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Chios chronicle: Here’s how Europe welcomed a young Afghan man who fled the Taliban

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By Conor Fortune, News Writer at Amnesty International

You can’t stop a ship dead in its tracks, but sometimes you can change its course.

And that’s what happened recently in the Aegean Sea in a new twist in the evolving refugee crisis my colleagues from Amnesty International and I were researching on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Chios.

On 5 April, we were on board a night-time ferry from Mytilene, Lesvos, to Chios, when we were informed that our destination had changed because of “the refugee situation”. Hundreds of refugees and migrants were camping out in the open on the main dock in Chios harbour.

Because our ferry – a towering mass of metal the length of two football pitches – posed a serious threat to them, we were diverted mid-voyage and docked at another port an hour’s drive away.

At the time, the island of Chios was hosting more than 1,600 refugees and migrants, with Lesvos hosting around twice that number. Some 1,200 were being held in prison-like conditions in VIAL, a closed detention centre built around an abandoned aluminium factory 5.5km inland on Chios. Several hundred more people were sleeping rough in the port after fleeing overnight clashes in the camp several days earlier.

complete article at  HuffingtonPost please read as it is important we do not loose our humanity, after all we all love our children,would run to save their lives.They are us,no different,they cry,they care,they must be protected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breadline Britain: Rising malnutrition & death linked to low wages, welfare cuts

© Stefano Rellandini

Foodbank use has risen to record highs in the UK, with over a million three-day emergency food supplies being handed out by the Trussell Trust charity last year. Government figures also indicate a shocking rise in deaths linked to malnutrition.

The charity’s latest figures point to delays and changes to benefits as the biggest causes of foodbank use by those relying on its 424 centers across the UK.

Low incomes, insecure work, high living costs and problems accessing in-work benefits are all leading to a rise in working people being referred to food charities, according to the Trussell Trust’s latest data.

Hunger games: Food blogger takes poverty challenge

Care professionals such as doctors, teachers and social workers identify people in crisis and issue them with foodbank vouchers for non-perishable food, which is donated to centers across the country by members of the public.

David McAuley, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, insisted the situation “must not become the new normal.”

“Today’s figures on national foodbank use prove that the numbers of people hitting a crisis where they cannot afford to buy food are still far too high. One million three-day food supplies given out by our foodbanks every year is one million too many,” McAuley said.

Datamapping by the University of Hull, where researchers collaborated with the Trussell Trust, suggests foodbank use is highest in areas where there are larger numbers of people unable to work due to long-term sickness or disability, or those in skilled manual work.

However, the true scale of hunger in the UK could be much greater than the data indicates. A separate report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger, also released on Friday, estimates more than half of the emergency food aid supplied to families in crisis comes from independent foodbanks and organizations not on the Trussell Trust’s radar.

Further compounding this grim picture, a report by the National Child Measurement Program for England shows that thousands of children in England started school underweight last year.

This is backed up by the Trussell Trust figures, which state that of the 1,109,309 three-day emergency food supplies provided to people in crisis last year, 415,866 went to children.

The spread of hunger correlates with the rising number of cases in England in which malnutrition was mentioned as an underlying cause of death. These have risen from 58 cases in 2005 to 73 cases in 2014, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Cases where the effects of hunger and malnutrition were mentioned on the death certificate have also risen sharply, from 255 cases in 2005 to 375 cases in 2014.

Six years of harsh fiscal measures have driven thousands of people to gather for an anti-austerity protest in London’s Trafalgar Square this Saturday. The national demonstration has been organized by the People’s Assembly against Austerity, in response to ongoing austerity measures and recent revelations about offshore investment funds linked to Prime Minister David Cameron’s family.

“David Cameron’s stake in his father’s off shore tax haven, prove that this is a government for the privileged few, not for the majority. This shows beyond all doubt that Cameron is divorced from the life of any working person,” the organizers said.

