Police charged £9m by phone firms to use tracking data, prompting calls for ‘free access’

mobile phone
Police forces are spending up to £9m every year to access details of phone records (Posed by model)

Mobile phone firms have been accused of cashing in on crime and terror after charging the police £8.7million a year to access data tracking information.

The companies keep records of the times, dates, duration of mobile phone calls and the numbers contacted but not the actual content of conversations.

They also hold crucial information about the whereabouts of a mobile phone at any given time – which can be accessed by the police to build up a picture of a suspect’s movements.

The details were crucial in the conviction of Soham murderer Ian Huntley and Ipswich prostitute-killer Steve Wright and in identifying those involved in the failed 21/7 terrorist plots in London.

But Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile charge a fee for seeing the data – with the cost running at about £170,000 a week.

This is in addition to £8million the Home Office already pays telecoms firms to store information on their customers for at least a year so it is available to the police and MI5.

Police can see the phone records without having to apply to the courts, with senior offices issuing a Section 22 notice under the powerful Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

The process has become an everyday part of police inquiries and many forces and MI5 have automated systems to retrieve mobile data – prompting calls for the service to be free of charge.

Last year, Section 22 powers were exercised more than 500,000 times.

Read morePolice charged £9m by phone firms to use tracking data, prompting calls for ‘free access’

Gaza families eat grass as Israel locks border

Before you read The Times article below consider also the following articles:

A human rights crime in Gaza by Ex-President Jimmy Carter.

Carter says Israel has arsenal of 150 nuclear weapons:
Carter also condemned Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as “one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth,” according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Carter said in reference to the situation of Palestinians in Gaza that, “There is no reason to treat these people this way.”

Gaza: A modern concentration camp run by Israel:
Gaza is being forced to pump 77 tonnes of untreated or partially treated sewage out to sea daily due to the Israeli blockade of the coastal territory. The fear is that some of this is creeping back into drinking water.
“The health of Gaza’s 1.5 million people is at risk,” Mahmoud Daher, from the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) told IPS.
The results revealed that three areas in Gaza and one area in the Rafah governorate (30.8 percent) are polluted with human faeces (Faecal Coliform) and animal faeces (Faecal Streptococcus), and three areas in Gaza city (23.1 percent) are polluted with animal faeces.

Hungry Gazans Resort to Animal Feed as U.N. Blasts Israel:
GAZA CITY, Gaza — Half of Gaza’s bakeries have closed down and the other half have resorted to animal feed to produce bread as Israel’s complete blockade of the coastal territory enters its 19th day.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon alarmed at the escalating humanitarian crisis called incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week and demanded that he lift the blockade.

BBC: Gazans despair over blockade:
“People in Gaza are waiting in lines for almost everything, and that’s if they’re lucky enough to find something to wait for,” says Bassam Nasser, 39.

Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

UN suspends food distribution in Gaza

Israeli siege leads to soaring anemia in Gaza newborns

Scottish activist films Israeli navy shooting at Gaza fishermen:
A SCOTTISH human rights activist has filmed the Israeli navy firing machine guns at unarmed Palestinian fishing boats in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s secret police pressuring sick Gazans to spy for them, says report
Israel’s secret police are pressuring Palestinians in Gaza to spy on their community in exchange for urgent medical treatment, according to a report released today by an Israeli human rights organisation.

Israel launches deadly airstrike in Gaza + Hamas fires rockets at Israel after 6 killed

U.N. chief condemns Israel after Gaza clash:
GAZA (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for using “excessive” force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a halt to its offensive after troops killed 61 people on the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 1980s.

The New York Times: Making Nuclear Extermination Respectable:
On July 18, 2008 The New York Times published an article by Israeli-Jewish historian, Professor Benny Morris, advocating an Israeli nuclear-genocidal attack on Iran with the likelihood of killing 70 million Iranians – 12 times the number of Jewish victims in the Nazi holocaust:

” Iran ’s leaders would do well to rethink their gamble and suspend their nuclear program. Barring this, the best they could hope for is that Israel ’s conventional air assault will destroy their nuclear facilities. To be sure, this would mean thousands of Iranian casualties and international humiliation. But the alternative is an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland.”

Eating weeds and herbs was often the only thing that kept people alive in prison camps.

Israel turned Gaza into one big concentration camp. Why is there no help? Look who rules the world and what interests they have, then you know.
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December 14, 2008
Source: The Sunday Times

AS a convoy of blue-and-white United Nations trucks loaded with food waited last night for Israeli permission to enter Gaza, Jindiya Abu Amra and her 12-year-old daughter went scrounging for the wild grass their family now lives on.

“We had one meal today – khobbeizeh,” said Abu Amra, 43, showing the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. “Every day, I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg. When I find nothing, we eat this grass.”

Abu Amra and her unemployed husband have seven daughters and a son. Their tiny breeze-block house has had no furniture since they burnt the last cupboard for heat.

