Not So Great Britain

British Terror Head: “Be a little bit un-British and inform on each other”

July 11, 2007
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Britain faces a 15-year battle to end the threat posed by Islamist terrorists, the Government’s new security supremo has admitted.

Admiral Sir Alan West, the former First Sea Lord, said the overall danger facing the country, from both home-grown and foreign terrorists, was at its greatest ever level and that a new approach was badly needed to tackle it.

In his first interview since his surprise appointment by Gordon Brown as security minister, Sir Alan called on people to be “a little bit un-British” and even inform on each other in an attempt to trap those plotting to take innocent lives.

“Britishness does not normally involve snitching or talking about someone,” he said. “I’m afraid, in this situation, anyone who’s got any information should say something because the people we are talking about are trying to destroy our entire way of life.”

Brown wants international terror register

July 11, 2007
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Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Sunday he wanted a central register of known or suspected terrorists so that information could be shared internationally.

He spoke as his new Security Minister Admiral Alan West warned the defeat of militant radicalism could take up to 15 years, and urged people to become informers.

Nuclear alert by ex-head of MI5

July 11, 2007
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More than 100 suspects are awaiting trial in British courts for terrorist offences – a figure unprecedented in modern criminal history – Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former spy chief, has revealed.

Britain is a centre of intense plotting and faces a terrorist threat of “unprecedented scale, ambition and ruthlessness”. In a stark warning for the future, Dame Eliza added: “It remains a very real possibility that they may, sometime, somewhere attempt a chemical biological, radiological or even nuclear attack”.

Posted in UK, War On Terror

UK Attacks a Model for U.S. Assault

July 6, 2007
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U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials believe the attempted terrorist attacks last weekend in England are a preview of the next terrorist assault on the United States.According to the Washington Post, the unsophisticated, near-simultaneous attacks are designed more to provoke widespread fear and panic than to cause major losses of life, require little training, and are difficult to prevent.

CIA Director Michael Hayden told agency employees on Tuesday via an internal memo that “events in Great Britain since last Friday serve as a reminder — if we ever needed one — that this remains a dangerous world and that our work in defending America is as important as ever.”

Glasgow airport bomber left suicide note

July 6, 2007
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One of the two men accused of trying to bomb Glasgow airport left a suicide note, it has been claimed.

Police were said to have found the note, describing the men’s motives and grievances, CNN reported.

Airports to get ‘virtual tripwire’ CCTV

July 6, 2007
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Sophisticated closed circuit television camera systems is set to be introduced at a number of British airports, it emerged last night.

Negotiations are understood to have started for installation of technology known as Video Analytics – the use of computers to monitor CCTV images.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that a number of airports – both major and smaller regional ones – have been in talks with companies involved in developing the systems.

Backlash fears as Asian newsagent is firebombed

July 6, 2007
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Fears of a backlash against Muslims are rising tonight in the wake of the car bomb plot.

It came as a Pakistani-born Scotsman’s newsagents was ram-raided and fire-bombed in Glasgow.

Racial incidents rose in the days after the July 7 bombings and there was a similar backlash after the September 11 attack.

Tonight a prominent Muslim leader spoke of his fears of a “rising hostility” towards the Asian community.

Osama Saeed, the Muslim Association of Britain’s Scottish spokesman, made the warning as police launched an investigation into the attack on a newsagent’s in the early hours of the morning.

Questions raised over ID cards as Gordon Brown moves in

June 27, 2007
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The government has delayed procurement for its controversial £5.3bn ID card scheme as Gordon Brown prepares to take over as prime minister.

James Hall, chief executive of the Identity and Passport Service, said a “major” procurement process for IT systems to support the scheme was set to begin, but “we’re not quite ready yet”.

Hall, speaking at Gartner’s identity management conference in London, did not say when procurement would start.

The delay could signal a rethink as the long-anticipated transfer of power from prime minister Tony Blair to his chancellor, Gordon Brown, finally takes place. Brown’s arrival in Number 10 is expected to produce shifts on some of the more contentious areas of government policy.

Posted in ID Cards, UK

Blair rejects call for EU referendum

June 27, 2007
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Holding a referendum on the EU treaty would entail “sucking the energy out of the country for months”, Tony Blair said today.

Making his final full statement as prime minister before retiring on Wednesday, the prime minister rejected outright Tory demands for a plebiscite on the weekend agreement.

In an unusual move, the prime minister was joined on the frontbench for the statement by the new Labour leader, Gordon Brown, who will have to pilot the bill through parliament this autumn.

Mr Blair repeated his principal reason for refusing to grant a referendum: that Britain’s “red lines” had not been breached by the marathon negotiations, which only came to a close at 5am on Saturday morning.
But Mr Blair conceded that the 48-hour talks had comprised “an exceptionally difficult negotiation”.

Blair set to clinch job as world’s man in the Middle East

June 27, 2007
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Tony Blair’s nomination for the post of international envoy in the Middle East is likely to be confirmed as early as today despite grumbles from Europe and last-minute wrangles over his job description.

Sources in London and Washington indicated yesterday that the announcement will be made if agreement is reached between the so-called “Quartet” of powers – America, Europe, Russia and the United Nations – which oversee the Middle East peace process.

