Andrew Neil Shows Staggering Ignorance of Irish Politics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 03/02/2020 - 9:27pm in

Zelo Street put up this story on Saturday, and it’s one of those that makes you wonder just how intelligent and insightful certain highly paid Beeb journos and political pundits really are. In this instance, the journalist in question is Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times and the Economist, and chairman of the board running the Spectator. Is he really this ignorant, or is he just pushing Brexiteer propaganda?

Zelo Street notes that next Saturday there’s a general election over in the Emerald Isle. This is also important for us over on this side of the Irish Sea because of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace back to Northern Ireland. Panelbase, a polling company, conducted a survey of Irish voters, and concluded that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party was down four points. Neil picked this up, and told his followers on Twitter that it was due to the party campaigning on an ‘anti-British’ small country ticket.

Er, no. No, it wasn’t. And various Irish Tweeters let Neil know that it very definitely wasn’t. Jonathan Mills posted this explanation of the real reason Fine Gael were down in the polls:

“For UK ppl reading this; FG are down in the polls for good domestic reasons to do with health waiting lists and homelessness (we’ll get them on the economy next week). Their Brexit performance is about the only thing they have going for them. They are the pro-British party”.

Others cast aspersions on Brillo’s abilities as a journalist. ‘Ban Normality’ commented

“I’m surprised that Andrew is following this line but it is still slightly worrying that such an established, supposedly informed politically commentator tweets something like this. Does he believe there is a correlation in Ireland that FG stance on Brexit has lost them votes?”

Paul O’Kane went further, and tweeted

“Any journalistic credibility you ever had in relation to Irish politics has just evaporated in a single tweet”.

Irishmonk called him a junior reporter, and told him there was such a thing as being informed, and advised him to use Google.

And Irish Times writer Conor Gallagher went further and observed how this reflected badly on the British press as a whole. He said

“One of the most striking things I’ve noticed since Brexit started was how badly the British people are served by their media”.

Yes, we are very badly served by our media. It has become particularly dire after Brexit, but it was always terrible. However, the real rot set in about 1980 with the toxic combination of Maggie Thatcher in No. 10 and Rupert Murdoch owning the Scum and the Thunderer. He made these newspapers much less about journalism and all about pushing Tory ideology, and set in motion a trend that has affected all the British newspapers. And the Beeb and television in general also became far more about promoting Tory propaganda rather than objective reporting, with a few notable and honourable exceptions, of course.

Neil’s tweet hasn’t completely destroyed his journalistic credibility by any means. He’s still highly paid and respected, and isn’t as massively ignorant about Brexit as Julia Hartley-Brewer. She’s shown several times that she knows less than zero about it, as Nigel Molesworth would put it, and simply repeats pro-Brexit lines even when anyone, who really does know anything about the EU, knows that the reality is the complete opposite. But Neil’s tweet does raise questions about the limits of his knowledge. Surely someone with his reputation and career should know more about Irish politics than this? And have more concern for the facts than to say something that anyone could check and see was wrong?

Or is Neil really not bothered at all with getting his facts right and keeping the British public properly informed, but just with pushing the Conservative/ Brexiteer line regardless. Like pretty much the rest of the BBC newsdesk.


Why Australia Is Lighting New Bush Fires

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 30/01/2020 - 3:57am in

Welcome back to The Fixer, our weekly briefing of solutions reported elsewhere. This week: a millennia-old approach to controlling Australia’s wildfires. Plus, a city gives its Housing First strategy a personal twist, and Sydney engineers decentralize the plastic recycling industry.

Slow burn

Australia has worked to contain its wildfires with every modern firefighting tactic there is, but it turns out millennia-old Aboriginal methods could be the way forward. 

Australia’s Aboriginal communities have long used “defensive burning” practices, creating small, intentionally lit fires to burn away undergrowth that fuels larger, destructive ones. In 2013, the national government began funding these communities’ efforts. The funded areas now cover an area the size of Portugal. They are mostly in the country’s north — areas that, so far, have been less affected by the out-of-control fires devastating towns in the south, thanks to the preventative burning efforts.

“Fire is our main tool,” said Violet Lawson, one of the program’s participants. She lights hundreds of small fires each year on her land to prevent larger fires from taking hold. Efforts like hers have received $80 million through Australia’s cap-and-trade system, and have reduced greenhouse gases generated by wildfire there by an estimated 40 percent.

