Category Archives: UK

Thought Crime: UK Leadership Wants To Ban Predicted ‘Extremists’ From Social Media, TV, Events

Mike Masnick writes for Techdirt:

Theresa May, the current UK Home Secretary, has announced that, if re-elected, her party (the Conservatives) will push for “extremist disruption orders” which would effectively ban people declared “extremist” (using a very broad definition) from using social media or appearing on TV.

Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.

They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, under the new Extremist Disruption Orders.

The broad definitions here matter. Part of the plan is to make such rules cover a wide variety of groups and individuals, based on what the government “reasonably believes” they may be up to.’

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Julian Assange: Google has revolving door with U.S. State Deptartment

Editor’s Note: The interview begins at around 2:56.

Inside Tesco’s bonus-fuelled regime of fear and machismo

Simon Neville reports for The Independent:

‘Approaching the 1960s five- storey concrete monolith of New Tesco House, you could be forgiven for forgetting that you are arriving at the third- largest retailer in the world.

Unlike Sainsbury’s glass-clad headquarters in the heart of central London, Tesco’s HQ sits on the edge of the M25 motorway on a dire industrial estate with little more than a Tesco Metro, a fountain and a handful of charity shops for company.

But Tesco’s Cheshunt base – where it has been since Jack Cohen founded the retailer in 1919 in a single-floor barracks-style building – serves the purpose of intimidating suppliers and keeping staff in their place.

[...] Looking closer at the culture at Cheshunt under the two previous chief executives, Sir Terry Leahy and Phil Clarke, a story unfolds of a regimented atmosphere where targets were king and to miss them would lead to a dressing down that could make Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer treatment look mild. Both men wanted to create their own legacies. They led with cast-iron fists and dissenters would not be tolerated.’

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British Muslims shouldn’t feel obliged to speak out against Isis atrocities

Remona Aly writes for The Guardian:

Two women wearing full-face veils walk in Regents Park in London.‘[...] Horrific crimes carried out in the name of religion are as much anathema to the average Muslim Briton as they are to any Briton. An additional burden for us, however, is the warped assumption that British Muslims are somehow to blame for the actions of murderers. The notion that Muslims should feel some form of collective guilt and be collectively punished is a reprehensible one, but it seems to be evident into an increasing number of people’s attitudes.

A Muslim friend said her colleague’s Facebook status asked why Muslims hadn’t posted their outrage about the beheading of Haines. Tweets have floated around asking the same question, demanding that Muslims speak out against these atrocities. But expecting Muslims to constantly be engaged in a rhetoric of apology is absurd. It is irrational and entirely unhelpful, and in itself constitutes a form of everyday Islamophobia.’

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US and Europe Fear Retaliation After Attacking ISIS

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The United States and its assorted allies in Europe have rejected analysts efforts to liken the new ISIS war to poking a hornets’ nest. Despite that, they’ve poked it, and it seems they are awaiting the sting.

Both the United States and EU nations involved in the war are now said to be bracing for the inevitable ISIS retaliation from their air war, with France saying they are taking “preventive” measures at public sites.’

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Anjem Choudary Released On Bail, Claims Arrest Was ‘Politically Motivated’

The Huffington Post reports:

Anjem Choudary‘Radical preacher Anjem Choudary, one of 11 men held as part of an investigation into alleged support of banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun, has been released on bail, he said today. He claimed his arrest was “politically motivated”, telling the Press Association: “My arrest certainly was politically motivated.”

[...] Choudary, who is to answer bail in January, was one of nine men held across London yesterday. Two more were stopped and detained near junction 1 of the M6, just outside Rugby, Warwickshire, in the early hours of today, Scotland Yard said.’

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Abu Qatada Acquitted of Terrorism Charges

The new ‘Blair rich project’: Pushing the Trans-Adriatic pipeline against Italians’ objections

Claudio Gallo writes for RT:

Trans Adriatic Pipeline (Image from wikipedia.org by Genti77)‘[...] Yo, Blair – what are you doing this time? He is pushing a huge global project in the name of some big guys who care less than nothing that the local people don’t want it.

The scheme is, as always, a case of powerful elites against ordinary people, and guess which side he is for? He is gazing now at Puglia’s southern coasts in his capacity of facilitator of Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s president, nominated in 2012 for Person of the Year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the TAP consortium of energy, Trans Adriatic Pipeline, formed by British oil giant BP (20 percent), Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR (20 percent), Norway’s Statoil (20 percent), Belgium’s Fluxys (16 percent), France’s Total (10 percent), Germany’s E.ON” (9 percent) and Switzerland’s di Axpo (5 percent). It’s a 2,000-mile pipeline transporting gas from Shah Deniz-2, the biggest Azeri gas field in the Caspian Sea, across Turkey, Greece and Albania to Italy.’

