Cicero Yearly Archives

News and politics

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Praise for Muslim Woman who tackled Anti-Semite!


a group of people posing for the camera: Asma Shuweikh stepped in to confront the man. Pic: Chris Atkins

Source: Sky News.

The  Jewish man who was targeted with an anti-Semitic rant on the Tube has thanked a Muslim woman who confronted his abuser. In a statement, the victim said he feared the situation could have escalated to “physical violence” if the woman had not stepped in.

The man was travelling with his wife and young children on a London Underground train on 22 November when a man began hurling abuse at the family.

“My wife and I were sitting on the Tube travelling from Hendon Central to Covent Garden minding our own business, discussing with our children our plans for the day,” he said, according to the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

“A man boarded the train after I did. As soon as he got on he came over and asked me if we were Jews.

“He shouted at me that the Jews started the slave trade and threatened that I, my wife and children were going to be his slaves and suffer various other ailments.”

The victim said the man also claimed Jews were “from the synagogue of Satan”.

Footage from the incident, which was filmed by another passenger, shows the man reading a Bible passage and leaning towards the victim’s young son.

A male passenger and a Muslim woman both confronted the man, who then directed further abuse at them.

The victim said the footage from the incident only showed a “short clip of a 15 to 20-minute ordeal”.

He commended the actions of the male passenger and said he would like to meet the Muslim woman, Asma Shuweikh, to thank her.

“We are certain that without her intervention and distraction, [the man] would have continued his abuse which could have escalated to physical violence,” he said.

Describing his thoughts during the incident, the victim said: “The only thing I could think about was the safety of my children and the best thing to do at that time was to restrain myself and try to get my children to ignore the situation.

“My wife and I tried to constantly reassure the children and distract them so they would not sense how anxious we actually were.

“We tried to remain calm and ignore the abuse, hoping this would keep our three young children calm.”

He said the incident left his children “deeply worried and confused” and he now had “mixed feelings about society”.

“On the one hand my wife, my children and I were subject to vile abuse in a full Tube carriage, however I am grateful for those who stood up for me.”

‘Hero’ Muslim says she’d defend Jewish children from Tube abuse again https://t.co/pi1h9gYCJi

— M.W.M. (@MWM38736168) November 24, 2019

Ms Shuweikh earlier told Sky News she feared the situation would have become “very violent” if no one had intervened.

“It was really not nice to see that as a mother… [The children] did actually get quite scared,” she said.

A man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Opinion Polls – Leading questions


Opinion polls are often incorrect, history shows this often. They’re mostly conducted on behalf of companies or political concerns who have a vested interest in the result of the opinion poll and questions often formulated with a bias in mind = their use only as indicators for those conducting them not the general public I feel. Politically used by all parties, and today we see the power of internet companies (such as Cambridge Analytica) making algorithmically arrived predications on voter behaviour.

Here is a clip from the award winning show “Yes Minister” where Bernard Wooley (Jim Hacker MP’s personal secretary) is talking to Sir Humphrey Appleby about the Minister’s plan ‘Grand Design’ and how the minister has seen positive feedback to his plans from opinion polls conducted (Episode 2, The Ministerial Broadcast). Sir Humphrey advises Bernard that opinion polls can be manipulated and leading questions formulated to get any answer one desires.

Ban on Further UK Fracking


Friends of the Earth have won a ban on any further fracking in the UK.

Today the UK Government announced that a moratorium on fracking in England, which means that no new fracking can take place anywhere in the country. Friends of the Earth have campaigned for over 8 years for a ban on fracking in the UK

Lancashire and Yorkshire are two areas that campaigned against fracking rigs,  legal threats and earthquakes.

Friends of the Earth started campaigning back in 2011  against the emerging fracking industry, because the last thing the UK needed was a new source of fossil fuels to burn.

Jamie, Climate Campaigner said of the victory

“We know that the fight against the fossil fuel industry must continue. But now it’s time to celebrate – make sure you do because this news is huge.”

Some might argue that the government has only ‘halted’ plans for further fracking projects, and Friends of the Earth will remain campaigning for a total ban. Also, cynics might argue that this news from UK Government comes at a good time with an election due in December, as the Government will not agree to any future fracking “until compelling new evidence is provided” proving fracking is safe.

To support Friends of the Earth click -=here=-

STATE IMPERFECT 2019


Recent figures have shown that Homelessness has risen by a third between 2016-2019; and has doubled in London.

