Archive for March, 2012

More of a scratch pad for me than anything else.

It’s not like your friendly local Clinical Commissioning Group would have a web site. Is it. Anyway, there is a list of names in this PDF.

Chair / Central Lead Dr Helen Pelendrides*
Vice Chair / North East Lead Dr John Rohan*
Borough Director Andrew Williams
West Lead Dr Peter Christian*
South East Lead Dr Muhammad Akunjee*
Central GP Member Dr Sharezad Tang*
North East GP Member Dr Simon Caplan*
North East GP Member Dr Gino Amato*
West GP Member Dr Dina Dhorajiwala*
West GP Member Dr David Masters*
South East GP member vacant
Sessional GP member Dr Rebecca Viney*
Borough Head of Finance David Maloney
Director of Public Health Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy
Non-executive Sue Baker
Non-executive Cathy Herman
Patient Representative (West) Patrick Morreau
Patient Representative (East) Ivy Ansell
Haringey Council Mun Thong Phung
Haringey Council Councillor Dogus

There’s going to be some sort of public meeting on the 17th of April.

Contacts (for all the North Central London CCGs) are here.

The proposed commissioning support organisation (that’s the bit Lansley wants to give the yanks – a technical term, I agree) prospectus, from the existing NHS organisation, is here. Interesting detail:

Our services will be affordable. Our offer will enable you to run your CCG effectively and to deliver commissioning support within your £25 per head allowance. Our working principle is to provide a core offer for £15 per head, with additional or enhanced services available at additional cost. We believe that this meets current CCG expectations that internal CCG running costs will cost up to £10 per head.

There are 225,000 people in the London Borough. That’s £2.2 million in “internal CCG running costs” split between whichever people in that list get to draw a salary from it. Fuck me, no wonder Saint GP likes it.

Red Brick blogs on the new regulations regarding council tenants who want to take over control of their estates. Their view is that this will be much more likely, and therefore that the campaign to prevent the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham demolishing a lot of homes in order to redevelop Earls Court has taken a big step forward. Perhaps. LBHF, as Boriswatch has repeatedly shown, is a bit of a happy hunting ground for really weird Tories, and the final word is with the Secretary of State, aka Bradford’s second-worst political product Eric Pickles. Good luck with that.

But there is an interesting point here. I would argue that re-election is not really a concern for the Tories. They have fully internalised the so-called “50% + 1″ model dear to Karl Rove. The point is not to “win the centre ground” by triangulating, it is to scrape in by mobilising the base and demobilising the other lot. Then, one tries to change the conditions by making deliberately excessive and maximalist demands on the basis that whatever you ask for, you’ll probably get less, so it makes sense to shoot for the moon. Eventually, you’ll lose, but in doing so you will have pissed off the right people and hopefully changed the character of the terrain. Further, the new integrated Atlantic market for bullshit means that being a minister is no longer a life’s work, but rather an apprenticeship for much better rewarded punditry.

Think of it as an approach that isn’t about manoeuvring over the landscape, it’s about changing the landscape itself.

As a result, there is no strategic focus in terms of policy. Instead, there is a focus in terms of time. The point is to have a lot of things happening simultaneously in the hope that this will confuse the enemy – that’s you – and also in the belief that some of the bombers, or perhaps the bulldozers, will get through.

I see two responses to this. One is assymetric reaction – for example, throwing the kitchen sink at the Murdoch wars. There is no direct link between the NHS and Leveson, but you bet the sale of the News International papers would make it far easier to repeal the NHS Bill. This is why my blog is so obsessed by it. It’s an opportunity to change the terrain.

Another is total defence. If the attack is meant to be decentralised and localised to the NHS trust level, the defence can be as well. This is why you must read this seminal, classic post from Richard Blogger now and act on it. You can get a list of NHS foundation trusts whose membership is nationwide here. I just joined the one that covers my local mental health service – a likely early target – and now I am the NHS candidate for governor. Oh, yeah, and my local acute/general hospital. Go, read, work through the checklist.

(Title taken from faintly Orwellian-meets-Hazel-Blears but remarkably apposite Singaporean Ministry of Defence website. They used to have one that said “Total Defence. What will YOU defend?”, which is on point as well.)

