20 Jun 2018

Britain Has Knife Attacks; Sweden Has Grenades

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Wikipedia:

Bombings increased significantly in 2015, with Swedish police investigating around 100-150 explosions. There were over 30 explosions reported in the Swedish city of Malmö alone by August 2015, up from a total of 25 in all of 2014. Malmö police have consequently warned about undetonated grenades in the city. According to Swedish police, the use of hand grenades in crime is unprecedented in all comparable European and non-European countries, and the only countries with similar characteristics are those with warlike conditions.

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BBC:

The devices are easily obtained, says Reine Bergland of Stockholm police. They can be bought from gangs for just a couple of hundred Swedish kroner (about £20).

“Sometimes when they buy weapons they get grenades as part of the deal. They throw in a couple of hand grenades, so to speak.”

The rise in possession of hand grenades – mainly unused stock from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s – has come to symbolise Sweden’s heated debate about violent crime as it heads towards an election in September.

The rate of violent crime in the suburbs of Sweden’s big cities has worsened in recent years, in what officials blame on rising gang-related crime.

There were 306 shootings last year, which left 41 people dead. In 2011, there were 17 fatalities.

The violence has turned some parts of Stockholm into “no-go zones” for paramedics, says Henrik Johansson, former head of Sweden’s paramedics union.

“People who live in these areas are very scared to call the police or get help from ambulances. They are scared about consequences for them and their families.”

Police have acknowledged 60 or so “vulnerable areas” but reject the description of “no-go zones”, a highly loaded term in Sweden.

After all, violent crime in Sweden and who is to blame for it has become an ideological battlefield.

In February 2017 US President Donald Trump controversially linked the problem to the influx of migrants to Sweden.

“Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible,” he said.

A self-proclaimed humanitarian superpower, Sweden took in the highest number of asylum seekers per capita during the migrant crisis of 2015. Many were refugees fleeing war and abuses in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. …

Sweden’s government denies it is immigrants who are causing the rise in crime. (! — DZ)

“The people who are causing problems for us today, the vast majority of them are born in Sweden, and that’s not a notion of migration. That’s an issue of integration and an issue of social inclusion,” said Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, a centre-left Social Democrat.

20 Jun 2018

USS Fitzgerald Collision Connected to Female Officers on Duty Who Were Not Speaking To One Another

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damage to USS Fitzgerald

Robert Stacy McCain received an anonymous letter pointing out that other issues besides simple negligence were involved in the USS Fitzgerald’s collision.

Hi, Stacy.

During the early weeks after the USS Fitzgerald was speared by a lumbering Philippine container ship, it was noteworthy that the captain and a couple of admirals were publically named, but not the actual officer in charge, the officer of the deck. (OOD) The other person who should have kept the Fitz out of trouble is the person in charge of the combat information center, the Tactical Action Officer. That individual is supposed to be monitoring the combat radar, which can detect a swimmer at a distance of two miles.

Not until a year later, when the final reports are made public and the guilty parties have been court-martialed, does the truth come out. The OOD was named Sarah, and the Tactical Action Officer was named Natalie, and they weren’t speaking to each other!!! The Tactical Action Officer would normally be in near constant communication with the OOD, but there is no record of any communication between them that entire shift!

Another fun fact: In the Navy that won WWII, the damage control officers were usually some of the biggest and strongest men aboard, able to close hatches, shore up damaged areas with timbers, etc. The Fitz’s damage control officer was also a woman, and she never left the bridge. She handled the aftermath of the accident remotely, without lifting a finger herself!

Look it up: The OOD was Sarah Coppock, Tactical Action Officer was Natalie Combs. . . .

When I noticed last year that they were doing all they could to keep the OOD’s name out of the headlines, I speculated to my son that it was a she. Turns out all the key people (except one officer in the CIC) were female!

Indeed, I did some searching, and Lt. Coppock pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty. Lt. Combs faced a hearing last month:

In an 11-hour hearing, prosecutors painted a picture of Lt. Irian Woodley, the ship’s surface warfare coordinator, and Lt. Natalie Combs, the tactical action officer, as failing at their jobs, not using the tools at their disposal properly and not communicating adequately. They became complacent with faulty equipment and did not seek to get it fixed, and they failed to communicate with the bridge, the prosecution argued. Had they done those things, the government contended, they would have been able to avert the collision.

