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Una Cooze activist and secretary


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

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

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

800px-Michael_Foot_(1981)

KenLivingstone

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

 

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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 

Spanish Terror attack victims rises to 16


The death toll from the terrorist attacks that took place on 17th August 2017 in Spain has risen to sixteen.

Spain’s civil defense agency has confirmed that a 51-year-old German woman has died following the recent terrorist attacks in Spain after being treated in a critical condition in hospital although it’s not yet known which of the twin terrorist attacks she was injured in.

Many people were injured in the first attack on 17 August, when a van drove into pedestrians crowds on the famous tourist boulevard of Las Ramblas. Nine hours later after the Barcelona attack there followed a similar attack in Cambrils, 70 miles southwest of Barcelona when  five men thought to be members of the same terrorist cell drove into pedestrians in nearby Cambrils, killing one woman and injuring six others

Authorities in Spain are continuing their investigations into the attacks, which saw 120 people sustaining serious injury, and six people currently remain in a critical condition with five other people being treated with serious injuries.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Barcelona on Saturday in an act of solidarity following the attacks last week.

In an unprecedented move, King Felipe VI also took part, along with the Spanish Prime Minister and the local mayor.

Those that assisted victims of the attack including the emergency services, taxi drivers, and shopkeepers, were at the head of the march, as the crowds stretched formed a procession that was a mile in length.

Roses of Red yellow and white the colors associated with the city of Barcelona were handed out to the crowds who also had Catalan flags that could be seen far into the distance. Banners sporting the words “we are not afraid” and “the best response is peace” were shown on banners showing the crowds defiance against the terrorist attacks.

The march in Barcelona also follows the shooting of the terrorist suspect Younes Abouyaaqoub seen fleeing the attack in Barcelona where he is believed to have hijacked a car, killing its owner, 34-year-old aid worker Pablo Perez, in order to make his getaway.

When authorities caught up with him Younes AbouyTaaqoub was shot dead and found to be wearing a suicide belt Spanish police later confirmed.

In the city of Marseilles in France, another similar incident took place and saw one woman killed and another injured, after a van crashed into two bus shelters.Police advised the public to avoid the Old Port area where the driver of the Renault Master, a 35-year-old man from Grenoble, was arrested following the attack. The man arrested has yet to be known but was known to police for minor crimes and is believed to have had psychological issues.

 

 

Debbie Abrahams re-examines Pensions in Corby


20882898_1569207366433820_7313971429905566976_nDEBBIE ABRAHAMS VISITS CORBY COUNCILS ‘CUBE’ BUILDING TO DISCUSS “DIGNITY AND SECURITY IN OLDER AGE: THE STATE PENSION” 

The event took place on 17th August 2017 hosted by the Constituency Labour Party with an introduction by Cllr Tom Beattie on the discussion of the increase of the pension age to 67 years to those born in the 1950’s and State Pension Age increase in years to come.

As Debbie Abrahams wrote recently

“Older people have been badly let down by the Tories. During this year’s General Election they failed to provide transitional protection to women born in the 1950s who have had the increase in their State Pension Age (SPa) accelerated; in addition, they failed to guarantee they would protect the State Pension ‘triple lock’ and Winter Fuel Allowance. Most recently the Government announced that they will be accelerating the increase in the SPa to 68 at the same time it was announced that increases in life expectancy had ‘ground to a halt’.

This contrasts to the Labour Party’s manifesto pledge to retain the triple lock and winter fuel allowance, as well as provide support for the 1950s born women through pensions credit and further transitional protections. Labour has also rejected the accelerated increase in the SPa to 68 and is examining options for a flexible retirement age.

As part of the Labour Party’s commitment to ensuring dignity and security in older age, we are launching a national conversation with communities across the country to discuss what this means in relation to the State Pension.”

The visit to Corby Cube was part of the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions national tour gaining public ideas and proposals in re-examining the State Pension and incentivising Private Pensions.

 

 

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.

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.”

 

 

 

Afghanistan National Mourning following Taliban killing of Afgan soldiers


ashraf_ghani_newThe Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani declared a national day of mourning after scores of soldiers were killed by Taliban fighters disguised as fellow soldiers, in the deadliest attack of its kind on an Afghan military base.

The defence ministry has said more than 100 died or were injured in the Friday attack in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, although no exact numbers have yet been released.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters news agency that at least 140 soldiers were killed with many others wounded and some officials stating that the figure may be even higher.

