Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

Lessons for why the polls seem to be so wrong lately?

by John Lott on Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Here are a few interesting notes on the problems that we are experiencing with polling and why the problems aren’t going to get any better in the near future.  From Politico:

. . . But changes in communications are threatening the viability of public election polling in many developed countries where the landline phone was once a reliable medium for representative surveys 

Like their counterparts in the United States, Britons are abandoning their landlines. Telephone pollsters have shifted, contacting an increasing percentage of their respondents via mobile phone, but perhaps not enough, according to many pollsters. In the United States, polling mobile phones is far more expensive than relying on landlines, because survey researchers are required by law to enter cellphone numbers manually when dialing. . . .

Alberto Nardelli, data editor at The Guardian newspaper, noted last month that phone polls tended to favor the Tories, while Labour performed better in Internet polls. That phenomenon existed as late as a week ago, according to the New Statesman’s “May 2015” website.

“I would be concerned about what looks like systematic errors in the British polling — under-representation of Conservative voters and overestimation of support for the Labour Party,” said University of Michigan professor Michael Traugott. “I haven’t seen any polls that suggested that the Scottish National Party was going to do extremely well in Scotland at the expense of Labour primarily. So, systematic errors like that, patterned errors like that, suggest methodological problems.”

(Similarly, in Israel, some observers believe Web polling was biased against Netanyahu’s Likud Party and swayed the overall balance of pre-election forecasts.) . . .

Telephone polls are increasingly unreliable and too expensive, while Internet polling isn’t yet able to replace truly random surveys. . . .

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Scotland moves to independence, the political ramifications: a much more conservative and less EU friendly England

by John Lott on Sunday, September 7th, 2014

This is article 1233 of 1260 in the topic International
With Labour holding 40 of the 59 Scottish seats in the UK parliament, Scottish independence is going to dramatically transform British politics.  Forty seats out of 325 needed for a majority and the most recent polls showing a slight majority of Scots in favor of independence, the Labour Party is in disaster mode, with Labour MPs flocking to Scotland to convince voters there not to vote for independence.

A lot of the purported fears about Scottish independence are pretty weak.  Take the claim that new Scottish government won’t be able to continue to share the pound with the rest of the UK in a formal currency union.  There is a simple what that Scotland can do that without any help from the UK government.  Just look at how Panama and China used to link their currencies to the US Dollar.  Both countries committed to exchanging their currencies at a specific rate to the dollar.v

If this independence occurs, it will put the Conservatives in England and Wales in office for years.  It will probably also make the party more conservative as the party has room to compete with the UK Independence Party.   Scotland has been a strong supporter of the EU, so Scottish independence would probably doom what ever chance there was of defeating the referendum that Cameron has promised in 2017.  My guess is that all this also means that England will be a much stronger ally of the US.

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Police in Britain now regularly carrying guns, anti-gun activities upset, claim no benefit

by John Lott on Sunday, August 10th, 2014

This is article 553 of 603 in the topic Gun Rights
From the BBC:

In a little-noticed move, a small number of police officers are now routinely carrying sidearms while on patrol in parts of the mainland UK. . . .
It’s a sight that once would have been unthinkable. In this corner of the Scottish Highlands – an area with one of the lowest crime rates in the UK – the officers showing up to a relatively workaday disturbance are armed.
Although every police force has a firearms unit, for decades it has been an article of faith that in the mainland UK, almost uniquely among major industrialised nations, the police do not carry guns as a matter of course.
But with little fanfare at first, a policy of routinely allowing specialist officers to wear sidearms as they walk the streets of Scotland has come into being. . . .

