If you like sea shanties and the open ocean then this is for you 🙂
If you like sea shanties and the open ocean then this is for you 🙂
This morning I spoke to a cancer patient, a woman with kidney failure, and a young man who had just lost the mother of his children. Each of them thought I was trying to help them. I wasn’t really though, because helping them would take longer than 23 minutes.
Twenty three minutes is how long it should take me to help you make a benefit claim, according to my bosses. I work in a Department for Work and Pensions contact centre and take calls from people who are at their lowest point.
These are people who need my help to navigate the complex claims system so that they can get a meagre payout. They’re often vulnerable and desperate by the time they reach me. My job is to fill in a new claim form for employment and support allowance based on the information people give me and then send that form off to the benefit centre where the claim is processed.
The headset beeps and I launch into my scripted greeting. The caller wants to tell me about her recent cancer diagnosis, what type it is, what the treatment will be, the reasons her employer has given for not offering sick pay. But I don’t have time to listen to her story. “I’m afraid we need to stick to yes or no answers” I say, and I feel horrible because this poor woman wants to tell someone about this huge awful thing that’s happening to her, she wants a friendly listener to make her feel reassured that she will at least get financial help.
But for me, the only thing that’s really important is how long each call takes. We are measured on our average handling time (known as AHT) and if this slips beyond 23 minutes per call we face performance management, which is code for “you’ll get in trouble”. This involves anything from stern words and increased micro-management from your line manager right up to written warnings and dismissal.
full story at:The Guardian
In Mauritania, despite the government reporting otherwise, slavery still exists. Haratine people – a group known to be the descendants of slaves – even if no longer in slavery, face widespread discrimination.
Anti-Slavery International said today that imprisoning anti-slavery activists is a ‘devastating blow’ for the Mauritanian human rights movement, and exposes the Government’s pledges to address slavery as a farce.
Thirteen leading anti-slavery activists from the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) were sentenced to up to 15 years in prison yesterday. They were charged after a protest in late June in an impoverished neighbourhood against the forced relocation of the community in preparation for the Arab League Summit. However, none of the thirteen activists, nor IRA, had organised the protest or taken part in it.
Sarah Mathewson, Africa Programme Manager at Anti-Slavery International, said:
“The sentences are a devastating blow to the Mauritanian anti-slavery movement. They are clearly being targeted by the Government for their work to expose and denounce slavery, still commonplace in the country.
“The charges are highly politically motivated and expose the Government’s pledges to address slavery as a farce.
“It is outrageous that anti-slavery activists are targeted and prosecuted for their work, while slave-owners perpetrate crimes with impunity.
“The international community must join together to call for the unconditional release of the activists and dropping all the charges.”
Mauritania is one of the last countries where people are still born into slavery and literally owned by their masters, facing a lifetime of abuse and forced labour. They can be bought and sold, given as gifts and are at complete mercy of their masters. Women are commonly raped and forced to bear their masters’ children, who in turn also become their slaves. Haratine people –a group known to be the descendants of slaves – even if no longer in slavery, face widespread discrimination.
Mauritania has long been under national and international pressure to enforce the law, but most anti-slavery initiatives so far have proved to be empty promises.
Although last year’s new anti-slavery law offered some hope, the Government continues to target anti-slavery activists and even refuses to acknowledge the existence of slavery in the country.
To date Anti-Slavery International and its national partners achieved the only two prosecutions for slavery in the country’s history, but the slave-owners received very lenient sentences. At least 30 other cases have remained pending for years in courts or prosecutors’ offices.
Note to Editors:
For more information and to arrange interviews please contact Anti-Slavery International Press and Digital Media Manager Jakub Sobik on 07789 936 383 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actress Penelope Cruz has been blacklisted by the Hollywood elite over a row surrounding her support of Palestine.
The letter accused Israel of “advancing on Palestinian territories instead of withdrawing to the 1967 borders.
“Gaza is living through horror… while the international community does nothing.”
One top producer who has worked with Cruz says he privately has vowed not to hire her again, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Relativity Media chief executive Ryan Kavanaugh was the only studio head willing to go public with his views: “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I know that anyone calling what’s going on in Israel ‘genocide’ vs. self-defense is either ignorant and shouldn’t be commenting or is truly anti-Semitic.”
However, Kavanaugh doesn’t believe the letter will harm either of the actors’ careers as long as their films are box office hits.
As one film producer explained: “I think the thing any executive or producer will try to calculate before working with Penelope Cruz or Javier Bardem in the near future is what their value is in the all-important international marketplace. And what territories they might have alienated people in by what they said. It might not be that many. But it’s really all about business.”