The attack starkly highlighted the difficulty of the long struggle by the Afghan government and its international backers to defeat the Taliban insurgency.

After arriving in Mazar-i-Sharif to visit the base on Saturday, Ghani ordered that flags be flown at half mast on Sunday in memory of the troops who died. President Ghani has called for a “serious” investigation into the attack.  In a statement online, he condemned the attack as “cowardly” and the work of “infidels”.

As many as 10 Taliban fighters, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and driving military vehicles, made their way into the base and opened fire on mostly unarmed soldiers eating and leaving a mosque after Friday prayers, according to officials.

They used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, and several detonated suicide vests packed with explosives, officials said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Saturday the attack on the base was retribution for the recent killing of several senior Taliban leaders in northern Afghanistan.

The U.S. military command in Kabul said an American air strike had killed a commander, Quari Tayib, and eight other Taliban on April 17.

Animal Welfare after Brexit


Animal welfare standards in farming after the UK leaves the EU

Published  Thursday, January 19, 2017
This pack has been prepared ahead of the debate on Animal Welfare Standards in Farming after the UK leaves the EU (Brexit), to be held in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 24 January 2017 430-530pm. The Member in charge of this debate is the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP.
Jump to full report >>

Animal welfare is a devolved issue. The welfare of animals involved in commercial operations (i.e. those animals that are farmed) is subject to a substantial body of EU regulation; the RSPCA estimates that around 80 per cent of UK animal welfare laws originate from the EU. The terms of the Brexit negotiations will have a significant impact upon what animal welfare protections are adopted, amended or discarded.

EU farm animal welfare regulations

Currently, the EU legislates on issues affecting the operation of the internal market and the free movement of animals. Council Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes provides general rules for the protection of animals. This EU legislation sets down minimum standards; national governments may adopt more stringent rules than this. The EU rules are based on the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes, and they reflect the so-called ‘Five Freedoms’:
•Freedom from hunger and thirst
•Freedom from discomfort
•Freedom from pain, injury and disease
•Freedom to express normal behaviour
•Freedom from fear and distress.

Similar legislation implementing EU animal welfare regulations exists in England and all of the devolved assembles. Accompanying the legislation in each country are codes of practice, which provide welfare recommendations for those involved in the farming industry.

Live animal exports

EU rules to protect live animals during transport and related operations were agreed in 2004, and implemented in the UK in 2007, though there have still been a number of campaigns against such exports on welfare grounds. These regulations only apply to animals transported for commercial operations. The Council Regulation was implemented in the England by the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006, and by parallel legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There have been a number of campaigns seeking to either ban live animal transport altogether, or to limit how far (and long) an animal can be transported on welfare grounds. Some of these campaigns have focussed on live animal exports through the Ports of Ramsgate and Dover, and specific events in 2012 when 40 sheep were euthanised on welfare grounds at the Port of Ramsgate. The National Farmers Union (NFU) is broadly supportive of live animal exports.

Antimicrobial resistance in farm animals

In the past, it was normal practice for antimicrobials to be added to animal feed across the world in order to stimulate livestock growth and so maximise productivity. A ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters was implemented first in the UK and then in other European countries and Canada. The practice continued unchanged, however, in the United States and also continued to some extent in Europe, but with agents that were not used therapeutically in humans. An EU-wide ban on the use of antimicrobials as growth promoters came into force on 1 January 2006. The addition of antimicrobials to animal feed for medical purposes (either as prophylactics or as treatment for existing disease) is not affected by this ban. On 10 September 2014, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on veterinary medicinal products.

Brexit and farm animal welfare: the same protections, stronger or weaker?

Currently, national governments may adopt more stringent rules than the EU animal welfare legislation—which sets down minimum standards. However, the UK Government has been resistant to ‘gold-plating’ EU regulations in the past over fears that this would weaken UK competiveness. In October, Defra’s Secretary of State stated that the UK’s unique selling point after we leave the EU “should be the highest standards of animal welfare, and the highest standards of food traceability.”

It is currently expected that leaving the EU will result in alternative trade and support arrangements for UK agriculture. The terms of Brexit negotiations and trade deals will go a long way towards determining what animal welfare protections are adopted, amended or discarded. This may lead to the same, stronger or weaker regulations than those currently in force.