Meanwhile, an anti-gun activist in Scotland opposes police carrying guns.  From the UK Daily Record:

. . . Dr Mick North lost his five-year-old daughter Sophie when killer Thomas Hamilton struck at her school.
The anti-gun activist has slammed Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House for suggesting armed bobbies could have stopped the massacre.
At a force summit in June, the country’s top policeman highlighted the mass murder of Sophie, her 14 primary 1 classmates and teacher Gwen Mayor as a reason why units should not spend “an extra five, 10, 15, 20 minutes” arming themselves.
Dr North said: “I can’t see how any armed police would have stopped Dunblane.“It took 15 minutes until any police officer arrived at the school when the incident was all over in three minutes.” . . .

Some notes: I agree that it is very doubtful that police could have arrived quickly enough to stop the attack at Dunblane.  But does that mean that there won’t be a few other times when speed might save some lives.  Of course, my response is to speed up response time to these tragedies by getting rid of gun-free zones, not by disarming even police.  It is hard to see any benefits from having police being disarmed.

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British cops set to arrest anyone returning from Syria

by Jim Kouri on Monday, January 27th, 2014

This is article 702 of 804 in the topic Terrorism

People traveling from the United Kingdom to Syria will be detained by police upon their return, a British police chief said on Saturday. With Syria being a safe haven and training ground for Islamic terrorists, homegrown Islamists returning from the war-torn Arab nation pose a terror threat to Britain.

Greater Manchester’s top cop, Police Chief Peter Fahy, who also heads Britain’s Association of Chief Police Officers, said there is an enormous a concern in the UK over people traveling to Syria to fight in its civil war and then returning to apply their newly acquired “trade-craft.”

In January 2014 alone, 16 suspects were arrested on suspicion of terror offenses after returning from Syria, compared with 24 arrested in the entire 12-months of 2013, according to reports.

“[Syria] is an incredibly dangerous place and you will be arrested and stopped at the border if you try and come back [to Britain],” Chief Fahy said.

“We’ve stopped quite a number of people because we’re very, very clear about what will happen,” he added.

An informant who is believed to be a former member of the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed that al-Qaeda was training hundreds of people who are British and American in Syria to become Muslim terrorists and charging them to perpetrate bombings and attack when they return home, according to British reports.

Chief Fahy noted that there is a deep concern over those who may be radicalized, who may have been engaged in terrorist training.

“If people are engaging in terrorism or planning terrorism or fundraising for terrorism then that is clearly against the law,” he said.

The Times of London reported on Saturday that security screening at airports has been increased, with the focus on people flying in from Istanbul, a staging point on the route into Syria across the Turkish border.

Two British women were on Wednesday charged with raising money suspected of funding terrorism in Syria, Scotland Yard police headquarters announced.

Two British men were charged last week with traveling to Syria for terror purposes, while another man was arrested on suspicion of attending a terror camp in the war-ravaged country.

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Nigerians who killed U.K. soldier believed affiliated with Boko Haram

by Jim Kouri on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

This is article 979 of 1260 in the topic International

An attacker using a meat cleaver and his armed partner killed a 25-year-old British soldier in the streets of London on Wednesday, and Britain’s elite law enforcement believe the Nigerian men may be affiliated with a dangerous and bloodthirsty Islamist group based in Nigeria and affiliated with al-Qaeda.

The United Kingdom‘s world-renowned law enforcement agency, Scotland Yard, reported on Thursday that two more suspected Nigerian terrorists were arrested by inspectors investigating the hacking death of a British soldier, Lee Rigby, in London by two suspects yelling “Allahu Akbar.

Scotland Yard officials said counterterrorism unit detectives arrested a male and female on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder. Both suspects are being held in a London police station, officials noted.

The two suspects who killed the young soldier — both in their mid-20’s — were shot and arrested by police at the scene of the killing of a British soldier on Wednesday. Both men remain hospitalized in stable condition, according to Scotland Yard.

Former al-Muhajiroun head Anjem Choudary reportedly identified the man in the cell phone video as Michael Adebolajo, a Christian who converted to Islam around 2003 and took part in Islamist anti-West demonstrations in London.

