Archives For protest

1) ‘Humiliation’ greets new Work Capability Assessment provider in first week

 

Over 30 protests were held across the country against the new provider of Work Capability Assessments (WCA) on Monday 2nd March. American company Maximus replace ATOS but campaigners claim that this is merely a shift from one ‘toxic’ profit seeking company to another, making no difference to the disabled people being assessed. Maximus also has a history of discrimination, incompetance and alleged fraud in the US.

Protests held by activists from Disabled People Against Cuts sought to re-name the company as Maximarse which trended briefly on Twitter during the demonstrations. Embarrassingly for Maximarse, it was revealed that the company had bought the domain http://www.maximarse.com to prevent any spoof websites being created against them.

The purchase was made on 26 January by the company’s senior manager for investor relations and corporate communications. Maximus have yet to comment on the domain purchase or their plans for the site.

Read more about this story here.

2) Jeremy Hunt accused of cover up over damning NHS report

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been accused of a ‘politically motivated’ cover up of a critical report on the NHS, written by Tory peer and ex-M&S boss Stuart Rose. Sarah Wollaston, a GP and Tory MP who now heads up the health select committee has accused Jeremy Hunt of with-holding vital information until after the election. The report is critical of problems with NHS management, which could come as a blow to the Tory election campaign, as the NHS becomes a hot topic. Rose is said to be angry at the report’s stifling, though has not made any comments.

“Wollaston told the Observer that reports which had been commissioned by government and paid for by taxpayers should be made available at the earliest opportunity on matters of such clear public interest. “There is far too much of this going on, with uncomfortable information being withheld,” Wollaston said. “Just as with the Chilcot report into the Iraq war, it is not right that reports paid for out of public money are not made available to the public on such vital issues as soon as possible, particularly ahead of a general election.”

 Read more about this story here.

3) Occupy Democracy protestors given go ahead to challenge Boris over Parliament Square fencing

Occupy Democracy returned to Parliament Square this weekend on a day that coincided with the thousands of Londoners at the Climate March, with the good news that they have been given permission to challenge Mayor of London Boris Johnson over the decision to erect a fence halfway through a 10 day Occupy demonstration, prohibiting peaceful protest from continuing.

Protestors were told that the fencing was required for maintenance of the grass, but the area was quickly extended, forcing the protestors further and further away. Occupy Democracy went to great lengths to ensure there was no littering and an alcohol free zone. There were also never so many protestors to inhibit others being able to join them or dominate the area.

“Rosie Brighouse, Lawyer for Liberty, said:

“The UK has a long, proud history of holding the powerful to account, and the right to protest peacefully is enshrined in law in our Human Rights Act. Unfortunately that can be something of an inconvenience for those in power.

“The Mayor’s flagrant disregard for one of our most fundamental freedoms, on the very doorstep of the palace of power, cannot be allowed to go unchecked – so we’re delighted the courts have seen fit to review his actions.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Boris Johnson’s ‘duplicitous claims’ over vanity project revealed

London’s ‘garden bridge’ project was billed as a free gift for London, but a confidential letter leaked to the Guardian has revealed the public purse is obliged to pay the £3.5m maintenance costs yearly on top of £60m committed funds.

This goes against everything Johnson has publicly promised about the project, which now is causing a strain on transport funds while he sells it as a ‘sponsored gift.’This is also amid growing austerity, poverty and social cleansing in the capital, and while Boris makes attempts to shut down the voice of the public as above.

Read more about this story here.

5) Paul Mobbs arrested during citizens’ arrest of Cabinet

Environmental researcher and consultant Paul Mobbs was arrested under the Terrorism Act last week outside 10 Downing Street while he tried to arrest the Cabinet for Misconduct in Public Office. Watch this brilliant video detailing how Paul Mobbs went through with the action, giving great advice on how to deal with police and law at a time of institutional ignorance to human rights and corruption:

 

Update:

‘Paul has now been released from Charring Cross police station. He has officially reported a crime (misconduct in public office) which the police are now duty bound to investigate and he has provided them with everything they need to investigate the crime. He is now setting off home and should be back in Banbury in a few hours. He is going to celebrate by going for a walk tomorrow.’

