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Dealing with the benefits jungle

by ceebs Sat Feb 5th, 2011 at 10:19:42 PM EST

Having seen Helens description of the impending visit to the local office,  I decided to throw up something that has been kicking around for the last few days, half completed,  showing the mind numbing problems of dealing with the UK social security system. This is my last couple of weeks  of paperwork and phone calls.

So you have broken glasses, Normally not a disaster, but frequently a major expense.  But how does that go when you're in receipt of benefits?

Read more... (20 comments, 1616 words in story)


by ceebs Sun Nov 14th, 2010 at 08:45:02 AM EST

Today this has been posted on Twitter. (order reversed  to make readable)

Gaijin San (Gaijinsan21) on Twitter

clears throat steps up on to soapbox

A lot of what is going on this week, Aung San Suu Kyi, #twitterjoketrial, @baskers, all comes down to one thing. Freedom of speech.

Now we have members of the London Assembly saying they will suspend the right to protest because they can't afford to police it.

So I just wanted to say this. My name is David Wales. That doesn't mean a thing to any one of you.

My name is Gaijin-san. I have a right to freedom of speech. It is not a gift you may revoke if you find it inconvenient or costly.

It is my right and it is guaranteed to me by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It therefore supersedes your authority.

I will not use disclaimers. Article 10 does not require that I use disclaimers.

I will not tell you when I am making a joke. Article 10 does not require that I tell you when I am making a joke.

I will not moderate my language. FUCK THAT SHIT. Article 10 does not require that I moderate my language.

I will not be intimidated out of my rights by poor application of the law. Article 10 protects me from poor application of the law.

I will not allow you to propagate bullshit about terrorism to keep me scared. I will use my Article 10 rights to inform myself and others.

Freedom of expression is my right, guaranteed to me by Article 10. If you want it you can take it from my cold dead hands.

But if you try, remember #IAmSpartacus. Because my name is Legion, and I am many.

Read more... (18 comments, 361 words in story)

A time to point fingers and name names

by ceebs Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 07:56:47 AM EST

And so the Coalitions Comprehensive Spending Revue has arrived, with all the subtlety of a Viking longboat, burning and looting the social provision in the UK. The greedy and stupid have been put in charge and the lacklustre and ineffectual are providing cover. Johann Hari in his article today has hit the nail right on the head.

Johann Hari

Margaret Thatcher is lying sick in a private hospital bed in Belgravia - but her political children have just pushed her agenda further and harder and deeper than she ever dreamed of. When was the last time Britain's public spending was slashed by more than 20 percent? Not in my mother's lifetime. Not even in my grandmother's lifetime. No: it was in 1918, when a Conservative-Liberal coalition said the best response to a global economic crisis was to rapidly pay off this country's debts. The result? Unemployment soared from 6 percent to 19 percent, and the country's economy collapsed so severely that they lost all ability to pay their bills and the debt actually rose from 114 percent to 180 percent. "History doesn't repeat itself," Mark Twain said, "but it does rhyme."

George Osborne has just gambled your future on an extreme economic theory that has failed whenever and wherever it has been tried.

The cuts are a shopping list of the morally indefensible and stupid of which the worst is possibly the decision to time limit payments to those suffering from illness. Friends who are suffering from depression have been driven into panic, they knew it was going to be bad, but are now seeing that it appears that they are being blamed for the financial problems of the country. The Comprehensive Spending Review also announced that residents in care homes will no longer be eligible for the High Rate Mobility component of Disability Living Allowance meaning the most disabled people face a far bleaker future and significant loss of independance. Gideon should be whipped through the centre of every town for the unnecessary suffering he's caused to some of the most damaged and desperate members of our society.

Read more... (57 comments, 898 words in story)

How does this effect Voting?

by ceebs Mon Sep 27th, 2010 at 07:44:45 PM EST

Over the last few years  we saw a huge increase in the prescribing of Antidepressants. The theory is that the downturn has caused a large increase in those effected by depression, and then  a shortage of trained people capable of giving talking based therapies, so GP's chose serotonin inhibitor based antidepressants as an alternative.

Antidepressant use soars as the recession bites | Society | The Observer

Fears the recession is affecting the mental health of the nation appear to be borne out by new figures that show prescriptions of antidepressants are soaring.

