Wednesday, January 16, 2008

All visa applicants to Britain now being fingerprinted

Wow! Britain catches up with 19th century technology! It's only as good as the fingerprint database and how many "refugees" are in that? And it won't keep out illegals. Nor will it send home the many criminal illegals that Britain already permits to reside there. Still, it's better than nothing, I guess

All visitors to Britain requiring visas will have to be fingerprinted from today. The immigration minister, Liam Byrne, said a programme for installing biometric visa controls has been completed three months ahead of schedule. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is done. It is done three months early, and it is done several million pounds under budget. "We now check everybody's fingerprint wherever they apply for a visa around the world."

Byrne said the new system - the first of 10 key changes to the UK's border controls to be implemented during this year - is already having an effect. "We have already found about 500 cases of people who have chosen not to give us their identity correctly, and we have checked them against databases that we hold in the UK and found out that they have been lying to us," he said. "Obviously, that has allowed us to stop them coming anywhere near Britain." [In your dreams!]

Another of the 10 key "milestones" in the reform of the immigration system will be the introduction of heavy on-the-spot fines for employers who hire illegal workers. If found to be negligent, businesses could be fined up to 10,000 pounds for each illegal immigrant they hire, and bosses could face up to two years in prison. A new radio and newspaper advertising campaign began today to raise awareness of the new employment rules, which will come into force before the end of next month. "The message is clear for employers: we will not tolerate illegal working," Byrne said. "This highly visible marketing campaign will ensure employers have no excuse for breaking the rules."

The shadow home secretary, David Davis, said: "After 10 years of Labour, we welcome the introduction of biometric visas. But our borders will remain seriously vulnerable without a dedicated UK border police. "The government, however, is not telling the truth when it claims [the Conservatives] are against biometric visas. We have always made clear that we support biometric visas, and at the time of the party conference [we] produced a document giving full costings to show how we would save money from scrapping ID cards without scrapping biometric visas."

Commenting on the proposals for large fines and prison sentences for businesses who employ illegal workers, Davis added: "It is a bit rich for the government to criticise businesses when the Home Office itself enjoys crown immunity from prosecution in this area, and has on several occasions been caught employing illegal immigrants - including a security officer tasked with guarding the prime minister's car, and another manning the Home Office front desk."

The UK Independence party leader, Nigel Farage, said: "In general, the government are getting tougher on immigration, and not before time. But they are, naturally, ignoring the massive EU dimension in all of this - which is that, despite all these controls, 450 million people still have the right to come to Britain to live and work; to claim benefits; [to] send their children to our schools; and [to] use our health service."


Muslims must do more to integrate, says British poll

A majority of Britons believe that Muslims need to do more to integrate into society and want tighter restrictions on immigration, an opinion poll commissioned by The Sunday Telegraph shows. However, the population is divided about whether the breakdown between communities has reached such a level that there are "no-go areas" for non-Muslims.

The poll comes at the end of a week in which Muslim integration has been pushed to the top of the political agenda following an article in The Sunday Telegraph by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, who claimed that Islamic extremism in Britain had created no-go areas. His comments have been backed by church leaders in majority Muslim areas who have disclosed that their congregations have been targeted by militant Islamists in a campaign of intimidation which has seen churches vandalised and converts to Christianity attacked. They say that extremists are determined to make non-Muslim residents feel unwelcome, with the ultimate aim of driving them out.

Today's ICM poll shows that Britons are divided on the issue, with 35 per cent agreeing with the bishop, 38 per cent disagreeing, and the rest unsure. More than half - 56 per cent - were critical of the failure of Islamic communities to integrate into society. Only one in four felt that they had been successful.

Bishop Nazir-Ali expressed concern that attempts had been made in some areas to impose an Islamic character, for example by amplifying the call to prayer from mosques. One in three of those questioned in the poll said that they would be unhappy to have a mosque built in their neighbourhood compared with a quarter who would support such a move. Although 51 per cent agreed that the Muslim community enriched Britain and was not a threat, 37 per cent disagreed.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said that the poll results showed a widespread feeling that the Government had failed. "This demonstrates that the Government's actions, both to control immigration and to advance integration, are believed to have failed by the vast majority of the population," he said.

Church leaders in communities with large concentrations of Muslims said that Christians were being targeted. An east London vicar who had delivered Christmas leaflets in his parish said he was told to stay away from "Muslim areas". He said: "Despite this being a mixed area, where Muslims make up only about 15 per cent of the population, I was told that the leaflets were offensive and could make people angry." Another churchman said his path had been blocked by Muslim youths as he drove through a district of Oldham, Lancashire, last year. "They wanted to know why I was coming into 'their' area," he said. A priest ministering in the Manchester district of Rusholme said he knew of "dozens of cases" in which Muslim converts to Christianity had been attacked. Another church leader said that Asian Christians in Leicester feared being identified when leaving churches. "They are scared of being stopped and beaten up if they are found carrying Bibles," he said.

None of the church leaders we spoke to wished to be identified for fear of retaliation, but Don Horrocks, of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "It's increasingly difficult for non-Muslims to live in areas of high Muslim density, especially if they are practising Christians."

Some commentators fear that the aim of Islamist groups such as Tablighi Jamaat, Hizb-ut-Tahir and the Deobandi sect is to drive non-Muslims out of areas such as Dewsbury, in West Yorkshire, and Oldham along with neighbourhoods in Luton, Leicester, Birmingham and Leyton, in east London. The ultra-conservative Deobandi movement, which produced the Taliban in Afghanistan and some of whose British followers preach hatred of Christians, Hindus and Jews, is thought to be in control of almost half of Britain's 1,350 mosques, reports claim.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, the director of the Barnabas Trust, which helps persecuted Christians, said: "Muslims are being told not to integrate into British society, but to set up separate enclaves where they can operate according to sharia law." He said the process of "cleansing" Muslim-majority areas of non-Muslims had already begun, with white residents urged to leave and churches threatened.

However, a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said that research showed that 81 per cent of people say that they feel that people from different backgrounds get on well together in their local areas. "People of all faiths make a huge contribution to British life. Community cohesion is key to maintaining harmonious communities. That is why our strategy puts an emphasis on promoting integration and shared British values."

Most Britons believe that asylum seekers and immigrants are taking advantage of human rights laws, a survey shows. The poll, carried out for the Ministry of Justice, found that 57 per cent agreed that foreigners and asylum seekers are exploiting the Human Rights Act for their own purposes. Another 40 per cent thought the Act had caused more problems than it had solved.


The dark age of low-energy bulbs

Mick Hume comments from Britain below -- saying that dullard politicians are telling us how to run our homes - in semi-darkness

Late in the pantomime season Ken Livingstone, the Miserabilist of London, is staging a new version of Aladdin. At B&Q stores this weekend Londoners can get "new bulbs for old" by swapping incandescent lightbulbs for free low-energy ones (only two each, the genie of the lightbulb being less slightly generous than the one in the lamp).

So far, so what. But what turned me off was the mayor calling this eco-stunt a "lightbulb amnesty". An amnesty is "a period during which offenders are exempt from punishment", as when police turn a blind eye to those handing in illegal weapons. A lightbulb amnesty implies that the merciful authorities will let us carbon offenders dump our tungsten timebombs and avoid the electric chair.

The economic and energy arguments about different bulbs are as dull and cold as the light thrown out by the current low-energy efforts. (Perhaps those greens who claim these are bright and warm just eat more carrots than me.) But call it a lightbulb amnesty and you can reduce the issue to a simple moral message about the power of evil.

It seems that the use of energy and production of carbon has become the standard by which all human activity is judged. Low is seen as good, higher bad, regardless of how it might illuminate our existence. What next? An auto amnesty to exchange the car for a family rickshaw? Or an infant amnesty where we can swap our carbon-guzzling kids for free-range chicks?

When an alternative scare story about mercury in low-energy bulbs arose (visions of the health and safety police swooping to change broken ones), Livingstone responded: "We shouldn't be too alarmist." How true. Of course, it is not at all alarmist for the mayor to tell us we must switch to bulbs that save a halfpenny an hour in order to "avoid catastrophic climate change".

So the genius of Thomas Edison is reinvented as a crime against the climate, while dullard politicians assume the power to tell us how to run our own homes. The lights are dimming, if not yet going off, over Europe. Welcome to the new dark age.


Rise in school leaving age to 18 'ill-conceived'

PLANS by the government to force young people to stay in education or training until they are 18 have been attacked by one of the country's leading educationists as "ill-conceived" and likely to have an "overwhelmingly negative effect". According to a pamphlet by Alison Wolf, professor of public sector management at King's College London, the policy promoted by Ed Balls, the children's secretary, will infringe civil liberties and wreck the market for youth employment while providing qualifications that have "little or no market value".