Around 4,751 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on any one night in England in 2017 = this Is of increase of 169% since 2010.

30% of children are classed as living in poverty in the UK in 2018.

According to DWP figures, 20 million people were claiming benefits in the last quarter of 2018. 66% of those are over state pension age and 34% of working age.

4.2 Million people claimed Housing Benefit in the last quarter of 2018.

Around 6,180 households had mortgage possession claims made against them in August 2019, an increase of 39% in three months. It’s estimated that in the UK property is repossessed every 90 minutes.

The number of landlord possession orders in the first quarter of 2019 was 23,694 and this resulted in 8,326 repossessions of property.

1 in 7 people in the UK are self-employed, but they earn on average 40% less than company employees. The rise in the cost of living and housing has left lf with worrying levels of debt.

Self-employed people have 36% more debt than those in employment.

The number of homeless Black and Asian families has increased by 20%

From 2010 to 2018 the number of homeless people in temporary housing rose by 61%, due to high rents, cuts to welfare and lack of affordable housing

The average total debt per UK household debt including mortgage debt in 2019 was £59,319. The Average household debt was £15,400 on Jan 2019. Couples with two children on average owe over £19,000 of personal debt. The total cost of families with debt is over £4 billion.

In 2017, UK households saw their annual outgoings surpass their income for the first time in nearly 30 years.
The average credit card debt per household in July 2019 was £2,609
26 years and 7 months is the time to pay off the average credit card debt making only the minimum payment per month

A third of all landlords have had tenants experienced rent arrears in the last year, in total, they’re owed a total of £900 million.

1 in 3 landlords worries their tenants will struggle with payments in the next year.

In the UK people owed nearly £1.6 trillion at the end of June 2018, up from £1.55tn a year ago.

Every day in the UK over 300 Eviction Orders are granted to Landlords.

The total amount owed to both large and small businesses in 2015 was £31.3 Billion

Debt in the farming industry UK risen by a billion over last year – 20% face major financial problems in total debt in the farming industry amounted to 17.5 billion

Around 16 million people in the UK rent their homes and 1 in 4 of them have debt problems

55% of those in rented accommodation have less than £1000 in savings

Tenants are now twice as likely to be in debt as those that own their own homes

In 2015, two-thirds of landlords with tenants claiming housing benefit experienced rent arrears.

More than three million people in the UK are living in a rented property without the landlord’s permission. 3/4 of those have been in the property for more than six months.

Research shows that only one in five requests to sublet is permitted to do so by their landlord. Nearly half of those who sublet their property do so without their landlord’s consent.

Over 40,000 CCJ’s were issued to businesses in England and Wales during the first four months of 2016 the average value exceeding £3,500 with small businesses hardest hit.

The total value of County Court Judgements against businesses in the first half of 2016 was £149 Million

Changes in Universal Credit rules for self-employed people could put them at a significant financial disadvantage. The Minimum Income Floor (MIF) is likely to affect many people, particularly those whose income changes month-to-month, meaning some will lose hundreds of pounds in benefit assistance compared to those directly employed with identical annual earnings.

In April 2018 439,000 people were paid less than the hourly minimum wage they are entitled to, 369,000 were workers aged 25 and over paid less than the National Living Wage (NLW): this equates to 23% of those paid at or below the rate. This is an increase of around 30,000 on the previous year’s level of underpayment of the NLW, or a 2 percentage point rise in the share of workers entitled to the rate. 135,000 people were paid below £7.20 per hour (the 2016 introductory NLW rate). (Report Here)

Source: Cicero Lounge
(Statistical source: COI; Office for National Statistics,
National Audit Office, C.P.A.G., Stepchange, Inst. of Housing, Shelter, U.N., Brinkworth Productions, DBCL, & Gov.UK)

Queen’s Speech 2019


Today at 11.15 am saw the Queen open the session of Parliament for the 65th time.

State Opening of Parliament takes places today.

The Queen’s Speech, which outlines the government’s priorities, will contain 22 bills, relating to Brexit, crime prevention and immigration among other subjects.

The Speech prepared and written by the UK Government outlined the following on it’s opening. She said the government’s new economic plan will be underpinned by a new fiscal strategy. The speech announced measures to strengthen the NHS and plans to reform adult social care. She said her government is committed to addressing violent crime by introducing new sentencing laws. There will also be measures to improve the handling of foreign national offenders.

