‘Zombie parliament:’ British MPs set for 223 days off work in 2014

The British House of Commons will sit for just 142 days this year, that’s 223 days off. During their time away from the parliament MPs claim they are working hard in their constituencies but this is not always the case.

 

MPs have just started a 19 day early summer holiday, right after they had an 18 day Easter break, RT’s Sara Firth reports. They’ll then sit for seven weeks before a six week fully paid summer holiday. And if that’s not enough they get a month off in the autumn for party conferences. Continue reading “‘Zombie parliament:’ British MPs set for 223 days off work in 2014”

UK’s 5 wealthiest families worth more than poorest 20 percent

Published time: March 17, 2014 11:22 

Reuters / Luke MacGregor

Reuters / Luke MacGregor

The combined fortunes of Britain’s five richest families are worth more than the poorest 20 percent of the population, says an Oxfam report. The organization has appealed to the government to take action over the UK’s widening wealth gap.

In a report published on Monday entitled “A Tale of Two Britains,” the charity revealed the scope of the UK’s wealth divide. It calculated that Britain’s five richest families have a fortune of £28.2 billion ($46.9 billion), more than the £28.1 billion ($46.7 billion) of the poorest 20 percent of the UK population. The study also said that over the past two decades the richest 0.1 percent of the population has seen its wealth grow almost four times faster than the 90 percent of population who are considered well-off.

In real terms in means the rich have seen their income rise by £24,000 ($40,000) every year.

The authors of the study said the new figures were “deeply worrying” and indicative of an “economic failure” on the part of the UK government.

“Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, while millions of families are struggling to make ends meet,” said Bill Phillips, Oxfam’s director of campaigns and policy in a statement.
Phillips said the current system had led to a “vicious circle” where the rules are constantly being re-written in favor of the super wealthy.

“It’s deeply worrying that these extreme levels of wealth inequality exist in Britain today, where just a handful of people have more money than millions struggling to survive on the breadline,” writes the study.

The report has been released ahead of this week’s UK Budget and Oxfam has urged Chancellor George Osborne to take measure to tackle the rising inequality in Britain. The report calls on the government to take further measures to tackle companies and individuals who evade taxes.

Britain's Duke of Westminster Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor.(AFP Photo / Toby Melville)

Britain’s Duke of Westminster Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor.(AFP Photo / Toby Melville)

Top five

Topping the list of Britain’s richest is the Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor who has a fortune of £7.9 billion ($13 billion), according to Forbes. The Duke owns thousands of acres of real estate, including 190 acres in Belgravia, an area adjacent to Buckingham Palace and one of London’s most expensive neighborhoods.

Second on the list are real estate moguls David and Simon Reuben, with a combined wealth of $11.5 billion. The Hinduja brothers Srichand and Gopichand come in third place with a fortune of $10 billion. Bringing up the rear with respective fortunes of $6.9 billion and $5.5 billion, are Charles the 8th Earl of Cadogan, and reclusive billionaire Michael Ashley.

Oxfam published a similar report in January showing that the world’s 85 wealthiest people have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people on the planet – half the Earth’s population.

Continue reading “UK’s 5 wealthiest families worth more than poorest 20 percent”

LA air traffic meltdown: System simply ‘RAN OUT OF MEMORY’

Maybe a reboot will fix it. Maybe a reboot will fix it. Maybe a reboot will fix it. Ma-

By Jasper Hamill

Posted in CIO, 12th May 2014 13:34 GMT

A computer crash that caused the collapse of a $2.4bn air traffic control system may have been caused by a simple lack of memory, insiders close to the cock-up alleged today.

Hundreds of flights were delayed two weeks ago after the air traffic control system that manages the airspace around Los Angeles’ LAX airport went titsup as a U-2 spy plane sped overhead. Continue reading “LA air traffic meltdown: System simply ‘RAN OUT OF MEMORY’”

Scandal of experts who rule on NHS statins but get paid by drugs firms

MOST of the experts who are set to recommend the widespread use of statins next month are in the pay of the drug ­companies that manufacture them.

Published: Sun, March 9, 2014

        

Dr Anthony Wierzbicki Chairman of statin panel has links to drug firms including PfizerDr Anthony Wierzbicki: Chairman of statin panel has links to drug firms including Pfizer [COLLECT]

Any suggestion that medics or officials stand to personally profit from decisions about our care will rightly worry patients  Andrew Gwynne, Shadow Health Minister

The specialists sit on the Government health watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).Nice is expected to issue new national advice saying statins, now prescribed to about seven million people a year, should be offered to at least one in four adults.

The move has been criticised by many doctors who say that for many low-risk patients the benefits of statins do not outweigh poss­ible side effects including diabetes, impotence, cataracts, muscle pains, mental impairment, fatigue and liver dysfunction. Continue reading “Scandal of experts who rule on NHS statins but get paid by drugs firms”

Bitcoin exchange CEO found dead in Singapore

Autumn Radtke, 28, was CEO of First Meta

Elizabeth Weise, USATODAY     4:40 p.m. EST March 5, 2014
The American CEO of a Bitcoin and virtual currency exchange was found dead in her Singapore apartment late last month, multiple sources report.

Autumn Radtke, 28, was CEO of First Meta, a virtual currency exchange based in Singapore.The company allowed users to buy and sell virtual currencies, as well as exchange national currencies for virtual currencies and virtual currencies for national currencies, according to Forbes.

On the website Quora, Radtke described her company as a virtual currency exchange that takes “virtual currencies and pay out real $ via paypal.” Continue reading “Bitcoin exchange CEO found dead in Singapore”

Britain opposes curb on Russian trade over Ukraine crisis – BBC says

Source: Reuters – Mon, 3 Mar 2014 09:50 PM

David Cameron
David Cameron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Author: Reuters

By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) – Britain opposes trade sanctions on Russia and does not want to shut London’s financial capital to Russians in response to the Kremlin’s intervention in Ukraine, the BBC reported, citing a document which was inadvertently shown to a photographer.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned President Vladimir Putin that Russia will have to pay ‘significant costs’ unless the Kremlin changes course on Ukraine whose Crimea region is now controlled by Russian forces.

But an official document which was photographed as a senior official carried it into a meeting in Cameron’s Downing Street residence on Monday showed Britain may oppose sanctions that might undermine London’s reputation as a haven for Russian capital. Continue reading “Britain opposes curb on Russian trade over Ukraine crisis – BBC says”

Penguins given ‘happy pills’ in soaking Britain

 

07    Feb   2014
London (AFP)

After weeks of rain and wind, miserable penguins at a marine centre in England are being fed anti-depressants to cheer them up.

The 12 Humboldt penguins at the Sealife Centre in Scarborough, northeast England, were showing signs of stress as they shivered through one of the wettest winters on record. Continue reading “Penguins given ‘happy pills’ in soaking Britain”

Financial world shaken by 4 bankers’ apparent suicides in a week

Published time: February 03, 2014 12:16                                                                             

Mike Dueker (Still from YouTube video/Russell Investments)Mike Dueker (Still from YouTube video/Russell Investments)

The apparent suicide death of the chief economist of a US investment house brings the number of financial workers who have died allegedly by their own hand to four in the last week. Continue reading “Financial world shaken by 4 bankers’ apparent suicides in a week”

Water canon lined up in case of ‘austerity riots’

Water cannon set to be deployed across Britain amid fears of more riots

Senior officers say likelihood of future protests against the Government mean they could need permission to deploy water cannon in mainland Britain for the first time

Police warn they expect water cannon will be required because “the ongoing and potential future austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest”.

Police warn they expect water cannon will be required because “the ongoing and potential future austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest”. Photo: Getty Images

 

David Barrett

By , Home Affairs Correspondent

7:30PM GMT 22 Jan 2014

Concerns about future violent protests over the Government’s austerity measures have prompted chief constables to ask Theresa May, the Home Secretary, for authorisation to deploy water cannon in mainland Britain for the first time.

Chief constables have concluded the machines would be a valuable addition to their armoury after carrying out detailed research, including a scientific analysis of injuries that members of the public can suffer when hit by the powerful water jets.

Documents disclosed by the Association of Chief Police Officers show plans have been drawn up for the cannon to be used against protesters and rioters in the future. Continue reading “Water canon lined up in case of ‘austerity riots’”

Is a mini ice age on the way? Scientists warn the Sun has ‘gone to sleep’ and say it could cause temperatures to plunge

  • 2013 was due to be year of the ‘solar maximum’
  • Researchers say solar activity is at a fraction of what they expect
  • Conditions ‘very similar’ a time in 1645 when a mini ice age hit

By Mark Prigg

UPDATED:          19:13 EST, 17 January 2014

 

The Sun’s activity is at its lowest for 100 years, scientists have warned.

They say the conditions are eerily similar to those before the Maunder Minimum, a time in 1645 when a mini ice age hit, Freezing London’s River Thames.

Researcher believe the solar lull could cause major changes, and say there is a 20% chance it could lead to ‘major changes’ in temperatures.

 

Sunspot numbers are well below their values from 2011, and strong solar flares have been infrequent, as this image shows - despite Nasa forecasting major solar storms

Sunspot numbers are well below their values from 2011, and strong solar flares have been infrequent, as this image shows – despite Nasa forecasting major solar storms Continue reading “Is a mini ice age on the way? Scientists warn the Sun has ‘gone to sleep’ and say it could cause temperatures to plunge”

Goldman Sachs made more money from its investment banking division in 2013 than any point in its 145-year history (except 2007 when the credit crunch hit)

EEV : To my Greek friends: It is time to bring forward legal action against Goldman Sachs for the debt manipulation that magnified your financial hardship.

  • The boost fuelled an average gold-plated payout of £234,000 per worker
  • The bank plans to pay staff even more in light of European bonus laws
  • New rules state bankers can receive bonuses equal to their salary

By Becky Barrow

PUBLISHED:          14:32 EST, 16 January 2014       | UPDATED:          15:13 EST, 16 January 2014

Goldman Sachs made more money from its investment banking division last year than any point in its 145-year history, except 2007 when the financial crisis struck.

The $6billion (£3.6billion) bonanza helped to fuel an average gold-plated payout for its workers of £234,000 each. The average full-time salary in the UK is £27,000.

To add to their good fortune, it emerged Goldman Sachs, yesterday dubbed ‘Sacks of Gold’, plans to pay its workers even more to get round controversial new European bonus laws.

Goldman Sachs (Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein pictured) made more money in its investment banking division in 2013 than in any other year in its history

Goldman Sachs (Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein pictured) made more money in its investment banking division in 2013 than in any other year in its history Continue reading “Goldman Sachs made more money from its investment banking division in 2013 than any point in its 145-year history (except 2007 when the credit crunch hit)”

Free public education that pays for itself? / education securities

– students would commit to paying a fixed percentage of their income (6%) during their prime earning years (35-54 for example) to the university that awarded their degree

– student promises for a given university cohort bundled and sold to investors as “education securities.” Investors would receive a share of the average income for the cohort.

London, UK (January 09, 2014) Education funding, particularly at university level, is tighter than ever under current austerity measures. A new study published by SAGE in the journal Theory & Research in Education proposes a radical new approach that offers affordable higher education to all, and yet avoids additional government spending. Continue reading “Free public education that pays for itself? / education securities”

Arms deals fixer Ziad Takieddine refused entry and returned to France

 

– confessed to paying kick-backs to an aide of the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy

– Claims late Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi paid up to £40m towards Mr Sarkozy’s successful 2007 presidential election bid

Tom Harper

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A controversial fixer for arms deals linked to an alleged corruption scandal that engulfed Nicolas Sarkozy has been refused entry to Britain. Continue reading “Arms deals fixer Ziad Takieddine refused entry and returned to France”

China to become world largest economy in 15 years: research report

 

(Xinhua) 09:18, December 27, 2013

 

LONDON, Dec. 26 — China is expected to overtake the United States in 2028 to become the world’s largest economy, according to a research report released Thursday. Continue reading “China to become world largest economy in 15 years: research report”

The gathering storm: A look back on middle-class Europe’s last carefree Christmas before the onset of World War One

From the following summer, Britain, mainland Europe and a large part of the rest of the world changed for ever

” There are “striking and unsettling parallels”, Emmerson says, with the “geopolitics of the world today”. He does not go there, but try casting today’s China as the impatient, rising Germany of 1913; or today’s America as the already declining Britain of that time; or today’s well-meaning, stumbling European Union as a fracturing Austria-Hungary whose collapse unleashed vicious, nationalist hatreds and rivalries”

John Lichfield

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Wilfred Owen spent a lonely Christmas teaching in Bordeaux. He complained that he had received no Christmas cards from his favourite, former pupils in England.

Raymond Asquith spent Christmas Day with his father, Herbert, at the family home at Easton Gray in Wiltshire, “a typical example of dignified English domestic architecture”.

Sandy Turnbull played inside left for Manchester United on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Turnbull was a leading player in the first great United team, which was beginning to fall apart. United suffered two defeats by Everton that Christmas, 0-1 and 0-5.

Jack Kipling went to the Christmas shows in London with his famous writer father, Rudyard, and then travelled with him to a chateau in France owned by the American railroad lawyer, Chauncey Mitchell Depew II. Continue reading “The gathering storm: A look back on middle-class Europe’s last carefree Christmas before the onset of World War One”

Housing double whammy: A whole generation ‘won’t be able to buy or rent a home’ (U.K.)

Unless we build affordable housing, more and more people will be priced out, say experts

Andrew Grice

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A generation of Britons faces a housing “double whammy” as a growing number of people cannot afford to buy or rent a home, according to a report published today.

The study warns that house prices are set to rocket by 35 per cent by 2020 and that private sector rents are likely to soar by 39 per cent over the same period. It said that the “two broken housing markets” mean an extra 310 working people a day – one every five minutes – turn to the Government for housing benefit.

