US Congressman rewrites his Wikipedia entry

An alarming, but not very surprising development from the United States:

Members of U.S. Rep. Martin Meehan’s staff have acknowledged they deleted unflattering information about a broken campaign promise from an online encyclopedia, according to a published report.

Content on Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to post information, was replaced to remove references to Meehan’s broken term limit pledge, the Sun of Lowell reported.

Meehan’s chief of staff Matt Vogel told the newspaper that he oversaw the removal last July of information, which was replaced with a staff-written biography.

Meehan, a Lowell Democrat, pledged to serve just four terms — eight years — but he later broke that campaign promise. He’s currently serving his seventh term.

I wonder how long it will be before we see the first UK politician trying the same stunt.

Although, actually, this brings to mind the question – how many British politicians actually have biographies on Wikipedia?

Hat tip: The New Editor

Blair to step down “sometime” shock

David Blunkett says that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have reached an “understanding” that Blair will step down sometime over the next couple of years in favour of Brown:

Asked about the relationship between the two men, Mr Blunkett told BBC1’s Sunday AM programme: “My sense is that there is a new understanding, yes … When Tony Blair and Gordon Brown work together we are a winner, and when they are divided our opponents can divide us, it is as simple as that.” He added that it was “self-evident” that the chancellor would succeed Mr Blair. “And whether it is a year or two years, it actually will be a sensible process of combining the talents that we have.” A source close to Mr Brown said: “The prime minister has made it clear he is stepping down during this parliament and that he wants a stable transition. Any suggestion that there is a new deal on that transition is totally wrong.”

OK, David Blunkett is still thought to be quite close to Tony Blair, despite the scandals that have driven Blunkett out of office, so there is a fair chance that he is passing the word down from on high.

But, to be honest, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know that Blair is going to have to stand down in a couple of years anyway, at the absolute maximum.

Where’s the news here?

Simon Hughes – gay, bisexual, whatever

Everyone seems to be getting upset about the whole Simon Hughes being ‘gay’ thing. But not about him being gay as such – that would be politically incorrect. Instead, everyone’s getting upset because, last week, when a journalist asked him if he was gay, he said “no”. But this week, he told the world that he’d slept with both men and women. Which makes him automatically ‘gay’ in the eyes of most in the media, it would seem.

Now actually, this technically makes him bisexual (assuming he is telling the truth, of course, which I think he probably is).

I guess that there is some kind of case for saying he deliberately confused the issue when he said he wasn’t gay. While he didn’t necessarily lie, he wasn’t exactly forthcoming with the truth – which is what, as a politician, he does for a living.

But this is what I really can’t understand… every British journalist with even a passing interest in politics knew that Hughes was, if not gay, then… not exactly straight. So, when said to a journalist “No, I’m not gay”, was it entirely beyond the wit of the United Kingdom’s assembled journalists to ask the probing follow ups -“are you bisexual?”, “are you straight?” or, even, “tell us about your sexuality, Simon”?

RFIDs in ID cards?

Tim Worstall has been digging, and wonders whether, despite denials, the goverment is actually planning to incorporate RFID tags into ID cards.

He quotes from a Telegraph report:

…a leaked letter from Mr Burnham indicates that the chips will use radio frequencies to allow “contactless” reading of the card by special scanners.

The Home Office said the signals emitted would be picked up only at a distance of a few inches. But Phil Booth, co-ordinator of the No2ID campaign, said receivers could easily be boosted to receive signals from much further away.

In the comments, he asks for anyone with technical knowledge to tell him if it’s possible. And the scary answer comes back – yes, and it’s not just the government who could benefit:

RFID snooping is only a matter of a non-standard antenna or of illegal power amplification. The world record was demonstrated last July – 69 feet through the roof of a hotel, for RFID tags which have a normal working range of about a metre or less.

[…] The worrying scenario is that the terrorists who are currently building bombs and booby traps in Iraq using infra-red detonators, would be able to use such “unique” EFID tags to target either individuals or to wait until a certain number of, say US or British passport or ID Card holders were within range before exploding.

