US President Donald Trump has consistently attacked
the integrity of the upcoming presidential election. He
has called mail-in voting a “big scam” and suggested
that he may not transfer power if he loses. These are
exceptional unprecedented threats to US democracy.
But they mask an equally dangerous fact that we have
recently uncovered: A significant portion of the USA's
population, agrees with him. This is the tinder for an
impending constitutional crisis, along with a host of
other indicators that scholars are calling to the
Trump has long cast doubt on the validity of US elections.
For years he has claimed, without evidence, that millions
of ballots were cast fraudulently in the 2016 election and
that he should have won by a wider margin. He also
claimed that key midterm elections in 2018, were
rigged against Republicans, Foreign Policy reports.
The crescendo of vitriol and misinformation about elections
is currently at fever pitch. Some prominent Republicans,
such as Sens. Susan Collins, Mitch McConnell, and Mitt
Romney have publicly stated that the election will be
conducted fairly and that the outcome will be
respected. But most Republicans have stayed
silent. And the rush to confirm Amy Coney
Barrett to the Supreme Court is, in part,
motivated by a hope that the outcome
of next month’s election, if legally
contested, would be litigated in
favor of the Republican nominee.
Research we recently conducted, however, suggests that
the president is not alone in disregarding elections. We
administered a survey to a representative sample of
the US population in July of this year and found that
31 percent of US citizens believe it is a good idea to
have a “strong incumbent leader who does not have
to bother with Congress and elections”.
Predictably in the current context of political polarization,
political loyalties strongly condition views on elections.
A total of 38 percent of Trump supporters back giving
up on elections and Congress. This figure would likely
climb substantially higher if Trump publicly and
vociferously alleges that the election has been
stolen come November. Alarmingly, a smaller
but still significant share of individuals who
did not support Trump in the 2016 election
—27 percent—similarly doubt the
importance of elections
These numbers in the aggregate have trended up in recent
years. The World Values Survey asks individuals a similar
question about having a strong and unencumbered leader.
The most recent survey in 2017 reported that 38% of US
citizens support an unchecked leader, compared to 24%
in the mid-1990s and 29% in the early 2000s.
The considerable popular support for the violation of core
democratic principles such as the supremacy of elections
and separation of powers is worrisome. Many US citizens
may be willing to look the other way if Trump loses the
vote count but decides to dig in. Others may outright
support the president staying in office against clear
constitutional guidelines to the contrary, should
US citizens have similarly chequered support for other
important democratic practices. We conducted an
experiment in which we prompted respondents
to consider a fictitious scenario in which the
president orders the Department of Justice
to investigate his main political opponent
on charges of corruption. We told the
respondents that the department has
a mandate to enforce federal law and
is headed by public prosecutors who
have been appointed through a non-
political meritocratic process based
on expertise and have served under
different administrations across the
The department refuses the president’s order -
indicating that there is not sufficient evidence
to merit an investigation. In response, the
president replaces all long-term public
prosecutors --- with loyalists who will
start an investigation against the
president’s main opponent.
One-fifth of respondents supported this nakedly
partisan move. And again, this was dominated
by Trump supporters, with 36% of his ''fans''
supporting this action. Whereas 55% of non-
Trump supporters found that this act was
impeachable, only 10 percent of his
supporters felt it was worthy of
We then randomized whether respondents were
told that public prosecutors were protected
from being fired on the basis of their
expertise-based decisions, by
existing law or long-standing
norms of executive
More Trump supporters (40%) backed the president’s
action, when it violated existing law. This suggests
that elections are not the only pressure point
Because our survey was nationally representative,
it does not just capture nonvoters, who might be
apathetic about politics in general. This suggests
genuinely tepid or qualified support for democracy.
Mediocre support for democracy, especially among the
president’s supporters, is a recipe for a constitutional
crisis. The military is debating whether to step in
should Trump sow election chaos or refuse to
concede defeat if he loses. Trump is also
trying to quickly nominate a favorable
replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg
on the Supreme Court in order to
capture the top referee of US
And, with the Senate controlled by Republicans and
the House of Representatives by Democrats, there
is little hope for Congress to decisively
The likelihood that Trump manages to stay in office in
the face of a clear loss in the Electoral College vote is
probably small. But with so many mail-in ballots and
other changes due to the pandemic, vote-counting
may take time, and early results may not be able
to quickly adjudicate the election. Such a
scenario could spell trouble for US
Experts have spelled out a number of nightmare scenarios.
These range from allegations of foreign hacking to tedious
and contested recounts in swing states. In the worst case,
an unclear and contested outcome could bring US citizens
onto the streets, where armed rabble-rousers could stir
chaos and provide fodder for an emergency executive
declaration. Even if the most far-fetched scenarios
remain improbable, the fact that they should be
taken seriously, represents a sea change in
Poll run by Associated Press-NORC
Center for Public Affairs Research:
Almost three quarters of registered voters in
the US say it's “headed in the wrong direction”.
85% state that US society is “greatly divided”
over the most important values and just over
one third expect things to get “somewhat
better” in the coming years.
The poll has only 15% of respondents saying
that US democracy still works “extremely or
very well”. A Pew Research poll held in early
2020, revealed that almost 60% of US
citizens were dissatisfied with the
way US democracy was working,
at that time.
‘Gross Irresponsibility’: Labour Leader
Criticizes Anonymous Briefings on
New COVID Restrictions in UK
October 10th, 2020 (FNA)
Keir Starmer hit out at the government’s decision to
announce new coronavirus restrictions by leaking
their details out on an anonymous basis to select
The Labour leader branded the government’s approach
to communicating the changes “gross irresponsibility”
and said the new rules would affect the lives of
millions of people, The Independent reported.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a
statement to MPs on Monday about the new rules,
which could see restrictions tightened and
simplified across large parts of the UK.
But on Thursday, some friendly media outlets carried
unconfirmed details of what the plans might involve,
apparently sourced from the government before a
“It was an act of gross irresponsibility for anonymous
Government sources to tell newspapers on Thursday
about plans to impose further restrictions on millions
of people,” Starmer stated on Saturday.
“They did so without any detail, without any consultation
and without any statement from the prime minister,”
At the start of the pandemic the government was widely
criticised for leaking details of its lockdown and
shielding plans to individual journalists before
formally announcing them.
The criticism saw Johnson bounced into holding daily
coronavirus press conferences where major
announcements were made on live tv for
the public. The government eventually
stopped the briefings after the peak
of the pandemic.
Next week the prime minister is expected to announce
the introduction of a “three-tier” system, under which
every part of the country will be given a rating,
depending on its severity.
Different ratings will require different levels of restriction,
with the most serious rating expected to again involve
the closure of hospitality businesses like pubs
COVID19 in the UK the story so far... please see our Health page.
United Nations Universal Declaration on Bioethics and
Human Rights, Article 6 - Consent: Any preventive,
diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention
is only to be carried out with the prior, free and
informed consent of the person concerned.
Article 3 - Human dignity and human rights:
The interests and the welfare of the
individual should have priority over
the sole interest of science
Report: Fears Grow of
Voter Suppression in US
October 8th, 2020 (FNA)
Fears that millions of votes could be suppressed are popping
up in states across the country, but perhaps nowhere more
than Texas — a surprise swing state where Democratic
presidential nominee Joe Biden appears to be in a
close race with President Donald Trump.
The longtime Republican stronghold, which is home to some
30 million people and the second most electoral votes in the
country, sports some of the strictest voting laws in the
country, The Hill reported.
Texas only allows its registered voters to vote absentee if they
are 65 or older, incarcerated but otherwise eligible to vote, or
can cite a disability.
Texas Democrats have opened multiple legal cases against the
state in an attempt to relax restrictions during the coronavirus
pandemic, but these efforts have largely been to no avail.
While Gov. Greg Abbott (R) extended early voting by a week and
made it possible for Texans to turn in by-mail ballots before
Election Day, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that lack of
immunity to COVID-19 doesn’t qualify as a
Additionally, a federal appeals court panel in September rejected
the Texas Democratic Party’s (TDP) argument that the state’s 65-
plus age requirement was unconstitutional because it violated
the 26th Amendment's protections against voting rules that
discriminate based on age. The case is most likely headed
to the Supreme Court — where it was rejected earlier in the
summer as the justices wanted to see the lower court’s
decision first — but it is unclear if it will be taken up
before Election Day.
On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court ruled that Harris
County Clerk Chris Hollins couldn’t send absentee ballots
to all of the county’s registered voters.
This decision comes on the heels of Abbott signing an executive
order last week that limits each county in the state to have just
one location where mail-in ballots can be dropped off.
“The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity
of our elections,” Abbott said at the time, adding, “As we work to
preserve Texans’ ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic,
we must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols
throughout the state. These enhanced security protocols will
ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at
Republicans have long pointed to the threat of voter fraud to
argue for stricter voting laws. In recent months, President
Trump and other GOP lawmakers have disparaged by-mail
voting, predicting rampant voter fraud and “rigged”
election results on November 3rd.
In reality, however, election fraud is exceedingly rare and
multiple states use mail-in voting systems predominantly.
Benjamin Ginsberg, who served as national counsel for
multiple GOP presidential campaigns, wrote in his
Washington Post op-ed in September, that claims
of significant voter fraud are “unsustainable”.
“At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats
and Republicans. Elections are not rigged,” he wrote,
noting, “Absentee ballots use the same process as
mail-in ballots — different states use different
labels for the same process.”
Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, a former congressman
from Florida, defended the executive order at the time,
saying Abbott “was following his duty to make sure
that voter suppression doesn't happen in Texas”.
He added, “[Hollins] and [Democrats] are responsible for
these restrictions, because of their blatant election
maleficence such as turning away poll watchers at
ballot drop off locations in Harris County.”
It was reported that poll watchers assigned to observe the
ballot drop-off locations in Harris County, which has roughly
2.4 million registered voters, were turned away on
technicalities, though Hollins in a tweet regarding
the executive order said that his office “is more
than willing to accommodate poll watchers at
The ramifications of Abbott’s decision, if it is not
reversed, could be palpable and felt statewide.
Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, is located in
Harris County and a crucial foothold for Democrats.
The massive county went from having a dozen
ballot drop-off locations to having just one.
The US Election Assistance Commission
says that local governments should have
one ballot drop-off location for every
15,000-20,000 registered voters.
Other large metropolitan areas in Texas have proved fruitful
to Democrats in their attempt to flip the state blue. Four of
the five most populous counties in Texas were won by
Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
“We think [this will] actually backfire on Abbott,” Abhi Rahman,
TDP’s strategic communications director, told The Hill, adding,
“He's trying to do everything he can to stop Texans from
voting and Texans are pissed off about it.”
Abbott’s executive order faces multiple lawsuits and
has also caught the eye of congressional lawmakers.
A trio of House Democrats, including Reps. James Clyburn
(S.C.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) & Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), wrote
to Abbott on Tuesday, imploring him to waive his
“We are investigating actions you have taken that may
interfere with the administration of free, fair, and safe
federal elections in Texas during the coronavirus
pandemic,” they stated in the letter.
“In particular, we are concerned that your last-minute
proclamation forcing Texas counties to close multiple
ballot drop-off locations will disenfranchise voters and
may increase the risk of exposure to the coronavirus
for voters and poll workers. We write today to urge
you to reverse this order— which was issued after
these locations had begun accepting ballots—and
provide documents regarding your decision to
restrict early voting by mail in Texas,”
Poll: Minority of Europeans Think
US Election Will Be Free, Fair
October 8th, 2020 (FNA)
Fewer than one in 10 Europeans expect next month’s US
presidential election to be completely free and fair, and
an overwhelming majority say they would like Joe
Biden to triumph over Donald Trump.
According to a YouGov tracker survey in Britain, Denmark,
France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden, in only one of
these countries – Italy – are more than a tenth of voters
confident that the US electoral process will prove
irreproachable, The Guardian reported.
In the other six, support for the view that the November 3rd
elections will be “completely free and fair” ranges from 2%
in Germany to 7% in Spain. In no country do more than 44%
feel the vote will even be “completely or mostly” free
The survey, run between September 15th and October 4th
with a representative sample of 1,000-plus people in each
country, found Europeans overwhelmingly eager for a
Biden victory, despite not rating him very highly or
knowing much about him.
About 80% of Danes say they want the Democratic challenger
to win, followed by 71% in Germany, 64% in France and 61%
in the UK, while support across the same four countries for
a Trump victory ranges from 6% to 14%.
The president enjoys the strongest level of support in Italy,
but even there only 20% would like to see him returned for
a second term, against 58% who want Biden to win.
European approval for Trump’s presidency so far is very low,
with few rating him as either a “great” or even a “good”
president – just 5% in Denmark, 10% in the UK and 15%
in Italy. Large majorities feel he has been “poor” or
“terrible” – 82% in Denmark, 70% in the UK and
61% in Italy.
Perceptions of Biden are generally muted across the continent,
with the belief that the 77-year-old Democrat would make a
“good” or “great” president shared by a low of 17% of
respondents in the UK and a high of 23% in Germany
While very few feel Biden would make a “poor” or “terrible”
president, far more – from 27% in France to 55% in Denmark
– say they think he will be merely “average” or confess to
not really having a clear idea of what he would be like.
When asked how Biden would perform as president,
between 21% and 45% answered “don’t know”.
However, when asked about a range of areas from international
relations and climate change to the coronavirus, economics,
terrorism and peace, respondents in every country think
Biden would do a better job on every measure
Respondents’ negative views of Trump extend to his impact
on their own countries and on the world as a whole. Just
10% to 14% think he has had a positive impact on their
country, while 52% to 69% feel his impact has
Across the seven countries, a low of 6% of Danes and high of
15% of Italians feel Trump has been good for the world, while
a high of 84% of Danes and a low of 68% of Italians think the
opposite. Between 27% (France) and 44% (Spain) even say
Trump has had a negative impact on them personally.
Between 29% and 49% believe a Biden victory would have a
positive impact on their own country, and 36%-58% think it
would be good for the world – although again, relatively
large proportions say they do not know.
Large proportions, ranging from 47% in Italy to 74% in Denmark,
say they believe Trump’s re-election campaign so far has been
“mostly dishonest”. Biden’s campaign is more likely to be seen
as honest (26%-43%) than dishonest (7%-15%), but once again
many more people answered “don’t know” for Biden, than
In each of the seven countries, more people expect a Biden
win next month than a Trump win, but in only one - Denmark
- do more than 50% say Biden will win.
Rhondda Records wishes everyonea peaceful 2020.
ROGER WATERS TO MUSICIANS:- "BOYCOTT ISRAEL"
Roger Waters formerly of Pink Floyd, in an open letter, calls on his fellow musicians to boycott the Zionist Israeli regime and follow the example of the cultural boycott against the ex South African Apartheid regime.
“Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments [to act] …. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters … to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel,” Roger Waters says in his letter.
Waters says the Zionist regime has been found guilty of major breaches of human rights and international law by international organizations, UN officials and the International Court of Justice.
He touches on two such cases, saying the regime has been identified as perpetrating the “crime of Apartheid”, including in a statement on March 9th, 2012 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the “crime of ethnic cleansing” including in East Jerusalem (al-Quds).
Waters adds that he has been a member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Israeli regime’s occupation of the Palestinian lands and Tel Aviv’s violations of Palestinian human rights for 7 years, and now wants other musicians to also join the anti-Israeli front.
“Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel & occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”
The former Pink Floyd Musician also says he has recently faced a boycott by the US media after his November 29th, 2012 address at the UN on behalf of the Russell Tribunal.
In the address, he sought accountability for the Zionist regime’s violations of the international law and the lack of United Nations resolve that prevents the Palestinian people from achieving their inalienable rights, especially the right of self-determination.
AT THE FACTORY
browse venues in Wales
Cash tickets from:
The Factory, Porth Instrumental Music, Penygraig Spillers Records, Cardiff
Indulge in a delicious cake and a cup of tea while enjoying music and sing-along songs from fantastic Welsh musicians.
The Cultural Services Booking & Information Line:
08000 147 111 or book online at
Mid Rhondda Modelling Club...
7pm - 9pm
Tonyrefail Comprehensive School Mid Rhondda Modelling Club
has been running for over 30 years.
We meet on a regular basis
& enjoy making models for display.
We encourage both Gentlemen
and Ladies to attend, and also young people aged 12+.
However, Young people under 16, must be accompanied by an adult.
£1 contribution every week. Under 16's free
Telephone Mr. Davies on 01443 686658
Comedy In The Laughter Lounge
The Park & Dare Theatre, Treorchy.
COMEDY IN THE LAUGHTER LOUNGE
Join us once a month in the intimate setting of the Laughter Lounge for some top notch comedy with some of the biggest and brightest rising comedians on the circuit.
Laugh? You'll snort like a pig!
Hilarious - TimeOut.
EU Withdrawal Bill
officially becomes law
Tuesday June 26th, 2018, at 2:55pm
The speaker of Britain's House of Commons has announced that the government's flagship Brexit legislation allowing the country to leave the European Union, has become law.
Speaker John Bercow told MPs on Tuesday, that the EU Withdrawal Bill has received royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II, resulting in the bill becoming an Act of Parliament.
The EU Withdrawal Act, as it is now known, enables EU law to be transferred into British law in an attempt to ensure a smooth Brexit, and it enables EU law to be transferred into UK law, in an attempt to ensure a smooth withdrawal from the EU, plus, it also repeals the 1972 European Communities Act, which made Britain a member of the EU.
British Prime Minister Theresa May called the bill’s approval, an"historic moment for our country, anda significant step towards delivering on the will of the British people."
Members of parliament who are in favour of Brexit, also hailed the development.
"The legal position is now so much stronger, for a clean Brexit,"Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said.
"Crucially this makes the prime minister's negotiating hand much stronger."
The legislation was first introduced in July 2017 and has faced a number of hurdles in both Houses of parliament. In April, the Lords inflicted an embarrassing defeat on the May government, by voting against it.
The May government had argued that remaining in the customs union would bar Britain from signing third- party trade agreements with other countries.
Prime Minister May has admitted that there are “hard facts” Britain should be ready to face, about the economic consequences of leaving the EU.
She has said the UK would leave the EU’s single market and customs union after Brexit in March 2019, noting the country may suffer new trade barriers as a result of her move.
May has also said that any customs union deal with the EU would keep London from striking new trade deals with fast-growing economies like China and India.
In Britain’s 2016 referendum, 52 percent, or 17.4 million people, voted to leave the EU, while 48 percent, or 16 million, voted to stay.
May insists Britain will leave the EU as planned and there will be no rerun of the Brexit referendum.
(Source - Press Tv)
Cash Spent On Privatising NHS ‘Doubled’
Friday 13th January 2017 by Lamiat Sabin
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has revealed how the huge amount of cash spent on privatising parts of the NHS has more than doubled under the Tories.
Mr Corbyn said: “The Conservatives are privatising our NHS by stealth, despite the repeated failures and costs of private provision.
“It saddles us with an expensive and unnecessary internal market. It puts tax avoidance, not patient care, at the heart of its management. It also promotes excessive boardroom pay and grotesque inequality.
“Health privateers are earning huge sums at taxpayers’ expense, yet health workers are faced with a pay freeze.
“When health services are privatised, the brakes come off the pay - of the executives in charge.”
Health Emergency campaign director, John Lister, told the Star that it was “bizarre” how local clinical commissioning groups choose to divert cash into private companies, when investment needs to stay within the NHS.
He added: “Companies only want to pick up profitable services such as elective care and are not interested in taking the load off under-pressure departments such as A&Es.
“Despite the financial freeze, none of these firms are making much money -- because the margins are small. It’s a pointless fracturing of the NHS. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 was brought in by the Tories to facilitate this.”
Mr Corbyn says his new proposal would require that no public-sector department or government contracted firm, could pay top executives over 20 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker.
Patients and health workers are denied quality of care and sufficient resources -- because the pay of bosses in the sector skyrockets. He said that the policy “will apply to the private health companies who bid for NHS contracts and pay their top executives indefensible & sometimes obscene amounts.
“Shrinking the widening pay gap in health will aid Labour’s plans to end health privatisation and bring services into a secure, publicly provided NHS.”
(source - Morning Star)
________________________________ How to select or reselect your MP
New edition by Dave Osland. £4 from left-wing bookshops, or Five Leaves Bookshop, Notts.
Post free to mail order customers via 0115 8373097 or via PayPal on email@example.com
Rhondda Records exists to express the Rhondda's vision --- when it was confident, powerful, caring, and socialist.
A Rhondda very aware of the media's poisonous tricks -- how they con working class people into attacking each other, or racial groups, or, often, even their best allies and friends... instead of seeing their real enemies:--- an elite who hate the very idea that working people can think, create, or achieve a fairer society.
Thatcher said her proudest achievement was Blair and New Labour - who parachuted in careerists and expenses fiddlers - to stop local Labour members having a say, and who made genuine socialist MPs leave the Labour party in disgust and many members and voters to despair... and the young to stop voting.
Jeremy Corbyn was always attacked because he was trying to reverse all that New Labour corruption --- that's why membership was flooding in all over the UK - watch this video in Kilburn, London: don't believe the dripping poison of the media and the corrupt MPs -- and understand Jeremy's role !
John McDonnell revisits his childhood home
In a speech to a fringe event by 'Labour Friends of Israel' member, the Party's deputy leader , Tom Watson, peddled full-on Russophobia.
Conjuring up images of the Nazis invading the Low Countries, Watson said Britain was facing a “Blitzkrieg for the digital age”, from Russia, and called for a US-style inquiry into alleged Russian interference in UK democracy.
Watson's hypocrisy when it comes to foreign powers intervening in UK politics, is truly off the scale. He has no problem, it seems, with proven Israeli interference (documented in the al Jazeera documentary, ‘The Lobby'), saying he's “proud to defend Israel” - but is paranoid about unproven Russian interference.
(Source - longer article by Neil Clark, in RT https://www.rt.com/op-ed/439492-uk- labour-party-conference-corbyn/ )
It’s obvious why Labour’s new
general secretary Jennie Formby, frightens the right-wing press March 22nd, 2018 Karl Rogers Analysis, UK Spread the word: Facebook Twitter
On 20 March, the Labour Party appointed Jennie Formby as its new general secretary. The right-wing press immediately attacked her appointment.
Ignoring her formidable record as a union organiser and work in the NEC, Formby has been represented as Jeremy Corbyn’s puppet - and as evidence of his “hard-left” seizure of the Labour Party machine. But it’s obvious why the press barons are running scared.
Media red scaremongering
Formby barely had time to update her Linkedin profile and Twitter feed... before the right-wing press came gunning for her. Predictably, the billionaire-owned propaganda machine, spun the news of her appointment, as a sinister seizure of power by Corbyn & Unite leader Len McCluskey.
The Telegraph ran the headline: Corbyn and McCluskey tighten grip on Labour party as ally Jennie Formby appointed party’s new general secretary. The Express went with: Corbyn cements grip on Labour as hard-left union boss Formby named general secretary. The Sun also framed the appointment as an imposed “hard-left” takeover of the Labour Party. And The Times declared “moderates are no longer welcome” in the Labour Party.
Heather Stewart, political editor of The Guardian, termed the appointment a “coronation” and declared it the culmination of Corbyn’s “two-year battle” to gain “complete control of the party machine”.
She has been a member of the Labour Party for 40 years.
She was regional officer in the UK’s largest trade union – Unite – for 17 years. In 2004, she became the national officer for Unite’s Food, Drink, and Tobacco Sector.
Between 2013 and 2016, she was political director of Unite, before becoming the southeast regional secretary. She has been on the NEC for seven years.
In other words, her appointment to general secretary of the Labour Party, is the result of her experience and abilities as a trade union organiser.
As Corbyn said, when he congratulated Formby:
''Her talent, experience and commitment to the Labour and Trade Union movement, makes me confident shewill play a crucial role in building on last year’s inspiring General Election advance and taking our party forward to victory.''
Her predecessor, Iain McNicol, said:
''As someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for workers’ rights, equality and social justice, I know Jennie will put all the commitment, drive and organising talent, into getting Labour into government and Jeremy into Number 10.''
The press is scared of Formby...... because she will be good at her job.
Jewish Labour Movement Chair & exec block call for investigation into Israeli interference 5th of February 2017 by Mike Sivier
This is deeply disturbing information from the Skwawkbox. Read:
Riverside Labour MP Louise Ellman is Chair of the JLM (Jewish Labour Movement) and vice-Chair of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). The former organisation is highly controversial because of its affiliation with the openly pro-apartheid Israeli Labour Party ‘Havoda’ and the latter as it was specifically mentioned by the Israeli embassy operative filmed by an undercover Al Jazeera reporter, in connection with his actions: in setting up pro-Israeli groups inside the Labour party.
Supporters of both groups have been prominent in the discredited, but persisting, antisemitism smear against the national party.
And it appears that Ms Ellman and her allies in Riverside CLP – in spite of the obvious conflict of interest – have no intention of allowing members to add their voices to the calls for a full Labour investigation into the infiltration of the party by a foreign government.
Source: JLM Chair and exec block CLP call for investigation into Israeli interference:
Time For Labour To Go On The Attack by John McDonnell
February 3rd 2017
Anybody who thought electing a socialist leader of the Labour Party would be an easy ride, now knows that was never going to be the case.
Winning an internal party election for leadership was the relatively easy part. The coup was also totally predictable and could be planned for. Therefore the second leadership election was arduous, but with determination and hard work, was eminently winnable.
We have now reached the toughest period so far. The euphoria of winning a greater mandate in the second leadership election, despite every trick in the bureaucratic textbook used against us, has given way to a serious appreciation of the challenge we now face.
The character of our politics is to be straightforward & honest with people. So let’s be straight about this. This is the toughest of times we have experienced so far and it is not only also absolutely predictable and understandable but also something we can completely deal with.
It does mean though that we need to understand fully what we are up against and what we have to deal with.
We are currently facing exactly what we predicted but many didn’t fully appreciate. The full forces of the Establishment are being thrown against us.
In no way will the elite Establishment tolerate the popular election of a socialist leader, without a bitter fight.
One of the key fundamental problems we face, is not a lack of political analysis, policies, direction, courage, determination or leadership.
It is the critical question of how we can communicate a narrative about our objectives and policies in a way that can cut through the bilious, cynical distortion of every aspect of the traditional media.
Any criticism of media bias by the left is always distorted as whining.
The various independent reports have proved conclusively that we are witnessing a level of media bias that certainly most, have never seen on this scale before.
The evidence demonstrates that it ranges from the Sun and the Mail to the Guardian and the BBC.
This daily grinding out of distortion and attack can undoubtedly have its effect on our standing in the polls - and in turn - on the morale of some of our supporters, who are not always close to the action and may not be experienced in past trade union or political campaigns.
So we need to explain both what we are up against, and how we can overcome this.
This is the time for determination in the face of whatever they throw against us. The best form of defence is attack.
Politically, that means using the one resource that we have, which the other side doesn’t. It’s true that we are the many, they are the few.
Mobilising our large base of support in the Labour Party, the trade unions, progressive campaigns and the wider community, is the way to win.
How we do that is the key to our success. First, it means ensuring that our supporters and potential supporters have the opportunity to engage in the exploration, discussion, debate & determination of political analysis and policymaking.
That’s why we're going on the stomp around the country, with a series of regional and national economic conferences to develop our economic thinking and planning, from the grassroots up.
Similar exercises are planned in several other policy areas, including how we can decarbonise our economy, based upon local initiatives, facilitated by creative national policymaking.
New creative initiatives to enable large-scale involvement in digital democracy will facilitate and energise the discussion of politics and policy in and beyond our party.
Second, it means mobilising around consistent campaigning --- setting up, or using, existing structures to co-ordinate our campaigning at local and national levels.
People are becoming increasingly angry at the Tories’ attacks on our public services and more workers are willing to take action to protect their jobs and their living standards.
We need to lead in mobilising support and solidarity with these campaigns. It will require the increasingly effective use of social media to communicate ideas and to assist mobilisation.
Third, it also means gearing up and training our members to give them confidence & motivation to access the party’s structures and engage in the vital routine work that is needed to ensure the political direction of the party and deliver the votes that we need in elections over the coming years.
The message therefore, is that the times may be tough and may get tougher — but it is the mobilisation of our committed, inspired and enthusiastic members, that will see us through to success.
John McDonnell is shadow chancellor of the exchequer. This article first appeared on Labour Briefing:
REVEALED: NUS official colluded with Israeli embassy to oust student leader Middle East Eye 11/Jan/2017 by Mike Sivier of Vox Political
The worms are coming out of the woodwork now.
Shall we pencil in the Union of Jewish Students as one of Shai Masot’s “front” organisations for the Israeli government?
A senior official from the UK’s National Union of Students, has been covertly filmed conspiring --- to oust the NUS president Malia Bouattia as part of a sting involving the Israeli embassy.
An undercover Al-Jazeera reporter – known only as Robin – posed as a political activist with links to the now disgraced Israeli diplomat Shai Masot - to investigate the influence the Israeli embassy exerts on British politics.
“Robin” is heard discussing how to oust Ms Bouattia from her position as NUS president with NUS Vice President Richard Brooks --- after Masot introduces him as the Chair of the Young Labour Friends of Israel.
RIGHTING THE McNicol INJUSTICES
Ms Walker, a lifelong anti-racist campaigner and socialist, was suspended from the Labour Party in May, amidst allegations of anti-Semitism. She was reinstated but has been suspended again, after apparently being “set up” at a training event organised by the Jewish Labour Movement during the party’s national conference in September.
She writes: “I was suspended from the Labour Party in May of this year, amidst what appears to have been a breach of Data Protection law, by Iain McNicol, as General Secretary of the Labour Party.
“I was suspended for the alleged (subsequently cleared) charge of antisemitism. As a Jewish person, whose partner is Jewish, this was heart-breaking.
“Since May I have continued to be targeted by the media, in print, online and in other places.
“Currently I am suspended for questions asked at a training session on ‘Confronting Antisemitism & Engaging Jewish Voters’ at this year’s Labour Conference, after being unethically filmed by a Jewish Labour Movement campaigns officer who is also a Labour councillor. It seems this training was not a ‘safe space for all Jews’ by any means.
“As soon as the first article was released before my notification had even arrived, trolls circled for the kill, posting spooky blacked up faces (and worse) to my Facebook account. The community & national newspapers led the attacks, querying my Jewish identity (a racist move in itself), my work as an anti-racist activist and my political commitment.
“When my suspension was lifted, things got worse. Indignation at my alleged breach reached the heights of irony, when Nigel Farage, anxious not to miss out on the fun being had by among others, the Spectator, a number of Labour MPs and officers of the Party... dedicated an article in Breitbart, and a good dose of righteous indignation on national TV, to publicly calling me out as a racist.
“The widespread hate campaign against me, led to public abuse, strangers shouting ‘racist’ as I walked to the tube. With the murderous racist political discourse now taking the place of debate, I became conscious I was recognisable on the street.
“My story is just one of many where Labour members have found themselves in a similar position. While this may not be the only case where a breach has occurred, as I was abroad at the time, it may well be the most provable.
“We invite anybody who has a personal interest in this case, or the wider public, to contribute.”
Solicitor Martin Howe, representing Ms Walker, added: “Jackie Walker has faced a barrage of hurtful, threatening & nasty abuse since the private details of her investigation by the Labour Party over alleged anti-Semitism was leaked to the press before she even knew of her suspension by the Party.
“This apparent breach of her private data has had a devastating impact on her public and private well-being and has led directly to her being pre-judged & unfairly cast as a racist -- before she was given any opportunity to tell her side of the story.
“Data Protection laws are there to protect all of us and any breach is a very serious matter.”
If you would like to contribute to her fund, details are on the web page.
Source: CrowdJustice – Crowdfund public interest law
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!
– If you feel you’ve been ‘purged’, take this online survey:
“Any member who is suspended & intends to appeal the decision should throw in a ‘Subject Access Request in accordance with the Data Protection Act’ --- for ALL data that the Labour Party hold on them.
The Labour Party are Data Controllers and therefore have to, by law, provide you with all material/information they hold on you.”
If anyone is in contact with anyone who was barred from voting --- please can you pass this info on:
The Labour leadership election was under the jurisdiction of the electoral reform services.
If you were unfairly deprived of your vote you can call them on 0208 365 8909 and lodge your complaint, and inform them of your Data Protection request.
The notification letters barring new members did not give a clear reason, or information on how to appeal, so Vox Political suggests that anyone in this situation, could also contact Liz Davies here: http://www.whycantivote.com
She is a barrister --- who can advise members on what to do.
Saving Labour? The secretive battle to oust Jeremy Corbyn – BBC News Reg Race is a 'co-ordinator' of the group campaigning against Jeremy Corbyn.
At least, that's what a report ‘Saving Labour’ by the BBC’s Ross Hawkins, has concluded.
Reg Race is said to be co-ordinating a project to collect information on Labour members who are willing to attack Jeremy & his supporters... but that doesn't mean he is the one behind it, as no such information is available.
Meanwhile, the organisation has been collecting data on people sympathetic to its cause – which may be used for ''other purposes'' after the leadership election, we are told.
If these people admitted who they were and what they're doing, perhaps their behaviour might be more acceptable – but they won’t.
Supporting MPs, donors, and trade unionists, are all staying anonymous for the time being.
One wonders how these people would react if it was revealed that there was a secretive co- ordinating hub of Corbyn supporters, working to spread their influence across the UK.
Reg claimed Saving Labour recruited over 120,000 registered supporters & affiliated union members to vote anti Mr Corbyn, using online advertising.
The group, he says, has amassed details of 60,000 people on its own database, in just two months. There are plenty of numbers, but virtually no names.
In his first broadcast interview, he told Radio 4’s Today programme, he has the support of trade unionists - but will not say which ones.
Nor will he name MPs or donors; those will be published by the Electoral Commission, in the fullness of time, he says.
Why the secrecy?
“There’s a group of us and lots of us don’t want to be out there in terms of the media, because they are in relatively vulnerable positions,” he says.
“Data's absolutely crucial in these races,” says Tom Flynn, Saving Labour’s full-time digital campaigner. “This was set up as a way of trying to get good data on those Labour people who would like a change of leadership.”
That data – contact details of sympathisers who have a vote in Labour contests, could have an interesting future.
A Saving Labour supporter, Graham Jones MP suggests it may even play a part in trying to get rid of Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey.
The data, the money, and the intent of those trying to wrestle back control of the Labour Party from Mr Corbyn, will not expire, now the win for Jeremy has been declared.
They failed this year, but they will try again.
It will have to provide a list of its supporters & funders to the electoral commission, now the leadership election is over, and must provide its first 3 monthly accounts and audits.
For a company that is supposedly all about “savinglabour” it is trying very hard to hide who is behind it.
Momentum, by the way, had to have its books audited early after a complaint "was raised".
Reply bladeofgrassuk on September 3, 2016 at 2:49 pm
This is a survey that they have sent out to all their supporters. They are hoping to set up local anti-deselection groups nationwide. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/53G2PLD
The goal of the groups will be to protect MPs parachuted into “safe” Labour seats, from being democratically removed from office for their role in the right-wing coup.
It is worth mentioning that these groups have managed to avoid appointing a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act, and so are not subject to the DPA of 1998.
Reg Race? Could this be the same one?
‘Reg Race, the former Labour MP and close ally of socialist firebrands Tony Benn & Ken Livingstone, has been paid millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money as a result of regulations brought in by New Labour ministers. The union man-turned- consultant has also become a substantial Labour Party donor and is one of the biggest backers of Alan Johnson’s bid for the party’s deputy leadership.
Mr Race’s company, Quality Health, is one of a select band of “approved contractors” that health trusts must hire to conduct patient and staff surveys.’
Jeremy Corbyn was torn to pieces over not wanting to go to war if a NATO member was attacked (by Russia, the question implied).
There seems to be a mistaken idea that preferring negotiations and a peaceful approach to international relations, to a kneejerk war which could so easily go nuclear - leading to the end of life on this planet - can be compared to Chamberlain's appeasement before World War 2.
Yet the NATO treaty itself, is not, as some Tories have tried to make out, a simple case of rushing to war, if one of NATO's states are hit.
Article 5 of the Washington Treaty envisions the support of other NATO members, in the case of external aggression, it's true, but...
The response measures are left at the discretion of member states --- it can be a mere diplomatic note of support - without providing any real aid.
A DREAM COME TRUE
Support for Jeremy Corbyn from Tyrone O’Sullivan, a fourth-generation south Wales miner, who led a workers’ buy-out of Tower Colliery, to save it from closure.
"I’ve been close to Jeremy since the miners’ strike. Knowing the man, knowing his abilities and his education, it was a dream come true for me when he became leader. His ideas and values are more necessary, here in south Wales, than probably anywhere else in the country. He wants victory for Labour, but only under our terms - for a change."
O’Sullivan, a lifelong Labour member, says Jeremy is the only true socialist, Labour have had as leader, ''for 20 or 30 years''. ************************************** CHILCOT REPORT: SOME MAIN POINTS:
1) "Military action was not a last resort".
2) UK government "undermined the authority" of the UN security council.
3) Weapons of Mass Destruction presented "with a certainty that was not justified".
4) UK forces were "ill-prepared".
5a) "The government failed to achieve its stated objectives."
5b) Post-war planning: Blair "should have known what might happen".
6) Chilcot says Blair also "overlooked the threat the invasion would pose to Britain."
Blair to Face Law
The former prime minister has been put on notice by families of dead servicemen, that he will face legal action, for his part in the illegal Iraq war.
They are being crowd-funded now, and have raised so much money, that Blair is probably heading for a big fall...
Shadow Commons leader Paul Flynn: the Iraq Inquiry's findings are an "utter condemnation" of his terrible decision --- and his prosecution should now be given "serious consideration".
Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond: "I would like to see Blair investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC), for the crime of a war of aggression, and face parliamentary action to stop him holding public office ever again."
A former British ambassador to the UN: "The UK was pushed into entering this military action, too early."
Stop the War Coalition Convener Ms German: “This is an incredibly damning report for Tony Blair. It will not call for legal sanctions, but it says that Blair is culpable for the war, in many ways.
“He needs to be driven out of public life. He is still part of the Labour Party. We need to make sure that truth & justice prevails. There must be legal action against Blair, & he should no longer be considered fit for any office.”
CND general secretary Kate Hudson: “The report shows that Tony Blair had no respect for cabinet procedure, no respect for Parliament, & no respect for international law.
“Chilcot reveals the evidence that must now be used to bring Tony Blair to justice. This is our demand. Only when justice is served, can we prevent disasters like the Iraq war from ever happening again.”
Iraqi journalist Juma al-Quraishi: "Everyone who took part in the war against Iraq should be condemned, either Britain, or others."
Baghdad resident Ali al-Saraji: "Ex-UK prime minister, Tony Blair, destroyed our country. From 2003, to now, our country has been the scene of destruction, killing, massacres, explosions and sectarianism."
A defiant Blair refuses to accept accusations from service families that he was wrong and reckless, and he insists that he would make the decision again, 'come what may'.
Families of some of the 179 military personnel killed in Iraq, say the former PM is "a terrorist".
Jeremy Corbyn has offered an apology, on Labour's behalf, for the"stain on our party and our country".
Tony Blair: Guilty In The Eyes Of The Public August 1st by Steve Sweeney
Teflon Tony Blair escaped justice yet again yesterday - after High Court judges blocked a private prosecution against the former PM for war crimes over the invasion of Iraq.
Campaigners accused the Establishment of a “concerted and coordinated effort” to exonerate Mr Blair for his role in the Iraq war, in which one million people were killed.
Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German branded Mr Blair as “the most protected war criminal in the world.” However, she said: “In the court of public opinion he has long been found guilty.”
Iraqi General Abdul Wahed Shannan al-Rabbat had sought a private prosecution against Mr Blair, along with then foreign secretary Jack Straw and attorney general Lord Goldsmith.
He accused Mr Blair of committing a “crime of aggression” by invading Iraq in 2003 and his lawyers asked permission from the High Court to seek judicial review to get the Supreme Court to overturn a 2006 House of Lords ruling that there is no such crime under the law of England and Wales.
Gen al-Rabbat brought the case after Westminster magistrates refused to issue summonses in November last year claiming the trio had immunity from prosecution for decisions taken while in government.
However the appeal was dismissed yesterday by the Lord Chief Justice as having “no prospect” of succeeding.
But Michael Mansfield QC said that the findings of the Chilcot Report justified the prosecution of Mr Blair.
He said that the inquiry showed Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to British interests and that the intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction had been presented with “unwarranted certainty.”
The QC said that as the international crime of a war of aggression had been accepted at the time of the Nuremberg trials of nazi war crimes, it was the duty of British courts to follow the example and prosecute those responsible for the Iraq war.
The Nuremberg judges had said that war “is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world.
“To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament general secretary Kate Hudson branded the decision as “hugely disappointing” and said that “justice had been left undone.”
She said: “Last year’s Chilcot report showed that Blair had no respect for Cabinet procedure, no respect for Parliament and no respect for international law.
“Iraq was devastated by the war Blair led Britain into, millions of innocent Iraqis were killed, British soldiers were killed and terrorism has spread across the Middle East.
“Chilcot revealed the evidence that must now be used to bring Blair to justice. Only when justice is served can we prevent disasters like the Iraq war from happening again.” (Source - Morning Star)
PONCY LABOUR MPS PROBLEM?
A huge drop in working-class Labour MPs, caused a massive drop in support among voters with similar backgrounds, reveals research seeking to explain why support has dwindled in the party’s heartlands.
The study says past leaders like Kinnock and Blair made a concerted effort to pick “more and more middle-class candidates to run for office, during the 80s and 90s, as part of an effort to rebrand” -- which had initial successes at the ballot box.
But this “conscious electoral strategy” stored up problems, as working-class voters who initially, just didn’t vote in response, now seek an alternative.
The solution?Trust each constituency to put forward its own candidates, and don't impose ‘party-approved’ choices who can't do the job.
Now, unfortunately, there are "entryist" MPs who, for decades, have been groomed by CIA cold war relic organisations -- like the Atlantic Council -- and are now trying to misdirect the Labour Party towards cuts, a militarised police, and a US war agenda... - and their anti-Corbyn slant is hobbling Labour.
‘How Can I Deselect My Labour MP?’ A Short Guide to Reselection and Democratic Accountability by Eric Sim, excellent free advice here:
http://novaramedia.com/2016/07/13/how-can-i- deselect-my-labour-mp-a-short-guide-to- reselection-and-democratic-accountability/ CHRIS BRYANT - SUPPORT THE MEMBERS' LEADERSHIP CHOICE & POLICIES - OR GO!
Chris Bryant, the Rhondda's dodgy MP, was on TV -- as soon as the PLP coup started -- telling us that Jeremy MUST go, because it was the ONLY way to act in the Labour Party's interest...
Chris Bryant's voting record: from TheyWorkForYou.com
On Tuition Fees:
On 27 Jan 2004: Chris Bryant voted in favour of university tuition fees increasing from £1,125 per year, to up to £3,000 per year.
On 31 Mar 2004: Chris Bryant voted to allow university tuition fees to increase from £1,125 per year, to up to £3,000 per year.
On 31 Mar 2004: Chris Bryant voted for the introduction of variable university tuition fees (top-up fees) of up to £3,000 per year in place of the previous fixed fee of £1,250 per year.
On 31 Mar 2004: Chris Bryant voted to allow university tuition fees to increase from £1,125 per year to up to £3,000 per year, and to make other changes to higher education funding and regulation arrangements.
On 14 Sep 2004: Chris Bryant voted against: the immediate abolition of all tuition fees, the re-introduction of maintenance grants of up to £2,000 for students from low-income homes, and changes to the country's higher education system.
On 14 Sep 2004: Chris Bryant voted to reject the Liberal Democrat policy of abolition of tuition fees.
On 25 May 2016: Chris Bryant was absent for a vote on Queen's Speech - Forcing Schools to Become Academies - Further Rises in University Tuition Fees
On Human Rights:
Consistently voted for introducing ID cards
Almost always voted for requiring the mass retention of information about communications
Generally voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities
On the Environment:
Generally voted against greater regulation of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas
On Special Interests:
Almost always voted against limits on success fees paid to lawyers in no-win no fee cases
Generally voted against a statutory register of lobbyists
On War or Peace:
Generally voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
Consistently voted for the Iraq war
Consistently voted against an investigation into the Iraq war
Generally voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system
On 2 Dec 2015: Voted to support UK airstrikes in Syria [without UN authorisation]
On 2 Dec 2015: Voted to support UK airstrikes in Syria [without UN authorisation]
Generally voted for more EU integration
Chris Bryant Labour MP From Wikipedia
(aka 1962-1986: Mr Christopher John Bryant 1986-1991: The Reverend Christopher John Bryant, 1991-2001: Mr Christopher John Bryant, 2001-: Mr Christopher John Bryant MP.)
Born in Cardiff, to a Scottish mother & a Welsh father, Bryant grew up in Cardiff, Wales (where his father worked for 5 years), and Cheltenham.
He was educated at Cheltenham College, an independent school for boys in the spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, where he was captain of the school swimming team, and Mansfield College at the University of Oxford, where he graduated in 1983, with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English. This was later promoted to a Master of Arts degree (MA (Oxon)), as per tradition.
After completing his first degree, Bryant began training to be a priest in the Church of England at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, in Oxfordshire. There, he obtained a degree in theology.
Although a member of the Conservative Party, and an elected office-holder in the Oxford University Conservative Association, he joined the Labour Party in 1986, after leaving Oxford.
He was ordained deacon in 1986 and priest in 1987. He served as a Curate at the Church of All Saints, High Wycombe, from 1986 to 1989; then as a Youth Chaplain in Peterborough, as well as travelling in Latin America.
In 1991 Bryant left the ordained ministry, after deciding that being gay and being a priest, were incompatible. Statements made by Richard Harries, then Bishop of Oxford, also influenced his decision.
After leaving the priesthood in 1991, Bryant worked as the election agent to the Holborn and St Pancras Constituency Labour Party, where he helped Frank Dobson hold his seat in the 1992 general election.
From 1993, he was Local Government officer for the Labour Party; he lived in Hackney and was elected to Hackney Borough Council in 1993, serving until 1998. He became Chair of the Christian Socialist Movement.
He is both a member of the Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East. From 1994 to 1996 he was London manager of the leader-grooming "charity", Common Purpose.
He was Labour candidate for Wycombe, in the 1997 general election (he lost by 2,370 votes), and Head of European Affairs for the BBC, from 1998.
His selection for the very safe Labour seat of Rhondda, South Wales in 2000, shocked many people given Bryant's background – gay, an ex- Anglican vicar, and someone who was a Tory, while studying at Oxford, and a member now, of the Henry Jackson Society 'think tank' --- described by The Guardian newspaper as 'neoconservative'. It is pro-US, pro-NATO and pro-military intervention, as well as being fundamentally anti-socialist.
Fifty-two people applied for the candidature and a local councillor was hot favourite to win, before Bryant was parachuted in.
In 2004, a photograph of Mr Bryant in his underpants, which he had posted to a gay dating website, was published in 'papers.
When an interviewer suggested he was a 'disgrace to the Rhondda', he replied: "They can't get rid of me."
His pay, allowances and some expenses:
The basic annual salary for an MP, from April 1st, 2016 is £74,962. MPs also get expenses: to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, having some- where to live in London, plus, in their constituency and travelling between Parliament and their constituency.
His MP's expenses story:
Chris Bryant changed second home twice to claim £20,000: the deputy leader of the House of Commons, "flipped" his second home twice, in 2 years, allowing him to claim almost £20,000 for renovations and fees.
Chris Bryant, MP for the Rhondda, split over £92,000 of expenses between 3 properties in Wales and London --- within five years.
In 2004, he attempted to claim £58,000 to overhaul his second home in Wales, after allegedly complaining that properties in his constituency were "terrace or mine owners' houses".
Mr Bryant, a former Church of England clergyman, wanted the money for a new bathroom & kitchen, and to demolish his conservatory. He'd bought the detached house for £97,500, under a year earlier.
He submitted a claim to the Commons fees office for £58,493.26 --- almost 3 times the annual maximum. He noted that the claim exceeded his allowance.
His alleged justification was disclosed... in correspondence between Commons officials. By email, an official wrote: "He had problems finding a suitable property because in the Rhondda there is a choice mainly of terraced property or mine owners' houses." When approached by the Daily Telegraph, Mr Bryant said: "I have never said or thought anything of the sort".
In all, he successfully claimed over £13,000 for renovations, repairs & appliances, in 2004. Along with other bills, his annual claim was £20,902.
In April 2005, he flipped his expenses to his flat in west London, which he bought for £400,000 in April 2002. He also claimed £630 a month for mortgage interest, along with other bills. After claiming over £3,600 over 3 months, he sold the flat in July 2005 for £477,000.
Mr Bryant used his profits to buy a more expensive flat in west London, which was valued at £670,000. He immediately flipped his second home expenses there, claiming almost £6,400 in stamp duty, legal fees and mortgage fees, incurred in the purchase.
He then began claiming interest of £1,000 a month on the mortgage. He also claimed a further £6,000 a year for the flat's service charge and ground rent.
In all, he claimed £92, 415 in second home expenses, from 2004 to 2009.
Mr Bryant said at the time: "I moved flat in London, so as to be closer to Parliament."
Research by Channel 4 News in 2015 found that at least 46 MPs had this kind of system in place – a move one Labour backbencher described as “a new fiddle”. Channel 4 reported then:
“Our investigation found that many of the MPs bought their London properties with the help of the taxpayer, when a previous expenses system allowed them to claim back mortgage payments. But when those claims were banned, following the expenses scandal, they switched to letting out their properties, in some cases for up to £3,000 a month. They then started claiming expenses for rent and hotels in the capital.”
Among those identified was Chris Bryant, shadow leader of the House of Commons. He had already bought a penthouse in London back in 2005 and claimed around £1,000 a month in mortgage claims under the old system.
But after the expenses scandal, he started renting the property out. It’s since been advertised by estate agents as having a private lift and a porter, with rent at about £3,000 a month. Meanwhile, Bryant moved into a new flat;- claiming his own rent on expenses.
Today, October24th, is
United Nations' Day
The United Nations officially came into
existence on October 24th, in 1945.
In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 24th
- the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations - as UN Day,
which "shall be devoted to making known to the people of the
world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and
to gaining their support for" its work.
In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted
a further resolution (United Nations Resolution 2782)
declaring that United Nations Day shall be an
international observance and international
holiday and recommended that it should
be observed as a public holiday by
United Nations member states.
Most countries, following the ''International
Community'' - aka the rapacious West -
have ignored this resolution.
75 years working for peace
There is no other global organization with the
legitimacy, convening power and normative
impact of the United Nations. Today, the
urgency for all to come together, to fulfil that promise - of the nations united, has rarely been greater.
The 75th anniversary
The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the UN
and its founding Charter. This anniversary comes at
a time of great disruption for us all --- compounded
by an unprecedented global health crisis due to
the COVID-19 pandemic, with severe economic
and social impacts. But it is also a reminder
that times of struggle can become an
opportunity for positive change
To commemorate the 75 years of the United Nations,
Member States held a high-level event on September
21st, 2020, where they reaffirmed and recognized
that our challenges are interconnected and can
only be addressed through reinvigorated
If you want to find out more, please go to:
Figures released by The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that UK pensioners are 4th worst off.... out of all of the countries in the European Union.
By backing housing charity’s ‘Jewish only’ rule,
UK court drops the ball. Aren’t we all equal in Britain?
by Chris Sweeney October 17th, 2020 (Source: RT)
A small legal challenge has turned into a precedent-
setting case about whether someone in today’s
Britain can be prioritised or denied housing on
the basis of their religion.The law isn’t always
right and it’s not just people who can be
In a disgraceful decision deemed legitimate by the UK’s
highest court, a single mother with four children was
refused social housing – because she wasn’t a Jew.
It’s that simple.
The charity Agudas Israel Housing Association (AIHA)
owns 470 houses in the London borough of Hackney.
Local authorities promised, in October 2017, the
next available home to the woman and her kids,
two of whom are autistic.
AIHA refused to hand over the keys to any
of its SIX four-bedroom, unoccupied flats.
Their argument was it makes offers “only to members
of the Orthodox Jewish community.” As Britain is a
secular nation, the woman’s legal team found this
claim astonishing and argued it had the same
sentiment as the ‘No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish’
signs that were once displayed in some pubs.
Lord Sales stated the charity’s use of positive discrimination
was lawful, under the Equality Act 2010, in order to correct
the disadvantage faced by the community. The issue
apparently was not racism, but discrimination on
the grounds of religious observance. The court
considered the “widespread and increasing
overt antisemitism in our society.”
Intolerance or hate speech of any form is unacceptable.
But it’s hard to believe the courts and public reaction
would have been the same, if this had been Islam or
a group of Pashtuns from the Iranian border region.
Jewish affairs are treated differently. There's a 'kid gloves'
approach and they’re deemed to be culturally valuable,
while other communities are sometimes dismissed as
interlopers. AIHA’s founder Ita Cymerman-Symons,
speaking last year about the legal action, offered
the view: “Which non-Jewish person, honestly
speaking, wants to live in the midst of a
building full of Haredi men with all the
beards, and all the chanting on a
Friday night and all the children?”
A homeless single mother with four children
for one, along with many others.
Plenty of people in social housing endure noisy neighbours,
potent cooking smells and screaming kids. But isn’t that
wonderful? Diversity and living cheek by jowl with
people who see, think and believe different things to you.
That’s a rich learning experience for anyone.
The fallacy of the AIHA’s superiority complex of viewing
Orthodox Jews above others is, every public service is
available to their members. And, of the charity’s 2019
income of £105,710, the sum of £39,716 came from
British government grants. They won’t be stone-
walled at hospital or refused entry on a bus, so
why should they be allowed to create their
small-minded kingdom with impunity?
These Jewish community leaders seem to be shutting out
anyone who doesn’t align with their beliefs. It’s unhealthy
and depressing, especially in a multicultural metropolis
The judgement also referenced issues that Orthodox Jews
don’t like to live outside of the Stamford Hill area and they
tend to be poorer than the wider Jewish community. Many
of us would prefer not to live outside of the millionaire’s
playgrounds of Kensington, Knightsbridge and Mayfair –
but we tend to be poorer, so can’t afford it. That doesn’t
mean the courts would support us founding the
Republic of Poverty Housing Association, and
letting us administer who can move in.
Even if we concede that Orthodox Jews appear to support
AIHA’s ghetto-isation, aren’t the courts supposed to rule
for the greater good? It makes no sense to encourage
people to live in self-imposed enclaves. How are they
going to progress in life, or do they never plan to
leave the streets around their homes?
There’s also a wider impact of the judgement. It raises the
hackles of the population. It hacks away at the concept of
respecting every other citizen. The far-right will jump on
this and sadly there’s no defence. It will birth more
discontentment and raise tensions.
The law lords have dropped the ball, because they are the
highest court in the land, they had the chance to set a
precedent. They seem to have been influenced by
Jewish sensitivity, that labels anyone who
disagrees with the faith an anti-Semite.
It’s hard to see how justice, fairness,
compassion and understanding are
applicable. But superiority, tokenism
and favouritism have been advanced.
Well one of the court’s final points was AIHA was "a small
housing provider, but similar discrimination by a larger one
might not be allowed.”
We’re all equal, right?
Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has
written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily
Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with
several international-selling magazines. Follow
him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney
Brits should be ashamed of the casual cruelty
we show towards over-60s, and shrugging it
off as ‘banter’, does nothing to excuse it.
by Damian Wilson
9th October, 2020
Two-thirds of UK over-60s say they have been abused in
public because of their age, with a fifth saying insults
come from within their own families. It seems the
idea that we should ‘respect our elders’, is no
longer in fashion.
We live in a society where everyone just loves to talk
about ‘respect.’ Even primary school children are
indoctrinated with the concept, told they are due
it by right and can demand it from others, if it’s
not forthcoming. It’s all one-way traffic.
That’s why, as they grow older, and insist on enforcing
their entitlement, it becomes increasingly evident that
while they assume that right is a given for them, they
actually don’t give a toss about it applying to
Every now and then, research will put this into sharp relief,
as is shown in the results of a survey undertaken by the
University of the Third Age (u3a). The study found that
the more senior members of society, basically those
aged 60 and over, are frequently insulted by younger
people, and they don’t like it.
Clueless Millennials, Zoomers and even Gen X’ers told the
u3a pollsters that they don’t mean anything by slinging
ageist insults, they were simply being “friendly” and
the name-calling was just “banter.” Everyone
The growing tendency of young people to airily dismiss their
elders as over the hill old fogeys, and to even insult them in
public because of their age, is not ‘banter,’ it’s insulting
The misuse of ‘bants’ as a term is one of modern life’s
great irritations, because while young people have
co-opted the word to (mis)represent the sort of
behaviour that borders on bullying, with a thin
coating of vicious humour, they are
Banter, in its traditional form, is an exchange between
two people, a battle of wits, a game of intellectual
ping-pong, like those nerdy folk on Channel 4 panel
shows. Usually, those engaging in banter finish
their jousting with a smug, self-congratulatory
smile. It’s showing off, it’s proving how clever
you are. It’s not calling someone an old fart
and shoving them out of the way.
Where’s the give and take, or clever verbal sparring, in
a teenager shouting at an elderly woman in the street,
“You dozy old biddy, move it!”. Or standing behind a
chap of a certain age at a shop checkout, as he
searches for his wallet and complaining, “C’mon grandpa, hurry up!”?
That’s not banter. That’s something completely different.
A new sort of passive-aggressive behaviour combined
with name-calling, is increasingly common among
young Brits these days, thinking that getting one
over another person is some sort of achievement
proving their superiority, particularly if it belittles their victim as a result.
Of those surveyed, 63 per cent of over 60s said they
had been verbally abused in public, with an ageist
insult, while others had also noticed an increase
in insults on television (65 per cent) social media
(33 per cent) and even from their own family
(21 per cent).
My 11-year-old thinks it’s funny to call me a ”boomer”
when I can’t find the TV remote. She has a very clear
idea of what the insult suggests, even if she’s
actually out of range by a few years. I’m 56 --
so borderline Gen X’er, thank you very much.
Unfortunately for me, British families in general
are not the sort of multi-generational dynasties,
such as in Italy or India, in which patriarchs
& matriarchs, are given lifelong roles at the
head of their family and afforded a respect
that other members ignore at their peril.
Break the rules in one of these families, cause offence
to an elder, and you will bring down the wrath of
generations upon your head, face humiliation
and even ostracisation. There is a sense of
honour woven into the fabric of the family.
These families are, sadly, not common
amongst the British.
So most kids and young adults have no hesitation
in freely hurling abuse at someone they consider
a geriatric, past it, a fuddy duddy, over the hill, a
fogey, a crone, an old dear, a codger, a biddy or
a fossil, which by the way, are those insults
most frequently employed, according to u3a.
This sort of casual cruelty, and the disregard
it displays towards our seniors, is hugely
disrespectful & we should be ashamed
that it’s so widely accepted as nothing
out of the ordinary.
We’re all guilty here. Causing offence like this should
provoke more concern than it does, because it is an
unwelcome sign of a breakdown in social and family
hierarchies. Ignoring the concepts of seniority and
wisdom --- we treat human beings like any other
consumable, in our consumer-driven world ---
with a finite shelf-life & built-in obsolescence.
Many people feel no qualms about calling out an older
person, in public, to remind them their time is up as a
useful contributor to society and they need to shift
it or risk being steamrolled by those behind them.
While maybe not articulated quite like that as a
traffic queue forms behind an elderly motorist
showing excessive caution at a road junction,
that, sadly, is often the underlying sentiment
and we should be ashamed.
But most often, we’re not. We’re just annoyed at
the inconvenience that someone older than us,
is causing to ourselves. Nearly 10 years ago,
Age UK made a study of ageism & identified
it as the most widely experienced form of
discrimination across Europe, affecting
164 million senior citizens at that time.
Nothing much has changed in the UK in this regard
since 2011, it seems. And if the latest study is
anything to go by, things have become
Damian Wilson is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street
editor, financial industry consultant and political
communications special advisor in the UK & EU.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in
this column are solely those of the author and do
not necessarily represent those of RT.
Figures Reveal 17,000 Elderly People in UK
Forced to Sell Home to Pay for Care Costs
in Just One Year
October 5th, 2020 (Fars news agency)
More than 17,000 pensioners were forced to sell their homes
to pay for social care last year, research by Money Mail reveals.
The shocking figure means that 330 elderly residents each
week are taking the desperate step despite Prime Minister
Boris Johnson’s promise to fix the social care funding crisis.
The calculations reveal the scale of the emergency, showing
that the numbers forced to sell their hard-won homes have
soared 45 percent since 2000.
Last night campaigners called for urgent action and
demanded a "national fund" to pay for social care.
Morgan Vine, of charity Independent Age, said, "The
pandemic is not a reason not to act – it is the reason
why action has never been more vital."
On his first day in No 10 in July 2019, Johnson vowed to
make social care a priority and end the crisis "once and
But he has since admitted action would be delayed and
the coronavirus crisis has made immediate reform a
The cost of residential care has risen dramatically
and now stands at more than £33,000 a year.
Anyone with more than £23,250 in funds, including their
house value, is denied state help, leaving thousands
having to sell their homes to pay soaring care bills.
