Public workers, up to seven hundred and fifty thousand teachers and civil servants, are alleged to have participated in a June 30 general strike called for in the United Kingdom after UK Parliament passed changes to pensions and retirement, specifically, increasing the amount an employee has to contribute.
At 1:31 pm London Time, Hélène Mulholland reported from the end of “the Strand, by Trafalgar Square,” that a march had been “good-natured” so far. “ She said it is clear that the turn out has been good, that quite a few in the UK believe the government did not properly negotiate the new pension and retirement changes. And she also reported, “There doesn't seem to have been much trouble," except for the stopping and searching of minority students.
Around 12 pm London Time, she “walked past five police officers stopping and searching two non-white 17-year-old sixth formers, Aamir Kadir and Jean-Claude Goddard, in Lincoln's Inn Fields to the dismay of onlookers.” Mulholland said they were searched because they were wearing keffiyeh scarves, a traditional headdress for Arab men. While there were white women with scarves standing around the two young men who were stopped, the police said they stopped the two because the scarves might be used to commit violence. They said they were stopped out of “empirical judgment” because “people use keffiyehs to mask their identity.”
Throughout the strikes today, the UK police have claimed stop and search powers under section 60 of the Criminal Public Order Act. Here is how this provision allowing police the legal right to stop citizens and search them in public is described on the Metropolitan Police website:
Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, gives police the right to search people in a defined area at a specific time when they believe, with good reason, that: there is the possibility of serious violence; or that a person is carrying a dangerous object or offensive weapon; or that an incident involving serious violence has taken place and a dangerous instrument or offensive weapon used in the incident is being carried in the locality. This law has to be authorized by a senior officer and is used mainly to tackle football hooliganism and gang fights.
In this case, the police are using Section 60 to thwart the “hooliganism” of public and civil servants who feel they just got a bad deal from their government, who are upset they might have more trouble making ends meet for their family.
Three provisions of the Patriot Act set to expire were extended yesterday as Senate leaders effectively shut off debate and worked to block attempts to amend the Patriot Act to include privacy protections. The reauthorized provisions went to the House for approval and, after passing through Congress, the legislation was flown to US President Barack Obama in France so he could sign the reauthorization.
The continued granting of overly broad powers, which directly threaten Americans’ right to privacy without unreasonable search or seizure, was accompanied by passage in the House of a National Defense programs bill that included language granting the Executive Branch the authority to wage worldwide war.
A handful of lawmakers in the House and Senate attempted to make amendments or block the passage of measures that would allow powers granted to the state to greatly expand. A trans-partisan group of House representatives introduced an amendment that would have struck down the worldwide war provision. Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mark Udall and Senator Ron Wyden each made valiant attempts to have a comprehensive debate on the provisions before granting reauthorization but the Obama Administration discouraged debate.
Antiwar and international solidarity activists, subjects of a federal grand jury investigation that alleges they may have provided “material support for terrorism,” uncovered documents on FBI guidelines and investigation practices left behind in an activist’s home that was raided in September of last year. The documents illuminate how the FBI has conducted surveillance of the activists being targeted in the investigation and further prove the grand jury is being used as a tool to go after political groups.
On September 24 of last year, the home of Lindon Gawboy and Mick Kelly, an activist who helped to organize a mass demonstration outside the Republican National Convention in 2008, was raided and subpoenaed. Gawboy was awoken by FBI pounding on her door. She came to the door and asked for a search warrant. The FBI ignored her request for a warrant and proceeded to use a battering ram, which took the door off its hinges and shattered a nearby fish tank.
The agents raiding Gawboy and Kelly’s home emptied file cabinets and desks and stacked files around the apartments. They set up and went through individual documents taking files away that were of interest to them. At some point during this process, an agent’s papers on the investigation became mixed in with Kelly’s files. And, presumably by chance, Gawboy found the revealed documents just weeks ago.
News broke last night on February 8 as a court unsealed three motions filed on behalf of Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) last month. The motions were filed in response to the U.S. government’s targeting of Twitter accounts as part of an investigation related to WikiLeaks.
Additionally, it was reported that a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia will be held on February 15 on whether there is legal justification for the Justice Department to request Twitter account details and whether the Justice Department order for Twitter turn over account information should be kept under seal.
Federal prosecutors are and have been seeking to obtain information on Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, Dutch hacker and entrepreneur Roy Gonggrijp and US computer programmer and known WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum as well as “subscriber account information” for Bradley Manning, who has been charged with leaking classified information, and WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange.