Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Things you won't hear about from the BBC

Union-run bank risks capital base to support Labour party.

Australian Foreign minister slams MSM for faking photos in Lebanon.

The BBC - All the news that's good for you.

Surveillance and rubbish

The Englishman has been posting up a storm. Having found a RFID enabled bugging device in his wheelie-bin he was understandably miffed at the council for not having told him that this was going to be happening. And I don't suppose anyone is going to believe that this isn't a step towards billing by weight of rubbish produced, a step which will allow the councils to increase their tax take and their take home pay.

Now for an economic liberal, the idea of billing each person by weight of refuse produced is eminently sensible, and it's important not to lose sight of this. The problem will be that, as I've pointed out, the councils will use pay per kilo to squeeze taxpayers. What would be interesting is to find out if they would be able to enforce the use of their own collection services or if private contractors would step in to provide a cheaper service. Presumably if all your rubbish is collected by a third party your bill from the council for refuse collection would be nil.

Personally speaking I have no problem with allowing private sector companies to RFID tag my bin, on the grounds that they would only be using it for something innocuous like trying to sell me stuff - something I can opt out of fairly easily. With the state, the information becomes part of the all-encompassing national identity database - something I consider much more sinister.

Jock Coats has a good post on the subject.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Unintended consequences

Eaten by missionaries reports that, as many predicted, the smoking ban in Scotland is hitting the licensed trade pretty hard.
The Scottish Licensed Traders Association has said that its members report a 10 per cent reduction in alcohol sales north of the border since the smoking ban came into force.
How the Labour and LibDem politicians who voted this law into force can sleep at night is beyond me. I guess you need to be pretty selfish to be a politician.

The EU Referendum report

The EU Referendum report on Qana is now complete, and can be seen here.

I find it pretty convincing.

Thought for the day

Those who would trade a little liberty for a little equality deserve neither liberty nor equality.

Bishop Hill, with apologies to James Madison.
(Prompted by this thread on Forceful & moderate)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mass lone demonstration

Rachel from North London is promoting a protest against the law which makes it an offence to protest anywhere in the vicinity of parliament.
A recent damn-fool law has made it illegal to protest anywhere near Parliament without official police permission, and comedian Mark Thomas is organising a stunt to highlight the danger and stupidity of having this law in a democracy.
The idea is to get thousands of people all to apply for a permit to do lone protests, and all at the same time. Apparently if there is sufficient notice the police can't refuse.

I guess there is always an upside to incompetent parliamentary draughtsmen.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Censorship at home and abroad

Amit Varma reports that moveie channels are being blocked by Indian cable operators following a high court ruling.
I've just received news that the cable operators have stopped showing all paid channels in Mumbai to protest against police raids that were carried out on eight cable operators and three multi-system operators, during which transmission equipment was seized. The cable operators' stand is that the onus of complying with the high court directive was on the television channels, and that they have been needlessly harassed.
Before anyone sniggers at the backwardness of it all, Amit also points out that Tom and Jerry is now censored in the UK.


Guido has been suffering from a lack of tittle tattle to entertain us during the parliamentary recess. Instead he's been occupying himself with a bit of porkbusting.
The PFIing of the NHS is always interesting. Look where a billion* quid is going:
  • £711 million to Leicester, the constituency of Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health
  • £272 million to Staffordshire, the constituency of Charlotte Atkins, the Health Select Committee member
Here's a little bit of porkbusting of my own:

High Peak. Labour ultra-marginal constituency - majority of 735.

Its Buxton Crescent & Thermal Spa project won £12.5m from the Lottery.

Now it's had £5m from the East Midlands Development Agency


Note also that the second article details another £5m being spent in Derby. By another strange coincidence neither of this city's Labour MPs would be considered safe (Margaret Beckett, 422nd safest and Bob Laxton 502nd safest).

All the news you need to know

Twenty-four hours after the news broke that Britain has been supplying night-vision equipment to Hizballah, the BBC has still not seen fit to report this information to its readers.

Thank goodness they're not like those commercial outfits eh?

Party funding

Labour has quietly been reiterating its financial woes, as rumours circulate that it has run out of cash. Conservative Home says that any suggestion of state funding for parties should be stamped on quickly.

Qana faked?

Richard North at EUReferendum thinks he has conclusive proof that at least one of the bodies unearthed at Qana was reburied so that it could be rediscovered for the cameras.

If he's right it could be dynamite.

Fingerprinting children

According to the Register
The EU is planning to fingerprint children from as young as six, and earlier just as soon as it is technically feasible, according to documents obtained by Statewatch.
"Over my dead body" would seem like the apposite response.

Via Jonathan Calder

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Because of the unique way it is funded....