“I can’t remember seeing a fruit,” said Rabab, 12, who goes with her mother most mornings to scavenge. She is dressed in a tracksuit top and holed jeans, and her feet are bare.

Conditions for most of the 1.5m Gazans have deteriorated dramatically in the past month, since a truce between Israel and Hamas, the ruling Islamist party, broke down.

Read moreGaza families eat grass as Israel locks border

Greece’s riots are a sign of the economic times

“The government has tried hard not to connect what is happening with the problems of young people. The government says one boy died, his friends are angry, they over-reacted then anarchists came to join in the game. But this is not the reality.”

“Because of unemployment, a quarter of those under 25 are below the poverty line,” said Petros Linardos, an economist at the Labour Institute of the Greek trade unions. “That percentage has been increasing for the past 10 years. There is a diffused, widespread feeling that there are no prospects. This is a period when everyone is afraid of the future because of the economic crisis. There is a general feeling that things are going to get worse. And there is no real initiative from the government.”

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Greece’s riots are a sign of the economic times. Other countries should beware, says Peter Popham in Athens


Youths try to break into the Greek Interior Ministry on Thursday night

After firing 4,600 tear-gas canisters in the past week, the Greek police have nearly exhausted their stock. As they seek emergency supplies from Israel and Germany, still the petrol bombs and stones of the protesters rain down, with clashes again outside parliament yesterday.

Bringing together youths in their early twenties struggling to survive amid mass youth unemployment and schoolchildren swotting for highly competitive university exams that may not ultimately help them in a treacherous jobs market, the events of the past week could be called the first credit-crunch riots. There have been smaller-scale sympathy attacks from Moscow to Copenhagen, and economists say countries with similarly high youth unemployment problems such as Spain and Italy should prepare for unrest.

Read moreGreece’s riots are a sign of the economic times

Unrest spreads across Europe


Protesters throw stones at riot police during clashes in front of the Greek parliament building in Athens, December 10, 2008. (Oleg Popov/Reuters

MADRID, Spain – The unrest that has gripped Greece is spilling over into the rest of Europe, raising concerns the clashes could be a trigger for opponents of globalization, disaffected youth and others outraged by the continent’s economic turmoil and soaring unemployment.

Protesters in Spain, Denmark and Italy smashed shop windows, pelted police with bottles and attacked banks this week, while in France, cars were set ablaze Thursday outside the Greek consulate in Bordeaux, where protesters scrawled graffiti warning about a looming “insurrection.”

At least some of the protests were organized over the Internet, showing how quickly the message of discontent can be spread, particularly among tech-savvy youth. One Web site Greek protesters used to update each other on the locations of clashes asserted there have been sympathy protests in nearly 20 countries.

More demonstrations were set for Friday in Italy, France and Germany.

Still, the clashes have been isolated so far, and nothing like the scope of the chaos in Greece, which was triggered by the police killing of a teenager on Saturday and has ballooned into nightly scenes of burning street barricades, looted stores and overturned cars.

Read moreUnrest spreads across Europe

Zimbabwe: Dead people are better off

Johannesburg – “Dead people are better off. They don’t need water or sadza (maize porridge). They’re just lying there nicely in their graves.”

Sitting on the stone floor of her bare home in Harare, a Zimbabwean woman poignantly expresses the desperation of millions of Zimbabweans stalked by starvation and disease.

Dinner for this woman, whose name is not given in the 15-minute film on Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis screened by Solidarity Peace Trust non-governmental organisation in Johannesburg on Tuesday, is a sachet of juice.

In another scene, a mother holds aloft a wailing baby, its eyes swollen shut, the skin peeling off its stubby legs. The baby is severely malnourished.

The images in the film entitled Death of a Nation, which record the slow strangulation of a population by a government hell-bent on retaining power, were taken between September and November this year.

They show a failed state where women in rural areas pick through withered trees for berries to keep their families alive because they can no longer afford a bag of maize meal.

And families telling of how they spent the day holding up a drip in an overcrowded clinic for a relative infected with cholera only to watch them die for lack of medication.

Over half Zimbabwe’s population of 12 million cannot adequately feed itself, stratospheric inflation means a tub of margarine costs US$9.65 and hundreds are dying of cholera, an easily preventable disease.

Read moreZimbabwe: Dead people are better off

Explainer: Why is there unrest in Greece?

(CNN) — Youths have rioted on the streets of Athens and other Greek cities for the past three days. Stores and cars have been torched, barricades erected and rioters have fought running battles with police.


Athens riot police come under attack near the capital’s main police station Sunday.

The unrest came after police shot dead teenager Andreas Grigoropoulos, 15, who they allege was about to throw a fuel-filled device at them as a gang of youths pelted a patrol vehicle.

What has been the political reaction to the unrest?