Now, Native American tribes in California, which have long practiced defensive burning as well, are hoping to receive similar government support. Since 2014, members of the Yukon tribe have worked with prison inmates brought in by Cal Fire to conduct controlled burns, but their efforts are far smaller in scale. While the Australian program encompasses 90 million acres, California’s covers just a few thousand. “If we are going to make our landscapes resilient, and thus our communities resilient, we have to follow these practices that are tried and true,” said one fire expert from Cal State. 

Read more at the New York Times

Who are your homeless?

Another city is pursuing a Housing First strategy to eliminate homelessness, and it’s adding a twist: a “command center” tasked with collecting real-time, name-by-name data from every homeless person in the community.

Rockford, Illinois’s effort started with veterans. In 2015, the city began bringing together all of its groups that work with vets to identify which ones were struggling with housing insecurity. The push grew out of the Obama administration’s 2014 call to end veteran homelessness, and “changed [Rockford’s] entire system, everything we do,” according to Angie Walker, the city’s homeless program coordinator. 

With the system in place, Rockford began adding more groups — the chronically homeless, homeless youth, homeless families — working to eliminate homelessness for each one by one. While many other cities’ Housing First models rely on subsidized housing and single-day “snapshots” of homeless data, Rockford’s command center tracks every homeless resident’s situation in real time. “If John Smith is on the list, we talk about where he’s staying, ask who has had contact with John, and figure out where we can get John housed at and how fast can we do it,” Walker says.

Using these methods, Rockford has functionally eliminated veteran homelessness, and is on track to do the same for youth homelessness in the next few months. By the end of this year, it expects to have its final focus, family homelessness, down to functional zero. 

Read more at Next City

Plastic pioneers

China used to be the world’s preeminent recycling destination, but in 2018 Beijing started turning away most imported plastic waste. It had always been an imperfect solution — transporting discarded Coke bottles across the sea is a wasteful enterprise in and of itself. What if plastics could be recycled closer to home?

Plastic recyclingCredit: Al Jazeera

Engineers in Sydney have developed a device that might make that possible. Their “micro-recycling factory” uses heat and pressure to turn crushed plastic into unmolded resin. This can then be fed into 3-D printers as the raw material to create new objects. The method decentralizes the recycling process, turning unwanted plastic into a high-value product closer to where it’s needed. The technology isn’t commercially available yet, but shows promise as a way of transforming the global supply chain of recycled plastic into a local endeavor.

Learn more at Al Jazeera

The post Why Australia Is Lighting New Bush Fires appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Private Eye Attacks Hypocrisy of Non-Dom Tax Dodging Press Barons

Five years ago in 2015 the then leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, outraged the press barons in Fleet Street by suggesting the abolition of non-dom tax status for people actually living in the UK. This frightened them, as many of them, such as Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the I and Evening Standard, David and Frederick Barclay, the weirdo owners of the Torygraph, and Heil owner Viscount Rothermere, also avoid paying British tax through non-dom status. There was therefore a flurry of articles in their papers scorning Miliband’s suggestion and declaring that if it came in, it would bankrupt Britain by forcing all the millionaires in London and elsewhere to flee the country. And the papers certainly did not tell their readers that there was more than a bit of self-interest behind their attacks on Miliband.

Private Eye, which, according to editor Ian Hislop, skewers humbug, therefore published an article in their ‘In the Back’ section, ‘Street of Sham’ in the issue for 17th to 30th April 2015 attacking this fine display of gross hypocrisy. The piece ran

So consuming was the Tory press’s rage at Ed Milibands’s plan to make Russian oligarchs and gulf petro-billionaires in London liable for the same taxes as British citizens, its hacks forgot to declare their interest.

“London backlash over Ed’s non-dom attack,” boomed the front-page of the London Evening Standard, as if a mob had descended on Labour HQ to defend London’s much-loved oligarchs and hedge-fund managers. “Attacking non-doms could backfire on us,” continued an editorial inside. Sarah Sands, the Standard’s Uriah Heepish editor, did not risk her career by saying who the “us” included – namely her boss, Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian who last year dodged the Eye’s repeated questions over his own domicile.

Silence infected the Telegraph too, where not one of the reporters who warned that Labour’s “cataclysmic” decision would drive away “tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and business leaders” mentioned that their owners, the weirdo Barclay twins, reside in Monaco and the Channel Islands to avoid British tax.