Well, speak of the devil. Peter Foster makes his appearance in the Murdoch scandal and fingers the Sun directly.

He said he then received an email from a Dublin-based private investigator calling himself ”Autarch”, who told Mr Foster he tapped into his mother’s phone in December 2002.

That month, The Sun published the ”Foster tapes”, which featured transcripts of Mr Foster talking about selling the story of his links with Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie. Yesterday, Mr Foster said he had since had a Skype conversation with the investigator in Dublin, in which Autarch described how he tapped into Mr Foster’s mother’s phone.

”He said she was using an analogue telephone which they were able to intercept,” Mr Foster said. Autarch said he discussed the hacking with Sun journalists.

However, this story – at least this version of it – probably isn’t true. It is true that the first-generation analogue mobile phone systems like TACS in the UK and AMPS in the States were unencrypted over the air, and therefore could be trivially intercepted using a scanner. (They were also frequency-division duplex, so you needed to monitor two frequencies at once in order to capture both parties to the call.) It is also true that they were displaced by GSM very quickly indeed, compared to the length of time it is expected to take for the GSM networks to be replaced. In the UK, the last TACS network (O2′s) shut down in December 2000. It took a while longer in the Republic of Ireland, but it was all over by the end of 2001.

So Foster is bullshitting…which wouldn’t be a surprise. Or is he? TACS wasn’t the only analogue system out there. There were also a lot of cordless phones about using a different radio standard. Even the more modern DECT phones are notorious for generating masses of radio noise in the 2.4GHz band where your WiFi lives. It may well be the case that “Autarch” was referring to an analogue cordless phone. Because a lot of these were installed by individual people who bought them off the shelf, there was no guarantee that they would be replaced with newer devices. (Readers of Richard Aldrich’s history of GCHQ will note that his take on the “Squidgygate” tape is that it was probably a cordless intercept.)

This would have required a measure of physical surveillance, but then again so would an attempt to intercept mobile traffic over-the-air as opposed to interfering with voicemail or the lawful intercept system.

The Daily Beast has a further story, which points out that the then editor David Yelland apologised after being censured by the Press Complaints Commission (no wonder he didn’t go further in the Murdoch empire) and makes the point that such an interception was a crime in both the UK and Ireland at the time. They also quote Foster as follows:

According to Foster, the investigator told him that, for four days at the height of Cheriegate, he had been sitting with another detective outside Foster’s mother’s flat in the Dublin suburbs, intercepting and recording the calls to her cordless landline

The Sun hardly made any effort to conceal this – they published what purports to be a transcript, as such.

Hack.

I don’t think Jonathan Freedland will be wanting this piece of his in the Bedside Guardian book-of-the-year. In terms of basic journalistic standards, it may be the worst article to appear in the paper in the last 12 months. Look at this:

His autobiography is similarly unrepentant and notable for its repeated interest in Jews, Israel and Zionism. I’m told that Miliband’s office saw an early draft which had plenty more on those subjects, including statements that had them raising their “eyebrows to the heavens” – and which they were mightily relieved to see did not make the final version.

You might expect that somebody who is going to throw around allegations of anti-semitism and demand “repentance” about a book might be able to quote something from this book, in order to support this very grave accusation. Even if the book is so repellent that Freedland can’t bring himself to physically touch it – so much so that he doesn’t even need to read it to know this – surely there must be an intern knocking around Kings Place who could do the dirty work? But no.

Further, since when has “I’m told” been acceptable sourcing in a serious newspaper? Close reading is valuable in this case. There are many conventional ways of signalling the source of a statement from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. Freedland uses none of them. We do not get as much as “Sources close to…” or “The so-and-so camp…”. I regularly bitch and moan and whine about tiresome newspaper code for “Their PR man told me”, but it has the virtue of indicating that a source actually exists whose identity the writer is protecting, and whose identity is known to the editor. In this case, our man is not even willing to take that much responsibility, which is quite shameful given the gravity of the matter.

Careful readers will also note that there is no statement or implication in the text that whoever told him is a source in Ed Miliband’s office. This is an important lesson in the craft of dishonest writing. Juxtaposition gives the impression of a logical link, but without its semantic substance. You simply place two unrelated statements together and let the reader associate them. It is therefore very useful in later defending your work in front of your editor or a court.

