Monday, November 26, 2007
Gordon Brown's Vision
The plans to introduce the National ID register and ID card scheme.
The introduction of biometric passports and government interrogation centres to be attended in order to get a passport, only to be forced to answer 53 questions before being allowed to leave the UK.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
We All Have Something To Hide
We all have something to hide, and not only our bank account passwords and PIN numbers.
How many people would be so happy to repeat out loud that they have nothing to hide and nothing to fear if they knew their National Health Service records were to be accessible by over 300,000 people at the click of a mouse. How many would say they have nothing to fear if that information was to be accessed by, say, the company who they would like to get life insurance cover from, or insure their car with and, if they stopped and thought for a moment, could they be confident that, out of that 300,000 people who might take a quiet peek at the health problems of the nation, not one would be so dishonest as to sell information to interested parties?
Our drinking habits, sexual history [and diseases] and drug problems, our family troubles and the ailments and diseases that run in our families, our mental conditions. My goodness, how 300,000 nosey parkers would laugh at some of the things recorded on that database, and how even a small handfull of dishonest ones would laugh at the sheer size of the gift in their hands.
Of course the medical records of the nation are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what this government want to know about us. They want to know where we are going, where we have been, who we have talked to on our phones and in our Email. They want to know what our children are eating, what they say about their parents, and they want their fingerprints and a sample of their DNA. Just in case, you understand.
The government want to have us all present and correct on their database, and carrying our chipped identity cards, so that the police can ask us to produce that card any time, for any reason or no reason, all the better for adding every byte of data about us, to add to the story of our lives from birth to death and beyond, to sit on the database alongside our sample of DNA, set of fingerprints and the scans of our irises.
The ID cards we will be forced to carry will not be owned by us, but by the state, and the Home Secretary will be able to revoke an individual's card any time, rendering him or her a non-person, cut off from work, state benefit, health care, all the things we take for granted in a free society.
In other words, the government will have complete knowledge over everyone's life, and complete control over everyone's life.
Even for anyone who still insists they have nothing to hide, one thing is certain, whether they know it or not, they certainly have everything to fear.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Jellyfish Invasion Of Salmon Farm Is Todays Good news
The farm salmon is an artificial fish, and the salmon farming industry is a disaster for the marine environment, with diseases and parasites such as sea-lice and escapes of farmed salmon damaging wild salmon and sea-trout populations in the West Highlands and Islands.
Hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon escape from their cages every year, and compete with wild salmon for finite food and spawning resources. In a few generations escaped farm salmon out compete and replace wild salmon.
While sea-lice occur naturally in the sea, they are not a problem when they attach themselves to wild salmon, and die when the host fish enters fresh water. Farmed salmon never enter fresh water, and after smolting are confined in the sea for the whole of their lives.
Farm cages are a magnet for sea lice, and they breed there in their billions. They are free-swimming and move on tidal currents. As wild fish pass the cages they are confronted with clouds of lice which attach themselves. Twenty sea lice can kill a wild fish.
It is the Sea-trout which is at greater risk because they do not migrate far, and tend to stay close to shore and near the rivers they were born in. They experience constant sea lice attack from cages in the vicinity.
Farmed salmon are fed a colorant in their food to make their flesh pink like 'real' salmon, and are treated throughout their lives with a cocktail of chemicals to protect them against disease. Small salmon are fed mashed up fish procured by industrial fishing, and it takes some three tonnes of small fish to feed one tonne of farm salmon.
Hardly surprising then that sea birds are failing to breed due to a shortage of food.
Apart from the environmental concerns, farm salmon taste awful compared to the real thing, and heaven knows what chemicals are mixed in there but one thing certain is they can't be good for you.
I would rather the jellyfish got the lot.
The wild salmon below were in a tank as part of a breeding programme before being released back into the wild.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The Beginning Of The End For Identity Cards?
Names, addresses, dates of birth, Child Benefit numbers, National Insurance numbers and bank or building society account details, stuffed unencrypted onto two CD's by a junior official in a government department and lost in the post.
I can, and do, encrypt the files on my Mac with a click of a mouse but officials dealing with valuable and sensitive data, our data, don't even bother to do that.
