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News Stories that Critique Social and Institutional Practices



Critiques in the News of Social and Institutional Practices that Undermine Critical Thinking and the Emergence of Critical Societies


There are two opposing social tendencies relevant to critical thinking, each supported by multiple driving forces. One is the tendency to social control and intolerance, to conformity and obedience, to fixity of belief and the preservation of traditional myths and delusions, to dogmas and vested interest pronouncements. The other is to critical analysis; to the transformation of beliefs; to questioning, doubt, and reason focused on the improvement of social life and conditions.

Critical thinking can flourish only to the extent that societies support freedom of thought. Significant support for freedom of thought presupposes social stability, open access to information and knowledge and authentic commitment to maintaining that access. Social and institutional practices that undermine the emergence of such societies warrant critique using the best critical thinking.

There are many possible sources for stories documenting social practices that discourage critical thinking and/or the emergence of critical societies. We cannot cover all such stories. Nevertheless, we believe it is our responsibility to highlight practices inconsistent with fair-minded critical thinking. The stories in this section come from STATEWATCH, a European watchdog research group. Eventually we hope to provide such critiques on events the world over.  

Consistent with the protocols of independent critical thought, the Foundation for Critical Thinking is non- political. The stories are provided here for your analysis and assessment. We believe that, in general, Statewatch is a paradigm of sound scholarship. However, if you judge any story to be inaccurate or misleading, you may challenge the story (citing your reasoning or evidence).



FEATURED TOPIC

The controversy surrounding the use of "drones" - aircraft without personnel - is becoming more vocal as Europe begins to increasingly adopt the use of such technology. The use of drones has become particularly controversial in the United States, where critics charge that they potentially impede civil rights and contribute little to overall security and supporters claim that they are the future of warfare.


Read the following articles about the use of "unmanned drones", then watch the below video to learn more about predictive policing... use a critical thinking lens to dissect what you see. Read the Foundation for Critical Thinking’s How to Detect Media Bias and Propaganda for a better understanding of how to think critically about the news!






For full contents of all stories, see: Statewatch News online for analysis, documentation, news in brief and News Archives 2000-ongoing, or see the What's New section, which lists all News Online and News in Brief items. The latest news items are listed below, for your convenience.


EU: FREEZING AND CONFISCATION OF ASSETS: Council of the European Union: Comparative table: submitted by the Presidency on behalf of the Council in view of the second trilogue on Wednesday 10 July 2013: Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime in the European Union (2012/0036(COD)) (pdf): Multi-column document showing the different positions going into the Council-European Parliament trilogue.

EU: ACCESS TO EU DOCUMENTS: Council of the European Union press release: Council's public register of documents hits 2 million mark (pdf): "The Council of the European Union's public register has reached 2 million documents online. As of today the register contains the references of 2.000.267 documents. Around 75% of these documents are publicly available and directly downloadable. A further 15% are partially available." ["Partially accessible" means censored] And see: Annual report for 2012 (pdf)

OVER 50% of initial requests to the Council for documents are refused to keep secret discussions on new measures

These figures sound good until the detail is examined in the Annual Report: The reasons for refusal of access on an initial application was 41/3% were for the "protection of the institution's decision-making process" (this is under Article 4.3 of Regulation 1049/2001). Understandably many applicants are interested in documents which concern new measures being discussed in the Council and its Working Parties yet it would appear that of over 50% are refused - in addition to 41.3% being refused for this reason 30.0% are refused for "Several reasons together" which can also include refusal for the "protection of the institution's decision-making process".

EU: ACCESS TO EU DOCUMENTS: Council of the European Union: FIGURES FOR CLASSIFIED/"SENSITIVE" documents given for the first time: Annual report for 2012 (pdf)

Of the documents held or produced by the Council:of the European Union in 2012

13,817 were classified as "Restricted" in 2012 - the highest annual figure ever
1,339 were classified as "Confidential" in 2012
9 were classified as "Secret"

These includes documents produced by the Council and those sent to the Council by the European Commission or the European External Action Service (EEAS). The figures for "sensitive"/classified documents produced by the Council itself (and includes in the figures above) are given as:

None were classified as "Top Secret"
33 were classed as "Secret" in 2012
332 were classified as "Confidential" in 2012 (most are not recorded in the public register)
The figure for the number of "Restricted" documents (the largest category is not given as "Restricted" documents are not referred to in the Regulation, Article 9).

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments: "The largest category, "Restricted", 13,817 documents, is of the greatest concern. "Restricted" is defined as where the disclosure of a document would be "disadvantageous" to the interests of the EU or a Member State. The term "disadvangeous" can be used to keep current and ongoing discussions secret and hence stop any critical media coverage - to enforce what has been called "the space to think" for Council and Commission officials and keep the people uninformed and unable to make their views known."