Instead they quoted James Hender, head of private wealth at Saffery Champness accountants, who warned that the rich may leave. The Telegraph didn’t tell its readers that Hender boasts of his long experience ensuring that “the most tax efficient strategies are adopted for non-UK situs assets” for his non-dom clients.

It was the same at the Mail, which failed to declare that its owner, 4th Viscount Rothermere, is treated by the tax authorities as a non-dom. And at Sky, political editor Faisal Islam reported that “Baltic Exchange boss Jeremy Penn slams Labour non-dom plans” without declaring that his owner, Rupert Murdoch, does not pay UK tax and that Penn acts for super-rich shipping owners.

Jolyon Maugham QC, who has advised Labour and the Tories on tax reform, tells the Eye that any reader silly enough to believe the Tory press and tax avoidance industry should look at what they said in 2008, when Labour introduced the first levies on non-doms.

Back then the Mail then said the central London property market would crash as non-doms sold up and moved to Switzerland. In fact, between Labour introducing the levy and 2014, prime central London property prices rose 41 percent. At the end of 2014, Knightsbridge estate agent W.A. Ellis said 54 percent of sales were to overseas buyers.

The Mail was equally certain the City would suffer. On 8 February 2008 it cried that the levy “risks the City’s future”. The British Banking Association warned of “a devastating blow”. The Telegraph of 12 February 2008 said that “the country’s wealthiest individuals are being bombarded with leaflets and letters explaining how easy it would be to relocate to Switzerland, Monaco and a host of other countries”. Not to be outdone, Mike Warburton, senior tax partner at accountants Grant Thornton, said the levy was the “final straw”.

If a word of this had been true, there would be no non-doms left for Milband to tax. As it is, there are 115,000 because, as Maugham says, London remains a “very nice place to live, if you’re wealthy. And that won’t change.” Or as the Financial Times put it: “The many advantages of London as a financial centre do not dissolve simply because of a change in a hitherto generous tax treatment of resident non-domiciles.”

The pink ‘un has only recently realised the iniquity of the non-dom rule, with an editorial last month calling for its abolition. Editor Lionel Barber modestly claims some credit for Miliband’s stance. But as editor for almost a decade, why was he so late to the party? Surely not because, until 2013, FT owner Pearson was run by US-born Dame Marjorie Scardino, who would certainly have qualified for non-dom status and whose London flat, the Eye revealed, was owned via an offshore company?

The Daily Mail’s owner, Lord Rothermere, is a particularly flagrant tax dodger in this regarded. The current Rothermere inherited the status from his father, who really was not resident in the UK. He lived in Paris. But Rothermere junior appears very much to have made Britain his permanent or at least primary residence. He has a parking space in London, and the Eye reported a few years ago he was extensively renovating his stately home in the West Country.

The non-dom tax status, offshore banking and other ways used by the corporate and super rich to avoid tax are part of the reason for the increasing impoverishment of everyone else. They aren’t paying their fair share of the tax burden, but receiving massive tax handouts instead. Thus the NHS and other important services are deprived of money. The tax burden is then passed onto ordinary, working people. This reduction in taxes for the rich used to be justified under Thatcher with the argument that the money the rich saved would somehow trickle down to the rest of us. This hasn’t worked. It doesn’t encourage the rich to open any more businesses or employ more people. The money just sits in their accounts earning more interest.

It also doesn’t the rich closing businesses and laying people off either. This was shown a year or so ago in America, when one of the corporate recipients of the Republicans’ tax cuts closed a branch or a factory, laying hundreds of workers off.

And the purchase of London property by foreigners is also a further cause of poverty. Ordinary people in the Smoke can’t afford to buy homes as rich foreigners – not asylum seekers or migrants – push property prices up far out of their reach. Some of these homes are simply left empty as an investment in what is known as ‘land banking’. This has a knock-on effect for the rest of the UK. Here in Bristol property prices have also risen to extremely highly levels through Londoners forced out of the capital relocating to the city. And in turn, some Bristolians are looking for cheaper homes elsewhere in places like Wales.

London still is a ‘very nice place to live, if you’re wealthy’, but the tax cuts which make Britain so comfortable for the global rich are causing poverty, misery and homelessness for everyone else.

And this is applauded and cheered by hypocritical press magnates and editors.