 Source:RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeless Man Owes Government Over $110,000 In Fines For Being Homeless

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By John Vibes

The recent case of a homeless man racking up massive fines has exposed the widespread police practice of fining homeless people for being homeless.

Émilie Guimond-Bélanger, a social worker at the Droits Devant legal clinic in Montreal spoke to the media about a case that she worked on where a homeless man racked up over $110,000 in tickets.

“It was shocking. We’ve never seen someone with so many tickets,” Émilie told CBC.

The man had over 500 tickets, which amounted to over $110,000 in fines. The fines were mostly for things that homeless people can’t control, such as sleeping in the subway or asking people for money.

“He had received around 500 of them [tickets]. I could see that most of the time he would receive many in the same week, sometimes by the same officers as well,” she said.

“It’s very common, to a point where I would say it’s a systematic experience for homeless people,” she added.

On a daily basis, Émilie deals with at least two cases where people owe at least $10,000 for the crime of being homeless.

According to a study published in 2012, the homeless population of Montreal owe over $15 million in fines.

“It’s a huge amount of money that would stress out anyone who has that as a burden. So you can just imagine how it’s difficult for a person to then think about rehabilitation in society when they have such a heavy debt,” she said, “it affects them a lot. Some of them feel like there are good citizens in society — and then there’s them,” Émilie said.

It was recently reported that politicians in Los Angeles are seeking to ban homeless people from sleeping in their cars, and even RVs.

As we reported late last year, Florida police arrested a group of charity workers for breaking a newly-imposed law against feeding the homeless. Among those charged was a 90-year-old homeless advocate.

This article (Homeless Man Owes Government Over $110,000 In Fines For Being Homeless) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com.

John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dodgy Dave song videos made by angry peasants

Dodgy Dave song  videos made by angry peasants

Newsletter – Building Toward Political Revolution

This week the massive leak of the Panama Papers gave people a glimpse inside how the extremely wealthy avoid paying taxes and hide their money. The reaction to the leak showed that people are more sophisticated on these issues and also how many understand that information can be manipulated to undermine people and governments who oppose the United States. Panama Papers leak

Of course, we also know this is just one tax evasion firm, and not a major one. This is a small tip of a massive tax evasion iceberg. Estimates are that $7.6 trillion in individual assets are in tax havens, about one-tenth of the global GPD. The use of tax havens has grown 25% from 2009 to 2015.  Gabriel Zucman, author of The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens estimates that US citizens have at least $1.2 trillion stashed offshore, costing $200 billion a year worldwide in lost tax revenue and US transnational corporations are underpaying their taxes worldwide by $130 billion.

The Panama Papers will escalate demands for transformation of the economy as well as of government; continue to increase pressure on capitalism and result in the growth of the people-powered movement for economic justice.

Seeing Through Propaganda

The week started with the release of the results of a yearlong investigation of documents leaked from the Panamanian company Mossack Fonseca by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The company functions as a full-service wealth-hider for tax evaders and money launderers. This is not news, people have known about shell companies and tax havens for a long time. What is exciting about the release is getting to see the names of those involved.

Source CNN

Source CNN

The name that was most widely promoted in the Panama Papers leak was Russian President Vladimir Putin, even though his name was nowhere in the documents and connections to him were circumstantial. This immediately raised questions. The US consistently tries to demonize Putin to ensure its global domination.

Robert Parry explained how accusations of corruption are used to take down leaders that are targeted by the US. Organizations such as the so-called National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and US AID are often involved in regime change operations and one of their tools is to fund media outlets that target US opponents, which is then echoed through the commercial western media. This then foments unrest that can be leveraged into supporting a coup.

This is happening right now with the attack on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and past-president Lula. Mark Weisbrot writes about the US role in the events in Brazil and coups in other Latin American countries. Of course, it is no coincidence that both Brazil and Russia are key players in the new BRICS bank that is challenging the US-controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. at a time when the integrity of those institutions isbeing questioned.

