Curious about Everything

Category: United Kingdom (UK) (Page 1 of 2)

Big Brother is in our schools » Facial recognition cameras arrive in UK school canteens

Cynthia O’Murchu, Financial Times 🔒 »

Many British schools have used other biometric systems, such as fingerprint scanners, to take payments for years, but privacy campaigners said there was little need to normalise facial recognition technology, which has been criticised for often operating without explicit consent.

“It’s normalising biometric identity checks for something that is mundane. You don’t need to resort to airport style [technology] for children getting their lunch,” said Silkie Carlo of the campaign group Big Brother Watch.

Swanston said cameras check against encrypted faceprint templates, which are stored on servers at the schools and 65 school sites had signed up.

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UK to put nuclear power at heart of net zero emissions strategy

Jim Pickard and Nathalie Thomas, FT 🔒 »

UK ministers will put nuclear power at the heart of Britain’s strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in government documents expected as early as next week, alongside fresh details of its funding model.

Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary, is to unveil an overarching “Net Zero Strategy” paper as soon as Monday, along with a “Heat and Building Strategy” and a Treasury assessment of the cost of reaching the 2050 goal.

The creation of a “regulated asset base” (RAB) model will be key to delivering a future fleet of large atomic power stations. The RAB funding model is already used for other infrastructure projects, such as London’s Thames Tideway super sewer.

Under the scheme, households will be charged for the cost of the plant via an energy levy long before it begins generating electricity, which could take a decade or more from when the final investment decision is taken.

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Brexit » It’s not going so well

Bloomberg »

Lines of cars snake from gasoline stations. Fights break out among angry motorists trying to get fuel. Grocery staples are out of stock on store shelves. A charity warns that doubling heating bills will force a million households to rely on extra blankets to stay warm.

This was supposed to be the year the U.K. broke free of the European Union and forged ahead as a buccaneering free trader, delivering the benefits of a new, confident “Global Britain” to workers and companies at home. Instead, that picture of Brexit utopia is looking more like a dystopia.

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The British government has asked thousands of Germans residing in the UK to drive transport trucks, even if they have never driven one before

Tom Peck, The Independent »

A letter was sent by the Department for Transport, signed by transport minister Baroness Vere, asking Germans who live in Britain to “consider returning” to the HGV driving sector.

German driving licences issued before 1999 include an entitlement to drive a small to medium-sized truck of up to 7.5 tonnes. It is understood that almost all Germans residing in the UK who hold such a licence have been sent the letter, almost none of whom have ever driven an HGV before.

All of Europe is desperate for more truck drivers

The Economist »

According to Indeed, a job-search website, daily listings for heavy-goods vehicle (HGV) drivers in Britain increased by 108% at their peak over the summer, compared with February 2020. Now they are 73% above pre-pandemic levels. In Germany, job listings have increased by 67%; in Spain they have jumped by 95%; and in Italy by 105%. Qualified European drivers have their pick of jobs across the continent. Brexit-related form-filling and tax tweaks will make the offer from Boris Johnson’s government of a short-term visa to Britain less appealing.

Inside the CIA’s secret plans to kidnap and assassinate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears at the window of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Feb. 5, 2016. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

It reads like a cheap spy novel from the 1970’s you might find stuffed at the back of a second hand book store. But then you learn that Trump and Pompeo were involved.

Zach Dorfman, Sean D. Naylor, and Michael Isikoff report that in 2017, Donald Trump’s CIA — then under the directorship of Mike Pompeo, a future secretary of state — plotted to kidnap Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, from Ecuador’s embassy in London.

Yahoo News »

Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration even discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request “sketches” or “options” for how to assassinate him. Discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official. “There seemed to be no boundaries.”

The conversations were part of an unprecedented CIA campaign directed against WikiLeaks and its founder. The agency’s multipronged plans also included extensive spying on WikiLeaks associates, sowing discord among the group’s members, and stealing their electronic devices.

World reacts to the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig

China frees Canadians after Huawei boss released » BBC News

A diplomatic row between China and the West appears to be ending, after the release of two Canadians held in China and a Chinese tech executive in Canada. Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, arrested on a US warrant in 2018, left Canada on Friday in a deal with US prosecutors. Hours later it was announced that Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, accused of espionage by China in the same year, were flying home to Canada. Beijing denies detaining the Canadians in retaliation for Ms Meng’s arrest. But critics have accused China of using them as political bargaining chips. The two men had maintained their innocence throughout.

China, Canada free detainees after Huawei exec deal with US » DW News

Two Canadians and a top Chinese executive are on their way home after a deal with US authorities put an end to a three year diplomatic spat. Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei telecoms giant, was arrested in Canada in 2018 on US charges of violating sanctions. Weeks later Beijing detained two Canadian citizens in China in what was seen as an act of retaliation. The detentions had strained relations between the world’s two superpowers. Now a federal judge in New York has accepted a deal between US-prosecutors and Meng. Under the deal, Meng admitted to some wrongdoing. Prosecutors agreed in return to drop charges against her next year, provided she complies with certain rules. The case has also been a source of friction between China and Canada, where Meng has been detained and fighting US-extradition since her 2018 arrest. The deal included an acknowledgment by Meng that she mislead a bank about the company’s operations in Iran that were in violation of US-sanctions. The agreement paves the way for her to be released from home-detention in Canada and return to China. But it doesn’t drop the US-case against Huawei itself, which includes charges related to intellectual-property theft.

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