The Government has already committed to bringing forward a ‘Great Repeal Bill’ which will convert all existing EU law into domestic law “wherever practical”. However, there has been some concern that trading arrangements made with non-EU countries may result in a reduction in UK standards or in the standards of imported products. In order to operate on a ‘level playing-field’, farmers may call for the removal of welfare regulations which would allow them to compete with producers in countries with lower animal welfare standards.
Commons Debate packs CDP-2017-002

Download the full report
Animal Welfare after Brexit   (  PDF, 263.8 KB)

Intel 500 Shooting Star Drone Display


Intel® Shooting Star Drone Display. A press release from Intel 03/11/2016

The Intel® Shooting Star drone is the company’s first drone created for entertainment light shows. The drone is designed with safety and creativity in mind with a super light-weight structure and virtually limitless color combinations. We’ve also worked with the FAA to receive a Part 107 Waiver to fly these drones as a fleet with one pilot at night in the U.S. This means we can now create beautifully choreographed images in the nighttime sky quickly and easily in the U.S. We are looking forward to using this new fleet of Intel Shooting Star drones publicly soon. Find more information on the Intel Shooting Star fact sheet.

MAVinci GmbH Acquisition

We believe drones are an important computing platform for the future and we are continuing to invest in technologies and companies that will enable us to provide the best compute, sensor, communications and software integration for the growing drone ecosystem. To this point, we have acquired MAVinci GmbH, a drone company based in Germany that offers best-in-class flight planning software.

With this transaction, we are gaining expertise in flight planning software algorithms and also fixed-wing drone design capabilities that complement the technology and knowledge Intel previously acquired from Ascending Technologies. This new acquisition will play a key role in providing solutions for industries such as agriculture, insurance, construction, mining and more.

These announcements represent a string of progress we’ve made in the drone space. In August, we introduced the developer-focused Intel Aero Platform and the Intel Aero Ready to Fly* Drone that will be available by end of the year. And prior to that, we collaborated with Yuneec, to launch the Yuneec Typhoon H with Intel RealSense Technology that provides industry leading collision avoidance features.

As we build new capabilities and enable products and solutions in the drone space, we will continue to demonstrate how far and how fast this exciting technology can advance.

 

Government backs Homelessness Reduction Bill


24 October 2016 2:48 pm | By Carl Brown courtesy : Inside Housing Journal)

The government will support the Homelessness Reduction Bill, the communities secretary has announced.
Sajid Javid, in parliament today, confirmed ministers will back the bill, which would impose duties on councils to prevent homelessness. Ministers had previously said they would consider options, including legislation, to prevent homelessness but until today had stopped short of supporting the bill.

Mr Javid said: “No one should have to sleep rough on the streets.  We want to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That’s why we are determined to do all we can to help those who lose their homes and provide them with the support they need to get their lives back on track.”

The bill, tabled by Conservative backbench MP Bob Blackman, has been supported by homelessness charities. It is made up of 12 measures (see below).

A new version of the bill was published last week following negotiations with bodies including the Local Government Association.

The original bill included a new duty on councils to provide emergency temporary accommodation for 56 days to people with a local connection but who are not in priority need and who have nowhere safe to stay.

Councils have said that such a duty would place too much pressure on local authorities, which are already struggling to keep up with spiralling homelessness demand. This duty has now been removed from the bill, on the basis that it would be too costly.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “In backing Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill, the government has shown its continued determination to tackle homelessness. I am also grateful for the personal tenacity and commitment shown by Department for Communities and Local Government ministers in helping get to this important milestone.

The bill is due to receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday. It still needs the support of 100 MPs to protect the bill from risk of being ‘talked out’.

Mr Sparkes said: “While we warmly welcome today’s announcement, there remains a real risk that unless MPs offer their support at the bill’s second reading on Friday, this historic opportunity could easily be lost.”

 
AT-A-GLANCE: THE HOMELESSNESS REDUCTION BILL

The bill is made up of 12 measures:

1.         A change to the meaning of “homeless” and “threatened with homelessness”. Each household that has received an eviction notice is to be treated as homeless from the date on which the notice expires, and the period at which a person is threatened with homelessness is changed from 28 to 56 days.

2.         All homeless people have access to free advice and information.

3.         Local authorities are required to carry out an assessment of what led to each applicant’s homelessness, and set out steps to remedy this in an agreed, written plan.

4.         Local authorities are required to help to secure accommodation for all eligible households who are threatened with homelessness, and at an earlier stage.

5.         Local authorities are required to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation.

6.         Local authorities are able to take action to help to secure accommodation under the new duties to help homeless households.

