We won’t collude with efforts to use the academy to police immigration

Great initiative from my friend David Whyte, Ann Singleton and Steve Tombs. They decry the insidious way in which academics are being used to monitor foreign students and staff (thanks Moa).

We are among the growing number of academics across the UK voicing our concern about being drawn into playing a key role in an ever-tightening system of immigration control. Many of us are now being asked to implement procedures and checks related to immigration status on both our colleagues and our students. The creeping imposition of such practices raises questions about the legal responsibilities and contractual requirements of university and college staff, the methods the UK is using to police immigration, and the compromising of what remains of academic freedom in Britain.

In February 2008, the Government introduced major changes to UK immigration policies and laws, seeking to consolidate a plethora of immigration-control measures. The main plank of these changes was the introduction of a points-based system (PBS) under which potential employers of migrant workers from outside the European Union must be approved and licensed by the Government before workers are granted permits to take up employment. Thus, universities and colleges must now be licensed as “approved education providers” to bring non-EU students into the UK to study. In addition, before they are admitted to the country, these students must hold a visa giving them permission to enter for the purposes of study at the approved institution, and prove that they have enough money to pay their fees and maintain themselves in the UK.

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Printing Police Lies

An excellent article by George Monbiot, setting the abominable policing of the G20 protests into context. Monbiot explains that we are not merely dealing with “a few rogue officers [who] got out of control”, as much of media commentary in the UK would have it, but state-sanctioned violence that is “organised and systematic”.

If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who has been twatted by the police. As the tabloids turn their fire onto an unfamiliar target – the unprovoked aggression of Her Majesty’s constabulary – the love affair between the cops and the rightwing press has never been more fragile.

The policing of the G20 protests at the beginning of this month was routine. Policemen hiding their identification numbers and beating up peaceful protesters is as much a part of British life as grey skies and red buses. Across 20 years of protests, I have seen policemen swapping their jackets to avoid identification, hurling people against vans and into walls and whomping old ladies over the head with batons. A friend had his head repeatedly bashed against the bonnet of a police van; he was then charged with criminal damage to the van. I have seen an entire line of police turn round to face the other way when private security guards have started beating people up. I have seen them refuse – until Amnesty International got involved – to investigate my own case when I was hospitalised by these licensed thugs (the guards had impaled my foot on a metal spike, smashing the middle bone).

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Police and PM in dock over arrest of terrorist suspects

Surprise, surprise! The British state cried wolf again. ‘Case against Muslim men amounted to one email and handful of telephone conversations’, report By Jonathan Brown, Robert Verkaik and Kim Sengupta. Also check out this brilliant indictment of the ‘war on terror’ by Zbigniew Brzezinski.

The case against 12 Muslim men involved in what Gordon Brown described as a “major terrorist plot” amounted to one email and a handful of ambiguous telephone conversations, it emerged last night after all the men were released without charge.

Eleven Pakistani students and one British man were freed after extensive searches of 14 addresses in North-west England failed to locate evidence of terrorist activity, according to security sources. Police did not find any explosives, firearms, target lists, documents or any material which could have been used to carry out an attack. Yesterday, the Government’s own reviewer of terrorism legislation said he would investigate the case.

The Home Office said it would deport the 11 Pakistani men, who are aged 22 to 38 and were in Britain on student visas, because the Government believed they represented a threat to national security.

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Resistance is fertile

John Berger’s experience at the National Gallery highlights the zeitgeist of the age of GWOT.

The novelist and art critic recalls an Easter visit to the National Gallery and a strange and violent encounter with an attendant

I was in London on Good Friday, 2008. And I decided, early in the morning, to go to the National Gallery and look at the Crucifixion by Antonello da Messina. It’s the most solitary painting of the scene that I know. The least allegorical.

In Antonello’s work – and there are fewer than 40 paintings which are indisputably his – there’s a special Sicilian sense of thereness which is without measure, which refuses moderation or self-protection. You can hear the same thing in these words spoken by a fisherman from the coast near Palermo, and recorded by Danilo Dolci a few decades ago in Sicilian Lives (1981):

“There’s times I see the stars at night, especially when we’re out for eels, and I get thinking in my brain. ‘The world is it really real?’ Me, I can’t believe that. If I get calm, I can believe in Jesus. Badmouth Jesus Christ and I’ll kill you. But there’s times I won’t believe, not even in God. ‘If God really exists, why doesn’t He give me a break and a job?’”

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Terrorist Children

‘Police identify 200 children as potential terrorists’, the Independent reports. Orwell could not have imagined this. This is Labour Party’s Britain, where a child can be criminalized for adopting “bad attitudes towards ‘the West'”! Soon enough, even infancy won’t protect you from the long hands of the state. Blair was more forthright. He had once told an interviewer that criminal behavior should be monitored even before birth (implying it is genetic). And now we got the bovine home secretary giving the most imaginative dystopians a run for their money. Notice the tone of the reporter (Mark Hughes, Crime correspondent). He treats this news as if he were reporting on a lost umbrella. Pathetic.

Drastic new tactics to prevent school pupils as young as 13 falling into extremism

Two hundred schoolchildren in Britain, some as young as 13, have been identified as potential terrorists by a police scheme that aims to spot youngsters who are “vulnerable” to Islamic radicalisation.

The number was revealed to The Independent by Sir Norman Bettison, the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and Britain’s most senior officer in charge of terror prevention.

He said the “Channel project” had intervened in the cases of at least 200 children who were thought to be at risk of extremism, since it began 18 months ago. The number has leapt from 10 children identified by June 2008.

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