Mr Blair’s nomination has been pushed by Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, and – to a lesser extent – the White House, in behind-the-scenes negotiations over recent months.

Posted in Tony Blair

Schwarzenegger, Blair to Meet in London

June 22, 2007
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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to travel to London on Sunday, two days before British Prime Minister Tony Blair leaves office, to reciprocate a visit Blair made to California.

Britain to maintain presence in Afghanistan for ‘three decades’

June 21, 2007
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The UK could have presence in Afghanistan for the next thirty years according to the new British ambassador.

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who will head the embassy in Kabul, said that the effort to stabilise and rebuild the war-torn country was a “marathon rather than a sprint”.

Posted in Afghanistan, UK

Bush ‘in envoy talks with Blair’

June 21, 2007
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President Bush has spoken to UK PM Tony Blair about his becoming a Mid-East envoy, a White House official says.

Mr Bush and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice directly discussed the idea with Mr Blair, the official said.

The president would reportedly like him to be an envoy for the quartet of the US, European Union, UN and Russia.

The official spokesman for Mr Blair said “there is a lot of speculation about the prime minister’s future and much of it is inaccurate”.

What The “Chinese Style” Internet Will Look Like

June 20, 2007
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Control freaks the world over, including most recently Tony Blair, have called for the introduction of a Chinese style Internet, where the World Wide Web is tightly regulated and free speech stifled on the whim of a government censor.

Here’s what Internet 2, the Chinese format, will look like.

Say goodbye to downloading your favorite music or videos in seconds via high-speed cable or ADSL. There is no high speed broadband Internet in China. Since every website you access has to first pass through a government approved list, even the likes of Yahoo and Google lag and stumble onto your monitor, as if you’re using dial-up.

MP tells Blair Blame yourself for parliament’s weakness, not ‘feral’ media

June 19, 2007
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A backbencher humiliated Tony Blair when he confronted him with examples of how he had eroded the importance of Parliament during his decade in power.

In a withering attack, Tory MP Peter Luff accused Mr Blair of hypocrisy after he claimed last week that a “feral” media had damaged trust in politics.

He said it was unacceptable for the Prime Minister to blame the Press for the public’s declining respect for Parliament when there were at least nine examples of him treating it with disdain.

Posted in Tony Blair, UK

Fingerprinting and eye scans for children as young as five

June 19, 2007
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Schools are to get the go-ahead to fingerprint pupils as young as five, in new measures to be approved by the Government. Ministers will issue guidance telling schools they have the right to collect biometric data and install fingerprint scanners.

But the decision has angered opposition MPs who say collecting fingerprints from children will be a gift to identity thieves.

The guidance will say that personal data, including fingerprints and eyeball scans, can be collected from pupils and used to monitor attendance, so long as schools consult parents first and do not share the data with outside bodies.

Big Brother arrives in Blackpool

June 19, 2007
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The first wave of talking CCTV cameras are being tested. The prospect of talking CCTV is nowhere near as fearful as the reality of hearing faceless voices being broadcast in the street.

U.K. soccer club considers new level of security cameras

June 19, 2007
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When English soccer fans take to the terraces next season, there’s every chance they won’t just be watching the game, they’ll be being watched watching the game too. In the latest addition to what civil liberties campaigners have dubbed Britain’s “surveillance society,” a British company is in talks to supply wireless closed-circuit television technology to a Premier League soccer club’s security staff.

Hidden in lapels and hats, minute cameras would allow spotters in the crowd to beam live pictures from inside the stadium back to a control room where the images could be scanned in real-time for troublemakers and hooligans.

Already trailed in city centers across Britain to cut down on crime, the technology is also used to tackle cash-in-transit theft, an increasingly common form of robbery, and to protect VIPs, according to 802 Global, the company that makes it.

Big Brother targets smokers after smoking ban

June 14, 2007
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Big Brother is watching you when the smoking ban comes into force next month by forcing bosses to spy on staff caught lighting up.

According to reports, company bosses could be fined £1,000 if they do not help investigators.

They must follow government guidance which states: “It is recommended that persons in control of smoke-free premises…keep a written record of any incident where an individual smokes on the premises in contravention of the legislation.”

The guidance also states: “Businesses should be encouraged to contact their council after any incident.”

All firms have been sent Smoking Incident Forms which record the date, name, offence and action taken.

Tony Blair has turned Britain into a land where we are all prisoners

June 14, 2007
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Even George Orwell would be shocked. He described the sinister machinations of a totalitarian police state in his novel, 1984, and laid bare the danger of eroding our basic civil liberties, including the right to freedom of speech and the right to privacy. Although he famously coined the phrase ‘Big Brother is watching you’, even Orwell cannot have foreseen just how prescient those words would prove to be.

Today, in Tony Blair’s Britain – which I naively voted into power ten years ago – we have witnessed a breath-taking erosion of civil liberties.

The truth is we are fast becoming an Orwellian state, our every movement watched, our behaviour monitored, and our freedoms curtailed.

Between May 1997 and August 2006, New Labour created 3,023 new criminal offences – taking in everything from a law against Polish potatoes (the Polish Potatoes Order 2004) to one which made the creation of a nuclear explosion in Britain officially illegal.

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