mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)
There are different ways to achieve political ends. Violence is a time-tested method to disrupt and divide peaceful societies anywhere and everywhere in the world. The scale of the tragedy may differ from place to place, but the intent and outcome are always the same. It matters not who the perpetrators are or what they claim to be fighting for. Throughout history, groups of people are prepared to use force to sow seeds of distrust. They want us to cower in fear. They want us to blame the other. They want us to target refugees. They want us to question everything. We must not succumb, now more than ever. Dozens of innocent civilians have been murdered. We know them, for they belong to our human family. Political boundaries and cultural distinctions are irrelevant at times like this. Toute notre solidarité avec le peuple de Paris et Beirut en ce moment de douleur. May the souls of the victims rest in peace, and may their families and friends find strength to overcome this calamity.


Nov. 12th, 2014 09:15 pm
mcgillianaire: (Bedouin in Desert)
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
"The ISI has been working for supporting proxies for an extended period of time. It's a strategy in the country and I think that strategic approach has to shift in the future." -Admiral Mike Mullen, America's outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman (Link)

India's been saying exactly that for decades but it fell on deaf ears. Now that America is facing the brunt of Pakistani foreign policy hypocrisy and double-standards in Afghanistan, the global media networks are lapping it up. Well, we told you so!
mcgillianaire: (Default)
A Nigerian-American man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport last Wednesday because he was allegedly attempting to travel with a boarding pass that was "issued in another person's name and for a flight that had departed a day earlier." Worryingly for you and me, this was apparently not the first time he had travelled this way with his most recent such trip earlier in the week. But on Wednesday he forgot to take a shower.

There's some fascinating additional stuff in a blog post by Gulliver on The Economist. It includes an explanation given by security guru Bruce Schneier in 2008 about how a terrorist might exploit loopholes in airport security:
    "To slip through the only check against the no-fly list, the terrorist uses a stolen credit card to buy a ticket under a fake name. "Then you print a fake boarding pass with your real name on it and go to the airport. You give your real ID, and the fake boarding pass with your real name on it, to security. They’re checking the documents against each other. They’re not checking your name against the no-fly list—that was done on the airline's computers. Once you're through security, you rip up the fake boarding pass, and use the real boarding pass that has the name from the stolen credit card. Then you board the plane, because they’re not checking your name against your ID at boarding."
Fills you with confidence, innit?
mcgillianaire: (Default)