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‘Tony Blair is a crusader’ says former deputy PM John Prescott

Northern Ireland gets health minister who opposes abortion for raped women

Henry McDonald reports for The Guardian:

Jim Wells, the new DUP health minister, said he opposed any change in the law because 'the stats are‘Northern Ireland’s new health minister is a Democratic Unionist party assembly member who believes that women made pregnant through rape should not be allowed an abortion.

The first minister, Peter Robinson, appointed Jim Wells, the DUP member for South Down in the regional parliament, to take up the devolved health portfolio as part of a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday.

Two years ago Wells said that he opposed Northern Ireland’s abortion laws being changed so that rape victims could get a termination in local hospitals.’

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London overtakes Hong Kong as world’s most expensive city

Rupert Jones reports for The Guardian:

‘London has overtaken Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive city to live and work in, with a new study suggesting it is almost twice as pricey as Sydney, and four times more than Rio de Janeiro.

The estate agent Savills said that in London, rising rents and the strong pound had pushed up the typical cost per individual employee of renting somewhere to live and leasing office space to $120,000 (£73,800) a year.

That puts the UK capital well ahead of other global hubs such as New York and Paris which, aside from Hong Kong, are the only other locations where the combined annual costs of renting residential and office space top $100,000 per employee.’

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IFS: Austerity will continue during next Tory, Labour or Lib Dem parliament

Larry Elliott reports for The Guardian:

‘George Osborne’s plans to balance the government’s books will require additional tax increases, spending cuts or welfare cuts worth more than £37bn in the first three years of the next parliament, according to Britain’s leading experts on the public finances.

In an assessment of the budget plans of the three biggest Westminster parties, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that austerity would continue under a Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat chancellor, but that Osborne had by far the toughest approach to fiscal policy.’

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London transport chief warns city could face riots as transport crisis looms

Rose Troup Buchanan reports for The Independent:

‘London’s transport commissioner has warned the city could face riots again unless more trains and buses are available at affordable fares for the poorest communities.

Many of the poorest communities are no longer based in the inner-city but instead on the outskirts of London, according to Sir Peter Hendy. They rely on buses, whose fares have risen by 50 per cent over the past six year, to get them to work.

Sir Peter, head of Transport for London (TfL), said unless transport capacity is increased and fares stabilised there would be serious problems.’

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The Lobbying Act: Money Still Buys Influence

From The Morning Star:

Lobbying Act: Condemned by the NUJ‘David Cameron warned before the last general election that lobbying was “the next big scandal waiting to happen.” It was during his concerted offensive to persuade us that the Tory leopard had changed its spots and that decency, fairness and honesty rather than greed and self-interest now dictated its policies. “It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long — an issue that exposes the far too cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money,” he went on.

[...] According to the provisions of the Lobbying Act that came into force yesterday, such easy at-a-price access to ministers poses less of a threat to democracy than the transparent campaigning of trade unions, charities and single-issue groups. Lobbyists for powerful corporate vested interests will be free to enjoy confidential meetings with ministers while people seeking to hold government to account will be frustrated. Trade unions, charities and single-issue campaigns will have unreasonable limits imposed on the amount of finance they can devote to activity during an election period even though the sums they raise are puny in comparison to the funds raised directly by business for the Tories or the wall-to-wall propaganda deployed by pro-Tory media’

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Plymouth University under fire for spending £150,000 on 7 designer chairs

Sarah Cassidy reports for The Independent:

‘A scandal-hit university which has already seen its vice chancellor suspended and its chairman of governors stand aside as part of a bitter boardroom feud, has spent £150,000 on seven designer chairs. Plymouth University has commissioned the award-winning furniture designer John Makepeace to make seven handcrafted chairs to be used at graduation ceremonies.

The news follows revelations earlier this month that the university had spent more than £24,000 on sending six members of staff to a conference in Miami earlier this year. This was despite threatened job losses which have prompted a series of protests by lecturers at the Plymouth University campus this summer.’

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MPs claiming more expenses now than at height of 2009 scandal

Rowena Mason reports for The Guardian:

‘MPs are under fire over their expenses once more after it emerged they claimed more last year than at the peak of the expenses scandal, while a quarter employed family members with public money.

Despite the furore of the expenses scandal just five years ago, MPs claimed £103m in 2013/14 – up from £98m the previous year and slightly more than they did at the high watermark of £102m set in 2008/09. Higher staffing spend is one of the reasons that MP expenses claims have started rising since they were brought down when a tougher system was introduced in the wake of the scandal.’