 Read more about this story here. 

6) Wannabe Tory leader says it’s ‘impossible’ to raise family on £67k

Millionaire Windsor MP Adam Afriyie became yet another example of out-of-touch MPs after he claimed that it was ‘impossible’ to raise a family on an MP’s salary of £67k.

Afriyie said that MPs salaries and expenses should be scrapped and they should be given an allowance of £225,000 a year to spend however they want, adding that if wages from 1911 kept pace this is the figure MPs would be on. He failed to mention the rate at which the minimum wage would be if it had not been stifled by governments, or the rates of pay for nurses and care workers had they not been kept down by successive governments and environments of austerity and stagnant wages.

Read more about this idiot here.

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1) Oxfam reveals 1% own half world’s wealth and increasing

New research released on Monday, by anti-poverty charity Oxfam, reveals that the top 1% own around half the world’s wealth, and if current trends continue, they will own more than the other 99% by next year.

In 2009, the 1% owned 44% of the world’s wealth. By 2014, this had increased to 48%. Meanwhile, the bottom 80% own just 5.5%.

Oxfam released this released their report ahead of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and said they would use their profile at the Forum to put pressure on countries and groups to tackle this increasing inequality.

 

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Read more about this story here.

2) 40% of British families ‘too poor to play a part in society’

Those aiming to keep subjects like the wealth gap, and the increasing power and wealth of the 1%, out of the limelight, often claim that this has no bearing on the poor, and that focus should be on the poor instead of ‘attacking the rich’. They will aim to break the relation between increasing wealth for the rich and increasing poverty for the poor, but that money is being taken out of societies, from public money, public services, and welfare. The same year 1million people needed a food bank in the UK, the rich list increased their wealth by 15%.

Now the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have released a report detailing that 4 in 10, or 8.1 million people, live below an income required to play a part in society. This increased by a third from 2008/09 to 2012/13.

The findings show ‘economic growth’ is not happening for those that need it most.

“The definition of minimum income threshold assumes a single person of working age needs an income of £16,284. It suggests in the case of a couple with two children, each needs to reach an income threshold of £20,400. It does not pretend to be a poverty measure, or act as a substitute for the government’s half-abandoned child poverty measure of the numbers earning 60% below median earnings. It is instead a definition of the income required to have not just food, shelter and clothes, but also to be able to be a participant in society.

“The definition, reached in discussion with the public through focus groups, looks at what a household needs to be integrated in society and has been used in the past as a benchmark for the living wage.

“It includes, for instance, the ability to pay for a week’s holiday in the UK, or a second-hand car for families with children. It assumes no cigarettes or visits to the pub.”

Read more about this story here.

 

3) Government challenged on benefit figures, as new poll shows British claimants in EU outnumber immigrants here

A new survey, conducted by the Guardian newspaper, shows that the number of Britons claiming benefits across the EU, outnumber immigrants from respective countries claiming here, going against government figures.

For example the report says that 23,011 Britons were on welfare in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, France and Ireland, compared to just 8720 of those nationals claiming here.

The survey was conducted on 23 of the 27 EU countries.

“Thirty thousand people, or 2.5% of all British nationals, in other EU member states means that the overwhelming majority of Brits abroad as well as European citizens in Britain are not an undue burden for the countries in which they live,” said Dr Roxana Barbulescu, researcher on international migration at the University of Sheffield, to the Guardian.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Farage admits he wants to privatise NHS

in 2012, UKIP leader Nigel Farage let slip that he would ‘feel more comfortable’ with a privatised NHS. Spin doctors did their best to say that he had changed his mind, despite Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall also expressing his desire to let privatisation in.

Now Farage says this is a debate he will have to return to, revealing that he is courting the idea of implementing a US style insurance scheme. Bear in mind, the US spends the most on healthcare and has the worst system in the developed world.

