UK stop and search powers are illegal

The Guardian reports:

The Strasbourg court ruled it was unlawful for police to use the powers, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, to stop and search people without needing any grounds for suspicion.

The widely-drawn ruling said that not only the use of the counter-terror powers, but also the way they were authorised, were "neither sufficiently circumscribed, nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse".

Vindicated!

Legal use of Terrorism Act 2000 44(2)

In follow up to my previous post. So I complained to the IPCC. After a number of initially dismissive letters back and forth, I started to get some thoughtful responses. One clarified that

"Under [section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000] officers do not need to have reasonable grounds to suspect involvement in terrorism."

This prompted a measured response on my part and now I have received a final letter from a DI of the British Transport Police. The letter acknowledges the recent European judgements, claims that

the vast majority of officers do use the powers of search with a genuine belief that that they are protecting the public"

and that

“whether this as been the correct method of prevention perhaps only time and hindsight will tell".

(I’m not going to reproduce it here because the letter appears to be personally written, rather than stock or secretary written.)

Well, I’m happy with that. Not happy, exactly, but at least it’s honest. My beef is no longer with the BTP.

Er...

Ahern defends new blasphemy law

Independant.ie writes:

Mr Ahern yesterday defended a fine of up to €100,000 that will be imposed on blasphemers. ... Gardai will now have the power to seize blasphemous material from the home or any other premises used by a person convicted of blasphemy.

Okay, seriously now guys, stop it.

This kind of thing used to be funny. We'd be all "heh, glad I don't live in Saudi Arabia" or "oh, that crazy pope, what'll he get up to next?".  But the joke's run its course and it's time to give it up and move along, ok?

Remember, we're trying to build a better world here, and hilarious though pranks like this are, they're getting a little tiresome.

Ethics versus religion in Berlin; ethics win

Berlin Rejects Religious Lessons

That was fairly close...

BBC News writes:

A referendum in Germany has failed to give children a choice between classes in secular ethics or religion. ... Opponents said that any changes to the curriculum would be divisive.

Sanity is preserved.

Ethics versus religion in Berlin

Referendum Pits Ethics against Religion

What a beautifully irony-laced headline from Spiegel Online International.

From the article:

Since 2006, ethics has been a compulsory subject for all high school students in Germany's capital city, while religion is an optional course. The "Pro Reli" campaign wants to change those rules so that pupils would have to choose between ethics and a faith-based religion class. Those classes would be strictly divided along religious lines, with Protestants, Catholics and Muslims being taught separately.

I actually can't believe this.  It's like a piece of science fiction.