Other Hollywood big names have waded into the controversy, including comedian Joan Rivers. When quizzed by a TMZ reporter on her thoughts about the 2,000 Palestinians who have so far been killed, she said: “Oh my God! Tell that to the people in Hiroshima.
“Good. Good. When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. We now don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead, you deserve to be dead. Don’t you dare make me feel bad about that.
“They were told to get out. They didn’t get out. You don’t get out, you are an idiot. At least the ones that were killed were the ones with low IQs.”
On Memorial Day, politicians will speak at ceremonies all over the country and repeat their favorite mantra: “Support the troops.”
This pledge is hammered into the American psyche at every turn. But there is a hidden, dark history that shows that the politicians are in fact no friend to service members–but their greatest enemy.
An easy way to prove this truth is to look at how they so quickly betray and abandon their soldiers after purposely ruining their lives, and even after using them as literal lab rats.
In this disturbing chapter of The Empire Files, Abby Martin documents decades of experimentation on US troops—from nuclear tests to psychotropic drugs—as well as knowingly exposing them to deadly poisons, from sarin gas to Agent Orange.
Most damning is that the hundreds of thousands of veterans seeking help from the government for the side-effects are always met with lies and denial.
FOLLOW // @EmpireFiles // @AbbyMartin // @telesurenglish
Episode music by Anahedron
Intro music by Fluorescent Grey
In 1903, at the height of the Northern gold rush, the Lomen family of Minnesota relocated to Nome, Alaska. Rather than pan for gold, they sought other commercial opportunities in the booming Alaskan economy.
lots more at Mashable:Pictures and history of a family that photographed the early years
The Bengal Famine: How the British engineered the worst genocide in human history for profit
“I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”
The British had a ruthless economic agenda when it came to operating in India and that did not include empathy for native citizens. Under the British Raj, India suffered countless famines. But the worst hit was Bengal. The first of these was in 1770, followed by severe ones in 1783, 1866, 1873, 1892, 1897 and lastly 1943-44. Previously, when famines had hit the country, indigenous rulers were quick with useful responses to avert major disasters. After the advent of the British, most of the famines were a consequence of monsoonal delays along with the exploitation of the country’s natural resources by the British for their own financial gain. Yet they did little to acknowledge the havoc these actions wrought. If anything, they were irritated at the inconveniences in taxing the famines brought about.
The first of these famines was in 1770 and was ghastly brutal. The first signs indicating the coming of such a huge famine manifested in 1769 and the famine itself went on till 1773. It killed approximately 10 million people, millions more than the Jews incarcerated during the Second World War. It wiped out one third the population of Bengal. John Fiske, in his book “The Unseen World”, wrote that the famine of 1770 in Bengal was far deadlier than the Black Plague that terrorized Europe in the fourteenth century. Under the Mughal rule, peasants were required to pay a tribute of 10-15 per cent of their cash harvest. This ensured a comfortable treasury for the rulers and a wide net of safety for the peasants in case the weather did not hold for future harvests. In 1765 the Treaty of Allahabad was signed and East India Company took over the task of collecting the tributes from the then Mughal emperor Shah Alam II. Overnight the tributes, the British insisted on calling them tributes and not taxes for reasons of suppressing rebellion, increased to 50 percent. The peasants were not even aware that the money had changed hands. They paid, still believing that it went to the Emperor.
Partial failure of crop was quite a regular occurrence in the Indian peasant’s life. That is why the surplus stock, which remained after paying the tributes, was so important to their livelihood. But with the increased taxation, this surplus deteriorated rapidly. When partial failure of crops came in 1768, this safety net was no longer in place. The rains of 1769 were dismal and herein the first signs of the terrible draught began to appear. The famine occurred mainly in the modern states of West Bengal and Bihar but also hit Orissa, Jharkhand and Bangladesh. Bengal was, of course, the worst hit. Among the worst affected areas were Birbum and Murshidabad in Bengal. Thousands depopulated the area in hopes of finding sustenance elsewhere, only to die of starvation later on. Those who stayed on perished nonetheless. Huge acres of farmland were abandoned. Wilderness started to thrive here, resulting in deep and inhabitable jungle areas. Tirhut, Champaran and Bettiah in Bihar were similarly affected in Bihar.
Prior to this, whenever the possibility of a famine had emerged, the Indian rulers would waive their taxes and see compensatory measures, such as irrigation, instituted to provide as much relief as possible to the stricken farmers. The colonial rulers continued to ignore any warnings that came their way regarding the famine, although starvation had set in from early 1770. Then the deaths started in 1771. That year, the company raised the land tax to 60 per cent in order to recompense themselves for the lost lives of so many peasants. Fewer peasants resulted in less crops that in turn meant less revenue. Hence the ones who did not yet succumb to the famine had to pay double the tax so as to ensure that the British treasury did not suffer any losses during this travesty.