There will be measures to improve prison safety and to help victims.

Public sector bodies will be under a duty to address serious violence.

There will also be laws to help the victims of domestic abuse and to minimise the impact of divorce.

Details of the speech can be found here

Ecuador protests: Anti-government demonstrations continue


From Global News
“Thousands of Indigenous peoples and workers converged on Ecuador’s capital on Wednesday as anti-government protests and clashes prompted the president to move his besieged administration out of Quito. The South American country of 17 million appeared to be at a dangerous impasse, paralyzed by a lack of public transport and blockaded roads that were taking a toll on an already vulnerable economy. ”

Harry, Meghan and Archie Meet Rev. Desmond Tutu


Democrats talk with Native American Community Leaders in run up to 2020 Election


Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidates including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro and Marianne Williamson will be attending a forum of Native Americans in Sioux City in Iowa on Monday and Tuesday the forum called for following the death of longtime Native American activist Frank LaMere. They will obviously be trying to gain support from the community in the coming 2020 Presidential election.

Tribal leaders and citizens will talk with candidates about issues including health care, education and violence against National American women.

Marcella LeBeau Two Kettles Band

Marcella LeBeau, a 99-year-old citizen of the Two Kettles Band of the Lakota and who is a registered Democrat said that in the past politicians largely overlooked Native American issues

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“We’re like a third-world country,” she said. “No one really listens to us.”  

Marcella LeBeau, Democrat and Lakota Native American

 

Many Native Americans it is believed are not reflected in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey due to living in “hard-to-count” rural areas so the census cannot accurately measure their voter registration. Census estimates say Native Americans make up around 1.7% — or 5.3 million — of the U.S. population, and suggest that more than 3.7 million Native Americans are of voting age.

As more Native Americans gain access to the polls, they may be a powerful asset for candidates. Analysts believe that the Native American vote could help swing the vote towards a democratic win.

“..are you going to pay attention to this group that has traditionally been ignored?”
Nicole Willis, Outreach Advisor

Nicole Willis, a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, living in Seattle said of the canvassing of Native American voters “It’s almost like a moral test of a candidate. Like, are you going to pay attention to this group that has traditionally been ignored?” Nicole should know as she was the Native American outreach adviser to President Barack Obama, as well as a presidential advisor to Bernie Sanders in 2016.

“Active Measures”–the Trump/Putin Connection


Active Measures is a 2018 documentary film by director Jack Bryan. It is the first major documentary to address the allegations of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian state.

Owen Gleiberman, chief film critic for Variety writes of it :  “…Active Measures names the names and fills in the flowchart of Trump’s corruption with gripping authority

The film also incorporates the research of Christopher Steele the MI6 officer who was tasked with providing his own personal intelligence insight into the Trump Russian associations – his intelligence document was discredited by the Trump administration ask fake news and Donald Trump described him as a ‘failed spy’. It is almost completely agreed by most people that there was indeed Russian Government involvement in the 2016 US elections and in ultimately Donald Trump’s election presidential candidacy. Mr. Steele now is being asked by the US Government to answer questions relating to his connections with the FBI.

In 1997 when the political analyst Aleksandr Dugin (a fascist nationalist) who authored the “Foundations of Geopolitics” the book now almost a textbook in the academy of the General Staff of the Russian military.

Click here to see the film

active measures

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Scrap Digital Tax, or no Free Trade Deal


Logos Of FAANG Tech CompaniesThe US will not negotiate a free trade deal with the UK unless a new digital services tax is dropped, according to a newspaper report – Source: Sky News

The measure, which was proposed in 2018 by then chancellor Philip Hammond in response to fears that technology giants were not paying their fair share of tax, is due to come into effect in April next year.

But US President Donald Trump’s administration is demanding that it be ditched, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The threat had been “communicated to the UK government at multiple levels”, the newspaper said, quoting a source as saying: “The message was, ‘if you go ahead and introduce this tax, we will not begin free trade negotiations with you’.”

 

 

Teresa May the Poison Challice


Teresa May, PM and previous Home Secretary resigning over her failure to get a bill past her ‘baying for blood’ party and Conservative party eager only to see her go.

