Friday, January 19, 2018

Street Stall (Holloway - London 20/1)

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Saturday, 20 January - 

11:00am - 1:00pm


Venue: Nag's Head Shopping Centre, 
402 Holloway Road,
 London N7 6PZ

Organised by North London Branch

Population Density

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Israel - "The Sick Society"

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Israel has a population of 8.9 million people of which 20 percent are Arab.

In January 2017, a report by the US State Department stated: "Institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel goes on in particular in access to equal education, housing, and employment opportunities."

In Arab East Jerusalem, 76 percent of the residents and 83.4 percent of the children live below the poverty line according to the poverty report of the National Insurance Institute. In Israel, the poverty rate average is 21.7 percent - and 30 percent among children. In short, Arabs are 50 percent poorer than others in Israel. 

In 2014, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin addressed what he called an "epidemic" of anti-Arab racism: "Israeli society is sick, and it is our duty to treat this disease. … I'm not asking if they've forgotten how to be Jews, but if they've forgotten how to be decent human beings."

http://www.dw.com/en/israeli-uk-ambassador-all-inhabitants-of-israel-have-equality/a-42193579

Welsh Child Poverty

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Children living in poverty in Wales are falling behind and may never catch up with their classmates. 
Save the Children estimates more than a quarter of children under five years old - about 50,000 - are living in poverty. A report said a third of were behind their peers by age five in vocabulary and dexterity and may "never catch up". Research by Save the Children shows once children fall behind in their early years they are more likely to struggle throughout their education. According to its report, nearly half of the children who were in the lowest performing groups at the beginning of primary school remained there at ages seven, 11 and 14. It also claimed about 22,000 children - or 44% - who live in poverty were not eligible for the Welsh Government's Flying Start programme, aimed at children aged under four in deprived areas. Families who are eligible for the service are entitled to two-and-a-half hours of free childcare a day for five days a week.
"Our concern is that the current state of play is resulting in a childcare system that is not fulfilling its potential to help prevent children in poverty falling behind early and remaining behind throughout their education and further into their lives," the report said. "The consequences of children being unable to benefit from quality early education and care for children's development and learning can be devastating. We fear that for too many children in Wales, particularly those living in poverty, access to high-quality provision is still too often left to chance."
The Welsh Government had hoped to abolish child poverty in Wales by 2020, but last year the Welsh Government admitted it did not have the power to make the changes needed to achieve it.

South Wales Branch 

12th February  

Monday, 7:30pm - 9:00pm

 Unitarian Church, 
High Street, 
Swansea SA1 1NZ

(One meeting out of three will take place in Cardiff.)

Fight for your Rights

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Human Rights Watch accuses western politicians of driving global misrule by feeding off public fear and discontent. Rising intolerance in many western countries has created an “open field for murderous leaders” around the world, it warned.

In an annual report assessing more than 90 nations, Human Rights Watch warned of a “frontal assault on the values of inclusivity, tolerance, and respect” across states that have previously championed rights.

Kenneth Roth, the group’s director, pointed to Donald Trump, saying he won the US presidency “with a campaign of hatred against Mexican immigrants, Muslim refugees, and other racial and ethnic minorities, and an evident disdain for women”. Roth warned that the rise of intolerance has caused western powers, including the UK, to become more inward-looking. “With the United States led by a president who displays a disturbing fondness for rights-trampling strongmen, and the UK preoccupied by Brexit, two traditional if flawed defenders of human rights globally are often missing in action,” the report said.

Germany, France and their EU partners, many of which are struggling with anti-refugee rhetoric domestically, have failed to fill the vacuum. Instead, Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have “aggressively asserted an anti-rights agenda”. This has allowed mass atrocities in Yemen, Syria, Burma and South Sudan to continue with near impunity. Creeping authoritarianism in Poland and Hungary is a “fundamental threat to the entire European project”, he said.  “If you allow any member of the European Union to undermine democracy, undermine the rule of law, undermine judicial independence you are allowing exceptions to core EU values – and that’s when you begin to eat away at those values.”

Roth accused the EU of hypocrisy for cooperating with the Libyan authorities in order to reduce the number of refugees and migrants reaching Europe. “The conditions there are deadly, nightmarish, and to force somebody back is a blatant violation of international law,” he said. “To pretend they can do that indirectly by training the Libyan coastguard to keep people in, instead of pushing people back, is basically a distinction without a difference.” The report urged the EU to do more to oppose Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, military abuses against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, and Turkey’s crackdown on press freedom.