The average house price in England will rise from £245,879 this year to £331,387 by 2020, according to projections by the respected analysts Oxford Economics. In London, the £452,400 average will rocket to £647,500 – 18 times the average London wage, compared with 16 times now. At the other end of the spectrum, the £146,000 average price in the North-east will rise to £171,400. Continue reading “Housing double whammy: A whole generation ‘won’t be able to buy or rent a home’ (U.K.)”

Cody Wilson created a gun that can be download and built with a 3D printer – is he too dangerous for Britain?

The extreme libertarian is coming to London challenge the global financial system

Paul Peachey

Thursday, 21 November 2013

He speaks of liberty, freedom and helping society’s marginalised. His dedication to civil liberties has brought him a loyal band of followers. Now Cody Wilson, scourge of the campaign to control the proliferation of arms, is coming to London with a new mission: to challenge the global financial system.

Mr Wilson, 25 – named by Wired magazine as one of the world’s 15 most dangerous people after he created a gun that can be download and built with a 3D printer – is promoting a crypto-currency that would operate outside of government control.

 

Continue reading “Cody Wilson created a gun that can be download and built with a 3D printer – is he too dangerous for Britain?”

Ancient humans ‘rampantly interbred’ with Neanderthals and a mystery species in Lord Of The Rings-style world of different creatures

  • Genome  analysis of Neanderthal and human-like group called  Denisovans
  • It reveals  ancient bedfellows may have included  ‘mystery human ancestor’
  • Has been  likened to Lord Of The Rings world of creatures which  interbred

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 17:13 EST, 19  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 09:55 EST, 20 November 2013

Ancient humans rampantly indulged in  interspecies sex in a Lord Of The Rings-type world of different  human  groups, new DNA analysis has revealed.

And our ancient bedfellows appear to have  included a ‘mystery human ancestor’, which has not yet been identified.

Genome analysis from a Neanderthal and  another group of ancient humans, the Denisovans, was presented to a meeting of  the Royal Society in London, and it included ‘snippets’ of  the mystery  DNA  – neither human nor Neanderthal.

It suggests that interbreeding was rampant  and more widespread between the human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more  than 30,000 years ago than previously thought, scientists say.

Researchers compared DNA from Neanderthals (skull, pictured) and another group of ancient humans called Denisovans 

Researchers compared DNA from Neanderthals (skull,  pictured) and another group of ancient humans called Denisovans

Continue reading “Ancient humans ‘rampantly interbred’ with Neanderthals and a mystery species in Lord Of The Rings-style world of different creatures”

Drugs scandal rocks Britain’s troubled ‘ethical’ bank

 

 
 

Britain’s Co-operative Bank, which prides itself on ethical investments, has been plunged deeper into crisis after its former chairman was filmed allegedly seeking to buy drugs.

Former Co-op bank chairman Paul Flowers — a church minister — apologised after allegations were published in the in The Mail on Sunday newspaper involving crystal meth, crack cocaine and ketamine.

The paper alleged that the 63-year-old Methodist minister was caught on camera discussing the purchase of illegal substances.

The paper said the event allegedly occurred just days after Flowers had bungled an appearance before lawmakers on parliament’s Treasury Select Committee to explain the lender’s dire finances.

Continue reading “Drugs scandal rocks Britain’s troubled ‘ethical’ bank”

Anonymous claims Parliament Wi-Fi hack during London protest

 

Cyber assaults ‘slow traffic’ as miscreants slurp email logins

By       Jasper Hamill

Posted in Security, 12th November 2013 16:03 GMT

Anonymous hacktivists have claimed they used laptops to launch cyber attacks against the British government whilst attending a protest in Parliament Square last week, The Register has learned.

The group claimed that over 1,000 masked protesters had gathered in the centre of London last week as part of a worldwide event called the Million Mask March.

But even as the street activists waved banners and banged bongos, a group of hackers said they stood in Parliament Square and attacked the seat of British Parliamentary democracy – using its own Wi-Fi network.

Anonymous hacktivists found the Wi-Fi password by looking at a publicly available website set up during a parliamentary conference. The Register has verified the password is available on the conference website but won’t be linking to the password details, for obvious reasons.

An Anonymous member told us: “This was an easy takeover with a wide range, because most of the credentials were given up online. We took over many pig-bought, taxpayer-iPads [sic] and many machines, including Dell computers.

“It was like taking candy from a baby. Many of the machines were unsecured, with default security options. Our Eastern European brothers also attacked the Parliament website, causing slowness all day.”

Once inside Parliament’s Wi-Fi, the hacktivists said they used Westminster’s own Wi-Fi network to access email servers and were able to download the log-in details of an undisclosed number of users. They also launched a DDoS attack aimed at Parliament.

However, our Anonymous source was keen to stress that the attack was simply aimed at highlighting Parliament’s poor security.

“This is not malicious, it is for lulzcats. People in glass houses should secure themselves better. What if we were bad people? They should know [about the poor security].”

Although we could not confirm Anonymous’ claims that it hacked MPs’ fondleslabs, a government spin doctor confirmed that Parliament had experienced higher levels of traffic than usual during the protests.

“We did experience heavier than usual traffic to our internet site on 5th Nov but our defences were appropriate and the Parliamentary internet site remained available. Neither our secure Parliamentary network nor applications were penetrated by unauthorised users.

“For obvious reasons Parliament does not comment on the measures we take to ensure the security of our network.” ®

Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/12/anonymous_hacked_government_sites_using_parliament_wifi/

Briton Held Over US Government Hacking Claims

Article image

        4:04pm 28th October 2013

A British man has been charged by US authorities over the alleged hacking of government computer systems, including US Army and Nasa networks.

Lauri Love, of Stradishall, England, and his partners allegedly stole information about military service members and other US government employees.

The government says the purpose was “to disrupt the operations and infrastructure” of the federal government, and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars.

Love, 28, was arrested by the National Crime Agency (NCA) on Friday at his home in Stradishall, about 70 miles (112km) north of London.

He is accused of working with two co-conspirators in Australia and one in Sweden, none of whom have been charged.

US prosecutors say the group “stole military data and personal identifying information belonging to servicemen and women”.

The group allegedly placed hidden “shells” or “back doors” within the networks, which allowed them to return at a later date and steal confidential data.

“This arrest is the culmination of close joint working by the NCA, Police Scotland and our international partners,” said Andy Archibald, head of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit.

“Cyber-criminals should be aware that no matter where in the world you commit cyber crime, even from remote places, you can and will be identified and held accountable for your actions.”

Love was charged in New Jersey because he allegedly used a server in Parsippany.

Prosecutors say the group infiltrated the networks of the US Department of Defence’s Missile Defence Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

They say Love also broke into networks belonging to Nasa and the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

 

London to become next offshore yuan trading centre after Hong Kong

    Tuesday, 15 October, 2013 [Updated: 5:32PM]

Reuters in Beijing

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (left) shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai after a signing ceremony in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo: EPA

China will give London-based investors the right to buy up to 80 billion yuan (HK$101.2 billion) worth of mainland stocks, bonds and money market instruments, making it the next offshore yuan trading centre after Hong Kong.

The agreement, announced by Britain and China in a joint statement on Tuesday, falls under the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor plan, or the RQFII.

This is the first time the RQFII has expanded outside Hong Kong to give investors more avenues to invest yuan and more incentives to hold the currency – an outcome desired by China which wants to turn the renminbi into a widely-traded currency some day.

Today we agreed the next big step in making London a major global centre for trading and now investing the Chinese currency
UK Chancellor George Osborne

In return for the RQFII, the British government has agreed to start talks to allow Chinese banks to set up wholesale units in the United Kingdom, the two governments said.

“The renminbi will now have a firmer footprint in the European market,” ANZ analysts said in a note.

“With the increasing presence of Chinese banks in London, the granting of the RQFII license will strengthen and widen the platform for London to develop the offshore RMB (renminbi) bond market.”

Under the agreement, London and Beijing will also allow for the yuan to be traded against sterling directly, as opposed to going through the dollar, thereby markedly reducing transaction costs.

A handful of countries including Singapore, Frankfurt, Taiwan and Kenya are vying for Beijing’s approval to be a designated centre for clearing yuan trades outside of China in the hope of offering what may be a lucrative financial service. But Chinese analysts have said London is a natural choice given it is as a major centre for global currency trades.

Started in 2011 as a way of enticing investors to hold the yuan, the RQFII now has a global quota of 350 billion yuan, of which 134 billion yuan is utilised.

“Today we agreed the next big step in making London a major global centre for trading and now investing the Chinese currency,” said UK Chancellor George Osborne, who is in Beijing.

Tuesday’s agreement comes after Britain and China agreed to set up a currency swap line of up to 200 billion yuan in July in a move aimed at boosting trade and financial stability.

China last week also signed a 300 billion yuan swap agreement with the European Central Bank in the second-largest of such deals to date.

http://www.scmp.com/business/banking-finance/article/1332264/london-become-next-offshore-yuan-trading-centre-after-hong

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London’s ‘beautiful communist bicycles’ attract Chinese students, says Boris Johnson

Mayor Boris Johnson touts London’s 42 universities and says that Chinese students come to the UK to ‘meet the world’

    Monday, 14 October, 2013, 6:02pm

Jeremy Blum jeremy.blum@scmp.com

  • boris1.jpg
Mayor of London Boris Johnson delivers a speech during a visit to Peking University in Beijing. Photo: Reuters

In a high-profile six-day Beijing visit designed to boost trade relations, outspoken London mayor Boris Johnson took the opportunity to hype his city, pointing out that Chinese visitors were attracted to London because of multiculturalism, fine universities and “beautiful communist bicycles”.

“Why is it that we are so lucky, so blessed in London, to have so many Chinese students?” Johnson asked at a Sunday press event in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone, home to one of the Chinese capital’s largest artistic communities. “Is it because of the weather? You’re laughing. Is it because we have so many wonderful French restaurants in London? Is it because we have so many beautiful communist bicycles on the streets of London?

“I’ll tell you what I think it is. It’s because we have more universities in London than any other city on earth – 42 universities in London.”

Johnson’s “beautiful communist bicycles” joke refers to the Barclays Cycle Hire, a public bicycle sharing scheme that Johnson instituted in July 2010 to promote cycling throughout London.

A keen cyclist himself, Johnson may also have meant the joke as a subtle reference to the vast number of bicycles that have always dotted the streets of Beijing. Bicycles have long been a Chinese mainstay, especially for families who cannot afford automobiles, and in the years following the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government widely encouraged bicycles over cars and buses as an efficient and inexpensive means of transportation.

Boris Johnson (far right) and British Chancellor George Osborne (second right) tour Peking University. Photo: AFP

Johnson, who is also a passionate supporter of Chinese investment in the UK, added that Chinese students were flocking to London because of the city’s international image.

“When [Chinese students] look at London, they see the most incredibly diverse, cosmopolitan, multicultural, polychromatic, polymorphous city anywhere in the world,” Johnson said. “As the daughter of a great Chinese businessman explained to me … when you go to America you meet Americans, when you come to London you meet the world.”

Well-known in China for his signature haircut and offbeat way of speaking, Johnson’s visit to Beijing coincides with another trade mission by British Chancellor George Osborne. Both Osborne and Johnson have been named as potential successors to current British Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron, who was harshly criticised by Beijing last year for meeting with the Dalai Lama.

When questioned on Sunday by Sky News interviewer Dermot Murnaghan, Johnson said that his trip to Beijing did not have anything to do with quelling the tension that had resulted from Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama.

“My job as mayor is not to have a foreign policy but to get on and promote the interests of the greatest city on earth, which is what we’re doing,” Johnson said. “There are many interesting foreign policy problems around the world I could get involved in; whether or not that would improve global hopes for a resolution, I have my reservations.”

http://www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1331493/londons-beautiful-communist-bicycles-attract-chinese-students

Things rich people do: have ‘receipt wars’

Two Russian millionaires battle it out to see who can spend more at a night club in London.

Dom perignon
Dom Perignon bottles. (Getty Images/Getty Images)

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Editor’s note: “Things rich people do” is a GlobalPost series on the global 1 percent. See the last installment: Things rich people do: build buildings on top of other buildings.

Ever hear the one about the Russian millionaire who walked into a bar?

He met this other Russian millionaire there and they proceeded to try to one-up each other in terms of what they could purchase and ingest.

The punchline? More than $200,000 in combined bar tabs over the course of three hours.

This apparently really happened in London at a nightclub called Kitsch, when two unnamed Russian millionaires started going head-to-head ordering bottles of Dom Perignon and Cristal, according to news reports.

When the bar closed at 3 a.m., the bills were totaled and one table won by less than $4,000. Folks at that table were reportedly seen jumping up and down, ecstatically waving their bill in the air.

One club-goer told the Daily Mail:

‘It was one of the most bizarre nights I’ve ever seen.

‘These two guys were competing with each other to buy more and more champagne. Each time one would buy five bottles the other would order six, then seven, then eight.’

Between the two, they ordered 84 bottles of Dom Perignon, 55 bottles of Cristal and 44 cans of Red Bull, among other beverages. And, gulp, they didn’t even drink it all.

Meanwhile, Russia has the highest rate of wealth inequality of all the countries in the world. According to the latest Credit Suisse Wealth Report, 110 billionaires lay claim to 35 percent of the country’s wealth.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/131011/russian-millionaires-dom-perignon-cristal-kitsch-nightclub

Component of citrus fruits found to block the formation of kidney cysts

Contact: Tanya Gubbay tanya.gubbay@rhul.ac.uk 01-784-443-552 Royal Holloway, University of London

A new study published today in British Journal of Pharmacology has identified that a component of grapefruit and other citrus fruits, naringenin, successfully blocks the formation of kidney cysts.

Known as polycystic kidney disease, this is an inherited disorder which leads to the loss of kidney function, high blood pressure and the need for dialysis. Few treatment options are currently available.

