30 September 2007

The Death of Political Parties?

Simon Jenkins piece today in The Times caught my eye. Titled "To the sound of dull speeches, the political parties are dying" it examines the downfall of local government and the consequences this has for political parties, who, after all should rely on membership dues to stay afloat (although they don't in practice of course):

In democracies across Europe and North America millions of people feel a duty to public affairs. This is through elected local government, to which Brown and his ministers are adamantly opposed as reducing central control. The resulting democratic deficit is yawning. In France there is roughly one elected official for every 100 voters and in Germany one for every 250. In these countries local mayors and councillors are known by name and often in person to the overwhelming majority of voters. In Britain the figure is one elected person for every 2,600 voters and few can name any local community leader, let alone one to whom they might turn in trouble.

The smallest unit of democratic administration in France, the commune, covers an average of 1,500 people, in Germany 5,000 and America 7,000. The equivalent figure in Britain is 118,000 and the Brown government wants that size to increase under “unitary” authorities, thus removing government still further from voters and consumers. It is no surprise that ever fewer people want to be patronised in this way.

Local party activism is integral to the web of public service, patronage and interest on which accountable democracy depends. Its decay has not only driven British politics to rely ever more heavily on charisma, it has also made British public administration incompetent. Power is exerted by central oligarchies, with parties as no more than cliques of London-based politicians and advisers whose bond is to have been at university together.

A Discworld Reading Order Guide

Via L-Space via Boing Boing comes this handy reading order guide for all Terry Pratchett/Discworld novices out there wondering just where the hell they should start from:

(click to enlarge)

SOCPA 2005 Strikes Back

Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 bans any protest within the vicinity of Parliament without prior permission from "Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis" (that Sir Ian Blair bloke at the moment).

In practice, however, this permission has been usually granted to those who seek it, the worst elements of this Act have been therefore negated and life has continued as normal. Well, no longer. Creating a new and unusual precedent the Stop the War coalition has been refused permission to protest on 8th October on the grounds that "Parliament is in session". Hold on a tick. Isn't this the best possible time, and arguably indeed, the only time you would want, to protest outside Parliament? Isn't this the best time to grab the attention of lawmakers and opinion formers? Well, yes, and that's probably the reason permission has been refused - heaven forbid that MPs and their staff hear about the concerns of their constituents other than in the quiet and private confines of the MPs' surgery*.

Gordon Brown has pledged to review and change this law, and he should ideally do so before the Queen's speech in November (or before Parliament is dissolved if an election is called this week). There's a petition up on the Prime Minister's site calling for section 132 to be repealed, and the Stop the War Coalition have also put up their own petition calling for the police's decision to be urgently reviewed.

More on SOCPA:

* Yes, I realise it's an overly cynical view, but I'm trying to make a point here.

29 September 2007

That's Overkill

I hate to put up video from *shudder" Fox News, but it's a report on a 16 year old's wrist being broken after she ... *drumroll*... dropped some cake and left some crumbs behind when cleaned it up. It appears to be a serious case of overkill by school security guards:

Ok, now I'm off for a shower to get this dirty feeling off me. I'll make sure to clean up the shower afterwards, don't want my arm put out by the over zealous shower fairy.

Hat-tip to The Daily Irrelevant and John C. Dvorak.

Integral Video from the Pet Shop Boys

No, wait, come back!

The Pet Shop Boys (yeah, I didn't know they were still around either) have released a new video for their single "Integral". It is, in their own words

"... sung from the point of view of the authoritarian New Labour-style government. “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear” is always used as a justification for ID cards. What we object to about ID cards is that they’re intelligent cards with a data strip that can link to a central database containing personal information which may be shared with America; when you say you don’t want that, they always say that if you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to hide. But I think we all have a right to privacy. I feel it’s a move that suggests we have to justify ourselves to the state before the state will trust us, and I think it’s for us to trust the state and not the other way round. I think the government has to win our trust, not us win their trust."

So, here is the video (although it works better in widescreen, available on their website).

