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Harry and Meghan’s Royal Wedding 2018


harry

The first guests are arriving at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at noon today. It is expected that millions of people from around the world will watch te wedding as it is broadcast around the world. Among the guests are US television star Oprah Winfrey and actor Idris Elba. Today in Windsor Castle, thousands of excited fans gathered behind barriers. Police officers armed with semi-automatic rifles have been patrolling the streets and watching from rooftops.

Prince Henry of Wales, (better known as Prince Harry), the second son of Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales. He and Meghan Markle, an American actress have been in a relationship since June 2016.

The relationship was first acknowledged on 8 November 2016, when an official statement was released from the royal family’s communications secretary. On 27 November 2017, Clarence House announced that Prince Harry would marry Meghan Markle in the spring of 2018. They were engaged earlier the same month in London, with the Prince giving Markle a bespoke engagement ring made by Cleave and Company, consisting of a large central diamond from Botswana, with two smaller diamonds from his mother’s jewellery collection.

At the same time, it was announced that they would live at Nottingham Cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace following their marriage.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh expressed their delight at the news, while congratulations came in from various political leaders. After the announcement, the couple gave an exclusive interview to Mishal Husain of BBC News.

Markle will be the second American and she is the first person of mixed race heritage to marry into the British royal family. The engagement announcement prompted a lot of comment about the possible social significance of Meghan Markle becoming a proudly mixed-race royal.

The Queen consented to the marriage under the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which allows the monarch to approve or disapprove marriages of the first six persons in the line of succession. The Queen’s consent was declared to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom on 14 March 2018.

On 6 March 2018, she was baptized and confirmed into the Church of England by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at St. James’s Palace she had previously been a Roman Catholic.

Prince Harry made an impromptu walkabout on Friday outside the ancient walls of Windsor Castle on the eve of his wedding. Prince Harry, 33, told crowds in Windsor he was feeling “relaxed” and Ms Markle, 36, said she was feeling “wonderful”.

 

Professor Michael Sandel


Michael SandelMichael J. Sandel (born March 5, 1953) is an American political philosopher and a political philosophy professor at Harvard University. His course “Justice” is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on television.

It has been viewed by tens of millions of people around the world, including in China, where Sandel was named the “most influential foreign figure of the year” (China Newsweek).

He is also known for his critique of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice in his first book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982). He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002.

Sandel was born in Minneapolis but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was thirteen. He was president of his senior class at Palisades High School (1971) and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s degree in politics (1975). He received his doctorate from Balliol College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar, where he studied under philosopher Charles Taylor.

 

Philosophical views

Sandel subscribes to a certain version of communitarianism (although he is uncomfortable with the label), and in this vein, he is perhaps best known for his critique of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice. Rawls’ argument depends on the assumption of the veil of ignorance, which he claims allows us to become “unencumbered selves”.

Sandel’s view is that we are by nature encumbered to an extent that makes it impossible even in the hypothetical to have such a veil. Some examples of such ties are those with our families, which we do not make by conscious choice but are born with, already attached. Because they are not consciously acquired, it is impossible to separate oneself from such ties. Sandel believes that only a less-restrictive, looser version of the veil of ignorance should be postulated. Criticism such as Sandel’s inspired Rawls to subsequently argue that his theory of justice was not a “metaphysical” theory but a “political” one, a basis on which an overriding consensus could be formed among individuals and groups with many different moral and political views.

 

Sandel has taught the famous “Justice” course at Harvard for two decades. More than 15,000 students have taken the course, making it one of the most highly attended in Harvard’s history. The fall 2007 class was the largest ever at Harvard, with a total of 1,115 students. The fall 2005 course was recorded and is offered online. An abridged form of this recording is now a 12-episode TV series, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

What now for GDS? Announcing Sprint 2018


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Photo: GDS;  Article Source: CWS (Civil Service World)

The digital transformation of government is critical to the successful delivery of public services. As the world’s number one digital government, the UK leads the way in this.

 

The Sprint 18 event – which is coming up on 10 May – will look at how we’ve built this world-leading digital government. And it will look at the work we, both in Government Digital Service and across departments, will be doing next.

Sprint 18, at London’s Southbank Centre, will bring together ministers, colleagues from across government, international visitors, media, and industry figures. It is being organised by GDS, but it will be a chance for everyone involved or interested in digital government to celebrate the progress we’ve made, and to look to the future.

