Tag Archives: TWAT

Security sense

This is quite an astonishing news item.

East Lancashire youngsters see film on terrorism danger
More than 2,000 10 and 11-year-olds will see a short film, which urges them to tell the police, their parents or a teacher if they hear anyone expressing extremist views.
The film has been made by school liaison officers and Eastern Division’s new Preventing Violent Extremism team, based at Blackburn….
The terrorism message is also illustrated with a re-telling of the story of Guy Fawkes, saying that his strong views began forming when he was at school in York. It has been designed to deliver the message of fighting terrorism in accessible way for children. (from the Lancashire Telegraph)

(h/t Bruce Schneier’s blog)

No, really. It’s a real news item. You can check. I didn’t make it up.

It seems that the area around Lancashire is quite fertile territory for anyone trying to get kids to do free police-work. This blog item is also about kids being recruited to provide low-level spying services in their community. A Sefton school designed posters for a Community Information Box initiative. These are displayed in libraries, buses and so on. Sadly, I can’t find an image of the winning poster online but I’ve had my attention drawn to one.

The poster presents a list of things that public-spirited citizens should look out for and drop anonymous notes about in their local Community Information Box. The list is bizarrely inclusive: from swearing and dog-crap through to real crimes like physical attacks and terrorism.

(I hope that the anonymity is designed to protect the kids from life-threatening comebacks if they accidentally inform on some really vicious people. However, this only works if you assume that really vicious people are not just vicious but are also too stupid to make inferences about who reported them, from the content, context and timing of information. And I rather suspect some of them may have those skills. So, I hope that they also have a child witness protection programme in place. )

I really hope that the school students generated the volunteer informer’s checklist, rather than some adult with no sense of perspective. Because, although I am still womanfully resisting a fear of terrorism that is used to manipulate us out of any concern for our civil liberties, I can’t help but be filled with the fear of creeping totalitarianism.

What a wonderful tool for any authoritarian state – compliant children, ready to report any odd behaviour or unorthodox opinions to the authorities out of fear of potential terrorism.

So, what a good job that our democracy is so secure. It’s not as if real extremists – say, people promoting a myth of indigenous ethic Britishness, frinstance – are getting any spurious legitimacy as a result of a British population that has been driven half-mad by its fear of dicey expenses claims, or anything……… Well, that’s OK then isn’t it?

Miliband says “sorry about that”

The UK Foreign Secretary has admitted The War Against Terror was a “mistake” in today’s Guardian and even accepts that it was counter-productive

(Well, d’uh.)

Much better late than never, as the saying goes. Still, I wonder why any UK ministers failed to notice this glaringly obvious fact until today?

Miliband didn’t say “I, for one, welcome our new saner overlords” but he could have.

Not before time

Bin Laden’s driver may have helped bring about the Beginning of the end for Guantanemo, according to the BBC.

Well, this is a closure long overdue, to put it mildly. But the repercussions may take much longer to play themselves out. On the subject of the return of Yemeni citizens to their own countries,

..the US is concerned about Yemen’s ability to monitor and rehabilitate them.
Three of the seven men involved in an attack against the US embassy in Yemen in September were former Guantanamo detainees who had gone through the Yemeni rehabilitation programme. (from the BBC)

Hmm. The US government held these people, without trial, in torture conditions for years. I don’t think you can blame the Yemeni government for the ex-prisoners’ desire to harm the US.

This shows that Gitmo was effectively a terrorism training camp. At the very least, it will have massively boosted the will of former detainees to attack the USA. Beyond this, its very existence has boosted the ideological support for Islamic terrorism, in general

In the week of the horrific shootings in Mumbai, this seems a particularly stupid strategy.

Things for the USA to attack

TW’s last post referred to the New Scientist report that archaeologists are displaying common decency and refusing to list monuments to be protected in the event of a US strike on Iran.

Clearly, America hates anywhere that starts with the letters “IR”

And needs help to draw up attack maps. I will do the job that the archaeologists are too humane to do and list places that the US might like to attack:

  • Iraq (Sorry, too late, they already thought of that )
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • the Iroquois nation (Sorry, too late)

Well there’s only Ireland left. And I don’t think it’s overburdened with recognised world-class archaeological sites to obstruct the handily disposable population. Be very afraid, people of Dublin. (Dublin museum has some fantastic Viking era relics but the site they came from has already been dug up, with an office block stuck over it. The artefacts are all in the museum, in handily lootable form.)

Don’t worry, USA. I checked your own states and only 4 even start with the letter “I” (Idaho, Illinois,Indiana, Iowa) However, I don’t want to worry the citizens of these states but you may be next in the frame after Ireland. Or at least, after wars have been waged against Italy (Luckily for Italy, it has way too much archaeology to be a first strike choice), Iceland, Indonesia and the Isle of Man. Oh, and Israel… (well maybe not that one.)

A few more suggestions for quick and easy wins, thanks to online dictionaries and wikapedia:

  • Irish stew (an Irish excursion should do for this without using any extra firepower)
  • Iridium (some sort of chemical. No idea if this is actually part of weapons tech but that would be killing two birds with one stone if it was)
  • Ira Gershwin (He seems to be dead though.)
  • Irenaeus 2nd century bishop of Lugdunum, Gaul (He’s likely to be already dead too. He may even count as archaeology.)
  • Irapuã – a municipality in São Paulo state (seems to have population of 6,000 or so, barely worth the effort)
  • Irony
    (Not much good. You can’t wage war on an abstract noun, can you? Oh sorry, yes, you can. Terror. Drugs. Obesity, even. Ok irony stays in)

Swedish surveillance

Last bastion of progressive liberal democracy, Sweden? Sorry, no.

