Sunday, April 19, 2009

Police photography hatred in Britain again (1)

Terror quiz for man who took photo of British police car.

A man was detained as a terrorist suspect for taking a photo of a police car being driven erratically across a public park. Malcolm Sleath, who is chairman of his local park society, was stopped by two officers and told he had breached Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. The law was amended in February to allow police to stop and search anyone they consider is a terrorist threat. Those found guilty face a maximum ten years in jail.

But Mr Sleath, acting chairman of the Friends of Town Park in Enfield, North London, was furious because police are not allowed to drive in that area of park. The 62-year-old management consultant said: 'It was coming a public footpath and leaving tyre marks everywhere and making people move out of the way. 'They are supposed to park and investigate things on foot, so I wanted to show the picture to the sergeant. '(The officer) was clearly embarrassed to be photographed where he shouldn't have been and wanted to intimidate me.'

The two PCSOs had been dispatched to the park to look for evidence of drug use in the surrounding bushes. But their bosses issued an immediate apology to Mr Sleath after the incident and admitted the pair should have been on foot. The PCSO concerned has also received 'formal words of advice', a police spokesman said.


Police photography hatred in Britain again (2)

Police delete London tourists' photos 'to prevent terrorism'

Like most visitors to London, Klaus Matzka and his teenage son Loris took several photographs of some of the city's sights, including the famous red double-decker buses. More unusually perhaps, they also took pictures of the Vauxhall bus station, which Matzka regards as "modern sculpture". But the tourists have said they had to return home to Vienna without their holiday pictures after two policemen forced them to delete the photographs from their cameras in the name of preventing terrorism.

Matkza, a 69-year-old retired television cameraman with a taste for modern architecture, was told that photographing anything to do with transport was "strictly forbidden". The policemen also recorded the pair's details, including passport numbers and hotel addresses. In a letter in today's Guardian, Matzka wrote: "I understand the need for some sensitivity in an era of terrorism, but isn't it naive to think terrorism can be prevented by terrorising tourists?" The Metropolitan police said it was investigating the allegations.

In a telephone interview from his home in Vienna, Matka said: "I've never had these experiences anywhere, never in the world, not even in Communist countries." He described his horror as he and his 15-year-old son were forced to delete all transport-related pictures on their cameras, including images of Vauxhall underground station. "Google Street View is allowed to show any details of our cities on the world wide web," he said. "But a father and his son are not allowed to take pictures of famous London landmarks."

He said he would not return to London again after the incident, which took place last week in central Walthamstow, in north-east London. He said he and his son liked to travel to the unfashionable suburbs. "We typically crisscross cities from the end of railway terminals, we like to go to places not visited by other tourists. You get to know a city by going to places like this, not central squares. Buckingham Palace is also necessary, but you need to go elsewhere to get to know the city," he said. He said the "nasty incident" had "killed interest in any further trips to the city".

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and a Green party member of the London assembly, said she would raise the incident with the Met chief, Sir Paul Stephenson, as part of discussions on the policing of the G20 protests. "This is another example of the police completely overreaching the anti-terrorism powers," she said. "They are using it in a totally inappropriate way.

"I will be raising it with the commissioner. I have already written to him about the police taking away cameras and stopping people taking photographs and made the point that if it was not for people taking photos, we would not know about the death of Ian Tomlinson or the woman who was hit by a police officer."

A spokeswoman for Metropolitan police said: "It is not the police's intention to prevent tourists from taking photographs and we are looking to the allegations made." The force said it had no knowledge of any ban on photographing public transport in the capital.


Internet privacy: Britain in the dock

'Big Brother' state comes under fire as European Commission launches inquiry into secret surveillance of web users

Britain's failure to protect its citizens from secret surveillance on the internet is to be investigated by the European Commission. The move will fuel claims that Britain is sliding towards a Big Brother state and could end with the Government being forced to defend its policy on internet privacy in front of judges in Europe. The legal action is being brought over the use of controversial behavioural advertising services which were tested on BT's internet customers without their consent.

