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Meet the Tory council that’s started fining people £50 for being poor

Worthing Council has just pushed through controversial new rules that allow it to impose £50 fines on people who sleep rough or beg for money. The move effectively criminalises homelessness in Worthing – and then allows the council to profit from it.

Conservative-led Worthing Council has voted to ban rough sleeping (“overnight camping”) and begging, and to issue people who break the ban with a £50 fixed penalty notice, or a court fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal conviction if they don’t pay.

Worthing is the latest in a series of councils to criminalise homeless people using new ‘Public Space Protection Orders’ (PSPOs), which were introduced by the coalition government in 2014 and allow councils to criminalise otherwise legal activities in specific local areas. VICE describes PSPOs as “ASBOs for your neighbourhood” and documents some of the more outlandish ways councils have been enjoying their new powers:

It is now a criminal offence to shout or swear in an area of Bassetlaw. Congregating in groups of two or more is banned in one estate in Guildford. It is illegal to “cause annoyance” in part of Lancaster. Possession of golf equipment is outlawed in an area of North East Derbyshire. Other activities which have been banned, or will be in the near future, include ball games, busking, feeding birds and playing music loudly.

But it is the increasing use of PSPOs to criminalise homeless people – which at least 36 councils are trying to do – that is the most disturbing.

Worthing Council waved through the new rules in the face of overwhelming local opposition. 14,000 people have signed a petition calling on the council to “say no to PSPO” and protests were held outside its town hall. Dan Thompson, the spokesman for the Worthing People’s Assembly, which has been instrumental in the campaign against the PSPOs, told The Canary:

The impacts will be huge. PSPO 2 mentions begging in terms of having a receptacle for begging, which will victimise homeless people trying to get by day to day… PSPO 3 discusses overnight camping and finding shelter overnight which will affect homeless people trying to find somewhere to stay… PSPO 1 looks at street drinking, but there is no discussion of treating people with addictions. Many people living on the street suffer from addiction as a product of being homeless. As one councillor pointed out, the PSPOs are all about punishment and don’t mention support or help.

The council denies it is targeting any “groups of individuals”:

The council were clear that the PSPOs were proposed as part of a wider programme to tackle anti-social behaviour, which balances prevention and early help with enforcement. Enforcement is only carried out where necessary and is focused on behaviour and not groups of individuals.

But Liberty, which has opposed PSPOs since their introduction, argues that Worthing’s measures will inevitably hit homeless people particularly hard:

As well as banning begging, the council has made it a criminal offence to spend the night in a vehicle or temporary structure intended to provide shelter or accommodation – which will obviously disproportionately impact the homeless.

Conservative government policies – from the failure to provide affordable housing to welfare cuts and sanctions – have seen homeless figures skyrocket by 55% between 2010 and 2014. In the past year alone, the number of people sleeping rough in England has risen by nearly a third. Meanwhile, cuts to councils have led them to drastically cut support for homeless people.

Rosie Brighouse, Legal Officer for Liberty, told The Canary:

It’s deeply disappointing that Worthing has used these dangerous powers to criminalise some of its most vulnerable people. Begging and rough sleeping are not antisocial behaviour – they’re the result of poverty.

PSPOs are blunt instruments which don’t help those in need – they simply fast-track them into the criminal justice system. We hope the council will follow the example of other authorities around the country and scrap this misguided and counterproductive Order.

People are being pushed onto the streets – and then being criminalised for it.

As my colleagues Emily Apple and Kerry-anne Mendoza have previously reported, PSPOs are part of a wider trend towards criminalising homelessness under the Conservatives, with devastating impacts for homeless people and those helping them:

  • The introduction of ‘anti-squatting’ laws led to homeless man Daniel Gauntlett freezing to death on the porch of an empty bungalow in Kent in February 2013.
  • A furious judge railed against the increasing number of homeless people being criminalised in Brighton after Ashley Hacket was arrested for begging just 10 pence.
  • Sussex Police have been using plainclothes officers to target people begging and gaol one homeless person every week.
  • In 2014, a disabled man was threatened with arrest for trying to give soup and sandwiches to homeless people in Brighton, and police tried to dismantle a soup kitchen in London.

