Friday, February 20, 2009

The creeping loss of liberty in Britain never stops

Britain's descent into the world of V for Vendetta has been building for a long time. There have been creeping restrictions on free speech, closed-circuit TV cameras on every corner, national ID cards on the way, and the like for many years. But over the past two weeks ... Well, let's just look, shall we? The Daily Mail reports:
A secret police intelligence unit has been set up to spy on Left-wing and Right-wing political groups. The Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) has the power to operate across the UK and will mount surveillance and run informers on `domestic extremists'. Its job is to build up a detailed picture of radical campaigners.

Targets will include environmental groups involved in direct action such as Plane Stupid, whose supporters invaded the runway at Stansted Airport in December.

The unit also aims to identify the ring-leaders behind violent demonstrations such as the recent anti-Israel protests in London, and to infiltrate neo-Nazi groups, animal liberation groups and organisations behind unlawful industrial action such as secondary picketing.
The paper based its report on "[a]n internal police job advertisement," and it didn't take that much effort to find an expired (but still cached) relevant job listing at
Head of Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU

City London

Career Level Senior Manager / Head of Department

Industry Public Sector/Public Authority, Local Government, State/Internal Security, National Security

Job Description Organisation: ACPO Business Area: Terrorism and Allied Matters Job Title: Head of Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) Rank: Detective Chief Inspector Reports to: D/Supt Head of NPOIU Salary: Chief Inspector range + allowances Type: Full time police officer Location: London Main purpose of Role: To manage the covert intelligence function for domestic extremism, and the confidential intelligence unit. The post carries membership of NPOIU Senior Management Team and you will be expected to make a significant contribution to the overall performance of the police service of England and Wales
Rather chillingly, The Daily Mail reports,"The CIU will also use legal proceedings to prevent details of its operations being made public."

Britain, like the U.S. has a history of such domestic spying, and it always ends badly. Intelligence units tasked with watching terrorists inevitably include mere radicals among their targets, then simple political protesters and, ultimately, pretty much anybody who says something critical about the government. Among the past targets in the UK of domestic surveillance were Ewan MacColl, a Pete Seeger-ish folk singer with communist sympathies, John Lennon, and the band UB40. The new British unit actually appears to be starting out with that far-reaching mission.

Then there's The Daily Telegraph's report that pending legislation would allow just about every governing body in the UK to see who is communicating with whom, and how often.
Towns halls, along with police, security services and other public bodies will be able to view "communications" details of any one suspected of crime. But critics fear the move will simply pave the way for authorities to spy on millions of citizens and taxpayers. ...

Bodies will not be allowed to see the content of communications but will have access to data such as who was called or texted and when or which websites were visited. ... Since 2007, phone companies have had to retain data about calls for 12 months and hand it over to more than 650 public bodies. Parliament approved the powers, described as a vital tool against terrorism, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. But under the latest order that is to be extended to all communications, including the internet.
The move appears to be a revival of an effort to extend electronic surveillance powers that was shelved amidst public fury back in 2002. At the time, press reports described the retreat as "a humiliating climbdown," but the state is nothing if not patient. Speculation at the time was that the government was dissuaded as much by technical hurdles as by widespread resistance. The new bill suggests that technology has advanced enough in seven years to make the surveillance scheme more feasible.

And electronic surveillance is at least as popular with British authorities as with their American counterparts. The European Court of Human Rights ruled last summer that the UK government went too far with its years-long wiretapping of civil rights groups.

If you were planning to keep tabs on the domestic snoops and wiretappers in Britain, don't plan on including photographs in your files. Taking snapshots of police officers is about to become a serious crime. According to the British Journal of Photography:
Set to become law on 16 February, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 regarding offences relating to information about members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer. The new set of rules, under section 76 of the 2008 Act and section 58A of the 2000 Act, will target anyone who 'elicits or attempts to elicit information about [members of armed forces] . which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'. A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine.

The law is expected to increase the anti-terrorism powers used today by police officers to stop photographers, including press photographers, from taking pictures in public places. 'Who is to say that police officers won't abuse these powers,' asks freelance photographer Justin Tallis, who was threatened by an officer last week.
The Home Office doesn't deny the possible application of the new law to photographers, saying that interpretation will be up to police and the courts. Even before the new law, photographers have been challenged in Britain (as in America) by police officers unhappy about being the target of a lens. Last year, photographer Lawrence Looi was forced to delete images from his memory card by a police sergeant, and Andrew Carter was actually dragged off to jail for a similar "offense." Such incidents are bound to increase when police officers can point to new legal authority.

I'd like to say that's it, but it's not. There's the small matter os the creeping national ID program in the UK. And then Dutch rabble-rousing politician Geert Wilders was detained at Heathrow airport before being ejected from the country for his political views.

After years of depressing civil liberties violations here in the United States, it's astonishing to be able to say that the UK makes America look good. Just what kind of country is the British government trying to create? And is it time to break out those Guy Fawkes masks?


Another step forward for the British police state

Colleges told to monitor students' web use. Political crimes are all that the British police are interested in. Things like car theft are too boring to bother about

Lecturers have criticised government anti-extremism guidance that says colleges must monitor what staff and students look at on the internet and report it to the police if necessary. The University and Colleges Union said that it could lead to the arrest of innocent people carrying out genuine academic research.

Last year Rizwaan Sabir, 22, a student at the University of Nottingham, was arrested and detained for six days after downloading an al-Qaeda handbook and sending it to a member of staff in connection with his dissertation on terrorism.