Last year in England there were 2.1m more prescriptions of antidepressants than in 2007, leading to concerns that doctors are increasingly supplying the drugs as a "quick fix" without attempting to address the underlying cause of the problems. In total, 36m prescriptions were given out, an increase of 24% over the past five years.

Read more... (4 comments, 379 words in story)

How do you spell Whitewash?

by ceebs Tue Jul 20th, 2010 at 08:38:47 AM EST

Call for judge investigating torture claims to resign - Home News, UK - The Independent

The former judge heading the inquiry into Britain's complicity in torture faces calls for his resignation.

In a letter copied to the Prime Minister, Reprieve has requested that Sir Peter Gibson step aside as his impartiality is fatally compromised.

We have had various comments on here, mainly from Helen displaying a degree of justifiable cynicism about the  current inquiry. Now according to the Independent we have reports of Reprieve the charity dealing with US prisoners has written a letter to The Judge involved and Cameron, Clegg, and Hague requesting that he steps down

Read more... (8 comments, 704 words in story)

Another way of being watched

by ceebs Mon Jul 5th, 2010 at 08:00:26 AM EST

'Big brother' traffic cameras must be regulated, orders home secretary | UK news | The Guardian

The home secretary, Theresa May, has ordered that a national police camera network that logs more than 10m movements of motorists every day be placed under statutory regulation.

Her decision means that a "Big Brother" police database that currently holds a mammoth 7.6bn records of the movement of motorists using more than 4,000 cameras across the country will have to be operated with proper accountability and safeguards.

Each entry on the database includes the numberplate, location, date, time and a photograph of the front of the car, which may include images of the driver and any passengers. These details are routinely held for two years.

So let me get this straight, The good old British police have been recording the movement of citizens for the past several years, then combining it on a large database, without ant legal authority.

Read more... (23 comments, 269 words in story)

The cost of Austerity

by ceebs Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 09:53:29 PM EST

The first detail of the up and coming austerity plans of the Tory government was released in the recent budget, Later this week further details on the attack on benefit claimants will be released by the Department of Work and pensions. The detail that immediately caught my eye in the initial announcement was the cuts to Housing benefit

BBC News - Budget: Housing benefit to be capped

Housing benefit payments are to be limited to £280 a week for a flat and £400 a week for a house.

The chancellor said the new caps were needed because the cost of the payments had risen 50% to £21bn in 10 years.

He said some families were receiving £104,000 a year in housing benefit and that certain awards would be reduced.

Other reforms planned included re-setting and restricting local housing allowances and re-adjusting support for mortgage interest payments.

So what are the implications of this? Well the governments claim is that this will cut the Housing benefit bill by £1.8 billion out of £21 billion an 8.6% cut into the money going to pay rent to those most in need.

Read more... (38 comments, 1211 words in story)

Too many people?

by ceebs Wed Jun 9th, 2010 at 06:05:59 AM EST

A Sustainability think tank has put out a report on  population growth

Think tank urges debate on rising population - Yahoo! News UK

Britain's rising population poses a long-term threat to living standards and politicians need to begin examining how the country will cope, according to a report by think tank Forum for the Future. Skip related content

The report said the population had grown faster this decade than at any time since the 1960s as a result of increases in immigration, higher birth rates and increased life expectancy.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) projects the country's population, currently at 61 million, will increase by 10 million by 2033, the fastest rate of increase since a post-war boom more than 50 years ago.

"Population as a discussion topic is off-limits for most UK politicians," said the report, titled "Growing pains: population and sustainability in the UK."

"Debate about how to manage any growth in the UK population is worryingly absent. Sex is used to promote consumption, selling everything from motorcars to magazines, but there is no 'health warning' about the possible consequences to the individuals involved or the planet of irresponsible procreation."

