Monday, July 26, 2010
European police to spy on Britons: Now ministers hand over Big Brother powers to foreign officers
Rather bizarre. I would think that only a tiny percentage of Britons support this
Ministers are ready to hand sweeping Big Brother powers to EU states so they can spy on British citizens. Foreign police will be able to travel to the UK and take part in the arrest of Britons. They will be able to place them under surveillance, bug telephone conversations, monitor bank accounts and demand fingerprints, DNA or blood samples.
Anyone who refuses to comply with a formal request for co-operation by a foreign-based force is likely to be arrested by UK officers.
The move will spark a damaging row with backbench Tory MPs opposed to giving such draconian powers to Brussels. The Tories were opposed to the directive in opposition, saying it showed a ‘relish for surveillance and disdain for civil liberties’.
But ministers have made a dramatic U-turn since joining the pro-EU Lib Dems in government, and the wide-ranging powers are due to be approved later this week.
According to the campaign group Fair Trials International, under the new rules it would be possible, for example, for Spanish police investigating a murder in a nightclub to demand the ID of every British citizen who flew to the country in the month the offence took place.
They could also force the UK to search its DNA database – which contains nearly one million innocent people – and send samples belonging to anybody who was in Spain at the time. This could leave an entirely innocent person facing an agonising battle to establish his or her innocence.
Tory MP Dominic Raab, who has campaigned against the power grab, said: ‘This sweeping directive would put serious operational strains on hard-pressed UK police forces. ‘There are scant safeguards to protect the personal information of law-abiding British citizens. These serious issues should be properly debated in Parliament before the UK decides to opt in.’
The new powers are known as the European Investigation Order (EIO), which is intended as a partner to the highly controversial European Arrest Warrant (EAW). One of the major concerns about the EAW, to which Britain is signed up, is that it has been used to investigate the most minor misdemeanours, such as the ‘theft of a dessert’ in a Polish restaurant.
Now member states want to make it easier to gather evidence on another’s soil. The proposal requires an ‘opt in’, which means Britain could sit back and play no part in the new regime. But Whitehall insiders say ministers have been persuaded it has many benefits. In particular, police say they will gain from the fact that the arrangements will be reciprocal, making it easier for them to track suspects overseas.
However the powers in the directive are available to prosecutors only. Britons under suspicion will not have any right to demand information from overseas police which could prove their innocence.
The countries demanding the new powers include ex-Eastern Bloc states Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovenia, as well as Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg and Austria. Other nations, including Denmark, are believed to be ready to say no.
Fair Trials International has been leading demands for Britain to stay out of the EIO. The group fears miscarriages of justice and civil liberties abuses and is also concerned about UK police being obliged to investigate matters which are not even crimes here, such as the Portuguese offence of criminal defamation.
Whitehall officials say UK police would be allowed to refuse these requests. It is the first time the coalition has had to consider a controversial EU directive.
The fact that ministers are actively opting in will cause great concern on the Tory benches. MPs point out that since the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, justice and Home Office matters are among the few areas over which we retain control of our own affairs.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Government is considering whether or not we should opt in to the European Investigation Order. ‘As we pledged in the coalition document, the Government will approach legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system.’
Plans for directly elected police commissioners and a new FBI-style agency to tackle serious crime will be unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May today. Voters will be allowed to elect powerful officials who will control multi-million-pound force budgets and can order chief constables to carry out their policies – or face the sack.
Mrs May hopes the reforms will free police from bureaucracy, making them ‘crime-fighters, not form-writers’. But she faces fierce opposition from the Association of Chief Police Officers, whose president, Sir Hugh Orde, has previously warned that the new jobs could attract ‘retired coppers or lunatics’.
The idea will be to have the first elections as soon as possible. The commissioners will replace the current chairmen of local police authorities, who are simply appointed.
Mrs May will also announce radical plans to scrap the discredited Serious Organised Crime Agency and replace it with the National Crime Agency, a force to crack down on organised crime, drug-smuggling and people-trafficking. Soca was launched four years ago but faced fierce criticism, amid revelations it had clawed back only £78million from crime bosses despite costing the taxpayer a staggering £1.2billion.
A Whitehall source said last night the NCA, which is expected to have a team of between 3,000 and 8,000 ‘agents’, had ‘been approved and has been designed specifically to become Britain’s very own FBI’.
The proposals, forming part of Lib-Con coalition’s Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, are set out in an internal document entitled Policing In The 21st Century.