 People demonstrate against Iceland‘s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 4, 2016 after the Panama Papers revealed his wife owns a tax haven–based company with large claims on the country‘s collapsed banks. (Reuters / Stigtryggur Johannsson)

People demonstrate against Iceland‘s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 4, 2016. (Reuters / Stigtryggur Johannsson)

The Panama Papers have sparkedmajor protests in Iceland demanding resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson for using Mossack Fonseca to handle his wife’s fortune. As protests grew this week, Gunnlaugssonannounced his resignation and then backtracked. Icelanders are now calling for a vote of no confidence and new elections. Gunnlaugsson had been spokesperson for the InDefence movement, that fought foreign creditors’ attempts to make Iceland pay out £2.3 billion in compensation when Iceland’s banks collapsed and were nationalized.

Craig Murray reports that the Panama Paper’s leaker turned to western media which used the information for its political agenda and protected its allies. Many are asking about people in the US who engage in the same behavior. David Dayen writes that creating secret companies to hide wealth is legal in states such as Nevada, Wyoming and Delaware and that it could be stopped easily if there were political will to do so. McClatchy is doing excellent reporting on the creation of tax havens inside the US. We will discuss it in depth on our next episode of Clearing the FOG Radio.

Glenn Greenwald concludes that the Panama Papers and Edward Snowden’s revelations show that widespread misbehavior is legal. It is interesting that the head of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Gerald Ryle, used the Panama Paper’s leak to criticize Wikileaks and perpetuate the myth that Manning and other leakers were reckless when in fact it is the western media that turns leaks into a tool of the state. We just passed the six year anniversary of the release of the Collateral Murder video which changed the conversation about the US military’s role in Iraq.

Protesting The Neo-Liberal Agenda

If you thing Greed is bad wait till you see capitalismThe Panama Papers leak is one more piece of evidence showing that the global economy is rigged to benefit the 1% at the expense of the 99%. Rana Foroohar writes that this awareness is playing out in the US elections where there is discussion about rigged trade agreements like the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and the corruption of money in politics. This is personally gratifying to us because during the fight to stop fast track, members of Congress justified their support for fast track with the belief that voters would not consider trade agreements to be an important issue in the elections. They were wrong.

In other countries, this rigged economy is identified as a neo-liberal agenda that drives cuts to public goods and services and privatization of them for profit. Neo-liberals pursue deregulation of industries and finance. There seems to be confusion in the US about this terminology because some identify the term ‘liberal’ with left-wing values. We choose to use the term. The neo-liberal agenda is one of the ideologies that unites the two corporate political parties, the Democrats and Republicans.

This week, a massive movement erupted in Paris, France. Called the Nuit Debout, or ‘Night on Our Feet’, movement, it began when students and workers protested in the Place de la Republique over a law to increase work hours. Despite a ban on protest, millions of people marched throughout the country. The police responded with violence, which has led to greater protests and spread of the movement to other parts of Europe.

Nuit Debout, Night on Our Feet, in Place de la Republique began as a protest a longer work week and has expanded into protesting lack of democratic choice and neo-liberalism.

Nuit Debout, Night on Our Feet, in Place de la Republique began as a protest a longer work week and has expanded into protesting lack of democratic choice and neo-liberalism.

While the Night on Our Feet movementstarted about a month ago because of the labor law, like all true movements it has taken on a life of its own.  In many ways it looks like the Spanish Indignados and the Occupy movements with its focus on non-hierarchical and direct democracy methods of organization. The movement has broadened to have astrong critique of neo-liberalism and neo-liberal political parties, calling for the creation of alternatives much as the Occupy movement did. And now, the movement has extended to Brussels, Berlin, Barcelona and London.

In the US, one of the front lines of neo-liberal attack is education. On April 13, the secondMillion Student March will take place across the country. It has been endorsed by the Green Party Youth Caucus because, while Sanders comes close, Jill Stein, the presidential candidate seeking the Green Party nomination, is the only candidate whose platform is consistent with all of the student’s demands. These marches would be an opportunity for students in the US to connect and express solidarity with the Night on Our Feet movement. And students in the US could go even further and reject the neo-liberal model of educationby embracing the principles and resistance exemplified by the Zapatistas.