28 September 2007

The Blogging Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry started one of those weblog thingys started a couple of weeks ago with a "blessay" on the iPhone and now he has moved on to the subject of Fame. Both well worth a read, if you have a spare hour (they're long with a capital "gigantic").

iPhone Gets Locked Down (again)

BBC News is reporting that the new iPhone update has disabled unlocked iPhones. Seems an opportune time to put up this image then:


(click to enlarge)
Via The Daily Irrelevant

The idea of locking a product to a single network (and then penalising those who chose to circumvent this) seems distinctly anti-competitive to me, and serves only to work against the consumer and in favour of monopolistic business. It is to be hoped that when the iPhone hits these shores (locked down to O2), the EU Commission (which has shown itself to be very adept at combating monopoly situations), or the UK's own Office of Fair Trading, will investigate and break down this behaviour.

Wearing a Red T-Shirt Today

Because apparently it's wear a red T-shirt for Burma day according to this Facebook group. I'm sure it should more properly be called "in support of the Burmese people", just because otherwise it sounds like we're supporting the government, but there you go. Wear a red T-shirt today, spread the love and show your solidarity with the Burmese monks and other protestors who are simply demanding the freedoms of democracy.

The Great Wall for Burma, courtesy of Beau Bo D'Or

27 September 2007

In Praise of the FCO Blog

David Miliband, our eminent and shockingly young Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, has started blogging again over here as part of the wider network of FCO Bloggers.

Am I going to mock like some have? Hell no. The FCO should be commended for at least partially opening up, attempting to engage the electorate in a dialogue and being more inclusive. Ok, we're not going to be privy to the innermost secrets of any diplomats, but this is better than nothing, surely?

26 September 2007

My Apologies

I wrote earlier today that the "mass media" (an unspecific and largely unhelpful term, I admit) have failed to question whether Gordon Brown, as Prime Minister, should have the right to call an early election. My sincerest apologies must therefore go to Mr Jonathan Freedland who, in an article in today's Guardian, does indeed question the current state of affairs:
"The absurdity that the timing of our elections is in the hands of the prime minister has to end. It doesn't just destabilise our politics; it is grotesquely unfair. British elections are running races in which one of the contestants gets to fire the starting gun. So when Gordon Brown finally names the date, let him also vow to be the last prime minister to exercise that privilege. Let's give our parliaments fixed terms - and end this guessing game once and for all."
He unfortunately waits until the very last paragraph of his 1256 word article to make this point, however. Still, can't have everything can you.

An Idiot Not To

Brown's lead over the Tories, if YouGov are to be believed, is now 11%. That's 44% to 33%. Hands up everyone who thinks he would be just plain daft not to call a general election this side of Christmas. The Norfolk Blogger probably puts it best:
"Brown may be a cautious man, but surely he isn't stupid. Were he not to go to the country now and get caught out in a later election, he would go down in history as one of the dumbest leaders of all time."
Edging out Callaghan and his "blue skies ahead", presumably.

... And if Brown does call an election, will the LibDems really come out at only 13% of the voting share? Lib Dem Voice analyses Yougov's previous polling data and the timing of the poll (straight after Brown's conference speech) and argues not.

Guido Fawkes has for once made a good point about how the Tories and LibDems should react to this - by working together to defeat Labour rather than throwing bile at each other, depressing both their support. But where can the two parties find common ground?



On a side note, Lynne Featherstone has been asking to see Nick Robinson's balls. She's a braver person than me, but she makes the point that nobody in the mass media has been questioning the fact that Brown has the right to call an election whenever he pleases*. James Graham has noted that Brown announced plans in July to limit this power so that only MPs as a whole could dissolve Parliament. How would any dissolution now square with that committment?

* Or, more accurately, ask the Sovereign to dissolve Parliament and call an election. Some constitutional scholars believe that the Queen still has the right to refuse this request, but there you go.

25 September 2007

Number 24 and Bloggerheads is back

Iain Dale* has published his** Top 100 Liberal Democrat Blogs in advance of the publication of his Guide to Political Blogging 2007. This blog has moved up a respectable 13 places since last year's list  (when I blogged about partisanship in response) and come in at number 24.

In other news, Tim Ireland is back! Alas not at Bloggerheads as before but at a new blogspot address. He is using the new blog to explain all about the mysterious happenings of the past week or so.

* Some Tory blogger apparently. No, I haven't heard of him before either.

** Or rather, "a panel of LibDem bloggers'". He doesn't specify who.

24 September 2007

Peter Wilby on rightwingers on the warpath

For the Media Guardian, Peter Wilby offers his analysis of the Biased BBC brigade (not just the website, but The Telegraph, The Mail, The Sun, et al). 