Mrs May will also outline a major shake-up to ensure forces do not prevent police officers from carrying out their public duties, for instance jumping into a pond to rescue a drowning child, for fear of breaching health and safety regulations.
A Mindset that Must Be Crushed!
The authoritaianism of American "liberals" on display
He was one of the Oberlin Mafia, the nickname we gave the succession of bright young reporters who found their way to Arkansas years ago looking for their first reporting jobs. Nice kids, all of them. And almost all of them would go on to successful careers. But, fresh out of Oberlin, some of them still exhibited a few of the ideological tics they'd acquired at that politically correct campus. And they couldn't help but reveal them. Usually when politics was being discussed. As it regularly was.
Even the nicest and best mannered of the bunch, which this young man was, would fall back on certain newspeak phrases when pressed. He astounded me because, though a Yankee, he had beautiful manners. He was from Rochester, N.Y., and I've thought well of that city ever since. You could tell he'd been raised right.
I've mercifully forgotten what hot topic of the day we were discussing at lunch that day. Feminism, then known as Women's Lib? Homosexuality? Vegetarianism? The American League pennant race? It scarcely matters because, on hearing something particularly provocative said on the other side of the issue, he could scarcely contain himself. "That," he exclaimed, "is a mindset that must be crushed!"
The phrase has stuck with me. It is so emblematic of what civil discourse isn't. My young friend was suddenly transformed -- into a forerunner of today's shout shows on television. I could swear his eyes almost gleamed when he shouted the phrase. He could have been Lenin on a soapbox.
But the seizure lasted only a moment before he returned to his more civilized self, smiling a little sheepishly. As if some inner demon had been released.
How strange. We were all newspapermen and, while we might disagree about everything else, the one thing we surely could agree on was the importance of free and open expression. Ideas were meant to be expressed, not suppressed. Isn't that what a free press is all about? Crushing mindsets is not in our job description.
Long years have passed since that revelatory moment, but it comes back to me on occasion. Like whenever the orthodoxy of the moment decides that some ideas may not be expressed. Or at least they must be denied an equal hearing. And an equal footing in the public forum.
Case in sad point: The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court the other day in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which concerned a student organization at Hastings Law School, part of the University of California in San Francisco.
To those unacquainted with current ideological fixations, the group's aims might seem wholesome enough -- to discuss the law from a Christian perspective, study the Bible, that sort of thing.
Like so many other groups on that campus, this one sought official recognition -- which would have qualified it for various benefits like the use of the university's buildings, access to e-mail lists, and a share of the student-activity fees the school collects from all its students.
Members of the Christian Legal Society were expected to be, well, Christian -- and to abstain, to quote the group's national charter, from "unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle," including "all acts of sexual conduct outside of God's design for marriage between one man and one woman, which acts include fornication, adultery and homosexual conduct."
Gentle Reader can guess what happened next: The university, in accordance with its stated policy that student groups must welcome "all comers," denied the organization official recognition.
Strangely enough, or maybe not so strangely in today's ideological climate, there is no record of any of the other 60 or so student groups on campus being denied official status because they limit their membership to those in sympathy with their aims.
For example, the gay-lesbian organization on campus is free to remove any of its officers who "work against the spirit of the organization's goals and objectives," the pro-life group is allowed to enlist only those who share its views, and so sensibly on.
It's called freedom of association, which has to include the freedom not to associate in order to remain meaningful. For no organization can maintain its integrity if it is forced to open its leadership to those whose ideas and aims may be inimical to its own. Think of the possibilities: A black student association being taken over by skinheads, or the Young Democrats subverted by a well-organized cell of young Republicans.
It will not surprise Gentle Reader to learn that the Christian Legal Society was turned down when it took its case to the courts -- all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it lost a 5-to-4 decision. For its is a mindset that must be crushed! Or at least set apart. All groups may be equal at Hastings but, to borrow another Orwellian construction, some are to be less equal than others.
The great advantage of the separation of church and state is that they are kept, well, separate. But in this instance the state, through the agency of a public university, has arrogated to itself the authority to decide whom the church, as represented by this student religious group, must admit to membership, even leadership.
If the Christian Legal Society is allowed to remain on campus, it must not be on equal terms. It must be set apart, singled out for special treatment, forced to operate under a handicap lest it contaminate the minds of others -- in short, ghettoized. Perhaps the university could design a special yellow badge for its members to wear.
This student organization might consider meeting in the nearest catacombs, for true faith flourishes when it is persecuted, while the kind of faith that renders all to Caesar may find government's embrace more of a stranglehold.