Greece: The city at a time of crisis: Mapping racist attacks in Athens

Since the onset of the financial crisis and subsequent economic policies introduced by the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Greece, racism and incidents of racist violence in the country have risen sharply. During 2012, the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) recorded 154 incidents of racist violence. In 91 cases, victims said they believed that the perpetrators belonged to an extremist group. In "at least 8 cases, the victims or witnesses to the attacks reported that they recognised persons associated to Golden Dawn among the perpetrators." The RVRN also reported that "there is a distinct category of 25 incidents where police and racist violence are interlinked," with some attacks taking place in detention centres and police stations, while in others "the involvement of law enforcement officials in racist attacks was also reported."

Increased racism and the growth of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn have led to numerous different responses from social, political and community organisations. These include fairly typical activities such as marches and demonstrations as well as more novel responses such as anti-fascist motorcycle patrols in neighbourhoods "where thugs are known to beat up immigrants and cause damage to their shops." [2] Recently the team behind the research project The City at a Time of Crisis, which aims to "trace and research the effects of the ongoing financial crisis on urban public spaces in Athens," launched a map to document racist attacks in the city. Statewatch spoke to Jaya Klara Brekke from the group to find out more.

GERMANY-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: 'Key Partners': The Secret Link Between Germany and the NSA (Spiegel Online, link): "Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly said she knew nothing about American surveillance activities in Germany. But documents seen by SPIEGEL show that German intelligence cooperates closely with the NSA and even uses spy software provided by the US"

UPDATE: CIA chief wanted in Italy for ‘rendition’ on his way back to US (Independent, link).

Previous reports: EU-CIA: Ex-CIA Milan chief held in Panama over cleric abduction (BBC News, link) : "A former CIA station chief convicted by an Italian court of kidnapping a terror suspect has been detained in Panama, Italian officials say. Robert Seldon Lady was sentenced to nine years in jail for his involvement in the abduction of the man, an Egyptian cleric, in Milan in 2003. The cleric, known as Abu Omar, was allegedly flown to Egypt and tortured. Lady was convicted in absentia with 22 other Americans for their role in his "extraordinary rendition" and CIA official held in Panama over Italian snatch case (link)

EU-USA: EU questions decade-old US data agreement (euobserver, link): "The European Commission is casting doubts on a 13-year old data sharing agreement with the United States. EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding on Friday (19 July) told reporters in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius her services will be reviewing the so-called Safe Harbor Agreement."

EU: Growing racism spurs rise in extremist parties, commission says (euobserver, link): "Speaking to reporters in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the EU has never before seen so many far right parties in elected bodies since the Second World War."

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Extract from the Minutes of the 4 July 2013 meeting of COREPER II: EU-US High Level expert group on security and data protection (pdf): COREPER is the Council of the European Union's Committee of permanent Brussels-based representatives of the 28 EU Member States.

EU: EDPS ON SMART BORDERS: European Data Protection Supervisor: Smart borders: key proposal is costly, unproven and intrusive (Press release,.pdf) and Full-text of Opinion (pdf):

"There is no clear evidence that the Commission Proposals to create a smart border system for the external borders of the EU will fulfil the aims that it has set out, said the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) today. Following the publication of his opinion which focuses specifically on the Entry/Exit System, the EDPS said that one of the stated aims of the proposals was to replace the existing 'slow and unreliable' system but the Commission's own assessments do not indicate that the alternative will be sufficiently efficient to justify the expense and intrusions into privacy.

As law enforcement authorities may potentially be granted access to the database after a period of evaluation of the system coming into force, it appears that the proposals are anticipating such access before demonstrating that the intrusion into the private lives of individuals is actually necessary. The general trend to give law enforcement authorities access to the data of individuals, who in principle are not suspected of committing any crime, is a dangerous one. The EDPS strongly recommends that the precise added value of such access, compared with access to existing biometric databases, be identified." (emphasis in original)

EU-ECJ: KADI: European Court of Justice: Press release: The Court dismisses the appeals against the General Court’s ‘Kadi II’ judgment
The European Union may not impose restrictive measures on Mr Kadi, without evidence to substantiate his involvement in terrorist activities
(pdf) and Judgment against appeal by EU Member States (pdf)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Facebook, Skype challenged in EU over spy affair (euobserver, link): " A group of Austrians, led by law student Max Schrems, has challenged the EU-based subsidiaries of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype and Yahoo on data privacy following revelations that they allowed US intelligence services to search to Europeans' data."