Roth said citizens’ human rights will be weakened if the UK withdraws from the European convention on human rights. “We’re also frankly concerned about some of the rhetoric of the Brexiteers, which is not only anti-European Union but also anti-European convention on human rights. And there’s a real tendency to demagogue the issue. It’s a very short-sighted approach,” he said. “As much as possible, people should be able to maintain established lives without new restrictions imposed on them because of Brexit.”


The report praised mass movement that opposed populism, and said resistance to Trump’s policies in the US have limited the harm that might have been done.
“The lesson of the last year is that resistance matters,” said Roth. “The only way to limit the rise of autocrats is to stand up to them. The only way to preserve the values populists attack is to defend them. The battle is very much under way, and it’s one very much worth engaging in.” He added, "What's needed is a principled defense rather than surrender, a call to action rather than a cry of despair." 

Canadian Discrimination

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Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development at a meeting with law students at the University of Windsor, declared:
“One of the issues I hear from people is, ‘Well, we just don’t have the people. We don’t have the talent. We don’t have the women. We don’t have the diversity in our corporation. We would love to promote diversity but we just can’t find the people. That’s a bunch of bullshit.”
Bains said there were many “successful women – entrepreneurs, business leaders, community leaders – who want to sit on corporate boards, who are very talented and looking for the opportunity. The problem is they aren’t part of the golf network; they’re not part of the club network, the social networks that a lot of these boards exist and operate under.”
Anthony Lacavera noted in a 2017 book titled How We Can Win, “We value our diversity and openness to newcomers but our business culture is inward-looking and xenophobic.”
Women make up 12% of the directors at companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange while visible minorities make up 4.5% of company directors in the country’s top 500 companies, according to Toronto’s Women in Capital Markets. A report published last year by Deloitte Canada noted that women occupy just 35% of managerial positions across the country.

It's getting hotter

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Last year was the second or third hottest year on record - after 2016 and on a par with 2015.

The acting director of the UK Met Office, Prof Peter Stott, told BBC News: "It shows clearly that the biggest natural influence on the climate is being dwarfed by human activities – predominantly CO₂ emissions."

The World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said, “Arctic warmth has been especially pronounced and this will have profound and long-lasting repercussions on sea levels, and on weather patterns in other parts of the world.”

Commenting on the figures, Bob Ward, from the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics, pointed out that “The record temperature should focus the minds of world leaders, including President Trump, on the scale and urgency of the risks that people, rich and poor, face around the world from climate change." 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Canadian Capitalists

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Five Canadians are as wealthy as 30% of the entire population.

The new report from the Canadian Business estimates shows that Galen Weston is the richest man in Canada with US$10.04 billion; Uber co-founder Garret Camp with $6.78 billion; Brydson $6.56 billion; Alibaba vice-chairman Joseph Tsai $ 6.28 billion followed by David Thomson with $5.02 billion.

Genius Rewarded?

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John Kay.—A weaver and mechanic. Inventor of the fly shuttle, one of the most important inventions in the textile industry, as well as other inventions. He took his case to the courts in the endeavour to obtain recognition and recompense for his work: was beggared by litigation, and starved to death in France.

Joseph Marie Jacquard.—Inventor of the silk-weaving loom that brought about a revolution in the art of weaving. He could obtain no recognition until he was an old man. He sacrificed all he possessed to carry on his inventions, and became a labourer and a soldier.

Henry Cort.—Invented “puddling" process for converting pig-iron into malleable metal, as well as other inventions. He patented his inventions and became involved in law suits—like so many of his kind. He was eventually utterly ruined. The Government took up his invention and granted him a pension of £200.

James Hargreaves.—A carpenter. Invented the spinning jenny, but died a poor man. He suffered from dishonest manufacturers.

Samuel Crompton.—A cotton spinner, combined the old water frame and spinning jenny into the mule, and is considered to have been practically the organiser of modern industry. He died in poverty.

Richard Roberts.—Inventor of the self-acting mule: was left to fight poverty in his old age.

Richard Trevithick.—Inventor of high pressure d the steam locomotive; died in poverty.

