US want to extradite UK citizen for *not* breaking the law!

30/03/2012

This is one crazy story, but I swear it’s true – have a look at http://juliasblog-the-fight-of-our-lives.blogspot.co.uk/ if you don’t believe me…

Basically, British citizen Richard O’Dwyer, who lives in Britain and hasn’t been to the US since a trip to Disneyworld when he was five, has been running a website where he provides links to various TV shows and movies. Remember that: he doesn’t host the video files himself, he merely provides links to other sites, which he has no connection with. He was arrested for this in the UK, but not taken to court because, basically, he has not broken the law in the UK, and any trials based on providing links have failed.

But that’s not good enough for the US government. They are trying to extradite Richard to America to put him on trial… even though it’s not clear that his actions are criminal in the USA! Bsically, they want to bang him up in a hellhole of a federal prison and force him into some kind of plea-bargain. And this is all too possible, as we have an insane extradition treaty with the USA, hurried through parliament after the 9-11 thing. According to the treaty, UK citizens can be extradited to the US on the flimsiest charges, whereas there’s no way at all that America would extradite their citizens here for such a ridiculous “crime”.

I swear, this is all true – check out the blog I linked to above, and also have a listen to the 28 March episode of the radio show Off The Hook, which is available as a podcast at www.2600.com. Absolutely crazy…

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UK: Don’t let the utilities companies rip us off any more!

28/03/2012

News of another 38Degrees campaign, this time to make sure the gas and electric companies don’t rip us off any more. The email sent to me by 38Degrees put it very well, so instead of paraphrasing I’ll reproduce the whole email here:

It’s incredible! In just a couple of weeks, over 200,000 of us have signed up to the Big Switch – a people-powered effort to stop gas and electricity companies from ripping us off. But if we’re going to take on these big energy bullies and win, we need to be bigger… much bigger.

The Big Switch is making history. [1] It’s a simple idea – using the internet, we bring together gas and electricity customers across the country in a pledge to switch their supplier. Then we work with consumer experts at Which? to negotiate cheaper rates on our behalf. Once we’ve driven the hardest bargain possible, we switch to the supplier offering the best deal.

At the beginning of April the Which? negotiators will be rolling up their sleeves to start negotiating the cheapest prices. That means there are just 72 hours left to sign up to get involved. Don’t miss out, click here to sign up:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/the-big-switch

A quick reminder of how this works:
1. Sign up – join other 38 Degrees members to get a fair deal on gas and electricity
2. Share it with your friends – the more of us who get involved, the stronger our bargaining position
3. Bargain – we work with Which? experts to negotiate with gas and electricity companies
4. Switch – If you like the deal we negotiate, switch easily online [2]

Sign up now, you can always pull out later if you like. [3] Then forward this email to any friends and family who also want cheaper bills:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/the-big-switch

Thanks for being involved,

Becky, James, David, Cian, Hannah, Marie and the 38 Degrees team

PS: After more than a year of controversy and debate, the government has got its NHS plans through parliament. Now, we need to decide together what we do next. Shall we carry on our work to protect the NHS? There’s still time to vote YES or NO for continuing to campaign to protect the NHS. Click here:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-vote

Please, can everyone take the 2 minutes or so to get this thing going properly?  Also, I would urge you to join 38Degrees movement, as I have, to make it easier and more effective to let your parliamentary representatives know what you want them to do.  It’s all very easy to set up – check the links on the 38Degrees website.

Cheers!!

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Minimum price for alcoholic drinks? Come on, ConLibs, give us a break!

23/03/2012

According to the Guardian, a minimum price for alcoholic drinks is on the cards… and it might be more than 40 pence per unit!

The government claim it’s to tackle binge drinking.  But you’d have to be pretty dense to swallow that one whole.  Sure, there is a problem with some people “pre-loading” with a bottle of vodka or something before they hit the town.  But these drinkers aren’t going to be affected by this minimum price.  They’ll still be buying their Smirnoff or whatever.  It’s the poor who will be really affected by this.  It’s those on fixed incomes who buy the “budget booze” – and a 40p per unit minimum price will make the supermarkets’ cheapest vodka cost £11.20 a bottle.  Not a problem for most folk, but a pretty drastic hike for those on fixed incomes – those who could really do with a drink after all the other crap that’s been thrown at them by our Con-Lib government.

Oh, and before anyone says this plan will help stop underage drinking – well duh! there’s already a way to stop that.  It’s called enforce the laws we already have.  In the UK it is illegal to sell booze to anyone under 18, and most places ask to see ID of any alcohol customer who looks under 25.  Hitting poor adults in the pocket is no solution to the problem of children drinking.

