soon quit this globe and meet him beyond it: happy never more to separate.

I had not my dear Sister been quite unprepared for the stroke, forebodings and apprehensions will intrude upon the mind of an affectionate Father_ forebodings had been recently awakened, howbeit I thought I should have stood the shock with some degree of fortitude but alas however strong the Man, the father feels and yields.

When I was summoned to promulgate the declaration of this horrid War I was in deep mourning for my Jemmy, when I was ordered to sign first to the association for defence against British Tyranny I said, I sign with my hand and shall be ready to seal it with my blood.  When I was called upon to sign the Preliminaries for Peace I was in deep mourning for that brave honest man, that good soldier and good Citizen, that dutiful Son and sincere friend, the dear object of my present Woe.  I feel somewhat of comfort from reflection that my blood in him has sealed the Testament of a long seven Years civil War.  he fell in the last action that happened, and probably that will happen in the present contest in America, methinks I hear him as his eyes roll in his latest moment exult,_ ‘there my Country I have served you faithfully to the End_ I have contributed to save you_ now you are free I leave you.’

—  Henry Laurens to his sister Mary Laurens, in a letter dated December 30, 1782

June 26, 1916 - The Somme: British Trench Raids Reveal German Positions Unaffected by Bombardment

Pictured - A team of British trench raiders, the “Hun Snatchers”.  Trench raiding was a nightly occurrence on the Western Front, as men sneaked across No Man’s Land to seize prisoners and cause havoc in the enemy lines.

Most of the British army preparing for the Battle of the Somme was the unbloodied formations of Kitchener’s New Armies, the units of eager volunteers raised in 1914 and 1915 to turn the British Expeditionary Force from a tiny corps of elite, professional soldiers, into a mass army like those of Germany and France.  The Battle of the Somme was the first test for these soldiers.  Most were eager and confident of victory, especially as they watched thousands of their artillery pound the German lines unbroken for three days by June 26.  The BEF’s commander, General Haig, shared in his soldiers’ enthusiasm.  In a note written to the General Staff on June 16, he expressed his plan that “the advance was to be pressed eastward far enough to enable our cavalry to push through into the open country beyond the enemy’s prepared lines of defence.”

Infamously, British officers supposedly told their men that on D-Day they could simply stroll over to the enemy’s trenches without firing a shot.  Major Robert Money expressed his confidence in his diary in late June: “It appears that in about a week’s time we shall be required to prance into the Hun trenches - well cheerio and I hope the Huns will like it… Nothing seems to have been spared to make this show a success - nothing seems to have been overlooked.”

To check the state of their enemy’s defenses and keep the men keyed up for battle, front-line battalions sent raiders over No Man’s Land every night.  Thanks to the unending barrage, which paused briefly for its own men, penetrating the German lines was easy enough.  But inside the German trenches, raiders were surprised to be met with organized resistance.  Rather ominously, an Intelligence report noted that “Raids attempted all along the Corps Front were unsuccessful, in some sectors owing to intense machine gun and rifle fire.”  Soldiers from the Newfoundland Regiment were driven off in a raid of their own, according to one officer forced hurriedly to “turn tail”.

The British Royal Air Force Aerobatic team, The Red Arrows, display their skills over Tanagra Airbase in Greece on March 20th 2016, during their overseas training known as Exercise Springhawk. The exercise runs between March 17th and April 28th, and will end with the pilots being awarded their Public Display Authority (PDA) which allows them to display in public and wear the iconic red suits. Credit: EPA/Cpl Steve Buckley MA (RAF)/British Ministry Of Defence


6/8/2016: King Abdullah II, accompanied by Queen Rania, attended the 2016 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, as a guest of honor at the UK historic Edinburgh Castle with the participation of military bands from around the globe.

Upon arrival, the King was received by British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, Governor of Edinburgh Castle, Mike Riddell-Webster and a number of senior military officials as well as Jordan’s ambassador to London Mazen Homoud.

His Majesty watched a number of military tattoos performed by military bands representing different world countries including Jordan. The Royal Jordanian Honor Guard - Silent Drill Team, the Jordanian Armed Forces Band, the Royal Guards Brigade and Circassian Guards are representing the Kingdom in the festival, which coincides with the Kingdom’s celebrations of the centenary of the Great Arab Revolt. The Kingdom’s first participation in global event dated back to 1963.

His Majesty also attended a reception hosted by the Governor of Edinburgh Castle with the presence of 120 people. Ahead of the event, he met with Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon, during which they discussed ways to boost bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the military, defense and training fields. (Source: Petra)