Police

The Guardian reports that the Police Federation wants to give UK officers Tasers to help fight terror threat

Every frontline uniformed police officer should be offered a Taser stun gun to fight off possible murder attempts by terrorists, says the leader of the body representing rank and file officers in England and Wales.

Steve White, who chairs the Police Federation, said the availability of Tasers needs to be expanded because of evidence of terrorists’ plans to kill officers, who are traditionally unarmed.

In an interview with the Guardian, White said: “The terrorist ideal to get attention no longer relies on an attack being in a place of note. It could be in Cheam high street, in any town, in any part of the UK. We know there are more dangerous people out there, preparing to attack police officers and we need to be able to respond to that threat.”

The Mirror also reports on this.

ECHR

The Express reports on the Scandal of Britain’s £2.1billion wasted on European Court of Human Rights cases

THE rampant wastefulness of the European Court of Human Rights has been exposed by figures showing that 99 per cent of claims against the Government are thrown out. Only 13 out of nearly 2,000 cases brought against Whitehall departments last year were upheld by the Strasbourg judges.

But preparing for, and complying with, the actions still costs British taxpayers an estimated £2.1billion a year. The cases only end up in Europe after our Court of Appeal kicks them out. The waste of taxpayers’ cash lays bare the shambles created by the European Convention on Human Rights, which claims precedent over British justice. Critics voiced their outrage at the shocking drain on public resources.

Monacrchy

The Telegraph has a feature entitled “Prince Charles’s treacherous household ‘like Wolf Hall’, courtiers say

Prince Charles’s household is so torn apart by power struggles and treachery that courtiers have nicknamed it Wolf Hall, according to a new book. Staff working for the Prince have reportedly likened Clarence House to the Tudor court of Henry VIII, where backstabbing and infighting was commonplace.

The revelations appeared in a new biography of the Prince by Catherine Mayer, a journalist for Time magazine, who met Charles and spoke to some of his closest aides. In parts, the book paints a devastating portrait of the future king grappling with insecurities while struggling to manage his many charities and business interests.

Charles: The Heart of a King, by Catherine Mayer, suggests Clarence House is riddled with “glaring systemic weaknesses”. Any criticism of the Prince – who is known to courtiers as ‘the Boss’ – can send him spiralling into “despair”, she says.

The Guardian also reports on this.

CIA Interrogations

The Independent reports that CIA did use United Kingdom territory for secret terror interrogations, says top US official

Terror suspects held by the CIA were interrogated on the British‑owned island of Diego Garcia despite the repeated denials of London and Washington that any such incidents took place, a senior American official said today.

Lawrence Wilkerson, who was the chief aide to former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, said the remote UK-administered military base in the Indian Ocean was used as a back-up location for “nefarious activities”, such as the questioning of prisoners in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, for weeks at a time.

It is the first time that a top Bush administration official has gone on the record to state that the British territory formed part of the chain of “black sites” from Poland to Afghanistan used by the CIA for interrogation and torture.

Also in The Guardian.

Farage on Friday

The Express has Nigel’s regular column: “I fear dirty general election campaign

The Ukip leader accused Labour and the Tories of recruiting “attack campaign” strategists to pump out smears in the run-up to polling day on May 7. And he feared the tone of the campaign would be relentlessly negative with a big emphasis on the use of social media.

He said: “The truth is that this will go down as, potentially, the dirtiest general election campaign in British history.  Both Labour and the Conservatives have drafted in expensive, US-style attack campaign strategists. What this means, in practical terms, is that our election campaigns, traditionally marked by playful newspaper headlines and upbeat party political broadcasts, are more likely to become a ‘tear chunks out of one another’ affair.

The Express also has a related piece: “Conservatives will NOT enter ‘pacts or deals’ with Ukip, claims Tory chairman Grant Shapps

Although opinion polls indicate a hung Parliament is the most likely outcome of May’s vote, Mr Shapps insisted that the Conservatives would not be getting into bed with the anti-EU party.

Smaller parties are likely to hold the balance of power in the House of Commons if both the Tories or Labour fail to win a majority, as is currently predicted.

Asked if he could rule out a coalition with Nigel Farage’s party, Mr Shapps said: “I can rule out – we are not going to do pacts and deals with Ukip.” Speaking at the launch of a campaign pamphlet detailing what he claimed were “30 days of Labour chaos”, the Tory Party chairman added that the Conservatives were aiming for an overall majority but that May’s vote was set to be “an incredibly close election”

Westminster Paedophile Scandal

The Telegraph reveals that Margaret Thatcher was warned of paedophile scandal, secret documents reveal

Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister, was kept fully informed about an investigation into a senior diplomat who was embroiled in a paedophile scandal, newly-released secret documents show. Mrs Thatcher received a stream of memos from officials about the “unnatural sexual proclivities” of Sir Peter Hayman.

The prime minister was carefully coached on how to deflect difficult questions about the affair after it was finally exposed by Private Eye magazine in 1980. The documents disclosed for the first time that Hayman had been engaged in “sexual perversion” since at least 1966, when he was a minister in the British military government in West Berlin.

The 37-page dossier set out how the then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided not to prosecute the diplomat after he was caught with a collection of paedophile material in 1978.

