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The proposed is meant to silence or force into exile anyone advocating violent jihad in the UK or waging it outside..
British Home Secretary, Theresa May
Nico Hines, The Daily Beast.
LONDON — Britain has had enough: the government will announce radical plans to end centuries of free speech on Wednesday in an unprecedented terror crackdown that would force Internet companies to monitor users; restrict the movement of suspects and ban extremist speakers from public forums.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said the security services had foiled 40 plots to kill thousands of people in the last ten years, including the attempted assassination of an ambassador, plans to blow up the stock exchange, plots to bring down several flights and gun attacks that might have resembled the assault on a Nairobi shopping mall last year.
After years of bitter feuding within the government, the Prime Minister’s patience finally has snapped. The voice of a British ISIS terrorist calling on “brothers” in Western countries to commit domestic atrocities has helped to convince senior officials that concerns about civil liberties and freedom of speech can no longer be allowed to interfere with security operations.
If the measures are passed by Parliament, a raft of institutions will be forced to attempt to prevent radicalization actively for the first time. Universities, prisons, schools and local councils will be legally required to monitor those in their care and try to interdict extremist speakers and would-be terror recruiters.
Throughout its 800-year history, Cambridge University has guarded jealously its absolute right to free speech. After an investigation into extremists on British university campuses last year, a spokeswoman defiantly told me: ”There’s complete freedom for students to invite who they want.”
That freedom would be ended by Conservative government proposals, which will require speakers to be vetted by the university. Government ministers would have the power to overrule the university and obtain court orders to stop speakers addressing students if they felt there was a risk of radicalization.
Human rights groups said the measures were “draconian” and counter-productive. “Politicians resort to high talk and rushed legislation in an attempt to look tough in the face of terrorism,” said Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty. “Another chilling recipe for injustice and resentment by closing down the open society you seek to promote.”
A former government security advisor told The Daily Beast that senior Conservative Party figures had been split over the level of intervention and severity of the curbs on freedom of speech. Ultimately, as this source put it, those who wish to “drain the swamp” defeated those who would wait for the “crocodiles to reach the boat.”
May, the tough Home Secretary who is favorite to succeed David Cameron as party leader, said there was now no alternative but to tackle potential terrorists before they acted. ”This legislation is important, the substance is right, the time is right and the way in which it has been developed is right,” she said. ”It is not a knee-jerk response to a sudden perceived threat. It is a properly considered, thought-through set of proposals that will help to keep us safe at a time of very significant danger.”
”We are engaged in a struggle that is fought on many fronts and in many forms,” said May. “It is a struggle that will go on for many years. And the threat we face right now is perhaps greater than it ever has been—we must have the powers we need to defend ourselves.”
As well as restricting freedom of speech, the sweeping new powers would also curtail the free movement of suspected terrorists, who could be stopped from leaving the country, or from returning to the country or even forced to live in in a sort of internal exile away from their associates.
Police and Border Force officers will be granted new powers to seize passports and tickets from British citizens at ports and airports if they believe they are traveling to engage in terror-related activities. British citizens would also be barred from returning to the country if the authorities suspect they have been involved in terrorism abroad, effectively leaving them stateless.
Suspected jihadis who have been allowed to return to Britain are likely to be the subject of toughened monitoring measures, which can force them to move to another part of the country, live at a specified address, and even ban them from using the Internet.
QC and former Conservative MP calls the man a ‘sweaty, stupid little sh*t’ during an argument after Buckingham Palace visit.
Piers Morgan tweeted: ‘This tape is outrageous. David Mellor, you’re a loathsome snob.’ Photograph: Getty Images
Press Association, The Guardian.
A former cabinet minister has said he regrets losing his temper, after being recorded launching an expletive-ridden tirade at a London taxi driver following a visit to Buckingham Palace with his partner who had just been awarded a CBE.
David Mellor, a QC and former Conservative MP, called the black-cab driver a “sweaty, stupid little s**t” during an argument about the route he wanted to travel.
Mellor, who had accompanied his partner, VisitEngland chairwoman Lady Cobham, to an investiture ceremony with the Prince of Wales, was heard in a mobile phone recording given to The Sun.
He told the paper the driver, who is not named but is described as a 38-year-old from south-east London, had provoked him.
