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Does this G8 summit matter?

The G8 is one of the few groups which truly has the power to change the world at the stroke of a pen. But, despite their huge wealth, they won’t.

Even if these largely Westernised countries offer enormous aid to those most in need, their inability to see the world from the eyes of the desperate will hinder any attempt to help: They are far to focused on Western cultures and ways of approaching problems to provide genuine solutions. They can’t even agree that condoms are the best way of preventing the spreading of HIV, despite mountains of evidence proving this, so how on Earth do they hope to tackle the far trickier problems of poverty?

But just because these countries can’t get together and change the world for the better doesn’t mean that we should write the G8 off as useless. However unproductive, argumentative, and ineffective the meetings are, we should celebrate the fact that at least these eight leading nations are co-operating and even holding meetings in an age of cynicism, distrust, and warfare.

Achievements aren’t everything. The symbolism is just as important. That’s why, now more than ever, the G8 summit really matters.

Originally written for Channel 4 News

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics, Writing Elsewhere.

ID cards bill given second reading

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, to see this on the BBC News homepage:

Government wins key Commons vote on ID Cards Bill by majority of 31. More soon.

With Labour’s majority severely reduced, I was hoping that pointless legislation would no longer get through the House of Commons. Yet, even after watching the debate for most of the afternoon, I still see no reason for ID cards to be introduced. Maybe I’m just stupid.

One of the main arguments for ID cards in recent days, and the one apparently favoured by Mr Blair, has been that biometric passports are being introduced, and we might as well have ID cards at the same time. To me, this makes no sense. Only people who apply for the new passports will get ID cards, so why not use their passports as ID?

Charles Clarke has now conceded that ID cards won’t really help in the fight against crime, but does claim that they’ll help against serious and organised crime – the example he chose to cite on the Today programme was drug smuggling. Why would anyone smuggling drugs do so with a fake ID? It would just be one further possible trigger for suspicion. Somebody trying to smuggle drugs into the country would surely do so in a way as to appear as inconspicuous as possible. If they’re currently trying to do that using forged passports, then I suggest their logic is slightly twisted.

As for terrorism: The people who commit terrorist offences rarely use fake ID. Again, using fake ID only increases the chance of getting caught. The key to successfully committing a terrorist offence is surely to use people who would not raise any suspicion in their day-to-day lives, but are under the control of the lead fundamentalists. Not to try and get through security checks with fake ID.

And finally, the argument put forward that this should serve as a single form of unquestionable ID is dangerous. The ID cards are to carry three pieces of biometric data, since using only one doesn’t provide suitable efficacy. Now Charles Clarke is making a big deal of the fact that this will mean you’ll no longer have to collect lots of documents together to open a bank account, get a library card, or get a copy of your criminal record in a CRB check. Unless he’s planning on equipping every bank, library, and CRB representative (which include thousands of members of councils, universities, churches, youth groups…) with an iris scanner, facial recognition software, and fingerprinting devices, then these people will not be able to check the biometric data, and so these cards end up being no more secure in day-to-day use than normal photographic ID. So to then announce that this will serve as a sole form of ID makes it much easier to commit identity theft offences, as only one document will need to be forged.

So as far as I can see, our elected representatives have voted to divulge far more about our lives than ever before to governmental departments, and allow them to store this data on computers that will probably not be as secure as they should be, and that will probably cost more than the government says, for no tangible benefit. And the majority wasn’t even that narrow. Good one, guys.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.


This PC-cleaning application found it’s way to me via the BBC’s Click Online, and it’s the absolute best I’ve ever come across. It cleans out temporary files, and generally cleans up your system quick as a flash, as well as scanning your registry for errors, and fixing those at lightning speed. It’s absolutely excellent and completely free, so if you’re running Windows and it’s getting a bit sluggish or your hard-drive is filling up fast, download this and give it a go. It’s well worth it.

This post was filed under: Reviews.

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