The Authorities’ Failure to Prosecute Men Accused of Threats to Devon Charity

This is very disturbing, and suggests that some extremely dangerous, violent crims have friends in high places. On Tuesday Mike put up a piece about the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service to take to court the alleged perpetrators of a series of attacks and threats against a Devon charity, Humanity UK, or Humanity Torbay. Elaine Waugh, one of the charity’s trustees, had talked about the threats the men had made against her and her charity as well as series of attacks against its offices and her car. The men had threatened in May last year to break the arms of the charity’s trustees and throw acid in their faces. The case has only just come to crown court, but despite the men pleading guilty, the CPS has decided not to prosecute. The case would be too costly.

Waugh also told how the charity’s offices had been broken into, and destroyed with bleach. She said that the police weren’t interested in it when they came. The cops were there for about 25 minutes and then left after giving her a crime number. After that she heard nothing. But they did take a list of the charity’s donors, who were members of the Labour Party. In July last year there was also an attack on her house in which the family car was firebombed. The police told her it was an anti-Semitic attack. She doubts this as her husband and two children are Jews, but she is herself Roman Catholic. She therefore feels it was political. She also said that she has been informed that there are 465 other charities suffering similar attacks.

She said too that the charity had also lost its chief source of funding after a she made and posted a video on YouTube criticising the Conservative government. This was seen over six million times during the election campaign.

She believed that her alleged harassers had a ‘hate’ page on Facebook, but complained of the company’s double standards. Although the harassers got away with their comments, she found that her charity’s page was taken down if they said anything to upset the right.

Mike also says in his piece that it costs about £1,400 a month to run, and provides services for the poor and homeless. He provides a link so that readers may donate to it if they choose.

Court case over acid attack threat to charity trustees is cancelled – because the CPS says it’s too costly

This is very disturbing, as it suggests that someone in power is actively protecting these men, if they are guilty of these crimes. I remember the scandal back in the 1980s when it was revealed that a number of policemen were members of the League of St. George. I believe this outfit was founded during the Second World War as an SS auxiliary regiment for English Fascists. It also reminds of the ‘social cleansing’ carried out by South American Fascists in the 1990s. Inspired by the ethnic cleansing by the Serbs and the other belligerents during the war in the former Yugoslavia, these thugs attacked and killed the poorest in their societies. There was a chilling video on the news of a group of them burning a homeless man to death. In Jamaica in the 1970s there was also an alliance between corrupt politicians and the Yardie gangs. The politicos would hire them to threaten and kill their opponents. And the ultimate end of such relationships is the violence and lawlessness of Weimar Germany, when the Nazis and other extremist groups ran amok beating and  killing their left-wing and democratic enemies.

This raises a terrible question: does the authorities refusal to prosecute this case mean we can expect similar right-wing lawless protected and encouraged by senior politicos and members of the judiciary in Boris’ post-Brexit Britain?

More on Tory Plan to Run Down and Privatise the Beeb for Murdoch

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/01/2020 - 6:06am in

Okay, there have been a number of pieces written recently about the Tories’ plan to run down the Beeb in preparation for its eventual privatisation, while at the same time turning it into their propaganda mouthpiece. But Zelo Street today has put up an excellent piece adding a few more details.

The Sage of Crewe begins with the quote from Robert Peston, ITV’s political editor, that Boris and his wretched pet Machiavelli, Dominic Cummings, want to have significant influence over the choice of the next Director-General of the Beeb following the departure of Lord Tony Hall.  Cummings and co are looking for someone sympathetic to their plans for the Corporation.

The piece then quotes the Guardian, which explains that Cummings’ think tank, the New Frontiers Foundation in 2004 called for the end of the Beeb in its present form, and suggested that right-wing activists should try to undermine it by painting the Beeb as the ‘mortal enemy’ of the Tories. The Foundation instead called for the establishment of an equivalent to Fox News to get round the state broadcaster’s impartiality rules. The Groan also reveals that Johnson saw Murdoch for a social meeting the day he announced the date of the election. Murdoch has been the only newspaper magnate Bojob has seen in the first three months of his tenure of No. 10.

Zelo Street also quotes Byline Media, which noted that the first newspaper the Beeb told about its decision to cancel Victoria Derbyshire’s show was the Times. Which is, of course, owned by Rupe. Byline Media also reported how Murdoch has been trying to destroy the Beeb for 40 years, and was three times able to delay Panorama’s investigation into the News of the World’s ‘fake shake’, Mahmood Mazher.

