Still Quiet On The Western Front

Sorry, blogging still quiet, I’ve had a very busy week for one reason or another, so blogging has taken a back seat. I hope to resume in anger this week, especially now that the official election campaign is not far away.

The picture on the left is my car – only 3 weeks old – after some knobhead idiot in a red mark III Golf decided on Saturday that he would ram me (well my wife – she was driving) off the dual carriageway because we happened to be in the way of him trying to undertake someone else. I’m still trying to trace him.

All credit to airbags and the ‘all-new Astra‘ safety measures that we walked away with nothing more than a couple of bruises.

In the meantime I would like to refer you to this post by Mark Wadsworth, via Witterings from Witney of yet another EU impact on our lives, in this case regarding the clocks changing, which hitherto I was unaware of:

As I have pointed out in a detailed comment on Mr Ellwood’s article, this is a matter of EU law – Directive 2000/84/EC – which cannot be changed unilaterally by the UK government.

The UK government does not have the freedom to do what Mr Ellwood wants, which is to move clocks forward by one hour for the whole of the year, unless it also moves them forward by an additional hour for the agreed period of summer time:

“Article 1: For the purposes of this Directive “summer-time period” shall mean the period of the year during which clocks are put forward by 60 minutes compared with the rest of the year.”

The concluding passages of my comment may seem harsh, but I’m fed up to the back teeth with UK politicians, especially Tory politicians, abusing their positions of trust by deliberately pulling the wool over the eyes of the public about the EU:

“If Mr Ellwood is unaware that this matter which so greatly exercises him is subject to existing EU law, which cannot be changed unilaterally by the UK, then he’s unfit to be a government minister. On the other hand, if he is aware of the EU law but he deliberately chooses not draw the attention of readers to its existence, then he is unfit to be an MP, let alone a government minister.”

I stand by that.

Is there nothing we can do on our own anymore?

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It’s Oh So Quiet

My blog will be rather quiet now for a few days, I’m attending the UKIP Spring conference tomorrow in Milton Keynes which will see the unveiling of the UKIP’s election campaign, then I will be helping out Nigel in Buckingham on Saturday with a mass canvass, and then I’m due to attend a hustings meeting on Saturday evening.

Sunday will be taken up with D.I.Y to prepare my bathroom for the new one, ordered my wife, being delivered on Monday (she clearly thought I didn’t have enough to do) and in all that I miss my first home game of the season.

The Digital Economy Bill

The controversial Digital Economy Bill has now passed the House of Lords and is now likely to become part of the Parliamentary ‘wash up’ process before dissolution of Parliament:

The Digital Economy Bill is now expected to be rushed through the Commons before the general election.

The bill, put forward by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, has been welcomed by the music industry because it includes plans to suspend the internet accounts of people who persistently download material illegally.

The draconian copyright bill which is warmly welcomed by the music industry was proposed not long after Lord Mandelson had dined with record exec David “You’re so vain” Geffen – a coincidence I’m sure.

The problem is, as I blogged here, the bill is likely to be in breach of EU law. The provision to cut off internet access without a fair trial could run foul of the EU Telecoms Reform which contains this:

With regard to any measures of Member States taken on their Internet access (e.g. to fight child pornography or other illegal activities), citizens in the EU are entitled to a prior fair and impartial procedure, including the right to be heard, and they have a right to an effective and timely judicial review.

However, the bill may also run into further problems because there’s also another possible breach as well. The bill contains this (my emphasis):

124A Obligation to notify subscribers of copyright infringement reports

(1) This section applies if it appears to a copyright owner that—

(a) a subscriber to an internet access service has infringed the
owner’s copyright by means of the service; or

(b) a subscriber to an internet access service has allowed another
person to use the service, and that other person has infringed
the owner’s copyright by means of the service.

This means places such as universities, libraries, and small businesses, like coffee shops that offer free Wi-Fi hotspots, would effectively be held responsible for the actions of customers that use its networks, even if it was password-protected. They would become responsible for customers’ alleged copyright infringement.

But this may break EU law as well, specifically EU Directive 2000/31/EC, which gives network providers immunity from liability for the actions of their users even if they are ignorant of those actions. Article 14 of the Directive states:

1. Where an information society service is provided that consists of the storage of information provided by a recipient of the service, Member States shall ensure that the service provider is not liable for the information stored at the request of a recipient of the service, on condition that:

(a) the provider does not have actual knowledge of illegal activity or information and, as regards claims for damages, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which the illegal activity or information is apparent; or

(b) the provider, upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information.

and Article 15 makes clear that there’s no general obligation to monitor:

1. Member States shall not impose a general obligation on providers, when providing the services covered by Articles 12, 13 and 14, to monitor the information which they transmit or store, nor a general obligation actively to seek facts or circumstances indicating illegal activity.

So there’s scope that the bill might be challenged should it pass. A potential mess.

It’s all rather dispiriting. An unelected Lord, with form on being less than candid, proposes laws which rides roughshod over civil liberties, directly benefiting those that had lunch with him, but which might then conflict with other laws passed by a foreign government entirely unaccountable to the people.

With just over 7 weeks to an election you have to wonder where the voters are in all this.

Get Paid £24,000 To Do Nothing But Eat

This from the Daily Mail:

A company is advertising for a rather lazy individual just like the TV slob – to do nothing and eat more.

It wants a worker with a big appetite who is happy to eat 400 extra calories every day – to test the fat-binding properties of a weight loss product.

The position is open to men and women and the successful applicant will have their calorific intake and weight closely monitored by medics.

Tea And Biscuits

I’m a bit late to this, but I’ve just spotted this fine article by Jeremy Clarkson in last weeks Times regarding the madness of legislating because of the actions of a minority. There is however one paragraph I take issue with (my emphasis):

In other words, the normality of dog ownership will be skewed. Instead of spending your free time with your pooches, throwing balls or tickling them under the chin, you will be forced to provide tea and biscuits for someone from the department of dogs while he inspects your cupboard under the stairs for evidence that they’ve eaten the cleaning lady.

Not entirely true. Some years ago I had a visit from the Vatman and, while he rummaged through all my files, I offered him a cup of tea. He refused. “I can’t accept because it could be construed as bribery” he said. Seriously. I’m not making that up. I wish I were.