Not to be outdone by the UK and Germany, the Swedes are also now jumping on the “get as many repressive powers as you like, cos the TWAT justifies everything” Euro- bandwagon. According to the Register the Swedish parliament has just passed a law that will allow bugging of all comms.

Sweden ushers in bugging for all

(one commenter on the Register mistook the fourth word in this headline for a longer, although possibly apt word.)

This story might give you an uncanny sense case of deja vu, if you live in the UK (or pretty well anywhere else )

Under the new law, all communication across Swedish borders will be tapped, and information can also be traded with international security agencies, such as America’s National Security Agency…..Key members of parliament who were likely to vote against the proposition were put under pressure by their parties, according to some reports.

The Register had earlier reported that Parliament had defeated the law. Hiowever, the government got the vote by making a few concessions. It’s setting up an agency to monitor the granting of permissions, though , so these powers will never be misused then…. (*sarcasm*)

Despite receiving copies of George Orwell’s book 1984 from protesters earlier this week, MPs from Sweden’s ruling party believe the law does not constitute the final nail in the coffin of democracy.

Well, duh, 1984 is starting to become a blueprint.

An external group comprising members appointed by the government will monitor privacy and integrity issues

Oh, so impartial oversight is in place then. My bad. (*more pathetic sarcasm*)

Last irony on 42 days

BBC News24 interviewed the representatives of the “winners”, Keith Vaz and the leader of the parliamentary DUP.

Keith Vaz looked like someone who was eating a mouthful of shit while trying to cover up his innate gagging response. He claimed he would have voted against it, if not for the “concessions.” He’d better hope he gets paid back handsomely for his vote in the next reshuffle or he’ll have shown himself to have been spineless rather than merely careerist.

On the other hand, the DUP representative looked like the cat who’d just swallowed a bowlful of cream. (Possibly with a delicious dead mouse chaser.) He said the DUP voted with the government as a matter of principle. Oh yeah? He denied there was any sweetener for Northern Ireland. Although, if there just happened to be extra wodges of public money coming NI’s way, he would welcome it. He didn’t even try to keep from grinning.

(Vaz only stopped gagging to be caught in a snigger when the DUP guy said that, although their votes weren’t bought, the NI parliament would welcome any coincidental gift from the government.)

Government won by 9 votes. DUP miraculous conversions to Labour votes were … oh, let me see if I’ve got this right… Hmm that will be 9.

With supreme irony, he said the DUP voted with the government because the NI troubles meant they knew about terrorism. Well, almost certainly, they do. Most of us on the mainland find it very hard to distinguish between Unionist politicians and Protestant terrorists, for a start.

Maybe, I don’t understand this boring political stuff. But, this looks disturbingly like a government pushing through its 42-days TWAT measure by buying off a terrorist front organisation to defeat the opposition of 36 principled Labour MPs (and principled Tories and Liberal Democrats. Credit to all)

Tony Benn said that he’d never dreamed that he’d be present in Parliament to see the rights gained by Magna Carta being unmade.

Absolutely spot on, but, if he was less statesmanlike he might have added, “through an alliance that would fit seamlessly into a plot synopsis for Godfather IV.”

*****************************
I almost promise this will be the last on this fiasco. It has driven both T_W and me to distraction (along with Amnesty International, Liberty, the Tory and Liberal Shadow Home Secretaries, the thinking broadsghheet editirs, brave Labour MPs like Grogan and Abbott, long-time Labour stalwarts like Benn, old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all…) It’s probably going to be defeated in the House of Lords, anyway, but I will try not to not mention it until that happy day.

Miss Marple under threat

Blogging comedy gold uncovered. The slim grasp on reality that we associate with Wingnut Daily is yet again proved to be truly anorexic. According to worldnet daily

Picturesque villages now terror ‘hot spots’
Al-Qaida suspected of moving cells into British countryside

This article, which asks the (by definition) gullible reader to cough up $99 to read the full report, suggests that sleepy villages in the West Country and the Cotswolds are in imminent danger.

The British intelligence service MI5 has redrawn its electronic map of Britain’s “hot spots” terrorist targets – to include provincial university towns, colleges and picturesque villages close to high-security installations

Well, Worldnet Daily, maybe you need to grasp the most basic facts about English demographics. Picturesque Cotswold and West Country villages are incredibly expensive to live in, without offering many ways to make a living that bring even the minimum wage. (Sting and Madonna are the sort of people who can afford to buy houses there. These villages are “picturesque” and historic and remote, remember. The rest of us can only dream of living there.)

The handful of Muslims living in them are therefore very rich and generally, almost by definition, not keen on extremist politics and, well, suicide. They aren’t alienated and uneducated youths on the London-tube-bombings model.

And even if they were, they could hardly engage in plotting subterfuge without it being noticed by everybody in their villages. These are not inner-city neighbourhoods where you don’t recognise the person who lives next door. Like country people the world over, the local residents probably know which brand of toothpaste you use, after you’ve lived there a week. And, mass immigration having largely passed these villages by, they aren’t so used to Islamic residents that they wouldn’t pay obsessive attention to them.

And yes, there are high-security installations dotted around these areas. They are protected by security professionals. That’s why you can call them “high-security installations”, Wingnut Daily. The clue’s in the name.

These picturesque villages represent England to many people in the US, thanks to Miss Marple and several other fictional detectives. Books, movies and TV shows give the impression that Baltimore would be hard-pushed to rival the murder rate of the real-world versions of fictional villages like St Mary Mead and Midsomer Norton.

It almost pains me to have to report that this is fiction. You know, Worldnet Daily, “made-up stuff”. Like the idea that large numbers of crazy terrorists are operating in these places, unnoticed by the rest of the local population.