  • 07:35:39: RT @dafnalinzer: MT @yochiNJ Military source tells me #Seals built full-scale mockup of #bin Ladin compound, spent weeks practicing raid ...
  • 07:47:14: RT @ReallyVirtual Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event). << The IT consultant who unwittingly live-tweeted the raid!
  • 07:57:30: RT @Chobr: BBC reporter says 'very unique' on @r4Today. A sad day...
  • 08:44:44: ‎"Everybody knew he was in Pak except the Pak authorities who were in denial." -Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani journalist on @BBCr4today
  • 08:45:02: RT @tomscott: Bin Laden's dead; some Americans party in the streets. I was thinking "not classy, USA" — then I remembered what's planned ...
  • 08:47:53: RT @CulturalSnow: Super quick Osama Downfall video
  • 08:49:16: RT @simonpegg: There's a slight sense in the more sensationalist media that the world just completed a particularly tricky video game.
  • 08:59:04: Checked Google Earth. Most recent images of area around Pak Milit Acad are from Jun 2005 & Mar 2001. Hmm... #obl #osamabinladen #abbotabad
  • 09:00:45: @CulturalSnow Dude, in the immortal words of Richard Keys - your tweets/RTs this morning have smashed it. Thanks for the entertainment.
  • 09:08:51: RT @dannynic: Waiting for Huw Edwards to tell us all about Osama's outfit....
  • 09:13:16: RT @LFCZA: Rumours of Bin Laden being caught whilst wearing his Arsenal shirt remain unfounded.
  • 09:23:29: "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles." -Proverbs 24:17 (New American Standard Bible)
  • 09:27:37: @ReallyVirtual Read your tweets - v.interesting! Wondered how long you've been in A'bad and if was the 1st time you heard a milit op there?
  • 09:28:30: RT @largeburrito: In the early hours, US special forces attacked a house in Pakistan and destroyed Donald Trump's Presidential campaign.
  • 09:29:05: @pappubahry It's reducing by the dozen every minute so I'll live in hope. :)
  • 09:29:37: @pappubahry Oh and it's back up again. I guess I'll ask him in a few weeks time if he's still online!
  • 09:30:25: RT @suellewellyn: RT @kenyanpundit RT @itsthiz: Obama is now America's hero. Just last week he had to prove he was even American.
  • 09:34:09: RT @LSEpublicevents Expert Anatol Lieven talks about Pakistan at LSE on 9/5 ("Pakistan: A Hard Country") #obl
  • 09:42:10: "Coincidentally or not, Panetta was promoted at end of last week, from CIA head to become the next sec of defence." (
  • 09:50:18: The Pakistani High Commissioner is the most deluded man in Britain. Not surprised but still sickening to hear his ilk spew filth. #bbc5live
  • 10:04:03: @pappubahry I never realised there were so many versions of the Bible. I'd like to pick up a copy. Recommend any in particular?
  • 10:08:31: @pappubahry Thanks. Have you read it in its entirety? Do you still read/refer from it?
  • 10:16:53: RT @tweetminster: Twitter first with news of Osama bin Laden's death via ex-Bush staffer @keithurbahn - The Guardian
  • 17:21:41: Can't blame him but Obama had that "I'm the man" look just now. First Trump, now Bin Laden. Two slam dunks in a good week at the office.
  • 17:54:31: All these references to the good Lord above on #bbcradio4 are making me feel just a little bit ill. #obl
  • 18:12:33: "USA! USA!" is the wrong response - -- Couldn't word it better myself. Death is not something to be celebrated. #obl
  • 18:25:50: RT @nytgraphics: Map and diagram of the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad
  • 18:26:04: RT @ogleearth: CIA confirms location of Bin Laden compound, releases aerial imagery (scroll to end of article) | Ogle Earth http://bit.l ...
  • 18:29:53: RT @LondonHistorian: Handy article in the Indy about UK place names.
  • 20:35:43: @pappubahry Interested in any of the these? Can upload.
  • 20:48:15: @pappubahry Also have (except ep1)
  • 22:52:19: Great to see The Canaries back in the Premier League next season. Let's be 'aving you!!! #norwichcityfc #ncfc #championship
  • 23:00:52: RT @maproomblog: I've updated the Bin Laden compound post with additional links.
  • 23:03:34: So you're in a Norman church. How do you know it's Norman? (pdf)
  • 23:05:51: Can't believe Hazel Irvine is trending but I must admit, it was an insensitive question to ask and worsened only by John Higgins's reaction.
  • 23:06:58: RT @geoeye: New @GeoEye High Resolution Imagery Released of Abbottabad, Pakistan (a walled compound)

Tweets copied by


May. 2nd, 2011 06:15 pm
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
"USA! USA!" is the wrong response. I think that article pretty much sums it up for me. Celebrating death is not civilised behaviour. But don't get me wrong, Usama bin Laden was an evil, evil man. And maybe I'm in a minority, but I would've rather he be put through a fair trial and incarcerated for the rest of his life. It might even have diminished the passion for reprisal attacks by his followers to a manageable level. And y'all know I'm not religious but I heard this on the radio today and it struck a chord: ‎"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles." -Proverbs 24:17 (New American Standard Bible)
mcgillianaire: (Portcullis Logo)
Uninspiring. Let me stick my neck out on the line. Labour (cough: the unions) have made a mistake in electing the wrong Miliband brother as their leader. Worse still, it seems more likely than not that David will officially end his mainstream political career tomorrow. He has yet to fill in his nomination papers for the shadow cabinet and has already come down to London from Manchester. The Labour frontbench will suffer from his loss greatly. But today was about Ed. He praised the positive achievements of New Labour, Blair and Brown for challenging conventional wisdoms and his brother's graciousness in defeat. But he also tore into New Labour's attack on civil liberties, said the Iraq War was wrong and admitted a Labour government would also have imposed tough public sector cuts halving the deficit within four years. And in a bid to distance himself from the right-wing media imposed "Red Ed" tag, he took a swipe at irresponsible strike action. But he also played to the gallery by promising a bigger levy on bankers' bonuses and denouncing a system in which a banker earns more in a day than a caretaker does in a year. He called Cameron a pessimist while cleverly reworking the Tory's own description of Blair by calling him an optimist once.