Sprint 18 will focus on three themes:

  • Transformation: what the transformation of government really means – both for government and for users
  • Collaboration: how all of government, including GDS, is working together to deliver this change
  • Innovation: how government can use cutting-edge technology to solve real problems for users

Sprint 18 will show how these themes drive our work and our purpose – to help government work better for everyone.

For example, we’ll hear from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department of International Trade about how they’re using common components to build user-focused services. And we’ll hear from the UK Hydrographic Office about how they’re using innovative technologies to detect previously unknown shipping hazards.

The work we do around EU exit must have a long-term effect and must lead to a transformed government

Oliver Dowden, minister for implementation, will talk about building a government that works for everyone, while apolitical chief executive Robyn Scott will look at what the UK can learn from other governments to remain a global leader in digital.

Achievements
For me personally, Sprint will provide a welcome opportunity to step back and consider what GDS has achieved during the time I’ve been here. I joined GDS as director general in August 2016, coming up for two years ago. Since then, the organization has delivered a huge amount.

But before I detail these I want to talk about how GDS has become a better place to work. We’ve won awards for diversity and inclusion, including a Business in the Community award as one of the country’s best employers on race.

GDS now has a gender-balanced management team, and 42% of GDS staff declare as female – in the UK technology industry as a whole this figure is 17%.

The things GDS builds and operates are the foundation of government’s digital transformation. And we’ve seen an exponential shift in departments using these things.

There are now more than 242 services using common components like payments platform GOV.UK Pay and notifications platform GOV.UK Notify. By using these components, service teams make it easier for users to make online payments and stay up-to-date about the progress of applications.

In just over five years of live service, there have been more than 14 billion page views on GOV.UK – the single website for government, and the online home of our content and services.

Meanwhile, GOV.UK Verify has been used more than 5.4 million times to access services, while GovWifi is now available in more than 340 locations across the country, including 100 courtrooms, local councils, schools, and hospitals, as well as the UK Border Force’s fleet of boats.

Collaboration
Over the past two years, we’ve also seen a huge increase in collaboration between GDS and departments. This is particularly clear in two areas: controls and procurement.

Working with departments, we’ve updated the Technology Code of Practice so that it provides the best and most relevant guidance to the government. Also working with departments, we’ve streamlined the spend controls process to ensure that it remains rigorous, but isn’t a blocker for departments.

And we’re also taking this collaborative approach to improving procurement.

42%
Percentage of GDS staff who declare as female

37
Number of common digital, data, and technology job roles defined in the GDS-authored government framework

14 billion
the approximate number of page views on the GOV.UK site during its five-year lifespan

£3.2bn
Amount of money spent through the Digital Marketplace since its launch in 2012

242
Number of services using GDS Government-as-a-Platform companies, such as Pay, Notify and Verify

The Digital Marketplace is a partnership between GDS and the Crown Commercial Service that is transforming the way government buys technology and digital services by opening the market up to small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers.

A total of £3.2bn has been spent through the Digital Marketplace in just under six years. Of that total, 48% is spent with SMEs – that’s £1.43 of every £3.

In fact, the Digital Marketplace has been so successful that we’re now going global with it.

We’re working in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to develop the Global Digital Marketplace. This aims to help international governments make their procurement more transparent, in order to prevent corruption and to boost their digital, data, and technology sectors.

The Global Digital Marketplace is an example of how the UK is using its status as the world’s number-one digital government to work with and help other countries. We had 71 international government visits to GDS last year, and I am extremely proud of how we’re working with our global colleagues.

Brexit
I am also extremely proud of our role supporting the rest of the UK government as we prepare for EU exit. GDS is delivering and providing practical support across departments.

The work we do around EU exit must have a long-term effect as well – it must lead to a transformed government. This means several things.

The things GDS builds and operates are the foundation of government’s digital transformation. And we’ve seen an exponential shift in departments using these things.

It means continuing our work to build and maintain digital capability across government, through the expanding GDS Academy. The GDS Academy will have trained 10,000 students by October, and we’re expanding the curriculum to take in new subjects such as artificial intelligence.

And to give us an overview of digital capability across government, we’ve launched the first national framework of Digital, Data, and Technology (DDaT) job roles. This has created a structure of 37 common job roles across government.