The Street concludes

‘Now that same Murdoch empire has an in with the Government, whose chief advisor is more than sympathetic to the idea of taking the axe to the BBC – just as Murdoch wants.

And the Beeb finds itself in this parlous position just as its trust ratings have fallen – especially among those on the left who would in the past have rushed to its defence.

Who will now come to rescue the Corporation? Don’t all shout at once.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/01/bbc-now-at-mercy-of-tories.html

This confirms what was suspected since Boris took power and announced that he was considering decriminalisation nonpayment of the license fee. The Murdoch press has been consistently attacking the Corporation, as Byline Media says, for the past 40 years. Murdoch even ranted about it when he spoke at a television festival a few years ago.

Johnson’s support for Murdoch should worry everyone concerned with quality broadcasting, and that includes Tories as well as left-wingers. About 20 or see years ago Private Eye reported that an American Conservative organisation had awarded Rupe the ‘Silver Sewer’ Award for his role in coarsening and degrading American culture. His US network, which I think he’s now sold, Fox News, was so biased that it rightly earned its nickname ‘Faux News’. It’s a cesspool of fake news and right-wing propaganda. So much so that a media monitoring organisation found that you were going to be less well informed about the world after watching it than if you did. Americans have frequently been criticised for not knowing much about the rest of the world. Fox News is one of the factors keeping them ignorant, including about the state of their own country.

And while Murdoch supports Tory policies, his personal interests aren’t identical with theirs. When Murdoch was negotiating to buy the Times back in the ’70s, many Tories opposed him because of his treatment of Profumo. The former Tory minister, who had been forced out because of the scandal over his affair with Christine Keeler, had been rehabilitated after many years in the wilderness. He’d been working with a homelessness charity in the East End, and was ready to make a comeback. But Murdoch made that impossible when one of his papers raked over the Profumo scandal once more, in order to sell a few more copies.

Giving more of the news media to Murdoch also means that he can and will suppress the opinions of government ministers on vital topics when this also suits him. Way back in the 1990s Chris Patten, the former last British governor of Hong Kong, wrote a book about his career. Murdoch at the time was negotiating with the Chinese government, about whom Patten made some strong observations. The book was therefore rejected by its prospective publisher, which was one of Murdoch’s companies. It was picked up by another publisher, but the threat to democracy remains. Murdoch is not afraid to suppress the views of senior government ministers, and while they may find other media outlets, allowing Murdoch even more of grip on our media also endangers this.

And he’s also not afraid to dump the Tory party in its entirety when it suits him. John Major belatedly realised that Rupe had become too powerful and was too mercenary back in the last days of his government. Frustrated that the Tories weren’t giving him enough of what he wanted, he turned instead to Blair and the Labour party. Apparently Major railed at this betrayal during a cabinet meeting, and said that they should find ways to cut Murdoch’s empire down to size. But by that time it was far too late.

Murdoch is an active threat to the NHS and the welfare state, which he also despises and wishes destroyed. But his growing domination of British media and wish to destroy the Beeb for his own network make him an active threat to democracy and free speech in the UK. He exerted a powerful influence over Blair when New Labour was in power. Former cabinet ministers have said that he was always an invisible presence at cabinet meetings, as Blair worried about how policies would go down with him.

The Beeb should remain a publicly owned network. But their flagrant bias towards the Tories and bitter vilification of Labour now makes it difficult for anyone on the left to support them.




Cartoon: Last Orgy of the Bullingdon Club

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/01/2020 - 8:59pm in

This is another one of my cartoons, roughly inspired by movie posters. In this case, it’s the 70’s exploitation flick, The Gestapo’s Last Orgy. But don’t worry, nothing in this cartoon is X-rated. At least, I hope! The Bullingdon is the elite Oxford drinking club to which Boris and David Cameron belonged. A right bunch of overprivileged hooligans, they got their kicks from paying the owners of restaurants so they could smash them up. To get in you had to burn a £20 – or was it £50? note in front of a homeless person. Yep, they were that foul and cruel. One of them was running the country, and the other still is, all claiming to be ‘One Nation Tories’ determined to raise people out of poverty. It’s a sick joke.