In this case, the substance of the allegation is something that supposedly got edited out of Ken Livingstone’s memoirs – that is to say, something which is by nature invisible. Further, disproving that this text (again not quoted) was deleted requires you to prove a negative. Freedland didn’t actually ask if Livingstone had stopped beating his wife, but in the light of these standards of intellectual honesty and journalistic practice, why the hell not?

There is more of this stuff. The core of the piece is a meeting Freedland had with Livingstone and a group of other Labour activists. Freedland won’t say who they were or what they were up to (of course, in the print edition you can’t click through) but does say the following:

One explicitly said he sought no recantation of past remarks nor a change of position on Israel

However, the letter they sent jars with this.

Despite his seeming obsession with Israel, which gives some quarters cause for concern….

Also, perhaps it might have been more honest to mention that the deputation to see Ken included:

key people from Labour Friends of Israel

Further, Freedland harps on the fact that Livingstone had a paying gig with Press TV, which apparently:

put him in the pay of a theocratic dictatorship that denies the Holocaust and believes that both homosexuality and adultery merit stoning.

Unfortunately, this comes literally in the same paragraph as:

He’s been in further trouble over his tax arrangements

Which is, of course, an allusion to Andrew Gilligan’s discredited story, in which Gilligan made a schoolboy accounting mistake and confused the total of retained profit in a company with its annual trading profits, inflating Livingstone’s income by a factor of 7. Oddly enough, Freedland is perfectly happy to quote Gilligan despite the fact that in Freedland’s own terms he is:

in the pay of a theocratic dictatorship that denies the Holocaust and believes that both homosexuality and adultery merit stoning

Because, after all, Andrew Gilligan has been working for Press TV for some time. Strangely, his pals on the Policy Exchange/neo-con wing of the Tories find this acceptable, and so does Jonathan Freedland.

Anyway, this ugly little bit of business reminds us of something important. There may be Blairites and Brownites in the Labour Party, but there is also a third pole of Ken-nites, and there is no reason to think either group will be any less vicious towards them than they are to each other.

Failure of a lobby

Sherwood Rowland, one of the scientists responsible for discovering that CFCs were destroying the ozone layer and fixing the problem, has died. Realclimate has a good write-up, as does Eli Rabett, who makes the excellent point that we needed to invent quite a bit of the chemistry involved before we could discover there was a problem. Perhaps more telling is this NASA web page, which describes the output from the Goddard Space Flight Centre’s Chemistry-Climate Model given inputs corresponding to a world that kept using the stuff. It’s either utterly terrifying, or enormously inspiring, depending on how you look at it. Rowland, Paul Crutzen, the British Antarctic Survey people who did the fieldwork…they essentially saved the world.

But what really interests me was how they got the Vienna and Montreal protocols passed. I had the vague impression that something had changed since 1989, that the ex-tobacco industry unscience industry was only cranked up later to bash the climatologists. In fact, I’m wrong. A comment at Realclimate points out that they were indeed targeted by the usual suspects. Rowland was accused of being a KGB agent trying to destroy capitalism.

Jeff Masters of Wunderground has a really handy rundown of the pushback campaign against the ozone scientists, who were subjected to direct smears as above, plus a barrage of general-purposes PR, psuedo-scientific doubt-mongering, all with the assistance of Hill & Knowlton, Tom DeLay (for it is he) and (interestingly) some of the same characters who turn up both in Big Baccy and later on in the climate wars.

But here’s the interesting question, though. In the case of CFCs, it didn’t work. Thatcher’s late swing towards environmental issues is fairly well known, and prime ministers are certain of ratifying treaties they sign. Something must have induced Reagan to sign and Congress to ratify, though. Did the CFC makers just not give it one more heave, a few more millions?

So, I was at today’s NHS demo. Somebody had to be – I was shocked by how many people weren’t there. The streets were full of people who weren’t there. And there was a pretty standard demo pitched up on the pavement outside the Department of Health at Richmond House, 97 Whitehall. Speeches. Depression. Workers’ Liberty tried to sell me a paper. The last time I met that lot, they wanted to explain why the lesson of the Paris Commune was that you needed to be nastier to the Muslims. Anyway.

After a while some people from Occupy London and a couple of other orgs turned up to join in. Not long after this there was some sort of interaction with the police (I heard later that they asked us to leave the pavement), and as a result the demo moved onto the street and formed a block across it. Very quickly, a couple of carriers appeared from the Parliament Square side with TSG cops aboard (one of whom, presumably in charge, was out and about talking to the ordinary bill). After some parley – I don’t know the details – they suddenly moved off towards Parliament Square. I expected them to re-appear behind us, but it didn’t happen. Instead, traffic was diverted at each end of Whitehall.

So we stood and sat there, singing our songs and waving our banners. There was more police coming and going, but no real change. Occupy started to work through their standard occupying procedure of holding a meeting and getting a human microphone going.

About 1530, a police carrier appeared from the direction of Trafalgar Square and delivered a slack dozen TSG men, who formed a line across Whitehall between the levels of Richmond House and Downing Street. The demo, which had been facing towards Westminster, swung around to face them. At this point I was seriously worried that the next move would be a line moving up from Westminster to form a kettle. The police deployment was quite thin and extended, whether because this lot were the first to arrive or because they deliberately wanted to filter people through the line.

At 1536, I tweeted (so probably a little earlier), the demo started moving towards Trafalgar Square, partly pushing forwards and mostly moving around the flanks of the police line. (This is a fair characterisation, I think, as is this.) The police moved back towards Downing Street and then towards the Women’s Monument, and there was some sort of outbreak of shouting on the Downing St side in front of the Cabinet Office, where a lot of people were trying to get by between the police line and the buildings. I passed by on the other side close to Alanbrooke’s statue (my twitter feed says this was 1600). This is the widest point of Whitehall, and the police line now had demonstrators on both sides.

From this point on, the demo moved fairly quickly up Whitehall. Ahead, I saw a police 4×4, possibly a senior officer’s vehicle, parked in the middle of the road, which suddenly moved off with squealing tyres. That sounds dramatic, but in truth the pace was little more than a brisk walk, and nothing violent had happened so far.

Approaching the top of Whitehall, a choke point where the street narrows before entering Trafalgar Square, I looked back and saw that beyond the demo, and the police, and the demonstrators who were on the other side of the police, many more police had arrived. I think I saw between five and eight carriers.

At the top of Whitehall, the demo started to pass into Trafalgar Square. I was one of the first in the retreat at this point. Due to the demo, and to an “event” in the Square, there was very heavy traffic on all the streets around it. As we emerged from Whitehall, the next vehicle to move forwards from the direction of the Strand and Northumberland Avenue was a police van, specifically one of the red Transit minibuses used by Met Diplomatic Protection and anti-terrorist branch units. (Wail Qasim identified them as such at 1606.) It was, for the record, in the traffic jam rather than parked off the street, and everyone was inside with the doors and windows shut.

One of the Occupiers immediately lay down in front of the van, I think to stop it or any traffic blocking the exit from Whitehall. Other demonstrators gathered around it. There was a hiatus as they realised that they had kettled the cops, and the cops realised that something unusual was going on. Then, one of them got out of the vehicle, with his H&K rifle slung, apparently intending to talk to the people. It can only have been at this point that the now-famous photo was taken. Like everyone else, as far as I can make out, my first thought was “Er, armed police?” (as my Twitter feed records at 1604).

Nothing very much happened. I was one carriageway from the van, and I don’t remember that anyone raised their voice between the police or the protestors around their van. However, I presume they radioed for help, as the first TSG unit now caught up in a real hurry, eventually forming a line (very tight and concentrated this time) in front of the van.

People now began to gather on the mini-roundabout facing them, which seemed to me to practically invite the creation of a kettle around it as more and more police were still appearing. As a result, this didn’t last and the demo moved on across the Square and into the Strand. By the level of Charing Cross, I had the impression that the demonstration had melted away, which struck me as a smart move. In fact, according to Twitter, some of us pressed on up Aldwych and encountered quite rough treatment from the police.

So that was my experience. Everyone seems to be furious that armed police were seen on the demo. I’m not sure that they were used, and I wouldn’t want this to detract from getting after, for example, this bloke or this one.