OK, I’m getting a little worried now. Time to join the anti-ID card campaign, methinks. And maybe, as Tim suggests, begin checking out investment opportunities in companies that can make mini-Faraday cages.

Saddam walks out of trial

Saddam Hussein has just walked out of his trial in protest at the approach of a new ‘hard-line’ judge.

Judge Rahman moved to immediately stamp his authority on the proceedings and ordered the removal of Mr al-Tikiriti, who hurled insults as he was dragged away.

The judge then rounded on the defence lawyers saying that they had contributed to the atmosphere that allowed defendants to think they could make lengthy speeches and disrespect the authority of the court.

Next, a defence lawyer was ejected from the court, and as a result the rest of Saddam’s defence team stormed out.

I’m all in favour of allowing domestic courts to judge cases, rather than international tribunals, or the international court.  But, only if the domestic courts are capable of doing so in a fair and balanced manner.

But, sadly, this trial is descending into farce. Defence lawyers have been killed, and not offered any real protection, and the first judge has been publicly accused by members of the government of being too lenient on the defendants.  And now we have a hard-line judge who seems more intent on matching Saddam every step of the way in the game of playing to the audience than he is on ensuring justice.

Any pretence that justice Saddam would get a fair trial – which was vital to assuaging the fears of Iraq’s Sunni majority – is now gone.

Playboy centrefolds through the ages

Ever wondered how our tastes in naked women have changed over the decades? Artist Jason Salavon certainly has. For each decade since the 1960, he’s compiled a digital average of each playboy centrefold picture, and merged them together to create one slightly blurry but, happily, worksafe picture…

playboy-decades1.jpg

Sadly, it doesn’t cast any new light on the debate about whether 21st century man prefers women with larger breasts than did 1960s man. But it does clearly show that brunettes have been edged out in favour of blondes, and that tans are certainly no longer fashionable – in fact, judging by the final picture in the sequence, I think it’s only a matter of time before we see the first artfully undressed ghost in the pages of Playboy.

The oddities of US politics

Ken Blackwell is the Secretary of State for Ohio.  And he’s got some pretty scary views on abortion (yeah, I know, I’m a wussy liberal, but still).  Check out this excerpt from a recent campaign interview, posted by Majikthise:

Q: If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, would you sign a law that would outlaw abortions in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother?
A: Yes.
Q: Including the life of the mother?
A: Yes.

An interesting judgement on the relative values of the life of a fully grown woman, and the life of an unborn child.

I’m in full on nitpicking mode today though, so what I really found oddest about Majikthise’s post was her concern about the location of the interview:

Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is getting awfully cocky. Last week, he gave a campaign-related interview in the Secretary of State’s Office. That’s an illegal use of office resources for campaign purposes.

It can get pretty cold in Ohio this time of the year.  Where else do you expect the man to conduct interviews?  Standing out in the parking lot?

Chelsea post loss of £180 million

Chelsea chief exec says that the club’s record losses – a staggering £180 million, the highest ever recorded in British, and probably European football history – are because of  “a series of exceptional one off rises.”

 “These figures reflect the continuing restructuring of the business which we began in 2003-4,” Chelsea chief Peter Kenyon told the club website.

“The rise is down to some exceptional items that were necessary to help us in our aim to break-even by 2009-10.”

The termination of a deal with Umbro, which cost £25.5m, plus a total loss of £22.8m over the transfers of Adrian Mutu and Juan Sebastien Veron and the £5m for Academy recruitment were picked out as the “exceptional items”.

Hang on.  £25.5m plus £22.8m plus £5m only adds up to a little over £50 million.  Even taking these figures into account, Chelsea lost almost £130 million last year, which would still be a record loss. 

Thank god for the largesse of the Russian people, eh?

Welcome!

So, here it is – Taking Aim. My very own weblog, where I can write about anything I want. And will.

And I have to say, it’s a very pretty blog.This is mainly because I didn’t have a hand in the design – it’s all the work of Rui Pereira, who has created the wonderful vslider theme. Over the next few days, I’ll be customising it some – changing the header image for a start – and probably making it look far less attractive than it does now.

OK, it’s getting late in the evening. Sleep now. Blog later.