“This man seriously provoked me and ruined a wonderful day,” he said.
“Once I had lost my temper, which I regret, he then secretly recorded me. I will leave the public to judge his actions.”
The paper reported that Mellor accused the driver of not taking the quickest route to their destination in east London during rush hour.
During the audio Mellor, who told the driver to “f*** off”, said he would name him and discuss the incident on his LBC radio show, which he co-presents with former London mayor Ken Livingstone on Saturday mornings.
He also said: “You’ve been driving a cab for 10 years, I’ve been in the cabinet, I’m an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s Counsel. You think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?”
In response to the recording journalist Piers Morgan tweeted: “This tape is outrageous. David Mellor, you’re a loathsome snob. I hope London’s black-cab drivers now boycott David Mellor. Looks like he could do with a few walks anyway.”
Mick Cash, general secretary of transport union the RMT, said: “Driving a taxi in London is hard enough without having some pumped-up, pompous former Tory minister telling you how to do your job”.
“If you want an example of the political elite’s sheer contempt for the working class then this incident has it in shed-loads.”
Nadir Ali Sayed, Yousaf Shah Syed and Haseeb Hamayoon charged over alleged plot to decapitate member of public with knives.
Police officers stand outside a house in High Wycombe after a series of raids in which the three accused were arrested. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA
Vikram Dodd, The Guardian.
Three men were preparing a terrorist plot to behead a member of the public, inspired by the propaganda of Islamic State militants, a court has heard .
The men were arrested a fortnight ago, shortly before Remembrance Sunday, and were preparing to carry out an imminent plan to decapitate a person with knives, Westminster magistrates court was told on Thursday.
Nadir Ali Sayed, 21, from Hounslow, west London, Yousaf Shah Syed, 19, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Haseeb Hamayoon, 27, from Hayes, west London, are accused of planning acts of terrorism.
Rebecca Mundy, prosecuting, said: “This appears to be an incident where there was an attack planned in the UK that is imminent in nature and would have involved them beheading a member of the public, using knives to do so.”
She said the three men were influenced in their plans by a speech from Islamic State spokesperson Abu-Mohammad al-Adnani, calling for attacks on “disbelievers”.
They were charged on Thursday with terrorism offences and appeared in court for the first time. The men, who wore long grey tops, made no application for bail.
The formal charge against them is: “On or before 6 November 2014, with the intention of committing acts of terrorism, jointly engaged in conduct in preparation for giving effect to their intention.”
The men were remanded in custody by district judge Michael Snow to appear at the Old Bailey on 4 December.
The arrests of the three men were made on the evening of 6 November. Police said armed officers had been sent to make the arrests, but no shots were fired.
A fourth man arrested by counter-terrorism detectives on 7 November was released without charge after eight days in custody.
The arrests led to specialist search officers combing through addresses in west London and High Wycombe.
The operation that led to the arrests involved detectives from the Metropolitan police’s counter terrorism command, the south-east counter terrorism unit and MI5.
In recent months the UK has moved to a heightened state of terror alert.
The fear of a terrorist attack being carried out by people with connections to Syria or Iraq, or inspired by Islamic State, led to the joint terrorism analysis centre recommending raising the terrorist threat level in August to severe.
This is the second highest level, meaning that an attack is assessed to be highly likely.
Ineos has made no secret of its interest in shale gas
Chemicals giant Ineos has announced plans to invest up to £640m in shale gas exploration in the UK.
The company plans to use the gas as a raw material for its chemicals plants, including Grangemouth in Stirlingshire.
Grangemouth is currently running at a loss, but Ineos believes shale gas will transform the economics of the plant.
Shale gas extraction is promoted as an important potential energy source, but has sparked opposition from environmental groups.
Shale gas is extracted through a technique known as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in which water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure.
Numerous anti-fracking groups have formed and protests have been staged at several sites over fears of earthquakes, water pollution and environmental damage.
Ineos is currently building Europe’s largest shale gas import facility to feed its petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth – but it wants to produce home-grown shale gas as well.
In recent months it has been buying up rights to explore across hundreds of square miles of the Midland Valley around the Stirlingshire site.
Ineos is also thought to have applied for further licences as part of the government’s ongoing onshore licensing round.
The company outlined plans on Thursday to invest hundreds of millions pounds in UK exploration.
