Cameron spying more on British citizens, on Saudi autocracy’s advice


This video from Britain is called NEWSNIGHT: Glenn Greenwald full interview on Snowden, NSA, GCHQ and spying.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

David Cameron gives spy agencies power to vet airline flight lists

All airline passengers’ civil liberties would be affected by this, not just the tiny minority of (wannabe) ISIS fighters

New access granted as Saudi king says Europe faces attack unless it acts fast

Nicholas Watt

Sunday 31 August 2014 21.07 BST

David Cameron will make it easier for intelligence agencies to access information about airline passengers and announce measures to intensify cooperation with Turkey and Germany as the government moves to stem the flow of British-born jihadis travelling to and from Syria and Iraq.

As the king of Saudi Arabia warned that terror groups would attack Europe in the next month unless they were confronted with “power and speed”, the prime minister will hold a final round of talks with Nick Clegg on Monday before outlining the package of measures to parliament.

The prime minister and his deputy have reached broad agreement on plans to make it easier to strip suspected jihadis of their passports in Britain and to improve the flow of data about airline passengers to the intelligence agencies.

But Clegg and Cameron will try to resolve differences on possible plans to impose a temporary ban on British-born jihadis returning to Britain and plans to tighten up terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims), the successor to control orders.

Signs of coalition tensions were highlighted when Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon and Sir Menzies Campbell, two former leaders of the Liberal Democrats, criticised Cameron’s response on Friday to the decision by Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (Jtac) to raise the terrorism threat level from substantial to severe. Cameron warned of “gaps in our armoury” as he spoke of a “generational struggle” that could see an Islamic State-led (Isis) caliphate stretch to the shores of the Mediterranean.

Ashdown accused Cameron in an Observer article of a “kneejerk” response while Campbell warned that plans to impose a temporary ban on UK-born jihadis returning to Britain could infringe international law.

Campbell told The World This Weekend on BBC Radio 4: “That might well constitute illegality. To render citizens stateless is regarded as illegal in international law. To render them stateless temporarily, which seems to me to be the purpose of what has been proposed, can also be described as illegal. At the very least it is the kind of question that would be tested here in our own courts and perhaps also in the European court of human rights.”

It is understood that Clegg and Cameron do not see their discussions as a coalition row because they both respect each other’s record in speaking up on civil rights.

They also agree Britain must make improvements as it seeks to deal with the estimated 500 British citizens who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with Isis.

A further 250 are believed to have returned to Britain. Many have travelled through Germany and Turkey, which explains plans to improve cooperation with the two countries.

The Turkish government, NATO partners of Cameron, has helped ISIS in Syria, because of common hatred of the Damascus government and of Syrian Kurds.

While the German and British governments spy on each other.

But there are differences over plans to impose a temporary ban on returning jihadis. It is understood that the names of suspects could be added to a list, which would then be sent to friendly countries such as Germany and Syria

Is ‘Syria’ here a mistake for ‘Turkey’, indeed NATO ‘friends’ of Cameron?

Or has Cameron already made a ‘Orwellian 1984 like U-turn‘? After Cameron almost started war on the Assad regime recently, only stopped because of overwhelming popular opposition (a war in which ISIS would have been Cameron’s ally), has Damascus suddenly become an ally?

, who would be asked to prevent them entering the UK.

The discussions between Clegg and Cameron are focusing on the legal and practical aspects of the proposal.

Legal advice has suggested that it is possible to strip a UK citizen of their passport in Britain as a way of confining them to the UK. But the legal advice also suggests that if a UK citizen’s passport is cancelled after they have left the UK they are still entitled to return home.

The discussions between Clegg and Cameron are focusing instead on proposals that would allow the authorities in the likes of Germany and Syria to prevent British-born jihadis boarding aircraft. They would then be taken in for further questioning, but would be re-admitted to Britain.

There is agreement between Cameron and Clegg on the need to improve the flow of airline passenger data to the intelligence agencies.

One problem is that some airlines do not release their passenger manifest until 30 minutes before flights leave. There will also be moves to share more passenger data. But this will involve stepping up negotiations with the European parliament, where plans to share passanger data have been challenged by MEPs concerned about civil liberties.