The team of scientists from Royal Holloway University, St George’s, University of London and Kingston University London used a simple, single-celled amoeba to identify that naringenin regulates the PKD2 protein responsible for polycystic kidney disease and as a result, blocks formation of cysts.

“This discovery provides an important step forward in understanding how polycystic kidney disease may be controlled,” said Professor Robin Williams from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway.

“In the study, we have demonstrated how effective the amoeba Dictyostelium is in the discovery of new treatments and their targets. Having previously applied the same method of testing in our work into epilepsy and bipolar treatments, it is clear that this new approach could help us reduce reliance on animal testing and provide major improvements.”

To test how this discovery could apply in treatments, the team used a mammalian kidney cell-line, and triggered the formation of cysts in these cells. They were then able to block the formation of the cysts by adding naringenin and saw that when levels of the PKD2 protein were reduced in the kidney cells, so was the block in cyst formation, confirming that the effect was connected.

Dr Mark Carew, from the School of Pharmacy and Chemistry at Kingston University, said: “Further investigation is underway to understand the action of naringenin at the molecular level. This work will entail looking at the function of the PKD2 protein as a cell growth regulator.”

“Indeed, this study provides a good example of how chemicals identified in plants can help us develop new drugs for the treatment of disease,” added Professor Debbie Baines from St George’s, University of London.

“Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease affects between 1 in 10 people on dialysis and 1 in 8 with a kidney transplant. Kidney Research UK welcomes this publication that may provide hope for a future new treatment for polycystic kidney disease, alongside its own on-going research focusing on tackling this common genetic kidney disease,” said Elaine Davies, Head of Research Operations at Kidney Research UK.

###

The research was funded by a SWan (SouthWest London Academic Network) research grant.

Print a working paper computer on an $80 inkjet

 

Ink laced with silver nanoparticles could make it a reality, to the joy of hobbyists

“IMAGINE printing out a paper computer and tearing off a corner so someone else can use part of it.” So says Steve Hodges of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK. The idea sounds fantastical, but it could become an everyday event thanks in part to a technique he helped develop.

Hodges, along with Yoshihiro Kawahara and his team at the University of Tokyo, Japan, have found a way to print the fine, silvery lines of electronic circuit boards onto paper. What’s more, they can do it using ordinary inkjet printers, loaded with ink containing silver nanoparticles. Last month Kawahara demonstrated a paper-based moisture sensor at the Ubicomp conference in Zurich, Switzerland.

Kawahara says the idea is perfect for the growing maker movementMovie Camera of inventors and tinkerers. Hobbyists will be able to test circuit designs by simply printing them out and throwing away anything that doesn’t work. That will reduce much of electronics to a craft akin to “sewing or origami”, he says.

Kawahara and Hodges say the idea also fills a gaping void in the capabilities of 3D printers, which can print the casing for a gadget but not the printed circuits that go inside it. Research on 3D printing conductive elements inside structures has not yet reached a level of sophistication for it to be useful.

“Designing a printed circuit board is not a trivial thing at all. So many people talk about 3D printing an iPhone, when all you can actually do is print a few limited components of one,” says Matt Johnson, founder of London firm Bare Conductive, which makes conductive ink for hobbyists. He says there need to be easier ways for people to create circuitry that could lend itself to novel applications such as packaging (see “Ink gets wired for sound“).

The ink used by Kawahara’s team is a silver suspension recently developed by Mitsubishi Chemical in Tokyo. Kawahara tried it out in an $80 inkjet printer and discovered that it worked well on photo-quality paper. The ink needs no heat to release its silver, and the particle size, viscosity and surface tension were just right for it to deposit flat silver conductors onto the paper. To turn these into working circuits, the team avoided soldering – which would have burned through the paper – and instead used a conducting glue to attach components like resistors and capacitors.

The moisture sensor the team has printed is meant for use on plants (see picture). It detects rainfall with one circuit and soil humidity with another, transmitting its readings via a printed Wi-Fi antenna. Hodges has printed paper wiring to connect the switch, LED and battery of a 3D-printed flashlight.

In addition, the team has shown off more complex inkjet-printed circuits, with microprocessors and memory chip connectors. In principle, these could be used to create paper-based computers that would continue to work even when broken into smaller pieces. Jürgen Steimle at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is already developing “redundant” circuit layouts with this capability, including circuitry for touchpad-like devices that work even if one part has been cut out. It raises the prospect of printed devices that people could simply tear to share.

If silver-based inkjet printing can be made affordable, Hodges says it will be a natural follow-on to Bare Conductive’s hand-drawn and paintable circuitry. Kawahara goes further: “In 20 years you really will be able to hit ‘Print’ and make yourself a mobile phone”.

This article appeared in print under the headline “Tear me to share me”

Ink gets wired for sound

Bare Conductive is a London-based start-up that makes conductive ink (see main story). This allows touch-sensitive light switches to be painted on worktops, for example. The firm also makes greeting cards that children can draw on using pens filled with the ink, connecting up batteries to LEDs to make them flash.

Now the firm wants to add audio output to its cards – and future interactive packaging – using a circuit it calls a TouchBoard. The size of a playing card, it features a simple to use Arduino processor and an MP3 chip that plays music, stories and sound effects when someone taps the painted-on, conductive buttons. A Kickstarter campaign to build TouchBoard is about to be launched.

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029374.500-print-a-working-paper-computer-on-an-80-inkjet.html#.Uk7bT8Hn_Vg

Amnesty accuses Turkey of abuse on ‘massive scale’

 

Human rights widely violated in Gezi Park crackdown

02 October, 20:22

(ANSAmed) – ANKARA – Amnesty International released a report Wednesday accusing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government of turning a blind eye to killings, torture, sexual abuse and persecution during the ‘brutal’ crackdown on Gezi Park protestors. The London-based organisation said human rights abuses had occurred ”on a massive scale”. Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s head expert on Turkey, spoke out against ”the wholesale denial of the right to peaceful assembly and violations of the rights to life, liberty and the freedom from torture and ill-treatment”. Hundreds of thousands of youths took part in the large anti-Erdogan protests held in June, demanding more democracy and speaking out against the re-Islamicisation of the country underway. Erdogan’s merciless crackdown had a heavy toll: six dead and 8,000 injured, ten of whom lost their sight after being hit to the head by tear gas canisters or to the face by rubber bullets shot point-blank. One 14-year-old boy is still in a coma, and some 5,000 were arrested. About 1,000 will be charged, according to press reports, some of whom for ”terrorism”. The Islamic prime minister has often lashed out at the peaceful demonstrators, calling them ”vandals” and ”terrorists”. Amnesty noted that little had been done to bring the perpetrators of abuse to justice, while thousands of protestors had instead been arrested and hundreds might have to stand trial simply for organising or taking part in a protest. Moreover, it said, journalists, doctors and lawyers who documented what happened, helped the protestors or stood up for their rights have been arrested, beaten, threatened or harassed. And despite the ”systematic abuse”, the authorities continue to praise the police, with Erdogan even calling the police efforts ”legendary”.

One of the stories Amnesty cited was that of Ethem Sarisuluk, a 22-year-old Alevi worker who was shot in the head on June 1 and died on June 14. The policeman who shot him was charged a month later only for ”manslaughter due to excessive self-defence”. Ethem’s family have said they have been subject to police pressure and intimidation to withdraw the report. Two witnesses have been arrested and Ethem’s father reported to the police for writing a protest slogan on a wall when the boy was dying. Amnesty International said that it had received reports of harassment and sexual assault by the police against those arrested, with several accounts of women threatened with rape.

It cited the cases of two girls who publicly denounced the incidents, but said that it was likely that the number of actual incidents of physical, sexual and verbal abuse was much higher than that reported.(ANSAmed).

http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/politics/2013/10/02/Amnesty-accuses-Turkey-abuse-massive-scale-_9398313.html

 

Saudi Arabian women activists to get back behind the wheel / They will defy ban on driving October 26

23 September, 17:40

 

(ANSAmed) – DUBAI – Saudi women will once again be getting behind the wheel in the ultra-conservative, oil-rich kingdom in a month, in an act of defiance against the law that bans them from driving. The initiative started with the online petition ”Oct 26th, driving for women”, which has collected almost 6,000 signatures – though it is likely that only a fraction of these women will actually get behind the steering wheel of their family’s car.

Many Saudi women hold a driving license issued by other countries and regularly drive abroad, while others ”are enthusiastic about learning to drive, or to teach other” women how to drive, Gulf News was told by Nasima Al Sada, an activist working for women’s rights and a promoter of the petition. ”There is not a single text in the Sharia Islamic law that prevents us (from driving). Any pretexts used to do that are based on inherited customs,” she said, after the same concept was reiterated a few days ago by the head of the Saudi morality police, Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh, to the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat. Religious and academic authorities have previously said they backed women’s right to drive, as the ban has no basis in Muslim holy texts or its jurisprudence. These conclusions, however, have not yet been translated into legal reform. Saudi activists have experience with similar initiatives. In 1990, 47 women were arrested and severely punished for violating the ban on driving, and in 2011 social networks aided the success of the “Women2drivecampaign”, a campaign similar to the one planned for October 26, when a number of women were arrested and at least one sentenced to lashes for disobedience.

The carrying out of the sentence was, however, blocked by King Abdallah and announced via Twitter by one of the royal princesses: a sign that a new mentality is very slowly coming into being. The right to drive has become the symbol of a struggle for full recognition of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, where they are subject to severe restrictions on personal freedoms. they are not allowed to vote, cannot travel without the permission and ”guardianship” of a male family member and are banned from many professions as well as outdoor and competitive sports.

http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/generalnews/2013/09/23/Saudi-Arabian-women-activists-get-back-behind-wheel_9346964.html

Leaked report to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows we may be headed for Global Cooling

Global warming? No, actually we’re cooling, claim scientists

A cold Arctic summer has led to a record increase in the ice cap, leading experts to predict a period of global cooling.

Global warming? No, actually we're cooling, claim scientists

Major climate research centres now accept that there has been a “pause” in global warming since 1997.  Photo: ALAMY

9:55AM BST 08 Sep 2013

There has been a 60 per cent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice compared to this time last year, they equivalent of almost a million square miles.

In a rebound from 2012’s record low an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores, days before the annual re-freeze is even set to begin.

The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year, forcing some ships to change their routes.

A leaked report to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) seen by the Mail on Sunday, has led some scientists to claim that the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century.

If correct, it would contradict computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming. The news comes several years after the BBC predicted that the arctic would be ice-free by 2013.

Despite the original forecasts, major climate research centres now accept that there has been a “pause” in global warming since 1997.

The original predictions led to billions being invested in green measures to combat the effects of climate change.

The change in the predictions has led to UN’s climate change’s body holding a crisis meeting, and the the IPCC was due to report on the situation in October. A pre-summit meeting will be held later this month.

But leaked documents show that governments who fund the IPCC are demanding 1,500 changes to the Fifth Assessment Report – a three-volume study issued every six or seven years – as they claim its current draft does not properly explain the pause.

The extent to which temperatures will rise with carbon dioxide levels, as well as how much of the warming over the past 150 year, a total of 0.8C, is down to human greenhouse gas emissions are key issues.

The IPCC says it is “95 per cent confident” that global warming has been caused by humans – up from 90 per cent in 2007 – according to the draft report.

However, US climate expert Professor Judith Curry has questioned how this can be true as that rather than increasing in confidence, “uncertainty is getting bigger” within the academic community.

Long-term cycles in ocean temperature, she said, suggest the world may be approaching a period similar to that from 1965 to 1975, when there was a clear cooling trend.

At the time some scientists forecast an imminent ice age.

Professor Anastasios Tsonis, of the University of Wisconsin, said: ‘We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped.”

The IPCC is said to maintain that their climate change models suggest a pause of 15 years can be expected. Other experts agree that natural cycles cannot explain all of the recorded warming.

Artificial intelligence ‘will take the place of humans within five years’

 

Salespeople, call centre staff and customer service personnel could all be replaced by computers within the next few years, claims one technology entrepreneur.

A.I.: Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law

Steven Spielberg’s 2001 film Artificial Intelligence (AI) depicts a future where robots have become eerily human.
 

By Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor

4:40PM BST 29 Aug 2013

Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) specialist Dmitry Aksenov has been working on building computers that “think like human beings” since he was 10 years old. “It is my passion,” he said.

Mr Aksenov, now 21 years old, founded technology company London Brand Management in 2011. The company provides an AI service for big brands who want to outsource customer or staff interactions to computers. Customers send questions in to LBM’s system (nicknamed “The Brain” by developers) via email or text and it responds within five seconds.

This technology is currently being used by BMW to field questions about its new electric car, the i3. BMW UK marketing director Chris Brownridge has found the system uncannily human in its responses. “BMW I Genius is capable of understanding each question and responding accurately every time as if you were talking to an expert from the company,” he said. “The system operates around the clock, allowing the consumer to ask any question relating to the “i” cars but without the hassle of having to pick up the phone or go into a dealership.”

Thousands of users have already tried the service. “The only thing that gives away the fact they are talking to a computer is that it responds so fast,” said Mr Aksenov. “No real person could receive, read and respond to a message in three seconds.”

“It not only reads the keywords and understands the kind of information you are trying to learn; it also interprets context, sentiment, and can even understand humour. It also remembers and learns as you talk to it, so it’s capable of having a proper conversation.”

This new technology represents a huge step forward in service automation, he claimed. LBM’s system is cloud-based, which means it can be accessed from anywhere (like Gmail or Facebook). It can deal with thousands of enquiries simultaneously, and its database has an unlimited memory capacity.

The Brain is equivalent to having thousands of call centre staff or salespeople, he said. “Except that unlike people, with our limited brain capacity, AI remembers everything and needs no downtime.”

The company is currently focused on replacing traditional sales and marketing roles but is also moving into the customer care and call centre space. New projects for an NHS cancer hospital and a major Japanese electronics company are already under way. “There are applications for this system in hundreds of industries,” he said.