UK-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Statement from the Intelligence and Security Committee clears GCHQ on use of PRISM: Statement on GCHQ’s Alleged Interception of Communications under the US PRISM Programme (pdf): "It has been alleged that GCHQ circumvented UK law by using the NSA’s PRISM programme to access the content of private communications. From the evidence we have seen, we have concluded that this is unfounded." and: Inquiry into snooping laws as committee clears GCHQ: Intelligence and security committee also confirms GCHQ's use of NSA Prism surveillance material for first time (Guardian, link)

See also: Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament: Annual Report 2012–2013 (pdf). As usual this is peppered with *** (censored sections). The report does draw attention to a little publicised fact that: "The Security Service continues to work closely with the police, and has a network of regional stations ***." In 2011 MI5 set up eight new regional stations - around a quarter of MI5's 4,000+ officers are based in the regions.

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: The PRISM scandal gets bigger (EDRI, link)

A lethal 'non-lethal' weapon (Corporate Watch, link):

"With tear gas a prominent weapon used to repress the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the multi-billion global market has been expanding. Reported incidents of tear gas-related deaths and injuries have prompted critique of its classification as 'non-lethal' and renewed calls for a ban on its use."

UK: Independent Police Complaints Commission report (IPPC): Report on Metropolitan Police Service handling of complaints alleging race discrimination (pdf): and see: Six Met police officers could be sacked over racist joke text messages: News emerges as part of watchdog report saying force is failing in way it handles racism complaints against officers from public (Guardian, link)

Europe's justice and interior ministers push for closer relations between internal security authorities and industry

The Council of the European Union is hoping to strengthen the involvement of Europe's internal security agencies in "security-related research and industrial policy", calling on Member States' authorities to provide more support for the European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS), a working group that last year agreed on a series of "priority areas" that include drones, covert surveillance, remote vehicle stopping and non-lethal weapons.

UK: LEGAL AID: House of Commons Justice Committee: Transforming Legal Aid: evidence taken by the Committee (60 pages, pdf). See also: "The potential death of legal aid": lawyers protest against new government proposals (Statewatch database)

GREECE: 4,000 police on duty for Schaeuble visit: Protests and gatherings banned in large swath of central Athens (EnetEnglish, link)

UK police use powers to seize personal data at borders (Computer Weekly, link)

EU: European Parliament study: The ‘Lisbonisation’ of the European Parliament: Assessing progress, shortcomings and challenges for democratic accountability in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (55 pages, pdf)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: The Power of Britain's Data Vacuum (Spiegel Online, link)

EU: EUROPEAN PUBLIC PROSECUTOR & EUROJUST: European Commission proposals: Communication: Better protection of the Union's financial interests: Setting up the European Public Prosecutor's Office and reforming Eurojust (COM 352-13, pdf), Council Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (COM 534-13, pdf) and Regulation on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) (COM 535-13, pdf)

UK police accused of supplying target information for military 'kill list': Court case – launched following mistaken identity in Afghan attack – to hear claim that Soca helped to compile list for Nato (Guardian, link)

UK: Report on: UNDERCOVER POLICE USE OF DEAD CHILDREN'S NAMES: Operation Herne: Report 1 · Use of covert identities (pdf) See: Dead children's IDs used by undercover police to be kept from families (BBC News, link)

EU: European Commission: Annual report to the European Parliament and the Council on the activities of the EURODAC Central Unit in 2012 (COM 485-13, pdf) and Annual Report on the Situati on of Asylum in the European Union 2012 (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Lithuanian Council Presidency: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council, 18-19 July 2013: Programme (pdf), Discussion paper: Cyber security issues (pdf), Future Development of the JHA Area: Discussion Paper on Home Affairs issues (pdf), Future Development of the JHA Area: Discussion Paper on Justice (pdf), 4th Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum (pdf) and Data Protection Reform: Role of the European Data Protection Board in the consistency mechanism (pdf)

EU: Attacks against Roma in Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic (errc, link) and the Institute of Race Relations (IRR): "This week, we publish a briefing paper which documents a growing tide of hostility against Europe’s Romani communities" (link).

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Merkel calls for EU data protection law after US spy affair (euobserver, link) and Prism case prompts Merkel to seek tougher EU data protection laws (euractiv, link) and see:

UK: Privacy campaigners demand review of snooping laws - Groups write to select committee raising concerns about the way ministers and intelligence agencies have interpreted law (Guardian, link)

UK: Travellers' mobile phone data seized by police at border: Thousands of innocent holidaymakers and travellers are having their phones seized and personal data downloaded and stored by the police, The Telegraph can disclose (link)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: IRELAND: High Court Refuses Provisional Arrest Warrant for Edward Snowden: What Next? (Human Rights in Ireland, link): The USA’s application for provisional arrest to Ireland is dated 5 July - three days after Morales' jet forced to land.

