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Heathrow airport rolls out ‘fast-track’ passport lanes for Canada and Australia

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Separate fast-track passport lanes for people from “old Commonwealth” countries, such as Australia and Canada, are to be introduced at Heathrow after the Olympics, the immigration minister has disclosed.

Damian Green has told MPs a short pilot scheme has been carried out using separate passport desks for those from five “low-risk countries” from outside Europe who do not need a visa to enter Britain.

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Tourists and visitors from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US and Japan are to be given the chance of avoiding the lengthy queues at Heathrow faced by passengers with passports from other non-European countries.

Green said there had been mixed results from the pilot scheme as in some cases it had taken up just as much time “because it involved moving people around the different queues”.

But the minister said the fast-track lanes would be introduced after the Olympics to give “a group of people a better experience at Heathrow”. He agreed it might lead to reciprocal arrangements for British visitors to the US and other countries involved.

The immigration minister said the government’s Olympics pledge to have every passport control desk staffed at peak times at every airport in south-east England will be put into effect from this Sunday.

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Green acknowledged that the passport control queues facing passengers landing at Heathrow and other major airports had “not been perfect” in the last few months but insisted the situation was rapidly improving. He reported the maximum queue during the morning peak at Heathrow was only 28 minutes when he visited the airport’s Terminal 4 on Tuesday.

But the minister also had to confirm that Brian Moore, the interim head of the UK Border Force, which was set up in the wake of the Brodie Clark affair, had not applied to take on the role permanently. Moore gave up his job as Wiltshire chief constable following Clark’s resignation after a row over the relaxation of passport checks. Moore had been expected to apply for the job when his temporary appointment comes to an end in September. Interviews for his replacement are due to be held in August.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, who made a snap visit to Heathrow on Monday, said he had been appalled to discover queues of more than an hour, only half the desks staffed and people stuck in corridors waiting to get into the arrivals hall “at the busiest international airport in the world”.

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The airport operator, BAA, said on Monday the queues at Heathrow over the last few days had been “unacceptably long”.

The immigration minister challenged Vaz’s claims, insisting that the desk during the Monday morning peak had been 80%-staffed and the maximum waiting time had been 54 minutes for non-EU passengers.

© Guardian News and Media 2012

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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MSNBC anchor blasts Trump’s ‘lunacy’ after ‘a Twitter tirade that sent the Dow spiraling’

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The New York Stock Exchange closed down over 600 points on Friday as President Donald Trump's trade war with China escalated.

MSNBC anchor John Heilemann said, "we’re hours away for the president taking off to the G7 summit in Bairritz, France, where allies are bracing for the Trump-fueled mayhem that is now 100% certain to ensue, with Trump like a drunken traveler in the departure lounge about to take a trip that he dreads, already sewing global chaos, days-long public meltdown typically moved from words to actions."

"Donald Trump beginning this day with a Twitter tirade that sent the Dow spiraling, closing down more than 600 points today and escalating his trade war with China with these norm-shattering, power-abusing words in this tweet," he said, putting the tweet on-screen.

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Ex-Houston cop is charged with murder after his fraudulent search warrant got a couple killed

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Former Houston police officer Gerald Goines has been indicted on felony murder charges in relation to a drug raid in January that left a couple dead, the Houston Chronicle reported this Friday.

Questions about the raid, which took place January 28, began to swirl when it was revealed that Goines had lied to obtain the search warrant. The raid resulted in a shootout that killed 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas and 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle. Goines was also wounded in the shootout as were four other officers.

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‘Making things worse’: National Farmer’s Union chief unloads on Trump in blistering statement on trade war

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Roger Johnson, the president of the National Farmers Union, delivered a blistering rebuke to President Donald Trump after he responded to new tariffs from China by issuing a purported "order" telling American companies to look for alternative places to manufacture their goods.

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