After taking over from the Mughal rulers, the British had issued widespread orders for cash crops to be cultivated. These were intended to be exported. Thus farmers who were used to growing paddy and vegetables were now being forced to cultivate indigo, poppy and other such items that yielded a high market value for them but could be of no relief to a population starved of food. There was no backup of edible crops in case of a famine. The natural causes that had contributed to the draught were commonplace. It was the single minded motive for profit that wrought about the devastating consequences. No relief measure was provided for those affected. Rather, as mentioned above, taxation was increased to make up for any shortfall in revenue. What is more ironic is that the East India Company generated a profited higher in 1771 than they did in 1768.
Although the starved populace of Bengal did not know it yet, this was just the first of the umpteen famines, caused solely by the motive for profit, that was to slash across the country side. Although all these massacres were deadly in their own right, the deadliest one to occur after 1771 was in 1943 when three million people died and others resorted to eating grass and human flesh in order to survive.
Winston Churchill, the hallowed British War prime minister who saved Europe from a monster like Hitler was disturbingly callous about the roaring famine that was swallowing Bengal’s population. He casually diverted the supplies of medical aid and food that was being dispatched to the starving victims to the already well supplied soldiers of Europe. When entreated upon he said, “Famine or no famine, Indians will breed like rabbits.” The Delhi Government sent a telegram painting to him a picture of the horrible devastation and the number of people who had died. His only response was, “Then why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?”
This Independence Day it is worthwhile to remember that the riches of the west were built on the graves of the East. While we honour the brave freedom fighters (as we should), it is victims like these, the ones sacrificed without a moment’s thought, who paid the ultimate price. Shed a tear in their memory and strive to make the most of this hard won independence that we take for granted today. Pledge to stand up those whose voice the world refuses to hear because they are too lowly to matter. To be free is a great privilege. But as a great superhero once said, “With great freedom comes great responsibility.”
Fantastic post and writing
#Exodus,responding to some of the nasty remarks
A couple of days I was on Twitter reading and posting comments on the refugee situation we are currently experiencing.Mostly it was an interesting discussion,many differing opinions but also some extremly nasty behaviour.
THIS this is what they are fleeing from,take a good look.
dead Syrian children,according to UNICEF 10% OF THE VICTIMS ARE CHILDREN
Some people said to me they are all just young men and mostly terrorists overrunning our country.Have you ever considered the these young men are simply trying to find a place for their wifes,sisters,mothers and children to come to?They are the ones that have the strength and courage to endure the arduous conditions crossing thousands of miles of hostile lands to find a safe haven.
Also the media will show you what they wish to.Change the camera directicetion and you will see plenty of women and children but it it far more convinient for some parties to whip up fear of the “other” that is going to steal your job your housing.
The reality is we started these wars,on false premises by a lying corrupt government that did not care about the suffering they are causing.
As for the argument that other countries are not taking in refugees why hould we.
It leave we me speechless ,it has nothing to do with what other countries do.What matters is that it is the right thing to do,we have an obligation to these people ,we destroyed their homes,their infrastructure their lives,murdered millions in the name of giving them freedom.
Why not look to those countries like Lebanon that have taken in far more people then us.Instead of using those that to nothing as an example.
We have plenty of space,thousands of empty houses to house our own homeless as well as refugees.These people will bring skills and ideas to country with an aging population.
Are you still going to say we should not help them when they start building concentration camps and gas chambers?
Do you see how broken our young soldiers are that return from these places,how many are left to starve on the streets having done their bit for this corrupt government?Is that OK too?
In my mind it is simply the right thing to do.Nobody leaves their country to end up in filthy refugee camps and those are the lucky ones.How many have drowned on the way,died of cold,hunger or been shot?
You know just stopping those stupid wars on all sides is the simplest solution.Stop killing,stop sending our sons and daughters to kill theirs.
How would you feel if we were invaded because the UN has criticised our givernment for it’s austerity measures that has killed so many? While those causing it are hoarding wealth in offshore bank accounts ,bleeding the country dry.It is not the refugees you should fear but ,or the poor,the disabled,the jobles.
It is those in power you should fear ,they have shown only too clearly that we are nothing to them but pawns to be used and sacrificed.You can bet their children are not sent to to the frontline,nOr will you see our politicians living on starvation wages.Can you not see they are turning us against each other and those seeking shelter from their wars only to better control and exploit the worlds resources?
War is a buisness and it is the ordinary person paying for it with their lives while they grow ever richer,ever more divorced from reality.By turning our backs on our fellow human beings regardles of their race,religion or colour ,we will all have blood on our hands.