Gutenberg.—Inventor of printing: was in financial difficulties all his life.

Bernard Palissy.—A French potter. Discovered the process for manufacture of enamel. Struggled for sixteen years in the lowest depths of poverty, having to burn his furniture to keep his fires alight. He was arrested, and died in the Bastille.

John Harrison.—A mechanic. Invented the marine chronometer. He was in necessitous circumstances all his life. Struggled for years to obtain the reward that had been offered for such an invention, and after considerable difficulty finally obtained it when eighty years old.

Frederick Koenig.—Inventor of the steam printing-machine. Had his patents infringed. After a long struggle and illnesses he died in poor circumstances.

Eugen Turpin.—Inventor of melenite and over forty other inventions: was always in poor circumstances.

General Shrapnel.—Inventor of the explosive that bears his name and that helped to build up many rich armament firms, as well as blowing thousands to eternity: died in 1842, a poor and bitter old man.

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier.—Described as the father of modern chemistry: had to accept a position as tax-farmer in order to carry on his experiments, and perished under the guillotine.

Rev. Hannibal Goodwin.—Invented film photography, and after a long fight obtained a patent in 1898. When he was about to put the film on the market, he died in 1900. His widow formed a company and carried on a fight with the powerful interests opposed to her, and finally obtained a judgment in the United States Supreme Court in 1914 that the Goodwin patent was the basis of film photography. Success, however, came too late, for Mrs. Goodwin was 81 and in failing health.

Franz Schubert.—A schoolmaster, whose musical compositions have delighted myriads of people and whose life has provided material for films. “Left the world," as one biographer puts it, "a rich heritage of considerably more than a thousand works of extreme brilliance, and who received in return £575 as the sum total of his life's earnings "! !

Count de Chardonet.—Inventor of artificial silk: died a poor man. In 1928 M. Heriot unveiled a statue to him at Lyons. No doubt he would have preferred a little more bread while he was alive!

Horace van Ruith.—A famous artist, who painted a study of Nurse Cavell that was greatly admired. At the age of 80, when living in poverty, an exhibition of his works was held covering a period of nearly 70 years, and he pathetically expressed the hope that some of them would find purchasers and so allow him to spend his last days without depending on friends.

Henrick Heine.—Germany’s leading lyrical poet: had a struggle for existence all his life.

Herbert Spencer.—The philosopher of individualism: could only complete his Synthetic Philosophy by means of the subscriptions of friends.

Linnteus.— Described as the father of modern botany: had to work his way to the Universities of Lund and Upsala, living on £8 a year, and making his own boots from the bark of trees. Had he not attracted the notice of a man of similar tastes, the famous Classification of the Animal and Vegetable Kingdom might have had to find another author.


There was one inventor who did achieve fame and fortune while his brothers struggled and starved. That one was Sir Richard Arkwright, sometime barber and horse-dealer, to whom is attributed the invention of the water-frame, which he patented in 1767. But Arkwright has the unique distinction of not having invented the contrivance that bears his name. The invention in question was actually the work of Thomas Highs, who built a spinning machine in 1767 at the village of Leigh. This was known to Arkwright, who had married a woman from Leigh. The case was fought through the courts, and Arkwright never produced any satisfactory evidence of the origin of his invention. When the case was tried in 1785 Arkwright’s patent was declared lapsed. However, he died in 1792, a knight, a high sheriff of the County of Derby, and left half a million pounds!



Poverty States-side

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Hunger Free America produced a national report in November 2017, declaring “approximately 15 million American adults lived in food insecure households with at least one person employed in the years 2014 to 2016.” States with higher minimum wages had lower levels of food insecurity among working people. The states with the highest rates of food insecurity among working adults were New Mexico (15.3 percent), Mississippi (14.0 percent), Louisiana (14.0 percent), Arkansas (13.5 percent), and Maine (12.9 percent).

  • In terms of access to water and sanitation, the US ranks 36th in the world.
  • America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, ahead of Turkmenistan, El Salvador, Cuba, Thailand, and the Russian Federation. Its rate is nearly five times the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average.
  • The youth poverty rate in the United States is the highest across the OECD with one quarter of youth living in poverty, compared to less than 14 percent across the OECD.
  • The Stanford Center on Inequality and Poverty ranks the most well-off countries in terms of labor markets, poverty, safety net, wealth inequality, and economic mobility. The US comes in last of the top 10 most well-off countries, and 18th amongst the top 21.
  • In the OECD, the US ranks 35th out of 37 in terms of poverty and inequality.
  • According to the World Income Inequality Database, the US has the highest Gini rate (measuring inequality) of all Western Countries
  • The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality characterizes the US as “a clear and constant outlier in the child poverty league.”