The Daily Mail has campaigned to end this injustice
for the families of those with dementia, as well as
MoneyMail’s calculations, verified by Independent Age,
are based on Department of Health data indicating that
30 percent of those who pay for their residential care
have to sell their homes.
The total was produced by comparing the numbers of
self-funders in care provided by analysts Laing Buisson.
The research assumes the average stay is two-and-a-half
years, as concluded in a study by the Personal Social
Services Research Unit and Bupa.
It means around 350,000 elderly people are estimated to
have sold their homes to pay for residential care since 1999.
Caroline Abrahams, director at charity Age UK, said, "When
the threat from coronavirus finally recedes, Age UK will
certainly be holding the Government to account on its
promise to fix social care. The obvious solution is for
us all to pay into a national fund, like we do with
She added" |Most people dread the idea of having to sell
the family home to pay their care bills and the fact that
this is the reality for substantial numbers is very sad."
Vine, head of policy at Independent Age, said, "These latest
figures are a timely reminder of the need to fix the funding
crisis that has plagued the social care system for decades,
long before COVID-19.
"When taking office, the Prime Minister promised to solve
the crisis, including preventing people from having to sell
their homes to pay for care," Vine said, adding, ‘Although
he couldn’t have predicted the challenges we now face,
we can all predict the long-term consequences of failing
to keep his promise."
Liz Kendall, Labour’s social care spokesman, said, "The
Prime Minister said, on the steps to Downing Street, that
he has a plan to fix the crisis in social care and that no
one should have to sell their homes to pay for their care."
"Yet we have seen neither sight nor sound of
any long-term plan for reform," Kendall said.
"This must be an absolute top priority for the Government.
People who have worked hard and saved all their life have
seen their savings wiped out," Kendall added.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said,
"We have committed to end the injustice that some people
have to sell their homes to finance care whilst others don’t.
We know there is a need for a long-term solution and are
Study: 4.5 Million UK Children Living in Poverty Monday, January 21st, 2019, at 12:24pm
FNA - More than 14 million people are living in poverty in Britain, according to a major report --- proposing a new measure of financial hardship which considers the impact of “inescapable” costs, such as child- care and disability.
The research by the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) found that 14.2 million people were living in poverty under the new measure, of which, 4.5 million were children, and 1.4 million were people of pension age, according to The Independent.
Of that total figure, 7.7 million people were found to be living in “persistent poverty”, meaning they had spent all or most of the last four years or more, in poverty, while 6.9 million were living in families with a disabled person.
The figure in the report marks a rise on findings by the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) last year which showed 14 million people in the UK were in poverty.
The SMC said its work over the last two and a half years has given rise to a new measure --- which makes “significant changes to our understanding of who is in poverty”.
The new measure accounts for the negative impact on people's weekly income of “inescapable” costs such as childcare -- and the impact that disability has, on people's needs, and includes the positive impact of being able to access liquid assets, such as savings.
It also takes the first steps to including groups of people previously omitted from poverty statistics, like those living on the streets, or in overcrowded housing, SMC chair Baroness Stroud said.
The report finds that the majority (68 percent) of people living in workless families, are in poverty, compared to 9 percent for people living in families where all the adults work full time.
There are 2.5 million people in the UK who are less than 10 percent above the poverty line, meaning relatively small changes in their circumstances, could mean they fall below it, the commission found.
Margaret Greenwood, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, stated, “The government’s strategy to tackle poverty consists of trying to mask the deep cuts it has made to social security, by disputing the numbers of people in poverty."
“The new measure, importantly, shows the impact of debt, housing and child care costs, and the extra costs that disabled people face. The extent of poverty it reveals among disabled people and their families, is a major concern, given the severe cuts to support to them, in Universal Credit," Greenwood added.
Sam Royston, director of policy and research at the Children’s Society, said it was “extremely worrying” that nearly a third of children – around 4.5 million – were living in poverty, according to the proposed new measure.
“This important report rightly suggests that inescapable costs like childcare, housing and support for children with a disability, should be taken into account, when measuring poverty,” he noted.
“When these are considered, children, sadly, make up a greater proportion of those in poverty, than previously recognised, and they can contribute to situations in which families are left struggling to make ends meet and facing impossible choices between essentials, like eating and heating,” he added.
The report also revealed “some areas of good news” with far fewer pensioners living in poverty than previously thought, following a “significant fall” in pensioner poverty, over the last 15 years.
Philippa Stroud, chair of the SMC, stated that “for too long it has been possible to have a debate about the measurement of poverty".
“I call on people and organisations across, and outside of, the political spectrum, to support this new measure of poverty, so we can all put our energy into creating the policies and solutions that build pathways out of poverty,” Stroud added.
“Measuring poverty is complex, and this report offers further insight into that complexity and the additional measures that can be taken into consideration," a UK government spokeswoman said, adding, ”This government is committed to making a positive difference to the outcomes for poor and disadvantaged families and children."
“Through our welfare reforms, we are providing personalized support, helping people overcome their specific barriers, and allowing them to progress into work, and then progress in work - as we know, this still remains the best route out of poverty," she stressed.
”Running parallel with that support, we continue to spend £90bn a year on working age benefits, to provide a safety net for those who need it, when they need it, and we will be spending £54bn this year, more than ever before, to support disabled people and those with health conditions,“ she said.
Millions of adult Britons functionally illiterate - UK publisher January 5th, 2019, at 6:05pm
A major publisher in the United Kingdom has warned that millions in the country are functionally illiterate but the problem is ignored, because it is not fashionable to discuss such issues about one of the world’s wealthiest nations.
Dame Gail Rebuck, chair of Penguin Random House, told The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, that millions of adults in Britain, had problems reading, or understanding simple texts.
“But the point is, it’s not fashionable, is it? You can talk about little kids reading,” said Rebuck, adding, “But adults not reading? Or adults in the workplace not having enough literacy to fill in a form, to work on a computer, to be promoted?”
Gail, a publisher known for funding a famous adult reading scheme in 2005, said functional illiteracy was a major problem in the UK, although many preferred not to raise awareness about it.
“That’s not something that people like to talk about. But it exists,” she said.
According to the official estimates, some 5.1 million people in England, suffer from functional illiteracy, meaning that they can understand only the most straightforward, short texts on familiar topics, a level attributed to children aged 11, or below.
Gail said that adult illiteracy in Britain was affecting children’s ability to learn, as many people found it embarrassing to have lower levels of knowledge in reading and understanding, when it comes to engaging with their kids’ education.
“... you have a cycle of deprivation, that goes on through generations,” said the publisher.
Gail’s reading scheme, for adults in Britain, faced closure last year, after failing to find a corporate sponsor. A writer then offered their personal resources, of around £120,000, to save the initiative, which was, apparently, ignored by the British government.
(Source - PressTV)
US gun deaths at 40-year record as suicide rate spikes December 14th,, at 12:32pm
Gun deaths in the US are at an all-time high, but it’s not because more people are shooting each other, according to statistics from the Centres for Disease Control (CDC). Instead, they’re turning the weapons on themselves.
Firearms killed a record high of 39,773 people in 2017, according to the CDC’s WONDER database, which has only tracked gun deaths, since 1979.
While mass shootings get most of the media attention, 60 percent of those deaths by firearm were suicides.
Here, too, the numbers are on an upswing, with almost 24,000 people killing themselves with a gun in 2017, the highest figure in 18 years.
That doesn’t mean 2017 wasn’t also a banner year for gun homicides. The deadliest mass shooting in US history, saw 58 people gunned down at the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas, and a total of 14,452 people were killed in gun homicides during the year, compared to 11,000 in 2010.
Access to a gun in the home increases the odds of suicide more than threefold, according to Dakota Jablon, policy analyst for the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence. The group’s analysis of the CDC statistics showed the highest rates of gun suicides were found in three states that have the highest rates of gun ownership: Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming.
While correlation does not imply causation, the impulsive nature of suicide attempts –- studies have shown the decision is often made within minutes –- means easily-accessible guns can make a difference between a successful attempt, and a passing urge.
While white men are the most likely to use a firearm to commit suicide, dying at a rate of 14 per 100,000 - compared with black men at 6.1, they are nearly 10 times less likely to die in a firearm homicide.
This year is on track to give 2017 a run for its money, according to a study by the Naval Postgraduate School Centre for Homeland Defense and Security, that found 94 incidents of gun violence in American schools alone, so far.
Their database defined a “gun violence incident” as one where a firearm is “brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason.”
This year has already outstripped the previous record-holder, 2006, by 60 percent, largely driven by February’s Parkland school shooting.
(Source - RT)
Top UK Islamophobe says Syrian refugee boy was 'justly attacked' Thursday, November 29th, at 6:27pm
The United Kingdom’s top Islamophobic figure says an outrageous attack on a Syrian refugee boy in a school in northern England was right, because he had earlier assaulted a white girl.
Robinson claimed in a Facebook post on Thursday that Jamal, the 15-year-old Syrian boy who had been bullied in Almondbury Community School in Huddersfield, had suffered the assault, because he had, earlier, attacked a white girl in the school.
Robinson said he had received a message from a mother claiming that her daughter was subjected to an attack by Jamal.
However, others commenting on his posts on Facebook insisted the girl's mother has denied the boy was involved. The users also shared images of messages, in which the girl's mother denied the Syrian boy was involved in the attack, saying Robinson had misunderstood the messages.
Many believe Robinson, a convict under various charges in UK courts, has influenced the attack on Jamal as he has done in many other hate crimes. The 36-year-old founder of the English Defense League, recently escaped a prison sentence, as judges decided to refer his case for contempt of court charges to the UK attorney general. He is the number- one campaigner against Muslims & refugees in Britain, and has staged several major marches against Islam, involving the far-right, in large British cities.
The boy who attacked Jamal has previously shared Robinson’s Facebook posts. A video of the attack, which reportedly took place in October, was circulating on social media, on Tuesday, showing the attacker pushing Jamal, already having one arm in a cast, to the ground, and forcing a bottle of water into his mouth.
Jamal, from a family of six who has fled the war-torn Syrian city of Homs, later told ITV that he had suffered numerous abuses in the school, and felt unsafe going to the same school, after the attack last month.
“I woke up at night and just started crying about this problem. They think I'm different - different from them,” said Jamal, adding “I don't feel safe at school. Sometimes I say to my dad, 'I don't want to go to school anymore'. I was just crying, and I didn't do nothing, because I respect the school rules.”
An online campaign to help Jamal’s family has drawn huge attention, with reports saying that people have contributed more than £100,000 to help the family.
A video also emerged on Wednesday showing that Jamal’s 14-year-old sister, had also been attacked a day earlier in the same school in Huddersfield, only because she was wearing a hijab.
(Source - PressTv)
reported near UK fracking site Saturday October 20th, at 3:50pm
Minor earthquakes have been reported near a fracking (hydraulic fracturing) operation site in northwest England where people continue protesting against the environmental damage of the controversial gas-extraction operation.
The British Geological Survey said Saturday that it had detected four tremors near Preston New Road, near Balckpool, in Lancashire, where a major fracking operation began this week despite protests and vigils held against the move.
Cuadrilla, an energy company focused on shale gas, began drilling at the site after Britain’s high court dismissed a move meant to halt the fracking operation. The company began the operation despite seismology reports indicating that an initial drilling at the site in 2011, had caused two earthquakes, one reaching 2.3 on the Richter scale, in the area.
Environmental activists have repeatedly warned against the dire consequences of fracking, which is the extraction of oil and gas under immense pressure. The operation is believed to have caused 'serious damage' in the United States, where it has increased rapidly in recent years, including an increased risk of earthquakes, and contamination of water resources.
There has been evidences of a rise in the earthquake risk in Oklahoma, in the US, and in Alberta, Canada, where fracking goes on, despite public anger.
The British government has defended fracking as a method of meeting rising energy demands. But, scientists have slammed the move, saying that London is imitating the administration of US president Donald Trump, in disrespecting climate change warnings.
The British government has even moved to crackdown on the anti-fracking voices. Last month, a court handed down hefty jail sentences to three activists who had attempted to stop vehicles transporting Cuadrilla’s equipment to Preston New Road.
However, an appeal court quashed the sentences, and said they were inappropriate.
People continue to camp outside the fracking site, saying they will continue to protest, until the operation is fully stopped.
Religious hate crime up by 40% in UK - Government Tuesday October 16th, at 5:53pm
The government in Britain has officially admitted a significant rise in hate crimes against religious minorities, especially Muslims, saying such attacks increased in number by almost 40 percent, over the past two years.
Britain’s Home Office (interior ministry) said Tuesday that 8,336 incidents of hate crimes against religious people had been recorded in England and Wales in the two years to March, this year.
It said the figure represented some nine percent of all hate crimes recorded in the British mainland excluding Scotland, in the period. The overall rate of hate crimes has more than doubled, since 2012-13, the ministry figures showed, with people with disability and special sexual orientations, being the main targets.
The ministry attributed the spike in hate crimes against religious people, to terrorist attacks in London and Manchester last year. Terrorists linked to groups like Daesh, which used to wreak havoc in the Middle East with an alleged Islamic mission, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Westminster, and Manchester arena, which took place in March and May 2017, and killed dozens of people.
It also said a referendum in June 2016, in which British voters decided for their country to leave the EU, had a role to play, [Rhondda Records - 'what?!] while better police record keeping, was also a factor.
However, the ministry did not mention other factors for the rise in attacks on Muslims, including political discourses on the need to ban Muslims from arriving in Britain, or media debates about the way Muslim women choose to dress.
Various studies have established a direct link between a newspaper article written by the former British foreign minister, Boris Johnson, in August, in which he likened Muslim women wearing Burqas, to letterboxes and bank robbers, and a surge in attacks on Muslim women, in Britain.
UK jails 3 environmental activists for protesting against fracking op' Wednesday September 26th, at 4:57pm
A court in the United Kingdom has issued jail sentences for three environmental activists who attended a protest last year, against a fracking operation, also known as hydraulic fracturing, in Blackpool, in northwest England.
After a hearing on Wednesday, the crown court in Preston handed down jail sentences of up to 16 months, to Simon Roscoe Blevins, 26, Richard Roberts, 36, and Richard Loizou, 31, for taking part in a four-day direct action protest in Preston New Road, located near a fracking site in Blackpool.
A court jury had convicted the three in August of causing a public nuisance. A fourth activist, Julian Brock, 47, was given a 12-month suspended sentence, after he pleaded guilty to the same offense.
Blevins, Roberts and Loizou dismissed the charges brought against them by the police, saying they were worried about the environmental impact of the drilling operation in the area.
All of the four convicts had climbed up lorries carrying the equipment of Cuadrilla, a notorious fracking firm, to the site in Blackpool.
During the protest, which took place in July 2017, people had expressed their support for the men, throwing blankets, food and water up to them as they camped out on the vehicles.
However, Judge Robert Altham justified the prison sentences given to the activists, claiming that they posed a risk of reoffending & could not be rehabilitated, as “each of them remains motivated by an unswerving confidence that they are right”.
“Even at their trial, they felt justified by their actions. Given the disruption caused in this case, only immediate custody, can achieve sufficient punishment,” said the judge.
It is the first time, since 1932, that people in the UK, are put behind bars simply for environmental causes.
A prominent lawyer representing the three activists decried the sentences. Kirsty Brimelow, head of the international human rights team at Doughty St Chambers, said the three had a right to go beyond “simply standing and shouting” in the peaceful and political protest.
Brimelow said the court rejected her argument that the right to freedom of speech, can include non- violent direct action. The lawyer said that the three activist were right in their assumption that fracking posed a serious risk to the health & safety of the local community.
“It is relevant that there is a huge amount of scientific study that points to the damage of increasing climate emissions,” said Brimelow, while referring to inter- governmental climate panel findings, that suggest that climate change is caused by harmful activities like fracking, and will displace 75 million people, by 2035.
Rosalind Blevins, the mother of one of the activists, said after the trial, that she was proud of her son and the cause he was advancing.
“I am proud of him and of them, for standing up for what is so, so important, for all of us,” said Blevins, outside the court.
(Source - PressTv)
‘This stinks’:Passengers left abandoned by toiletless train after loo break in Wales September 16th, at 3:31pm
Rail passengers in Wales were abandoned at a station after being told that the train they were traveling on – which had no working toilets – would make a special stop, to allow commuters to go to the bathroom.
Passengers boarded the bathroomless train at Haverfordwest, West Wales to make the two-and-a-half-hour trip to Cardiff.
They were told over the PA system that those in need of a loo break could take advantage of a longer stop at Carmarthen so they could relieve themselves – but that’s where it all went wrong.
Travelers who had exited the train to avail of the toilet break watched in horror as the locomotive took off without them, despite the promise that it would wait for them to finish their business.
One stranded commuter told the Sun that after disembarking from the train, passengers “heard a whistle being blown” and then watched open-mouthed as the train pulled out of the station. “We managed to find an official who said he had not been told about the train waiting,” the passenger said.
Another passenger said that it “was just the latest in a long list of problems” for Arriva Trains Wales. “It’s crazy none of the toilets on the train were working – there wasn’t even an explanation as to why.”
Among those abandoned was also a 15-year-old girl who was traveling to Cardiff for a day trip with friends. The train left the girl stranded, with her friends and luggage still on the loo-less locomotive.
Her friends waited at the next station in Ferryside, 10 miles away. The teens called the operator and the train was stopped at Swansea so their bags could be removed from the carriage. They caught the train, picked up their bags, and continued their journey, but described the day as “ruined,” and the actions of the railway company as “disgraceful” and “thoroughly upsetting.”
Arriva Trains Wales has since apologized, with a spokes- person saying that the transportation service is “sorry for the upset and inconvenience caused by this issue,” and a “full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the event” will be carried out.
This is the latest blunder for Arriva Trains Wales, after the service provider forced a passenger to forfeit more than £10 ($13) to get his money back in his lost wallet. “So my lost wallet was found by @ArrivaTW and they charge me £2 ($2.60) to release it, then take 10 percent of the cash that was in the wallet!” 28-year-old Adam Howells said on Twitter.
Howells revealed that the money had been taken from his wallet, and he was “given a ticket to go and get it from the ticket office,” he said, adding that “they weren’t even sure if they had enough cash to give me.”
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(Source - RT)
UK mass spying regime violated human rights - European Court of Human Rights Thursday September 13th, at 3:30pm
The UK government’s mass surveillance program known as “Big Brother” violated human rights and had “no real safeguards,” the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has said, in a landmark ruling.
Ruling in the case which was brought by a group of journalists and rights activists, Europe's top rights court in Strasbourg, France, said on Thursday, the interception of journalistic material also violated the right to freedom of information.
The ECHR judges voted by five to two that the mass trawling for information violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights guaranteeing the right to privacy, ruling that the safeguards governing the selection of the data were "inadequate".
“While the Court was satisfied that the intelligence services of the United Kingdom take their (European human rights) Convention obligations seriously and are not abusing their powers, it found that there was inadequate independent oversight of the selection and search processes involved in the operation,” the court said, in a statement.
However, the European court also ruled that sharing the information gained ,with foreign governments ,did not break any codes.
The UK surveillance program was revealed by US whistleblower, Edward Snowden, as part of his sensational leaks on US and UK spying practices.
PressTV - UK’s anti terror strategy causes fears among Muslims
The UK’s anti-terror policy known as the “Prevent Strategy” has caused “persecution fears” among British Muslims, a new report has found.
Snowden revealed that US and UK intelligence services had been collecting bulk data, including telephone calls, messages and internet communication, whether or not people were suspected of a crime.
During an interview with the The Guardian newspaper, Snowden warned that the practices of the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) were "worse than the US.”
Snowden, who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), is still living in exile, in Russia, after leaking the information.
Since the legal challenge began, Britain has been forced to reform its surveillance laws, and the government claims that there is new legislation that contains more privacy protections.
Civil liberties campaigners who brought the case hailed the judgment, as a landmark victory against the mass surveillance, that governments have defended as an important tool in fighting terrorism.
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, a British civil liberties and privacy campaigning organization, said the ruling “vindicates Mr. Snowden’s courageous whistleblowing.”
“Under the guise of counterterrorism, the UK has adopted the most authoritarian surveillance regime of any Western state, corroding democracy itself, and the rights of the British public,” Carlo said in a statement.
“This judgment is a vital step towards protecting millions of law-abiding citizens, from unjustified intrusion.”
More evidence of Church Establishment cover-ups by Children's champion STEVEN WALKER Thursday, August 30th, 2018
The latest revelations about Roman Catholic Church cover-ups of the child sexual abuse at two of its boarding schools, Ampleforth and Downside, adds to the evidence of how the religious Establishment, like the political one, defends the powerful against the weak and vulnerable.
As far back as 2001, Tory peer Lord Nolan published a report into paedophile abuse, in the Catholic Church. He, together with the inquiry vice-chair, were both former students at Ampleforth College.
Then Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, ordered the inquiry, after years of complaints, yet he himself had covered up the paedophile activity of a priest in Arundel and Brighton, when he was bishop of that diocese.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), set up in 2015, has found that the Nolan report was a whitewash and none of its recommendations properly implemented.
Father David Pearce, former head of the junior school at St Benedicts and Ealing Abbey, was charged in November 2008, with 24 counts of indecent assault, sexual touching and gross indecency, with six boys, aged under 16.
The conduct of the Ealing monastic community, as trustee of the St Benedict’s Trust, was examined by the Charity Commission, which found that it had failed to take adequate measures to protect beneficiaries of the charity, from Pearce.
Other Catholic institutions revealed to have paedophile abusers, were Buckfast Abbey, Belmont Abbey, and Douai Abbey.
In the Anglican Church, former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, recently admitted under cross-examination his role in protecting the predatory paedophile ex-Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, after he was provided with compelling evidence of the crimes committed by the clergyman.
Ball was successfully prosecuted and jailed in 2015, after a career of physically and sexually abusing and exploiting boys and young men, including some, who were particularly vulnerable.
A report into the cover-up of child sexual abuse within the church in 2017 concluded that the Church establishment colluded with paedophile priests, failed to investigate allegations and ignored the needs of traumatised young men, over a period of 20 years.
Ball was first accused in 1993 by a 17-year-old man, who took his own life in 2012, when the police accused him of lying, during a botched investigation.
Fellow Establishment stalwart, Lady Butler Sloss, published a report, in 2011, into the way the Church of England handled previous allegations against two ministers in Sussex, who had sexually abused young boys.
Eight months after her report was published, Butler-Sloss had to issue a 6-page addendum in which she apologised for “inaccuracies” which, she admitted, arose from her failure to corroborate information given to her, by senior Anglican figures ,as part of the inquiry.
She had failed to test the evidence presented to her, by senior Anglican figures keen to whitewash the scandal.
As the first IICSA head, Butler-Sloss, a devout Anglican and failed Tory general election candidate, quit, following the above revelations, together with the news that her brother, Michael Havers, who was attorney general under Margaret Thatcher, limited the scope of an inquiry into child sexual abuse at the Kincora Children’s Home, in Northern Ireland, in the 1970s.
Cabinet minutes from 1983, reveal that Havers ensured that MPs and other prominent public figures were protected, by restricting the terms of reference of the inquiry.
In the early 1980s, Havers was accused himself, by campaigning MP Geoffrey Dickens of a cover-up when he refused to prosecute Sir Peter Hayman — a diplomat, former MI6 deputy director and member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, a lobbying organisation for child abusers. ,
In 2014 the Archbishop of York apologised for previous cover-ups of child sexual abuse by Robert Waddington, a former dean of Manchester cathedral, who was once in charge of church schools.
Then Archbishop of York, Lord Hope, admitted he did not report the matter to the police or other child protection agencies, even when evidence was shown him, in 1999 and again, in 2003.
Waddington had begun abusing boys in the 1960s, when he was headteacher at a school in Australia.
In 2015, the Methodist church made a very public apology, after a wide-ranging, independent investigation, unearthed nearly 2,000 reported cases of sexual abuse, dating to 1950.
Evidence reveals that ministers or lay employees had been involved in a quarter of the cases, which included sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse, as well as neglect. In the 200 cases concerning ministers, 102 were of a sexual nature.
There are multiple police investigations currently under way, into historic allegations of child sexual abuse, by church staff, throughout Britain and Northern Ireland.
• Steven Walker is Unicef children’s champion, and author of
Safeguarding Children and Young People, (p., Russell House).
Wales sees huge increase in modern slavery by Marcus Barnett Thursday, August 23rd, 2018.
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Wales has seen a huge increase in “modern slavery” cases over the past year, Welsh government statistics reveal.
Welsh Assembly Health and Social Services Secretary Vaughan Gething will talk to public service workers today about the 193 recorded cases of “potential victims of slavery” that have taken place across the country since last summer.
This represents a massive 56 per cent increase on the previous year.
The figures include record levels of people who have been victims of sexual exploitation, sweated labour in poor conditions and foreign workers facing pay exploitation.
In a recorded video made for Unison’s black members conference, Mr Gething praised Unison’s record in fighting against modern slavery.
He reaffirmed the role that Unison and other trade unions play in combating all forms of modern exploitation.
Unison black members group chairman Kebba Manneh said:
"There are more people in slavery today across the world than in the entire 350-year history of the transatlantic slave trade - and in Wales, it is on the rise.
“It could be the woman trapped in servitude or trafficked into the sex trade, the man in forced labour or the child who has been trafficked by criminal gangs and suffered horrendous abuse.”
Mr Manneh welcomed the Welsh government’s code of practice for ethical employment in supply chains as an “opportunity” for unions to tackle modern slavery, workplace exploitation and to regulate the fair treatment of working people.
(Source - Morning Star)
'Ministers must halt all privatisation' after HMP Birmingham scandal by Sam Tobin Monday, August 20th, 2018.
Ministers must halt all privatisation following their crisis intervention at the stricken G4S-run Birmingham prison, Labour said today.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said outsourcing was now “putting the public in danger,” warning:
“Birmingham Prison, Carillion and East Coast Rail have all collapsed because of failed Tory privatisation.
“This has to be a wake-up call and a turning point in how our public services are run, so we can protect the public, instead of private profit.”
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said the crisis at HMP Birmingham should mark the end of the “flawed idea of prison privatisation” and called for an urgent independent inquiry into privatisation throughout the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart was forced to announce that the government would step in at the crisis-hit Victorian jail after a recent visit from HM Inspectorate of Prisons revealed a “dramatic deterioration” in the last 18 months.
In a scathing report, Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said privateer G4S had “completely failed” to keep prisoners or staff safe at the jail, where drug use was so rife that he actually felt “physically affected by the drugs in the atmosphere.”
Mr Clarke also called for a “thorough and independent assessment” of what had gone wrong in the contract between the government and G4S, which has run the prison since 2011.
The MoJ also released a damning report into a 14-hour riot at the prison in December 2016, which “could and should have been prevented.”
The June 2017 report, previously withheld for security reasons, said that there were “several windows of opportunity in the early stages of the incident … when a hold could have been established, preventing the subsequent escalation.”
It concluded that “staff had, over the preceding year … become worn down, by chronic staffing shortages at HMP Birmingham, caused by a combination of high levels of sickness, attrition & disorganised deployment.”
Tory minister Mr Stewart said the situation at HMP Birmingham was shocking, but resisted calls for an inquiry.
But Mr Burgon said:
“This shocking situation underlines the dangerous consequences of the ever-greater privatisation of our justice system.
“HMP Birmingham was the first publicly run prison to be transferred to the private sector. This should be a nail in the coffin for the flawed idea of prison privatisation.”
Prison Officers’ Association (POA) general secretary Steve Gillan stressed that prison guards had been placed in “an unacceptable position by failed government policies” and “once again it will be brave prison officers picking up the pieces.”
Chairman Mark Fairhurst added that the situation “highlights the need to keep prisons in the public sector” & called for an end to privatised prisons.
He said: “The days of private companies putting profits before staff and prisoner safety, must stop.”
Howard League for Penal Reform CEO Frances Crook said: “Contracting out and commissioning public services to private companies involves massive bureaucracy and monitoring and, when the state fails to invest sufficient resources to oversee the companies, you get scandals like Carillion, G4S Birmingham, G4S child jail Medway [and] probation.”
But she agreed with Mr Stewart, saying: “We don’t need an inquiry, that just wastes time. We know what went wrong in G4S Birmingham prison. The point is to fix it.”
Staffordshire University criminology professor James Treadwell said: “HMP Birmingham did not go wrong after the riot in 2016, it went wrong after it was privatised in 2011.
“But let me also say that there are a lot of state-run prisons, that are not too much better, now, with austerity and post ‘benchmarking’, they are on the edge, just like Birmingham.”
(Source - Morning Star)
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Universal credit is harmful to women and can worsen domestic abuse, say MPs Wednesday, August 1, 2018 by Lamiat Sabin
The way that families are getting universal credit — in lump sums to one partner — is detrimental to women and could worsen domestic abuse, MPs say.
In a report published today, the work and pensions select committee warns that it has heard evidence that, for a minority of claimants, single household benefit payments paid into one bank account can make it easier for perpetrators to abuse and control their partner.
A domestic abuse survivor told MPs about the father of her children: “He’ll wake up one morning with £1,500 in his account and piss off with it, leaving us with nothing for weeks.”
The committee argues that universal credit (UC), the Tories’ much criticised flagship benefit reform scheme, is intended to “mirror the world of work.”
Committee chair Frank Field said: “This is not the 1950s. Men and women work independently, pay taxes as individuals and should each have an independent income.
“Not only does UC’s single household payment bear no relation to the world of work, it is out of step with modern life and turns back the clock on decades of hard-won equality for women.
“The government must acknowledge the increased risk of harm to claimants living with domestic abuse it creates, by breaching that basic principle, and take the necessary steps to reduce it.”
The MPs point out that responsibility for controlling, neglectful and violent behaviours, lies with the perpetrators — but they are demanding that the government acts on its “moral duty” by implementing policies to deter them, such as splitting payments.
Pending split payments, the entire UC payment should by default be made to the main carer of the children, the committee also said.
The DWP must also ensure it safeguards vulnerable claimants by having a private room in every job- centre “without delay,” a domestic abuse specialist in each branch, and tighter privacy controls to the online journal, the committee said.
Women’s Aid chief executive Katie Ghose welcomed the report - and its calls to pay UC to the main child rearer.
She said that split payments should be made by default and that the DWP should work with specialist groups to deliver domestic abuse recognition training for jobcentre staff.
Ms Ghose said: “Universal credit was not designed with survivors’ safety in mind. We have long been warning that it risks making the domestic abuse worse for survivors, and putting an additional barrier in the way of them escaping the abuse.”
Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Margaret Greenwood said: “Universal credit single household payments make it easier for perpetrators of domestic abuse, to control & exploit their victims, leaving vulnerable people - often women and children - wholly reliant on an abusive partner for money to fulfil even their most basic needs.
“It is shocking, too, that in some cases delays in payments are sending victims back to abusive partners.