Read more... (6 comments, 308 words in story)

UK Election the Endgame Part 2

by ceebs Wed May 12th, 2010 at 03:24:53 PM EST

As requested here

Comments >> (4 comments)

The Blood starts to flow

by ceebs Sat May 8th, 2010 at 11:07:58 AM EST

John Mann - John Mann Calls on Brown to Step Down

Bassetlaw MP, John Mann is arguing that Labour will only have any influence in the outcome of the current negotiations if Gordon Brown agrees to step down as Leader of the Labour Party.
Mann said "On the doorstep, throughout the election campaign I found that there was a lot of support for Labour's approach on the economy, health and education, but there was little support for Gordon Brown to be Prime Minister.
Literally, thousands of voters told me that they were happy to vote for me, but it was not a vote for Gordon Brown.  Many others stated that they would have voted for me if Gordon Brown was not the Prime Minister and Labour Leader.
Gordon Brown has had a good run and whilst he was an excellent Chancellor he has been seen as a poor Prime Minister who is out of touch and aloof.  Labour lost votes because of this.

Comments >> (80 comments)

Blood, Fur, and Intimidation

by ceebs Tue May 4th, 2010 at 10:29:39 PM EST

In A few days, If we have A Conservative victory at the  general election we will be faced by a clamour of the bloodthirsty, wishing to return to hunting and thinking that in David Cameron they have a man to allow them their fun. The Tabloids and Broadsheets of the Right have been crowing that this will be one of the first moves of the new government.  And Dave is a Hunting shooting and Fishing type.
David Cameron makes passionate defence of fox hunting | Mail Online

David Cameron voiced his support for a repeal of the hunting ban yesterday, describing himself as a ' country boy' who grew up fishing and shooting rabbits.

The Conservative leader confirmed he would order a free vote on decriminalising hunting with dogs if his party wins the election, defending it as a means of controlling the fox population.

Although hunting with dogs has been illegal since February 2005, the ban has been widely criticised as ineffective and has led to only a handful of successful prosecutions.

Mr Cameron admitted some Tory MPs support Labour's ban but went further than he has before in voicing his support for reversing it.

Read more... (12 comments, 1144 words in story)

What do you see as your Moral Blindspot

by ceebs Tue May 4th, 2010 at 09:33:10 AM EST

Go read this article

Julian Baggini: Out of sight, out of mind - Commentators, Opinion - The Independent

Saturday was International Labour Day, though you'd hardly know it. For all but some trade unions and fringe socialist groups, it's just the dimly remembered rationale for the early May Bank Holiday.

Few even know that 1 May 1886 was the date declared by the American Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions for the start of the eight-hour working day. It took violently resisted strikes and years of campaigning to achieve their goal, the fruits of which we now take for granted.

The struggles of the early labour movement feel very remote today. The same goes for other great social movements of the not-so-distant past: slavery was only finally abolished in Britain in 1833; women only received the same voting rights as men in Britain in 1928; and racism only started to become widely unacceptable in Britain in the late Sixties.

Today, no issue has a comparable moral urgency for so many. But we should not assume that all the great battles have been won, and that all we have left to do is dot the ethical I's and cross the moral T's.

Read more... (63 comments, 217 words in story)

UK election thread 4

by ceebs Wed Apr 28th, 2010 at 05:58:35 PM EST

With parties seemingly desperate not to win, We carry on as requested

Comments >> (154 comments)

Prepare the Economic roller-coaster again

by ceebs Fri Apr 16th, 2010 at 08:30:33 AM EST

Foreclosures Surge To Highest Level Ever In March, As Banks Finally Quit Pretending

7 million households are behind on their mortgages. Now that the worst of the financial crisis appears to be over, banks are finally stepping up the foreclosure process again.

IRVINE, Calif. - April 15, 2010 -- RealtyTrac® (realtytrac.com), the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its U.S. Foreclosure Market ReportTM for Q1 2010, which shows that foreclosure filings -- default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- were reported on 932,234 properties in the first quarter, a 7 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 16 percent increase from the first quarter of 2009. One in every 138 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the quarter.

Read more... (8 comments, 263 words in story)

A mere seven seconds

by ceebs Thu Apr 1st, 2010 at 09:47:25 AM EST

It comes as no surprise that after a four day trial Sergeant Delroy Smellie has been found not guilty of assault during the G20 protests.  Sergeant Smellie was the officer of whom Film was shown  backhanding a woman protestor then hitting her around the legs with an extendible baton

Read more... (15 comments, 275 words in story)


by ceebs Thu Mar 11th, 2010 at 09:14:43 AM EST

Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5

Women of all races bring home less income and own fewer assets, on average, than men of the same race, but for single black women the disparities are so overwhelmingly great that even in their prime working years their median wealth amounts to only $5.

In a groundbreaking report released Monday by a leading economic research group, social scientists turned a spotlight on the grave financial challenges facing an often overlooked group of women, many of whom could not take an unpaid sick day or repair a major appliance without going into debt.

"It's rather shocking," said Meizhu Lui, director of the Closing the Gap Initiative based in Oakland, Calif., who contributed to the report "Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth and America's Future."

Among the most startling revelations in the wealth data is that while single white women in the prime of their working years (ages 36 to 49) have a median wealth of $42,600 (still only 61 percent of their single white male counterparts), the median wealth for single black women is only $5.

"Even for those of us who have been looking at the wealth gap for a while, we were shocked and amazed at how little women of color have," Ms. Lui said.

Some days you see a story that you think you'll throw into the salon, then by the time you get there your outrage sends it to be a diary. this is one of those times.

How can anyone even begin to think this is even remotely acceptable?

Comments >> (31 comments)

Vaccination Finding of Fact

by ceebs Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 10:22:48 AM EST

Doctor At Centre Of MMR Controversy 'Failed In His Duties', GMC Rules | UK News | Sky News

Dr Andrew Wakefield went against the interests of children in his care, the GMC's Fitness to Practice panel found.

He also acted dishonestly and was misleading and irresponsible in the way he described research later published in The Lancet medical journal, the panel of experts ruled at a hearing in London.

The doctor has argued that he had been acting in the children's best interests.

His research on 12 children with bowel disorders and autism was published in The Lancet in 1998.

Although it didn't make a proven link with the MMR vaccine, Dr Wakefield subsequently warned parents to have single jabs against measles, mumps and rubella. The claim has been widely discredited.

Dr Wakefield did not attend the hearing today, which has sat for 148 days over a two-and-a-half-year period.

Parents who believe their children were damaged by the MMR jab heckled the GMC panel as its members delivered their findings.

Tomorrows newspapers will be interesting, for example how the Papers who have whipped up a frenzy about the supposed link between the MMR vaccine and Autism report this.

Comments >> (13 comments)

Labours terrorist campaign

by ceebs Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 11:07:54 AM EST

After the several arrests for photographing public buildings that have taken place under section 44 of the UK's terrorism act, what does Labour do as part of its campaign?

Change We See - The Labour Party

Since 1997, we've changed this country - rebuilding the lives of children, older people and families. Make no mistake this could not have happened without supporters like you.

Now we face an opposition who wants to deny our successes and cut the public services we rescued. We must stand together and show how proud we are of these historic achievements.

That's right appeal for people to send in before and after photos of public buildings to show how things have improved under Labour.

I think my Irony meter has exploded.

Comments >> (10 comments)

Take no notice of the man behind the curtain

by ceebs Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 01:49:21 PM EST

This week we get Alan Johnson, the latest in a long emergence of the hang 'em and flog 'em gene in the Labour party (I think they've been infected by close association with Chief constables) announcing an increase in the terror level. Now this isn't that unusual, but this one came with the announcement that there was

BBC - UK terrorist threat level raised to 'severe'

no intelligence to suggest a terrorist attack was imminent.

So if theres no evidence that there is any liklyhood that things are worse, then what did the home secretary wish to use precious minutes to divert attention from on the TV news?

Read more... (26 comments, 809 words in story)

LQD: Blair Iraq Enquiry Lottery

by ceebs Tue Jan 5th, 2010 at 10:11:52 AM EST

Iraq Inquiry Blog - Iraq Inquiry: Blair evidence ticket draw

News just in: the Inquiry team has revealed details of the lottery (to be fair they use the somewhat drier term ballot) for armed forces relatives and members of the public to apply to attend Tony Blair's evidence session.

We're still not being told exactly when that will be, but there is now an official two-week window starting from 25 January so that successful applicants can begin to make travel plans. We're also told his session will last for one full day of two three-hour sessions. Tickets will be issued for people to attend either the morning or the afternoon hearing in order to get as many of them in at some point as possible.

Iraq Inquiry Blog - Iraq Inquiry: Blair evidence ticket draw

PS I'm not sure what notice if any the Inquiry is likely to take of it but this website's rather interesting, soliciting `tough' questions that Blair can be asked on the day.

Comments >> (1 comment)
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