Longevity in Reverse Gear

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Life expectancy in some parts of the UK has plummeted, according to official figures. Residents in former mining towns and isolated rural areas saw the biggest fall.
By 2041, women will live to 86.2 years and men 83.4 years, projections by the Office for National Statistics showed – a decrease of almost a whole year compared to previous figures released in 2015.
In Torridge, Devon, male life expectancy dipped to 79.2 years – a decline of more than a year. Hartlepool saw a similar decline of more than 12 months to 76.4. In Amber Valley, Derbyshire, female life expectancy dropped by more than a year to 82.4 compared to 2015’s figures. 
While experts were unclear on the exact causes for the fall many are pointing to cuts to frontline services along with growing levels of inequality for an overall decline in public health.
Danny Dorling, professor of human geography at the University of Oxford, said influenza, obesity, alcohol and smoking could largely be ruled out as contributory factors. 
“The fall in life expectancy in several geographical areas of England is most likely a result of the effects of public service cuts and austerity,” he said. “Many other possibilities can be ruled out. Rates of smoking and drinking alcohol have fallen in recent years so that cannot be blamed. Between 2009 and very late 2017 there has been no serious influenza outbreak. A government that has chosen to make these cuts, and any of the organisations it directly sponsors, will understandably find this very hard to face up to.”
In November, an article in the British Medical Journal Open found that severe public spending cuts in the UK were associated with 120,000 deaths between 2010 and 2017.
Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust, said the decline fits with an overall increase in inequality in deprived areas. 
“In a country with such high inequality, it is not surprising that we are seeing a decline in life expectancy,” she said. “Inequality leads to earlier deaths and poorer quality of life. We know that we expect to see inequality increase in former industrial areas, so this is not surprising. How many more of these reports do we need before the government takes this seriously?”

Apple is still rotten to the core

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 Apple will open a new campus as part of a five-year, $30 billion (21.70 billion pounds) U.S. investment plan and it will make about $38 billion in one-time tax payments on the overseas cash it intends to repatriate. Between the spending plan, hiring 20,000 people, tax payments and business with U.S.-based suppliers, Apple  estimated it would spend $350 billion in the United States over the next five years

 Trump described the move by Apple as a victory. “I promised that my policies would allow companies like Apple to bring massive amounts of money back to the United States. Great to see Apple follow through as a result of TAX CUTS,” he tweeted. 

However, not all is what it seems. 

It did not, however, say how much of the plan was new or how much of its $252.3 billion in cash abroad - the largest of any U.S. corporation - it would bring home. In addition to the $38 billion in taxes it must pay, Apple has run up $97 billion in U.S.-issued debt to pay for previous share buybacks and dividends. Some investors said the U.S. investments would give the company room to make more stock buybacks or pay dividends without criticism.

James Cordwell of Atlantic Equities said Apple’s U.S. investment plan could make it easier for the company to give more cash to shareholders. “Being seen to just hand the cash back to shareholders could spark some political sensitivities,” and the spending announcement could be part of Apple’s efforts to manage this issue, Cordwell said.

Walter Piecyk, managing director for TMT Research at BTIG Research, said he could not yet tell whether the U.S. expansion was an increase from a previous plan or meant investment abroad was being refocused in the United States. Reuters Breakingviews estimated that Apple could have increased U.S. headcount by 24,000 in the last five years.

Asked in an interview with ABC News whether the job creation announcements were directly related to the Republican tax plan, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook gave a measured response. “Let me be clear... there’s large parts of this we would have done in any situation,” Cook said.

Apple has announced no plans to change their practice of out-sourcing the manufacture of their products and experts confirm it would be economically impractical to make iPhones in the United States.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-apple-tax/apple-plans-new-u-s-campus-to-pay-38-billion-in-foreign-cash-taxes-idUKKBN1F62FR

Urban Mining

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Some of Europe’s richest deposits of valuable materials are in the trash, ranging from gold in smartphones to cobalt in electric car batteries, according to a study of urban mining, “Prospecting Secondary Raw Materials in the Urban Mine and Mining Waste” (ProSUM).

