Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Britain to "profile" air travellers
Millions of air travellers face sweeping new security tests, including passenger profiling and checks against a secret watchlist, it emerged last night.
Searches could be carried out according to race, ethnicity, age and gender – a move certain to anger civil rights groups fearing Muslims will be disproportionately targeted.
The examinations will also check for criminal convictions, immigration problems and links to terror suspects.
Passenger profiling has been resisted by previous Home Secretaries because it means far greater numbers of travellers will be stopped, searched and barred from flying.
The crackdown came amid further developments in the investigation into the cargo plane bomb plot:
* The two ‘ink bombs’ from Yemen contained 300 grams and 400 grams of explosive PETN, 50 times more than is needed to blow a hole in a plane.
* A tip-off from an ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee and supergrass led to the plot being foiled.
* David Cameron had been kept in the dark over the bomb found at East Midlands Airport for nine hours.
* New restrictions will be placed on freight planes coming from Somalia – the African state known to be home to Al Qaeda cells
* Toner cartridges larger than 500g will also be banned from hand baggage on flights departing from the UK, and on cargo flights unless they originate from a shipper cleared by the Government.
But under the prospective rules people could find themselves placed on enhanced Home Office no-fly lists, which will see them turned away when they arrive at the airport.
Alternatively, they will be added to a larger list of those who should be subject to special measures such as enhanced screening. Many of the passengers will not know why they are being put through rigorous full body searches and other checks.
More controversially, Home Secretary Theresa May has refused to rule out the introduction of passenger profiling. This will anger libertarian Tory MPs and Liberal Democrats who have made much of their wish to end the ‘Big Brother’ state.
But Mrs May told MPs: ‘We are in a constant battle with the terrorists. They are always looking for another way, another innovative way, in which they can try to get around our defences.
'Our job, and the job of our security and intelligence agencies and the police, is to ensure that we are doing all we can to make sure that there are no gaps in our defences.’
Earlier Mr Cameron had stressed Britain must take every possible step to ‘cut out the terrorist cancer’ in the Arabian Peninsula. He praised the work of police and intelligence agencies in preventing terrorists ‘killing and maiming many innocent people, whether here or elsewhere’.
But Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary warned against overreacting. ‘Every time we have a terrorist scare, the first thing that goes out the window is common sense,’ he said. ‘We in the aviation industry are all for effective security measures such as taking knives off passengers, but we are all opposed to ludicrous and ineffective measures.’
The package found at East Midlands Airport surprised many experts by its size. Tests in the U.S. have shown that just 50g of PETN can blow a hole in an aircraft and both ink bombs were far bigger than the 80g of explosives the Christmas Day bomber carried in his underwear.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who studied in Britain, tried to detonate his device over Detroit.
The device was removed from the UPS aircraft by Leicestershire police officers, working with the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, who boarded the UPS plane at 3.30am on Friday.
However No 10 disclosed that neither Mr Cameron nor the Home Office were told about what was happening at the airport until later that day.
‘Both the Home Office and Downing Street were updated at the same time by the relevant police force,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said. ‘These were decisions taken by the local police force. They were the people on the ground. They were the people best-placed to make these judgments and refer the matter to the Home Secretary, the Home Office and Downing Street as soon as they judged that was the thing to do.’
The spokesman would not be drawn on whether Mr Cameron had been told of the intelligence warning – reportedly received from an MI6 source in Saudi Arabia on Thursday night – which led to the discovery of devices at East Midlands and on a FedEx cargo plane in Dubai. In contrast, the White House has said that the U.S. President had been kept fully informed of developments since Thursday night.
Passenger profiling would see selected travellers given tougher security checks before a flight. Those behaving suspiciously or having an unusual travel pattern could be picked out
Other factors might include racial or religious profiling. This has sparked concern Muslims will be disproportionately targeted.
The profiling could be carried out by airport security staff or through computer analysis. A passenger could be given extra screening if they ‘tick boxes’ such as arriving from a high-risk country, being alone or not having a return flight or luggage.
Currently, airport staff act on suspicious passenger behaviour or specific intelligence instead of profiling.
Countries including the U.S. and Israel already use the system. The idea has been suggested in the UK a number of times in recent years – normally in response to an airline terror alert
In January, Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the UK could move to profiling in response to the Detroit Christmas Day bomb plot. Surprisingly, given the opposition expected from civil liberties groups, the Coalition has now said it will also consider the idea. Home Secretary Theresa May said yesterday all techniques would be examined.
Small firms should be free to fire at will says British enterprise tsar
Companies should be able to fire staff more easily, one of the Coalition’s key advisers said yesterday. Lord Young, who served as Employment Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, said firms were reluctant to create jobs because it was too difficult to get rid of staff.
The peer has been asked by the Prime Minister to come up with a ‘brutally honest’ report on how to overturn the ‘institutional bias’ against small businesses. But he also favours freeing up firms from the layers of red tape imposed over the past two decades.
He said yesterday: ‘Back in the early 1980s, when we had very extensive employment protection, we took it away and as a result employment went up. Firms are inhibited from taking people on if it’s too difficult to let them go if things get tough.’
The peer also took a swipe at government plans to force all employers to pay into pension plans. He said: ‘Things that big companies take in their stride, small companies find difficult.’
His intervention came as the Government announced a range of measures to provide a lifeline to Britain’s 4.8 million small firms – including extending a loan guarantee scheme.
David Cameron admitted that it was difficult to find ways to get banks to lend. ‘You can go for lending agreements with the banks. The trouble is, what I find with lending agreements is that they will promise to do a certain amount of lending to one sector, but they’ll shrink it somewhere else,’ he said on a visit to a business park in Hertfordshire.
