Civil Liberty

Well, OK, but……

An Australian woman has described the “terrifying” experience of being taken off a Qatar Airways flight by authorities who strip-searched passengers as they tried to identify the mother of an infant found in the Doha airport toilets.

Kim Mills was one of nine women taken off a Qatar Airways flight bound for Sydney on 2 October and led through the bowels of the Hamad International airport to what appeared to be a dark carpark or turning circle, where three ambulances were waiting to perform medical examinations to determine if any of the women had recently given birth.

Mills was the only woman not subject to an examination.

“They told me to step forward, to go into the ambulance, and as I stepped forward another officer came round and stood in front of me and said: ‘No, no, you go, you go’,” Mills told Guardian Australia. “And as I was standing there with this officer telling me to go, a young lass came out of the ambulance and she was crying and distraught.

Terrified by not being strip searched seems a bit much.

But let’s try this the other way around. There’s a newborn right there. Abandoned. We tend to think that’s a bad idea. Further, the new mother might actually need medical attention herself. Right. So, how do you work out who the new mother is?



Hany Farid, a professor at University of California, Berkeley who specialises in digital disinformation, said reluctance to take Parler’s cash was not surprising. It is an example of what he called the “bully’s veto”: “Please explain to me how you have the right to say anything you want about gay people, black people, Muslim people.

It’s called free speech. Shrug.

I wonder

A history teacher who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class was beheaded near his school in a Paris suburb on Friday by a suspected Islamist terrorist who shouted Allahu Akbar police said.

Will there be anyone stupid enough to hem and haw over this?

Sophie Vénétitay, deputy head of the SNES-FSU teachers’ union, said: He was murdered because he was doing his job, namely teaching critical thought. She said the victim was a history and geography teacher who was in charge of moral and civic education”.
In that capacity, he gave a lesson on the freedom of expression with the Mohammed cartoons she said.

Nesrine Malik doesn’t seem stupid enough to do so but perhaps we can hope for something from Owen Jones? The “Yes, but….” The but being that while free speech, yay! we still shouldn’t offend people because look what happens?

Impartial, oh yes!

A Twitter spokesman said earlier on Thursday that the @TeamTrump account, and the accounts of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the New York Post, had been blocked from tweeting because of the company’s policies on hacked materials and posting private information.

In an election period, blocking news that perhaps – perhaps!, as with the pee pee tape, Russians funding Trump’s hotels etc – one candidate in the election might have some ‘splainin’ to do.

We are, of course, fine with The Guardian declaring that all Tories are bastards – fine with them being allowed to and actually saying it, not that we necessarily agree with it – and also the Mail telling us that Jezza’s gonna start the Gulag up again in Basingstoke. Because they are publishers. And Twitter is showing itself to be? A platform, a publisher?

Wait for this to become permanent

People who live in Covid-19 hotspots in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are to be banned from travelling to Wales, the Welsh first minister has announced.

Mark Drakeford said he had asked for the “necessary work” to take place to allow devolved powers to be used to prevent people from travelling into Wales from “high prevalence” areas.

Not, particularly, the banning of people travelling from those specific areas. But rather the system of documents that show where you do live so that you can be checked as allowed to go to certain other areas.

A propizka system so that Plod can check that you are allowed to be there. The Russian word being the appropriate one here. And yes, it is a step further than internal passports – or ID cards.


The Dutch government will permit doctors to euthanise terminally ill children aged between one and 12 after months of debate within the ruling coalition.

The country’s health minister, Hugo de Jonge, said a change in regulations was necessary to help “a small group of terminally ill children who agonise with no hope, and unbearable suffering”.

The euthanasia of children has a very long history within our species. But still – “Help”?

It’s not so much this one as….

Facebook will ban ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, the social media company announced on Tuesday, as it launches a new public health campaign aimed at spreading flu vaccine information.

The changes are a departure from Facebook’s previous policy, which prohibited ads with vaccine misinformation but allowed ads expressing opposition to vaccines if they did not contain false claims.

….what’s the next thing that will be declared to be misinformation which cannot be advertised? Moderate drinking is beneficial to health? As it often enough is. Higher minimum wages cause unemployment? Health care is a public good?

After all, there really are some people who should not take a vaccine.

To put this another way. Once the shrieking classes have gained this power who thinks they’re not going to expand it?


Turkey’s repossession of a collection of ancient seeds from the British Institute in Ankara has caused a rift between the members of my family. Seeing as both parents have a PhD in weedy science, less commonly known as plant biology, it was rather inevitable. Although, on this occasion, I’ve found I too have taken a side.

In my opinion, Turkey is well within its rights to confiscate the collection. The work may have been paid for and carried out by a British scientist, and the specimens may have been available for any researcher to use, but this still doesn’t mean Britain has any claim to them. The seeds were taken from soil that belongs to Turkey, therefore they belong to and have to remain the property of the country.

All potatoes are Peruvian no doubt…..

What really worries is that this world view contains no room at all for the very idea of “private property”. It is not true that all things and everything belong to some government or other, our task only being to find out which one. And this is in The Times……makes those columns about whether Britain should sell AIM understandable now. They’ve just not grasped that as Britain doesn’t own the company then the country doesn’t get to decide who does own the company.

OK, so when are they coming for the communists?

Facebook has banned all QAnon groups, pages and Instagram accounts in a last-hour attempt to strangle the movement’s rapid explosion across its services.
The social media giant said on Tuesday that it had branded the cult-like online community as a militarised social movement, meaning it will now remove groups and pages that spread its message even if they advocate no violence.

You know, given those calls for the elimination of the bourgeoisie as a class, the historical evidence of mass slaughter inspired by the movement etc?