Scrap vehicles, batteries, computers, fridges and other electronic and electrical waste total about 18 million tonnes a year and contain materials worth billions of dollars, the report said, urging more recycling

 Smartphone, for instance, has a concentration of gold 25 to 30 times that of the richest primary gold ores.

With sales rising, it shows that electric cars will become a source of materials such as neodymium, lithium and cobalt in coming years.

Last month, another study showed that the world’s electronic scrap in 2016 contained 55 billion euros ($67.29 billion) of valuable materials, most of them squandered because of low recycling rates. Researchers last year detected 3 tonnes of silver and 43 kg of gold in effluent and sludge from waste water treatment plants - amounting to around 3 million Swiss francs ($3.1 million).

 Costs of recycling waste and rapid switches in technology deter investments in urban mining. Waste copper found in old-fashioned cathode ray screens, for example, has been falling across Europe since a 2011 peak with the shift to flat screen televisions and computers.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-environment-waste/tracking-europes-waste-theres-gold-in-them-landfills-idUKKBN1F61YH

Food Bank Facts

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According to recent reports from the Trussell Trust, food bank use has increased at least 13% in the last year. Around 14 million people in the UK are living in poverty and Universal Credit has had a huge impact on the lives of people with a low-income, with food banks experiencing an average 30% increase of demand in areas of full Universal Credit roll out.

As if the decision to visit a food bank wasn’t traumatic enough, people often experience a huge amount of stigma when they are facing a financial crisis. A Child Poverty Action Group report shows that people accepting help from a food bank felt that it was ‘shameful’ and ‘embarrassing,’ and that they had been driven to the food bank after exhausting all other possible avenues of support.

Mental and physical health are closely associated with poverty, with more than a quarter of adults in the poorest fifth of the population experiencing depression and anxiety. The stress of coping with the effects of poverty can certainly be detrimental to health. In reverse, those with poor physical or mental health are more likely to be affected by low income or income loss, therefore increasing the likelihood that they will need to depend on a food bank.

The World is Warned

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 The risk of political and economic confrontations between major powers, including outright military conflicts, has risen sharply, according to a survey released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). While geopolitical worries rose sharply, the environment topped the list of concerns, with extreme weather events seen as the single most prominent risk in 2018

The Global Risks Report highlighted several top risks for 2018, including environmental threats from extreme weather and temperatures, economic inequalities and cyber attacks. But most remarkable was the surge in geopolitical concerns.

The survey of nearly 1,000 experts from government, business, academia and non-governmental organizations showed 93 percent expect a worsening of political or economic confrontations between major powers in 2018, including 40 percent who believe those risks have increased significantly. Some 79 percent see a heightened risk of state-on-state military conflict. In addition to the threat of a conflict on the Korean peninsula, the report pointed to the risk of new military confrontations in the Middle East.

It cited a rise in “charismatic strongman politics” across the world and said political, economic and environmental risks were being exacerbated by a decline in support for rules-based multilateralism.

“The risks we are trying to grapple with here require multilateral solutions but we are moving in the other direction,” said John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at the consultancy Marsh, which helped compile the report.

The report pointed to Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and the TPP trade agreement and his threat to pull out of a deal between Western powers and Iran designed to curb its nuclear program.

 The report also went on to describe income inequality as a “corrosive problem” in many countries and warned against complacency over the economic environment given high debt levels, low savings rates and inadequate pension provisions.

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF explained, “We must take seriously the risk of a global systems breakdown.”

Fact of the Day

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 In 2009, 103 construction companies were fined a total of £130 million (US$176 million) for rigging bids to inflate the cost of major building projects in England, including publicly funded projects to build new schools and hospitals. 

Worryingly, since this case, successive UK governments’ efforts to “cut red tape” have actually decreased the state’s ability to detect corruption, such as when they abolished the Audit Commission, which was responsible for independently auditing local public bodies.

Growing debt for the poor

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The poorest households are spending 25% of monthly income servicing debts. 

