Posts Tagged ‘U.K.’
For the next ten years, Britain will be cashing in on military equipment worth £160 Billion. The UK government hopes to increase its war capabilities in what is being seen as an effort to prepare for further military action. Missiles, fighter jets, helicopters and drones are one of many items on their list, including the controversial trident submarine facility, which is to receive a new fleet of nuclear missiles.
Britain is facing a financial crisis and potentially a triple-dip recession. Just when the government needed to save money and cut the deficit, they instead have splashed billions of pounds on military equipment. Experts say this money on military equipment is not needed; instead it should be spent in the public sector to help society.
Chris Coverdale, an anti-war activist and lawyer says that military spending is only lawful for purposes of defence, but he sees that Britain is currently involved in aggressive wars.
Already involved in Afghanistan, Britain stepped up its military efforts by sending warplanes to assist the French in their offence on Mali. It’s the UK’s latest move of what could become a bigger military plan in North Africa.
The government’s spending plans have been constantly criticised by many analysts who believe the latest military spending is not helping the country out of recession. I asked members of the public if they thought the government made the right move. There were mixed responses.
The UK National Audit Office, which reviews public spending, warns that the costs for such equipment could be £12.5 billion higher than initially planned. Although the Defence Budget could be cut in the next few years – expenditure on military equipment will continue.
A United Nations investigation into targeted killings will examine drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to the British lawyer heading the inquiry.
Ben Emmerson QC, a UN special rapporteur, will reveal the full scope of his review which will include checks on military use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in UK operations in Afghanistan, US strikes in Pakistan, as well as in the Sahel region of Africa where the conflict in Mali has erupted. It will also take evidence on Israeli drone attacks in Palestinian territories.
About 20 or 30 strikes – selected as representative of different types of attacks – will be studied to assess the extent of any civilian casualties, the identity of militants targeted and the legality of strikes in countries where the UN has not formally recognised there is a conflict.
The inquiry will report to the UN general assembly in New York this autumn. Depending on its findings, it may recommend further action. Emmerson has previously suggested some drone attacks – particularly those known as “double tap” strikes where rescuers going to the aid of a first blast have become victims of a follow-up strike – could possibly constitute a “war crime”.
The inquiry will be co-ordinated through Emmerson’s UN office in Geneva. Among the team of experts working with him will be the former director of public prosecutions, Lord Macdonald QC, a former prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, and Dr Nat Cary, one of the UK’s most experienced pathologists who specialises in the interpretation of injuries caused by explosions.
The inquiry is the result of a request by several nations, including Pakistan and two permanent members of the UN security council.
Staff in Geneva have already begun to examine details of individual drone strikes. Emmerson says that, when assembled, his dossier of evidence may not lead to direct “attribution of legal liability” but will enable him to put allegations to the states responsible and obtain a response.
The Ministry of Defence, he said, had assured him of its willingness to co-operate. The influential US Council on Foreign Relations recently recommended that the US president should: “provide information to the public, Congress, and UN special rapporteurs – without disclosing classified information – on what procedures exist to prevent harm to civilians”.
Despite many US officials justifying drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia as acceptable as part of the global war on terrorism, others in the Washington administration have more recently acknowledged a need to demonstrate legal justification for targeted killings to the international community.
Emmerson told the Guardian: “One of the fundamental questions is whether aerial targeting using drones is an appropriate method of conflict … where the individuals are embedded in a local community.
“One of the questions we will be looking at is whether, given the local demography, aerial attacks carry too high a risk of a disproportionate number of civilian casualties.” “The explosion of drone technology [raises the question whether] the military dependence on UAVs carries an unacceptably high risk of civilian casualties.”
Between June 2004 and September 2012, according to research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children.
How corporations are buying laws and controlling so called public spaces because our crooked politicians have been corrupted in treating public space as private space. The biggest offender is the so called City of London. You can’t photograph, you cant eat, you can’t drink…. these cartels have total control thanks to our bent politicians.
Google is facing a fresh privacy battle in the UK over its alleged secret tracking of the internet habits of millions of iPhone users.
An estimated 10 million Britons could have grounds to launch a privacy claim over the way Google circumvented Apple’s security settings on the iPhone, iPad and desktop versions of its Safari web browser to monitor their behaviour.
At least 10 British iPhone users have started legal proceedings and dozens more are being lined up, according to Dan Tench, the lawyer behind the action at the London-based firm Olswang.
“This is the first time Google has been threatened with a group claim over privacy in the UK,” he said. “It is particularly concerning how Google circumvented security settings to snoop on its users. One of the things about Google is that it is so ubiquitous in our lives and if that’s its approach then it’s quite concerning.”
A letter before action has been sent to Google executives in the US and UK on behalf of two users, including Judith Vidal-Hall, the privacy campaigner and former editor of Index on Censorship. Another 10 are preparing to launch proceedings, and plans are afoot for a group to form an umbrella privacy action.
The legal action comes just months after Google was hit with a $22.5m (£14m) fine in the US over a privacy breach between summer 2011 and spring 2012.
Google has admitted it intentionally sidestepped security settings on Apple’s Safari web browser that blocked websites from tracking users through cookies – data stored on users’ computers that show which sites they have visited. Security researchers revealed last February that Google’s DoubleClick advertising network intentionally stored these cookies on users’ computers without their consent.
Although the legal bill for Google is likely to be small compared with last year’s profits of $10.7bn, the damage will be significant given the millions of iPhone users in Britain at the time. The exact figure for compensation is not known and will depend on a number of factors.
Alexander Hanff, a privacy campaigner working on the legal claims, said: “This group action is not about getting rich by suing Google, this lawsuit is about sending a very clear message to corporations that circumventing privacy controls will result in significant consequences. The lawsuit has the potential of costing Google tens of millions, perhaps even breaking £100m in damages given the potential number of claimants – making it the biggest group action ever launched in the UK.”
Lawyers for claimants in the UK have ordered Google to reveal how it used the private information it secretly obtained, how much personal data was taken, and for how long. It is understood the claimants are suing Google for breaches of confidence and breach of privacy, computer misuse and trespass, and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
News of the legal action was first reported by the Sunday Times. Vidal-Hall, who could not be reached by the Guardian, was quoted as saying Google was guilty of “electronic stalking”. She added: “It angers me that our data is either being sold or passed on to third parties.”
A Facebook group called Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking has vowed to hold Google to account for the tracking. It said: “Google deliberately undermined protections on the Safari browser so that they could track users’ internet usage and to provide personally tailored advertising based on the sites previously visited. There was no way to know that Google did this. In fact, they made it clear that they did not do this on the Safari browser.”
It continued: “It could mean for many users that surprises such as engagements, presents and holidays were destroyed when partners looked at their computers and saw display ads based on sites previously visited. There are many examples of the inappropriate consequences of such intrusion.”
Google is no stranger to damaging privacy battles, having being censured for snooping on Wi-Fi users with its StreetView cars and the failed launch of its email social network, Google Buzz.
Google declined to comment. A statement it released at the time of the $22.5m fine last July claimed it had “collected no personal information” with the cookies.