USA: In 'Chilling' Ruling, Chevron Granted Access to Activists' Private Internet Data: "Sweeping" subpoena violates rights of those who spoke out against oil giant's devastating actions in Ecuador (link)

UK: Britain's drone policy to be examined by MPs (BBC, link) A new inquiry into Britain's policy on armed drone aircraft has been announced by the Commons Defence Committee. MPs will examine the UK's deployment of armed drones and the legal and ethical issues surrounding their use.

See also: UK Defence Select Committee anounces remit of inquiry into use of drones (Drone Wars UK, link) Submission from Drone Wars UK to the Defence Select Committee Inquiry (pdf)

Greece: Doctors of the World strongly condemns the re-introduction of a discriminatory public health decree in Greece (press release)

Last week, the new Greek Minister of Health decided to re-introduce Public Health Decree 39A which imposes measures such as obligatory testing for hepatitis, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and communicable diseases...This decree is a serious violation of basic human rights, human dignity and medical ethics. It goes against the recommendations of international public health specialists and human rights bodies, including those from the WHO, UNAIDS, the European Centre for Disease Control and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency.

See also: Greece: Repeal Abusive Health Regulation (Human Rights Watch, 4 July) Greece reintroduces forced HIV testing (EurActiv, 12 July) Interview with Greek Minister for Public Order, Nikos Dendias, on the BBC World Service (BBC, 10 July)

EU: EU seeks increased surveillance of travel and social media to deal with "foreign fighters"

In late May, the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (CTC), Gilles de Kerchove, published a paper outlining 22 potential measures that could be taken by EU institutions, agencies and Member States to deal with "jihadists travelling from Europe to Syria and other hotspots". The paper describes these "foreign fighters" as "a serious problem for European internal security" and proposes trying to address the issue with public relations exercises, high-level political meetings, and the increased surveillance of social media and travel - including through the introduction of the controversial EU PNR (Passenger Name Record) Directive.

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Guardian report: Revealed: how Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages (link)

Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian...The documents show that:

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;
• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;
• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;
• Microsoft also worked with the FBI's Data Intercept Unit to "understand" potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;
• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;
• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport".

EU: Uncertain future for EU-funded police project aimed at enhancing covert surveillance techniques

An EU-funded project - International Specialist Law Enforcement (also known as Project ISLE) - aimed at enhancing the covert surveillance abilities and techniques of Member States' police forces appears to be in limbo, if not discontinued altogether.

UK: Stephen Lawrence case: Special Branch 'spied on' Macpherson inquiry (Guardian, link) Special Branch officers gathered intelligence on anti-racism campaigners from within the official inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, according to a police whistleblower.

UK: G4S: Government charged for electronic tagging of dead people (Channel4, link) Justice Minister Chris Grayling reveals serious mis-charging by Serco and G4S over electronic monitoring of offenders. G4S, which has refused to allow an in-depth audit, may face an SFO investigation.

US: Reprieve report: Down the tubes: The 2013 Hunger Strike at Guantánamo Bay (pdf) See also: Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) demonstrates Guantanamo force-feeding Standard Operating Procedure (youtube, link) and Reprieve: When will White House transfer cleared Gitmo prisoners? (CNN, link)

The report finds evidence of heavy-handed tactics being used by the prison authorities in an attempt to break the strike. Detainees report:

- The frequent use of violent procedures known as Forcible Cell Extractions (FCEs) against those who refuse food, resulting in one example in aggravation of old injuries (Abu Wa’el Dhiab)
- The use of unnecessary force during the force-feeding process, resulting in vomiting or bleeding in some cases
- A new regime of invasive genital searches for any detainees wishing to take calls from family or legal counsel, or attend meetings – thought to be aimed at discouraging such calls and therefore restricting the flow of information from the prisoners to the outside world
- The use of solitary confinement to "prevent them from achieving solidarity," in the words of the Guantánamo authorities’ Standard Operating Procedure

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee MEPs agree on surveillance inquiry's next steps (link)

The European Parliament inquiry into alleged spying by the US and EU countries will hold hearings with their authorities, legal and IT experts, NGOs, data protection authorities, national parliaments following this issue and private firms involved in data transfers, the Civil Liberties Committee decided on Wednesday. The first hearing takes place on 5 September.