It was not the greatest of speeches but there is scope for improvement. He is somewhat between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair in front of the camera; not wholly uncomfortable nor quite yet a natural. As one commentator put it, his speech seemed choppy and felt like it had been put together with a cut-and-paste method. It also seemed like he added words at the end of sentences to grab applause. An orator he is not but at least in comparison with his brother he comes in with a clean slate. Or does he? He talked about Labour grabbing back the mantle of leading on civil liberties. In particular he referred to Labour's disastrous attempt to extend the detention of terrorist suspects without charge from 28 days to 90 days in the wake of 7/7. But guess what? He voted in favour of it. He also decided to come off the fence by describing the Iraq War as wrong. Fair enough you might think. Finally a senior Labour politician admitting fault. But hang on a second. Just a few months ago (in May) he made it clear in an interview with the Guardian that while the weapons inspectors should've been given more time, "what I am not saying is that the war was undertaken for the wrong motives". Well, which is it? You can't have it both ways!

So he might not be Red Ed but perhaps Flip-Flopper Ed? Almost everybody in the Party seems to be in agreement with his speech. The only prominent voice of discontent was that of every Londoner's favourite Bob Crow, the head of the Railway and Maritime Transport Union:
    "Ed Miliband has to decide whose side he is on – the working class on the streets and on the picket lines or the Condems and their corporate supporters. All the signs are that he is already caving in to pressure from the rightwing press and as a consequence he will alienate millions of voters who are right at the sharp end of the cuts programme."
The trade union bosses didn't clap when Ed said nobody should have any truck with "overblown rhetoric about waves of irresponsible strikes", while his brother and other New Labour cabinet ministers remained stony faced and didn't clap when he spoke about the Iraq War. However the media went overboard in discovering that his brother asked Harriet Harman (the deputy Labour leader) why she was clapping when she voted for the War. It was odd that she clapped but the media have to take their share of the blame for playing up the psychodrama between the two brothers. I feel sorry for David. What a torrid week it's been for him. I don't blame him if he leaves politics.
mcgillianaire: (TV)
Yesterday I posted about India's alleged racist visa rules. Not surprisingly, the article sparked a flame war in its comments section. But to spice things up, the author appeared a few hours ago on what is possibly India's most popular English news channel programme, The Newshour with Arnab Goswami on Times Now. I've yet to watch the full exchange between the presenter and the human rights lecturer, but the regular news broadcast showed a brief clip in which the author refuses to continue the discussion and walks off in disgust. He was connected by video link. It transpires that the author got some facts wrong in the article, and this resulted in an unfavourable response to it by Times Now. The channel highlighted the comparison made between India's anti-British Pakistani visa rules and Nazi treatment of Jews:
    "In 1933, Nazi Germany excluded German citizens of Jewish origin from the civil service. In 1942, the United States arrested all US citizens of Japanese origin living on the west coast, and transferred them to prison camps. It makes no difference that India is practising racial discrimination against British citizens rather than its own. India would object very strongly if Australia, Canada, China or the US made it much harder for British citizens of Indian origin (but not Pakistani origin) to obtain a tourist visa."
Two or three wrongs don't make a right. And even if Prof Wintemute did get some facts wrong and even if he won't apologise for these errors whatever they maybe, it is irrelevant. Because the fundamental principle remains true in that every government, British or Indian, must resist the temptation "to abandon human rights principles and impose sweeping restrictions on the innocent" whenever terror strikes.
mcgillianaire: (Statue of Liberty)
In the midst of the hysteria about turning a site into a community center, Anne Barnard offers us a timely reminder via the NY Times:
    "...what the two mosques have in common [...] is that both have existed for decades, largely unnoticed, blocks from the World Trade Center site. Masjid Manhattan, on Warren Street, four blocks from ground zero, was founded in 1970. Masjid al-Farah, formerly on Mercer Street, moved to its present location on West Broadway, about 12 blocks from ground zero, in 1985."
