NSA began domestic spying prior to 9/11 attacks

I am reblogging this article from fellow-blogger Mike Thomsen. I am not sure that I entirely agree with Mike’s conclusion, namely:

“So, in this case the government used its ability to grant or deny contracts to companies to coerce cooperation with their plan to violate our rights. Big Government + Big Business = Fascism. Plain and Simple.”

For me, fascism is much, much, worse than the necon policies of the former US President George W Bush.

Any thoughts?

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Osborne promises no further cuts to soldier numbers – and more funding for cyber warfare – Telegraph

English: Vince Cable, British politician and f...

English: Vince Cable, British politician and former acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, being interviewed for Sky News. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: George Osborne MP, pictured speaking ...

English: George Osborne MP, pictured speaking on the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto for the 2009 European Parliament elections, at Keele University. (805×1207 px, 283,711 bytes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a good article from the Telegraph and a RECOMMENDED READ. Check it out!

via Osborne promises no further cuts to soldier numbers – and more funding for cyber warfare – Telegraph.

Firstly, let me say that I welcome the news that there will be no further cuts to the number of UK soldiers; personally, I think that cuts to date are inconsistent with UK foreign policy aspirations.

Reading the article carefully a number of thoughts came to mind.

I was intrigued at the differences between Osborne and Vince Cable. In the 2008 financial crisis, I rated very highly Vince Cable’s analysis of the situation. I hope that Vince Cable is digging his heals in about large infrastructure spending being the best platform to kick-start the UK economy.

On another thread, I do not see why soldiers rate more highly than any other front-line service, like doctors, nurses or teachers? Surely, the same argument applies and front-line services should be protected and the cuts should fall on management, back-office staffs, and the ineffectively procured, third-party goods and services? There is enormous room for strategic consolidation across the public sector to reduce headcount and eliminate ineffective management.

I particularly liked the following comment that UK Chancellor George Osborne made on the Andrew Marr TV show which is the source for the article:

“We’re going to have to renegotiate with some of our big suppliers the contracts.”

There are huge opportunities to cut costs with big suppliers like, for example, the major consulting firms and outsource suppliers. For me, the Cabinet Office needs a radical shake-up, where public sector procurement still rates very poorly when compared to private sector benchmarks. Much of the problem emanates from EU bureaucracy.

Clearly, the effectiveness and value-for-money of the whole UK public sector shows that the UK has declined in recent years compared to both mature and developing countries; this includes central and local government, plus the police and the fire services.  In my mind, the current government does not have any effective strategy for the whole public sector. There is a marked absence of vision, strategy and effective delivery.

This leads me to two open questions:

Isn’t it time for a radical, independent, strategic review of the whole UK public sector with terms of reference to include evaluating the benefits and risks of outsourcing, and possibly off-shoring, all operational activities?

Of course, it would be difficult to get a truly independent strategic review; all the major consultancies and outsource providers would need to be excluded because of conflict of interests, so perhaps the IMF could oblige?

Any thoughts?

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