The measures unveiled by Business Secretary Vince Cable, Business Minister Mark Prisk and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude include:
* A target of giving a quarter of government contracts to firms with fewer than 250 employees
* Encouraging social housing tenants to start up businesses from their front rooms
* A £2 billion extension of a loan guarantee scheme for small and medium firms for another four years.
Ministers are also considering a fee for employment tribunals to deter opportunistic claims. And the Government wants to double the length of time employees have to work for a firm before they make a claim against their bosses, from one year to two.
Industry groups welcomed the measures. David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘The Government’s move to bring together policies to support smaller businesses will be seen as a vote of confidence by the firms that really drive the UK economy.
‘We are pleased that the Government has committed to extending the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, which has helped many businesses secure the working capital they need. ‘Moves to simplify public sector procurement processes will also be welcomed.’
Jesus had HIV?
You expect this garbage from enemies of Christiaity but this came from a super-correct pastor
"Today I will start with a three-part sermon on: Jesus was HIV-positive," South African Pastor Xola Skosana recently said in a Sunday church service.
The words initially stunned his congregation in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township into silence, and then set tongues wagging in churches across the country.
Some Christians have been outraged, saying he is portraying Jesus as sexually promiscuous. HIV is mainly transmitted through sex, but can also be spread through needle-sharing, contaminated blood, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
However, as Pastor Skosana told those gathered in the modest Luhlaza High School hall for his weekly services, in many parts of the Bible Jesus put himself in the position of the destitute, the sick and the marginalised.
"Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness. Isaiah 53, for example, clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirmities and the brokenness of humanity," he told the BBC.
He is also quick to emphasise that he is using the metaphor to highlight the danger of the HIV/Aids pandemic, which still carries a stigma in South Africa's townships.
"Of course, there's no scientific evidence that Jesus had the HIV virus in his bloodstream," says the pastor, whose non-denominational Hope for Life Ministry is part of a growing charismatic movement in South Africa.
"The best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to help de-stigmatise Aids and create an environment where they know God is not against them, he's not ashamed of them."
But Pastor Mike Bele, who officiates at the Nomzamo Baptist Church in nearby Gugulethu, said most clergy in Khayelitsha and other Cape Town townships are strongly opposed to associating Jesus with HIV. "The subject of my Jesus being HIV-positive is a scathing matter," he says. "I believe no anointed leader with a sound mind about the scriptures and the role of Christ in our lives would deliberately drag the name of Christ to the ground."
For Pastor Bele portraying Jesus as HIV-positive means he becomes part of the problem, not the solution.
"The pastor needs to explain how it came about for him to bring Christ to our level, when Christ is supreme and is God," he says.
"There is a concern that non-believers would mock Christ and try to generalise Christ as opposed to the powerful force we believe him to be."
Up From Multiculturalism
The 2012 presidential election is fast approaching. The five Republican candidates are participating in a nationally televised debate. One of the questions read by the moderator is selected from among dozens submitted by audience members. The question reads: “I am a young immigrant who recently moved to the United States. What are two things I can do to become a success in America?”
Four candidates give responses so vague the audience can hardly discern their meaning. Then the fifth candidate gives her answer, which would soon dominate newspaper headlines across America: “Learn English and adopt Christian values.”
It’s tough to imagine an American politician speaking so bluntly and with such truthfulness. In Germany, however, such a statement was recently uttered by Chancellor Angela Merkel. She had the guts to say that Germany's recent drift towards multiculturalism has been an unmitigated disaster. And she went one step further calling on their immigrants to learn German and adopt Christian values.
Merkel’s remarks were not spontaneous. She was weighing in on a controversy she could hardly avoid. It began when a German central bank board member said his country was being dumbed down by uneducated and unproductive Muslim migrants. The point can hardly be disputed. But no one had the guts to state the obvious.
Merkel rightly understands that subsidizing immigrants does not make a country strong. In fact, it makes a country weak if the subsidies are not made in exchange for compliance with certain demands – such as speaking German and abandoning the Muslim practice of forced marriage.
Even Turkish President Abdullah Gul seems to understand the view articulated by Merkel. He has now publicly encouraged members of the Turkish community living in Germany to master the German language. He goes so far as to suggest that Turkish children living in Germany should master German at ages so young that they will be able to speak without an accent before they reach adulthood.
A recent study showed that around one-third of Germans feel the country is being "over-run by foreigners" and the same percentage feel foreigners should be sent home when jobs are scarce. Nearly 60 percent of the 2,411 people polled thought the four million Muslims in Germany should have their religious practices "significantly curbed."
The Islamic community seeks to use these statistics as proof that they are victims of human rights abuses. Those claims are tough to take seriously when one considers the violent history of Islam. It is a religion of conquest that has historically relied upon the denial of human rights as its chief method of evangelism.
The Islamic community also seeks to use these statistics as proof that Muslims are victims of “prejudice” rising to the level of “Islamophobia.” But even a cursory reading of the Koran shows that they are taught to segregate themselves from “unbelievers” and “infidels.” They have no desire to be integrated. It’s against their religion.
The Islamic community further seeks to use these statistics as proof that they are victims the kind of racism Jews suffered under the rule of Hitler. But these claims are undercut by the torrent of anti-Semitism pouring out of the Muslim world on a daily basis – including, but not limited to, Iranian threats to wipe Israel off the map.
Angela Merkel is simply stating the obvious fact that some cultures are clearly inferior to others. It is not an abuse of human rights to say that people should be educated and productive. It is not prejudiced to judge bad behavior after it happens. It is not racist to set high standards for all races.
The German people are lucky to have a leader like Angela Merkel. God knows we need someone like her here.
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.