22 September 2007

Alisher Usmanov has been convicted of a crime

Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads (note: this link doesn't currently work, for reasons explained below) and Craig Murray (ditto*) have both have their blogs taken down by their internet service provider. Chicken Yoghurt has the full story, but it all boils down to a guy called Alisher Usmanov (a large shareholder in Arsenal) being upset about what they both wrote about this convicted criminal (subsequently pardoned). John Brissenden has reproduced Craig Murray's posting here.

The libel laws in England and Wales are such that an ISP can be sued (along with the original author) for any posting made on their server. So, to make it clear, even though they didn't author the content and, in all likelihood, haven't even seen it, they are liable in law for any statements or suchlike made. This is clearly a morally unsupportable position, both from a "fault/liability" standpoint (i.e. those who are at fault should be found liable) and from an economic standpoint (how can ISPs who host hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of sites be expected to vet every single thing written on them - this is what the law appears to be asking for at the moment). All the current law seems to do is have a chilling effect on free speech, especially if the person allegedly libeled has deep pockets and thin skin.

So, if you wish to show your support for Craig Murray, Tim Ireland and free speech, add one of these buttons to your site and let the world know what is happening.

* He was Our Man in Uzbekistan until this happened.

Expert Analysis

Saturday is usually the time for expert analysis and in that vein, Stephen Tall has dissected modern political journalism and asked, is it broken?

20 September 2007

Thoughts

Is a supporter of Ming Campbell a "Minger"?

19 September 2007

Obama Girl

Apparently this has been big State-side, but haven't seen any mention of it over here:



If you just can't get enough of politically inspired raunchiness, there's also Obama Girl vs Giuliani Girl and I Like a Boy (dedicated to those serving in Iraq).

Now is not the time to gloat

Or is it? The Guardian are reporting that the Lib Dem's poll ratings have gone up to 20%, finally breaking back into the 20s after a slew of summer teen ratings. I've been critical of Ming, I'll admit, but this turnaround is worthy of praise - especially considering David Cameron, who has been resorting to dog-whistle politics in recent weeks, with is focus on crime, immigration and the EU, has come out the least liked leader amongst both the public and his party. This will hopefully stop any talk of disintegration at the next election (one pundit I heard on the BBC was talking about the number of Lib Dem MPs dropping to the mid-teens!) and reinforce the Ming leadership.

Stephen Tall on LibDemVoice sums it up best however:
"Should we be satisfied with this? Of course not - the Lib Dems can and must do much better. But it is a salutary reminder to those critics who seek constantly to write-off the Lib Dems, and to pretend that three-party politics is a thing of the past, of just how wrong they are."

18 September 2007

A Link from The Guardian

Sunny Hundal on The Guardian's Comment is Free website has written an article on the BBC's failure to stand up to right-wing bloggers who insist that the organisation adheres to their world view.

Very kindly he has linked to my post at the end of last week on the 9/11 Newsround furore.

Ghost Stories

The Daily Mail have excelled themselves today in their article on the Lib Dem immigration plan. As it's been put through my Nick Clegg, they've used it as an excuse to speculate about his leadership chances:
According to mystery sources, Mr Clegg agreed not to oppose him [Ming] when Charles Kennedy was forced to quit as leader following a revolt by MPs over his drink problem in January last year.
"Mystery sources" eh? Would that be ouija boards or psychics?

16 September 2007

Shameless pop at Ming

From BBC News:

Liberal Democrat president Simon Hughes said the party was "united" despite low poll ratings and doubts over Sir Menzies' position.

Yep, we're all united behind Ming... with a knife in our hands.

14 September 2007

Pissing on their Biased BBC Parade

Various right-wing bloggers, in particular Biased BBC, are getting their knickers in a twist over the BBC Newsround's 9/11 site - specifically, the "Why did they do it?" page - which they claim propagates a distinctly anti-American view in saying the following:
"The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry, including a group called al-Qaeda - who are widely thought to have been behind the attacks.

In the past, al-Qaeda leaders have declared a holy war - called a jihad - against the US. As part of this jihad, al-Qaeda members believe attacking US targets is something they should do.

When the attacks happened in 2001, there were a number of US troops in a country called Saudi Arabia, and the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, said he wanted them to leave."
Now, at first glance, it seems like the Biased BBC crowd are right - this page could be read as laying the blame squarely at America's door. EXCEPT for one small problem, and the problem happens to be the findings of the non-partisan and distinctly pro-American 9/11 Commission. You can read the report here (pdf) if you have a spare decade.

