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Showing posts from June, 2012

Leah McGrath Goodman - Journalist Banned from the UK

This link is to her weblog. The Guardian has also published an article written by Helen Pidd about the issue. In essence an American journalist has been banned from the Common Travel Area (which includes the UK and Jersey). It appears that the reason is to prevent her investigating Haut de la Garenne and the associated issues. If this was happening in another country there would be outrage, but the fact that it is happening here doesn't seem to cause any concerns. Odd really.

Statutory Orphans and SSDA903

This judgment (today) shows how depressing the system is in terms of how it looks after children. Children have been made statutory orphans and then just left in that state. In fact the government could if it could be bothered track how many children are in that state through the SSDA903 return, but hasn't been bothered to do so. It is a mistake to think there is anything substantially different in a placement order from a freeing order. Both separate children from their family networks (and often their siblings) without actually ensuring there is an alternative. Anyone who looks objectively at the system has to conclude that it is depressingly bad.

Communications and Data Bill (Snoopers Charter) why it cannot work

I have read the Snoopers Charter. It tends to concentrate on the administrative processes rather than the key question as to what records can in practise be kept. Web browsers work in two main ways. These can be distinguished in the URL. Eg http://www.theyworkforyou.com is insecure. https://www.twitter.com is secure. If, for example, you try to use twitter in an insecure manner it automatically switches to a secure link. The data that passes between two insecure web links can be tracked by anyone who has access to any of the networks that the data passes on. There are programs such as packet sniffers that are created to do this. Obviously the Internet Service Provider (ISP) can do this. However, data that transfers in a secure manner cannot be tracked. The secure system is called SSL Secure Sockets Layer. The way it works is that a system called asymmetric key encryption is used to exchange a session encryption key between client and server. The server first passes …

TB vaccinations in schools

TB is a nasty disease that can only be transferred by close contact with people. The policy of the health service has been to only offer vaccination to people who have family contacts with areas with high levels of TB. That is because the vaccination itself is not something people would like. I have for some time argued that there is a risk of a disease vector at school and that schools which have a high proportion of children who qualify for the vaccination should offer it to all of the children at that school. The sad death of Alina Sarag (who was at a school which is (just) in my constituency, but who lived outside the constituency) makes it clear that there is a risk of a disease vector at school. That is why we need to consider this particular category. I argued this before she was infected.

Greek Elections

Given the choice between taking a cure to deal with the hangover following a binge on debt and simply getting drunk to conceal the hangover the greeks have (marginally) decided to go for the cure. That is best for the Greeks. I think it is also best for the rest of the world.

The State is not your Friend (thought police)

This story in the Sunday Express relates to the proposals by a local authority to remove a baby at birth. (note that there are a number of errors in the Sunday Express Article see below) Removing a baby at birth is a really draconian thing to do. It has to be based upon a real and urgent threat to the baby. Removing the baby is often harmful to the baby. Hence it has to be a very serious threat. In the linked case the local authorities concerns are as I said in the House of Commons on Wednesday:
Hansard has the full debate. My relevant section is:
Ms Toni McLeod, who lives with her family in Durham, is thinking of going to Ireland because she is pregnant. It is a difficult situation. She was a supporter of the English Defence League. I hate the EDL. Three of my children are mixed-race, and I protest against the EDL. Toni McLeod says that she is not racially prejudiced, but that children were taken from her partly because of her membership of the EDL. It was “felt that conversati…

Draft Communications and Data Bill (wrong and stupid)

I am somewhat confused as to what the government think they can achieve trying to get emails and web traffic tracked. The whole idea of the Secure Sockets Layer protocol is to prevent "man in the middle" attacks from being able to find out what is being said. Hence if someone sends email using SSL through an email server hosted abroad then the only thing the government could have tracked is that someone has sent one or more emails. The government would not know to whom, how many emails in the session or from whom, nor would the government be able to find out anything further. Indeed if people use onion routing then the government wouldn't even be able to find out which hosts are being used. It is important to remember that the English courts have removed children from at least one person in part for their political views. (in a secret court of course) Hence it is a sensible precaution for everyone in the country to have all their communications encrypted. That, …

A referendum on the EU does need to happen, but not yet.

The issue as to the UK's relationship with the other countries in Europe is being discussed publicly again. It is worth displaying the following image again:

This is the current structure for the various European Bodies. It is now recognised that the Eurozone requires a banking union. I think it is also clear that the UK will not be part of this. It may be that the Eurozone moves further, but the situation is so volatile at the moment that it cannot be clear. What should, however, be clear is that the UK should not aim to be part of the core Eurozone countries. If there were to be such a proposal then the law now is that the UK would have to hold a referendum. My own view is that there will become a time when there is merit in having a referendum as to what the relationship should be between the UK and other European Countries. There will only be a limited range. I don't think there is anyone suggesting that we should not be part of the Council of Europe. It is, how…

Transit of Venus

I hadn't really prepared for this, but when I looked at the clouds I went back to sleep. To be fair, however, nothing was as good as these images. I don't normally bother about the details of the structure of the sun although it is, of course, very important to life on earth. In 1999 we went to Cornwall to see the eclipse of the sun (Lunar) and indeed it was very cloudy, it got very dark and then light again. Still quite a nice trip though. The Venusian Transit and associated geometry is an interesting part of history. Some of the astronomers took real efforts to measure the transit. Worth a look at on the net.

A story about Estonia

This is a story about Estonia. Which puts a more positive viewpoint on balancing government finances. Those doctors threatening to strike need to explain why they should be exempt from the effects of the financial crisis.