An inspiring moment of people power in Texas

Capitol Building, Austin TexasDaily Beast has clips from Senator Wendy Davis’ 11 hour speech to the Texan Senate, which, together with efforts from her Democrat colleagues and an outburst of people power from the public gallery, thwarted an attempt to pass a bill which would have reportedly closed 37 of 45 abortion clinics in Texas.

This reminds me of the 2003 incident when eleven Democrat Texas senators scarpered to Albuqueque to deny the chamber a quorum, thereby holding up a redistricting proposal.

A timely repost from the Mail on Sunday…

The Mail on Sunday on 5th July 2009 had an interesting and detailed article on transatlantic cables. Given the current news, it’s worth re-reading:

Most people think the internet is beamed around the planet by satellites. In fact, 90 per cent of global internet traffic is carried by a vast cable network, thousands of miles of which snake under the oceans.
The two busiest internet hubs are New York and London, and nine cables link them. But the one pictured above is the Atlantic’s newest and most advanced submarine cable system. It is so powerful that it could carry the entire internet content in both directions even if the other eight lines failed simultaneously.
It travels 3,800 miles along the seabed from New York and reaches land at this north Cornish beach, making this remote footnote on Britain’s coastline one of the most important and powerful telecommunications hubs in the world.

You can read the full article here.

Public deserve police helicopter tweets in the Thames Valley

Day 28 - West Midlands Police Helicopter - Air Ops - Alpha Oscar OneOnce again, I would like to express my sincere sympathy to the family and friends of Mark Campbell, the gentleman killed in the Nightingales last Wednesday. My thoughts are with them at this very difficult time. It was a senseless waste of a life in the most appalling circumstances.

In the midst of the evening, we had the police helicopter buzzing overhead. In the event, it became obvious why the helicopter was there.

However, I have done a little research. The helicopter which covers our area is based at Benson, Oxfordshire as part of the National Police Air Service, covering the Thames Valley, including us here in Berkshire.

Over the years, we’ve had it flying around here many times. It’s obvious that it’s the police helicopter because they are the only ones who hover. Often they hover in one spot. Sometimes they go round and round.

The helicopter costs an absolute fortune of taxpayers’ money to put in the air and is very disruptive. It makes an awful noise which changes and echoes as it goes round. It is most disconcerting, unsettling and, even, sinister for residents who are listening in their homes and asking themselves:

What is going on? Are we in danger? Is there a killer on the loose? Should I lock the garden gate? Should I stay up in case a madman tries to break into my house to escape the police?

But, as my neighbour said to me this week:

We never find out why it’s been flying around here.

(The exception being last Wednesday, when it was obvious).

Here’s the rub.

If we lived in Devon and Cornwall, the East Midlands, Essex, London, Newcastle, South and East Wales, the South East, Suffolk, West Midlands or West Yorkshire we would know why the helicopter was in the air, because the police helicopters in those areas all regularly tweet to let their residents know what they are up to.

Why does the Thames Valley police helicopter from Benson have a Twitter account – @NPAS_Benson – which has had zero tweets issued on it?

I think we should be told. West Berkshire residents deserve to know why their peace is being disrupted, why their money is being spent and what is going on in their neighbourhood when our local police helicopter is launched.

Here is my research on the use of Twitter accounts in the various areas of the National Police Air Service (all listed here):

Frequent updates:

Devon and Cornwall police – @DCP_Helicopter 53 tweets
East Midlands – @EMASUhelicopter – 2080 tweets
Essex – @NPAS_Boreham – 3951 tweets
Metropolitan – @MPSinthesky – 7997 tweets
Newcastle – @NPAS_Newcastle – 806 tweets
South and East Wales – @helicops – 6283 tweets
South East – @NPAS_Redhill – 2288 tweets
Suffolk – @NPAS_Wattisham – 449 tweets
West Midlands – @WMP_Helicopter – 7344 tweets
West Yorkshire – @NPAS_CarrGate – 7124 tweets

Dormant accounts:

Central Counties – @AirOneHeli 955 tweets – Dormant since last November – only one tweet since then
South Yorkshire – @SYP_AirOps – 2629 tweets – Last update April

No tweets:

North West/Lancashire/North Wales – @NWCopter
Thames Valley – @NPAS_Benson

No Twitter account:

Transport police
Durham Tees
Dorset
Dyfed Powys
Humberside
North Midlands
Scotland
Northern Ireland
West Counties
Wiltshire