Come on, Cameron, give us all a break!  You want to take benefits away from the poor, now you want to make it impossible for them to even have a drink more than once a month.  The figures being bandied about might seem small change to those who aren’t poor.  But believe me, this will make a big difference to a lot of people!

 

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Don’t let them destroy the NHS!

15/03/2012

I got an email from 38 Degrees earlier, regarding the government’s plans to reform the National Health Service here in England, and the government’s constant refusal to publish the risk report (a report commissioned by the government to find out what negative blowback the reforms may cause).

Of course, there must be something bad in that report, otherwise the government would be showing it off.  We need to know what bad stuff is in the report, and quickly – the House of Lords will be debating and voting on the reforms this Monday 19 March.  David Babbs of 38 Degrees explains it better than I do, so here’s the email he sent to me:

Dear Martin,

On Monday afternoon, the House of Lords starts the final voting on the NHS changes. An influential crossbench Lord, Lord David Owen, has agreed to deliver the Save Our NHS petition. He will carry it right into the House of Lords chamber, just before the debate starts.

Thepetition bears the names of over half a million of us. It speaks of our fears for the future of our NHS: services broken up, creeping privatisation, money diverted from patient care. These are the kind of risks which could be in the government’s risk report. But the government is still won’t publish that report, despite legal orders to do so.

During Monday’s debate, Lord Owen will call a vote blocking the NHS changes until the risk report is published. [1] Our petition will remind Lords that the public care about these risks to the future of our health service. It could persuade some wavering Lords to vote the right way.

It’s quite a long shot, to be honest. The government seems determined to ignore everyone’s concerns and force things through. But incredible things can happen even this late in the day – it’s definitely worth a try.

You’re one of the 500,000 names already on the petition. But the bigger it is, the more powerful our message to the Lords. So please can you forward this email to your friends, family and workmates, and ask them to sign by Monday morning?
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/Save-our-NHS

As the Lords gather to decide whether or not to press on with changing the NHS without knowing all the risks, let’s send them a reminder. Let’s remind them that across the UK, hundreds of thousands of us know what it feels like to arrive at a hospital or a doctor’s surgery, tired, sick or frightened for someone you love. And that we know how much we rely on our NHS in those situations to give us the care we need.

Each name on our petition is a reason for the Lords to think twice before gambling with the future of our NHS. It will show them that although we all know the NHS isn’t perfect, we know that it’s pretty amazing. It will remind them that when we talk about risk registers, we’re talking about threats to a health service which is the envy of the world.

This could be the final opportunity for your friends, workmates and family to stand up for the NHS before the key votes happen. So please can you forward this email and ask them to sign the petition?
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/Save-our-NHS

Thanks for being involved,

David, Hannah, Marie, James, Becky, Cian and the 38 Degrees team.

PS: Whatever happens next week, we know we’ve tried pretty much everything to stop these changes going ahead. Legal teams, billboard adverts, local meetings, letters to MPs, and big petitions. The petition will need to be printed by Monday morning. This could be one of our last opportunities to make sure politicians hear our message, so please ask people to sign before then. Can we get it past 600,000? https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/Save-our-NHS

So please please pleeeze sign the petition, and forward 38 Degree’s message to your friends.  We have to try and get the Lords to stop this insane act in its tracks.  Cheers!


UK citizen to be extradited to USA for “copyright infringement”.

14/03/2012

Full story here

I’m really angry about the lopsided extradition agreement with the USA.  A UK citizen allegedly commits a crime, in the UK, and the USA can have the person gift-wrapped and delivered to America, where Richard O’Dwyer could be sent down for ten years; but it doesn’t work the other way: no way would the US extradite a US citizen to the UK when that suspect has not allegedly committed a crime on UK soil.

I think that the extradition treaty should be scrapped.  Screw our “special relationship” with the USA.  What has the US done for us lately?  Oh yes, they’ve made British troops in Afghanistan even more a target by allowing a drunk, mentally-unstable soldier to leave his base after curfew and murder several women and children.  Thanks, USA.  And I almost believed that the USA would improve with Obama supposedly at the helm…


UK citizen to be extradited to USA for “copyright infringement”.

14/03/2012

Full story here

I’m really angry about the lopsided extradition agreement with the USA.  A UK citizen allegedly commits a crime, in the UK, and the USA can have the person gift-wrapped and delivered to America, where Richard O’Dwyer could be sent down for ten years; but it doesn’t work the other way: no way would the US extradite a US citizen to the UK when that suspect has not allegedly committed a crime on UK soil.

