Authoritarians Attempt Coercion Against 45,000 Doctors

The imposition of a new contract by the Hunt responsible for NHS Policy is the single most authoritarian action by a western government since Reagan’s dismissal of 11,345 striking Air Traffic Control staff in 1981.

I never figured out how he got away with that. If there was ever a case for citizens owning and using guns, that was a true Casus Bellum.  But then I’m just a woolly liberal, woddoIknow?

The labour movement has all too often been led by donkeys who have the strategic comprehension of a parking meter, so it is not unusual for them to lose the fight against their capitalist overlords.

The BMA – the junior doctors “trade union” – might be a different proposition. Qualifying as a doctor does require above average intelligence and ability to focus. So perhaps we can expect a more intelligent response to the government diktat in this instance.

Here’s my suggestion for what it’s worth.

Every junior doctor who is not prepared to toe the employer’s line should, in planned coordination with every other similarly minded junior doctor, hand in their conditional notice to quit in, say, 3 months time, and simultaneously lodge a formal complaint at an industrial tribunal, for compensation in respect of their constructive dismissal. (For those unfamiliar with that term it is a charge against the employer that the employee was forced to resign on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour by the employer)

40,000+ simultaneous Junior Doctor resignations and tribunal cases would, I suspect, bring the Hunt gently jogging back to the table.

 

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Ignorant White Bitch Blames Black Culture For Police Attacks On Blacks

I make no apologies for the headline. That was my second and more restrained choice of language. The Faux News “journalist” is referring to this incident, in case you haven’t seen it

in which a white cop (Ben Fields – now “ex cop” I’m delighted to observe) assaulted a black female teenage school kid in front of her own class when she failed to comply with his demand to accompany him after he’d been called in because she was disrupting the class.

Such is US Authoritarian culture that the brainless morons who form their world view through the corrupt prism of  Faux News actually think that enforcing school discipline is an appropriate use of the Police force. And such is US Police Culture that it doesn’t even occur to the uniformed bullies that physical attacks are only justified in the course of either self-defence or 3rd party defence. Violent coercion is considered a routine and acceptable policing method.

Hence, far from Black Culture causing such routine abuse by the police, it is far more appropriate and accurate to argue that Police Culture is a major factor in shaping US Black Culture which has to come to terms with the fact that the State permits its enforcers to treat black citizens as “suspects by default” to the extent that black men are

twice as likely to be killed by police than white men

twice as likely to be unarmed when the Police kill them

6 times as likely to end up in jail as white men – even though for some of the main crimes they are jailed for, like drug possession, they’re actually less likely to commit

and more likely to be in prison than in paid employment.

I am continually amazed at the relatively passive acceptance by the black American community of this centuries old racist aggression by the State and its agents – which has, if anything, slightly worsened under the “control” of a black American President. Among the oppressed minorities with a strong case for armed insurrection, American blacks are definitely in the Premier League.

Germaine has a bad hair day. But she has a point.

(if that video doesn’t work for you, here is an audio only version.)
Germaine Greer is surprisingly negative about certain transgender personalities. To the point that the twitterati can almost be forgiven for assuming that she is “Transphobic”. For example, she speculates, entirely, I suspect, without credible evidence, that Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner has put hirself through the elaborate and somewhat risky procedures of gender reassignment primarily for the vanity advantages of stealing the limelight from hir other famous Kardashian family members.

That assessment of Jenner’s motives is cynical bordering on bitchy. Germaine must be having a bad hair day. Nevertheless, I think we can show that Germaine has a better case than she has chosen to make in public.

The argument she opposes can be summarised thus: “anyone who decides to have themselves surgically rebuilt as a woman, IS a woman”. The case for that position is that gender doesn’t entirely map to biological sex and is, at least in part, a sociocultural concept. As such gender can be seen as a matter of choice rather than biological determinism.

The main problem with that argument is an unintended consequence. It undermines opposition to the related homophobic argument that homosexuality is also a matter of choice; thus providing succour to the religious and authoritarian bigots who have a visceral opposition to homosexuality.