That two of the officers — Coppock and Combs — involved in this fatal incident were female suggests that discipline and training standards have been lowered for the sake of “gender integration,” which was a major policy push at the Pentagon during the Obama administration. It could be that senior officers, knowing their promotions may hinge on enthusiastic support for “gender integration,” are reluctant to enforce standards for the women under their command.

RTWT


LT Coppock

20 Jun 2018

Everybody Wants the Emerald

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The Seattle Times reports on the judicial ruling.

The Bahia Emerald was first discovered in a mine in the Brazilian state of Bahia in 2001.

In the past 6½ years, nine men, one woman, three corporations and one government have laid claim to the giant emerald that’s been at the center of a protracted ownership dispute in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Judge Michael Johnson, the second judge to preside over the case, said Thursday he has determined the owner.

His tentative ruling hands victory to a holding company, FM Holdings, owned by three businessmen, who claimed the emerald became theirs after it was put up as collateral in a $1.3 million deal for diamonds that ultimately fell through.

The company — co-owned by Idaho businessmen Kit Morrison and Todd Armstrong, and Jerry Ferrera of Florida — “has presented evidence establishing clear title to the Bahia Emerald as against all other ownership claims,” Johnson wrote in his decision.

In his ruling, Johnson chronicled the tortuous history of the gem after it was first discovered in a mine in the Brazilian state of Bahia in 2001. (Although media reports have put the gem at 840 pounds, Johnson said in his ruling that it was a mere 751.77 pounds, and nearly 3 feet long at its tallest point.)

The gem has been appraised at $372 million.

The Bahia Emerald, a massive black schist with nine protruding emerald crystals, came into the U.S. in early 2005. It was the subject of a series of agreements that shifted ownership to various people and involved various moneymaking schemes. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the emerald was submerged in floodwaters.

It was seized by Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives in 2008 after one businessman reported it stolen from a Los Angeles-area warehouse. Sheriff’s officials tracked the gem to a Las Vegas vault. Since then, it has remained in sheriff’s custody in an undisclosed location as the legal battle slogged through the courts.

Since the case was first filed in early 2009, two men’s claims to the emerald were rejected by the courts, and the rest dropped or settled their cases, leaving only the three men behind the holding company still claiming ownership.

“A lot of very strange players showed up in this case,” said attorney Brown Greene, who represented the prevailing group.

RTWT

HT: Vanderleun.

19 Jun 2018

Revolution and Regret

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The young rebellious Sontag.

Nicholas Frankovich notes that youthful rebellion against stodgy, inhibiting norms and standards is great fun, until you find the fences are all down, the norms and standards have disappeared, in politics as in the arts.

Susan Sontag established herself as a public intellectual through original and incisive essays in which she exalted avant-garde over high culture in the 1960s. Late in her career, in the 1990s, she began to have second thoughts. “It never occurred to me that all the stuff I had cherished, and all the people I had cared about in my university education, could be dethroned,” she explained to Joan Acocella of The New Yorker. She had assumed that “all that would happen is that you would set up an annex — you know, a playhouse — in which you could study these naughty new people, who challenged things.”

The “naughty new people” were mid-20th-century artists, particularly American and European writers and filmmakers, who defied existing conventions of the novel and of narrative in general. In your creation or experience of art, try for a moment to stop asking what it “means,” Sontag advised. Relish the “sensuous surface of art without mucking about in it.” The aesthetic she was celebrating — it amounted to an elevation of form over content — was supposed to be exemplified by the “nouveau roman,” in which plot, character development, and all the empty promises of linear thought were minimized or, better, absent. “What is important now is to recover our senses,” she wrote. “We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more.”