Government assurances on the safety and confidentiality of the public's most private details will, finally if belatedly, surely wake up those complacent sleepy sheep who constantly bleat: "If you've got nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear."
Whether you've got anything to hide or not, you've got everything to fear.
Government assurances that our bank details are safe are a red herring diverting attention away from the most dangerous aspect of this incredible fiasco. Every parent should be gravely concerned not by the possible loss of their cash from a bank account, which can be averted by the simple means of changing passwords and monitoring accounts or, for the really paranoid, changing accounts, but the more dangerous and long-term implications of their children's names and dates of birth possibly falling into the wrong hands.
It is not so easy to change the names and dates of birth of our children, and while details of bank accounts may become obsolete fairly quickly, our kid's details will not, and could easily be sat on for months and years before being used for criminal means.
As for the assurances from government that this could never happen to data gathered for the National Identity Register, the heart of the ID card scheme, surely anyone who believes that must be extremely simple, to the extent of not being merely a sheep, but a dead sheep.
This incident is a grim insight to the realities and costs of living in a surveillance state, whose government and officials are obsessed with the collection of data concerning every aspect of the individual citizen's life not, as they would have us believe, for our benefit and safety, but to better control our lives.
Monday, November 19, 2007
The plan was to go down to visit my daughter and do some decorating for her, a job I started over a year ago but haven't had time to go back and complete. It'll be enjoyable, thought I, and a nice break away from the Highlands, and I can keep the blog up to date of an evening too.
Me and the Mongrel [my other half] and Kaspy the Collie duly set off, the Mongrel driving, the collie on the back seat with her seat belt harness on, and made it as far as Glencoe where, on a nasty left-hander, the backend of the car slid out, we hit a stone bridge parapet, spun across the road and demolished the crash barrier and, of course, the car.
Nobody hurt, fortunately, and the dog wondered what all the fuss was about.
Not so fortunately the car wasn't ours - we borrowed it from the Mongrel's son because it was more economical in fuel, but with a £500 insurance excess which we felt obliged to pay for him our economy drive wasn't looking so good.
Anyway, after much delay the wreck and ourselves were transported back to where we started, we transferred all our stuff into our own car, and started out again, somewhat nervously.
Morecambe may be beside the sea, and the weather might be beautiful [unlike the Highlands] but none of that was to be enjoyed by me. I spent the whole time plastering and rubbing down walls, swinging a paint roller and getting my head frazzled by two delightful but exhaustingly lively toddlers, not to mention their mother, my daughter, who is worse.
And her very hairy collie, Badger, managed to sit in a full tray, a big tray, of magnolia emulsion.
As for the blog... my Mac notebook couldn't connect to the available router, and in between decorating and cleaning paint off hairy collies I had to reload and configure two Macs belonging to my daughter.
I was too exhausted to blog, especially on a strange computer and, I kid you not, my fingers were bleeding by week two with the sandpaper.
It's nice to be back home for a well earned break.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Did Donald Rumsfeld Scuttle Out Of France Like A Rat On The Run?
"Donald Rumsfeld must be feeling
Saddam Hussein felt when US forces were hunting him down.”
Donald Rumsfeld, former US Defense Secretary and the man who authorized the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, attended a breakfast meeting with Foreign Policy magazine in Paris the other day.
According to unconfirmed reports, Rumsfeld had to flee France after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint against him alleging the “ordering and authorizing” of torture.
The authorities in France are obliged to investigate when a complaint is made while the alleged criminal is on French soil.
Protesters in France believe that the defense secretary fled over the border to Germany.
Read: RUMSFELD FLEES FRANCE FEARING ARREST
Sunday, October 28, 2007
But The Bike Consented, M'Lud.
Did the bike complain, say no or scream rape - or was it an underaged bike, groomed on the internet and lured to the man's room?
More importantly, I would like to know HOW one has sex with a bike of the two-wheeled variety and, while on the subject, may I enquire about the methods employed in having sex with a pavement which, by all accounts, has also brought the wrath of the law courts down on poor Karl Watkins who was caught in the act in Redditch in 1993. He, apparently, was jailed for his amorous advances but that was obviously in a public place, where most willing pavements are.