A spokesman for the union said: "The last thing we need is people too frightened to discuss an issue or research a subject because they fear being arrested or institutions panicking and calling in the authorities."

The guidance says that colleges should do all they can "to prevent staff or students from accessing illegal or inappropriate material through college ICT systems". It adds: "Using college computers to e-mail terrorist publications to others could be a criminal offence. "There have been examples of groups linked to violent extremism trying to use college premises for campaigning or other events. Colleges should be aware of this risk."

The guidance highlights examples of concern at colleges, including a student challenging fellow Muslims on their un-Islamic clothes and telling them not to mix with non-Muslims. Similar guidance was issued to schools and universities last year.


North Dakota lawmakers vote that 'personhood' starts at conception

North Dakota has become the first US state to move towards passing a law that defines "personhood" as starting at the moment of conception, which would effectively outlaw abortion, pro-life groups said. Lawmakers in the North Dakota lower house voted 51 to 41 on Tuesday to pass the Personhood of Children Act, which confers the same basic rights on "all human beings from the beginning of their biological development, including the pre-born, partially born." "This is the first state legislature that has actually acted in a positive way" on a personhood law, Judie Brown, president of the American Life League (ALL), said. "As of today there are 19 states that have laws proposed, but no other state has got this far," she said.

Voters in Colorado rejected by three-to-one a personhood amendment to their state constitution in a referendum in November.

The North Dakota Bill is expected to go before the state senate in around two weeks. If passed, it would be used to challenge the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe versus Wade decision, which legalised abortion in the US and gave the country some of the least restrictive abortion laws in the world, experts said. Roe v Wade states that women have the absolute right to terminate a pregnancy during the first three months and a qualified right to do so up to six months. Personhood laws are crafted to challenge Roe v Wade and return the decision-making process on whether or not abortion is legal to the states, Brian Rooney of the Thomas More Law Centre said.

"The purpose of these laws is to challenge Roe v Wade. Once Roe v Wade is overturned, it doesn't mean abortion is illegal in all 50 states but it says that the states decide what to do with abortion,'' Mr Rooney said.


The usual feminist hypocrisy

"Feminist" = "angry Leftist female" -- where "Leftist" comes first and the interests of women a distant last. They often say that they ignore Muslim oppression of women becuase it is in other countries. But they ignore it in their own country too


Last week the National Organization for Women issued a press release on an important topic:
The recent arrest of R&B star Chris Brown, who reportedly assaulted and threatened singer Rihanna, preventing her participation in the Grammys, has brought the ever-present issue of violence against women into the public spotlight once again. "Everyone is talking about this case because it involves two popular recording artists, but the sad reality is that domestic violence and dating violence happen every day, even among young teens, and the impact is both far-reaching and under-reported," said Gandy.
We actually had not heard of Chris Brown or Rihanna, but we're willing to take NOW's word for it that they're popular. Gandy certainly has a point, though: Domestic violence is a big problem, and one that affects not only celebrity-Americans. Just surveying recent news articles, one can find lots of shocking cases involving the less well known. Here's an example from suburban Buffalo, N.Y., reported in the Buffalo News:
Orchard Park police are investigating a particularly gruesome killing, the beheading of a woman, after her husband--an influential member of the local Muslim community--reported her death to police Thursday. Police identified the victim as Aasiya Z. Hassan, 37. Detectives have charged her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, with second-degree murder. "He came to the police station at 6:20 p.m. [Thursday] and told us that she was dead," Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz said late this morning. . . . "Obviously, this is the worst form of domestic violence possible," Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said today.
CNN reported yesterday that police say Mr. Hassan has confessed. NOW's statement on Mrs. Hassan's beheading was short and to the point: .

There is an irony to this story that goes unremarked by NOW: As the Buffalo News explains, "Muzzammil Hassan is the founder and chief executive officer of Bridges TV, which he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive light." Those who portray Muslims in a negative light often point out that Islamic culture tends to treat women unfairly, even brutally. If Mr. Hassan beheaded his wife, it may have the effect of perpetuating the very stereotypes he hoped to combat.

The Associated Press reports from Murietta, Calif., on another shocking domestic-violence case:
A self-proclaimed polygamist was sentenced Friday to seven consecutive life prison terms for torturing seven of his 19 children, abusing four others and imprisoning two of his three wives. Mansa Musa Muhummed, 55, also was sentenced to additional terms totaling 16 years and eight months by Riverside County Superior Court Judge F. Paul Dickerson III, who said Muhummed's treatment of his family amounted to "a reign of terror over defenseless children."
This report from New York's Daily News is appalling too:
Mohammed Fagirad, 30, a vice consul at the Afghanistan Consulate, brutalized his wife inside their Flushing home from about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday until nearly midnight, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. During the attack, Fagirad bit, slapped, choked and beat the 22-year-old woman with a belt, pushed her down a flight of stairs and sat on her chest, prosecutors said. At one point, prosecutors said, Fagirad threw his wife up against a wall, held her there by the neck and then let her drop to the floor, where he beat her with a belt. Fagirad told police his "wife was a dog and he was going to treat her like a dog," prosecutors said.
Here are NOW's statements on the Muhummed and Fagirad cases, in their entirety and edited only for spelling and punctuation: .

Hey, come to think of it, when Gandy complains that people don't care about domestic violence when it doesn't involve celebrities, she speaks from direct knowledge.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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