"It is one of the most ill-thought-out pieces of education legislation I have ever seen," said Wolf. "I find it very hard to find any redeeming features." Her pamphlet, published today by the Policy Exchange think tank, comes as the government prepares for a second reading in the Commons tomorrow of the bill to introduce the new "participation age".

It has also emerged that a report commissioned by the government and released without publicity has found little evidence from overseas that forcing people to stay in school or training until 18 has any benefit. "Unfortunately, it was not possible to find any direct evidence of the impact of introducing a system of compulsory education or training to the age of 18," says the review, commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. From 2015 all teenagers will have to stay at school or in training until they are 18. Those in jobs will have to take time off to train.

Other criticism has been raised because the bill does not exempt pregnant or disabled teenagers, those in the armed forces or those training to become professional athletes. "Gap" years taken by many youngsters could also be severely hit.

Balls said yesterday: "This is about extending opportunity to all young people and making sure we can succeed in the global economy." It is understood the Tories, who had previously called the policy a "gimmick", plan to abstain in the Commons. They hope to introduce amendments to remove provisions such as taking teenagers through the courts if they fail to attend training. Michael Gove, the shadow children's secretary, said: "The government's own report has outlined a series of problems with keeping children in education against their will . . . We will work with the government to improve this legislation."

But Balls said: "If the Tories sit on their hands and abstain, they will prove the Conservative party still believes in educational opportunity only for some and not for all."


British independent schools reject charity rules

Britain's leading public schools have rejected as unworkable regulations that would force them to open their doors to pupils from poor families. The Charity Commission will publish guidance this week on what the nation's 2,500 private schools must do to satisfy new laws requiring that they prove their "public benefit" in order to retain their charitable status, worth 100 million pounds in tax breaks each year. In submissions to the commission, seen by The Times, some of Britain's best-known independent schools said that draft proposals issued last year insisting that poor students "must be able to benefit" from private schools would place an unfair burden on fee-paying parents and could threaten the existence of many schools.

Jonathan Shephard, the chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, saidit had managed to force "substantial changes" in the guidance. Eton College accused the commission of employing "flawed reasoning" in arguing that the relief on public funds that independent schools provide by educating children for whom the State would otherwise have to pay provided proportionately less benefit to poor families, who pay less tax. Andrew Wynn, the bursar of Eton, wrote: "We would not seek to argue that relief of public funds is enough on its own, but we would argue that such relief is a significant matter - many of our parents are very conscious of paying twice - and is not something that should become underrated on the basis of flawed reasoning."

Rugby School, whose annual fees for boarders are 24,915 pounds, accused the commission of deliberately creating difficulties for independent schools. Gary Lydiatt, its bursar, wrote: "As drafted, the guidance suggests that without addressing the provision of services to individuals on low incomes, the public benefit test would not be met. While this is not an issue for Rugby, it could cause significant problems for other schools. "It is essential to accept that most independent schools have to charge for the services that they provide. Unless independent schools are able to do this, it is inevitable that many will close and the benefits that they provide will be lost."

Harrow School accused the commission of misinterpreting charity law. Nick Shryane, its bursar, wrote: "The phrase `must be able to benefit' should be replaced with `must not be excluded from benefiting'. "Those schools which are able to do so will be able to give direct access through bursaries to the children of families who cannot afford fees. But not all schools are well funded or able to offer bursaries."

Dame Suzi Leather, the commission's chairwoman, said in August that she would be prepared to take legal action against schools that refused to widen access. "It's going to be a difficult and contested territory," she said.


Brit Muslim leader speaks out against "honor" killings: "One of Britain's leading Muslims has called on his community to rise up against a culture of fear and help stamp out forced marriages and honour killings after the third high-profile court case in Britain in the past year. Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, head of the Muslim Parliament in Britain, spoke out after a coroner ruled on Friday that 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed was "unlawfully killed" and that "the concept of an arranged marriage was central to the circumstances of her death". Mr Siddiqui said he was certain the schoolgirl, who wanted to go to university and become a lawyer, was the victim of an honour killing. No charges have yet been bought by police"

1 comment:

ERS said...

Bravo, Dr. Siddiqui! Wish there were more like you.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"