“Universal credit is fraught with design flaws, and the government has shamelessly ignored warning after warning, about the devastating impact it has had on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“The government must now listen to these warnings, pause the roll-out of universal credit and fix the problems, so that people are not pushed into poverty, destitution and even put at greater risk of domestic abuse, as a result of the major flaws in its design and delivery.”
Plans to bury nuclear waste under national parks backed by UK govt July 31st, at 3:19pm
UK officials could soon begin burying radioactive waste under some of the country’s national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, according to new plans backed by the British government.
Nuclear waste is currently being stored at above-ground facilities across the UK --- but it is hoped that deep geological burials will provide a long-term solution to the problem of mounting leftovers. The plans were published in January, but have now been bolstered --- by the support of MPs on the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee.
Areas reportedly under consideration are the Lake District national park, which is located near the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria.
Labour MP and committee chairperson Rachel Reeves said the group had decided against excluding national parks from becoming potential burial sites. “It is right for safety matters to prevail over environmental concerns in this case,” she said.
Burial works are said to involve building vaults and tunnels that could contain the waste deep underground, but opponents fear they will cause major damage to the surrounding landscape.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, has branded the plan to bury the waste in some of the UK’s most scenic areas as “outrageous.”
“Tussles over which communities have to put up with this toxic material, bring us all to shame,” Lucas told the Guardian.
Speaking to Sky News, Emma Marrington of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said she hoped the government would reconsider the plans. “We know that where such major development takes place, we destroy beautiful landscapes and ruin our opportunity to pass on a beautiful piece of countryside, to the next generation,” she said.
The ugly face of Tory Britain was exposed again today as new stats revealed more than 123,000 children living in temporary housing while the number of elderly homeless people soared to its highest level in a decade.
The new data quietly published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government shows the effect that lack of genuinely affordable housing is having on some of the youngest and oldest people in England.
The number of lone-parent families with at least one child living in temporary accommodation rose by 54 per cent in the last five years to 38,390.
The figures revealed that 123,130 children were living in temporary housing in the first three months of this year — enough to fill 470 primary schools — an increase of 80 per cent since the Tories first came to power in 2011, according to Labour.
Single-parent households account for nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of families living in temporary homes despite making up less than a quarter (23 per cent) of all families in England, according to homelessness charity Shelter.
Shelter CEO Polly Neate said: “It’s clear that our country is in the firm grip of a housing crisis as these figures starkly show, with older people and single parents both bearing the brunt.
“Something as simple as a family breakdown can push older people from a shared family home into private renting, yet huge rents and unforgiving welfare cuts mean they lose their homes.
“If we want to protect more people from the ravages of homelessness, the government must come up with a bold new plan for social housing and, in the short term, ensure housing benefit covers the actual cost of rents.”
National Pensioners Convention national officer Neil Duncan-Jordan said that older people were not “immune” to the housing crisis and that tens of thousands of homes for social rent needed to be built per year, to meet their needs.
He said: “Clearly the private sector is unwilling and unable to meet this challenge -- and that’s why we need local authorities to start building affordable housing for sale or rent, that caters for everyone.”
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said that the statistics should “shame” government ministers.
The ministry's data also shows that rough sleeping in England increased for a seventh year running in 2017.
A total of 4,751 were recorded as having slept on the streets last year compared with 1,768 in 2010, but the true figures are believed to be much higher.
Mr Healey added: “Homelessness fell at an unprecedented rate under Labour, but, after eight years of failure on housing under the Tories, 123,000 children are now without a home.
“This is a direct result of Conservative decisions — a steep drop in investment for affordable homes, cuts to housing benefit, reduced funding for homelessness services and a refusal to help private renters.
“The next Labour government will end rough sleeping within a Parliament and tackle the root causes of rising homelessness, with more affordable homes and stronger rights for renters.”
US govt demands last minute changes to reporton UK spies’ involvement in torture, rendition June 26th, at 10:13am
The US government has demanded the UK make 11th-hour changes to a report on Britain’s involvement in rendition during the War on Terror. Human rights groups say caving to US pressure would shatter the inquiry’s credibility.
It is understood that the long-awaited report, originally commissioned by David Cameron weeks after he entered Downing Street in 2010, will call for sweeping changes to the rules on how UK spies conduct themselves in the field.
The report will also call for far greater ministerial oversight to ensure accountability for the decisions that are taken.
It was due to be published Thursday, but has been 'complicated'... by the US request for amendments.
The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) – a body made up of MPs and peers that investigates the work of the security services and its spies – sent two reports on the mistreatment and rendition of terrorist suspects, following the 9/11 attacks, to UK Prime Minister Theresa May last month.
One report covered the 2001-2010 period, while the other focused on current issues. The publication of the two reports has been thrown into disarray, after the US requested changes to the historical report – a move that human rights campaigners say, would destroy the credibility of the inquiry.
Dan Dolan, head of policy at human rights charity Reprieve, told The Times: ''It would destroy what remains of this inquiry’s credibility, if its findings were influenced by the same US agencies who oversaw the abuses being investigated, and we must urgently find out what changes the Trump administration requested and whether they were accepted.
''If the government had delivered the full public inquiry it originally promised, it would be unthinkable that the Trump administration would be permitted to review this report, before members of the UK Parliament.
''To convince anyone she takes these issues seriously, the prime minister must order - immediately - an independent, judge- led inquiry, into UK involvement in torture and rendition.''
The DWP asks a woman to work unpaid on a campaign to boost paid work for women June 23rd, 2018 by Stefan Schmid
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has found itself in hot water once again after asking a woman to work for free. Ironically, it was for a campaign specifically focused on getting woman into paid work.
Freelance creative producer and writer Amber Massie-Blomfield exposed the government department, in a brutal takedown on Twitter. The scathing open email has now been shared online thousands of times.
As the Mirror reports, the Her Way campaign at the DWP is designed to “empower” women into paid work. The campaign also claims to showcase “routes into employment”. But the DWP told the freelance writer it couldn’t pay contributors, and the work should only take up to “a few hours” time.
The campaign headed up by the DWP states that women are “often caught up in conflicting messages about their work”.
In the open letter response to the DWP, Massie-Blomfield laid bare the hypocrisy of the government department.
The freelancer wrote:
''You particularly asked me to share my insights on how to go freelance. I am willing to share one piece of advice you may wish to pass on: Some people will take you for a mug. Don’t let them.''
You can have that one pro bono.
Many social media users were quick to back the freelance writer. One praised her “brilliant smackdown” of the department.
While another suggested this behaviour... was something they had come to expect of the DWP:
Responding to questions about the situation, a DWP spokesperson said:
''We are working on a campaign to encourage girls and women to consider diverse career opportunities through sharing stories from real life role models.
''We are not asking people to work for free. If people want to get involved voluntarily, we are providing all the support needed to tell their story.''
In an interview with the Big Issue, Massie-Blomfield confirmed she wouldn’t be taking the matter any further. She said:
''I felt confident enough to turn around and call them out on that unacceptable practice but I do wonder how many other people starting out in their careers, others in more pressing circumstances, would feel able to respond like I have.''
The writer has rightly received widespread praise for her decision to publicly challenge the DWP. It’s crucial peoplecontinue to expose the working practises of the controversial government department, however unlikely it might be that the DWP will learn from its mistakes.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Male domestic abuse victims up 40% in just one UK county, as thousands more report offense 19th of June, at 2:45pm
Thousands of men have reported being domestically abused in Kent, a charity has revealed. The Mankind Initiative saw a staggering increase of 40 percent in the number of male victims suffering domestic violence since 2017.
The number of male victims went up from 4,803 in 2016 to 6,764 in 2017, the charity claims.
It hopes that releasing the figures will help more victims to come forward about their abuse, as well asencouraging streamline services within councils and the health sector for all domestic abuse victims, regardless of gender.
The Home Office previously reported that men are 3 times less likely to tell someone about their mistreatment. They are also less likely to perceive their treatment as abuse.
Ian McNicholl, a domestic abuse survivor & ambassador for the Mankind Initiative, obtained the figures after sending a Freedom of Information request to Kent Police. He said: “I never came forward to the police when I was experiencing abuse and it nearly cost me my life.
“If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you are not alone and help is out there. Please call the police or speak with friends or family to get the help you need,” McNicholl said, Kent Online reports.
“I can assure you that the action you take today will be life changing, and it could even be lifesaving.”
Figures from the Office for National Statistics estimate there were around 713,000 male victims of abuse in the year ending March 2017.
Mark Brooks, chairman of the ManKind Initiative, said:
“The number of men coming forward to the police sends a clear message that domestic abuse is a crime that affects both men and women.
“It is vital that councils, the police and crime commissioner, and partners in health and housing, fund local services to support them.”
Forget the NHS, spend on defense – US ambassador tells UK May 15th, at 11:22am
Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, has said that Britain should spend more on military defense, at the expense of the NHS, insisting there needs to be ‘trade-offs’ to ensure security and to remain a strong US ally.
Johnson seemed to indicate to journalists assembled in London that, if increasing spending on defense was to the detriment of national treasures such as the NHS, then that was a price worth paying. He said:
“Healthcare is always going to be an issue, education is always going to be an issue, transportation and infrastructure are always going to be issues, etc. But how important is it to defend yourself?”
The current owner of American Football team, the New York Jets, Johnson has been serving as Donald Trump’s US ambassador to the UK since January this year.
Parroting a Trumpian trope, Johnson warned that his boss doesn’t want to bankroll fellow NATO countries such as Britain to safeguard their security – claiming they needed to pay their way on the world stage.
The US ambassador was talking in relation to Britain’s ambition to buy 138 of the F-35 Lightning II next generation warplanes, as reported in The Times.
Some 15 jets have reportedly been bought so far, with military officials committing to an additional 33, by 2025.
It may not come as a surprise to some in the UK that an official from the US, a country which views good health- care not as a right, but as something that should be determined by financial capability, is advising its ‘close ally’ to ditch increased spending on the NHS to ward off supposed threats to national security from ‘enemies’ such as Russia.
Johnson added: “You’re going to have to make trade- offs and go through the emotional and practical and philosophical arguments in terms of what you want to do, what you want to be, how important is defense? How you want to be perceived by the US, but also by Russia and others?”
The ambassador’s intervention comes on the back of suggestions that there is a black hole in the region of £20 billion ($27 billion) in the UK Ministry of Defence's budget over the next decade, reports Forces Network.
Private police force will hit UK streets --- to fill void created by austerity May 8th, at 12:16pm
‘My local bobby’ – a private police force organization – is to roll out its services nationwide, after successful trials in 3 of London’s Britain’s richest neighbour- hoods, including Mayfair, Kensington and Belgravia.
Coming to a street near you, if you can afford the monthly client fee of up to £200 (€228) a month, your ‘local bobby’ will be accessible to you via a direct line, can be tracked on an ipad, and may even afford you the added VIP treatment of meeting and greeting you from tube stations or your car, reports The Evening Standard.
The private police force has the power to make citizens arrests and is “simply the element that 'prevents,’ ‘ deters’ and 'solves' crime and anti-social behaviour problems in defined areas through bespoke solutions,” according to its website, mylocalbobby.net.
The company has been utilizing social media to broadcast its “successful” achievements thus far, ranging from stolen personal valuables being found to moving on 3 ‘drunks’ from a patrolled neighbourhood.
However, there are some on social media who do not see this development in private policing so positively, highlighting the notable failings of private security contractors such as G4S and questioning why the state has not properly funded the public police forces.
The stories of mistreatment of Palestinian political prisoners in G4S-run Israeli prisons and immigration removal centres here in the UK, along with private security firm Serco may be a cause for concern with regards to what many perceive as a private security firm operating on the streets of Britain.
Senior figures within the state’s police force have voiced concerns about the marketisation of policing. Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, Calum Macleod says:
“Policing is not a consumer or lifestyle issue. Nor should it be the exclusive domain of the wealthy. When Sir Robert Peel introduced the first full-time, professional and centrally-organized police force in the 1820s, that was not what he had in mind.”
This latest development of the private sector operating within a sector historically funded by the public, is set against a backdrop of some 21,000 police officers being cut from the streets of England and Wales – policing is a devolved matter in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The scheme has been set up by ex-London Metropolitan police officers David McKelvey and Tony Nash, who cite the lack of police officers on the streets of Britain as a major issue - which they are seeking to successfully address with their ‘My local bobby’ private service.
Mr McKelvey told the Sunday Express: “You don’t see policemen walk around the streets any more. If you call 101 it’s a 30-minute wait and it is not a police officer who answers."
McKelvey adds: “My Local Bobby is basically taking things back to Dixon of Dock Green-style policing,” which may suggest he hopes to create a sense of community policing, where residents are on first name terms with their local bobby.
In recent times many private contractors operating within the public sector have been lambasted for poor practices and, in the case of Capita, overstretched themselves, resulting in £1bn wiped off its stock market value, with pre-tax losses reportedly of £515m.
It appears politicians and the public at large will be asking themselves whether more private contracting really is the answer to policing in England and Wales.
Study: A Million More UK Children in Poverty Than in 2010 Monday May 7th, at 2:09pm
FNA - A new study found the number of children growing up in poverty in working households will be a million higher than in 2010.
Research for the TUC estimates that 3.1 million children with working parents will be below the official breadline this year, The Guardian reported.
About 600,000 children with working parents have been pushed into poverty because of the government’s benefit cuts and public sector pay restrictions, according to the report by the consultancy Landman Economics.
The East Midlands will have the biggest increase in child poverty among working families, followed by the West Midlands and Northern Ireland, the research found.
Frances O’Grady, the TUC General Secretary, said child poverty in working households had shot up since 2010.
“Years of falling incomes and benefit cuts have had a terrible human cost. Millions of parents are struggling to feed and clothe their kids,” she stated, underlining that “The government is in denial about how many working families just can’t make ends meet. We need ministers to boost the minimum wage now, and use the social security system to make sure no child grows up in a family struggling to get by.”
The report was published as a march is planned in London this Saturday, calling for a new deal for workers.
The report said a household was considered to be in relative poverty, if its income was less than 60% of median income after housing costs.
A government Spokeswoman said it did not recognise the TUC’s figures.
“The reality is there are now 1 million fewer people living in absolute poverty compared with 2010, including 300,000 fewer children," she stated, adding that “We want every child to get the very best chances in life. We know the best route out of poverty is through work, which is why it’s really encouraging that both the employment rate and household incomes have never been higher.”
One in three working parents unable to afford meals, study finds April 20th, 2018
At least a third of parents in work are often skipping meals because they struggle to afford enough food for their families, a new study published today reveals.
More than one in three working parents cannot afford to have regular meals, according to research by the Living Wage Foundation.
The organisation said this demonstrates the “desperate choices” low-income families have to make.
A survey of 1,000 adults found two out of five of them had fallen behind on household bills, while a similar number top up their monthly income with a credit card or loan.
Half of them said they had borrowed money from a friend or relative and almost one in three walk to work to save on travel costs.
Shadow work & pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood:
“These shocking findings lay bare the reality of life on low pay for working families in the UK.
“Parents are skipping meals, falling behind on basic household bills and walking to work because they cannot afford fares.”
Mr Greenwood said that nearly half of part-time jobs are paid below the living wage and over two-thirds of those are done by women.
“People are working hard for their families, but the Tories are failing them by leaving them at risk of debt and hunger,” she added.
In London, the real living wage is set at £10.20 an hour and £8.75 outside the capital. This is much higher than the government’s so-called national living wage of £7.83 for those over the age of 25.
Living Wage Foundation director Tess Lanning:
“These findings reveal the desperate choices low-paid families have to make and show why it’s so important that more employers take a stand, by paying the real living wage, based on what they need to live, not just the government minimum.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady:
“Nobody should be forced to skip meals because of poverty pay and no business model should depend on its workers running on empty.
“The government must raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour as quickly as possible so that millions more workers get a wage they can live on.”
Report: Sexual Misconduct by Staff Widespread at UK Universities Wednesday April 4th, at 12 midday
FNA - Forty-one percent of students enrolled in UK universities faced unwanted sexual advances, ranging from sexualized comments to rape, from staff members, according to a report.
According to The Guardian, the findings come from a soon-to-be published survey by two organizations in the UK, the National Union of Students (NUS) and the 1752 Group, a lobbying organization dedicated to ending misconduct, The Scientist reported.
Researchers asked 1,839 current and former students to indicate whether they had experienced sexual misconduct from a member of their university’s workforce.
Of the 1,535 individuals who responded to the survey, 12 percent said they had been touched in an uncomfortable manner.
Sixty-five respondents reported experiencing non- consensual sexual contact and 15 people stated that they had been sexually assaulted or raped.
Less than 10 percent of victims reported the incidents to the institution, and of those who did, more than half recalled an inadequate response from the university.
“This report provides clear evidence that, rather than the issue of staff sexual misconduct in higher education being limited to a few institutions, this is an issue across the sector,” Anna Bull, cofounder of the 1752 group, told The Guardian.
“It is unacceptable that higher education institutions, rather than enabling students to report staff sexual misconduct, are failing the vast majority of students who disclose, making it difficult or even impossible for some to continue with their studies,” Bull added.
Last week, Universities UK (UUK), an organization representing higher education in the UK, published a report stating that, more than year after a task force was put in place to tackle sexual misconduct, there had been some progress in addressing this issue, although it varied widely across academic institutions.
“Despite evidence of significant progress being made in implementing the task force’s recommendations across the higher education providers participating in the study, it remains highly uneven,” the report stated.
“All students should be able to pursue their studies without fear of harassment,” Sam Gyimah, the universities Minister for England, said in a statement, adding that “Whilst I am pleased to see the strides that have been taken by our universities to ensure this, there is clearly more to be done.”
Cambridge Analytica boasts of dirty tricks to swing elections March 20th, 2018
(Sources - The Guardian/MSM) - by Emma Graham-Harrison and Carole Cadwalladr
The company at the centre of the Facebook data breach boasted of using honey traps, fake news campaigns and operations with ex-spies to swing election campaigns around the world, a new investigation reveals.
Executives from Cambridge Analytica spoke to undercover reporters from Channel 4 News about the dark arts used by the company to help clients, which included entrapping rival candidates in fake bribery stings and hiring prostitutes to seduce them.
In one exchange, the company chief executive, Alexander Nix, is recorded telling reporters: “It sounds a dreadful thing to say, but these are things that don’t necessarily need to be true as long as they’re believed.”
The Channel 4 News investigation, broadcast on Monday, comes two days after the Observer reported Cambridge Analytica had unauthorised access to tens of millions of Facebook profiles in one of the social media company’s biggest data breaches.
The company, and Nix, are under pressure from politicians in the US and the UK to explain how it handled the data and what role the information played in its campaigns, if any.
Cambridge Analytica has sold itself as the ultimate hi-tech consultant, winning votes by using data to pinpoint target groups and design messages that will appeal powerfully to their interests, although it denies using Facebook information in its work.
But in the undercover investigation by Channel 4 News, in association with the Observer, executives claimed to offer a much darker range of services.
In a series of meetings with a reporter posing as a representative of a wealthy Sri Lankan family seeking political influence, Cambridge Analytica executives initially denied the company was in the business of using entrapment techniques.
But Nix later detailed the dirty tricks the company would be prepared to pull behind the scenes, to help its clients.
When the reporter asked if Cambridge Analytica could offer investigations into the damaging secrets of rivals, Nix said it worked with former spies from Britain and Israel, to look for political dirt. He also volunteered that his team were ready to go further than an investigation.
“Oh, we do a lot more than that,” he said over dinner at an exclusive hotel in London. “Deep digging is interesting, but you know equally effective can be just to go and speak to the incumbents and to offer them a deal that’s too good to be true and make sure that that’s video recorded.
“You know these sort of tactics are very effective, instantly having video evidence of corruption.”
Nix suggested one possible scenario, in which the managing director of Cambridge Analytica’s political division, Mark Turnbull, would pose as a wealthy developer looking to exchange campaign finance for land. “I’m a master of disguise,” Turnbull said.
Another option, Nix suggested, would be to create a sex scandal. “Send some girls around to the candidate’s house, we have lots of history of things,” he told the reporter. “We could bring some Ukrainians in on holiday with us, you know what I’m saying.”
He said these were hypothetical scenarios, but suggested his ideas were based on precedent.
“Please don’t pay too much attention to what I’m saying, because I’m just giving you examples of what can be done, what has been done.”
Any work may have stayed out of the spotlight partly because Cambridge Analytica works hard to cover traces of its operations, Nix said, using a shifting network of names and front groups.
“We’re used to operating through different vehicles, in the shadows, and I look forward to building a very long-term and secretive relationship with you,” Nix told the source in a first phone call.
Cambridge Analytica sometimes contracts under a different name, so that there are no records of its involvement, Turnbull said. That does not only protect the company, but also makes its work more efficient, he is recorded saying.
“It has to happen without anyone thinking it’s propaganda, because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda’ the next question is: ‘Who’s put that out?’”
In a recent project in eastern Europe, the company sent a team but “no one even knew they were there, they were just ghosted in, did the work, ghosted out”, Turnbull said. He added: “It may be that we have to contract under a different name ... a different entity, with a different name, so that no record exists with our name attached to this at all.”
Covers include the setting up of fake academic projects, sometimes simply going in on tourist visas, as former employees have told the Guardian they did for US elections – apparently employed in violation of Federal law.
Nix also offered details regarding the services of professional ex-spies from Britain and Israel.
“We have 2 projects at the moment, which involve doing deep deep depth research on the opposition and providing source ... really damaging source material, that we can decide how to deploy in the course of the campaign.”
Cambridge Analytica said the Channel 4 News investigation contained false claims, factual inaccuracies, and substantial mischaracterisations.
It accused Channel 4 of setting out to entrap staff by initiating a conversation about unethical practices. It refuted any suggestion that the company used fake news, honey traps, bribes or entrapment.
On Saturday, Cambridge Analytica denied it had done anything wrong in relation to the handling of Facebook data.
“Cambridge Analytica only receives and uses data that has been obtained legally and fairly. Our robust data protection policies comply with US, international, European Union, and national regulations,” it said.
The Home Office response to hunger-striking women is the vilest thing you’ll read today March 7th, 2018 by Emily Apple of Emily Apple Analysis, UK
The Home Office response to the women on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre has been vile.
First, it threatened the women with ‘accelerated deportation’ if they continued with their protest. And then, immigration minister Caroline Nokes tried to defend the decision by saying the department had consulted a charity --- one which doesn’t support the Home Office stance.
The hunger strike
Over 100 detainees are on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood.
They have a list of 15 demands they are asking the government to meet. But it is their stories which really illustrate why these demands are so important. One hunger striker wrote:
''This whole thing started out of desperation and frustration and a deep sense of injustice felt by myself and others. We needed a voice and more importantly we needed someone to listen.''
''We are on a hunger strike because we are suffering unfair imprisonment and racist abuse in this archaic institution in Britain.''
And another woman set out the reasons why she is taking part in the hunger strike:
''I am involved in the hunger strike because I think we face very unfair conditions, in that we are detained for an indefinite amount of time. The uncertainty that we face everyday, is unbearable, which leads us to have stress, panic, and, in turn, a lot of health complications.''
But instead of listening to these women, the Home Office decided to threaten them. A letter from an immigration enforcement manager stated that taking part in the hunger strike:
''..may, in fact, lead to your case being accelerated and your removal from the UK taking place sooner.''
Just following orders
When questioned about the letter, Nokes confirmed that it was government policy. She stated:
''[It] was agreed after consultation with NHS England, Medical Justice, the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association and other NGOs.''
However, Medical Justice told The Guardian that, although it was consulted, it did not approve of the policy. During the consultation, it wrote:
''For detention to be legal, the Home Office should only exercise the power of detention for the minimum possible time in every case. [The policy] appears to suggest that this is, in fact, not the case and also implies that removal can be expedited as a punitive measure. That approach is wholly inappropriate and contrary to clinical best practice.''
But there is widespread support for the detainees.
Labour MP Lucy Powell told The Independent:
''The Home Office’s draconian tactics are just completely wrong. They would be better off focusing their energies on the many criminals that fall through the net, rather than woman who have lived in this country for years, who are just trying to live a good life. This is a shocking, inhumane abuse of process.''
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott recorded a video to support the women: https://www.thecanary.co/uk/ 2018/03/07/home-office-response-hunger- striking-women-vilest-thing-youll-read-today/
There are also calls for a 24-hour fast to support the women on 8 March, International Women’s Day:
''This mass #hungerforfreedom support action seeks to amplify the demands of people at Yarl’s Wood.
''We encourage you to share publicly that you are joining the mass action and spread the word. Invite your friends and also e-mail your MP.
''We want the Home Office to know that immigration detention is gender and institutional violence, and we will bring it to an end.''
At the time of writing, over 250 people have pledged to take part in the action.
The immigration detention system in the UK needs to end. Now. These women feel like they have no choice, other than going on hunger strike, to get their voices heard. We must listen and we must do everything we can to help them.
– Support the Freedom Fast.
– Follow Detained Voices on Twitter.
– Support the campaign to shut Yarl’s Wood and join the protests.
Young Tories under fire for ‘joke’ that implies people dying in the cold is funny March 2nd, 2018
Severe weather is still battering the UK and Ireland. Thousands don’t have power. Transport is in chaos, and roads are closed. Entire communities are cut off. At least ten people have died. But the biggest indictment of Conservative Britain is that home- less people have died in these storms.
And yet, despite everything, the kindness of strangers has been in evidence everywhere in an attempt to limit further tragedy. Unless you’re a young Tory, it seems. Because in the face of all this, Activate UK – the “united platform for young conservatives” – has sunk to an all-time low.
In the midst of one of the biggest storms for years, Activate tweeted:
Activate UK Verified account @ActivateBritain
As the cold settles in and the national gas supply is running low we are hearing horrific stories... All across the country, Socialists are being forced to put their hands in their own pockets.
But people on Twitter were swift to challenge them:
The truth is that a man died, sheltering in a tent from the cold and snow. Another homeless man died in a shelter. The death toll reportedly stands at 13, and may rise. Not surprisingly, many were swift to cut down Activate’s ‘joke’.
Others pointed out just quite how ridiculous and immature Activate sounded.
There’s actually a very serious point here. Activate UK presents itself as a “grassroots” organisation for young conservatives. And it supports a Conservative Party that is currently two points behind Labour in the latest opinion polls.
Badge of honour
Apparently, the tweet was Activate’s deliberate attempt to provoke “vile indiviuals” (socialists, presumably):
But even this backfired, because a block from Activate quickly became a badge of honour:
Not all superheroes wear capes
What Activate and its ‘supporters’ missed (or are blatantly too dim to recognise) was the true beauty of spirit that shone through and continues to shine as the storms rage on.
In hospitals around the country - the same hospitals left decimated by Conservative funding cuts - staff slept overnight or did extra shifts, to ensure patients were cared for.
Taxi companies, meanwhile, offered to help the elderly for free. Others went out to offer hot drinks and blankets to people stuck in cars.
Acts of kindness were seen everywhere.
Activate appears not to realise that the word ‘socialist’ isn’t an insult. Because it means we care for each other. We are happy to help each other. A simple fact that Activate, and the Conservatives, may never understand.
– No one should be rough sleeping in this weather. Call Streetlink if you see someone who needs support.
– Support Help the Homeless, which gives grants to homeless charities across the UK.
Become a Canary member to support fearless independent journalism.
(Source- the Canary)
Britain pays out the worst state pension in the developed world February 12th, at 1:22pm
The UK pays retirees the worst state pension of any country in the developed world, official figures show, as Brits currently under the age of 30, are warned they could have to wait until they’re 70, to receive anything at all.
The basic payout of £122.30 a week in Britain is the least generous in the West -- worth just 29 percent of average earnings, according to the latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The report shows that in Poland the state pension is equivalent to 39 percent of average earnings, while Germany and France offer 51 percent and 75%, respectively.
The Netherlands, Portugal, Italy and Austria all pay state pensions equivalent to more than 90 percent of average earnings. In Mexico, an emerging rather than developed economy, pensioners receive 29.6 percent of average earnings from the state.
The Government Actuary’s Department has projected that unless action is taken the state pension fund will run out in 2035, thanks to the strain caused by Britain’s ageing population.
It has also predicted that the state pension age will reach 70 by the end of the 2050s, & 71 by the end of the 2060s, affecting those in the UK currently under the age of 30.
Malcolm McLean, of retirement specialists Barnett Waddingham, told the Express the qualifying age could rise even more. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see the age go up to 70 before 2050 and conceivably reach 80 or even 85 by the end of the century.”
Former pensions minister Ros Altmann has also warned the situation could get even worse. Altmann told the Telegraph: “Despite the UK offering the lowest state pension in the developed world, the costs have not yet been brought under control. Policymakers face difficult decisions and are likely to need to raise the state pension age further.”
She added that with an ageing population and the decline in generous, final-salary type pension schemes, the UK “faces rising risks of old-age poverty.”
“Beyond the 2030s, the new state pension will be lower than the old system for most people. The lowest paid, predominantly women, will lose out significantly,” she said.
(Source - RT)
May faces Conservative revolt over indefinite detention of immigrants Sunday January 28th, at 9:30am
The government of Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a revolt by Conservative MPs over the indefinite detention of immigrants in Britain.
Two former cabinet ministers have expressed their readiness to stop a controversial method blamed for inflicting mental breakdown on immigrant inmates, who have not been charged with any crime and given no release date, according to The Independent.
Britain has come under harsh criticism for being the only EU country that has no statutory time limit for detaining immigrants, including by the UN Human Rights Council.
Survivors of torture, trafficking and rape are among the tens of thousands of people held in overcrowded centres for months, or even years.
According to a recent investigation, there have been “widespread self-harm and attempted suicides” in such places.
Now campaigners argue that a looming immigration bill provides a new opportunity for MPs to pass an amendment in order to impose a strict 28-day limit.
Andrew Mitchell, a former International Development Secretary, told The Independent, “I am warm towards this proposal.”
“I don’t think it’s right to hold people in detention indefinitely,” added Mitchell, who has described indefinite detention as a “stain on our democracy.”
He noted that what is even worse is that “when we have held people wrongly indefinitely, is that we have to use taxpayers’ money to get the government off the hook.”
Also, Caroline Spelman, a former Tory Environment Secretary, described the new bill as an “opportunity to act.”
“I would like to see Britain use methods that have proven to be effective in other countries – such as Sweden,” Spelman added.
The Democratic Unionist Party, which is supporting May in power, might also exert pressure on the government over the controversy.
Two of its 10 MPs, Gavin Robinson and Jim Shannon, have signed a Parliamentary motion demanding “a 28-day time limit and greater use of community- based alternatives.”
“The lack of a time limit destroys mental health. Self- harm, suicide attempts and deaths are common. This is state-sanctioned suffering on a vast scale,” said Martha Spurrier, the director of the civil liberties group, Liberty.