It’s an interesting take on it

The Observer:

Riots rock Malmö after far-right Swedish activists burn Qur’an

You sorta get the impression that it’s the rightists rioting, right?

The disorderly phalanx of young men and teenagers, many wearing face masks and hooded tops, started to accelerate, excitement rising, as it neared the row of police vans blocking off the troubled district of Rosengård in Malmö.

“We’re gonna fuck this system up because they want to let a man burn the Qur’an,” one of them yelled, as the group starts hurling jagged chunks of concrete paving towards the armoured riot police sheltering behind the vans. “And we’re gonna fuck the police.”

More than 300 rioters threw stones at police and burned tyres in the southern Swedish city on Friday night after a video circulated of followers of the far-right Danish politician Rasmus Paludan burning a copy of the Qur’an near one of the city’s mosques.

Crowds of young men wielded bars taken from street signs and metal barriers, and threw stones and fireworks after smashing up bus shelters. Further up the road, cars, tyres, pallets and rubbish bins were set ablaze.

Err, no. This was the young Muslims having a go at the police.

Amar Mohsen, an 18-year-old whose mother is Russian and whose father is Iraqi, said politicians in the city should have done more to condemn the plans to burn the Qur’an. “The politicians in Sweden say: ‘It’s a human right. Do what you want. You live in a free country. You can burn a Qur’an in front of a mosque’. It’s not like that. It will affect many people and I think we will be more divided.”


I tend to think the American Supreme Court got this right. Sure, burning the flag pisses off a lot of people. You’ve still the right – right – to do it though.

Can we get an amen to that?

Here’s the most important “issue” to me: I want to make the US into a country where people don’t care who is president, a place like Switzerland. The more people care who is president (as in Venezuela) the worse off the country is.

And the PM, the trade secretary, the Chancellor and… a free society they’d all be miserably unimportant little functionaries. Things necessary to have, like dung beetles, but of no importance.

Seems fair

One of the co-founders of Extinction Rebellion has been detained for four weeks before a weekend of planned action.

Roger Hallam, 54, of Wandsworth in south-west London, was among five people arrested on Monday and charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage.

The five appeared at Highbury Corner magistrates court on Tuesday and were remanded into custody until their next court appearance, at Wood Green crown court on 22 September, the Metropolitan police said.

Difficult for them to deny the charge given the activities they plan…..

‘Fraid not, no

Rape victims will be allowed to give pre-recorded video evidence to prevent them being intimidated in court by their attackers under plans being considered by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

For part of the process is to be able to question the evidence being given. Which is difficult to do if it’s all already on tape, right?

Prosecution and defence lawyers cross-examine the victim as the judge and defendant watch via a video link from the courtroom. Once the judge is satisfied, the recording is retained until the trial when it can be played to the jury.

That’s rather better.

Yes, we are ruled by idiots

Campaigners urged the supermarket giant to remove the £5.50 mug from sale, claiming the slogan – which is printed with ‘hit her’ in capital letters – was liable to be misinterpreted to trivialise domestic abuse.
The supermarket acted after Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne wrote to Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts urging him to remove it, saying: “Apparently ‘A brilliant idea hit her’ is meant to mean ‘she had a brilliant idea’, however I think the wording on this mug sends a completely different message and despite the joke cartoon on the other side, invites men to assault women.”
She added: “Given the rise in domestic violence I believe you will wish to review your internal safeguarding checks and consider withdrawal of this particular mug from your range of customer purchases.”

The correct answer to this is “Sod off you idiot”. Because what some superannuated bird thinks about voluntary interaction between other people is nowt of her business.

Closely followed, of course, by consideration of what a lousy political system we’ve got that such could be appointed to the Lords.

This is, I think, how it is supposed to work, no?

A senior judge said on Wednesday that he was powerless to send the terrorist behind the Manchester Arena bombing to jail for the rest of his life because of laws passed by Parliament.
Hashem Abedi will escape a whole life sentence for the atrocity because he was aged 20, rather than 21, at the time of the attack. The law prevents criminals under 21 being handed a whole life term.

Where there is legislation – that expressed will of the Parliament we elect – then the courts are bound by that legislation. Further, anyone on trial or found guilty can only be processed by that law and punished only according to what the law was at the moment of the crime.

Hey, maybe even we the people might decide differently, elect people who change this specific point. But if we do that only applies to anyone caught and tried after the relevant law has been passed.

That’s just the way the system works and the reason it does so is to protect us, the citizenry, from the State. We just don’t do retroactive changes in that law. Because to do so puts all of us at risk of whatever 650 idiots might decide to chase us with.

The wrong sort of protestors

The president of the Portland branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), ED Mondainé, warned that the Black Lives Matter movement in the city is being coopted by “privileged white people” with other agendas. He said the confrontations with the federal officers sent by the president are little more than a “spectacle and a distraction that do nothing for the cause of black equality”.

Mondainé accused groups of young white people at the forefront of confronting federal officers of rising to Trump’s bait and using the campaign against racial injustice to provoke a fight in pursuit of other causes, such as anti-capitalism.

“The children of the privileged are dancing on the stages of those that gave their lives for this movement,” he told the Guardian.

Given that Portland is about 3% black – about the same as the UK as a whole – that the protestors are largely not-black shouldn’t come as all that much of a surprise.

Free speech absolutism

Finally, it seems, content moderation on social media is making some moves away from the free speech absolutism of the early internet and toward a more nuanced understanding of what kind of rules are necessary to enable free expression for the broadest possible range of people.

That is, no free speech for thou even if me and mine do get free speech. For the moment.

One of the first tech executives to take a stand for this more holistic view of protecting free expression on the web

Interesting use of the word “holistic” isn’t it?