Cameron pledges 'no further cuts to army, navy or air force'

Home Office among departments that have agreed reductions, but Treasury still short of the £11.5bn it needs to find

David Cameron has pledged there will be no further cuts to Ministry of Defence staffing. The news came as the government announced that a further six – mainly minor – spending departments had reached agreement with the Treasury ahead of the spending review for 2015-16, which is due to be announced at the end of the month.

Danny Alexander, the Treasury chief secretary, had earlier infuriated the Ministry of Defence when he said: “Of course, in a department that has more horses than it has tanks, there is room for efficiency savings without affecting our overall military output, which of course is what we need to maintain. And finding efficiencies, reforming the ways our services operate are critical to ensuring that what I want to achieve, which is maintaining the quality of our services.”

But a more emollient Cameron said: “We’re not going to be making further cuts to the numbers of our army, navy or air force: they know what they have available.

“No department can be excluded from being efficient from saving money, from making sure we get the best …read more  

Drones the size of bees – good or evil? | Steven Poole

Forget Prism, scientists have developed tiny drones modelled on bees. I hope they aren’t used to bomb people, but for observing wildlife, or even better, replacing the real-life ones we’ve lost

What with the NSA’s Prism programme, ubiquitous CCTV and fashionable nerds sporting Google Glass, it seems there’s no escape from prying eyes in the hi-tech modern world. But we might look back on this time as a golden age of relative privacy, before the gnat-sized surveillance drones invisibly swarmed in the air, video-recording our every movement and making of the globe a glorious Panopticon. This might sound futuristic, but it’s probably not that far off. This week at the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, videogenic scientists and thinkers have been seriously discussing the ethics of drone use, now and in the sci-fi future. Drones can be used to bomb people, but they can also be used to count endangered orangutans in the wild. Assassination or conservation, it’s all in a day’s potential drone-work.

The word “drone” was probably chosen to describe remote-controlled military craft – formally, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – so as to sound maximally boring. You don’t want to sit next to someone who’s droning …read more