7.         Households in priority need who refuse to co-operate with prevention and/or relief activity will be offered a minimum of a six month private rented sector tenancy. They will not progress to the main homelessness duty. Households not in priority need who refuse to co-operate would be provided with advice and information only.

8.         All young people leaving care will be deemed to have a local connection in the area of the local authority that is responsible for providing them with leaving care services under the Children Act 1989.

9.         Applications are provided with the right to request a review in relation to the prevention and relief duties.

10.       The Bill introduces a duty on specified local agencies to refer those either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams

11.       The Secretary of State has a power to produce a statutory Code of Practice to raise the standards of homelessness support services across the country.

12.       A local housing authority must satisfy itself that specific requirements are in place where it secures accommodation for vulnerable households in the private rented sector.

The Usual Suspects – UK Leadership


CmJFZTzWQAI1fF_It seems the outcome of the European Referendum has caused political mayhem for both party’s , Labour and Conservative, in the likely event of leadership contests.

The likely candidates for the conservative leadership being Michael Gove v Boris Johnson; and today political shenanigans appear to have started in both parties as its discovered that an email from Sarah Vine (Michael Gove’s wife) expressed concerns over a Boris Johnson winning candidature as Conservative Leader. Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn is fighting his own corner in expressing the public support he has from the electorate in challenging the vote of a no-confidence in a Parliamentary Labour Party vote today which he lost.

It’s obviously not been a good week for Jeremy Corbyn; mass resigning of his cabinet over the sacking of Hilary Benn, many of opposed the leadership anyway; and a disastrous public new shadow cabinet press conference where suddenly after asking the cameras be switched off a ‘game of musical chairs’ took place without Tom Watson appearing near Mr Corbyn (Watson is believed to have rallied opposition to Jeremy Corbyn from safe distance of Glastonbury during this weekends Glastonbury Festival).

Mr Corbyn has held a public address today   outside the School of African and Oriental Studies. A Public Rally had been set to have been held outside Bloomsbury in London but was cancelled earlier today by Momentum because of “overwhelming demand’.

Mr Corbyn mainly had applause for standing his position as leader but there was some levels of heckling from some in the crowd assembled.

London Gay Pride : “Will You Marry Me?”


Record number of people attended todays London Gay Pride and it is was estimated it would attract over a million people attending especially following the tragic mass shooting that left 49 people dead and 53 people severely injured in PULSE the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The march also has also allowed both Gay and straight Muslims a chance to march and show their solidarity following the shooting by an Omar Mir Seddique Mateen.

Obviously there was heightened security on all marched across the world where Pride is being held this year and  dozens of cities are donning the colours of the rainbow this weekend. Today’s marches and celebrations were in  London;  and New York and Chicago. But they will be being held in world wide over the 2016 summertime.

A number of photos have hit social media including heart-warming  photographs showing the moment a couple of police officers became engaged at London Pride and posted by the Metropolitan Police LGBT network.  In both photographs both proposals were accepted.

One of the pictures tweeted by the Met’s LGBT network, shows a photo of a uniformed officer proposing to his boyfriend in the audience. The total number of Met Officers who took part in todays London Pride and joining the march was around 80, and the march also included other UK Police forces, the London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade in the carnival procession.

The LGBT Metropolitan Police Network aims to create a more knowledgeable workforce that can respond to crimes and issues affecting the LGBT community sensitively and began through a conversation over coffee in Berlin at the European Gay Police Association conference in 2014.

The following was tweeted on their Twitter page.

ICYMI: Amazing to see all the love for the newly engaged couple flooding our notifications!https://t.co/IUSjjIzGJo

                               — Pride in London (@LondonLGBTPride) June 25, 2016

He said yes too @LondonLGBTPride @MetLGBTNetwork @LGBTpoliceuk#ByYouSide #OrlandoShooting

— MET LGBT Network (@MetLGBTNetwork) June 25, 2016

Also attending the Pride Carnival March and Rally in London were over 300 charities, businesses and organisations who marched through the West End. The whole of the area has been transformed into a sea of bright colours in honour of the LGBT community and London Mayor Mayor Sadiq Khan recently stressed it was ‘more important than ever’  to support the LGBT community in the festival following the Orlando mass shooting.

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                   (Picture Sources: London Evening Standard & Met LGBT Network )

The Queen at 90 Years


 

HMQ-Hlogo-mobileQueen Elizabeth has today celebrated her 90th birthday. She has been now almost 65 years on the throne of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth and Britain’s longest serving monarch and the second longest current monarchs in the World .

