Not Saussure

May 27, 2007

Blair, civil liberties and the rights of suspects

Filed under: Blair, civil liberties, nemesis — notsaussure @ 3:17 pm

Mr Blair seems determined to leave office, perhaps as an ironic tribute to the Viking who will succeed him, with a positively Wagnerian bonfire of civil liberties.

Where to start? His article in today’s Sunday Times is perhaps a good place, since it’s pretty breath-taking in what it reveals about the way our PM’s mind works. He wants, he says, to ‘clear away some of the absurd criticism of the police and security service over the three individuals who absconded.’ That’s a bit of a half-truth, I think, because the criticism hasn’t, as far as I know, been particularly aimed at them; it’s been directed at his Home Secretary. ‘Why,’ people have wanted to know, ‘is the Home Secretary forever blustering on, whenever anything goes wrong, about how he needs more and more power?’ (I think there’s a Star Trek joke there, somewhere). Could it not be, one wonders, that the man’s not particularly competent at using the ones he’s already got? Or could it even be that there’s a deeper problem?

In any event, Mr Blair’s answer is the usual one: it’s everyone’s fault but ours. In this case, the culprits are, of course, those infernal civil libertarians in general and the judiciary in particular. Mr Blair explains, (more…)

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May 16, 2007

Bye, John…

Filed under: nemesis — notsaussure @ 11:31 pm

 A fitting memorial, to my mind:

Mr Hague said Mr Prescott would be “missed” by the Tories and “wished him well in his retirement” after 37 years in the Commons. He asked if the government would apologise for mistakes made over the computer system for junior doctors’ jobs.

Mr Prescott said he was not leaving the Commons but said it was nice to hear he would be missed. He said he would not be “whingeing on the backbenches” when he retired from the frontbench “as I hear some of my colleagues doing from time to time”.

Mr Prescott hailed Labour’s record on employment and help for pensioners, compared with the previous Tory government, adding “can I say I am the longest serving deputy prime minister” and had seen off five Tory counterparts.

Mr Hague said his question had been about junior doctors. He asked who was responsible in government for the “fiasco” of the online recruitment system.

After a pause, Mr Prescott said: “Tories“. He said Labour had to increase the number of medical students when they came in….

April 27, 2007

More IT fun from HMG — too much of a good thing

Filed under: Medicine, nemesis, Politics, UK — notsaussure @ 12:29 am

Hard upon yesterday’s revelation that junior doctors’ personal details were publicly available on the ill-fated MTAS website, we get this:

A controversial job application website for junior doctors has been suspended, amid fresh concerns of security lapses.The Department of Health said it was investigating claims that doctors were able to read each other’s messages.

The new concerns come a day after revelations that applicants’ personal information could be freely accessed.

The MTAS website has been the subject of protests from junior doctors. The Conservatives say the system is in “complete crisis”.

Channel 4 News reported that applicants had been able to see each other’s files by changing two digits in the personalised web address given to each individual.

Channel 4 report, including video, here.

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April 25, 2007

More IT fun from HMG…

Filed under: nemesis, Politics, UK — notsaussure @ 8:20 pm

This is getting beyond a joke.

Yesterday, in Parliament:

Mrs. Dorries: As my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) has said, there is no argument about the fact that doctors’ careers and training processes needed modernising. The issue is that it has been a complete, unmitigated disaster, yet the Secretary of State is not accepting responsibility for that.

Ms Hewitt: I am sure that the hon. Lady will not accept my word for it, but if she just looks at the several statements made by the review group under Professor Neil Douglas, she will see that it has not been a complete, unmitigated disaster. The applications system has actually been working well in many places, particularly for GP posts.

Channel 4 News, today:

The Medical Training Application Service or MTAS is a computer system where student and junior doctors apply for jobs – a system they were repeatedly assured was secure.Today Channel Four News can reveal that since at least 9 o’ clock this morning, the details of medical students applying for foundation course posts – the first year to become a junior doctor – were openly available to the public.

This is astonishing. Not only can we see what they wrote in their applications; their addresses; their phone numbers; who their referees are. We can also see if there were white, heterosexual, gay Asian, Christian, Jewish or Hindu, and we can also see if they have got police records and what the crime was.

Once we were informed we checked the site to see if there had been a massive breach of this already controversial system – and there had been.

At 4.35pm we told the Department of Health. The chair of the British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors Committee also called the department – at 5.05 they closed the breach – it took them just half an hour.

They were completely unaware that it had been open – at a minimum since this morning.

The Department of Health’s excuse? They wouldn’t put up a minister, but told Channel 4, (more…)

April 13, 2007

Encouragment of terrorism?

Filed under: nemesis, Russia/USSR, UK, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 8:08 pm

Boris Berezovsky and his big mouth. To my mind, he’s certainly presented HMG with a bit of a problem in the form of his interview with The Guardian:

“We need to use force to change this regime,” he said. “It isn’t possible to change this regime through democratic means. There can be no change without force, pressure.” Asked if he was effectively fomenting a revolution, he said: “You are absolutely correct.”

