Wednesday 3 April 2024

How could the killing of seven WCK aid workers be a mistake?

OPINION: The world has heard that seven aid workers employed by the World Central Kitchen (WCK) charity were killed in a missile strike by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the victims were "unintentionally harmed". He says that it's a mistake. The facts speak otherwise. These are the facts as reported today in The Times.

Update: BBC reports the following: 

"Attacking people or objects involved in humanitarian assistance may amount to a war crime," said UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Jeremy Laurence. As the High Commissioner has repeatedly stated, impunity must end."

Israel's military has apologised for Monday's strike and called the attack a grave mistake. This wasn't a mistake. This was a deliberate act based on bias. They thought a Hamas terrorist was in the convoy and on the basis of a 'belief' without firm evidence IDF murdered 7 aid workers. They should be tried for murder.

The last precision missile strike hit the car through the roof. The remaining survivors where in it and all were killed. They had helped the injured others before the final strike. Image: Getty Images. If there is a problem with copyright please tell me. It is published here under fair use policies.

It is very hard indeed to believe that this was a mistake.
  • The three vehicles were travelling in a convoy along the coast road. The second one was 890 m behind the first and the third was 1560 m behind the second. The three vehicles were struck about a mile and a half apart on this coastal road. The third vehicle was struck last with a missile hit directly through its roof (precision missile strike) which killed all the remaining survivors.
  • The vehicles were struck in separate incidents and as stated great distances from each other. This was not a single strike which would make it easier to argue that it was a mistake.
  • Further, the WCK said that it's workers had been in a deconflicted zone on a route that had been preapproved by the IDF.
  • The IDF had been informed of their movements. The two armoured cars and one other vehicle were branded with the logo of the organisation on the top and sides according to WCK.
  • In other words, WCK ticked all the boxes to protect their employees. It appears that nothing was left undone and the IDF knew what was going on.
Mistake? Unintentional?

I read that an Israeli newspaper (Haaretz) state that IDF drone operators were ordered to attack one of the cars with a missile. On the Israeli side, the report is that an armed man was identified in a truck that had accompanied the convoy on its journey and the truck was not with the convoy when it left the warehouse. That appears to be their defence. But perhaps this was part of the accepted plan as one of the cars is said to be 'armed'.

A common sense assessment of what you read in the newspapers on the presumption that what we read is truthful and correct, must come to the conclusion that this was not a mistake. This was a deliberate attack on a charity's convoy which had provided a hundred tons of food to the Gaza Strip earlier.

It's early days. And no doubt more information will come out. There's uproar as you can imagine. WCK have removed themselves from the Gaza Strip at least temporarily and other charities are thinking of doing the same thing.

If you were cynical, as I am, you might think that the IDF deliberately attacked this charity to achieve this exact result; to stop the charities feeding the citizens of Gaza in order to help initiate starvation as a form of warfare. We've been told that a famine is almost on the way in the Gaza Strip because of blockades at the entrances to the area through which provisions are brought in lorries.

I sense that the IDF are using starvation as an act of war. One additional aspect of this conflict. There is no proof to support that statement. I am speculating. It is my opinion. No more and no less. I am entitled to my opinion. But it is based upon a reasonable assessment as stated above.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Pet owners falling prey to extortionist corporate veterinary clinics

UK: Max Hastings a Times journalist has lambasted the veterinary profession in the UK which has deteriorated dramatically since the predatory and greedy corporate entities bought up thousands of independent veterinary in which the practices were owned by the partnership - the veterinarians working at the clinic. 

These were the charming, old-fashioned vets who more often than not focused on providing the best possible veterinary care rather than prioritising financial profit which is what vet clinics that are part of a chain now appear to do more often than not.

Max Hastings said this about a personal experience:
I heard last week of a friend's daughter who has resigned from private practice in disgust at the price gouging of its management, the relentless pursuit of financial targets and increased drug sales. This young woman now works instead for a charity, the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Meanwhile our local vet has just quoted us a price of £750 for removing a benign cyst from a dog's ear.
The Competition and Markets watchdog is investigating. Hastings believes that the trust of pet owners in their vets is being betrayed. He says that "we are struggling to identify a practice not owned by extortionists".

There is chain vets near me. A friend of mine asked me to take a guinea pig to a local Goddard vets. They are one of these corporate vets - a chain of outlets. And the vet there used four capsules of insecticide to treat a parasitic infection that appeared to have cleared up when probably one capsule would have done. And he smeared half of it in the fur and not on the skin. That looked like price gouging to me.

Two more case studies

My thanks to Bing's Co-pilot for researching these case studies.

Pet owners across the UK are grappling with staggering vet bills, leaving them feeling cornered and financially strained. The veterinary industry, valued at £2 billion, has come under scrutiny due to exorbitant costs and questionable value for money. Let’s delve into some real-life experiences shared by pet owners who have faced eye-watering expenses and unexpected financial burdens.

