Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
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The first Aardvark of 2020 and the start of the third decade of the 21st century.
No, I'm not back at my desk publishing your daily-dose until next week so this is just a one-off column (normal publication will resume on the 13th).
A couple of things have triggered me into writing an early column however, and neither of them are good.
First-up, it seems that the USA has blown the snot (and other body fluids) out of an "enemy" at Baghdad airport using one of their super-capable Predator drones and a pair of Hellfire missiles. No doubt there were also injuries caused to innocent bystanders -- but hey, that's acceptable isn't it?
Well no, it's not acceptable (IMHO).
In fact, what we're seeing is yet another glaring example of hypocrisy from those in power.
The USA has justified its assassination of Qassem Soleimani by claiming he was a terrorist whose activities had resulted in the deaths of many innocent people and was thus an enemy of the American people.
Strangely enough, I thought that the USA had a justice system based on the presumption of innocence and I really must have missed the trial that was held by the courts in order to prove his guilt then authorise the penalty to be inflicted.
Did I mention the word hypocrisy?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-USA or pro-Iran or even remotely partisan either way in terms of the politics. I really don't care about the politics.
What I do care about is one country assuming that it has the right to engage in this type of activity just because it is bigger and stronger than another.
Bullying is not acceptable, nor is the use of murder as summary justice, regardless of the crimes of the alleged guilty party.
Can you imagine the outrage if Iran had assassinated Mike Pence, the US vice President?
Would the world be as "hey-ho" about such an act as they are in the wake of the USA's act of violence?
The hypocrisy of this event becomes even more obvious when you realise that the attack took place at an airport... and was launched by... a drone.
How many times have we heard the US government (or agencies thereof) telling us that it is too dangerous to allow drones near airports? I guess they made their point on this occasion eh? But once again it's "do as we say, not as we do".
And, on the subject of drones, the FAA in the USA has just released an astoundingly bad NPRM (notice of proposed rule making) document that will effectively destroy the hobby of flying RC models within a decade.
Under the new proposed rule, all drones and RC models flown in US airspace will need to carry an electronic-ID transmitter and be connected to a kind of air-traffic control system via the internet. Yes, that's right... in many cases it will mean "no net, no fly".
How crazy is that? The safest places to fly (miles from anywhere in the back of beyond) are now going to be the places you'll be least-able to fly due to a lack of Net connectivity.
Only craft built to approved standards by certified manufacturers will be allowed to fly in most airspace. Home-built craft and RC model aircraft will be relegated to a tiny number of pre-defined areas with no new areas or transfers allowed after 12 months. This means that as urban expansion turns these sites in to shopping centres, model flyers will have nowhere to fly and the hobby will die.
So, in my usual "I'm not having it" way, I've stepped up to the plate and will be coordinating a widespread response to this proposal with a view to having the NPRM thrown out.
Stay tuned for that!
In the meantime, carry on until next Monday.
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