Privatization protestPrivatization of lower education is an area where students, parents and teachers are fighting back. In states, such as New York, parents are choosing to opt-out of testing for their children. On July 8, teachers are coming to Washington, DC for aconference and rally called “Save Our Schools”. They are fighting for “democratically-controlled public schools that serve our communities.” Mitchell Robinson of the Bad Ass Teachersdescribes the very successful public education model in Finland where, among other things, testing does not start until high school.

Of course, another area of neo-liberal exploitation is of workers. Mike Whitney reveals that over the past ten years intentional policies have led to a dismantling of our employment system.  Forty percent of workers are in alternative work arrangements, known as the ‘Gig Economy’, without benefits or protection. Instead of a recovery, under Obama’s two terms, 578,000 good-paying public sector jobs were lost.Worker rights are human rights

Across the nation, the Fight for 15 movement is starting to win higher minimum wages. Airport workers in nine cities went on strike this week for higher wages and the right to organize. Farm workers, who earn a mere $6 per day, are asking people to boycott Driscoll’s berriesuntil they get a raise and better working conditions. In September, prisoners across the country will strike to shut down prisons in protest of the very low wages they are paid. They are also connecting their struggle to the injustices of the school-to-prison pipeline, police violence and barriers that people face when they are released from prison.

Building Alternatives

In this election season, there is widespread discussion of corruption in politics and the need for new solutions. People are rejecting the status quo and recognizing that anything worth having must be fought for. This is an opportunity for the movements that have been building over the past few decades and that have steadily risen since the Occupy movement took off in 2011 to push for the bold solutions that are needed to address the multiple crises we face.

In a recent article, many thought leaders put forth a list of transformative solutions that come from movements around the world. They write:

“Recent progressive electoral efforts and mass campaigns around the world have revealed a huge reservoir of desire and of creative willingness on the parts of large sectors of populations, and very especially young people, to seek change…. Ultimately attaining worthy new program will entail thinking outside the box, as many emerging struggles around the world have urged, noting that the box is capitalism, patriarchy, racism and authoritarianism. The box is the imposed mental straitjacket of thoughts and practices typical of all too many countries’ political life.”

Revolution begins in the mindThe term ‘Political Revolution’ is being used widely, particularly by supporters of Bernie Sanders, but in fact it has been growing for the last six years. Political revolution occurs when a broad movement of movements becomes activated, reaches consensus on major issues and challenges the status quo. This means a national consensus develops in three areas:

1. People recognize that crises exist – such as the major crises we face with the climate, inequality, racism, environmental destruction, corruption and military aggression.

2. The current political system cannot solve these crises.

3. Transformative political solutions are accepted.

Political revolution cannot be about one person. The Occupy movement recognized that truth and wasn’t focused on a single leader. Movements are full of many leaders who play different and important roles such as providing food, protecting health, facilitating meetings, documenting what is happening, putting forward new solutions and more.

Political revolution requires that we work collectively to achieve transformative change. At the end of the election season, no matter who is elected, it must be the movement that determines the political agenda. Over the last six years the popular social movement has grown and is confronting many issues. The movement has built power and we should not underestimate our ability to set the agenda for the next four years. What actions we take in order to accomplish that must be a topic of discussion within all of our social circles. We look forward to exploring what the political revolution looks like as the year progresses.

source:Popular Resistance

Cop plays hopscotch with homeless girl after rich neighbors snitch on her ‘suspicious’ behavior

© Huntington Beach Police Department
Video of ‘Officer Friendly’ playing hopscotch with a homeless girl in the affluent California community of Huntington Beach is all the rage on mainstream media channels, but few noticed the original reason why the cop was there.