 

The East India Company


Sunday, April 28, 2019

8:29 PM

The East India Company was formulated soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 when London Merchants became aware of the Spanish and Portuguese of the trading in the far east of the globe and pertiioned for permission to sail to the Indian Ocean and it became one of the first corporations with Limited Liability by virtue of Queen Elizabeth I Royal Charter in 1600.  The dominance of the company It lasted for two further centuries as one of the exporting trading companies, it also saw the creation of wars over territory, the colonisation of lands a new colonial master in the form of the United Kingdom which eventually took Governance of its lands while profiting from the abundance of itd resources and trading commodities;  it also however made world trading possible due to the limited liability which enshrined protection to the investors – this became crucial in the 19th Century development of transport structures such as the railway network in Britain and its then colonies.

Adam Smith though was critical of the Limited Liability model in his book the “Wealth of Nations” citing his concern over the management of investors’ money.

In 1770 a famine in Bengal wiped out a lot of the East India’s trade and British regulators saved it from bankruptcy from exempting it from tariffs of tea exports to the American colonies which eventually led to the Boston Tea Party tax opposition and which led to the American Revolution and the signing of the “Declaration of Independence” between  13 British colonies of the United States and Britain. A key player in the Declaration was John Adams who became the 2nd President of the United States and was a founding father of the US and met with King George III to petition for US independence from the United Kingdom.

The company was involved in a great many wars in it’s desire to win on trading including the Carnatic Wars,  a series of three military conflicts in the middle of the 18th century in India. The conflicts involved numerous nominally independent rulers and their vassals, struggles for succession and territory, and included a diplomatic and military struggle over the succession of power of the  Mughal Empire of India between the French East India Company and the British East India Company.

It also  saw the The Indian Rebellion of 1857 (also known as the Indian Mutiny or Sepoy Mutiny and under the  Government of India Act 1858, the British Government nationalised the company. The Crown took over its Indian possessions, its administrative powers and machinery, and its armed forces.

The companies HQ originally was in Leadenhall Street in London, and eventually moved to Crosby House, then Bishopsgate and later the area where Lloyds of London now stands.

Lord Heywood ex-Cabinet Secretary recent death


Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and prime minister Theresa May have led tributes from across government to Lord Heywood after it was announced that the former cabinet secretary and head of the civil service died yesterday.

Heywood, who retired on 24 October following treatment for cancer, made an “an immense contribution to public life”, Sedwill, his successor as cabinet secretary, said in a statement.

“He joined the civil service in 1983, advising and supporting governments through some of the most challenging episodes of the last 30 years. Jeremy was the exemplary public servant. We will miss him more than we can say, and will be the poorer without his advice, leadership and extraordinary insight,” he said.

Heywood “set the highest standards and challenged us to meet them,” Sedwill, who had been acting cabinet secretary after Heywood took a leave of absence in June until his retirement last month.

“Jeremy was always looking to move difficult problems forward, restlessly confident to deliver a better way. He was a champion of innovation and embraced change while consolidating and protecting the best of history. He promoted a diverse and inclusive civil service, fit to meet the digital, commercial and policy challenges of the future,” Sedwill added.

“Jeremy also considered it a privilege to lead the hundreds of thousands of civil servants up and down the country, and across the world, who work day after day to make people’s lives better. We offer our condolences and best wishes to Jeremy’s wife Suzanne, his three children, the rest of his family and their friends.”

May, who is the fourth prime minister Heywood advised, said the many retirement tributes paid to Jeremy from across the political spectrum in recent weeks demonstrated his extraordinary talent supporting and advising prime ministers and ministers, and leading the civil service with distinction.

“I will always be grateful for the support which he gave me personally and will remember his achievements across his career as we regret that he did not have the chance to offer his talents for longer in retirement,” she added. “Jeremy will be sorely missed and I send my deepest condolences to Suzanne and the children and to all his family and many friends.”

Suzanne Heywood said that her husband had “crammed a huge amount into his 56 years”.

In a statement, she said: “He loved his work as a civil servant and was hugely proud of his colleagues while always believing that they – and he – could and should do more, that there had to be a better way, a new way of looking at things or a fresh approach which would bring differing sides together. Those who worked with him found it a challenging, inspiring and rewarding experience.

“He saw it as a huge privilege to work so closely with four prime ministers and two chancellors and was unwavering in his efforts to help each of them reach their goals. He was always conscious of the need for civil servants to see the world through ministers’ eyes while at the same time respecting the boundaries between politicians and civil servants.”