The two leaders have also yet to reach agreement on reforming terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims) after David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, called for a strengthening of “locational constraints” in his annual report in March. This could ban those subject to Tpims from some areas or to restore the power to relocate them to specific areas.

It is understood that their discussions are focusing on how any changes to Tpims would have to make clear that these would apply only in the most exceptional circumstances.

In his warning, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia did not name any group but told foreign ambassadors on Friday that he was “certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America”, according to the Associated Press.

To really combat terror, end support for Saudi Arabia. Ramped up rhetoric on security makes no sense so long as the west cosies up to dictatorships that support fundamentalism: here.

Pro-peace anti-NATO counter summit in Wales


This video from Wales says about itself:

UK: Activists say ‘no to NATO’ ahead of Wales summit

31 August 2014

Counter-summit at Cardiff‘s County Hall on Sunday in protest of the upcoming NATO talks.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament helped organise the counter-summit which included talks from political dissidents and peace activists.

Reiner Braun, a scholar from the German Peace Movement said that the aim of NATO since 1991 has been to “get all of the countries at the Russian border into the NATO boat” and to “make a new border around Russia.”

The 2014 NATO summit will take place in Newport, Wales, on September 4 and 5, and will see more than 150 heads of state and ministers in attendance.

British government accused of helping monarchist torturers in Nepal


This video says about itself:

Legal bid over MI5 torture guidance

A British human rights group has launching legal action against the government over guidelines the UK’s intelligence agencies on how to interrogate prisoners held overseas.

Reprieve, which represents former Guantanamo Bay detainees, says unpublished guidance from 2002 and 2004 is unlawful because it condones complicity in torture.

Alan Fisher reports from London.

(Feb 23, 2010)

From AFP news agency:

Britain accused of conniving at torture of Maoists in Nepal’s civil war

Author says MI6 assisted Nepalese army as it carried out gross human rights violations in war with Maoist rebels

Sunday 31 August 2014 04.18 BST

British authorities have been accused of funding a four-year intelligence operation in Nepal that led to Maoist rebels being arrested, tortured and killed during the country’s civil war.

Thomas Bell, the author of a new book on the conflict, says MI6 funded safe houses and provided training in surveillance and counter-insurgency tactics to Nepal’s army and spy agency, the National Investigation Department (NID) under “Operation Mustang”, launched in 2002.

Nepal’s decade-long civil war left more than 16,000 dead, with rebels and security forces accused of serious human rights violations including killings, rapes, torture and disappearances.

“According to senior Nepalese intelligence and army officials involved in the operation, British aid greatly strengthened their performance and led to about 100 arrests,” said Bell, whose book Kathmandu is released in south Asia on Thursday.

“It’s difficult to put an exact number on it, but certainly some of those who were arrested were tortured and disappeared,” he said.

Maoist commander Sadhuram Devkota, known by his nom-de-guerre Prashant, was among those captured during Operation Mustang, in November 2004. Six weeks later, he was found hanging from a low window in his cell. Officials said he had committed suicide.

Despite protests, no independent investigation was ever carried out.

British authorities helped construct a bug-proof building in the NID headquarters, created a secure radio network for communications and supplied everything from cameras to computers to mobile phones and night vision binoculars, according to Bell’s sources in the Nepalese security establishment.

“The agency also sent a small number of British officers to Nepal, around four or five – some tied to the embassy, others operating separately,” Bell said.

The officers gave the Nepalese training in how to place bugs, how to penetrate rebel networks and how to groom informers.

Bell spent about a year interviewing some 20 highly-placed sources to corroborate the details of the operation, and said a senior western official told him the operation was cleared by Britain’s Foreign Office.

A Nepalese general with close knowledge of the operation told Bell there was no doubt British authorities realised that some of the arrested suspects would be tortured and killed.

“Being British they must have thought about human rights also, but they knew exactly what was happening to them,” the general said. “The thing must have been approved at a high level.”

Bell said it was “a peculiar contradiction that while calling for an end to abuses … the British were secretly giving very significant help in arresting targets whom they knew were very likely to be tortured”.

Bell covered Nepal’s civil war from 2002 to 2007, reporting for the Economist and the South China Morning Post.

