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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

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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.

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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!


 

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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.

 

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.

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 

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

Uganda lead on South Sudan Crisis


19-07-16southsudanOn a visit to Uganda, author and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador pays tribute to the country’s “compassionate” refugee policy, as one millionth South Sudanese refugee crosses the border.  By Khaled Hosseini in Uganda   |  17 August 2017

 

When I arrived in Uganda earlier this year, to visit refugees fleeing the brutality of the spiraling South Sudanese civil war, I expected to find something familiar: sprawling tent cities, bordered by fencing, clogged with tens of thousands of refugees, isolated from local communities, police regulating traffic in and out. In most camps I’ve visited, refugees don’t have freedom of movement, let alone a plot of land, or reasonable prospects for self-sufficiency. Lives are spent in limbo, weighed down by the crushing boredom of camp life.

When I arrived in Uganda earlier this year, to visit refugees fleeing the brutality of the spiraling South Sudanese civil war, I expected to find something familiar: sprawling tent cities, bordered by fencing, clogged with tens of thousands of refugees, isolated from local communities, police regulating traffic in and out. In most camps I’ve visited, refugees don’t have freedom of movement, let alone a plot of land, or reasonable prospects for self-sufficiency. Lives are spent in limbo, weighed down by the crushing boredom of camp life. Yet there are no camps in Uganda. Instead, refugees settle in villages, living on land allocated to them by the local government within days of crossing the border. They move about without restriction. They are free to cultivate the land, access healthcare and schools, find employment, and start businesses.

Yet there are no camps in Uganda. Instead, refugees settle in villages, living on land allocated to them by the local government within days of crossing the border. They move about without restriction. They are free to cultivate the land, access healthcare and schools, find employment, and start businesses.

Last September, all 193 UN member states signed a commitment to include refugees in local systems and to share responsibility for refugees. Uganda is holding true to the spirit of the New York Declaration. Uganda is trailblazing.

The country’s startlingly compassionate and progressive refugee policy struck me as all the more remarkable considering nearly 7 million Ugandans live in absolute poverty and another 14.7 million are at risk of falling back into poverty. And yet, Uganda has not only kept its borders open, it has welcomed refugees with open arms and open hearts.

To be sure, there is an element of reciprocity inherent in this policy. Ugandans have not forgotten their own days as refugees. I sat under a tree with Yahaya, a 51-year-old Ugandan farmer who has donated a plot of land to the family of a South Sudanese refugee named Mike. Yahaya remembers when his own family fled to Sudan in the 1980s, and how warmly Mike’s father received and helped them. Now, more than thirty years later, Yahaya is returning the favor.  “I understand his situation. He is like a brother to me,” Yahaya says of Mike.

Uganda’s approach is also a smart vision for how to support refugees in a sustainable way. It doesn’t view refugees through a purely humanitarian lens. It treats them as empowered agents of growth and development that can benefit both refugee and local communities.

Yahaya told me, for instance, that before the refugee influx his youngest three children were missing out on an education because the nearest school was too many miles away. Now they attend a primary school built in the Bidibidi refugee settlement, home to some 272,000 refugees.

In a global climate of growing negativity toward refugees, we have a lot to learn from the Ugandan experience and to be inspired by, as individuals, as communities, as countries. But Uganda’s inspirational model is being severely challenged.

This week, the UN Refugee Agency has reported the sobering news. The number of South Sudanese refugees that have crossed the border into Uganda since war broke out has reached a depressing milestone –  one million. The well-being of those one million individuals – most of whom are women and children – hinges on funding that, unfortunately, has failed to keep pace with the growing scale of this crisis.

In June, a Solidarity Summit was held in Entebbe. Uganda showcased its forward looking refugee policy in an effort to inspire other nations to adopt a similar approach and to ask wealthier nations to give funds as part of that commitment to burden sharing made in New York last September. The pledges made fall far short of what is needed just to cover the emergency response in Uganda. Uganda’s ability to realize a model that allows refugees, and its own people, to thrive is now surely in jeopardy.

I think the millionth refugee arriving at the border: exhausted, bewildered, in shock. Statistically, it will most likely be a child. A child who has lost everything. I don’t believe that any of us want to turn our back on that child. I hope the world takes notice.

 

Malala Yousafzai – the advocate for worldwide education for Women


Malala_Yousafzai_2015Malala Yousafzai (Malālah Yūsafzay: Urdu: ملالہ یوسفزئی‎; Pashto: ملاله یوسفزۍ‎ [məˈlaːlə jusəf ˈzəj];[1] born 12 July 1997) is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has since grown into an international movement.

Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Her family came to run a chain of schools in the region. Considering Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto as her role-models, she was particularly inspired by her father’s thoughts and humanitarian work. In early 2009, when she was 11–12, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdu detailing her life during the Taliban occupation of Swat. The following summer, journalist Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. She rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by activist Desmond Tutu.

In afternoon of 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was injured after a Taliban gunman attempted to murder her. Yousafzai remained unconscious, in critical condition at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK. The murder attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Yousafzai. Deutsche Welle wrote in January 2013 that she may have become “the most famous teenager in the world.” Weeks after her murder attempt, a group of fifty leading Muslim clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her.

Since recovering, Yousafzai became a prominent education activist. Based out of Birmingham, she founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization and in 2013 co-authored I am Malala, an international bestseller. In 2015, Yousafzai was a subject of the Oscar-shortlisted documentary “He Named Me Malala”. 2013; 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured her as one of the most Influential people globally.

Finsbury Park Mosque Attack


 

The driver of the rented van that purposely collided into worshipers leaving a mosque in Finsbury Park, North London that left one man dead and eight people severely injured in a suspected anti-Islamic terror attack has been named as Darren Osbourne (47) from Cardiff. 

Darren Osborne, 47,  has been named as the driver of the van was initially apprehended and detained by members of public immediately at the scene and then formally arrested by police in connection with the incident. Mr. Osborne was taken to hospital as a precaution and will be taken into custody once discharged and also be subject to an assessment as to his mental health the police confirmed.

Scotland Yard said armed police were at the scene within minutes and Police responded according to witnesses almost immediately. Police have said an investigation will be carried out by Counter Terrorism Command and extra officers deployed to reassure Muslims during Ramadan.

One witnessed described seeing the incident and said she heard people yelling and screeching
“Everybody was shouting: ‘A van’s hit people, a van’s hit people’.

“There was this white van stopped outside Finsbury Park mosque that seemed to have hit people who were coming out after prayers had finished.”

Passers-by said a crowd had gathered to help an elderly man who collapsed on the pavement and was already undergoing CPR when the vehicle approached. The local Iman, now whose actions are being described as heroic, urged the crowds gathered who had cornered the driver, Darren Osborne to remain calm whilst apprehending him. Most people just kept asking ‘why? Are you killing people’  One woman was thrown from a wheelchair as people fled from the careering van. People described bodies and blood on the pavement.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said officers were called to a “major incident” at 12.20am.

The chair of the Ramadhan Foundation said earlier of the attack that it’s timing (following holy prayers over the period of Ramadan for Muslims) and its location outside the Muslim Welfare House and  Finsbury Park Mosque pointed to it being a “deliberate attack against innocent Muslims, and if that’s confirmed by authorities it should be classed as a terror attack, no doubt about that.”
The London Ambulance Service’s special response teams and an advanced trauma crew were sent to the scene.  “Our priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries and ensure those in the most need are treated first and taken to hospital,” he added.

Grenfell Requires Answers!


A second tragedy has befallen London in the last few days. We all woke on Wednesday to see the most distressing scenes of a towering inferno in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Lancaster West area of London.
Although the extent of such a tragedy was difficult to comprehend it was by many residents a disaster almost waiting to happen, and even followed a report by Housing regulation inspectors into the blocks refurbishment following  concerns of the safety of the building that saw gas pipes in communal areas bare, a complete lack of fire sprinklers and the use a lower grade of building cladding provided to the exterior of the building.
Of course, you may be as shocked as I was at the fire, and it’s ferocity and we as a country share deepest sympathy and grief for all either who perished and their families and also for the survivors who are rebuilding their lives after such a disaster.
My question goes out to KCTMO the landlord involved and concerned with this particular housing disaster, why did they sign the refurbishment as satisfactory when important safety requirements were not met? Why after 72 hours did the Prime Minister only first start to address residents and the local community about the disaster and does she really expect that the £5 million will be adequate to the survivors (we do not know yet the numbers who perished and those who survived) who now must rehouse themselves and rebuild their lives? Why did Kensington and Chelsea Housing Chiefs today not address the local community or provide any assistance in knowing the estimated number of tenants involved?
Below are the scenes we have witnessed over the last couple of days that will haunt people and which now demand a total long-awaited overhaul of  Housing Safety.
David Lammy MP for Tottenham who lost a close friend he described who perished in the disaster was a “young person with a beautiful life ahead”.  Paying tribute to his friend Khadija Saye, he continued: “She was a young black woman making her way in this country. […] She’d done amazing things — gone to university, the best in her life — but she’s died, with her mother, on the 22nd floor of the building. And it breaks my heart, that it’s happening in Britain in 2017.”