However, I think the real reason for this is that the Met usually has a group of armed officers and their vans based at Charing Cross nick, as it’s close to various ministries, the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, and some embassies that get armed police protection. The van could have either been coming from Charing Cross to start a shift, or perhaps on the way back via Northumberland Avenue. They didn’t seem to be particularly aware something unusual was going on, and they were sitting in a van in a traffic jam rather than being deployed in any tactical fashion. My twitter feed records this view at 1608, as do some others.

Yet another piece of Tory zombie legislation – neither alive nor dead, staggering mindlessly on, dragging its tattered amendments through the Lords, long past knowing why it keeps going – is the legal aid cuts bill. This article turns up a variety of useful information, notably that they want rid and want to force probably useless insurance on you at enormous profit for the insurance business, like so:

Last week the justice minister Jonathan Djanogly admitted the government would promote BTE insurance as a way of funding legal expenses and predicted the cost of such cover would come down.

Labour says annual premiums could be £150, amounting to a tax on justice that would reap big profits for the insurance industry. An internal industry analysis shows insurers stand to gain £1 in profits for every £2 of premium payments.

But there is something missing. Djanogly. Djanogly. An unusual name, hard to forget, isn’t it? Here he is, getting caught not telling anyone that he personally stands to trouser that 50% profit margin referred to in the quote.

All right, he claims he doesn’t have any influence on the family holding company’s investment policy, but then this is irrelevant. They’re already in the insurance business and need only hold still while it rains money. The problem is that he has influence over government policy. (Past coverage: here.)

vote for the grey man

A thought. I read this piece on the campaign for mayor of Birmingham, but the most telling and interesting bit is just how dreadful the candidates are. Sion Simon, if for some reason you want to relive 2003. Sir Albert Bore. Liam Byrne, aka Mr. Very Real Concerns 2009, who at least would be kept off the national stage. Gisela Stuart would have provided Iraq-hawk nostalgia trimmed with Euroscepticism, if you wanted that, and might have to quit as an MP. Potential Lib Dem candidate John Hemming is a buffoon, a poor imitation of Boris Johnson, and is funding a campaign against the idea of having a mayor as well as considering becoming the mayor.

Mike “The Incumbent” Whitby is the incumbent and a Tory propped up by Lib Dems, and that seems to be about all there is to say about him. This election is going to be a centre of excellence in mediocrity. Is the bench really that thin?

non-Thursday music link

It’s not Thursday. It’s Friday!

I thought it might be interesting to establish some timeline information about News International e-mail disclosures and deletions, in the light of this piece in the Torygraph. As we know, the Telegraph is now opposed to the Osborne/Gove Murdoch group in the Tories, so it has no reason to carry water for Murdoch.

31st September 2004 – According to News International Chief Information Officer Paul Cheesborough, NI archived e-mail up to this date was deleted.

2005 – NI solicitor Julian Pike will later say that e-mail exists up to 2005. See 23rd March 2011.

Kickoff – 2006. 1st police inquiry into Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman. Police raid Wapping, only search Goodman’s desk, by agreement with NI management.

29th November 2006 – Goodman and Mulcaire convicted.

“Early” 2007 – 2,500 e-mails disclosed to Harbottle & Lewis in parallel litigation (Goodman’s employment tribunal).

29th May, 2007 – Harbottle & Lewis write to NI, saying they reviewed them and found nothing.

31st September 2007 – E-mail from before this date was meant to be deleted (see January, 2011). NI operates a policy of flushing e-mail every three years, clearly.

December, 2007 – James Murdoch becomes the boss.

2008 – First civil litigation against NI, NI becomes bound to preserve evidence.

April, 2008 – James Murdoch authorises Gordon Taylor’s payoff.

November, 2009 – E-Mail Deletion Policy announced internally.

eliminate in a consistent manner across News International (subject to compliance with legal and regulatory requirements) emails that could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation in which an NI company is a defendant

November, 2009 – reports of frequent outages in the e-mail archive system.

January, 2010 – It is decided to destroy all archive e-mail before this point.

April, 2010 – HCL deletes three data sets. One is a public folder on a production (rather than archive) server “owned by a user who no longer needed the emails”.

May, 2010 – NI exec demands to know if e-mails destroyed.

May, 2010 – 200,000 delivery status notification messages deleted, plus 21,000 messages in an outbox, during recovery from system failure.

June, 2010 – NI solicitor, Julian Pike, will claim, falsely, that all e-mail before this point has been destroyed. See December 2010.

29th July, 2010 – “How come we still haven’t done the e-mail policy?” i.e. the deletion has not yet happened.

July 2010 – William Lewis joins NI.

4th August, 2010 – “Everyone needs to know e-mail before January 2010 will not be kept” i.e. still not deleted.

6th September, 2010 – Sienna Miller’s lawyers demand that e-mail be preserved.

9th September, 2010 – IT employee says “there is a senior management requirement to delete this data as quickly as possible but it need to be done in commercial boundaries”. i.e. data still there, and contractual issues with the IT outsourcers holding up the process.

September, 2010 – unspecified deletions of “historic” e-mail in connection with system stability problem.

October 2010 – News International papers move. Hard disk drives in NI workstations (not just the NOTW) are replaced and destroyed, but serverside e-mail is backed up at least in part.

December, 2010 – NOTW Scottish Editor Bob Bird tells Sheridan trial that the archived e-mail has been lost en route to HCL in Mumbai. This is entirely false.

December, 2010 – Julian Pike, solicitor for NI from Farrar & Co., tells the High Court that no e-mail exists beyond six months ago. This is also false.

January, 2011 – Paul Cheesbrough, News International IT chief, says archived e-mail back to 31st September 2007 has been destroyed. This is false.

January, 2011 – HCL are asked to destroy a particular database, refer NI to system vendor.

January, 2011 – NI executives demand destruction of 500GB of e-mail held at Essential Computing, Bristol. See 8th July 2011.

January 7th, 2011 – Miller’s lawyers release information about their case to NI in discovery.

January 12th, 2011 – NI managers order a halt to deletion, and give instructions to preserve e-mail.

Later in January, 2011 – 3 e-mails given to police. New police inquiry begins.

February, 2011 – some e-mail is lost in a software upgrade.

March 23, 2011 – “Don’t tell him!” Pike apologises to the High Court, admits that no e-mail has gone missing in India, admits that archives exist back to 2005. Pike blames Tom Crone, who claims that he was misled by another, unnamed NI executive.

June, 2011 – Information Commissioner abandons inquiry into e-mails disappearing from NI. NI had claimed that the data had disappeared en route to India.

July, 2011 – (i.e. in full crisis mode) an NI exec travels to “the company storage facility” and removes 6 boxes of unspecified records regarding themselves (possibly same person who spoke to Crone).

7th July, 2011 – Evening Strangler first reports NI bribes to police.

8th July, 2011 – Key Guardian story. An NI executive, not named but apparently identified by police, demanded the destruction of 500GB of archive e-mail in January 2011, around the time of the resumed police inquiry. First mention of another IT outsourcing company, Essential Computing, in the UK.

Police believe they have identified the executive responsible by following an electronic audit trail. They have also attempted to retrieve the lost data. The Crown Prosecution Service is believed to have been asked whether the executive can be charged with perverting the course of justice.

At the heart of the affair is a data company, Essential Computing, based near Bristol. Staff there have been interviewed by Operation Weeting. One source speculated that this company had compelled NI to admit that the archive existed.

The Guardian understands that Essential Computing has co-operated with police and provided evidence about an alleged attempt by the NI executive to destroy part of the archive while they were working with it. This is said to have happened after the executive discovered that the company retained material of which NI was unaware.

This seems to be a critical moment

10th July, 2011 – William Lewis of NI discovers 2007 e-mail dump to Harbottle & Lewis, finds evidence. Only finds 300 out of 2,500 messages – rest still unaccounted for.

July, 2011 – Management & Standards Committee starts functioning with managers from News Corp outside the UK, cooperating with police.

July, 2011 – New York Post staffers ordered to preserve documents. Probably reflects News Corp strategic decision to cooperate

July, 2011 – some e-mail is deleted by HCL due to inconsistency between systems after a migration.

September 7th, 2011 – HCL representatives tell House of Commons that NI demanded deletion of e-mail on 9 occasions starting in April, 2010.

September 13th, 2011 – A large quantity of e-mail is discovered at News International.

October, 2011 – Computer forensics work begins on supposedly deleted e-mail archives.

December, 2011 – “Data Pool 3″ e-mail archive is successfully restored from backup.





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