9/11 was the world's worst terrorist atrocity and a lot of Americans are still angry about it, but the opposition to the community center goes against everything the American constitution stands for. Which ironically is what many of the protesters use to defend antiquated gun laws and environmentally unsustainable lifestyles. Frankly, it's a response comparing favourably only with what is de rigueur in the third-world.
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)
James Fergusson, author of A Million Bullets and Taliban, argues that British soldiers should not be dying for the rights of Afghan women:
    "The west views gender equality as an absolute human right and so we should. But no country, certainly not Britain, has yet managed unequivocally to establish that right at home; and we tend to forget both how recent our progress towards it is, as well as how hard the struggle has been. Full women's suffrage was not granted in Britain until 1928. With such a track record, is it not presumptuous to insist that a proud, patriarchal society that has survived for 3,000 years should now instantly mirror us? That, in effect, is what well-meaning western experts did when they helped to draw up Afghanistan's 2003 constitution. The stipulation that at least 25% of MPs should be women is plain hypocritical. Even after the 2010 election in Britain – a parliamentary democracy that has had rather longer to mature than Afghanistan's – women MPs account for just 22% of the total." [READ MORE]
I agree with a lot of what he says and think attention should be paid to recognising the Taliban as part of the solution, whether we like it or not. Unfortunately our blinkered black-and-white view has largely prevented this from happening until now. And although some baby steps have been taken in this direction a lot remains to be done. Improving the rights of women is important but not essential to our intervention.
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)
It is exactly 63 years since the Raj ended and exactly 23 years since my family set foot in Muscat for the first time. Fittingly perhaps I have chosen today to return to the land of my birth. And to mark the former occasion, something different, naturally from The Guardian:
    "India's racist visa rule is an irrational response to the tragic attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 [...] Under UK, European and international human rights law, suspicion of potential to commit a crime must be based on an individual's own conduct, not on their racial or ethnic origin. India should apply the same security check to all British citizens applying for visas. If the check reveals no cause for concern, the visa should be issued. Being born in Pakistan, or the child of a person born in Pakistan, is not a crime, nor evidence of predisposition to commit terrorist acts in India."
Robert Wintemute is Professor of Human Rights Law at King's College. 171 comments and counting. No surprise there, really! Jai Hind?
mcgillianaire: (Default)
A major study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) has found that black students are more than 3-times less likely to be awarded a 1st-class university degree than white students. Can somebody please hide its contents from Nick Griffin and his ilk!

Britain's oldest cinema, the 100-year-old Phoenix in North London is getting a £1 million makeover and will reopen in September.

Sticking with London, the UK-based chain Selfridges has been named the world's best department store, fighting off competition from NYC's Bloomingdales and Hong Kong's Lane Crawford, by the International Group of Department Stores and the International Association of Department Stores. Less known is that it was founded by a Wisconsin-born American-magnate unimpressed with British stores in 1909!

Sources close to Inayat Bunglawala, the founder and chair of Muslims4UK (a group to celebrate the UK's democratic traditions and promote active Muslim engagement), tell him that the Home Office is considering issuing two exclusion orders; one against Jamaican-born Muslim preacher Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips and the other against Mumbai-based Zakir Naik. Bunglawala argues that if we really care about freedom of speech, we should let these Muslim speakers in and let the law take its course. He includes a good quote from a spokesman for Nick Clegg from a couple years ago over the controversial proposed visit of Qatar-based Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi:
    "Many of Yusuf al-Qaradawi's views are repugnant; the job of a truly liberal society is to defeat such abhorrent ideas by arguing forcefully and persuasively against them. Giving al-Qaradawi the publicity that a ban would create would ultimately serve only to legitimise his views in the eyes of extremists. If he is allowed into this country he is of course subject to our laws; and if he were to break the law in any way including inciting or glorifying terrorism he should obviously be prosecuted."
I couldn't have put it better myself. I hope the Lib Dems put their foot down on this issue and ensure the two men are not excluded.