Alas, what had appealed to Sontag about that kind of formalism “was mostly just the idea of it,” Acocella observed. “I thought I liked William Burroughs and Nathalie Sarraute and Robbe-Grillet,” Sontag told her, “but I didn’t. I actually didn’t.” And now she had regrets. “Little did I know that the avant-garde transgressiveness of the sixties was to become absolutely institutionalized and that most of the gods of high culture would be dethroned and mocked.” In “Thirty Years Later” (1996), Sontag, reflecting on what she had failed to foresee when she wrote the cultural criticism collected in her book Against Interpretation (1966), recounted that she hadn’t yet grasped that

    seriousness itself was in the early stages of losing credibility in the culture at large, and that some of the more transgressive art I was enjoying would reinforce frivolous, merely consumerist transgressions. Thirty years later, the undermining of standards of seriousness is almost complete, with the ascendancy of a culture whose most intelligible, persuasive values are drawn from the entertainment industries. Now the very idea of the serious (and the honorable) seems quaint, “unrealistic,” to most people.

The difference between the American and the European use of the term “liberal” is often remarked. The former refers, on the whole, to the Left; the latter, to classical liberalism, which until yesterday was the political philosophy — free markets, limited government, individual liberty — of the mainstream American Right. The current populist revolt on the right has flushed to the surface a fact I had underestimated: that when Americans who call themselves conservative say “Down with liberalism,” classical liberalism is a large part of what many of them have in their sights.

Christian anti-liberalism — Alasdair MacIntyre, John Milbank, David L. Schindler, the Communio school — enchanted me somewhat until classical liberalism in the flesh began to manifest increasing vulnerability. It has to fend off enemies on two fronts now, the right as well as the left. Like Susan Sontag lamenting over the rapid dumbing down of American culture in the late 20th century, I see my mood has changed. What had appealed to me about MacIntyre, Milbank, and the whole crew of “naughty new people who challenged things” was not the possibility that their pictures and diagrams of anti-liberalism would ever escape from the page and the screen and result in political consequences. The idea of anti-liberalism, that’s all, is what I fancied. The realization of it, or the attempt to realize it, turns out to be messy, even ugly, and it appears to be tending toward the ever messier and uglier.

RTWT

18 Jun 2018

Theresa May Hit by Best Zinger of the Year

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18 Jun 2018

World Cup

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18 Jun 2018

For the Convenience of Today’s College Students

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HT: Vanderleun.

18 Jun 2018

The Arrogance of the Ill-Educated Elite

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Joseph Pearce responds with understandable frustration to the chief problem of our time: the combination of arrogance with lack of real education.

Recently, sitting in traffic, I saw this .. bumper sticker on the car in front of me… which declared the following: “What you call the Liberal Elite, we call being well-educated.” …

Clearly designed to offend other motorists, it is supremely supercilious and extremely arrogant. We, the average Joe, whoever we may be, are not as “well-educated” as the royal “we” driving the car in front of us. This pompous “we,” who is presumably a she, presumes that anyone who disagrees with her is poorly educated, whereas she, of course, is well-educated. If we were as well-educated as she, we would agree with her.

To be fair to her, she is basing her presumption on data that shows that those who are “well-educated” tend to vote for the Democrats whereas those who are less “educated” tend to vote Republican. She votes Democrat because she is well-educated. We, who are presumed to be Republicans (because we are presumed to be stupid), complain that those who are better educated than us (and are therefore better than us) are part of an elite.

The problem is that her education is not as good as she thinks it is. …

If she was educated in our secular system, she will know nothing of philosophy, or, if she does, she will believe that there was no philosophy worth taking seriously before René Descartes. She will know nothing of the philosophy of the Greeks, of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and still less of the great Christian philosophers, such as Augustine or Aquinas. Insofar as she’s even heard of these people, she will presume that they did not know what they were talking about: “What the ancient philosophers call error, we call being well-educated.”

If she was educated in our secular system, she will know nothing of history, or, if she does, she will know it only from her own twenty-first century perspective, or from the twenty-first century perspective of those who taught it to her. History is not about learning from the people of the past, their triumphs and their mistakes, but is about sitting in judgment on the stupidity of our ancestors, who are presumed to be unenlightened, or at least not as enlightened as she is or her teachers are. “What the people of the past believed to be immoral, we call being well-educated.”