“I believe shale gas could revolutionise UK manufacturing and I know Ineos has the resources to make it happen, the skills to extract the gas safely and the vision to realise that everyone must share in the rewards,” said Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe.
The firm added that “substantial further investment would follow if the company moved to development and production”.
BBC industry correspondent John Moylan said the move will be seen as a significant vote of confidence in the sector, and will position Ineos as one of the major players in the emerging industry.
But, he added, it will also put Ineos in the sights of protesters who believe shale gas and fracking are dangerous and harmful to the environment.
A spokesman for Greenpeace UK characterised Ineos’ investment as “giant speculative bets on unproven and risky resources”.
“It seems that Ineos have based their business plan on breathless PR brochures rather than scientific reports,” he added.
Shale gas sites in UK.
Earlier this year, Ineos announced plans to hand over up to £2.5bn of shale gas revenues to communities close to its wells.
The company has bought the licence for shale gas exploration and development across a 329sq km area around its Grangemouth power plant.
It will give away 6% of revenues to local homeowners and landowners.
However, Friends of the Earth Scotland criticised the move as “a transparent attempt to bribe communities”.
The British Geological Survey has estimated there are “modest” shale gas and oil resources in the area.
Fracking is used extensively in the US where it has revolutionised the energy industry.
The Scottish government has called for devolved powers on fracking after the UK government decided to press ahead with plans to let companies drill at depths of 300m below private land without consent.
Analysis: John Moylan, BBC Industries Correspondent
This sounds like a huge investment by Ineos.
But any firm wanting to bring shale gas from the exploration stage through to full production will have to spend hundreds of millions of pounds.
An industry report earlier this year suggested that a single shale gas production site with 10 wells might cost as much as £350m. So firms intending to have multiple gas production sites will have to spend eye-watering sums.
But the timing of this announcement is key. The government is currently assessing applications made by operators for new onshore licences to explore for shale gas.
Firms have to demonstrate that they have the cash and know-how to exploit a license area. If this has been a competitive license round – and there’s a suggestion that this is the case – then firms like Ineos will have to lobby hard to ensure they get the areas that they want.
There could be more announcements like this from other industry players in the weeks and months ahead.
- Ministers’ shale gas ‘hype’ attacked
- Fracking regulations ‘too strict’
- Fund proposed for shale gas revenues
The 40-seat “Bio-Bus” runs on biomethane gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste
The UK’s first bus powered entirely by human and food waste has gone into service between Bristol and Bath.
The 40-seat “Bio-Bus” runs on biomethane gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste.
The eco-friendly vehicle can travel up to 300km (186 miles) on one tank of gas, which takes the annual waste of about five people to produce.
It is run by tour operator Bath Bus Company and will shuttle people between Bristol Airport and Bath city centre.
The biomethane gas is generated at Bristol sewage treatment works in Avonmouth, which is run by GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water.
GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq said: “Gas-powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities but the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself.”
How do you power a bus with waste?
The bio-bus runs between Bath and Bristol Airport.
- A single passenger’s annual food and sewage waste would fuel the Bio-Bus for 37 miles (60km).
- Its combustion engine is similar in design to diesel equivalents in conventional buses.
- Compressed gas is stored in dome-like tanks on the roof of the Bio-Bus
- The gas is generated through anaerobic digestion – where oxygen starved bacteria breaks down biodegradable material to produce methane-rich biogas.
- To power a vehicle, the biogas undergoes “upgrading”, where carbon dioxide is removed and propane added.
- Impurities are removed to produce virtually odour free emissions.
- Compared to conventional diesel vehicles, up to 30% less carbon dioxide is emitted.
The service from the airport to Bath carries about 10,000 passengers each month.
Bath Bus Company’s Collin Field, said: “With so much attention being directed towards improving air quality generally, the public reaction to the appearance of this bus on a service between a world heritage city and an airport will further focus on the potential for this particular fuel.”
He said the bus was being launched at a very “appropriate” time, as Bristol is to become the European Green Capital next year.
Bristol sewage treatment works processes around 75 million cubic metres of sewage waste and 35,000 tonnes of food waste each year.
A total of 17 million cubic metres of biomethane, enough to power 8,300 homes, is generated annually at the plant through a process known as anaerobic digestion.