And it means that GDS will be the place where new innovations for government digital are identified and tested. In the immediate term, we’re running the GovTech Catalyst scheme, to help private-sector innovators solve public-sector challenges.

GDS is tackling a broad range of work, but we have a set of core principles and a core mission.

We will show what good looks like, we will solve the hardest problems, we will help government transform, and we will reflect the society we serve. And by doing this we will help government work better for everyone.

About the author

Kevin Cunnington (pictured above) is director general of the Government Digital Service

The importance of the “Windrush Generation” to Britain


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The Conservative government is facing a possible backlash and vote of no confidence from its voters in the coming elections over its treatment of migrants and their children who historically came to that Britain from the Caribbean in the 1940s and who later became to be known as the “Windrush Generation” of Britain.

After the current Prime Minister, Theresa May had as home secretary said she would be tough on immigration and Amber Rudd the current home secretary has been accused of making up immigration policy ‘off the hoof’ to defuse the situation following the  embarrassing debacle that saw hundreds of citizens being faced with deportation following home office rights to remain investigations into migrants living in Britain. More than  200 MPs have signed a letter to the prime minister calling for government promises to Windrush migrants to be written into law. Labour MP David Lammy, said concerns over compensation, housing, and legal rights had not been settled and Diane Abbott MP for Hackney has called for a full inquiry into whether the home secretary has breached ministerial code from the Government’s immigration targets.

The Home Office said Amber Rudd would speak in Parliament on Monday The home secretary is accused in the letter of making up immigration policy “on the hoof” to defuse the situation.

The letter addressed to Theresa May, said any promises made by the government in response to the Windrush crisis should be enshrined in law “without delay”.

But what was the effect of the Windrush Generation – let us look at just how important this migration was and look back at the benefit to Britain from that the Windrush generation of black afro-Caribbean Britons who settled in the United Kingdom.

The Empire Windrush voyage from the Caribbean to Tilbury took place in 1948.

If it hadn’t been for the Second World War, the Windrush and her passengers might not have made the voyage at all. During the war, thousands of Caribbean men and women had been recruited to serve in the armed forces.

When the Windrush stopped in Jamaica to pick up servicemen who were on leave from their units, many of their former comrades decided to make the trip in order to rejoin the RAF. More adventurous spirits, mostly young men, who had heard about the voyage and simply fancied coming to see England, ‘the mother country’, doubled their numbers.

Windrush was an important landmark in the history of modern Britain

June 22nd, 1948, the day that the Windrush discharged its 492 passengers at Tilbury, has become an important landmark in the history of modern Britain; and the image of the Caribbeans filing off its gangplank has come to symbolize many of the changes which have taken place here. Caribbean migrants have become a vital part of British society and, in the process, transformed important aspects of British life.

In 1948, Britain was just beginning to recover from the ravages of war. Housing was a huge problem and stayed that way for the next two decades. There was plenty of work, but the Caribbeans first clashed with the natives over the issue of accommodation. But alongside the conflicts and the discrimination, another process was taking place.

Excluded from much of the social and economic life around them, they began to adjust the institutions they brought with them – the churches, and a co-operative method of saving called the ‘pardner’ system. At the same time, Caribbeans began to participate in institutions to which they did have access: trade unions, local councils, and professional and staff associations.

By the start of the seventies, West Indians were a familiar and established part of the British population, and they had achieved more than mere survival. One indication of their effect on British life is the Notting Hill Carnival. the carnival took place in the same streets where West Indians had been attacked and pursued by baying crowds, but it began as a celebration, a joyous all-inclusive testimony to the pleasure of being alive. As it developed, it became clear that there was a British festival where everyone was welcome, and everyone who wished to had a part to play.

Throughout the seventies, the children of the first wave of post-war Caribbean migrants began to develop a ‘black culture’ which is now part of a black British style shared by Africans, Asians and white young people alike.

The people of the Windrush, their children and grandchildren have played a vital role in creating a new concept of what it means to be British. To be British in the present day implies a person who might have their origins in Africa, the Caribbean, China, India, Greece, Turkey or anywhere else in the spectrum of nations.

The now-familiar debate about identity and citizenship was sparked off when the first Caribbeans stepped off the Windrush. Alongside that debate came the development of arguments about the regions within the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The British national self-image has been thoroughly remodelled in a very short time. Seen against the deadly agonies associated with ethnic conflicts in other European countries, Britain offers the example of a nation, which can live comfortably with a new and inclusive concept of citizenship. In a sense, the journey of the Windrush has never ended.