Yesterday, the EU said it wanted "clear consent" from internet users that their private data was being used to gather commercial information about their web shopping habits.

Under the programme, the UK-listed company Phorm has developed technology that allows internet service providers (ISPs) to track what their users are doing online. ISPs can then sell that information to media companies and advertisers, who can use it to place more relevant advertisements on websites the user subsequently visits. The EU has accused Britain of turning a blind eye to the growth in this kind of internet marketing.

Yesterday, the EU telecoms commissioner, Viviane Reding, said: "I call on the UK authorities to change their national laws and ensure that national authorities are duly empowered and have proper sanctions at their disposal to enforce EU legislation."

Last year, BT tested the Phorm technology to track its customer's internet searches without their knowledge, provoking complaints from users and from UK members of the European Parliament.

Because it is considered lawful to intercept data when there is "reasonable grounds for believing" there is consent, the issue falls outside the UK's wiretapping laws. Linda Weatherhead of Consumer Focus said: "While phone tapping is clearly illegal and unacceptable, it seems that spying on the digital communications and activity is not." Richard Clayton, treasurer of the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) – which described Phorm as "illegal" last year – said: "The laws are fit for purpose, but it seems that Whitehall have misunderstood their own laws." He said that users at both ends need to have consented to the system, which is not the case here and so contravenes the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act from 2000.

The Commission is also critical of the Government's implementation of the European electronic privacy and personal data protection rules. They state that EU countries must ensure the confidentiality of communications by banning the interception and surveillance of internet users without their consent. Ms Reding said: "We have been following the Phorm case for some time and have concluded that there are problems in the way the UK has implemented parts of EU rules on the confidentially of communications." She added that the enforcement of the laws "should allow the UK to respond more vigorously to new challenges of e-privacy and personal data protection such as those that have arisen in the Phorm case. It should also help reassure UK consumers about their privacy and data protection while surfing the internet."

The EU's intervention was welcomed by privacy campaigners. The Open Rights Group recently wrote to some of the world's biggest websites including Google, Yahoo and Facebook, asking them to block Phorm. Its executive director, Jim Killock, said yesterday: "There are big legal questions surrounding BT's use of Phorm, so we welcome the EU taking the Government to task. It's a pity our own Government haven't had more backbone and stood up for their voters' rights."

The UK has two months to reply to the EC's formal notification. Should no satisfactory response be made, the Commission could issue a reasoned opinion, before the case moves to the European Court of Justice. Last year the Information Commissioner's Office passed the Phorm technology as legal.

Advertisers are particularly keen on this form of marketing as the more targeted it becomes, the more value for money they feel the advert offers. One consultant said: "It is basically a very fine line between advertising that helps people and those that intrude."

Phorm boss Kent Ertugrul has been increasingly forced on to the back foot over the issue of privacy, fending off a series of questions over the issue last week at a "town hall" meeting. He said that the technology does not store information to identify a user; that all participants can opt out of it; and that it complies with data protection and privacy laws. The group added yesterday that the Commission's statement did not contradict that its technology was fully compliant with UK legislation and EU directives.

It is illegal in the UK to unlawfully intercept communications, but this is limited to "intentional" interception, the EC said yesterday. This is also considered lawful when those intercepting have "reasonable grounds for believing" consent has been given. There is no independent national supervisory authority dealing with such cases.

Several bodies including FIPR have blamed the Government and the UK regulators for playing "pass the parcel" with the issue, which has left it hanging with no one wanting to enforce it.

The Commission received its first complaints over the issue in April last year following BT's trial. Other providers including Virgin and Carphone Warehouse's TalkTalk are also interested. Users complained to the UK data protection authority and the police. The Commission wrote to the UK authorities in July and upon receiving the answers "has concerns that there are structural problems in the way the UK has implemented EU rules".

Simon Davis, director of Privacy International, believes the row has erupted more over "sovereignty than substance. It is almost entirely political".

