July 2009

The silicon curtain


The Local, Swedish News reports on the anger against the proposed Stockholm Programme. There are demonstrations in Stockholm now and fury at the Programme which will create a 'big brother' surveillance state. The EU is creating a new Iron Curtain but this time one created from silicon around its borders.

Formula for success?

Grand Prix and grand error!

Brooklands Brooklands
Bernie Ecclestone; where to start? The recent remarks by Ecclestone, his fondness for Hitler, will have for many people confirmed their loathing of Formula One, a sport not as popular in the wider world as imagined by either itself or its fans. Is Ecclestone a true representative of F1, or is he just crazy? You may say the whole world of F1 is crazy and the most expensive dull 'sport' known to man. Was it ever thus?

In one respect modern motor sport has a direct connection back to its earliest days, it is very expensive. Most other comparisons on a then and now basis will show that there have been huge changes; however, even F1's most ardent fans will admit that it's not always been for the good.

Labour shame

UK Supreme CourtUK Supreme Court

After the expenses scandal we have the BBC trailing a show about the effect of this on MPs. "I walked down the corridor and saw three MPs in tears......................" How sad. They said there was to be a new start, a new morality.

Now we have the scandal of most of our Labour MPs as reported in the admirable Daily Mail campaign series on Gary McKinnon.

The Tory call for an urgent review of the controversial Extradition Act 2003 has been voted down by 290 votes to 236. Alan Johnson even had the gall to dismiss the suggestion that the extradition arrangements between the UK and the U.S. were 'somehow unbalanced'. (To cries of disbelief from the other parties.) The Mail states:

Eighty-two Labour MPs signed three Parliamentary motions, dating back to 2005, opposing the Extradition Act and sending Gary McKinnon to the U.S. for trial.

But only eight of them had the integrity to back the Tory Opposition Day call for an 'immediate review' of the one-sided treaty. Of the other 74 Labour backbenchers, 59 displayed rank hypocrisy by supporting the Government. Another 15 abstained.

The Daily Mail has a list.

Databases wax and wane

IT confusion?

just a number?just a number?

We have a report from ZDNet informing us that:

The Home Office had hoped biometric enrolment for ID cards would take place in post offices however, a report by the Business and Enterprise Committee found "many or even most identity services may well be too sophisticated to provide across the [post office] network and..................that the ability to identify increasingly sophisticated counterfeits and forgeries has become a specialist skill which Post Office staff, who handle a very wide range of business and general transactions, cannot be expected to have".

This will greatly increase the estimated cost of £5billion for the ID card scheme that the Tories and Lib Dems say they would scrap..

Then there is the Integrated Children's System (ICS) which replaces the 'at risk' register. Local authorities have spent the past four years implementing the Government's £72m ICS scheme amid threats that critical funding would be cut if they did not comply.

The decline of the hat and ID card

Anybody fooled?

Want to get ahead? Want to get ahead?

"If you want to get ahead get a hat” was an advertising slogan from the 1940s. This was the high point for milliners, from then on the hat, de rigueur, went into decline.

The NO2ID campaign with its famous logo and clear message has been so successful that the new Home Secretary, Alan Johnson (bottom right) felt compelled to act; we are now told by Johnson that ID cards are “not compulsory”. So will NO2ID go into decline? Not at all.

For while citizens may now go hat-less as they please there are aspects of the paraphernalia to do with the ID card concept that remain a threat to us all, just as before. So what to make of Johnson's remarks?

To write up the true origins of the ID Card scheme and Database, IDsD, is a job for an historian. It is adequate here to start with David Blunkett. He is the sort of pseudo hard man and bully that Nulabour loves. He has made numerous comments about immigration, asylum and civil liberties which, had they been made by Carol Thatcher would have caused an outcry.

Bob's your uncle

Bob AinsworthBob Ainsworth

Matthew Parris writes an interesting article, a microcosm that is the state of Afghanistan today. To listen to Bob Ainsworth simply stating that we are fighting to prevent carnage on the streets of Britain is remarkable and frightening.

Liberty central sidelined by the Daily Mail

Gary McKinnonGary McKinnon

The Guardian's Liberty Central contains many articles relating to civil liberties. However, the Daily Mail, a 'redtop' no less, also often reports on such issues. It is now leading the campaign to prevent the extradition of Gary McKinnon. This is a cause célèbre and relates to the asymetrical extradition arrangements between the USA and the UK. Gary's seven year wait for a decision would appear to be coming to an end and the Daily Mail is leading the campaign. Now we hear that House of Commons officials have been accused of 'gagging' MPs who want to speak in his support.

They banned a motion yesterday that urged the Government to halt his extradition to the U.S, where he faces 60 years in jail for hacking into Nasa and Pentagon computers. The Parliamentary authorities only concluded that the case was 'sub judice' after Home Secretary Alan Johnson said this was the case in Parliament, while being urged to halt extradition. Mr Bercow, the new Speaker, has discretion to waive the rules. Guidance says: 'Leave may be granted to discuss policy matters relating to an ongoing court case but without going into the details of the case itself.' So much for a 'new start'.

What of the other papers?

Tories and Lib Dems to abandon NIR?

biometric blunders


Both the Lib Dems and Tories have been making promising noises regarding the National Identity Register (NIR).The Register has an interesting discussion on some aspects of the NIR/ID/passport debate relating to the three main parties and also how confusing the subject is and that's not just for the politicians!

The passports we have containing a chip are called 'biometric' passports even though they do not contain any biometric data other than a photo. Under ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) rules, the passports we have at present are satisfactory. Also, as we have an opt out from EU asylum and immigration rules, we can manage as we are. Hence we need to have clear information from both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives as to their intentions regarding the passport database.

The LibDems awake?

Nick Who?

The bird has flown? The bird has flown?

The financial downturn, for a while, looked as if it would be of great benefit to Gordon Brown. With the Tories on the rise the rightish minded Nick Clegg (see right) went all supportive and 'helped' the Tories put Mr McEyebags back in his box. Well a fat lot of good it has done the LibDems and Clegg, who has been ever-so-slow to spot this. This interesting article by Peter Hoskin in the Spectator sums it all up perfectly, see HERE.

It is said that Lord Peter Longtitle as un-elected Deputy Prime Minister has, as his main job, to keep Nulabour in power long enough for Lisbon to be done and dusted. As a former MEP Clegg owes something to his old employer, after all there is a substantial pension at stake here.

Clegg is not popular with his party, and they are not popular with the electors. Traditionally the LibDems are where the voters go when they are in a bad mood. It is a way of punishing the main parties. But this time at the General Election the mood is darker then has been seen for a long time. Also voting for the LibDems is not as it was, they have been rumbled.

It is now seen as party that has failed to exploit the troubles of either Nulabour as a party, or Gordon Brown as its failed leader.

Gary McKinnon - sign the petition


The Daily Mail has become an excellent and well-informed supporter of issues concerning civil liberties. They have a lengthy article on the impending decision on the extradition of Gary McKinnon, the hacker who exposed how easy it was to enter the Pentagon's IT system in order to look for UFOs!

Signing petitions is usually a waste of time but the Mail has a reputation for influencing government so please sign their petition. It will only take you a few seconds and might save Gary 60 years in a top security American prison.