But I don’t think that is the basis for Greer’s objections. I think her objection is political. What she doesn’t want to see is biological males, restructuring themselves as females and then usurping the roles, recognition and benefits she has been struggling, for decades, to obtain for females. Her description of the rumoured decision by “Glamour” magazine to nominate Jenner as “woman of the year” is that “misogyny played a big part in that”. Frankly that is a bizarre assessment. My own – equally cynical – assessment is that, if that decision holds, it’ll be more driven by marketing analysis (how many more magazines will it sell) than anything else. But it illustrates her concern that reassigned men might be stepping onto the territory of Women.

And that’s not a wholly irrational objection. For example, if we’re setting up a workplace committee to review the problem of sexual harassment , and we want representatives of both men and women, to reflect the experiences of both genders, then it would be reasonable to demand that the representative of the women shared the full experience of women in that context. And unless the trans woman was reassigned before she even began to work for a living, she cannot make that claim. What she may be able to bring to the party, however, is the experience of sexual harassment for transgender individuals, so it might be a good idea to have her on the committee anyway, but not as a representative of her elective gender.

That’s not a black and white example as, over and above any gender considerations are the democratic ones. The people on that committee should, first and foremost, be those whom the rest of the community believe most capable of representing their interests and if the females in the workplace are fully aware of the previous male history of a now elective female but still freely choose her as their representative, their informed democratic consent overrides any other constraint.

But the more general case is that a strong argument can be made for social restitution to repair the damage done by thousands of years of gender based discrimination and oppression. Women could make a strong case for a “class action” against Men. Greer’s fundamental objection would be to any elective woman joining or benefitting from such a class action.

That’s a reasonable political objection and not, as her enemies seem to think, an ethical prejudice.

David Anderson takes a Step In the Right Direction

With David Anderson’s report, we finally look like we may be moving in the right direction.

However, his solution to over-reach is aiming at the wrong target. Prior authorisation by his proposed new judicial body is really no more than a band-aid on the amputated limb.

The 2800 authorisations issued last year are enough to illustrate the limitation of “control by authorisation”

There is no way that serious consideration of the facts and arguments underpinning any relevant surveillance request can possibly be conducted, at that rate, by the small organisation implied by a Judicial Commission. In fact, as David Davies argued on Radio 4, it’s not credible that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, even with the resources of the Home Office, can give genuinely appropriate levels of attention to such requests at the rate of 7 a day. Especially on top of her day job.

Frankly, however, we shouldn’t really care who signs off the authorisation for any given task. All they need to authorise is that the new rules I’m about to propose are being followed to the letter. That, in short means that a new digital case file has been opened and that everything related to the case will be stored in that file and made available, on demand to the independent oversight body and/or political authorities.

What matters far more – and is absolutely vital to ensuring true democratic control of the State’s surveillance apparatus – is the complete and routine data-capture (to an immutable audit trail) of the entire surveillance decision-making process and subsequent implementation of those decisions. In other words, nobody should be watched more closely and comprehensively than the watchers themselves. Think helmet cams, body cams, discreet microphones, Smartphone and GPS location tracking, Google glass and a host of similar technologies. Think ubiquitous CCTV and Webcam coverage in all secure areas and offices.

These are the experts in surveillance. They know exactly how to ensure that everything they say and do, in the line of duty, is captured to that immutable audit trail. They know how to keep their own data safe and secure and available only to those who have legal authority to access it. (If they don’t, they have no business keeping ours) It would probably be cost neutral or slightly beneficial.

Most importantly it will facilitate precisely the democratic oversight which is needed to ensure that everything the authorities do is on the record (or is automatically a criminal offence) and available for review by whatever oversight body we determine is necessary to earn the Trust of the British People.

That body must have untrammelled authority to inspect ANY relevant data at ANY time from the moment of authorisation forward. Indeed, it must even have authority to conduct spot inspections of anything relevant to their oversight with the sole and reasonable limitation that they can watch but not impede an ongoing operation. They must also be allocated resources which permit independent and trusted expert evaluation of what they find.

The technology will allow them to rewind any operation and see for themselves what evidence justified the operation and whether the implementation of the operation was entirely necessary and proportionate. Note, I don’t even insist that it was “legal”.

What matters is that We The People would agree that it was justified. Not that a “here today gone tomorrow” politician – with a potentially hidden agenda – asserts that it was justified and demands that we trust them.

The oversight body would be empowered to disclose whatever they thought necessary to the British Public. We need to be completely confident that if they say the operation was clean and justified, but that the details need to remain secret, we would probably have agreed with them if we were in possession of all the facts.

