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VI-2005: 12 15 25 X-2005: 08 27 XI-2005: 16 19 | I-2006: 03  07 08 26

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british passports, then and now

  • Up until 1914 (outbreak of first world war):
    • passports printed on paper, with a photograph of the passport holder
    • price: six old pennies or 2½ new pence
  • 1915: The British Nationality and Status Aliens Act 1914 came into force, resulting in a new passport issue -
    • one-page document folded into eight with a cardboard cover
    • valid for two years with renewals for further two-year periods
    • with photograph of the holder, signature, personal description listing face shape, complexion and features such as forehead and nose.
  • 1920: League of Nations conference on passports, agreeing on a book form of passport. The UK brought in a 32-page blue book (the ‘Old Blue’) in two forms:
    • individual passports issued to one person, but which could also include a husband or wife
    • family passports, which included children.
  • 1968: ten-year passports introduced
  • from the 1970s on, security became an increasing concern, with more and more security features being added:
    • 1972 blue security paper with a special watermark
    • 1975 photographs in passports laminated so more difficult to alter them. In
    • 1981overprint added to photo to clearly show if laminate had been removed.
  • 1988: new burgundy-coloured passports
    • conforming to European Community decision on a common passport for member states - labelled EC on the cover, selected translations inside
    • computer-readable
  • 1997: the words ‘European Community’ replaced with ‘European Union’ (EU)
    this passport was still a UK passport, not a European one. It retained the Royal Coat of Arms and the traditional wording about allowing the holder ‘free passage and protection’.
    • personal information put on last page of the passport
    • digitally printed facial image instead of a glued-in photograph
    • signature digitally printed
    • personal information page protected by a security laminate, including transparent design over the facial image
    • series of laser perforationson the identification page
    • intaglio (raised) printing on the inside front and back covers
    •current price: £51

Six old pence is worth approximately one pound (£1) in today’s money.
Next step ID cards at £300?

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#uk_passport_260106

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new editions of freedoms indexes

  • freedom in the world - freedom house [press release]

    "As we welcome the stirrings of change in the Middle East," said Mr. Melia, "it is equally important that we focus on the follow-through in other regions and appreciate the importance of the continuing consolidation of democracy in Indonesia, Ukraine, and other nations."

    “Complete survey results, including a package of charts and graphs [14-page .pdf], and an explanatory essay [11-page .pdf] are available online. The Ratings reflect global events from December 1, 2004 through November 30, 2005. Country narratives will be released in book form in summer 2006.

    “On the whole, the state of freedom showed substantial improvement worldwide, with 27 countries and one territory registering gains and only 9 countries showing setbacks. The global picture thus suggests that the past year was one of the most successful for freedom since Freedom House began measuring world freedom in 1972.”

The twenty-seven countries with improved states of freedom are:
Afghanistan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Columbia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Mauritania, Mozambique, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Vietnam.

“The 2006 Index of Economic Freedom measures 161 countries against a list of 50 independent variables divided into 10 broad factors of economic freedom. Low scores are more desirable. The higher the score on a factor, the greater the level of government interference in the economy and the less economic freedom a country enjoys.”

marker at abelard.org

“Studies in previous editions of the Index confirm the tangible benefits of living in freer societies. Not only is a higher level of economic freedom clearly associated with a higher level of per capita gross domestic product (GDP), ...

... but GDP growth rates also increase as a country's economic freedom score improves.”

“Figure 1 illustrates that economically free countries tend to have higher per capita incomes than less free countries. Citizens of countries that are classified as "mostly unfree" or "repressed" earn almost 70 percent less than citizens of "mostly free" countries. In addition, the citizens of "free" countries enjoy a per capita income that is more than twice as high as their counterparts in "mostly free" countries. This demonstrates the core importance of economic freedom: Economic freedom makes life more livable for individual people.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#world_freedoms_080106

how to get everyone on a dna database

The authoritarian society and the real world.
the attack on civil liberties in the uk proceeds apace.

“17 per cent of recorded crimes were examined by crime scene investigators, that DNA was recovered from 5 per cent of scenes (accounting for 0.8 per cent of all recorded crime), and that 45 per cent of crime scene profiles matched subject profiles when loaded.”

Note ‘recorded’ crime.

