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January 5, 2010

Version Control for laws

Mike points out a very positive-sounding statement by Phil Woolas:

the Government agreed to publish online, on a quarterly basis, information about ministerial meetings with outside interest groups. Information for the period 1 October to 31 December 2009 will be published by Departments as soon as the information is ready.

You can imagine this playing out in all kinds of ways. Some lobby groups will have yet more incentive to maximise their meeting count, regardless of whether they're being listened to, just so they can show to donors how much ministerial conflict they have. Others will be even more desperately trying to figure out how to skirt around the law, arranging for their meetings to be social, unofficial or otherwise off the record. And whether the data is of any use at all will, naturally, depend on whether the political website crowd manage to get anywhere with it.

Relatedly, The Yorkshire Ranter links to the German government site, 'a public version control system for legislation'.

January 4, 2010

...but I have no fear

The president of Pakistan tells Seymour Hersh why his army won't do anything silly with nuclear weapons:

Our Army officers are not crazy, like the Taliban. They're British-trained. Why would they slip up on nuclear security?

Not entirely convincing, given that every military coup in Pakistan's history has been led by a British-trained general. Worse still if you start to wonder precisely which tips they might have picked up:

...until they were retired in 1998, the RAF's nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key. There was no other security on the bomb itself.

Meanwhile Bruce Sterling has started his annual state of the world interview, an open Q&A which he concocts a grotesque (but plausible) interpretation of the zeitgeist. Always brilliant, it's especially entertaining this year because his contrarian instincts compel him to be optimistic while everybody else is full of gloom. So far, he's completely failing.