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Madrid’s Plaza Margaret Thatcher is a curious landmark for curious times

Miguel-Anxo Murado writes for The Guardian:

Margaret Thatcher's son Mark Thatcher at the opening of the square named after her in Madrid‘Margaret Thatcher now ranks between Columbus and Goya. Not between the men and their achievements, but in between their namesakes in the Madrid street map. There, near Columbus Square, with it’s gigantic, Brobdingnagian Spanish flag and Goya Street, with its row of expensive fashion stores, now lies Plaza Margaret Thatcher, the only such tribute to the Iron Lady outside the UK.’

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Northern Rail staff refused to help pensioner because they hadn’t been trained in “people-handling”

The Yorkshire Post reports:

Scene: The extraordinary excuse given by the Northern Rail workers, who let other passengers tend to the shocked woman at Leeds train station (pictured), was that they had not been trained in ¿people-handling¿‘Northern Rail was under fire today after claims that its staff refused to help a woman pensioner who fell on an escalator at Leeds Station because they were not “people handling-trained”.

The company, which faced fury earlier this week for hiking ticket prices by up to 117% with the axing afternoon off-peak fares, is now accused of “shameful behaviour” over the woman’s plight.

Commuter Tom Lees told the BBC the woman fell backwards after she lost her footing while travelling up an escalator connecting the platforms.’

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Rival Scottish Independence Rallies Hit Glasgow As Police Look On

Louise Ridley reports for The Huffington Post:

glasgow trouble‘Police are holding back opposing crowds of pro and anti-independence supporters in George Square in Glasgow, amid reports of flag burning and mounting tensions in the city after the Scottish referendum result.

The confrontation follows Alex Salmond‘s announcement that he will quit as Scottish first minister after voters rejected Scottish independence. Glasgow was one of just four local authorities which voted for independence from the UK, while the majority of Scotland – 55% of the population – voted for it to remain in the union. Police closed the city centre to traffic on Friday evening as they separated the crowds, with some protesters reportedly holding flags and setting off flares.’

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No Justice: The Story of the Chagos Islands and Its People

Alyssa Rohricht writes for CounterPunch:

‘Many know of the forced displacement of the people of the Bikini Islands, who were removed from their land to make room for US Army and Navy joint testing of nuclear weapons in the 1940s. While the islanders were told that they would only have to leave “temporarily” so that the US could test atomic bombs “for the good of mankind and to end all world wars,” many of the Bikini islanders have yet to return home to this day, siting fears of nuclear contamination, despite US assurances of the land’s safety.

Of course, it is not just a home that is lost when colonial powers forcibly remove a people from their land – it is a history, a community, a cultural heritage. The Bikini islanders are not the only people who have been displaced for American military hegemony. Lesser known but all-too relevant is the story of the Chagos Islands and the Chagossian people. The Chagos Archipelago consists of over 50 small islands in the Indian Ocean. No Chagossians now inhabit the island, which once was home to 1,500-2,000 indigenous peoples, mostly of African, Malagasy, and Indian origin brought to the islands as slaves to work on coconut plantations in the 18th century. Today, the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago is home to “The Footprint of Freedom” – or the Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia – one of the most strategically important US military bases in the world.’

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The Trews: Westminster Fear and Media Bias Shafted Scotland

The dream of Scottish independence is over, so what now?

From Another Angry Voice:

‘I’m disappointed, but not surprised at the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum.

It’s no surprise that a lot of voters didn’t dare to defy the entire Westminster establishment, the whole mainstream media (except the Sunday Herald), the outrageously biased BBC (reputation surely tarnished beyond repair now), the bully boy banks (who were bailed out by us just a few years ago when they caused the crisis that the Tories have so gleefully exacerbated through ideological austerity) and countless businesses who were pressurised by the government into making ridiculous threats (price rises, relocations, job cuts etc).

You can’t blame people for being afraid and making what they consider to be a conservative decision. However many “undecided turned no” voters may live to regret their decision in 2015 if the UK ends up with the nightmare scenario of a Tory-UKIP coalition (Boris and Nigel) hell bent on punishing Scotland for daring to even have such a referendum, and dragging Scotland out of the EU, (no matter which way the people of Scotland vote on the matter). Many people have simply failed to realise that uncertainty cuts both ways.’

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Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God

Matthew Weaver reports for The Guardian:

‘The archbishop of Canterbury has admitted to having doubts about the existence of God and disclosed that, on a recent morning jog with his dog, he questioned why the Almighty had failed to intervene to prevent an injustice.