I think that the extradition treaty should be scrapped.  Screw our “special relationship” with the USA.  What has the US done for us lately?  Oh yes, they’ve made British troops in Afghanistan even more a target by allowing a drunk, mentally-unstable soldier to leave his base after curfew and murder several women and children.  Thanks, USA.  And I almost believed that the USA would improve with Obama supposedly at the helm…

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Greenwald on Vandersloot

07/03/2012

I hate rich people who use their wealth to try and silence critics. In the UK, there are so-called “super-injunctions” which stop the media from printing stories and also stop anyone from revealing that the injunction was taken out! And of course, all over the place there is the threat of libel suits, which usually bankrupt the poorer party long before the case actually gets heard. One rule for the rich, another for the poor. I know, that’s how it’s always been… but it still pisses me off, and that is justification enough for me to rant about it on here.

Anyway, this Vandersloot is a right dodgy one who needs an eye kept on – after all, he’s bankrolling Republican nut Mitt Romney’s attempt to become the next president of the USA. If Romney wins, he’s gonna owe Vandersloot a hell of a lot – and when the most powerful person on earth owes you favours, that doesn’t bode too well for those who’ve exposed his evil deeds in the past.

I’m a Brit, and I don’t know much about Vandersloot. But Salon writer Glenn Greenwald does – so I urge you to take a look at what he’s written about the puke. My unfortunately very cursory look into Vandersloot makes it look like he’s into running pyramid schemes, he sells “cure-all” quack medicine products and diet supplements, and, the one thing that really enrages me: he uses intimidation to silence his critics. As Greenwald says in the linked article:

In the last month alone, VanderSloot, using threats of expensive defamation actions, has successfully forced Forbes, Mother Jones and at least one local gay blogger in Idaho to remove articles that critically focused on his political and business practices (Mother Jones subsequently re-posted the article with revisions a week after first removing it). He has been using this abusive tactic in Idaho for years: suppressing legitimate political speech by threatening or even commencing lawsuits against even the most obscure critics (he has even sued local bloggers for “copyright infringement” after they published a threatening letter sent by his lawyers). This tactic almost always succeeds in silencing its targets, because even journalists and their employers who have done nothing wrong are afraid of the potentially ruinous costs they will incur when sued by a litigious billionaire.

Numerous journalists and bloggers in Idaho — who want to write critically about VanderSloot’s vast funding of right-wing political causes — are petrified even to mention his name for fear of these threats. As his work on the Romney campaign brings him national notoriety, he is now aiming these tactics beyond Idaho. To allow this scheme to continue — whereby billionaires can use their bottomless wealth to intimidate ordinary citizens and media outlets out of writing about them — is to permit the wealthiest in America to thuggishly shield themselves from legitimate criticism and scrutiny.

Please please please, check out this Vandersloot. And if you can vote in US elections, do not vote for anyone who might be a Vandersloot glove puppet. It’s already been established he’s got his hand up Romney’s ass… who knows where else his wandering mitts might have been?

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UK Local elections and the Pirate Party UK

06/03/2012

Local elections take place soon, and the Pirate Party UK are planning to field candidates in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.  It’s a pity they can’t stand in more places, but the party is still new, small, underfunded, and most people probably don’t know what the party stands for anyway.

This is just a quick post telling you about the preliminary plans.  I don’t know anything myself yet, other than what was in an email I received earlier.  Rather than harp on about stuff I’m clueless about, I’m just going to reproduce here the message I got.  As the elections draw near, I will post more info.  In the meantime – the email:

