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)


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


Why are people not screaming about this?

BBC News: Darling admits 25m records lost

Two 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?

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 available to 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 electorate.

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 opposite effect. 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 measure.

Edit 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 ;-)

Top Gear's 20 things you need to know about eco-motoring

I read this and couldn't keep quiet...
  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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?
  4. The average British home emits 1,500kg more CO2 per year than a Ford Focus.
    Turn your heating down dude!
  5. 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!
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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)
  11. The UK's superminis emit three times as much CO2 as its SUVs.
    In total? Is that because there are more of them?
  12. 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
  13. 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!
  14. 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
  15. 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...
  16. Anti-car evangelist Ken Livingstone doesn't even have a driving licence. But he does have a Prius.
    Cheap shot
  17. 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
  18. 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.
  19. 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
  20. 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

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 )

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 :(
very evil....

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.