In a light-hearted but personal interview in front of hundreds of people in Bristol cathedral last weekend, Justin Welby said: “There are moments, sure, where you think ‘Is there a God? Where is God?'”Welby quickly added that, as the leader of the world’s 80 million-strong Anglican community, this was “probably not what the archbishop of Canterbury should say”.’

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Police Probe Glasgow Voter Fraud Allegations

Sky News reports:

Suspect ballot paperPolice are investigating allegations of voter fraud in the Scottish referendum in Glasgow, election officials have confirmed.

Colin Edgar from Glasgow City Council told Sky’s Kay Burley police were called in after evidence emerged of 10 possible incidents of electoral fraud in the city.

The allegations appear to centre on attempts at personation at some polling stations.’

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Scotland votes ‘No': Many nations are heaving a sigh of relief

Bridget Kendall writes for BBC News:

‘The referendum over Scottish independence has had the world holding its breath. And even though there is deep affection across the globe for Scotland’s distinct identity, the news that it is not going to leave the UK will mean many governments are heaving a sigh of relief.

Some feared that Scottish independence might encourage other separatist movements. Others worried that it would turn the rest of the UK into a weaker and distracted partner. But has Britain’s global standing been affected nonetheless?

There is an argument that the UK, along with the rest of the West, is already in decline – its clout eroded by the rise of emerging giants like China, India, Russia and Brazil. And the very fact of this referendum shows its power and prestige is on the wane, and its reliability as a partner has been undermined.’

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Can the Scots Blaze a Trail of Economic Sovereignty? A Public Bank Option for Scotland

Ellen Brown writes for Web of Debt:

‘Arguments against independence include that Scotland’s levels of public spending, which are higher than in the rest of the UK, would be difficult to sustain without raising taxes.  But that assumes the existing UK/EU investment regime.  If Scotland were to say, “We’re starting a new round based on our own assets, via our own new bank,” exciting things might be achieved. A publicly-owned bank with a mandate to serve the interests of the Scottish people could help give the newly independent country true economic sovereignty.

I wrote on that possibility in December 2012, after doing a PowerPoint on it at the Royal Society of Arts in Edinburgh. That presentation was followed by one by public sector consultant Ralph Leishman, who made the proposal concrete with facts and figures.  He suggested that the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) be licensed as a depository bank on the model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. I’m reposting the bulk of that article here, in hopes of adding to the current debate.’

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Spanish PM Rajoy warns independence votes “torpedo” the foundations of Europe

Reuters reports:

A woman brandishes a placard on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes during celebrations of Catalonia National Day (Diada) in Barcelona on September 11, 2014. (AFP Photo/Quique Garcia)‘Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired a last-minute broadside on Wednesday against Scotland’s independence referendum, warning that such events “torpedo” the foundations of Europe and wreak economic recessions.

Rajoy’s center-right government has been trying to quell calls in the northern Spanish region of Catalonia for a similar vote on breaking away, denouncing such a move as illegal.

With the regional government in Barcelona – which has penciled in a consultation on independence on November 9 – set to potentially give such a vote a green light on Friday, the spotlight could turn to Catalonia’s drive to cut ties with Spain a day after Scots are due to vote on whether to stay in Britain.’

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Ignored and fed up, UK regions call for Scottish-style devolution

Paul Sandle and Sarah Young report for Reuters:

‘A big gap has widened in Britain in recent decades between cities and regions at each end of the country. The ‘North-South Divide’ came about because manufacturing and mining industries in the north and midlands failed while London and the south east saw a boom in financial and media industries.

It’s a source of bitterness for many British voters, who see London as a city state increasingly detached from the rest of the United Kingdom not just economically but culturally. And analysts agree the government in Westminster has left whole areas of the rest of the country to stagnate because they don’t have the power to tailor their own growth policies.’

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Upsurge in Voter Participation and Scare-Campaigns As Scots Head To The Polls

A Yes would not only be good for Scotland but good for England

Oliver Huitson writes for Open Democracy:

‘I would personally prefer a federal Britain and I would certainly be sad to see the Scots leave. But I really hope they do. Britain is a dying imperial project, steeped in hundreds of years of anti-democratic expertise; it is not quite impervious to change but whatever changes are forced upon it from below it somehow manages to refind its shape, its control – if it is one part bulldog it is nine parts snake, unseen and untouchable. Its governing institutions are instinctively hostile to democracy and transparency. I hope it’s a Yes because I would like Scotland to be free not of the English or Welsh, but of Westminster and its unelected policy board: the City and multinational business. I would like England to be free of them too.’

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