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The Blogfather's position on climate change has certainly evolved over the years. 

In 2006 he was pointing out that urgent action was required, just that the Chinese would have to make it. 

By 2007 he was linking to Exxon-funded propaganda with the immortal slogan "They call it carbon dioxide. We call it life", but without explicitly endorsing them. Later that year he was calling for balance - check out the first excellent comment to that piece.

Balance is a nice idea. If someone suggested you take a balanced position between the scientific consensus on one hand and the wingnuttery adopted by UKIP's Christopher Monckton, I'd recommend telling them to get stuffed.

Last year he was tired of the science being rammed down his throat, and it's true, the truth can be inconvenient.

His latest post is truly spectacular, though. Seriously, would you use this graph from the Daily Mail to prove temperatures aren't changing? That looks like a fairly clear trend to me.

And yes, the title contains a subtle joke just for Jeff.

Questions of identity.

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idgothic.jpgThe decision that ID cards would be voluntary (alongside renationalisation of the East Coast main line and the shelving of Royal Mail's destruction), was made to look like Labour turning the narrative around on some of their most unpopular policies.

In particular, Alan Johnson was understood to be sceptical, and this retreat from compulsion supposedly allowed Brown to save face while his Home Secretary beat the retreat.

Unfortunately, it appears not. If there's a way to disappoint, be sure New Labour will find it. Here's the man himself:

"So, despite the headlines that would have readers think otherwise, I'm not scrapping identity cards - I'm committed to delivering them more quickly to the people who will benefit most."

The only people who will benefit are the IT companies queueing up to cash in at our expense, plus the fraudsters who'll have a new bit of plastic to scan and forge for profit. 

Persisting with this inane idea drives a large chunk of the apolitical towards the Tories (as the ID opponents with the biggest media megaphone) and confirms Labour as the party with the most authoritarian instinct. I can only conclude they have a death wish.

Clegg catches up on Trident.

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The Liberal position on Trident set out by Ming Campbell, and backed by his party, never made any sense to me. Let's wait and see, they said, presumably wondering if the Cold War was about to kick off again, or if terrorists might after all be deterred by a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Nick Clegg has tonight changed his mind and confirmed that his party is now firmly against Trident. Although it's the cost that seems to bother him most, I do not believe that politicians who change their minds should be criticised simply for u-turning, only for selling out, which this definitely isn't. 

Combined with the earlier straw in the wind from the Tories, this could leave Labour as the only pro-Trident party out there. Sometimes I really wonder why anyone's still a Labour member, activist or voter.

One caveat, though, on the Liberal position. Apparently Ming himself has been asked to look at "cheaper alternatives". If that's better diplomacy, great. If that's buying cheaper nukes from the North Koreans, no thanks.

Plane Undemocratic.

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keystonekops.jpgWhatever the police should be doing, it's not this: trying to bribe environmentalists with secret bank accounts (clue: it usually won't work, we're pretty committed), threaten their job prospects, suggest they'll be sent to brutal violent prisons and generally intimidate them.

Campaigners against climate change aren't terrorists, they aren't extremists, and they're more clever than the plod (which is why the Guardian have the tapes). 

It'd be funny if it wasn't so sinister, and it's got to stop. Imagine activists trying to bribe, infiltrate and intimidate the police. And that wouldn't even be public money for the bribes.

I don't have it in for the police, I really don't. I can only give a 100% endorsement to the Chicken Yoghurt view on this.

Google your CCTV.

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bobbysands.jpgIt strikes me as odd that the Middle Englander type opposed to Google's Street View are often the same people yammering for more CCTV in their areas. To give one tangential illustration, for the Mail, Street View is a 'burglar's charter', yet the paper objects to the removal of CCTV from 'crime-ridden areas' on some supposedly spurious human rights grounds.

Surely it's less oppressive if you know what's there and you can complain if you've been spotted coming out of a sex shop, as with Street View? And at least Google doesn't lecture you if you're spotted drunk

Anyway, as the Home Office has admitted, CCTV doesn't work:

"Assessed on the evidence presented in this report, CCTV cannot be deemed a success. It has cost a lot of money and it has not produced the anticipated benefits." (p.120, this pdf)

Google Street View, on the other hand, does work. It's free, and it allows you to see what your mates' new houses look like, take a virtual walk through places you used to live, or any other sort of sight-seeing.

They'll also blur your face out, even if you died on hunger strike many years ago (above). Come to think of it, perhaps we should consider letting Google do our CCTV. It'd be free too, presumably, and open to all of us, but they'd better not give us any hot air about not filming coppers. In fact, they could probably provide helpful contextual adverts as hover-overs: "Being beaten up on a protest? Click here for a good lawyer."

Bad cop, bad cop, bad cop.

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badcopbadcopbadcop.pngThe news tonight was dominated by three stories: the dangerous foolishness of Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick in revealing anti-terror raids, the lethal recklessness of PC John Dougal who killed a girl doing 94 miles an hour in a 30 zone in pursuit of an out-of-date record in a numberplate database, and the decision by an unnamed officer to turn himself in having probably caused the death of Ian Tomlinson during last week's G20.

Although it's just coincidence, it's hard to resist the idea of a police force out of control, high on power and convinced it's above the law. Like any other public servant, the police are supposed to be on the side of the public, especially innocent bystanders. This seems to have been forgotten pretty widely - although I know plenty of good police will be just as distraught about these cases, just as disappointed in the organisation they work for.

Imagine the ruckus in the right-wing press if three social work catastrophes had come together on the same day. The calls for a Royal Commission or similar would be raucous. And, as one libertarian blog asked today, on the subject of Ian Tomlinson:

"What if the situation was reversed? What if a protestor had run up to a policeman minding his own business, knocked him to the ground and the policeman had later died?

