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Comment: Re:British police rarely carry weapons (Score 1) 292

by Andrew Aguecheek (#45137331) Attached to: British Police Foil Alleged Mall Massacre Copycat Plot

Interesting points, but I disagree: Criminals can and do call the police when crimes are committed against them. I accept they might not if they have a personal distaste for all law enforcement, or if it might lead to them being suspected of a crime, but I don't know how common either of these cases are. I admit that not having seen a handgun around where I live is poor evidence. A better indication would be how often people charged with crimes are found in possession of a firearm - which would inevitably lead to an easily provable additional charge. In my, (quite extensive), experience of criminal cases, I've only seen a handful of such charges.

As to the geopolitics and war on drugs, the UK is much more similar to the US in terms of the severity with which it pursues and prosecutes drugs offences than the rest of Europe. Its maritime borders are hard to police and drugs flow in from North Africa, the Middle East and more recently MDMA labs in India. However, you do rarely see the police in paramilitary gear (they use that for policing protests...) and I doubt they have access to tanks. This reinforces my point: when the legal side has regular access to weaponry, the other side acquires it too. When the legal side is not regularly armed, the need for criminals to arm themselves similarly diminishes.

Comment: Re:British police rarely carry weapons (Score 1) 292

by Andrew Aguecheek (#45134329) Attached to: British Police Foil Alleged Mall Massacre Copycat Plot

The thing about the right to bear arms is that non-criminals exercising it encourages criminals to acquire firearms too.

In the US, criminals arm themselves in order to protect themselves. If you know the owner of the house you're breaking into may well have a firearm, then you are far more likely to carry one yourself. If not, why burden yourself with one? Particularly if - as in the UK - it will result in a more severe sentence if you are caught.

A gun is not much use for most crimes - even robbery can be effectively carried out with a knife - and so despite the fact that they are available on the black market, most criminals in the UK do not routinely carry them. The main exceptions to this rule are gangsters who frequently deal with other gun-toting criminals. Even then, it's pretty rare, I live in a poor part of central London and I have never seen a handgun.

Comment: Re:Just for the record, only UK subjects (Score 1) 366

by Andrew Aguecheek (#26291641) Attached to: Terry Pratchett Knighted

The courts interpret the laws that have been passed by parliament, this includes those costitutional laws that set out the boundaries referred to by RodgerDodger.

I believe that the American courts are allowed to interpret the constitution and decide whether the government is allowed to do something or not. To put it in your somewhat disingenuous tone: the USA has a written constitution, but no-one knows what it means until the courts tell them.

Comment: Re:Just for the record, only UK subjects (Score 3, Informative) 366

by Andrew Aguecheek (#26278571) Attached to: Terry Pratchett Knighted

The UK doesn't have a written constitution, but it does nonetheless have a means of administration prescribed by parliament - a constitution.

Some laws are held to be 'constitutional'. The Bill of Rights 1688 for example (on which the American Constitution was partially based if I recall correctly), which limits the power of the monarchy. The Human Rights Act 1998 is another example.

It is of course possible for parliament to abolish any one of these laws - and I believe the same is the case in America, although a special majority of some sort is required to ammend the constitution. Beyond that somewhat technical difference, it's a similar system.

By convention, the Queen is said to have the right to be consulted, the right to advise, and the right to warn. Technically she has a right to veto legislation, but this last occurred in 1709 and if she attempted it today, I suspect there would be a constitutional crisis leading either to a general election or a referendum on the monarchy.

As it happens, the current monarch is noted for having been reasonably good at her job. She has experience of eleven Prime Ministers and the events of half a century - whether or not you agree with her constitutional position, she is currently an extremely useful resource to the government.

Mars

Mars Phoenix Lander's Ovens Were Destined To Fail 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the double-checking-is-for-wimps dept.
RobertB-DC writes "The Phoenix mission to Mars' frigid polar regions was going to be tricky from the start, with only a few weeks to perform as much science as possible. Success depended on everything working right. But one of the mission's most frustrating glitches — the stuck doors on the TEGA ovens — could have been prevented with basic quality control on Earth. Nature is reporting that bad brackets were replaced by the manufacturer ... with identically bad brackets. The Planetary Society blog sums it up succinctly: 'Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch.'"
Music

Record Label Infringes Own Copyright, Site Pulled 282

Posted by kdawson
from the wonder-who-filed-the-complaint dept.
AnonCow sends in a peculiar story from TorrentFreak, which describes the plight of a free-download music site that has been summarily evicted from the Internet for violating its own copyright. The problem seems to revolve around the host's insistence that proof of copyright be snail-mailed to them. Kind of difficult when your copyright takes the form of a Creative Commons license that cannot be verified unless its site is up. "The website of an Internet-based record label which offers completely free music downloads has been taken down by its host for copyright infringement, even though it only offers its own music. Quote Unquote Records calls itself 'The First Ever Donation Based Record Label,' but is currently homeless after its host pulled the plug."
Microsoft

+ - Gates reveals majority of PCs ship without Vista 6

Submitted by Stony Stevenson
Stony Stevenson (954022) writes "Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system is proving far less popular with new PC buyers than Windows XP did during XP's first year on the market, if statements by company chairman Bill Gates at this week's Consumer Electronics Show are any measure. Gates boasted that Microsoft has sold more than 100 million copies of Windows Vista since the OS launched last January. Based on Gates' statement, Windows Vista was aboard just 39% of the PC's that shipped in 2007. And Vista, in terms of units shipped, only marginally outperformed first year sales of Windows XP according to Gates' numbers. Assuming Gates is using consistent measurements across time — and any failure to do so would raise questions about Microsoft's reporting tactics — first year Vista unit sales have exceeded first year XP unit sales by little more than 10%."

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra

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