Tuesday, September 15, 2009
"In 2002 I was a senior detective with Cambridgeshire police. That August two ten-year-old girls disappeared, and I took over the investigation. Two days later I set up the surveillance operation that led to the arrest of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr a few hours later.The former (now retired) detective chief superintendent explains in the body of the article that it was an unfortunate chance that brought the two girls into contact with their murderer. A lot has been made about Huntley being a school caretaker and given his history he should not have held such a position but he was at a different school to the two girls. Huntley's partner Maxine Carr had been a classroom assistant in Holly and Jessica's school and it was her the two girls were seeking out when they found Huntley, unfortunately, home alone.
Huntley has not been a free man since. He was convicted of the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in December 2003.
Last weekend my actions came back to haunt me. My wife and I went to Benson, Oxfordshire, to celebrate the birthday of my nine-year-old grandson. We went off to see him play as goalkeeper for his village under-10s football team. Mum and dad, sisters, uncles and both grandparents were there to cheer him on.
One of my hobbies is photography, so I took my camera to take a few “action shots” of my grandson. Ten minutes later I was approached by the manager, who said: “Can I ask you not to take photographs, it’s against the regulations. You have to get permission in writing from every parent of every child.”
I felt humbled. I am now a suspected paedophile — along, I fear, with millions of other parents and grandparents. I looked at the pictures I had taken. They were of my grandson making saves as his team came under pressure. I am sure he would have liked to look back on them in the future... I deleted the photographs."
To treat every adult in the country as if they are likely to have the same mentality as the thankfully rare Huntley mindset is less than sensible and as the former detective chief superintendent says, it is not going to stop another tragedy. And despite the reported ministerial climbdown on the 'solve it with another database' approach to child safety, they're continuing to press on and claim that their scheme has "got the balance about right". When the headlines have passed we can therefore expect the system to merrily continue its primary function of ensuring the government has been seen to have done something in response to the tragic events at Soham. That the something is big, costly, affects everyone and involves computers is presumably a bonus from the government's perspective. That it is big, costly, turns every adult in the country into a suspected paedophile and will get in the way of protecting children who really are at risk, is shameful.
Monday, September 14, 2009
"A federal appeals court on Friday affirmed a lower court ruling that Microsoft infringed on a patent owned by Alcatel-Lucent, but said the jury award of $358 million in damages was excessive...
The patent, whose application was originally filed by engineers at AT&T, covers a method of entering information into fields on a computer screen without using a keyboard."
The reality is that insurance companies have an incentive to minimise their financial support for people with serious long term health needs and a recent American Journal of Medicine study suggests 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the US were caused by medical costs. Koppelman says:
"In 2007, 62% of all personal bankruptcies were driven by medical costs."Nationally, a quarter of firms cancel coverage immediately when an employee suffers a disabling illness; another quarter do so within a year," the report states.Most of the medical debtors were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations, and three-quarters of them had health insurance. "Unless you're a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you're one illness away from financial ruin in this country," lead author Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School, said in an interview. "If an illness is long enough and expensive enough, private insurance offers very little protection against medical bankruptcy, and that's the major finding in our study."
In other words, all those people who oppose health care reform because they like the coverage they’ve got really have no idea of the real dangers they face, because they have no idea what their insurance companies would really do to them if they got sick.This poses a real political challenge for the proponents of reform.The people who will most benefit from the consumer protections that Obama is advocating – those who will experience serious illness in the future – have no idea that they are benefiting, and so will not politically reward those who deliver the benefits.The Democrats could give most Americans substantially greater security and receive no reward for it."