 

Liberty and Investigatory Powers Act


Our landmark legal challenge to the Investigatory Powers Act – better known as the Snoopers’ Charter – had its first victory today.

The High Court has ruled that the Government is breaking the law by forcing companies to store records of all our calls, messages, emails and our entire internet history, and then letting dozens of bodies access this private information – all with no independent oversight and no need for suspicion of crime.

Ministers now have until November to change the law.

But it doesn’t need tweaking – it needs tearing up. And we must keep fighting.
 The Government is on the run after court verdicts that have made it clear their current approach is incompatible with our rights.

We now need your help to challenge the rest of the Snoopers’ Charter and defeat it for good. Without extra funds, we can’t go to court.

We’re about to launch the next round of our legal challenge, which will take on powers to intercept our communications in bulk, hack into our computers, phones and tablets and to create vast ‘personal datasets’.

These powers undermine the values that we hold dearest and that keep us free. Our privacy and protest rights. Our free speech and our free press. Patient confidentiality, legal privilege and protections for journalists’ sources and whistle-blowers.

The Government knows it has to rethink parts of the Investigatory Powers Act. But we need to make them go back to the drawing board and create a surveillance regime with the protection of our rights at its heart. We need effective, targeted surveillance – not powers to spy on all of us, all the time.

CPAG Welfare Rights Handbook 2018


WELFARE BENEFITS AND TAX CREDITS HANDBOOK 2018/19

 

What does it cover?

Our definitive guide to all benefits and tax credits is an essential resource for all professional advisers serious about giving the best and most accurate advice to their clients.

Newly restructured, the handbook is now easier to use and it has been refocused to bring universal credit to the fore.

With detailed information on all the recent changes to the social security system, including the latest on the roll-out of universal credit and the sanctions regime, the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook provides comprehensive advice about entitlement in 2018/19

 

This edition includes new and updated information on:

 

• who can claim benefits and tax credits

• the roll-out of universal credit

• disability and incapacity benefits, and the work capability assessment for employment and support allowance

• dealing with benefit sanctions

• challenging decisions, backdating, overpayments, income and capital, and national insurance provisions

• changes to support for mortgage interest

 

Fully indexed for ease of use and cross-referenced to law, regulations, official guidance and court decisions, Upper Tribunal and commissioners’ decisions, the handbook also offers tactical information on common problem areas and advice on how to challenge decisions.

 

Who is it for?

 

The Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook is an essential resource for welfare rights advisers, lawyers, local authority staff, social workers, union officials and claimants.

 

Cover price £61 and for CPAG members and CAB customers £51.85.

Earth Day 2018


What is Earth Day, and what is it meant to accomplish?
A message from Earth Day’s president, Kathleen Rogers

“Close to 48 years ago, on 22 April 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development.

In the US and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants.

The global ecological awareness was growing, and the US Congress and President Nixon responded quickly. In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agency, and robust environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, among many.

One billion people
Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on.

Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, today announced that Earth Day 2018 will focus on mobilizing the world to End Plastic Pollution, including creating support for a global effort to eliminate single-use plastics along with global regulation for the disposal of plastics. EDN will educate millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems.

From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival. EDN has built a multi-year campaign to End Plastic Pollution. Our goals include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics.

EDN’s End Plastic Pollution campaign includes four major components:

Leading a grassroots movement to support the adoption of a global framework to regulate plastic pollution;
Educating, mobilizing and activating citizens across the globe to demand that governments and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution;
Educating people worldwide to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics, and promoting local government regulatory and other efforts to tackle plastic pollution.

Earth Day Network will leverage the platform of Earth Day and the growing interest in the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 as a catalyst for global action.

UK, US and France strike Syria


The US, UK and France have carried out air and missile strikes in Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack last Saturday

The US says three targets were struck – a research facility in Damascus and storage facilities near Homs

Russia said missiles were also aimed at other targets but many were intercepted by air defences

President Trump said the allies had “marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality”

Russia’s president Putin condemned the strikes and called for an urgent UN meeting

The Syrian government, which denies using chemical weapons, called the strikes a flagrant violation of international law

The US has launched military strikes alongside UK and French forces aimed at reducing Syrian regime’s chemical weapons facilities in the wake of last weekend’s gas attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma.