Mr Aksenov provides the technology to brands under licence with a one-off implementation fee to “teach” the system. Unlike hiring humans, however, “AI only has to learn once,” he said.

“Within five years we will have a system that truly knows more than a human could ever know and is more efficient at delivering information,” he said. “It will replace many of the boring jobs that are currently done by humans. Unfortunately, this may take some jobs from the economy by replacing human beings with a machine. But it is the future.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/technology/10274420/Artificial-intelligence-will-take-the-place-of-humans-within-five-years.html

Muslim Brotherhood leader Gomaa Amin is in hiding in London

The new spiritual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is living in hiding in London in fear of state-sponsored assassination, it can be disclosed.

 

Mohammed Badie, 70, the Muslim Brotherhood's previous spiritual leader, was arrested last Tuesday morning in Cairo.

Mohammed Badie, 70, the Muslim Brotherhood’s previous spiritual leader, was arrested last Tuesday morning in Cairo. Photo: REUTERS

By , and Edward Malnick

9:00PM BST 24 Aug 2013

Gomaa Amin is understood to have been made head of the Islamist organisation last week following the arrest of his predecessor in Cairo by Egypt’s military rulers.

Mr Amin, 79, had flown to London about two months ago for medical treatment and as a result escaped detention when the army seized power in a bloody coup.

He is now residing at an undisclosed address from which he is trying to orchestrate the Muslim Brotherhood’s response to the coup.

The presence of Mr Amin in London is a potential headache for British authorities who may be obliged to provide protection for such a senior and controversial figure.

The Muslim Brotherhood supports a caliphate, a unified Islamic state under Sharia law, and has been accused of fuelling religious tensions in the Middle East, particularly with the Christian minority.

Attacks on Christians in Syria and Egypt are highlighted in a new interview with Lord Sacks, the outgoing Chief Rabbi, who spoke of his grave concern for the religious minority.

“I think this is a human tragedy that is going almost unremarked,” Lord Sacks says in an interview with the Telegraph.

“I don’t know what the name for this is, it is the religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing. We are seeing Christians in Syria in great danger, we are seeing the burning of Coptic churches in Egypt.

“There is a large Coptic population in Egypt and for some years now it has been living in fear. I think sometimes Jews feel very puzzled that Christians do not protest this more vociferously.”

Lord Sacks’s comments – while not directly aimed at the Muslim Brotherhood which describes itself as a non-violent organisation – will turn the spotlight on the Brotherhood’s Egyptian leaders, who appear to be making the UK their base in exile.

There will may be concern that Mr Amin’s residency in London will attract militant Islamists. In the 1980s and 1990s, Britain largely operated an ‘open-door’ policy allowing extremists to live in exile in London to escape persecution from authoritarian regimes in the Arab world.

So-called ‘preachers of hate’ including Abu Qatada, Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Mohammed used London as a base to radicalise young Muslims, who went on to commit or attempt terrorist atrocities both here and abroad.

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood say it is wrong to liken the group to other Islamists which support al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations.

The Muslim Brotherhood, through its political wing the Freedom and Justice Party, has instructed lawyers in London to investigate whether Abdulfattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian general at the head of the army, who deposed Mohammed Morsi, the country’s democratically-elected president, has committed crimes against humanity.

The team of lawyers includes Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, the former director of public prosecutions, and Michael Mansfield QC, who brought the private prosecution against the killers of Stephen Lawrence.

Legal actions may be brought at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague or else through a private prosecution in London.

If successful, Egypt’s new military rulers may face having their assets frozen in the West and even possibly arrest should they try to visit the European Union or other countries signed up to the ICC.

Mr Amin is understood to be heavily involved in bringing the case although lawyers refuse to identify individuals over fears for their safety.

Tayab Ali, a partner at human rights law firm ITN Solicitors who is head of the legal team, said: “It is really dangerous for Muslim Brotherhood members in exile in London.

“Nobody anticipated how extreme General Sisi’s interim government has been. It appears to be trying to exterminate the Muslim Brotherhood and wipe it out. Nobody will argue that the lives of the senior leadership are in danger and that includes those in London.”

There has been confusion over who is running the Muslim Brotherhood since the security crackdown. Mohammed Badie, 70, its previous spiritual leader, was arrested last Tuesday morning in Cairo.

His position appears to have been taken by Mr Amin, a deputy leader almost a decade older. Mr Badie defeated him in elections to the senior position in 2010.

The Muslim Brotherhood has refused to confirm the identity of its new spiritual leader but Mshariq.com, an Arabic news website, reported that an emergency meeting had taken place following Mr Badie’s arrest and Mr Amin given the role. It is not clear if he is an interim leader.

Mona al-Qazzaz, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spokeswoman in the UK, described Mr Amin as a senior leader who had arrived in London earlier in the summer.

She said: “He is one of the senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and he is here in London. He was here for medical checks two months ago.”

Mr Amin, a father of three, has been an official member of the Muslim Brotherhood since 1951 and for many years has been pursued by the Egyptian authorities.

He was jailed for six years between 1965 and 1971 for opposing the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser and was later put on a wanted list following the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981 – part of a mass round up of Muslim Brotherhood leaders – prompting him to live in exile in Saudi Arabia for four years

He was a vocal supporter of the Arab Spring and actively voiced calls for Sunni Muslims, who predominantly support the Muslim Brotherhood, and Shiites to unite against “a single enemy who [is] American Zionist”.

The scale of support for the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK is unclear but it is estimated that between 500 and 1,000 Egyptians living in London voted for the party through ballot at the Egyptian embassy in London. The majority of the 6,000 Egyptian citizens in London voted for alternative parties in the elections last year.

Britain forced Guardian to destroy copy of Snowden material

Source: Reuters – Mon, 19 Aug 2013 10:28 PM

Author: Reuters

 

 

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON, Aug 19 (Reuters) – The editor of the Guardian, a major outlet for revelations based on leaks from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, says the British government threatened legal action against the newspaper unless it either destroyed the classified documents or handed them back to British authorities.

In an article posted on the British newspaper’s website on Monday, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said that a month ago, after the newspaper had published several stories based on Snowden’s material, a British official advised him: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.”

After further talks with the government, Rusbridger said, two “security experts” from Government Communications Headquarters, the British equivalent of the ultra-secretive U.S. National Security Agency, visited the Guardian’s London offices.

In the building’s basement, Rusbridger wrote, government officials watched as computers which contained material provided by Snowden were physically pulverized. “We can call off the black helicopters,” Rusbridger says one of the officials joked.

The Guardian’s decision to publicize the government threat – and the newspaper’s assertion that it can continue reporting on the Snowden revelations from outside of Britain – appears to be the latest step in an escalating battle between the news media and governments over reporting of secret surveillance programs.

On Sunday, British authorities detained for nine hours the domestic partner of Glenn Greenwald, a Guardian writer who met face to face in Hong Kong with Snowden and has written or co-authored many of the newspaper’s stories based on his material.

The Guardian reported, and UK authorities subsequently confirmed, that David Miranda, Greenwald’s Brazilian partner, was detained by British authorities under an anti-terrorism law as he was in transit from Berlin to Brazil and was changing planes at London’s Heathrow Airport.

One U.S. security official told Reuters that one of the main purposes of the British government’s detention and questioning of Miranda was to send a message to recipients of Snowden’s materials, including the Guardian, that the British government was serious about trying to shut down the leaks.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that while the United States did not ask British authorities to detain Miranda, British officials had given the United States a “heads up” about the British government’s plan to question him.

Rusbridger, in his article on the Guardian’s website, said that despite the destruction of the computers in London, he told British officials that due to the nature of “international collaborations” among journalists, it would remain possible for media organizations to “take advantage of the most permissive legal environments.” Henceforth, he said, the Guardian “did not have to do our reporting from London.”

A source familiar with the matter said that this meant British authorities were on notice that the Guardian was likely to continue to report on the Snowden revelations from outside British government jurisdiction.

Rusbridger said that in meetings with British officials before the computers were destroyed, he told them the Guardian could not do its journalistic duty if it gave in to the government’s requests.

In response, he wrote, a government official told him that the newspaper had already achieved the aim of sparking a debate on government surveillance. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

During Miranda’s trip to Berlin, which the Guardian said it had paid for, he visited with Laura Poitras, an independent film-maker who was the first journalist to interact with Snowden. Poitras co-authored stories based on Snowden’s material for the Washington Post and the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Greenwald told the New York Times that Miranda went to Berlin to deliver materials downloaded by Snowden to Poitras and to acquire from Poitras a different set of materials for delivery to Greenwald, who lives with Miranda near Rio de Janeiro.

Greenwald said British authorities seized all electronic media, including data memory sticks, which Miranda was carrying. But Greenwald told the Forbes website that “everything” Miranda had “was heavily encrypted.”

Greenwald did not immediately respond to an email from Reuters requesting comment.

While British authorities confirmed that Miranda had been detained under an anti-terrorism law, they did not further explain their actions. Brazil’s government complained about Miranda’s detention in a statement on Sunday that said the use of the British anti-terrorism law was unjustified.     (Editing by Warren Strobel and Tim Dobbyn)

 

http://www.trust.org/item/20130819222315-enymm/?source=hpbreaking

Newspaper forced to destroy Snowden files, editor jokes it’s ‘so Chinese can’t get them’

Alan Rusbridger reveals ‘one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history’

Tuesday, 20 August, 2013 [Updated: 11:43AM]

Agence France-Presse

  • alan_rusbridger.jpg
Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian. Photo: SCMP

The British government forced the Guardian to destroy files or face a court battle over its publication of US security secrets leaked by Edward Snowden, the paper’s editor claimed on Tuesday.

Alan Rusbridger said he was contacted by “a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” which led to two meetings in which “he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on.”

The paper was in the middle of publishing candid revelations about mass surveillance programmes conducted by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, after former US intelligence operative Snowden handed them thousands of documents.

Writing in Tuesday’s Guardian, Rusbridger claimed authorities told him: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.”

“There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures,” he continued. “The demand was the same: ‘hand the Snowden material back or destroy it…You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more’.”

The editor said the government threatened to use the courts to try and obtain the leaked documents if the paper did not destroy them themselves.

“And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred,” he added.

“With two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents.”

His article came as British authorities faced a furore after they held the partner of a Guardian journalist who worked with Snowden to expose the surveillance programmes for almost nine hours under anti-terror laws.

Rusbridger slammed the detention, and warned “it may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources.”

The latest development in the Snowden saga emerged as British authorities came under pressure on Monday to explain why anti-terrorism powers were used to detain the partner of a reporter who wrote articles about US and British surveillance programmes based on leaks from Edward Snowden.

Brazilian David Miranda, the partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald, was held for nine hours on Sunday at London’s Heathrow Airport where he was in transit from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro. He was released without charge.

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1297981/newspaper-forced-destroy-snowden-files-editor-jokes-its-so-chinese-cant

 

The Zombie Ward: The chilling story of how ‘depressed’ women were put to sleep for months in an NHS hospital room – leaving mental scars that remain 40 years on

  • Women with postnatal depression and  anorexia passed through Royal  Waterloo’s infamous Ward 5
  • They were drugged and subjected to  horrendous levels of ECT
  • Unluckiest were taken to the ‘Narcosis Room’  and put to sleep for weeks

By  Barbara Davies

PUBLISHED: 16:38 EST, 7  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 17:10 EST, 7 August 2013

There are many horrors that Elizabeth Reed  recalls from her time at London’s Royal Waterloo Hospital, but one in particular  lingers in her mind. She describes a small, windowless room at the top of the  red-brick Edwardian building, just lit by a night lamp on a nurse’s desk.

Six beds are jammed together. The deep  breathing of women in a drug-induced sleep. The fetid stench of unwashed  bodies.

‘It was like being buried alive,’ she says.  ‘I was lying there in the dark, hour after hour, and couldn’t move. I wasn’t  aware of my body,  just my head in this darkness. You could hear people  moving around and other people breathing and moaning.’

Disturbing footage of a patient having narcosis treatment 

Treated like guinea pigs: TV footage of a patient having  narcosis treatment

While Elizabeth is one of only a handful of  women prepared to speak out, her story is not unique. Up to 500 women, suffering  from conditions such as postnatal depression and anorexia, passed through the  Royal Waterloo’s infamous Ward 5 before it shut 40 years ago.

Heavily drugged and subjected to horrendous  levels of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and even lobotomies, the unluckiest  were taken to the ‘Narcosis Room’, where they were put to sleep for weeks at a  time.

Almost all teenage girls and women in their  early 20s, they were treated as little more than guinea pigs by controversial  psychiatrist William Sargant as he conducted a bizarre experiment to ‘repattern’  their brains and cure them of depression.

If all this sounds like the stuff of  science-fiction horror, it is no coincidence a new psychological thriller, The  Sleep Room, by clinical psychologist-turned-novelist F. R. Tallis, draws heavily  on Sargant’s scandalous treatments.

But behind the fiction, questions remain  about why the women of Ward 5 were subjected to such cruelty at an NHS hospital.  Two of them, now in their 60s, spoke about their experiences to Femail this  week.

Survivor: Elizabeth Reed 

Survivor: Elizabeth Reed

‘It’s so easy to dismiss us,’ says Elizabeth,  a 63-year-old grandmother and former marketing director from London. ‘It was a  long time ago and we were psychiatric patients. Many of  us were left with  pieces of our memory missing.

‘We were not drooling maniacs, but if you’ve  been put in a sleep room, then your memories are not going to be clear. I lost  huge chunk of my past.’

Officially, the Department of Health says it  no longer has records of Sargant’s work at the Royal Waterloo, affiliated to  London’s St Thomas’s Hospital. However, Elizabeth has a copy of her referral  letter from January 1973, stamped with the ominous words: ‘Admit to Ward 5.’  Notes reveal she was given a ‘course of narcosis’.