Image: Leftfootforward

Image: Leftfootforward

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Hinchingbrooke hospital became the first to be declared ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission, and was accused of putting patient safety at risk, with tactics including skeleton staffing. The hospital was owned by Circle Health, a private healthcare company which won healthcare contracts following donations to the Tory party.

Read more reasons why the NHS does not need privatisation. 

Read more about this story here.

5) There are 10 homes for every homeless family in England

The Mirror revealed that there are 10 homes for every homeless family in England, and yet numbers of homeless people keep rising.

While efforts by Labour to reduce homelessness over five years of government saw figures drop from 100,000 to 48,000, the number of homeless people has been increasing again since 2011.

While some of these empty homes are waiting for renters or sales, many are being held empty by investors.

The Labour government brought in a ‘use it or lose it’ policy that allows councils to seize properties left empty for 6 months. The Tories extended this to two years upon their election and even resisted attempts to multiply council tax on these homes.

Image: The MIrror

Image: The MIrror

Read more about this story here.

6) Steve Emerson laughed off BBC News

American ‘Terrorism expert’ (lol) Steve Emerson, who hit the headlines the other week for saying that Birmingham in the UK is a ‘no-go zone for non-Muslims’ was interviewed on the BBC about his comments and where he got his ‘findings’. It’s quite funny.

 

 

7) Occupy Democracy return to Parliament Square

 

Occupy Democracy enter Parliament Square, Judicial Review, 24th January 2014 from Occupy London on Vimeo.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) Judge rules work programme ‘incompatible’ with human rights

Retrospective law changes made by Iain Duncan Smith and the Department for Work and Pensions, following flaws identified by three judges in a case that involved the use of workfare in Poundland, have been deemed in contravention of European Human rights laws. Human rights lawyers say the ruling is a “damning assessment” and if the appeal is upheld, government will owe jobseekers £130m.

Appeal judges agreed that “the 2011 regulations failed to give the unemployed enough detailed information, especially about sanctions, including loss of jobseeker’s allowance, for refusing jobs under the schemes.”

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To avoid re-paying jobseekers for unfair sanctions and withdrawal of benefits, Iain Duncan Smith changed the laws retrospectively – a callous abuse of his position to avoid giving any justice to the unemployed people who had been unfairly treated.

Iain Duncan Smith will, unsurprisingly, appeal against this decision.

Iain Duncan Smith is also appealing a third time against a decision to release a report problems of the Universal Credit scheme – a flagship policy that has seen hundreds of millions of pounds wasted. All of these appeals are paid for by the public purse.

Read more about this story here.

2) Police begin inquiry into treatment of protestors at Westminster Abbey

Last week, we posted an account by Rob Punton, from Disabled People Against Cuts, about his experience at Westminster Abbey when the group attempted to start a protest against the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

300 police kettled 100 protestors

300 police kettled 100 protestors

Rob Punton also posted his experience on his blog, and detailed that police would not allow food, water or medication into the site, where some 300 police surrounded 100 protestors.

Metropolitan Police are now launching an inquiry into the treatment of protestors at the site.

Read more about this story here.

3) Calum’s List an important resource in understanding the effects of welfare reform

Calum’s List, a website dedicated to remembering the people who have committed suicide as a result of welfare reforms or delays and which was shut down last month, is a ‘valuable resource.’

“It includes cases such as that of Martin Rust from Norwich, a schizophrenic who had been found fit to work by a DWP assessment, and committed suicide two months later. The Coroner cited the “distress” caused by the DWP’s decision as a contributory factor in his decision to end his life. And that of Elaine Christian, who was found dead in Holderness Drain after self-harming and taking an overdose. The inquest heard that she had had to stop work because of poor health and was worried about a medical appointment to assess her eligibility for disability benefits she was due to attend the next day. Vicky Harrison, a 21-year-old who took an overdose after being rejected by what her family estimated to be around 200 jobs in two years. Her case is one of the few on the list to have been reported by the national press.”