Today the Queen spent the day earlier with her husband Philip, The Duke of  Edinburgh,  on a walk about the town of Windsor where crowds assembled to wish her a happy Birthday. She was also presented with a birthday cake at Windsor’s Guildhall by Nadiya Hussain winner of BBC’s “Great British Bake Off” television programme. She also unveiled a plaque to the “Queens Walkway” that links important points within Windsor.

The Queen sent a ‘tweet’ on the social media Twitter : “I send my best wishes to those who are celebrating their 90th birthday… on this shared occasion, I send my warm congratulations to you.”

She is due to meet President Barack Obama tomorrow when he will be visiting to show his birthday respects to the Queen, it’s also said that there will be a ban on all aerial drones in parts of London later this week during his visit to the capital for security reasons following recent incidents where drones have been causing danger to aircraft. He and his wife Michelle are expected to also lunch with Princess Kate, Prince William and Prince Harry during his visit. He later  is expected to meet David Cameron and stand politically with him in urging  Britain to stay in the EU.

Yesterday during a tour of BBC Broadcasting House the Queen was asked if there was anything she wanted for her birthday.  To which she replied “I don’t think there’s anything I would like – a nice sunshiny day – that would be nice.”

queen_on_england111764789-1

Time to End Snaring of Animals


Time to stop this Barbaric Practice

Wire snares are indiscriminate, inhumane and unnecessary. CHRIS PITT of the League Against Cruel Sports has the facts to prove it.

Of all the cruelties humans have inflicted on animals over the centuries, the wire snare is once of the worst and Moist enduing.
Simple in design, devastating in effect, a tool of poachers throughout the ages, the snare is now commonly used for another purpose.

Around 260,000 snares are in use at any one time, catching 1.7 million animals each year. However, snares are only used and 5 per cent of landholdings
in England and Wales — primarily for use by gamekeepers to protect shooting interests.

The grouse and pheasant-shooting industry is big business, so the snares are used to keep the birds safe from predators (would sound worthy, if the birds
weren’t being protected just so they can be shot).

* A poll last year found that 77 per cent of the public think that snares should be illegal, and 68 per cent of MPs support a ban on snares.
Yet they are still legal, and that is something that we at the League Against Cruel Sports believe must be changed.

Snares are legal for use on rabbits and foxes, however a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) report has shown that on average,
seven out of 10 of the animals caught by snares were neither foxes nor rabbits.

Hares and badgers are often caught, while many others caught include pet cats and dogs. Snares are indiscriminate.

Focusing on foxes as the prime target, some will argue — as they do with hunting — that livestock needs to beprotected. There are two points here-that
should bexaised.First, empirical evidence shows that fox predation accounts for only a very small proportion of lanib losses, with 95 per cent of
lamb deaths due to farm husbandry Second, killing fates is pointless — another fox will Blithe space within three to four days.

Back to snares. The so-called “free-running neck snares” that are legal are, intended to hold a trapped animal alive until the snare operator returns
and kills it “Free-running” means that the wire tightens as the animal struggles and is meant to relax when it stays still. The reality thougliis
that many animals die in the snaresThis will be a slow, painful death from strangulation, evisceration, expesure to the elements, predation,
starvation or dehydration.

Defra avoids claims that snares should be banned by Saying that their use is controlled by a code of practice. The department’s snare reportin 2012
found that 95 per cent of gamekeepers were aware of the code of practice, yet not a single fox snare operator they visited during the production of
the report was fully compliant with it.

To check this for ourselves, our investigators took some secret footage to see if snare operators were following the code of practice. Within just
a couple of minutes we recorded several violations to the code.
These incbsled setting snares along a fence line where the animal become tangled, setting snares near to a hole into which they can fall-strangle
themselves, setting them in bad weather as they could die of cold or exposure, and not removing a snare from a location at which an animal had been killed
by a snare. A snare was also deliberately used to catch a pheasant, which is illegal under Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981)

I think this shows that it is simply impossible to enforce regulations: a practice that occurs mainly on private land in remote locations.

Last week we called on MPs from all parties to ban snares outright. Britain is is one of only five countries lef the EU where snares are
completely legal, and frankly this is shame. Snares are indiscriminate, inhumane and unnecessary. Their time is over.
* The secret footage can be view at http://bit.ly/1Cgr8gT.
* Chris Pitt is deputy director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports. To find out more about sraring visit http://www.league.org.uk.