Turns out, anonymous neighbors tried to ‘shop’ the girl and her mother to police.

They rang the authorities to complain about a “suspicious occupied vehicle” Wednesday, rather than doing the neighborly thing by going out to offer assistance.

Officers Zach Pricer and Scott March were dispatched to “investigate”.

Fortunately, they decided not to criminalize them, which is often the reaction by authorities, but instead March contacted the Homeless Task Force while Pricer started teaching the girl how to hopscotch.

The video, which was filmed by March, has been viewed more than 750,000 times.

Comments below the Facebook post reveal a number of people in the area know the mother and daughter.

One commenter recognized them from church and said they had been attending services for years.

“They have lived in their van for a while. Very nice and respectful mom and daughter,” another commenter said.

While most of the comments were gushing with joy at the sight of a police officer playing hopscotch, as opposed to shooting unarmed civilians, another commenter got real.

“Wait. People know this mother/daughter living situation AND they attend a local church AND they’ve been homeless for years? Why hasn’t anyone offered employment or a place to stay for a while, while they save a little money and get back on their feet?” read the Facebook comment.

full story at RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

£1500 ESA cuts as quadriplegics fit and able to work say DWP!

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The new Secretary of State for Work & Pensions Stephen Crabb says people with Quadriplegia, Brain Haemorrhage, Brain Tumours, Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinsons Disease and scores of other conditions are ‘able to work!’

He said so on his own Facebook page (see here) as he believes those placed in the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activities Group, or ESA WRAG are all fit and able for work!

Note well if they were fit for work it would mean they would be unable to claim and receive ESA in the first place!!

full story at:Kingston Labour

 

 

 

Tory cuts leave poverty-stricken children too hungry to learn

Teachers have blasted the Tory Government’s “callous fiscal and social policies”, after a damning survey revealed that an increasing number of poverty-stricken children are arriving at school hungry and unable to concentrate in lessons.

A survey of 3,250 teachers by the NASUWT, the largest teacher’s union in the UK, shows that a growing numbers of teachers and schools are being left to “pick up the pieces” of draconian austerity measures.

Teachers and schools reported having to step in and provide food, equipment and clothing for pupils. While others found themselves having to offer financial advice to parents struggling to cope with Tory cuts.

Almost three-quarters of teachers reported seeing children coming to school hungry, with over a quarter generously giving food to starving pupils. More than half had seen their school do the same.

According to the survey, 41 percent of teachers have given financial advice to parents or have referred them to external advice services.

More than a half said they had seen children whose parents were unable to afford school uniform. 15 percent had even resorted to giving clothing to children, and 59 percent reported seeing their school do the same.

Recommended:  MPs Launch Inquiry Into Employment Support For Disabled People

And almost two-thirds of teachers say they have lent equipment to pupils, while half had seen their school do so.

Teachers say housing is an increasing issue, with over a third saying they have seen pupils who have been living in temporary accommodation.

A quarter say they know of pupils who have lost their homes, and over a third reported seeing pupils forced to leave school mid-term after losing their homes.

Over half of teachers say financial pressures felt by families have led to rising levels of anxiety among pupils. Nearly three-quarters report pupils being absent from school and nearly two-thirds say pupils have exhibited behaviour problems.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “It is clear that teachers and schools are being left to pick up the pieces of callous fiscal and social policies.

“Poverty is not incidental to teachers. It is a key inhibitor to educational progression and schools simply cannot be expected to tackle these issues alone.

“This year’s survey confirms the trend of the previous two years that the position is worsening.

“As the survey shows, poverty and homelessness take an enormous physical and emotional toll on children. They often cannot concentrate when they are in school because they are tired, hungry and anxious.

full article at:Welfare Weekly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of Ian Duncan Smith’s Dream  by Ellenor Hutson

Just yesterday, we described the proposed changes to PIP assessment as part of an “unstoppable force of welfare reform”. Since then Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has resigned and the policy has been “kicked into the long grass.”