One in four of Britain’s poorest households are falling behind with debt payments or spending more than a quarter of their monthly income on repayments, according to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The latest evidence is of mounting debt problems for some of the most vulnerable in society where borrowing on credit cards, loans and car finance deals are returning to levels unseen since before the 2008 financial crisis.
The poorest tenth of households are also more likely to be in net debt, owing more on plastic or on overdrafts and loans than they hold in savings. 
About a third of the poorest homes are in net debt, compared with only 10% of the highest-income tenth.
The IFS study found more than one in five people on low incomes have problem debts, compared with just one in 20 people at the top of the income scale. It found that on average the poorest fifth who are under pressure spend £457 a month on paying back their debts out of an income of £1,012.
For a household of two adults and two children aged between 30 and 44 to be in the poorest tenth, they would have a net annual income of up to £23,200. Young adults are much more likely to be in households in arrears or paying large chunks of their income to banks or credit card providers, the study found.
Debt problems for the poorest households can prove persistent and are of growing concern to the Financial Conduct Authority. Of the poorest fifth of households who were in arrears or spending more than a quarter of their income on debt repayments and charges in 2010, more than 40% were found to be stuck in a similar position two years later. Analysis by the Bank and the FCA published last week showed it was common for people to remain in debt even after paying off one of their credit cards, as they shift debts from one lender to another. The research found £9 out of every £10 of outstanding credit card debt in November 2016 was owed by people who were also in the red two years earlier. 
According to the Money Advice Service, there are now 8.3 million people in the UK with problem debts. Households are facing a year of static growth in real pay in 2018, as inflation outstrips wages as a result of the weak pound since the Brexit vote in June 2016, which may push people further into debt.
Helen Barnard, head of analysis at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Low-income households are facing a difficult 2018, with rising prices, frozen benefits and a wage squeeze all putting further pressure on household incomes.”

Carillion - A Symptom of Capitalism

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Efforts by the government to reassure thousands of staff employed by Carillion to work for private sector clients were called “flimsy”. Trade unions warned the promise would not provide sufficient reassurance and voiced fears that Carillion’s financial failure would spread further among suppliers, some of which have begun laying off staff.

The GMB trade union said a statement from the Insolvency Service “raises more questions than it answers”.
“Ensuring most workers get paid beyond today doesn’t go nearly far enough to give the reassurance our members need right now,” said general secretary Tim Roache. “We need proper guarantees that they will not be left in the lurch and unable to pay the bills within days due to a crisis they did not cause. Without assurances as to how long wages are secure for and who will be running these contracts given the company’s spectacular failure, this is not going to help Carillion workers sleep easier tonight.”
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The government has a moral duty to provide direct financial assistance as well as other support in order to ensure that subcontractors and suppliers don’t needlessly go to the wall, with thousands of workers potentially losing their jobs.”

Poverty is a crime under capitalism

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Naima Sakande, women's justice advocate at the Centre for Criminal Appeals, said: "Poverty is not a crime and our judicial system needs to do more to acknowledge this."

Cardiff's High Court now ruled up to perhaps 18% of jailings for debt could be unlawfully given each year.

Barrister Cathryn McGahey QC, has estimated the number of unlawful committals to prison each year at a much higher figure of 52%.

The judgement said: "Ms McGahey appears to be right to condemn the relevant magistrates (and their legal advisers) as being ignorant of well-established law."

Naima Sakande, said: "The toll of being sent to prison unlawfully cannot be overstated and more must be done to protect society's most vulnerable from needlessly losing their liberty."

South Wales Branch 

Monday, 12 February 
7:30pm - 9:00pm
Unitarian Church, 
High Street, 
Swansea SA1 1NZ