He added the stark warning for those who profit from the misery of social injustice:“This is a tale of two cities. This is what Dickens was writing about in the century before last, and it’s still here in 2017.”

“Giving the poorest and most vulnerable ‘somewhere decent to live’ was a noble idea that is falling apart around our eyes”

 

On Sunday 18th June 2017 the current Government announced a payment relief of only £5,500 for all families living in the Grenfell Tower this will be paid as a £500 cash emergency payment and the remainder expected to be paid by the Department for Work and Pensions into survivor’s back accounts to cover the immediate cost of food; emergency housing associated costs, burial costs and getting clothes and possibly furniture and living requirements. This payment is thought to be made payable immediately to the family members who have survived, but is only this blog calculates a small figure of the £5 million promised initially (calculating and taking into consideration the 127 flats in Grenfell would see this as only a payment of 680,000 towards the figure of £5 million the PM originally said would be set apart towards the residents, thus this blog sees that £5,500 is actually quite poor to help these families.)

Sadiq Khan – Those acts are not ‘the Islam I know’


Source: Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London,  wrote in the London Evening Standard.
“As the Mayor of London, it’s difficult to adequately describe the grief and anger that we Londoners are feeling following the attack on our city on Saturday evening. Three sick and twisted individuals indiscriminately murdered innocent people as they enjoyed a night out in the heart of our great capital.

The emergency services, as they always do, responded heroically and I thank them all on behalf of our city. The first armed police were on the scene within minutes and bravely brought the terrible attack to an end swiftly after their arrival. Some suffered injuries in the line of duty. The London Ambulance Service and NHS staff worked throughout the night to treat the injured. And once again, brave bystanders confronted the terrorists and helped the victims.

It’s still early days but our police and security services are doing everything in their power to investigate this attack. They are also working to prevent an incident such as this happening again. The national security level remains at severe — meaning an attack on us is highly likely. I am in constant contact with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and other senior officers and attended the Government’s emergency Cobra security meetings yesterday and today.

It is just over two months since the terrible attack on Westminster Bridge and only two weeks since the horrific attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester. The police and security services have foiled five other attempted attacks since March alone. This shows the scale of the threat we face and why we must always remain vigilant and prepared against the terrorist threat and report anything suspicious to the authorities.

Keeping our city safe is my greatest responsibility and is the part of the job that keeps me awake at night. You will see an increased police presence on London’s streets over the coming days — including more armed officers. They are there to keep you safe.

Over the coming weeks and months, we must do everything possible to stop an attack like this ever happening again in our City. We must defeat this threat. Our values must prevail. We should not jump to knee-jerk conclusions, but failing to act is simply not an option.  We need to look seriously at whether the police have the resources they need to prevent these incidents — and whether additional police working more effectively within our communities, building confidence and improving the information they can obtain would make these attacks less likely.

We need to work with communities, the Government and others to tackle extremism in our midst. This perverse ideology is overwhelmingly despised by every community across London — of all faiths and none. By working together we must deprive extremism of its oxygen and not exaggerate its support or alienate communities in the process. The Government must now urgently act — and I am keen to work with them to build on what we have learnt.

We have to make it harder for extremists to radicalise young people online. It is too easy for people to access extremist propaganda on the Internet — with websites and videos glorifying their evil ideology just a click away. After every terrorist attack, we rightly say that the Internet providers and social media companies need to act and restrict access to these poisonous materials. But it has not happened. This is not a simple task — and must be done by working together with the companies — but now it simply must happen.

This is the holiest time of the year for millions of Britain’s Muslims. Ramadan is a period of peace and contemplation for the suffering of others. Followers of a perverse ideology who murder innocent Londoners and visitors are an utter desecration of Ramadan and a rejection of the true values of Islam.