Case Studies:

  1. Dave Bicker’s Parson Russell Terrier, Rufus:

    • Rufus developed glaucoma, necessitating eye removal surgery.
    • The initial cost for tests and eye drops was £300.
    • The vet offered two options: an immediate operation for £800 or a £200 cheaper alternative in Derby.
    • Bicker’s colleagues generously pooled funds to cover the bill.
    • When Rufus needed a second enucleation, the cost had skyrocketed to £1,750 within just two-and-a-half years.
    • Bicker laments the lack of affordable vets and suspects price adjustments to match industry standards.
  2. Laura’s Experience with Dental Plaque Removal:

    • Laura’s rescue cat, Bella, required plaque removal from her teeth.
    • A London vet chain quoted an astonishing £900 for the procedure, insisting Bella be anesthetized.
    • While vacationing in France, Laura sought a local vet’s opinion.
    • The French vet charged a mere €33 (approximately £28) for the same procedure, completed in five minutes without anesthesia.
    • Laura was astounded by the stark contrast in costs between the UK and France.

Industry Investigation:

The UK’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into the veterinary services industry, aiming to address concerns of potential overcharging and lack of transparency1.

Pet owners find themselves caught in a delicate balance between their beloved companions’ health and financial strain. As the debate continues, it’s clear that affordable and accessible veterinary care remains a pressing issue for many.

Published on September 8, 2023

Read the full article on The Guardian

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Was the Kremlin behind the Hamas terrorist attack of October 7th?

The Hamas terrorist attack on Israel October 7, 2023 has sparked a Middle East war. A war which has cooled the support by the West of Ukraine and its defence of an illegal invasion by Russia. There is no evidence that Moscow knew about the October 7 attack but it has certainly massively improved their chances of winning the Ukraine war.

Was the Kremlin behind the Hamas terrorist attack of October 7th?
What dirty deeds have been dreamt up in the Kremlin to terrorise the world?

Speculating, it either was or would have been a very clever move to work with Hamas in the Gaza Strip to organise that well documented and horrific attack which resulted in an equally horrific retaliation by Benjamin Netanyahu in effectively destroying the Gaza Strip and allegedly killing 30,000 innocent civilians as well as some of the terrorists.

But it's gone a lot wider than that which is what I think Putin would wish for because he wanted to divert attention from the Ukraine war. He wanted to divert support by America for Ukraine to supporting Israel instead. We know America supports Israel very substantially. It appears to me that America's focus has been pulled away from supporting Ukraine in providing armaments and is now firmly fixed on supporting Israel.

This has worked extremely well for Putin and it is probably fair to say that Ukraine is now losing the war in defending their country. They are in retreat. They are building defensive systems and digging in. They no longer aspire to push Putin's forces out of Ukraine. They are simply trying to defend their country and settling on the current status quo in terms of the extent of the Russian invasion. This has gradually happened since the Hamas terrorist attack.

Connection between Kremlin and Hamas

There is good evidence that Moscow has provided support to Hamas in the past. The Kremlin has had a long relationship with Hamas. The Washington Institute states that the KGB "funded, trained, advised, and equipped anti-western terrorist and militant groups in the region, including groups that saw the destruction of Israel as their primary goal."

They add that "Russian-made weapons had found their way to Hamas for years. In May 2021, senior Hamas leader Osama Hamdan gave an interview to Russia's investigative Novaya Gazeta, in which he said, "I think the Russian people should be proud they gave the oppressed peoples of the world weapons with which they can defend themselves. The weapons were sent to our region in the sixties and seventies."

The Kremlin has provided material support to Hamas according to The Washington Institute. So there's a connection between the Kremlin and Hamas and it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to believe that Putin and his cronies dreamt up a way of dissipating Western support for Ukraine which for Putin was the stumbling block to success in Ukraine.

Putin could never win the war in Ukraine as long as the West in particular America provided extensive multibillion support in terms of armaments to the Ukrainian military. This has substantially dried up. It is said that the Republicans are stopping the continuing support of Ukraine but it seems to me from a purely strategic point of view the Middle East in conflict is highly beneficial to the Kremlin.

Expanding Middle East war

The Middle East war is expanding. And will continue to expand. The current news is that a senior Iranian commander was killed in an Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus (update: 2 senior Iranian generals were killed). That is the latest news and I would expect there to be an Iranian retaliation. The indications are that the Middle East may well enter into a long-term conflagration. 

Although Israel is a proxy for America and Iran does not want to enter into a war with America through Israel. This probably prevents an escalation due to Iran's substantial involvement. But...

"Tehran vows decisive response to airstrike" - The Times April 2, 2024.

"Attack threatens to escalate Middle East crisis" - The Times.

In parallel I would expect Putin to cement his land grab of the eastern part of Ukraine and in the south in order for him to have an open corridor from Russia to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. He will deem eastern Ukraine as part of Russia and settle on that.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 1 April 2024

Dogs and toddlers understanding humans pointing to objects but apes don't

The video tells you all about the intelligence of dogs. This video is long but I have started it when the expert demonstrates how dogs are able to understand what to do when a human points at an object. Toddlers also understand this. Dogs are like toddlers in this aspect of instinctive intelligence but apes fail the test.

