Saturday, 18 March 2006
We have been following the little-noted collapse of stock prices on several markets in the Arab world. The New York Sun picks up on an article in the U.K. Telegraph:
It is known for Porsche-driving princes and the lavish lifestyles of the oil-wealthy, but this week Saudi Arabia’s rich kids have been selling their cars and even rushing to the doctor after a whirlwind stock market crash saw huge profits perish.
Heart-attacks, stress, hospitalization, and panic selling are all reported results of the Saudi collapse, which has seen tens of billions of dollars in losses in a fortnight.
This week alone the Saudi market fell by 20%, with only the promise from a prince to invest $2.6 billion temporarily stemming the financial bleeding.
The losses have been particularly hard felt in the share-mad kingdom, where more than a third of the 17 million population dabble in the stock market. With years of soaring profits fuelled by ever-higher oil prices, small investors have rushed to get in on the action. Now panic and despair have hit the almost 60% of Saudi investors who are small dealers speculating with family savings.
“Many individuals have pulled their savings out of banks and put it into local stocks, with many even borrowing to the limit to do so,” a vice-president at Riyad Bank in the Saudi capital, Khan H. Zahid, said.
We indulge in no schadenfreude over the losses of the petro-sheikhs. The people we really worry about have no use for stockmarkets or much else that was invented after the eighth century or so
A salad bar that’s 5 miles long is as useless to me as one that’s 3000 miles long because I’m getting all the salad I can eat in the first 15 feet.
Just remember not to fill up on the cheap stuff!
Friday, 17 March 2006
He managed to get himself his 15 minutes of fame quite early.
A programmable oil heater keeps it warm and toasty once I am in bed – if I stick to the programme – without overheating the room. I’ve added a time switch extension bar so that my alarm is from a nice soft light coming on and not some raucous bell ringing. This extension also controls the music from iPod and the radio so that I get soft light, music and then news broadcast in that order. My dvd player and a nice selection of films is also conveniently to hand.
Latest add-in was a clock – time signal from the place at Rugby of course – combined with a weather centre. This has a sensor to show outside temperature so I can be in bed and know just how lucky I am to have stopped all that commuting annoyance. There is a barometer feature so I get a little man displaying what sort of clothes I need to find. Any more customizing (something to produce cold gin and tonic sir?) and I’ll have to think about a burglar alarm. Only drawback is that Sable does not like the attic area since the days when it was a pistol range and she will not come up there at all. I felt a bit off colour the other evening and it was comforting to be able to retire with my man flu to my own-design little world.
Thursday, 16 March 2006
This site was never really intended to be anything more than a shop window for my own particular branch of specialist research and I certainly can't pretend my working day currently provides as much opportunities for dark humour and dry wit as wielding the biro of justice (or even stacking a supermarket shelf for that matter). Nonetheless, if you've made the effort to pay a visit there's a good chance you may have a passing interest in the state of ICT in the police service.
There are plenty of commentators out there volunteering hastily scribbled takes on this subject. Depending on the particular combination of pundit and soapbox, the UK police are either institutionally incompetent, bic-wielding luddites grimly hanging-on to ancient and lucrative Spanish practices, or else they are a dangerous new breed of digitally enhanced super-snoops complicit in the building a sleek new Orwellian state and absolutely itching to start data-mining the reading habits of the middle-classes. Neither stereotype stands up to much scrutiny.
Although there is a fair bit of ground to cover between two such polarised opinions, in truth, much of it will appear dull and featureless to the untrained eye. The Home Office, tripartite police authorities and the 52 forces that make up the service in the UK had been trying to wrestle a coherent national ICT service into place for over ten years, before a public inquiry into a tragic double-murder finally forced the issue. Even today there is probably less chance of over-hearing a canteen discussion between officers on the implications of CorDM and CRISP than there is of seeing the subject emerge as a sub-plot of a Sun Hill cliff-hanger.
Concepts such as 'value for money' and 'cost-effectiveness' can leave a sour taste in the mouth when used in the context of policing. As the Met recently demonstrated, it is the responsibility of the police to step up and take control when our worst nightmares manifest themselves on our streets, and this carries a heavy weight of expectation. The public want their police to be even-handed and accountable as well as an informed, accessible and visible part of their communities, yet they also want them to pursue criminality decisively and relentlessly without a second thought to time or cost.
Car chases and collars are infinately more entertaining than paperwork in triplicate. Even still, I'd hazard a guess that a majority of both the police service and the citizens they serve would prefer paperwork in triplicate over a discussion of how commoditised data-integration techniques and process-based applications can potentially deliver efficient, effective and transparent policing. Spend a little time on this site and you'll probably begin to see why.
