TIME U.K.

Britain Gives Police Powers to Seize Passports of Suspected Jihadists

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a range of sweeping anti-terror measures on Monday

+ READ ARTICLE

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a range of new anti-terror measures Monday to tackle the threat of “homegrown” jihadists in the United Kingdom, just days after the country raised its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe.”

The U.K. police are to be granted sweeping new powers to seize the passports of suspected jihadists planning on traveling to Iraq or Syria to fight alongside militant groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), or returning to the country afterwards.

Cameron will also permit law enforcement authorities to issue temporary travel bans on citizens whose names are “flagged” by intelligence, in the hopes of tackling the flow of British-born extremists traveling to and from the U.K. Airlines will be required to hand over information about passengers traveling to and from conflict zones.

“We need stronger powers to manage the risk posed by suspected extremists already here in the United Kingdom,” he said.

 

The British government has acknowledged that there is no intelligence to suggest an imminent threat, but the ongoing conflict in northern Iraq and Syria has prompted concerns about the involvement of British nationals, who reportedly number over 500 of those fighting on behalf of ISIS. The American journalist James Foley was killed on camera by an ISIS fighter who appeared to have an British accent.

In a statement in the House of Commons, Cameron announced that the new discretionary powers given to the police would not only help to stem the influx of extremists back into the U.K, but also strengthen their capacity to monitor suspects in the U.K. “Dealing with this terrorist threat is not just about new powers, it is about how we combat extremism in all its forms,” he said.

Cameron’s assessment of the problem as “a greater threat to our security than we have seen before” has placed renewed pressure on President Obama to provide a more coherent U.S. response to the growing crisis in the Middle East. However, U.S. officials said Friday that there was no specific threat against the United States and there were no plans to raise the terror threat level, underlining recent efforts designed to improve U.S. national security.

TIME Ukraine

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Says It’s Time to Arm Ukraine

Robert Menendez
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., questions State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 29, 2014. Susan Walsh — AP

“We have to give the Ukrainians the fighting chance to defend themselves” says Sen. Robert Menendez

The Senate’s top foreign policy official was unequivocal on Sunday: Ukraine needs weapons from the West to defend itself against Russian aggression.

During an interview with CNN’s State of the Union, Senate Foreign Relations Chair Robert Menendez said Kiev needed both sophisticated weapons and stronger sanctions to help repulse Moscow’s incursions.

“We should be providing the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon Putin for further aggression,” Menendez told CNN from Kiev, where he is on a fact-finding mission. “We have to give the Ukrainians the fighting chance to defend themselves.”

Menendez went on to describe the Kremlin’s incursions in Ukraine as a “direct invasion.”

The Democrat from New Jersey stopped short of suggesting that American or NATO troops should be deployed in Ukraine.

The senator’s words come as President Barack Obama prepares to visit Estonia next week, before heading to the U.K. for a NATO summit, where the alliance’s representatives will discuss the increasingly violent conflict in Ukraine.

The Obama administration continues to advocate for the isolation of Russia through targeted economic sanctions, while providing the embattled government in Kiev with non-lethal aid.

On Aug. 6, Obama said that if Russia were to launch an invasion of Ukraine, the White House’s calculus might change.

“Now if you start seeing an invasion by Russia, that’s obviously a different set of questions. We’re not there yet,” Obama told reporters at the time.

However, last week NATO published satellite images that appeared to show Russian armored columns fighting in Ukrainian territory in a bid to prop up the pro-Moscow insurgency that has been taking place since April.

In the face of mounting evidence, more politicians are advocating that the U.S. take firmer action against the Kremlin.

“I think it is appropriate to up that level of aid, to make them a more capable fighting force to resist this incursion and to make it as painful as possible for Putin to make any progress in the Ukraine,” Congressman Adam Smith, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.

TIME Opinion

Social Media Gossip Fuels Bigotry as U.K. Investigates Sex Abuse

Sir Cliff Richard seen arriving at Wimbledon on July 04, 2014 in London.
Sir Cliff Richard seen arriving at Wimbledon on July 04, 2014 in London. Alex Huckle—GC Images

Police search Brit pop star Cliff Richard's home in latest look at allegations of past abuse

The pop singer Cliff Richard seems not to have been the first person to learn on Thursday that police were searching his apartment in Berkshire, England, in response to allegations “of a sexual nature dating back to the 1980s [that] involved a young boy under the age of 16 years.” Richard issued a sharply worded denial, calling the allegations, that had circulated on social media for some time, completely false. “Up until now I have chosen not to dignify the false allegations with a response, as it would just give them more oxygen. However, the police attended my apartment in Berkshire today without notice, except, it would appear, to the press,” he said. Media camped outside the apartment published pictures of officers arriving at the premises and supplied further details alleging that the allegations related to a June 1985 rally held by the U.S. preacher Billy Graham in the northern English city of Sheffield.