At page 47 (page 65 of the pdf), under the heading "The Foundation of a New Terrorism", it starts to describe the background of the 1998 fatwa (have a ganders at the fatwa here) which called for the murder of any American:
"Though novel for its open endorsement of indiscriminate killing, Bin Ladin’s 1998 declaration was only the latest in the long series of his public and private calls since 1992 that singled out the United States for attack. In August 1996, Bin Ladin had issued his own self-styled fatwa calling on Muslims to drive American soldiers out of Saudi Arabia.The long, disjointed document condemned the Saudi monarchy for allowing the presence of an army of infidels in a land with the sites most sacred to Islam, and celebrated recent suicide bombings of American military facilities in the Kingdom. ...
"Plans to attack the United States were developed with unwavering singlemindedness throughout the 1990s. Bin Ladin saw himself as called “to follow in the footsteps of the Messenger and to communicate his message to all nations,” and to serve as the rallying point and organizer of a new kind of war to destroy America and bring the world to Islam."
Don't you think the BBC Newsround page in question is a fairly good, albeit understandably over-simplified, summary of the 9/11 Commission's account?

Right-wing bloggers: See the world as we do, or we fisk you to fuck.

Ming on the verge of crying

The picture the BBC are running alongside the EU referendum announcement:



Somebody's either holding a gun to his head out of shot or he's just lost his puppy.

A Welcome Statement

Ming Campbell appears to have reacted to the backlash within the party to his recent comments by calling for a full-scale referendum on whether Britain should stay in or out of the European Union. 30 years after we joined the EU, you'd hope we wouldn't need one, but an affirmative vote would quiet down the anti-Europeans for a while... until the next treaty that is.

Also good to see the BBC leading with it on the politics front page - finally we're seizing the agenda with a positive story after a summer drought.

Negative Article

A fairly negative article on the Liberal Democrats on The Guardian's Comment is Free site by Iain Macwhirter. He focuses mainly on our position in Scotland, but there is still food for thought for the national party.

Dismantling EU Arguments

The cerebral James Graham does a good job of dismantling the anti-EU-referendum arguments. Well said that man.

13 September 2007

Quality of Paper

The Conservative Quality of Life policy review people have finally released their long dreaded report. One question though, has it been printed on recyclable paper, because the online version at least doesn't say?

Unseen Saatchi and Saatchi Proposals






* I don't know what though... a lifetime obsession with Doctor Who?

Labour Retains Saatchi and Saatchi

Assuming a four year cycle*, this is coming about two years early. Another sign that an election is imminent or just Labour being good Scouts?

PS. Saatchi and Saatchi won the account with this:



So that's "vote for us, he's boring" then.

Or is this a case of "Not Flash Gordon" trying to beat "Ming the less-than-Merciless"? What does this make Cameron?

* Although it can legally be five years.

A List

After my little rant yesterday, LibDem Voice have compiled a list of LibDem Bloggers who are opposed and who support Ming's decision not to support a referendum. My pick of the dissenters who have now risen up? Stephen Tall.

12 September 2007

What the Hell Has Happened to Us?

In the wake of Ming Campbell's announcement that he doesn't support a referendum on the new EU Treaty, LibDemBloggers have come out in support of him... Yes, that's right, in support. My post earlier today is the only one criticising his move.

Where the hell are the outraged voices arguing the point that whilst we support the Union, we also believe in the principle that on matters where power is transferred within our constitution, the people must have their say? Where are the voices stating that we are betraying one of our core principles by failing to call for a referendum? In short, what the hell happened to this party?

Shane Greer has been ripping us a new one on Iain Dale's blog because we're coming across as patriarchs who can tell the British people what is best for them. Can we at least credit everybody else on this island who isn't a LibDem with some intelligence? Can we at least accept the principle that the mass media are not the people, and that they're not going to be easily led by the mass media?

Before I burst a blood vessel, I leave you with this quote from the Maastricht Treaty Debate (col. 317, 4th November 1992):
Mr. Ashdown: ... I have always supported a referendum on the matter [of the Maastricht Treaty], and I hope that one will be agreed under the Bill. I agree that the Bill involves a shift of sovereignty--one that I recommend to the British people and in which I passionately believe--but the House does not have the right to give away sovereignty that it does not possess.