So, if you're here because you are interested in what it's like working as a police officer in the UK, I'm going to politely redirect you back to PC Copperfield. If, on the other hand, you are interested in how ICT can be used to protect civil liberties, or are one of the thousands of IT workers involved in the massive program of ICT-led reform of criminal justice underway in this country ï¿½ have a nosy about this site and, if there's anything you're interested in - or want to put me straight on - drop us a line and let me know.
Wednesday, 15 March 2006
29 have been accused of spouse abuse
7 have been arrested for fraud
19 have been accused of writing bad cheques
117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
3 have done time for assault
71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
8 have been arrested for shoplifting
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year
Can you guess which organization this is?
They are members of the British Houses of Parliament, that's the same group that produces hundreds of new laws each year intended to keep the rest of us on track.
Tuesday, 14 March 2006
Next week Parliament will get to vote on the Animal Welfare Bill. There is a free vote on whether to ban tail docking. To be honest, I haven't read around this subject yet (I will do on my train journey down to Westminster) but I'm up to be persuaded either way. On the one hand, I think I've voted to ban enough things and activities this year. On the other, chopping of a dogs tail does seem a brutal act. What are your views?I’m sure I am not the only person who is somewhat surprised to see this admission as to how lightly one Labour politician takes his duties. Hasn’t read up on it, will do it on the train from Midlands to London – what’s that, all of two hours less other phaffing about to be done?
Tom is the Labour MP for West Bromwich East. He has a blog here. Most likely written for him – unless it is something else for his train journey. Quite a busy guy is our Tom. His own account of how his time is spent is also detailed on his blog.
Tom Watson lives in the Sandwell with his wife Siobhan. Following his election to Parliament in June 2001 with a 9,763 majority, Tom was appointed to the Home Affairs Select Committee. In 2003, Tom was made Parliamentary Private Secretary to The Paymaster General, Dawn Primarolo. He joined the government whips office at the end of 2004.
Tom sat on the Standing Committee for the Proceeds of Crime Bill, as well as the Standing Committee for the Communications Bill, the Human Tissue Bill, The Civil Partnerships Bill and the Gambling Bill.
He is vice-treasurer of the All Party Parliamentary Music Group.
He presented the Organ Donation (Presumed Consent and Safeguards) Bill to Parliament in March 2002.
Tom has recently taken part in the Police Parliamentary Scheme. The scheme entailed being attached to the West Midlands Police Force for three weeks.
The issue of tail docking has attracted considerable comment. I summarise it as one where the town dwellers have formed the opinion that a vet’s removal of the tail end on certain types of dog is cruel and unnatural. The country dwellers, in the main and as the people who know why the cropping is done, have tried to explain but, I suspect, to no avail. I have always owned sporting dogs whose tails are routinely cropped and have never noticed any stress from what is done when any bone is still unformed cartilage. I have seen whippets with torn (long) tails and that is not a pretty sight. Still, as in hunting, ill-informed might will win over the minority of those who know what the fuss is about. Doubtless, it will end up a farce just as the hunting saga. Some of the more extreme are likely to cause their dogs an injury such that removal has to be carried out on an adult dog. Wrong on the owners part but a crime that is unnecessary if common sense prevailed.
Not, I would suggest, a decision to be reached as lightly as dear Tom has decided to base his vote.
Monday, 13 March 2006
Firstly, making tape recordings of significant conversations is second nature to any police officer. The first defence of the rogue is to claim that any unfortunate remark he has made was in fact dreamed up by the officer concerned. The rules regarding evidence are quite clear.
Most interviews at police stations with persons suspected of having committed indictable or either way offences should be tape recorded.
Tape recorded interviews need not be conducted in respect of persons suspected of having committed a terrorist offence or offences contrary to the Official Secrets Act 1911.
If a suspect is charged following a tape recorded interview, a Record of Interview will be prepared. This has traditionally been the responsibility of the officer present at the interview, but in some police forces 'tape summarisers' are now used.
The Record of Interview serves a number of purposes:
- To enable the prosecutor to make an informed decision on the basis of what was said at interview;
- To be an exhibit to the officer's statement;
- To enable the prosecutor to comply with advance disclosure; and
- Where it is accepted by the defence, to be used for the conduct of the case by all parties.
To me, the sad thing about this is that a police officer has so lost his trust in his associates that he feels the need to record his business with them.
The AG has accepted an apology (was this recorded?). We do not know what the IPCC thinks or intends to do - if anything. However, the Indians are circling the wagons.