GREECE: Hunger striker released on bail on 38th day of protest (EnetEnglish, link) Decision to release Kostas Sakkas on bail comes a day after a doctor monitoring his health said he is at the 'final stage' of life, having completed 37 days on hunger strike. See also: In Greece, things move fast – except justice for Kostas Sakkas (Guardian, link)

UK: Man dies after police use Taser in Manchester (Sky, link) Police say the 23-year-old "suffered a medical episode" after police fired a Taser stun gun at him in Manchester. See also: Thousands more Tasers issued to police in London

GREECE: ROAR magazine: Landscapes of emergency: militarizing public space (link) This short documentary reveals the undeclared state of emergency that casts its shadow over the functions of public space in crisis-ridden Athens today.

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Congressional Research Service report: NSA Surveillance Leaks: Background and Issues for Congress (2 July 2013, pdf)

Recent attention concerning National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance pertains to unauthorized disclosures of two different intelligence collection programs. Since these programs were publicly disclosed over the course of two days in June, there has been confusion about what information is being collected and what authorities the NSA is acting under. This report clarifies the differences between the two programs and identifies potential issues that may help Members of Congress assess legislative proposals pertaining to NSA surveillance authorities.

EU: EU officials discuss interconnection of visa database and Schengen Information System

The Visa Information System (VIS) launched in October 2011 and the Schengen Information System II (SIS II) began operating in April this year. Both of these vast European databases can hold tens of millions of pieces of data on people and property, and now EU officials are looking to move towards realising a long-held goal - the interconnection of the two systems.

EU: Eurojust and Interpol establish "cooperative relations in order to improve the international response to serious crime"

Eurojust, the EU agency dealing judicial cooperation in criminal matters, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Criminal Police Office, Interpol. The purpose of the MoU is to "establish, define, encourage and improve cooperation between the Parties in the fight against serious crime, particularly when it is organised."

UK: UK to scrap 100 EU justice laws (euobserver, link) The UK wants to repatriate 35 EU-wide police and justice laws out of some 130 in its wider efforts to claw back power from the EU. "We believe the UK should opt out of the measures in question for reasons of principle, policy, and pragmatism," UK home secretary Theresa May told ministers in London on Tuesday 9 July.

See: Home Secretary's oral statement to the House of Commons on this decision (gov.co.uk, link) Decision pursuant to Article 10 of Protocol 36 to The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (pdf)

UK: European Court of Human Rights: Grand Chamber judgment finds UK whole-life jail sentences violate Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights (press release, pdf) Judgment (pdf)

See: Britain faces new clash with Europe over whole-life jail sentences (Guardian, link) and Whole-life jail sentences: what are the government's options? (Guardian, link)

EU-US: TAFTA, the US-EU's Trojan Trade Agreement: Talks (and Leaks) Begin (EFF, link) The first round of talks in what the U.S. and EU trade representatives intend to be the largest bilateral trade agreement ever have begun.

EU: Greece accused of undertaking illegal 'push-back' operations, Maltese Prime Minister says they are an option

According to a new report by Amnesty International, "people's lives are frequently put at risk by the actions of the Greek border guard and coastguard while carrying out push-back operations along the border with Turkey." This comes just days after Malta's Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, "reaffirmed his government's position not to exclude the controversial push-backs of migrants at sea."

See: Lives at risk as refugees pushed back to Turkey, Amnesty warns in new report (Amnesty press release, link) Full report (pdf)

Refugees trying to reach the EU via Greece from conflict-torn countries like Syria and Afghanistan are being unlawfully returned to Turkey by Greek coast and border guards. The report examines the Greek authorities’ dangerous use of ‘push backs’ - when they turn groups of refugees and other migrants back across the border, denying them the right to have their individual cases heard or to challenge their expulsion.

UK: Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary: Police use of stop and search powers is too often ineffective in tackling crime and procedurally incorrect, thereby threatening the legitimacy of the police (press release, link) Full text of report (pdf)

The report found that "27% of the 8,783 stop and search records examined by HMIC did not include sufficient grounds to justify the lawful use of the power."

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Federal Judge Allows Electronic Frontier Foundation's NSA Mass Spying Case to Proceed (link) Why “we only spy on foreigners” doesn’t work any more for the NSA (Washington Post, link)

UK: Jimmy Mubenga was unlawfully killed, inquest jury finds (Guardian, link) Mubenga died after being restrained by three G4S guards as he was being deported to Angola in October 2010. At the end of an eight-week inquest, a jury of seven men and three women recorded a majority verdict of nine to one of unlawful killing after four days of deliberations.