Britain detains nearly 30,000 people each year in the centres, holding several hundred for longer than one year.
USA - a predominantly white school shouts racist chants at visiting team from multicultural area Saturday, January 27th, 2018.
Students from a predominantly white US school subjected a visiting boys’ basketball team to racist chanting, faculty officials revealed today.
The chants and slogans at the January 19 game at the Spencer High School, north-west Iowa, included some fans yelling that the Storm Lake players should “go back where you came from.” Others chanted: “USA.”
The school superintendents say the Storm Lake district has 2,400 students, 84 per cent of whom are non-white. The Spencer district has 1,900 students and is predominantly white.
Spencer Superintendent Terry Hemann told The Des Moines Register that administrators have disciplined the Spencer students involved, but he declined to provide details.
A similar situation occurred during a football game last October between the rival schools.
(Source - Morning Star)
Croydon council to rescue libraries from privateer Carillion January 15th, 2018 by Felicity Collier
Labour-run Croydon Council is set to take back control of the borough’s libraries and is “determined to protect” the service, following the collapse of privateer Carillion.
The 13 libraries have been run by the firm since 2012 --- when the then Conservative-led council controversially decided to outsource the service.
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said the council would be terminating the contract with the firm and reassured the 73 workers that it would be“picking up the mess left by this private company, and will be working behind the scenes to ensure all libraries remain open.
“All of the 73 staff employed across all libraries are needed, so we do not expect to lose any jobs,” he added.
He described the Tories’ decision to outsource the management as “strange” and said:“With local services like our libraries, I think we should ask whether profit should be the main driver and in this case, I think it’s a no.”
Libraries campaigner Ian Anstice, welcomed the council’s decision.
He told the Star:“The collapse of Carillion means there are now no for-profit companies providing library services in the UK. It shows that such companies do not have a magic wand when it comes to running council services more efficiently.
“Simply put, if you’re making a profit from public libraries then you’re doing it wrong.
“Budgets are tight enough, without taking a percentage for shareholders and councils have shown themselves adept at trimming budgets themselves, over the last few years.”
Ealing Council and Harrow Council are yet to announce plans for its libraries, which had also been outsourced to Carillion.
Last week, Harrow recommended that the troubled firm, continues with its contract.
(Source - Morning Star)
Policeman caught with images of children being raped receives slap on wrist, walks free from court January 9th, 2018, at 10:25am
A former cop who was caught with 1,500 indecent images of children, including pictures of rape, has been given a suspended sentence. Darren Wright, 38, blamed his two bouts of cancer as the reason for his crime.
Wright’s home in Southport, where he lives with his parents, was raided on June 9. Legal representatives of the former officer told the Liverpool Crown Court that he had suffered with mental health issues after twice battling leukemia.
Prosecutor Robert Jones told the court the accused had asked for his phone back from police ostensibly in order to retain details of medical appointments, though Jones questioned Wright’s motives.
“The defendant said he was anxious to retain some medical appointments from his mobile phone,” Jones said. “Police said there was no difficulty in him doing that, provided it was under supervision.
“The defendant appeared to be acting rather furtively with his iPhone. In fact, what he was trying to do, was delete some chat conversations. Those chat conversations were nothing to do with indecent images, but the police did not know that at the time.”
Police seized Wright’s phone, his laptop hard drive, and a USB stick. They found 23 Category A images – the most serious category, which involved images of child rape. There were a further 26 Category B photos and another 1,368 Category C indecent images.
As a result, he was fired by Merseyside Police’s professional standards department after a formal misconduct hearing. Wright did not attend the hearing.
“We simply cannot afford to have police officers and support staff working for us who do not strive to uphold the highest levels of professionalism and integrity at all times,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Karen Cummings.
Defense lawyer, James Hamilton, told the court that Wright’s double cancer diagnosis had “a significant impact upon the reason why he offended.”
“He is a man who has suffered two bouts of serious ill health, the consequences of which, will live with him for the rest of his life,” Hamilton said.
“He has also suffered the loss of the career that he loved deeply. That was something that was taken from him, in many ways, by his ill health. He has already, in my respectful submission, suffered significant punishment,”he added.
Judge Denis Watson QC sentenced the former police officer to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and a 35-day rehabilitation activity.
Wright was also told to sign the Sex Offenders Register and to adhere to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, for seven years.
An FOI request has revealed that nearly half of sexual predators who were found guilty of grooming a child online, prior trying to meet them for sex, are let off jail by “lenient” judges.
Over the last three years, 88 pedophiles – or 49 per cent of them - were spared an immediate jail term. According to the MailOnline, 91 went straight behind bars.
Pedophile hunter group, Dark Justice, said every child groomer should be imprisoned.
“These lenient sentences are simply not a deterrent – when paedophiles see that there is just a 50-50 chance of going to prison after being caught they think it is worth taking the risk,”’ they told MailOnline.
“These sick people found guilty of grooming intended to rape their child victim, and were more than happy to destroy their lives. They need to be rehabilitated, and the best place to do that, is behind bars.
“People who commit benefit fraud, or deal cannabis, get years in prison, but if someone wants to rape a child, they tell the judge they’re a good guy and have had a hard life, so get let off.”
(Source - RT)
‘I’m going to die’: Stabbed father dies after being put on hold by 999 6th of December, 2017
A dying father-of-two rang the emergency 999 number after being viciously stabbed, only to be put on hold and forced to listen to an automated message. “I’m going to die,” Liverpool Crown Court heard the man saying.
Paul Millea, 36, called the emergency services after being stabbed on June 17, but the court heard that because of the high volume of calls, he was put on hold. Millea was allegedly assaulted by Philip Daniels, 26, who is under- stood to have attacked the man on suspicion he was having an affair with his girlfriend.
Nigel Power QC, prosecuting, told the court Millea logged the first call at 11:10 pm, and said: "‘I’ve been stabbed in the chest… He stabbed me for nothing… I’m going to die.”
Power continued, “The operator says hold the line and then Mr Millea says he stabbed me like a nutter, I’m dying.”
“We only hear, sadly, a recorded voice saying that the call was in a queue because there were a high number of calls… Mr Millea obviously knew that he was dying because he said ‘I’m dying, I’m going to die, I can’t stay here? I’m dying.”
Emergency services arrived only 40 minutes later, by which time several people had tried to help the victim.
Millea was brought to hospital, where he died of his wounds shortly before 1:30am.
Daniels denies the charges of murder or manslaughter, but has admitted to stabbing Millea, although, only in self- defense and with a pair of scissors.
Daniels looked “visibly distressed” when he arrived at his mother’s house in Stockbridge Village at 1:30am, the QC said.
“He was shaking, crying and repeatedly saying that he was sorry.”
“He said that he thought Kayleigh [his girlfriend] was having an affair with someone, and that when that man knocked on the door he stabbed him,” Power said.
The accused also reportedly asked his mother to wash his clothes, which she “wisely” declined to do, Power said.
However, on the morning after the incident, Daniels’ sister Kimberley took him to the barbers to shave off his “distinctive” hair.
Power questioned why he would do this if not to evade being “apprehended for murder.”
Kimberley, who also took away her brother’s clothes, was arrested by police and later pleaded guilty to the offence of assisting an offender and helping them dispose of evidence.
Winter Deaths Rise Triggers Action Call Thursday 23rd of November by Will Stone
Eleven pensioners died every hour last winter, as the latest statistics reveal a rise in the number of deaths at this time of the year.
There were 34,300 “excess deaths” across England and Wales over the last winter period - the second- highest level in the last eight years.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which released the figures yesterday, put the increase down to the “predominant strain of flu” during 2016-17.
The winter death toll has prompted campaigners to demand government action on fuel poverty --- with many elderly unable to afford to heat their homes.
The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) called on the government to launch a new fuel poverty commission, to urgently address the scale of annual winter deaths among Britain’s elderly population.
NPC general secretary Jan Shortt said: “Successive governments have simply ignored the problem of winter deaths among the older population and seem to have a policy of crossing their fingers and hoping things will improve.
“Today’s figures show that this policy simply doesn’t work — in fact things are getting worse.”
She warned that around 3.5 million older people are at risk or suffering fuel poverty due to inadequate heating and insulation.
“The key to tackling winter deaths is to make sure older people have got a well-insulated, warm home - and the income needed to pay the fuel bills,” Ms Shortt argued.
“This is a basic requirement of what a decent society should do.”
The highest number of winter deaths on record was in 2014-15 when the death toll reached almost 44,000.
Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said that the dramatic jump in excess winter deaths in England, was “a terrible rebuke to anyone who thought it was ‘job done’ when it comes to keeping older people safe and sound through the winter.”
She pointed out that the deaths were preventable.
“A less than fully effective flu vaccine is likely to be one culprit, but it's also true that many older people live in poorly insulated homes - and worry about turning up the heating during the cold months, increasing their risk of ill health,” Ms Abrahams said.
Public Health England director Professor John Newton advised.. heating homes to at least 18°C, keeping well stocked on essential food and medicine throughout the winter, and wrapping up in several layers, when going outside.
(Source - Morning Star)
Tory austerity is ‘economic murder’ linked to 120,000 deaths – study 16th of November, at 12:55pm
Tory austerity policies may actually be killing people, according to a landmark study. The government has been accused of “economic murder” as researchers linked hundreds of thousands of deaths, to cuts to public services that began seven years ago.
According to joint research between Oxford, Cambridge and University College London, there have been 120,000 deaths since the Conservatives gained power in 2010.
Although falling short of claiming a direct cause and effect, the study found there were 45,000 more deaths than expected between 2010 and 2014.
It claimed that at this rate the number could reach more than 150,000 deaths by 2020. In other words, Tory policies could claim up to 100 lives per day.
One of the study’s co-authors, Professor Lawrence King of the Applied Health Research Unit at Cambridge University, said: “It is now very clear that austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits: it is bad economics, but good class politics.
"This study shows it is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.”
The research found that the decline in social care funding from an annual 2.20 percent to 1.57 percent coincided with a decline in death rates from 0.77 a year in 2010 to 0.87 percent.
The study also points out that a drop in nurse numbers may be behind 10 percent of deaths, concluding: “We have found that spending constraints since 2010, especially public expenditure on social care, may have produced a substantial mortality gap in England.”
The Department of Health stressed that no direct association should be made. A spokesperson said:“As the researchers themselves note, this study cannot be used to draw any firm conclusions about the cause of excess deaths.
"The NHS is treating more people than ever before and funding is at record levels with an £8 billion [$10.5 billion] increase by 2020-21. We’ve also backed adult social care with £2 billion investment and have 12,700 more doctors and 10,600 more nurses on our wards since May 2010.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the government must endorse Labour’s spending pledges in the Autumn Budget. Responding to the study, he said: “This shocking mortality gap is a damning indictment of the dire impact which sustained Tory cuts to our NHS and social care services have had on health outcomes across the nation.
“Ahead of the Budget, this appalling news must serve as an urgent wake-up call to the prime minister,” Ashworth added, according to the Independent.
“She must match Labour’s pledge to deliver an extra £6 billion for our NHS across the next financial year to ensure the best possible quality of care is sustained for years to come.”
UK Minister and 4 MPs, tip of Grubby Iceberg Saturday October 28th, at 5:38pm
Four British lawmakers have been accused of sexually abusing women at Westminster, according to a report which came, as opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn warned that the abuse of women is “thriving” in the corridors of power.
2 MPs from Corbyn’s Labour Party and 2 from the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Theresa May have been accused of harassing & propositioning young women inappropriately, The Times reported on Saturday.
The Conservative minister involved in the allegations, who is married, is accused of sexually harassing several women, including journalists and aides.
Another married Conservative lawmaker, is also alleged to have abused at least two young researchers, in the past few years.
On the Labour side, the report said, two lawmakers were alleged to have sent multiple inappropriate texts to 'colleagues'. None of the MPs, however, have been named.
The report came on the same day Corbyn said in a speech that politicians engaged in sexual abuse and harassment must be held accountable.
He said there is a “warped and degrading culture” - where the abuse of women is accepted and normalized - and it's thriving in the corridors of power, including Westminster.
A government spokeswoman also said earlier that the prime minister has expressed concern about the recent allegation made against the MPs.
May has also urged victims of sexual harassment and abuse to go to the police, according to her spokeswoman, who said that the government was not aware of any allegations having been formally reported.
The issue of sexual abuse has come to the fore after a recent report said female researchers, aides and secretaries are sharing information on a WhatsApp group about their experiences of harassment, and warning others about potential perpetrators.
Earlier this week, a BBC survey found out that half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work, or a place of study.
(Source - PressTv)
Nobody’s talking about this ‘savage attack’ buried in Universal Credit. But some people could lose thousands. October 13th, 2017 by Steve Topple
As Universal Credit continues to make the headlines, there’s one element of it which barely anyone has spotted. It’s a cut by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that will leave some people who can least afford it up to £5,100 a year worse off.
A barrage of criticism
Universal Credit has faced a barrage of criticism of late, with Labour calling for it to be halted, 25 Tory MPs rebelling against their government, and both the Trussell Trust & Citizens Advice, saying it needs to be paused. But the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke, has said that the Universal Credit roll- out will continue, regardless.
Under the Universal Credit system, previous welfare payments such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), will end. But 2 payments that some disabled people currently receive are not being incorporated into Universal Credit. And campaigners claim this “savage attack” is a “cut too far”.
The Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP) and Severe Disability Premium (SDP), currently give disabled people with high support needs, £15.90 and £62.45 a week, respectively. But under Universal Credit neither [pdf p3-4] payment exists. These, along with ESA and Income Support, will be replaced with the following payments under Universal Credit (NB: the amounts are for single people over the age of 25, without children and unable to work through ill health or disability):
Standard allowance – £317.82 per calendar month (pcm), or £73.34 per week. Limited capability for work (only for claims started before 3 April 2017) – £126.11 pcm or £29.10 per week. Limited capability for work and work related activity – £318.76 pcm or £73.56 per week.
So in total, people who claimed Universal Credit after April 2017, but were previously getting ESA support group rate (£109.65 per week), EDP and SDP, will be set to lose £41.10 a week – as they currently receive £188 a week versus £146.90 under Universal Credit. This means a loss of £2,137.20 a year. But the DWP claims there is a safety net.
The DWP claim
What the DWP is putting into place are “transitional protections“. In theory, it will ensure “some” existing claimants do not receive less when they ‘migrate’ from their current awards, such as ESA, onto Universal Credit. It will work by the DWP “considering” [pdf p1] “topping up” people’s Universal Credit payments. But there are several problems with this:
No one will have this protection until Universal Credit digital is fully rolled out; the DWP plans to start transferring people with existing claims in July 2019.
It only applies to “some” people whose “migration” is “wholly managed by the DWP [pdf p1]. And in these cases transitional protections will be “considered” [pdf p1].
It only applies to existing claimants who have had no change of circumstance.
None of this applies to new claimants, or anyone who has a change of circumstance. So, what the government has effectively done is shaved £2,100 off many disabled people’s entitlements. While other disabled people with similar health conditions won’t get a cut.
The other major problem with this, is that no one else is going to make up the £41.10 shortfall.
As Disability News Service (DNS) reported in January 2016, the government stated that the SDP was:
a payment for care costs rather than daily living costs… [so] costs for care are picked up through the social care system.
In other words, councils would be responsible for making up people’s £41.10 shortfall. But the problem is, councils won’t always do this. As The Canary previously reported, since the former Independent Living Fund (ILF) was closed, councils now receive central government grants for disabled people’s care packages. But this money has not always been ring- fenced, meaning some disabled people have seen their payments reduced by up to 68%. So, therefore, it is unlikely that councils will be able to make up the £41.10 shortfall under Universal Credit.
And if all of this seemed bad, there’s worse. Because if a couple in these circumstances makes a new claim or has a change of circumstance, they’ll lose £113.75 a week – or £5,195 a year. This is because SDP rates are per person, whereas the limited capability element of Universal Credit is a set amount for couples, which is less than double the rate of a single person element.
And if a person is under 25, they’ll lose up to £56.34 a week – or £2,929.68 a year.
The DWP says
It’s important to note that every individual’s circumstance is different under Universal Credit, and in some cases people may be financially better off. But there are also countless people who, it looks like, will not be. Also, The Canary has only analysed rates for people who claim ESA, not those on Income Support, Pension Credits or Jobseeker’s Allowance, who receive SDP.
A DWP spokesperson told The Canary:
''We are committed to supporting people into work while making sure the right care is in place for those that can’t. Under the previous system, support for severely disabled people was complex & poorly targeted. Universal Credit is simpler, and reflects the old system’s two rates for disabled people, with an increased rate for severely disabled people, so support is focussed on those who need it the most. Importantly, those people who are moved onto Universal Credit will not see their benefit reduced.''
But co-Founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) Linda Burnip hit back. She told The Canary:
''The loss of thousands of pounds a year from the income of severely disabled people is an utter and total disgrace. And, even for the Tories, must be seen as a cut too far.
''Research has shown that the additional costs of being disabled is at least £550 per month. While UC [Universal Credit] is designed to try to force people into low paid and insecure employment the people who are going to be affected by this savage attack on their incomes , are also those least likely to be able to work.
What the government is doing with Universal Credit is essentially redefining disability. So, for example a 20- year-old tetraplegic who moved onto Universal Credit on 1 July 2019 from ESA, EDP and SDP, would get their full, previous benefit award ringfenced. But a tetraplegic who turned 18 on 1 July 2019 and started claiming Universal Credit, would, according to the DWP, be less in need of support to the tune of £2,929.68 a year.
In the nefarious world of the Conservative government, this may seem OK. But it must surely seem the cruellest of cuts to the rest of us.
– Support DPAC and Black Triangle, campaigning for disabled people’s rights.
(Source - The Canary)
Jeremy Corbyn tweets:
7.4 million people in Britain are working but in poverty. Universal Credit must be halted now, or this will worsen.
Main article by The Mirror:
Families struggling to pay rent as Universal Credit takes hold...
A report reveals that among claimants who pay rent, 41% are now in arrears, with 82% saying it's for the first time.
British police forces have been arresting children as young as 12, using a 193-year-old law September 23rd, 2017 by Steve Topple Spread the word: Facebook Twitter
Freedom of Information requests (FOI) have revealed that a UK police force has been arresting children as young as 12 under a law passed in 1824; 193 years ago.
As The Bristol Post reported, an FOI it submitted to Avon and Somerset Police, showed that the force arrested eight people in Bristol in the past year, using the Vagrancy Act of 1824. Police charged four of the people, three of whom were homeless when they were arrested. The other four were not homeless and were not convicted. But the use of this archaic law is actually more widespread than just these isolated incidents.
An FOI submitted in 2015 to Avon and Somerset Police shows that between January 2012 and September 2015, it arrested 249 people under the act. And of these, 38 were children aged under 18. While Avon and Somerset Police didn’t detail why children were arrested, the act makes it a criminal offence to:
Wander abroad to beg or gather alms.
Place yourself in public place to beg.
Procure a child to beg.
Be idle and disorderly.
Cause a child to beg.
Lodge in barn outhouse deserted or unoccupied building or open air etc.
Be found on enclosed premises for an unlawful purpose.
Collect alms or endeavour to procure charitable contribution by false pretense.
Profess to tell fortunes.
Wander abroad and expose a wound or deformity to obtain alms.
A nationwide problem
But the use of the act is more widespread in some forces than others. Between 2010-2016 the Metropolitan Police, for example, arrested 6,711 people under the act. While West Yorkshire Police arrested 245 people in the same period.
In 2016/17, police brought 1,810 cases to court under the Vagrancy Act. And while this is a fall of 40% from 3,071 in 2014/15, homeless organisations are critical of the law being used against rough sleepers. Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of homeless charity Crisis, told The Bristol Post:
We understand that councils and the police have to strike a balance between the concerns of local residents and the needs of rough sleepers… Yet people shouldn’t be targeted simply for sleeping on the street. In fact, homeless people are far more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators, and rough sleepers are 17 times more likely to be victims of violence compared to the general public. They deserve better than to be treated as criminals simply because they have nowhere to live.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police told The Bristol Post:
Our Streetwise team, which consists of a police officer and council officer, work full-time in Bristol with other agencies to support people found to be rough sleeping, begging or street drinking.
Their starting point is always to offer support, based on the individual’s needs. If people are persistently begging or street drinking and don’t engage, they could receive a warning. If they continue, an injunction may be used, which if breached, means they could be arrested… Enforcement [is] used as a last resort for people who otherwise won’t take the help offered to them.
Solidarity, not charity. And not criminalisation
Rough sleepers and homeless people are already facing a crisis without being arrested. And the use of archaic legislation to arrest children is unacceptable. Mean- while, the latest figures show that the Conservative government has presided over a:
134% increase in the number of rough sleepers since autumn 2010. 73% increase in the number of children in temporary accommodation since March 2011. 63% increase in the number of households where their council had to step in to stop them being homeless since 2009/10. 60% increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation since March 2011.
Anyone who finds themselves with no roof over their heads needs support, not criminalisation. But at the moment, it appears that some of our police forces are doing the exact opposite.
80 Charities: PIP Failing The Disabled From Start To Finish Thursday September 14th by Felicity Collier
The Tories’ con-tricks on personal independence payments (PIPs), are wrecking the health of disabled people across the board and are a disgraceful failure “from start to finish,” more than 80 charities blasted in a report published today.
A majority of people with long-term conditions — including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and mental health problems — said that being assessed for PIP has harmed their health and caused stress and anxiety, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) said.
The consortium has been digging into PIP since the Tories brought it in to replace disability living allowance (DLA) in 2013.
To get the benefit - which goes towards care and mobility needs - people are forced to go through frequently cruel reviews where they are interrogated about their condition.
There have been numerous injustices, including people being stripped of payments or having them cut, and even losing their mobility scooters and vehicles.
Michael Gibson, 36, has had Parkinson’s since he was 18, and had his mobility car taken off him while his wife was on maternity leave with their second child.
His condition leaves him stiff, struggling to walk, or making involuntary movements.
He said: “It was a horrific time, I can’t use public transport so I didn’t know how I was going to get to work.
“I have never experienced my Parkinson’s symptoms, as bad as when I was going through the PIP process. It was frightening, I felt like I had regressed 10 years with the condition.”
Mr Gibson appealed against the decision but it took so long that the car was taken away before he had got a response.
He had to borrow money from his dad to make sure he could still get around.
He said he worried about paying the bills and became “inward and depressed.”
The Motability charity said that 59,000 people have lost their eligibility for a vehicle since 2013 - nearly half of whom were being reassessed for PIP.
Only 4,000 had a successful reconsideration or appeal.
The number of cases where PIP decisions have been appealed against and overturned is increasing, which the DBC says suggests that first-time assessments are often wrong.
But appealing against a decision means roughly a 17- week wait — without the financial support that has been taken from them.
Anne McRae has two teenage daughters who are profoundly deaf and wear cochlear implants but, having qualified for DLA from birth, they have now been refused PIP.
She called the tests “crude” and “dehumanising,” and said incorrect assumptions about deafness were made, including that their eyesight would compensate for their hearing.
She said: “My daughters have always been profoundly deaf, that’s never going to change, so why are they suddenly being denied support?”
The report made no mention of evidence from a doctor, or a support officer from the National Deaf Children’s Society.
The charity’s chief executive Susan Daniels said: “All across Britain, deaf young people are being denied vital benefits — not because they don’t need them, but because the application process is not accessible for their disability.”
Further problems with PIP involve the application form itself, with nearly three quarters of respondents telling the DBC that it was “hard” or “very hard,” while 11 per cent could not complete it.
Two thirds said that what was written on their form “badly reflected” the answers they gave in their assessment, and over half said assessors didn't understand their condition.
The DBC called for the government to urgently review PIP and make improvements including simpler forms, more knowledgeable assessors, and indefinite support for people with progressive conditions.
(Source - Morning Star)
Pedophile vicar housed in luxury apartment by Church of England August 27th
A pedophile former vicar, and former Church of England national youth officer, is being housed in a luxury apartment paid for by the church.
Paul Battersby was convicted of sexual offences after members of his family discovered a collection of obscene files on his family computer, including a video of a girl being bound and raped by her father.
Last year Liverpool Crown Court heard that after serving jail time in 2010, the 68-year-old downloaded a further 1,730 indecent images featuring children and animals between 2014 and 2017, and also wrote a child sex abuse fantasy, featuring himself.
Now, the Liverpool Echo haS revealed that Battersby is now being housed in a luxury apartment, paid for by the church.
The apartment is in the 29-storey Beetham Tower block, which is found next to West Tower, Liverpool’s tallest building. Two-bedroom apartments in the block can cost up to £165,000, or £1,050 per month to rent, the paper reports.
The block's luxury features include a 24-hour concierge and full leisure facilities - gym, sauna, steam jacuzzi and swimming pool.
Court documents show that the former reverend, who served as a vicar for 31 years, was first jailed for eight months, in 2010, after a police investigation revealed he was in possession of 160 photographs of children being molested.
At his 2010 sentencing hearing, Judge David Aubrey said: “Being a highly-intelligent and highly-articulate man, you should well recognize that each image that you have observed for your own gratification, represents the abuse of a child.
“By doing that which you did, you have perpetrated such abuse of such young children.”
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, a Church of England spokesman said: “It is a matter of deep shame and regret that Paul Battersby has re-offended.
“Downloading indecent images of children is far from a victimless crime – we recognise this as a serious form of child abuse, which can have lifelong effects on victims. We apologize unreservedly for the harm that this will have caused.”
The statement revealed that Battersby was granted the apartment by the church’s pensions board.
“In any case where disclosure is made about a criminal history, or the person comes to the Pensions Board on leaving a custodial sentence, the board works very closely with the managing agencies (for example, the probation service or police) to ensure that the housing it provides meets restrictions set for that individual.”
This, at a time when royal pedophile allegations have been dropped in a UK police cover-up, an ex-cop says.
(Source - RT)
80,000 people have been quietly hit because of Tory attacks on welfare August 21st, by Steve Topple Please share this article: Facebook Twitter
Another 80,000 people appear to have lost their benefits under the Conservative government. And this time, it’s not the result of a direct government cut; but because of sustained attacks on welfare by Theresa May’s Tories.
Cutting by stealth
As AutoExpress reported, the number of people claiming an exemption from vehicle tax dropped by around 80,000; from 1.35 million in February 2015 to 1.26 million in 2016. And while there is no explicit reason for the fall, it may well be the blowback from other benefit cuts.
People can claim an exemption from vehicle tax if they get the higher rate of the mobility component of either Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA). But figures obtained by the Labour Party show that more than 134,000 had their PIP claim rejected in 2016. And on top of this, since 2013 about 51,000 people have lost their government-provided ‘Motability’ vehicles; cars that are specifically adapted for a person.
Assault on the ‘welfare state’
But these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. As The Canary has been documenting, in the space of a year, the UN has released three reports into the current and previous Conservative governments, and the former Coalition one. And in each, it heavily criticised the Tories’ policies regarding sick and disabled people; going so far as to say they had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights.
And due to their austerity agenda since 2010, which the UN said “disproportionately” hit disabled people the hardest, the Tories have cut:
The Independent Living Fund (ILF), which previously supported people with care packages. Since the government cut it, in some areas 88% of people have seen their care packages reduced by up to 50%.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for sick and disabled people in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) by a third. This will affect 500,000 people.
55% a week from ESA for sick and disabled 18-to-25-year-olds.
Personal Independence Payments (PIP) from 164,000 people living with mental health issues. And the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has reduced or stopped PIP for nearly half (45%) of all claimants.
But it’s not just Tory cuts that have hit sick and disabled people so hard. For example:
The DWP was caught up in a scandal involving fit-for- work assessors asking people why they hadn’t “killed” themselves.
A study found that the DWP fit-for-work assessments caused people permanent mental health damage.
62% of people the DWP sanctions live with mental health issues.
10,600 people died after their benefit claims ended.
90 people a month are dying after the DWP declares them ‘fit for work’.
590 people may have taken their own life due, in part, to DWP fit-for-work tests.
It appears that parliament’s summer recess has spelled nothing but bad news for sick and disabled people. The Tories’ have sneaked out cuts and tried to bury reports, all while minimal scrutiny is possible. But with the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People grilling the government on 23 and 24 August, over its treatment of disabled people, the Tories could soon be coming unstuck.
– Support Disabled People Against Cuts, fighting for disability rights.
Care Cut To The Bone But Still Fighting Back Friday August 18th by Felicity Collier at the Royal Courts of Justice.
A landmark case aiming to turn back Tory care cuts reached the Court of Appeal yesterday.
Luke Davey, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and is registered blind, is fighting Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to slash his care package by 42 per cent, saying the council was in breach of the 2014 Care Act, as well as threatening his physical and mental well-being.
The case will be closely watched by thousands of disabled people across Britain who could see cuts to their own care budgets restored. Campaigners staged a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice in support of Mr Davey.
Supporters from Disabled People Against Cuts and charity Inclusion London, which is bringing the case on behalf of Mr Davey, packed the courtroom, forcing the hearing to be moved to a bigger room.
Inclusion London CEO Tracey Lazard told the crowd outside:
“Luke has had his care package cut to the bone.
“Today is vital to Luke and hundreds and thousands of other disabled people dependent on the Care Act.
“The Care Act is meant to protect our well-being and our choice and control — it’s vital that this legislation is honoured, as well as our rights.”
Mr Davey received round-the-clock care until 2015, when the independent living fund (ILF) was abolished and the local council had to take sole responsibility for care funding, seeing his total weekly budget slashed from £1,651 — £730 provided by the ILF — to just £950.
It meant that his care was cut to 18 hours a day and he was no longer able to go to college or do charity work.
Mr Davey has had essentially the same team of carers for the last 20 years, but some were now considering leaving as he has been forced to cut their pay and hours because of the shortfall.
His lawyer Jamie Burton told the court that this breached the Care Act, presenting “signifi cant risks to his mental health,” including increased anxiety through “spending too much time alone.”
Mr Davey’s mother Jasmine, who is 76 and has cancer, was having to plug the shortfall to up the number of hours to 20, the court heard.
The council “didn’t ask about consequences,” said Mr Burton, and while it did not say that it could not “afford” the care team, it just “didn’t believe the care team would break up.”
Mr Davey lives in a remote and rural part of Oxfordshire and staff are no longer receiving petrol money.
A High Court judge had earlier upheld the council’s view that an £8.50 per hour wage was the going rate for carers in the borough.
Mr Burton said: “His carers persistently say they can’t cut their income any further and keep their jobs.”
The court heard how the local authority thought it was better for him to have a new team — perhaps a live-in team — and said it poses no risks to his health to change the team.
Mr Burton told the court that Mr Davey had “made it abundantly clear that he wanted his team to stay in place,” and he deemed that the council’s conclusion was not only “incompatible” but a breach of the Care Act.
DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip told the Star:
“It’s a really, really important case. “It’s vital for disabled people that we win the case.
“We’re being inundated every day because people have had their care packages cut.”
(Source - Morning Star)
CCTV to be mandatory in all English slaughterhouses: govt August 12th, 2017
Slaughterhouses in England will be mandatorily fitted with CCTV, when new plans to safeguard animal welfare, and reassure consumers, come into effect, after a public consultation process.
The plans were unveiled on Friday by Environment Secretary Michael Gove as the country seeks to cement its position as a“global leader on animal welfare.”
The proposals will make good on a pledge in the Conservative Party’s manifesto for CCTV to be installed in any facility, and in all areas, where live animals are, with unrestricted access to recorded footage for official vets.
The proposal relates solely to England - as animal welfare policy is devolved.
“We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and the actions I am setting out today will reinforce our status as a global leader,”Gove said.
“As we prepare to leave the EU, these measures provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that our food is produced to the very highest standards,”he added.
The government also confirmed that it will raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by“modernizing statutory animal welfare codes, to reflect enhancements in medicines, technology and the latest research and advice from vets.”
These codes will remain enshrined in law, and the first to be updated will cover chickens being bred for meat. Welfare codes on a variety of different animals - from laying hens to cats, dogs and horses - will be updated over the next year.
The British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz welcomed the announcement.
“Mandatory CCTV in all areas of slaughterhouses will provide an essential tool in fostering a culture of compassion that could help safeguard animal welfare --- and we are particularly pleased to see a commitment to Official Veterinarians having unrestricted access to footage, which BVA has been calling for.
“Vets’ independence and unique qualifications help ensure that the UK will continue to have the highest standards of animal health, welfare and food safety,” he said.
COME ON WALES - DON'T FALL BEHIND ON THIS ONE!
(Please check with your Assembly member)
Angela Rayner MP Verified twitter account @AngelaRayner July 26th at 7:46pm
Tory claims that free school meals were unaffordable and that they would provide free breakfasts instead have now been abandoned.
Jeremy Corbyn @jeremycorbyn July 25th
The @conservatives' mistreatment of NHS staff has led to an understaffing crisis, seriously threatening patient care.
More than 86,000 NHS posts were vacant between January 2017 and March 2017, figures for England alone, suggest.
Statistics from NHS Digital, which collates data, shows the vacancies number climbed by almost 8,000 - compared to the same period in 2016.
And if you think we're ok in Wales... !!?*!
Tories Mug Pensioners - Again! July 20th, 2017
The Government has been accused of "picking the pockets" of millions of people in their 40s, after announcing that anyone born between 1970 and 1978, will have to wait for an extra year, before receiving their state pension.
The state pension age for men and women will rise from 67 to 68, between 2037 and 2039 --- seven years earlier than previously planned, in a move designed to ''save £74 billion'' by 2045/46, Work and Pensions Secretary, David Gawke, told the House of Commons.
(Source - Huff Post)
Theresa May’s government won’t compensate children who were raped. It says they ‘consented’ to the abuse July 18th, by Steve Topple Please share this article: on Facebook Twitter
Children as young as 12 who are survivors of rape & sexual assault are being refused compensation by the government. The grounds for its denial? That the children consented to their abuse.
It’s your own fault
A group of five charities submitted a Freedom of Information request (FOI) to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). And it revealed CICA refused to compensate over 700 children who'd been raped or sexually assaulted. Even when the crimes perpetrators had been jailed.
And the group of charities says that, in some cases, CICA told survivors it was because they consented to their rape or sexual assault.
The Guardian reports that Barnardo’s, Victim Support, Liberty, Rape Crisis and the National Working Group (NWG) --- have written to Justice Secretary David Lidington, demanding he reviews CICA guidelines.
When giving evidence to the government’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (CSA Inquiry), Barnardo’s said the CICA policy:
…differentiates between consent ‘in fact’ and consent as stated by the law... In the case of the young person that applied for compensation, [it] was denied because CICA stated that ‘In [the claimant’s] case it appears she willingly entered into a sexual relationship with [the] alleged offender’… We are very worried that CICA’s policy goes against consideration of consent in law…
Additionally, CICA’s view on consent appears to lack understanding on sexually abusive and exploitative relationships. In such relationships, the victim may appear to ‘consent’… yet, in such situations, the abuser will have carefully groomed & manipulated the young person into believing that the relationship & abuse, is normal. This grooming process is often so carefully carried out, that the young person is unaware they are a victim. This does not mean that the young person is not, in fact, a victim…
We are also concerned that CICA’s apparent lack of understanding on the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation can cause distress to young people who have been the victims of these crimes.
When ‘rape’ isn’t ‘rape’
As The Guardian reported:
In one example, a gang of older men were jailed for 30 years --- after being convicted of raping and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. Her case was taken up by Victim Support; she was denied compensation by CICA on the grounds that ‘she had not been the victim of non-consensual sexual acts’.
She was devastated and left with the feeling that she was somehow responsible for the abuse she had suffered, the charity said.
The Canary contacted CICA for comment but it failed to respond.
The attitude of CICA, and the government more broadly, is staggering. If it's not traumatic enough that children have to go through the unimaginable torture of rape and sexual abuse, to then have the government body that’s supposed to defend you saying, at best, ‘Well – it’s your own fault, really’, is a national outrage. The Conservative government must heed the charities’ demands and change the rules by which CICA is governed. Quickly.
– If you, or someone you know, need to talk, call Childline on 0800 1111.
– If it is a medical emergency, or someone’s life is at risk, dial 999.
– Support YoungMinds, the voice for young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
– Volunteer with Childline.
London MP demands carrying acid be made illegal after 90-min. attack spree July 14th, at 3:27pm
Carrying corrosive fluids should be made a crime, an MP has said, after two men on mopeds went on an acid attack spree across London, on Thursday night, inflicting “life changing” injuries.
The Metropolitan Police say two teenagers have been arrested, as a major investigation into the series of attacks that took place in less than 90 minutes, is launched. The assaults appear to be linked, and two of the victims had their mopeds stolen, police added.
A 32-year-old man on a moped was left with facial injuries in Hackney after another moped with two male riders pulled up alongside him and threw a corrosive substance in his face.
One of the men stole his moped and the other drove away on the vehicle they arrived on. Police said the victim had gone to an east London hospital and they are awaiting an update on his injuries.
Little more than 20 minutes later, another victim was sprayed with the liquid in Islington. He was taken to a hospital in north London.
About 15 minutes after, an attacker targeted another man, in Shoreditch High Street. His injuries are not life-threatening, police said.
The men on mopeds then struck again, hurling acid at a man on Cazenove Road, causing “life changing” injuries.
The final assault of the night was reported to the police at 11:37 local time, when another man was confronted as he sat on his moped in traffic on Chatsworth Road. After they sprayed acid in his face, the moped was stolen and the attackers fled.
The assaults take place, amid increasing concern about a sharp rise in acid attacks across London.
Since 2010, there have been more than 1,900 reports of attacks involving corrosive fluids in London. Last year, it was used in 458 crimes, compared to 261 in 2015, according to Metropolitan Police figures.
Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, is calling for carrying acid to be made a crime. He will argue at a parliamentary debate on Monday, that the regulations surrounding acid, should be overhauled “very quickly.”
“Carrying acid should, in itself, be an offence, in the same way that carrying a knife was made an offence, several years ago,”he told the BBC.
“I think that’s been a pretty effective change, and I think the same change should be made for acid.”
Under the current law, if police stop someone carrying acid, they have to prove an intent to cause harm.
(Source - RT)
THE PLAN THAT MAY FORGOT Thursday June 22nd by Lamiat Sabin
A "threadbare" Queen’s Speech proves that the Tories have simply run out of ideas, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday during a Commons debate after the opening of Parliament.
He pointed out that the stumbling party’s programme of forthcoming legislation - dominated by Bills concerning Brexit - would be "thin" even if spread over a year, let alone two years, as planned.
Mr Corbyn welcomed the dumping of several manifesto pledges from the speech, including grammar school plans, means-testing winter fuel allowances for pensioners and ending the state pension fund triple lock.
To avoid more shambolic U-turns by PM Theresa May on policies that horrified even seasoned Conservative voters, Mr Corbyn called on her government to "listen to the wisdom" of MPs more often - especially while negotiating a critical Brexit deal with EU neighbours.
The Labour leader went on to attack Ms May over police cuts, and admonished her for claiming that the officers were "crying wolf" by voicing concerns while she was home secretary.
He also reminded Ms May that she began her general election campaign by stating that if she lost six seats then she would lose the election. She lost 13 and has been forced into a misjudged monster mash-up with B movie villains, the DUP.
Mr Corbyn continued: "When it came to it, she lost more than four times that many seats to Labour.
"From Cardiff to Canterbury, from Stockton to Kensington, people chose hope over fear. & they sent an unequivocal message, an unequivocal message Mr Speaker: that austerity must be brought to an end."
Mr Corbyn also paid tribute to hundreds of residents that were killed or displaced by the Grenfell Tower fire in west London last week, and said that the newly announced public inquiry into the tragic incident & responsibility of the Tory-led Kensington and Chelsea council, needs to provide solid answers.
"Something has gone horrifically wrong, the North Kensington community are demanding answers, and they’re entitled to those answers," he said.
"Thousands of people living in tower blocks around the country, need urgent reassurance. The emergency services, especially the fire and rescue services in this case, deserve our deepest respect & support."
Firefighters at the 24-floor Grenfell Tower worked flat-out with the resources they were given, to eventually put out the devastating fire, which blazed on for over 24 hours, after it had started.
All emergency workers deserve dignity:by the government providing full funded services and proper pay, pensions terms and conditions,he added.
"Those firefighters worked incredibly long shifts, in part because there are 600 fewer firefighters in London; 10 fewer fire stations in London.
"Cuts and closures forced through by the previous mayor of London," he said, referring to the former Tory mayor Boris Johnson.
He asked whether the government would make emergency funds available for councils to install sprinklers & check that exterior cladding on housing blocks would not encourage fire to spread at the horrific rate that it did, on Grenfell Tower.
Concluding, he said:"This is a government without a majority, without a mandate, without a serious legislative programme, led by a Prime Minister who has lost her political authority and is struggling to stitch together a deal with the DUP to stay in office.
"We will use every opportunity to vote down government policies that failed to win public support and we will use every opportunity to win support for our programme."
(Source - Morning Star)
Rising abuse of elderly people impacts on health, wellbeing: WHO June 15th
Xinhua - One in six elderly people aged 60 and over, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, suffers various forms of abuse, inflicting an impact on their health & wellbeing, a new study by the World Health Organization says on Wednesday.
The study, supported by the WHO and published in the Lancet Global Health, draws on the best available evidence from 52 studies in 28 countries from different regions, including 12 low- and middle-income countries.
It has found that almost 16% of people aged 60 years and older, were subjected to either psychological or financial, or physical, or sexual abuse, or neglect.
The most pervasive, for example, is psychological abuse, which includes behaviours that harm an older person's self-worth or wellbeing, such as name calling, scaring, embarrassing, destroying property, or preventing them from seeing friends and family.
All forms of the abuse can have health effects on the aged, such as traumatic injury and pain, depression, stress and anxiety, and hence a possible increased risk of nursing home placement, use of emergency services, hospitalization and death.
"Despite the frequency and the serious health consequences, elder abuse remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, & one of the least addressed in national plans to prevent violence,"says Alana Officer, Senior Health Adviser, Department of Ageing and Life Course at WHO.
"We must do much more to prevent and respond to the increasing frequency of different forms of abuse."
By 2050, the number of people aged 60 and over will double to reach two billion globally, with the vast majority of older people living in low- and middle-income countries, the study says.
If the proportion of elder abuse victims remains constant, the number of people affected will increase rapidly due to population ageing, growing to 320 million victims by 2050.
To address the situation, health ministers from the globe adopted the WHO Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health at the World Health Assembly, in May 2016.
Priority would be given to improving studies on the frequency of elder abuse, particularly in low- & middle-income countries from South-East Asia, Middle East and Africa, where little data had been available.
The WHO strategy would also collect evidence and develop guidance on what works to effectively prevent and respond to elder abuse.
The UN General Assembly has also designated June 15th, as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, for the whole world to voice its opposition to the abuse on and suffering of the older generations.
LibDem Leader says he must 'remain faithful to Christ' Wednesday June 14th, 2017
The UK's Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, resigned today following the resignation of home affairs spokes- person, Brian Paddick, because of his controversial Christian views.
Mr Farron was dogged throughout the election campaign over refusing to clarify whether he believed gay sex was a sin, and because he has previously stated that abortion is wrong.
Mr Farron claimed it would be "impossible" to "remain faithful to Christ" and lead the Lib Dems - apparently because of their support for equal rights: rather than the party's record of putting the boot into the poor and vulnerable over five years in coalition with the Conservatives - during which time, thousands of people died, after being declared "fit for work" by callous government tests.
(Source - Morning Star)
Timothy Hinkley in Pravda, comments on May's weak and unstable position:
Her position was weakened substantially by the fact that another terrorist attack occurred, days before the general election (the second in the campaign), when it was revealed that she was responsible for cutting the police force by 20,000 officers on the streets, something which would defy logic, in the event of increased terrorist threats.
There are rumors that her husband is connected to a private security firm. It remains to be proved how many contracts are awarded to this firm by the Government, to cover for the lack of policing. Under investigation.
Another allegation which has been bubbling, but which hasn't yet exploded, is the disappearance of the many files on paedophilia in the House of Commons -- gathered since the 1970s -- which allegedly disappeared from the Home Office (Interior Ministry) under her nose and on her watch. Under investigation.
‘Two-Child’ Benefits Limit Could Push 200,000 Children To Poverty, Charities Say 6/4/2017
Major changes to the benefits system coming into force today will condemn hundreds of thousands more children to poverty, charities have warned.
The Children’s Society called on the Government, to think again over imposing a new “two-child limit” on Universal Credit and child tax credit, as the move will impact on three million children.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) made a similar plea as it cited independent research forecasting that 200,000 children may be pushed into poverty by the changes.
(source Huff Post)
________________________ DWP to repay man with no legs whose ESA was cut because he ‘could climb stairs with his arms’ Thursday 2nd March
Only on Tuesday, Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green was extolling the virtues of the DWP work capability assessment procedures, in his answer to an urgent question on the Personal Independence Payment.
The Department for Work and Pensions admits it “ticked the wrong box” when it deemed a double amputee capable of “climbing” the stairs with his arms and thus “fit to work”.
Does anybody really believe a DWP assessor “ticked the wrong box” by accident? I don’t.
It was a cynical attempt to take benefits away from a man who needed them, in the belief that he would not have the wherewithal to challenge the decision. Such despicable behaviour is typical of DWP benefit assessments at the moment --- and it is easy to understand why demand is rising for the work capability assessment – and the Department for Work & Pensions itself – to be scrapped.
Julius Holgate, who lives in Hackney, has won his appeal against the DWP’s “outrageous” decision after an intervention by the Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC).
He fell into debt and was reduced to pawning his jewellery to survive, after he was awarded zero points in his medical assessment, meaning his Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was stopped in January. After last week’s decision, he will be repaid the cash he missed out on.
At the time, the DWP said because Julius’ arms were in working order, he could use them to “climb” stairs and therefore had “mobility”. The department has now backed down and apologised, saying the decision was a “clerical error”.
Julius said the DWP should be more careful when assessing people...
(Source: Government to repay Hackney man with no legs whose benefits were cut, as he ‘could climb stairs with his arms’ – Hackney Gazette.)
(by Mike Sivier in Vox Political)
Welfare Slashing ‘Leaves Disabled Unable To Live’ by Zoe Streatfield Friday 3rd February 2017 Proposed £30 ESA cut will mean many can’t afford the essentials of life
The Tories’ plans to slash unemployment benefit for disabled people making new claims, could leave some unable to afford the essentials of life, MPs warned yesterday.
Under government plans, from April, new ESA claimants assessed as 'fit for work' will see their benefits cut by £29.05 to £73.10 per week, the same rate as jobseeker’s allowance (JSA).
The government claims the changes will help halve the “disability employment gap” — the difference between the employment rates of the disabled and non-disabled — and save the Treasury an estimated £1 billion by 2020-21.
However, the Commons work and pensions committee said the cut could leave some people -- with lower disposable incomes than JSA claimants as they often face unavoidably higher living costs due to their disability.
The evidence that reducing employment and support allowance (ESA), would provide an incentive for disabled people to find work was “ambiguous at best,” the report concluded.
The committee said its members had heard “substantial concerns about the possible impact of the new rate on disabled people’s capacity to look for and move into work.”
Committee chairman Frank Field said that if the government intended to proceed with the cuts “we expect an explanation of how this will not be detrimental to its aim of halving the disability employment gap by making finding and keeping a job, even more difficult for disabled people than it already is.”
The committee called on the government to respond to the report before the new lower rate of ESA is introduced in April.
Disabled People Against Cuts founder Linda Burnip told the Star that the Tories’ welfare changes are painting a “really grim picture” -- and having a “massive impact on disabled people, overall.”
She said there was stark evidence that the latest round of cuts will “push people further & further into poverty” and would lead to claimants “not being able to meet their additional needs, as disabled people.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman:
“Our welfare reforms are increasing the support and incentives for people to move into work, while keeping an important safety net in place for those who need it.”
(source - Morning Star)
The scandal of unfairly-refused sickness and disability benefits: it isn’t new, but it is killing Thursday 5th of January 2017 by Mike Sivier
Amazingly, this is still being treated as news, when it is, in fact, an ongoing scandal.
Perhaps we should take this as a sign that the Conservative Government laid its groundwork well; the incessant hate campaigns against sickness and disability benefit claimants have made it seem – to the unobservant member of the public – that these people deserve to lose their benefit payments because they are all cynical scroungers who simply don’t want to do a decent day’s work.
If that was true, why do so many of them suffer in poverty when the money is cut off? Why do so many of them die?
The simple answer is that the claim that they are all perfectly fit is a lie. Less than half of 1 per cent of sickness & disability benefit claims are fraudulent, but a far larger proportion are having their claims overturned.
We know that the assessors – for private firms Capita and Atos – don’t do their job properly. They have targets to hit (even though the Department for Work and Pensions – their employers – deny it with all their lying might).
We know that the assessment system is rubbish. It assumes that any ill-health professed by a claimant is entirely in their mind, or made up by them to get the benefit, and its questions are skewed in order to make it possible for this to be claimed.
Medical evidence by doctors is routinely ignored – in fact, the system is designed to do so.
And we know that the appeal system is designed to put people off demanding their right as citizens of the United Kingdom. Mandatory reassessment by the initial assessors was introduced, because too many people were winning on appeal so the Conservatives wanted to put a barrier in their way – a means of withholding payment while an excuse was found to continue withholding payment, for an unlimited period of time.
Only after a mandatory reassessment had run its course, could a claimant appeal – if the extreme poverty into which the DWP, Atos or Capita had thrown them had not forced them to give up and claim another benefit or try to do a job (and how many of those who managed to get one have suffered serious health issues as a result? Nobody tracks these), & if the stress of going through this Kafka-esque system, has not already killed them.
The appeal process is also relatively lengthy, but the success rate is remarkable – far higher than that of mandatory reassessments. So we may conclude that the assessment system is seriously at fault.
The DWP absolutely refuses to draw this obvious conclusion, though.
And in the background,the number of deaths just keeps on rising.
The solution is to outlaw any private, profit-driven firm from carrying out health assessments on people in the United Kingdom, to disband the Department for Work & Pensions and ensure none of the civil servants who made the key decisions ever work in the public sector again, and to start from scratch with a new system, based on a claimant’s health, rather than on fantasy.
That requires a change of government.
Until then, the current system will continue putting people off claiming, in the hope that they will go away and not bother the public finances again – either by getting a job, living off the good graces of relatives and friends, or dying.
Dying is the preferred option of the DWP, according to all the evidence.
It is a scandal of terrifying proportions. It has been going on for years. But still the media organisations are treating it as a surprise.
To be struck down with illness or disability is difficult enough. To then have to fight tooth and nail for benefits to which one has a genuine right, is soul-destroying.
Increasingly, it’s being reported that people in Stoke-on-Trent have Personal Independence Payments (PIP) rejected. And yet when these decisions are taken to tribunal, they are, say organisations representing the disabled, routinely overturned.
Not only does that suggest the system, overseen by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), is deeply flawed, but those who fall victim to it are forced to wait months without payment, before their appeal is heard.
Atos and Capita are the Government contractors charged with getting the system right. But putting the private sector into healthcare, isn’t something of which everyone is a fan. There’s a risk, they say, financial targets might cloud reasoned judgment.
Last year, a mental health nurse, sent undercover to train as a personal independence payment assessor with Capita, was told in training that the company needed its assessors “to be doing as many assessments a day as you can possibly manage”.
One assessor revealed he sometimes completed his assessment reports before even meeting claimants, stating he could usually “completely dismiss” what he was told by PIP claimants, and making offensive comments about an overweight claimant who was unable to carry out her own personal care. He also claimed some assessors were earning up to £20,000 a month at a time when the DWP was trying to clear an embarrassing backlog of claims. “We were flying through them, because of that money,” he said.
Source: Big Issue: ‘Many disabled people simply give up’ – the scandal of unpaid benefit payments
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DWP ‘Hid 7 Deaths From Review Team’ Saturday 31st December 2016 Underhand ministers ‘showed contempt for disabled people’ by Felicity Collier
The Department for Work and Pensions “hid” the deaths of seven disability benefit claimants from an independent expert hired to review its “fitness for work” assessments, a freedom of information (FOI) request has found.
Campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) accused the government of showing “contempt for disabled people’s lives and wellbeing.”
The FOI request, obtained by the Independent newspaper, revealed that data from the DWP’s work capability assessments was withheld from Professor Malcolm Harrington, who was preparing a report on them.
The assessments are used by the DWP to determine whether claimants are entitled to sickness benefits. It is mandatory practice that claimant deaths - including suicides - which could be linked to the test, are peer-reviewed.
Speaking to the Disability News Service website, Prof Harrington said: “I have NO recollection of seeing any of these reviews.
“Such damning indictments of the system - if seen - should have triggered a response from me. It didn’t.”
DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip said: “The failure of the DWP to pass on all the information to Malcolm Harrington relating to the deaths of disabled people -- which were a direct result of the failure of their work capability assessments -- show their contempt for disabled people’s lives and wellbeing.”
She said the Disability News Service had worked relentlessly to uncover the information “in spite of the many obstacles put in the way by the DWP, in trying to suppress the truth.”
In its response to the FOI request, the DWP said: “The department does not hold any information to confirm or deny whether these peer reviews were shared with Prof Harrington.”
On Thursday, it was reported that James Harrison, a man who was physically and mentally unwell, had died 10 months after his doctor was told, by the DWP, to stop writing him sick notes.
Mr Harrison, of Liverpool, had been suffering from a serious lung condition and a hernia, as well as depression and anxiety.
His mental health condition developed after he lost his job at a community centre near his home when it was forced to close by government spending cuts. He had worked there since leaving school.
In the months before his death, he was declared “fit for work” following a work capability assess- ment with the DWP in Birkenhead. But he none- theless needed to see his doctor regularly.
Only when his daughter asked to see his medical records was it revealed --- that the DWP had contacted his GP declaring him “fit for work” and asking for him not to undergo any further assessment unless an appeal was made, his condition worsened significantly, or a new medical condition arose.
Ms Burnip commented: “It is totally unacceptable that a job centre manager with no medical training can tell a GP to stop writing fit notes for a patient.
“There should be an independent inquiry into how this was allowed to happen.”
(source - Morning Star)
Malnutrition has tripled since 2008:but Tories say the cause can’t be identified. It’ll be ESA by Mike Sivier - Vox Political
‘Poverty is causing vulnerable people … to go hungry and undernourished,’shadow health secretary says.
Isn’t it interesting that the official figures show malnutrition increasing hugely, year-on-year, from 2008 onwards – when the Employment and Support Allowance was introduced - but the Conservative Government is insisting that no cause can be identified?
ESA, with a hated, nonsensical Work Capability Assessment, which governs whether a claimant qualifies for the benefit, was introduced in 2008.
This Blog ran an article on the increase in malnutrition in November, but reader Tony Dean went further - requesting information from the Department of Health.
In the financial year 2007-8, there were 7,695 primary diagnoses of malnutrition – up from 6,704 the previous year. Secondary diagnoses had fallen from 58,344 the previous year, to 57,052.
From then on, the figures started to increase – hugely. In 2015-16 there were 17,166 primary diagnoses of malnutrition and a massive 167,362 secondary diagnoses.
Primary diagnoses describe the most serious or resource-intensive condition suffered by a patient who is hospitalised for any period of time. A secondary diagnosis describes those conditions that coexist at the time of admission, or develop subsequently, and that affect the patient for the current episode of care.
So we are seeing not only an increase in malnutrition as an illness in its own right --- but a massive increase in it, as a contributory factor to other illnesses.
The information may be found here. It was provided by Health Under-Secretary Nicola Blackwood in response to a question by Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth in November.
Ms Blackwood: “The cause of the malnutrition is not presented in these figures and it is not possible to make assumptions on which factor was responsible for the admission.
“Malnutrition can be caused by a variety of factors, including an inability to absorb nutrients normally, or a condition or disease which affects a patient’s ability to feed normally.”
Doesn’t this sound eerily similar to the Department for Work and Pensions’ mantra about suicides by benefit claimants? That line runs something like this: “Any suicide is a tragedy and the reasons for them are complex, however it would be inaccurate and misleading to link it solely to a person’s benefit claim.” (The word “solely” was added fairly recently, after the Department’s chiefs realised that mounting evidence had shown they could no longer deny all guilt.
Strangely, nobody has yet prosecuted the DWP for corporate manslaughter, after this admission).
This Writer thinks it is entirely possible to make assumptions on the facts responsible for the admissions. But there is no need to do so; unlike the suicides, people who have been treated for malnutrition are not likely to be dead.
So why not ask them why they were going hungry?
It’s a simple enough question. If the Department of Health is too busy to do the work itself, I’m sure some of the rest of us could step in and lend a hand.
Or is the government afraid of the answer?
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Tory government policy made Legal Aid lawyer shortage inevitable by Mike Sivier /Vox Political
Charities warn there are less and less legal aid housing lawyers in practice
When the Conservatives cut the amount of money available for Legal Aid, they knew it would happen.
Thousands of people are being made homeless every year, because they cannot find lawyers to help them resist eviction, charities are warning.
Even though legal aid is available to help anyone in danger of losing their home, there has been an 18% decline in the number of challenges brought -- at a time of record repossessions in the private rental market.
The latest figures, highlighted by the Legal Action Group (LAG) and the homeless charity Shelter, reinforce warnings by the Law Society, that “advice deserts”, where few, if any, lawyers are left in practice, who are capable of dealing with legal aid housing cases, are emerging across Wales.
Source: Thousands left homeless by shortage of legal aid lawyers, say charities | The Guardian
DWP staff - £140 million in bonuses for sanctioning people off benefits? by Mike Sivier Vox Political
Gosh – nearly £140 million in bonuses to DWP staff in three years is pretty impressive. What did those people do to deserve that cash?
Run a ‘Space Invaders Challenge’ (whatever that is) to get Employment and Support Allowance claimants off their books, as staff at Yardley Job Centre did?
Employment Minister Justin Tomlinson was shamed into ordering Job Centre “advisers” to take down the poster, but his only comment was that it was not “presented in the best way.”
Or did they…
Award themselves ‘sheriff stars’ for hitting sanction targets?
According to The Void, Job Centres are being awarded special 'sheriff stars' for meeting sanction targets (that's right - the sanction targets that the DWP keeps insisting don't exist, even after being presented with the proof).
According to The Void, Job Centres were being awarded special ‘sheriff stars’ for meeting sanction targets. Link:
I know – the DWP insists that it has no targets for sanctions, even after being presented with photographic proof.
Or did they do even worse things that have yet to be made public?
For a current example of the way Job Centres treat benefit claimants, see: Teen committed suicide after being ‘belittled’ by Job Centre staff
Over the last 3 years, the Department for Work and Pensions has handed out £139.9 million in bonuses to its staff – £124.37 million of which has gone to Senior Civil servants.
In the year ending April 2015, the DWP paid out £42.1 million, slightly less than the year before when bonuses totalled £46.5 million.
The DWP has insisted that bonuses are only paid to employees whose work is consistently good or outstanding.
Responding to a written question from Andrew Gwynne MP, Work and Pensions Minister Justin Tomlinson said: “In line with Civil Service pay guidance, DWP rewards employees for their performance through either end of year non- consolidated payments and/or in-year pay- ments. In year payments are limited to 0.23% of the total DWP paybill.
“Employees who've attained agreed performance levels as part of their performance review may receive end of year non-consolidated payments based on their grade & end of year performance marking. End of year payments are limited to 1.9% of the total DWP paybill”
Source: DWP staff received almost £140 million in bonuses over the last three years | The Independent
Note: The figures relate to the three years up to late 2015. Who knows how much has been handed out to DWP staff since then?
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Liberal Democrats fined £20,000 for undeclared election spending. When we will hear about the Tories? by Mike Sivier Vox Political
If any Lib Dems scoffed at Labour for having to pay £20 grand because of the ‘Ed Stone’ (and other undeclareds), they’ll need to eat a bit of humble pie.
This Writer is more concerned that this does not indicate a direction of travel, regarding ongoing investigations into Conservative Party election spending.
As far as I can tell, none of the undeclared Labour or Lib Dem expenditure is being suggested as having changed the result of the general election in particular seats.
But if the Conservative MPs under investigation turn out to have broken the rules, it seems far more likely that they took their Parliamentary seats illegally.
With around 30 Tories under suspicion, and the party’s majority in the Commons standing at much fewer, the outcome of the whole election is cast into doubt.
That is a much more serious offence – which of course is why the police are investigating.
We will need to keep a watchful eye on events -- to ensure Conservatives aren’t let off lightly – if any guilt is proved.
The Liberal Democrats have been hit with a maximum £20,000 fine by the Electoral Commission, for failing to declare hundreds of items of campaign spending at the general election.
The watchdog notified the police of a possible electoral offence after 307 payments totalling £184,676 were found to be missing from the Liberal Democrats’ spending return “without a reasonable excuse”.
In addition, invoices supporting 122 out of the 307 payments were missing from the return. It says declarations to the Electoral Commission "may have been signed recklessly", as there was evidence indicating some people in the party knew it was incorrect.
The Lib Dems say, it's a result of “human error and failure of process”. However, Bob Posner, the director of political finance at the Electoral Commission, said there were “systemic failures in ensuring that the rules were being followed”.