Criminalising poverty will only entrench it, or move the problem to somebody else’s backyard. Instead of a £1,000 fine and a criminal record, people in extreme poverty need support. As The Worthing People’s Assembly told The Canary:

full article at  The Canary and much more about the country we live in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kidnapped by Isis at 15: ‘I never thought I’d see the day when I was free’

Photo credit: Amar International Charitable Foundation

By Holly Young

“It was a lovely life. I had a big family and there was always a lot of laughter,” says 16-year-old Nihad Alawsi, speaking about her Yazidi community in northern Iraq. “I’m one of 18 siblings, but I was always my dad’s favourite.” She remembers the weddings, when the girls would get their hair and make-up done, and the days spent as a little girl drawing pictures of the flowers breaking through the Iraqi landscape.

Then came the day that cut short her childhood. Speaking via a translator, Nihad’s breathing quickens as she describes “that black morning” when 28 members of her family and others in her village fell into the hands of Isis. At 15, Nihad became one of the thousands of victims in the largest single mass kidnap of women and girls this century.

“They killed men,” says Nihad. “They didn’t want the older women so they either killed them on the spot or chased them out of their homes. They kidnapped us girls, raped us, and took our babies.” The Yazidi community has been specifically targeted by Isis. In 2014 an estimated 5,000 were taken; 3,500 are thought to be still missing.

Nihad was sold as a sex slave to an Isis fighter. “I was raped and beaten continuously for two weeks,” she says describing the beginning of her 15 months in captivity. “They took us first to Syria and then back to Mosul in Iraq.” She met many other Yazidi girls along the way who spoke of the relentless forced movement, as they were endlessly sold and resold, back and forth between Iraq and Syria. Sometimes they were sent as “gifts”: “The men think it is fun to exchange women. One girl I met had been resold 15 times.”

full story at The Richard Dawking Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day police told Parliament to end the war on drugs

Suzanne Sharkey is a former constable and undercover officer at Northumbria Constabulary

Suzanne Sharkey is a former constable and undercover officer at Northumbria Constabulary
Friday, 11 March 2016 9:31 AM

By Simon Oxenham

Last week Neil Franklin, a retired major from Marylyn State Police, led a troop of serving and former police chiefs, soldiers and a former spy into the Parliament to call MPs to end the war on drugs. Their testimony was damning and revealing.

Franklin opened the meeting with an explanation of the campaign’s mission to “reduce crime, disease, death and addiction by ending the most socially destructive public policy since slavery.” Franklin explained how his organisation of “police officers, agents, judges, criminal prosecutors, corrections officials and others” including over 180,000 members and supporters in over 180 countries share one goal, to end “the world’s longest war”.

According to Franklin “we have been attempting to solve a public health crisis with criminal justice solutions and the results have been catastrophic”. While repeated calls from academia and public health have failed to convince most politicians, the group hopes calls from within the criminal justice system will finally make them listen. What follows are all direct quotes, edited for concision.

Suzanne Sharkey (pictured above): Former Constable and Undercover Officer at Northumbria Constabulary

“When I look back at my time in the police I feel ashamed, I feel a sense of failure. I feel ashamed that I wasn’t arresting career criminals. I was arresting people from poor socially deprived areas with little or no hope whose crime was non-violent drug possession, a complete failure of the war on drugs. I believe that one of the biggest barriers for people with problematic substance misuse to seeking help and treatment is the current drug policy. It does nothing, it achieves nothing except creating more harm for individuals, families and society as a whole. All of us know the problems and what we need to do but rather than be united by the problems let’s be united by the solutions. Solutions based in health, education and compassion rather than criminalisation.”

PCC Ron Hogg: serving police and crime commissioner for Durham spoke alongside Mike Barton, the chief constable of Durham police force. The pair made headlines last year for effectively decriminalising small-scale cannabis growers and users in Durham.

“We are very clear in our view in Durham constabulary that the war has failed, that it won’t succeed and it never will succeed and we have to change our views and the way we approach things. The whole purpose of a drugs policy must be to minimise the harms that drugs cause to individuals and to our communities and optimise the benefits that drugs can bring.

“Heroin and crack cocaine addiction is responsible for 43% of acquisitive crime. Responsible for 33% of fraud as people commit crimes to feed their habits. This appears to many to be a satisfactory situation, we don’t think that’s the way things should be going forward. That’s why we’ve taken a stand in Durham. We’ve put our heads above the parapet to produce new ways of tackling drug and alcohol addiction.

“As we dismantle one organised crime group there’s another one ready to come and take its place but what you do find is the levels of violence and organisation tends to increase incrementally as we go forward. So we really have to break the cycle if we’re going to do something significant.”