Australia: Child sex accused priest OK to work with kids??
Your regulators will protect you -- NOT
A PRIEST stood down by his church over allegations that he had sex with a teenage boy has been handed a blue card to work with children by a Queensland tribunal.
The man, now in his 50s, lost his licence to officiate as a priest when he was found unfit to hold Holy Orders, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal was told during an application hearing last month.
It was alleged that the priest, then a parish curate in his 20s, had sex with a boy aged from 16 to 18 on several occasions, showed him pornographic images and took him to a sex shop.
The Sunday Mail has been prevented from identifying the priest after his solicitors sought a non-publication order from the tribunal late Friday.
The case follows revelations last week that seven Queenslanders denied blue cards because of criminal convictions later won them back after appeals to the tribunal.
The tribunal heard that the boy had been a parishioner and his parents had left him in the care of the priest while they went overseas on a holiday. Some of the sexual acts allegedly occurred when the priest stayed with the boy at a motel and at a caravan park. Police investigated after a complaint was received, but no charges were laid, the tribunal was told.
However, after a recent church investigation into the allegations ruled that "sexually inappropriate behaviour" had occurred, the Board of Professional Standards decided he was not fit to hold Holy Orders due to the gravity of the breach of trust. The Commissioner for Children and Young People then cancelled his blue card.
The priest is entitled to an automatic review of the church decision, which is under way, but he has not been able to officiate in his former parish.
He had held a blue card, allowing him to work or volunteer with children, since 2007.
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which heard the former priest's appeal over his blue card, said the allegations were not contested in the church proceedings.
A forensic psychiatrist, giving evidence to the tribunal, said that there had been no indication of deviance since the time of the allegations and the priest was not a risk to the community.
He said assuming the alleged events had occurred, "it was likely to be an experimentation of early adulthood, part of the 'craziness of the age group' ".
After hearing evidence from another priest and parishioners, the tribunal found, on balance of probabilities, there was not an unacceptable risk of harm to children and ordered that the priest be given a blue card.
It found the protective factors, including that over the past 28 years he had led an "exemplary life of altruism and service", outweighed the risks. The Children's Commissioner can appeal.
Neuroscience backs the Bible?
WOMEN'S and girls' magazines are full of advice on better sex, from how to catch and hold your man down to detailed instructions on sexual techniques. Now it seems the oldest written recipe, the Bible's, might be the best.
Neuroscientific studies suggest that "life-long heterosexual monogamy" is most likely to provide both sexual satisfaction and excitement, a Melbourne conference heard at the weekend.
While women's activist Melinda Tankard Reist complained that Dolly magazine, aimed at 10 to 13-year-old girls, provided instructions on oral and anal sex without any context or warnings, Sydney University sexologist Patricia Weerakoon said biblical sexual ethics were healthy and life-affirming.
In a joint paper with her son, Sydney Presbyterian minister Kamal Weerakoon, she said non-religious people expected the church to be fearful, ignorant, defensive, repressed and hypocritical with only one message about sex: don't do it.
But a biblical understanding of sex was deeply positive - "do it, God made us for it" - while also being honest about human imperfections and limitations.
Mr Weerakoon told the national conference on religion in the public square that neuroscientists working in sexology - which studies gender and sexuality - showed that sexual activity had three stages: lust, love and bonding.
Each stage had its own particular hormones, including "feel-good" at the second stage, and "cuddle" hormones at the third.
In the lust or desire stage, the dominant hormone was testosterone. In the second stage, involving attraction to a specific person, the "feel-good" hormones of dopamine, serotonin and adrenalin came into play.
In the third stage, of long-term bonding, the "cuddle hormones" or oxytocin and vasopressin, played a bigger role.
"Biologically, we are wired to desire sex, to fall in love with the person we desire sex with, and for that love to develop into deep attachment. Our bodies are wired to operate best with one sexual partner for life," he said. "Both academia and pop culture assume that biblical, Christian sexual ethics are at best outdated and irrelevant, and at worst repressive and harmful. We are seen as legalist, repressed, hypocritical killjoys who spend all our time trying to stop everyone from having a good time."
But a biblical sexual anthropology and ethic was the church's gift to the world, he said. "Christians should be out and proud."
Ms Tankard Reist told the conference that despite talk of "girl power", girls lived in a pornified world, bombarded with sexual imagery before they were psychologically ready. Parents had to object when they saw T-shirts for pre-teens proclaiming "It's not rape if you shout 'surprise"' or "Save a virgin. Do me instead".
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.