Tag Archives | Britain

Rise Of The Precariat: The New Working Class

British economist Guy Standing has coined the term "precariat" to refer to the fast-growing working-class caste of the 21st century. With labor markets now globalized and "flexiblized," the risks and uncertainties of capitalism have been transferred almost completely away from capitalists and onto workers. Below, citizens discuss living and working in post-industrial England, where large numbers scrounge to obtain low-wage, unstable jobs. v
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Coming To Britain: Unmanned Spy Drones And Facial Recognition Cameras

The Telegraph reports:

Unmanned spy drones, CCTV that recognises faces and cameras in the back of taxis could soon be the norm on the streets of Britain, the Home Office admitted yesterday.

Ministers signalled that advances in technology meant there was nothing to stop such controversial surveillance measures becoming commonplace.

Thales Watchkeeper WK450 UAV

Britain's Thales Watchkeeper WK450 spy drone

The warning came in proposals for a code of practice to better regulate the spread of CCTV amid fears there will be “unchecked proliferation” without it.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said last year that Britain is heading towards becoming a surveillance state of unmanned spy drones, GPS tracking of employees and profiling through social networking sites.

He said the relentless march of surveillance had seen snooping techniques “intensify and expand” at such a pace that regulators were struggling to keep up.

The Coalition Government has pledged to row back the surveillance state and restore civil liberties.

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Immigration Officer Put Wife On Terrorist List To Prevent Her Coming Home

20091093356Come on guys, the War on Terror is a serious matter! From Great Britain, hijinks ensue as immigration officials put their nagging wives on the terrorist watchlist to prevent their returning from overseas vacation. The Daily Mail reports:

An immigration officer tried to rid himself of his wife by adding her name to a list of terrorist suspects.

He used his access to security databases to include his wife on a watch list of people banned from boarding flights into Britain because their presence in the country is ‘not conducive to the public good’. As a result the woman was unable for three years to return from Pakistan after traveling to the county to visit family.

The tampering went undetected until the immigration officer was selected for promotion and his wife name was found on the suspects’ list during a vetting inquiry. The Home Office confirmed today that the officer has been sacked for gross misconduct.

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China Vows To Help European Debt Crisis

2010 had Greece and Ireland receiving financial help from the Internatioanl Monetary Fund and Eurozone nations. 2011 has Spain, Germany and Britain finding help from Chinese investors as Vice Premier Li Keqiang began his European tour. Via The Jakarta Globe:

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang backed Europe in its sovereign debt battle on Wednesday, starting a three-nation tour by promising to buy more Spanish government bonds.

Li, widely tipped to be the next premier, delivered a significant vote of confidence given China’s world record foreign reserves of 2.648 trillion dollars (2.0 trillion euros), much of it in euros.

On his visit to Spain, Germany and Britain he is supporting Europe’s recovery efforts and seeking to soothe global market fears of a debt quagmire spreading from Greece and Ireland to Portugal and even Spain.

[Continues at The Jakarta Globe]

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Britain Considers Ban On Student Protesting

2010121015288820784_20“I would urge those who turn up for protests to think about the impact this could have on their future careers.”

Over the past month, British students have repeatedly taken to the streets in large and raucous marches to protest huge increases in higher education tuition. In response, the government may now outlaw student demonstrations. Clearly, the message is that young people are not supposed to be civically engaged, the Telegraph reports:

Police may ban anti-Government marches through central London to prevent further disorder and strain on officer numbers.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, said that outlawing the demonstrations was an option for the authorities but conceded it could anger protesters further.

He admitted he was “very worried” about the effect on law and order in town centers and suburbs caused by large numbers of officers being sent to the center of the capital.

Despite widespread criticism over the policing of the protests, and warnings that the Met’s tactics risk leading to the death of an innocent bystander, Sir Paul said he was proud of the professionalism of the 3,000 officers on duty last week.

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Graham Greene And Other Great Authors Were British Spies

author-graham-greene-talking-with-actor-alec-guinness-on-location-for-our-man-in-havana-premium-19372174.jpegAmong the eyebrow-raising tidbits in the first authorized book on the history of the MI6 (Britain’s secret service) is the acknowledgment that the United Kingdom used some of its most celebrated authors as spies, among them Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham. The reason being that they could visit exotic places without suspicion, and write reports filled with pithy witticisms, the Guardian reports:

The authors Graham Greene, Arthur Ransome, Somerset Maugham, Compton Mackenzie and Malcolm Muggeridge, and the philosopher AJ “Freddie” Ayer, all worked for MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service admitted for the first time today . They are among the many exotic characters who agreed to spy for Britain, mainly during wartime, who appear in a the first authorized history of MI6.

Greene, Mackenzie, Muggeridge and others who have written about their secret work make it clear they were reluctant spies approached by MI6 because of their access and knowledge of exotic parts of the world.

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Criminology Student Studied Jack the Ripper, Then Killed Like Him

They caught this guy with CCTV, a “nuisance” the killer’s inspiration didn’t face in the 1880s. John Bingham, Paul Stokes and Gordon Rayner write in the Telegraph:

Jack the Ripper

"A Suspicious Character," London News, October 13, 1888

As he began his shift on Monday morning, the caretaker of the Holmfield Court flats in Bradford settled into his office chair to review the weekend’s CCTV footage. He fast-forwarded the recording, looking out for evidence of vandalism or petty crime.

Instead, he found himself witnessing cold-blooded murder.

In a corridor of the flats, a man chased and grabbed a young woman before knocking her unconscious. The attacker then disappeared from view, only to return moments later with a crossbow which he used to fire a bolt into her head.

The man could then be seen dragging the body out of view, and later going backwards and forwards with bin bags and a rucksack.

The caretaker reached for the phone and dialled 999.

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Drunken Mugshots Are Nothing New: Here Are Some British DUIs From 1904

Caught drunk driving a steam engine? Via the Daily Mail:

Drunk in 1904

James Doyle, a labourer, was convicted of being drunk and disorderly in a public house in 1904.

Angry, bewildered and shame-faced these Edwardian drunks stare into the lens of the police camera.

They were ‘habitual drunkards’ whose offences included being caught while in charge of a horse, carriage and even a steam engine.

Issued a century ago, the drunks were given the equivalent of modern-day Asbos in that they were banned from being served in pubs because of their past behaviour.

Information was compiled by the Watch Committee of the City of Birmingham, which was set up by the police to enforce the Licensing Act of 1902.

The act was passed in an attempt to deal with public drunks, giving police the power to apprehend those found drunk in any public place and unable to take care of themselves.

Read More and see lots of photos in the Daily Mail

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Get A Master’s Degree In Vampire Literature?

TrueBloodLucy Tobin writes in the Guardian:

Robert Pattinson has a lot to answer for. Ever since his lanky frame immortalised Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight character Edward Cullen with an American twang, all the vampires of the world seem to have lost their British passports. Those populating Bon Temps, the fictional town in Louisiana that is the setting for TV drama True Blood, have a southern American drawl. Meanwhile Mystic Falls, Virginia, where The Vampire Diaries is set, is a long way from the London and Whitby homes of the most famous vampire of all: Count Dracula.

But watch out, bloodsuckers: the Brits want to bring you home. Academics at the University of Hertfordshire are organising a conference that will serve ketchup-smothered food (it’s tastier than blood) from coffins, all in the name of putting British vampire fiction back on the map. It’s the brainchild of Dr Sam George, a lecturer in English literature at Hertfordshire who is fascinated by vampires and keen to use them to make literature exciting.

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