Along with the overwhelming majority of the Muslim population, I am disgusted by this act. I want to send a crystal-clear message around the world: the sick and wicked ideology of these evil extremists is no form of Islam that I recognise. I unequivocally denounce them and their twisted beliefs.

We cannot allow these evil terrorists to change our way of life. That’s not to say that we don’t feel angry or heartbroken — of course, we do. But the terrorists commit these horrific acts because they want to scare us into submission.
They cannot win if we don’t let them. Instead, we must carry on enjoying the freedoms and way of life that they hate so much. That’s why Thursday’s general election will go ahead as planned because to postpone it would be to play into the hands of those who want to undermine our democracy.

My thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of everyone affected. Every life lost and injury suffered is a heartbreaking tragedy for a family and a community.

As a city, we must now come together to grieve and pay our respects to the victims of this dreadful attack. We will hold a vigil in Potters Fields Park — a short distance from the horrific attack and next to City Hall — this evening at 6 pm for all Londoners and visitors to join us. We will show the world that we remain as defiant and unbowed as ever.

The way our city pulled together in the aftermath of the attack on Westminster Bridge inspired the world. Londoners know that our anger must be directed at the extremists and terrorists. We know that the strength of our communities and our tolerant and liberal values make us more resilient against the terrorists.

London has always been resilient in the past in the face of threats. It’s something we are renowned for the world over. Let’s continue with that resilience and show the terrorists we will never be beaten.”

 

BRITAIN-POLITICS-LONDON-MAYOR

 

London Bridge and Borough Market Incident


ldnbr2British police have within the last couple of hours rushed to an incident on London Bridge on Saturday after witnesses said a van ploughed into pedestrians and one witness has said a knife attack has taken and that she saw people who may have had their throats cut.

British Transport Police said casualties were reported after an incident that may have involved 3 men getting out of a van that struck people and then conducting a  knife attack. The London Ambulance Service said it was sending multiple resources to the incident.

Police said armed officers were also responding to an incident in the nearby Borough Market area of the city.  Police have said a witness confirmed a stabbing incident.

The Prime Minister is aware of the incident and will receive updates of the attacks that have just taken place in the three locations; the van attack that took place 10.15pm at #LondonBridge, then the attack at #BoroughMarket and reports are now also coming in of an attack at Vauxhall and the police are clearing people from these areas and have put a security alert in the #Vauxhall area.  Vauxhall Underground station just re-opened.

One witness told Reuters that she saw what appeared to be three people with knife wounds and possibly their throats cut at London Bridge. Reuters was unable to immediately verify her account.

Another witness told the BBC she saw a speeding white van veering into pedestrians. That witness said the van hit five to six people. Reuters television pictures showed dozens of emergency vehicles in the area around London Bridge.

Several witnesses have also reported hearing gunshots.

London’s transport authority said London Bridge rail station had been closed at the request of the police.

Police confirmed at 00.20am this morning as that the incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market as a terrorist attack’ ; it follows the recent terrorist attack in Manchester where 22 people were killed, and is also worrying close to Thursday’s General Election on 8th May.

A security guard who oversees a number of pubs in the area told the BBC he saw four people stabbed by three attackers.

The man, was deeply shocked and asked not to be identified, said a colleague had informed him that there was a stabbing at the Borough Bistro pub nearby. As he went towards the pub he witnessed people running and said there was screaming he witnessed he three attackers and brandishing a long knife and stabbing people, including a girl in her early 20s.

One eye witness described how he believed to be a man with a knife and strapped to his body he believed to be canisters – he was however quite distressed following the incident.

Teresa May will hold an emergency security meeting later on Sunday morning.

Hong Kong’s ‘Handsome’ Hero


pakistani-policeman-turned-to-hong-kong-hero-1489568382-4863A 20-year-old Hong Kong policeman has swept to fame online after he talked a suicidal Pakistani man out of killing himself – in fluent Urdu.

The man had climbed a 20-metre-high (65ft) crane at a construction site, and police were called to the scene.

Ifzal Zaffar, who is of Pakistani descent, duly climbed up too and addressed him in their shared language.

The man agreed to come down, and was taken to hospital.

Constable Zaffer, who also speaks fluent Cantonese, English and Urdu said he was simply following his training.

“I used the techniques we learned at the academy … I think he felt safer knowing that I could talk to him in his own language.”  The young man joined the force just under a year ago, and is said to be the only officer of Pakistani origin in the district.