Read moreExplainer: Why is there unrest in Greece?

Greece rocked by third day of riots

ATHENS, Greece (CNN) — Violent clashes between police and protesters erupted for a third day in Greece Monday as anger over the fatal police shooting of a teenager continued to rage through major cities.

Youths clash with police near the main police station in Athens on Sunday.
Youths clash with police near the main police station in Athens on Sunday.

Riot police fired tear gas at youths attacking shops and a police station in the port city of Thessaloniki, The Associated Press reported.

Running battles also broke out in Veria, a town 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Thessaloniki, while violence was reported in the central city of Trikala, AP said.

Major protests were expected later in five Greek cities, including Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, another central city, and on the island of Corfu.

There were scenes of destruction across the Greek capital after police apologies and the arrest of two officers in connection with the shooting failed to halt unrest on Sunday.

On Sunday night, police fired tear gas as rampaging youths smashed storefronts and burned businesses, leaving shattered glass and burnt debris scattered across major cities. Photo See images of anarchy on Greek streets »

Residents of one apartment building in central Athens were evacuated on Sunday after angry demonstrators torched a car dealership on the basement floor.

Self-styled anarchists barricaded city streets in Athens and Thessaloniki, and hurled petrol bombs as they battled with police, who fought back with tear gas in the second day of rioting. Video Watch youths riot in Greece »

One officer has been charged with manslaughter over the killing of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, another as an accomplice.

The men say they fired warning shots as Grigoropoulos was about to throw a fuel-filled device at them and a gang of youths pelted a patrol vehicle.

Read moreGreece rocked by third day of riots

The silent tsunami

Hunger now afflicts almost a billion people in 60 countries … and kills 25,000 a day. A special report by Rob Edwards to explain the background to our Christmas appeal

A SILENT tsunami of hunger is engulfing the world, afflicting nearly a billion people in 60 countries and killing 25,000 men, women and children every day. The global food crisis, triggered by high prices, shortages and bad weather, is deepening as the world’s economy moves into recession. Millions more people are now facing poverty, starvation, disease and death.

The World Bank is predicting that 967 million people will now go hungry in 2008, 44 million more than in 2007. That means that almost one in every six people on the planet is not getting enough food to stay healthy.

Children’s growth is being stunted, immune systems are being destroyed and fatal diseases like diarrhoea, measles and malaria are spreading.

“This is a tragic loss of human and economic potential”, says a report from the World Bank.

Irreparable damage is being done to the health, life and prospects of hundreds of millions of people, it warns. “This is not only a crisis now, but a time bomb for the future.”

The World Bank also estimates that 2008 has pushed 100 million more people into serious poverty, making it more difficult for them to afford life’s essentials. Some 2.3 billion people worldwide have to manage on less than the equivalent of £1.35 a day.

Read moreThe silent tsunami

Workers occupy factory; Standoff continues as workers protest layoffs

CHICAGO — Workers who got three days’ notice their factory was shutting its doors voted to occupy the building and say they won’t go home without assurances they’ll get severance and vacation pay they say they are owed.

In the second day of a sit-in on the factory floor Saturday, about 200 union workers occupied the building in shifts while union leaders outside criticized a Wall Street bailout they say is leaving laborers behind.

About 50 workers sat on pallets and chairs inside the Republic Windows and Doors plant. Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based vinyl window manufacturer failed to give 60 days’ notice required by law before shutting down.

During the takeover, workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building, Fried said.

“We’re doing something we haven’t since the 1930s, so we’re trying to make it work,” Fried said.

Read moreWorkers occupy factory; Standoff continues as workers protest layoffs

Robbers in drag steal €80 million from Paris diamond store in biggest French heist

At first sight, the man and three women who entered the Harry Winston store in Paris resembled the sophisticated international clientele who frequent this most exclusive of jewellers. But staff soon realised something was amiss – the women were really men in wigs and dresses and all four were holding guns.

They herded the 15 or so staff and customers into a corner – hitting some over the head – then loaded necklaces, brooches, watches and other valuables into their bags and made off with a haul valued at €85 million (£74 million). The biggest robbery in French history, and the second-biggest jewellery theft in Europe, took only 13 minutes.

French police, who arrived 15 minutes later, said that Harry Winston, the self-proclaimed king of diamonds and supplier to monarchs, aristocrats and film stars, had fallen victim to a highly professional and well informed gang.

The boutique, on the Avenue Montaigne in central Paris, was closed yesterday and three of the five window displays were empty. Members of France’s elite detective squad searched the premises for clues. They studied security camera footage and the alarm mechanism, which is linked to a centre in Switzerland. Witnesses told police that the robbers had spoken only French. Others said that they also spoke a second language but all agreed on the speed, efficiency and brutality of the criminals, who injured some of the staff, though they did not fire a shot.

Read moreRobbers in drag steal €80 million from Paris diamond store in biggest French heist