The Poverty of the Roma in Ireland

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More than half the Roma people in Ireland are living in consistent poverty, a study has found. An estimated 5,000 Roma live in Ireland with the largest communities located in Leinster and MunsterDespite many living here for several years, 49 per cent of households with children were unable to satisfy the habitual residency condition, whereby they must prove a long-term link to Ireland, to get social welfare payments. Many, even those with children in school, were not entitled to receive child benefit or other welfare payments.
Many Roma households have no income other than through begging, with some experiencing such deep poverty they do not send their children to school for fear of them being taken into care.
The report, Roma In Ireland: A National Needs Assessment, was commissioned by the Department of Justice and conducted by Roma peer-researchers trained and supervised by the Traveller and Roma support organisation, Pavee Point.
It found almost half of Roma households (45 per cent) lived in severely overcrowded housing, often without gas, electricity, running water or sufficient food. Some 12 per cent did not have a kitchen, 10 per cent did not have anywhere to cook and 13.5 per cent had no fridge.
Researchers noted “malnutrition among Roma children” and “over half of respondents (52 per cent) reported someone in the household has gone to bed hungry”.
“Service providers identified newborn babies living in houses with no heat, food or basic supplies; 37 per cent of respondents reported they did not have adequate supplies for the baby after birth.
“These findings reveal a depth of poverty that means Roma families affected are focused on surviving from day-to-day . . . the poverty can only be described as extreme and it is placing children’s welfare at risk,” the report says.
“I am feeling hopeless and helpless that I cannot provide for my family. I wish things can be better for my children,” Stoica Rostas said. Despite the profound poverty his family lives in, he says life is better here for Roma people than in RomaniaHe and his wife fear their two children will be removed if the authorities become aware of their living conditions. The family shares a room in Dublin’s north inner city with Mr Rostas’s parents and brothers. Eight people share two beds and the heating does not work.

India's Cities and Ghettoisation

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"Our cities were always quite unequal because of wealth, and divisions on the lines of caste and ethnicity. Now, caste and religion are even bigger markers, ghettoisation has increased and the segmentation looks set to get worse," said Anasua Chatterjee, a researcher at the Delhi University "The city government is complicit in the reorganisation of urban space along the lines of religion, resulting in closed and restricted neighbourhoods for Muslims," said Chatterjee, who has written a book on Muslim neighbourhoods in Kolkata city. The ghettoisation exacerbates their poverty and alienation, with even job applications and requests for bank loans often rejected because of where they live, Chatterjee said. "Even those who have the means to move from these neighbourhoods usually find it hard to get a place because of their religion," she said. "Whether the confinement is imposed directly or indirectly, it deepens the divide between Muslims and Hindus," she said. Sensitive urban planning could be a way to reduce the impact of segregation, but powerful real estate developers often lobby against integrating neighbourhoods, said Chatterjee.
"They do not just segregate themselves: cities are hubs of capital accumulation and profit making, so the poor are discriminated against. Muslims are among the poorest," said Ghazala Jamil, an assistant professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. "There is no intervention by the state to end the segregation, as it is a mode of governance, a way to manage inequality," said Jamil, citing data from her recent book on Muslim neighbourhoods in Delhi. "Urban neighbourhoods are a manifestation of labour markets, so it is a sort of economic exploitation and containment of the poorest communities including Muslims," said Jamil. "They are often limited to the dirtiest, lowest paid jobs, and don't have much bargaining power or the ability to move elsewhere," she said.
About a third of India's population of 1.25 billion lives in cities, with tens of thousands leaving their villages every year in search of better economic opportunities, largely as construction workers, domestic helpers and security guards. In Mumbai, India's financial hub, more than half the population lives in slums and informal settlements. Most residents are Muslims and lower-caste Hindus. Muslims, who make up 13 percent of India's population, face bias when buying or renting properties, analysts say. The deep-rooted biases are eroding the multi-cultural nature of India's booming cities, creating neighbourhoods which perpetuate the communal divide. Some states like Gujarat, which witnessed some of the worst communal riots in the country in 2002, even have laws that restrict Muslims and Hindus from selling property to each other. In Mumbai, the divide in the city grew after bloody Hindu-Muslim riots in 1992-93. But it is also true of smaller cities such as Meerut, where Hindu residents recently forced a Muslim family to give up a house they had bought in a predominantly Hindu neighbourhood, according to local news reports.
In time, the dominant communities begin to stereotype and turn the culture of minority communities into a commodity, with these neighbourhoods even marketed as tourist attractions for their distinct cuisine or type of architecture, said Jamil. "Going to eat or shop in the Walled City in Delhi or the Old City in Hyderabad may seem cool, but it is perpetuating the division," she said. "As long as cities continue to be centres of capital accumulation, we will see dispossession of the poor and the powerless, who will continue to be pushed to the margin."