Dogs understand the meaning of pointing unlike apes and cats but like 2-year-old toddlers.
Dogs understand the meaning of pointing unlike apes and cats but like 2-year-old toddlers.

The video starts with a section about the most intelligent dog in the world (believed) as he can memorise and understand over 1000 words describing different objects that he'll fetch on command.

It is an interesting section too. More interesting to me though is the general assessment that dogs understand pointing which is an ability only fairly recently observed. 

"When his father points [the toddler] makes an inference. When kids his age start understanding pointing it is right when the foundations of what leads to language and culture start to develop."
The dog successful completes the same test. 
"That's really hard for a lot of animals. That's what really special about dogs. They are similar to human toddlers."
It seems that the cat cannot pass this test. In general the consensus of experts is that dogs are more intelligent that cats but the comparison might be unfair.

This is because dogs are more domesticated than cats. They have lived side by side with humans for perhaps up to 30,000 years. For cats it is 10,000 years. 

Perhaps dogs understand humans better than cats and therefore understand the meaning of pointing to an object from which they can make an inference that there is some significance to the action of pointing such as there is something underneath a cup.

It is very tricky to compare cat and dog intelligence for other reason. They have evolved to be good at different things. Dogs are pack animals and are attuned to group living. Cats are essentially solitary and have evolved to live a life alone and survive alone. They are great survivors hence their nine lives badge.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Jannik Sinner benefits from high-tech mental training from Dr. Ceccarelli

As far as I am concerned, Janik Skinner is the best tennis player in the world today because he has worked extensively on his mental processes. He's done this to an extent and in a way which is different to other tennis players. 

Jannick Sinner at practice. Image: by si.robi - Sinner MCM23 (8), CC BY-SA 2.0,

He has outstripped the progress of Carlos Alcaraz who appears to have stalled his progress and even gone backwards slightly. I think we can distinguish these two top players in one definitive way: Jannik Sinner has employed a psychologist involved with improving the performance of F1 drivers, Doctor Ricardo Ceccarelli while Carlos Alcaraz has not.

There was a notable improvement in Jannik Sinner's performances about a year ago and he has dominated since. So how does Ceccarelli work?

How does Dr Ceccarelli work to help Jannik Sinner?

Dr. Ricardo Ceccarelli, renowned for his work in Formula 1, plays a crucial role in Jannik Sinner’s mental preparation and performance improvement. Let’s delve into the details:
  1. Background and Collaboration:

    • Ceccarelli has been an integral part of Sinner’s team since 2020.
    • In September 2021, a collaboration emerged between Formula Medicine (founded by Ceccarelli) and the Piatti Tennis Center. Together, they established a ‘Mental Economy gym’ dedicated to athletes’ mental preparation, including Sinner.
  2. Methodology:

    • Ceccarelli’s approach focuses on enhancing an athlete’s self-awareness.
    • They create scenarios where Sinner associates specific sensations (like anger, discouragement, fatigue, calmness, and effectiveness) with moments in his matches.
    • They use a joystick for computerized tests, monitoring brain activity (via a frontal band) and heartbeat.
    • The goal is to understand how Sinner’s brain functions under different conditions, ultimately improving his effectiveness in tennis.
  3. Results:

    • Within two months of implementing this program, the 22-year-old broke into the world’s top 10 rankings.
    • Ceccarelli’s system has contributed significantly to Sinner’s mental toughness and overall performance.

In summary, Dr. Ceccarelli’s innovative approach combines psychology, technology, and personalized training to elevate Jannik Sinner’s mental game on the tennis court. 🎾🧠

Sinner said: "It is very different from having a coach or a sports psychologist because in those cases you have a conversation with that person and try to find solutions. What I do is different because we dedicate ourselves to solving exercises on a computer and we calculate the performance of my brain when it comes to finding solutions to the problems I encounter in these exercises."

He added that, "repetition makes me automate the processes and my brain is more efficient and works better under pressure and in extreme situations. It helps me a lot because it makes me have to understand why things happen and I can analyse them in detail [and that] we have been working with this methodology for a few years and I feel that it is working very well. I have improved significantly in this mental aspect."

I believe Cessarelli employs a process called Mental Economy Training to sharpen the mind and make it tougher so that it works far more efficiently in the heat for battle on the tennis court.

Mental Economy Training® is able to evaluate and improve the main aspects of the mental sphere including:

  • Self-awareness
  • Mental flexibility and adaptability
  • Self-confidence
  • Decision making ability
  • Multitasking skills
  • Resistance to stress
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Teamwork

A couple of extra things are worth mentioning. He has the best and most powerful forehand (probably) and he has made significant improvements in his movement which means he is a better defender. Lastly he says that he can improve his dropshot and his volleying. He is working on these aspects of the game. He is set for dominance similar to that experienced by the big three for so long.

Alcaraz would be well to observe what has happened and do something similar to improve his mentality. I have felt that Alcaraz has dopped off mentally recently. A lack of motivation. It is hard though to maintain motivation at the top. Look at Björn Borg Borg who retired very young and in his prime because he no longer enjoyed it.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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