Robert Stewart and his bike were not in a public place, but behind a locked door in Ayr, and as the bike in question presumably did not give evidence against him at the trial, it's hard to see where the offence lies.
I don't own a bicycle, and so far have never been aroused at the sight of one, no matter how pretty, but I'm still curious...
It's not mentioned in the Kama Sutra, and there's nothing about pavements in there either.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Doris Lessing, An Artist Who Doesn't Mince Her Words
This woman proves the point that I have made in the past that politics and government and anything that impacts on the punter in the street, whether it be downtown Scunthorpe in England, Auchtermuchty in Scotland or New York in the US of A, might be better left to artists rather than politicians.
Doris, in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, has said that the attacks of September 11, 2001, weren't as terrible as the American people think.
Although two buildings collapsed, and nearly 3,000 people were killed, she points out that over 3,700 died and many thousands of people were injured in more than 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.
Violence supported by money from the United States: [Colcam]
Doris says Americans are a very naive people, or they pretend to be, and admits that any American would think she was mad.
Lessing is no less scathing of Tony Blair: "Many of us hated Blair, I think he has been a disaster for Britain and we have suffered him for many years. I said it when he was elected."
George Bush wasn't left out either: "He's a world calamity. Everyone is tired of this man. Either he is stupid or he is very clever, although you have to remember he is a member of a social class which has profited from wars."
I have a partner who grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the troubles, so I asked her what she thought about the difference between 9/11 and the conflict she lived through, and which she thought was worse.
She said: "In terms of loss of life, they are both as bad as each other, but I think 9/11 SEEMS worse because of the volume in one day."
OK - a valuable insight - but I should add my own view.
The Northern Ireland conflict and the attack on New York, and which of these may justify the greater attention, is to some extent unimportant, as for many the greater cause for concern in 2007 is the loss of civil liberties which the citizens of the USA and Great Britain have suffered since 9/11, justified by both governments as the cost of fighting the 'war on terror'.
The Northern Ireland war - and that is what is was, despite the denials of British politicans, who preferred to describe the conflict as a terrorist or criminal operation - never led to even the suggestion of 90 days of incarceration for terror suspects, nor was the right to demonstrate in front of parliament questioned, and never did we have the outrageous plans for a national database and ID cards to supposedly protect us from the 'terrorists' who would steal our democracy and our way of life.
Surely the greatest threat to the British And American 'way of life' are the present governments - Bush, Brown and Blair before him, who seem intent on curtailing our freedoms and taking a grip on power not seen in a civilized nation since the days of Hitler.
Doris may be 88, but she certainly knows a thing or two.
Read: Sept 11 attacks not as bad as IRA, says Lessing
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Alexander Should Quit (And Take His Useless Big Sister With Him)
Douglas Alexander, UK Scotland Minister at the time of the Scottish elections in May this year and the fiasco of the 150,000 rejected ballot papers, took decisions on the running of the election based on party political interest.
"What is characteristic of 2007 was a notable level of party self interest evident in ministerial decision-making (especially in regard to the timing and method of counts and the design of ballot papers)," wrote Ron Gould, the former Canadian election official who investigated the Scottish vote for the Electoral Commission.
In other words Labour in London did their best to rig it.
Alexander is the brother of Wendy, Labour group leader in the Scottish Parliament, notable by her face and her silence when things don't go her way, which is mostly.
Now International Development Secretary and Labour's general election co-ordinator, Douglas Alexander was at least partly responsible for Gordon Brown's own election-that-never-was this Autumn.
Opposition parties in Westminster and SNP Ministers in Scotland are calling for his resignation.
Tory back bencher Andrew Mackay said yesterday: "How can he continue going round the Third World lecturing on democracy when he has been caught with his hand in the till?"
Monday, October 22, 2007
Gordon Brown And The Westminster Expenses Rules
Now, is it just me, or does this not sound familiar?
