I.D. Rather Not

So, I’m driving to football and I hear half a news bulletin saying that the Home Secretary stated the compulsory ID Cards scheme has been dropped and will now be voluntary.

I was in he car alone but, at hearing this, I actually said “Awesome” out load and did a little cock-rock air punch. From this reaction you can assume my opinion on the whole idea of having a compulsory ID Card in Britain is to the contrary.

After running round like a madman for 80 minutes and driving home, I hear the whole news item (yes, it’s either the iPod or Radio 4 in my car ladies). I half thought I’d misunderstood the story the first time around, it being such a massive U-turn and what-all, but no it was all true and sense was finally winning out.

The entire scheme has been a farce from start to finish. I mean, does anyone actually think that someone bent on coming here to commit acts of terrorism or people trafficking will diligently sign-up for an ID Card on their way in? Furthermore, if said individuals were circulating without ID Cards, are they really going to go do something that requires them to present one? The only people carrying these insultingly oppressive things would be John Smith normals, who frankly have better (or worse but more essential) things to spend their money on or time thinking about.

This is without even mentioning that I’m sure we have far better uses to which we can put the apparent £9 billion the scheme will/would cost to set up in the first place.

On my return home I look to the internet for confirmation of the news, surely if I type ID Cards into google this massive story will immediately spring forth and I will be bombarded with a plethora of news copy and quotes. Well apparently not, I have to manually go to the BBC website, then to the news section, then click on politics and it’s buried as the third story. Honestly, am I the only one that cares about freedom and liberty these days? Apart from the Yanks of course, but I find them a little… misdirected in their approach to the whole thing.

Anyway, enough of my blather and rhetoric. The simple fact it’s looking very much like we wont have to have one now. The Home Secretary has said he wants the whole thing to be voluntary, which effectively ends it as an even tenuously justifiable expenditure.

So go home reader and sleep safe in the knowledge that the only country wide government run database that abuses your civil liberties will remain the one the police keep your DNA on, even if you’re proven innocent of any crime…

What’s that buzzing?? Must be time for my tablets again…

Ahoy hoy!!

BBC story is here but watch the video too for better info:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8127081.stm

And a big well done and good work to the air-side airport staff, pilots and the unions that have supported them. As the first group who would have had ID Cards foisted upon them, they are the ones that have been fighting this, finally braking the back of this issue. We all have you to thank.

Five oh, no, nos…

Following on from my colleague Mr Neil (here below), I feel rather moved to brain-spurt this very night…

I’m afraid to say I have gradually become rather anti-police. That might sound shocking to the likes of ya’ll, but I think there are a few things that have contributed to my feelings of anger and frustration toward their, sadly essential, profession.

I wonder if they're retractable...
I wonder if they're retractable...

For starters there’s the increasing armaments they carry, we seemed to go from truncheon and whistle to asp and taser in the blink of an eye. One moment I see a bobby on the corner with his new pepper spray, then next me and Neil see two coppers in Matlock town with semi-automatic side arms. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m all for giving them stab-proof vests and something to subdue an over enthusiastic larcenist with but I’m of the opinion that if it’s something I, as a law abiding citizen of reasonable years, can’t posses then neither should it be something carried routinely by those keeping the peace.

Next, it’s the new powers they constantly ask for. Example; When they wanted to lock people up for 90 days without charge (never mind actually convicted you of something, they don’t even tell you what they think you’ve done) the Government were all like “Well they say they need it so that’s good enough for us”, seeming not to realise that they were are supposed to be the check in this whole balancing equation. Otherwise we’d just hand-out the tasers and tell them to “protect us from everything, even ourselves, in anyway you feel necessary”. Lines must be drawn and the people who enforce the law shouldn’t be the ones asking for or making the law.

Thirdly, the way they use powers given to them. Neil, below, briefly covered a couple of the more notable efforts. The shooting of a Brazilian electrician 7 times in the head, the unprovoked battering of citizens at a (or infact, anywhere near) a generally peaceful protest against the G20 and the kind of things that have landed us in this “financial crisis”. Another recent example would be the dispersing “The Climate Camp” by use of anti-terror laws to arrest more than 100 people who, before the police showed up, it appears were having a peaceful protest/hippy type anti-pollution camp out. I’m sure you can all think of at least one more of these yourselves.

The final reason of my quadrilogy of reasons is that I don’t think anyone who seeks such power should ever be granted it. Ok, so then you have the problem of exactly who do you get to be the bigger lad that’s on our side against the bullies in society. I’m not saying I have the solution, but something I have thought in life generally, those who want power over us want it for a reason and only very rarely is the reason a selfless one.

Those of you out there wanting a conclusion here are about to be sadly disappointed, please draw your own and post in the receptacle provided below.

Ado

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2009/apr/19/police-activism

Jail Time

It’s good to see hardened criminals put in their place. Shooters of Jean Charles de Menezes? Still free. Street Photographers? Images deleted without court order; HA! Officers brutalising protesters? Still walkin’ around. Admins of The Pirate Bay? Locked up like they deserve!

Hokay, I’m trivialising. I’m not anti-police (my sister’s fiancée is a copper) and I know folks that work in the force and they’re all sound folks. Saying that though, the G20 riots were a bloody mess of mismanagement and bizarre savagery and require us all to think about the fundamental changes to police procedure that are creeping into effect. Why did officers cover their faces and conceal their ID numbers?