By the same token, where they clearly uncover illicit behaviour, we must be equally confident that they are able to disclose everything we ought to know, however embarrassing for the State, that disclosure may be.

Personally I don’t trust unelected Authoritarians, even relatively tame ones like most Judges, to wield that disclosure against the elected Authoritarians and I would much prefer that Oversight body to take the form of a Standing Jury with a few dozen members selected randomly from a national pool of civic-minded volunteers.

I don’t think we should object if the Security services wanted to Vet those volunteers and weed out any that might be a threat to the necessary discipline and security that such a Jury would have to work under. But the Jury itself would be the final arbiter on any such exclusions from Jury Service.

Such an arrangement would render the process truly democratic.

We should, perhaps, have no objection to a tribunal of experienced judges being available to advise and guide the Jury on all points of law and precedent, but the Jury itself should be sovereign and make the final judgements.

With all that in place, you can perhaps see why we needn’t care so much about who authorises the actual operations.

Provided we can see, after the event, who was asked, why they were asked, why they agreed, what the consequences were and how it was handled, frankly I don’t give a give a damn what it is they actually authorise – up to and including the assassination of a fellow citizen – or even an attack on a wedding party in Pakistan. There are potential legitimate reasons for any of these activities.

But where the consequences are that extreme, nothing less than a Jury of our peers, taking an entirely uninhibited look, on our behalf, at what went on and why, will satisfy any rationally sceptical citizen that the decisions were reasonable and rationally based on reviewable evidence; or that the implementation of those decisions was carried out in the least destructive and damaging way possible in the circumstances.

To be blunt; how many of the USA Police brutality incidents we have been bombarded with for the past few decades would have survived that level of scrutiny? Or, to put it another way, how much of that brutality would we have eliminated, how many lives would we have saved, had they been under that level of scrutiny?

Yes, the American Police are a far easier target for our opprobrium than the British Security Services.
We’d rather like to keep it that way!

About the Indian Rape Epidemic? Take a look in the Mirror

If you haven’t seen India’s Daughter yet, put it in your diary, or (until they take it down anyway) watch it right here right now.

Meanwhile scroll down to the second paragraph under the second picture in that story. Read the first 3 sentences.

Oh Bollocks. I’ll save you the trouble. You can read the whole thing later.

Each country has its own appalling bloody tally. India has a population of 1.2 billion. A rape occurs every 20 minutes. In England and Wales, 85,000 women are raped every year.

Now, ask yourself, why have they written it like that? 1 rape every 20 minutes in India. 85000 a year in England and Wales. I asked my wife that. She responded immediately: “They’re trying to conceal something”. Quite so. Obviously we’re supposed to be horrified at the extent of the Rape epidemic in India. Every 20 Minutes.

Do the math. 85000 a year is 9.7 every HOUR. That’s just short of one rape every 6 minutes in England and Wales. Makes India look almost restrained…

And England and Wales Population is less than a twentieth of the Population of India. Which makes our Rape Rate 74 times – ie 7,400 percent – worse than the Indian Rape Rate.

Now, actually, I don’t believe that. Even though, as the article goes on to explain, Jyoti’s story dramatically increased the Rape REPORTING Rate in India, I suspect it’s still way behind the Reporting Rate in the UK. And I’m sure if the reporting rates were the same, it would definitely close the gap. But it certainly doesn’t suggest we have any reason whatsoever to believe that women in our country are any LESS likely to be raped than their sisters in India.

I’m sure both of my readers will recognise that I’ve made this same argument before, back in January 2013, but I seem to be the only one pointing out the nakedness of our Empirical patronage. If you follow that link, it has the sources which also reveal that the USA rape rate is about the same as the UK and that Sweden, of all places, reports the highest levels.

I don’t believe that either.

I suspect the Rape Rate in Sweden is amongst the lowest on the planet, so if they’re reporting the highest rates, it almost certainly means that women in Sweden are probably the most likely to report their abusers. Probably as close to 100% as we’re likely to get and that suggests the UK/USA rates are at least double what those sources suggest. Definitely no room for complacent finger wagging.

And why is the Guardian, of all outlets, aiding and abetting this distorted view of our cultural superiority?

So Journos get a bit more Protection, what about the rest of us?