She had been diagnosed with ‘obsessional  neurosis’ and, by her own admission, was very ill — depression compounded by a  difficult childhood.

‘But many other women I have spoken to say  they were suffering from milder forms of depression and anxiety,’ she says. ‘The  treatment was completely out of proportion.’

She was admitted to the Royal Waterloo in  spring 1973 when she was 22 and engaged to be married. After arriving on the  22-bed Ward 5, she was sedated and underwent ECT — sometimes every other  day.

‘I can remember the sound of the ECT machine  being wheeled down the corridor and it being switched on and off in other  rooms,’ she says.

‘It was so frightening. First of all, they  injected you and you had an awful feeling of falling backwards into yourself.  After ECT, you didn’t know who you were.’

Eventually, Elizabeth was moved into the  Narcosis Room beside Ward 5 and put into a drug-induced sleep.

‘I  was awake, but couldn’t move or speak. It was torture, lying there for hours in  the darkness’

Women there were occasionally woken to be  taken to the toilet or to be fed. ‘We were like zombies,’ says Elizabeth. ‘I  couldn’t walk. I had to be lifted. Afterwards, they put you back to sleep  again.

‘The worst time was when I started not to be  asleep. I was awake, but couldn’t move or speak. It was torture, lying there for  hours in the darkness.’

Sargant, a founding member of St Thomas’s  department of psychological medicine, who advocated the use of drugs to treat  mental illness, operated his ‘sleep room’ for ten years until 1973.  Four patients are known to have died  there and yet no one stepped in to stop him.

A Cambridge medical graduate, obsessed with  making a name for himself, he used high doses of tranquillisers and administered  ECT up to twice a week on Ward 5 and every other day in the Narcosis  Room.

At the heart of his treatment was his belief  that the brain could be ‘repatterned’ to erase bad memories.

His fame – due to TV and radio interviews and  best-selling books – ensured a steady stream of patients. He was friends with  authors Aldous Huxley and Robert Graves.

Actress Celia Imrie was 14 when she was  treated by Sargant on Ward 5 and given huge doses of drugs and  ECT.

In her 2011 autobiography, The Happy Hoofer,  she recalls sneaking out of bed to peer into the sleep room. She describes  ‘dead-looking women lying on the floor on grey mattresses, silent in a kind of  electrically induced twilight’.

But to this day, she is unsure if she had  treatment in the sleep room because patients were drugged on the ward before  being carried there.

Up to 500 women, suffering from conditions such as postnatal depression and anorexia, passed through the Royal Waterloo's infamous Ward 5 before it shut 40 years ago 

Up to 500 women, suffering from conditions such as  postnatal depression and anorexia, passed through the Royal Waterloo’s infamous  Ward 5 before it shut 40 years ago

‘You went in asleep and you came out asleep.  So maybe I was in the Narcosis Room. I could not possibly know,’ she  says.

The secrecy surrounding Dr Sargant’s work has  even led to claims he was being bankrolled by British intelligence and the CIA.  He certainly had links to the military in World War II, working at Porton Down,  the Ministry of Defence biological and chemical weapons research  base.

But long before he died in 1988, Sargant  destroyed all his records, which might have shed light on his sinister  treatments.

‘It  was impossible to rebel because you  were constantly drugged. It was an unreal  world and I was  frightened and disorientated’

According to Hilary Jameson, who arrived at  the Royal Waterloo in 1970, being admitted to Ward 5 was ‘like falling into the  jaws of hell’.

As a 17-year-old A-level student in Oxford,  she stopped eating after her parents’ divorce, though she insists she was far  from anorexic.

‘People were talking about this marvellous  man in London who could work miracles,’ says the 61-year-old, now a  psychotherapist.

‘He was stern, a tall, cold man with very  dark eyes. He didn’t speak to me. He just told my mother that if I wasn’t  admitted then I’d die.’

Within half an hour of arriving, Hilary was  injected with largactil – a powerful anti-psychotic drug. ‘It  was impossible to rebel because you were constantly drugged,’ she says. ‘It was  an unreal world and I was frightened and disorientated.’

Forced to eat huge amounts of carbohydrates  so that she put on weight, Hilary had an ever-present threat of ‘narcosis’  hanging over her if she did not show signs of improvement. ‘We used to see the  women in the sleep room being taken to the bathroom or to be fed and they were  like ghosts. It made you feel very worried. I couldn’t make sense of what was  going on around us.’

Hilary was forced to undergo ECT and  displayed to medical students by Sargant as he taught them ‘how to deal with  anorexic girls’.

Actress Celia Imrie was 14 when she was treated by Sargant on Ward 5 and given huge doses of drugs and ECT 

Actress Celia Imrie was 14 when she was treated by  Sargant on Ward 5 and given huge doses of drugs and ECT

‘He came across as highly respectable and  authoritative,’ says Hilary. ‘But most patients in Ward 5 were just young girls  who had problems with their families. It was barbaric.’

A leading psychiatric expert, Professor  Malcolm Lader of King’s College, London, recalls how, as a junior doctor,  Sargant showed him his sleep room several times in 1966.

‘To be frank, I was horrified by what I saw,’  he says.

‘The women were really cramped together. It  was dark. It was like twilight. There was a terrible smell of unwashed bodies.

‘It was a fraught procedure to be sedated for  that amount of time. Most importantly, there was no evidence that narcosis had  any effect.

‘He was doling out drugs in large doses that  were way above the recommended maximum dose. I resolved never to send anyone  there.’

Professor Lader also sheds light on why no  one stopped Sargant.

‘He was an over-powering, imperious figure.  He spoke to me as if I must approve and I’m afraid I was too junior and too  cowardly to say I thought the whole thing needed properly  investigating.

‘They wouldn’t get away with it now because  the law has changed. You have to show there is some logic and rationale to what  you are doing.

‘But back then, he would not brook any  opposition. He built up an empire filled with his acolytes.’

There were also rumours, says Professor  Lader, that Sargant was untouchable because he was supported by British  intelligence or the CIA. He was a frequent traveller to the U.S. and wrote in  his autobiography of being entertained at the White House during one of his  trips.

‘He was interested in brainwashing and so was  the CIA. He may have been protected by his contacts.’

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Ward 5 and  Sargant’s sleep room closed when he retired in 1973 — the same year the CIA  officially ended its top-secret mind-control experiments, codenamed Project  MKUltra.

Whatever the truth, the young women from  troubled families made perfect patients for Sargant’s experiments. F. R Tallis,  who researched Sargant for his novel, says: ‘He cherry-picked them. They were  easy targets — alienated from their families and unable to challenge his  authority.’

‘There  was no way back to my old life. I am angry about what I feel I missed out on.  I’ve lost chunks of my memory’

Stephanie Simons, a 78-year-old Sussex  artist, visited Sargant’s private rooms in London’s Harley Street in 1967  suffering from depression. She sheds a more sinister light on the bias towards  women, recalling how he asked her to strip to the waist so he could examine her  before administering anti-depressants.

‘He didn’t ask me to get dressed again,’ she  says. ‘He told me to sit in a chair, naked to the waist, and talked to me for  nearly an hour like that.

‘He was stern and professional, so I didn’t  dare say anything.’ Today, Sargant’s  reputation as a serious psychiatrist is in tatters, but there is still interest  in his mind-control books.

A copy of his brainwashing title Battle Of  The Mind is said to have been found at an Al Qaeda training camp in  Afghanistan.

As for the Royal Waterloo, it closed as a  hospital in 1976 and is now owned by an American university. Sargant’s sleep  room is a student bedsit.

But for the women who fell into his hands,  his legacy lives on. ‘He damaged us,’  says Elizabeth. ‘He destroyed our  potential.’

After being discharged from Ward 5, she was  unable to cope with her career in marketing and took jobs as a supermarket  shelf-stacker and a cleaning lady.

‘It changed me. I lost interest in things,’  she says. ‘There was no way back to my old life. I am angry about what I feel I  missed out on. I’ve lost chunks of my memory. And I can’t lay down new  memories.’

Hilary adds: ‘It dulled me an awful lot. It  knocked the spirit out of me. Taking so many drugs had a bad effect – by the  time I was 26 I had ovarian cysts.’

In Australia and Canada, where Sargant’s  methods were disastrously emulated, dozens of narcosis patients died. Those who  survived were eventually compensated.

Survivors of the Royal Waterloo Hospital have  been told by lawyers that the lack of paperwork and the amount of time that has  passed makes it unlikely they will ever be similarly  compensated. But above all, women like  Elizabeth and Hilary want to be acknowledged. They want to know how Sargant can  have been allowed to get away with such monstrous behaviour.

‘People talk about the sleep room as if it  was something from another world,’ says Elizabeth. ‘But  we’re still alive. We’re still here. We’re still suffering from what he and his  colleagues did to us.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2386477/NHS-Zombie-Ward-How-depressed-women-sleep-months-Londons-Royal-Waterloo-Hospital.html#ixzz2bMKc1H3d Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

What comes up when I type ” White People Shou” – “Black People Shou” – “Mexican People Shou”

Hmmm.  Is it Racism, or Inciting? Yes When I typed Hispanic or Mexican there was no predictive behavior… I myself like everyone who has a good heart 😉

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Warning over ‘epidemic’ of skin allergies from chemical in cosmetics and household products

A chemical found in everyday cosmetics and household cleaning products may be responsible for an “epidemic” of painful skin allergies, doctors have warned.

Some well-known products that contain MI

 

7:00AM BST 07 Jul 2013

The preservative – known as MI – is used in a wide range of shampoos, moisturisers and shower gels as well as make-up and baby wipes.

But dermatologists warn people are being exposed to much higher doses than before, leading to a steep rise in allergies known as contact dermatitis where the skin becomes red and itchy and can sting and blister.

Experts say the chemical is second only to nickel in causing contact allergies. One in 12 adults and one in five children in the UK now have eczema, of which contact dermatitis is one of the most common types.

MI, which is short for methylisothiazolinone, is a preservative which is also found in paint. It is added to products to prevent unwanted growth of bacteria and yeasts.

Well-known products that contain MI found on sale in shops included Nivea body lotion, Wet Ones and Boots men’s face wash.

The substance is safe and non-toxic but European regulations now permit stronger concentrations than previously allowed.

Dr John McFadden, consultant dermatologist at St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London, said: “We are in the midst of an outbreak of allergy to a preservative which we have not seen before in terms of scale in our lifetime.

“Many of our patients have suffered acute dermatitis with redness and swelling of the face. I would ask the cosmetics industry not to wait for legislation but to get on and address the problem before the situation gets worse.”

The chemical was previously mixed with another preservative, Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) in a three-to-one ratio.

But concerns about MCI causing allergies meant some manufacturers started using MI as a single agent. Used alone, it has been included at a much higher concentration.

When the two compounds were used, MI it was found in concentrations of around four parts per million (ppm). But on its own a level of up to 100ppm, a 25-fold increase, is allowed under European regulations introduced in 2005.

Experts say that since its concentration in products increased there has been a serious rise in cases of contact dermatitis, particularly in the last two years. They believe there is a link.

The doctors will present their findings at the British Association of Dermatologists conference in Liverpool this week when they will call for use of the chemical to be re-evaluated.

Already, the European Society of Contact Dermatitis (ESCD) has written to the European Commission calling for an investigation into what levels are safe.

In the letter sent in January, Margarida Gonçalo, the president of the ESCD, said: “This new epidemic of allergic contact dermatitis from isothiazolinones is causing harm to European citizens; urgent action is required.”

Experts say incidents of allergies are occurring faster than they did to methyl­dibromo glutaronitrile, another preservative that was banned from use in cosmetics in 2005 after it was linked to an increase in eczema cases.

They believe the industry is aware of the link to contact allergies and some manufacturers have been quietly removing MI in the last six months.

Dr Ian White, a consultant dermatologist, at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology, said: “Bluntly, I think the European Commission has been negligent over this, they have had warning after warning. If it was food there would have been action.”

Dr Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, the UK cosmetic trade association, said: “Cosmetic products are carefully made to ensure that they withstand normal use and this will generally include preservatives to prevent contamination by microorganisms and so keep the consumer safe.”

He added: “Human safety is the cosmetic industry’s number one priority; in fact it is the law. Every cosmetic product must undergo a rigorous safety assessment before it is placed on the market. The assessment covers all of the ingredients, the final product, how and where the product is to be used, how often and by whom and must be carried out by qualified assessors.”

A spokesman for Boots said the company would carefully assess the findings.

Turkish PM’s treason claims against BBC reporter chills other journalists

Turkish journalists see Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attack on presenter for BBC’s Turkish service as a warning to them all

Protesters take cover from water cannon

Erdogan took offence at the BBC’s coverage of anti-government protests. Photograph: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

Based in London, where she is a presenter for the BBC‘s Turkish service, until last week Selin Girit was little known in her home country. That all changed when the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accused her of treason after her coverage of the recent anti-government protests. The attack struck fear into other journalists, who believe Erdoğan – having consistently blamed the media for fanning the protests – is intent on stifling all dissent.

The campaign against Girit was launched last weekend when the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek, started tweeting aggressively against her. The BBC protested strongly against what it called government intimidation. Erdoğan was clearly unimpressed. Speaking in parliament a day later, he said Girit was “part of a conspiracy against her own country”.

Turkish journalists see the focus on Girit as a warning to them all – an example to cow the rest of them into submission. Serdar Korucu, editor of a major Turkish news outlet, said: “The prime minister is telling us, ‘Be careful what you say and do, or you can easily be next’.”

The Turkish mainstream media have ignored much of the unrest, with CNNTürk airing a documentary on penguins while the central square in Istanbul became the scene of street protests unprecedented in Erdoğan’s 10-year rule.

The public was outraged, and protests were staged in front of Turkish news outlets. Many journalists, however, were not surprised. Fatma Demirelli, managing editor of the English-language daily Today’s Zaman, explained that self-censorship had long become the norm in Turkish newsrooms. “Journalists now have a sort of split brain: on the one hand you see what the news is, but on the other you immediately try to gauge how to report it without stepping on anyone’s foot. Self-censorship has become an automatic reflex.”