She said there would be a small private funeral in the coming weeks and a memorial service open to all at a later date.

“A brilliant civil servant and dedicated to our country”

Among the others to offer tributes to Heywood were former prime ministers David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, all of whom Heywood worked with at Number 10 as either cabinet secretary, permanent secretary at Number 10 or principal private secretary.

Cameron said it was “desperately sad news”

He added: “He was an amazing man, brilliant civil servant and dedicated to our country.  It was a privilege to work with him. All our thoughts and love are with Suzanne and the children.”

Brown said that the country had lost a leader of exceptional ability, unquestioned integrity and remarkable courage

“Jeremy Heywood was a unique civil servant who may not always have agreed with ministers’ proposals but always offered a positive and often better alternative. He will be sorely missed for the remarkable contribution he has made to Britain,” he said, while Blair said Heywood had been “a quite outstanding public servant and someone I came to have enormous respect for both as a professional and as a person”. He said Heywood had been “dedicated, smart, and with a rare small ‘p’ political skill which made him such a formidable Whitehall operator.”

Heywood’s predecessor Sir Gus O’Donnell said Heywood was “a great, dedicated civil servant who worked tirelessly for his country, his political masters and his colleagues”.

Gus O’Donnell@Gus_ODonnell

So sad to hear of the death of Jeremy Heywood, my successor. He was a great, dedicated civil servant who worked tirelessly for his country, his political masters and his colleagues. My thoughts are with his family who have supported him so well.

Among the colleagues to offer tributes was Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs perm sec Clare Moriarty, who called him a “civil servant and public servant extraordinaire”.

Clare Moriarty@ClareMoriarty

RIP Sir Jeremy Heywood, civil servant and public servant extraordinaire. As @HeadUKCivServ he held the civil service through exceptionally challenging times and set a path that it will be our honour and privilege to follow. We will miss him greatly @UKCivilService @DefraGovUK

“He held the civil service through exceptionally challenging times and set a path that it will be our honour and privilege to follow. We will miss him greatly,” she tweeted.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government perm sec Melanie Dawes said Heywood’s contribution was immense. “His leadership and friendship were a privilege and we will continue to follow his example.”

Melanie Dawes

@dawes_melanie

Jeremy Heywood’s contribution was immense. Relentlessly high standards, always kind to the individual. His leadership and friendship were a privilege and we will continue to follow his example @UKCivilService. My thoughts with his family on this sad day.

Department for International Trade perm sec Antonia Romeo said it was “an incredibly sad day”, calling him a mentor, inspiration, and friend. “I’m proud to have served on his permanent secretary team. We will miss him hugely,” she added.

Antonia Romeo

@AntoniaRomeoUK

Incredibly sad day. RIP Sir Jeremy Heywood. Mentor, boss, inspiration, unparalleled public servant, leader & champion of @UKCivilService, friend. Proud to have served on his Permanent Secretary team. We will miss him hugely.

Home Office perm sec Sir Philip Rutnam said Heywood was “the outstanding public servant of his generation, and a very humane and kind man”.

He added: “We have lost a great leader of UK civil service but the greatest loss of all is to his family.”

Philip Rutnam

@PhilipRutnam

Jeremy Heywood was the outstanding public servant of his generation, and a very humane and kind man. We have lost a great leader of @UKCivilService but the greatest loss of all is to his family.

Scottish Government perm sec Leslie Evans said Heywood was “a source of wisdom and support” she would miss greatly.

Leslie Evans

@PermSecScot

My thoughts are with the family of Sir Jeremy Heywood on hearing this sad news today. Jeremy was a valued colleague & a source of wisdom & support, I shall miss him greatly @HeadUKCivServ @UKCivilService @scotgov

View image on Twitter

Stewart Wood@StewartWood

Jeremy Heywood, an hour before Gordon Brown left no.10 for the final time in May 2010: on the phone, orchestrating the transition on which our constitution depends, while we were saying goodbye. Among the many privileges of working for a PM, few were greater than working with him

Stewart Wood, a No 10 special advisor under Gordon Brown

Ed Llewellyn

@EdLlewellynFCO

Jeremy Heywood was an inspiration. We worked so closely together during my 6 years in No 10; he always had time, always focused on solutions. All my thoughts with Suzanne and their children. Farewell my colleague and my friend – our country owes you more than it will ever know.