Meanwhile viewing figures from both sides of the Atlantic during last weekend's World Cup fixture between England and USA appear fairly similar. 17 million people watched the game in American homes, more than the number who watched the first four games of the NBA Finals! It's all the more impressive given that the NBA viewing figures itself were up on previous years. Game 5 of the NBA Finals drew in an audience of 18.2 million. And though we don't know what the total viewing figures were because of those who watched it in pubs and bars, it's worth pointing out that over 100 million Americans watched this year's Super Bowl. Closer to home, it appears a similar number of people watched it on the telly. There was a maximum of nearly 20 million as full-time approached, but the real talking point was felt by the 1.5 million watching it on HD, who missed Gerrard's goal as ITV broke into an ad-break. Plebs like myself who were watching it on Freeview were not affected. ITVs coverage of the World Cup has generally been poor and this major blunder has not won them any friends. And from what I gather about their coverage of Formula One events in the past, this isn't entirely surprising either! Thank goodness for the BBC!!

Finally, Jeffrey Archer has been approached by Bollywood producers intent on making blockbusters of his short stories. Not a rupee more...
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
The alleged sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks has been convicted for murder and waging war with India. The Pakistani national is likely to be sentenced to death. Although executions are legal in India, they are rarely used. In 1983, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the death penalty should be imposed only in "the rarest of rare cases". The last execution was in 2004 when a security guard was hanged in Kolkata for the rape and murder of a schoolgirl fourteen years earlier. However, it appears the last trained hangman in India has retired, leaving the country with no executioners! And even if Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab is sentenced to death, it will merely result in "a lengthy series of appeals and an indeterminate wait on death row". Ninety-five countries have abolished capital punishment. But what do you think? Are there exceptional crimes that deserve punishment beyond a lifetime of incarceration? Share your thoughts!

[Poll #1559687]
mcgillianaire: (Lib Dems)

One of the Lib Dem policies being pounced upon by the opposition, particularly the Tories, is the supposed amnesty on illegal immigrants. The moment I read about it I thought hang on a second, isn't this something Boris Johnson, the Tory Mayor of London, supports as well? Lo and behold, there's an article about it in today's Guardian. Nicholas Blincoe, a former advisor to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg writes: "Frankly, there are times when you thank God for Boris Johnson. During the mayoral campaign in April 2008, Johnson backed a campaign known as "Strangers into Citizens", an initiative that aims to offer a one-off route into citizenship for the half million-plus migrants currently trapped in the black economy." So there we go, it's not just some wacky Lib Dem policy. In fact, Blincoe describes not only how difficult it was to initially convince Clegg of the idea but how, to the disappointment of the Strangers into Citizens campaign, the Lib Dems opted only to regularise those migrants who'd been in the UK for ten years, rather than the four years suggested by the campaign and accepted by the London mayor! As Blincoe points out, "On this issue, Johnson is outflanking the liberals – and proving that the Tories are capable of seeing sense on immigration." Ah, but you ask what difference does Johnson's support make? Not much except that anywhere between 57% and 75% of the approximately 725,000 illegal immigrants in the UK live in London. That's a sizeable number of people whose decriminalised immigration status and subsequent re-integration could make a significant difference to British society as a whole. But is anybody listening?
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
It's a victory for civil liberties but it's a sad indictment of the state of affairs in this country, that but-for the intervention of the Strasbourg court, we would certainly be living in an elected dictatorship. Stop-and-search powers, enacted under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, have been abused by British police, particularly in London. This case involved two people who were detained by police outside the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition in London Docklands in 2003. One of the claimants was detained for about twenty minutes as he was cycling to join a protest outside the arms fair. The other claimant, a journalist from London, had come to film the protests and was detained for what she felt was about thirty minutes, though police records claimed it was just five minutes. The Strasbourg court were not impressed and said the pair's rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to respect for a private and family's life) had been violated. This was because stop-and-search powers were "not sufficiently circumscribed" and there were not "adequate legal safeguards against abuse". It also concluded that "the risks of the discriminatory use of the powers" were "a very real consideration". The pair were awarded £30,400 ($49,400) to cover legal costs.