In the video, one of the suspects, Adebolajo, said, “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. We must fight them as they fight us.”

According to a counterterrorism expert, the attackers in this incident are likely affiliated with — or influenced by — the Islamist terror organization based in Nigeria called Boko Haram.

The Islamic jihad in Nigeria started as a riot in 2009 by members of an Islamist group known as Boko Haram. That first encounter turned into a full-blown gun-fight between Boko Haram and its supporters and the police and the military, according to Canada Free Press.

Since 2010, Islamists have perpetrated drive-by shootings and suicide bombings that have killed 1,548 people. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sacrilege,” has said it wants its imprisoned Islamists released and for the current Nigerian government to institute Sharia law throughout the nation.

The group officially affiliated itself with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in 2010, about the same time that Somalia’s Al-Shabaab also announced its Islamist-affiliation with al-Qaeda, according to Pam Geller at Atlas Shrugged.

last week, Nigerian police and security forces reported that upwards of 60 people were fatally wounded when suspected al-Qaeda affiliate Boko Haram Islamists attacked security formations in Nigeria’s terrorist-infested Borno region, according to Jorge Vega, an international counterterrorism and security expert.

According to Vega, the Boko Haram terrorists also executed 14 Nigerian prison officials in cold-blood and they freed more than 100 Islamist prisoners, who will probably return to the battlefield.

The suspected terrorists then torched a police station and its adjoining police barracks, as well as a local courthouse and Bama’s government complex where some of the buildings were totally destroyed.

During the attack, the terrorists perpetrated extensive arson on the divisional police station and police barracks. More than 20 police officers lost their lives, while three Children and a woman were burned to death.

In April, a fierce battle in Baga, Nigeria between security forces and Islamic terrorists left at least 200 Nigerians dead in that nation’s northeast coastal region, an Israeli terrorism analyst who monitors jihad in Africa said.

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‘Anonymous’ hackers convicted and sentenced in Britain: Scotland Yard

by Jim Kouri on Saturday, May 18th, 2013

This is article 41 of 45 in the topic Cyber space

Four British men who belonged to a splinter group of “Anonymous,” an underground organization suspected of perpetrating cyber attacks on sensitive organizations in the United Kingdom and the United States, were imprisoned on Friday following an extensive manhunt by Britain’s Metropolitan Police in London and a plea bargain with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Southwark Crown Court heard how Ryan Cleary, Mustafa Al-Bassam, Jake Davis and Ryan Ackroyd — all members of hacking group Anonymous — met online and created the offshoot group LulzSec with a fifth suspect living in the United States, as well as a number of other people yet to be apprehended, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

All of the defendents appeared in court were on bail, except for Cleary who had remained in custody and was escorted under guard into the courtroom, according to Scotland Yard.

The suspects were pleaded guilty to launching a series of hacking attacks on high-profile targets. Many of their attacks involved thousands of virus-infected computers simultaneously sending countless requests to a single computer hosting a web site, so that it is overloaded and was removed from the Internet.

Their hacking attacks usually involved confidential data being extracted and published online for others to access and read. They are also suspected of hacking into the system belonging to the Central Intelligence Agency.

While Ackroyd was responsible for researching and launching many of their hacks, Cleary assisted by allowing the use of his Botnet — a system of virus-infected computers he controlled — to coordinate attacks.

Meanwhile Al-Bassam assisted in discovering and exploiting Internet vulnerabilities, and also created and controlled LulzSec’s web site. Davis acted as the group’s social-media specialist and managed their Twitter and Facebook accounts and the group’s press releases.

Their first victim was a major security firm in the U.S. whose web site pages they replaced with their own. They also accessed personal email accounts of employees, extracting personal data which they published online in February 2011.

Over the next five months, they carried out hacks on organizations causing damage and financial loss estimated to be in excess of £20 million. The prosecution also argued that they put lives at risk when they extracted and published the names and personal information of police officers in Salt Lake City, Utah.