Jeremy Corbyn

@jeremycorbyn

Jeremy Heywood was an impressive and dedicated public servant. My thoughts are with his family, loved ones and colleagues at this sad time.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Philip Hammond

@PhilipHammondUK

Deeply saddened by the news of Jeremy Heywood’s death. He was a superb public servant and his wise advice and sound guidance will be greatly missed.
My deepest condolences to Suzanne and their children.

Chancellor Philip Hammond

Rupert McNeil

@CivilServiceCPO

I was very sad to hear this. A loyal and inspirational civil servant who will be missed so very much. My thoughts are with his family and friends. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46089019 

Breaking News image

Ex-civil service chief Sir Jeremy Heywood dies

Sir Jeremy Heywood, former cabinet secretary and civil service head, dies of cancer aged 56

bbc.co.uk

First Same-Sex Royal Family Marriage


lord-Ivar-MountbattenLord Ivar Mountbatten, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, married James Coyle on Saturday.

It’s the first ever same-sex marriage in the extended royal family — and I think it’s safe to say we’re way more excited about it than Mountbatten’s dog, Rosie.

The wedding took place in a private chapel at his family home in Bridwell Park, Devon, according to Pink News. There were just 60 guests, including Ivar’s three daughters — all of whom were urged to donate to Regain, a charity set up to support tetraplegics to live full, normal lives.

No members of the royal family were present, but the Independent reports that there were numerous messages of congratulations, including from Prince Edward , the Queen’s youngest son.

Mountbatten, 55, was given away by his ex-wife Penelope Thompson. They divorced in 2011, but remain very close — and Mountbatten has admitted previously that his bisexuality was a persistent issue in 17 years of marriage.

“I am a lot happier now, though I am still not 100% comfortable with being gay,” he said in 2016.

att272_cover_150

In 2016 Prince William made history by appearing on the cover of Attitude  magazine

“Being a Mountbatten was never the problem, it was the generation into which I was born. When I was growing up, it was known as ‘the love that dare not speak its name’, but what’s amazing now is how far we have all come in terms of acceptance.”

“I have struggled with my sexuality and in some ways I still do; it has been a real journey to reach this point,” he added. “Simply talking about it in public is a huge step for me. Up to this point, I have had a heterosexual lifestyle, so living with a man is really new. One step at a time.”

While Mountbatten is not in line to reach the throne, he is a part of the Queen’s extended family. Pink News reports that a same-sex marriage from within the direct royal lineage might encounter more issues, as “centuries-old protocols that govern royal life do not generally provide for same-sex spouses.”

And around the world, LGBTQ communities often find themselves unprotected and, often, systematically discriminated against. It’s illegal to be gay in 72 countries — and punishable by death in eight, according to the Guardian.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in the UK since March 13, 2014, and on July 3, 2018, the British government approved a 75-point action plan that included a ban on so-called “gay conversion therapy.”

The plan was announced with the results of the largest national survey of LGBTQ people in the world, revealing that 40% had experienced hate crime, while nearly two-thirds feared holding hands in public.

Although Mountbatten has faced his own struggles in realizing his sexuality, he has previously said that coming out has helped reach a “place I’m happy to be” — and his marriage to Coyle is the final step.

“I suppose if we had met ten years ago a civil partnership would have been nice, but now that marriage between a man and a man is legal it seems the right thing to do,” Mountbatten told the Mail Online. “I have had the whole marriage thing — and been very happy — but James hasn’t. So I see it as a validation of my love for him.”

Related LGBT News More: The UK Will Finally Ban So-Called ‘Gay Conversion’ Therapy

 

“Cathy Come Home” to Rushden!


 

download

The Full Gospel Church in Rushden held a marvelous screening of Ken Loach’s film Cathy Come Home on the 13th June 2018  Ciceros.org has an exclusive interview with Mark Lees of Rushden’s local housing and community project ENCS

The film deals with the issue of homelessness and family fracture and disintegration caused by homelessness and although initially screened in 1966 as part of the BBC Wednesday Plays it caused for a legislative overhaul and examination of homelessness and housing provision which ultimately culminated in the form of greater legislation by virtue of the Homeless Persons Act 1977. Sadly years later and even with Bob Blackwood MPs Homeless Reduction Bill things are still rather bleak as the requirement for cheaper affordable homes and more housing in various areas of the country are causing a surge in rough sleeping and organizations like Shelter and Crisis who had just formed when the film was made are still calling for the building of 500,000 more homes a year for people facing or who are considered homeless.