The cartoon shows Dave and Boris lying on their stomachs. The figure behind Cameron is supposed to be Nigel Farage, based on a mock photo of the Fuhrage wearing drag in Private Eye. Jennifer Acuri, BoJo’s former squeeze and recipient of British government largesse, is behind Boris. And looking shocked behind them is Maggie Thatcher. Down at the left-hand corner is Tweezer wailing, while on the right there is, naturally, a pig following the allegations of what Cameron did while a student. I hope this all tickles your funny bone and helps alleviate some of the horror of living in their Britain.

‘I’: People Want Rough-Sleeping Law Scrapped

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/01/2020 - 2:39am in

Here’s a piece of optimistic news from today’s I. Apparently the majority of people in this great nation want the laws against rough-sleeping repealed. The paper’s brief report on page 2 runs

More than half of people think that the Government should prioritise scrapping a law that makes rough sleeping illegal, according to a survey by a homelessness charity. Crisis has described the Vagrancy Act, which also makes begging illegal in England and Wales, as an ‘antiquated law’. 

The Vagrancy Act dates, if I remember correctly, from the 16th century when a massive economic downturn threw a large section of the population out of work. This was when European society was emerging from feudalism into the modern capitalist consumer economy. Capitalism suffers from periodic crises and recessions, though this was not known to the Elizabethans, who therefore struggled to find a solution. They attempted to tackle it by setting up the first workhouses and passing laws against vagrancy, which were intended to stop beggars from becoming a burden on what support there was from the parish vestry. Since the Tories introduced austerity, local authorities have also introduced their modern versions of the Vagrancy Act against rough sleeping and begging in certain areas, like town centres. This is intended to hide the ugly reality of Tory welfare cuts and neoliberal economic policy from the public, who might be distressed by the sight.

It’s great that people want these antiquated laws scrapped, but that’s not enough to tackle homelessness. The root cause – forty years of Thatcherite economics – needs to be tackled, as well as a solid commitment to building more genuinely affordable housing.

And I don’t see either of that happening under Boris’ government, no matter what charities and a majority of the public say.

Outrage as Iain Duncan Smith Given Knighthood

This is a really sick joke, and shows the absolute contempt the Tories have for the poor, the unemployed and the disabled. Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of the Tories welfare reforms, has been given a knighthood in the New Year’s honours. Smith is the pompous nonentity who was briefly the leader of the Tory party at the beginning of this century before David Cameron took over. It was a period of failure, in which the party utterly failed to challenge Blair’s Labour Party. He was, however, a close ally of his successor, and has also served Boris. He tried to stand up for Johnson when our farcical Prime Minister was denied the lectern in Luxembourg, claiming that the Luxembourgers should be grateful to us because we’d liberated them during the War. But we hadn’t. The Americans had. And under Tweezer he’d also peddled the line that there would be no legal divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

But what Smith is most notorious for is mass murder. As head of the Department of Work and Pensions, he was responsible for the welfare reforms, including the Work Capability Assessments and the system of benefit sanctions, that have seen hundreds of thousands denied the welfare payments they need and deserve. He is also responsible for Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments. UC is supposed to combine all the welfare payment into a single system. It has proven catastrophically flawed, with people waiting weeks or months for their payments, which have been significantly lower than the previous system. Mike in his article about it quotes statistics that some of those on UC are £1,000 a year worse off. But this jumped-up, odious little man boasted that Universal Credit would be as significant in lifting people out of poverty as the ending of slavery in the British Empire in 1837.

The result of IDS’ reforms is that at least 130,000 people have died. The true figures may well be higher, as the DWP has been extremely reluctant to release the true figures, as Mike and other disability campaigners have found. His attempts to get the Department to release them under the Freedom of Information Act were refused, then stonewalled. Finally Smith’s Department released some figures, but interpreted his requested so that they weren’t quite the figures Mike had requested.

As well as the financial hardship there is the feelings of despair and humiliation that his reforms have also inflicted on the poor. Doctors and mental health professionals have reported a rise in depression and suicide. The Tories, naturally, have repeatedly denied that their policies have any connection to people taking their own lives, even when the person left a note explicitly stating that this was why they were.

Some sense of the despair IDS’ wretched reforms has produced in young people is given by the quotes from them in Emma Bond and Simon Hallworth’s chapter, ‘The Degradation and Humiliation of Young People’ in Vickie Cooper’s and David Whyte’s The Violence of Austerity. ‘Julie’ said

The way that it feels walking into the JobCentre is that you are there to do what you are told to do and that’s it and then you leave. They are not there to actually help you it is just like, you have to do this and if you don’t do this or you won’t get no money. (p. 79).