Moments after President Donald Trump finished his address on Friday night, reports emerged of explosions in Damascus at about 2am BST. A Pentagon briefing later confirmed three sites were hit: two in Damascus and one in Homs. The sites were all regarded as linked to the storage, or testing, of chemical weapons. Syrian air defences responded to the strikes but the US said it had suffered no losses in the initial airstrikes.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has described the strikes as an “act of aggression” and said the attack would worsen the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the US, said “such actions will not be left without consequences” and that Moscow was being threatened.

Trump said the attack in Douma a week ago represented “a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use” by the Assad regime, adding: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
The British prime minister, Theresa May, said she authorised targeted strikes to “degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use”. Taking a swipe at Russia, she said: “We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world. We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.”
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – a staunch ally of Bashar al-Assad – has condemned the US-led airstrikes, describing the leaders of France, the UK and the US as “criminals”.
Turkey has welcomed the strikes, describing the raids as an “appropriate response” to the use of chemical weapons in Douma last Saturday.
The US defence secretary, James Mattis, said the US, UK and France had taken “decisive action” against Syria’s chemical weapon infrastructure and did not rule out further strikes. “Clearly the Assad regime did not get the message” last time, he said, referring to the response to the Ghouta chemical attack in 2017. He said the allies had “gone to great length to avoid civil and foreign casualties”.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence said four Tornado jets flew from Cyprus as part of the strikes on Homs.
French defence ministry sources have said France fired 12 missiles from fighter jets and frigates as part of the coordinated air and sea raids.

Una Cooze activist and secretary


0106This is Una Cooze, (b. 1929 – d. 2001) a woman I had the pleasure of meeting and working closely with as she briefly worked for Ken Livingstone during 1991-1992 when his own secretary was on maternity leave. Una was the constituency secretary for Michael Foot for many years dealing with the correspondence on behalf of both MPs — writing to local authorities, government departments such as the home office, foreign office, department for work and pensions (the benefits agency as it was then known) and always writing diligently to each and every constituent that met both MPs initially having discussed their individual situations.

I  met her in the offices of Norman Shaw South, which along with the Norman Shaw North Building is part of UK Parliament buildings and were, of course, more famously the seat of the Metropolitan Police as Old Scotland Yard. norman-shaw-building-south

She was a long-standing member of the Labour Party and an active T.U.C  member and a lifelong socialist, this is probably why she remained an asset to the late great Michael Foot.

800px-Michael_Foot_(1981)

KenLivingstone

I have fond memories of talking with her and was amazed at her ability to recall each and every constituent in the Willesden (London Borough of Brent) area.

 

Cameron accepted for Role in First Data appointment


David_Cameron_officialDavid Cameron is taking on a new job with US electronic payments firm First Data that will see him work as a “brand ambassador” for the technology business, the company has announced.

The former prime-minister’s part-time role with the Georgia-headquartered business was cleared by anti-corruption watchdog the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments in July, according to a just-published decision letter.

Like other former ministers and senior civil servants, Cameron was required to notify ACOBA of his plans so it could offer an opinion on the job’s suitability. Last month the body voiced concern after former GCHQ director Robert Hannigan’s appointment to a role with US cybersecurity firm BluteamGlobal was publicised before it had considered his request.

ACOBA said Cameron’s request to work for First Data was acceptable, provided that he did not seek to use the privileged information he had access to as prime minister for his work with the firm, or lobby the UK government on its behalf until July next year – two years after he left office.

Committee chair Baroness Angela Browning said she had consulted Cabinet Office perm sec John Manzoni on Cameron’s appointment, which is the sixth he has successfully sought clearance for since he stood down as prime minister after failing to secure a “remain” victory in 2016’s EU referendum.

“He confirmed that the government has no links with First Data in its procurement frameworks and has no concerns about you taking up this appointment,” she said.

Source: Civil Service World 

Monarch Airlines have ceased trading


downloadMonarch Airlines has ceased trading and all its future flights and holidays have been cancelled, affecting hundreds of thousands of customers.

About 860,000 people have lost bookings and more than 30 planes will be sent by the Civil Aviation Authority to return 110,000 holidaymakers who are overseas.