Annie Machon – Former Mi5 Officer tasked with investigating terrorist logistics

“I first came to the knowledge that the war on drugs was an abject failure when I was working as an intelligence officer at Mi5 in the 1990s. One of my tasks was to investigate terrorist logistics and to do this I worked very closely with customs and excise, both the national investigations division and at ports. During that time I learned from them that even at that time they viewed the war on drugs as unwinnable. I learned about the massive overlap in funding between the illegal drugs trade and terrorist organisations, and this is global not just in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. We see this time and time again, in Afghanistan, in some of the Latin American countries where terrorist organisations are largely funded by drug money. We’ve seen most of West Africa descend into a kind of narco-state where armed militias compete for drug territory.

“On the one hand we have prohibition that pushes the war on drugs underground and creates huge conflicts globally. On the other hand we are fighting the war on terror which is largely funded by this war on drugs. So it strikes me as illogical unless it’s a very clever circular business model that has been only too successful.

“We know this is going on because bank after bank has been fined record numbers for being caught money laundering. In 2009 the sheer scale of the corruption of our banking industry became clear. In 2009 a man named Antonio Maria Costa, then head of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime went on the record saying after the financial crash of 2008, but for drug money many large international banks would not have had any cash liquidity.

“By ensuring prohibition ends we would be able to end the biggest crime wave our world has ever seen. We would be able to protect millions if not billions of people around the planet who have been ravaged not just by the drug war, crimes and the vicious violence but also by terrorist groups funded largely by this trade who continue to maim and kill around the planet too.”

Patrick Hennessy – Served as a grenadier guard officer in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now a practicing barrister.

full article and it is really a must read for anyone interested in the subject not just of drugs but war and money laundering how it funds all this

here is the link politics.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UN tells UK to ban police Taser use on children – report

© Neil Hall

The United Nations will tell the UK to ban police Taser use on minors, after figures revealed a 38 percent 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 up to 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 and Wales in 2003 as part of a 12-month trial for firearms officers, send 50,000 volts through a target’s body, overwhelming the nervous system. Police use of the powerful stun guns jumped from 6,238 incidents in 2010 to 9,196 in 2014.

READ MORE: Police Taser safety probed after man dies during arrest

Carla Garnelas, co-director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, called for an outright ban on the use of Tasers on children.

“The use of Taser on children is a breach of their human rights,” she told 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 Taser on children continues. We want to see a ban on Taser use on children.”

A Home Office source told the Independent: “Taser provides the 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.

Debate over Taser use made headlines last fall when critics said Home Office figures which suggested that black people were three times more likely to have a Taser used against them by police than white people proved underlying racial bias within the police force. The data showed that 12 percent of all police Taser incidents between 2010 and 2015 involved black targets.

 source :RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greece/Macedonia: Asylum Seekers Trapped at Border

Blocked Access to Asylum; Beatings by Soldiers; Poor Conditions

 Two young Iranian sisters at the Idomeni border crossing between Greece and Macedonia.  January 26, 2016.

(Brussels) – Nationality-based restrictions at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are preventing asylum seekers from reaching countries where they want to lodge protection claims.

Human Rights Watch witnessed dozens of returns from Macedonia to Greece at the Idomeni border crossing during a three-day visit in late January 2016. The people are returned to a border area with poor conditions, instead of a well-equipped transit camp set up by aid agencies. Unable to proceed legally, people are increasingly trying to cross the border informally, where they face violence from Macedonian guards. And criminal human smuggling rings are taking advantage of the migrants and asylum seekers trapped in Greece at the border and are committing abuses against them, Human Rights Watch said.

“The failure of the European Union to tackle the refugee crisis fairly and responsibly has led to cascading restrictions at borders, with asylum seekers and migrants facing greater risks of abuse and exploitation,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “Desperate people who are the wrong nationality are being denied the right to move on, beaten by border guards if they try to cross, and preyed upon by smugglers.” Greek authorities will not allow asylum seekers to cross into the no-man’s land to reach the Macedonia border post unless they are Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans who express the intention to seek asylum in Germany or Austria.

full story at:Human Rights Watch

New Law In London Would Fine Homeless £1,000 For Sleeping Outside Or “Loitering”

homeless London

By John Vibes

The homeless people in Hackney, London are facing expulsion from the street due to a new law will allow the police to give out fines and other legal penalties to homeless people who are found loitering, begging and sleeping in commercial places.