 

 

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The event was attended by about 60 people who had come along to show support for the work that the local churches of the East Northants Faith Group, the Gospel Church being one of the churches involved in Northamptonshire in helping homeless people by means the “Night Shelter” run by staff and volunteers by the local charity ENCS (East Northants Community Service).

Mark Lees who is the local pastor and the chair of the ENCS and who organized the event also organized a lovely meal that was cooked by a local refugee family he has been working with. The night was attended by those homeless who are in the night shelter, Mark-Lees1volunteers of the shelter, local congregation and those interested in how the local parish of Rushden is making practical and pragmatic strives in combating the homelessness and housing problems in the Northamptonshire area.

In an exclusive interview with Ciceros.org; Mark Lees, when asked about what the screening of the film hoped to highlight said: “With the passage of time, homelessness is still a major issue today than it was when it was first highlighted through this film”. He added, “If ever a film needed a modern remake this would be one to show in graphic detail the plight of homelessness today and not in the polite English of the BBC of the 1960s”.

“With the passage of time, homelessness is still a major issue today than it was when it was first highlighted through this film”

Asked about what he would like to see local councils do more towards combatting homelessness and rough sleeping he said “Councils need to be more human in dealing with people” and commenting on the need to cut through bureaucratic legislation he said “they need to realize they have the ability to  cut corners as each case demands and offer help where it’s needed most and where legislation is restrictive”. He said he would like to see the Government take more of an initiative in its allocation of spending on homelessness more directly to where it’s needed “not directing money as it does presently to national quangos that purport to help the homeless but to provide local councils with budgets to allocate to local homeless projects with no strings attached”

“Councils need to be more human in dealing with people they need to realize they have the ability to cut corners as each case demands and offer help where it’s needed most and where legislation is restrictive”.

 

Mark’s vision of the future for the local housing homelessness project the “Sanctuary” night shelter in Rushden he wants to see the project short-term goal  “to move the shelter to a larger more suitable provision with better day support services”, and added on the need for the local person to “become more aware of their rights to housing provision and have agencies educate people on their legal rights with regard to housing and security of tenure”

The “Sanctuary” Night Shelter which has accommodation for six males only, is one of the main points of signposting that the local district; town and borough councils (Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, and East Northamptonshire) within the Northamptonshire County relies heavily on for emergency housing and uses porta cabin dwellings with facilities to wash and eat. The Full Gospel also and has a purpose built kitchen and dining area for its Cornerfield Café which is a community café offering cooked breakfast for those in the local community and also a food bank, the church also offers a job club and debt advice on a weekly basis to people in the community.

For more information please visit:  encs.org.uk

 

 

 

 

Yemen Crisis – The world’s worst famine disaster


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Escalation of fighting around Yemen’s port city of Hudaydah threatens to cut off essential supplies to millions of people who are already one step away from famine, international agency Oxfam warned today.

The fighting has already forced hundreds of families to flee their homes.

Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen said: “Yemen is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and is steadily slipping towards famine. If this vital route for supplying food, fuel, and medicine is blocked, the result will be more hunger, more people without health care and more families burying their loved ones.

“There has been far too much destruction, disease, and death. The international community needs to put pressure on warring parties to end the fighting and return to peace negotiations.”

Hudaydah is one of the country’s principal ports serving the essential needs of millions of people. Approximately 90 percent of Yemen’s food has to be imported and 70 percent comes through the port. About 90 percent of the country’s fuel also has to be imported, half of which comes through Hudaydah and the port of Al-Salif, Hudaydah is also crucial for the imports of medicine and other essentials.

Three years since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, 8.4 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from and are one step away from famine. More than 22 million people, close to 75 percent of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance. Last year’s cholera outbreak was the world’s worst since records began, with over 1.1 million suspected cases and over 2,200 deaths.

The conflict has fueled an economic crisis, including hikes in the cost of basic food items and non-payment of public sector salaries, which is pushing millions of people to the edge.

Oxfam has been working in the area for the past 30 years, but recently have been working since 2015 during which Yemen has witnessed one of the worst famine situations ever   have the following report on the area

The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate with fuel shortages, rising food prices and a severe lack of basic services making daily survival a painful struggle for millions.

Before this latest escalation in the conflict, more than 10 million Yemenis were already going hungry every day. Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East and poverty and inequality were increasing.