Self-censorship is not new in a country that tops the world list of jailers of journalists, with 67 currently incarcerated, according to Reporters Without Borders. But it has drawn more attention during the protests around Gezi Park.

“The significant difference with the current events is that the censorship has affected a different constituency of people – middle-class Turks – rather than other groups whose causes have been more frequently subjected to censorship, such as activists advocating Kurdish rights and politics,” said Andrew Gardner, Turkey researcher for Amnesty International. “Another difference is that the events were widely covered in international media, exposing the self-censorship in mainstream Turkish media further.”

Censorship and control aside, violence and arbitrary threats against reporters trying to cover the events have also increased.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented a large number of cases of attacks on the press during the protests, including physical assault, detentions, threats and the unlawful confiscation of equipment and protective gear. Several journalists, Turkish and foreign, have sustained injuries from beatings and plastic bullets used by the police.

The organisation singled out police brutality as the biggest threat against journalists working in Turkey, saying that reporters were more at risk than they had been in two decades.

After covering a peaceful protest that was violently dispersed with tear gas and water cannon, journalist Alpbugra Bahadir Gültekin was repeatedly beaten by the police. “I told them that I was with the press, but they first insulted and then started beating me. After I fell to the ground, several officers continued to beat and to kick me,” he said.

Having recovered security camera footage of the incident, he brought charges against the police. He does not expect to be heard. “They operate in an atmosphere of impunity. But we have to start somewhere, and bring these incidents to light.”

Demirelli and Korucu agreed that Erdoğan had become a figure beyond criticism. “News stations have started to correct the prime minister’s slips of the tongue unasked, in order to be on the safe side,” Korucu said. “Nobody wants to ask uncomfortable questions, in order to keep him happy. But how can we begin to understand issues of interest if asking is not free any more?”

Demirelli said: “Journalists now always wonder if they really want to investigate, for fear that they might actually find something.”

GCHQ surveillance – the documents

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/interactive/2013/jun/16/gchq-surveillance-the-documents?guni=Network

TOP SECRET STRAP1

Economic crisis [edited for classification]

Sigint continues to provide occasional high-value, sensitive and timely reports.

More strategically, a key focus for the Prime Minister is the G20 heads of state
meeting in London on 2 April. He is determined to use the meeting to make

progress on two objectives:

– to coordinate the global economic recovery to avoid the recession becoming a

depression

– to agree the way fon/vard on strengthening global economic governance and

achieving reform of international financial institutions.

The GCHQ intent is to ensure that intellience relevant to HMG’s desired outcomes

for its residenc of the G20 reaches customers at the ri ht time and in a form which

allows them to make full use of it.

5of7

TOP SECRET STRAP1

TOP SECRET STRAP1

Steering brief: meeting with Foreign Secretary,
Tues 20th January 1700-1730

Desired Outcomes

General approach

TOP SECRET STRAP1

UK TOP SECRET STRAP1

What are ou recent successes?

B|ackBerry at G20

Delivered messages to during the G20 in
near real–time.

Provided timely information to UK ministers.
Enabled discovery of 20 new e-mail selectors.

TOP SECRET STRAP 1

mobile .

Real Life Stats from GPRS work

Diplomatic targets from all nations have an M0
of using smartphones.

Exploited this use at the G20 meetings last year.

TOP SECRET STRAP 1

 

GCHQ intercepted foreign politicians’ communications at G20 summits / phones were monitored and fake internet cafes set up to gather information from allies in London in 2009

Exclusive: phones were monitored and fake internet cafes set up to gather information from allies in London in 2009

 

GCHQ composite

Documents uncovered by the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, reveal surveillance of G20 delegates’ emails and BlackBerrys. Photograph: Guardian

Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.

The revelation comes as Britain prepares to host another summit on Monday – for the G8 nations, all of whom attended the 2009 meetings which were the object of the systematic spying. It is likely to lead to some tension among visiting delegates who will want the prime minister to explain whether they were targets in 2009 and whether the exercise is to be repeated this week.

The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by GCHQ and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency, whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The G20 spying appears to have been organised for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings. Named targets include long-standing allies such as South Africa and Turkey.

There have often been rumours of this kind of espionage at international conferences, but it is highly unusual for hard evidence to confirm it and spell out the detail. The evidence is contained in documents – classified as top secret – which were uncovered by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian. They reveal that during G20 meetings in April and September 2009 GCHQ used what one document calls “ground-breaking intelligence capabilities” to intercept the communications of visiting delegations.

This included:

• Setting up internet cafes where they used an email interception programme and key-logging software to spy on delegates’ use of computers;

• Penetrating the security on delegates’ BlackBerrys to monitor their email messages and phone calls;

• Supplying 45 analysts with a live round-the-clock summary of who was phoning who at the summit;

• Targeting the Turkish finance minister and possibly 15 others in his party;

• Receiving reports from an NSA attempt to eavesdrop on the Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, as his phone calls passed through satellite links to Moscow.

The documents suggest that the operation was sanctioned in principle at a senior level in the government of the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, and that intelligence, including briefings for visiting delegates, was passed to British ministers.

A briefing paper dated 20 January 2009 records advice given by GCHQ officials to their director, Sir Iain Lobban, who was planning to meet the then foreign secretary, David Miliband. The officials summarised Brown’s aims for the meeting of G20 heads of state due to begin on 2 April, which was attempting to deal with the economic aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis. The briefing paper added: “The GCHQ intent is to ensure that intelligence relevant to HMG’s desired outcomes for its presidency of the G20 reaches customers at the right time and in a form which allows them to make full use of it.” Two documents explicitly refer to the intelligence product being passed to “ministers”.

GCHQ ragout 1

  One of the GCHQ documents. Photograph: GuardianAccording to the material seen by the Guardian, GCHQ generated this product by attacking both the computers and the telephones of delegates.

One document refers to a tactic which was “used a lot in recent UK conference, eg G20”. The tactic, which is identified by an internal codeword which the Guardian is not revealing, is defined in an internal glossary as “active collection against an email account that acquires mail messages without removing them from the remote server”. A PowerPoint slide explains that this means “reading people’s email before/as they do”.

The same document also refers to GCHQ, MI6 and others setting up internet cafes which “were able to extract key logging info, providing creds for delegates, meaning we have sustained intelligence options against them even after conference has finished”. This appears to be a reference to acquiring delegates’ online login details.

Another document summarises a sustained campaign to penetrate South African computers, recording that they gained access to the network of their foreign ministry, “investigated phone lines used by High Commission in London” and “retrieved documents including briefings for South African delegates to G20 and G8 meetings”. (South Africa is a member of the G20 group and has observer status at G8 meetings.)

GCHQ Ragout 2                Another excerpt from the GCHQ documents. Photograph: GuardianA detailed report records the efforts of the NSA’s intercept specialists at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire to target and decode encrypted phone calls from London to Moscow which were made by the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, and other Russian delegates.

Other documents record apparently successful efforts to penetrate the security of BlackBerry smartphones: “New converged events capabilities against BlackBerry provided advance copies of G20 briefings to ministers … Diplomatic targets from all nations have an MO of using smartphones. Exploited this use at the G20 meetings last year.”

The operation appears to have run for at least six months. One document records that in March 2009 – the month before the heads of state meeting – GCHQ was working on an official requirement to “deliver a live dynamically updating graph of telephony call records for target G20 delegates … and continuing until G20 (2 April).”

Another document records that when G20 finance ministers met in London in September, GCHQ again took advantage of the occasion to spy on delegates, identifying the Turkish finance minister, Mehmet Simsek, as a target and listing 15 other junior ministers and officials in his delegation as “possible targets”. As with the other G20 spying, there is no suggestion that Simsek and his party were involved in any kind of criminal offence. The document explicitly records a political objective – “to establish Turkey’s position on agreements from the April London summit” and their “willingness (or not) to co-operate with the rest of the G20 nations”.

The September meeting of finance ministers was also the subject of a new technique to provide a live report on any telephone call made by delegates and to display all of the activity on a graphic which was projected on to the 15-sq-metre video wall of GCHQ’s operations centre as well as on to the screens of 45 specialist analysts who were monitoring the delegates.

“For the first time, analysts had a live picture of who was talking to who that updated constantly and automatically,” according to an internal review.

A second review implies that the analysts’ findings were being relayed rapidly to British representatives in the G20 meetings, a negotiating advantage of which their allies and opposite numbers may not have been aware:  “In a live situation such as this, intelligence received may be used to influence events on the ground taking place just minutes or hours later. This means that it is not sufficient to mine call records afterwards – real-time tip-off is essential.”

In the week after the September meeting, a group of analysts sent an internal message to the GCHQ section which had organised this live monitoring: “Thank you very much for getting the application ready for the G20 finance meeting last weekend … The call records activity pilot was very successful and was well received as a current indicator of delegate activity …

“It proved useful to note which nation delegation was active during the moments before, during and after the summit. All in all, a very successful weekend with the delegation telephony plot.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/16/gchq-intercepted-communications-g20-summits?guni=Network

 

Police reveal scale of Elm Guest House investigation into alleged paedophile ring for VIPs

Cahal Milmo, Paul Peachey

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Scotland Yard is pursuing more than 300 lines of inquiry in its investigation into allegations that a VIP paedophile ring abused children in care during the 1980s.

The figure suggests that Operation Fernbridge, the investigation centred on historic allegations of abuse at the Elm Guest House in Barnes, south-west London, is a bigger inquiry than previously acknowledged and could lead to the identification of dozens of potential victims.

Detectives are focusing on claims from former residents of a care home run by Richmond Council that they were taken to the suburban guest house and assaulted by prominent individuals.

The Independent understands that the 300 investigative lines include allegations of multiple assaults on single individuals and a list of “several dozen” potential victims is being drawn up.

A Freedom of Information response containing the figure also reveals that seven officers are involved in the investigation – compared with 77 on Operation Weeting, the inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

Operation Fernbridge, which according to the FOI has so far cost £25,000 compared with the £11.2m cost of Weeting, was launched in January as a full-scale criminal investigation following an earlier “scoping exercise” – a preliminary assessment of evidence concerning the alleged paedophile ring.

The Elm Guest House became known in the late 1970s as a meeting place for gay men still stigmatised in a country where homosexuality had been legalised barely a decade earlier and the age of consent for gay males was 21.

Operated by a German-born manager, Carole Kasir, it was close to Barnes Common, a popular cruising spot for homosexual men, and was allegedly used by rent boys as a place to bring clients.

But officers are investigating material alleging that boys from the nearby children’s home in care of the local authority were abused at the guest house, which was allegedly frequented by public figures including politicians, judges and pop stars.

Two people have so far been arrested as part of the inquiry.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said last week he understood that the Fernbridge inquiry was “going well”, according to the investigative website Exaro. Mr Johnson said that because it was an operational policing matter he could not comment further.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/police-reveal-scale-of-elm-guest-house-investigation-into-alleged-paedophile-ring-8651295.html#

 

No bikinis to avoid offending Muslims at Miss World contest in Indonesia

буркини мусульманство женщина купальник пляж ислам девушка

© Flickr.com/brimfulofsasha/сс-by-nc-sa 3.0

Contestants at the Miss World beauty pageant to be held later this year in Indonesia will not wear bikinis to avoid offending Muslims, an organizer said.

 

 “There will be no bikinis and the contestants will not wear clothes that violate Indonesia’s cultural and religious values,” said Syafrul Nasution, corporate affairs director for RCTI, the official broadcaster of the event and organizer.

 “The beach fashion session will feature the traditional Balinese sarong so that contestants are covered and will look modest,” he said.

 The Indonesian Council of Muslim Scholars has said that the beauty pageant could tarnish Indonesia as a majority-Muslim nation.

 The final of the contest is due to take place in Sentul on the outskirts of Jakarta on September 28.

 Last year the authorities in Jakarta refused to issue a concert permit for eccentric American pop diva Lady Gaga following protests by hardline Muslim groups that said her stage act was pornographic.

 Voice of Russia, dpa

Heroic Canadian schoolboy disciplined for disarming knife-wielding classmate because it broke school rules

  • Briar  MacLean, 13, stepped after seeing a fellow pupil pull a knife on another during  argument at school
  • He disarmed  the boy, but was then disciplined by staff for ignoring school rules saying he  should have found a teacher
  • His furious  mother said that she has taught her children to stand up for others and not run  away

By  Damien Gayle

PUBLISHED: 08:41 EST, 1 June  2013 |  UPDATED: 08:41  EST, 1 June 2013

A schoolboy who bravely tackled a  knife-wielding pupil who was threatening a classmate was punished because such  heroic actions are strictly banned.

Briar MacLean, 13, stepped in after he  spotted an argument was quickly beginning to escalate between two boys at Sir  John A. Macdonald school in Alberta, Canada.

Suddenly one of the boys pulled out a knife  and began to threaten the other turning an scuffle into a potentially deadly  situation.

Hero: Briar MacLean, 13, from Alberta, Canada, stands outside his school where he tackled a knife-wielding pupil - and was punished because such heroic actions are strictly forbidden 

Hero: Briar MacLean, 13, from Alberta, Canada, stands  outside his school where he tackled a knife-wielding pupil – and was punished  because such heroic actions are strictly forbidden

The heroic teenager charged and tackled the  knife-brandishing youngster into a wall sending both attacker and knife falling  to the floor.

But for his bravery the pupil received not a  commendation but a stern telling off from staff for ignoring school  rules.

According to the Calgary Board of Education,  Briar should have left the scene to find a teacher – abandoning the unarmed  student.

 

Instead instincts kicked in and he chose to  act – meaning there were no cuts, no stab wounds, and no need to call an  ambulance.

Briar said: ‘He pulled out his flip knife so  I came in and pushed him into the wall.

