PGP public key

So the GCHQ and the NSA are apparently teaming up to do a whole lot of extremely legal warrantless mass surveillance.

I am not against spying or surveillance per se. Anyone who lives in the UK and says "if you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear" doesn't understand the purpose of judicial oversight and probably doesn't speak arabic. I believe in judicial oversight. An amoral-nerd-handler is not a judge. And political bias, false-positives and chilling self-censorship are the only outcomes of the GCHQ program I can see on the horizon.

So, if you're emailing me, please feel free to encrypt your message with my PGP public key.
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Might take a couple generations for this devilry to quit

An image taken from the Archdiocese's site; a cute kid raising her hand with the caption "aim higher. catholic schools"

The Star Tribune reports on an Archdiocese who reduced members of a mandatory assembly at DeLaSalle High School to tears and protest with their disgusting homophobia and anti-adoption propaganda.

From the article:

[Quoting pupil Matt Bliss] "...it started going downhill when they started talking about single parents and adopted kids. They didn't directly say it, but they implied that kids who are adopted or live with single parents are less than kids with two parents of the opposite sex. They implied that a 'normal' family is the best family."

...Bliss was one of several students who stood up to argue with the representatives from the archdiocese. One girl held up a sign that said, "I love my moms."

...A priest and a volunteer couple presented the information. When someone asked a question about two men being able to have a quality, committed relationship, the couple compared their love to bestiality, Bliss said.

..."My friend said, 'You didn't just compare people to animals, did you?'" said [adopted student] Hannah. "I think everyone has a right to their opinion, and I don't judge them on it. But we don't force people to sit down so we can tell them their opinion is wrong."

...They were so upset that the priest and school officials abruptly ended the assembly. Students who were angry were allowed to stay there and talk with the archdiocese volunteers. It was more civil, for a while, but the more questions the presenters tried to answer, the worse it got.

"It was a really awful ending," said Bliss. "It was anger, anger, anger, and then we were done and they left. This is really a bad idea."

These kids are amazing and brave to protest in such a hostile environment. Looks like, even in an American Catholic School, pupils are beginning to be en masse unwilling to put up with being forced to endure institutional bigotry. These are the same students who (assuming they become Catholic) will form the congregations of the next generation, and who will vote on bills to do with marriage and religion in education. With any luck, this signals the beginning of the inevitable end to mainstream Catholic homophobic and anti-adoption (is even that a thing now?) bigotry. At least we can pray it is.

Ed Brayton's new podcast

I was delighted yesterday to discover that Ed Brayton, who used to host one of my all-time favourite political podcasts, Declaring Independence Radio, has recently started hosting a new show: Culture Wars Radio.

Declaring Independence was a show predominantly about American law and politics. It was constantly fascinating, with episodes being mostly interview with experts in constitutional law, civil liberties, police misconduct and such; interspliced with commentary and lighthearted discussion of current events. What I liked most about it was that Ed Brayton never shied away from getting right down to the tiniest details of case law and history, discussing the minutiae of various cases with his guests and drawing on his huge knowledge of American civil liberties law to get the best out of his guests. Also his staunch non-partisanism, hatred of hypocrisy and demagoguery, and willingness to harshly criticise Obama and the Democrats (while still poking fun at right-wing loonies).

Ed Brayton is an American political journalist, editor and development director of the American Independent News Network, and seems to specialise in civil liberties law. He seems to get particularly fired up about education, separation of church and state, and transparency and accountability in government. He has a general left-libertarian viewpoint. I don't agree with him on everything, but he's very knowledgable about law, and hella smart. To quote erstwhile acquaintance of mine, Seth Manapio, he is "a goddam genius".

I looked hard for somewhere online for old episodes of Declaring Independence to link here, because they're all really worth a listen, but it seems to have evaporated. I've got 74 old episode as mp3s if anyone's really keen.

The new show, Culture Wars Radio, only has a few episodes out so far, and I've only listened to the first two of them, but it looks to be much along the same lines as Declaring Independence, which is fantastic as far as I'm concerned.

I strongly recommend checking it out, if you've any interest in civil liberties law, American politics or just deep and informed yet intelligible political discussion.

Look at that.