The list is important as many of these stories may be reported by local press, but are often not picked up by national media, and this sort of body of evidence is vital in ensuring we understand what is taking place.

Read more about this story here.

4) UK needs 4 day week to combat stress, says leading doctor

One of the UK’s top doctors has called for a move to a four day week to reduce stress, allow people to spend more time with family, and to reduce unemployment.

Dr John Ashton added that this would also benefit people’s health.

“When you look at the way we lead our lives, the stress that people are under, the pressure on time and sickness absence, [work-related]mental health is clearly a major issue. We should be moving towards a four-day week because the problem we have in the world of work is you’ve got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven’t got jobs”, Ashton said.

“We’ve got a maldistribution of work. The lunch-hour has gone; people just have a sandwich at their desk and carry on working,” added the leader of the UK’s 3,300 public-health experts working in the NHS, local government and academia.”

Read more about this story here.

5) Glenda Jackson makes an excellent speech speaking out against Iain Duncan Smith and DWP

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Last weekend, Disabled People Against Cuts set about starting a protest in the form of a three week camp at Westminster Abbey, to run till the end of Parliament in action against the closure of the Independent Living Fund. The camp disbanded soon after it began, when the Dean of Westminster Abbey John Hall, called police to the scene to physically remove those chained to the gates. We spoke to Rob Punton from DPAC about what happened at the camp, the Church of England, the ILF and the future of the campaign. Here in his own words, Rob explains what happened and why he is forced to continue with action.

Image: @TheSilentAnon

Image: @TheSilentAnon

The Independent Living Fund…

“I was one of the first people to claim the Independent Living Fund. I’ve been claiming the ILF since 1988. Why it’s important to me is because it allows me to carry on with my independent living, and it allows me to do the social part of living not just the personal care part. It allows me to go out with friends. It allows me to go out and take part in community activities. The money has not been ring-fenced. We’re all scared we’re all going to end up with just home care and being marooned, if you like, in our own homes, not able to get out and take part in community activities and carry on with a fulfilled life.

“It’s like a care package. The local authority pays two thirds of your care package and the ILF gives you a third, but as we know most local authorities are struggling so if we lose the ILF, a third of our money could be lost.

“It was actually Maria Miller who announced it in 2010. She said the ILF was going to close in 2015. We’ve been fighting for this to get it stopped for five years, and when the people took the thing to High Court and won the case we thought we got a victory, but of course, Mike Penning MP decided to ignore what the High Court said, which has forced us really, to take more action.”

The Camp at Westminster Abbey

“I was down at the camp but I was locked out on the main street. I didn’t get inside the camp, I was outside the gate.

“The camp ended because we went to Westminster Abbey because we made the assumption that the Church of England, who had already spoken out about the government and about the austerity cuts, was supportive and would allow us to camp out on their property. But of course, as soon as we got there, John Hall, the Dean of Westminster Abbey, came to say that we weren’t welcome on his property and called the police to come and physically remove us. So that’s why there was 300 policemen for 100 protestors. They kettled everybody in and refused to allow food, water and medication in to the protestors so they were forced to leave early.

“I was actually out on the gate with my PA and a protestor came over and asked us to pass his medication over. We tried to pass it over. I tried to push this bag back over and police actually pushed my PA and pushed this guy needing the medication apart and he was really aggressive towards people, and like I said refused people water, food and medication.

300 police kettled 100 protestors

300 police kettled 100 protestors

 

“Inside the camp there were 100 protestors, and there were 300 police. And that was just normal police. Later in the afternoon they sent ones armed with guns into the camp and they were marching around with guns halfway through the protest.

“The Dean was cowering in his cathedral behind closed doors and wouldn’t even come out and face the media. He just locked the doors to the Abbey and let the police deal with things.

“We’ve been shown that they’re the Church of the Establishment. That’s what CofE stands for now, because they obviously don’t give a monkeys about the people of Britain. They talk about standing up and fighting for normal people, but when it comes to doing things on the ground, they cower away. We’re disgusted and we’re considering writing a letter putting forward a proposal to get the Dean of Westminster removed from his post because we don’t think he’s right. He talks about Christian morality but he hasn’t shown much Christian morality in this situation.