The Daily Mail is crowing over its small victory but, as usual, hasn’t grasped the bigger picture.

The Authoritarian Law (RIPA), whose abuse they have reported on for years, is about to be tweaked with another Law forbidding cops from prying into Journalists’ phone records without more serious oversight than the pathetic “superintendent level authority” required for the police to carry on spying on the rest of us.

First, it’s a VERY small victory. It reputedly only even attempts to improve the protection for Journalists. Not citizens. So, at most, a few hundred of our fellow, more privileged citizens, will be “protected” by the proposed new restrictions.

But second, note the quote marks around “protected”. That’s no accident. The truth is that the Law does NOTHING to protect us from abuse of surveillance powers and never has. At most it might deter those who think they are at risk of being caught snooping, which given the fact that they are not being snooped on themselves, is a very low risk.

But, as the RIPA saga amply illustrates, the vast majority of its abusers don’t even grasp the concept of “Abuse” in this context. They have routinely justified their illicit access as “proportionate and necessary” in pursuit of their aims to pursue petty criminality, littering, illegal parking, dog fouling, fly tipping, cheating to qualify for access to favoured schools and other matters of dubious relevance to our “National Security” which RIPA was deemed necessary to protect. And what we’ve suffered here in the UK is trivial compared to the institutionalised abuse and assault on civil liberties arising from the wholly illicit USAPATRIOT Act and its associated legislation in the United States.

This kind of mission creep is rampant around the world. The USA clearly does it most egregiously and most “professionally” but while they’re among the worst offenders, there is probably no government on the planet which doesn’t routinely abuse its authority to obtain illicit access to private data for reasons which no intelligent citizen would approve.

And anyone who thinks “The Law” can protect them from this kind of abuse doesn’t begin to understand the problem. The only way to prevent such abuse is to make it technically impossible to spy without audited authority. Wot that mean?

It means that it has ALWAYS been technically possible to control access to the data they want to snoop on. It means that such control can easily be made to include a form of authentication and authorisation which ensures that all the relevant data is captured to an audit trail which cannot be tampered with by those requiring the authorised access. It means that, though we can never guarantee to prevent illicit access, we can guarantee that we can always discover it and who was responsible for it.

Laws which make something illegal and threaten sanctions are, at best, only a minor deterrent, as we see in real life every day (think War on Drugs, Fraud, Burglary, Rape etc etc as well as the routine abuses by the Authorities themselves).

Conversely, the near certainty of detection is a major deterrent.

The audit trail would, itself, contain no sensitive data and could thus be entirely publicly accessible. It would serve three functions.

First, all requests for access could be technically blocked and only permitted to proceed on receipt of a key from the audit trail. That one time access key would only be issued once the audit trail has been persuaded that the requestor was a) authorised to make such requests and b) had proved deposit of the documentary evidence required to justify the reason for access.

Second, the public audit trail presents to the world an anonymised record, in real-time, of what the authorities are doing. That public record would not, for example, reveal whose phone records they had just requested access to, but would reveal that one or more such access requests had been made in the last few seconds or minutes. Nor would it reveal who had requested access. But it would reveal at least the organisation responsible for the access request. That might be as vague as “The Home Office” or “NSA” or it might be as specific as “Precinct 99” or “East Devon County Council”. That’s a matter for negotiation.

Over the course of days, weeks, months, it would reveal the extent of surveillance activity against the citizens and the patterns of what authorities were doing what kind of snooping.

The third function of the audit trail would be, in the event of any challenge to the authorities, over a specific access session, to verify (or falsify) their claims as to why they did what they did. Remember the one time access key? That only gets issued if the authority requesting access asserts that it has documentary evidence supporting its reasons for the request and that they meet the terms of any relevant laws. They have to “prove” the existence of that evidence by lodging its digital fingerprint (a “hash” for those who aren’t yet familiar with this incredibly useful crypto tool) with the audit trail.

Come the challenge, they must present that documentary evidence to the auditors and, possibly, a court. The beauty of the Hash is that, while maintaining the complete confidentiality of the evidence, it proves unequivocally whether or not the documents they present are identical to those they claimed, at the time of the request, supported their access request. If they don’t match, or if they are found to be attempting to bypass the audit trail altogether, they are automatically committing a criminal offence.