Meanwhile, police stressed that the investigation was at a very early stage. That some commentators on social media chose to ignore such niceties is regrettable but not surprising. The courts of Facebook and Twitter have often shown themselves to harbor all the regard for evidence of a Salem magistrate prosecuting charges of witchcraft in 17th century Massachusetts. This tendency has been exacerbated in the U.K. by a series of horrifying revelations that started after the Oct. 2011 death of serial pedophile Jimmy Savile. The British TV personality had used his fame to shield himself against inquiry and abuse his many victims with impunity.

Operation Yewtree, the police investigation launched in response to the Savile scandal, expanded to look into a range of unrelated allegations of sexual abuse amid public outrage that the British establishment appeared to have turned a blind eye to crimes committed by its own. The police have already decided not to continue with inquiries into six people, some of them publicly named, because of lack of evidence. Other investigations and legal processes are under way and two have led to convictions, of the publicist Max Clifford and in June of this year of an Australian entertainer once beloved of British audiences, Rolf Harris. Separate inquiries are in train into a swirl of allegations linking Cyril Smith, a former MP who died in 2010, to a Westminster pedophile ring and abuse in schools from the 1960s through several decades. The officers who searched Cliff Richard’s house are part of another investigation again. Having failed for so long, the authorities seem intent on revisiting the past to try to make amends.

Justice served late is better than no justice; any halfway credible allegation of abuse should be investigated, however old and whether or not its target is famous and, like Savile, lauded for charitable works by Prime Ministers and royals. Yet increasingly the focus on possible historical abuse carries uncomfortable resonances, not cleansing but prurient, and feeding into narratives that seek to question lifestyles that fail to fit outdated models of the nuclear family. “This isn’t good news for single older men like me,” said a taxi driver listening to a news bulletin about the search of Richard’s property.

Richard never married. That fact shouldn’t be regarded as any meaningful guide to his sexuality, much less an implication of criminal behavior. But the phrase “unmarried”, frequently deployed as a euphemism for gay, has been freshly endowed with unsavory connotations too, by the focus on unmarried Savile (who turned out to have a predilection for girls though his victims also included boys) and unmarried Smith (whose alleged victims were boys). What is relevant is not whether these victims were male or female but that they were in many cases underaged and that Savile and Smith expertly used positions of power to behave as predators. But instead, each new revelation provokes public reactions that are not only misguided but dangerous. “I always knew there was something wrong with Savile,” Britons are much given to remarking. Well, maybe, but Savile’s single state was no more a reliable signifier of his criminal activities than was his flamboyant dress sense.

There are many things about Cliff Richard that some people find a little unsettling: his amortal determination to hang on to the appearance of youth, the bizarre calendar poses, the relentlessly chirpy public persona, the evangelistic tendencies. These do not mark him out as a guilty man any more than his evangelism—he told a Sheffield newspaper after the Billy Graham event “I go wherever Christians invite me to speak about Jesus. It’s a platform I’ve been given by God”—provides a guarantee of god-fearing behavior.

Sure, social attitudes in the U.K. and many other countries have transformed. We are far more accepting of difference, not least because difference has become the norm, with fewer heterosexual couples marrying or staying married or having children and many more people living in same-sex relationships or alone for a wide variety of reasons. But these changes, and attempts by governments to recognize them, continue to provoke backlashes too. The gay community is one group that has suffered, as strident opponents of same-sex marriage on both sides of the Atlantic have ridiculously and deliberately conflated gay and lesbian relationships with criminality. And unfortunately, when 60 Texas lawmakers claim same-sex marriage could encourage pedophilia and bigamy, or when British peer and former Cabinet minister Norman Tebbit suggests such unions risk opening the door to incest, there are receptive audiences for their views.

Stonewall, a British organization campaigning against discrimination, has been concerned by the intersecting hostilities unleashed in the aftermath of Savile and during the debate on gay marriage (which became legal in the U.K. in March). “It’s deeply damaging and dangerous to make unfounded comparisons between pedophilia and homosexuality. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people still face daily discrimination. Those who falsely link loving, committed relationships between adults of the same sex and paedophilia only seek to further stigmatise gay people,” says Stonewall’s Richard Lane.

The lesson of Savile and the other investigations his case has inspired must be to listen to victims, not to make more victims by judging people on superficial grounds and creating room for bigots.

TIME United Kingdom

Cliff Richard’s Home Searched in Relation to Sex Offense

Police searched home in relation to an alleged historic sex offence

A house belonging to one of the U.K.’s most famous singers is being searched by police in relation to an alleged sex offense from the 1980s, the BBC reports.

Cliff Richard, 73, is among Britain’s most successful singers, having sold 21.5 million singles in a career spanning over five decades, with hits including The Young Ones and Summer Holiday. He was not at home when police entered the property and no arrests have been made.

The allegation involves a boy under 16 and dates from the 1980s, a police spokesperson said. Richard issued a statement calling the allegations “completely false.”

“Up until now I have chosen not to dignify the false allegations with a response, as it would just give them more oxygen,” he said. “However, the police attended my apartment in Berkshire today without notice, except it would appear to the press. I am not presently in the UK but it goes without saying that I will cooperate fully should the police wish to speak to me. Beyond stating that today’s allegation is completely false it would not be appropriate to say anything further until the police investigation has concluded.”

The search is not related to Operation Yewtree, a U.K. police enquiry into historic sex offences allegedly committed by British celebrities, launched in the wake of revelations that the late DJ Jimmy Savile had abused dozens of girls. However officers from Operation Yewtree, which has arrested 18 showbusiness associates, have been informed.

Richard, born Harry Webb, is the only musician to have had a U.K. top five album or higher in each decade dating back to the 1950s. Knighted in 1995, the singer released his 100th album in 2013.

[BBC]

TIME eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian Pilots Missing After 2 Jets Shot Down in East

Two Ukrainian military jets shot down
A file picture dated September 17, 2007 shows Ukrainian Su-25 attack planes during manoeuvres at the landfill in Rovno, Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists have shot down two Ukrainian military jets in the east of the country, Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy said on July 23, 2014. Sergey Popsuevich—EPA

Both pilots ejected safely but their whereabouts are unknown

Pro-Russia separatist rebels shot down two Ukrainian military planes over eastern Ukraine Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council told TIME. Both pilots ejected from their aircraft but remain missing.

An aide to separatist leader Alexander Borodai, told CNN that the two jets had been shot down by rebel fighters using a shoulder-fired missile system. However, Yarema Dukh, the Council’s press secretary, says that the jets were shot down from an altitude of 17,000 feet, an altitude she says is too high for those systems to reach. The aircrafts’ altitude, Dukh says, is instead a sign that “the planes may have been shot down by another plane.”

On top of that, though, it’s widely believed that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777 which crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, which most likely originated from rebel-controlled territory. Flight 17 was traveling at 33,000 feet at the time of the suspected shoot-down — much higher than the Ukrainian jets.

The two jets shot down Wednesday, both Soviet-built Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft, were among four fighter planes returning to base after supporting Ukrainian government forces along the Russia-Ukraine border, the Council said in a press conference Wednesday. They were hit over the Savur Mogila area close to the border around 1:30 p.m. local time.

The Ukrainian aircraft were flying in the same area as where Flight 17 crashed, killing all 298 people on board. On Wednesday, 40 of the 200 MH17 passengers’ bodies thus far recovered arrived in the Netherlands for identification. The flight’s two black boxes also safely reached investigators in Britain Wednesday.

In the days before the MH17 disaster, a Ukrainian An-26 transport plane and another Su-25 jet were also shot down. A second Su-25 was fired upon, but the pilot managed to land his plane with minimal damage.

TIME Flight MH17

Ukraine Says 2 Military Jets Shot Down Over East

As UK investigators began analysis of MH17 black boxes, and the bodies of Dutch victims were flown home

Ukraine said that two of its fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over eastern Ukraine, the Associated Press reports, less than a week after a passenger jet was downed in the same region. The news came as the two black boxes from the downed MH17 jet arrived in Britain and 40 of the recovered 200 bodies were being flown to the Netherlands.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that two of its military fighter jets were downed over eastern Ukraine. The two jets, both Sukhoi-25 planes, were shot down at 1:30pm local time over the Savur Mogila area. It is not yet known whether those on board have survived. A spokesperson for the ministry said the planes could have been carrying up to two people each.

Whilst the Ukrainian government tries to ascertain what has happened, the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch has begun to investigate the two flight recorders from flight MH17, the BBC reports, which were handed over to Malaysian experts by Ukrainian rebels late Monday.

Aviation experts from the organization will try to download data from the black boxes in accordance with a request from Dutch authorities heading up the investigation. The data should be downloaded within the next two days and will then be sent to the Dutch investigators. It is hoped that the flight recorders will be able to confirm whether a missile hit flight MH17.

The black boxes’ arrival comes as the first 40 bodies of the 298 victims were being flown to Eindhoven in the Netherlands. It is expected that they will arrive at 4pm local time.

They will be met by members of the Dutch royal family and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as part of a national day of mourning for the deceased. 193 of the 298 passengers onboard flight MH17 were Dutch nationals.

All 200 of the recovered bodies arrived in Kharkiv, Ukraine in a refrigerated train carriage Tuesday, following repeated international demands for their safe return.

Following a solemn ceremony attended by ambassadors, soldiers and officials, 40 coffins were loaded onto two military planes bound directly for Eindhoven. They will then be taken to barracks south of Hilversum for identification. Rutte has warned, however, that this could take months.

Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17. All 298 people on board were killed. Washington said Wednesday that they had clear evidence the plane was downed by an SA-11 missile “fired from eastern Ukraine under conditions the Russians helped create.”

[BBC]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46,425 other followers