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Comment: 17 years ago is a long time for such a system (Score 2) 117

The question is whether appropriate maintenance was done subsequently; a failure to do so would indeed constitute a symptom of the infrastructure crisis, which is often caused by routine maintenance being cut as a 'painless' cost saving for a financially strapped government. Then it comes back and bites them...

Comment: Let's TRY and understand their position (Score 1) 133

The reality will be that there are capabilities in the drones that they don't want to talk about. Now the interesting issue that this raises is that if a drone is used for a criminal case, it is the right of the defence to have ALL evidence gathered in the case, so actually the capabilities will become public if it is used in a case that comes to trial...

Comment: No, they can't resist changing things (Score 4, Insightful) 140

The reality is that governments - be it in defence or eslewhere - are always moving the goal posts, and the contractors are running to catch up. So in theory option 2 is the best, but it usually doesn't work out as well as it really ought to. The UK is currently playing the same game with a new system for welfare benefits, and it's equally disasterous. And remember - the private sector is often as bad, they usually get to bury their mistakes without publicity!

Comment: Understanding 'consultation' (Score 2) 140

Consultation is NOT about demonstrating that there are a lot of people opposed to a decision; that's what the democratic process of the commision, congress etc is for. Consultation properly is to raise specific issues that the bureaucrats haven't thought of, to ensure that the final regulations will achieve what the bureaucrats want it to do, or to identify why the implementation will fail. So lots of identical objections will achieve nothing; a detailed examination of why the regulation will have unintended consequences in area 'X', will get attention - as long as the people tasked with reading them don't give up because there are so many.

Comment: To go back to the basics (Score 1) 89

The purpose of the criminal law is to protect the public from damage caused to people or their property as a result of the actions of another. The failure to deal correctly with these biohazards raises the prospect of serious damage to people. Therefore it is logical to invoke the criminal law to punish those who put people at risk of serious damage. If there are no consequences on the perpetrators of an offence, in the broadest terms, then there is every reason to expect people to do it again. The only question left is whether this is the BEST way to ensure future compliance / a safer society. This can be disputed - but that criminal sanctions should be seriously considered should be inevitable.

Comment: Having been a health and safty rep (Score 1) 89

I was confident that rules would exist. Two minutes playing on the OHSA website produced which lays out comprehensive requirements for biohazard materials. I would have been amazed if they hadn't existed - which is why I 'guessed'. Governments are often predictable!

Comment: Interesting argument (Score 2) 89

The problem, of course, is that if there is no meaningful accountability, then there's no incentive to get it right. UK unions are attempting to get a named company director liable for health and safety violations to encourage compliance, but the reality is that it's so difficult to do that the outcome is liable to be that nobody would accept the job. By contrast the National Health Service is trying to encourage 'no blame' reporting of errors, but there the ambulance chasing lawyers turn up and make it undesirable to admit errors for a different reason Thanks for making me think!

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.