'Big Brother' Britain: Private data under threat

* The mobile calls, emails and website visits of every person in Britain will be stored for a year under sweeping new powers which came into force this month. The new powers will for the first time place a legal duty on internet providers to store private data.

* Privacy campaigners warn that all this information could be used by the Government to create a giant "Big Brother" super-database containing a map of everyone's private life. The Home Office is expected shortly to publish plans for the storage of data which it says will be invaluable in the fight against crime.

* Facebook, one of the world's biggest internet sites, faced a privacy backlash when thousands of members signed a petition calling on the website to remove an advertising programme called Beacon, which can be used to track the spending habits of its users' visits to other websites.

* Google also courted controversy this year when it launched Street View, the controversial 3D mapping feature, in the UK. In one village householders stopped a Google vehicle from taking pictures of their street.


'Hospital blunders meant my baby bled to death': Father's grief as NHS staff ignore plea to treat nine-day-old son

And the hospital is covering up -- has already "lost" relevant records that might identify the irresponsible staff. Don't you just LOVE that socialized medicine?

A heartbroken father told yesterday how his newborn son bled to death in hospital after a series of blunders by NHS staff. Joshua Titcombe was nine days old when he died from a common infection picked up from his mother which could have been cured with antibiotics. James Titcombe said he and his wife Hoa had urged staff at Furness General Hospital, in Cumbria, to treat Joshua with antibiotics but they were told he seemed well and did not even need to see a doctor. Mr Titcombe, a 31-year-old engineer, said they were told a paediatrician was 'too busy' to deal with them.

But the baby later had to be airlifted to two other hospitals where he eventually bled to death after the infection damaged his lungs, causing a massive haemorrhage. Mrs Titcombe, 32, a charity worker, went to hospital after her waters broke three weeks prematurely following a spell of feeling unwell. Hours after Joshua was born, Mrs Titcombe collapsed and was given antibiotics for an infection.

But while Joshua's temperature fell, his family's pleas for him to be examined by a doctor were ignored. Mr Titcombe said: 'My concern for Joshua was immense. I repeatedly asked if he needed antibiotics and was very surprised to be told he didn't. 'This seemed counter-intuitive to me but I had no choice but to trust what I was told.' It became clear the next day that Joshua was unwell - and at this point he was given antibiotics before being airlifted to Manchester and then Newcastle.

Mr Titcombe said: 'The day after he was born, I had come to take my wife and baby home when they found him not breathing well. It was a horrific shock. 'They told us he had a problem with his heart, then with his oesophagus. All the time I just suspected he had the same infection as his mother.'

In Newcastle consultants said his problem was an untreated pneumococcus infection - the same condition as his mother. Joshua died a week later in October 2008 on a life-support machine.

His parents, who have a four-year-old daughter, said they are also upset that the medical records of Joshua's stay in Furness General appear to have gone missing. They have asked the Health Service Ombudsman to investigate. Mr Titcombe said: 'His observation chart, which I saw when we were in the hospital, has been lost and we have had no explanation as to how this could have happened. Anything which could lead to the identification of individuals who failed him has mysteriously disappeared. The records would have answered a lot of our questions.' He added: 'The failures that led to Joshua's death must not be swept under the carpet.

Tony Halsall, chief executive of The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, told the couple in a letter: 'The care received by Joshua was not acceptable. We let him down and as a direct consequence he lost his fight for life. I would like to offer my heartfelt apologies.' He added yesterday: 'We are doing everything we can to prevent this from ever happening again.' [Bullsh*t, Bullsh*t, Bullsh*t]


Desperate attempt to fix the unfixable

The NHS has recruited two captains of industry, a former director-general of the BBC, a vice-admiral and an author and psychologist in an effort to improve leadership in the health service, The Times has learnt.

Greg Dyke, who ran the BBC for four years, and Sir Stuart Hampson, the former chairman of John Lewis, are among a group of health service “outsiders” being brought in to give insights on raising standards in very large organisations. Lessons on discipline and motivation are likely to come from Vice-Admiral Sir Adrian Johns, a former Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief of Naval Home Command, who commanded HMS Ocean in the Iraq war.