Look at that. You can see fetid cogs in his tiny brain grinding against each other, spraying his cryptoreligious, sub-Victorian horseshit propaganda across the nation's children.

If those unwealthy masses want to learn something, they can damn well learn some family values. Look at them, breeding and scrounging. Single mothers and fags — the buck of every problem in this Broken Britain stops with them. Maybe if we can get their birth rate down they'll stop rioting, get docile and let us keep the money we worked hard to earn, dammit. That's what a conservative government ought to do.  Protect the interests of those which make this country great.

Apparently there are no bounds on the lack of respect I have for this corrupt party.

UK stop and search powers are illegal

The Guardian reports:

The Strasbourg court ruled it was unlawful for police to use the powers, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, to stop and search people without needing any grounds for suspicion.

The widely-drawn ruling said that not only the use of the counter-terror powers, but also the way they were authorised, were "neither sufficiently circumscribed, nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse".

Vindicated!

Legal use of Terrorism Act 2000 44(2)

In follow up to my previous post. So I complained to the IPCC. After a number of initially dismissive letters back and forth, I started to get some thoughtful responses. One clarified that

"Under [section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000] officers do not need to have reasonable grounds to suspect involvement in terrorism."

This prompted a measured response on my part and now I have received a final letter from a DI of the British Transport Police. The letter acknowledges the recent European judgements, claims that

the vast majority of officers do use the powers of search with a genuine belief that that they are protecting the public"

and that

“whether this as been the correct method of prevention perhaps only time and hindsight will tell".

(I’m not going to reproduce it here because the letter appears to be personally written, rather than stock or secretary written.)

Well, I’m happy with that. Not happy, exactly, but at least it’s honest. My beef is no longer with the BTP.

Misuse of Terrorism Act 2000 44(2)

I just watched the compelling documentary Taking Liberties, which prompted me to finally send my complaint to the IPCC, and finish off this draft.

I was travelling Oxford to Cambridge, and had missed my connection at Paddington Station, London. With insufficient money for a hotel, I decided to just sleep in the station and catch the first train back to Cambridge. It was a cold night, so I plugged my headphones into my iPod, switched it to Pseudopod, pulled my Warwick Atheists hoodie tight around me, and sat on a light for warmth. For the next hour or so, I moved between sitting on lights and sitting with my back to a lit sign on a stall, trying to get most warm and most comfortable. There were a few other people in the station — perhaps in similar circumstances, perhaps homeless and seeking shelter from the outside wind. After some time I was dosing and listening to Pseudopod still, when I was woken (about 01:45 am) by a couple of officers in uniform who informed me that they were conducting “random” stop-and-searches under new anti-terrorism regulations. They asked me why I was there, and various other circumstantial questions. They asked to look in my backpack (which contained clothes, university work, laptop, wires).

Here’s a copy of the receipt they issued me before leaving me to sleep, if you're interested:

[.jpg]

I looked up “44(2)”, which means “section 44, subsection 2”, presumably, (the only official justification for the search given) and found it in the Terrorism Act 2000. I quote:

Terrorism Act 2000

Power to stop and search

44. Authorisations.

(2) An authorisation under this subsection authorises any constable in uniform to stop a pedestrian in an area or at a place specified in the
authorisation and to search —
(a) the pedestrian;
(b) anything carried by him.

(3) An authorisation under subsection (1) or (2) may be given only if the person giving it considers it expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism.

From this, it doesn't seem like "random" searches are authorised, since they by definition can't be justified as "expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism.

I am submitting a somewhat abbreviated version of this to the IPCC in the form of an official complaint.

Dear Jacqui

Dear Jacqui.

It is clear from all independent observers that the UK government don't really understand the technological developments of the last 6 or 7 years.

Those who don't want to be tracked in their communications can EASILY avoid it. This maximises false-positives on human and automated telecommunication surveillance. Ever heard of RSA? It really is a truly marvellous piece of mathematics, you might want to check out sometime. Wikipedia (heard of that?) has a good introduction here. Look at this one tooThis, too. Isn't technology fascinating?

I hear many modern universities teach courses in computers and technology, so there's probably a lot of fairly knowledgeable people around for you to talk to, if you felt so inclined. Oh, the stories they could tell you!

As a non-terrorist, I'm afraid you have no right to know who I associate with.

Emergency powers!