Source: Lib Dems fined £20,000 for undeclared election spending | Politics | The Guardian
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Third Of Domestic Abuse Starts During Pregnancy by Lamiat Sabin
Up to 60% of women who experience domestic violence, are abused by their partners while pregnant, a midwives’ union says -- as a new campaign is launched to combat the problem.
Nearly a third (30 per cent) of abuse cases are triggered by pregnancy, and existing violent behaviour escalates, when the victim is expecting a baby, according to statistics provided by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).
The report shows that this is due to a partner’s inability to cope with their jealousy and anger, towards an unborn child.
Domestic violence has overtaken gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia as the main cause of foetal death, as pregnant women are more likely to be hit on the abdomen by a partner or ex.
The risk of severe violence appears to be greatest after a child is born, the report adds.
The data used in the Domestic Violence and Pregnancy report, published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, were drawn from victim admissions to A&E.
It is likely that the prevalence of violence against women and their unborn and newborn children is under-reported --- since many expectant and new mothers find it difficult to seek help, the RCM said.
Midwives play a crucial role in identifying abuse, by being alert to unexplained injuries and causes of damage to a baby, RCM policy adviser Janet Fyle says.
The RCM joined government, domestic abuse charity SafeLives and other organisations, in launching 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence Campaign, which runs to December 3.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow minister for women and equalities, Sarah Champion, made a joint statement to mark the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.
They said: “We must support the incredible work of women’s organisations who provide essential, life- saving services to survivors.
“It is unacceptable that these specialist organisations who support women and girls have seen resources decimated in the name of austerity.”
A Labour government would introduce statutory, age-appropriate school lessons to teach children about healthy relationships and friendships, and also how to identify abuse.
Mr Corbyn and Ms Champion condemned the “unacceptable” government cuts to women’s aid charities and vowed that Labour would increase funding.
Earlier this month, ministers launched a temporary £20 million pot of funding for refuges and domestic violence support services, which have to bid for a share of the money.
(source Morning Star)
More need, less money: older people are missing out on the care they need by Ignacio Amigo There are currently 1.2 million older people in the UK living with some basic need unmet. That’s 48% more than six years ago. Basic needs include things such as getting out of bed, washing, or going to the toilet.
Those are the shocking findings of a new analysis by Age UK, a charity dedicated to the elderly.
Of those 1.2 million older people, about 40% do get some kind of support, but the support is insufficient. This often means that carers are only available at particular times of the day. The rest – almost 700,000 people – don’t get any help at all.
Age UK also highlights the dramatic situation of the 291,400 older people that have three or more needs unmet. Of those, more than 20% fall into the group that receives no help whatsoever.
Carolyn Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, has asked the government to pledge giving social care priority in the forthcoming Autumn Statement, which will be published on 23 November.
The numbers shown by Age UK should come as no surprise, after years of budget cuts. A recent BBC analysis showed that spending on care for people over 65 has dropped by 20% since 2004. Over the same period, the proportion of people over 65 in the UK has increased another 20% [PDF, page 4]. This means that there is now less money to treat more people.
In fact, in the last few years, there has been a great reduction in the number of older people receiving care from the state. While in 2009 there were more than 1.1 million people receiving care funded by local authorities, that number fell to 853,615 by 2013/2014 [PDF, page 16].
Ruth Thorlby, Deputy Director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust, sums up the situation perfectly:
The number of older people needing care is increasing and yet we are continuing to put less money in. Unmet need is rising, many providers are threatening to pull out of contracts, the wellbeing of carers is deteriorating, access to care is get- ting worse. A Government that wants to create ‘a country which works for everyone’ --- should not tolerate the oldest, most vulnerable, falling in to a social care system, riddled with holes.”
Poor people are being hit harder
The lack of care funding is not affecting everyone equally. A recent report by The King’s Fund warns us, that a change in the care providers’ business strategy is taking place. Due to the reduction of fees paid by local authorities, as well as other increasing pressures, many care providers are concentrating on people who can pay for their own care. This is creating a ‘two-tier’ system: one for people with higher income, and one for those who rely on local authority-arranged care.
The report puts it boldly [PDF, page 5]:
Access to care depends increasingly on what people can afford – and where they live – rather than on what they need. This favours the relatively well off and well informed --- at the expense of the poorest --- who are reliant on an increasingly threadbare local authority safety net – especially if they live in areas where local authorities have been least able to sustain spending levels – and who are at a higher risk of declining quality and provider failure.
The reports concludes [PDF, page 82] that long-term policies, along with a mechanism to secure cross- party consensus, on some shared principles, are urgently needed. Policy-makers should take note.
source The Canary
Shadow employment minister demands action as child poverty hits 3.9 million
From her website:
Shadow Employment Minister, Margaret Greenwood MP, called on the Government to take urgent action to tackle child poverty after figures released by the End Child Poverty campaign revealed that in some parts of the UK, nearly half of children are living in poverty.
“3.9 million children in the UK are living in poverty and that includes 18,000 children in the Wirral. Children in the UK are now twice as likely to be poor --- as our pensioners,” said Ms Greenwood.
“In every part of the country, there are children who are growing up in poverty and having to do without.
“That means going without all sorts of things, including food. Some will be wearing shoes that don’t fit, clothes that aren’t warm enough, and going to bed hungry. This is wholly unacceptable, and the government needs to take urgent action.
“Millions of families are struggling to meet basic household bills as a result of low pay, insecure work and the lack of affordable housing. On top of that, food prices are expected to rise in the coming year.
“Cuts to Universal Credit are going to hit the poorest families hard. A single parent family would have to work an extra 2 months each year, to make up the money they will lose as a result of these cuts. Clearly that is impossible.
“Where a family has to move to cheaper accommodation, children may also have to move schools, causing disruption to their friendship groups and their education.
“Family tensions caused by money worries are easily transmitted to children --- even though that would be the last thing that parents would want.
“The Prime Minister said on coming to power that her Government would be on the side of families just struggling to get by.
“I am calling on the Government to live up to its rhetoric by reversing cuts to Universal Credit in the Autumn Statement.”
You can find more information on the Child Poverty campaign at
The Trussell Trust reports that food bank use has increased again this year. Food parcels were given to 519,000 in the 6 months to the end of September, which included 188,000 children.
source - Vox Political
WALES TO SUFFER AS TORIES CUT RAIL ELECTRIFICATION
Rail Minister Paul Maynard’s decision to 'defer' electrification of the Great Western rail line from London to Wales, is a blatant failure to honour a general election manifesto pledge.
His assertion that new rolling stock can “bring in the benefits expected by passengers” with- out “costly & disruptive electrification works” is a pathetic joke.
The new trains were originally intended to run on electric alone, but have been ''amended'' to provide a diesel back-up, which Maynard now says is ''the way ahead'' for GWR.
This breaks government commitments to reduce global warming emissions and makes a mockery of the disruption that many areas have already suffered, through their preparatory work for electrification.
Ministers still set greater store on the austerity agenda of cuts, than on public investment for economic growth and prosperity.
GWR was to deliver customer improvements by 2019, but has now kicked completion of the electrification project, originally meant for 2018, to a faraway 2024.
If such projects are postponed, costs rise. The price of GWR electrification was £874 million in 2013 -- and is now estimated at £2.8 billion!
Upgraded, efficient, safe, environmentally sound, affordable rail networks, are not an optional extra in a modern economy.
In Europe, massive public investment in rail has delivered for passengers.
Margaret Thatcher’s preference for private cars, followed by John Major’s decision to fragment and privatise British Rail, leaves the UK and Wales decades behind...
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald demands that the government reverse this decision and keep its election promises.
Tory austerity cuts ‘systematically’ violated rights of disabled Britons – UN
The United Nations accuses the Conservative government, of violating the human rights of disabled people by cutting welfare provision.
A report by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities criticizes the reforms brought in by the former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
The committee says the cuts and caps to welfare introduced under the guise of austerity, “gravely or systematically” violate disabled people's rights.
UN committee members visited the UK in Oct. 2015 on a fact-finding mission. Their report was based on over 200 interviews and around 3,000 pages of evidence.
The committee says Britain should establish a watchdog to assess the impact of policy changes on disabled people’s lives.
It also criticizes the distorted representation of disabled people in the UK.
“Persons with disabilities have been regularly portrayed negatively as being dependent or making a living out of benefits, committing fraud as benefit claimants, being lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers, who pay ‘money for nothing,’” the report says.
The government is also attacked for its cuts to housing benefits, that cause high levels of stress and depression, the report says.
Ministers had not factored disabled people’s needs into reforms, while programs to encourage them to find work had “no visible impact,” with many now driven into debt or forced to use food banks.
Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) founder Linda Burnip told the Guardian it “came as no surprise to anyone who's followed the stripping away of disabled people’s rights over the last six years.”
“The United Nations has found today that there is reliable evidence showing the Tory Government is responsible for grave violations of the rights of disabled people, under its failing austerity plan,” Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams says.
“The UN report confirms that, despite Theresa May’s warm words, the Government is failing sick and disabled people.
“Labour will transform our social security system to ensure that, like our NHS, it is there for us all in our time of need.”
The government said in a statement: “As a strong parliamentary democracy, where the voices and opinions of disabled people are represented and listened to, the UK is a place where disabled people's rights are respected, promoted and upheld.”
The Benefits Cap Has Now Come Into Force. Desperate People Are About To Become More Desperate Still by Charlotte Hughes
The new benefits cap has now come into force. Myself, other activists and politicians had tried desperately to warn the public about this, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears in many cases.
I suppose it’s easier to run away from reality, to try to carry on as normal and ignore the fact that this is happening. The enormity of the situation has now hit people very hard.
As a community activist, I started to receive emails from worried people in the early hours of yesterday morning and this continued throughout the day.
Questions such as: “How will I manage?” “I’m scared I’m going to lose my home,” “We can’t afford to eat and pay the rent, what shall we do?”
Make no mistake, this is going to be devastating and these are the questions that thousands and thousands of people were asking themselves yesterday, and they will continue to do so.
The government stated that it has implemented the benefit cap because it wants to make unemployed and sick people think more about the cost of things. It wants them to be more in line with people who are working.
Theresa May was quoted as saying that this will provide “good value for money.”
I say that making the poorest suffer is never good value for money. You quite simply can’t put a price on a person’s life. It’s unconscionable to do so.
How will the new benefit cap affect people? Basically, unemployed and people claiming employment and support allowance who are not in the support group are expected to pay the shortfall in their rent. Deciding between eating, keeping warm or paying the rent is an impossible choice to make.
There’s a massive misunderstanding among the media and society that claimants receive all the money that they are entitled to in their hands. They don’t.
Most of their money goes to pay their landlord their rent. With social housing being in very short supply, more and more people are forced to go to the private rented sector and many are already paying a top-up rent.
Having to pay a now impossible amount will see tenants being evicted, having to rely on homeless shelters which are already full or being housed in B&Bs which are usually in a state of disrepair.
If a tenant falls behind with their rent and gets evicted, the local authorities will see them as making themselves intentionally homeless and therefore have no statutory duty to house them. Whether single, a couple, or with children — the situation is dire.
The pressure that will be put on foodbanks will be unprecedented. They find it hard enough to cope already, so how will they be able to cope with more and more people coming to them?
They rely on donations, many probably made by the very same people that are now being hit by the benefit cap now. In effect, the amount of people able to donate will drop as well.
This will also have a direct effect upon the NHS and related services. More and more people will become ill and admitted to hospital with malnutrition-related diseases. And now winter is here, people will suffer from more cold-related illnesses too.
It has been estimated that as many as 88,000 families will be affected, including a quarter of a million children — which is the equivalent of 350 primary schools all being faced with homelessness by the new benefit cap.
It’s horrific. It can never be seen as good value for money. It’s inhumane and we need to start raising our voices more.
source - The Morning Star
How did we – the British people – ever come to accept such laws as reasonable?
An elderly couple who have been by each other’s side for 70 years are being ‘forced apart’ by social services – as they ‘don’t meet the criteria’ to live together.
Jessie and Ray Lorrison, of South Shields in South Tyneside, have spent nearly every day of their lives together since they first met in 1946 – but have now been told they must live separate lives.
Ray, 95, is living at Westoe Grange Care Home in the town, while his heartbroken wife Jessie, 88, is in hospital after being told she ‘does not meet the criteria’ to join her husband.
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said:"The Council is not able to comment on individual cases, however any decision on care and support for an individual is based on their own needs and is made in line with the Care Act."
Another statement is that this is NOT an unusual case. Social Services do this to almost ALL frail couples as they enter hospice care.
Despicable, obscenely cruel, gob-smackingly vile... that's the UK's Social Services!
As Labour gets fined over election expenses Tory election fraud scandal is being ignored by Steve Topple source: The Canary
It was revealed on Tuesday 25 October that the Labour Party had been fined over undeclared election expenses.
The Electoral Commission fined the party £20,000 for not submitting numerous expenses from the 2015 general election, including the infamous ‘Ed Stone’. But it begs the question — just what is happening with the so-called Tory election fraud scandal?
Hitting brick walls
The Commission found that the Labour Party had not declared £123,748 of expenses in last year’s election campaign. These included an 8ft stone tablet which had Labour’s key pledges carved into it – the missing costs being £7,614. A further 33 receipts were missing from the campaign, plus 49 for transport costs.
The party’s General Secretary, Iain McNicol, committed two offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act in relation to the missing payments and the missing invoices. The £20,000 fine is the highest in the Electoral Commission’s history.
And while the commission said Labour had co-operated throughout the inquiry, it criticised the party for not giving the requested information in a “reasonable time frame”.
But while Labour has been held to account over what could be considered fraudulent expenses, the Conservative Party’s alleged election fraud appears to have been kicked into the long grass.
As The Canary previously revealed, the Electoral Commission and police have been investigating allegations that tens of thousands of pounds that should have been declared as expenses locally, were in fact, paid for nationally.
These expenses fell into 2 main areas: the use of hotels for campaign staff, and the so-called Tory “Battle Bus” – which ferried activists up and down the country. If they should have been declared locally, this would mean that the Tories had breached spending limits in at least 29 constituencies.That, in turn, may well put the legitimacy of the 2015 general election result into question.
In June, 18 police forces across the UK had been given, or were seeking an extension to, the time limit for the investigations related to election expenses. David Cameron’s Conservative government was the first government in UK history to face police investigations into alleged electoral fraud.
One such example was in South Thanet, where Craig Mackinlay is the Conservative MP. The party is accused of spending around £20,000 on Mackinlay’s 2015 campaign which was not only not declared as national or local spending --- but was not declared at all.
In June, Mackinlay attempted in court to block a police investigation into the matter. But the judge threw the case out, ----- saying that the alleged fraud was on an “unprecedented s cale” and the police investigation was of “very significant public interest”.
Tory pork pies?
David Cameron, when he was still Prime Minister, went on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show to defend Mackinlay’s court action. Marr asked:
Did you authorise the payment of a very expensive QC to go to Kent Police, and try to stop them extending their investigation? Because that looks like a cover-up.
In an attempt to deflect from his own apparent involvement in the “cover-up”, Cameron said:
This is all being handled, I think quite properly, by the party Chairman, and I’m very happy that what we did was right and we can answer all the questions that we’re being [asked].
Since then, the investigations appear to have gone quiet. As The Guardian reported on 29 July, police forces are applying for a year’s investigation extension, but no conclusions have been drawn yet.
The judgement over the Labour Party’s transport costs now shines some light into the severity of the allegations about the Tories. The Electoral Commission said it didn’t suspect an offence had been committed regarding Labour busing activists up and down the country. The fact that the Commission has not yet dismissed the same allegations against Conservatives could well mean there is a case to answer.
Crash the campaign bus: The Blairites’ plan B
With the botched coup simply bolstering Corbyn’s position as leader, Labour rightwingers look ready to commit an ultimate betrayal, says Charley Allan.
The term “Blairite” is often misapplied, leaving some centre-left Corbyn-sceptic MPs unfairly tarred by Tony’s toxic brush.
Within Labour, it’s normally meant and taken as an insult, which is why the “B-word” has been banned along with “traitor” — using either online can see you summarily suspended.
But there are some politicians who still wear this particular label with pride.
Step forward Baron Peter Mandelson, New Labour architect and by far the best spin-doctor Blair ever had.
Mandelson has long opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership — he even tried to pull the plug on last year’s contest by putting pressure on all the other candidates to resign en masse at the last minute.
He still insists that “unelectable” Corbyn can’t be allowed to lead the party, but his latest solution is sure to send shivers down centre-left spines.
At a Royal Television Society conference, the political “prince of darkness”, was asked about the possibility of a snap election.
“Bring it on,” he replied. “I get up every day and pray that will be the case.”
And the reason for such enthusiasm? “So we can deal with the awful situation in the Labour Party earlier than 2020.”
Just to be clear, “awful situation” is code for “Corbyn’s leadership” — as is “deal with” for “bring to a brutal end.”
Mandelson is openly calling for a speedy general election loss to dislodge Corbyn as leader — and it’s not the first time the Labour right has been caught committing such a betrayal.
Back in August, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told the Sunday Times: “I’ve had very senior Labour MPs come to me and they've begged me to push for an early general election to finish Corbyn off.”
He said they’d told him: “Put us out of our misery — it would be a mercy killing.”
And according to the Telegraph, the MPs “warned the only way to rid the party of Mr Corbyn would be if Labour is ‘wiped out’ at a general election -- proving his unpopularity with the public.”
Make no mistake, Blairites really are praying for Labour to lose a snap general election, just so they can topple their twice-elected leader.
It’s the abuse of the power to ban that has caused such bad blood in recent months. It must be tackled head on before Labour can move on.
Will there now be thousands of disciplinary hearings, costing who knows how much of our precious party resources?
Maybe we’ll see a mass amnesty in the spirit of clean slates — though that runs the risk of laying bare the right’s dirty tricks.
However this is resolved, we still have to deal with the “detrimental effect” and “inevitable shame” of our suspensions, which is why there needs to be a full investigation into what happened and who is to blame.
At the very least, seeing the back of general secretary Iain McNicol — who purged us all personally using powers given to him by the NEC — would help draw a line under the whole debacle.
It makes no sense for the centre-left to keep supporting the same people who led them up the garden path this summer, unnecessarily turned their own members against them, and now threaten to “destroy the village in order to save it.”
Let’s pray they wake up, before it’s too late.
Chat to Charley on Twitter: @charleyallan
Tory Boundary Short-Changers The Conservatives are hardly even bothering to pretend that they are cutting the size of Parliament to make the distribution of seats fairer.
The vanishing constituencies are almost all Labour ones, with Wales — where over a quarter of seats are to be eliminated — London, the N-East & N-West England all taking significant casualties.
By contrast most Tory areas get off lightly, with the true-blue Isle of Wight even due to nab an extra seat --- despite having too few people to merit it.
This could be defeated --- with a UNITED LABOUR PARTY !!!
UK police will soon start bagging people’s heads during arrests
Metropolitan Police officers will soon be able to use specially designed bags, known as spithoods, to cover suspects’ heads... during arrests and in police stations.
The mesh bags are used to restrain suspects and protect the police from those who might try to bite or spit at them. The Met insists the hoods prevent exposure to diseases and serious infection.
In a pilot scheme starting in October, 32 custody units, will receive material and training, on how to use “spit guards.” Their application on any suspect will be recorded under “use of force.”
Spit hoods aren't to be used on the streets initially, so as not to incense the public, but details on their use after the pilot scheme expires, have not been provided.
The measure has been controversial with human rights groups, which say the use of spit hoods is “an alarming development" and "cruel and degrading.”
The device may breach suspects’ rights, with some police chiefs suggesting the hoods resemble the trappings adopted at Guantanamo Bay. Even the Met was once opposed to them.
“A spit hood is a primitive, cruel and degrading tool that inspires fear and anguish,” says Liberty's director, Martha Spurrier.
“We have seen many cases where the police use them unnecessarily and without justification, including on children and disabled people.
“Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons. The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening. Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilized society. We urge the Metropolitan police to think again.”
TORY PARTY MEMBERS DISAPPEARING!
Tory party membership, is now below 100,000 for the first time. The Tory Party is disappearing.
It'll be weird, having thousands of Young Corbynites canvassing - and all the Tory party have is a few imported American nut-jobs.
How will that play in the marginals?
Remember - there are still 19 police forces investigating 32 Tory MPs for election fraud.
Police investigate ‘hidden payments’ to Northampton South MP’s fund
VoxPolitico - This story seems to be separate from the wider issue of alleged election fraud by many Conservative candidates. [ed. See articles below]
Apparently the donations come from 1st Land Ltd, a firm at the centre of an inquiry into the disappearance of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
Hidden payments - totalling £30,000 - to a Tory MP’s general election campaign are being investigated... by the police.
Auntie BBC has already established that the money for David Mackintosh’s Northampton South fighting fund, in 3 (three) £10,000 donations, was disguised -- in terms of who made them.
The Electoral Commission passed their file on the case to the police.
Mr Mackintosh, ex-leader of Northampton council, welcomed the investigation and “will co-operate fully with police”.
“I'd no reason to believe that the donations --- were from anyone other than the named donors,” he said.
Labour promises to rescue communities and industry by Peter Lazenby
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell unveils plans to pump billions of pounds of investment in to the UK’s regions, to boost industry and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
He pledges radical changes, including giving workers the right to sit on company boards and funding for co-operative enterprises - proposals similar to the Bullock Report - commissioned by Wilson’s government.
Mr McDonnell says a Labour government will create a publicly controlled investment bank - and similar banks for Britain’s regions - with access to £500 billion, to boost industrial development and jobs.
McDonnell says his investment plans will help those communities “left behind”, by Osborne’s austerity campaign, which hit the UK’s worst- off areas (like Wales valleys) the hardest.
“Today, I want to announce a major new commitment, from Labour, to the British people, a policy that will form the lynch- pin of everything else we do, to rescue Britain’s communities from decay and to rebuild Britain’s industries after years of neglect,” he said.
“George Osborne leaves behind a legacy of failure. We’ve got public services cut to the bone and in some cases, beyond.
“We’ve got a million people using foodbanks -- in the sixth-richest economy in the world. And investment has fallen, dragging down productivity.
“Our economy has become far too dependent on low-paid, insecure work, as a result.
“Worse yet, spending cuts have hit the places least able to cope with them, the hardest. The UK has the worst regional inequalities of any current member of the European Union.
“Our country needs a programme of economic transformation.
“That must start with addressing the funding imbalance, and delivering the investment needed, to kick-start high-quality growth.”
Mr McDonnell pledges:“On coming to power, Labour will set up a National Investment Bank and a network of regional banks, whose aim is to help mobilise £500bn into the economy --- and transform Britain.
“A national investment bank, managed independently of government ---- can raise the financing needed to deliver infrastructure on this scale.”
He says the plans will create 100,000 well-paid jobs in the north-east alone.
43 year old former soldier dies in Wales --- after police Taser him
A former soldier who served in Iraq & Afghanistan has died after being tasered by police in Llanelli. The man had reportedly been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The victim, identified as 43-year-old Spencer Beynon, was tasered after officers were called by a woman who was “concerned” about the welfare and behaviour of the man, who appeared injured and was acting erratically.
Beynon was a former member of the Royal Welsh Regiment and had served in the Army for 15 years.
The UN has already told the UK to ban police Taser use on children – but what about other vulnerable people?
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an inquiry into the incident.
Local councilor Robert Davies says Beynon was “a nice guy” who “always had time to say hello, very pleasant.”
"I think he found it hard coming out of the Army. So many of our soldiers who serve the country, are forgotten about."
Nia Griffith, Labour MP for Llanelli, & Lee Waters, Labour Welsh Assembly member for Llanelli, say in a joint statement:
"We are both extremely concerned about reports of the police Taser shooting incident in Llanelli, and would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the man who died."
According to government statistics, police in England and Wales used Tasers more than 10,000 times in 2014 – a 2 percent increase over the previous year. From 2013 to 2014, Taser use rose by 3 percent.
UK police used stun guns on 407 minors, --- despite the United Nations warning.
Housing Associations: Friend Or Foe?
A fascinating article for many [formerly known as] RCT Homes tenants, in the Rhondda --- and throughout Rhondda-Cynon-Taf:
More Tory election fraud allegations: MPs failed to declare online ad costs
Two more Tory MPs face fresh allegations of fraud for failing to declare the cost of running negative campaign ads online, as police forces across the UK, continue to probe the election spending of Conservative candidates.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd and Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills apparently used local versions of national online advertisements designed by ad firm M&C Saatchi, but failed to declare the ads in their election spending returns, the Daily Mirror reports.
The Tories paid the ad agency, which has worked with the party for 35 years, £395,575 (US$580,000) for advertising costs in the run up to the 2015 election.
A ‘wrecking ball’ video ad created by Saatchi, --- and declared by the party under “national spending” --- was altered slightly and used by both Rudd and Mills on their YouTube channels for local campaigns.
Rudd posted a version of the same ad on her YouTube page, on March 29, 2015, with the slogan changed from “Recovering Economy: Don’t Let Labour Wreck It” to “Unemployment down by 1,921 in Hastings & Rye since 2010.”
The ad does not appear in Rudd’s campaign election spending return.
Mills, already being investigated by Derbyshire Police --- for failing to declare the cost of the 'battlebus’ filled with party activists --- also ran a local version of the ad, on his You Tube page, but didn't report paying for it.
Mills is one of 28 Conservative candidates under investigation for having written off as national spending the cost of transport and hotel rooms, for hundreds of activists bused in to rally more support in highly contested parliamentary constituencies: allegedly breaking legal spending limits.
An Electoral Commission spokesman says:
“Our guidance explains that candidates need to make an honest & responsible assessment, as to whether expenses were for their election, or whether it was for promoting the national party.
“If used in a constituency, and only promoting the national party and national policies, then that should count as national party spend.
If the cost promotes both the local candidate & national policies, then a portion of the cost should be allocated to the candidate’s spending limit, & a portion towards the party’s national spending limit.”
Neither MP responded to the Daily Mirror’s request for a comment.
Exposed & Investigated: UK Tory Election Fraud
Seven police forces in the UK are looking into claims the Conservative party failed to report large sums of money it spent during its election campaign in 2015.
Apparently, according to Channel 4, which investigated alleged election fraud, the UK's ruling party failed to report up to $288,000, spent on MPs and local candidates in 33 elections --- which should have been declared in the party's local spending.
Some of the undeclared expenses included hotel bills, plus the cost of transporting activists in highly contested areas of the UK, to aid the Tory campaign.
Under electoral law, breaching spending limits is a criminal offence.
In a statement, the Conservative party blames the omission of the hotel costs of people bussed in to help campaign --- on an "administrative error."
Following the exposure by Channel 4, investigations have been launched by seven different forces, including the Greater Manchester Police, Devon and Cornwall, Northamptonshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and Gloucestershire.
Two police forces, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, say that they are seeking to extend their one-year time limit into the investigation into these improper electoral expenses.
It's expected that other forces will now follow suit. Come on, Wales' police!
Meanwhile, accusations are emerging that this alleged fraud, carried out by the UK's ruling party, has been ignored by some of the UK's mainstream media.
Fostered UK children often denied mental health treatment
UK Children in care often have no access to mental health services, a report says.
UK lawmakers have found that children in care are often denied access to any mental health services because of their 'unstable' placement.
The House of Commons education committee says in a report that a “significant number” of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), fail to provide support for young people -- for not meeting diagnostic thresholds, or for moving placements, 'too often'.
The report also says that the current methods of assessing the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people who enter care often do not "identify those in need of specialist care and support.”
Around half children in care, have a diagnosable mental health disorder, while one in 10 kids out of care, has such a health condition.
The report is based on evidence from a group of service users and experts involved in the social care system, that says initial health assessments on children who enter care are "highly variable and often poor."
A 16-year-old girl in foster care told the committee that she had waited for over two and a half years to access services --- as she moved 13 times in that period.
The committee was told that CAMHS are often not willing to begin treatment for children who move placement.
This, as official guidance says that “looked- after children should never be refused a service, including for mental health, on the grounds of their placement."
Neil Carmichael, education committee chair, says local authorities are responsible for the welfare of children in care, noting, “in spite of this duty, it is clear that many looked- after children in England are not getting the mental health support they need.”
"We recommend children in care be given priority access to mental health assessments & never refused care based on their placement or severity of their condition,” Carmichael adds.
A government spokesperson further stresses that children in care often have traumatic experiences --- and need to receive the necessary support.
"That's why we're putting a record £1.4bn into children and young people's mental health, and investing in better links between these services & schools,” he adds.
UK women given tents and sleeping bags instead of homes when released from prison
Women released from UK prisons, are being issued with tents and sleeping bags because of "accommodation shortages" reports state.
A report carried out last November shows 103 prisoners were discharged from HMP Bronzefield, Surrey in 2015 with nowhere to live.
The figures appear to echo further analysis that female prisoners are in an increasingly precarious position when they are released.
The number of women leaving jail with a secure place to go, fell to around 88% in 2015, down from 95% the previous year.
The report found that Bronzefield performed well overall, but said “the prison had issued tents to 2 women who were released with- out anywhere to go to - and the chaplaincy often gave out sleeping bags.”
Prison director Charlotte Pattison-Rideout said the private jail works with local authorities to house those released --- but that the shortfall “affects the whole of the prison estate.”
In a statement on the revelations, Labour’s Shadow Prisons Minister Jo Stevens lauded the progress which had been made, but said it's “absolutely staggering that women seem to have been released from prison ------ with nothing more than a tent or a sleeping bag.
“This is astonishing and a far cry from the safe and secure accommodation needed, to assist them in the rehabilitation process,” she added.
A 2013 report by the Howard League for Penal Reform, warned that homelessness is a key driver in re-offending among former prisoners.
It also found the uneven spread of housing meant that “to be accommodated, women were removed from their original home communities.”
Former foreign secretary urged Britain's departure from EU to "protect our NHS"
Brexit will protect the NHS from interference by the "dysfunctional European Union", the former Labour foreign secretary said.
Lord Owen said that successive governments have accepted an EU market in health, which has now become entrenched in the NHS.
The peer, who campaigned as health minister to remain in the European Economic Community in the '75 referendum, launched Vote Leave's 'Save our NHS' campaign.
"The EU/Eurozone from 1992, in marked contrast to the old European Community of 1975, creeps into every nook and cranny of our life.
Before the vote, he pointed out: "It is now becoming entrenched in the NHS, and this June we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity --- to get it out."
"Now is the time to take back control from the EU and protect our NHS for future generations.
"We are agreed in Vote Leave that whatever our political views on the present marketisation of the NHS, decisions on the NHS should, for the future, be for the UK Parliament and devolved administrations to take.
"It should not be a decision for the European Commission, or the European Parliament."
He argued that leaving will mean that our NHS would be free from any competition-, or-market-led involvement brought in by the European Commissioners.
"Thereafter, UK legislation will govern the NHS in future and, as a consequence, we can take back control & protect the NHS from the EU."