Media coverage:

G4S faces damages claim over killing of Jimmy Mubenga (Guardian link)
Jimmy Mubenga case a 'predictable consequence' of deportation system (Guardian link)
Jimmy Mubenga's unlawful killing was a death waiting to happen (Guardian link)
Response from Inquest, Jimmy Mubenga's family, and lawyer
(Inquest, link)
Utter contempt for dignity and life (Liberty, link)
Amnesty response to Jimmy Mubenga inquest (link)
Campaigners call for corporate manslaughter charges against G4S following 'unlawful killing' verdict in Jimmy Mubenga inquest (StopG4S, link)

See also: Unlawful killing verdicts 1990-2012 - all statistics of deaths in custody (Inquest, link) and Statewatch analysis: The death of Jimmy Mubenga: “Securing your world” through privatised manslaughter (July 2011)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: EU-US counter-terrorism pacts at risk over snooping affair (euobserver, link) and Snowden Claims: NSA Ties Put German Intelligence in Tight Spot (Spiegel Online, link)

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor: EDPS finds major deficiencies in anti-money laundering proposals (pdf) and Opinion (pdf):

"Giovanni Buttarelli, Assistant EDPS, said: "The growing trend to acknowledge the importance of data protection in proposals for legislation is a welcome one. But on closer examination, the claims are often not supported with concrete measures and safeguards. A lack of further details will also result in undue discrepancies among Member States. Data protection should therefore not be perceived as an obstacle to combat money laundering but as a basic requirement necessary to achieve this purpose".

EU-EAW: Council of the European Union: Replies to questionnaire on quantitative information on the practical operation of the European arrest warrant – Year 2012 (pdf). The three leading states issuing EAWs (and the number of people surrendered as a result) were: Poland 3,497 (1,103), Germany 1,984 (1,104) and France 1,087 (322). NB: the number of people surrendered includes those where warrants were issued in previous years)

EU: New Ombudsman (pdf)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: US attempts to block Edward Snowden are 'bolstering' case for asylum - As Venezuela and Nicaragua offer help to whistleblower, experts say US actions are strengthening his case for safe haven (The Observer, link)

And see: The NSA/GCHQ metadata reassurances are breathtakingly cynical - The public is being told that the NSA and GCHQ have 'only' been collecting metadata, not content. That's nothing to be thankful for (The Observer, link), Me and my metadata - thoughts on online surveillance (link) and Betrayed by our own data: Mobile phones are tracking devices that reveal much about our lives. One look at our interactive map of data provided by the Green party politician Malte Spitz shows why (link)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: NSA leaks: UK blocks crucial espionage talks between US and Europe - First talks to soothe transatlantic tensions to be restricted to data privacy and Prism programme after Britain and Sweden's veto (Guardian, link)

"While Grybauskaite [Lithuanian Council Presidency] said on Thursday that the Europeans wanted to hold two separate sets of talks with the U.S., just a day later she said one was dropped, along with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. “Intelligence matters and those of national security are not the competence of the EU,” Barroso said." (Activist Post, link)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, observes: "Instead of creating two EU-USA working groups as promised, the UK and Sweden veto means there will only be one working group on PRISM and data protection. The working group that has been vetoed would have covered intelligence and espionage collection and usage - the role of the USA's NSA and UK's GCHQ gathering all forms of communications not just between EU governments but also those of individuals and groups "of interest to the state" in Europe and the rest of the world.."

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Venezuela and Nicaragua make Snowden asylum offers (BBC News, link)

UK: Five police forces investigated over alleged Stephen Lawrence smear campaign (Independent, link)

"The investigation into alleged police attempts to smear the Stephen Lawrence campaign and undermine the credibility of witnesses attending the Macpherson inquiry into the black teenager’s racist murder is focusing on the activities of five forces, The Independent has learnt.

Investigators are understood to be waiting for senior officers from Avon and Somerset Constabulary and West Midlands Police to complete urgent trawls of their records in relation to possible surveillance or intelligence gathering operations carried out in Bristol and Birmingham.

The cities, alongside Bradford and Manchester, hosted regional sittings of the Macpherson Inquiry in 1998 where race relations campaigners aired a string of grievances against their local forces over stop and search and other flashpoint issues."

And see: Police admit bugging Stephen Lawrence murder witness - Senior officer gave authorisation to record at least one meeting with Duwayne Brooks (Guardian, link)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: European NGO statement: European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, the Transnational Institute and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights: Grounding of Bolivian presidential jet in attempt to render whistleblower shames European Union (pdf):

"The refusal of entry into their airspace by European states for the Bolivian presidential jet on the basis of suspicions that Edward Snowden was on board was an astonishing manoeuvre that flies in the face of the EU’s commitment to democracy, human rights and international law.