“What’s even more alarming is that this man is supposed to be the chair of a disability organisation but when it came to supporting disabled people in the street, he turned his back on them, so it doesn’t say a lot about the way he looks at disabled people.”

The Media

“Mainstream media belongs to the government anyway. So the BBC and ITV and people like Sky only report what the government want them to report. Obviously, the austerity cuts that everybody is facing are not just being reported to the general public so we have to use social media to get it out there.”

Image: Rob Punton

Image: Rob Punton

What now?

“There’s another demonstration on Friday 4th July outside Parliament and we’ll continue to escalate the situation and take it forward. Luckily we’ve got some good support form Occupy and got some links with community groups to work together to bring down this government and coalition.

“The alternative of losing is dire consequences for everybody because the government have proved they have no regard for anyone at all.”

If the closure of the ILF went ahead…

“There are thousands of disabled people who have got no power. What you’ve got to remember is that while people like myself are going out and protesting, a lot of people are not in the position to do so and they are the ones being socially imprisoned in their own homes and being institutionalised and isolated from society. And we’re worried that because of the growth of urgency, we’ll leave a lot more people vulnerable and open to abuse in their own homes.

“I think we have to stop blaming the most marginalised people in society for society’s problems, because while we’re getting angry about benefit claimants we’re losing the NHS. It’s the banks and businesses that need to take responsibilities and we need to ensure that big companies like Amazon and Boots pay their taxes. If everybody paid their taxes, the money would be there to help people. We need to have proper assessments from people who know about the people who need assessing and we need to start talking to disability organisations and disabled people to include them properly and get social justice for everybody and not just the powerful, rich and the strong.”

Find out more about DPAC here.

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Following the guest post from Maddy Evans about the upcoming event The Spark!, we take a look at another video from the Economic Justice Project which features interviews with people on the front lines of major movements, protests and strikes in the last 50 years.

The videos give fascinating insight into the tactics and mindsets of people who fought back, as well as some handy advice for future generations. This video talks about the Poll Tax rebellion in the early nineties.

 

Thomas Barlow looks at the recent history of the anti-fracking campaign and how it might be just the thing broken Britain needs to imagine another future.

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The kitchen at Upton is overflowing. The sun is shining. The weather is sweet, ye-ah! OK, life on a protest camp isn’t all cooking by the fire and getting a tan, but today it feels as good as it gets.

Rewind nearly 12 months and the story wasn’t nearly as sweet.  The anti-fracking movement nationally amounted to a couple of small meetings, as a few concerned campaigners contemplated the petrochemical horror about to be visited on the air, land and water of the British Isles. Today the camp in Cheshire is abuzz as protectors from the newly-disbanded Barton Moss site in Salford start arriving, and news arrives of how the Basset Law site in north Nottinghamshire occupied a rig and shut down the drill for a day.

The struggle has been long and hard, not least for the Barton Moss protectors who have borne the brunt of an exposed northern winter and possibly the most consistent and well-documented police brutality since the miners’ strike. Whilst being originally written-off as a rent-a-mob environmentalist campaign, it has moved, very quietly – perhaps something to do with the fact that sinister landowners Peel Holdings own both a lot of fracking sites and the BBC’s media centre? – from a fringe green issue, to something that strikes fear into the heart of communities across the country and across traditional demographic boundaries.

Image: Frack Off Upton Park

Image: Frack Off Upton Park

The well-founded fears of polluted air, unstable land, and poisoned water supplies have been the original reason for very strong local support of the protest camps opposing even exploratory drilling. Now that the camps have moved to Nottinghamshire and Cheshire (the Upton site is next to Chester Zoo!) they are trying new tactics to ramp up the pressure against the relatively-small fracking industry, safe in the knowledge that current local support is far beyond the hesitant response of a year previous.