English Junior doctors struck over contract row
Junior doctors across England began a 48-hour strike in a long-running dispute with the UK government, over working conditions.
The walkout, was the 4th industrial action by junior doctors to date against proposed amendments to their contract --- which will see a "change" in pay and working hours.
5,000 procedures & operations in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) in England, were "postponed" due to the work stoppage.
The UK’s Department of Health says that approximately 25,000 operations, have now been cancelled, since January.
"Doctors have a very real concern ---- that the imposed terms will stretch existing resources too thinly - and threaten the quality of patient care," says Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patient Association advocacy group.
UK's top cop tells banks not to refund cyber-crime victims, even as online defenses declared useless
Banks shouldn't compensate customers who are victims of cyber-crime because it “rewards” them for sloppy internet security, the UK’s highest- ranking police officer says.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan- Howe, says banks should refuse to reimburse people who fail to update anti-virus software and tighten their passwords.
His remarks come days after internet security firm Webroot warns that traditional computer defenses are “useless” in the face of modern cyber-attacks.
Hogan-Howe compares refunding bank customers who are victims of cyber-crime to rewarding “bad behaviour.”
“If you're continually rewarded for bad behaviour, you will probably continue to do it ---- but, if the obverse is true, you might consider changing behaviour," he tells the Times.
“The system is not incentivizing you to protect yourself,” Hogan-Howe says.
"If someone said to you: 'If you've not updated your software, I will give you half back', you would do it."
Hogan-Howe’s comments are criticized as “misjudged” by Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group, Which?.
"The priority should be for banks to better protect their customers, rather than trying to shift blame on to the victims of fraud,” he says.
Cyber-crime is the fastest growing economic crime in the UK, says a report published last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which measured a 20% rise, since 2014.
Internet security firm Webroot describes 2015 as a “record year for cyber-crime”, in a recent report, which labels traditional computer defenses as “useless.”
More malware, malicious IPs, websites and mobile phone apps were discovered in 2015 than in any previous year, Webroot Chief Technology Officer, Hal Lonas, says.
“The continued onslaught of hacks, breaches, and social engineering scams, targeting individuals, businesses, and government agencies alike, has caused many in the security field to ask if it’s truly possible to defend against a persistent attacker,” he adds.
“We conclude that we can only succeed by being more innovative than our criminal opponents.”
Lonas says the vast majority of malware and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs), have become polymorphic, with 97% of malware morphing, to become unique to an endpoint device.
“By changing attributes to evade detection, polymorphic threats pose a major problem for traditional, signature-based security approaches, which often fail to discover singular variants,” he says.
Lonas believes organizations & corporations need to invest in next-generation security, to protect themselves and 'their' customers.
UN tells UK toban police Taser use on children – report
The United Nations will tell the UK to ban police Taser use on minors, after figures reveal a 38% increase in the use of stun guns on under-18s over the last year.
The UN will confront the UK in Switzerland later this year, over violations of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which the UK signed in 1990, the Independent on Sunday reports.
In 2008, the last time the UK was admonished for allowing Taser use on children,the UN called on ministers to “put an end to the use of all harmful devices on children.”
However, since that first hearing, police use of Tasers has been steadily on the rise.
Tasers, which were first introduced in England & Wales in 2003, as part of a 12-month trial for firearms officers, send 50,000 volts through a "target", overwhelming the nervous system.
Police use of the powerful stun guns jumped from 6, 238 incidents in 2010 to 9,196 in 2014.
Carla Garnelas, co-director of the Children's Rights Alliance for England, calls for an out- right ban on the use of Tasers on children.
“The use of Taser on children, is a breach of their human rights,” she tells the Independent on Sunday.
“UN bodies have repeatedly called for the UK government to ban their use on children, highlighting the serious risk of physical and psychological harm they pose, yet the use of Tasers on children continues. We want to see a ban on Taser use on children.”
A Home Office source tells the Independent:
“Tasers provide police with an important tactical option when facing potentially physically violent situations, and this government is committed to giving officers the necessary tools to do their job.
“All officers trained in the use of Taser must consider the vulnerability of the individual, and factors such as age and stature, form part of this assessment.”
UK Press seen as most right-wing in Europe
Media bias against Corbyn
UK campaign Media Reform Coalition (MRC) says media ownership, relates closely to media bias.
MRC warns of the media outlets’ monopolization of debate in the UK, & a risk of undue influence on politicians.
It says that Jeremy Corbyn has been exposed to a high degree of right-wing media bias, since being voted in as leader of the Labour Party. Right-wing bias was apparent in most coverage of his first week in power, states the campaign group.
A report conducted by MRC, a revised version of which was published in early January, finds that large sections of the UK press appeared to deliberately undermine the newly elected leader, straight after his landslide victory.
The study examined 8 national daily papers and their Sunday sister papers, spanning 494 news, comment and editorial pieces.
It found that 60% of the stories were framed in a negative manner, while 13% were seen as positive and 27% were seen as neutral.
In the Murdoch-controlled Sun and the Sun on Sunday, 32 out of 36 news stories were hostile to Corbyn, while 50 out of 52 in the Daily Mail & the Mail on Sunday, also gave negative coverage.
Given that these right-wing tabloids have the largest & second largest share of circulation in the UK, their agenda-setting influence is noteworthy, says the MRC.
The group’s report also finds that 100% of the editorials in the Sun, Mail & Express, framed Corbyn’s first week as Labour leader, in a negative light.
'Risk of undue political influence'
The study’s release follows remarks by the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, urging Labour to commit itself to reforming the UK media landscape --- and to examining how to break up the existing concentrations of media ownership.
MRC Chair Dr Justin Schlosberg welcomed McDonnel’s comments at the time.
“In a democracy, newspapers have every right to take a partisan line, but what concerns us are the skewed ownership structures under- lying this kind of political intervention.”
“The risk of undue influence on elected politicians is high, and it is hard to see how democracy can flourish when the mass channels of debate are monopolized in this way.”
“Let’s not forget that Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of this country’s main opposition party by 250,000 people, which is 100,000 more than the number of people who elected David Cameron as leader of the Conservatives. It is surely a problem for all of us, when the newspaper owners are actively seeking to undermine a democratic mandate of that scale.”
Tory MP Geoffrey Cox says Sorry --- 'Forgot' £400,000 Of Income
The millionaire Tory MP was told to apologise for failing to declare £400,000 of income – by blaming it on his being too busy setting up his law firm in Dubai and Mauritius.
Geoffrey Cox, a practising barrister and the highest earning MP in Parliament, stunned colleagues, by suggesting that he had not noticed the money going into his account ----- as his clerk was ill.
Standards watchdog Kathryn Hudson published a scathing report on Mr Cox’s failure to register his full earnings, stating that he had committed "a serious breach" of Parliament's Code of Conduct.
But the Commons Standards Committee – that Mr Cox used to sit on and was forced to resign from – decided only to ask him to apologise.
No further sanction is to be applied.
LONDON - THE WORLD CAPITAL OF FRAUD
City fraudsters stole from Nepalese soldiers through £50m Ponzi scheme
White-collar criminals operating in the City of London used a Ponzi scheme to pilfer £2.4 million from 450 Nepalese citizens --- including many retired Gurkha soldiers who invested their life savings in the scam.
The fraudulent funds, which were managed by City firm CWM FX, attracted £50 million (US$73 million) from unsuspecting investors promised a monthly 5% return. The foreign exchange trade platform the financial firm used, was licensed by the financial regulator of Cyprus, allowing it to operate in the UK under EU regulations.
CWM acted as the online forex trading partner of Chelsea Football Club while the scam was active, giving the firm a veneer of respectability. It also offered a range of foreign exchange services and employed a small group of traders.
Police probe investigators say computer records suggest the firm made the majority of its income from the scam. Police report they have enough evidence uncovered, to present to prosecutors.
City of London police are calling for the Nepalese victims who invested in the scam to come forward.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Manley says it's vital that the voices of the victims targeted by the scam, are heard.
“My concern now is that the voices of the majority of victims will not be heard in the judicial process -- if they do not come forward very soon,”he tells the Financial Times.
“They are also missing out on receiving the financial advice and psychological support that is available to them, at what will be a very difficult time.”
JEREMY LOOKING FORWARD...
“We’ve beaten the government back on tax credits, which has helped 3 million people not have £1,200 taken off them in April. “We’ve beaten them back on police cuts & we’ve beaten them back on Saudi Arabia” (The government was forced to shelve a contract to provide prison services to the Saudi regime, after Corbyn raised it in his conference speech).
“We also had a very good result in the Oldham by-election. The activity level of local parties is huge --- and it’s completely contrary to everything the media are saying.” There was no period in the last parliament where Labour had the government so consistently on the back foot. “We’ve increased membership to nearly 400,000 -- we have the biggest, most active membership ever in my lifetime.”
He’s proud as “our campaign for the leadership did bring a lot of people into politics who have never been involved before,” and says he was knocking on doors with new members, that morning.
On reports of Tory politicians bullying staff: “The Tories should learn from the CWU, [postal workers’ union] who have a hot- line for reporting bullying & harassment.”
Jeremy has worked closely with the CWU, championing its People’s Post campaign, “which is about protecting the universal service obligation on the Royal Mail and stopping them from introducing a two- tier workforce.”
He’s announced his commitment to take Royal Mail back into public ownership.
“I want to see public control because postal services are fundamental to our communities.
“Postal delivery workers are actually part of the community, and they do a lot of good work beyond delivering letters. “Workers are very nervous of what’s coming with further privatisation of the Royal Mail --- after shares were sold well below their value. It’s an absolute rip-off.”
But wouldn’t renationalising Royal Mail fall foul of EU competition law?
“I’m quite prepared to challenge EU competition law & EU directives on public ownership and state funding. “Other governments in Europe challenge it. It’s kind of weird that the British government doesn’t. “Germany, & particularly Italy, have intervened to take parts of their steel industry into public ownership --- and we should be prepared to intervene where necessary. “We’ve already lost a lot of steel capacity in Britain. If we’re going to have a manufacturing base, we’ve got to have a steel industry.” The Tories' treatment of the coal industry - he spoke the day after the “tragic” closure of Kellingley colliery - suggests it doesn't share his concern for the UK economy.
What about countries like Greece, where the EU has actively prevented a left-wing government from fulfilling any of its electoral pledges?
“I wouldn't join the eurozone or the European Central Bank. I voted against Maastricht [in 1992] because it was a Europe based on free-market economics rather than on social security and workers’ rights.”
“Yes, the Central Bank has treated [Greece] disgracefully. I had a very useful meeting with the prime minister of Portugal on Thursday, and he has invited me and John McDonnell to go there & hold meetings in support of their programme of anti-austerity. “We’re building an anti-austerity coalition across Europe.”
NO FOOL LIKE A CORBYN CRITIC
Rochdale's MP, Danczuk, has been a prominent campaigner against child sexual exploitation, and played a role in exposing the late Sir Cyril Smith, as a pedophile.
The MP is also a vocal critic of Labour's leader Jeremy Corbyn. He recently told Sky News he would “probably give Jeremy a 'D', if I had to score him.”
He also served as a Labour Party whip, but is now suspended, after allegedly having a text conversation with a 17 year old, Ms Houlihan, during which, he said he was “horny”... and then asked her if she wanted “spanking.”
Houlihan told the Sun she feels duped by the MP.
“When I first got in touch, I never expected the messages to get so graphic. At the time I played along with it, but now I feel like he duped me. I was keen for a career in politics - and he is a very high-profile MP - and I was in awe of him,” she says.
Majority of tased people by UK police - mentally ill
A new report indicates that over two-thirds of the people tasered by UK police, from 2010 to 2014, were mentally ill.
Police stun gun use increased over the period, from 6,238 incidents in 2010 to 9,196 last year, and there has been a corresponding rise in the number of cases involving mentally ill people, from 2,737 in 2010 to 4,200 in 2014, the news- paper The Independent reports, citing Home Office figures.
The latest statistics were released in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the website The Justice Gap.
It reveals that in 67% of cases where tasers were discharged, they were fired at people identified by officers, as mentally ill.
In cases where weapons were drawn, aimed, but not fired, are included, mentally ill people were the target in only 45% of 'incidents'.
US guards with guns ---- at UK airports
The UK plans to allow armed US guards to 'help provide security' at its airports, the UK's media report.
The Daily Mail 'paper reports that “US border guards” will have the power to search holidaymakers.
It adds that the plan is still being discussed by Washington and London, adding that the US Department of Homeland Security aims to introduce this, at airports world-wide... including in Heathrow and Manchester.
The measure is meant to reduce the risk of IS terrorists flying to the US, the Daily Mail adds.
Guards from Customs & Border Protection would carry out immigration and customs checks, before passengers board.
They would be given diplomatic immunity - so they could not be prosecuted for any crime committed in the UK,the Mail adds.
Other reports on Sunday say that the UK's armed police could also get greater legal protection if shooting suspected criminals.
This comes, because David Cameron ordered a review of current laws after mass shootings in Paris last month, the Sunday Times reports.
Unlike most forces around the world, the UK's police are not routinely armed, and currently just over 2,000 of London's 31,000 officers, are able to carry guns, says the AFP.
The Sunday Times cites a senior government source, stating that Cameron is prepared to change the law, to give the armed officers greater protection against prosecution.
"Terrorist incidents both at home and abroad have shown very clearly the life-and-death decisions police officers have to make in split-second circumstances," the source says, according to the newspaper.
Jeremy Corbyn 'publicly-run Royal Mail' vow on National Postal Workers Day
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted a publicly-run Royal Mail --- when he met staff on one of the busiest postal days of the year.
Talking to Communication Workers Union members in London, he pledged to support its campaign, to preserve the UK's universal service of deliveries, to its twenty-nine million homes and businesses.
The union fears there will be an attack on Royal Mail workers' terms and conditions --- under a review next year, by the industry's regulator.
Mr Corbyn told workers gathered in a carpark at the huge Mount Pleasant site -- that he will organise 2016's Opposition Day debate in the Commons, to support the CWU's campaign.
"I want to see a publicly-run Royal Mail --- with protection for workers & the service," he said and, "Labour will be doing our very best to support & protect your conditions."
Mr Corbyn called on Conservative MPs to support the campaign, warning:services to rural areas will be among those under threat by any changes such as increased competition, with other companies taking over the so-called "final mile" deliveries to houses.
General secretary Dave Ward:
"The CWU is campaigning hard to protect the terms and conditions of our members, at the same time as preserving the service that we provide to the public & businesses.
"Royal Mail may have been sold off on the cheap, but the service is and always will be, the people's post."
UK police investigating MPs expenses claims
The UK police say the expenses claims of 2 UK lawmakers are being investigated over possible criminal offences.
The case has reminded the public of the memory of the 2009 scandal, which damaged UK citizens’ trust in elected politicians.
London's Metropolitan Police say they are investigating 2 complaints referred to them in March by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). This body has been set up, to oversee the expenses and business costs of Members of Parliament.
"I have felt it necessary, for the first time during my term of office, to refer requests for investigation received from IPSA to the police," says the IPSA's Peter Davis, in an annual report.
The names of the politicians have not yet been disclosed.
Police say a third IPSA referral resulted in a lawmaker's employee receiving a caution, in April, for fraud by false representation.
METRO “FUTURE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT” IN SOUTH WALES
The proposed Metro transport scheme for South East Wales, represents "the future of public transport" in the region, according to first minister Carwyn Jones.
The project aims to increase the speed & frequency of public transport across South Wales, through a combination of heavy rail, light rail and bus rapid transit, plus other infrastructure improvements, and integrated ticketing.
The rail part of the Metro, part of the All-Wales rail franchise, would be run and managed by a not-for-dividend company being set up by the Welsh Government to operate a rail franchise on its behalf, after 2018.
First minister Carwyn Jones has launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the Metro project, ahead of consultations early next year, and he states:
"The Metro project represents the future of public transport in South East Wales, which will provide faster journey times and more frequent services, covering a greater area. It is an ambitious project linking people and jobs across South Wales in a fast, efficient and environmentally positive way.
"The Metro is far more than just a transport project. It will be a catalyst for transforming the economic and social prospects of South East Wales and the country as a whole."
Tories Back Off on Tax Credit cut
Controversial cuts to tax credits won't go ahead, Chancellor George Osborne announced, in his Autumn Statement. He said the benefit system is “being phased out anyway” to make room for a Tory Universal Credit payment.
Conservative MPs welcomed the decision. Many in Osborne’s own party rebelled and voted against the cuts.
Labour MPs are crediting staunch opposition by their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for the U-turn, with many claiming the move as a victory for Labour.
Green MP Caroline Lucas tweets:“Scrapping changes to tax credits v welcome - now must overturn rest of cruel welfare policies, & get a real living wage.”
UK Government Splashes Out --- $18 Bln on 138 F-35 Fighter Jets
As pensioners face more hard times ahead -- under the UK's New Austerity Plan to cut public spending -- the UK government is set to unveil plans to buy 138 stealth fighter jets, for £12bln [$18 bln].
The UK government is planning to spend £12bln [$18 bln] on 138 F-35 fighter jets --- as part of a 'new defense' strategy.
Chancellor George Osborne tells the state run BBC that, as a result of the government's new Strategic Defense & Security Review, by 2023 the UK will have 24 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, and two new aircraft carriers.
In the summer, the chancellor pledged to push UK defense spending above inflation --- to meet the NATO target of 2% of GDP each year on defense, up to 2020.
"By 2023, we will be able to have these jets -- some of the most powerful in the world -- the F35, on the decks of these carriers, & Britain, second only to the United States, will be able to project power abroad in order to defend ourselves at home," says Osborne.
The UK press reported on Sunday that - over a longer period of time - the UK's Royal Air Force will order 138 of the F-35 fighter jets.
The UK is also expected to purchase new reconnaissance planes, reversing an earlier decision in 2010 to scrap the latest generation of Nimrod maritime surveillance aircraft.
The announcement of "extra investment" in surveillance planes, comes as the UK's armed forces are being aided by French, Canadian and US patrol aircraft, in their fruitless search for a Russian submarine 'reportedly' in its waters, 10 days ago.
NOTE WELL ----- Google F-35 -- and see what a turkey it is.
1,500 of UK's care homes to close by 2020:- back to 1970's geriatric wards for UK elderly?
A new report says about 1,500 of UK care homes will close by 2020 because of the financial crisis.
The report released by the think tank ResPublica says the National Health Service (NHS) will be left with an annual bill of $4.55 billion after 37,000 care home beds disappear over the next five years.
The report also finds that elderly patients are likely to be left with no choice but to stay in hospitals, where they would take up one in four beds.
Media reports say the UK is already facing a hospital bed shortage.
According to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD), it is the second worst in Europe.
The report adds that the number of people aged over 85 in the UK, is set to rise by nearly 2 million in the next 20 years.
Meanwhile, the care sector will have a shortfall in funding of £1.1 billion by the 2020/21 financial year, with £382 million linked costs associated with introducing the national 'living wage'.
Anti-austerity bloc brings down Portugal's government
Portugal’s pro-austerity government is forced to resign by a leftist anti-austerity block, despite being sworn in only two weeks before.
Proposals to continue austerity policies were blocked in parliament -- backed by mass public anger -- forcing the government to dissolve.
Moderate Socialists worked with the Communist Party & radical Left Bloc - to form a majority that has voted down any fresh austerity proposals.
After the October 4th general election, the anti- austerity leftist majority was openly prevented from forming a government, by the president, who cited ‘the national interest’.
Portugal took a €78 billion 'bailout' in 2011 and since then, has spiraled into an austerity dead- end, fueling mass social unrest and emigration.
Sweeping cuts and increased taxes led to huge street protests and strikes. Unemployment hit 17.7%, in 2013.
Anti-austerity supporters are celebrating the fall of the right-wing administration.
The attempt to sideline anti-austerity politics is sending shock waves through Europe, but is being largely ignored in Brussels --- where protecting shaky austerity plans from any democratic upheaval, seems paramount.
While the socialist party has argued it will respect the policies of the Eurozone... the PS will now be working with two parties that want to repeal pro-market reforms.
In fact, Portugal's communist party has openly campaigned to leave the Euro.
If Labour Party MPs ALL vote against austerity cuts -- with the socialists in the Scottish Nationalist Party and in Plaid Cymru -- the UK's government too, will fall.
POST OFFICE BANK APPROVED
As the US, UK, Netherlands & others in the West, 'privatise' their citizens' Post Ofices...
Russia’s government approves the creation of a huge new bank, based on the country’s postal service:- a move that will eventually form an institution with more retail outlets than all other Russian banks combined.
The new entity, called Post Bank, is a joint venture between Russian Post, and one of Russia’s largest lenders, the state-owned VTB Bank.
Post Bank is being established, in part, to provide banking services across Russia’s far-flung, near-empty regions, and to help Russia's pensioners.
VTB will fuse one of its subsidiaries, Leto Bank, into the new institution. The partners say that the new institution will begin giving out loans as early as January 2016, with a pilot project to be launched in Moscow this Autumn.
Over the next 3 years, the bank will open outlets in no less than 15,000 Russian Post offices. After the initial rollout the bank should start operating in all 42,000 offices of the national operator.
Once it is completed, Post Bank will have more retail locations than all the other Russian banks combined, says Russian banking portal Banki.ru.
UN probes UK's disabled rights violations
The UN is to send a delegation to the UK as part of an inquiry into the “grave and systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people --- allegedly taking place under London’s austerity measures.
A visit of the UN Committee Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is taking place at the request of the campaign group, 'Disabled People Against Cuts' using a legal mechanism known as the Optional Protocol. The request was made at the start of 2012. Britain is the first country to face a high-level inquiry by the UN committee.
“This is the first time any country has been investigated by the UN using the Optional Protocol so it will be, if nothing else, a very historic event,” Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts says, adding that the process is “long and arduous,” with strict rules for proof of any claims.
News of the investigation was leaked back in September. UN inquiries are usually "confidential", but UNCRPD confirmed it would be visiting the UK, after the revelation.
“The inquiry follows a string of scandals involving disabled people in the UK, including a rise in hate crimes, which have been overlooked by police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS),” former director of prosecutions, Lord Kenneth MacDonald, says.
Disabled people have been affected by cuts, nine times more than most other citizens, according to a report by the Centre for Welfare Reform, in 2013.
A “massive shot in the arm” for people resisting austerity...
Jeremy Corbyn has the biggest mandate in UK political history. Mr Blair won with 57% of the vote when he was elected leader in '94, but Mr Corbyn beat that, with 59.5%.
And now, for a second time, with 62%!
The left candidate won a majority of more than 170,000 over second-placed Andy Burnham, who polled 19%.
Yvette Cooper, viewed as the right’s best hope of beating Mr Corbyn, was third with 17%, & Blairite Liz Kendall won just 4.5%.
Moments after being named Labour leader, Mr Corbyn said: “The fightback of our party... now gathers pace.”
“We go forward now as a movement and a party, bigger than we’ve ever been, stronger than we’ve ever been, and more determined than we’ve ever been.”
“Our party is going to become more inclusive, more democratic, and we’re going to shape the future of everyone in this country.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey:
“Voters can now look at Labour and see, unquestionably, that it stands for fairness, justice, peace, and strong communities.”
“It is the party of hope, ready to take on a government hell-bent on making life worse for ordinary people.”
Transport union RMT - unaffiliated to Labour - said the result's a “massive shot in the arm” for people resisting austerity and attacks on trade unions.
The Islington North MP won huge majorities among affiliated and registered supporters, but was also most popular among full party members. Of 245,520 party members voting, 121,751 of them voted for Mr Corbyn.
John McDonnell MP, chair of the Corbyn campaign, says it's “the greatest victory for the left that we’ve seen in decades,” then adds: “I just wish, I just wish Tony Benn had been here to see it.”
“Because all through those dark years when the left were isolated and there was no discussion of socialism, and people were giving up on the Labour Party, it was people like Tony Benn & Jeremy who kept the flame alive.”
A Tory insisted Mr Corbyn’s victory's a “serious risk to our nation’s security, our economy’s security, and your family’s security.”
(think he meant to say "my family's security.")
AND WHERE IS WALES' BLOSSOMING...?
Imagine the Rhondda using wind and sun energy to create new rate and rent free business units, that encourage new enterprising companies, which pay well and market under a "brand" with a superb reputation for quality.
Everything to help hitting the ground running, with hot-desking, science, and agriculture, to employ our youth.
Russian/Scottish scientists hail long-range secure quantum communication system.
A group of scientists from ITMO University in Saint Petersburg, Russia, has developed a new approach to constructing quantum communication systems for secure data exchange.
The experimental device based on the results of the research is capable of transmitting single-photon quantum signals across distances of 250 klmtrs or more, which is on par with its cutting edge analogues, the ITMO press-service says.
"Now researchers are on a mission -- to create a fully-fledged quantum cryptographic system, that will generate & distribute quantum keys and transmit useful data simultaneously", ITMO says.
Information security is becoming more and more of a critical issue not only for large companies, banks and defense enterprises but even for small businesses and individual users.
But the data encryption algorithms we currently use for protecting our data are imperfect - in the long-term, their logic can be cracked. Regardless of how complex and intricate the algorithm is, getting around it, is just a matter of time.
Unlike algorithm-based encryption, systems that protect information by making use of fundamental laws of quantum physics, can make data transmission totally immune to hacker attacks, in the future.
Information in a quantum channel is carried by single photons that change irreversibly if an eavesdropper tries to intercept them. The legitimate users will instantly know about any kind of intervention.
Researchers at the Quantum Information Centre of the International Institute of Photonics and Optical Information Technology at ITMO Uni., Russia, along with their colleagues from the Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, have devised a new way to generate and distribute, quantum bits.
This makes it possible to share quantum signals --- via optical fibres --- 250 kilometers in distance.
"To transmit quantum signals, we use the so- called side frequencies," says Artur Gleim, head of the Quantum Information Centre at ITMO University,
"This unique approach gives us a number of advantages, such as a considerable simplification of the device architecture and the large pass-through capacity of the quantum channel. In terms of bit rate and operating distance our system is comparable to absolute champions in the field of quantum communications."
According to Robert Collins, research associate at the Institute of Photonics & Quantum Sciences at Heriot-Watt University and one of the authors of the study, this may become a pivotal point for the whole field of quantum communication and cryptography:
"Down the track, this new approach can enable smooth coexistence of numerous data streams with different wavelengths in one single optical cable. On top of it, these quantum streams can be fed into the already existing fibre optic lines --- along with conventional communications."
The research paper is published in the Optics Express journal.
Scottish universities are to be congratulated for their strong & growing links with Chinese and Russian universities....
What a shame, that Wales is lying low --- with academics too scared to break from US military research.
China to send 30 missions into space in 2017 - a record! January 04, 2017
China plans to conduct some 30 space launch missions in 2017, a record-breaking number in the country's space history, said China Aero- space Science and Technology Corporation.
Long March-5and Long March-7 rockets will be used to carry out most of the space missions this year, the China News Service reported.
Long March-5 is China's largest carrier rocket. The successful test launch of the vehicle in November in S. China's Hainan Province, will pave the way for space station construction, analysts said.
Wang Yu, general director of the Long March-5 program, said 2017 is a critical year for China's new generation of carrier rockets - and Long March-5 rockets will carry Chang'e-5 probe to space. The probe will land on the moon, collect samples and return to Earth.
On the other hand, Long March-7, the more powerful version of Long March-2, will send China's 1st cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 into space, in the first half of 2017, according to Wang Zhaoyao, director of China Manned Space Engineering Office.
Tianzhou-1 is expected to dock with Tiangong-2 space lab & conduct experiments on propellant supplements.
China conducted 22 launch missions in 2016 and 19 in 2015. The country successfully tested its Long March-7 rocket in June last year & has gradually shifted to new generation rockets that reduce the use of toxic rocket fuels.
Last Month, China released a white paper on space activities, announcing plans to soft land Chang'e-5 on the moon, by the end of 2017, and launch its first Mars probe, by 2020.
After Chang'e-5, China will launch Chang'e-4 lunar probe about 2018 to achieve mankind's first soft landing on the far side of the moon, and conduct in situ and roving detection and relay communications at Earth-moon L2 point.
The white paper also says that in the next five years, China will provide space and aviation- related services to countries involved in the One Belt and One Road initiative, such as satellite communications, navigation and weather forecasting analysis.
MAN by Steve Cutts
I need your help to save Wales from a wildly expensive road that would damage our climate and harm wildlife.
The M4 relief road would slice through the Gwent Levels – Wales’ equivalent of the Amazon rainforest.
Welsh Assembly Members (AMs) have been promised a vote on the M4 relief road – which could take place as soon as December 4.
If enough of us tell them we’re against the road, we have a chance to stop it.
As well as threatening wildlife and contributing to climate change, the M4 relief road would increase congestion and air pollution.
And then there’s the eye-watering £2 billion bill. We think our money would be better spent on investment across the country and on more sustainable transport.
So if you want to stop Wales from hurtling down the road to more traffic, congestion and carbon emissions, please write to your AMs today. The more of us they hear from, the more of them we can persuade to vote against the road.
Yn ogystal â pheryglu bywyd gwyllt a chyfrannu tuag at newid hinsawdd, buasai ffordd liniaru’r M4 yn cynyddu tagfeydd a llygredd aer.
Heb sôn am y gost ddychrynllyd o £2 biliwn. Rydyn ni’n credu y byddai’n well gwario ein harian ar fuddsoddiadau ar draws y wlad ac ar drafnidiaeth gynaliadwy.
Felly os ydych eisiau atal Cymru rhag rhuthro tuag at mwy o draffig, tagfeydd ac allyriadau carbon, ysgrifennwch at eich ACau heddiw. Po fwyaf ohonom fydd yn cysylltu, po fwyaf ohonynt y gallwn eu perswadio i bleidleisio yn erbyn datblygu’r ffordd.
Obsession with consumerism will destroy the world of our children by Ken Livingstone December 24th, 2018.
Ken Livingstone is an English politician, he served as the Mayor of London between 2000 and 2008. He is also a former MP and a former member of the Labour Party.
Amid growing climate change concerns, what politicians fear most, is not standing up to the coal and oil industries, but having to tell the people that they need to buy and consume less.
As two hundred nations gathered in Poland to discuss climate change, the opening comments of David Attenborough, went global across the world’s media.
“Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat, in thousands of years… climate change… If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations, and the extinction of much of the natural world, is on the horizon… Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilisations and the natural world, upon which, we depend, is in your hands,” said Attenborough.
He went on to recommend that ordinary people make a change every day by using public transport and other measures to reduce carbon emissions.
Yet, for all Attenborough’s warnings, we have seen the election of a climate change denier to the White House, in the form of Donald Trump, and the recent election of a Brazilian president who also denies climate change.
So, what is the truth?
The simple fact is that the twenty warmest years in