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Archive for June, 2012

Today’s bank stimulus explained in full

There are sophisticated arguments to be made, I’m sure, regarding the Bank of England’s decision to launch two new stimulus packages. But the Chancellor is intellectually lazy ideologue George Osborne, so here I suspect is the bottom line:

  • We now beginning to realise that in a deep and wide recession, austerity doesn’t work and the state must step in to get the economy back on track
  • Because I’m a politician, I won’t actually admit that in so many words
  • Because I’m a Tory, I will only act in such a fashion as to channel state funds through private sector financial institutions, which makes easy money for my kind of people

There remains the concern that in a liquidity trap, additional liquidity may not solve the problem. However, the Coalition approach to the leading dissenting economic opinions from the likes of Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz and Richard Koo is not to acknowledge them at all. And the media is probably not so much biased against such views, as it simply dislikes anything that might be difficult to explain in an entertaining fashion.

So I guess it’s good the continued recession is seen as a problem. But I’m not at all convinced we’re considering the full range of possible solutions, as I’d like to have seen during the worst economic crisis in my lifetime. Today’s move may be a good one, but I fear that would be as much by coincidence as by deliberate, thoughtful process.

The four main problems with the Draft Communications Data Bill

Draft Communications Data BillI was kindly given a hard copy of the Draft Communications Bill, the Snoopers Charter, yesterday evening by the inestimable Dr Jenny Woods. A brief review of the contents suggest four main problems: the foreword, the beginning, the middle, and the end.

Yes, it’s that bad. As a first reaction, here’s a key point from each section to highlight the authoritarian, statist thread running through the document.

The Foreword

“This information has played a role in nearly every serious organised crime investigation and in all major Security Service counter-terrorism operations over the past decade and is fundamental to policing across the UK.”

Translation: Because in serious cases, a good police officer will pursue every avenue, we will now make it possible for even bad police officers to pursue everyone, in every case.

In fact, it’s even worse than that. There doesn’t even need to be a case. See The Middle (after the jump) for just how broad the proposed powers are.

Note also that is is pure hyperventilation. As an example, a Home Office briefing (circa 2006) references the attempted firebombing of Glasgow Airport a few years back as the first example of communications data being used in to combat terrorism. Except that communications data did not help detect, prevent, or convict the terrorist. No-one is suggesting that security forces shouldn’t investigate the activities of someone who just tried to blow up an airport (or is suspected of planning to do so). But neither should anyone be suggesting that powers made available in the case of a terrorist attack should be made available to police as a matter of course.

As a reminder of just how paranoid and over-reaching the forces can be, I refer you to #TwitterJokeTrial.

The Beginning

Part 1, Clause 1 (1): “The Secretary of State may by order (a) ensure that communications data is available to be obtained from telecommunications operators by relevant public authorities in accordance with Part 2, or (b) otherwise facilitate the availability of communications data to be so obtained from telecommunications operators.”

Translation: The State will force the monitoring of all citizens, all the time. Read more

Caption Competition

Sometimes photos are begging for a tagline. The important thing to know about the photo below is that off to the left stands Dave. I feel the expressions on Chez and my face need an explanatory caption. Just what is Dave up to?

Caption Competition

.. insert caption here ..

Thank you, Mike Croshaw Photography

Full Band Shot

The Shinfield Parish Jubilee Bash

It’s not easy, getting a decent photo as a band, if all you’re doing is having fun in your spare time. A pro would be a bit of an indulgence, but getting the right shot takes too much time to do casually. So it was good when guitarist Dave turns out to know photographer Mike Croshaw.

Mike’s only just getting started with photography, and is still at the dedicated amateur stage. Which means we get to be a test exercise for him. That gets us some nice cheap shots! I’m rather fond of the composite above, stretching across the entire stage.

A nice little bit portrait work on his site, too. It’s cool to see someone really diving into something new. But enough of him, here’s a little selection of the pics he kindly took of my lot: