30 December 2010

David F Noble

"Arguably the greatest critical historian of science and technology died on Monday December 27, 2010, suddenly and unexpectedly of natural causes and within a few days of being admitted to hospital."

Obituary on Counterpunch by D Rancourt.

Books on Amazon UK.

Beyond the promised land.

"If we look at the idea and structure of a promise. ... It shifts our focus of attention from the today, the moment, the here and now, from the present, to some future fulfilment of the promise. That's one of the implications of a promise. Secondly, it shifts the source of your destiny: that is, from you shaping your own life, to some kind of faith that I will as the keeper of the promise. ... "

Update, Selected web-links for David F. Noble

23 December 2010

Man Tax

Does the student loan company discrimate between people on the basis of their gender?

The Student Loan Company provides loans for students in order to fund them through college.

Although they do not publish the figures with regard to gender (FoI in the offing), I anticipate that they provide loans on the basis of whether or not someone has a place at college: not on the basis of their gender.

But what about collecting repayment of the loans?

Anecdotal evidence is saying that there is a disparity of repayment based upon gender. Men are paying back loans; women are not paying back loans. I appreciate that the latter, is a sweeping statement; of course, when people (men or women) earn sufficient to pay back their student loans they are doing so. However, there is a pay discrepancy between men and women of, from memory, ten percent. Further, women take time off from work for child rearing. Both of these factors impact upon the ability of women to pay back the student loan.

There would be nothing wrong with this if we were talking about tax: each paying to their respective abilities to pay; the higher earner paying more than the lower earner.

But this isn't a tax. It is a loan. Loans don't look into the personal circumstances of the one in debt.

On the basis of anecdotal evidence, and the terms of these loans, a greater burden is being placed upon one group of people when it comes to paying back student loans. This group of people are defined by their gender, so arguably, the student loan system is discriminatory.

The legislation, section 1(2) Sex Discrimination Act 1975, provides,

"(2)In any circumstances relevant for the purposes of a provision to which this subsection applies, a person discriminates against a woman if—

(a)on the ground of her sex, he treats her less favourably than he treats or would treat a man, or
[F2(b)he applies to her a provision, criterion or practice which he applies or would apply equally to a man, but—
(i)which puts or would put women at a particular disadvantage when compared with men,
(ii)which puts her at that disadvantage, and
(iii)which he cannot show to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.]

Which, of course, is read in conjunction with section 2(1) of the Act,

"Section 1, and the provisions of Parts II and III relating to sex discrimination against women, are to be read as applying equally to the treatment of men, and for that purpose shall have effect with such modifications as are requisite."

Working through section 1(2) of the Act and assuming that the anecdotal evidence with regard to repayment is correct, s1(2)(b)(i) and s1(2)(b)(ii) are in being breached depending upon s1(2)(b)(iii) of the Act.

Is the student loan system, as implemented at present, a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim?

This analysis hasn't covered any case law (due to time constraints) which if covered would give clarity to the situation.

But on the basis of the above, I don't think that the mechanism is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The system is a disproportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim; particulalry, since there are other ways in which the funding of students through higher education could be done.

ps The Equality Commission are the people to ask as to whether or not this argument has any substance, and if it does, they are the ones to de-rail the student loan system.

21 December 2010

Detective Instinct

The Mindhacks blog drew our attention to some work they did about scopolamine. Here's the link.

Mindhacks is always worth a read but the thing that struck me was the example they chose of the police in late 1920s Hawaii using scopolamine in order to question a suspect. At the time the procedure was somewhat unusual and was written up in a medical journal. After a child had been kidnapped from school and a ransom had been paid, the child turned up dead. Since the kidnapper was thought to be oriental in appearance the police arrested the familly's Japanese chauffeur. The police tried to torture a confession from him but to no avail; so they decided to inject him with scopolamine.

"Under the influence of the substance the man became co-operative, confessed to the crime and described his evil plan in intricate detail, although he quickly recanted when the effects wore off. Wanting a confession that would stick, the drug interrogation was administered for a second time, only for the police to be embarrassed when real murderer was caught."

As usual there was no attempt to validate the technique.

Of course, this couldn't happen today, could it?

17 December 2010

The Sienna Zugzwang

It was only yesterday that I was writing about the "Phone Hacking Stalemate where I wrote,

"Most probably in view of the civil cases pertaining to the phone hacking scandal crawling through the courts the CPS says,

""It is possible that further allegations will be made and the CPS remains willing to consider any evidence submitted to us by the police. To facilitate this, the CPS and the Metropolitan Police Service intend to convene a panel of police officers and prosecutors to assess those allegations with a view to determining whether or not investigations should take place."

Lo and behold, here is a story from the Telegraph, "'New evidence' found in phone-hacking lawsuit.

"Lawyers for Sienna Miller claim to have discovered evidence which shows that a senior News of the World executive was aware a private investigator was being paid to hack into the actress' voicemails.

The claims are detailed in a document lodged with the High Court in preparation for Ms Miller's civil case against the newspaper. She is suing News of the World for breach of privacy and harassment.

The claims come just a week after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that there was no new evidence which would justify bringing prosecutions against any other journalists from News of the World.


It has been suggested that Scotland Yard failed to investigate the phone tapping at the News of the World properly and that evidence implicating other journalists in the hacking of voicemails was ignored. But last week the CPS said that – despite a number of new witnesses coming forward to say that the practice was widespread at the newspaper – none of them had evidence which would reach the threshold necessary for a criminal prosecution.

See Inforrm's, "“Phone Hacking – Questions to Answer” – Brian Cathcart" note on the matter. See the Guardian's story, Sienna Miller Phone Hacking Documents, which gives Miller's Particulars of Claim. Expect the scandal to keep simmering.

Update, 5th Jan 2011. The Telegraph tells us, "The News of the World suspends staff member over alleged phone hacking."

Sienna has kept the heat up,

"The allegation is understood to have stemmed from fresh litigation brought about by Sienna Miller, the actress and model, ..."

but as yet, no zugzwang from Scotland Yard/CPS.

Update 7th January 2011. The Independent reports, "Phone hacking: Now Met police are in the dock. Calls for force to lose control of investigation after 'News of the World' executive is suspended."

This is the sort of thing I meant by the Sienna Zugzwang.

"Britain's largest police force faces growing calls for it to be stripped of its powers in the inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World, with MPs and public figures demanding that an independent police force take over the case.


It emerged last night that Scotland Yard had known of evidence against Mr Edmondson four years ago when officers were investigating the paper's former royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who were both convicted of unlawfully intercepting telephone calls in 2007. Asked yesterday why it had not questioned Mr Edmondson, the Met refused to comment, but a source said that senior figures at the Yard had resisted broadening the investigation.


Last night the Crown Prosecution Service declined to say whether its lawyers had been sent the "new"
[note the speech marks] evidence yet by the police.


Brian Paddick, a former senior Metropolitan Police officer who is taking legal action over allegations that his phone was hacked, told The Independent last night: "When the police are forced to disclose information by court order then it tends to raise doubts about whether the case has been properly investigated or not."

Update 9th January 2011, The Guardian Editorial is headed, "Phone hacking: Questions keep coming. We need answers",

"A powerful news organisation pays cash to avert scrutiny of dubious practices. Those practices are inadequately investigated by a police force that is thought to collaborate with the same news organisation. MPs say their inquiries are tempered by fear. The man who presided over the newspaper at the centre of the allegations is now the prime minister's chief media aide.

These are the ingredients for a major scandal. Mr Cameron needs to start responding to it as such.

Clarity is now beginning to appear in the mainstream.

Hotel Victor

The news tells us that Julian Assange has got bail under various conditions one of which is that he's staying as a guest of Vaughan Smith, (that is, Henry Vaughan Lockhart Smith) at Ellingham Hall.

Throughout the wikileaks phenomenon everyone has been wondering whether or not Assange is some valiant people's journalist or an actor performing a role, financed and created by the world of spooks, in order to peddle propaganda.

I don't know the truth of the matter.

In order to asssertain one way or another all I, or anyone can do, is look at the evidence.

So, who's this Smith character that has bailed Assange?

According to the wikipedia link above,

"Smith was an officer in the British Army’s Grenadier Guards, serving in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Germany. Smith captained the Army shooting team and won the inter-army rifle shooting championship."

Interesting company for a people's journalist to keep. (Interesting CV of Smith's: two places noted for psyops/counter intelligence/General Kitson).

Where's Assange staying?

"Ellingham Hall is a country house in the English county of Norfolk, .... It is situated in 600 acres (240 ha) of countryside .... Built from grey brick in the 18th century during the Georgian period, Ellingham Hall is a three-storey building with five bays, a large central doorway and ten bedrooms. ... The building has belonged to the Smith family for 225 years and before then the Johnsons, whom the Smiths married into.[2]

The hall is currently owned by Vaughan Smith, ...

All very interesting - very much part of the Establishment.

A bit more about Smith from an article in the Telegraph, "Inside Story: Life on the frontline",

"The Prekaz massacre of March 1998, in which 58 Albanians were killed by Serb forces in the Drenica Valley region of Kosovo, was a key trigger for the conflict which eventually led to the Nato invasion of Yugoslavia. Vaughan Smith was one of the first cameramen to arrive in the province. "We heard there was fighting Prekaz, so I went to film the Serbs attacking this tiny hamlet," he remembers. "I got shot at and a bullet hit my phone, which was in a pouch around my waist with cigarettes and a roll of 3,000 Deutschmarks. I felt something but didn't realise I'd been hit, so I carried on filming. After, I thought I'd better contact my missus to say I was alright and discovered my phone was not capable of making calls. It slowed down the bullet, but ultimately I think I was saved by the Deutschmarks.""

So, Smith played a key propaganda role in NATO's illegal war.

I don't want to share any conclusions that I may have drawn from the above other than to say that it gives a massive dent to the credibility of wikileaks.

I've said before that it looks as though wikileaks is chaff seeded with lies, the above reinforces my opinion.

Update 17th Dec 2010

From the Guardian story, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange granted bail: as it happened at 3:27pm

"Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange's lawyers, said the five new people who would be accepted as surety were former journalist and author of The First Casualty Sir Phillip Knightley; magazine publisher Felix Dennis; Nobel prize winner Sir John Sulston; former Labour minister and chairman of Faber & Faber publishing house Lord Matthew Evans; and Professor Patricia David."

16 December 2010

Bridge to Hell

Back in 2008, prosecutor for the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, wrote about people having their organs taken. The people were non-Albanians (Kosovan Serbs) who were taken to Albania where they had their organs extracted. As one would imagine, from the wikipedia link,

"The book caused a considerable controversy with Kosovan and Albanian officials denying these allegations and Russian and Serbian officials demanding more investigation."

The story appeared in The Telegraph, Serb prisoners 'were stripped of their organs in Kosovo war'",

"According to the sources, senior figures in the Kosovo Liberation Army were aware of the scheme, in which hundreds of young Serbs were allegedly taken by truck from Kosovo to northern Albania where their organs were removed. Miss Del Ponte provides grim details of the alleged organ harvesting, and of how some prisoners were sewn up after having kidneys removed.

"The victims, deprived of a kidney, were then locked up again, inside the barracks, until the moment they were killed for other vital organs. In this way, the other prisoners were aware of the fate that awaited them, and according to the source, pleaded, terrified, to be killed immediately," Miss Del Ponte writes.

But nothing seemed to happen. The story went quiet.

Now we have a draft report from Dick Marty, rapporteur for the Council of Europe,

"Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo 12 Dec 2010" [retrieved 16.12.2010],

This report is worth reading in full.

"In concluding, we should once again recall that that this report has been drawn up in the wake of the revelations that appeared in the memoirs of the former Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY. Shocked by those disclosures, the Parliamentary Assembly entrusted us with the task of looking more closely into the allegations and the human rights violations said to have been committed in Kosovo in the material period. The elements reported in the former Prosecutor's book primarily concerned the alleged trafficking of human organs. Our difficult, sensitive investigations enabled us not only to substantiate those elements, but also to shed light on further, related allegations and to draw a very sombre, worrying picture of what took place, and is to some extent continuing to take place, in Kosovo. Our task was not to conduct an criminal investigation -we are not empowered to do so, and above all we lack the necessary resources - let alone to pronounce judgments of guilt or innocence.

176. The information we have gathered nonetheless concerns extremely grave events that took place in the very heart of Europe.

Phone Hacking Stalemate

The CPS has released a statement (10/12/2010) explaining that the prosecution of the phone hacking allegations are to be shelved.

They explain that the person who brought the world's attention to the allegations by publishing an article in the New York Times refused to give further details to the police, consequently there is no evidence upon which to proceed.

Most probably in view of the civil cases pertaining to the phone hacking scandal crawling through the courts the CPS says,

""It is possible that further allegations will be made and the CPS remains willing to consider any evidence submitted to us by the police. To facilitate this, the CPS and the Metropolitan Police Service intend to convene a panel of police officers and prosecutors to assess those allegations with a view to determining whether or not investigations should take place."

But finish with ...

"...a criminal prosecution can only take place if those making allegations of wrongdoing are prepared to cooperate with a criminal investigation and to provide admissible evidence of the wrongdoing they allege."

For detailed legal analysis see, "Jack of Kent: MetGate: the law relating to interception of telephone calls and voicemail" and for comparison, a case where there is ample evidence but no prosecution, see "She cut me."

Loss of Scholarship

Student loans/grants/fees are in the news: the background doesn't need to be rehearsed here.

One aspect that isn't addressed is the scholarship aspect of student grants.

There was a time - before 1987 - when A-level students were assessed in a normative manner. The A-level results for the whole country were collated and from that the pass grades were calculated. That is, if ten percent of the population got sixty percent or above, the pass mark for a grade A was sixty percent or above. One year the pass mark for a grade A may have been seventy-five percent or above, another year it may have been eighty percent or above. This method of moving goal posts meant that your results were linked to how well the rest of the country did in the exam.

If you got a student grant and free tuition on the basis of this assessment criteria you were effectively given a scholarship.

Post 1987 the assessment method changed from the normative one described above to a criteria assessment. If you fulfilled certain criteria you were deemed to have attained a particular grade.

I can see the argument for the virtues of criteria assessment rather than normative assessment.

However, why can't normative assessment run in parallel to criteria assessment?

In this way the best in the country can receive scholarships - full grant and free tuition - from the State?

The people who would be capable of getting normative A grades and similar are the ones who are being cheated in the current arrangement.

See "A-levels worse than useless for a similar post to the above.

13 December 2010

Something Smells Funny

In medicine, where a screening test has false positivies and false negatives such that the test brings with it risks as to its usefullness; the test is dropped.

For an example, consider the Telegraph report, "Prostate cancer test is too risky, say doctors" where,

"It has been claimed that the test leads to over-diagnosis as it cannot distinguish between cancer and other conditions, such as a benign enlargement of the prostate or a urinary infection. Nor is a negative result fully reliable, as it can miss a tumour and dangerously provide a false reassurance."

A test that has its effectiveness judged on the basis of its false positive and false negative rates seems sensible to me.

Now, imagine if someone said that they had trained a dog to sniff out cancer, would you believe them?

I doubt it. Nevertheless, if false positive and false negative rates were provided in support of the claim we might think differently.

So, why do we accept this screening test when it comes to drug screening? That is, using sniffer dogs to indicate whether or not someone is carrying drugs?

I've blogged about this in the past "Validity of Your Assay".

Someone was stopped and searched leaving a tube station on the basis of the behaviour of a sniffer dog towards him. He tried to seek a legal remedy and that was the last that I heard. Periodically I would search for the case but nothing came of my searches.

I thought of this case again when I read Leveson LJ's recent lecture about expert evidence. On the grapevine, I found that there was an attempt to get a hearing but the court would not allow legal aid. At which point the case ground into the dust.

So, we've got a situation where a screening test is used as the basis of reasonableness in justifying the stopping and searching of someone. However, no criteria that describes the validity of the test is given by those operating the test. Further, reports suggest that the screening test has a false positive rate of 75%.

Not only that but the screening test can be gamed either unwittingly, or wittingly.

Animals are sensitive to their handlers unwittingly giving them cues, see, Clever Hans. Cues which would simply be reflections of the handlers prejudices.

The handler could also train the dog to behave as though drugs were present on the basis of hidden cue.

All this because Release did not manage to have their case heard.

(The Guardian has another example).

Update 19th February 2011. It appears that someone else has grasped the significance of the Clever Hans effect to sniffer dogs. You can read about a study reported by the Economist on the Mind Hacks blog, Sniffing Out the Unconscious.

Why wasn't this study done years and years and years ago? Talk about science being manipulated by those who control the purse strings.

06 December 2010

P(A Person Has Committed A Crime | The Person Has Been Convicted Of That Crime)

What is the probability that a person has committed a crime given that the person has been convicted of that crime?

With a prison population of 88,000, if the answer to that question was 99%, 880 people would be in prison who had not committed the crime for which they were incarcerated.

The question forces us to think about the fiction of conviction and the fact of committing. One is a reality constructed in our minds and supported by violence, the other a reality that is independent of our minds. If someone commits an offence and we don't convict them, it doesn't mean that they haven't done it; similarly, if someone is convicted of an offence, it doesn't mean that they did it.

Unfortunately, this distinction is easily forgotten.

Ask people whether or not to bring back capital punishment; ask people whether or not it is acceptable to conduct medical experiments on prisoners; ask if prisoners should have rights, and the fiction of conviction becomes the reality of 'they committed the crime'.

Does this matter?

To the people who have been convicted but have not committed an offence it matters. But to society as a whole?

To society as a whole it is just as important to convict people who have committed a crime as it is to acquit people who have not committed a crime. Due to the imperfections of the process, for the greater good, we must accept some injustice.

Acceptance of injustice is difficult enough, especially to the victim, but what about the nature of the injustice. Being a victim of circumstance is different from being a victim of others.

What happens when people are prosecuted not because it is thought that they have necessarily committed the crime but because they are vulnerable, less able to defend themselves. What happens if policing is done such that people are pursued not because it is thought that they have committed the offence in question but because they are not especially able to defend themselves.

Some appalling examples of wrong convictions easily spring to mind, such as Stefan Kiszko.

I can't see into the hearts of the police officers who pursued Stefan Kiszko; I don't know whether they held the belief that he had committed the crime, but I can imagine similar circumstances, perhaps less extreme, where those who convict have no interest whatsoever as to whether the person found guilty has committed the crime. It is rumoured that some prosecutors get a greater satisfaction in convicting a person knowing that he hasn't committed the crime rather than knowing that he has committed the crime.

Not only can one imagine instances of people being convicted of a crime that they didn't commit due to unfortunate circumstances such as bad luck; due to incompetence or spite of police and prosecution services, one can also envision people being convicted for political reasons.

Handing over the baton to Gareth Pierce we have,

"It is not difficult to achieve a conviction of the innocent. Over many decades several common factors have been identified, [...] achieving the co-operation of witnesses by means of a combination of inducements and fear of the alternative (the tried and tested method of obtaining evidence for the prosecution on which many US cases rely); the provision of factual information by scientists where there is no proper basis for it (a recurrent theme in UK convictions as well as in the US); reliance on ‘identification’ evidence which is no such thing. Add to that the political will to achieve a prosecution, and the rest is easy. Fabrication demands outright dishonesty, but it isn’t always necessary, or necessary in every aspect of an investigation: the momentum of suspicion, and a blinkered determination to focus on a particular thesis and ignore evidence pointing to the contrary, is a certain route to achieving the desired end."

The more we consider the question, "What is the probability that a person has committed a crime given that the person has been convicted of that crime?", the more difficult it will be to convict innocent people.
Update, 24th Dec 2010. The following paper may be of interest,

A Derivation of Probabilities of Correct and
Wrongful Conviction in a Criminal Trial
Henrik Lando
Copenhagen Business School and Lefic
March 14, 2006

Update 28th February 2011
Listened to Radio4 last night. Gerry Conlon (innocent of Guildford 4 bombing yet 15 years in jail) said 20,000 miscarriages of justices p.a "

Update 7th April 2011. I've had a couple of thoughts about putting a number to the question I asked at the beginning of the post: the probability that someone has committed a crime given that they've been convicted is 0.5.

Firstly, either the person did commit it (p=1) or he didn't (p=0), the average of which is ((1+0)/2) 0.5.

Secondly, we know that people do commit crimes and that of those who do some are convicted, in this case p=1. Unfortunately, we know that some people are convicted on the basis of lies (Birmingham 6, etc), incompetence or mistake, which takes our value of p=0. Taking these three values and finding their average, ((0.5 + 0 + 1)/3) doesn't shift us from 0.5. Until we know the proportions of people who definitely did do it and the proportions who definitely did not do it, we can't shift from this 0.5 probability level.

As far as I'm concerned, this research is screaming to be done since, as is, we're saddled with a criminal punishment system where there is only a 0.5 probability that a person who has been convicted of a crime committed it. Yes, I know that our prejudices tell us differently but we should be able to do better: our system shouldn't be based on faith and prejudice.
Update 14th April 2011, from Mindhacks, How to jail the innocent,
"The Innocence Project has used DNA technology to overturn hundreds of wrongful convictions. Slate has an excellent two part series on the two main reasons why these people were falsely jailed: eyewitness misidentifications and false confessions."

Update 12th August 2011, again from Mindhacks, False Confession Fishing in the Lab.
"During the test, which was filmed by a hidden camera, ten participants actually did cheat. Bafflingly, though, another eight falsely confessed when accused by the experimenter, despite participants having been told cheats would be fined €50 ($72). "
Vaughan also gives us, "The Persuasive Power of False Confessions": yet more scientific studies suggesting that there are a lot of innocent people who have been falsely convicted of a crime.

This time the focus is on the corrosive effect towards the objectivity of investigators upon hearing a confession: once the confession is heard they turn into Procrustes and fit ambiguous evidence to the hypothesis that the 'confessee' did it.

Update 22nd September 2011. Columbia University provides the study, A Broken System: Error Rates in Capital Cases, 1973-1995" and a follow-up study, A Broken System, Part II: Why There Is So Much Error in Capital Cases, and What Can Be Done About It.

The first report provides the following diagram:
which gives us an answer to the question posed at the very top of this post. What is the probability that a person has committed a crime (in this case one which courts the death penalty) given that the person has been convicted of that crime? Based on this work the answer is 32 %; you would've got a better chance from flipping a coin than going through this judicial system.

If that's the answer for capital crimes, what about non-capital offences? Criminal damage, theft, fraud etc.

The methodology used in the report is that of results from the justice system being used to test the justice system. It isn't a case of some sort of scientific analysis being used. This would be better ... as to whether or not any State has a system that could withstand this scrutiny, I don't know.

Update 3rd October 2011. Of course, don't forget that the fiction of the findings of a court are applicable to civil cases as well as criminal ones. Hence in both situations,
"We must not allow [Court] decisions to construct our reality."

Update 5th October 2011. It looks as though my question will be answered soon. Academics at Probability and Law blog have got the funding to answer my question.
"We have already got the support of people at the Criminal Cases Review Commission to look at cases on file to do exactly this."

04 November 2010

Too Much Sugar?

Tate & Lyle have just been to court in order to get the UK gov to review a decision as to how much enviro subsidy they should get for a biomass driven combined heat and power plant. (Tate & Lyle Industries Ltd & Anor, R. (On the application of) v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change & Anor [2010] EWHC 2752.)

The case is worth reading because it gives a lucid explanation of the way the Renewable Energy Market works in the UK; the case gives the appropriate regulations explaining about banding and gives their ultimate origin as being the EU.

Tate & Lyle were whinging 'cos the UK gov had made a mistake in determining what funding should be given and hence what renewal obligation certificate (ROC) rating should be given to their equipment. However, Tate & Lyle where whinging 'cos they did not benefit from this mistake.

They went to court and said that they hadn't been treated fairly because everyone else had been over subsidised by the governments error except for them.

They were given short shrift by the court on this issue.

However, if they were whining because they didn't get over subsidised, who did get over subsidised, and by how much?

Update, 5th November 2010

Closer reading of the case at paragraph 63,

"63 The review under Article 33(2) has started in October 2010. It is expected to last three years. Until it is completed, in 2013, the Secretary of State is in no position to know whether, as a result of the increase in wholesale electricity prices, other technologies are being over-subsidised under the present continuing allocation or not. It is not possible to know whether those technologies are in the same position as Tate & Lyle until such a review takes place. In respect of some, their costs may have been increased at a greater rate than revenue. In respect of others, their costs may have been reduced. But the statutory scheme cannot work at all if such features are to be constantly updated. The only occasion for updating is either a lengthy review lasting a number of years in respect of all technologies or the review contemplated by Article 33(3) in respect of one or more technologies once Article 33(3) is triggered."

Which means that on this particular issue, trying to find examples of over subsidy would be pointless until 2013.
Update 6th June 2011, Tate and Lyle Sugars Ltd v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change & Anor [2011] EWCA Civ 664 is a report of a failed appeal. It was obviously worth Tate and Lyle's while to pursue this claim.

15 September 2010

Financial Services (Regulation of Deposits and Lending) Bill

First reading of the title Bill by Douglas Carswell. He discusses the Bill on his blog, here.

In a nutshell, he's proposing that bank customers can prevent the banks lending the money that they deposited. I imagine the outcome would be that interest would be paid on the money that is lent - the ownership of the money belonging to the bank - interest (for want of a better word) would also be paid on the non-lending money - the ownership remaining with the depositor, but the money would be used as fractional reserve.

Anything but privatise currency.

As yet, it is not on Hansard. I will provide the links here when they are updated and I hope to comment on the Bill as or if it progresses through Parliament.

14 September 2010

South West Trains Taking Money Under False Pretences?

There follows a peculiar tale from the Daily Echo under the title,

Couple fined £114 for getting off South West Train too early at Eastleigh

Which says, " A HAMPSHIRE couple were fined more than £100 – for getting off a too train early.

Emma Clark and her fiancé Davyd Winter-Bates were travelling back from London to Southampton when they decided to hop off two stops earlier at Eastleigh.

When they handed over their tickets they were shocked to be told they had breached railway rules and were ordered to pay a fine of £114 – double the price of two standard fares.


"A South West Trains spokesman said: "[...]. All tickets on the UK rail network have specific terms and conditions and customers should check that they are purchasing the right ticket for their journey. It is a specific condition of all advance purchase tickets [...] that leaving the train at an intermediate station is not permitted. [...]

"In this case, the customers bought a discount ticket on the megatrain.com website that did not allow them to travel from London to Eastleigh. The customers would have known this as the website they used to book the ticket does not offer Eastleigh as a destination. Unfortunately, by breaking the conditions of travel, this meant they had an additional charge to pay. This would have been the case in a similar situation anywhere on the UK rail network."

The first question to ask is whether or not the terms of the contract that the spokesman for South West Trains discussed are incorporated into the contract: if they have been incorporated into the contract there isn't anything else to discuss. However, there are a number of cases that point out that if you are trying to incorporate onerous terms into a contract you must draw the attention of the other party to these onerous terms.

One of these cases is Interfoto Picture Library Ltd v Stiletto Visual Programmes Ltd [1989] QB 433. Although terms in contracts can be incorporated by notice, there must be sufficient notice for this to happen. Further, the more onerous the term, the greater the sufficieny of notice required for incorporation. Then there is the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 which has a reasonableness test - do you think that what happened to the couple was reasonable?

Another point is that penalty clauses are not enforced under English law if their purpose is to punish the party in breach, rather than to provide compensation.

I wonder how many people have been charged by these train companies? And, I wonder when someone is going to challenge them?

Paddick Begins To Tie A Noose

I should start by saying that the only sensible source of analysis of the metgate/hackgate affair is coming from Jack of Kent; eg see, "Metgate A Guide to the Current Issues".

(Note - Coulson is very much a bit player in the saga; anyone who thinks otherwise, perhaps with the exception of Coulson, is not getting it).

Anyway, the BBC reports, "Brian Paddick launches legal action on phone hacking"

"A former senior Metropolitan Police officer has issued judicial review proceedings against the force over newspaper phone-hacking claims.

Ex-deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick says it failed to warn him his privacy may have been compromised.

It is anticipated that the process that will unfold will produce more details and revelations. Yates is in the crosshairs; the sleazy Levy scandal may surface again, and News Int may be finished. The fuse is fizzing but it isn't clear the size of the bomb and who's going to be destroyed by it.

It also makes a mockery of Prescot's tiresome whine that he was going to launch a judicial review. Yeah right, ...
Update 17th September 2010 ... and trailing in Paddick's wake comes Prescot, "Phone hacking: Lord Prescott seeks judicial review of Met police.

The peer joins Labour MP Chris Bryant, former Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick and journalist Brendan Montague in asking the courts to decide whether police handled the case properly."

Clear article by Telegraph, well worth a visit.

Questions that arise from it ...

Will there be more people who come forward? I would guess, Yes.

What about the people who have no clue that they were the victims of crime? This is the sort of thing that I was talking about when I said, "Note - Coulson is very much a bit player in the saga; anyone who thinks otherwise, perhaps with the exception of Coulson, is not getting it."

It is suggested that there are not four but ninety-one victims of these crimes, yet only four have come forward to seek a remedy. I would imagine that there are a lot more than ninety-one such victims yet the Met hasn't even told them.

09 September 2010

Split-Protein Reassembly - Very Clever

Saw this ...

... and thought it was very clever.

Here's the link to the paper,

A turn-on split-luciferase sensor for the direct detection of poly(ADP-ribose) as a marker for DNA repair and cell death

Jennifer L. Furman, Pui-Wing Mok, Shengyi Shen, Cliff I. Stains and Indraneel Ghosh
Chem. Commun., 2010, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C0CC02229B , Communication

Bill 68

My feeds tell me that, "Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill 2010-11" was read in the Commons with Hansard recording the event.

The exchange recorded is well worth the read,

"Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to remove provisions permitting Ministers to overrule decisions of the Information Commissioner and Information Tribunal; to limit the time allowed for public authorities to respond to requests involving consideration of the public interest; to amend the definition of public authorities; and for connected purposes.


More in the Hansard link.

08 September 2010

Leicester Laser

The BBC reports, "Leicester boy loses 'laser pen' appeal"

"A 14-year-old youth accused of shining a laser pen at a police helicopter in Leicester has failed to convince the High Court he should not be prosecuted.

The boy was charged with recklessly endangering an aircraft after the helicopter was targeted in October.

His barrister argued it was not in the public interest to impose a criminal record for "10 minutes of stupidity".

But the judge refused to intervene, saying the consequences could have been "catastrophic".

The charge of "recklessly endangering an aircraft" comes from Article 73 of SI 1970, The Air Navigation Order 2005,

"73. A person shall not recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, or any person therein."

According, Article 148(7) and Schedule C, Part 14,

"If any person contravenes [Article 148(7)] he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum and on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both."

After having said all that, recall the following story, again from the BBC.

"Crackdown on aircraft laser louts" from 12th Dec 2009. This gives background to the 'laser scourge' and explains the Article 73 charge,

"Those caught are charged under article 73 of the Air Navigation Order for recklessly endangering an aircraft - a penalty carrying a maximum five-year jail term.

It is the same charge used in air rage cases and, according to regulators, far from ideal.

The CAA says the sheer number of cases has prompted it to draft a new, more specific charge of shining a light at an aircraft - due to come into effect in January.

It hopes the changes will increase the number of prosecutions, make the law clearer and deter offenders.

Well, the sought for, charge has come into effect (see Lights which dazzle) and is found in Article 222 of The Air Navigation Order 2009 (No. 3015),

"222. A person must not in the United Kingdom direct or shine any light at any aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot of the aircraft."

The penalty for this can be found in Article 241(6) and Schedule 13 Part B,

"Any person who [...] is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale."

Once these two provisions have been reviewed, we can go back to the story from the BBC and ask ourselves whether or not it is true that the 14 year old boy asked the High Court not to be prosecuted. Instead, one suspects that his argument would go along the lines of, why is it in the public interest to prosecute him under the 2005 instrument rather than the 2009 instrument?

"... Mr Justice Collins said it was up to the CPS to decide whether to mount a full prosecution."

But that doesn't tell us much as to how the public interest test is being applied when there are two competing provisions on the statute books; of which, one was specifically drafted for the behaviour of the accused.

This is somewhat troubling. I wonder if there is an appeal in the offing.
Update 9th Sept 2010.

A closer reading of the 2009 Regulations gives the commencement in article 1 (1) as the 1st January 2010. In other words, when the boy from Leicester committed his act (October, presumably 2009), the regulations were not law. He couldn't have been charged under these regulations. Sigh.

The question still remains as to what will be used to charge and prosecute future alleged miscreants, but not this one. It looks like the older law will is being used, for example, from 14th August 2010,

"Man charged after laser shone at police helicopter

A man has been charged after a laser was shone at a police helicopter in Cheshire.

The laser was directed at the cockpit of Cheshire Constabulary's aircraft as it flew over Winsford on Wednesday night, police said.

The 27-year-old from Winsford is charged with recklessly endangering an aircraft.

He is due to appear before magistrates in Northwich next month, a police spokesman said.

Fingerprint Examiners Fallacy, Again

I made a comment on a blog post, Law and Lawyers: The blue touchpaper: reflections on science and law, over at Law and Lawyers.

I've posted before about the fingerprint examiners fallacy and given examples of said. The fingerprint examiners fallacy is an ongoing example of what I was writing about when I commented on the 'Law and Lawyers' blog: that is, the objective and subjective realities of science and law.

A recent example can be found in a report by the Guardian of an ongoing trial, "Palm print led to arrest of teenage rapist 25 years later, court hears".

"A teenager who raped a woman in her home and forced her flatmate to join in the abuse was caught by his palm print 25 years later, a court heard today."

The problem I have with this sort of thing is that techniques such as palm print identification have not been validated.

In a double blind trial, what is the success rate of the forensic technician who provided the evidence for the court? What is the national average amongst forensic technicians? What is the error curve for this particular technique?

If I were a juror I would expect all of these answers so that I would be able to give the appropriate weight to the evidence given.

Without this information the evidence has no probative value it is simply prejudicial.

07 September 2010

Journo Award

Goes to whoever wrote the following, "Council fined after child injured at Discovery Museum."

Leaving aside that the piece doesn't bear the author's name (he/she may not have been able to do anything about that), the piece contains facts (relevant law) and figures (costs and fine), viz,

"Newcastle City Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

It was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,733.

As for the story itself: it tells of a young girl being injured by an exhibit at a museum. She required immediate surgery and follow-up surgery.


A story from the Metro, "Bargain shop slammed for shipping Polo mints across the world", in full

"A bargain shop has come in for a hole lot of criticism after shipping Polo mints from Indonesia – even though they are made in a factory just up the road.

Poundworld in York sells sweets produced 11,700km (7,300 miles) away, rather than ones from the Nestlé plant in the same city.

And the bizarre arrangement seems to work – allowing it to sell eight-roll multi-packs for £1, compared with most other stores’ price of about 49p per roll.

‘It’s part of the nonsense of the global economy,’ said Andy D’Agorne, leader of the city council’s Green Party group.

‘It’s cheaper on the basis of the current economic system that takes no account of the environmental impact.

‘If this was taken into account, [the mints] would be far more expensive.’

Poundworld said it sought ‘exceptional value for money’, which British-made products did not provide. It added the Polos came from a British wholesaler, so it was not involved in importing them.

Nestlé said: ‘Unfortunately, it is out of our control if retailers import items that were never designed for the UK.’

This story has also been reported by the BBC and local newspapers.

It is a curious story; firstly, Nestlé's comment; is it really out of their control? If these products were not produced by contractual agreement Nestlé would have a cause of action in passing off (or similar if the trademark is registered).

I don't believe that they're without Nestlé's control.

Is this the beginning of the end of polo production in York? Are we seeing controlled media demolition of the production facility in the UK?

Another aspect of the story is the lack of any explanation of parallel importing,

"A parallel import is a non-counterfeit product imported from another country without the permission of the intellectual property owner."

Note, 'of the intellectual property owner'; the importation of the Polos may not have the permission of Nestlé (although I doubt it); but some of the profit is still going back to them.

The story, illustrating the apparent lack of market control, illustrates how ordinarily, using IP law, markets are tightly controlled.

06 September 2010

Abortion by Deceit

A depressing tale is found in Ahmed, R v [2010] EWCA Crim 1949.

A woman enters into an arranged marriage; the husband is from Blighty, twenty years her senior, she is from Pakistan, and doesn't speak any English.

The marriage was not a happy one. The woman fell pregnant but by this time the marriage existed in name only.

The husband decided that the wife should have an abortion. He made arrangements and acted as interpretor; the wife was under the impression that she was visiting clinics in order to have a minor operation to cure something wrong with her blood. However, before she went under the knife, the clinic became suspicious as to why a young woman would want an abortion; they found a nurse who could speak her language and the dastardly deed was stopped.

Here's the law part,

"MR JUSTICE MADDISON: On 8th June 2009 at the Crown Court at Birmingham, the appellant, Ajaz Ahmed, was convicted of an offence contrary to section 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. On 6th July he was sentenced by Mr Recorder Pryce to serve four years' Imprisonment. He appeals against his conviction by leave of the single judge."

The ground of the appeal was that the offence was not known to law. Even though there is a section 59 offence (Procuring drugs, &c. to cause abortion.), it is pointed out that,

"What we cannot disregard is that procuring a miscarriage is not an offence created by section 59. As we have said, the offence created by the section is concerned in short with the procuring or supply of something intended for use in procuring an unlawful miscarriage. This defect may not have been significant had the Particulars of Offence in the indictment reflected the terms of section 59. But they did not. The particulars read as follows:

"Ajaz Ahmed between the 19th day of August 2007 and the 30th day of August 2007 intended unlawfully to bring about the use of medical and/or surgical procedures on Noreen Akhtar thereby to procure the miscarriage of her child, which she was then carrying."

The Particulars of Offence did not allege that the appellant unlawfully supplied or procured anything at all. Thus they did not set out the actus reus of an offence contrary to section 59(1) or indeed of any offence. They alleged only that the applicant intended unlawfully to bring about the use of procedures on the complainant to procure a miscarriage."

A few more errors of law are pointed out and then the court finishes by saying,

"As to whether there was any other offence of which the appellant might properly have been convicted or a conviction for which we could properly substitute, no convincing suggestions have been made to us. For these reasons, therefore, however reluctantly, we allow the appeal against conviction."

I wonder if the appellant boasts about his success?

26 August 2010

Tufariello's Elegant Preparation

Franklin A Davis has just published a derivative paper, Asymmetric Total Synthesis of (S)-(+)-Cocaine and the First Synthesis of Cocaine C-1 Analogs from N-Sulfinyl β-Amino Ester Ketals, whose title makes clear its contents.

The paper builds upon an earlier preparation of cocaine by Tufariello (Tetrahedron Let, 1978, 30, 1133) which uses the key step of the intramolecular nitrone cycloaddition.

All very interesting, especially if you're a chemist - the newly published paper does Tufariello's chemistry using a homochiral starting material.

The reason for making the post is that it is a follow up to, No Future for Cocaine, in which I pointed out that there is growing evidence for the decline of cocaine and heroin and their replacement by synthetics.

So, what happens when cocaine and heroin are produced not from plants but in laboratories? Will this give an extra impetus to their position in the drugs market?

She Cut Me

The Telegraph reports, "Dr Wendy Chapman could be struck off for alleged role in Bloodgate scandal", which explains,

"Dr Wendy Chapman faces a GMC Fitness to Practice hearing in Manchester which will consider allegations that she deliberately cut the lip of Harlequins wing Tom Williams to cover up his use of a fake blood capsule.

The GMC alleges that Dr Chapman’s conduct was “likely to bring the profession into disrepute and was dishonest”.

Chapman, an A&E consultant at Maidstone Hospital, was working as Harlequins’ match-day doctor during the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster. She was suspended in September last year after her alleged role in the affair was revealed, and could face being struck-off if the three-member GMC panel believe her conduct was serious enough to warrant the most severe penalty at its disposal.

My question is ... why isn't she being prosecuted for assaults occasioning actual bodily harm contrary to section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and wounding contrary to section 20 of the Act of 1861 (24225 Vict. c. 100)?

When I first read about Dr Chapman's behaviour, I immediately thought of the notorious case of,

R v Brown [1992] UKHL 7 (11 March 1993)

a case which concerned a group of people who consensually inflicted harm upon one another. The group of people were sadomasochists, they filmed one another inflicting harm upon each other, they then distributed the resulting video footage amongst other members of the group. Throughout, everything was consensual.

These people were prosecuted and convicted, why not Chapman?

23 August 2010


Fresh from the courts, the WLR Daily brings us details about Regina v Hamer [2010] WLR (D) 235.

The appeal court said,

"A fixed penalty notice which had been issued to a defendant pursuant to s 2 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 was not a conviction, admission of guilt, proof that a crime had been committed, or a stain on the defendant’s character, and therefore could not be regarded as evidence which impugned the character of the defendant or admitted as such.
The Court of Appeal (Criminal Divison) so held when dismissing an appeal by the defendant, Gareth Hamer, against his conviction on 12 January 2010 by the Crown Court at Harrow, before Judge Holt and a jury, for an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, contrary to s 47 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861.

So, what was the point of issuing such a penalty notice?

Oh, and thanks for the clarification Thomas LJ.

20 August 2010

Manufactured by ...

The UK Border Agency tells us of the conviction of two people who smuggled methyl amphetamine (30kg) into the UK,

Picture Courtesy of Daylight's Depict

"The officers searched the vehicle and found that the foam beneath the rear seat had been cut out and then reinserted to cover two packages. The packages' contents tested positive for crystal meth, with an estimated street value of £30,000.

Both men were charged under section 3(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, contrary to section 170(2)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

But where did it come from? This wasn't cooked up in some back street lab.

18 August 2010

Man to Pig

Quiz - where does the following quote originate?

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

17 August 2010

Revolutionary Leaders

More from the Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire,

"Conversely, revolutionary leaders who do not act dialogically in their relations with the people either have retained characteristics of the dominator and are truly not revolutionary; or they are totally misguided in their conception of their role, and - prisoners of their own sectarianism - are equally non-revolutionary. They may even reach power. But the validity of any revolution resulting from antidialogical action is thoroughly doubtful."

Which made me think of ...

09 August 2010

False Generosity

Currently reading the Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, a book that is often mentioned by the Activist Teacher, which says,

"Any attempt to 'soften' the power of the oppressor in deferrence to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifests itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this. In order to have the continued opportunity to express their "generosity", the oppressors must perpetuate injustice as well. An unjust social order is the fount of this 'generosity', which is nourished by death, despair and poverty."

What about free education: is this a form of false generosity?

Obviously it is.

Why is your (or your child's) education more important than someone else's "death, despair and poverty"?

This leads me to recollect the work of James Tooley. Read and (literally) weep. He studies the provision of private education in poverty stricken areas around the world.

I heard his name mentioned about ten years ago when someone was describing the work of the Awdal Roads Company where they said, in passing, that they had met James Tooley in Somalia.

27 July 2010

Ψ of Limited Hangout

It has been suggested that wikileaks is a limited hangout, see here.

A limited hangout has been described in the following manner,

"A "limited hangout" is used by Intelligence Organization's when a clandestine operation goes bad; or, a phoney cover story blows up. When discovered the Intelligence Organization volunteers some of the truth while still managing to withhold key and damaging facts in the case.

The public is so intrigued by the new information it doesn't pursue the matter further.

Which immediately brings to my mind the danger of confessions during in police investigations ...

"...a suspect’s confession sets in motion a virtually irrefutable presumption of guilt among criminal justice officials, the media, the public and lay jurors. A suspect who confesses—whether truthfully or falsely—will be treated more harshly at every stage of the criminal justice process."

All very clever ...

(for some etymology of the limited hangout, see wikipedia).

25 July 2010

Murderous Legal Aid Cuts

Kenneth Clarke's plans to cut legal aid are well known from reports such as,

"Kenneth Clarke to slash Legal Aid budget"

The story from the Telegraph, 16th July 2010, explains that,

"Officials working for Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, have drawn up plans to cut “hundreds of millions” of pounds from the £2.2 billion budget for Legal Aid."

A recent post from Mindhacks, "How murder fell out of fashion with the rich:" says,

"Murder has become largely confined to the poor and disadvantaged whereas historical records show that in times gone past it was used equally by all levels of society."

The paper referenced by Mindhacks asks and answers the following question,

"Why is homicide largely confined to low status people today but was not in the societies studied by anthropologists and historians? Why has elite homicide declined? The answer developed here builds on a theory advanced by Donald Black (1983), which argues that violent conflict is a function of the unavailability of law."

I wonder if the "unavailability of law" that results from these legal aid cuts will result in a rise in the UK murder rate over the next few years?

19 July 2010

Deport 'em

"... the starting point of our domestic law is that every citizen has a right to do what he likes, unless restrained by the Common Law or Statute." Lord Donaldson MR.

This is what is meant by a liberty based system; for those who try to take our liberties away from us,

eg Farage,

deport them to some third world crap-hole where the air isn't as sweet and where there aren't these liberties.

Max Prediction: July 19th 2010

Absolute stunner, ...

"Max Prediction: Soon enough, a G20 nation will announce a full or partial gold backed currency forcing every other country to either reply with their own gold backed currency – or equivalence – or risk 100% capital flight."

... if it comes to pass.

11 July 2010

Shiner Sheds Light In Hexham

Phil Shiner from Public Interest Lawyers gave a presentation in Hexham on Saturday 10th July 2010, "Challenging the legality of the use of force under international law."

The talk was about his work of finding justice for kicked to death and otherwise killed and/or tortured people at the hands of British troops in Iraq during Gulf War 2.

He began by telling us about the Parker Report 1972 which clarified that the 5 techniques (of interrogation),
  • wall-standing
  • hooding
  • subjection to noise
  • deprivation of sleep
  • deprivation of food and drink
were forms of torture and were illegal. As a short aside, since this came out of the Heath government, of which Margaret Thatcher was a member (check out the 50 pence piece), Craig Murray's evidence, He [Craig Murray] said during a previous job before the first Gulf War he had been given "clear direction" from the then PM Margaret Thatcher "that we were not to use any intelligence which may have come from torture" should come as no surprise to anyone, not even to Lord Hounslow (ca 2 mins 10 secs in). Since this was clear law since the 1970s what went wrong? Shiner used the term force drift. He explained that it was thought that newly captured enemy combatants, if hooded, would suffer a prolonged shock of capture which would make them more susceptible to interrogation. When this was accepted, the other five techniques were accepted. This was a breach of article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, "Article 3 – Prohibition of torture No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" Following the death of Baha Mousa, "On 14 September 2003 Baha, a 26-year-old hotel receptionist, was arrested along with six other men and taken to a British base. Whilst in detention it is claimed that Baha and the other captives were hooded and severely assaulted by a number of British troops. Two days later Baha was found dead [2]. A post-mortem examination found that Baha suffered multiple injuries (at least ninety-three), including fractured ribs and a broken nose, which were 'in part' the cause of his death[3].", This incident lead to the Bulford court marshall, but this process was not found to be an adequate investigation. There is a duty imposed upon states to investigate breaches of article 2; thus, in an earlier court case, Amin regarding breaches of article 2 Lord Bingham had said that an investigation was necessary, “to ensure so far as possible that the full facts are brought to light; that culpable and discreditable conduct is exposed and brought to public notice; that suspicion of deliberate wrongdoing (if unjustified) is allayed; that dangerous practices and procedures are rectified; and that those who have lost their relative may at least have the satisfaction of knowing that lessons learned from his death may save the lives of others.” These shortcomings in law have lead to the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry; while further suggested atrocities in Iraq are being investigated through the Al Sweady Public Inquiry; and a third public inquiry into "all cases of abuse of Iraqi civilians after the March 2003 invasion" is expected to be announced quite soon. Shiner's visit, whilst illuminating was quite depressing. He went on to talk of the medics who were being discussed in the Baha Mousa Inquiry being abandoned by the army; while one medic, Keiloh, currently a GP, is expected to be struck off. He also spoke about JFIT (Joint Forward Intelligence Team) who were doing the interrogation (the acronym is sometimes rendered as the Joint Forward Interrogation Team) who were only accountable to London. Who were set-up in such a manner that they were ignorant, or purposely broke the law. Shiner discussed the sorts of things brought to our attention by aangirfan in the following post from back in Jan of this year and of course, the Public Interest Lawyers have case studies in their Final Report (sadly, much like aangirfan's).

Depressing day.

04 July 2010

Alchemical Abduction

An interesting letter in this month's Chemistry World (the Royal Society of Chemistry's trade mag) reproduced below,

"How to attract funding

I was interested in the recent correspondence about alchemy (Chemistry World , May 2010, p40) as I have often wondered whether there was a more mundane explanation for the well reported objectives of its practitioners. Faced with the same problems as modern chemists, I can see two alternative pitches for funding.

'My Lord Duke, would you please support my research work because:

  1. I am doing fundamental scientific work and, as a result, may discover something that will make me famous, and many generations of scientists will remember my name. It may be that I might also stumble on something that could be of advantage to yourself;

  2. I am trying to find a substance which would make you rich beyond imagination, by turning base metal into gold. I may happen to discover a hitherto unknown chemical element, but this would not be the main aim of the work.'

I should be surprised to learn that I am the first person ever to think of this concept.

York, UK

ps a note about the use of the word 'abduction' in the title, here and here.

Five of Hearts

Financial Terrorist Gordon Brown only makes the five of hearts in the financial terrorists deck, whilst Blair isn't anywhere in site.

It looks like a work very much in progress.

02 July 2010

Mysterious Report?

Day 2 of press reports of the Swine Flu report ... but where is it?

The Daily Mail, says, "More than £1.2billion of taxpayers’ money was spent on the swine flu pandemic that never materialised, a report has found.

The Government was forced to squander vast sums on vaccines based on dire predictions that never came true.

But ministers were committed to the spending because drugs giants refused to back out of their contracts.

The official review into the Government’s response to swine flu said that, overall, it was ‘proportionate and effective’.

But the review noted that there was a lack of ‘flexibility’ in the contracts signed by drugs firms which left the Health Service with millions of needless doses of the vaccine.

Etc, etc etc,

Which is what was said yesterday. But as to where to find the report?

Perhaps it will be released when it's no longer news.

5th July 2010 I found the following link to the Cabinet Office which gives a link to, "The 2009 Influenza Pandemic - An independent review of the UK response to the 2009 influenza pandemic" - as to why newspaper/BBC reports couldn't provide this link???

29 June 2010

Is NATO a State Sponsored Data Haven?

Thickie-pedia tells us that,

"A data haven is a computer or a network that holds data protected from government action by both technical means (encryption) and location in a country that has either no laws, or poorly-enforced laws restricting use of data and no extradition treaties."

If protected from government action is construed to mean,

protected from compliance with

... then ... isn't NATO one massive State data haven?

26 June 2010

Misdiagnoses of Swine Flu

It's becoming clear that the swine flu pandemic was a lie. For links as to what the Council of Europe said about the pandemic read, "Larege Scale Placebo Medicine" on this blog.

A further aspect of the pandemic-that-never-was is the number of avoidable deaths brought about by misdiagnosis. One report comes from the British Medical Journal in, "Life threatening infections labelled swine flu" which has,

"Over six weeks (1 July 2009 to 15 August 2009) we reviewed cases of potentially life threatening conditions admitted to the Newcastle infection services in which diagnosis and management were delayed because of an initial, incorrect diagnosis of swine flu. During this time, rates of novel H1N1 swab positivity (22/336) suggested a local prevalence of 6.5% of patients presenting to hospital with a flu-like illness compared with 11.8% throughout England.3

A label of swine flu resulted in an average diagnostic delay of three days in six adults and two children who were admitted with potentially life threatening infection requiring timely antimicrobials. They had instead meningococcal meningitis; severe (11% parasitaemia) and mild (0.2%) Plasmodium falciparum malaria complicated by renal failure; acute myeloblastic leukaemia presenting with febrile pancytopenia; Campylobacter gastroenteritis with renal failure; Haemophilus influenzae respiratory tract infection (bone marrow transplant recipient); complicated soft tissue infection; and a fatal Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia with multiorgan failure.

Of course, if these misdiagnoses had not been picked up, as was the case here, unnecessary deaths would have been the result.

Consequently, a google search of misdiagnosis of swine flu returns pages of headlines such as,

"Mother 48, Dies of Meningitis after swine flu misdiagnosis"

and, "Diabetic boy died after swine flu misdiagnosis.

There are other cases reported but once one starts to look the exercise becomes somewhat macabre. Needless to say, the WHO lie has cost many lives.

10 June 2010

Troubled By Julie

"I got these Raybans from a crime scene, Bolly. Found them in the murder victims' bedroom. Nothing to do with the crime but I bagged them as evidence; after the trial was over I retrieved them from being destroyed. Happens all the time; no judge would convict a copper for that."

Meanwhile, moving from fiction to fact ...

There's something troubling about the story covered by one of the local newspapers under, Relief for detective Julie Hays as theft charges dropped.

The story explains,

"A WOMAN detective accused of stealing clothes and shoes which were due to be destroyed walked free from court yesterday after the prosecution formally withdrew charges.


Ms Hays, a 39-year-old detective constable with Northumbria Police, was due to stand trial next month accused of stealing two pairs of shoes and two jackets on July 21 last year.


In March when Ms Hays appeared in the dock, the CPS insisted on proceeding with the case despite judge Christopher Prince repeatedly questioning their barrister as to whether it was “in the public interest”.

The jackets and shoes, believed to have been evidence from a murder investigation, were due to be burnt, Judge Prince was told at a case management hearing.

Paul Newcombe, for the prosecution at that hearing, argued that the items in question were valued at £1,200.

The judge retorted: “That is ridiculous.

“Their value is zero, that is why they were going in the bin.”

The CPS shouldn't have caved into the Judge. The Judge was wrong in his assessment of the value of the items; this is determined by the market, not by him.

Further, we were denied the facts of the case whilst Detective Hays was denied the opportunity to clear her name. I don't know whether or not the abduction illustrated by the picture at the head of this post is close to what happened but this sort of thing will be going through the minds of many people who read this tale.

Sad day for all with regard to justice which was neither done nor seen to be done.
Update 4th May 2011 Allegations of this sort of appropriation has appeared again, "Gun police suspended over photograph"
"Eight members of a police force's elite gun crime unit have been suspended for "inappropriate behaviour".

The officers, part of Merseyside Police's Matrix Disruption Unit, are facing a misconduct investigation by their force's professional standards department.
There are also allegations that items seized during search operations later appeared on the internet auction site eBay."

Update 1st June 2011. The BBC asks, Who, What, Why: Is taking rubbish illegal? explaining,
"A woman has admitted handling stolen goods after being accused of taking potato waffles, pies, and 100 packets of ham from a bin outside of a Tesco Express in Essex. But if something is thrown away, when is it illegal to take it?

Sacha Hall, 22, denied a charge of theft, which was left to lie on file, over taking the items said to be worth a total of £215, which the grocery store had discarded after a power cut had spoiled large amounts of food.

Hall said dozens of people had taken food from the Tesco bins but that she had only received a bag, mainly containing ham, brought to her flat by a friend."
The article gives more details and other examples from case law.

09 June 2010

Creepy Cargo Cult

Junior Apprentice

Thickie-pedia describes a cargo cult in the following manner,

"A cargo cult is a type of religious practice that has appeared in many traditional tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced cultures. The cults are focused on obtaining the material wealth (the "cargo") of the advanced culture through magic and religious rituals and practices, believing that the wealth was intended for them by their deities and ancestors."

The BBC's Junior Apprentice programme gives a distinct impression of a cargo cult; the cargo being success and the means of obtaining it weird rituals and practices that are being mimicked by children. The programme is really creepy and as difficult to watch as an American child beauty pageant.

The activity of the children remind me of Skinner's Pigeons; again from thickie-pedia,

"One of Skinner's experiments examined the formation of superstition in one of his favorite experimental animals, the pigeon. Skinner placed a series of hungry pigeons in a cage attached to an automatic mechanism that delivered food to the pigeon "at regular intervals with no reference whatsoever to the bird's behavior." He discovered that the pigeons associated the delivery of the food with whatever chance actions they had been performing as it was delivered, and that they subsequently continued to perform these same actions."

The puzzle is ... why is this stuff so popular? Why was it ever commissioned? What do people think that they can learn from probability freaks such as Sugar?

ps I don't see any difference between Junior Apprentice and the usual one; the junior one just illustrates the point more clearly.