What we learned this week

  • What would a Tesco-value blockbuster look like? If you thought straight to DVD Jackie Collins adaptation you’d be absolutely right – the supermarket giant has launched a film making arm and announced its first project.
  • There is a reward for anyone who arrests Tony Blair for war crimes. It currently stands at over £2,000 and you can add to the bounty yourself through paypal. It’s George Monbiot’s idea: “In the UK, where it remains ­illegal to wear an offensive T-shirt, you cannot yet be prosecuted for mass ­murder commissioned overseas.”
  • The US has sent 10,000 troops to Haiti. But why did they take so many guns? And why did they prioritise military flights over aid flights?
  • And being a user of the infamous rail line, I have to give a shout out to the firstcrapitalconnect website, a fine send-up of the First Group’s cavalier approach to customer service.


  1. In no way shape or form am I a fan of the US military’s …approach …but reading about the increase in rapes and sex trafficking, I think more substantive governance might be needed. Is that what US troops are there for? Unclear. Are US troops likely to actually perpetrate crimes against the Haitian civilains they are supposed to protect? Yet to be seen. But a descent into lawlessnes is not cool either.

    And..again, this may be my naivete…but I think the military can move a lot faster than the nebulous “aid flights”–does the US even have an agency set up for quick response to natural disasters, or is not the military our biggest…pool of planes, supplies, etc. Not that it should be that way–just wondering….

    1. Yes, I’m similarly conflicted. It’s great that the army is able to mobilise so fast and bring such huge resources into play, but the article highlighted some difficult questions. Not least that the army spent two days establishing a security perimeter around the airport, disrupting civilian aid flights in the process, before they began any actual relief work. Since they were based in the airport, that was security for them, not for the people of Haiti! I think it just underlined some of the somewhat ugly assumptions of the US military. But like you say, it’s probably a good thing they’re there. Perhaps they just need more sensitivity training.

    2. I’ve heard the saying that “locks keep honest people honest”. I’ve been to Haiti – down there, at the best of times, razor-wire, glass shards, stone walls, iron gates and security bars on windows keep honest people honest. After a disaster at this scale, with a pretty-well non-functioning government (even BEFORE the earthquake), very limited police force (and largely corrupt), security for relief supplies would be almost impossible without an external military force present. The US is closest, has the greatest ties to Haiti, and probably has the most “spare” manpower in the region. I think it is great that they are there. Will mistakes be made? For sure – but so far the only violence I’ve seen reported is from the gangs and when the Haitian police have shot suspected looters.

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