Sovereignty comes from the people. I believe that there should be a referendum. If there were a referendum, we should not be seen to take our people into Europe, which I strongly recommend they enter, depending on their ignorance or in the face of their hostility. That has always been my view, and will remain so.

Serially Out of Touch

I support the EU. I really do. It has been immeasurably good for this country. But, alas, it has its niggles. Too many decisions are taken behind closed doors, 27 Commissioners is too many and some decisions are taken at EU level which should really be left to national or local government ("the subsidiarity principle"). Which is why I welcome the new EU treaty, which, if the spin is to be believed, will solve these and other problems (although not the CAP, regrettably).

However, any EU treaty necessarily involves the transfer of power from one part of our constitution (usually Parliament) to another (the EU, whether the EU Parliament, Commission, Council of Ministers or some combination of the three). For this reason, all EU treaties should be approved by the people in a referendum. The people should have the right to decide where power exercised in their name is exercised.

So I'm dismayed to discover that the leader of the party which I support, the Liberal Democrats, has rejected the notion of a referendum on the upcoming EU treaty. Well done Ming. Both misjudging the mood of the electorate, as well as the mood of the party (according to LibDemVoice) - no wonder the polls are so low for us at the moment.

Alternative Takes:

11 September 2007

11/9: Time to Move On

The 11th September (or 9/11, as it is regrettably and, for British people, incorrectly called) has rolled around once more and yet again tearful victims and relatives gather at the World Trade Center (or "Centre") and the Pentagon to commemorate the lives of those who died on that day. The ceremony is as big as it ever was (the New York Times have done a good job of summarising all the different events).

But, six years on, surely enough is enough, at the very least for the emotional well-being of those most directly affected by the tragic events of that Tuesday morning. Life goes on, and yet every year victims and relatives are dragged back to the memory of the most vulnerable time in their lives - they are reminded that they will always be "the victims of 9/11" and they will forever live in the shadow of that fateful day.

Six years on, the world missed an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and scale down the size of the 9/11 commemorations. We, the Western world, should move on and show to those that wish to do us harm that no long-term consequences will come of it. That we will, in short, survive and not exist in a state of perpetual victimhood.

Joined Up Government

What the Government effectively said yesterday when announcing plans for more faith schools:
"At a time when we're worried about the isolationism and radicalisation of young people, we're going to be setting up more faith schools, in order to encourage segregation and breed suspicion of those who do not share their beliefs."
Eloquently put reactions:

10 September 2007

I Met Boris Today

He came in to 18 Doughty Street for a half-hour interview with Iain Dale (airing tomorrow at 9pm).

And now for my Cheshire Cat grin and him:

Internet People

A tribute to internet people down the ages:

A Message to News Outlets

To all those news outlets running wall-to-wall coverage of the Madeleine McCann stories (Sky have just interrupted Brown's TUC speech to show a press conference by McCann's great uncle that reveals precisely fuck-all):
WE DON'T FUCKING CARE
RUN SOME REAL NEWS
LEAVE THE POOR SODS ALONE

07 September 2007

Beyond Satire

From today's Times:
Mahmood Chandia, a Bury graduate who is now a university lecturer, claims in one sermon that music is a way in which Jews spread “the Satanic web” to corrupt young Muslims.

“Nearly every university in England has a department which is called the music department, and in others, where the Satanic influence is more, they call it the Royal College of Music*,” he says.
* This should be the cue for the dramatic music - "Dun Dun DAA"

05 September 2007

A Moment of Self-Congratulation

I've been shortlisted in this year's Blog of the Year Awards in the category "Most Humorous LibDem Blog". Whilst I've got little chance of winning, I do get to put this little button on my blog:


Cheers to everyone who nominated me, you clearly have great taste.

Politician Drops Baby

Fantastically produced video from Shelter, directed by Armando Iannucci:

04 September 2007

Tory Public Services Policy Group Makes a Whoopsy

Michael Ancram's swipe at David Cameron has kind of buried today's publication of the Tory's Public Services Improvement Policy Group's report, but it is worth our attention:

"Proposal 20 – We propose that the next Conservative government should consult on raising the legal
age for smoking to 18."

(Page 22)

One tiny problem with this, it's barely worth mentioning, but just in case, they might like to know that from 1st October 2007 the legal age at which you can purchase any tobacco product is rising to 18. I admit it's probably too much to expect a policy group to know anything about the law.