Next, note very carefully:

“[...] it's a lot easier to plant DNA than fingerprints).”
...
“[...] expansion, however, is the Database's most unqualified 'success'. When New Labour took office in 1997 the national database (which tended not to be referred to as such, because we weren't building a National DNA Database by stealth) stood at 700,000 records, but by dint of a series of legislative changes it has now passed 3 million, and is intended to reach 4.2 million by 20 [...] ”

And now for the stinger in the tail for the new ‘arrestable offences’:

“There is, one hopes, a ceiling to the size of the DNA Database that can achieved via current means. As of 1st January, the law changed to make all offences arrestable, and DNA and fingerprints can be taken and retained, forever, on arrest. It is therefore conceivable that littering, or even wrongful arrest for littering, could add you to the Database.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#arrestable_offences_070106

war is peace. freedom is slavery. ignorance is strength. - orwell

“The Scottish Secretary's officials have admitted that the papers exist,
but used Freedom of Information (F.o.I.) laws to stop them being made
public, [...]” [Quoted from the Scottish Herald]

That’s socialism for you.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
[George Orwell, 1984, 1949]
1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell, 1984,
first published 1949

1990, Signet Book, 0451524934
$7.95 [amazon.com]

2004, Penguin Books Ltd, 014118776X
£5.59 [amazon.co.uk]

1984 by George Orwell - UK edition

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#freedom_of_information_censorship_030106

censorship vs freedom of speech

The civil courts have ruled that David Irving was not libelled when he was described as a 'Holocaust denier'. However, in the light of this ruling and of the laws forbidding Holocaust denial [current in countries such as Austri] some people are now concerned that someone could go to prison simply for expressing an opinion.

To which abelard says:

But people can go to prison for ‘perjury’ and for fraud scams.
I wonder whether deliberate dissemination of falsehood is quite relevant to the concept of ‘protected speech’.

I am really looking for ways people may think of thinking or legislating such problems. It is obvious in ‘science’ that ideas once accepted as ‘obvious’ have proved less than obvious under further investigation. this is bound to happen as a science requiring new methodology develops.

That is clear in the psychological fields where arguments of the past were not subject to adequate analysis for sheer want of data, for instance eugenics without DNA. I am presently re-reading much of Francis Galton on the subject, a very great scientist, but often looking decidedly ignorant/foolish in the light of modern developments and understanding.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#censorship_free_speech_191105

as long as you have nothing to hide

“What is often missed in all these debates is that the card is largely an irrelevance. The Government has called its legislation the Identity Cards Bill; it should be the Identity Register Bill. People who welcome the idea on the principle that "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" might not be quite so sanguine if the arguments were framed in the context of the database, rather than the card. For too long, this has been a debate about carrying a card, which most people feel comfortable with because they already have plenty of them. But the key to this system is the information held on the national identity register.

“This is not an exercise in giving people the chance to protect their identity, but in gathering information about the population and keeping it on a database for use by state agencies [...].”

“ [...] The Bill contains powers for 51 different classes of information to be put into the database and to impose fines if we do not keep the details up to date, for instance when we change address or name by marriage.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#uk_id_cards_161105

on yet another daft socialist ‘law’ - banning hunting; maybe!

“This autumn, across the English countryside a familiar pageant is taking place. Two or three times a week, hunt followers are meeting just as they have always done, to test horses, riders and hounds over ditches and fences. On a recent day with one of the famous Shires packs, a field of more than 200 was reported, and a fine time was had by all. A brace of foxes was accounted for, which hounds chanced to encounter while perfectly legally following a drag.”

“The police, in their turn, dislike the prospect of collecting evidence for prosecutions which must be complex and could well fail. It will be very hard to prove that hunts are seeking foxes with deliberate intent, which is indispensable to secure convictions. In Scotland, where an anti-hunting law has been in force for three years, the Edinburgh Parliament seems simply to have given up on its enforcement.

“In effect, many fox-hunts are today conducting civil disobedience. Yet, because the people doing this are, in every other aspect of their lives, among the most law-abiding members of society, it will be an ugly spectacle if they are brought to trial, never mind imprisoned - the kind of martyrdom that some are aching for.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#hunting_271005

is bliar preparing further attacks on civil liberties and the rule of law?

From UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s speech to the recent Labour Conference:

“For 8 years I have battered the criminal justice system to get it to change.

“And it was only when we started to introduce special ASB [anti-social behaviour] laws, we really made a difference.

“And I now understand why. The system itself is the problem. We are trying to fight 21st century crime - ASB, drug-dealing, binge-drinking, organised crime - with 19th century methods, as if we still lived in the time of Dickens.

“The whole of our system starts from the proposition that its duty is to protect the innocent from being wrongly convicted.

“Don't misunderstand me. That must be the duty of any criminal justice system.

“But surely our primary duty should be to allow law-abiding people to live in safety.

“It means a complete change of thinking.

“It doesn't mean abandoning human rights.”

And another comment on the same passage:

“Was it just me who experienced a shiver when the Prime Minister uttered these words, and who expected, come the morning papers, Mr Blair's proposals for the criminal justice system to be denounced? Where was the headline 'Tories condemn Blair plan to abolish principle of innocent until proved guilty beyond all reasonable doubt'? Nowhere to be seen. I ploughed on, hoping to read of an outraged Charles Kennedy accusing Tony Blair of seeking to abolish ancient freedoms in a fit of paranoia: the same charge, you may remember, levelled at Margaret Thatcher by Neil Kinnock when she erected gates to block public access to Downing Street. Yet there was barely a whiff of protest at Blair's astonishingly authoritarian tone. It wasn't until the following day, when the Labour party demonstrated how its new law and order policy will work in practice by manhandling 82-year-old heckler Walter Wolfgang from the chamber and using the Terrorism Act to prevent him re-entering, that the government's growing authoritarianism became an issue.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#blair_attacks_081005

updated criticising a country’s acceptance of islam is a state crime; or curtailing freedom of speech

UK residents should keep in mind that their Prime Minister Bliar intends that any EU country be able to extradite them if they break ‘laws’, even when not ‘laws’ in their ‘own’ country.

“[...] one of the most renowned journalists of the modern era has been indicted by a judge in her native Italy under provisions of the Italian Penal Code which proscribe the "vilipendio," or "vilification," of "any religion admitted by the state."

“In her case, the religion deemed vilified is Islam, and the vilification was perpetrated, apparently, in a book she wrote last year--and which has sold many more than a million copies all over Europe--[...] ”

“ When I was given the news," Ms. Fallaci says of her recent indictment, "I laughed. Bitterly, of course, but I laughed. No amusement, no surprise, because the trial is nothing else but a demonstration that everything I've written is true." An activist judge in Bergamo, in northern Italy, took it upon himself to admit a complaint against Ms. Fallaci that even the local prosecutors would not touch. The complainant, one Adel Smith--who, despite his name, is Muslim, and an incendiary public provocateur to boot--has a history of anti-Fallaci crankiness, and is widely believed to be behind the publication of a pamphlet, "Islam Punishes Oriana Fallaci," which exhorts Muslims to "eliminate" her. (Ironically, Mr. Smith, too, faces the peculiar charge of vilipendio against religion--Roman Catholicism in his case--after he described the Catholic Church as "a criminal organization" on television. Two years ago, he made news in Italy by filing suit for the removal of crucifixes from the walls of all public-school classrooms, and also, allegedly, for flinging a crucifix out of the window of a hospital room where his mother was being treated. "My mother will not die in a room where there is a crucifix," he said, according to hospital officials.)”

comments from James Hammerton, specialist in civil liberties law:

The Extradition Act implements the EU Arrest Warrant (and sets out extradition laws more generally for the UK) which enables an EU country to get someone extradited form another EU country without presenting any evidence in the courts of the country doing the extraditing.

However it requires that the crime be committed within the jurisdiction of the courts of the country requesting extradition. It also requires that the offence be punishable by a year or more in prison (actually the EU allows this threshold to be varied between 1 yr and 3 yrs of imprisonment and Britain chose 1 yr).

I suspect Fallici has committed an offence by publishing a book in Italy (the book was published Europe wide ISTM) which contravenes Italian law. If this is punishable by 1 year or more Fallici could be extradited from any EU country she visits.