Events have moved at an astonishing pace, and today we find ourselves covering Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation. Some have described it as a change of heart, and the internet is full of people understandably doubting his sincerity.

Why would he draw the line at PIP cuts, they reason, when he has pushed through reductions to ESA, championed the work programme and staked his reputation on Universal Credit? These are all measures seemingly designed to make life immeasurably more difficult for sick and disabled people.

Photo credit: Roger Blackwell

Photo credit: Roger Blackwell

In fact, IDS is probably completely sincere and no “change of heart” was needed. This is about the death of his dream. In the very first line of his resignation letter IDS stands by his record, stating how proud he is of “welfare reforms” motivated, he claims, by his desire for “social justice.”

The association of Universal Credit, PIP and the Work Programme with “social justice” is one that fills me with anxiety and disgust, but it is completely consistent with IDS’s politics. In his world, people are poor because they are lazy or have flawed characters. Work is the answer and poor people can be bullied into prosperity. This is his idea of “social justice.”

IDS saw the social security system as a barrier to this project: a complex and slow-moving tangle of inducements to sit about and do nothing. He even viewed Tax Credits – brought in, let’s remember, to incentivise low paid work – as part of the problem. Theoretically, it could allow working families could coast along on a minimum of part time work, rather than strive to be more productive.

IDS’s solution was to abolish all means tested benefits and replace them with one “Universal Credit” which would put everyone under the cosh of their own “claimant commitment”, subject to benefit sanctions if they failed to meet its demands. Depending on the claimant’s circumstances this could be anything from occasional work focused interviews to several weeks of unpaid labour.

This regime would apply to everyone: unemployed, low waged, single parents, carers, sick and disabled people. Only the most severely disabled would be exempt. Administration of this “support into work” would be outsourced to private companies under the flagship “Work Programme”

A moment’s thought will tell you that this sort regime is not a “cut”. It is complex to set up and expensive to administer. IDS should not be thought of primarily as a hatchet man. We should think of him instead as a sort of anti-Beveridge.

Sir William Beveridge was the man who, fuelled by personal ambition and indignant at not being put in charge of war production, laid the foundation for the welfare state by massively overreaching his brief to “just do something with workman’s insurance.”

Instead his famous “Beveridge Report” proposed an elegant, internally-consistent system of cradle-to-grave coverage encompassing healthcare, education, social security and legal aid. He is remembered as a hero.

IDS imagined his trajectory in similar terms, except that instead of creating the welfare state, he would take the bloated system that the welfare state had become, strip it down and recreate it as neoliberal machine for behavioural change, priming working class people for their role in a deregulated and casualised economy.

IDS refers to this in his resignation letter:

“A nation’s commitment to the least advantaged should include the provision of a generous safety-net but it should also include incentive structures and practical assistance programmes to help them live independently of the state. Together, we’ve made enormous strides towards building a system of social security that gets the balance right between state-help and self-help.”

IDS refers to his vision being “compromised” and this is exactly right. You cannot implement a punitive welfare panopticon at the same time as budget cuts. His plan is in tatters. So-called “Universal Credit” is now so universal that only 175,000 claimants receive it nationally. IDS himself is bitterly angry that the Work Programme has been “salami sliced” and refers to it in his letter of resignation.

There is also a very telling reference to his team being “pressured in the immediate run up to a budget or fiscal event to deliver yet more reductions to the working age benefit bill.”

This rings true. What kind of a person would invent a new benefit and then cut it, before it has even been implemented, unless external pressure was at work.  IDS has done this twice: with Universal Credit and then again with PIP.

IDS is not concerned about disabled people, but he has not claimed to be. On his own account, he is resigning due to the impossibility of implementing “the government’s vision of a new welfare-to-work system” during a period of self-imposed austerity.

His resignation letter rings true, and cuts to the heart of this Tory government’s failure: needless cuts are even undermining the pet projects of the party’s right wing.

Bella Caledonia

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