And ‘Bridget’ described how she felt so low at one point she contemplated suicide.

I am ashamed to admit it but I did feel suicidal at one point. I felt so down after I was made redundant that I felt that there was no point. I had worked really hard at school and I got good grades but for what? I was happy when I got my job, it wasn’t that well paid but it had prospects and a career path – or so the recruitment agency told me – I had my flat and that and I thought I was OK. But when it [the redundancy] happened I felt like I had been hit by a brick wall. I got really down especially when I went to the JobCentre and they would not help me. I felt so depressed. I could not afford my rent. I lost my flat and the few things I had saved up for. I did not know where to turn. I took drugs for the first time in my life – I felt so wretched. I wanted to die. I was too ashamed to tell my parents that I had lost my job. (p. 80).

But IDS, as Zelo Street reminds us, is the man who laughed at a woman talking about her poverty in parliament. He’s also blubbed on television, describing how he met a young woman, who didn’t believe she’d ever have a job. ‘She could have been my daughter!’ he wailed. But this is just crocodile tears. He, like the rest of the Tory party, have no love whatsoever for their victims as the guffaws with Dodgy Dave Cameron in Parliament showed.

Mike in his piece about the wretched man’s ennoblement has put up a large number of Tweets by ordinary people expressing their outrage. One woman, Samanthab, states how rotten the honours system is when it rewards not just IDS, but other creeps and lowlifes, like the sex abusers Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris.

The outrage is so great that one NHS psychiatrist, Dr Mona Kamal Ahmad, has launched an online petition at Change.Org calling for the scumbag’s knighthood to be withdrawn. She describes him as responsible for some of the cruellest welfare reforms this country has ever seen and notes that Britain is the first country the United Nations has investigated for human rights abuses against the disabled. She states clearly that the suffering and impoverishment in Britain today is a direct result of Smith’s welfare reforms.

30,000 people, including myself, have already signed it. If you want to too, go to Mike’s article at: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/12/28/will-you-sign-nhs-doctors-petition-to-stop-iain-duncan-smith-receiving-knighthood/ and follow the links.

See also: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/12/27/chorus-of-derision-greets-announcement-that-iain-duncan-smith-is-to-be-knighted/


As Corbyn Helps Out with the Homeless, Johnson Jets Off to Mustique

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/12/2019 - 9:18pm in

Here’s a story that acutely shows the difference between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson: how they spend their Christmas hols. Zelo Street reported just before Christmas that the Scum was maligning Corbyn for disrespecting Her Maj. They found out that he wouldn’t be watching the Queen’s Speech on TV, and so threw themselves into another bout of righteous anger. However, the stats apparently show that Corbyn wouldn’t be alone. Something like ninety per cent of Brits don’t watch the Queen’s Speech either. Which means that if the Scum really represents 21st century Britain, 90 per cent of its staff are going to either. So it’s a case of more Tory press hypocrisy.

But Corbyn had good reason not to watch the Queen’s Speech. He does something rather more worthwhile on Christmas Day. He helps out at his local homeless shelter, something he’s done for years. He was also giving presents to underprivileged children.

But what of Johnson? To what worthy cause does this statesman of Churchillian stature – or so he sees himself – devote himself at  the festive season?

The question’s a joke. He doesn’t.

Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds, are preparing to jet off to Mustique to see in the New Year. That’s a private island in the Caribbean, home to the extremely rich. Johnson and partner will be staying with the von Bismarck’s, the descendants of 19th century German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. Jagger has property there, and the island was the holiday destination of such royals as Princess Margaret and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.

Zelo Street quoted a number of Tweets from people, who really weren’t impressed with Johnson, and compared him very unfavourably with Jezza. They included

“Jeremy Corbyn spent Christmas helping the homeless and giving presents to children. Boris Johnson is flying off to the luxury Caribbean island of Mustique at the hospitality of the Von Bismarck family. Boris is working every day, you see, very hard to get Brexit done … Nothing says ‘man of the people’ quite like Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds’ £20,000-a-week Caribbean holiday villa … Nothing sticks it to those ‘elites’ like holidaying on a private Caribbean  island after putting a couple of cronies in the House of Lords”.

And the article concluded

‘You voted Bozo to “Get it done”? It was you getting done. And now you all know it.’