Once Britain passes its Racial and Religious Hated Bill, it may well become an offence to say nasty things about Islam or other religions in Britain. "In Britain" would probably include publishing a book here or perhaps saying something on usenet that goes to a British newsgroup or otherwise ends up on British servers, though I'm not sure the case law has tested this out just yet.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#vilipendio_250605

on the mad ‘drug war’ - or how to remove civil liberties

“Another crime bill is heading towards the statute book to keep the public in mind of Tony Blair's tough-on-crime pledge. Believe it or not, between 1925 and 1980 there were four criminal justice statutes, fewer than one per decade. Blair has passed 27 crime statutes in just seven years. This is obsessional. According to the civil rights group Liberty he has created 750 new criminal offences [...] ”

“Surely it is time for Blair to honour the second part of his pledge and get tough on the causes of crime. He knows perfectly well what they are: alcohol abuse and drug abuse. Nothing else, not terrorism, rape, fraud, paedophilia or domestic violence, is in the same league. Both arise from what experts call consensual crime. They are undertaken not to cause harm but from a desire for personal enjoyment. They so dominate the criminal justice system that hardly a month passes without a minister taking more power to control them.”

related material
drugs, smoking and addiction

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#drugs_war_150605

chinese fossils’ growing fear of bloggers

“A year-long campaign by the Hu Jintao government to silence unofficial voices in China and to assert control over independent expression continues with an order this week for all Chinese websites and bloggers to register their real names with authorities, or be closed by June 30.”

“Few Chinese will discuss sensitive subjects using their own names. Discussions that advocate Western-style democracy; criticisms of the Communist Party; satire about leaders; and disagreements with official positions on the unification of China and Taiwan, the Dalai Lama, the Falun Gong spiritual sect, or calls for an official reappraisal of events like the Tiananmen massacre - to name but a few - are officially considered impermissible public speech.

“Diplomatic and other sources in Beijing state that the new controls are both an effort to combat instability in the society at large, and to manage internal power struggles as well. A senior diplomat in Beijing pointed out this week that since China has tens of thousands of strikes and protests a year, it was not surprising that President Hu Jintao was concerned about instability.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#china_bloggers_120605

the new real british disease - erosion of liberty Three GoldenYak (tm) award

A recommended scan.

“The lack of liberty I am talking about here is not so much that of the individual, but of a whole town, county or community. It has a tremendously depressive effect on initiative and pride, and it makes it much harder for society to come up with interesting innovations in social policy. Whenever I go to the United States I am always impressed by the fact that someone, somewhere, is addressing such problems in an original way. Whether it is electronic tagging, building prisons, school vouchers, childcare, 'broken windows' policing, planning rules, recycling, drug rehabilitation, if most states are getting it wrong, one or two, somewhere or other, will probably be getting it right. Here in Britain we find our local development arrested because of central control. Is it any wonder that, in relation to central government, we become like bolshy teenagers, complaining incessantly, demanding more, but never able to exercise real responsibility? I wish that Conservatives over here, whatever they think of George W. Bush's particular policies, would pay close and humble attention to Republican electoral success. Republican culture derives its intellectual vigour and its strong communal roots from this endless local innovation. I hate to say it, but almost the only important recent British example of a successful localist experiment according to the good conservative principle of paying directly for what you use is Ken Livingstone's congestion charge.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#british_disease_190505

major update to document of attacks on uk civil liberties in the past decade - read it and weep

This document clearly lays out the ongoing attack on civil liberties in the UK, with copious references. Document supervised by James Hammerton.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#magnacarta_190405

daring to dissent at american colleges and universities

In a recent case, much discussed in the blogosphere (see, for instance, joannejacobs.com, including the reader comments), a US student was told he needed psychiatric treatment by his political science instructor at a California community college, after the student had answered a heavily biased essay question with an independent and pro-American essay.[1]

This is not the only case of such repressive behaviour in current US education.

Brainwashing 101 is a 46-minute documentary [available to watch on-line or purchase in dvd form from linked page] on the growing fight for free speech against left-wing authoritarians in American universities and colleges.

related material
the right to protest
FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus

end note

  1. Psychiatric treatment is a common ‘corrective’ imposed by left-wing authoritarians, such as the USSR.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/civil-liberties2005.php#dissenting_110105

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