Monarch employs about 2,100 people and reported a £291m loss last year.

Terror attacks in Tunisia and Egypt, increased competition, and the weak pound have been blamed for its demise.

Theresa May’s official spokesman said the prime minister “feels hugely sorry” for those affected by a “very distressing situation”.

Monarch – the UK’s fifth biggest and the country’s largest ever to collapse – was placed in administration at 04:00 BST – a time when the airline had no planes in the air.

Passengers were then sent text messages informing them flights had been cancelled – but some customers were already at airports.

Who has been affected?

Alan Jee was due to get married in Gran Canaria on Saturday and arrived at Gatwick airport with 30 members of his family.

“I have spent £12,000 on my wedding and now I can’t even go and get married,” he said. “I am gutted, absolutely gutted, and my missus is in tears, an emotional wreck.”

Meanwhile, Mike Olley had been due to fly back to Birmingham from Malaga, in Spain, on Monday.

Las Vegas Shooting one of the worst in US history


las-vegas-shooting-crowd-gty-ps-171002_4x3_992A lone gunman released a rapid-fire barrage of bullets on an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas Sunday night, killing at least 50 people and injuring more than 400 others, police said, in the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

From his room on the 32nd floor of a glitzy hotel, the shooter, identified by law enforcement officials as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, fired shot after shot down on the crowd of about 22,000, sending terrified concertgoers running for their lives.

“We heard what sounded like firecrackers going off. Then all of a sudden we heard what sounded like a machine gun. People started screaming that they were hit… When we started running out, there were probably a couple hundred [people] on the ground,” witness Meghan Kearney told MSNBC.

John Nettleton – Sir Arnold.


John Nettleton (born 5 February 1929) is an English actor best known for playing Sir Arnold RobinsonCabinet Secretary in Yes Minister (1980–84) and President of the Campaign for Freedom of Information in the follow-up Yes, Prime Minister (1985–88). Another political role for Nettleton was a Conservative Party Member of Parliament (Sir Stephen Baxter) in the sitcom The New Statesman. A veteran actor with a career spanning many decades, Nettleton is easily at home playing troubled or flawed aristocratic gentlemen or can be seen amongst a comic ensemble.

Other TV roles included a Ministry of Defence department chief in The Avengers (episode “The See-Through Man“, 1967), a police sergeant in Please Sir! (1969), Froggett in the office comedy series If It Moves File It (1970), Francis Bacon in Elizabeth R (1971), a Detective Superintendent in Doctor at Large in 1971, Upstairs, Downstairs (1972), The Country Wife (1977), Brideshead Revisited (1981), The Flame Trees of Thika (1981), The Citadel (1983), Martin Luther, Heretic (1983), Brass (1983), East of Ipswich (1987), Reverend Ernest Matthews in the Doctor Who serial Ghost Light (1989), Longitude (2000), Midsomer Murders (2005) and Kingdom (2008).

On stage, he has appeared in the Lyttelton Theatre of the National Theatre in the 2006 productions of Harley Granville Barker’s The Voysey Inheritance, directed by Peter Gill. He also voices Grandpa in the PC Game The Scruffs.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Nettleton was the reader of various illustrated stories on children’s television programme Blue Peter. Often these were about historical figures, such as Florence Nightingale.

He is married to actress Deirdre Doone.

 

India 99 the Force in the Skies


3421370200_a3b0a1317b_o (1)Police aviation in United Kingdom provides the British police with an aerial support unit to assist them in pursuit, surveillance and tracking. The most common air support aircraft is the Eurocopter EC 135T, which is equipped with daytime and night vision video equipment, instrument flight rules systems and radio equipment to track suspects and liaise with officers on the ground.

While most aerial units operate helicopters, some forces also use of aeroplanes such as the Britten-Norman Defender. An aeroplane allows higher and quieter surveillance, making it less likely that suspects will become aware they are being watched. A light aircraft also allows for longer flying time and lower running costs.

Police aviation in England and Wales was once a force-by-force organisation, however, from April 2012 it became centralised as a National Police Air Service.

The Police act as pilots, drivers, social workers, lawyers, scientist – in fact, the UK police is one of the most outstanding forces originally formed in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel.

Nato on Bosnia & Herzegovina


NATO and partners exercise disaster response in Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Disaster response personnel from 34 NATO and partner countries gathered in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Monday (25 September) for this year’s exercise of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC).