‘It was just to help the other kid so he  wouldn’t get hurt.’

Briar’s reward for his bravery was a day in  the school office, removed from the other students, and a stern lecture about  not playing the hero.

'We've taught him to do the right thing': Briar with his mother Leah O'Donnell, who was furious when she learned her son was being disciplined for stepping in to help his classmate  

‘We’ve taught him to do the right thing’: Briar with his  mother Leah O’Donnell, who was furious when she learned her son was being  disciplined for stepping in to help his classmate

His mother Leah O’Donnell was furious at the  dressing down.

She said: ‘I received a call from the school  vice-principal indicating there was an incident at the school and that my son  had been involved.

‘They my son was in trouble for being a part  of it.

‘They told him they don’t condone heroics in  the school and he wasn’t allowed to go back to class for the day. Isn’t that  horrible?

‘In our family we teach our children that they  need to stand up for others and not run from danger out of  self-preservation’

 Briar’s mother Leah  O’Donnell

‘We’ve taught him to do the right thing and  to step in – in our family we teach our children that they need to stand up for  others and not run from danger out of self-preservation.

‘When did we decide as a society to allow our  children to grow up without spines? Without a decent sense of the difference  between right and wrong?

‘We’re coddling kids and that doesn’t make  for strong individuals when they grow up – what are we teaching these  children?’

A spokeswoman for the Calgary Board of  Education said details of the incident could not be discussed due to privacy  regulations.

But the Calgary Police Service confirmed they  were called to the school where a student had pulled a knife while fighting with  another, and a third boy had intervened to disarm the student.

The student with the knife has apparently  been suspended and police are still investigating, meaning charges have not been  ruled out.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2334321/Heroic-Canadian-schoolboy-disciplined-disarming-knife-wielding-classmate-broke-school-rules.html#ixzz2V1d28ODj Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Woolwich murder, the MI6 connection: Younger brother of Michael Adebolajo ‘was paid thousands to spy in Middle East’

  • Jeremiah  Adebolajo, 26, is a university English teacher in Saudi Arabia
  • Allegedly  approached by MI6 who pressured him to become a spy
  • Flown business  class to five-star hotels and handed cash
  • Sister Blessing  says he ‘strongly’ rejected offers to work for MI6
  • Asked to  help ‘turn’ his brother Michael because of links to terror groups

By  Robert Verkaik

PUBLISHED: 16:02 EST, 1 June  2013 |  UPDATED: 16:03  EST, 1 June 2013

Teacher: Michael Adebolajo's brother Jeremiah, pictured, was paid thousands by MI6 to become a spy in the Middle East 

Teacher: Michael Adebolajo’s brother Jeremiah, pictured, was paid thousands by MI6 to become a spy in the Middle East

 

The younger brother of one of the men accused  of murdering Drummer Lee Rigby was paid thousands of pounds by MI6 as part of spying  operations in the Middle East, The Mail on Sunday has discovered.

Jeremiah Adebolajo, who uses the name Abul  Jaleel, was also asked to help ‘turn’ his brother, Michael, to work for MI5, who  were already aware of Michael’s close links to extremist groups.

The claims are made by the Adebolajo family  and a well-placed source who contacted The Mail on Sunday.

Jeremiah Adebolajo, 26, who works as an  English teacher at a  university in Saudi Arabia and returned to Britain  this week, is to be questioned about his brother by Scotland Yard  counter-terrorism detectives today.

Government sources have already confirmed  that Michael Adebolajo was known to MI5. Last week it was alleged that he  rebuffed efforts by the security service to recruit him as a spy.

Michael, 28, was discharged from hospital on  Friday and was yesterday charged with the murder of Drummer Rigby and attempted  murder of two police officers on May 22 in Woolwich, South London.

Now it has emerged that MI5’s  sister  agency, MI6, had targeted Jeremiah, a married teacher based at the University of  Ha’il.

MI5 and MI6 work closely together on  counter-terrorism operations. MI5 focuses on home security, while MI6 targets  threats from overseas.

A document seen by The Mail on Sunday details  concerns raised by Jeremiah’s family about MI6’s alleged harassment in April  last year.

In it, Jeremiah’s sister, Blessing Adebolajo,  32, who works as a human resources assistant in London, says her brother was  approached by MI6 while he was working at the University of Ha’il – an important  strategic location in the Middle East because it takes only one hour by plane to  reach 11 Arab capitals.

Jeremiah Adeboljao was working at the University of Ha'il in Saudi Arabia when he was approached by MI6 

Jeremiah Adeboljao was working at the University of  Ha’il in Saudi Arabia when he was approached by MI6

Complaint: A redacted copy of the allegations made by the Adebolajo family 

Complaint: A redacted copy of the allegations made by  the Adebolajo family

A friend of Jeremiah has confirmed her  account.

The friend said: ‘They asked him about  Michael and asked him to help “turn” him to work for MI5.

‘They also told him to go to certain hotels,  order a cup of tea and wait for his contact.

‘On these occasions he was handed £300, and  was paid to fly first-class and stay in five-star hotels.’

The document, prepared by case workers with  the charity Cageprisoners, says Blessing approached the East London charity for  help because she was worried about the harassment and intimidation of both her  brothers by the security and intelligence services.

She says MI6 bought a ticket so Jeremiah  could fly to an Intercontinental hotel in another Middle East country (believed  to be the United Arab Emirates) and that he was given local currency worth more  than £1,000.

She also alleges Jeremiah told her that he  was interrogated about specific people and was shown pictures of himself with  named individuals taken in the UK. But Blessing told Cageprisoners that Jeremiah  had ‘strongly’ rejected MI6’s offer to work as one of their agents.

Blessing Adebolajo says her brother Jeremiah was approached by MI6 and asked to become an informant 

Blessing Adebolajo says her brother Jeremiah was  approached by MI6 and asked to become an informant

graphic

 

As a result of this rejection, his sister  says he was ‘intimidated’ until he was finally told that he would be stopped  from leaving the UK.

The friend said that two years ago Jeremiah  was approached by UK security officers when he was held at Heathrow on his way  back from Saudi Arabia.

During the interview, he was warned about  what happens to Muslims who don’t help the Government and was shown documents  that confirmed people he knew were being held in prisons throughout the  world.

Police and security services are under huge  pressure to explain what they know about Adebolajo and his alleged accomplice,  Michael Adebowale. Despite warnings stretching back ten years, Michael Adebolajo  is said to have been considered ‘low risk’ by MI5. He was photographed at  high-profile protests – even standing next to hate preacher Anjem  Choudary.

He was arrested in Kenyan 2010 over his  alleged plans to travel to Somalia to join terror group Al-Shabaab before being  returned to the UK. Jeremiah married Charlotte Patricia Taylor in 2008 at Sutton  Register Office in Surrey.

Shortly afterwards the couple are believed to  have left for Saudi Arabia where Jeremiah found work teaching. The University of  Ha’il is one of Saudi Arabia’s most progressive education establishments and was  established by Royal Decree in 2005. It consists of five colleges – Sciences,  Medicine and Medical Sciences,  Engineering, Computer Science and  Engineering, and a Community College – and has more than 16,000  students.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2334476/Woolwich-murder-MI6-connection-Younger-brother-Michael-Adebolajo-paid-thousands-spy-Middle-East.html#ixzz2V1RYvCdv Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Spy on your neighbours, says former MI5 head Stella Rimington

People who suspect their neighbours may be extremists should inform the security services because “the enemy is everywhere”, the former head of MI5 has said.

Spy on your neighbours, says former MI5 head Stella Rimington

Dame Stella Rimington Photo: CLARA MOLDEN

Tom Whitehead and Hannah Furness

10:00PM BST 27 May 2013

Dame Stella Rimington invoked the wartime spirit as she said the public had a duty to act as the “eyes and ears” of the security services in combating terrorists.

She made the plea as she warned that MI5 could not be expected to spot every danger and that further attacks were likely unless Britain wanted a “Stasi” state where everyone was monitored.

However, Dame Stella, who was Director General of MI5 from 1992 to 1996, said she supported the Conservatives’ plans to give the police and spy agencies the power to monitor every phone call, email and web visit.

She also warned against using drones to gather intelligence saying they should only be “weapons of war”.

Dame Stella, MI5’s first female chief, was speaking at The Telegraph Hay Festival in the aftermath of the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby by alleged Islamist fanatics in Woolwich last Wednesday.

The 25-year-old soldier was allegedly hacked to death by Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, in a suspected anti-Western attack.

It was the worst apparent terrorist atrocity on UK soil since the July 7 London bombings in 2005.

It emerged today that Mr Adebolajo made a second attempt to travel to Somalia to join extremist groups after failing in 2010, and the former Home Secretary, Jack Straw, warned that threats to ban extremist preachers from television would act as a “recruiting sergeant” for extremists and damage democracy.

Meanwhile a 10th man was arrested in connection with Drummer Rigby’s death while three others previously detained were released on police bail.

The atrocity has raised serious questions for MI5 after it emerged both suspects were known to them for up to a decade. Mr Adebolajo had been detained in Kenya in 2010 trying to join the al-Shabaab terrorist group in neighbouring Somalia. Friends claimed MI5 tried to recruit him as an informant when he returned.

The parliamentary intelligence and security committee is now conducting an inquiry to examine whether there were any intelligence failings that could have prevented the atrocity.

Dame Stella, 78, who was at Hay to promote her latest spy novel, The Geneva Trap, revived images of the Second World War when she urged the public to do their bit. She said it was impossible for the security services to spot every risk, especially amid the growing threat of people radicalising themselves over the internet.

The former spy master said: “The community has the responsibility to act as the eyes and ears, as they did during the war … where there were all these posters up saying the walls have ears and the enemy is everywhere.” She said: “There have often been indications in the community, whether it’s Muslim or anywhere else, that people are becoming extremists and spouting hate phrases.”

Dame Stella said the alleged ideology behind the Woolwich killing made it a “terrorist attack”. She said the nature of the al-Qaeda threat, whose strongholds in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been weakened, meant such ideologies had become “rooted in certain parts of society”. That was more difficult to deal with, she said.

She defended her former service and said the public had to accept there was a risk people would slip through the net. There were “thousands” of people being radicalised in the UK, which meant MI5 had to prioritise the greatest dangers. The alternative was to have a “police state”.

The former MI5 chief also warned against the expanding use of drones, saying: “Drones are a weapon of war and at the moment they’re being operated by security services.”

She also revealed how she and her family had to be moved to a secret address after a member of an active IRA cell in London was found with a copy of her home address in his pocket.

The Obama administration Warns Britain if it tries to exit the E.U.

EU exit would put US trade deal at risk, Britain warned

Obama officials say that the UK would probably be excluded from a trade agreement worth billions a year if it leaves the EU

President Barack Obama meets Prime Minister David Cameron in Washingto

David Cameron’s visit to Washington this month was intended to promote the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Photograph: Rex Features

The Obama administration has warned British officials that if the UK leaves Europe it will exclude itself from a US-EU trade and investment partnership potentially worth hundreds of billions of pounds a year, and that it was very unlikely that Washington would make a separate deal with Britain.

The warning comes in the wake of David Cameron’s visit to Washington, which was primarily intended as a joint promotion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Barack Obama, which the prime minister said could bring £10bn a year to the UK alone, but which was overshadowed by a cabinet rebellion back in London.

The threat by Cameron’s ministers to back a UK exit in a referendum on the EU raised doubts in Washington on whether Britain would still be part of the deal once it had been negotiated. More immediately, Obama administration officials were concerned that the uncertainty over Britain’s future would further complicate what is already a hard sell in Congress, threatening a central pledge in the president’s State of the Union address in February.

With formal negotiations expected to start within weeks, the state department already has hundreds of staff working on the partnership. Sources at US-UK meetings in London last week said American officials made it clear that it would take a monumental effort to get TTIP through a suspicious Congress and that “there would very little appetite” in Washington to do it all again with the UK if Britain walked out of Europe.

“Having Britain in the EU  … is going to strengthen the possibility that we succeed in a very difficult negotiation, as it involves so many different interests and having Britain as a key player and pushing for this will be important,” a senior US official said. “We have expressed our views of Britain’s role in the EU and they haven’t changed. TTIP negotiations underscore why we think it’s important that it continues.”

US officials say that the White House is particularly perplexed because Britain played a key role in persuading Obama to stake significant political capital on the ambitious transatlantic partnership. If it is successful it could be the biggest trade and investment deal in history, encompassing half the world’s GDP and a third of its trade.

On both sides of the Atlantic there is hope that the boost provided by removing remaining barriers to US-EU trade and investment — worth about $1bn (£660m) and $4bn respectively – would help lift the west, and then the global economy, out of the doldrums. Writing in the US press this year, the British ambassador to Washington, Sir Peter Westmacott, said “a bold and comprehensive deal could be worth 1%-2% in additional GDP on both sides of the Atlantic. Even a 1% bump would translate, at current GDP levels, into an extra $325bn.” He added that the UK shared the Obama administration’s optimism that it could be completed in less than two years.

Addressing the Senate last week, the US under-secretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, Robert Hormats, said the TTIP “is, in many respects, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape our relationship with the European Union“. Hormats added it “will enhance our ability to build stronger relationships with emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere around the world”.

Both European and American officials involved in preparatory talks on the partnership said that it was also intended as a bulwark against the economic challenge of China, aimed at forming a bloc powerful enough to lay down the rules of international trade and investment.

They pointed to the fact that Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew to Washington this month specifically to try to persuade Obama to include his country in negotiations. Officials said this was a reflection of the gravitational pull the partnership could exert on the rest of the world.

Gary Hufbauer, a former US Treasury official now a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said that the administration’s hopes to complete a far-reaching partnership in Obama’s term may be over-optimistic and would be torpedoed altogether by a British exit from the EU.