The potential damage that this action does to both the reputation of the European Union and respect for international law within and beyond its borders cannot be understated. The forcing down and searching the Bolivian President’s jet was a clear breach of fundamental principles of diplomatic immunity and inviolability. Such principles are the bedrock of good international relations and customary international law."

UK: Full-text: The Report of The Azelle Rodney Inquiry (pdf): See: Azelle Rodney 'Unlawfully Killed' By Police (Sky News, link) and Why did Met officer keep firing at Azelle Rodney? Police marksman's account of shooting suspect six times due to his 'body language', was contradicted by forensic evidence (Guardian, link)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: MEPs slam US snooping, amid revelations France does the same (euobserver, link)

- MEPs to set up US spy scandal inquiry (The Parliament, link)

- France 'runs vast electronic spying operation using NSA-style methods': Intelligence agency has spied on French public's phone calls, emails and internet activity, says Le Monde newspaper (Guardian, link)

- Kroes: Spy scandal could harm US Cloud firms (euobserver, link)

- US and Germany to hold talks over European NSA surveillance concerns: Obama tells Merkel US 'takes seriously the concerns' but French interior minister admonishes US ambassador at 4 July party (Guardian, link)

- Latin American leaders slam US, EU on Morales flight (euobserver, link)

- John Pilger: Forcing down Evo Morales's plane was an act of air piracy: Denying the Bolivian president air space was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world (Guardian, link)

- In English : Revelations on the French Big Brother (Société, link)

CoE-MALTA: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Malta (link to Press release) and to Report and Response of government

UK: CPS may bring first case against Metropolitan police spy - Jim Boyling alleged to have concealed from his managers a relationship he was having with a political campaigner (Guardian, link)

Updated: EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: European Parliament: Parliament to launch in-depth inquiry into US surveillance programmes (pdf) The resolution, approved by 483 votes to 98 with 65 abstentions. The Resolution (pdf)

European Parliament: Letter from the Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) requesting the setting up of an EP inquiry (pdf) and for plenary session vote on Thursday with amendments to be discussed: Joint Motion for a Resolution: on the US National Security Agency surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens’ privacy (pdf) And see: TAFTA: Illegitimate EU-US Agreement Will Begin Under Total US Surveillance (La Quadrature du net, link)

FRANCE: DATA-SURVEILLANCE: Révélations sur le Big Brother français (Le Monde, link)

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly (PACE): European Parliamentarians OK Whistleblower Resolution (Freedominfo.org, link). See also: PACE committee calls for protection of ‘whistleblowers’ who reveal state wrongdoing (Press release, pdf) and National Security and Access to Information (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Council conclusions on the Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy joint communication on the Cybersecurity Strategy of the European Union: An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Provisional agendas for Justice and Home Affairs Councils (July-December 2013, pdf)

UK-ECUADOR: SURVEILLANCE: Snowden row intensifies as hidden bug found in Ecuador's embassy - Ecuadorean minister threatens to reveal perpetrators after device discovered during meeting over Assange (Guardian, link)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Bolivian President: "“kidnapped by imperialism” in Europe"

"According to media reports, France, Spain, Italy and Portugal .. denied his plane the right to fly over their airspace." : EU states ground Bolivian leader's plane in Snowden affair (euobserver, link):

"Saavedrd said he considered the whole fiasco as a hostile act perpetrated by the United States which uses EU governments as proxies." [Bolivian Defence Minister] and "Bolivia's vice president, Alvaro Garcia, went further. He said Morales had been “kidnapped by imperialism” in Europe."

- Bolivians bitter as Snowden stand-off triggers 'hostile act' (CQ News, link): "Just days after the US President’s claim that he would not ‘‘be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker’’, the Obama administration was accused of doing precisely that."

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE European Parliament to launch enquiry into US eavesdropping (euractiv, link):

"The European Parliament on Thursday (4 July) plans to establish a special committee to investigate reports that an American spy agency monitored phone calls and e-mails of EU institutions and some member states."

EU: Law enforcement authorities to gain access to European visa database on 1 September

The EU's policing agency Europol and law enforcement authorities of states that are part of the Schengen area of free movement look set to be able to access information held in the EU's Visa Information System (VIS) from 1 September onwards, potentially giving them access to vast amounts of personal information and biometric data.

EU-Russia: UK shuns working arrangement between the European Police College and the Russian interior ministry on security grounds

The UK government has declared that it is "unable to support" a working arrangement between the European Police College (CEPOL) and the Academy of Management of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, citing "concerns about engagement with some parts of the Russian security infrastructure."