If she was educated in our secular system, she will know nothing of great literature, or, if she does, she will have misread it from the perspective of her own twenty-first century pride and prejudice, or from the proud and prejudiced twenty-first century perspective of those who taught her. She would not think of trying to read the great authors of the past through their own eyes because, living in the past, such authors lack the sense and sensibility which she has.

RTWT

The usual argument over free enterprise versus the regulatory administrative state economy erupted over the weekend on my Yale class list. The usual three classmates who’d operated businesses defended freedom against the larger group of lefties who’d spent careers in academia.

The left-wing arguments were, as usual, actually embarrassing expressions of relativism combined with glib attempts to deflect substantive points by simple word-play. Reading the leftists’ efforts at debate, it is impossible to avoid noticing that what they really believe in is the absolute reliability of the consensus opinion of the community of fashion. The common culture of the establishment elite cannot possibly be wrong.

They fail to recognize at all just how dramatically that consensus has changed, even within their own adult lifetimes, because the accepted narrative is everything, History and Reality are nothing.

Their Cliff-Notes-based education has merely trained these people in the skillful manipulation of numbers, symbols, and ideas. Each of them is, of course, competent, even excellent, in some professional specialty, but if the gods of fashionable opinion decreed that college professors should go around barking like dogs, our universities would sound exactly like hunt kennels. They could be persuaded to accept anything, and they view with bitter hatred and disdainful contempt anyone daring to dissent.

16 Jun 2018

The Right to Discriminate

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One of the bookplates used by Harry Worcester Smith, 1865-1945.

Bruce Walker argues, perfectly correctly, that people have a right to discriminate.

The left has created a macabre myth that runs counter to the whole experience of mankind. The left has persuaded the gullible masses of America, including, sadly, most conservatives, that “discrimination” by individuals and businesses is wrong and that it violates the Constitution.

Precisely the opposite is true. All serious cognition and all honest moral judgments involve discrimination. When individuals and businesses are not free to discriminate, then the power to determine what is true and false and good and bad becomes the sole property of the state – or that even more odious creature, that lobotomized Frankenstein monster, “society.”

Instead of diverse opinions and actions freely manifest, which are what happens when the state and society are denied the power to force a certain viewpoint down the throats of private citizens and enterprises, what happens is that all debate, all differences, and all individuality are crushed based upon what those who run the state or manipulate society deem sacrosanct.

RTWT

The framers never intended there to be federal laws and actual divisions of the Department of Justice prying into American’s hearts and minds and telling them what they can and cannot do with respect to their own property or businesses.

I may think, almost all of us might think, your personal opinions and inclinations wrong, stupid, even reprehensible, but that gives the rest of us no right whatsoever to tell you that you have to hire, rent to, or serve somebody against your will.

15 Jun 2018

Bring the Grizzly Back to California?

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Jeremy Miller plays with the idea in the Pacific Standard.

University of California–Santa Barbara researcher Peter Alagona has other ideas about what constitutes viable grizzly habitat. Alagona says that the grizzly was also known as the “chaparral bear” because it was found in greatest numbers not in California’s high country but in its Coast Ranges. In his 2013 book After the Grizzly, Alagona paints a vivid picture of these coastal bears: “Grizzlies scavenged the carcasses of beached marine mammals, grazed on perennial grasses and seeds, gathered berries, and foraged for fruits and nuts. They rooted around like pigs in search of roots and bulbs, and after the introduction of European hogs, the bears ate them too. At times and places of abundant food—such as along rivers during steelhead spawning seasons or in oak woodlands during acorn mast years—grizzlies congregated in large numbers. Such a varied and plentiful diet produced some enormous animals.”

In late March of 2017, Alagona and an interdisciplinary team of more than a dozen professors, lecturers, and graduate students made their first foray into the Sedgwick Reserve, a roughly 6,000-acre parcel of open space an hour north of Santa Barbara that is owned and managed by the University of California. The rolling hills were green, and bloomed with a colorful assortment of flowers. To the south, over a series of undulating hillsides, lay the Pacific Ocean. Beyond the property’s northwest boundary lay the former Neverland Ranch, the infamous estate of the late Michael Jackson.