Whilst Basset Law in Nottinghamshire has seen a far more sheltered and rural camp, in contrast to the Barton Moss operation within Greater Manchester, and featured daily direct action including more lock-ons and even an occupation – Upton is the site that really breaks the mold.

The site is there before the drill has arrived. Any eviction process could be exceptionally long and costly, and investors are starting to get butterflies in their stomachs about pumping so much cash into companies like Dart Energy (who have been banned from twelve other countries) and IGas. Despite having major investors all throughout government and the media – from the top of the BBC to the Environmental Protection Agency – the costs and bad publicity keep increasing.

In a clear case of Orwellian doublethink, the head of Dee Council (Upton’s local authority) promoted a projected 30% reduction in house prices in the area near the drill site as the successful creation of affordable housing for young people in the area in a live radio interview. Such examples of ignorance, arrogance, and complicity from local government are proliferating just as quickly as proposed drill sites.

But can the campaign be more than stopping a disastrous technology from destroying our environment and locking us into an incredibly expensive energy future? Rachel Sampson, a Barton moss campaigner, says yes:

“We are seeing communities come together for the first time in decades.  Communities of every kind are not only aware of how brazenly corrupt our government is, but are taking action to stop them.”

In this action lies possibility.

“We have been told to believe in only individual solutions to community or global problems, but now people at Barton moss and Balcombe are building their own community energy programs to take control of their energy future.  They are working together to acheive this in a way not though possible, and the new camps are starting this process traight away, not just waiting for the drills to leave.”

Could these local energy co-ops be a radical solution to major societal problems?

“With control of our energy we can drive prices down, control the energy our community needs, instead of billionaires, and save the environment with the simple and near eternal energy sources at our disposal.”

Thomas Barlow

Image: Frack Off Upton Park

Image: Frack Off Upton Park

So your favourite ginger bearded polemicist has been away for three weeks – researching important things in Mexico, and writing about Comrade Bob. But I am back, and we’ve got a lot to cover so let’s check it out!

REGULARS

Liberty

In one of the most appallingly vicious acts of counter productive stupidity, a blanket ban on giving prisoners books has been introduced by professional arse face Chris Grayling.

Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling. Image: johnnyvoid.wordpress.com

Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling. Image: johnnyvoid.wordpress.com

And in Spain massive peaceful protests are met with blanket violence, though don’t kid yourself this is just something that happens in other countries…

Economics (not boring I promise!)

As ever, we are trying to make money real with this section, and what is more real than realising you would be £44k better off if we didn’t create a housing bubble that only benefits rich landlords!

Also let’s think seriously about the living wage, this is a basic concept that should be a right for all.

Maybe we should conceive of government differently:

Image: Anonymous ART of Revolution

Image: Anonymous ART of Revolution

or not conceive of government at all?!

Because let’s face it, whilst five families own more than 20% of us we are never going to have a government that represents us…

Oh and by the way – those new jobs (the shit zero hour ones that supposedly show that we are in recovery) 80% were created in London – SO FUCK YOU NORWICH!

Environment

In the wake of the floods nobody mentioned this in the mainstream news. In fact, this only made the comment is free section, but we essentially paid farmers to flood our homes.

Fracking is still centre of the agenda for this government and globally, so maybe we should take a moment to enjoy this fantastic video by Green Goyo, who proves that actually fracking is good for everyone!

I don’t want to go into it too much more, as next week we will be releasing our first RealFare video on the Barton moss protest camp, but suffice it to say that what people have had to go through to stop their water being polluted and their land forever damaged has been unnaturally brutal.

Debates coming up

Europe is going to inevitably dominate the news at some point, so it is worth mentioning that if you like UKIP because you are anti-Europe and yet at the same time believe in things like renationalising the railways, maybe you should have a look at someone else

And good news for the UK weapons industry is bad news for everyone else.

Image: Occupy London

Image: Occupy London

 

Good news!