Absolutely. Tory scaremongering and hypocrisy stopped people voting for a man, who would have worked tirelessly and genuinely improve the lives of ordinary people. And instead they elected an incompetent, narcissistic hedonist with a hatred of the poor, the disabled, gays and ethnic minorities.

But somehow Johnson is a ‘man of the people’. Which tells you all you need to know about how the Scum and Tory press see us.

This Christmas, Over Half a Million Americans Will Struggle with Homelessness

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/12/2019 - 6:42am in

While millions of Americans celebrate Christmas this year with loved ones, carving turkey and sharing gifts, others are not so fortunate. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, over half a million of us will spend Christmas on the streets. The government agency estimates that on any given day, around 553,000 Americans are homeless. A third of those are families with young children. African Americans and those with disabilities are particularly likely to become homeless. 

Yet these distressing numbers are sure to be underestimates of the true problem as they do not include the many more sleeping in vehicles or other makeshift accommodation, sofa surfing or relying on friends. Around 1.5 million people sleep at a shelter annually, according to figures from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Furthermore, the 500,000 number itself is likely an underestimate. A 2017 experiment done by The Guardian, where it placed actors posing as homeless people on the streets, found that authorities missed around one in three of them. And they were wishing to be seen, not individuals keen to go undetected.

Tens of millions of Americans are barely managing to stave off the same fate. Almost half of America is broke, and 58 percent of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, with savings of less than $1,000. 37 million Americans go to bed hungry and around 130 million admit an inability to pay for basic needs like food, housing or healthcare. After a decade of decline, the homeless population is again creeping up.

The Trump administration is believed to be readying a “get tough” approach to the problem. Singling out California, earlier this year, Trump claimed that its cities were “going to hell” thanks to illegal encampments that increase environmental pollution. The number of unsheltered homeless people in Los Angeles Country alone increased by over 10 percent this year, to 44,214.

Yet the United Nations has decried the already inhumane treatment of homeless Americans, claiming that the state “effectively criminalizes” them “for the situation in which they find themselves.” In many cities, activities like sleeping rough, panhandling or public urination (in locations with zero pubic bathrooms) have been turned into arrestable offenses, ensuring a carceral “solution” to the problem. Homeless people can be given tickets for infractions as innocuous as loitering, leading to warrants and unpayable fines, trapping them in a cycle of criminality which they cannot escape as their record prohibits them from subsequent employment and access to most housing. Thus, the UN report concludes that it is “effectively a system for keeping the poor in poverty while generating revenue” for the state to employ more police to speed the system up.

racial-inequlity-homeless infrograph

Despite being a very visible representation of the economic and social dislocation in society, there currently appears to be little political appetite in Washington to solve the problem. The government estimates ending homelessness would cost around $20 billion– less than Americans spend on Christmas decorations alone. Yet there may be an even easier and cheaper way to fix the problem. Amnesty International reported that there are five times as many vacant properties in the U.S. as there are homeless people. Legislation enacted to make use of those as emergency accommodation could be enacted.

If Democrats manage to unseat Trump in 2020 there is hope that this could be the last year of mass homelessness at Christmas. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, has made housing for all a key pillar of his campaign message. “In the richest country in the history of the world, every American must have a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable home as a fundamental right” his website declares, pledging to end homelessness, fight gentrification and protect tenants’ rights. Sanders also promises to invest $2.5 trillion into building nearly 10 million “permanently affordable housing units.” Other major candidates, like former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, have discussed measures to address the epidemic, but nothing as substantial as Sanders’. On the other hand, as Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg conducted a relentless campaign against homeless people under his jurisdiction.

Media often treat the problem of homelessness not as a condemnation of the callous disregard for human life of modern society, but as merely a natural function of the market. For example, in one supposedly heartwarming story about a good samaritan helping the homeless during the Chicago polar vortex last winter, CBS News casually noted that 22 homeless people had already died of exposure during the cold weather.

Society does its best to hide or normalize homelessness. Or, worse still, blame them for their own predicament. But, like slavery and apartheid, it is not natural and is a consequence of a man-made system that can be changed. Americans in 2020 will have an opportunity to decide what solution they wish to see enacted. For now, though, it won’t be a very merry Christmas for those at the bottom of the economic scale.

Feature photo | Wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, Nathanael Baisley, 38, sits in a bus in Los Angeles en route to Santa Monica Beach, where he spends the night, Oct. 28, 2017. Baisley said he has been homeless on and off for three years. Jae C. Hong | AP

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress Staff Writer as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

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