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|Thursday, March 27th, 2008|
What the MoJ gives the MoJ can take away
Spotted all the fuss this week about Jack Straw's Constitutional Renewal? How it is going to redress the balance between the executive and legislative buy repositioning the prerogative amongst other proposals? Well that is all very good, but also in the draft bill is the ability for any Minister to stick two fingers up to Parliament and strike out any legislation. Dizzy calls it the Abolition of Parliament Act. Now as written it does require "resolution of each House of Parliament" that sounds like a check/balance but nowhere is any requirement for there to be a debate about the measure beforehand. While in theory a government wanting to force legislation through even without this measure can call a three line whip to get a bill passed, there are enough stages in that process to allow for negotiation and compromise; however this provision for statutory instruments will be an all or nothing gambit.
Coverage (please put more sightings in the comments)
|Sunday, November 25th, 2007|
Time for action?
The call to arms for a coordinated effort to resist the government's ever expanding encroachment into the liberties of everyone is gathering more and more momentum. Added to the continuous campaigns by the likes of No2ID
and the Open Rights Group
a slew of commentators are now making pronouncements that there has to be action and soon. Blog posts have appeared this week from Sunny Hundal
, Henry Porter
and Anthony Barnett
promoting combining efforts to our safeguard our rights. But can it be done, can the various interest groups involved actually find enough middle ground to put up a united front against Gordon's land grab on our personal data and freedoms? The other question is even after a coalition of the unwilling is created, can it have any effect? The countryside alliance couldn't put the kibosh on the hunting ban and "Stop the War" hasn't.
What do you lot think?
X-Posted to: ORG-discuss
and my blog
|Tuesday, November 20th, 2007|
Why are people not screaming about this?BBC News: Darling admits 25m records lostTwo computer discs holding the personal details of all families in the UK with a child under 16 have gone missing.
The Child Benefit data on them includes name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details of 25m people.
This exposes 25 million people to increased risk of identity fraud and financial loss.
I'll repeat that, in case you didn't hear: 25 million people
And we trust these people to run the country? Frankly, I wouldn't trust them to run a bath.
The question is, what are we going to do about it?
|Wednesday, July 25th, 2007|
The logic of retrospective copyright extensions
Britain has just rejected increasing copyright terms for music
The music industry is up in arms on the grounds that very shortly the mega rich Beatles and Cliffs of this world will not be quite as mega rich as they might have been.
This is despite the fact that they knew the deal when they made the music. It was good enough then, but it's not now?
I can maybe, sort of, just about, understand the rationale for extending copyright terms for future works if you could show that more, better music would be made because the term is too short and deterring musicians from quitting their day jobs (seems unlikely but is at least logical).
What is the rationale for a retrospective increase? To encourage more people in 1957 to make music? Is it some kind of quantum law that has reverse causation?
No, obviously it's just horrendous corporate greed and therefore I am quite shocked that the Government didn't cave to it.
|Saturday, July 7th, 2007|
|Wednesday, June 20th, 2007|
Part of a bigger thing.
During this years local elections I acted as an observer on behalf of
the Open Rights Group. As
part of the process of producing the report I have kept my observations
under my hat up until now. Well the report has been published and is
download. As Jason the co-ordinator for our efforts has already
conceded, I will happily admit we went into the process with a view.
That view was that given all the problems both theoretical and
practically demonstrated in other countries, with the safety and security
of electronic voting now was not the time to try it out on the British
The report shows that as foreseen the inadequate planning and
preparation lead to many situations where a system designed to prevent
human error and provide efficiency gains, in the most part had the
Please, download the report, please, please read it. If you have an
opinion on what it says, write your own blog entry, write and article
for the magazine or newspaper you contribute to (if it is at all
relevant), pen a letter to your MP, MSP or Councillor (the omission of AM
is due to as far as I know the Welsh avoiding having to deal with this
problem, this time round). What I really don't want is for you to do
nothing, if the right to vote, have your vote counted, have your vote
kept confidential and the principle that election fixing is a bad thing
are all important to you than please keep the word alive that the trials
just conducted in e-voting and e-counting were not a success by any
While I have been writing this it has been pointed
out that El Reg
, The Mail
, Press Association
, The Grauniad
, Channel 4
all have the story, in these days of citizen journalism don't let the old
school media keep the lead ;-)
|Thursday, June 7th, 2007|
Top Gear's 20 things you need to know about eco-motoring
I read this
and couldn't keep quiet...
- According to Euro NCAP, an Audi Q7 is less harmful in a pedestrian impact than a Ford Fiesta.
- That is an argument to improve the Fiesta, not to drive the Audi
- A season of F1 racing burns less fossil fuel than a single transatlantic 747 flight.