The exercise was opened by NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, Mr. Sorin Ducaru, and the Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Dragan Mektić.

This exercise will help improve international cooperation in countries ranging from Spain to Serbia, from Bulgaria to Belarus and from Croatia to Pakistan“, said Mr. Ducaru. “It will give responders the opportunity to test state-of-the-art technologies in relief operations.

In the next five days, around 1200 participants from NATO and partner countries will test international cooperation and interoperability in disaster response, including water rescue and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) detection, protection and decontamination.

The exercise will provide the opportunity to test and employ projects supported by the NATO Science for Peace (SPS) Programme. These include a capacity building project in the field of emergency response in the Western Balkans, the “Next Generation Incident Command System,” and a telemedicine system to increase medical support in disaster-affected areas by remotely engaging medical experts from assisting nations.

Several international organisations and NGOs will also be involved in the exercise, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the European Union, the NGO Save the Children and the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In short, this exercise will demonstrate the real value of NATO’s network of partnerships“, said Mr. Ducaru.

This is the 17th international field exercise organised by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Coordination Centre (EADRCC) and the first one hosted by Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Angela wins 4th term


Angela_Merkel_(2008)Angela Dorothea Merkel (/ˈæŋɡələ ˈmɜːrkəl/German: [aŋˈɡeːla ˈmɛʶkl̩];[a] née Kasner; born 17 July 1954) is a German politician and the Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She has also been the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since 2000. Merkel has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union, and the leader of the Free World.

Merkel was born in Hamburg to parents of Polish and German descent, and moved to East Germany as an infant when her father, a Lutheran priest, received a pastorate in Perleberg. She obtained a doctorate in quantum chemistry in 1986 and worked as a research scientist until 1989. Merkel entered politics in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989, and briefly served as a deputy spokesperson for the first democratically elected East German Government headed by Lothar de Maizière in 1990. Following German reunification in 1990, Merkel was elected to the Bundestag for the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and has been reelected ever since. As the protégée of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Merkel was appointed as the Federal Minister for Women and Youth in Kohl’s government in 1991, and became the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in 1994. After her party lost the federal election in 1998, Merkel was elected Secretary-General of the CDU before becoming the party’s first female leader two years later in the aftermath of a donations scandal that toppled Wolfgang Schäuble.

Following the 2005 federal election, Merkel was appointed Germany’s first female Chancellor at the head of a grand coalition consisting of the CDU, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). In the 2009 federal election, the CDU obtained the largest share of the vote and Merkel was able to form a coalition government with the support of the Free Democratic Party (FDP).[7] At the 2013 federal election, Merkel’s CDU won a landslide victory with 41.5% of the vote and formed a second grand coalition with the SPD, after the FDP lost all of its representation in the Bundestag.[8]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream”


Full Text of His Famous Speech – which became known as  “I have a dream”

Selma to Montgomery Alabama March

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.   We cannot walk alone.

MartinLutherKing

Asima Chatterjee the Chemist


Asima_ChatterjeeAsima Chatterjee (23 September 1917–22 November 2006) was an Indian organic chemist noted for her work in the fields of organic chemistry and phytomedicine.[1] Her most notable work includes research on vinca alkaloids, and the development of anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs. She also authored a considerable volume of work on medicinal plants of the Indian subcontinent.
Early life[edit]
Asima Chatterjee (née)[2] was born on September 23rd, 1917 in Bengal. Chatterjee grew up in Calcutta and graduated with honors in chemistry from the Scottish Church College of the University of Calcutta in 1936.[3][4]

Academic work[edit]
Asima Chatterjee received a master’s degree (1938) and a doctoral degree (1944) in organic chemistry from the University of Calcutta. Her doctoral research focused on the chemistry of plant products and synthetic organic chemistry.[5] Among her notable instructors at the time were Prafulla Chandra Roy and Prof S.N. Bose. Additionally, she had research experience from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Caltech.

Chatterjee’s research concentrated on natural products chemistry and resulted in anti-convulsive, anti-malarial, and chemotherapy drugs.[5]She was also successful in developing the anti-epileptic drug, ‘Ayush-56’ from Marsilia minuta and the anti-malarial drug from Alstonia scholaris, Swrrtia chirata, Picrorphiza kurroa and Ceasalpinna crista. The patented drugs have been marketed by several companies.