Another Private Eye Reference

  • £5.8 billion: Cost of the new Eurostar high-speed link to St. Pancras.
  • 20 minutes: Time saved on the Paris-London journey by the new high-speed link.
  • £290 million: Cost per minute saved of the new Eurostar high-speed link to St. Pancras.

Boris Johnson's Compass Stalker

So, yesterday I got a comment on one of my posts about Boris Johnson's mayoral candidature from a person calling him/herself "Young Londoner". I read through it and thought nothing more. Surfing the web later, I found an identical comment, from the same person, on another site (here). Both the comments quote the recent Compass report on Boris Johnson, disparaging the hapless buffon.

Turns out this guy/girl has been posting everywhere they can, here, here, here and here, with identical comments. So, who is this mystery person really? A concerned citizen, or a Labour person out to discredit Mr Johnson?

And, what's sadder? That s/he did this, or that I followed him/her around the net?

03 September 2007

Tech Tip-Tastic

Wakoopa might be of interest to fellow bloggers. It installs a tiny application* on your computer that tracks the applications you use and can then display them on your blog. For those of you worried about privacy implications, it tracks only the apps, not what you are doing inside them.

*Seriously tiny, it takes up barely any system resources at all.

Boris Johnson launches bid to be Mayor of London

Because apparently that announcement six weeks ago was really a pre-announcement announcement. This is the real announcement. Anyways, it gives me a chance to link back to my previous post on Boris Johnson's pros and cons from when he made his pre-announcement announcement.... Not this announcement you understand.

Back Boris for a Greater London

A Boris Johnson campaign button from his site. Unique to say the least.

Will there be an election?

"Now is not the time", according to Gordon Brown on The Today Programme and despite Iain Dale's and Dizzy's assertions otherwise. Could this just be a clever double-bluff, or did Brown offer a hint on the radio of his big Tuesday announcement: lots of tripartisan appointments to his "government of all the talents"?

A Private Eye Reference

Depressing sights of Borehamwood number 94:

A mother pushing a pram loaded with cider bottles and her child walking alongside.

I shit ye not.

02 September 2007

Of Purely Architectural Interest

Tooting Broadway to Edgware is a long journey - 63 minutes according to TfL - and the mind tends to wander. Unfortunately for you, I had a notebook to record my thoughts and I present them now in (mostly) unedited form, inviting your comment. The pad is headed "The Right-Wing Question"*:

Nick Clegg - Not afraid to tackle the RW issue of immigration, but possibly losing RW votes as a result of backlash? Prob. not = They wouldn't have voted LD anyway (Libertarians? Where do they stand on this issue?)

Linking immigration to lower taxes [squaring the circle sign - meant to indicate triangulation]. Why? Cost of deportation [IPPR report] and immigrants tend to be net contributors to revenue, despite Daily Mail assertions to the contrary.

UK (or at least England) - Inherently RW (conservative w/ small "c").

Controlling the agenda/going against the grain. We need a leader who isn't afraid to tackle [non-LD traditional issues] head on - Nick Clegg last week showed he isn't afraid.

Seen as a high tax party - it's the economy stupid [reference to Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign]. Dropping 50% helps - but this would be revenue neutral.

Green taxes and Iraq - Preaching to the converted.

Strong on - civil liberties - Where RW votes can be gained?

Weak on - crime and immigration - and we're not getting our message across?

14% [recent Yougov poll]!!! What would this mean for seats - what is the spread?

01 September 2007

Deploying Spyware

BBC News is reporting that the German government plans to email suspected terrorists Trojan attachments. Aside from the obvious privacy implications, any half-competent terrorist, let alone PC-using individual, is going to have anti-spyware and anti-virus software on their system. It'll be a case of here today, gone tomorrow for whatever the German tech-boys come up with.

Google Flight Simulator

The latest release of Google Earth features more than just Google Sky, their much vaunted star map. TechCrunch points me towards Google Flight Simulator, an Easter Egg accessible to Windows users by pressing Ctrl+Windows+A (for some reason, both TechCrunch and Google say it's Ctrl+Alt+A, but this doesn't work) whilst inside the Google Earth application. It's a basic flight simulator that allows you to fly around the whole Google Earth globe - I'm sure the novelty will wear off quickly, but it's still a nifty hidden extra.