Naturally the British government are disappointed with the result and the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, has said the government will appeal against the decision. The police are also disappointed and according to Chief Constable Craig Mackay of the Associaion of Chief Police Officers, officers will continue using the powers while the appeal was pending. Though perhaps most disappointingly of all is the fact, as pointed out by Policing and Security Minister David Hanson, that the government had won all previous challenges in the UK courts. This included a High Court ruling in 2003, subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, that the powers, and any consequent violation of human rights, was proportionate under the European Convention on Human Rights and justified in the light of the threat of terrorism. For the sake of the future of civil liberties in this country and a potential ejection out of the EU* (if the Eurosceptics had their way!), let's hope this was just a minor blip on the part of our highly esteemed and liberty-friendly judiciary.

* IMPORTANT NOTE: Many Brits often complain that decisions like these illustrate the deplorable extent to which the UK has had its powers usurped by the EU. But it is worth remembering that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg that decided the above case, has absolutely no connection with the European Union. It is in fact an institution belonging to the Council of Europe, of which the UK is a member along with forty-six other countries, including Russia, Armenia and Norway who are not members of the EU. The main court of the EU is the European Court of Justice (ECJ) located in Luxembourg. Its role is to decide on matters affecting EU Law, (ie: disputes between Member States or involving other legal entities only within Member States). The ECJ does not concern itself with human rights issues, which is the sole purview of the ECtHR. I wonder how many people are actually aware of this.
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
Last June I made a post about a landmark decision by the Court of Appeal that created English legal history by allowing a criminal trial to be heard by a judge alone. That trial, involving four men accused of armed robbery at a cash depot at London's Heathrow Airport in 2004, began yesterday at the Royal Courts of Justice. As I wrote back then, the origins of jury trials in England date back to the 12th century, so this is a pretty significant development to our criminal justice system. Let's see what happens...
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Since August last year I have made three trips to India (via Bahrain, Dubai and Mumbai) and two trips to Oman (via Bahrain and Doha). I started each journey from four different airports (Heathrow Terminal's 3 & 4, Gatwick, Muscat and Chennai). In all those journeys the thing that stood out the most was the sharp contrast in security checks in each airport. It stood out for three main reasons.

Firstly, London's two biggest airports had been in a heightened state of alert since 9/11, 7/7 and particularly 10/8 (The August 2006 Transatlantic Aircraft Plot). Secondly, India had been victim to several terrorist attacks in recent years and were in the midst of an intelligence crisis involving a potential conspirator in the Mumbai Attacks of November 2008, who had allegedly made several trips to India, including one to Mumbai days before the attack. And thirdly, that the so-called police-state dictatorships of the Middle East had a more than passing interest in the current climate of the global terrorist threat and significantly, its implications on their security.

You'd think that most, if not all the airports I flew through would have had a fairly standardised (ie, stringent and thorough) system of security checks. Wrong. The gulf in security particularly that for hand-luggage, between the London airports and their Middle Eastern and Indian counterparts struck me as ironic. Here was a liberal democracy inconveniencing and invading the privacy of every passenger in the name of security, while in the authoritarian East there was a comparatively negligent and indifferent attitude to security.

In London, pat downs were performed on every single passenger, regardless of whether the metal checker detected anything or not. Rarely was one allowed to walk through the detector with their shoes and belt on. All liquids/sprays had to be in 100ml (or less) containers and scanned separately by the X-ray machine. Laptops and jacket-like clothings also had to be taken off/out and scanned separately by the X-ray machine. And following the alleged incident on Christmas Day, the authorities now want to rush in the body scanners. Civil liberty campaigners have challenged the government on whether the scans will contravene our child pornography laws.