...the BBC has been unable to bring you the news that
Israeli intelligence officials have complained to Britain and the United States that sensitive night-vision equipment recovered from Hezbollah fighters during the war in Lebanon had been exported by Britain to Iran.
Source San Francisco Chronicle

Scottish executive lose the plot

From a cursory glance through the papers today:
CIGARETTES would be sold only under the counter if plans being considered by Scottish ministers are implemented.
Ministers are considering forcing supermarkets to stop [two for one] offers, which are regularly snapped up by bargain-hunting shoppers across the country.
At the same time they are reporting that
Senior party sources warn there is serious doubt about McConnell's future as leader, amid growing concern that Labour will be hammered at the polls next May.
If they are so concerned about being hammered at the polls, might I suggest that further demonising sections of the population and trying to force up prices in supermarkets isn't a good way to increase their popularity.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Best blog post

The best thing you'll read on the web this week will be this from the Belmont Club. It manages to combine Lebanon, game theory and The Usual Suspects in a single post. Whether you agree with the sentiments or not, it's brilliant writing.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The town square test

Via the always interesting Dare to Know blog (mainly about homeschooling) comes this article about a girl who decided to go into her local town centre wearing an Israeli flag as a cape. Needless to say she attracted some pretty frightening attention from who opposed her views.
After stopping for some food, we went to our bus stop. By this time, it was around 7:10pm, but still broad daylight (being summer). I was alarmed to find the same guy approaching me again. He stopped in front of me and said “What did I tell you? Take it off. If I see you again with it I'll hurt you.”
This is a pretty damning failure of the Sharansky town square test. The question is whether it is only right wngers who get threatened in this way.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Muslim Council of Britain

Wat Tyler has been doing some digging around the Muslim Council of Britain's finances. It appears that since they were founded in 1997 this registered charity has NEVER filed its accounts.

Suspicious minds like mine wonder whether the government's need for moslem votes is unconnected with this oversight on the part of the Charities Commissioners.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What came first?

There's a healthy measure of suspicion around many blogsites commenting on the today's news. Typical of them is Europhobia

Yesterday: Major terrorism policy announcement by Home Secretary John Reid

Today: A 'plot to blow up planes' is apparently foiled, and Heathrow airport shut down.

And my first reaction? Utter disbelief and a sigh of resignation.

Pretty much everyone is convinced that there was a plot, but think that the timing of the raids, coming just a day after John Reid's policy announcement, is a little suspicious to say the least.

The question that's bothering me is: were the raids timed for the day after John Reid's speech or was John Reid's speech timed for just before the raids?

If the raids were moved to follow the minister's speech then it suggests an outrageous level of interference in the detail of police work. We are meant to have an operationally independent police service - and with very good reason. It is the job of the police to decide the optimum time for a raid on suspects. If media relations and the government's desire to control the news agenda become a factor in the timing then security is, to some extent at least, compromised.

The alternative scenario - that the speech was timed for just before the raids is, if anything, even worse. There were plenty of bloggers who claim to have thought that the speech heralded a raid of some sort. If the plotters themselves had even half an eye on the news they might have put two and two together in the same way and gone to ground. Reid would have been risking warning off the terrorists.

Either way someone needs to ask some questions.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mortician from Tyre

I've been following the ongoing debate at EU Referendum over the veracity of the photos of the deaths in Qana. If you haven't been following it, the suggestion is that many of the Qana photos were staged. Central to several of the pictures is "Green Helmet Man" who was photographed with several dead children looking as if he was posing for the cameras.

While I've not been completely convinced, it does look a bit fishy to me - certainly some of the continuity looks odd.

Anyway, here's a couple of links which may add to the debate:

Journalist Chris Albritton says he was not under control of Hizb-allah minders. He goes on to say:
As far as Qana, I wasn’t there. I don’t know what the scene was like, other than what my colleagues — who I trust — told me and what I saw on television. As for the death toll going down from 54 to 28, well, that happens. It was apparently a confusing time and the mortician at the al-Bass Government Hospital [on the outskirts of Tyre]gave out some numbers that included people also killed that day but in other places.
You don't come across morticians on blogs often, but this was the second mention today. The other was on this site.

Mark MacKinnon of The Globe and Mail reported from nearby Tyre, Lebanon on July 26, describing the many difficulties caused by the rising death toll in that city. "Abu Shadi, the mortician at the government hospital in the city, agrees. He's processed 100 bodies -- many of them grotesquely mangled and burned -- and on his pickup runs has been forced to leave behind many more that he can't recover from cars and destroyed buildings.


Based on these descriptions, it seems highly likely that Abu Shadi the mortician and Abu Shadi the green-helmeted "civil defense worker" are one and the same. And, in the double role, Abu Shadi was among the first to arrive, before the media did, with his refrigerated truck that in recent days had been carrying around corpses.
If this identification is correct, then the man who was photographed parading dead children in Qana also misrepresented the casualty figures to the press.