NORTHERN IRELAND:Criminal Justice Inspectorate: A review of the criminal justice system’s preparedness for exceptional or prolonged public disorder (pdf) and see: Use G8 plan for riots (BBC News, link)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: A blast from the past: ECHELON report and follow up: 1999 (pdf)

EU:-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: Barroso orders security sweep after allegations of US spying (European Voice, link) and EU data bill is likely target of NSA snoops (euobserver, link) also Statement by the spokespersons of the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy on the press reports of US surveillance of EU premises (link)

EU: EUROSUR REGULATION: Full text as agreed between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament: Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) (11367-13, 25-6-13, pdf)

and see: Draft Regulation establishing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) [First Reading] - Approval of the final compromise text with a view to an agreement at first reading (10309-13, 31-5-13, pdf) includes:

"agreed that the Presidency would take into account a suggestion supported by certain delegations to delete the reference to the lives of migrants in Article 3(fb) and Article 9(3)(a) but the Presidency underlined that the European Parliament was likely to strongly resist such a change." [emphasis added)

and: Outcome of proceedings of the Mixed Committee at the level of Senior Officials on 13 June 2013 (11576-13, 25-6-13, pdf):

"The CLS [Council Legal Service] explained that the Council declaration on EUROSUR cannot be understood as precluding any EU rules in the field of search and rescue at sea, in particular after the judgment of the Court of Justice on 5 September 2012, European Parliament v Council (C-355/10).

DE [Germany] indicated that it intends to abstain and ES [Spain] and EL [Greece] indicated that they intend to vote against." [emphasis added)

EU: EXIT-ENTRY SYSTEM: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an Entry/Exit System (EES) to register entry and exit data of third country nationals crossing the external borders of the Member States of the European Union (11143-13, pdf) Council working party discussions developing its negotiations - more powers for law enforcement agencies. Contains Member State positions.

See: Statewatch coverage: Member States want access to the proposed Entry/Exit System for law enforcement and counter-terrorism agencies and Presidency under pressure to "ensure law enforcement access" to proposed entry/exit migrant database

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: The Washington Post publishes new documents on PRISM: NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program (link). Ande see: U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program (Washington Post, link)

EU-USA: DATA SURVEILLANCE: New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies - Exclusive: Edward Snowden papers reveal 38 targets including EU, France and Italy (Guardian, link) See also: Press release: Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the alleged surveillance of EU premises (pdf), EU-US relations at risk after new bugging scandal (euobserver, link) and EU calls for US wiretapping to ‘stop immediately’ (euractiv, link)

This is not the first time this has happened, do you remember this from 2003: Telephone lines in EU Council building tapped (euobserver, link)

Consortium News.org: How to Thwart Internet Spying (link)

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Home Affairs Select Committee: Undercover Policing: Interim Report: Government Response to the Committee's Thirteenth Report of Session 2012–13 (pdf) and see: Home Affairs Committee: Undercover Policing: Interim Report (pdf), While the 40-year old Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS) was disbanded five years ago their role continued under another "hat" (NPOIU) and has now been moved to yet another "hat" (NDEDIU) as the government recognises:

"The issues around the management of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) by ACPO were raised in last year's report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, following which the management of the NPOIU moved from ACPO to the Metropolitan Police Service, where it was absorbed into the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit."

UK: POLICE STANDARDS: Home Affairs Select Committee: Leadership and standards in the police (pdf): Committee Chair Keith Vaz MP said:

“Broken systems of accountability and a patchwork of police standards and training, have allowed a minority of police officers to get away with corruption and incompetence which is blighting an otherwise excellent service with dedicated officers. The recent allegations of police spying on the Lawrence family and the bugging of Duwayne Brooks, and other activities of undercover officers have shocked the public."

Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices (Der Spiegel, link) and 'Out of Control': Europe Furious over NSA Spying on EU Facilities (link)

Documents obtained by the German magazine Der Spiegel from whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the USA's NSA has been spying on the diplomatic missions of the EU at the UN in New York and and its offices in Washington. This involved placing bugs in their offices and intercepting its computer networks. The NSA was able to listen in to discussion as well as getting access to emails and documents.

The documents also show that just over five years ago the NSA conducted an electronic eavesdropping operation in the Council of the European Union's Justis Lipsius headquarters in Rue de la Loi.

and Key US-EU trade pact under threat after more NSA spying allegations: Reports in Der Spiegel that US agencies bugged European council building 'reminiscent of cold war', says German minister (Guardian, link)