In comparison, the security in the Middle East and India was almost non-existent. Few pat downs, hardly any of them as thorough as the ones in London. If the metal detector beeped and the security area was not teeming with passengers, the security guy would perform a token check with a handheld detector, but most of the time they seemed uninterested. None of the airports necessitated liquids/sprays to be held in transparent ziploc bags and not once did I see any container above 100ml disposed of. On every transit journey via Bahrain, Doha and Dubai, I was able to keep the 500ml+ bottle of water with me that I had picked up in either Mucat, Chennai or London Duty Free. And until Heathrow nabbed my 150ml deodorant on my latest trip last month, not even London's airports detected its illegitimate passage across the world and back in twelve separate journeys between August and November.

Unfortunately, I'm still not sure how strongly I feel about airport security. On the one hand I want air travel to be safe, especially as my family, friends and I frequently use it. On the other hand, I don't feel true to my liberal ideals by accepting these erosions into our personal spaces and civil liberties for the sake of protecting air travel. I'm not even sure the security in London's airports are as effective as they are made out to be necessary, especially when one considers that the more relaxed security regime in the Middle East and India has not resulted in any incident till date. Yet I get the distinct impression that the halcyon era of stress-free air travel has disappeared forever. Each new attack will erode the few existing liberties that remain and it could have a huge impact on global travel.
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
Law in Action is back for a new series on BBC Radio 4. In the first episode, Clive Coleman investigates the issues surrounding the age of criminal responsibility. Unlike most European countries, the age at which a child in the United Kingdom can be prosecuted and convicted of a criminal offence is significantly lower. It's 8 in Scotland and 10 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Compare that with 14 in Germany, 15 in Scandinavia, 16 in Portugal & Spain, 17 in France and 18 in Belgium. Elsewhere it's 10 in Australia, 12 in Canada and 14 in New Zealand. In the US it varies. It's 6 in North Carolina, 7 in most states and 10 for federal crimes.

Last year there were 11,000+ prosecutions in the 10-13 age group and 107,000 in the 14-17 age group in England & Wales.

[Poll #1417007]
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
Last November, 80 Stoke City football fans were rounded up by Greater Manchester Police under Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006. Their crime? A belief that they may cause trouble later. The fans were on their way to watch their team play Manchester United when they stopped at the Railway Inn in Irlam. Although there was no complaint from the landlord of the pub, the officers surrounded the fans and aggressively ordered them onto police buses and drove them back to Stoke. Some fans had not even traveled from Stoke. The fans were falsely imprisoned for four hours during which they were not allowed to take lavatory breaks.
    "Deprived of toilet facilities on the coach, the supporters were instructed to urinate into cups, which spilled over the floor of the bus so that they had to sit with urine sloshing around their feet for the 40-mile journey back."
They also missed their football match. One of the fans made a complaint and his case was taken up by the Football Supporters' Federation and Liberty for judicial review. The courts held the police had acted unlawfully and awarded damages of £2,750 to the claimant. About twenty further complaints are outstanding and are expected to result in similar payments. It has also emerged that a similar operation carried out by South Yorkshire Police in early December also resulted in Plymouth Argyle football fans being prevented from legitimately attending a match at Doncaster. The fans were escorted halfway across the country to Plymouth, at great expense, using police cars and helicopters from several different forces. The fans are still negotiating compensation with the police.

These incidents highlight the abuse of the new Section 27 powers which allow police to:
    "Direct individuals to leave a locality. This is where an individual's presence is likely to cause or contribute to the occurrence, repetition or continuance of alcohol-related crime or disorder in a locality and it is necessary to remove the individual from the locality for the purpose of removing or reducing the likelihood of there being such crime or disorder in the locality."
However to invoke Section 27 the officers must have a good reason (ie a complaint from the landlord or evidence of drunken behaviour). Moreover there is no requirement to sign Section 27 forms which the Stoke City fans were forced to do under threat of arrest and the powers only apply to individuals, not large groups. The court's decision is a positive outcome for all football fans.
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)
We all know politicians make a living out of U-turns. Tune in for about a minute at 3:45 and enjoy. And you realise just how removed the MPs are from the general public. This episode of Have I Got News For You was originally broadcast on 15 May and is on the iPlayer.


mcgillianaire: (Default)

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