The move, which mirrors Gordon Brown’s attempt to create a government of all the talents, will also involve contributions from Daniel Goleman, author of the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence, and Gary Kaplan, a doctor and chief executive of a network of private clinics in the US.

The appointment of the five men as patrons of a new National Leadership Council will be announced this morning, with the council’s first meeting scheduled for next week. The patrons will receive set fees of £144.62 a meeting. The council has been given the task of driving up standards in the NHS by showing what world-class leadership looks like and trying to develop such skills at every level.

It will also have 25 core members, all with longstanding NHS experience, who will focus on championing five key areas: clinical leadership, encouraging more doctors and nurses to take on executive roles, improving the standard of NHS trust boards, getting the highest quality applicants for all senior jobs, improving “inclusion” to ensure that leaders reflect the community they serve, and identifying the next generation of leaders. Each issue will have a lead member, who will be expected to provide two days a week and receive pro rata payment in line with their current NHS salaries.

A faculty of fellows is also being created to support the council, which will meet six times in its first year, with patrons attending when called upon.

The NHS, which employs 1.4 million people, has faced repeated criticism over the years for failing to make the most of its talent pool and resources. The latest warning came last month when the health regulator identified a failure of leadership at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust as key to safety issues that may have contributed to more than 400 deaths at its hospitals.

David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, who will be chairman of the new council, said that the overhaul was essential to ensuring that the highest standards were achieved. “Leadership is the vital ingredient that can make all the difference to the quality of care that our patients experience,” he said. “Great leadership, which focuses on improving services for patients, will help transform the NHS.” “We want to improve the overall quality of our leaders, equipping them with the skills to make our vision a reality.”

Mr Nicholson said that the council was being created as part of a commitment set out in the Government’s strategy for the future of the NHS, High Quality Care for All, and after extensive consultation with the NHS and leadership experts.

Mr Dyke said yesterday that his new appointment brought a range of challenges. “This is an exciting initiative at a critical moment. Leadership is at the heart of the NHS,” he said. “I look forward to making a contribution and ensuring that we deliver results that inspire confidence from all within and outside the NHS.”

Mr Goleman, an American psychologist and journalist, developed the argument that “non-cognitive skills” can matter as much as IQ for workplace success, which became the subject of an international bestselling book. Sir Adrian Johns, who trained as a helicopter pilot, served in the Royal Navy for more than 30 years. Dr Kaplan is chief executive of Virginia Mason Medical Centre, a private, not-for-profit organisation offering a network of primary and specialtyspecialist care clinics in the United States.

The NLC will work in partnership with the recently announced National Quality Board (NQB).


Irresponsible medical scares over vaccines bear fruit

London suffering from shocking rise in rare 'Victorian' diseases

London is suffering a startling rise in diseases associated with Victorian times, official figures reveal today. Rare infectious illnesses including typhoid, whooping cough and scarlet fever have soared by 166 per cent in the past two years, with the number of cases of mumps - a disease easily prevented with vaccine - rising from 125 in 2007 to 393 last year - an increase of 214 per cent. Justine Greening, the shadow minister for London, said infection rates in the capital are markedly higher than the national averages.

The rise could be a result of parents refusing the MMR jab after now-debunked claims in 2001 that it might be linked to autism. Mumps can lead to hearing loss and damage the nervous system in adults.

The figures also showed cases of the highly-contagious whooping cough have quadrupled in the five years to 2007, from 63 to 252. Symptoms include choking spells and vomiting and can cause death, especially in young infants. Meanwhile cases of scarlet fever, which causes high fevers, rashes, and severe damage to internal organs, are up 153 per cent since 2005, with 501 infected in London last year. Typhoid, which is associated with poor sanitation and hygiene, has risen steadily since 2004, from 45 to 127 cases per year.