“If the UK separates from the EU, I think will go a long way to derail the TTIP project entirely,” Hufbauer said. “There would be a lot of questions raised. The administration has many battles ahead of it. It will add another layer of confusion on an already confused picture, and there will be lots of commercial concerns in the US [from those who] have had their eye on the UK markets.”

The TTIP will aim to remove the relatively low tariffs of about 3% to 5% between the US and Europe, but its greatest impact will be felt in promoting investment in both directions largely by the convergence of regulations on either side of the Atlantic. One of the greatest potential advantages for the EU would be the opening up of tenders at the US state level to European suppliers. But in return, Europe would have to give up existing protections on its agriculture, film industry and public services.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/may/27/eu-exit-risks-us-trade-deal?guni=Network front:network-front main-3 Main trailblock:Network front – main trailblock:Position5

 

Revealed: Suspect who ‘tried to behead British soldier in London’ was held on terror charges in Kenya… and DEPORTED to UK

  • Appeared in court on suspicion of planning  to fight for terrorist group
  • Adebojalo was heading for Somalia, to be  recruited by Al-Shabaab
  • It is claimed that soon after he was  targeted by MI5 as a possible informant
  • He resisted attempts to ‘turn’ him and  complained to lawyers he was being harassed

By  Barbara Jones, Ian Gallagher And Abul Taher

PUBLISHED: 16:15 EST, 25 May  2013 |  UPDATED: 11:05  EST, 26 May 2013

Woolwich suspect Michael  Adebolajo came  to the attention of MI5 after he appeared in court in Kenya on suspicion of  planning to fight for a terrorist group.

The Mail on Sunday has learned he was  arrested with five others in November 2010. All were said to have been heading  for neighbouring Somalia, where they had been recruited by Al-Shabaab, the  Islamist insurgent organisation.

Adebolajo, who was filmed after the Woolwich  slaughter with blood on his hands, was deported without being charged.

Exclusive: Michael Adebolajo in a Kenyan court in 2010 with five other men after he attempted to cross the borderExclusive: Michael Adebolajo in a Kenyan court in 2010  with five other men after he attempted to cross the border
 

It was soon after his return to Britain, a  close friend claims, that MI5 earmarked him as a potential  informant and  began assiduously courting him.

The Mail on Sunday has been told:

  •   Intelligence officers offered Adebolajo  money and gave him a mobile phone;
  •   Adebolajo was asked to spy on a group of  Muslims with links to Al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen;
  •   He resisted their attempts to ‘turn’  him and complained to lawyers he was being harassed.

An East London-based solicitor, who asked not  to be named, said: ‘He came to see us last year. He raised serious concerns  which are similar to ones we have heard before from others. He met a member of  my team and discussed his case.

‘He complained that they [MI5] kept wanting  to talk to him and his family. They kept coming round his family home and wanted  to meet him regularly. We said if he wanted to deal with it properly, he should  give us the number they [MI5] had given him and we would call  them.

‘He was very paranoid about the whole thing.  But he didn’t come back so we didn’t do anything else with him.’

Raid: police moving in on Rikki Thomas's Greenwich house last weekRaid: police moving in on Rikki Thomas’s Greenwich house  last week

It is understood that soon afterwards the  contact with intelligence officers suddenly ceased.

Adebolajo’s links to the security services  were first revealed on Friday on Twitter by one of his closest friends, Abu  Nusaybah. Hours later, Nusaybah was arrested under the Terrorism Act just as he  was finishing a pre-recorded interview for BBC Newsnight.

Earlier that day, Nusaybah, whose real name  is Ibrahim Hassan, gave an interview to a Mail on Sunday reporter in which he  made further claims about MI5 and Adebolajo.

‘They wanted him to spy on a group of Muslims  who have links to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP]. They wanted  information about them.’

AQAP, based in Yemen, has been called ‘the  most active operational franchise’ of Al Qaeda beyond Pakistan and  Afghanistan.

‘They offered him [Adebolajo] money and they  gave him a special mobile phone to use when calling them,’ said Hassan. ‘They  even took him in for interviews, just to intimidate him to work for them. But he  refused.’

By the time Adebolajo arrived in Kenya in  2010, he was already deeply immersed in radical Islam and espousing extremist  views.

Along with five Kenyan youths, he was picked  up by local police on November 23 after spending the night in a guesthouse on  Faza Island, part of the Lamu archipelago in the Indian Ocean close to the  Somali border.

Principal magistrate Richard Kirui was told  that all six men had been recruited to Al-Shabaab and intended to fight with  them to bring down the country’s transitional government.

Al-Shabaab has imposed a strict version of  Sharia law in the areas it controls, including stoning to death women accused of  adultery.

Rant: A man identified as Michael Adebolajo, 28, brandishes a meat cleaver with bloodied hands near the scene of the killingRant: A man identified as Michael Adebolajo, 28, brandishes a meat cleaver with bloodied hands near the scene of the killing

Rant: A man identified as Michael Adebolajo, 28, brandishes a meat cleaver with bloodied hands near the scene of the  killing.  It was claimed last night that MI5 offered Adebolajo a job six  months  ago

Suspect: The friend of Michael Adebolajo, right, said he thought he had undergone a 'change' following his detention by security forces on a trip to Kenya last year.Suspect: The friend of Michael Adebolajo said he thought  he had undergone a ‘change’ following his detention by security forces on a trip  to Kenya last year. Adebolajo, right, is pictured at an English Defence League  march in 2009

Michael Adebowale, 22, of Greenwich, South East London, was named last night as one of the suspects shot by police after the brutal murder of Lee RigbySuspect: Michael Adebowale, 22, of Greenwich, south-east  London, with a knife in his hand at the scene where Lee Rigby was stabbed to  death

In court, the youths claimed they had been  given nothing to eat for two days and had been denied access to  lawyers.

They had spent a night in police custody in  Mombasa and were questioned by counter terrorism officers before being taken to  court the next day. Adebolajo was fingerprinted and photographed and made a full  statement.

After the order was made to deport Adebolajo,  police officers accompanied him, handcuffed, in an unmarked police vehicle to  Nairobi airport.

During the day-long drive, the vehicle was  involved in a minor accident, and although no-one was injured the journey was  delayed.That evening Adebolajo was put on the first available flight to  London.

Fallen hero: Father Lee Rigby, 25, from Manchester, was described as 'cheeky and humorous' in tributes. He was executed by two suspected Islamic terrorists in Woolwich on Wednesday afternoonFallen hero: father Lee Rigby was killed in the attack  on Woolwich last week
Lee RigbyLee Rigby

A great character: Father of one and soldier Rigby, of  Greater Manchester, pictured relaxing on Army leave

At this time he was living on a council  estate in Greenwich, South East London, with girlfriend Rikki Thomas and her two  children from a previous relationship.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that Thomas –  arrested last week in a police raid on her Greenwich house and later released  without charge – gave birth to the terror suspect’s son last year.

Neighbours yesterday recalled how 29-year-old  Thomas wore mini-skirts and was a ‘bright lovely woman’ before meeting him six  years ago and turning into someone who hardly left the house.

Odette Hamilton said: ‘Rikki began to dress  more and more like a Muslim. Eventually she wore the whole  burka.

‘When they walked down the street, he used to  make her follow behind him, in subordination.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2330993/Michael-Adebolajo-Woolwich-suspect-held-terror-charges-Kenya–DEPORTED-here.html#ixzz2UQ3dPqB4 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Red-faced Bloomberg admits ‘inexcusable’ privacy breach

 

Gideon Spanier

Monday, 13 May 2013

Bloomberg was today forced to issue a grovelling apology to clients for its “inexcusable” decision to let its journalists use internal customer information in a scandal that has rocked Wall Street and the City.

“Our reporters should not have access to any data considered proprietary. I am sorry that they did,” wrote US editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler in an article that appeared on the front page of Bloomberg’s news service.

“The error is inexcusable,” he added in the 600-word mea culpa, entitled “Holding Ourselves Accountable”.

Winkler’s apology came as US regulators reportedly consider whether to probe Bloomberg’s behaviour in a major reputational crisis for the news giant.

Banks including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are said to have raised concerns after it appeared that reporters had used internal information.

During last year’s trading scandal at JPMorgan in London — involving a trader dubbed “the London Whale” and billions of dollars of losses — a journalist was said to have tried to find out whether disciplinary action had been taken.

Winkler insisted reporters had had only limited access to customer data and claimed this got “lost in much of this weekend’s conversation” after the scandal broke.

He said: “At no time did reporters have access to trading, portfolio, blotter, monitor or other related systems. Nor did they have access to clients’ messages to one another. They couldn’t see the stories that clients were reading.”

But he admitted that reporters could look at a users’ login history and see “high-level types of user functions on an aggregated basis” — and information about help-desk inquiries when a client contacts Bloomberg and asks for help on how to get a specific piece of information.

Bloomberg has now barred reporters from such access.

Privately owned by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the company supplies news and data to around 310,000 clients at a cost of $20,000 (£13,000) a year per terminal.

‘Sweetheart’ deal between HMRC and Goldman Sachs was struck to save Government embarrassment, court hears

 

Tom Peck

Thursday, 2 May 2013

A so-called “sweetheart” tax deal between Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the investment bank Goldman Sachs was struck to avoid “major embarrassment” to the Chancellor George Osborne, a court has heard.

Dave Hartnett, who was the top ranking civil servant at HMRC, agreed the deal at the offices of Goldman Sachs in November 2010, waiving them of anywhere between £6m and £20m in interest owed to the exchequer. The deal has since become the subject of a legal challenge by the tax campaigning pressure group, UK Uncut.

The hearing at London’s High Court heard that Mr Hartnett wrote in an email: “The risks here are major embarrassment to the [Chancellor of the Exchequer], HMRC, the [large business service of the HMRC], you and me, not least if GS withdraw from the code.”

A week before the email was sent, the chancellor had publicly announced the government was taking action on tax avoidance by big banks, and had forced the UK’s fifteen largest banks, including Goldman, to sign up to a new code of practice on taxation – the code referred to in Mr Hartnett’s email.

Ingrid Simler QC, acting for UK Uncut, told the court that the email was “the best evidence there is” of Mr Hartnett’s thinking before the tax deal was approved on December 9 2010.

HMRC’s High Risk Corporate Programme Board, an internal oversight board, eventually rejected the deal and recommended that negotiations be re-opened to recoup the money owed.

Mr Hartnett’s email said that Goldman Sachs “went off the deep end” in response.

In Mr Hartnett’s written witness statement, he states that “Goldman Sachs had been involved in tax avoidance in the past and we regarded their signing of the Code as a valuable step in securing improved tax behaviour from them. This would have been under threat had we reneged on the settlement (they said they would withdraw from the Code if HMRC reopened the settlement).”

The judicial review continues.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/sweetheart-deal-between-hmrc-and-goldman-sachs-was-struck-to-save-government-embarrassment-court-hears-8601007.html#

 

‘Shooting galleries’: The drug plan that could be too liberal for even Brighton

 

Plans for Britain’s first legal ‘consumption rooms’ are unsettling the resort widely touted as a prime location

Charlotte Philby

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Britain could see its first so-called “shooting gallery” – somewhere drug addicts can legally use heroin and crack without fear of arrest – open within the year, under controversial plans.

The bold plan is already proving controversial in Brighton, with the seaside city being pinpointed as a possible location for the inaugural centre by an independent drugs commission, headed up by Tony Blair’s former drug-tsar Mike Trace and the crime writer Peter James.

Among the results of an extensive report by the commission, published on Thursday, is a call for legal “drug consumption rooms” where addicts can inject without fear of reprisal. The aim: to “reduce drug-related harm to the addict and the community”.

Already operating in 10 countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, Germany and Spain, drug consumption rooms vary in their exact model. Addicts are given free heroin and clean needles to ensure quality control and reduce blood-borne viruses in some centres, while others restrict access to local residents and require identification cards. A small number of facilities only allow those who inject drugs and reject other users.

Details of a British centre are yet to be ironed out, but already concerns have been raised in Brighton, despite hopes that the generally liberal residents (about 2,000 of whom are battling drug addiction) would be more open to the idea.

Resident Adam Kemeny, 36, thinks a retreat for serious users is the last thing the city needs. “I don’t like the idea of it becoming more of a destination for addicts than it already feels like it is,” he said.

For local MP Caroline Lucas, who instigated the commission a year ago, the answer is unfortunately simple – because this liberal East Sussex enclave has the market. “For some Brighton has a holiday air of tolerance,” she said. “For whatever reason we do have the unwanted unofficial title of Drugs Death Capital of England,” she said

In fact, in the past couple of years, Brighton has slipped back from the No 1 spot for drug-related deaths. A report published earlier this year by the International Centre for Drug Policy showed the rate had fallen from 16 per 100,000 adults in 2010, to nine in 2011. It now ranks eighth, with Manchester first.

Brighton resident Jack Murray, 29, said he would support anything that got users off the streets. “Addicts being arrested for minor drug possession is a waste of time and money, plus who wants to watch someone smoking rocks or shooting up on the street?”

For the commission, which also focuses on the need to knit together mental health and drug services so that people who have problems on both sides don’t fall between the cracks, this is all part of a greater plan. As results from abroad have demonstrated, sanctioned sites for drug users can minimise drug-related deaths and needle littering.

Critics in Sydney have claimed that drug-related loitering and dealing worsened near their centre. But for Ms Lucas, who has represented Brighton Pavillion since 2010 and whose Green Party is calling for an urgent review of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, something has to change. “The Government’s approach to drug policy is evidence-free… Prohibition isn’t working,” she says.

She is reticent to be tied down to where exactly in Brighton these drug consumption centres should be – a sticking point for parents who fear the idea of addicts near schools or playgrounds, and residents and businesses who don’t want drug users in their neighbourhoods.

The vice-chairman of the commission, Mike Truce, said: “If the centre was inconsiderately located, it certainly wouldn’t get our support.”

“This is not just about getting activity off the street but about engaging with individuals and getting them into treatment,” he added.

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