"I think we all know that such a protestor would unquestionably (and rightly) be subjected to the full force of the law. We also know that not only the person involved but his or her organisation and probably the G20 protestors as a whole would be villified."


Steve Bell comes good for me.

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Reading the tale of the so-unlikely-as-to-be-practically-impossible submarine accident yesterday, I thought I'd wait to blog about it until Steve Bell did the illustration for me. Having grown up on If.., which regularly featured randy whales wooing Trident submarines, it seemed unlikely I'd be disappointed.

Anyway, back to the subs. Next time someone tells you that GM technology or nuclear power can be trusted because the chances of an accident are vanishingly tiny, think about the "millions-to-one" chances of two nuclear-armed subs colliding. Or the "infinitesimal" odds of two satellites hitting each other in the vastness of orbit. Thanks Abbie for this chilling thought.

Security singularity.

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IDcardgothic.jpgThe Times has a great scoop, a leaked document setting out the latest wheeze from the ID card people. All contractors associated with the project will, if the plan goes ahead, be vulnerable to warrantless searches for twenty-five years.

Ironically, the Times story demonstrates where the real risk lies, and it's not with some IT consultants, it's right in the Home Office. The closer to the scheme you are, the tougher scrutiny you need to be under, until you get to the Home Secretary herself, the epicentre of this idiocy. 

It would be at least consistent for Ministers and former Ministers from the Home Office to be made subject to an even more extreme version of the same rule. After all, as Sir Humphrey once said, "the ship of state is the only ship which leaks from the top".

Double your No2ID money.

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Thumbnail image for harvieIDcards.jpg
How often do I quote Liberal blogs favourably? Pretty rarely. Here's one, though.

NO2ID is an excellent grassroots political campaign, building knowledge about the ID cards and the database behind them, which quickly translates to opposition. I'm pretty sure they're going to win, too.

So, on with the quote.

From 1st September 2008, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd has generously agreed to match, pound for pound, any *new* income that NO2ID receives. 

Which means that for every pound you give from 1st September NO2ID will receive TWO pounds to spend campaigning against the ID scheme and database state.

Please send your donation by cheque to the NO2ID office (please mark your envelope 'JRRT'):

The NO2ID Campaign
Box 412
19-21 Crawford Street
London W1H 1PJ

Or you can donate by credit card or via PayPal using the 'Donate' button on their website.

Maybe next time the Liberals won't abstain on ID at Holyrood too. We can hope.

Rewarding failure.

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harvieIDcards.jpgThe Independent reports today that the firm which lost personal data for 84,000 convicted criminals is also lined up to work on the ID cards. This scheme is destined to fail or be scrapped, so the £33m they've been paid will be wasted no matter what, but if I had my way every company that ever fails on personal security should be blocked from any future Government IT contracts.

Coincidentally, I got a letter today from my local Liberal candidate claiming that voting for them was "the safest way to ... protect our traditional civil liberties". Odd, then, that they abstained on the issue in 2005 when Patrick had a motion down opposing ID cards.

Protecting shared secrets.

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Uber-crypto-geek Bruce Schneier has today posted some advice to the next US President on how to get online security right. Some of it could usefully be applied here by the Scottish and UK Governments, even though we've got less leverage and smaller economies of scale. But given some of the recent data loss incidents, Ministers shouldn't rule it out. 

Oh, and if you're geeky enough to appreciate the image to the left (click to enlarge), you can buy it on a t-shirt. No, I'm not on commission.

A worthy response.

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golfcoursecarrier.jpgThere's a lot of debate going on about where aircraft carriers should be built. But surprisingly, given the £4bn cost, no debate about whether they should be built.

This despite many in the near-pacifist left in the SNP knowing that the carriers are designed, in the Navy's own words, to provide "a coercive presence worldwide".

So late last night we chipped in, arguing that the carriers shouldn't be built at all, and that the skills on the Clyde and the money from the Treasury should instead be redeployed to develop cutting-edge renewables industries and other similar green tech.

The prize for the best response goes to the following, found in my inbox this morning.

"Are you suggesting that we shouldn't be spending billions on the world's biggest floating cocktail party venues? Where will Prince William be able to land his jets? This all sounds dangerously close to treason to me."
kingfahd.jpgSo we're on the cusp of the post-oil age, as you know. 

There are questions to be answered, like "will we prepare for it properly, or persist with business as usual as long as possible instead". But sooner or later, that's what's happening.

Which would mean we'll no longer be dependent on the Saudi despots for our energy. Unless Gordon Brown has his way, sadly. 

In what might be the most incompetent decision of his brief premiership, he's trying to get us to invest in their dead-end dinosaur wine, while giving them a share of our endlessly productive renewables.

The current failure to prepare for post-oil economics (the opposite of masterly inactivity) means we may have to go cold turkey on fossil fuels. While having made ourselves economically dependent even for our own wind power.

Update: a similar assessment has been made elsewhere of the Bush policies.

yalta.jpgJoe Stalin (pictured telling dirty jokes at Yalta) is rumoured to have said "it's not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count the votes", although it's unlikely to be true given his attitude to actual voting. Nowadays, of course, it's not people who count the votes, it's machines.

This is even harder to fix when it goes wrong, as Florida found out when it had trouble with hanging chads, and as we discovered when electronic counting went astray in May last. I'm sure you're all well up on the Diebold story too.

Could London be next? The Reg has evidence that it might be.
marilyn.JPGReports today suggest that people with multiple mobile phones should be considered potential terror subjects.

What other groups of people, beyond Al Qaeda, tend to have several phones? I mean press officers, not Hollywood starlets.

I'm nervous. I've got about seven phones in my house. But I am not a terrist. Seriously.

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Security category.

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