On June 20, 2012, British police officers arrested Cleary at his home address. They seized numerous pieces of equipment, including Cleary’s computer, which contained “indecent images of children,” said police.

“Just five days later, the group announced their disbandment via a press release on their web site. However, on July 18, 2012, the remaining members, excluding Al-Bassam and Cleary, regrouped to launch an attack on a U.K. newspaper’s web site. They re-directed users to a fake article — written by Davis — claiming that News International’s Rupert Murdoch had died,” according to Scotland Yard inspectors.

Al-Bassam was arrested on July 19, 2012, Davis was arrested on July 27, 2012 and Ackroyd was arrested on Sept. 1, 2012. Al-Bassam was arrested on July 19, 2012. All four members subsequently made a plea deal and were sentenced on Friday to a total of seven years.

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Three Islamic terrorists jailed for planning attacks, says Scotland Yard

by Jim Kouri on Saturday, April 27th, 2013

This is article 523 of 804 in the topic Terrorism

Three radicalized Islamists were imprisoned on Thursday for a total of more than 20 years after an intense investigation by London’s Metropolitan Police Service’s Counter Terrorism Command uncovered secret conversations about carrying out terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom and overseas, according to officials with Scotland Yard.

Richard Dart, 30, from Ealing and Jahangir Alom, 26, from Stratford, planned to travel to Pakistan for terrorist training and expressed a desire to carry out acts of terrorism not only overseas but also in the UK, a British court heard.

Imran Mahmood, 22, from Northolt had already received terrorist training in Pakistan and offered advice to Dart and Alom on how to make contact with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, according to the police report.

Mahmood acts as an advisor close to al-Qaeda operatives, the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban and the terrorists who carried out a suicide attack on an American military base in Afghanistan in 2009 which killed seven members of the CIA, as depicted in the motion picture “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Mahmood also sought Dart’s help in retrieving a book containing formulas which would allow him to produce home-made explosives and discussed targeting Wootton Bassett – through which the bodies of fallen British servicemen and woman passed through following repatriation — plus members of the security and intelligence services.

During a joint intelligence led investigation carried out by the Counter Terrorism Command and the British Security Service, Dart’s laptop computer was seized and a detailed forensic investigation by detectives and a computer expert revealed typed exchanges between Dart and Mahmood hidden deep in its memory, according to the report.

But through months of intensive work by detectives, and the skill of a computer expert brought in to help with the case, data was recovered from the hard drive and they were able to reconstruct it back into the words typed by the defendants, laying bare their plans.

The presiding judge imposed extended sentences on Dart and Mahmood. He stated, “I’m satisfied to the required criminal standard that neither of you had ruled out an attack in the United Kingdom, and that you, Mahmood, were looking at arming yourself with a bomb.”

Dart was sentenced to 11 years which comprises six years in custody and an extended licence period for five years, during which time he could be recalled to prison. Mahmood was sentenced 14 years and nine months which comprises nine years and nine months in custody and an extended licence period of five years, during which time he could be recalled to prison.

Alom was jailed for four years and six months.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, Senior National Coordinator Counter Terrorism and head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said:

“These are dangerous men. Mahmood had received terrorist training in Pakistan and suggested he had knowledge of how to make home made explosives while Dart and Alom made great efforts to travel to Pakistan and aspired to seek training from terrorist groups there.

“They all were clearly aware of anti-surveillance techniques as shown by the use of silent conversations and expressed a desire to carry out terrorist attacks.

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Britain imprisons Muslims for deadly jihadi plot: MI5 officials

by Jim Kouri on Sunday, April 21st, 2013

This is article 507 of 804 in the topic Terrorism

Four Muslim men living in the United Kingdom were imprisoned on Thursday for plotting to perpetrate terrorist bombings throughout Great Britain, according to British intelligence agency MI5.