Over four million people are malnourished, including nearly half a million children who are in a life-threatening condition.

Over 20 million people – 75 percent of the population – need some sort of humanitarian aid.

Over 14 million people are lacking adequate water and sanitation facilities.

More than 17 million people in Yemen cannot be sure of having enough to eat each day.

Almost three million people have been forced to flee their homes due to the bombing and fighting.

Oxfam works in eight governorates, trucking water and providing cash for people there to buy food and has helped over 2.8 million people since July 2015.

The organisation has provided clean water and sanitation services for more than one million people, including in hard-to-reach areas of the country, through providing water by truck, repairing water systems, delivering filters and jerry cans, as well as building latrines and organising cleaning campaigns.

Oxfam is managing to provide water to more than 126,000 people inside Taiz city, and supporting over 118,000 people in the governorate with water and sanitation services and cash.

Direct support for more than 430,000 people in response to the cholera outbreak. This includes safe water, treatment and disinfection of water wells, hygiene kits and public health promotion. In Abbs district, we are providing a Cholera Treatment Unit with 8,000 litres of water each day.

Cash or cash for work assistance to over 50,000 people.

Clean water and sanitation services to more than 500,000 people, including in hard-to-reach areas of the country, through providing water by truck, repairing water systems, d

Supporting more than 11,000 families with livestock treatment and supporting more than 35,000 people with cash for work.

21 NGOs have signed an open letter to the United Nations Security Council calling on its members to take action to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Yemen, end the humanitarian crisis and support the UN Special Envoy’s efforts towards an inclusive political solution to the conflict.

Background to Yemen

Tensions remain between the north and the south, however. A southern separatist movement was defeated in a short civil war in 1994, and tensions re-emerged in 2009 when government troops and rebels, known as the Houthi, clashed in the north, killing hundreds and displacing more than a quarter of a million people.

A fresh wave of protests in 2011, inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, forced then-President Ali Abdallah Saleh to resign.

Yemen has also become a base for militant groups, like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State, adding to instability in the country. The country spiraled into civil war in 2014 and, despite peace initiatives, fighting continues.

Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi came to power in 2012, after then-President Ali Abdallah Saleh stepped down in a bid to end civil unrest. He resigned in January 2015 and fled the country after Houthis took over the capital, Sanaa. He is still supported by Saudi Arabia and loyalist forces willing to fight the Houthi rebels. He has set up a temporary capital in the city of Aden.

Yemen is currently in a state of political limbo. The Houthis claim the parliament has been dissolved and replaced by a transitional revolutionary council, headed by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi. But the UN, US and Gulf Co-operation Council refuse to recognize the Houthis’ rule.

A spokesperson for Oxfam in Yemen, said: “People desperately need food and water, medicine and health services, they need aid that can reach them – ultimately they need the conflict to end so they can rebuild their lives. All those fuelling Yemen’s tragedy need to stop being arms brokers and start becoming peace brokers. “

Stuart Milk – Civil Rights Campaigner


Dd2uhixUwAAYohPStuart Milk (born December 26, 1960) is a global LGBT human rights activist and political speaker. The nephew of civil rights leader Harvey Milk, he is the co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation.

He has engaged in domestic and international activism, including work with LGBT movements in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Stuart Milk has promoted his uncle’s story and addressed LGBT rights in formal major addresses on multiple continents, including before the United Kingdom House of Lords in 2012, the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 2011, the Panamanian National Assembly in 2010, and Turkish Grand Assembly in 2009. Milk is frequently quoted in international news and seen on broadcast television discussing issues of LGBT inclusion and diversity.Dd5Nn-lVAAIi_Tr

He is also a featured writer and columnist for The Huffington Post, focusing on global human rights. During the 2012 U.S. elections, Milk gave public endorsements as a surrogate for Barack Obama.

In addition to being the President of the Harvey Milk Foundation’s Board of Directors, Stuart also sits as a director on boards and advisory boards of numerous human rights, LGBT rights and youth advocacy organizations including the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), Equality California, International Conference on Disadvantaged Youth, the Coalition for Workforce Solutions, and the International Committee for Minority Justice and Equality.

Milk has been the recipient of international and national awards for his global civil rights work.

For more information and to donate to the Harvey Milk Foundation visit http://milkfoundation.org/

Harry and Meghan’s Royal Wedding 2018


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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”.

 

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.

 

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