Was one Henry McLeish not forced to resign as Scotland's First Minister in 2001 because of something similar, paving the way for the joys of Jack McConnell's disastrous reign?
There is, of course, a major difference between the two cases in that, whatever the outcome, Hell will freeze over before we see Brown go.
Scotland Doesn't Want Trident
He is asking them to back his bid for Scotland to have observer status at future treaty talks.
"In May, for the first time since the nuclear age began in 1945, the people of Scotland elected a government that is opposed to nuclear weapons," he declared.
The Scottish government was planning to do "all that we can" to persuade UK ministers to change their mind on Trident, said Salmond. "The majority of Scottish people and their elected representatives oppose these deployments."
An anti-Trident summit organised by the Scottish Government will be opened today by the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and will focus on how devolved powers could be used to block the replacement of the current nuclear missile system.
"This bold and timely initiative deserves to succeed," said Dr Ian Davis, director of the British American Security Information Council in London. "The Scottish people have long held the moral high ground on nuclear disarmament and having them represented at the NPT would be a real fillip to the majority world - currently 184 states - committed to a non-nuclear weapon future."
Salmond wants nuclear treaty role
Salmond: help us get rid of Trident
Brown's £1 Million Nail Biter
Questions are likely to be asked when Labour's national executive meets next month.
So, not content with 10 years of wasting taxpayers money, Labour are wasting their own as well.
Read: Election that never was cost Labour £1m
Sunday, October 21, 2007
ID Cards - The London Plan To Hijack Scots Pensioners Bus Passes
The Home Office in London see this as a way to push forward the ID card scheme at a reduced cost, a sneaky move that will be strongly resisted by the Scottish government and a majority of MSPs at Holyrood, who have long made it clear that any ID card introduced by London should not be used north of the border to link devolved public services.
Bus passes could be used, say London think-tank New Local Government Network, to document citizens' mental health and their "reporting a crime, attending an accident and emergency department or claiming benefits.
The Scottish government has claimed it has been excluded from crucial discussions and warns that any data-grab attempt would be illegal.
A Scottish government spokesman said: "The Entitlement Card system has been designed to ensure that all data is handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act. Each local authority acts as the data controller for its own residents.
"Accredited local authority and passenger transport staff have secure access to the system. No-one else has access. This information could not be passed to the Home Office."
In 2006 Holyrood's then Labour administration passed a law, known as Section 57, which allows the state to use Citizen's Accounts to hoard information about Scots on a huge scale. Data on everything from debt to shopping to sexuality could be legally procured, stored and passed on. Critics are fighting to have the law repealed.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
If Kids Must Have Chips, Give 'Em Greasychips, Not Microchips
A school in Yorkshire is now tracking pupils with the aid of microchips embedded in their uniforms, in a so called 'trial.'
A trial that will no doubt become a permanent feature of that school, and a system that will spread quickly, encouraged, no doubt, by our authoritarian Labour government and various law and order agencies.
“Tagging is what we do to criminals we let out of prison early,” said David Cleater, from Leave Them Kids Alone, which campaigns against the finger-printing of pupils. “It is appalling.”
It is a sad reflection on supposedly intelligent and caring teachers and school authorities in this country that they think so little of the children in their care, and the future they are so readily encouraging them to face in the adult world of tomorrow.
Perhaps that means little to a teacher if his or her working day can be made a little easier by such disgraceful methods.
With so much anguish from teaching 'professionals' about kids diet and their consumption of chips, why so little concern about microchips?
They are far more dangerous to the well-being of our children than the greasy variety.
Drink Up, For Tomorrow Will Still Come As Sure As Higher Taxes On Enjoyment
Perhaps less predictable that they should so soon turn on their own, with a warning and call to action to save the livers of Surrey and Sussex, where wine flows freely and dinner table chatter frequently turns to outraged discussion and the call to a return of flogging for any council estate 'poor' who happen to enjoy a pint or three of a weekend instead of bragging about their rising property prices over a civilized glass of Chardonney and a line of cocaine.
Drinkers in middle-class areas are more likely routinely to consume “hazardous” amounts of alcohol than those in poorer areas, research published today shows.