Part of the alleged plot was an attack on a British army base using a remote-controlled toy car packed with explosives which they planned to drive under the security gates.

Prosecutors in London noted that the suspects were captured as a result of an operation involving London’s Counter Terrorism Command and the MI5 domestic spy agency. The four Islamists were characterized by Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service as being “dangerous and committed terrorists.”

All four suspects — Zahid Iqbal, Mohammed Sharfaraz Ahmed, Umar Arshad and Syed Farhan Hussain –resided in Luton, north of London. Each man entered a guilty plea last month to planning to commit terrorist acts against the U.K.

Crown prosecutors stated that Iqbal was the terror cell’s leader — or a “terrorist facilitator” — who arranged for Islamist recruits to travel to Pakistan for training and indoctrination.

However, Ahmed underwent terrorist training in the mountains of North Wales, and it was he who recruited Arshad and Hussain.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard is seeking to reassure the public attending this Sunday’s London Marathon by deploying an increased and highly visible police presence.

Runners and attendees will see several hundred additional officers on the streets, which is intended to provide visible reassurance to the participants and spectators alike, according to Scotland Yard.

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Scotland Yard officers arrest two terrorism suspects at Heathrow Airport

by Jim Kouri on Thursday, October 11th, 2012

This is article 375 of 804 in the topic Terrorism

Two travelers were arrested Tuesday evening at London’s Heathrow Airport on suspicion of committing terrorism offenses, according to Scotland Yard.

A man and a woman, both of whom are 26-years old, were arrested at 8:30 p.m. (BST) when their flight landed at the busy international airport.

According to a Law Enforcement Examiner source, the two travelers are being held on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

According to British police officials, the arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into travelers entering war-torn Syria to aid and abet alleged acts of terrorism. Law enforcement intelligence units have received information that al-Qaeda and organizations affiliated with al-Qaeda are deploying members into Syria.

An Examiner news story recently described the Iranian government’s duplicity by supporting the Syrian military while secretly aiding al-Qaeda and other anti-Assad fighters.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Command took the pair to a central London police station where they remain in custody.

Two separate flats in London’s eastside are being thoroughly searched under the Terrorism Act in connection with police inquiries, according to Scotland Yard. However, police officials say they are keeping the results of the search and the identities of the suspects under wraps for the time being.

London’s Heathrow is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and third busiest in the world as far as passenger traffic. Its officials boast of handling more international passengers than any other airport around the globe.

Policing of the airport is the responsibility of the aviation security unit of the New Scotland Yard, but at times the British army, including armored vehicles from the Queen’s Household Cavalry, has occasionally been deployed at the airport during periods of heightened security.

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Two female cops killed during shootout in Britain

by Jim Kouri on Friday, September 21st, 2012

This is article 29 of 54 in the topic Police/Fire

Two British female police officers were gunned down when they attempted to arrest a murder suspect in Manchester, Great Britain on Tuesday, a Scotland Yard source told the Law Enforcement Examiner.

As per regulations, both officers were unarmed during the police operation, when the suspect Dale Cregan, who was wanted for two counts of murder, used a military-style grenade and then fired at them, according to the source.

A loud explosion and 13 gunshots were heard by Cregan’s neighbors. One of the female cops died immediately from her wounds, while the other was rushed to the hospital emergency room, but the doctors were unable not save her life.

Police officers Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, were responding to a hoax burglary-in-progress in Manchester, a city located in northwest England.

While the British government and the public were shocked over the cop-killings, senior police officials said that the British force would remain one of few in the world which is not routinely armed, although there are special units that do have access to firearms.

The vast majority of Britain’s 150,000 law enforcement officers do not regularly carry sidearms but some do carry electric stun guns. However, according to the Law Enforcement Examiner source, more armed units are now available since the beginning of the global war on terrorism.

The cop-killing 29-year-old Cregan was arrested when he surrendered to police officers at their stationhouse in the Tameside section of Manchester.

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