If they do match, the auditors/court can now study the documentation to make a judgement as to whether their reason for access was legitimate or not. If not, then, once again, they’ve committed a criminal offence. If they do match, then it’s a fair cop!

None of the above is rocket science. It doesn’t require any new technology. It does require some new programming and authentication procedures but nothing dramatic, even though the effects would be.

There are two roles for the Law in this area. First – what they already do – they need to define what we democratically agree to be acceptable and unacceptable practice, with a view to enabling appropriate sanctions against those we find in breach of the law. Their second, so far absent, and more important role, is to mandate the implementation of the kind of technical protection which makes the abuses we’ve forbidden impossible to hide. No more, no less.

If the media, including the Daily Mail, could understand this issue and campaign for the introduction of such legally mandated technical protections across the planet – or at least in their own backyards – then they might actually improve the human condition, and not just protect their own interests.

Now that would be something worth crowing about.

State-Rape – Penetrating Justice

My first thought when I heard what David Eckert went through was “State Rape”, but I stuck with the title of the video when I posted it in a previous blog.

One of my readers suggested that, though obviously disgusting, abuse that insane was, mercifully, rare. I beg to differ. I googled “State Rape”. I was looking for more evidence of the cavity searches. I’d entirely forgotten about the first story that came up: The imbecilic proposal to force pregnant women in Virginia, Texas, and Iowa to undergo transvaginal ultrasound tests if they were uppity enough to demand abortions.

Yeah! that’ll put em in their place. We’ll consider letting em have their abortion if they’ll just let us rape them first…

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was actually a supporter of that proposal, until someone had the sense to take him aside and explain what a transvaginal ultrasound entailed. Fuckwit.

So that’s one definition of State Rape. Hasn’t happened yet and probably won’t. But cavity searching? That’s now a daily event somewhere between Sea and Shining Sea (although New Mexico seems to be a hot spot). And it’s every bit as brutal and illicit as bog standard Rape. Here’s another couple of examples, where a man and woman were (separately) suspected of carrying drugs and given the full State Rape treatment. And then DESPITE THE FACT THAT NOTHING WAS FOUND in either case, were then BILLED thousands of dollars for being the victims of obviously criminal assault by the State.

Apparently Eckert wasn’t the first New Mexico example. This unnamed woman was State Raped in 2011. And here’s a more recent example; this time from Milwaukee.

How the fuck normal Americans have let it get to this state is a wonder to behold. In a 2012 poll, 30% of Americans actually indicated they’d be prepared to a submit to a “TSA body cavity search!!!”

Just try finding that information anywhere close to a mainstream outlet. Not a chance.

Why not? because even though it’s a trustworthy poll conducted by the highly reputable Harris Poll organisation, the people who commissioned the poll – Infowars – are obviously too far out on the libertarian (American version) fringe to qualify for being taken seriously.

Presumably, if the Dalai Lama discovered, verifiably, a new law of physics, similar mainstream inertia would ensure that it too would be ignored by the “News” organisations, simply on the basis that as a mere religious leader, he has no business asking scientific questions.

It’s a bizarre reaction. Who gives a shit who asks the questions? What matters is what the answers reveal and, in this case of American willingness to let themselves be buggered by the State, those answers are pretty shocking but no surprise.

They are in line with the results of Bob Altemeyer’s findings on the prevalence of Authoritarian Followers, (which I blogged about here). About a quarter of the population fall into that category. They’re the ones who have taken the blue pills with a double helping of Koolade, and still believe that Authority exists to protect them.

So that wasn’t surprising. What did provoke a raised eyebrow was the political split. Altemeyors statistics show a clear authoritarian follower preference for Republicans over Democrats but here they’re evenly split. 31% of republicans will accept State Rape, 33% of democrats and 30% of the independents. Now that’s WEIRD.

Anyway, as I say, you won’t find (well, I couldn’t) that poll reported in a single mainstream source. Not even the populist Daily Mail which loves a bit of salacious America bashing picked it up.

dunno ’bout you, but I think that the fact that 30% of the population of the Land of Free is prepared to let the actors in the biggest Security Theatre on Earth mechanically bugger them is, at least, newsworthy.

Still, some good news on the Eckert case, turns out he was awarded $1.6 million in punitive damages for the illegal assault. That might take the sting out of it for him, and hitting the vicious bastards in the wallet might be the only way America is going to nudge itself back towards being a civil society…