Known as the California Grizzly Study Group, the team’s fieldwork is focused on gaining a better understanding of how the California grizzly lived in these coastal regions before human interference. As it turns out, reconstructing the way of life of an absent omnivorous animal largely means reconstructing its diet. One common misunderstanding, says Alagona (the group’s head and founding member), is that grizzlies are bloodthirsty predators just waiting for a hiker to snack on. “The California grizzly was an omnivorous opportunist—it ate almost anything and everything that was available,” wrote Tevis and Storer in California Grizzly. “In this respect the big bear was something like the house rat, the domestic pig, and even modern man.” …

We continued upward, to a ridgeline covered in a vibrant green rock called serpentinite. Below us unfolded a pastoral landscape of orchards and vine-stitched hillsides with small towns and farmhouses tucked between. The scenery was of a distinctly Mediterranean cast, which may explain our conversation’s turn toward Europe. There, Alagona noted, European brown bears (European cousins of the American grizzly) have recovered in areas very close to cities, including in Abruzzo National Park, only two hours by car from downtown Rome—closer than we were to downtown Los Angeles.

Demographic shifts and social changes have also played a key role in the brown bear’s resurgence overseas. “One of the reasons you have predators coming back to Europe—wolves, bears, lynx, and wolverines—is partly because Europe has become more urbanized, and parts of the countryside are emptying out,” Alagona said. “You also have a change in thinking and attitudes. People are imagining different futures, which is also vitally important.”

Alagona gestured to the high peaks of the Dick Smith and Sespe wilderness areas, rising to over 7,000 feet. He noted that, even in these wilderness areas—which are small by U.S. standards—one can find more continuous, roadless “wild” land than nearly anywhere in Europe. “When the Europeans look at our situation here, they think we have an ungodly amount of space. They are working in a completely different model,” he said, ticking off the essential differences on his fingers: Lots of people. Smaller land area. No wilderness. More bears.

In the U.S., we tend to operate in an either-or paradigm when it comes to conservation. And this historically has been a key stumbling block for the restoration of many large American mammals, including grizzly bears. Alagona points to the Central Valley, which has been transformed almost entirely into an unbroken industrial-scale agricultural landscape. And then there are the wilderness areas of the Sierra, which are off limits to all development. It is this bifurcation, he says, that has greatly influenced our thinking about what belongs where, what is “wild” and “not wild.” “We tend to think that animals belong in wilderness,” he said.

Europeans, on the other hand, have a less doctrinaire way of categorizing landscapes and, consequently, a more fluid way of looking at what constitutes habitat. “The Europeans are working to create more nature reserves, but they are limited in what they can do,” Alagona said. “And so, by definition, conservation has to occur in these human-dominated landscapes.” …

As Alagona said, it was easier to imagine the risks than the rewards. Any discussion of grizzly reintroduction is moot, he said, until we recognize that a reintroduction of this sort is not really about animal management but people management. “It’s not really clear whether having more bears in the world is actually good for bears, or whether it results in an increase in, say, ‘bear happiness,'” he said. “So if you can’t make that calculation, then you have to start looking at people—notably, what people want and what they are willing to risk or give up to have something else that is of value to them.”

That public reappraisal of the value of wildlife can happen—and sometimes very quickly. “When mountain lions started showing back up in Southern California in the 1980s and ’90s, people also freaked out,” Alagona said. “Now the mountain lion has become the mascot of Los Angeles.” He believes that the same might be true for the California grizzly. “If there was a way to fit these animals in,” he said, “then maybe a lot of other things that seemed impossible are possible.”

The next morning Owen and I rose at sun-up and plodded uptrail, toward the summit of Reyes Peak, which loomed 2,500 feet above. As we climbed the switchbacks, the full dimensions of the landscape became apparent below. Arid hillsides covered in chaparral and veined with arroyos ran in orderly rows toward the misty horizon. Plenty of space for a large omnivorous mammal to roam, it seemed.

In Spanish, Chorro Grande means “big flow.” But when we arrived at the trail’s namesake spring, it was dry. We plodded up one last steep section, through a stand of tall Ponderosa pines, before reaching the ridgeline. From the dry summit ridge, we could see the expanse of the Coast Range extending below us and, just beyond, the humped masses of the Channel Islands looming offshore. To the south, in the next valley, flowed Sespe Creek, one of the range’s permanent water sources and one of the last undammed waterways in Southern California. Just out of view, beyond the endless furrows of rolling ridgelines, lay the concrete wilderness of Los Angeles.

