All entries for July 2006

July 13, 2006

Conservatives leave European People’s Party Parliamentary Group

I got an e–mail from David Cameron's people today, the text of which is as follows:

"David Cameron today fulfilled his pledge to withdraw the Conservative Party from the European People’s Party (EPP) Parliamentary Group and form a new group in the European Parliament.

Today he will sign an agreement to form the new group with the Czech Prime Minister–designate and leader of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Mr Topolanek. At Mr Topolanek’s explicit request, the new group will be formed at the beginning of the next European Parliament in 2009.

In addition, the Conservative Party and the ODS will immediately establish a new Movement for European Reform, which will campaign to tackle the challenges that Europe faces. Other political parties which share our objectives, and are dedicated to our ideals of a more open, modern, flexible and decentralised European Union, will be welcome to join the new movement".

ICA news update

Firstly I should apologise for the blog not being updated in a little while, but I'm practically running it on my own at the moment…

Anyway, back to current affairs, and I have good news!
It seems that the stupid, ill conceived ID card scheme has gone under, which is to say (in government speak), will be re–evaluated after another report to take place after Easter 2007. This means that it is off the table probably forever but even if they ever do think about bringing it back then it will be held back until at least the time when we can elect a different government.

Secondly I have more good news!
“Lord” Levy, the Labour party's chief fund–raiser and close friend of Tony Blair has been arrested last night, he was then questioned and released on bail, and this morning is being questioned again by police. If Lord Levy has broken the law then I would feel confident in saying that Blair too has broken the law (and probably Brown); because they management system would have to be seriously messed up if the head(s) of an organisation did not know how the finances were organised. The corruption could run very deep, but I wouldn't expect the police to even question the PM…

Thirdly, I will briefly mention Israel (I've not devoted any time to this because I am far from an expert, and it has been covered in depth in many other places). Israel has said that the attack on their soldiers by the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists constitutes an act of war. Israel has attacked an airport in Lebanon and is imposing an air and sea blockade. Israel is also stepping up pressure on Gaza. Fighting continues.

Fourthly, Iran has been referred back to the security council for possible punishment, but this would not include military action. “Ministers meeting in Paris said Tehran has not signalled it was seriously considering incentives designed to get it to abandon uranium enrichment”. The success of this referral will be dependant on Russia and China who have not been keen on imposing sanctions on Iran because it could harm them economically.

If you feel that I'm not reporting on something which you feel you could say something interesting about, or if you would like to contribute in more depth feel free to respond here to mention it, I'll try and get you added to be able to post here.

July 06, 2006

Where landmines save lives

Writing about web page

I know most people here will be against landmines, so no doubt the news which emerged recently that a “self healing” minefield will not be seen as a good thing by many people here. But this is good news. The basic idea is that you can set a field with mines in it, the mines stay in contact with each other and when a breach occurs the other mines move to seal the breach and maintain the cover. I was at first dubious about such an idea, but I read what one of the software developers for the project said about it and now feel convinced that it is a good thing.

The developer said:

In any case, the story we got was: normally, anti–tank mines are surrounded by anti–personnel mines. Anti–tank mines have magnetic triggers and are (relatively) safe for people: they are vulnerable to simply being picked up and moved out of the way. So the anti–tank mines are surrounded by APLMs to prevent the enemy from trivially disabling the field. APLMs are the nasty ones that kill kids decades later. So in an effort to reduce the number of APLMs deployed DARPA tried this crazy idea of making self–healing anti–tank mines. in other words, since the anti–tank mines can protect themselves by moving, the anti–personnel mines are no longer necessary. And the world gets a little better. This was a heck of a project to work on.

which is certainly an interesting idea and I'm convinced that this will make war a slightly nicer experience for civilians after it has finished.

July 03, 2006

28 days not enough

Writing about web page

The BBC is reporting on the polices power to detain people for 28 days and the Home Affairs Committee saying that this is “Inadequate”. Apparently this is because it takes a long time to process terror suspects and then to charge them. People often worry about the police having the ability to randomly detain people without charge, and without even telling them what charge they might face, some claim that this could/would lead to more terrorism. Not so says Blair. The Home Office is still claiming that even 14 days which we currently have is simply not long enough and the government's official line at the 90 day debate was that it was essential to save lives (even though 14 days has been perfectly fine to prevent terrorism up to now… they didn't even detain the people who actually carried out the attack on 7/7/05).

At the risk of breaking Godwin's law I found this quote from Goering at the Nuremberg trials which seemed very relevant:

Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.

To me this is pretty much what Blair has been doing. Anyone who doesn't want 90 day detention is risking the lives of innocent people in the country… those damn pacifists who fail to be patriotic.

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