- I suspect this only includes the racing, given that as there are two races on the other side of the pond a fair few people will be taking transatlantic flights
- The Stern Report found that cars make up less than half of all transport emissions in the UK.
- Half over all isn't an interesting figure, what was the proportion when you look at emissions per passenger per mile?
- The average British home emits 1,500kg more CO2 per year than a Ford Focus.
- Turn your heating down dude!
- Buy local. A car carrier burns 1,756 tonnes of heavy fuel oil one way from Japan to the UK.
- A fair and sensible point!
- Oxford Street is the UK's most polluted street. Most of Oxford Street's length is closed to cars.
- In fairness there are a lot of busses on Oxford Street, how do you teach tourists to ******* walk
- Like trains, cars are only efficient when they're full. A fully loaded Discovery emits less CO2 per occupant than a fully loaded Smart.
- Jeremy C himself did the test of standing next to a motorway counting cars with multiple occupants, the donkey sanctuary didn't get much money from him.
- Acid rain created from mining nickel for Prius batteries has destroyed the landscape in Sudbury, Ontario to such an extent that NASA now uses the area to test drive its latest lunar vehicles.
- NASA sent people to train there for the Apollo programme, which slightly predates the Prius, it was also due to specific rock formations not barrenness. While the Acid rain exists, the fact that the town is famous for the worlds largest coin, a "nickel", suggests that is what most of said metal is used for.
- It's at least three times cheaper to drive a small diesel from London to Edinburgh than it is to take the train.
- This is not an environmental point
- The average saloon car is responsible for its own kerbweight in CO2 per year. The average Brit accounts for 30 times his own body weight.
- 30 times his own body weight ~= 390 stone (13 stone man) if the kerbweight of his car is 200 stone then it accounts for more than half the emissions (1.2 tonne car)
- The UK's superminis emit three times as much CO2 as its SUVs.
- In total? Is that because there are more of them?
- While 85 per cent of cars are recyclable by law, trains go unregulated, with much of each heading to landfill.
- No 12 and we have our second decent point, someone phone the EU and get this sorted
- A domestic flight emits around 400g/km of CO2 per passenger, four times that of a small diesel car with only the driver onboard.
- So don't fly domestic!
- Despite being smaller and emitting less CO2 than a Toyota Prius, the Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion is not exempt from London's Congestion Charge.
- Perhaps the congestion charge should be based on emission measures rather than engine technology
- Farting cows are responsible for 18 per cent of all greenhouse gases, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.
- So, is the Top Gear team going to give up on steak and burgers? Didn't think so...
- Anti-car evangelist Ken Livingstone doesn't even have a driving licence. But he does have a Prius.
- Cheap shot
- A Land Rover Discovery has a smaller carbon footprint than a London Cab.
- I bet I know which one does more passenger miles for that footprint
- Carbon offsetting could do more harm than good. Forests north of the Tropics retain heat and actually contribute to global warming.
- a) isn't that an argument about positioning of forests rather than just against them b) Offsetting should only ever be used for unavoidable carbon, we should still be reducing like mad.
- A Boeing 747 emits 400 tonnes of CO2 in 24 hours. It would take 250 cars a year to achieve this.
- You can see this either as an argument against large plains, or as a suggestion that you should buy an amphibious car and drive the 10600 if you want to get to sydney
- Some electric cars aren't even governed by today's safety legislature. The G-Wiz being one example.
- Again, this is hardly an environmental point
|Wednesday, October 26th, 2005|
Sickening but worth the read
This makes me so angry I could explode.
On the 2nd July, Bob Geldof organised free music concerts in nine countries under the Live8 banner.
The demands were straightforward and reasonable: rich countries should boost aid in line with their unmet 35-year-old promises; cancel the debts of the 62 poorest countries; set dates for the abolition of subsidies and other protectionist support to Western farmers, and stop forcing liberalisation and privatisation on poor countries, whether in trade negotiations or as conditions of aid and debt deals.( This is not what happenedCollapse )
|Wednesday, October 19th, 2005|
"you're a load of useless bloody loonies"
I just misread a headline as "Tory hopeless battle for support" I really can't see them doing any better after this than they were before and the country still won't have any effective opposition.
Well none outside of the Labour party at any rate.
|Friday, September 30th, 2005|
Where is my humanist faith school?
Maddie needs a school, not iminently but you have to plan ahead if you want to get the one you want.
The best one in the area by league table is C of E controlled.
Now I went to a C of E primary and all that meant is that we got bored by the vicar on a Wednesday afternoon so from that point of view I guess I should have no worries.