As I jotted notes, Owen sat on a large rock surveying the terrain through binoculars. “Dad, I can see bears up here,” he said matter-of-factly. I took him literally, and asked with slight concern if he’d spotted a black bear somewhere below us.

“No,” he said, smiling in the full California sun. “I mean someday. I think a grizzly would like it here.”

Grizzly bears and self-entitled hipsters in t shirts and Bermuda shorts sharing the wilderness a hop, skip, and a jump from densely populated suburbs?

Old Ephraim traveling down the arroyos in the dry three-quarters of the year from the Santa Cruz Mountains right into Palo Alto and Atherton?

Big, hungry bears munching cyclists and joggers in the San Gabriels bordering LA?

What the heck!

The tree-hugging California environmental whackos want those bears back, and the bears will want breakfast. I call that a win/win.

HT: The News Junkie.

High time to start working on restoring the extinct sabre-tooth tigers found in those La Brea tar pits to Los Angeles as well!

15 Jun 2018

New York Democrat Candidate Running as Class Warrior, Complete With $9000 Rolex

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The Washington Examiner admired the inadvertent irony.

He couldn’t wear a regular wristwatch. It had to be a Rolex. That’s just a little awkward for Brian Flynn.

The top Democrat running in New York’s 19th Congressional District took out a full page ad in the Albany Times Union slamming the “billionaires” and the “corporations” who “have rigged the system against us.” It is a pretty typical political ad. He looks stern with his arms crossed and his sleeves rolled up on his blue dress shirt — literally a blue collar! And then, there’s the $8,950 timepiece on his wrist.

Connoisseurs looking at his social media will recognize the watch as the Rolex GMT Master-II. The choice of fighter pilots and frat boys with large trust funds, it makes a statement but not the kind a progressive politician might want to make. …

First introduced in 1955 for international aviators, the Rolex GMT Master-II can tell the time in three time zones simultaneously. And so, it was fitting that when English and French test pilots climbed aboard the Concord, they were wearing the Rolex GMT Master-II. To this day, the brochure advertises the watch as “supersonic luxury.”

Flynn looks like the kind of guy who can appreciate the finer qualities of the Rolex GMT Master-II. Before entering politics as a candidate, he worked as an executive at Citibank, and later, he went on to become president of a large medical manufacturing company.

No one should begrudge him his wealth, of course. No one can question his taste either (as we’ve established, the Rolex GMT Master-II is exquisite). The Rolex GMT Master-II definitely fits that aesthetic of Flynn the businessman. Unfortunately, it clashes with the style of Flynn the progressive warrior.

RTWT

HT: Glenn Reynolds.

14 Jun 2018

“Liquid Death Spring Water: Murder Your Thirst”

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14 Jun 2018

Welsh Pied-a-Terre, Anyone?

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The Independent describes a relative real estate bargain.

An entire island off the coast of Pembrokeshire is on sale for £400,000 – less than the cost of a one-bedroom flat in London.

Stack Rock Fort is a Grade-II listed fortification built between 1850 and 1852 to protect Britain from French invasion under the rule of Napoleon III.

The large, circular building offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding waterways and is connected to the mainland by a short boat ride. Interested parties (and seasickness sufferers) should note that there won’t be any viewings taking place in bad weather, Ross McKenzie of Purplebricks, the property agent looking after the fort, has confirmed.

Although the island is currently uninhabitable, the property “represents an enormously lucrative and exciting opportunity, with limitless development potential”, says McKenzie.

“Imagine, for example, a cable car being built from the mainland which ferries guests over to a unique, boutique hotel? With the right imagination and investment, it could become a stunning property which would do wonders for the local area.”

Made up of three floors connected by spiral staircases, the building was once armed with sixteen 18-ton guns and manned by up to 150 men. It was manned by a small consignment of men during the First World War.

14 Jun 2018

Low Bridge

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