Tejshree Thapa, senior researcher at the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, told AFP: “Nepal’s army was known by 2002 to be an abusive force, responsible for … summary executions, torture, custodial detentions.

“To support such an army is tantamount to entrenching and encouraging abuse and impunity.”

United States singer Joan Baez interviewed


This music video is called JOAN BAEZ (full concert, 1965).

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Joan Baez: Singer, activist, peacenik, lover, legend

Joan Baez has had an extraordinary life. Ahead of her appearance at the Royal Festival Hall, and at the age of 73, she talks to Lawrence Donegan

Sunday 31 August 2014

Angry wasps are swarming in the eaves of Joan Baez’s Californian home, but otherwise all is as it should be in the life of a woman who has devoted herself to the cause of peace. The breeze is warm, the incense sticks are billowing out smoke and the conversation is mellow.

Ask her about songwriting (she hasn’t written a song of her own for 25 years) and she says: “So I called Janis Ian and I said: ‘Janis, I can’t write – what shall I do?’ And she says: ‘It’s very simple. Look around the room, pick an object and then just write whatever comes into your head.’ So I did. And I wrote one of the best songs I have ever written.

“It’s called ‘Coconuts’. I wanted to start performing it, but my manager was horrified. He thought people would really love it and I would become known as the Coconut song woman.”

This video is called Coconuts – Joan Baez at Kidzstock, June 19, 2010.

Then there was the time the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, a near neighbour and a former lover, called to ask if she would give him a piano lesson. “I told him I wasn’t much of a piano player, but I knew where middle C was, but he said, ‘Come on over’ so I did. When I got there it was just Steve in the big, empty rotunda of his house – there was no furniture – sitting behind a Bösendorfer (a particularly expensive make of piano). He couldn’t play a note.”

Baez doesn’t tell such anecdotes to impress but to amuse both the listener and herself. She is aware of her own status – legendaryness, she mockingly says – and finds it vaguely absurd. “I once had this Australian journalist call me and she said to me: ‘Has it ever occurred to you that you are the only woman in the world to have seen both Steve Jobs and Bob Dylan naked?’ I told her: ‘But not at the same time.’”

The notion of Baez the doubt-ridden folk singer could hardly be in greater contrast to her alter-ego, Baez the activist. When it comes to politics, she has always known where she stood. The world has never measured up to her ideas of fairness and equality, not today and not when she was a 15-year-old refusing to salute the American flag. Eight years later, her schoolgirl radicalism had moved on to the national stage. She was one of the principal performers at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the day on which Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech. “The influx of people into the city was remarkable, like an ocean flooding in,’’ she says when asked for her recollections of the day. Then when asked about King himself: “What people don’t realise about him was that he was a very funny man.’’

The passing of the Civil Rights Act and King’s subsequent assassination robbed the movement of much of its power, while the onset of the Vietnam war turned the attention of activists towards events on the other side of the world. Baez, again, was at the forefront of a protest movement.

In 1972 she travelled to Hanoi with a peace delegation and was caught in the middle of an American bombing campaign on the North Vietnamese capital that lasted 12 days. “We spent the whole time in the basement of our hotel,’’ she recalls. “I have never been so afraid in my life. I thought I was going to die. But I learned something – when the flames start coming towards you everyone starts praying, even the atheists and the agnostics, but when the flames start fading away we all go back to the structures and beliefs that we had before.” For Baez, the Hanoi experience made her even more determinedly radical than she had been. What kept her going? “The belief that what I was doing was right.”

For Baez, no political leader measured up to King until Barack Obama came along and ran for president. But the reality of his victory has been a disappointment. “I wish that Obama had a different enough personality that he would have stayed on the streets. If he had done that then he would have been the closest thing we ever had to King. He had the attention and support of hundreds of millions of people and now there isn’t much of anything.” …

She sacrificed much, not least in a musical sense. Expending so much time and energy on activism cost her commercially. Record companies were not exactly lining up to invest in an “act” so hell-bent on lecturing America about its failings. …

As for the rest of the world and its concerns, Baez is willing to offer her personal support to causes that are particularly close to her heart, most notably the campaign against the death penalty in the United States. But she is no longer first to the barricades when the cry of radicalism is raised. “People ask me what I’m going to do and I say back to them: ‘No, the question is what are you going to do?’”