However, emboldened by the Government's new found devotion to Faith Schools, the Archibishop of Canterbury has been quoted as saying he thinks C of E schools should be more like churches.
So then I'm left with the other schools, secular by default rather than inclination. But then even they are required to perform an act of collective worship.
I could insist Maddie not attend, but 4 is a little young to be singling her out as different.
What a crock.
Keep your fucking weird ass superstitions in your houses, churches, mosques and synagogues and away from my daughter. Current Mood: heretical
|Friday, September 2nd, 2005|
New Orleans: Class War
In the UK's 2m anti-war march before the Iraq war, I wish I'd had my camera with me. With the police presence streched absurdly thin, they still had their priorities; we passed a McDonalds with a police cordon in front of it, shoulder to shoulder. That one image stays with me, and says a great deal about this country. The police are here to protect property and business investments, not people.
Even more so, apparently, the US.
News reports that the National Guard and Marine Reservists have been sent in to restore order. Does this mean evacuation, shelter and food supplies ? No, apparently that's too good for the New Orlean's residents: the authority are there to quel looters and shoot to kill.
That's a strange word for it. I think, for anyone who can imagine being in a devastated city with no food, no water, no money it's a matter of pure survival. Bush suggests that the citizens "show patience". That's a hard thing to tell starving people.
It's not even like there are shops open ! Everything that is looted is covered by insurance, and all the food would perish anyway were it not eaten. But no. "Shoot to kill."
People from poor areas attempted to break into and drive away abandoned vehicles in order to escape the city. The Marines paid no heed until they reached the richer suburbs of the city; then snipers were positioned and the crowds driven back by firing over their heads. In other words, the message of the American authority is this: "better that you die, than that we let these rich people's cars go missing, just in case they ever want to come back for them."
Eye-witness accounts of how those supplies that do get through are handed out strongly suggest that the Marines are thinking of New Orleans as if it were an occupied country, threatening their own lines of starving citizens with automatic weapons.
Fuck. The inhuamnity of it is staggering :(
|Monday, May 30th, 2005|
Could you cancel my fingerprints while I cut up my eyeballs please?
are getting biometric ID cards.
Regardless of your opinion of national ID schemes, it seems to me that a biometric based system is just asking for unnecessary extra trouble.
A quick Google suggests that it's already possible to fake a fingerprint scan
with relative ease which isn't a good start.
Let's give the Government the benefit of the doubt and assume that:
- They can improve scanners such that the existing fingerprint hole can be plugged.
- Retina scanners are not currently foolable. 1
Given the length of time these systems would have to be in place to be cost effective (ha!), it's almost inconceivable that the scanning technology will not be outstripped by some deception technology during their lifetime.
Now we're reliant on people taking the scans to be vigilant to spoofing methods again, and we know for a fact that that won't happen
So what do I do in this future world of perfect global identification when someone has my ID? I won't be canceling my existing ID and cutting it up because it is, well, me.2
I'd really rather like this question answering.
 Googling for fake retinal scans didn't find similar pages, but that's not to say they don't exist.
 Of course with biometric ID, other people have an interest in cutting you up, but that's another story.
|Tuesday, May 24th, 2005|
How do you solve the pensions crisis!?
I really should be working and thus putting some money in the bank to solve my own pensions crisis, but this seems to be topical.
I read in the paper yesterday that the Government is proposing that Graduates should work until they are 70, whilst those that are less qualified will get to retire at 65. I won't go off on one about how WRONG this is.
For all the public servants, many will get their really very funky pension activate at 60.
My own view is that without Gordon Brown being around, there would be a crisis there, but it would be less of one. I don't think that his taxes on dividends from pension funds have 'helped'.
Soooo, what's your view on the pensions thingy? Many of the folk that will be reading this will probably be the most directly affected.
|Tuesday, May 17th, 2005|
|Friday, May 13th, 2005|
Something for the weekend.
Something a little lighter to mull over until monday.
The take over of Manchester United, if you were/are a fan and wanted to protest what would you do?
Stop going to matches?
Protest at matches with banners etc?
Stop buying merchandise? (this will hurt Nike rather than Glazer though)
Do an AFC Wimbledon and form a new club?
|Thursday, May 12th, 2005|
I'll get this in before heading off to the library.
I believe that the low tax economy is the best way forward.
I propose that we scrap national insurance.
I propose that the tax free allowance for people is £12,000; and is transferable between partners.
All monies received, regardless of source (earnings, interest, dividends, inheritance, capital gains etc), should be taxed at 22%.
I argue that this means that the poorest people in society, those that work on the minimum wage, KEEP all their money and do not pay any tax at all.
