Volunteers in Oxford agreed to infect themselves with typhoid, as part of a recently-completed trial of a vaccination that could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
The Oxford Vaccine Group, part of University of Oxford, gave 99 volunteers a drink laced with live Salmonella Typhi bacteria a month after vaccinating them. A third had been vaccinated with Typbar-TCV, a new conjugate typhoid vaccine, a third with established vaccine Typhim Vi and the rest with meningitis vaccine Menveo, which does not protect against typhoid. Neither the volunteers nor the doctors carrying out the injections knew who was getting which vaccine. Continue reading “Oxford vaccine test volunteers infected with typhoid”
Oxfordshire is an odd place. The rural district councils are strongly Conservative; Oxford itself is strongly anyone but the Conservatives. The trend in local government is towards unitary councils which do everything, but how would that work in Oxfordshire?
The simplest model would be a unitary Oxfordshire Council (as in Cornwall and Wiltshire), but Oxford and rural Oxfordshire are politically chalk and cheese. The next option would be to turn the city into a unitary and merge the rural districts into one or more unitaries.
However, a plan from Oxfordshire’s five lower-tier councils endorsed by the county’s MPs is a bit more complicated. Oxford City Council would become a unitary and the two districts in the south of Oxfordshire would merge – South Oxfordshire and Vale of the White Horse already share offices and services. Continue reading “Coxit map: council reorganisation that breaks up Oxfordshire”
Oxford is a very crowded place, and it is very hard to build anything there. As a result, the greatest single part of the University of Oxford Bodleian Library collection – the Book Storage Facility, holding 8,328,367 books (and roughly 1.5m maps) on the day I visited – is not actually in Oxford, but on the Keypoint trading estate just north of the A420 on the edge of Swindon.
The beautiful new Weston Library on Broad Street, opened last spring, would not exist without the Book Storage Facility, because the latter holds all the books that were previously stored in the space that is now the atrium and exhibition space (including the Sheldon Tapestry Map of Worcestershire, featuring Chipping Norton). And the Book Storage Facility would not exist without a load of IT: the environmental control systems, the Bodleian catalogue and the software that works out the routes for the pickers that retrieve and return items to the huge 11-metre high shelves. Continue reading “Oxford Bodleian Library’s Book Storage Facility (in Swindon)”
The Edward Snowden files provided a lot of material on GCHQ. Some of it, such as the existence of a chess club, a social media service called SpySpace and in 2011 a sports day at the Civil Service Sports Club in London, was fairly innocuous. Some of it was explosive, and the detonations continue to this day with the disclosure that parliamentarians are not exempt from bulk surveillance.
What the Snowden material couldn’t provide was any kind of overview of life in GCHQ; that isn’t what you get from a dump of documents. Neither could it provide information on whether a practice had stopped, given the UK government’s neither confirm nor deny policy.
On The Register today, I have pieced together material that comes from the recent reviews of government surveillance, primarily drawing on the report by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation David Anderson QC (PDF). These got most attention for their recommendations, but they also provided quite a lot of insight into how GCHQ works. Continue reading “Life in GCHQ: form-filling, bulk interception and internal emails”
A version of this article appeared in Chipping Norton News, May 2015
On 21 March, Oxford University’s Bodleian Library opened its new £80m Weston Library on Broad Street. The building, a greatly-altered version of what was previously known as the New Bodleian Library, now includes galleries open to the public – including a four centuries old tapestry map featuring Chipping Norton. Continue reading “For Chipping Norton News: Bodleian puts Chippy on the map”