Britain posthumously pardons tens of thousands of gay men

Britain has just posthumously pardon the tens of thousands of gay men convicted of seeking or having sex is just and long overdue. I am really surprised to discover that this bill, named after Alan Turing who died in 1954 as a result of suicide, should have been passed years ago.

And, according to the New York Times, gay men alive now but convicted under prior law actually are required to go through an onerous process of applying for a pardon. Why in the world should that process have to be followed, given the fact that pardons are officially the law of the land.

From The New York Times:

The Turing law is also a reminder that in liberal Western societies, too, the struggle for gay rights continues. It was only in 2003 that the United States Supreme Court struck a fatal blow to sodomy laws, in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas decision, and only last year that the court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage. Many more barriers still need to be cleared.

For British men who were stigmatized, imprisoned and beaten for their sexual orientation, clearing their records posthumously is a critical recognition of historical wrongs. If the government now does the same — automatically — for those who are alive, it will send an even stronger message to the countries where such abhorrent laws still exist.

The UK also operates a surveillance state

The Guardian is reporting that GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of our NSA, is collecting information on British citizens without a warrant, despite earlier assurances from the GCHQ that it required a warrant to collect information provided by the NSA or other non-Britain spy agencies.

Excerpt:

The government’s submission discloses that the UK can obtain “unselected” – meaning unanalysed, or raw intelligence – information from overseas partners without a warrant if it was “not technically feasible” to obtain the communications under a warrant and if it is “necessary and proportionate” for the intelligence agencies to obtain that information.

The rules essentially permit bulk collection of material, which can include communications of UK citizens, provided the request does not amount to “deliberate circumvention” of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which governs much of the UK’s surveillance activities.

This point – that GCHQ does not regard warrants as necessary in all cases – is explicitly spelled out in the document. “[A] Ripa interception warrant is not as a matter of law required in all cases in which unanalysed intercepted communications might be sought from a foreign government,” it states. The rules also cover communicationsdata sent unsolicited to the UK agencies.

Campaigners say that this contrasts with assurances by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee in July last year that a warrant signed by a minister was in place whenever GCHQ obtained intelligence from the US.

So we now know of at least two surveillance state operations that function without normal privacy guarantees: GCHQ and NSA.

Downton Abbey

If you like the period dramas that were the fare of Masterpiece Theater in its early days, you will love Downton Abbey, presented on Masterpiece Classic.  It is a richly produced story, focused on the upstairs and downstairs life at said Abbey in 1912, just prior to the outbreak of WW I.  Season 1 is now available via Netflix streaming (Netflix link). You won’t regret watching.

Susan Boyle’s first known recording

Susan Boyle, the phenom from Britain’s Got Talent I highlighted in an earlier post, apparently recorded a track on a CD sold for charity. It is also fantastic, a take on Cry Me a River.

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Susan Boyle's first known recording

Susan Boyle, the phenom from Britain’s Got Talent I highlighted in an earlier post, apparently recorded a track on a CD sold for charity. It is also fantastic, a take on Cry Me a River.
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