Education

The Telegraph quotes an Exam Board Chief: Private schools are being ‘punished’ in league tables

Britain’s leading private schools are being “punished” in official league tables “for pursuing rigour”, the head of one of the country’s biggest exam boards has said. Simon Lebus, the chief executive of Cambridge Assessment, accused the Department for Education of attempting to “rig” the race to the top of the rankings by effectively excluding schools that have shunned GCSEs in favour of international alternatives.

In a letter to the Telegraph Mr Lebus said it was “plainly absurd” that top schools such as Eton College were listed near the foot of the latest league tables because their pupils sat International GCSEs (IGCSEs). Dozens of private schools score zero in a key performance measure as a result of the decision. Many, including Eton, chose IGCSEs as a “more rigorous” alternative to the conventional qualifications.

Also in The Guardian

Jihad

The Independent reports on Junior jihadis: Hamas camp for frustrated teens

Judging by the hundreds of young men lined up in crisp military fashion at their graduation ceremony, the armed wing of the Islamist movement Hamas will have plenty of eager recruits this year.

More than 17,000 fresh-faced teenagers and young men, aged 15 to 21, mustered at a dozen camps over the past week in the Gaza Strip to climb ropes, practise close-order drills and fire Kalashnikov rifles, all of them pledging to defend the coastal enclave and ready to fight the next war against their Zionist enemies.

They also learned first aid and how to throw a grenade. They watched – but did not touch – as instructors demonstrated the basics of improvised explosive devices. For the first time, the Hamas military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, hosted the Gaza recruits for a week of training in the martial arts at previously off-limits Qassam bases.

Liberal Democrats

In The Independent, Andrew Grice speaks up for the besieged party: Lib Dems are not in as much trouble as you might have thought…but things change

“Labour will screw the economy, the Tories will screw you.”

That is how one influential Liberal Democrat summed up the party’s general election message. I rather doubt the slogan will make it into a Nick Clegg speech or Lib Dem poster. But the sentiment behind it most certainly will.

A year ago, senior Lib Dems expected to be thinking about a post-election deal with Labour as polling day approached.  Although the opinion polls show Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck, many Lib Dem minds now believe that David Cameron rather than Ed Miliband will have the most MPs after 7 May.

The Army and Facebook

The Guardian reports that the British army creates team of Facebook warriors

The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age. The 77th Brigade, to be based in Hermitage, near Newbury, in Berkshire, will be about 1,500-strong and formed of units drawn from across the army. It will formally come into being in April.

The brigade will be responsible for what is described as non-lethal warfare. Both the Israeli and US army already engage heavily in psychological operations. Against a background of 24-hour news, smartphones and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the force will attempt to control the narrative.

BA and Qatar

The Daily Mail reports of Security fears after Qatar buys BA stake: Critics slam deal as Middle Eastern country has links with Hamas, IS and Al Qaeda

Qatar has become the biggest shareholder in British Airways in a deal which has raised fears over security. The gas-rich Middle Eastern state has bought a £1.15billion slice of IAG, which owns BA and Iberia.

Critics pointed out that Qatar stands accused of having links with terrorist organisations including Hamas, Islamic State and Al Qaeda. They say that allowing it part-ownership of Britain’s national carrier raises clear security issues.

The nearly 10 per cent stake has been bought by Qatar Airways, which is owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, and the deal makes it the single biggest shareholder of the airline group. It is claimed the deal will strengthen BA’s transatlantic networks, while IAG wants to bolster its ties with Middle East and Asian airline networks.

BA is only the latest of Qatar’s controversial British acquisitions – others include Harrods and the Shard skyscraper – and the move has reignited concerns about its growing role in UK companies. Qatar already owns a 20 per cent stake in Heathrow and Qatar Airways’ boss Akbar Al-Baker sits on the airport’s board.

Nick Clegg

The Mail reports on an interview of Nick Clegg: “‘Boris Johnson, statesman or tw**? Bit more the latter’: Nick Clegg also can’t decide between David Cameron and George Osborne as he stumbles through awkward C4 interview on The Last Leg

Boris Johnson is a bit of a tw**, I can’t decide between David Cameron and George Osborne, and I don’t know the exact size of UK national debt. These were just a few facts revealed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as he was grilled on Channel 4 comedy show The Last Leg tonight.

According to Mr Clegg he has also though about slapping David Cameron ‘more than 20 times’ during this parliament, and wants to avoid Nigel Farage ‘at all costs’. Mr Clegg was asked to appear on the comedy show under the pretense of convincing one of the panelists, Alex Brooker, to vote at the next election.

But instead he was subjected to a master-mind style grilling on everything from his relationship with the opposition to the debt crisis in Greece. Asked to give the size of the UK debt to the nearest hundred, Mr Clegg was left floundering, instead saying it was ‘around five per cent’. When guessing the size of the Greek national debt he did little better, under-estimating the number by some £100billion.

Green Party

The Mirror reports that Green Party move pre-General Election conference to bigger venue after surge in support

Leader Natalie Bennett will hope to use the March 6-9 event at the ACC in Liverpool to capitalise after her party overtook the Liberal Democrats in some polls.  The Greens have shifted their pre-election conference to a bigger venue in Liverpool after pulling in thousands of new members.

The party will hold its spring conference at the ACC, which has a 1,350 capacity, rather than St George’s Hall, which can only fit around 800. Leader Natalie Bennett will hope to use the event from March 6-9 to capitalise on a surge that has seen the Greens overtake the Liberal Democrats in some polls. They also now have more members than Nick Clegg’s party, at around 60,000 across the UK compared with 45,000.

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