Do you trust Donald Trump?


tdy_peter_trump_170510.nbcnews-ux-1240-700Everyone is actually reeling from the news that Donald Trump has fired Director of the FBI James Comey. People are asking why after initially praising Mr. Comey’s work as head of the FBI (during the election presidential campaign when the FBI were investigating emails sent from a private server from Hilary Clinton) has the president now with the advice arising from memos from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which recommended getting rid of him.

Now Senior US lawmakers have called on President Donald Trump to turn over any recordings of conversations with fired FBI director James Comey and the President.

We all want to know the following …

  • Is the president saying he was secretly recording his conversations with the FBI director — at a time when his actions are already being compared to Nixon’s during Watergate? Why would he do that?

Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer has said that destroying any tapes would break the law. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the White House needed to “clear the air” about whether tapes existed. The comments come after Mr Trump tweeted what appeared to be a thinly veiled threat to the former FBI chief.

A senior law professor Allan Lichtman, claims the firing of Comey could lead to a impeachment of Donald Trump as President and is  “more serious than Watergate”.

“He arguably could be impeached now,” Mr Lichtman toldNewsweek. “Arguably he’s already obstructed justice and already violated the emoluments clause [regarding receiving gifts from foreign governments]. I’m not saying we should impeach him now, I’m calling for an impeachment investigation.”

 

 

 

Eternal Blue was a NSA tool


Source: BBC News 

The huge cyber-attack affecting organisations around the world, including some UK hospitals, can be traced back to the US National Security Agency (NSA) – raising questions over the US government’s decision to keep such flaws a secret.

Elements of the malicious software used in Friday’s attacks were part of a treasure trove of cyber-attack tools leaked by hacking group the Shadow Brokers in April.

One of the tools contained in the Shadow Brokers leak, codenamed EternalBlue, proved to be “the most significant factor” in the spread of Friday’s global attack, according to cyber-security firm Kaspersky Lab.

The tool was said to have been created by the NSA – though, as is typical, the agency has neither confirmed nor denied this.

EternalBlue was made public on 14 April, and while Microsoft had fixed the problem a month prior to its leak, it appeared many high-profile targets had not updated their systems to stay secure.

Friday’s attack has reignited the debate over whether or not governments should disclose vulnerabilities they have discovered or bought on the black market.

“It would be deeply troubling if the NSA knew about this vulnerability but failed to disclose it to Microsoft until after it was stolen,” said Patrick Toomey, a lawyer working for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“These attacks underscore the fact that vulnerabilities will be exploited not just by our security agencies, but by hackers and criminals around the world.

“Patching security holes immediately, not stockpiling them, is the best way to make everyone’s digital life safer.”

Edward Snowden, who famously leaked many internal NSA files in June 2013, criticised the NSA on Friday in a series of tweets.

“In light of today’s attack, Congress needs to be asking [the NSA] if it knows of any other vulnerabilities in software used in our hospitals,” he wrote.

“If [the NSA] had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, this may not have happened.”

Outdated systems

However, others focused the blame at institutions for being too slow in updating their systems, given that this attack happened almost two months after a (free) fix was made available by Microsoft.

“Say what you want to say about the NSA or disclosure process,” said Zeynep Tufeki, a professor at the University of North Carolina.

“But this is one in which what’s broken is the system by which we fix.”

For the UK’s National Health Service, the problem is perhaps more acute.

Security firms have continually raised alarms about the NHS’s reliance on Windows XP, an operating system that is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Meanwhile ….

Blogger tells BBC how he ‘accidentally’ halted the Ransomeware by discovering a “kill switch” inside the Malware.

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“A UK security researcher has told the BBC how he “accidentally” halted the spread of the malicious ransomware that has affected hundreds of organisations, including the UK’s NHS.

The 22-year-old man, known by the pseudonym MalwareTech, had taken a week off work, but decided to investigate the ransomware after hearing about the global cyber-attack.

He managed to bring the spread to a halt when he found what appeared to be a “kill switch” in the rogue software’s code.

“It was actually partly accidental,” he told the BBC, after spending the night investigating. “I have not slept a wink.”

Although his discovery did not repair the damage done by the ransomware, it did stop it spreading to new computers, and he has been hailed an “accidental hero”.

“I would say that’s correct,” he told the BBC.

 

 

Sky News

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