Half the cases against anti-fracking protestors have been dropped  – because, of course, they are bullsh**T – one day I will be able to report people protested and didn’t get arrested at all…

And Bez brought anti Fracking protestors vegan beer!

Stewart Lee does one of the most left-field deconstructions of the Tory party I’ve come across…

Depression has been radicalised

The planet may be fucked – but shareholders had a brief honeymoon period!

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And according to NASA the only way to save humanity is Communism!

Thomas Barlow

 

Image: Coalition of Resistance

Image: Coalition of Resistance

From Boycott Workfare:

“Tens of organisations have already quit workfare. The government will not reveal which organisations are still using it for fear the schemes will collapse. Its contractors complain that they have lost hundreds of placements due to public pressure.

“But they’re trying it again with a new scheme – “Community Work Placements” – launching on 1 April 2014 which will force claimants to work for six months without pay. Six months – 780 hours – is more than twice the maximum community service sentence. Workfare does not help people find jobs and being unemployed is not a crime.

“This new workfare scheme is part of a raft of draconian measures, misleadingly called “Help to Work”, which are designed to increase sanctions (benefit stoppages) and undermine wages still further.

“For the workfare schemes to happen, they need places to send people, but tens of large charities have already quit. Oxfam stated that the schemes were incompatible with its goal of reducing poverty in the UK. Liverpool CVS has condemned the scheme in the strongest possible terms.

“Our action can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting forced unpaid work and make sure this new scheme falls flat on its face. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.”

Find out more here.

The Artist Taxi Driver on the latest statistics on the Work Programme – “The work programme is doing worse than if the government did nothing at all.”

1) Government pass Hospital Closure Act

The government have passed clause 119 – also known as the Hospital Closures Act – it grants government new powers to close or downgrade hospitals.

Jeremy Hunt and other ministers insist that the clause will only be used in extreme circumstances, and is a way of clamping down on lengthy reviews and consultations. However, campaigners believe it will leave communities “without a voice.”

Lewisham Hospital, which was saved by the efforts of the local community, is an example of the places at risk. Jeremy Hunt had planned to close the hospital, which was a well run service for patients and financially, because of the debts of another hospital. Following the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, Jeremy Hunt’s actions were found to be illegal, but campaigners fear that these new powers could override these laws and see government’s shutting down hospitals unneccesarily within 40 days.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

Read more about this story here.

2) Two legends of socialism pass away

The outspoken RMT union leader Bob Crow, and veteran Labour politician Tony Benn, both passed away last week leading to an outpour of tributes to two leaders who stuck strong to their convictions of a fairer society for ALL.

The RMT say they remain militant in their fight against attacks on “our social class” and they have inherited Bob Crow’s legacy.

Meanwhile the death of Tony Benn has demonstrated that we need more politicians who stay true to their convictions of garnering a fairer society.

See some Tony Benn tributes here.

And the Artist Taxi Driver video on Tony Benn here.

3) DWP advising Jobcentres on sending claimants to foodbanks

The DWP is advising Jobcentres on how to send claimants to food banks, despite ministers previously insisting they “do not refer people to food banks or issue vouchers” and that food banks are “absolutely not a part of the welfare system because we have other means of supporting people.”

Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that there is a “high level process” in place in referring claimants and supplying vouchers, but staff are instructed not to use the term “food voucher.”

“A six-step flowchart for jobcentre staff shows that the four reasons to recommend a food bank when claimants ask for help are hardship caused by benefit changes, benefit payment delays, a benefit advance has been refused, or the advance is not enough to meet their needs.”

Read more about this story here.

4) There is an alternative – Budget Day Protests

Following the People’s Assembly Conference on Saturday 15th March, several protests will take place across the country on the day of the budget, with the message that there is an alternative to the government’s cuts and Britain needs a pay rise.

Image: The People's Assembly

Image: The People’s Assembly

Find out more here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

It’s been a busy week for news, and plenty of non-news too. But fear not, Thomas Barlow is here with his second weekly instalment of Barlow’s Digest, to sort the worthy from the not and decipher what is happening from the lies and bullshit. Let’s crack on.