The Guardian have the whole 42 minute interview here,to which I haven’t listened, and a couple of brief clips where he discusses using force to get rid of President Putin here and here. He also told the Guardian,

“There is no chance of regime change through democratic elections,” he says. “If one part of the political elite disagrees with another part of the political elite – that is the only way in Russia to change the regime. I try to move that.”While declining to describe these contacts – and alleging that they would be murdered if they were identified – he maintained that he was offering his “experience and ideology” to members of the country’s political elite, as well as “my understanding of how it could be done”. He added: “There are also practical steps which I am doing now, and mostly it is financial.” (more…)

March 23, 2007

Strange Revelations

Filed under: nemesis, Religion — notsaussure @ 10:52 pm

snapshot1.pngJustin, at Chicken Yoghurt, has started Apocalypsewatch: An occasional series, which does what it says on the can. He argues, persuasively as it seems to me, that the controversy over the semiotics of David Cameron’s hairstyle — left or right parting — is a sure sign that the first of the Seven Seals has been opened by the Lamb, thus presaging the end of the world and giving me the opportunity to plug what I think is a brilliant site, Apocamon, The Final Judgement. snapshot4.png

This site takes, I fear, an age to load (open it in another tab and do something else for the 5 minutes it takes) but when it finally does open, you get the Book of Revelations in Manga style, complete with Apocamon cards (click on thumbnails to enlarge). They’ve managed four episodes so far, and promise the remaining ones some time before The Battle of Armageddon. The episodes take an age to load, too, but are worth the wait. At least I think they are.
UPDATE: This mirror site seems to load a lot faster

snapshot3.pngJustin complains that Revelations provides no information whatsoever about what side the First Horseman of the Apocalypse parts his hair on. I can only assume this is because his crown obscures it.

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March 5, 2007

Reports of her death are greatly exaggerated…

Filed under: Blogroll, hubris, nemesis — notsaussure @ 7:36 pm

Via Devil’s Kitchen, I see that Recess Monkey — for the benefit of those who haven’t encountered him, Recess Monkey aspires, for some unaccountable reason, to be a Labour version of Paul Staines and isn’t very good at it — has been taken in by a cruel hoax. The Monkey explains,

A journalist friend of mine (who obviously knows me too well) sent me a late night wind-up text message, knowing that I would rush it out before going to bed

The comments are hoot. I particularly liked this plea to not to get side-tracked:

I think we’re getting off the point. The point is that RM is an arse. Please can we keep on topic.

Update — from Iain Dale’s Diary:

Tonight on Blogger TV at 9pm I’ll be giving Alex Hilton from Recess Monkey the chance to defend himself for announcing Lady T’s death somewhat prematurely. He’ll be on the sofa with Chris Ames, Sunny Hundal, Andrew Ian Dodge and Clive Davis.UPDATE 6.47pm: Alex Hilton has just emailed to say he won’t be joining us after all.

I think Mr Hilton is, as Baroness Thacher would doubtless put it, frit.
(more…)

February 28, 2007

Cllr Kelly, again

Filed under: Garden gnomes, nemesis — notsaussure @ 10:04 pm

Via Clairwil and Mr Eugenides, I am delighted to discover that the Fates seem to be playing a little joke on Cllr Terry Kelly, a Labour councillor in Paisley, Renfrewshire, who is to political blogging what his fellow-countryman, William Topaz McGonagal, was to poetry.

A couple of weeks ago, Cllr Kelly, in the course of insulting (his only method of arguing) Clairwil, decided to try his hand at some intentional humour:

Having been involved in corrupt Labour politics for 40 yrs. I’m already rich, I don’t need the money I’ve stolen enough, so I’m retiring, now crawl back under your stone.

And, almost immediately, Nemisis turns up in the form of the Strathclyde Police, who investigating allegations of fraud and expenses fiddles by four Renfrewshire Labour Councillors (there’s no suggestion that Cllr Kelly is one of them, I hasten to add).

Clairwil comments,

Poor Terry he must be feeling very let down by his colleagues (more…)

January 27, 2007

How to run a whelk stall

Filed under: nemesis, UK — notsaussure @ 9:58 am

The Beeb:

Mr Reid apologised on Channel 4 News on Friday, saying the government should have realised a tougher stance on crime would lead to a bigger prison population.

“It is a mistake not to forecast that we would require a larger number of prisons than we have got at present, by putting away a greater number of dangerous offenders for a longer period,” he said.

“I have attempted to remedy that by a ‘buy and build’ policy of already asking for 8,000 more prison places.”

He appears to be saying, in terms, that no one at the Home Office or in government realised that if more people go to prison for longer, this means you will have more prisoners in your prisons and, in consequence, will need more prison places in which to accommodate them.

What next? Sorry, but we didn’t realise that night follows day?

I’ve often thought that running a whelk stall must, in fact, be quite a complex business — you’re dealing, after all, highly perishable commodities so you need to predict your customers’ requirements pretty accurately, you need to know how to keep your stock while you offer it for sale and you have, of course, to grapple with all the complexities of running any small business and all the regulations concerning perishable food.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t take much foresight to work out that if we start serving larger portions of whelks, and also serve more customers at our stall, we’d better increase the order for whelks with the wholesaler or we’re likely to run out of whelks half-way through the business day.

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January 26, 2007

Overcrowded prisons and suspended sentences

Filed under: Law, nemesis, Panic, UK — notsaussure @ 6:39 pm

I don’t know what the government — or John Reid in particular — can have been thinking of with the now notorious suggestion to judges that they should use non-custodial sentences whenever possible; it does no more than restate sentencing policy and the media storm was an obvious consequence.

Some of the coverage is, in fact, odd, if not downright wrong. The case of Derek Williams, who was given a six months sentence, suspended for two years, for downloading child pornography and who was told that one reason he’d escaped an immediate custodial sentence was that the learned judge had to ‘bear in mind’ the Home Secretary’s circular is a case in point. The judge will also have said in his sentencing remarks that he had ‘to bear in mind’ the defendant’s guilty plea, pre-sentence report (assuming there was one), the quantity and nature of the images downloaded, his previous criminal record (two very old assaults) and the likelihood of his re-offending, but these comments don’t seem to have received equal prominence. (more…)

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