Pakistan to deport Afghan Refugees

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Pakistan has given millions of Afghan refugees in the country until the end of this month to return to their homeland. But refugees say the short deadline and no prospects for the future make their return difficult.Everybody understands, Jalili stated, that deporting over two million Afghan refugees in less than a month will not be possible, but the deadline is still set to create a mechanism for all Afghans to return.  For the past several decades, millions of Afghans have fled their conflict-stricken country to neighboring Pakistan in search of a safer and better life. There are now an estimated 2.7 million registered and undocumented Afghan refugees in Pakistan. They are now a fixture in the local communities and many have even set up businesses. Most Afghans in Pakistan have been able to join schools and universities as well as open businesses. They are also able to travel relatively easily between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's failure so far to emerge as a stable and peaceful country means there is no safe place for these refugees to return to. The number of armed clashes with militants was also the highest in the past decade. The Afghan government is fighting a resilient insurgency and efforts to reach a peace deal with the Taliban - the main insurgent group - have come to naught. Furthermore, the self-styled "Islamic State” (IS) terror outfit has been attempting to expand its presence in Afghanistan. IS has killed hundreds of Afghans in multiple attacks across the country since it first emerged in the region in 2014. It dramatically escalated its attacks in Kabul, adding to the dangers already faced by civilians in the city, which the UN cites as one of the deadliest places in the country. The worsening state of security has prompted many Afghan returnees to once again flee their homeland and seek safety elsewhere. 

Pakistan-based Afghan refugee Jamil Khan Azizi told DW, "Only if all sides keep their promises will Afghan refugees be able to return to their homeland. Otherwise, I don't think it's possible for us to return,” Azizi was referring to promises made by the Kabul government that it would provide land and financial aid to Afghan refugees returning to the country voluntarily. In many cases, he said, these promises haven't been kept. Azizi, who has spent most of his life in Pakistan, stressed that returning to Afghanistan would be "like a new migration" all over again, as most of the Afghans living in Pakistan have been residing in that country for decades.

Combined with insecurity, the lack of economic prospects has been a reason why most Afghan refugees are hesitant to return home.  Even many of those who have returned hoping for a fresh start have become disillusioned with the country's political, economic and security situation, and are considering fleeing again either to neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran or even to places as far as Europe. Many people have regretted their decision to return to Afghanistan. 

Notwithstanding the insecurity, the Pakistani government wants to accelerate refugee repatriation. At the start of January, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's cabinet decided to extend Afghan refugees' stay in the country only for 30 days.  Pakistani argues that economy "has carried the burden of hosting Afghan refugees since long and in the present circumstances cannot sustain it further."

Life for Afghans residing in Pakistan is not easy, and Islamabad's government agencies frequently face criticism from rights groups about the way they treat refugees. A report released by Human Rights Watch last year detailed the means used by Pakistan's government agencies to push out Afghan refugees. These included an insecure legal status, threatening to deport the asylum seekers in winter, arbitrary detention and nocturnal police raids.  Despite the problems, many acknowledge that Afghan refugees are living in far better conditions in Pakistan than in other countries like Iran, which is also home to millions of Afghans.

Hungary's Nationalists Tighten the Noose

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A new law to being proposed by Hungary's  right-wing nationalist government

The law would, among other things, put a 25 percent tax on civic migrant aid organizations that receive more than half of their funding from abroad. The organisations would also be required to register with Hungarian courts and their foreign employees could face expulsion if the government should determine that they have aided "illegal" migration. Groups that fail to register would also face fines.

Another aspect of the proposed law that has caused concern among rights groups is the government's stated desire to issue restraining orders barring citizens suspected of "organising illegal migration" from getting closer than eight kilometers (4.97 miles) to any of Hungary's Schengen borders

The law would be part of the government's so-called "Stop Soros Plan." George Soros has been a vocal critic of the prime minister, Victor Orban and has been the target of a fierce propaganda campaign by Orban, who blames Soros for personally helping "illegal immigrants flood Europe," robbing it of its "Christian and national identities." Orban has never offered any evidence to substantiate his claim.

Last year, Hungary passed a law requiring all organizations receiving more than €24,000 ($29,400) annually to register with Hungarian courts. Moreover, the law also requires such groups to prominently display the words "foreign organization" on all of their publications. That law is currently the subject of a breach of contract dispute between Hungary and the European Union.

http://www.dw.com/en/hungary-announces-new-law-targeting-migrant-aid-groups/a-42195002