That’s a question for another time though, I want to talk about The Pirate Bay staffers being sentenced to jail for a year, and the fantastic statements given by Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi:

We can’t pay and we wouldn’t pay. Even if I had the money I would rather burn everything I owned, and I wouldn’t even give them the ashes.

That man needs a medal and a suspended sentence. Copyright is fucked, let’s face it. We all breach copyright regularly, especially residents of the UK. I’m fairly sure that my Sky+ box is actually illegal. I know the copies of CDs I make to put on my iPod are illegal, and I think the backups of my music are probably fair game for a civil case too. But that’s the problem, every person thinks as media as ‘theirs’, whilst companies view it as their own and only grant you a license to view/hear/use it. Why shouldn’t we copy media, change it, improve it, destroy it and do as we damn well please?

It all be down to cash, grasshopper. If remittance was offered every time we download a song nobody would have a problem with TPB, but when their revenue stream is disrupted our corporate friends get upset. When they get upset they get litigious, and when they get litigious huge sums of remuneration get bandied about. Is the amount of stuff downloaded via TPB really worth £2.4m? I think it’s probably not. Without dispersal like this a lot of people wouldn’t have bothered. How many people have watched your copy of Firefly for example? Should each of them have to pay the price of the boxed set to watch it?

I know free access to media is unsustainable, but surely we can come up with a better way than criminalising free access to media whilst keeping distribution locked to physical products or digitally restricted ones. Copyright is broken and needs a fix that the people and the corporations can agree on, after all we pay their wages.

In the mean time of course, TPB is still up:

But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That’s the only thing hollywood ever taught us.
-The Pirate Bay

The Darkest Of Liquids

Blackwater… Now anyone who’s heard of this company before has probably backed off a couple of feet from their screen already. They’re the kind of people that, once encountered, you remember with some trepidation. They’re what the US Government refers to as a “contractor”, but are basically guns for hire, and have no small amount of controversy attached to them.

Artists Impression
Artists Impression

I myself had heard of these guys a while back. As I read much in the way of geopolitical news, there was this little spat going on in Mesopotamia a few years ago and Blackwater took on several contracts in the wake of said conflict. The reason they were brought to my attention again was that, usually some might say, a group of their more enthusiastic workers are being brought to book for going above and beyond their customers expectations when dealing with a crowd of people who happened to be in a square they were going through.

After reading the news article I realised I had the interwebs close at hand and, therefore, looking at their company website might prove interesting, informative or even reassuring… perhaps they aren’t as dark as the liquid they’re currently employed to protect… sorry, I mean as evil as the previous regime of the country who’s rebirth into freedom and liberty they are currently being employed to support…

Ok, so the vague mandate these types of contractors seem to operate under makes me feel quite uneasy and the things they do with the power they have does nothing to dissuade me from this opinion. So please understand me rightly when I say this was nothing compared to how overwhelmingly disturbed I found myself after reading through their website.

After reading the first page I began to wonder if I had the correct website at all, the description of what they do and how they do it could adorn the title page of any service industry website I care to mention. As I progressed deeper into the bowels of their web presence I became more scared of the complete ambiguity that pervades the text than anything actually stated. It feels a bit like seeing something menacing in the darkness, then shining your touch there and it’s gone… You know you saw something but where’s it gone now??

Personal lowlights for me were all from the Pro Shop area:

  • The inspirational posters (“Blackwater Determination” being illustrated with an oil rig, wonder what they’re getting at there, and “EOE Baghdad 911” with what looks like their equivalent of the Bat-call spotlight).
  • An instructional DVD called “Basic Pistol Training” (can’t help thinking that, if it had Arabic writing on, it would surely get you arrested and imprisoned without charge).
  • The very worst must be in the Clearance section, where you can buy Blackwater branded “Christmas Onesies” for your baby (age ranges from 3 to 24 months).

As there are far too many “highlights” for me to comfortably cover in this post, I invite you to visit their site and sample this rather unsettling experience for yourselves…

DN-Nay!!

The European Court of Human Rights delivered it’s verdict today in the case of two men from Yorkshire who’s fingerprints and DNA were kept on the National DNA Database even though they were never convicted of any crime.

Thankfully, in my humble opinion, it has voted unanimously (yes boys and girls, that’s 17 to zero) that it is a breach of European human rights law for the Police to keep innocent people’s fingerprints and DNA information on their massive big brother type database. Score one for freedom and liberty :o)

The "Lick it, it's your's" rule makes a comeback in London.
The "Lick it, it's your's" rule moves from the playground to the streets of London

The Court made a very strongly worded statement, which basically said this is a really bad idea and that they are shocked that a government in a democratic society would even think about doing such a thing in an indescriminate way like this. They go-on to say, if someone’s committed a crime then it seems reasonable (to a point), but keeping the fingerprints and DNA of innocent people is simply unjustifiable in any context.

The Government are playing it down, but this was the highest court in Europe (The Grand Chamber no less, from which all judgements are final) and they awarded the two complainants £36k in compensation, so me thinks the law will change pretty soon else we might have may more cases brought (baring in mind that there are over 4 million samples on the DNA DB and 20% are those of innocent people)…

Sorry, if this isn’t interesting to you all (though it really should be) but it is very important to me (e.g. I was literally praying about it all day) and I’m so glad/relieved that it’s gone the way it justly should have. I’m sure you’ll hear this in the news anyway, but I couldn’t let it pass without shouting about it and hopefully discussing it with you all…

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but thank the merciful heavens for Europe…

Verdict in full