Amnesty: The Crisis of Rohingya refugees


Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest and most crowded nations, plans to go ahead with work to develop an isolated, flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal to temporarily house tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar, officials say.

Dhaka says the Rohingya are not welcome, and has told border guards to push back those trying to enter the country illegally. But close to 125,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh in just 10 days, joining more than 400,000 others already living there in cramped makeshift camps.


The Rohingya are caught up in a deadly and desperate situation in the Rakhine State on the western coast of Myanmar (also known as Burma). Tens of thousands of people are at risk of serious rights violations and aid efforts have been shut down.


Long-standing discrimination
For decades, unrest has rocked northern Rakhine State because of a wider context of long-standing discrimination against the Rohingya in Myanmar.

The ethnic Muslim group are denied the right to a nationality, and face severe restrictions on their rights to freedom of movement, access to education, healthcare, and livelihoods, to practice their religion and participate in public life.

The situation has been coming to a head in recent days after Rohingya militants launched a series of coordinated attacks on security forces in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state in the early morning of 25 August.

Since then, clashes between Myanmar’s military and the Rohingya armed group have continued and security forces have engaged in a disproportionate campaign of violence against the Rohingya.

Villages burned down
We have received numerous reports of human rights violations and abuses, including security forces opening fire on civilians fleeing, and homes and villages being burned down.

According to the Myanmar government almost 400 people have been killed since the clashes as of 4 September.

Humanitarian access to northern Rakhine State has also been suspended, while in other parts of the state the Myanmar authorities are preventing humanitarian agencies from reaching communities in need. As a result, life-saving relief efforts have been halted, and vital supplies of medicine, food and water are not making their way to the tens of thousands of desperate civilians caught in the middle of this deadly feud.

According to the UN, an estimated 90,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, while the Myanmar government has evacuated over 11,000 people belonging to other ethnic minority communities. Despite the huge influx, the Bangladesh government has maintained a policy of sealing the border with Myanmar, and border guards have pushed back hundreds attempting to flee.

Dangerous escalation
The recent attacks mark a dangerous escalation in an already volatile area. Following similar (but smaller) attacks in northern Rakhine State in October 2016, the Myanmar authorities launched major security operations.

At the time we documented wide-ranging human rights violations against the Rohingya during these operations, including unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, rape and other sexual violence, as well as destruction of homes and property.

People in Rakhine State, in particular the Muslim Rohingya minority, have suffered a horrific catalogue of rights abuses for decades. Through our own investigations we have concluded that the Myanmar security forces may have committed crimes against humanity.

A humanitarian disaster
Simply put, Rakhine State is now on the precipice of a humanitarian disaster.

Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Director for Crisis Response, said:

‘Nothing can justify denying life-saving aid to desperate people. By blocking access for humanitarian organisations, Burma’s authorities have put tens of thousands of people at risk and shown a callous disregard for human life.’

Authorities in Myanmar must swiftly improve the human rights situation and end discrimination. In particular, they must urgently lift restrictions on movement, allow full access for humanitarian workers and media in affected regions, and review and amend the country’s discriminatory citizenship laws.

What  can be done to help the situation?
Put pressure on Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Army, the person responsible for the ongoing security operations. Tweet the following at him now:

.@SGMinAungHlaing Shocking human rights violations by security forces in northern #Rakhine must end immediately. http://bit.ly/2gByLtV  

.@SGMinAungHlaing It’s time to allow unrestricted humanitarian access to all people in all areas of #Rakhine State. http://bit.ly/2gByLtV

Without concrete action by the authorities to address long-standing grievances and decades of human rights violations, people in the region will continue to be trapped in a bloody cycle of deprivation and abuse

Nurse arrested by Utah Police freed


Alex Wubbels, a nurse, was arrested because she followed hospital procedures in not providing the taking of a suspect’s blood without a warrant.

The nurse whose arrest for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient drew nationwide criticism said on Friday what hurt most wasn’t being manhandled by a detective, but rather that none of the other officers who watched the struggle intervened to stop the arrest and subsequent detainment.

“I was being bullied and nobody was willing to speak up for me,” she told reporters,  “That is one of the main points of this whole issue.”

This is policing Utah style – will the UK see this form of law enforcement one day – I wonder?

C4 Dispatches July 2019

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