The Conservatives claimed the Government was partly to blame for failing to invest enough in public health and to appoint school nurses. Ms Greening, MP for Putney, said: 'The rise of these highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases in our city is truly alarming. 'The Government must do more to ensure the public health of Londoners.'


Diabetics in stem-cell trial go for years without insulin jab

Patients with type 1 diabetes who received an experimental stem-cell treatment have been able to go as long as four years without needing insulin, researchers say. Stem-cell transplants have effectively "reversed" the condition and freed a small group of patients from the need to have daily injections to control their condition.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as "insulin-dependent" diabetes, occurs when the body loses the ability to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Distinct from type 2 diabetes that is associated with obesity, it is usually diagnosed in childhood and typically requires lifelong insulin therapy in the form of injections or pumps. But patients given a transplant of stem cells made from their own bone marrow have regained the ability to produce the vital hormone, and have managed to cease their insulin injections for an average of are involved in the production of natural insulin in the body, Dr Burt said. One patient did not use insulin for four years, four patients remained insulin-free for three years and three patients for two years, and four patients did not use insulin for more than a year after treatment with the stem cells, Dr Burt said.

To find out if the change was lasting the research team measured levels of C-peptides, a marker that shows how well the body is producing insulin. They found levels increased "up to 24 months after transplantation and were maintained until at least 36 months". Even in the group that had to restart insulin there was a significant increase in C-peptide levels that lasted at least two years. "At the present time [it] remains the only treatment capable of reversing type 1 diabetes mellitus in humans," the team wrote. A potential drawback is that it is likely to work only within three months of the diagnosis of diabetes in patients, before the immune system has destroyed all the body's own islet cells.

Iain Frame, director of research at the charity Diabetes UK, said: "Preliminary findings from this small study were reported in 2007. Although this remains an interesting area of research, the importance of a limited extension to this study should not be overstated - this is not a cure for type 1 diabetes. "As we said in 2007, we would like to see this experiment carried out with a control group for comparison of results and a longer-term follow-up in a greater number of people."

He added: "It is crucial to find out whether this is associated with the timing of the treatment or possible side-effects of it rather than the stem cell transplant itself. "It would be wrong to unnecessarily raise the hopes of people living with diabetes about a new treatment for the condition on the back of the evidence provided in this study."


UK: Unruly pupils to be removed from lessons

Too little too late

Pupils who misbehave should be sent to "sin-bin" support units until they calm down, a government inquiry will recommend this week. The report, by former headteacher Sir Alan Steer, will say that more use should be made of "withdrawal rooms" for disruptive pupils. The move is designed to tackle low-level misbehaviour which falls short of demanding that a pupil be excluded.

The Schools Secretary Ed Balls will unveil the measure on Wednesday when he addresses the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers conference.

Sir Alan's report will also stress the need for adults to set a better example. In a leaflet being sent to schools, heads are urged to get parents to sign contracts promoting good behaviour and to attend parenting classes if their children are disruptive. If they fail to attend, the school has the power to fine them up to £100 with the further threat of prosecution for non compliance.

The leaflet makes it clear that teachers have the right to search pupils for weapons, drugs or alcohol.


The usual British brilliance

They have hundreds of thousands of useless illegals sucking on the public teat but won't let in badly needed shearers. They can't figure out how to deport their army of illegals so they impose severe restrictions on LEGAL immigration! Typical Leftist reality avoidance

Hundreds of Aussie and Kiwi shearers have been caught up in changes to Britain's visa system. British farmers are struggling to find enough shearers due to the tightening of immigration laws. UK producers normally use workers from Australia and New Zealand, but under the new visa system it's taking longer and costing more to import labour.

Robert Morris, from the UK's National Association of Agricultural Contractors, says if workers aren't found, the shearing season will take longer and cause welfare problems for sheep. "Well, we're going to be short of shearers. What it will mean is that it will extend the season well into the summer," he says.

"At this moment in time, we only know of one shearer who's had his application approved, so that gives you some idea of the state we're in really."


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