(From a article in the The Morning Star – info@peoples-press.co.uk)

Ireland to Accept Same Sex Marriage


150521202001-orig-ireland-same-sex-marriage-referendum-00000302-large-169 During a historic vote taking place it seems that the Republic of Ireland will now legalise Same Sex Marriage, with leaders from both sides of the campaign stating that early polls indicate a swing to the Yes campaign to enshrine same sex marriages into it’s constitution, in the world’s first national vote on the issue,

Politicians, activists and the Irish voters are now questioning not if it the vote will be for acceptance but by how large the vote actually was for a Yes to Equality vote..

Senior figures from the “no” campaign, who sought to prevent Ireland’s constitution from being amended to permit same-sex marriages, say the only question is how large the “yes” side’s margin of victory will be from Friday’s vote.safe_image.php

“We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality. So it’s a very proud day to be Irish,” a  Cabinet minister who himself came out as gay man when The Irish Government led efforts to amend Ireland’s conservative Catholic constitution.

“There is going to be a very substantial majority for a yes vote. I’m not at all surprised by that to be honest with you,” Ronan Mullen, and Irish Senator, who rejected a change to same sex marriage entering the constitution..

.Analysts are even seeing that  “yes” majorities of voting are being reported in conservative rural districts,  suggesting  only question was how large the “yes” majority will be when the voting ends once the 4.6 million votes are counted in Ireland, which of course in the republic is predominantly Catholic.

According to sources at a Dublin ballot centre, said the Irish capital looks to have voted around 70 percent in favour of gay marriage, while most districts outside the capital also were reporting strong “yes” leads without any district reporting a “no” majority. Official results come later Saturdayireland-same-sex-marriage-referendum The “YES” campaigning has been mobilising it’s support through a creative, compelling campaign on social media sites to get young voters, tens of thousands of whom voted for the first time Friday. They also said a “no” victory was always unlikely given that all political parties and politicians are in favour of equality on same sex marriage  just five years after it’s approved civil partnerships for gay couples.

Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, whose party though traditionally Catholic in it’s membership and views campaigned for legalising gay marriage, said it “looks like an emphatic win for the yes side.” Voters in his native Cork were being recorded by observers as more than 60 percent yes.

CND Calendar March 2015


Time To Act: Climate Change March

TimeToAct-final CND is supporting the Time To Act climate change protest on 7th March where we will join a ‘No War, No Warming’ bloc.

We will be marching with our Climate Not Trident placards and encourage all CND supporters to be there.

The organisers of the event Campaign Against Climate Change are also looking for stewards for the day. If you can help steward the event contact Campaign Against Climate Change


Candidates-ebulletin-final

Scrap Trident: Call for emails to General Election Candidates

We’ve had almost 10,000 emails sent to General Election candidates via our website. If you’ve already contacted your own, consider forwarding the link to local:

  • trades union branches
  • anti-cuts groups
  • faith organisations
  • environmental campaigns
  • or other organisations you work with…

ScrapTridentLOGO

Scrap Trident: Protests in Scotland

Glasgow Demonstration

  • 10.30am, Saturday 4th April
  • George Square, Glasgow

Faslane Blockade

Monday 13th April Faslane North Gate, Helensburgh (transport from Glasgow)

More info: Scrap Trident

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    Putin claims US arming weapons to Ukraine


     DV1372655 Russian President is now claiming that the weapons to Kiev are already being supplied by the West.

    The West is already supplying weaponry to Kiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin said when asked about Russia’s possible reaction to arms deliveries discussed by the West.

    “According to our information, the arms are already being delivered,” Putin said at a press conference Tuesday after talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

    The Russian President has been keen to stress that the reduction of activity in south-eastern Ukraine in particular, Donbas, where he said Kiev forces have been fighting against independence supporters since last spring. “Regarding the hostilities [in Donbas], we [Russia] generally mark a significant, and I want to stress that, reduction of military activity there,” Putin said.

    The new online state run news paper Sputnik is already covering stories that implicate President Obama is considering considering arming Ukraine in case the latest ceasefire is breached, but says that  the US political analyst Stephen Lendman told Sputnik in an exclusive interview that the US has been supplying arms to Kiev from the very start of the military operation.

    The Russian President added that the sooner the suspension of hostilities and withdrawal of artillery is implemented in Donbas, the sooner the Ukrainian conflict will be settled.

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