This “Public Space Protection Order” which was introduced by the council of Hackney will place a fine of £1000 on homeless activities. The order has been met with numerous criticisms, with many pointing out that the new laws effectively outlaw homelessness.

Matt Downie of homelessness charity Crisis, one of the major opponents of this legislation, said that the homeless population in London has been victimized enough.

“Rough sleepers deserve better than to be treated as a nuisance – they may have suffered a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or domestic abuse. Those who sleep on the streets are extremely vulnerable and often do not know where to turn for help. These individuals need additional support to leave homelessness behind, and any move to criminalize sleeping rough could simply create additional problems to be overcome,” Downie said.

A similar scenario was supposed to happen in Oxford, but during the consultation process, there was so much outcry from the local population that the government was forced to pull back on their proposal. In the case of Hackney, there was not a single consultation before the policy was introduced.

The policy has been largely rejected by people in Hackney, and there have been thousands of people to sign petitions that ask for the ban to be lifted. However, it is not clear if the city has any intention of paying attention to these people.

We have covered many other instances of homelessness being criminalized in recent months. As we reported just a few weeks ago, that homeless people and supporters in Sacramento were protesting a recent ordinance that makes it illegal for them to camp in the city. Many of them were camped out in front of city hall for the past month and are demanding a reversal of the camping ban. Soon after,police invaded the encampment in riot gear and made several arrests.

Activist Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India, Egypt say no thanks to free Internet from Facebook

— Connecting people to the Internet is not easy in this impoverished farming district of wheat and millet fields, where working camels can be glimpsed along roads that curve through the low-slung Aravalli Hills.

So when Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg helicoptered in about a year ago to visit a small computer lab and tout Internet for all, Osama Manzar, director of India’s Digital Empowerment Foundation, was thrilled.

But when Manzar tried Facebook’s limited free Internet service, he was bitterly disappointed. The app, called Free Basics, is a pared-down version of Facebook with other services such as weather reports and job listings.

“I feel betrayed — not only betrayed but upset and angry,” Manzar said. “He said we’re going to solve the problem with access and bandwidth. But Facebook is not the Internet.”

Zuckerberg launched his sweeping Internet.org initiative in 2013 as a way to provide 4 billion people in the developing world with Web access, which he says he sees as a basic human right.

But the initiative has hit a major snag in India, where in recent months Free Basics has been embroiled in controversy — with critics saying that the app, which provides limited access to the Web, does a disservice to the poor and violates the principles of “net neutrality,” which holds that equal access to the Internet should be unfettered to all.

Activist groups such as Save the Internet, professors from leading universities and tech titans such as Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of Infosys, have spoken out against it. Another well-known Indian entrepreneur dubbed it “poor Internet for poor people.”

The debate escalated in recent weeks after India’s telecommunications regulator suspended Free Basics as it weighs whether such plans are fair, with new rules expected by the end of the month.

A week later, Free Basics was banned in Egypt with little explanation, prompting concern that the backlash could spread to other markets. More recently, Google pulled out of the app in Zambia after a trial period. An estimated 15 million people are using Free Basics in 37 countries, including 1 million in India.

full story at WashingtonPost

 

 

 

 

 

AMA by a cybersecurity expert on reddit

For all that had questions about cybersecurity,the Government spying on us and anything to do with digital rights I’m Erka Koivunen, a Finnish cybersecurity expert. I know why governments want more access to your online data. And I know that not everything they want can be considered as balanced or proportional. AMA!

UK Could Take Refugee Children From Europe

The Government is looking at “whether we can do more” for lone Syrian child refugees in Europe, Justine Greening tells Sky News.

Syrian and Afghan refugee children line up for a photograph in Victoria Square, where hundreds of migrants and refugees sleep rough, in central Athens

David Cameron is considering taking thousands of unaccompanied Syrian refugee children from migrant camps in Europe.

The Prime Minister will decide in the “coming days and weeks” how children who have fled to Europe but been separated from parents can be helped, the International Development Secretary told Sky News.

If Mr Cameron agrees to take refugee children from Europe it would represent a softening of the Government position.

Britain has already agreed to take 20,000 Syrian refugees but had insisted it would only take them from the refugee camps in the Syrian region – and not draw from the camps in Europe.

full story at Sky News

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