The richest in society are robbed of the various tax dodging schemes that are available to them, and pay more than they do now.
Thoughts? Current Mood: apathetic
All women shortlists for representative elections.
As the results show, the people of Blaenau Gwent
saw the proscribed short list for candidate selection in the recent parliamentary elections as interference from the central party machine. They have been declared illegal once but the law was changed to bring them back in, but is there a better way of addressing the imbalance in representation? This election has returned a record number of women MPs but that is still only 126 out of 646.
If they are a good idea should they be extended to other groups in society that are under represented in the Commons/on councils/other bodies?
P.S. Yorkshire types, check out yorkshireregen —
for discussions about Regeneration in our area.
|Wednesday, May 11th, 2005|
Us The Little People
There is a group of people in Britain who are indisputably riding a gravy train, bleeding money away from the Exchequer. This group is not the recipients of a paltry £55 a week incapacity benefit, the people Blunkett today told News of the World
he so wants to go after. No, they are the super rich operating within our borders, epitomised by the News of the World's
owner Rupert Murdoch. His company has paid no net corporation tax at all in this country for more than a decade, despite having profits topping £300m. I am not sure who the freeloaders are that Blunkett is refering to. The mass tax avouidance of the rich totalled at $860bn a year according to the Tax Justice Network. A tiny elite has decided to unilaterally exempt itself from democratic taxation and elected leaders all over the world have rolled over and accepted it. The real estate tycoon Leona Helmsley famously declared in the 1980s that "only little people pay taxes" on her way to the slammer. At this time the view was considered shocking, now it is the raison d'etre of the global elite, the 1% of the world's population that hold more than 57% of the planet's wealth.
Even after the british electorate has made it very clear we want a more fair and equal society, our government is still giving the rich Get out Tax Free card and going after the poor. And people still think they are free.
Read the Independent for more details on this issue.
|Saturday, May 7th, 2005|
I have been mulling over ideas for electoral reform for a few weeks now, as an election always gets me thinking. One the one hand you have the current system, where in many areas of the country voting is seen as a mere formality to allow the inevitable to happen and where many votes count for very little, and on the other hand you have proportional representation where every vote counts and the parliamentary composition is directly representative of the popular vote.
With the current situation you get big majorities for the main parties and it is hard for the smaller parties to be heard, with PR you get coalition governments and instability which makes long term policies hard to implement and is generally bad for the country. Maybe a compromise between the two is what is needed, but until now I have struggled to come up with one.
My idea today is as follows: Collapse existing constituencies into regional areas - given I am basing this on Sheffield, 6 would be a good idea. These areas would then have an electorate of about 420,000 (actually slightly less, since a current constituency should represent slightly less than 70,000). Rather than voting for an MP, people vote for a party and then the party gets a proportion of the seats relating to their share of the vote - in effect local proportional representation. In Sheffield, this would have resulted in 3 Labour MP's, 2 Liberal, and 1 Conservative.
Now there are problems with this system. For a start, it removes the idea of a local MP, which people may not like. However, MP's do not always even live in the area they represent, and even if they do they may not be very useful. A counter-argument to this would be the fact you get 6 local MP's so are more likely to find one who agrees with you and who can be bothered to help. Another problem is it removes the personality from the election. This is something I will address now:
Rather than just voting for a party, people also get to vote for individual candidates. In the simplest case we extend the above example, by also asking people to complete a preference list whereby they put the candidates for the party they selected in order of preference. These lists could then either use the Single Transferable Vote system used by Union elections, or the system used by Sheffield City Council in last year's local elections (although without the varying length of office consideration) although I cannot fully remember how this system worked and it may well have been similar to STV.
A more complicated system which I would prefer would allow you to split your vote, and starts from scratch. You put up to 5 candidates in order of preference (ignoring party politics if you so wish), and then these votes are used to decide who represents the area, again by STV or another similar system. Obviously I cannot say how this would have affected Sheffield as the voting system is substantially different.
This system would have to lead to more local campaigning and more information about the candidates themselves being supplied, since the parties would prefer a clear favourite to arise from the list rather than a muddying of the waters caused by an equal spread of their vote amongst all candidates.
Downsides are present however - the vote would take a lot longer to count, and it works better in densely populated areas where the boundary would still be quite tight since in areas of low population density the area would be large and sprawling, thus less representative. I can't do much about the latter, but I have ideas for the former - allow more forms of voting (such as postal and online providing they are proven to be secure), and move the ballot to a friday so that we can spend all weekend watching the results come in rather than having to stay up all night.
Anyway, these are just a few ideas I have been considering and I would like to hear your views - considerations I have overlooked , reasons you disagree, whatever.