Euro court rules arbitrary “stop and search” illegal

Photo by Marc Vallee

The ability of UK police to use “arbitrary” counter-terror stop and search powers against peace protesters and photographers lay in tatters today after a landmark ruling by the European court of human rights.

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

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

A political furore ensued when it was disclosed that the whole of Greater London had been secretly designated for stop and search without suspicion since 2001…

The use of the powers is subject to confirmation by the home secretary within 48 hours, renewable after 28 days, but the European court said there was no real check on authorisations by parliament or the courts.

This was demonstrated by the continuous renewal, every 28 days, of the use of the powers in London since their first introduction, the judges added.

They said they were further concerned that the decision to stop and search somebody was “based exclusively on the ‘hunch’ or ‘professional intuition’ of the police officer”.

Another positive step forward against the regressive political powers handed over to governments in the wave of fear-mongering since 9/11.

Cowards always yearn for power that matches their favorite tyrants – and will fight to the last drop of our own blood to supersede civil rights and civil liberties. Both sides of the pond. Nice to see a bit of success at fightback.

Traffic stop turns up man believed dead since 1989

A man who faked his drowning death nearly 20 years ago off a Florida beach was found out by North Carolina police who stopped him for a traffic violation. Bennie Wint told police he faked his drowning death in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1989.

Bennie Wint left behind a grieving fiancee and a daughter from a previous marriage. Over the past two decades, he acquired a common-law wife and another child in Marshall, North Carolina.

Wint told police he faked his death in Daytona Beach, Florida, because he was “paranoid” about his narcotics-related activity at the time, Weaverville, North Carolina, police Sgt. Stacy Wyatt told CNN.

When pulled over in Weaverville on Saturday because of malfunctioning lights on his license plate, the man said his name was James Sweet, Wyatt said. But when Wyatt ran the name through official databases, he was unable to find any information. He finally opened up to Wyatt, admitting he was really Bennie Wint and had been on the run since 1989.

Wint returned a call Thursday from CNN and asked what an interview with him would be “worth to you.” Told that CNN does not pay for interviews, he responded, “Unless you want to pay for it, don’t come up here. You are wasting your time. There are ‘no trespassing’ signs on my property.” He then hung up…

Wyatt said Wint now has a common-law wife, a child and a business selling NASCAR items.

Har! Perfect.

Republicans exploit mortgage crisis to stop the evicted from voting

The Obama campaign yesterday went to court to block what it alleged was an attempt by Republicans in Michigan to stop people who lost their homes in the mortgage crisis from voting in November’s election.

The suit, filed in a Michigan court yesterday, is the latest sign of contention over voting procedures. Voting rights activists in several battleground states have reported an aggressive push by Republican elected officials and activists to make it harder to vote.

In Macomb county, Michigan, a swing constituency, Republican officials for the first time tried to use America’s housing crisis as a way of striking people off lists, the Obama camp told reporters yesterday. “There is no doubt that there is an immediate threat to the voting rights of citizens in Michigan whose names could appear on a foreclosure list,” said Bob Bauer, an Obama lawyer.

The situation came to light last week when the Republican party chairman of Macomb county told a local newspaper he planned to draw on publicly available lists of home foreclosures to bar people from casting their vote.

The national Republicans later distanced the party from his comment, but other state party officials confirmed there were plans to deploy an army of poll “challengers” who would check voters’ credentials.

If you lost your home in this trickle-down-your-leg economy – the Republican Party is going to make certain you’re also cut off from your right to vote, as well.