What a blow to the superiority of our would-be superiors.
Of course Scotland didn't escape the attentions of the anti-everything-especially-enjoyment lobby, with the news that campaigners claim more than one million people in Scotland are drinking at potentially harmful levels, out of a total population of around 5 million, I should add.
All this, of course, is based on government guidelines on what they consider to be the safe amounts of 'units' one can consume in a week which, if followed, would make it hardly worth the effort of pulling a cork on a bottle of wine never mind going down the pub.
However, being a concientious type of fella, and knowing the importance of research, I put matters to the test last night, rolled a few fat ciggies, placed my favourite ashtray and glass beside my wee MacBook and, in my little council house with only the dog and cat for company, popped the cork on an extremely expensive bottle of 12 year old malt whisky - and risked my liver and my life.
Now, I must admit things didn't go quite as planned. I intended posting the results of my research here last night - but after an amount of 'units' I refuse to disclose to you - I fell asleep.
And this morning I woke up alive.
Drinking did not cause any violence - did not kick the dog, or the cat, or both.
No broken windows, neighbors unwoken.
House did not burn down despite my attempts at making cheese toasties.
No pain in liver, but slight pain in the neck after sleeping on couch.
After a lengthy and intellectual discourse with the cat and the dog, realized that living in a council house and drinking an excellent and expensive Highland Malt beats worrying about a £250,000 morgtage and being reduced to cheap Chardonnay.
Oh dear, I didn't leave much in that bottle, did I?
Favourite quote of the week goes to Jackoba, who wrote on this very subject in a Scottish newspaper the other day:
I tried to enjoy myself sober once, was disasterous. The girls were ugly, I was crap at pool, I couldnt grasp the meaning of life my friends had discovered in their higher plane of mind, my doner kebab tasted none too great, Fights seemed more dangerous and riding my bike home with my headphones in over the traintracks didnt seem a great idea so I had to take the long way.
Never again I tell ya, bloody lying foreigners ;)
Well put, Sir.
UPDATE: 6.35PM. DRINK LIMITS 'USELESS' - Guidelines on safe alcohol limits that have shaped health policy in Britain for 20 years were not based on scientific fact.
UK CCTV Surveillance Doesn't Work
This is the conclusion of a report, 18 months in the making, by the government's own Home Office officials, who say the majority of cameras are only useful to keep an eye on people for slips, trips, falls and staff crime.
The "real time" roving CCTV cameras which are the heart of the network are often useless for crime detection, despite the naive belief of the general public that they make the streets safer.
Officials do not even know how many CCTV cameras there are.
Government and police chiefs want to extend the network which monitors British citizens to cover all "public space".
See also: BRITAIN IS NOW A SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY
Friday, October 19, 2007
Blair - A Warmongering Speech For A Religious Charity
Blair said: “Analogies especially with the rise of fascism can be misleading but, in pure chronology, I sometimes wonder if we’re not in the 1920s, if not the 1930s.”
He continued: “This ideology now has a state - Iran.”
Cardinal Edward Egan of New York called Mr Blair a "great and effective warrior."
The hypocrisy of the religious seems to know no bounds.
The deluded Blair with the blood of thousands on his hands and God on his side, who never was in the military in his life, being congratulated by a Catholic Cardinal for his crimes.
Or should that read his Crusade?
But then there was over a million dollars for the church in it, wasn't there?
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Highland Fuel Prices
The point nine nine, of course, really makes 99.9 £1.00 for petrol and £1.04 pence for diesel, and the pricing by litre is little more than a scam considering we still work out our vehicles fuel consumption in miles per gallon.
Over £4.50 per gallon, and high miles are inevitable getting round our remote Scottish areas.
Americans are unhappy at their 'gas' prices approaching $3.00 per gallon.
Just as a rough guide, because maths are a mystery to me, I paid for a wee computer application this week in dollars, and $10 converted to UK pounds worked out at £4.73, or just over the price of a gallon of diesel.
If you're American, and planning a visit to the Highlands to find your ancestors or the Loch Ness Monster, you know what to expect.
The $10 gallon- and rising!
© Colcam 2005-2007