It’s local election time again in the UK and we are looking forward to getting the Pirate Party message out. We will be standing 8 candidates across three UK cities; Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. We will be working hard for the next 58 days to talk to as many people and deliver leaflets to as many homes as possible. We will also be running events and stalls in these areas to ensure that people know who we are and that we are there for them. *Get Involved* At the moment we have our 8 candidates, 3 coordinators and a small national team ready to work together to make this happen, but we still need your support. If you are lucky enough to live near to (or are able to travel to) one of the cities where we are running candidates you can get involved directly. You can help us canvass and run stalls, or be at the end of the ‘phone if a member of the public wants to talk to us. If you are a photographer, videographer, blogger or musician you can help us put together media for the campaigns. If you can help, please get in touch with the relevant coordinator at either edinburgh@pirateparty.org.uk, glasgow@pirateparty.org.uk or manchester@pirateparty.org.uk. We hope to have at least 30 activists out ready to help our candidates in each area and we can only do that if you get involved now and give us some of your time. If you have time and want to do something we can find something for you to do. We will also be running a training session in Manchester over the weekend of the 10th and 11th of March. This is open to anyone who would like to attend and will be covering all aspects of how we run elections, both through practical exercises and discussion. There will also be plenty of time to socialise and get to know other members of the party. *Help online* Even if you don’t live near one of these cities, we still need your help. The national campaigns team is in need of anyone who has time to help us put together leaflets, posters, website content and deal with a huge amount of admin work – everything from dealing with local press through to arranging events and helping collate statistics. We need your help in making sure that the local teams have the time to get on with talking to and working with the public, rather than spending it on things that can be done away from the front lines. If you are willing to help us by doing any of this, please get in touch with campaigns@pirateparty.org.uk and tell us what you can do. *Raising Money* If you don’t have time, you can still support the party by donating money or renewing your membership if it has lapsed. Elections are expensive and our funds are limited; every pound that you can donate to us will be put to good use. We will be spending money on everything from posters, leaflets and election specific material through to maintaining our web sites and VOIP lines. The more money we have available to spend, the more people we will reach and the more chance we will have for success. You can donate at https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/Donate – A full breakdown of election spending will be made public at the end of the election and, if I have the opportunity and the volunteers to do it, I will try to give a weekly breakdown of spending so far on the Pirate Party wiki. If you aren’t close to an area in which we are standing or don’t have the time or the money to support us in this campaign, you can still help by spreading the word in social media, telling your friends and family what we are doing or even encouraging them to join or donate to the party. You can also join us on irc in #ppuk on irc.pirateparty.org.uk (or uk.pirateirc.net) or by using our web client here https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/party/chat/ *Contact details for this election:* Nominations Officer: Phil Cooke (p.cooke@pirateparty.org.uk) Central Campaigns: Andy Halsall (campaigns@pirateparty.org.uk07505 111705) Central Press: Harry Percival (press@pirateparty.org.uk0161 987 7880) Edinburgh – edinburgh@pirateparty.org.ukhttp://edinburgh.pirateparty.org.uk- 0131 546 4803 Phil Hunt: Edinburgh Morningside Ward Steven Bathgate: Edinburgh – Southside Newington Ward Glasgow – glasgow@pirateparty.org.ukhttp://glasgow.pirateparty.org.uk0141 815 1803 Laura-Anne Riatch: Coordinating Andrew Paliwoda: Hillhead Ward Rob Harris: Anderston/City Ward Finlay Archibald: Govan Ward Manchester – manchester@pirateparty.org.ukhttp://manchester.pirateparty.org.uk0161 987 5944 Jack Allnut: Coordinating Tim Dobson: Ancoats & Clayton Ward Loz Kaye: Bradford Ward Maria Aretoulaki: City Centre Ward 2012 will be a good year for the party; we are more prepared for these local elections than we have ever been, we have great candidates and good solid teams of people supporting them. All we need to do now is to work hard and pull together to get the best results possible. Thanks and we all look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

 


OMG! Now the UK government want to privatise the police!!

03/03/2012

Is it just me, or has the entire world gone crazy?  (Yeah yeah, I know the world has always been crazy, but just lately it seems to have gone super=crrrazy.)

Everyone born pre-1981 knows the Conversatives have exhibited pro-privatisation personality disorders for a looong time.  They shut up about it a little while in Opposition, but now they’re back, loonier than ever.  The Guardian has revealed that the Cons (and their poodle Coalition “partners” the Lib Dems, may their duplicitous souls rot in Hell for eternity) are planning to privatise the frakking police!!!

The Home Office says it’s necessary to make the police more efficient to meet expenses cutback goals.  But if that’s true, why are they refusing to release the business plan, even in the face of FOI requests?  This kind of secrecy tells me that the government have something to hide.  Which of course is impossible, following Cameron and Clegg statements about “open government”.

What really concerns me is the powers these private cops will have.  A 26 page “commercial in confidence” (whatever that means) says these private pigs’ powers will not include those that “involve the power of arrest and the other duties of a sworn constable.”  But the “breath-taking” list of powers include:

investigating crimes, detaining suspects, developing cases, responding to and investigating incidents, supporting victims and witnesses, managing high-risk individuals, patrolling neighbourhoods, managing intelligence, managing engagement with the public, as well as more traditional back-office functions, such as managing forensics, providing legal services, managing the vehicle fleet, finance and human resources

That list (which doesn’t include the power of arrest but does include “detaining suspects”???) is worrying enough.  But on top of all that, the privatisation means that the police will be less accountable to the public, and people will no longer be able to go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission if they have a problem.  So what you gonna do if the rent-a-cops give you an undeserved kicking?  The IPCC and the police won’t care: “Sorry mate, not my department.” What kind of chilling effect might this have on legitimate protest? The power “to detain suspects” sounds rather like the power to carry out kettling operations. Ho many more Ian Tomlinsons will die, and how will we hold the murderous rent-a-cops to account?

But don’t worry too much.  My magic 8-ball tells me the privatisation of the police will be the least of our worries, when more of Cameron’s dark desires are revealed.  Tell me, Clegg – what does it taste like, when your tongue is stuck up the PM’s butt?

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