Liberty

When they screw you, they like to screw you from two directions.  A law to promote fracking will also permanently infringe on our rights, thanks law gazette.

Pesky Human rights are clearly getting in the way of the filthy rich getting stinking rich, Theresa May admitted, in a rare moment of honesty
Sorry, I meant to say, goddamn Europeans!  Holding us to a law that we wrote to stop any further genocides in Europe after the Second World War! We’ll have no rights for Humans if that’s what we want!

The most invidious attack on our liberty is the attack on our minds – we don’t need to be radically and physically oppressed if we are divided, distracted and misinformed.

Economics (not boring I promise!)

Don’t get a job – it is for bovine idiots!

There are better critiques than this rather right wing US one out there, and we will return to this subject over the coming weeks, but economics is not just about nations and global trading, it is about you!

The dignity of work.

And remember if you are worried about the burden you pay for others to live scot free, the people at the top are the REAL SCROUNGERS!

Image: 24 Dash

Image: 24 Dash

If the UK was a village of 100 people, a few people would be jobless,  one may be so disabled they can’t work, and maybe one of that lot would be taking the mick, and they would all be easily looked after by a little food off our table.  In comparison, our stinking greedy village overlord would have a gang of bullies stealing nearly everything we had, in hundreds of sneaky ways and then hiring people to tell us what scum each other was.

Tax Justice?  Hmmmm…

Oh don’t forget that UKIP are a party of the rich, scummy landlords!

Environment

Chevron reminds people of the economic benefits of Fracking after killing a man, then offering the community Pizza vouchers. Jesus, no matter how hard we try, Americans always manage to be more tasteless than us…

Science is telling is to revolt

Distraction of the week

Ukraine

As per usual, we cannot get an honest source of information, so we are clueless as to most of what is actually happening.  What we do know is that it is messy, there are fascists involved heavily, but also radicals and liberals.  I Acknowledge does the best run down.

But maybe we shouldn’t care (http://www.philosophersmail.com/040214-what-kiev.php)

And in Venezuela where the corporate media have been caught lying about two attempted right wing military coups and a host of other things, the media is avoiding even touching the protests there.

Good News

A policeman actually gets convicted of something!

Managing to wobble between sanctimonious and pop culture drivel, it is still hard to suppress a little joy that Vice is launching a news channel, with some of the excellent reports and videos that it has already done being used in montage here. 

And Here.

Honestly, please treat yourself to ‘This is what winning looks like’, for what state Afghanistan is really in – it is not an overly emotional, heart strings puller, just a great inside look.  You’ll love the US Army Major by the end…

Russell Brand dealing with inanity deftly yet again

A street entertainer holds his own when challenged by full bore racist pricks Glasgow AFA, you know what they look like…

Kid does science experiment

Salford make it into LA news

A doctor strikes a small blow for science (btw people – science is a METHOD, not an invisible force that powers Frankenstein monsters)

Anarchists blow shit up again!

And some more.

A man in debt demolishes his house and drops in front of his bank (who said we’ve got nothing to learn from Bulgarians!)

GREATER MANCHESTER NEWS

As I am a proud (adopted) Mancunian, I thought I would include a little local news that may not make the nationals.

Parties were thrown all over Salford as Hazel Blears announced she wouldn’t be standing again in 2015, after narrowly avoiding deselection by the (pretty militant) Salford Labour party. It took a lot of bribes to keep her in that time, clearly she didn’t have that much left in the account any longer…

Though in even better news, a former Class War member is standing in Salford as well, more on Class war in coming weeks…

The campaign to save the roots of the Carribbean carnival is under way.

Lots of news from Barton Moss (in Salford – which is its’ own city. Yes i know. Salford!) where local protectors are single handedly holding up the Fracking industry in the UK –

Local Schoolgirl arrested

2 Week adjournment from eviction

Local Hacienda legend Dave Haslam rocks it for Barton Moss

Get involved with writing energy strategy for our locality

Thomas Barlow